Lasthoth's Archer is an Abrams Tank, a mobile turret. Full credit goes to Lasthoth for coming up with this guy, but I've made a few tweaks, for better or for worse. To see Lasthoth's excellent guide, check out this link .
Lasthoth's Archer - Human Ranger (No Archetype)Edit
Human - Precise Shot
Point Blank Shot
Weapon Focus Longbow
|6||Improved Precise Shot|
Manyshot or Combat Reflexes*
|10||Point Blank Master (Longbow)|
Improved Snap Shot
|13||Manyshot or Combat Reflexes*|
Here is what Lasthoth has to say about choosing between Manyshot and Combat reflexes at level 7."The two for one shot damage is great, but it all depends on your campaign. If you are taking a long time to level or you feel the campaign will end soon manyshot is really your best bet. You’ll be taking monsters to pound town with this feat and some haste from the party. On the other side of the coin the DM probably doesn’t like you by now and everyone has an arrow deflection mechanic at this point. You end up losing this shot in those situations, so it’s not as vital as it could be. If the campaign is going to run to high level then by all means, get Combat Reflexes in preparation for Improved Snap Shot greatness."
Lasthoth's archer is, well, an archer. That means you need high Dexterity to hit targets, and high strength to deal damage. Constitution and Wisdom are good for staying alive. Intelligence and Charisma are less than crucial
A (slightly) balanced Point Buy 20 with a +2 racial bonus to dexterity looks like this:
A more min/maxy Point Buy 20 with a +2 racial bonus to dexterity looks like this:
At lower levels, there aren't any skills that particularly stick out for Lasthoth's Archer, so go with what you want. At higher levels, you are going to start riding a horse, so you'll want max Handle Animal and Ride.
You are going to want a horse until level 10, and then a wolf mount.
You are going to want to train your mount. Get Combat Training and Second Attack Trick
In terms of animal companion feats, you should be looking at: Improved Overrun. Greater Overrun. Light Armor Proficiency: Bull Rush. Then, Greater Bull Rush.
Get a masterwork saddle! Why not?
Aspect of the Falcon ** – Small bonus on ranged attacks that doesn’t stack with bracers of archery or inspire courage. It does give an expanded threat range to your bow, but with a 1 minute/level duration time I just never seemed to go for this. Instead I went with Gravity Bow.
Gravity Bow*** - This has been an every day spell since I first found it. It’s probably not required but it sure beats almost everything else out in my book. Going from 4.5 to 7 average damage is a nice little bump. Casting time is a problem, so I typically only pop this before a fight has begun, if offered the chance.
Hunter's Howl*** - At first this is great, you howl in a crowd and a bunch of folks become favored. At low levels this is better than Gravity Bow due to the bonus to hit, at higher levels everything will save and the +2 is kind of lackluster, you’re better off with Gravity bow.
Keen Senses – Short duration makes this sort of moot. You should have a wizard with level 2 spells by now (almost level 3!)
Lead Blades** - Eventually you’ll be forced to melee. Having this, a potion of enlarge and a greatsword have proven invaluable.
Liberating Command*** - Not an every day memorization, but when I know we’re fighting grapplers or anything with swallow whole I keep one of these handy to save the mage.
Longstrider****- Free 10’ of movement for me or my mount? Sounds great to me.
Resist Energy***- not an every day spell, but simply devastating when you know what you’re fighting and you need this. Dragons have fled fights with parties because the initial breath runs over the group proved harmless.
Wartrain Mount****- If you lose your mount and have to call a new one mid adventure this is how you overcome lack of war training.
Ape Walk** - Situationally awesome. If you’re in an area where you can take advantage of climb speed then this goes best on your mount. Tie yourself into your saddle and reign death from the cavern roof above.
Arrow Eruption – This seems cool, but it’s so rare you run into a bunch of clumped up enemies that I’ve never had this pay off when it is memorized. Too situational. You could carry a scroll, personally I’d rather just launch another volley or Stone Call. Barkskin*** - I just don’t run with many druids, and no one seems to have this buff laying around. It’s not for you (usually), lay it on the party melee and receive the thanks of the melee and the healer. Bloodhound*** - I love scent, but this is so highly situational and GM dependant I can’t rate it a 4. In fact if your GM isn’t interested in making it cool it might not even be worth having on you. For my part this is a daily extended buff. Protection from Energy*** - See my comments on resist energy. Protective Spirit** - It’s okay on you, but it’s better on your mount for avoiding AoOs. I will say I’ve only rarely used it when I knew I was running into a populated enemy camp outdoors Stone Call****- So I can just create a 40’RADIUS circle of difficult terrain? Yes please. The military preaches that the key to winning is to either dominate terrain or deny it to the enemy and this spell does just that. Wind Wall*** - The natural enemy of the ranger is the bad guys huge battery of archers the DM threw in just to teach the ranger a lesson on how it feels to be peppered with arrows. Instead of learning a lesson, teach one by throwing this up.
Burst of Speed****- One swift action to get fast movement (+20 feet) that doesn’t provoke AoOs? With shared spell you can drop this on your mount instead. Perfect. Take it. Darkvision – NO! Bad ranger, this is what your wizard is for. He’s had this since level 3. Buy it for him, and an extend rod.
Fickle Winds- **** - Selective arrow denial, it’s terribly good, and something you need to contend with yourself.
Instant Enemy****- you treat one target as your favored enemy. This is pure gravy.
Reduce Animal*- Situationally useful, if you know you’re going into a confined space it’s best to have a scroll or two.
Darkvision, Greater – Again, your wizard should be dishing this out. If you don’t have a wizard then it’s great.
Bow Spirit ***– Swift action fires an arrow with all my feats considered? It’s probably the best this level has to offer.
Terrain Bond**** - Treat a given terrain as your best favored terrain all day? This is your daily buff from this level assuming you’re not in your terrain.
How to PlayEdit
You should be wielding a composite longbow, to take advantage of your strength modifier. You should also be riding your horse whenever you can, both for the mobility and the various nice attacks that your companion can make.
What He Looks Like at Level...Edit
1-3: Here you are restricted to being on foot but are also taking the -4 penalty for cover.
- Open field: You probably won’t need to worry about cover here for a couple of rounds while the enemy closes. Encourage your guys to let the enemy come to you and focus one enemy down at a time from range. If they have the ranged advantage it is you who has to charge, so keep your unarmored members behind armored members and use that +4AC bonus to its best effect
- Close combat: You don’t need to be terrified of melee, your dex and armor make you about as hard to hit as anyone in the party at this level. Stand one square behind and one to the side of the main fighter. Enemies will be tempted to step up and attack. On the next turn either you or the fighter is a 5’ move away from a flank thanks to your gauntlet. I take the AoO for firing while threatened if I have to just to give that bonus to the fighter.
4-5: You’ve got a mount and potentially haste and a slew of other buffs from the party. You’ve possibly thrown longstrider on your mount or have gravity bow or hunters howl ready. I just use gravity bow and only before combat begins (assuming I get the drop on them). I hate wasting an attack casting.
- Open field: If you’re comfortable getting out of range of healing and buffs circle around outdoor fights and try to keep at max close range. Take the penalty for shooting at a double move if it will save you from shooting through cover, this way you’ll have later rounds behind that cover line. Don’t get too fancy trying to pick off soft targets in the middle unless they are far easier to land shots on, just take what they give you for penalty-free shots. Some may turn to pursue you, this is what you want. Use your speed to extend them away from the other enemies while firing on them, an extended enemy deals far less damage while chasing you.
- Close combat: Nothing has changed except now you can move up on your horse, ceiling height permitting. This will add your mounts three attacks to the equation. I’d advise against sending your horse around for a flank, as it’s a bit too weak for such things.
6-9: Now you can fire into cover. Once you have snap shot remember to put an arrow in anyone your mount overruns, assuming you have Greater Overrun.
- Open field: Your mount is beefier now. Once it has improved overrun and a little armor it’s time to start running over the weaker/mobile enemies. Resolve your shots and then do your overrun to avoid having to fire within AOO range if your overrun fails. Since you can fire through cover try to stay a single move away from the back line of the party so you can flatten anyone who breaks through to the wizard.
- Close combat: No real change, that rear oblique square to the fighter still offers the best potential for flanks, but you can also make due in the rear now if you have to and at level 9 you threaten with snap shot.
10: You now may fire while threatened without provoking thanks to Point Blank Master. Position wherever you like but if the rear oblique square is still working well I would keep doing that. You’ve swapped out for a wolf mount now I hope, due to higher strength which makes for easier CMD rolls. It’s possible you have both Instant Enemy and a Bane bow now along with a third favored enemy bonus. If you went with a single powerful FE type to stack, then you will be looking at huge bonuses to hit (+6FE, additional +2 from bane +1 bow) and damage ((+6FE, additional +2 from bane +1 bow, 1d8 damage + 2d6 Bane dice). God help them if you have holy too. Sadly IE is single target, so make sure it’s against someone who really needs it.
11 and up: You’ve got Improved Snapshot now and hopefully you took combat reflexes instead of manyshot earlier. You want to be as far forward as you can be to make life a huge headache for the enemy. Getting where you want is no issue with overrun by now, you might have even beefed up your companion with magical items. If your fighter is the tripping or bullrushing kind he possibly has the greater version and will be triggering all sorts of AOOs for you. You should make quite a tandem. Whatever else you select doesn’t change the overall feel and tactics of the class like Improved Snapshot, Point Blank Master or Improved Precise Shot did. You might consider Greater Snapshot, but I felt it wasn’t up to par. I’d kind of rather have boon companion, but its effectiveness wanes at later levels. Favored Defense will give half your (substaintial) FE bonus to you as AC against your favored enemies. Combined with Instant Enemy you now have an almost paladin smite feel about you. The mounted archery feats are probably all viable too.