Optimized Rogue Archer Build

This is a 16th level human Pathfinder optimized rogue build multi-classed with 8 levels of Fighter named Miss Hitton McGyver (aka, Lady MyGyver Hit&Miss) , the assassin. The class leveling sequence for this optimzation guide is Fighter2 / Rogue4 / Fighter3 / Rogue4 / Fighter3. Now for a song from Michael Jackson praising Hit & Miss.

Your dead, but I’m okay. Your dead, but I’m okay.
I hit, but you miss me baby!
Your dead, but I’m okay. Your dead, but I’m okay.
I hit, but you miss me baby!
Your dead, but I’m okay. Your dead, but I’m okay.
I hit, but you miss me baby!
You’ve been hit by… you’ve been struck by… a smooth criminal.

Note: Recently Updated (2/24/13) for more potency. Also added links to Pathfinder SRD for clarification on some abilities, feats, talents, traits and equipment.

Build Summary: This Pathfinder optimized rogue archer build starts off shooting multiple very damaging arrows. As time goes on, this build becomes an expert at avoiding melee strikes and range strikes.  Hit&Miss finishes up her last four levels becoming a snapshot artist.

Starting Stats (25 points): Str (14), Dex (18), Con (14), Int (10), Wis (14), Chr (10)
Starting Stats (20 points): Str (14), Dex (16), Con (14), Int (10), Wis (14), Chr (10)
Starting Stats (15 points): Str (14), Dex (16), Con (12), Int (10), Wis (14), Chr (8)

Raising Stats – For 15, 20 and 25 point builds put all leveling stats into dexterity. These Stats don’t include bonuses from equipment listed below.

Rogue Archetype: Sniper This archetype 1) halves the range increment penalties with a bow and 2) gives a +10 feet to the range at which you can perform a range sneak attack for every 3 rogue levels you have. You lose trap sense and trapfinding.

Fighter Archetype: Archer By 16th level this archetype will give Hit&Miss a +1 to attack & damage with bows, +2 to perception, and +10 to bow range increments.  You should also to choose sunder (1st) and disarm (2nd) as manuevers you can do with your bow. You lose Armor Training, Weapon Training and Bravery.

Rogue Class Abilities: Sneak Attack, Evasion, Uncanny Dodge, Improved Uncanny Dodge

The Best Traits / Feat / Rogue Talent Progression: Traits) Reactionary, Magical Knack (Rogue); Human Feat) Point Blank Shot; 1) Rapid Shot; Precise Shot; 2) Deadly Aim; 3) Weapon Focus (Longbow Comp); 4) Minor Magic (Read Magic); 5) Arcane Strike; 6) Major Magic (Gravity Bow); 7) Manyshot; 8) Weapon Specialization (Longbow Composite); 9) Improved Unarmed Strike 11) Ninja Trick: Style Master (Snake Style), Ninja Trick (Deflect Arrow), Skill Focus (Sense Motive); 12) Clustershot; 14) Combat Trick (Snap Shot); 15) Combat Reflexes; 16) Improved Snap Shot

Skills Ranks (124 points): Sense Motive (16); Perception (16), Stealth (16); Acrobatics (16); Escape Artist (16); Swim (7); Climb (8); Use Magic Device (16); Survival (8); Fly (4); Ride (1).  Note – these skill points do not include the Amulet of Intelligence.  Further, these skill points are calculated based on the 25 and 20 point builds.  Adjust according. All of the above are class skills.

Favorite Class Option: Choose rogue as your favorite class. For the first six rogue levels take +1/6 Rogue Talent (this is an option available to humans). At 11th level you will get an extra rogue talent, which is figured in below. After that, take 1 hitpoint per level of rogue.

Character Wealth: This optimized rogue archer build gets 315K of wealth.  Keep the change.

Magic Item Equipment List (221.3K): +5 Longbow Comp (+2) (50K); Bracers of Archer; Greater (25K); Efficient Quiver (1.8K); Boots of Speed (12K); +2 Belt of Dex/Str/Con (16K); Reservoir Tattoo (5K); Handy Haversack (2K); Cloak of Elvenkind (2.5K);  +5 Celestial Chainmail (38K); +5 Cloak of Resistance (25K); +3 Ring of Protection (18K); +3 Amulet of NA (18K); +4 Amulet of Wisdom (16K); Fogcutter Lenses (8K); Note: The +5 bow is obviously your best weapon, but have backup gear including +1 bows, knives, shuriken, swords for when and if your bow is sundered or disarmed.

Wands (24,625): Unless otherwise stated, the wands below have 10 charges on them.  The numbers in (x) represent the amount of charges when it is something other than 10.

  • Attacking 1) Gravity Bow (50); Abundant Ammunition (50); Stone Fist; Lead Blades, Enlarge Person
  • Environmental Situations 1) Air Bubble; Touch of the Sea, Endure Elements
  • Protection1) Protection from Evil, Veil of Positive Energy; 2) Resist Energy (10)
  • Healing1) Cure Light Wounds (50); Restful Sleep, Remove Sickness; 2) Delay Poison
  • Escape / Mobility1) Hide from Undead, Expeditious Retreat; Negate Aroma, Obscuring Mist, Disguise Self, Vocal alteration, 2) Alter Self, Invisibility, Spider Climb, Silence, Levitation, 3) Fly, Gaseous Form (5), Blink (5)
  • Perception1) Aspect of the Falcon, Residual Tracking, Keen Senses, Detect Poison; 2) Detect Secret Doors, Darkvision, See Invisibility
  • Other0) Mending(50); 1) Ant Haul, Alter Winds, Comprehend Language; Share Language; 2) Tongue, Knock; 3) Dispel Magic (5)

Playing Strategy: From levels 1 to 7 you simple fire off deadly arrows as more and more feats, rogue talents and equipment add to the deadliness of the arrows.  Remember that you will be able to perform sneak attacks at range against flat-footed targets in the first round and in surprise rounds.  As your levels of rogue increase, you will be able to hit with sneak attacks from greater distances.  Accordingly, it will be harder to enemies to close in and attack you after you sneak attack them.

From levels 8 to 16 is likely when you will start collecting wands that will simply make you more versatile, elusive and overall prepared.  You let the casters do their job before having to resort to your wands.  However, they are their if you need them.  For instance, when acting as an assasinator, you might cast gaseous form and invisibility on yourself to make it past security and to your target.  There is also the deadly fogcutter glasses / obscuring mist combo that will grant you range sneak attack nonstop.

From levels 9 to 16 is where this optimized rogue archer build begins to take on defensive tactics (above and beyond your high AC) to avoid ranged and melee attacks and snapshot artist techniques.  Deflect arrows and snake style your way from melee and ranged attacks. Shoot foes  with snapshot attacks of oppurtunity as they advance to attack you and your allies.  Having incredible sense motive not only makes your snake style incredible; it also makes this optimized rogue archer build a lie detector.  In the hands of the clever, a human lie detector is great for roleplay and for solving riddles.

In closing, I would like to advise you to get a handbook on CPR for when you GM feints. This rogue is undefeatable with a bow and even reasonable unarmed.

Optimized Rogue Archer Build

11 Responses to Optimized Rogue Archer Build

  1. Josh says:

    I am a little confused on how just Snake Style helps this build. To me it seems that you need the other Snake Style Feats to make it really worth taking. With out Snake Sidewind your sense motive checks are less of an importance and not having snake fang makes Snap shot and combat reflexes a little less powerful. Am I missing something where you get all three feats? if I am please help me out with what I missed.

    thank you,


    • admin says:

      Snake style is all you want. Snake Fang is for unarmed fighter and you are a bow artist. Snake Style allows you to light up the bad guy with bow attacks and to dodge his charging attack after he gets made at you.

      • Josh says:

        Ok, I must admit that I missed the part about adding your sense motive check score to your AC with snake style, that is just awesome.

        two more questions:

        1st. does the trait magical knack give you a +2 to your caster level for read magic and Gravity Bow? so Gravity bow would last for 3 min instead of one? Does it help with arcane strike at all?

        2nd. Arcane strike is nice, but if you already had a magical bow, it is only good for the +1 for one shot. Wouldn’t putting the unarmed strike or combat reflexes in that feat spot be better?

        I love this build, this is exactly what I wanted my character to play like in our new campaign. I am new to pathfinder, so I am still trying to figure out the differences between 3.5 and PF, that is why I have all the questions.

        thank you for all your help,

        • Dove says:

          If some extra rogue skills are needed for the group, would there be a sever downside for trading the ST score for the IN score. That would mostly affect the damage from the composite bow, correct?

  2. Josh says:

    You need to have an Int. score of 11 to take the major magic Rouge Talent. So you will either need to spend your first ability score on int. or figure it out in the building of the character.

  3. Kurious says:

    I have a question about the Magical Knack trait – it says in the description that you must choose a class to apply this to – but your build details don’t mention what class this is (and in fact almost seems to be saying Human) Also, since neither Fighter nor Rogue is a caster class I am a little lost as to why this would be in here.

    • admin says:

      Human is for the human feat that follows, not for magical knack. I will call it human feat and bold it so that it is more clear.

      Magical Knack is for Read Magic and Gravity Bow, which he will gain through his Rogue talents, Minor and Major Magic.

      By the way, you don’t have to be in a traditional spell casting class to use Magical Knack. You just have to be in a class that gives you a caster level. Rogues get a caster level for minor and major magic.

  4. I’m resurrecting this build to say “thanks”!

    I’m starting a Paizo Adventure Path (Rise of the Runelords, Anniversary Edition) in a couple weeks and was looking for an interesting rogue build; I like this one. I’ve had to tweak it a bit in order to conform to Pathfinder Society rules. When I’ve finished it, I’ll send you a spreadsheet that has my build in it (detailing it just like you did: feats, skills, traits, etc).

    The main problem was that Magical Knack doesn’t work for classes that only gain spell-like abilities and don’t actually gain a “class” caster level (which is what the feat says). The PFS rules are vague, which means arguing it during a game wastes time, so I wanted to avoid that. Instead, I had to take Wizard at 2nd level instead of Fighter. This adds a lot of flexibility, though, as I’m planning to leave out ranks of UMD as they won’t be needed (much). It does add the possibility of arcane spell failure chance, so I needed to arrange for the Arcane Armor Training feat.

    One thing I noticed about your build is the Belt of Str/Dex/Con +2. It will bump the Strength modifier to +3 yet the bow you have listed is limited to Str +2 (easy to update and only costs 100 gp). In my build, the 1st level fighter is melee-only, then I use the wizard’s bonded item to gain a masterwork composite longbow for free. Per PFS rules, I can pay the cost difference to upgrade it to Str +2, giving me some extra money to spend at 1st level.

    You also have “Amulet of Wisdom” in your gear list, but your reference to the “Amulet of Intelligence” in the Skill Points section makes me think that’s a mistake. I count 96 skill points without a magic item, and adding that amulet would make it 128, not 124, so maybe there’s something else wrong…?

    I’m going to look at the Ninja class as well, since it allows sneak attacks to be at longer ranges (via the ninja trick, Deadly Range) and includes the Vanishing trick which makes staying Stealthy much easier.

    Thanks again!

  5. Sorry Jenna, I didn’t see your reply. I will get it to the OP for him to look at and maybe put a few tweaks on this page for PFS.

    @admin: The issue isn’t that stuff isn’t legal in PFS, the issue is that magical talent has been ruled a spell-like ability, and SLAs don’t allow the character to qualify for Arcane Strike and because the Rogue doesn’t have spellcasting ability, also doesn’t qualify for Magical Knack. Hence one level of wizard instead. It’s really a good trade off, since Gravity Bow as a prepared spell will last 3x longer and the character gains access to multiple 0-level spells. I chose Acid Spray because it’s a ranged touch attack meaning it gains sneak attack damage in the right circumstances.

    I’m currently playing my build but we only play once a month so progression is SLOW. I’m now thinking about doing a level of monk: good save bonuses, free IUS feat, free Deflect Arrows, and some interesting possibilities among archetypes.

    I’ve done builds out through L17 of ftr/rog/wiz and ftr/rog/wiz/mnk so I’ll send along both soon. I have them built in HeroLab so perhaps a share of my Dropbox portfolios would be useful? If you don’t have HL, I’ll generate statblocks or something. I started with a spreadsheet but found HL to be much easier to tweak and see the results.

Comments and Questions are Appreciated