Pathfinder Optimized Bard Build – Archer God

Archer Bard PDF Part 1 Cover

This is an Optibuilds 1 -13 level Bard Archer Build Guide.  Okay, obviously your main role will be the party’s archer – thus the name of the guide.  However, the other roles that a Bard can cover for the Party include, but are not necessarily limited to: Backup Healer, Book of Knowledge, Buffer, De-Buffer, Face, Escape Artist, Melee Fighter, Scout, Trapfinder and Trap Disabler.

Archetypes (Preliminary Note): Optimized Pathfinder Bard Archers are derived from the following Archetypes: Arcane Duelist, Archaeologist, and Dervish of Dawn.  Furthermore, all of the above secondary roles can be fulfilled by an Optimize Pathfinder Archer of one of the above archetypes.  Finally, archer is the best primary combat role for a Bard.  Accordingly, I declare that you are likely not playing an optimized Bard if you are not playing one of the Archetypes described in this guide.  I hedge my bet because there are always exceptions to the rule.

Spells / Masterpieces: Let me make a preliminary note on spell/masterpiece selection because it applies to all of the builds.  Choosing your spells can take a while.  One great thing about humans and half-humans is that they can get an extra spell per level, through their favorite class selection, making the selection process more likely to eventually include all of the spells you want.  I would focus on buffing, mobility, escapability and survivability spells.  Those tend to be the better Bard spells.  The only De-buffing spells worth considering are Slow, Glitterdust, and Silent Image (yes, I call Silent Image a debuffing spell).  As for Masterpieces, the best ones are 23 Dance Steps, Triple Time, and Symphony of Elysians Heart.

Backup Healer Role – This can be as simple as some Wands of Cure Light Wounds.

Races:  Optimized races are Human, Aasimar (Azata-Blooded), Half-Orc, Catfolk, and Fletchling.  With that said, you could probably make an effective bard archer with just about any race other than one that gives you a negative to Dexterity or Charisma.

Items: Stat related items, Longbow Composite, Agile Rapier (except for Dervish of Dawn Build), Bracer of Falcons Aim, Wand of Cure Light Wounds, Celestial Armor, Ring of Protection, and Cloak of Resistance.  This is a good start.

Stats & Rankings: Your optimized starting stats for a 20 point build are Str (12), Dex (16), Con (12), Int (8), Wis (10), and Chr (15).  This does not include your racial stat bonuses.  Put leveling stats into Dex, Dex, and then Chr from levels 1-13.  At the end of each Archetype, I will rank the Archers in the various roles described above.  Blue means Exceptional; Purple means adequate; and Red means N/A.  The rankings will assume that you are taking the advice in this guide.

The Arcane Duelist makes for great anti-spellcaster Snap Shot archers by 13th level because they get Disruptive and Spellbreaker for free (as well as Combat Casting).  The class can also make for a good backup melee fighter if you have an Agile Rapier or are playing a race with Natural Weapon attacks and have an Agile Amulet of Mighty Fist.  Arcane Strike, Inspire Courage and Blade Thirst work with melee and ranged attacks.  On the way to the pinnacle of the build, the Arcane Duelist has access to the typical Bardic Performances, as well as to Rallying Cry and Blade Thirst.  Rallying Cry rescues his allies from fear effects and Blade Thirst enchants his weapons.  The build is going to need Lingering Performance to allow the benefits of Inspire Courage and Blade Thirst to operate at the same time.  You lose Bardic Performance and Well-Versed so you are not the traditional Book of Knowledge.  You need at least one level of Fighter to pull the build off given the demands of a full archery build – likely two levels of fighter if you are not playing a Human.

After you work out your feats sequence and spell selection, the next things you need to choose are your skills.  Choosing your skills will likely also be a somewhat difficult process because Intelligence should be your dump stat.  I would focus on Perception, Stealth, Used Magic Device, Intimidate or Diplomacy, some ranks in Handle Animal / Ride / Survival if you are utilizing the advice in the Optibuilds Skills PDF Part 1, maybe 3 ranks in Acrobatics for fighting defensively.  Archer, Backup Healer, Skill Monkey, Buffer, De-Buffer, Escape Artist, Face, Backup Melee Fighter, Scout, Trapfinder and Trap Disabler.

The Archeologist makes for great Snap Shot archers by 13th level because she should have the Opportunist Rogue Talent and Combat Reflexes by then.  The class can also make for a good backup melee fighter if you have an Agile Rapier or are playing a race with Natural Weapon attacks and have an Agile Amulet of Mighty Fist.  Remember, Archeologist Luck and Arcane Strike works with melee and ranged attacks.  On the way to the pinnacle of the build, the Archeologist only has access to one Bardic Performance (Archeologist Luck) for (4+Cha) rounds per day.  By 13th level, it provides a +3 luck bonus to attacks, saves, damage, and skill checks, but only for the Archeologist.  The build is going to need Lingering Performance to maximize the time you get out of Archeologist Luck.    You need at least one level of Fighter given the demands of a full archery build – likely two levels of Fighter if you are not playing a Human.

After you work out your feats sequence and spells, the next things you need to choose are your skills.  You keep Bardic Knowledge, Lore Master and Jack of All Trades bardic abilities so you are still the traditional Book of Knowledge.  You also get the equivalent of Trapfinder, Uncanny Dodge, Evasion, and Trap Sense.  Accordingly, you are a Rogue.  Choosing your skills will likely amount to taking one rank in all Knowledges, maxing Perception and Disable Device, putting decent ranks in Stealth, Used Magic Device, Intimidate or Diplomacy.  ArcherBackup HealerSkill MonkeyBufferDe-BufferEscape ArtistFaceBackup Melee FighterScoutTrapfinder and Trap Disabler.

The Dervish of Dawn makes for great traditional archer by 13th level.  He gets no extras that will entice the build towards the Snap Shot route.  Accordingly whether you go the Snap Shot route, the Clustered Shot / Improved Precise Shot route, or some other route is up to you.  The class can also make for a good backup melee fighter if you have an Agile Rapier or are playing a race with Natural Weapon attacks and have an Agile Amulet of Mighty Fist.  Remember, Battle Dances and Arcane Strike works with melee and ranged attacks. On the way to the pinnacle of the build, the Dervish of Dawn has access to all of the traditional Bardic Performances – called Battle Dances.  The ones that enhance fighting only work on him, but add twice the bonus.  The build can’t use Lingering Performance.  You need at least one level of Fighter given the demands of a full archery build – likely two levels of Fighter if you are not playing a Human.

After you work out your feats sequence and spells, the next things you need to choose are your skills.  You keep Well-Versed, Lore Master & Versatile Performance bard abilities while losing Bardic Knowledge. Accordingly, you are better skill wise than the Arcane Duelist version, but worst than the Archeologist version.  Choosing your skills will likely amount to putting substantial ranks in Perception, Versatile Performance skills, taking at least one rank in some useful Knowledge skills to make Well-Versed useful, and then Use Magic Device, Stealth, Escape Artist, Intimidate or whatever else your heart desires.  Archer, Backup Healer, Skill Monkey, Buffer, De-Buffer, Escape Artist, Face, Backup Melee Fighter, Scout, Trapfinder and Trap Disabler.

Conclusion: So there you have it.  Rock with one of the best archer’s in the game.

4 Responses to Pathfinder Optimized Bard Build – Archer God

  1. Peter says:

    Isnt duelist a melee class?
    Or is there a rule in here that lets you substitute the bow for the light one hamded weapon?

    • admin says:

      I suppose that I should have said arcane duelist. That said, arcane duelist is the only bard archetype with the word duelist in it. And arcane duelist are not a melee class. An arcane duelist can be melee or range.

      I have change the language above to say arcane duelist.

  2. Gabriel says:

    I would do exactlybthe same build exept i’d make an elf. With the composite longbow profficiency and other elf goodies, i think it worth the feat and skill trade. 20 points buy stais exactly the same. I would only take weapon focus at lvl 13 to prepare for Penetrating strike and id get the same feats as you.

    I thank you for the build, thats what I will use in a RotR quest shere they lack buffs/ranged support/damage. This is a damn well fitted build.

    Thanks!

  3. FoxFireInferno says:

    Why take Reactionary and Exile? Both give trait bonuses, and thus, do not stack.

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