Optimized Zen Archer Build

Opening Note: What are Zen Archers and what are they not?

First, Zen Archers are not the most damaging or accurate archers in the game.  Really, they are not even close to the most accurate or damaging archers in the game.  Actually, the most damaging and accurate archers in the game are skillfully optimized Barbarians, Bloodragers, Fighters, Monk (Sohei), Paladins, Rangers, and Slayers as found in Optibuilds Greatest Martial Archers.   For instance, the 13th level barbarian can attack at a +36/+36/+36/+36/+31/+26 for more damage and the Monk (Sohei) shoots more arrows and at far greater accuracy.

Zen Archers are an archer that has strong survivability and escapability and skills.  So when you play one you are saying, I will except hitting the target far less so that I can make sure that the enemy does not hit me with a spell or attack.  It’s really a trap.  The name to the game in Pathfinder is kill the enemy as quickly as possible and that is all the defense you normally need.  Plus, if your Cleric, Mages, and other spellcasters are doing their job, the group should have all the escapability and survivability it needs.  Your job is to destroy the target and Zen Archers are not good at that.

Nonetheless, the best Zen Archer you can make is below.

Standard Zen Archer (Zen Gee)

Character Name: Zenith, the Great: (aka Zen Gee)
Race: Human
Favorite Class Option: 1 Hitpoint / level
Human Skill / Hitpoint Option: 1 Hitpoint / level
Monk Archetypes: Qingong Monk & Zen Archer.

Quick Glance at Zen Gee’s 13th level Stats:  Bow: +22/+22/+22/+22/+17/+17/+12 (1d8 +16) (19-20 x3) (Ki Attack, Hasted, Flurry, Deadly Aim); AC (35 Barkskin & Mage’s Armor included / 39 with Shield); Saves: Fort (+14), Ref (+16), Will (+19); CMD (25); HP (114), Speed (70ft), Initiative (+4), Spell Resistance (23); Skills: Perception +29, Stealth +30, Escape Artist +30

  • Note Calculation for AC = 10 +7 wisdom +4 dexterity + 3 Monk’s Bonus + 1 dodge + 5 Barkskin + 4 Mage’s Armor + 4 Shield = 39
  • Note Calculation for Attack = +1 Point Blank Shot + 1 Weapon Focus + 7 Wisdom + 1 Bracers of Archery + 1 Haste + (11/+11/+6+1) Flurry +4 Longbow -4 Deadly Aim

Starting Stats (25 point build): Str (12), Dex (14), Con (14), Int (14), Wis (18), Chr (8)

Feats/Abilities: Traits) Finding Helen and Dangerously Curious; 1) Skill Focus (Escape Artist), Point Blank Shot, Dodge, Flurry of Blows (with bows), Unarmed Strike (2d6), Weapon Proficiency with all bows, Normal Monk Proficiencies, Perfect Strike (12 attempts/day) (bows), Monk AC (+14 at 13th level); 2) Precise Shot, Weapon Focus (Longbow Comp); 3) Zen Archery, Speed +70ft at 13th level, Point Blank Mastery, Deadly Aim; 4) Barkskin (1 Ki) (Replaces Slow Fall), Ki Pool (16 points at 13th level); 5) Ki Arrows, Monkey Style, Feather Step (1 Ki) (Replaces High Jump); 6) Improve Precise Shot, Weapon Specialization (Longbow Comp); 7) Gaseous Form (1 Ki) (Replaces Wholeness of Body), Combat Reflexes; 8) Skill Focus (Stealthy)9) Reflexive Shot, Clustered Shots; 10) Improved Critical (Longbow Comp); 11) Trick Shot; Stealthy; 12) Shadow Walk (3 Ki) (Replaces Abundant Step); 13) Diamond Soul, Skill Focus (Perception)

Green = Human Feat; Red = Zen Archer Selection; Blue = Level Feat Selections; Black = Automatic Feats and Abilities

Skill Points (91 pts): Acrobatics (13), Stealth (13), Perception (13), Sense Motive (10), Climb (5), Fly (3), Swim (1), Intimidate (10), UMD (10), Escape Artist (13)

AC / Bow Related Items (94.55K): +2 Ring of Protection (8K); +4 Belt of Dex (16K); Wand of Shield (2nd level caster) (50 Charges) (1.5K); 2 Wands of Mage’s Armor (50 Charges) (1.5K); +4 Headband of Wisdom (16K); +4 Longbow Composite (+1) (32K); Efficient Quiver (1.8K); Lesser Bracers of Archery (5K); Boots of Speed (12K); Arrows (100), Wand of Abundant Ammunition (50 charges) (750 g)

Miscellaneous Items (41.7K): Daggers (x6); Ring of Feather Fall (2.2K); Handy Haversack (2K); +4 Cloak of Resistance (16K); 2 Cure Light Wounds (50 Charges) (1.5K); Carpet of Flying (20K)

Other Wands: 1st) (750g) Grease (10); Expeditious Retreat (10); Gravity Bow (10); Feather Step (10); Comprehend Language (10); 2nd) (2.25K) Darkvision (5); Invisibility (5); Resist Energy (5); Spider Climb (5); Silence (5);




14 Responses to Optimized Zen Archer Build

  1. fasttadpole says:

    Qingong Monk & Zen Archer both sub out Diamond Body so this build doesn’t work.

    • robert says:

      Qingong substitutions are optional so it can be combined with any monk archetype. The build is fine. Improved zen gee is even better.

  2. Brian says:

    Heya –

    I love what you’ve put together here, and I seriously enjoy taking a look at your builds. They’re a great framework for moving forward with characters in my own flavor, or just to take as standalones!

    I was wondering if you’d looked at Zen Gee (from Rebuilding Icons I) lately. I’m a little confused about his starting stats, his skill points, and his headband slot. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

    As always, keep up your great works.

  3. jhansonxi says:

    Overall a good build. Other good race choices are Dwarf, Oread, Vanara, and Undine depending on books/races allowed and the campaign environment. Goblin works adequately for a defensive/stealth build. Add a level of Empyreal celestial sorcerer or Conversion Infiltrator Inquisitor if you want to mix it up a bit.

  4. Why a dex belt and not a strength belt? Dex is still nice for ac, but strength, combined with more composites, is better since dex doesn’t help you hit things anyways.

  5. Wondering guy says:

    I was looking at the zen gee from icons rebuild and was wondering- with the fighter levels you throw in there- could it not be better with the fighter archetype “archer” so you get something else than armor mastery and so on? and there is alot of attacks on this build when flurrying which i dont understand since the 5 level dip in fighter should set your flurry way back right?

    • admin says:

      rapid shot, manyshot, speed weapon, and High BAB can give you a lot of attacks. The Fighter/Zen Archer build does not use flurry, even though he gets it.

  6. Denis says:

    how does the rapid shot and flurry work together?
    -2 to attacks when using rapid and -2 to attack when using flurry?

  7. Belial says:

    What about 20 points build?

  8. I don’t understand why Monkey Style is here. I’m sure I’m missing something awesome, but I can’t wrap my head around it.

  9. Trevor86 says:

    I’ve recently tried your Icon rebuild PDF and I have to say some of the content confused me. For starters, the monk seems to have a way to pick +1 hp per level from being a human instead of +1 skillpoint per level, in addition to the favored class bonus. However, it is never specified what exactly gives him this option. Could you elaborate on this?

Comments and Questions are Appreciated