Billy Gibbs has a great review of Super Genius Games’ Genius Guide to Archer Archetypes. There’s a lot of cool stuff in this one that will surely get you excited to roll up a ranger who goes way beyond the usual “nature guy with a bow” schtick.
Ever wanted to play Hawkeye in an RPG? How about fire arrows with your mind as though you were some kind of half-elf railgun? Maybe you just need a little Zen in your archery? If you answered yes to any of these questions then Super Genius Games’ Archer Archetypes may be perfect for you.
These archetype guides are created from the base belief that each of the core classes in that game can be re-themed in a way that does not alter their role in the party, but acts slightly different than before. The example they use is cleric domains. The cleric does not require the domains to still fill its niche, but the domains allow for greater customization of the character without altering its base role. This PDF hopes to provide similar options for Rangers. The way these archetypes function is by replacing the usual ranger abilities with a different set for the archetype. Basically this allows PCs to be skilled at ranged combat without the hunting themed abilities of the normal Ranger, exchanging them for a different flavor of ranged combat.
First of the archetypes is The Alchemical Archer. The master of funny arrows, he has access to everything but a boxing glove. Thunderstone tipped arrows? Got them. Tangle foot arrows? Sure, but we got bolas as well. Need to slow down some enemies? Maybe an arrow full of caltrops will give them a reason to slow down. With new feats to support odd arrows, this looks like the path to zany archer fun.
If you need a sniper, I’d suggest The Sharpshooter: they can take a full round action to fire a single shot at a +1 bonus to hit, and an extra d6 damage. If you’re looking to be non-lethal, you can perform combat maneuvers at range. If you ever wanted to shoot the sword out of an orc’s hand, you can now.
On the other side of the spectrum there’s The Tempest. The Tempest’s preferred method of combat is to send as many arrows down range as possible, getting Rapid Shot as a bonus feat at level one, and the hail of arrows ability to make a full attack as a standard action. That might be the most terrifying thing I’ve seen since my Summoner found Pounce. Admittedly with a ranged weapon the ability to move and shoot may not be as necessary, but being able to take the five foot step and unload into a nearby kobold is a good thing to have. The Tempest also gets the ability to provide covering fire at level 12, which allows the archer to make attacks of opportunity at range within a declared area.
The Spell Bow is an archer with no bow. They simply fire the desired projectile with magic. This means they have no reload time, so heavy crossbow bolts are flying without the hassle of having to load the crossbow. Not a bad deal in my book. At 4th level your attacks count as +1 magical weapon attacks, and can gain additional traits on subsequent levels. You never have to worry about spending loot on weapons.
The Zen Archer is a force to be reckoned with on the battle field. A master of archery, she uses her highest ability scores instead of dexterity for ranged attacks, and can shoot down enemy arrows by rolling a better attack than the enemy. This alone would be cause for interesting and Matrix-esque combats, but add to that the ability to make ranged attacks against unseen foes and you have some serious meta-archery.
In addition to the archetypes, there are a handful of feats designed to fit in with the themes of the archetypes. These let you use arrows as melee weapons, and take a penalty to avoid attacks of opportunity on your ranged attacks for the round. Looking at this now I can only wonder why there wasn’t a feat like this in the original book. It really makes quite a bit of sense, and hits the sweet spot of useful without too much power that is the trick to making good additions to a game. There’s also the Snap Shot feat, that acts as a reverse power shot, reducing damage to increase chance to hit. This is another feat that makes sense, but I do feel the need to question its usefulness. I want more damage, not less, and if I’m not hitting thorough their AC then they probably won’t care if I hit them for 2d6-4.
Overall, I found this much more interesting than I expected it to be, and am really looking forward to any more archetype shifts the Super Geniuses have planned. Monk next, please!