The Archer Archetype is one of the fighting style Archetypes of Pathfinder 2e, allowing any class to focus their feats into being a particular kind of combatant. For the Archer this means being well versed in the Bow weapon group and stealing more or less all of the Fighter feats related to ranged combat. If you want to make Bows or Crossbows your primary combat style, have a look at Archer to improve your combat.
Just for signing up, you become trained in all simple and martial Bows and then that Proficiency scales whenever any features improve your weapon proficiencies. This might seem strong, but across all the martial classes this proficiency bump only meaningfully affects Fighters and Rogues. For Fighters, all you have to do is choose a different weapon group at 5th level and you get Bows upgraded for free. Rogues, on the other hand, benefit more directly, being one of two martial classes to not have martial weapon proficiency. You might wonder why not Monks too, but the Monastic Archer Stance that allows Monks to consider bows in the first place already bumps their proficiency.
Table of Contents
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
- Archer Dedication 2: As discussed above, the dedication feat grants training in all simple and martial bows that scales whenever a feature improves any of your weapon proficiencies to expert or greater. This is fine, but there’s more to this feat: as soon as your bow proficiency is expert or higher, you also gain the critical specialization effect for all bows. Most classes which get these specialization effects have to fulfill specific conditions: Rangers only get them when attacking their hunted prey and Barbarians only get them while raging, for example. This feat bypasses any special requirements and simply gives the special critical effect for all attacks made with bows. These only affect critical hits, but it’s still extra nice if you’re one of the martials that don’t even get these effects, like Investigators or Thaumaturges.
- Assisting Shot 4: The first of many feats this archetype borrows from the Fighter class, Assisting Shot is a Press Strike that gives someone else a circumstance bonus to attack the creature. It’s not bad so long as you’re using a Reload 0 weapon, but otherwise I’d avoid gumming up your action economy by trying to Interact to Reload and then Press.
- Point Blank Shot 4: This is a great stance for ranged attacking, and you’re already investing in the “be good at ranged attacking” archetype. Whether you’re using it to ignore the Volley trait or gain a +2 circumstance to damage on non-volley weapons, you really can’t go wrong. Keep in mind that this will not stack with the later feat, Crossbow Terror as both are Circumstance bonuses.
- Quick Shot 4: If you’re adventuring and expecting combat, you will already have your weapons out. This feat is for people who mix ranged and melee combat, perhaps an archery monk or someone who fights with one handed melee but has a loaded crossbow ready to switch whenever the situation changes. If you need it, take it. If you don’t need it, take something else.
- Advanced Bow Training 6: There are six Advanced Bows. If you want one, then sure, pick up this feat. I suggest the Taw Launcher if being two-handed isn’t a problem. You can still get by with just Martial bows if you don’t want one of these Advanced ones.
- Crossbow Terror 6: No crossbows have the Volley trait, so if you were using Point Blank Shot, the damage bonuses wouldn’t stack, but if you just have Crossbow Terror then you never have to enter Point Blank Shot stance. If you’re using a crossbow, pick up Quick Shot at 4th level and just use Crossbow Terror for the damage bonus. I would also avoid bothering with the Simple crossbow damage dice upgrade feature. Treasure Vault introduced good Martial crossbows with better traits and the same damage dice as upgraded Simple crossbows.
- Double Shot 6: Two attacks at a -2 instead of +0 and -5. This is a solid option for anyone using a bow or a repeating crossbow, especially because of the eventual upgrade to Triple Shot later on.
- Parting Shot 6: Not a bad feat, two actions for two actions and the target is automatically flat-footed against the strike with no limitations. Take this if you’re a Rogue and you can declare you have Sneak Attack whenever you want.
- Running Reload 6: Obviously this is for people with weapons that have to be reloaded. But more than that, consider this if you have a Repeating weapon. The three Interact actions to change the magazine are still reload Interactions. You could make up some extra distance while making those three Interact actions. Pair this with Parting Shot and you can always be stepping out of reach before taking Striking or Interacting, both of which would trigger Reactions. If you’re using free Archetype and wielding crossbows, this is a great option for your level 8 feat because Double/Triple Shot don’t typically work with crossbows.
- Staggering Fire 6 (Uncommon): It’s a press attack and it slows the target down. It’s nice for Reload 0 weapons, but, like Assisting Shot, Press and Reloading really mucks up your actions so this is hard to use with non-repeating crossbows.
- Archer’s Aim 8: Two actions for one Strike, +2 circumstance to attack, you ignore Concealed, and Hidden is treated as Concealed for the Strike. Nothing wrong with this, though you might already be getting Circumstance bonuses (for example from the Aid action), ignoring the flat check to miss is very useful.
- Triple Shot 8: If you took Double Shot, you should also take Triple Shot. It’s an amazing upgrade to an already amazing feat, allowing Double Shot to shoot the same target multiple times. If you’ve got to just do plenty of damage, the -4 to fire three shots can be worth it, especially against enemies with relatively low AC, such as multiple lower-level enemies. A -4 penalty is harsh in a game where each +1 is a big impact, but if you’re still likely to hit with the -4 penalty then this is a big pile of damage.
- Mobile Shot Stance 10: It’s hard to use this one. On the one hand, it competes with Point Blank Shot because you can only have one stance at a time. But if you’re using Crossbow Terror, then you’ll probably run into problems trying to Reload in Melee. Might as well just choose Parting Shot for those handful of situations where you’re fighting something that does have Attack of Opportunity.
- Multishot Stance 18: The ultimate upgrade to Double Shot. If you just want to make all of the attacks, this stance is like pretending you’re a Flurry Ranger until you move.
Who Should Take This?
If you want some support for a ranged fighting style and your class feats aren’t giving you enough of what you want, this is the Archetype for you. Almost any martial class can get some nice things out of here, but we’ll go into some detail below.
- Alchemist: Having a good ranged weapon to rely on will keep you from burning through all of your elixirs and bombs too fast each day. Please consult both Guns & Gears and Treasure Vault for a number of Alchemical Ammunition options that can be chosen as Alchemical Formulae.
- Barbarian: The bonus damage from Rage only applies to melee strikes, but if you’re using Free Archetype this is still a good way to build a solid ranged option for emergency situations.
- Champion: Nothing really stops a Champion from fighting at range, but remember that all of the Champion Reactions have a range of 15 feet. Still, like the Barbarian, if you’re using Free Archetype, there is merit to being capable of fighting when foes stay out of reach.
- Fighter: The Archer Dedication has that special kind of cheating wording that Fighters love. If you choose anything but Bow as your Fighter Weapon Mastery, then you will also be a Master with Bows. This works especially well if you can use Free Archetype to develop parallel fighting styles or to double down on being the most Archery Archer you can.
- Gunslinger: There are some specific builds that use Advanced Repeating Firearms, like the Barricade Buster, that can take advantage of Point Blank Shot and Double Shot. If you’re just looking into using Crossbows as a Gunslinger, maybe Assisting Shot or Archer’s Aim are ok, but you can already get all the benefits of Crossbow Terror from Crossbow Crack Shot each time you use a Reload Interaction. So again, maybe if you’re using a Repeating weapon.
- Inventor: Perhaps if you’re using Free Archetype you can take this to improve your own attacks while using an Armor or Construct Innovation. It might work alright with a Weapon Innovation if you’re using a Bow.
- Investigator: Strategic Strike works well with ranged strikes. Feats like Running Reload and Parting Shot help alleviate the action economy trouble that comes with having to Devise a Stratagem and make a Strike each round by giving some movement while shooting or reloading.
- Magus: Spellstrike only uses melee strikes unless you take the Starlit Span Hybrid Study. Even then, the Magus’s action economy is already massively strained, and Archer doesn’t alleviate that.
- Monk: You might think that we can double down on Monastic Archery with Archetype feats, but we can’t be in two stances at once. Or can we? In the incredibly rare situation of playing at level 20, you could Fuse Monastic Archery Stance with Point Blank Shot. It’s probably okay at that level, but otherwise just rely on Monk’s archery feats for a ranged Monk.
- Ranger: Rangers already have a good number of support for ranged strikes, but if you want to poach some Fighter feats to go with your Ranger, this is a fine choice. Also note that the Dedication will provide Critical Specialization to targets other than your Hunted Prey.
- Rogue: As long as your party can set up the Flat-Footed status, you deal Sneak Attack damage. MAP is a major hindrance to landing multiple strikes in a turn. Double and Triple Shot help to mitigate your MAP penalties. Grab a reload 0 Bow and just unload on poor targets.
- Swashbuckler: Panache damage only works with melee strikes, but Swashbucklers generally have enough Dexterity to operate a ranged weapon. If you’re using Free Archetype and want some ranged options, this might work for you.
- Thaumaturge: As long as you use a one-handed weapon, Thaumaturge works great. Just remember to take Ammunition Thaumaturgy at first level so you can reload properly. Using Advanced Bow Training to get a Repeating Hand Crossbow so you can Double Shot one-handed is a great way to apply Exploit Vulnerability damage.