One of the most common misconceptions that I see is this idea that sniping in Pathfinder is a terrible option. But like most things, it really isn’t. You simply need to build to be good at it.
Traditionally, sniping has two major problems. First, sniping only nets you a single attack for low damage. Second, sniping comes with a nasty –20 penalty on your Stealth check to remain hidden. I’m going to give you a build that’ll give you the sniper feel you want while still being functional throughout play. Don’t believe me? Challenge accepted.
Any information important to understanding the build or its roots goes here.
- Classes: unchained rogue (scout, sniper) 12
- Feats: Weapon Finesse (bonus), Point-Blank Shot (1st), Dampen Presence (Bonus), Precise Shot (3rd), Expert Sniper (4th), Rapid Shot (5th), Master Sniper (Bonus), Deadly Aim (7th), Ranged Feint (9th), Extra Rogue Talent: fast stealth (11th)
- Abilities: accuracy, advanced rogue talents, deadly range +30 feet, debilitating injury, evasion, finesse training (spiked gauntlet, shortsword), rogue’s edge, rogue talents, scout’s charge, skirmisher, sneak attack +6d6.
- Rogue’s Edge: Stealth (5th), Bluff (10th)
- Rogue Talents: dampen presence (2nd), superior sniper (4th), combat trick: Master Sniper (6th), slow reactions (8th), stalker talent: cunning feint (10th), fast stealth (Bonus), quick shot (12th)
Alright, so the basic idea behind this build is, “If at first you don’t sneak attack, try, try again.” The build is designed around having several different ways to gain ranged sneak attack (probably with a shortbow), and even when that doesn’t work having a back up plan.
So first, the basics: you need the core elements of any good ranged attacking build. Point-Blank Shot, Precise Shot, and Rapid Shot. From there, we’re also picking up Expert Sniper (which cuts the Stealth penalty to snipe by –10) and Master Sniper (which essentially lets you Rapid Shot while sniping); these two feats combined with the 5 rank rogue’s edge for Stealth basically allow you to full attack for two attacks while sniping without taking a penalty on your Stealth check. This is EXACTLY what this build needed to be decent at stealthing, and we’re going to kick it up a notch by picking up the sniper rogue archetype, which boosts the range we can sneak attack while stealthing and cuts the range increment penalty for our attacks in half. VERY useful.
Now, we have two other “sneak attack access” abilities going for us; one at 4th and the other at 8th. Scout’s charge is nifty if you decide you want to fight in melee fast. (Remember: you have Weapon Finesse and finesse training with the spiked gauntlet, so you can punch people for melee sneak attacks without ever dropping your bow.) At 8th level, skirmish will give you sneak attacks whenever you’re on the move, regardless of whether you use a melee weapon or a ranged weapon. (Again, very helpful and useful.) Finally, at 10th level you get your final kicker: the cunning feint vigilante talent. This awesome ability is basically Improved Feint on steroids; at your level, you can feint as a move action or in place of your first attack during a full attack action and apply the Dex denial to all of your attacks because even though the talent is locked at “10th-level vigilante,” that’s plenty to get the full benefits of your chosen talent. And of course, we took Ranged Feint at 9th level, so this all ties together nicely.
In short, this build will let you snipe, feint, and dash your way to sneak attacks. It is super versatile in this manner, and will let you effectively fight with your signature attack in a variety of circumstances. It’s got the standard sneak attacking build weaknesses, but overall it is a fun, versatile build.
That’s it for this week’s Iconic Design! Come back next week for another one. And if you have any requests, leave’em below. I read them all and take them all into consideration when I’m planning my builds for the week. Take care!
Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex also cohosts the Private Sanctuary Podcast, along with fellow blogger Anthony Li, and you can follow their exploits on Facebook in the 3.5 Private Sanctuary Group, or on Alex’s Twitter, @AlJAug.