Archers: viable archetype?


Banded Mongoose
I'm planning on creating a new character for an upcoming Conan game. I'm considering a Borderer with the Archery combat style, a soldier (Bossonian), or multi-classing between the two.

I typically GM rather than play. None of my players have attempted to run an archer-type character before.

Are archers a viable archetype in Conan? in d20/D&D in general? The feats seem to suggest so, but looking at a lot of abilities being limited to a range of 30' or less seems restrictive to me.
Archers are viable, but you really need to make sure that your GM gives you the opportunity to take advatage of your archery advantage - to whit, shooting at long range.

If all your encounters start within charge range, you will be be at a severe disadvantage if the only thing you are good at is archery.

You can still be effective, you would just be relying alot on your "backup weapon" rather than your true forte, which might rankle - like a nomad denied his horse or a noble when every encounter is a battle.


You might want to check out the "Formation Combat Revisited" thread, in which I suggest two formation combat styles that you might find of interest - even if you don't use the rules in full, the "Archery" style, and the ammended Skirmisher style might be of interest.
One of my characters is an archer and he is freaking out a bit at how much damage the 2 handed weapon guys are regularly doing. That is the only problem with archers in Conan, there is no way of increasing the damage like there is for melee guys. 18 Str and a Stygian bow doing d12 +4 is good, but the same 4th level guy with power attack, bardiche and power attack is cranking out 2d10+10 and only taking -2 from his attack roll to do so.
This certainly isn't an issue unique to Conan. As with any d20/OGL ruleset, archers depend upon what feats you use to make them and the situation your GM throws at you.

While the guy with the bardiche and power attack may be great once he closes with his opponent, the archer certainly is handy if that opponent must first cover a distance to reach the character. Also, don't underestimate the value of an archer to strike at important targets (such as spellcasting scholars and enemy archers staying far from melee) while other, more "hands on" characters act as a screen.

It's all in how you use them.

Personally, I almost always take a character who makes good use of a bow because it always seems to come in handy.
Sutek said:
Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot, Ranged Finesse


Although since that requires standing in charge range, and since the 5 foot step is a lot less forgiving in Conan, said archer is about to get charged and beaten to a pulp ;)
This situation isn't unique to d20, either. We had the same issues with the Lord of the Rings RPG.

The ability to deal damage to a foe at a distance while he can't immediately strike back is a tremendous advantage well and of itself. With an ally able to engage enemies in melee combat and an archer with relevant feats to offset shooting into melee, the archer is risking less, and consequently doing less damage than the face-to-face fighter.

It's not really historically accurate or even realistic, but serves to balance archery with melee combat. If it weren't like this, most player groups would end up being small clusters of archers, doing incredible damage at range while enemies are forced to close. Not much fun for the GM, and eventually the players.
Mayhem said:
Sutek said:
Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot, Ranged Finesse


Although since that requires standing in charge range, and since the 5 foot step is a lot less forgiving in Conan, said archer is about to get charged and beaten to a pulp ;)

PBS is necessary for RS, but you still can shot 2x at long range! (I.e., no need for 30')
Yes, Rapid Shot is just 2 shots, any range. So that's got all kinds of bonus there.

There's also some feat (the name of which totally escapes me right now) that allows you to ignore the +4 to target DV while in close combat. Precision Shot, maybe? Anyway, then you get 2x shots with the bonus to hit for PBS and Finesse while the Barbarian is Cleaving everyone...makes it that much easier for him to drop people.

Here's a weird question: Can you choose "Aid Other" at range? I dont' think you can - that'd be a great feat to create.
The viability of the Archer also can depend on the number of allies you have. If your party has a couple of melee guys then an archer can work well, you can hide behind them. But if the group doesnt you might find yourself hard pressed to use a bow when enemies are right next to you.
As to the feats doent forget Precise Shot.
The other guys here have covered most of the archery issues. Unlike in D&D, I would suggest you build your archer around Str instead of Dex, unless you decide to make a sneak attack archer. A low Armor Piercing score combined with little bonus damage won't work well against heavily armored foes. This also has the added benefit that you can drop your bow in close combat and still do decent damage with a bardiche or greatsword. Make sure you know how 5' steps work in Conan. Most of the archery feats are decent, but I would avoid Ranged Finesse. And I suggest you buy some silver arrows in case you meet demons and aberrations.

Sutek: The feat you're referring to is Improved Precise Shot. And you can only Aid Another if the opponent is within melee range.
I've houseruled Ranged Finesse to be a standard action, usuable out to base range, with no aiming or target movement requirements.

That doesn't make it the best feat out there, but is certainly a lot more viable than the default version.