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  1. #1
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    Default Arcane Archer: or how an eternally ranged player sees the PrE

    What can I say, I’ve been inspired to write an AA guide for those to consider when contemplating the ranged character. What with the influx of new players, and their never ending desire to use bows, I figure I may help the community out a bit by offering this little manual.

    Some disclaimers are in order. First, my main character is a ranged ranger. She’s been so for the last 4 years as I’ve played DDO. I really enjoy her, and I like playing her. That having been said, I recognize (more than many, I’m afraid) the weakness inherent in the ranged combat system in DDO. This post is not about that. I heavily endorse pulling out your two weapons and fighting in melee. I’ll post on that below. Next, ranged combat is not for everyone. I heavily suggest that before you try working in ranged combat that you roll up a front line melee character first so that you get a feel for it, and for how annoying a poorly played ranged character can be.

    This guide is intended for first timers/new to the AA PrE individuals who don't have the background knowledge in DDO to make a truly creative AA. It is not for min/maxing. It is for a solid core AA that helps and doesn't hinder a party.
    Last edited by Pwesiela; 10-30-2011 at 06:09 PM.
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    Pwesiela is correct.

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    Races and Classes

    Elf: there is an inherent synergy between the elf and the AA. This combo shouldn’t be overlooked in passing. Give it serious thought. The elf gets enhancements to their bow use which become handy in ranged combat. They receive racial bonuses to hit with the longbow when you range, and the scimitar, rapier, or longsword for your melee. They get a racial bonus to damage on longbows, longswords, rapiers, and scimitars. Further, the ranger class allows you to access the AA line faster (lvl 6) than just being an elven AA (lvl 8). While the other classes and races provide benefits to consider for an AA, there simply isn't a more powerful AA than an elven AA. Add in the elven dex enhancements and spot enhancements, and you get a rather potent mix.

    Human: the extra feat allows you to take the required feats (more on those later) while getting early access to feats like Toughness. Further, you do not suffer the negative to constitution.

    Dwarf: extra constitution is a nice bonus, while the negative to charisma really doesn’t hurt anyone (except those looking at you). Also allows further access to the toughness enhancement line due to the dwarven constitution enhancements.

    Halfling: no negative to constitution, but a negative to strength. If you’re going ranger (which I suggest), this hurts your damage due to bow strength.

    Warforged: bonus to constitution, while taking a hit to charisma and wisdom. This wisdom hit, while slightly painful, is not truly detrimental.

    Drow: Similar to the elf, but without the enhancements to the bow. If your choice is between Drow or Elf, go elf.

    Half-Orc: The h-orc is a boon to tempest builds. It also helps AAs during their melee times. The Orcish fury, the melee damage boost enhancement are both quite useful for that portion of the AA. However, other than the str bonuses and melee weapon bonuses, this race does not really lend itself to the AA who primarily ranges.

    Half-Elf : The dilatant lines make for some interesting possibilities with the AA. The h-elf is a viable option for an AA, much like humans are. They do not receive the bonus to dex that the elf gets, but they do get a better con score, and more opportunity for hit points through the human adaptability lines. So on to the best dilatant lines: Don’t take the ranger dilatant. You get all these options anyway, and the note tells you not to regardless. The barbarian and paladin lines are interesting, and worth considering. But I believe them to be sub-par for the AA (not to mention the needed cha for the pally line given the likely dump stat nature of cha on a AA). I don’t believe that the fighter dilatant line will be of much use to the ranger for a few reasons: 1) with the dex bonus you have, you won’t be wearing armor, you’ll be wearing outfits or robes and 2) you don’t use stunning blow/trip/sunder as an AA. The Cleric/FvS dilatants offer quite a bit in the way of self-healing, especially if you take them to their fullest, allowing 95% success on heal scrolls, without UMD. And that’s big. Add to that the fact that starting with the necessary wisdom is much more likely, and this makes a powerful reason to go h-elf. Similarly, for those interested in AC on an AA, the monk dilatant will permit up to an additional 5 AC based on your wisdom score, without the need of splashing monk, meaning that you can go pure ranger, and get the main reason people add monk to their build. The rogue dilatant will add significant damage while in SA range, and will add possibilities for the dex enhancement lines. Finally, the arcane caster dilatants (wizard and sorcerer) will be nice for those wanting to unlock the ability to use scrolls for their benefit (like GH, stoneskin, etc.) Ultimately, one should look carefully at what dilatant lines are open to them, and what they want to invest in it. You’ll have to balance the choice with the enhancements you want to take.

    Class-wise, if you’re serious about ranged combat, ranger is the way to go. At first level, you receive the feat Bow Strength, which adds your strength modifier to your ranged damage. Further, you get many of the important bow feats (such as precise shot, improved precise shot, multishot, and rapid shot) for free, while also receiving the two weapon fighting feats that you’ll (hopefully) fall back on in combat situations.

    However, fighter, wizard, and sorcerer are not unheard of classes for the AA. For many casters, AA can provide additional non-sp damage during combat where there is a desire to save sp. The fighter kensei enhancement can provide some real benefit as well, though I will not go into it here. Instead, take a look at the Helves Angel build. It's a good fighter kensei AA build, considered by many to be a very, very good archer.
    Last edited by Pwesiela; 07-23-2011 at 09:49 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victorie View Post
    Pwesiela is correct.

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    Feats

    There are two prerequisite feats for the AA: Point Blank Shot and Weapon Focus: Ranged. The feat Mental Toughness can be used as the third prerequisite for the AA, though it may also be replaced by an enhancement from one of the caster classes: Elven Arcanum I (wizard), Sorcerer Energy of the Dragonblooded I (sorcerer), Wizard Energy of the Scholar I (wizard), Bard Energy of Music I (bard), or the feat Past Life: Arcane Prodigy (sorcerer). For most AA builds, the third feat after PBS and WF:R will be mental toughness, as it is available to rangers at level 6 without splashing an arcane class for the enhancement option.

    My feat progression suggestion is as follows:
    lvl 1: Point Blank Shot
    lvl 3: Weapon Focus: Ranged
    lvl 6: Mental Toughness
    lvl 9: Improved Critical: Ranged
    lvl 12: Toughness
    lvl 15: Weapon Finesse/Improved Critical: Slashing (for non-finesse characters)
    lvl 18: Improved Critical: Piercing (for finesse characters)/Power Attack (non-finesse characters)

    The above gets you the feats you need, the feats you want (Toughness), and the feats you’ll want for the melee you will do (IC: Slashing should you choose to rely on your strength modifier and scimitars/longsowrds, or WF and IC: Piercing should you choose to rely on your dex modifier and rapiers).

    If you are a ranger, you will receive all the other feats you’ll need for free, if you choose the fighter path, you’ll want to ensure that you get the feats you otherwise would have gotten for free by using your fighter bonus feats for those you can (like IC: Ranged and WF: Ranged) and use the regular feats for those that cannot be selected as fighter feats. If you choose the arcane path, with AA as additional non-sp damage, you’ll obviously want to drop the melee feats for meta-magic feats. But that’s neither here, nor there.

    Ability Point Distribution

    Obviously, dexterity is a key ability. It determines how often you’re going to hit with that bow of yours. But DO NOT neglect constitution or strength. I will always recommend a starting constitution of 14. As an elf, I recommend going 14 Str, 14 Con, 10 wis, and the rest into dex. This distribution will give you a solid character regardless of whether you are a 28 point build or 32 point build. 32 point builds can afford to put more into constitution or strength, however.

    Level up points at 4, 8, 12, 16, and 20 should go into dex. This will allow a character to get to a dex score in the low to mid 30s, easily, while still having a con score of over 20, and a str score in the mid to high 20s. Wisdom for spells and imbuing will come from levels, items, and enhancements. The exact numbers will vary based on your class and race.

    By refusing to neglect strength, you allow yourself the melee alternative, either by increasing your to-hit and damage should you choose a non-finesse route, or by increasing your damage with rapiers or shortswords. By keeping an eye on your con score, you ensure that you can take a hit, either while using the bow or in melee combat, without crumbling at the first, second, third, or fourth hit. Hopefully even the eighth hit.
    Last edited by Pwesiela; 07-22-2010 at 04:06 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victorie View Post
    Pwesiela is correct.

  4. #4
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    Combat: or how to not get the group angry at you so that you get reinvited

    I CANNOT stress this enough: the most important lesson you will ever learn as an AA is when to put the bow away!! Yes, this is coming from an AA who loves ranged action. Just because you are an AA does not mean that you can ignore melee combat. You will melee. Get used to the idea, and figure out when you need to do that.

    Now, on to the ranged combat in party. As I view it, the most important role the AA has in a group is to eliminate those high-risk enemies that melee will have trouble getting to: namely casters and clerics that hang out in the back of the fight and cause problems. I say this because the ranger has a wonderful feat: Precise Shot. It allows you to hit one target, and one target only, that is behind a whole mess of other stuff that you don’t want to get angry. Add burst damage from multishot, and a party with an AA should be able to feel comfortable letting the melee beat on the melee, while knowing that the massive damage from fireballs will be focused on the character with the evasion, reflex save, resistances, and hit points to easily survive them while never draining the clerics resources.

    Once these high-risk enemies have been dealt with, the feat Improved Precise Shot becomes your friend for the melee. By this time, most melee should be firmly attacking your party’s melee, and you shouldn’t be drawing aggro, allowing you to safely deal the dps. However, if multishot is on cooldown, feel free to weapon up and get into the melee. You will likely do more damage this way, and show your party that you’re not a one-trick pony.

    Placement: What do I mean by placement? I mean where are you located in relation to your target/s? As an AA, either as a fighter or as a ranger, you should have the Point Blank Shot feat, which means that you get a bonus to your damage while within 30 feet. You can tell if you're within the 30 feet by paying attention to the icon next to the first damage number that appears over a mob's head when you hit it. If it looks like a target circle, you're within range. If you're not seeing it, you're not in range for PBS to work. So, if you don't see it, move forward a bit if you want the extra damage. Related to placement, you also have the Precise Shot and Improved Precise Shot. So, pay attention to how your enemies are lining up in order to take advantage of the IPS. Target the furthest from you, and get as much as you can in between you and it. That way, you're doing damage to multiple enemies, not just one. Ranged damage is subpar (by far) to melee when it comes to 1-on-1 without multishot. However, you start hitting 3 or 4 targets, and you're going to start surpassing what melee can do in the same time.

    Kiting: this tactic deserves special mention. When you are soloing, kite away. Feel free. Do it all you want throughout the entire dungeon. In a party, you will not earn any friends. Any kiting should be done towards the melee party members, except for one exception listed below. You kite into your melee so that any intim tank can take the aggro, and so that the melee DPS doesn’t run after you trying to kill in 2 swings what you’re running around the dungeon. As a ranged character, you are better off not having the aggro of something with a big sword while all you wield is a bow. If you do pull aggro, but do not want to kite into the party, switch weapons, get into melee, and end the threat. This allows party members to quickly get to your aid, and dispach the mob quickly.

    The only time an AA in a party should kite away from the party is when they are doing so to reduce the aggro on melee who are being overwhelmed. Once the party has dealt with the reduced threat, kite into the party again.
    Last edited by Pwesiela; 10-30-2011 at 06:16 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victorie View Post
    Pwesiela is correct.

  5. #5
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    Weapon Selection

    There are few bows and weapons that I consider essential for every AA to have. They are as follows:

    The Silver Bow. Until you get a GS bow, and sometimes even after, this bow is your ultimate weapon against 90% of the mobs in this game. It has an increased base damage. It has an improved crit range, and it’s available at lvl 6. There is no reason for any AA to not have this in their arsenal. It drops from the lvl 9 quest “The Church and the Cult” in House P. The questgiver is up on top of the Golden Wing Inn. It really isn’t a difficult quest. If you don’t have this bow, go get it. Now. I’m not kidding. Stop farming favor or xp and get this bow.

    Paralyzing bow. This is one of those weapons that makes melee happy, particularly in the lower levels. With improved precise shot, you can immobilize the entire enemy army for the melee to deal with at whim. Switching targets keeps everything stationary until the death comes. You may not deal the final blow, but you’ve just saved the melee and your healer a TON of hassle.

    Specialty weapons. With the change to vorpal weapons, it's a good idea to keep an eye out for the specialty weapons that got changed with them: namely banishing, smiting, and disruption. Each deals additional damage to specific types of monsters. Banishing = extraplanar, smiting = construct, disruption = undead. Bows of these varieties are normally pretty cheap to come by, as are the weapons. Keep an eye out for both.

    DPS melee weapons. Keep an eye out for holy/elemental burst weapons of your particular stripe with handy effects such as pure good or destruction. When you get into the Shroud, be sure to make yourself not only a bow (Lit II is generally regarded as the best), but melee weapons as well. For melee, consider making dual Min IIs. This frees up a feat spot (IC: Slashing/Piercing depending on what you've chosen to do) which you can then exchange for something of more value, like Power Attack, Empower Healing, or more Toughness.

    Gear

    The following are some pieces of gear to keep an eye out for, or otherwise work for:

    Dex/Wis/Con/Str items. Each will be a boon for you.

    Fortification items. You will not have as much hp as a melee, so preventing critical hits on you is a must.

    Wizardry robe or item. Have it on before you enter a quest or shrine. Buff up, hit your imbue ability, then switch to your real armor. My 20 ranger, with a base 10 wisdom, has over 500 sp when entering a quest. That’s more than enough for any quest I have yet to run, and I easily use 100 sp on my initial buffing (which empties out the spare sp from my magi robe nicely).

    Superior Devotion IV or Potency IV. As a ranger, you get up to lvl 4 healing spells. Superior Devotion or Potency IV boosts those by 50% and are rather cheap to get, especially on a weapon or shield that you can equip for healing between battles.

    Raid Gear includes the Quiver of Alacrity and Wretched Twilight from the Abbott, Tumbleweed from the Hound or ToD rings. Raid gear also includes Shroud weapons/items (such as a Min II item).




    That’s it for now. I may add more in the replies, or otherwise edit the above, but this should provide a good start for anyone interested in playing an AA that doesn’t get booted from the party once the quest is over.
    Last edited by Pwesiela; 10-30-2011 at 06:06 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victorie View Post
    Pwesiela is correct.

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    Community Member Purgatory's Avatar
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    This is a very nice guide I like it +1
    Only thing I would change is last 2 feats, emp healing and maxamise for real solid self healing.

    And no mention of having your draw object increased as high as you can get it. This is very very improtant on a Arcane Archer need to see them casters and clerics in the back to target them.
    Last edited by Purgatory; 07-22-2010 at 02:43 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Purgatory View Post
    This is a very nice guide I like it +1
    Only thing I would change is last 2 feats, emp healing and maxamise for real solid self healing.
    I think those depend entirely on whether or not you're wanting a good melee option. I personally don't have either on my AA. I do, however, carry superior potency IV, which makes my cure serious hit for about 50. I've found that to be quite sufficient for most situations.

    Should you choose to go the non-finesse route, that would leave a feat open for a meta feat, but it's not one I'd sacrifice my melee capacity for.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victorie View Post
    Pwesiela is correct.

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    lvl 18: Improved Critical: Piercing (for finesse characters), Power Attack for non-finesse characters

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    Great guide, I wish I had read one like before makeing my AA as my first toon, oh the leasons we must learn the hard way

    Anyway, you did forget to write up the full Elf race info (as in the same way you did the other races), other than that, great.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdasca View Post
    Great guide, I wish I had read one like before makeing my AA as my first toon, oh the leasons we must learn the hard way

    Anyway, you did forget to write up the full Elf race info (as in the same way you did the other races), other than that, great.
    Fixed that, thanks for the reminder.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victorie View Post
    Pwesiela is correct.

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    Great guide. I wish every ranged player I grouped with followed it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AylinIsAwesome View Post
    lvl 18: Improved Critical: Piercing (for finesse characters), Power Attack for non-finesse characters
    Good point, TY. There are other good feats for the non-finesse AA at this level, but PA works well with my theme of using the feats for secondary melee combat. It will depend, however, on just how much strength that character has, as you will be trading to-hit for the damage, and your strength may not be high enough for reliable hits.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victorie View Post
    Pwesiela is correct.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArichValtrahn View Post
    Great guide. I wish every ranged player I grouped with followed it.
    Thanks! Me too...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victorie View Post
    Pwesiela is correct.

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    Thank you very much for the guide. It is so helpful. My main character and my favorite is an elven arcane archer built virtually exactly as you have described here. tons of fun to play and not at all horrible in melee. I think my build has a higher focus on melee as I took my STR higher and my DEX lower than in your build and I pretty much only range when I have MS or there is a caster or other archer to take down.

    Great Guide, anyone who plans an AA should read and listen to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pwesiela View Post
    Good point, TY. There are other good feats for the non-finesse AA at this level, but PA works well with my theme of using the feats for secondary melee combat. It will depend, however, on just how much strength that character has, as you will be trading to-hit for the damage, and your strength may not be high enough for reliable hits.
    You could mention Skill Focus: UMD if that skill is trained in place of Improved Critical as well, if the player were to make a set of Mineral 2 weapons.

    Or Khopesh Proficiency.

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    Community Member Mercureal's Avatar
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    Great post, well-written and (even better, almost), very well-formatted and laid out. I have nothing substantive to add, but I do have 2 very minor additional comments.

    Weapon Selection

    Improved curse-spewing bow: This is not a requirement by any means, but it's a situational nice-to-have at mid-levels. Similar to the use of your paralyzing bow, it can be used to debuff groups of enemies quickly using Improved Precise Shot. Useful to reduce damage to the melee characters in the party and to help casters land spells that have a save. If you have time to use this and then switch to a paralyzing, it can even help the paralysis land if facing mobs with a decent will save.

    Healing

    Superior Devotion IV items are quite common and cheap, and give a nice boost to healing. This would be the same as the effect from Superior Potency, but a Devotion item is probably easier to find and less expensive.
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    Altogether excellent thread. +1 rep.

    I went a slightly different route - adding to STR rather than DEX at levels and using the elven/ranger dex enhancements.

    If I know I will not hit all the time (due to the lower dex bonus) I use an imp dest bow and then switch to dps bow, but most of the time that is not necessary.

    Finally I took an extra Toughness for that last feat.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mercureal View Post
    Healing

    Superior Devotion IV items are quite common and cheap, and give a nice boost to healing. This would be the same as the effect from Superior Potency, but a Devotion item is probably easier to find and less expensive.
    Given that I carry a Superior Potency IV item on my ranger, I'm surprised I didn't mention it. Thanks for the reminder and added.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victorie View Post
    Pwesiela is correct.

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    Only thing I'd change is Mental Toughness at 6 - I'd rather have Toughness earlier, or grab Emp Healing. Mana isn't a huge deal, and with your advice about using Wizardry prior to buffing, I think few folks would have trouble with running out of SP. Emp healing can wait until later levels, since it's not as efficient with CLW/CMW, but still, really handy to have, even if just for recovering after a fight

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    Quote Originally Posted by GraysonAC View Post
    Only thing I'd change is Mental Toughness at 6 - I'd rather have Toughness earlier, or grab Emp Healing. Mana isn't a huge deal, and with your advice about using Wizardry prior to buffing, I think few folks would have trouble with running out of SP. Emp healing can wait until later levels, since it's not as efficient with CLW/CMW, but still, really handy to have, even if just for recovering after a fight
    Mental Toughness is required by the PrE...as are Point Blank Shot and Weapon Focus: Ranged.

    If you want your PrE at level 6 those have to be your first three feats.


    I would, however, take Toughness at 9 since I like my hitpoints.

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