May the Odds Be Forever In Your Favor

Welcome to Iconic Design, where we discuss the creation of exciting new character builds for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game!

Hunger Games.

Background

I’m not sure how much to say about Katniss, as Hunger Games is a pretty big deal right now. Katniss is a teenage girl living in a dystopian society were every year, young adults are thrown into huge, forested dome to fight to the death. Katniss volunteers for the event to spare her sister from that same fate and throughout the Hunger Games series, Katniss becomes a figure of inspiration for her society as they start to rebel against their oppressive aristocracy. If you want to know more, you can Google her, read the Hunger Games, or watch the movies. Your pick.

Build Concept

Katniss is an archer, and as most people know archery is a somewhat boring feat option in Pathfinder not because it isn’t strong, but because there is a very long list of “great feats” that almost every archer takes in order to become a good archer. As a result, archers often feel “samey” to one another. Let’s see if I can break the cycle.

  • Ranger (Trapper): Wow, June has been the month of the ranger, hasn’t it? Like Steve Irwin before her, Katniss’s skill at hunting and trapping make this archetype a no-brainer for her. Katniss won’t be focusing in the traps nearly as heavily, however. Archery is a bit too feat intensive for that.
  • Rogue (Sniper): Before anyone says, “Just go slayer,” here me out on this one. The sniper archetype has awesome abilities for sniping (imagine that!). Although the slayer gets something similar to deadly range, its accuracy that is impossible to replace. The combination of accuracy and Far Shot is going to make Katniss a terrifyingly deadly character to behold.

And with that, let’s move on to the build!

Early Levels (1–7)

  • Classes: Ranger (trapper) 5, Rogue 2
  • Feats: Point-Blank Shot (Human), Precise Shot (1st), Far Shot (Combat Style), Deadly Aim (3rd), Endurance (Ranger), Rapid Shot (5th), Far Shot (7th)
  • Abilities: Accuracy, Archery Combat Style, Endurance, Evasion, Favored Enemy (Animal +2), Favored Terrain (Forest +2), Hunter’s Bond (Companions), Rogue Talent (Sniper’s Eye), Sneak Attack +2d6, Track +2, Trap (2 + Wisdom; pit trap, snare trap), Trapfinding +2, Wild Empathy

Who needs slayers? We’ve got ranger/rogues!

In all seriousness, this build will (eventually) help us accomplish a few things that (currently) aren’t possible with the slayer. For one, ranger traps! Katniss is a skilled trapper and hunter; nothing pulls this off quite as well as the trapper ranger. That said, I think she has a certain flair for ambushes and sniping that only the rogue sniper archetype can provide. By the end game, I don’t plan for Katniss to be as good as a slayer at sneak attacking (she’s mostly ranger after all), but I do want to invest a few levels into getting her deadly range bonus in the mid game because between Far Shot and accuracy, Katniss has the unique fortune of having a virtually non-existent penalty on ranged attack rolls. This makes her a master of sniping out foes from miles away, especially animals, which are her early-level favored enemy (though you’re free to pick something more common, of course).

Katniss’s traps are fairly standard. She can make pit traps and snares, both of which are a somewhat ordinary tool in a hunter’s toolbox. The nice thing about ranger traps is that their DCs scale with character level, not ranger level, so we can multiclass Katniss as much as we want and not have to worry about her trap DCs, which is something you can’t say about a ranger’s spellcasting.

In terms of her feats, Katniss is pretty boring. Her feats end up feeling quite “samey” because archers need a very key selection of feats in order to function well, some of which I’ve purposefully delayed in favor of some more flavorful options, specifically Far Shot, which makes Katniss incredibly good at getting of her one-shot surprise sneak attack from being hidden. Katniss makes for an incredibly effective solo character as long as she can keep hiding; she should only be making full attacks when she’s not going to be able to snipe her foes. Over the next few levels, we’re going to see Katniss become even better at hitting things from far away.

Mid Levels (8 –14)

  • Classes: Ranger (trapper) 8, Rogue 6
  • Feats: Point-Blank Shot (Human), Precise Shot (1st), Far Shot (Combat Style), Deadly Aim (3rd), Endurance (Ranger), Rapid Shot (5th), Far Shot (7th), Manyshot (Combat Trick), Clustered Shots (9th), Weapon Focus: longbow (Combat Training), Snap Shot (11th), Point Blank Master (Combat Style), Improved Precise Shot (13th)
  • Abilities: Accuracy, Archery Combat Style, Deadly Range +20 feet, Endurance, Evasion, Favored Enemy (Animal +6, Humans +4, Vermin +2), Favored Terrain (Forest +4, Urban +2), Hunter’s Bond (Companions), Launch Trap, Rogue Talent (Combat Trick, Sniper’s Eye, Weapon Training), Sneak Attack +3d6, Track +4, Trap (2 + Wisdom; pit trap, snare trap, swarm trap), Swift Tracker, Trapfinding +4, Uncanny Dodge, Wild Empathy, Woodland Stride

C’mon. You knew I had to give her the swarm trap! As for her build, Katniss’s ability to shoot stuff from far away gets even better as she levels up. For example, Improved Precise Shot makes it virtually impossible for anything to hide from her arrows. Extra sneak attack damage dice means that whatever she does hit is going to be hurting from it and a deadly range bonus of +20 feet means that she can sneak attack (with virtually no penalty) from up to 50 feet away. Add in sniper’s eye and she can sneak attack enemies from 50 feet away even if they have concealment while ignoring all of their cover and concealment bonuses. It’s a pretty nasty combination!

For her second favored enemy, human makes the most sense. Because archery is fairly feat-heavy, we’ve given Katniss as many of the rogue bonus feats as we could muster before going back to ranger for the rest of the ride. Katniss gets better at laying traps, better at stalking people, and better at moving through the woods, and she can shoot people who provoke attacks of opportunity from her. She’s a pretty strong option right now, that’s certain!

Endgame (15+)

  • Classes: Ranger (trapper) 14, Rogue 6
  • Feats: Point-Blank Shot (Human), Precise Shot (1st), Far Shot (Combat Style), Deadly Aim (3rd), Endurance (Ranger), Rapid Shot (5th), Far Shot (7th), Manyshot (Combat Trick), Clustered Shots (9th), Weapon Focus: longbow (Combat Training), Snap Shot (11th), Point Blank Master (Combat Style), Improved Precise Shot (13th), Combat Reflexes (15th), Shot on the Run (Combat Style), Pinpoint Targeting (17th), Improved Snap Shot (19th), Parting Shot (Combat Style)
  • Abilities: Accuracy, Archery Combat Style, Camouflage, Deadly Range +20 feet, Endurance, Evasion, Favored Enemy (Animal +6, Humans +4, Vermin +2), Favored Terrain (Forest +6, Plains +2, Urban +2), Hunter’s Bond (Companions), Rogue Talent (Combat Trick, Sniper’s Eye, Weapon Training), Sneak Attack +3d6, Track +7, Trap (2 + Wisdom; fireworks trap, marking trap, pit trap, selective trigger, smoke trap, snare trap, swarm trap, tripwire trap, wounding trap), Quarry, Swift Tracker, Trapfinding +7, Uncanny Dodge, Wild Empathy, Woodland Stride

Quick note, smoke trap is from the Paizo product Champions of Balance, not from the trapper archetype’s debut product, Ultimate Magic. She can snipe with virtually no penalty, dealing an extra +3d6 damage when she does so. She can set up oodles of deadly traps and even shoot them at opponents if she chooses.

And with that, Katniss really comes together at the end game. She’s something frightening in combat, to be certain. She can shoot people that are threatening her in the face at point-blank range with Improved Snap Shot. With her tracking and trapfinding skills, she can harry opponents to the ends of the earth and protect her allies from cunning traps. All in all, this is a very potent build that takes the archetypal archer and gives her something else to do in combat. This character is good at skills, she’s good at setting and disarming traps, and she’s good at tracking opponents. In all, this is a fun character for any occasion.

Mythic

When we’re talking about mythic for Katniss, her best options for paths are trickster, champion, or marshal. Both of the ranger-focused mythic abilities are split between champion and marshal. Marshal’s ability interacts with Katniss’s hunter’s bond ability while the champion ability interfaces with her favored enemy bonuses. Going trickster gives Katniss vanishing move, which will allow her to benefit from her sneak attack more often by temporarily becoming invisible. It also has a bunch of awesome skill-based benefits. As to how I would build her? Probably marshal/trickster. People in the Hunger Games are constantly commenting on how inspirational Katniss is, so marshal is a no-brainer. In the end, I think the cool Stealth and Survival benefits that one could pull from trickster are more interesting than the abilities found in champion for Katniss, but you’re free to make that choice for yourself.

And there you have it; an archer build for Katniss! What do you think? Is this build too damage oriented or does it have the right combination of skills and strikes to make for an interesting take on Katniss? Have I used trapper ranger too much in the past few weeks? What are your thoughts on an archetype that trades away the spellcasting class feature? What would you change in this build? I look forward to your questions and answers in the comments and until next time, thanks for reading Iconic Design!

Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long over 90% of his colleagues. Affectionately called a “budding game designer” by his partner at Radiance House, Alexander is the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series (Radiance House) and a handful of other Third-Party Products. Before founding the Everyman Gaming blog, Alexander gained notoriety for writing the GM’s Guide to Challenging Encounters, which remains accessible to this day. His favorite color is blue, his favorite Pathfinder Race/Class combination is kitsune trapper, and he hopes that he won’t become assimilated into the trapper-keeper 9000.

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4 thoughts on “May the Odds Be Forever In Your Favor

    • Thanks for the catch. Its been fixed.

      Nothing extra was supposed to go there, though. That’s just a leftover “she” from when those two paragraphs were one huge paragraph.

  1. Mechanically, I think this is awesome and I don’t think you focused too much on damage or anything like that. When push comes to shove, Katniss is a very deadly killing machine and doesn’t have much in the social skills department.

    The only issue, is Katniss’s inspirational abilities are hard to mimic in Pathfinder because it’s more like she rolls several natural 20s in a row making diplomacy checks or something. It might be she’s tanked Charisma but has a really high Diplomacy/Bluff skill that she just never uses or something.

    Feat Wise, you ended up going with the archery feats so she still has much of the ‘samey’ feeling to her. That’s an unavoidable hazard of Archery though, very rarely will archery appear different in practice. I think the most unique Archer I’ve seen in awhile was an Alchemist Archer that Ravingdork made, but largely because the archer was able to attach her bombs to her arrows and fire them. I thought it was really awesome ability myself, enough that I designed an NPC similar to his as a romance option for the arcane archer in my Curse of the Crimson Throne game.

    I also think Katniss here works better as an NPC because of her traps. Unless the party is willing to let her set up traps all the time, they won’t be much use in combat until she makes Ranger level 10th. It would be absurdly fun to put her in the game as a kind of cameo. Maybe the group is wandering along when a haggered and wounded Ogre comes barreling through the woods only to fall into a trap of some sort and then an arrow pierces it’s throat and Katniss appears.

  2. You’ve got Far Shot twice, once virtually from combat style and once from a feat choice. I don’t believe they stack, and even if they do the benefit is minimal. You can shore up any holes you might see in the build by reassigning the second instance.

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