A Simple Zen Archer

She's not much, but she's got it where it counts.

She’s not much, but she’s got it where it counts.

Reincarnating Pynthetica from a human Arcane Archer Ranger to a elven AA Monk has been fun.

Pyn is not a “monkcher.”  Teacher Unbongwah replied recently to someone asking what that build was, with a perfect general description.

I’m not a power gamer, although I do like to win. Part of the sense of accomplishment is success using the tools at hand without borrowing the traits of other classes. I know that means that the feat and AP costs might be higher. I might sacrifice a little DPS.

I like the self-imposed challenge of understanding all that is monastic. The new class trees allow greater augmentations of any Monk to do just about anything. While I first groused about the ability for all Monks to gain all elemental stances with Update 19, I now exploit that change to my advantage.

So, like Kiricletica, Pynthetica has a type of self-imposed challenge to push herself to the limit as Kiri did (learning a lot about finishers and Ninja Poison in the process). What powers, advantages and weaknesses does an Arcane Archer Monk possess that we might miss by going the powergamer monkcher route? What things can a level 20, 22 and 25 Elven Monk AA do (or cannot do) in relation to other builds? Which capstone enhancements are better? How does a pure Monk handle a bow in comparison to a single shuriken or a pair of shortswords?

Despite my research, I’ve not found anyone that’s settled in making a pure elven AA Monk on the forums in recent history. So I may be tilling new ground in such a basic build. Hopefully, as with Kiri, I learn something new.

Despite not being a monkcher, Pyn’s true path as a zen archer can show a baseline, a better idea of how Monk levels and class training can leverage the art of Zen Archery while still having all the Monk innate strengths.

Level 10 Offensives

Pyn has a small selection of AA enhancements for frost or force arrows and morphic or metallic arrows. Combined with effects from a Red Fens set item, that’s really it. But she hits consistently and generally strong. Precise Shot adds in generating more gradual damage through its Archer’s Focus. It will be a bit before she’s eligible for Improved Precise Shot. Until then, she adds AP to the Arcane Archer tree as she can. I’ll definitely use four AP for 2 points of WIS.

With level 12 comes Ten Thousand Stars. I’ve been adding WIS from as many sources as I can as well as training the Henshin Mystic for Contemplation for another +1 to passive ki regeneration. Getting Greater Ocean Stance now also helps for having enough ki for using Ten Thousand Stars. Her ki pool and regeneration are good at 80 stable ki with a 32 WIS, buffed and in Greater Ocean Stance. She won’t be training Manyshot. I’m able to turn TTS around about as fast as I activate it. All I need is ki.

There’s a fascinating older DDO thread where many players tried (successfully) to determine the percentage of how TTS works. Effectively, get your WIS to 42 or more and you’ll likely shoot 3 arrows most of the time and 4 arrows a little less than half of the time. Unlike Manyshot’s 20 second burst with a 2 minute cooldown, TTS bursts for 30 seconds with a cooldown of only 60, so you can fire off TTS every 30 seconds as long as there’s ki to use it. Monkchers leverage TTS and Manyshot, although they share cooldowns if you try to use them in sequence.

I didn’t know until recently that Earth Stance’s critical multiplier worked with ranged attacks. I’ve tested this while fighting in Threnal after reading a post noting this point. The critical hits did appear larger. If this is truly the case, a pure Monk gains sizable damage advantages with bows early on in their life.

Perhaps related to this matter is a bug that’s turned up on Lammania on ranged attacks where it seems that the archer’s die are 19-sided and not 20, making critical vorpals, at the least, impossible. I’m not sure if that’s on Live servers, but out of curiosity, I sat Pyn on a training dummy and fired many volleys to see if 20 rolls appeared, and they didn’t. The devs are aware.

If I have to drop the bow, Pyn does have Stunning Fist trained. With high WIS (all points are going into this), her DC should be quite respectable.

Level 10 Defensives

I’m just chugging Cure Serious Potions with a little wand-waving for healing. Pyn seems to have better defense than from her first life. I chalk it up to a high Dodge for her level (16%) and Improved Evasion. I’ve also become a better ranged fighter than when I first played Pyn, using the circle-strafing and micro-kiting techniques learned from Szyncletica.

As I get the last Improved Dilettante: Ranger and half-elf Improved Recovery abilities fully trained, Pyn should have decent (although not exemplary) self-healing with wands and will have some Devotion spell power in place to help potions do their best. I have a Greater Nimble Trinket for an easy addition of Blur (20% concealment) for now.

Training in Shadow Veil to complete her better miss-chances with 25% incorporeality requires that I add the two core Ninja Training abilities for shortsword use and Dexterity to Damage. I don’t see enough points to consider training one Ninjutsu ability, Poisoned Soul, to add Ninja Poison to Pyn’s options. I’d rather see No Mercy trained up for extra damage to helpless enemies but this will eat badly into my AP to complete other AA abilities.

As cool it would be to add poisoning to the mix, Ninja Poison requires blades, not bows, so I don’t want to train up things I’d use only occasionally.

Armor Class isn’t bad at 43 or so in Ocean Stance. It’s enough to take a few hits if something manages to get too close.

I need more Spot. I’m challenged to get this since Hide/Move Silently points aren’t a bad idea given the build’s power-striking limits beyond what AA abilities I make. I plan on fixing this over the weekend with some crafted goggles.

One thing that Pyn can do that she couldn’t as a Ranger is move–fast. She has the agility of a Monk, so I can make her manually evade attacks by side-stepping. She also has Abundant Step to leap to a tactical advantage. Kiting is extremely easy. Sound familiar? It should–Szyncletica’s speed also serves her well as a pure Drow Monk.


Pyn has two feat slots left at 15 and 18. I should take Improved Precise Shot, of course.

Improved Critical: Piercing is also a good idea. But then I thought perhaps I should take Weapon Focus: Piercing to qualify for Bow Strength, rather than relying on the dilettante’s lesser Bow Strength.

I’m leaning this way. If Earth Stance offers a way to improve critical damage without a feat, Bow Strength adds more overall damage per shot rather than a chance at better critical damage.

It’ll be risky to go IPS, then Weapon Focus, and wait for level 21 to add Bow Strength, and 24 for Improved Critical. But by then, I’ll need the edge to damage, not as much in Heroic mode as best I see it.


I was too new to the game at the time I rolled up Pyn over 4 years ago to research the useful bows back then, but now I’ve tracked down several bows with impressive damage. Game updates make these choices easier today, anyway.

Until recently I’ve enjoyed the Giant’s Roar, a serviceable bow.

I started farming in Three-Barrel Cove for the Greatbow of the Scrag. This has blunted ammo, less needed with Pyn’s morphic arrows, but it also hates constructs and has a red augment slot. It’s the overall damage of this bow and others that compels me to chase them down.

The second bow I had Szyncletica farm from a 45-min zerg run through Delera’s Tomb: Serpentbranch, a potent high-damage bow with two augment slots. I added a Ruby of the Vampire Slayer to it along with an acid augment and is my standard bow for most things. For undead, the Silver Longbow still made  for superior attacks even after I pulled out my old disrupting bow at level 12.

I’ve entered the wastes of the Sands and culled many gnolls in search of Thornlord, a +4 bow with just one red slot–but has a base damage of 1.50(1d8+2). That thing’s designed to smack like a howitzer. No luck so far.

Getting and using these bows will have to hold me until I hit level 14 and can use Pyn’s wide assortment of stored bows, some loot-generated and others, like the nasty Bow of Sinew and Petrifying War Bow, from quest chains. A +4 Thundering bow of Pure Good is doing well in Threnal anytime I see Renders appear, once I switch to Metallic arrows.

I’m thinking that Pyn needs to follow Szyn’s lead and build a Frozen Tunic. Unlike Szyn, however, Pyn’s comparatively slower DPS means that the freeze effect will appear less often. Perhaps a Ring of the Stalker is a better bet from the challenges while crafting up a White Dragonscale Robe that would likely satisfy Pyn’s defenses even into Epic. Looks like Szyn or Lynn is about to go on some White scale farming runs.

Consistent, Lackluster…Lovable

The elven Monk AA is peculiar. My action point distribution is all over the map. Points into Ninja Spy for Stealthy’s +1 passive ki and Shadow Veil’s incorporeality. Points into Henshin Mystic for Contemplation’s +1 passive ki. Points into the Elven AA tree.

I don’t see a clear “capstone” to look forward to achieving. You know, that moment where the character stands as a powerful Heroic build that dominates many high-end quests. For Kiricletica, that happened early with sufficient WIS and good stealth tactics to use finishers and Ninja Poison. Szyncletica sat pretty at level 16 when she could use her spelltouched shuriken.

There’s just something rather ordinary about Pyn’s growth. It won’t be helped by the slower core ability training that won’t give me my last two AA cores until Epic levels.

So I see more of the monastic in Pyn in a slightly disappointing sense. Nothing is very flashy or creative about an elven AA, unlike a stealthy shortsword ninja or a high-speed star-thrower. They just shoot arrows.

But Pyn has greater miss-chance defenses than a Ranger. She moves much faster. She’s hard to hit. And she does take things down. I guess that’s what really matters. Nothing flashy, just effective. She’s a Monk with a bow, with all the benefits of defense.

Like Szyn, healing is her greater challenge on Heroic. But unlike Szyn, Pyn can make any potions she drinks work more effectively, especially if she can pile in a Devotion item.

It’s Ten Thousand Stars that brings out the magic from within this archer.. Once I can reach a 42 WIS to maximize the chances for more arrows per attack, I’ll be happy. At only 32 WIS, it’s not bad.

Pyn’s Starring Role, Coming Soon

Now that Pyn reached level 12 and has Ten Thousand Stars, I’ll make a video for Pyn to illustrate her in the Monk guide shortly.

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Saekee
    May 13, 2014 @ 12:44:53

    I thought about this but going Elf instead of Half-Elf, then go Dex instead of Str, take the Elf enhancements for dex to damage with bows–you could also max out Dex and use Shurikens when Manyshot is on timer and skip 10K (since it has the same cooldown)? I think the AA imbues affect shurikens but not sure, or if so if it is WAI. The elf tree, since it is being used, would also add dragonmarks of displacement and a nice cap (doubleshot, dodge, etc.). Probably feat starved…

    • teachersyn
      May 13, 2014 @ 13:50:49

      VERY feat starved. Elf would’ve been a freebie for bow proficiency but it would any feats be freed up? The dragonmarks would suck away more AP, too, although Displacement makes for a strong miss-chance argument. As noted, Manyshot isn’t going to appear…I want to see how TTS can be amplified with as high a WIS as I can muster. I need to review Kiri’s build, as she can reach WIS 54. While the ninja training adds some shuriken prowess, the bow still does a better job, I think, since the star’s ultimate vorpaling won’t happen for Pyn, but I’ll experiment a bit.

  2. Saekee
    May 13, 2014 @ 15:30:09

    Thx for the rapid response.
    Yes lots of AP needed–but then, to get to the AA tree through Elf, one would need to spend points there anyway–maybe it would not be too bad. I agree with you–lots of good competition for AP, from the monk trees, to the elven, to the AA. For feats, if one wished to go elf, it could be: 1 PBS,3 Rapid shot, 6 Precise shot, 9 Manyshot
    12 IC: ranged, 15 IMPS,18 Dragonmarks; from Monk: 1 dodge 2 zen archery 6 10k. Not sure if I missed one. (I know you are already past this decision but just posting it here for thought.) The elven dex route would save feats like Bow Str.
    Nowhere was I able to put in Shuriken expertise and Rapid Reload although one could swap out dodge and Dragonmark, losing two defensive feats. Alas!

    On another note, Lighting the Candle is a nice imbue for bows since its main penalty–the ki lost on hit–doesn’t get hurt by ranged combat. the higher crit range of a bow like Sinew or Pinion should make the force proc more often then a shuriken’s poorer crit range.

    A good substitute for IC: critical is to make a tier 3 Elemental Longbow of earth from the Cannith Challenges and put Keen on it, especially if you have lots of imbues that get bonus damage from crits. With masterful craftsmanship, It would be Min level 16 and be +5, Acid Burst, Greater Acid Arrow, Stone Prison, Destruction, Greater Acid Resistance

    • teachersyn
      May 13, 2014 @ 15:59:04

      I loved the idea of Lighting the Candle and immediately dismissed it for this build, although its benefits would be nice for damage, clearly. So much AP wasted to get there. Surprised that LtC isn’t nerfed to work only with melee–yet.

      Oh noes, not the Cannith Challenges again! I still have nervous tics of doing these with Szyn to get her Frozen Tunic. Good stuff in there, true, but it’s such a hard grind that spent coffee grounds look at me with pity.

      • mernom
        May 14, 2014 @ 03:19:09

        I thenk that challange items can’t have their minimum lvl changed anymore…but maybe it’s only one way,haven’t checked it.
        A little off topic,I’m,rolling a monk in a permadeath guild (ninja so far) and I have thought of 3 paths he could take.
        2:3,lvls of wiz for imp mage armor (+10% ac) imp,shield (+15 prr) and the 2 cores,and 15 Hp.
        3:2\3 lvls of ranger,and 6\7 lvls of monk,and the rest fighter, for extra feats,trees,and ranger deflect arrows(taken as monk feat).if I add 3 ranger lvls I can get +10% offhand chance,to get100% with Shinto tree.I can also use fighter feats to master longswords for better damage.
        So,which one do you vote for?
        (Assuming he won’t die in butcher’s path…)

        • mernom
          May 14, 2014 @ 03:21:51

          In path 2,I also get extra 30 Hp from pale master,and some utility spells,like exp retreat, and I need to check if pm\am\knight sla’s use total lvl for caster lvl…

          • teachersyn
            May 14, 2014 @ 08:20:35

            I really show my ignorance with the advantages of multiclassing here. I admire players that can juggle the numbers in this way. I don’t think I can provide any advice here except that the Pale Master’s incorporeality is advantageous if you can get it and is cheaper than working in the ninja’s Shadow Veil.

        • teachersyn
          May 14, 2014 @ 08:18:00

          Power and survival are paramount in permadeath, if my opinion is worth anything. The closest I’ve done to permadeath was Kiricletica the solo ninja. To her credit, she’s died far less than any other character I have. That said, I wouldn’t go pure. I’d lean more to Shintao with your third option if it adds healing with bashing and defense.

          • mernom
            May 14, 2014 @ 08:45:31

            Originally my 3rd build was more fighter based,and if I go for 3 ranger and 7 monk I get 10 l’fighter left.
            I planned to invest mainly in ninja and kensei ,and work,toward poisons and duel wield atk power.
            As,not a pure monk\fighter,I won’t get Good Dc,but some abilities don’t get saves(like most fighter atks,and elemental strikes).btw is there stacking between the fighter skill enchaments and the monk versions of them?(exept the ninja one,that’s known not to stack)

            • teachersyn
              May 14, 2014 @ 10:42:44

              I’d guess that, as with any abilities, as long as they aren’t similarly named AND aren’t of the same bonus type, they’ll stack. Monk stance bonuses stack with everything but some Fighter/tactical effects may not. DCs that effect Cleave or Improved Sunder are same for both and the Monk adds nothing to stack for this to my knowledge. Ocean Stance’s improvements to saves (as well as the Light Monk’s Walk of the Sun finisher) are stacking untyped bonuses that can help. But you’ll only get bonuses proportionate to your Monk levels (Adept: 6, Master: 12, Grandmaster: 18).

    • mernom
      May 17, 2014 @ 15:38:04

      Pretty sure rapid reload is for crossbows only.

      • Saekee
        May 17, 2014 @ 15:46:10

        yeah good catch–I meant for shurikens it would be shuriken expertise and rapid shot

  3. erdrique
    May 17, 2014 @ 12:09:41

    Definitely an interesting concept and sounds like it could be fun!!! Are you going to try to get the poison quiver? I love it with my Arcane Archer. Also, one thing I have taken advantage of is the use of the Quivering Quiver from the Harbinger of Madness. But the Quivering Quiver is actually on a different character, what I do is forward stacks of 100 Xoriat Elemental arrows it produces to my Arcane Archer. So he gets the bow damage, his stance damage, these Xoriat arrow damage, and the damage from the Poison Quiver. Just wanted to pass that along.

    • teachersyn
      May 17, 2014 @ 14:57:27

      A good idea, yes. Getting the Quiver of Poison will require going through one of the nasty GH quests (Foundation of Discord), but being a ranged character she’ll have an advantage. With her power limits, getting a Quivering Quiver is a good idea.

    • Saekee
      May 17, 2014 @ 15:06:25

      nice approach–the quivering quiver has no minimum level. Works great on a melee since then it generates arrows. I had to take mine off my melee Monk because of the amount of arrows it was making. You have an excellent use of it there–have one of your characters generate the arrows with it while the other uses the quiver of poison for arrow damage boosts. Best of both worlds if you are patient to do what you are doing.

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