After my last post on a more viable Zen Archer, Sir Geoff of Hanna commented back, asking what a DEX-based Arcane Archer Monk would be like.
And then light dawned again as I replied back.
Going Elf, as with the Zen Archer, allows Dexterity-to-Damage, foregoing the need for any Ranger levels to get Bow Strength. It also resolves any weapon proficiency required for longbows for a Monk.
You’ll need Zen Archery, of course, to Center the bow. The usual ranged feats are needed, starting with Point Blank Shot, Quick Draw, and Precise Shot, adding in Ten Thousand Stars as a class feat at level 6, Improved Critical: Ranged at level 12, Precision and Manyshot at levels 15 and 18. As an Epic character, you can add two more feats.
You’d need to have 4 AP saved up to train the Arcane Archer tree from the Elf racial tree.
But AP is where things get very, very tricky.
I Canna Change T’ Laws O’ Physics, Captain!
The Zen Archer’s advantage comes from adding damage from the Harper Agent tree, but only after these requirements are met:
- Elf racial requirements (20 AP minimum)
- Dragonmark training up to Displacement
- Aerenal Grace for DEX-to-Damage
- Skill for 3% Doubleshot/3% Dodge
- Core 1: Elven Accuracy I
- Core 2: Elven Dexterity I
- Ninja Spy (14 AP minimum)
- Stealthy in Ninja Spy (3 ranks )
- Acrobatic (3 ranks)
- Faster Sneaking (1 rank)
- Agility (3 ranks)
- Core 1: Ninja Training
- Core 2: Advanced Ninja Training
- Core 3: Shadow Veil
- Henshin Mystic (8 AP minimum)
- Way of the Tenacious Badger
- Core 1: Riddle of Fire
- Mystic Training
- Negotiator (2 ranks)
- Contemplation (3 ranks)
All of this training gives the basic Monk archer the required Dodge, Concealment, Incorporeality skills, Dodge, and, most importantly, every passive ki regeneration option from enhancements, gaining another +1 passive ki regeneration with level 12. Without it, a Monk archer wouldn’t have sufficient ki generated to power Ten Thousand Stars (20 ki) or Shadow Veil (15 ki) with any regularity.
That leaves a paltry 38 AP. The elven Arcane Archer tree can eat up to 66 AP alone. You need 40 + 1 AP to train the last core ability. You’re 3 AP short.
You can shave 3 AP from the Dodge cap increasing Agility without a sizable problem in defense, leaving you with just enough AP to complete the fifth core. And you might be able to remove 2 AP from Faster Sneaking.
But Elven Arcane Archers level slower than their Ranger brethren. Your Heroic training won’t be completed until you’re a level 25 Epic character, holding back those 2 AP from your Heroic days until you reach levels 22 and 25 respectively, where the fourth and fifth core enhancements are available.
But what AA training do you pick with only 41 AP?
Where Many Monks Have Gone Before
The monkcher builds use AA training, of course. Their multiclassing allows some class benefits that a single-class Monk doesn’t get automatically, particularly a larger spell point bar. So the AA tree has to first establish and improve spell point increases to empower imbuements or this build can’t do anything at all with too little SP.
The goal of the AA Monk is to generate versatile damage combined with Monk defenses. While the monkcher leverages all kinds of classes and epic destinies, I envision the AA Monk as a more versatile strafing, kiting fighter–the complete opposite of the Zen Archer but with similar advantages because of full Monk class training.
Core 1, Tier 1
- Arcane Archer: Core 1 requirement, 1 AP, to activate the tree.
- Energy of the Wild: 3 ranks, 3 AP. You gain Magical Training at 3 ranks to support passive SP regeneration with Echoes of Power and 80 spell points.
We’ll skip Conjure Arrows, saving 2 AP. You can train enough with House Deneith to gain Sturdy arrows at 75% return.
- Elemental Arrows I: 2 AP. You need to spend AP to grow into the next tier, and taking at least one of these imbuements is wise.
Core 2: Tier 2 (5 AP prerequisite, 6 AP spent)
Any of these enhancements cost 2 AP. Only Elemental Arrows have only 1 rank, while the others have 3. Best to train only 1 rank on two of them. You’ll also need to train the Core ability 2. In this example, I’ll pick:
- Morphic Arrows: Core 2 requirement, 1 AP.
- Elemental Arrows II: 2 AP.
- Force Arrows: 2 AP, rank 1.
Core 3, Tier 3 (10 AP prerequisite, 11 AP spent)
From here, we try to boost DEX for more general damage as well. Two selections have 3 ranks at 2 AP a rank, but the others are single rank. Of the options, I’ve always been meh on Shattermantle, so I train these enhancements instead:
- Terror Arrows: 2 AP, rank 1.
- Elemental Arrows III: 2 AP.
- Dexterity: 1 point to DEX, 2 AP.
But I need 20 AP spent in the tree to move forward and have only spent 17 here. Preferring damage that can’t be resisted by most, I train another rank in
- Force Arrows (Tier 2, rank 2): 2 AP
- Metalline Arrows (Core 3 requirement): 1 AP
Tier 4 (20 AP prerequisite, 20 spent)
Training everything on this tier won’t get us to the next tier at 30 AP. We’ll need to back-train with a few AP as last time to spend 10 AP.
Do note that training the tier requires character level 12, but we can’t train the fourth core ability, Aligned Arrows, until character level 15.
- Banishing Arrows: 1 AP.
- Paralyzing Arrows: 3 AP, 3 ranks.
- Smiting Arrows: 1 AP.
- Dexterity: 2 AP.
- Elemental Arrows IV: 2 AP.
- Aligned Arrows (Core 4 requirement): 1 AP
Tier 5 (30 AP prerequisite, 30 AP spent)
We still have a comparatively generous 11 AP left to spend. However, you’ll be stuck with 2 AP as you train as an Epic character, unable to unlock the last two cores until later. And you have to spend every point you have left, somewhere, leaving 2 points for Core 5 and 6.
- Arrow of Slaying: 2 AP.
- Improved Elemental Arrows: 1 AP
- Runebow: 2 AP.
- Force Arrows (Tier 2, rank 3): 2 AP
- True Strike (Tier 1): 1 AP, 1 rank.
- Shadow Arrows (Core 5 requirement, level 22 required): 1 AP
- Master of Imbuement (Core 6, level 25 required): 1 AP.
A Better Monk Archer?
I think so. It gains many benefits of the Zen Archer while gaining greater versatility with damage from the imbuements. This build is far less a flavor build as the Zen Archer, but its payoff is slower.
But what this Elven Arcane Archer Monk really does well is Doubleshot. It gains 3% from Elven racial training, and 25% more from the Core 5 and 6 abilities. Then train in the Epic Destiny feat of Doubleshot for 10% more, and then add in an enhancement bonus from some weapon that likely will give up to 6%. That’s 44% sustained Doubleshot, friends.
And I’m not adding in any Epic Destiny abilities.
That’s probably a good thing, because we’ll blow our minds by imagining this character fully trained in the Divine Crusader destiny with Tier 5 ability, Celestial Champion (up to 10% more Doubleshot, if you can withstand getting critically hit enough times in a given period) and the last core ability, Zeal of the Righteous. That’s a toggled power-trip of decaying 50% bonus Doubleshot and 50 Ranged Power on top of that 44%.
I was planning to have Artemistika the Ranger train as a Druid next. But with all of her many trained EDs, she may enter the convent and loiter in the archer’s glade training area for life #2. And I guess training yet another destiny, say, Divine Crusader, isn’t a bad idea now.
Now that I’ve got a bead on character building in a formal way, thanks to forum member EllisDee’s Character Planner Lite, I will post a more detailed build later on the forums and in the Monk guide.