Bowmaster – The Aggressive Zen

A revisit to an old idea but with a bit more spice.

A revisit to an old idea but with a bit more spice.

(Updated: Thanks for the corrections, gentle readers.)

Now that I understand more on how to perfect a simple non-Ranger archer, it’s time to answer the other side of the question.

The Zen Archer excels in sniper shooting combined with high miss-chance defenses, evasion and spell resistance. To make all that work, she can’t call a lot of attention to herself, but especially not in melee fights.

The recent Update 28 Patch 1 has actually improved the overall Ranged Power of the Zen Archer because of the changes to Ten Thousand Stars. (That is, at least I think so.) I may make a variation where WIS is higher than DEX since Ranged Power is greatly increased with TTS.

But I digress. It’s time to create a more aggressive Monk Archer, or “monkcher.” One that stays a pure Monk (and thus maximizes the benefits of TTS) but, unlike the Zen Archer, sacrifices a bit of defense for Doubleshot bonuses as well as high damage over multiple targets.

An archer build that is designed to attack first and count the bodies later.

My working name for the build is the “Zen Bowmaster.”

I’ve tried this before with Pynthetica a while back and didn’t get a lot of traction because I neglected to research how bow damage is calculated.

It will be an Elf as well to use DEX to damage. However, WIS is boosted to give more Ranged Power and attack bonus for as long as she can spam TTS. That’s particularly important since Action Points will be at a premium in such a build and can’t be used to get Ranged Power elsewhere.

The Elf side needs 20 points or so to complete the Aerenal Weapon Training, Aerenal Grace (DEX-to-Damage for bows), Skill (3% Doubleshot), a point into Arcanum (some MP) and then 4 AP to activate the Elven Arcane Archer tree.

Most of the AP in the AA tree go into the things you’d expect. Since the Elf AA tree levels slowly, with the last two core abilities not available until levels 22 and 25, I have to reserve AP until those last cores are available, especially Master of Imbuement for 20% additional Doubleshot. This will go with any Enhancement bonuses from gear (the heroic and epic Dynamistic Quiver come to mind) and the Epic Destiny feat of Doubleshot for 10% more.

So, by level 28 I will have at least 5% (Skill and 2% guild ship buff) with Shadow Arrows (5%) and Master of Imbuement (20%) for a standing 30% Doubleshot, not counting any item Enhancements. The Epic Destiny feat gives 20% 10% at level 28 for a total standing 50% 40% Doubleshot without item Enhancements.

The magic is added with Ten Thousand Stars as it adds (Monk level x 5) to Doubleshot for 30 seconds. At level 28, that’s 140% 100% additional Doubleshot for a total of 140% Doubleshot. That’s a 80% chance to shoot an additional arrow on every attack in addition to the usual additional arrow. Ranged Power also goes through the roof, The higher the WIS, the more Ranged Power appears to boost overall damage.

The Bowmaster has to forsake the bonus features that the Zen Archer favored from the Harper Agent tree and most of the Ninja Spy tree. Although this Monk is aligned as a dark Monk like the Zen Archer, it simply won’t have enough AP to add more than a few points into Ninja Spy to train Stealthy for +1 passive ki regeneration and Acrobatic for some Dodge, perhaps. Shadow Veil, 25% Incorporeality, is too expensive, so Ghostly items may be the best the Bowmaster can do. They’ll be lots more Ranged Power from TTS than what I could manage from Harper Agent, in any case. Next to Shadow Veil, I’ll miss the Ninja Spy’s 30% extra damage from No Mercy.

The Bowmaster might have some stealth, but I don’t think it’s her calling. Perhaps I may experiment with Use Magic Device. I might, just might, be able to get enough UMD to use Heal scrolls with points and the right items. Others have done it, so all I need to do is emulate what’s been done. That first change from my initial tooling in Character Builder Lite was to have at least 10 CHA and get a +5 Tome for that ability to aid in UMD. That, and rip all skill points from Hide and Move Silently. I could also add in an INT tome for one or two more skill points to add to UMD, of course.

She’s going to need that healing. The Bowmaster, with Improved Precise Shot often active, is a berserker like her monkcher brethren. She’ll use her AA powers to punch through and heavily damage the hordes. She won’t be still at all like her counterpart Zen Archer except in the basic monastic defenses and movement speed, as well as benefits from Earth Stance and Ocean Stance to critical threat range and passive ki regeneration, respectively. Perhaps I can work in Shot on the Run for a bit more Ranged Power and remove any movement-based attack penalties.

The feats should be similar to the Zen Archer except: No Dragonmarks for eventual use of Displacement; Improved Precise Shot is added. Deflect Arrows may be optional in favor of Dodge or a feat to help with UMD. I also mentioned considering Shot on the Run.

Here’s the preliminary build for those interested. Comments welcome. I won’t be adding this one up for “discussion” on the DDO forums for now, at least until I get it working. I’m confident that you don’t need to spray levels in non-Monk classes to get the most out of a Monk archer. Like everything else I tend to build, I believe you simply need more monastic cowbell.

More to come as I move Paracleta, this Arcane Archer Monk version 2, through her paces.

Zen Bowmaster
Monk 20
Lawful Good Elf

. . . . . . . .28pt . . 32pt. . .34pt . . 36pt. . .Tome . . Level Up
. . . . . . . .---- . . ----. . .---- . . ----. . .---- . . --------
Strength. . . . 10. . . .10 . . . 10. . . .10 . . . . . . . .4: DEX
Dexterity . . . 16. . . .17 . . . 17. . . .18 . . . +5. . . .8: DEX
Constitution. . .6. . . . 8 . . . 10. . . .11 . . . . . . . 12: DEX
Intelligence. . .8. . . . 8 . . . .8. . . . 8 . . . . . . . 16: WIS
Wisdom. . . . . 18. . . .18 . . . 18. . . .18 . . . +5. . . 20: WIS
Charisma. . . . 12. . . .12 . . . 12. . . .11 . . . +5. . . 24: DEX
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28: DEX

. . . . . 1 .2. 3 .4. 5 .6. 7 .8. 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
. . . . .------------------------------------------------------------
Concent . 4 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 23
Spot. . . 4 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 23
UMD . . . 2 .½. ½ .½. ½ .½. ½ .½. ½ .½. ½ .½. ½ .½. ½ .½. ½ .½. ½ .½. 11½
. . . . .------------------------------------------------------------
. . . . .12 .3. 3 .3. 3 .3. 3 .3. 3 .3. 3 .3. 3 .3. 3 .3. 3 .3. 3 .3


.1. . . . : Skill Focus: Use Magic Device
.1 Monk . : Deflect Arrows
.2 Monk . : Zen Archery
.3. . . . : Point Blank Shot
.3 Monk . : Path of Inevitable Dominion
.6. . . . : Rapid Shot
.6 Monk . : Ten Thousand Stars
.9. . . . : Manyshot
12. . . . : Precise Shot
15. . . . : Improved Critical: Ranged
18. . . . : Improved Precise Shot
21 Epic . : Combat Archery
24 Epic . : Great Ability: Wisdom
26 Destiny: Toughness
27 Epic . : Blinding Speed
28 Destiny: Doubleshot

Enhancements (40 of 80 AP)

Elf (20 AP)
. . • Elven Accuracy, Elven Dexterity, Elven Accuracy II
. . . . .1. Aerenal Weapon Training
. . . . .2. Aerenal Weapon Training, Arcanum I
. . . . .3. Aerenal Weapon Training, Arcane Archer
. . . . .4. Aerenal Grace, Aerenal Weapon Training, Skill

Elf-Arcane Archer (13 AP)
. . • Arcane Archer, Morphic Arrows
. . . . .1. Energy of the Wild III, Corrosive Arrows
. . . . .2. Force Arrows III

Ninja Spy (7 AP)
. . • Basic Ninja Training
. . . . .1. Stealthy III, Acrobatic III

Destiny (24 AP)

Shiradi Champion
. .1. Healing Spring III, Dexterity
. .2. Prism, Pin II, Wisdom
. .3. Rainbow, Otto's Whistler II, Wisdom
. .4. Double Rainbow
. .5. Nerve Venom III
. .6. Audience with the Queen

Twists of Fate (3 fate points)
. .1. Dance of Flowers (Tier 1 Flowers)
. .2. Rejuvenation Cocoon (Tier 1 Primal)

26 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. DDOCentral
    Nov 03, 2015 @ 23:45:36

    Reblogged this on DDOCentral.

  2. saekee
    Nov 04, 2015 @ 07:40:14

    I’d aim for boosting UMD through gear swapping, not the skill focus. You could also swap the feat out in later epic levels since you anyway get +1 skills per epic level anyway. I grinded out a tier 3 epic Spare Hand and slotted it with Charisma +6 and good luck (it has persuasion) for a swap in trapping tool/umd gearset–something to consider!

    Otherwise, I suggest dropping ninja spy completely (That is hard for you and I to do…) and taking 8 in Henshin for contemplation. Not sure if the AP is there but KtA should be easy to keep up on an AA too.

    OC for more damage instead of Great Wisdom.

    I would stay in water stance and hence have +2 ki regen. Then you can decide on the destiny. The ninja effect could be redeemed in SD and you could get perma incorp for defenses as well as further skill boosts and the Dex-based insta kill Executioner’s strike.

    • teachersyn
      Nov 05, 2015 @ 03:47:44

      Good tips. The passive ki regeneration of Stealthy from NS is far cheaper than Henshin Mystic’s (my secondary addition on Heroic Zen Archer, which I later rescind in Epics and apply to NS Sneak Attack or Harper Agent). I guess the whole idea on this build idea is maximizing Doubleshot, so the 40 AP for AA is critical there. Thanks for reminding me that I can tool Shadowdancer’s Shadow Form for better defense later–too bad it’s not Twistable, however–but SD was a potent ED all by itself with the Zen Archer. I’d say it was my 2nd favorite (GMoF 1st and Shiradi a close 3rd). But then, we were speaking of a sniper, so more damage is the name of this build’s game.

  3. unbongwah
    Nov 04, 2015 @ 13:37:29

    A couple of corrections: Doubleshot ED feat is +10%, not +20%. TTS caps at 100% DS (20 monk * 5), unless Martial ED levels count towards it (but I doubt that).

    For feats, I agree you should ditch SF:UMD or at least delay it. My first inclination is: PBS (1), Dodge or Deflect Arrows (monk 1), Zen Archery (monk 2), Rapid Shot (3), Precise Shot (6), TTS (monk 6), Manyshot (9), IC:Ranged (12), IPS (15), ??? (18), Overwhelming Crit (21), Combat Archery (24), Holy Strike or Toughness (26), Blinding Speed or Improved Martial Arts if it applies to bows (27), Doubleshot (28). Maybe take SF:UMD at lvl 18 to put Heal scrolls within reach sooner; then swap it later for, say, WF:Ranged for +2 Ranged Power when you no longer need +3 UMD.

    For Enhancements, I’m thinking 20 APs elf (Grace+Skill), 41 APs AA (capstone, T5s), 11 APs Ninja (Shadow Form), 8 APs Henshin (Contemplation). That’s enough for both passive ki regens. If you have Harper, well, good luck deciding what to ditch to add Know the Angles + Versatile Adept… 😉

    AFAICT, Shiradi is still a poor ED for archers, unfortunately. FotW, LD, or DC still seem like the best options. I’m warming to DC, thanks to doubleshot bonuses and Celestial Champion, so your crit profile becomes 18-20/x4 w/Shadow Arrows.

    Good luck, sensei!

    • teachersyn
      Nov 05, 2015 @ 03:37:29

      Thanks for that. I think you’re right on ED Doubleshot there. UMD is a dark horse but I’m finally up to testing its practicality on a non-Rogue. Improved Martial Arts doesn’t work on bows, sadly, nor does the GMoF Fire Stance ability that raises damage while in that stance. To gain all that extra DS requires 40 AP. I’m still tweaking but adding any Ninja Spy stuff will not allow required AA points for its capstone. Definitely fond of Harper Agent but it’s more AP prohibitive than Ninja Spy. Shiradi has two, maybe three best abilities: Pin, Nerve Venom and Otto’s Whistler. The Zen Archer always has Pin as a Twist, but Nerve Venom is too high for now. Playing with someone in Night Revels with Divine Crusader, it’s definitely a damage booster to look at later. I’ll study those suggestions. Appreciate it!

  4. FuzzyDuck81
    Nov 04, 2015 @ 18:22:39

    I’ve recently started a zen archer type of build too, inspired by some of your posts 🙂 Was going to go pure elf & much as you suggested yourself, but instead decided to go half elf 18monk/2ranger with cleric dilantette – the 2 ranger levels give the handy feats & let me get dex to damage from the DWS tree, the cleric dilly adds a lot more overall survivability & i get a bunch of extra APs vs. the elf weapon enhancements to boost other things like a point in shintao for healing amp & spellpower, and ability to fit in shadow fade.

    Tee new change to 10k stars is nice, but only really at high levels – it should have been amended alongside manyshot to have more of a frontloaded bonus to the doubleshot i think.. maybe make it work off proportion of monk levels instead of outright number, in the same way that fvs & sorcs get the bonus SP from items.

    • teachersyn
      Nov 05, 2015 @ 03:42:33

      Sounds workable. Adding 2 Ranger makes life easy and certainly feat-saving. Now with TTS, a high WIS archer has some merit, which is what I’m testing in a variant of that build. My first try with Half-Elf with Ranger failed, if you recall, but because of the lack of bow damage that you rectified. I’d love to play with a Zen Archer/DWS variant, too–the sniper power would be exquisite. As to TTS: I think I’m more fond of whole Monk levels since it’s a Monk feat, like Weapon Specialization feats can’t be gained unless you are stronger in Fighter levels.

  5. Kavatch1.0
    Nov 04, 2015 @ 20:41:21

    God its been a while… took a break, came back… monks dont seem to be performing too well in epics and suddenly paladins are op?

    • teachersyn
      Nov 05, 2015 @ 03:56:13

      I guess it depends on what others do as they play. My Monks in Epics are doing great. But people really, really think that you should enter every fight like jumping into a mosh pit. No Monk is designed for that. Like others, it’s so important to pick your fight and your targets. If you try to play most Monks like a high defense, damage-absorbing Paladin, you’re going to die!

      • Kavatch1.0
        Nov 07, 2015 @ 11:59:12

        I’m just not sure anymore where (Melee) monks stand anymore. We do terrible dps compared to most other weapon users with critprofile enhancements and we have poor surviveability now with the prr and mrr changes. Ranged monks are still good but thats mostly because ranged users in general have been op for a while now.

        • teachersyn
          Nov 08, 2015 @ 22:40:28

          I might disagree here. Been thinking a lot about this. One problem is play style. Most players just go mosh-pit into a sea of enemies. How does anyone survive that? Answer: You don’t (unless you’re a really well-built paladin). The Monk has awesome skills to dish out damage as well as tough it out. But historically I hear “I don’t use finishing moves,” or “shortswords suck” or “handwraps suck.” My whole existence both here and the guide is to demonstrate the opposite. I don’t want to put polish on everything about Monks: The Henshin Mystic needs more work, and unarmed damage should scale more to work with Epic levels. But the mechanisms as they are aren’t broken but need a recalculation.

          None of that will help players who thing they are paladins and can just kill with one hit without retribution. People don’t lack strategy–they just don’t care to use any at all.

  6. erdrique
    Nov 06, 2015 @ 16:04:46

    Challenging build for sure, I’ll be curious to see how you feel it does.

  7. pickeler
    Nov 11, 2015 @ 14:51:11

    you might want to consider Fury of the WIld for your ED

  8. Wandering Mage
    Nov 12, 2015 @ 11:29:43

    Unless it is a bug, Level 28 isn’t different from level 20 monk on TTS. Those 8 levels are “epic” levels, not monk levels, so you calculation, in theory, is off.

    • teachersyn
      Nov 12, 2015 @ 19:55:42

      Yep. That should be corrected in the text. So Doubleshot max bonus is 100% with 20 Monk levels.

      • Jammond
        Nov 13, 2015 @ 17:15:27

        I want to throw some thoughts out there since there were some HUGE changes to the way AA works in general. (As you know)

        Your elemental arrows scale with spellpower. This is huge. I mean, HUGE. I’ve got an AA and took two different elements and then just boosted damage dice, and with stunted spellpower, I was seeing 60-80 damage procs from this.

        Given that spellsight is a direct conversion to spellpower and int fuels the skill, a thought to help you maximize within your class constraints:

        4 points to DEX- with your tome this will allow you to get imp. precise shot. 6 will get you combat archery.

        16 points to INT – (10 if it isn’t a 3rd life?) And instead of grace take strategic combat (shifts 4 ap out of elf). This makes a single stat govern all your damage, both magical and physical. Your primary damage number and your crits won’t be quite as high as a dex build, but your magical damage buff should more than make up for it.

        10 or 16 in Wis to fuel TTS.

        And of course the mandatory 6 points in CON.

        AP is tight with 16 in elf for AA, 41 in AA for the capstone and a minimum of 14 in Harper (for strategic combat and 2 points of int), which leaves you with only 9 points to play with.

        What this does is trade 6-8 points of base arrow damage in the form of a lesser damage mod, for a respectable spellpower (200-300 depending on what kind of spellpower items you get for your damage types) which gives 3-4 times your damage on a 6d8 elemental die. This of course assumes you choose only two elements, but it seems the way to go.

        And, of course, this assumes you even want to switch over the build. It’s not world ending or anything, just a chance to maximize a little bit more.

        • teachersyn
          Nov 17, 2015 @ 19:15:21

          That’s a nice suggestion. I’ve only cut my teeth in the past with Henshin Mystics and how spell power affects them. The only downside I can think of here is that a Monk really gains no other bonuses in using INT, save skill points, perhaps to make UMD stronger. They’d have to still add points to DEX to have a workable Reflex, which was why the Zen Archer and Bowmaster looked at Elf. Still, the Bowmaster IS a type of AA (emphasis on the “Arcane”) so this would be an interesting variant–although I’m terrified at trying it out myself.But someone that has more arcane build experience could really make this work.

          • Jammond
            Nov 18, 2015 @ 08:19:22

            I didn’t want to suggest it first, since I was trying to leave your feat choices intact. However, you could get int to reflex save if you can find room to shuffle in insightful reflex. I will note that your int numbers cap out around 50 vs 60ish for dex, so it won’t be AS good. It’s just a trade off to keep in mind in the back of your head, and regardless you’ll want to slot gear and skill points to max your spellsight. I’ve seen elemental damage numbers reach over 100 per arrow with enough spellpower.

            (As a separate note, I’ve not tested if maximize and empower affect arcane arrows, so there’s possibilities there)

            • teachersyn
              Nov 18, 2015 @ 18:48:17

              Considered Insightful Reflexes, too. Often I talk myself out of that, too, as DEX also provides an AC bonus, too. Monks get so much out of DEX and WIS than just damage that I found it hard to consider INT, although Harper Agent really helps in the consideration of it. If I ever splash Monk levels only, it’s a surety to try INT with Harper stuff.

  9. DiQuintino
    Dec 21, 2015 @ 13:28:32

    Hey, grabbing Advanced ninja Training its not the same as Aerenal Grace?

    • teachersyn
      Dec 21, 2015 @ 13:40:50

      It’s not. The first two cores grant you Dexterity to Damage only for shuriken, kamas, and short swords. It doesn’t work for bows, even with Zen Archery feat, or unarmed. That’s why my all-Monk bow builds are Elf. Half-Elf with Ranger dilettante gave a weak version of the Bow Strength feat, else, you must splash a couple of Ranger levels. My site’s focus is on making the most of a pure Monk. My Zen Archer, the defensive build, is pretty strong offensively, and I expect the bowmaster to work reasonably well, although it’s going to seem weaker in early Epics.

      • DiQuintino
        Dec 21, 2015 @ 13:44:24

        Hmmm im using that build (im 20) and my felling is that weak than a Helf – Monk – ranger, maybe at 30 will be better? (sorry my english) 🙂

        • teachersyn
          Dec 21, 2015 @ 14:16:56

          A Ranger gets many feats to make ranged attacks stronger. To equal this with non-Rangers, you have to pack the damage stat and use Manyshot often. I can also use Ten Thousand Stars better, especially with recent changes to both feats.

  10. DiQuintino
    Dec 21, 2015 @ 13:46:31

    i miss the combo slaying x Sniper Shot too.

    And the SP is poor beeing a pure monk

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