What is an Arcane Archer’s spell progression?

I have a character that is going to be a level 4 Arcane Archer (3 levels Draconic Sorcerer, 5 levels ranger), and I am a little confused on the wording in the Pathfinder Corebook.

At the indicated levels, an arcane archer gains new spells per day as if he had also gained a level in an arcane spellcasting class he belonged to before adding the prestige class. He does not, however, gain other benefits a character of that class would have gained, except for additional spells per day, spells known (if he is a spontaneous spellcaster), and an increased effective level of spellcasting.

Does this mean that I get level 3 spells at the appropriate AA level? Or do I remain at the 2nd level spells, and just the effects (and spells known) gets boosted?

Animate Dead and Skeleton Archers

On the skeleton template page, it lists a "Skeleton Archer" Template. This is a CR+0 template.

Skeleton (Medium Archer): While not as intelligent or skilled as skeletal champions, skeletal archers are nevertheless a welcome addition to any undead army. Skeletal archers gain Point-Blank Shot and Precise Shot as bonus feats. (CR +0)

Assuming that any template could be selected from that list, should a template like this cost extra HD for the purpose of animate dead? If so, how much extra would be appropriate? Would a 2x multiplier be appropriate for this?

Can archers bypass partial cover by arcing their shot?

There are two basic ways an archer fires at a target. In close quarters engagements, archers (and anyone using a projectile weapon) would likely use "direct fire", ie. fire at an angle nearly parallel to the ground. At longer distances and especially when targets are hiding behind terrain and walls, archers instead use "indirect fire", ie. firing at angle greater than 45 degrees, in order to lob arrows over and behind cover.

Imagine an archer firing at a range of 100 feet on a creature using 5-foot tall wall for cover.

The rules for cover on a grid state the following:

Choose a corner of the attacker’s space or the point of origin of an area of effect. Then trace imaginary lines from that corner to every corner of any one square the target occupies. If one or two of those lines are blocked by an obstacle (including another creature), the target has half cover. If three or four of those lines are blocked but the attack can still reach the target (such as when the target is behind an arrow slit), the target has three-quarters cover.

Using these rules, it’s easy to see how the wall could provide half or three-quarters cover against direct fire. The trajectory of the arrow will always intersect with the wall, and if enough lines from the archer intersect with the wall, then partial cover is granted. This is consistent with a physical understanding of the scenario, because the arrows will follow a nearly straight line from the archer to their target.

But what if the archer chooses to fire indirectly at their target? In the physical world a wall would provide no cover against an attack that falls from above. Drawing lines from the archer, however, results in the same result as direct fire, granting partial cover in a way which is inconsistent with reality.

Are there any rules that would allow the archer to use indirect fire to bypass partial cover?

Archer’s Sunder

The Archer’s Trick shot allows them to sunder. However the rules for damaging objects states "Objects take half damage from ranged weapons (unless the weapon is a siege engine or something similar)."

Does this mean that an archer trying to sunder will always do 1/2 damage then have to try to bypass hardness? That seems like it would lead to really underwhelming damage numbers.

Can an Arcane Archer’s choose to activate arcane shot after it gets deflected?

Inspired by Can I use deflect missile if I get an ally to shoot me? and Can a monk catch and throw an Arcane Archer's active Arcane Shot back at them with Deflect Missiles?, can a (friendly) Arcane Archer choose not to activate their Arcane Shot when it hits their ally, but then activate it when it hits the new target?

Once per turn when you fire an arrow from a shortbow or longbow as part of the Attack action, you can apply one of your Arcane Shot options to that arrow. You decide to use the option when the arrow hits a creature, unless the option doesn’t involve an attack roll.

Emphasis mine.

So in this scenario, the Monica the Monk runs on ahead, in a position where she can see Edwin the enemy mage. Archie the Archer does not have line of sight to the enemy caster. He fires his arrow at Monica the Monk, who uses her reaction to deflect it successfully.

If you catch a missile in this way, you can spend 1 ki point to make a ranged attack with the weapon or piece of ammunition you just caught, as part of the same reaction.

Let’s say the arrow (thrown as an attack by Monica the monk) now hits Edwin the enemy mage, can Archie the Arcane Archer then activate the Arcane Shot to try and affect Edwin the enemy mage with it?

Arcane Archer’s Piercing Arrow on Larger Enemies

One of the Arcane Shot options for the Arcane Archer fighter (from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, p. 28-29) is Piercing Arrow. The description of Piercing Arrow is as follows:

Piercing Arrow

You use transmutation magic to give your arrow an ethereal quality. When you use this option, you don’t make an attack roll for the attack. Instead, the arrow fires forward in a line, which is 1 foot wide and 30 feet long, before disappearing. The arrow passes harmlessly through objects, ignoring cover. Each creature in that line must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes damage as if it were hit by the arrow, plus an extra 1d6 piercing damage. On a successful save, a target takes half as much damage.

My question specifically is how is this handled for enemies that are large than your normal 5’x5′ square? A Tarrasque is said to be 70′ long, and if the arrow goes 30′, then it would pass through 6 5’x5′ squares before it’s done. RAW it seems to say it would just hit it a single time.

So versus a large monster, would this basically be a single shot against a large creature (bow damage + 1d6 piercing) and is more tailored to a line of smaller enemies?

Also, would it be too much of an imbalance to have a creature do multiple saves and damage if it passes through multiple squares’ worth of its space? (I’m thinking of something like the Piercing Ammo or Dragon Piercer from Monster Hunter World.)

Does the Arcane Archer’s Shadow Arrow inhibit blindsight, tremorsense, and/or truesight?

Shadow Arrow:

You weave illusion magic into your arrow, causing it to occlude your foe’s vision with shadows. The creature hit by the arrow takes an extra 2d6 psychic damage, and it must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or be unable to see anything farther than 5 feet away until the start of your next turn.


A creature with blindsight can perceive its surroundings without relying on sight, within a specific radius.

If a creature with blindsight (like a Flying Sword) fails its saving throw against an arcane archer’s Shadow Arrow, is its ability to perceive enemies via blindsight restricted? Would creatures with truesight or tremorsense be handled the same way?

It seems to me that this is fairly straightforward, but upon reading this question about opportunity attacks, there seem to be cases where the word "see" is used more generically as all forms of perception.

Does the Arcane Archer’s Piercing Arrow pass through Walls of Force and Forcecages?

The following is within the scope of Dnd Adventurers League play.

The Arcane Archer martial archetype of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything alllows you to select the “Piercing Arrow” Arcane Shot option :

You use transmutation magic to give your arrow an ethereal quality. When you use this option, you don’t make an attack roll for the attack. Instead, the arrow shoots forward in a line, which is 1 foot wide and 30 feet long, before disappearing. The arrow passes harmlessly through objects, ignoring cover. Each creature in that line must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes damage as if it were hit by the arrow, plus an extra 1d6 piercing damage. On a successful save, a target takes half as much damage.

The Forcecage spell (box option) says :

[…] A prison in the shape of a box can be up to 10 feet on a side, creating a solid barrier that prevents any matter from passing through it and blocking any spells cast into or out from the area. […] The cage also extends into the Ethereal Plane, blocking ethereal travel.

The Wall of Force spell says :

Nothing can physically pass through the wall. The wall extends into the Ethereal Plane, blocking ethereal travel through the wall.

Does the Arcane Archer’s Piercing Arrow pass through Walls of Force and Forcecages (box option) ?

It seems to be a situation in the likes of “unstoppable force meeting unmovable obstacle”. It says it ignores cover, which those 2 spells provide, but its flavor text mentions an ethereal quality, which may or may not be relevant (since the spells normally block ethereal travel). I don’t know if the right answer is “it works”, “it doesn’t work”, or “DM Discretion”.

Arcane Archer’s Piercing Arrow and +3 Ammunition

A +3 arrow loses it’s magical property once it hits a target, but the description on Piercing Arrow says that the target takes damage as if it was hit by the arrow.

So that mean that if an arcane archer uses Piercing Arrow with a +3 arrow and hits multiple targets with it, the arrow doesn’t stop being +3 after the first target? And if doesn’t, is it the same with arrows of slaying?

How to make efficient use of a Cragtop Archer’s Arcing Shot?

The Cragtop Archer prestige class grants, at 3rd level, the Arcing Shot feature:

Arcing Shot (Ex)

The Cragtop Archer of 3rd level and higher can fire a high, arcing shot to gain greater range with her projectile weapon. Any time the Cragtop Archer can fire a projectile weapon in an area with at least 40 feet of clearance between her position and the ceiling (or any other overhead obstruction, such as a forest canopy), her maximum range with the projectile weapon is fifteen range increments rather than the normal ten range increments.

Can you see yourself, peering from the top of a cliff, and firing arrows at the unsuspecting approaching caravan a mile off? They’ll never see it coming!

Well, the problem is, you’ll probably never see the caravan escort either. Or if you do, not for long.

The most mundane Longbow, Composite has a range increment of 100 ft. Therefore, its maximum shooting distance before any enhancement is 1,500 ft when using the Arcing Shot feature.

The problem is, the Spot1 penalty for distance is -1 per 10 ft. Basic mathematics thus lead us to a penalty of -150 at 1,500 ft. This is steep.

Attempting to meet this Spot check with straight bonuses seems unlikely to succeed; and scale up as this range increases. Even with a plethora of bonuses. Therefore, the only three viable options I know of are:

  • the class feature Farsight (Cragtop Archer, level 1), which halves this penalty,
  • the feat Hawk’s Vision (Complete Adventurer, p. 114), which halves this penalty,
  • the spell Dragonsight (Spell Compendium, p. 79), which also halves this penalty.

Their pre-requisites are expensive (the former requires spending a use of Wild Shape, the latter is a 5th-level Sor/Wiz spell) for a rather lackluster result. My most lenient reading2 makes the three stack for -1 per 80 ft. For a Spot penalty of only -19 at 1,500 ft.

Just investing a bit3, combining (1) a Dragonbone Composite Greatbow (150 ft.), (2) the Enlarge spell, (3) the Strongarm Bracers, (4) the Distance enchantment (x2), (5) Flight Arrows (x1.25), and finally (6) the Farshot feat (x1.5):

  • the range increment of a Huge Dragonbone Composite Greatbow is 225 ft.
  • subjected to a x2.75 multiplier, it becomes 615 ft.

which means a maximum Arcing Shot range of 9,225 ft. for a nominal Spot penalty of -923 and an improved Spot penalty of -116.

Meanwhile, the penalty to AR is a measly -15, much more easily dealt with.

The problem faced here is that there seems to be far more option to extend one’s shooting range, than there are options to efficiently spot an opponent that far.

Supposing a character wishes to use the Arcing Shot feature for mile-long shots, how should such a character go about spotting their foes in the first place, even as they scramble to hide:

  • Is Spot actually necessary, or can one Target4 a foe without Spotting it? Even if this foe hides, stepping behind a broomstick?
  • Can one reduce one’s Spot distance penalty much more?
  • Can one increase one’s Spot check sufficiently to match such a dire DC?
  • Are there other ways for one wannabe long-range archer to be effective at long-range? Even gasp good homebrew ones?

Or should I conclude that the shooting and spotting range penalties are so lopsided this is a fool’s quest5.

1 Even if one is to argue that Spot is only to be used against a foe who is actively attempting to Hide, I am pretty sure that after the first shot the caravan escort is going to attempt to do so. Even the fancy Fighter with its Luminous Heavy Armor.

2 Since multipliers generally are NOT applied on top of one another for bonuses, but rather added as multiple, I would be more tempted to argue that stacking the three should lead to -1 per 40 ft.

3 I am voluntarily ignoring here Deepwood Sniper (+10 ft./lvl, 10 levels) and the Ranged Weapon Mastery feat (+20 ft.), both of which require a more significant investment in terms of precious feats and class levels.

4 In melee, it is possible to swipe at a square after pinpointing an otherwise non-visible foe. The foe “only” has Total Concealment, gaining 50% miss chance.

5 I am aware that one is unlikely to ever have a mile of clear view in a dungeon or forest, and therefore focusing solely on distance is a rather ineffective strategy; I’ll just point that the only non-gold investments to reach a ludicrous ~10,000 ft. range were 3 levels of Cragtop Archer and its 2 pre-requisite feats. And I’d really like to be able to fire on spellcasters with impunity (their spells’ range often maxing out around ~1,000 ft.).