Before we get to the entry proper, I have a bit of an announcement to make. Today is the first and last (so far) entry in the letter Z, which means we’re about to roll around to A again!
Having already had the blog’s 1-year anniversary and now yet another milestone, a tragic fact comes to mind: I make entries faster than Paizo puts out new archetypes. Certainly I’m still set for a while as far as Class Feature Friday goes, but the bulk of my entries will run dry, slowing to a trickle. (Though I just realized while writing this that I forgot the wolf shaman, but I’ve added to the queue now)
For this reason, I am going to add to the content that I post on the blog. Every other week I’m going to tackle a topic that I hope will help you understand particular options better, improve your roleplaying experience, and even occasionally plug my or another third-party’s creator’s content. I hope you’ll enjoy the new content, now on with the show!
The bow and arrow are not usually thought of as the tools of monks and ascetics, but in truth, archery has much to offer these martial artists. The act of aiming a bow is one of precision and focus, which monastic teachings use as a metaphor and form of meditation, much in the same way that unarmed martial arts provide their own form of meditation and self-perfection.
Of course, the name ‘Zen archer’, implies a real-world connection, but if your setting doesn’t use the word Zen, feel free to substitute in an adequate replacement, such as another ascetic faith in your world, or calling them ki archers.
Whatever the name, there is no doubt that these mystical warriors can lay down the pressure when the call of combat demands they put their skills to work.
Bows are a natural part of the martial arts style of these monks, and with it, they learn to unleash a flurry of arrows, rather than a flurry of melee strikes. Like ordinary bows, however, they are limited by their equipment, and cannot use other special techniques while performing such a flurry.
From there, monks learn a variety of techniques, allowing them to be more masterful with their bows, as well as keeping mobile, staying out of reach of counterattacks.
Calling upon uncanny precision, these monks occasionally launch near-perfect strikes with their bow, having uncanny accuracy, which only deepens as they master it further.
Mastering the bow above all else, their skill with these weapons dwarfs all others that they may use. Furthermore, using ascetic techniques, they can clear their minds of all thought and enter a state of intense focus when firing arrows, utilizing this if it proves greater than their natural aim.
Prepping a bow to fire often leaves you open to attack in melee, but these monks know how to harry and fend off their would-be attackers, allowing them to fire unhindered.
They can even use their ki to empower their arrows in various ways, the first allowing them to fire accurately at longer distances.
Another allows them to increase the impact of their arrows, causing them to bite deeper and cause greater wounds, the degree of which depending on their mastery of their path.
The reflexes of these monks are especially keen, allowing them to quickfire their bows at close-range foes that leave themselves open.
Using the ricochet effect to their advantage and some ki-empowered guidance, these monks can even hit foes behind cover and concealment, assuming that there is a path free shoot them from.
As long as they have not exhausted their ki, masterful Zen archers can channel it through their bow and arrows, allowing them to use various techniques such as the stunning fist and quivering palm through them, as well as defy the resistances of their foes.
Want a long-range archer that is more mysticism than talent, a sort of Iron Fist meets Hawkeye? This archetype may be for you. I find it odd that you can’t use multishot with flurry of arrow, and yet you get both multishot and rapid shot as bonus feats for this archetype. Still, you’ll definitely want a composite bow and a high wisdom score to take advantage of Zen archery and have a high ki pool to fuel your abilities. Dominate the battle field from near and far, and strike down your foes.
Precision is a part of most monastic arts, but that is especially true for these monks. The directed nature of their techniques means, however, that finding their center is at the end of an arrowhead, launching towards their goal, rather than focused inwards. As such, these archers may be more practically minded than their fellows, planning ahead more rather than using their enlightened state of mind to merely react to the world around them.
Spying the party’s troll manservant as they travel the valley pass below, a doppelganger assassin murders the local sensei of a monastic archery conclave in the guise of such a giant, creating a scapegoat and putting the entire party at risk by association as arrows rain down from on high.
Traveling far from home, the ki archer Daelar seeks to see the world, using his techniques to hunt for himself and protect others. However, he is still very naïve to the ways of the world, and when he shoots a mighty megaloceros in the elven forest of Kelensar, he discovers too late that the megafauna is sacred to the elves, and their fury will be terrible unless someone teaches him to invoke his right to trial.
The road to enlightenment can be a rocky one, and for some, the trials are too much to continue. However, not everyone leaves gracefully, and now several royal couriers and their retinue have been found dead, all impaled by arrows fletched with false phoenix feathers, the mark of the Burning Arrow Dojo. Who is smearing the name of the school with this villainy?