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So I'm trying to figure out which of these builds would be more of a combat threat by level 10. Naturally combat wouldn't be the main focus, but my character should at least be respectable.

The character is a half elf Sandman Bard (meaning they get skill focus for free).

One path would stick with adaptability as its racial focus and the other would swap that for ancestral arms to get Proficiency in star-knife at level 1.

And the stats would look something like this

Str: 10
Dex: 14
Con: 14
Int: 18 (started at 14, plus Racial Bonus and Headband of Mental Prowess)
Wis: 10
Cha: 20 (point gains from 4 and 8, started at 16, plus Headband of mental prowess)

Now the feat paths would go like this:

Feat Path 1: Primary Weapon "Starknife"
Racial Feat: Martial Weapon Training (Starknife)
1: Divine Fighting Technique (Way of the Shooting Star)
3: Skill Focus(Knowledge, Disguise or Perform) I haven't decided whether I want Arcane, Maestro or Rakshasa for....
5: Eldritch Heritage
7: Accomplished Sneak Attacker
9: Dilettante

or

Feat Path 2 Primary Weapon "Shortbow"
Racial Feat: Skill Focus (Knowledge, Disguise or Perform)
1. Point Blank Shot
3. Eldritch Heritage
5. Accomplished Sneak Attacker
7. Dilettante
9. Arcane Strike

So between the two feat paths with magic items corresponding to the average WBL, which of these would do more damage?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why are we ignoring magic items and party composition in a Pathfinder optimization question? Is the goal just to simplify things? The answers you get with those restrictions will be terribly misleading... \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Jun 14 '17 at 6:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes it's basically to keep it simple, im saying this because if we were to add say "sniper goggles" It wouldn't even be a contest the short bow would more or less win hands down. \$\endgroup\$ – Masakan Jun 14 '17 at 9:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ You could for example say "with magic items corresponding to the average WBL" or "without magic items at all" \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Jun 14 '17 at 11:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ edited and done. \$\endgroup\$ – Masakan Jun 14 '17 at 12:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ I wonder why no path has rapid shot. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Jun 14 '17 at 12:23
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The short and not very helpful answer is that both of these builds have far too little damage for 10th level play if your goal is to deal damage. I would not consider either of them "respectable" contributors in the damage department, though the starknife build clearly edges the shortbow build out in calculations.

In both my example calculations below, I assume a +2 enhancement bonus weapon and the bard casting Heroism on himself (a long duration buff that I feel is reasonable to assume. Other buffs may apply as well).

Starknife variant

Your attack roll is: +16/+11 (+7 BAB, + 5 CHA, +2 ENHANCE, + 2 HEROISM)

Your damage roll is: 1d4+7+3d6 (+5 CHA, +2 ENHANCE, 3d6 sneak when applicable)

Against an average CR10 foe (AC 24), this equals a full attack DPR (damage per round) of 10.97 when not sneak attacking and a DPR of 22.00 when always sneak attacking.

Shortbow variant

Your attack roll is: +14/+9 (+7 BAB, + 2 DEX, +1 POINTBLANK, +2 ENHANCE, + 2 HEROISM)

Your damage roll is: 1d6+6+3d6 (+1 POINTBLANK, +2 ENHANCE, +3 ARCANESTRIKE, 3d6 sneak when applicable)

Against an average CR10 foe (AC 24), this equals a full attack DPR (damage per round) of 8.88 when not sneak attacking and a DPR of 17.81 when always sneak attacking.


Since sneak attacks are easier to pull off in melee than ranged, the Starknife's flexibility will pull it further ahead too.

Note that a CR10 enemy has about 130 HP, so neither of these two builds is taking less than 6 full rounds under perfectly optimal conditions (always full attacking, always sneak attacking) to down what should be an equally matched enemy.

CR10 enemy stats here are taken from the Monster Statistics by CR table provided by Paizo.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ To be fair, i did ask him why he did not have Rapid Shot as an option, which is the quickest way to obtain a higher DPR as any ranged attacker. If "everything else is more important", then he is not worried about dealing more damage than what was already proposed by those feats. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Jun 14 '17 at 15:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ By the way, point-blank also applies to the starknife when it is thrown. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Jun 14 '17 at 15:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Right the skill monkey aspect is a little more important. \$\endgroup\$ – Masakan Jun 14 '17 at 17:03
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Both feat paths are poor on the purpose of causing damage, specially because some of these feats do not improve your damage at all (like Dilettante), and others are subpar choices for being circunstantial (like Accomplished Sneak Attacker). Feats like Rapid Shot would vastly improve your damage-per-round capabilities.

But considering that you seem to be aware of this (at least, partially), let's analyze them.

Feat Path 1: Primary Weapon "Starknife"

This results on a +5 to damage and a cincunstancial +1d6 from sneak attack. But sneak attack here is much easier to come as the starknife can be used as a melee or ranged weapon.

Feat Path 2 Primary Weapon "Shortbow"

This results on a +4 to damage, but the +1d6 from sneak attack is much harder to come by, as you cannot normally sneak attack with ranged weapons unless you attack a target denied of his dex bonus (stealth, total concealment, invisibility, act first in combat, etc).

Eldritch Heritage

Your three options of eldritch heritage bloodlines (Arcane, Maestro and Rakshasa) will grant no damage bonuses. But each of them has their own use in combat.

Arcane will grant an additional spell slot once per day that can be used to cast any spell you know, this could be an additional fireball or greater invisibility.

Maestro grant you a powered up version of Daze Monster (thought it says daze), 8 times per day, that instead of being limited to 6 HD will require that the target understands your language. Being unable to act will quickly destroy any creature that is ganged up by your group. However, being language dependant really limits your possible targets.

And Rakshasa will grant you a weaker version of Glibness that can be activated as swift action up to 8 times per day, which can be used for Feinting in combat and open your target for sneak attacks.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer would be improved if it warned the reader that both options are really quite poor. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 14 '17 at 15:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry to harp on it, but I would still quibble with your intro: not only are half the feats not about damage (valid if damage is not the only or primary goal), but the feats that are about damage are also quite poor (e.g. Accomplished Sneak Attacker). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 14 '17 at 15:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Now that looks great. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 14 '17 at 16:09

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