# Pathfinder warbow concept review - redux

This is a revisit of the warbow initially described in this question. Consideration was given to all answers, and combined/adapted for the below. Primarily, some of the spell storing abilities were removed, planar shift was limited, bonuses increased to keep the bow as a primary weapon consideration and not freely give all of the arcane archer abilities for free. As with the first question, I would like to determine if this is a logical progression, or if it is not enough in the beginning progressing to overpowered at the high end?

[Insert name here] was a distinguished ranger, well known for his willingness to protect those around him when the cause was just, regardless of the consequences to himself. Many of the tales that have grown around him have reached the status of unverifiable legend, but it is certain that his bow was a feared weapon among the unjust. It is rumored that he even ventured onto the Abyss and other planes to retrieve people stolen from their land.

Sometime after he retired, he returned to his woodland home to find his wife murdered, and son missing from their house. Taking up his bow once more, he ventured forth to rescue his son. It is unknown what actually happened, but his son was returned, and [...] and his bow were never seen again. Most believe that he either perished, or made a trade with an infernal being to exchange himself for his son.

Many people claim to have either seen or wielded his bow after that, but none of these have been confirmed, and few even believe that the bow existed, counting it as another fantastical tale that surrounds his legacy.

DESCRIPTION

[Insert name here] Warbow is dark wood intricately carved with arcane runes, and glows with a faint amber glow in dim light. A white leather grip is secured to the bow with two filigreed silver bands, one each at the top and bottom of the grip. To successfully utilize [...] Warbow to its fullest potential, a character must fulfill the following requirements:

Feats/Abilities Exotic Weapon Proficiency, Far Shot*, Planar favored terrain** (Edit for clarification: The planar terrain relates only to the planar shift aspect).

Skills Craft (bowyer) 4 ranks, Spellcraft 4 ranks

$$\begin{array}{c c l} \textbf{Character Level} & \textbf{Weapon Level} & \textbf{Weapon Effect} \\ \hline 1^\text{st}-2^\text{nd} & 1^\text{st} & \textit{“+0” adaptive war bow} \\ 3^\text{rd}-4^\text{th} & 2^\text{nd} & \textit{+1 adaptive war bow} \\ 5^\text{th}-6^\text{th} & 3^\text{rd} & \text{Enhance arrows} \\ 7^\text{th}-8^\text{th} & 4^\text{th} & \text{Minor displacement (as }\textit{blur}\text{)} \\ 9^\text{th}-10^\text{th} & 5^\text{th} & \text{Enhance arrows +3} \\ 11^\text{th}-12^\text{th} & 6^\text{th} & \text{Activation ring }\textit{spell storing} \\ 13^\text{th}-14^\text{th} & 7^\text{th} & \textit{Plane shift}\text{,** 3/day} \\ 15^\text{th}-16^\text{th} & 8^\text{th} & \text{Imbue arrow} \\ 17^\text{th}-18^\text{th} & 9^\text{th} & \text{Enhance arrows +5} \\ 19^\text{th}-20^\text{th} & 10^\text{th} & \text{Activation ring }\textit{spell storing, major} \\ \end{array}$$

1st Level: At first level, the bow gains the adaptive quality with no other bonuses.

5th Level: The bow gains the enhance arrows feature. Each non-magical arrow fired gains +1, and one of the flaming, shock or burst attributes.

7th Level: As a free action, the wielder of the bow can activate it, letting them act as though affected by a blur spell for a number of rounds equal to wielders level/2. This ability can be used a number of times per day equal to the wielder's character level.

9th Level: Enhance arrows now functions at a +3 bonus level, and gains one of the following elemental burst weapon qualities: flaming burst, icy burst, or shocking burst. This ability replaces the ability gained at 5th level.

11th Level: Activation of the first ring on the wrap occurs. This ring functions as a Ring of spell storing

13th Level: The leather wrap darkens and close inspection reveals swirls. The wielder of the bow gains the ability to use Plane Shift as a spell-like ability once a day with a caster level equal to the wielder's character level. **This can only be used to plane shift to a plane the wielder has selected as a favored terrain, if they have not selected a plane as a favored terrain, they cannot use this spell-like ability.

15th Level: The bow grants the ability to infuse any non-magical arrow with either a known or stored area of effect spell. This spell will activate on any hit. If the result of the attack is a miss, the spell is lost without activation.

17th Level: Enhance arrows now functions at a +5 level. In addition, each non magical arrow gains one of the following aligned weapon qualities: anarchic, axiomatic, holy, or unholy. The character cannot choose an ability that is the opposite of his alignment (for example, a lawful good character could not choose anarchic or unholy as his weapon quality).

19th Level: Activation of the second ring occurs. This functions as a Ring of spell storing, major.

• Clarification, is "Activation ring spell storing, major" an upgrade to the previous ring of spell storing, or another ring? – william porter Jun 10 at 16:08
• @williamporter - Second ring. One of the rings banding the grip will activate as the first ring, the second ring as the other activation. – JohnP Jun 10 at 16:12
• You have * and ** in the table, but I don’t see any corresponding footnotes explaining what’s going on in each case. Also, “this scales as does the arcane archer feature,” is unclear; the typical wording would be “the enhance arrows feature as an arcane archer with a class level equal to her character level,” or something similar. Regardless of how you word it, we need to know what level of arcane archer the character counts as. I think you should also include descriptions of each of the abilities, not just a few select ones. – KRyan Jun 18 at 23:46
• Voting to put this on hold until the above issues are clarified; while those issues could just be critiqued as part of an answer, it would be better to sort them out first, or else the value of this critique pass is going to be somewhat limited. – KRyan Jun 18 at 23:48
• @KRyan - Relevant meta question. I will fix it in line with what the community decides. – JohnP Jun 19 at 19:37

# First, the overall value of the bow is an issue.

At level 20, the value of each piece of the bow is:

• 450 gp for the masterwork warbow.
• 200,000 gp for being a +10 Warbow (11^2*2000) (+5 [enhancement] +1 [Adaptive] +2 [Elemental Burst] +2 [Aligned]) from the Enhance Arrows enhancement bonus and weapon special qualities.
• 98,280 gp for the ability to planeshift 3 times per day ((7x13x1800)/(5/3)) per the Magic Item Creation Rules.
• 50,000 gp for the ability of a Ring of Spell Storing.
• 200,000 gp for the ability of a Major Ring of Spell Storing
• An unknown gp cost for the blur ability.
• An unknown gp cost for the imbue arrows ability (likely equivalent to at least a +2 weapon enchantment based on the spell storing weapon enchantment).

Using the known costs, the bow is worth 722,870 gp at level 20 (450 + 200000 + (200000 + 50000 + 98280)*1.5), or 82% of a normal level 20 characters Wealth by Level (WBL). Note that the section for gamemastering advice has the following statement:

As a general rule, PCs should not own any magic item worth more than half their total character wealth, so make sure to check before awarding expensive magic items.

This is significantly more than 50%, which lends itself as a bad idea. This, plus the fact that there are two abilities unaccounted for in that price make it even worse.

# Second, issues with the bow's abilities.

## The bow seems to make the Arcane Archer prestige class obsolete.

The biggest parts of the Arcane Archer class are the free enchantments it provides to its arrows, and the ability cast any area spell through an arrow. This bow steals those, and makes it pointless for a character with this to take levels in arcane archer.

## The blur might as well not have charges.

At level 20, you get 200 rounds of blur (in 10 round increments) a day. In my experience, most combats only take about 5 rounds at most, and you are only likely to have about 4-5 combats a day. This means that when you get the ability at level 7 (7 uses of 3 rounds each, 21 rounds total a day) you likely already have the amount of uses you need.

## There's no need to have it act as multiple Rings of Spell Storing.

Given downtime, a Ring of Spell Storing and a Major Ring of Spell Storing act as an additional 15 levels of spells that a player can prepare. Normally, this is offset by the fact that the player would then be unable to equip a Ring of Protection or Ring of Freedom of Movement. However, since this does not occupy a ring slot, it frees up the players ring slots for other magical rings.

# Third, issues with the wording and format.

## Pathfinder already has a format for items that gain abilities based on character level.

Scaling Magic Items exist, you should use the same format for displaying the abilities of your weapon.

## Enhance Arrows should be worded better.

5th Level: The bow gains the enhance arrows feature. This scales as per the arcane archer feature.

## The enhancement bonus increase should be decoupled from the Enchance Arrows ability.

9/17th Level: Enhance arrows now functions at a +3/+5 bonus level

Should become

9/17th Level: The enhancement bonus of the warbow increases to +3/+5.

It's also fine for it to start as a +1 Adaptive Warbow. Yes, I'm a Hypocrite.

# My suggestions for fixing it.

## Drop the Imbue Arrows ability.

As a scaling magic item, the increased enhancement bonus and enchantments make sense for the bow, the Imbue Arrows ability is just too much on top of all that.

## Make the number of rounds for Blur actually relevant.

Currently you just get too many rounds of blur, limit it to a number of rounds equal to character level per day.

## Only provide the ability of a single Ring of Spell Storing and upgrade it, and start from a lesser ring.

There's no reason for the bow to provide the benefit of two rings of spell storing. Additionally, it should start from the lesser version of that ring.

# A look at the suggested item.

[Insert name here]'s Warbow

[Insert name here] was a distinguished ranger, well known for his willingness to protect those around him when the cause was just, regardless of the consequences to himself. Many of the tales that have grown around him have reached the status of unverifiable legend, but it is certain that his bow was a feared weapon among the unjust. It is rumored that he even ventured onto the Abyss and other planes to retrieve people stolen from their land.

Sometime after he retired, he returned to his woodland home to find his wife murdered, and son missing from their house. Taking up his bow once more, he ventured forth to rescue his son. It is unknown what actually happened, but his son was returned, and [...] and his bow were never seen again. Most believe that he either perished, or made a trade with an infernal being to exchange himself for his son.

Many people claim to have either seen or wielded his bow after that, but none of these have been confirmed, and few even believe that the bow existed, counting it as another fantastical tale that surrounds his legacy.

Pricing and what not

Description

This +1 adaptive Darkwood Warbow is intricately carved with arcane runes, and glows with a faint amber glow in dim light. A white leather grip is secured to the bow with a dull silver band in the middle of the grip.

3rd Level: The bow gains the Enhance Arrows ability, scaling as per the Arcane Archer Class Feature. For the purpose of the benefits of this ability the wielder is considered to have an Arcane Archer level equal to half their Character Level.

5th level: As a free action, the wielder of the bow can activate it, letting them act as though affected by a blur spell for 1 round. This ability can be used a number of times per day equal to the wielder's character level.

7th level: The silver band in the middle of the bow seems to regain some of its luster. This band acts as a Minor Ring of Spell Storing.

9th level: The enhancement bonus of the Warbow increases to +3.

11th level: The leather wrap darkens and close inspection reveals a swirl. The wielder of the bow gains the ability to use Plane Shift as a spell-like ability once a day with a caster level equal to the wielder's character level. This can only be used to plane shift to a plane the wielder has selected as a favored terrain, if they have not selected a plane as a favored terrain, they cannot use this spell-like ability.

13th Level: The enhancement bonus of the Warbow increases to +4.

15th level: The silver band in the middle of the Warbow gleams brightly now. The silver band now acts as a Ring of Spell Storing. This replaces the ability gained at level 5.

17th level: The enhancement bonus of the Warbow increases to +5.

19th level: Another swirl appears on the leather wrap, the wielder of the bow gains a second use of the Plane Shift Spell-Like ability granted by the Warbow.

Overall, the value of each piece of this proposed Warbow at level 20 is:

• 500 gp for the Masterwork Darkwood Warbow
• 242,000 gp for being a +11 Warbow (11^2*2000) (+5 [enhancement] +1 [Adaptive] +2 [Elemental Burst] +1 [Distance] +2 [Aligned]) from the Enhance Arrows enhancement bonus and weapon special qualities.
• 65,520 gp for the ability to planeshift twice a day, ((7x13x1800)/(5/2)) per the Magic Item Creation Rules..
• 50,000 for the ability of a Ring of Spell Storing.
• An unknown gp cost for the blur ability.

Overall this is a value of 415,780 gp for the bow, or 47% of the normal WBL for a level 20 character. While near the recommended guideline of 50% of wbl cut-off for a single item, it should be fine even if the blur ability pushes it slightly over.

• The bow doesn’t have distance, that might be something you’ve held over from the previous iteration? – KRyan Jun 21 at 19:46
• @KRyan Yeah, was from the previous revision of the question when he granted the Arcane Archer's Enhance Arrows ability which grants distance. – william porter Jun 21 at 20:14
• Ah, didn’t realize it did. That makes that edit probably invalid... oh well. – KRyan Jun 21 at 20:24
• Tis fine, it's still a large chunk of WBL which was my point. – william porter Jun 21 at 20:26

### The overall value of the bow is an issue, but not that big a one

The pricing guidelines aren’t perfect, and I would argue that the various parts of this bow aren’t as valuable as they might suggest. Basically, I want to imagine the magic bow and magic arrows someone would actually buy or craft to replace this bow, and figure out what that would cost—that’s a much closer approximation of its value than the guidelines. All costs in Pathfinder are opportunity costs, and it is a far better practice to compare against the actual opportunities available than to use the pricing guidelines.

In particulars,

• Adaptive is basically mandatory on an item like this, because otherwise you require the user to have some very-specific Strength score to use it and that’s just problematic. But it isn’t actually more valuable than having whatever level of composite bonus is appropriate for your Strength—because for most archers, Strength isn’t going to be changing much past character creation. At the very highest end, this is still worth less than a thousand gold pieces to almost anyone. If an archer is continuously pumping Strength as they progress, they will actually get more value out of adaptive, but that is an unusual and low-op approach and not something I would worry about.

• Magic bows firing magic arrows has always been a thing; enhance arrows isn’t unique about that. Adding the enhancement-bonus-equivalents together and then squaring the sum is incorrect, since you could just buy or craft those same +5 holy flaming burst arrows or whatever and then you are squaring before adding (which results in a dramatically lower number). Remember, wealth by level measures wealth, not expenditures: as you shoot those magic arrows, your wealth goes down—which means over time, you should be recapturing that wealth and be able to buy new arrows.

Enhance arrows definitely has substantial extra value because you don’t have to buy or craft those arrows, and the wealth by level guidelines definitely do not guarantee wealth stability at all times, so I’m not discounting it here. But it’s also not reasonable to assume that this bow would be replaced by a bow that has those properties, rather than a bow with some properties and arrows with the others. Doing that would keep costs down, which means of course that’s how a realistic person would do it.

• The whole deal with item slots is overwrought—including by Paizo. Calculating how much value combining items actually has is a very tricky process, because it assumes things about how those slots are being used. But suffice to say, it’s flat-out wrong to apply the 50% premium to the 200,000-gp ring of major spell-storing rather than to, say, the 40,000-gp ring of freedom of movement that the character is probably wearing. Saving a ring slot saves you half the value of the lowest-value ring you’re wearing, no more.

• Plane shift is available to clerics as a 5th-level spell, not a 7th-level one. Saving 65% of the cost on this by finding a cleric to craft that rather than a wizard is just obvious, so plane shift needs to be evaluated as a 5th-level spell. That’s 59,400 gp instead of 98,280 gp—there is no way someone is going to pay an extra 30,000 gp on this when they don’t have to.

So all in all, pricing this bow requires some very careful analysis. And it still ends up being over-valuable at most levels—beyond the fact that “+0” adaptive warbows aren’t actually things you can buy in Pathfinder, a 1st-level character couldn’t afford one if they were—a 1st-level character wouldn’t even be able to afford the equivalent masterwork composite bow. At 20th level, this bow is absolutely worth over 550,000 gp—probably quite a bit more. Does it fall under the 880,000 gp threshold for the single most expensive item a 20th-level character should own? Realisitcally, yeah, it does, but it’s still huge. That’s probably OK here; this bow is a character all to itself, it should be big. But don’t discount that it is very, very big.

### Arcane archers lose the only reason to be an arcane archer

Arcane archer is a bad prestige class. Most of its abilities are mediocre, and realistically no one should ever take more than two levels—to get imbue arrows—before finding something else to do with their levels. The lost spellcasting just hurts too much, and imbue arrows is the only thing they get that’s both unique and powerful.

Since this bow grants imbue arrows, arcane archer just became that much more pointless. If someone actually wants to play one, that’s a problem. If no one wanted to play one... maybe that’s not that much of a problem.

Note that the only especially-good use of imbue arrows is to fling an antimagic field at an enemy, which is a brutally-effective tactic. Whether you get that through two levels in arcane archer or through this bow, it could prove problematic for your game. If this bow means someone gets imbue arrows, where without it no one was going to bother with arcane archer to get it, it could expose your game to a problem that otherwise would get ignored.

### Round-by-round accounting on blur is likely to get annoying, and anyway it’s too good for its level

I know Pathfinder is full of this kind of thing, but it’s a really unfortunate precedent because it really leads to some pretty poor gameplay. Having to track rounds of blur could get really obnoxious. And even when you first get it, you have 7 uses per day for 3 rounds each—3 rounds is enough to get you through most fights, and 7 uses per day is way more than you’ll typically be having fights in a day. So all that bookkeeping ultimately probably doesn’t actually get you all that much.

A minor cloak of displacement is a good item, there’s no question. But this version of the bow isn’t substantially less good—it’s just more annoying. Better to just make it continuous, like the cloak, and accept that that’s how much value it’s offering. That probably means you’ll have to delay it later—a 7th-level character cannot afford a minor cloak of displacement. It’s probably more like 11th level.

### Plane shift offers no way to get home

You cannot select the Material Plane for favored terrain. That means this bow’s plane shift can take you to, say, the Plane of Fire, but then cannot take you back again. That’s... very weird.

Consider having something like “So long as you have at least one planar favored terrain, you can also plane shift to the Material Plane.”

# Conclusion

This is an improvement, but I don’t think moving blur earlier and saddling it with a bookkeeping headache is a sound choice—it’s too good at that level even with the limitations, and really the limitations never become meaningful. I don’t think making them meaningful is a good choice either—because then you still have a bookkeeping headache. Keeping it at 9th, or possibly better 11th, would be superior.

I think plane shift needs some option for getting to the Material Plane.

I think tying more of this thing’s scaling to the horizon walker class would be for the best; it makes it a lot more niche, a lot less abusable, and so on. Right now, the only thing relating to that class is the plane shift, and that itself can be handled by a ranger instead. You could, for instance, require that the wielder have a terrain mastery to use the blur effect, two terrain masteries to use the spell storing effect, three to use the imbue arrows effect, and the master of all lands feature to use the major spell storing effect. That then becomes a huge opportunity cost that goes a long way towards making it an appropriate power level: since you don’t have more than 10 levels’ worth of spellcasting, at best, you don’t get the most powerful spells you might cast through an arrow or store in the bow. You have to rely on others to fill your bow’s spell storing features, and then use those stored spells for imbue arrows. Now most people interested in imbue arrows would rather get it from arcane archer than from this bow—but someone who wanted to be a horizon walker anyway would still love this bow. I think that would land things in a better spot.

• TBF, I like this image I'm getting of the archer transporting themself and their friends to another plane and then getting trapped there. It brings out my evil GM smile. – william porter Jun 21 at 20:41