The Arcane Archer is generally acknowledged to be underpowered or unfun (Would these changes to the Arcane Archer be imbalanced?). Suggested improvements usually focus on increasing the number of uses of Arcane Shot, and trying to calibrate the increase so as not to be overpowered.

What would be the effect of replacing the Arcane Archer's Arcane Archer Lore feature with the Eldritch Knight's Spellcasting feature, making the Arcane Archer a ⅓ caster? All other features would stay the same, and the Arcane Archer would not acquire any of the other Eldritch Knight features.

At first blush, the Spellcasting is pretty powerful, giving the character access to a wide variety of spells, and increasing in power as the character levels. Conversely, in most rounds the Arcane Archer is going to have to choose between (a) using Arcane Shot, (b) using a spell, or (c) making a melee attack. I don't think that it is going to radically increase the Arcane Archer's single round effectiveness (although Concentration spells like magic weapon would definitely be useful). I think it will primarily give them more resources to call upon when they inevitably use up their Arcane Shots.

Would adding the ⅓ caster Spellcasting feature of the Eldritch Knight be overpowered?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Which spell list would you be giving the archer access to? Same as the EK? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 20, 2021 at 16:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, the Spellcasting feature would be exactly the same as the EK feature. Spell list would be wizard, and it would be biased toward abjuration and evocation. There is opportunity to change the schools for flavor, but that probably doesn't affect the question about whether this is overpowered. (OTH, the schools could be limited to calibrate the power level, e.g. only illusion spells.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 20, 2021 at 19:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Taking EK and AA's strongest features and combining them seems to me to be more powerful than EK or AA. Do you consider this to be overpowered? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 5:13

2 Answers 2


Though I can agree with the general perception on the Arcane Archer, there is no need to severly edit the Arcane Archer.

Considering the Eldritch Knight approach, you could simply flavor the Eldritch Knight as an archer (fighting style, feats, etc.) and work with your DM so that instead of picking spells exclusively from the Abjuration or Evocation schools, you rather pick spells from any schools (even other spellcasting classes) that could be reasonaly thought of being "cast as an arrow" and/or duplicating one of the Arcane Shots; for example, beguiling arrow becomes charm person, bursting arrow becomes ice knives, etc.

The Dungeon Dudes and Treantmonk (among others) posted videos about the Arcane Archer. The Dungeon Dudes do a good critique of the class, and the main weak points they identify is 1) the limited number of arcane shots and 2) the fact that the shot does not apply to crossbows (which I think is not the right way to look at this). One suggestion is to increasing the number arcane shots learned, available and of uses per day (based on the Proficiency bonus, maybe), so that it is more "equivalent" to the number of maneuvers uses a Battlemaster can use in a day. Increasing the damage of some shots at higher levels could also be considered (11th and 18th for example). As an alternative, yhey also suggest to reflavor the Battlemaster to be a "better Arcane Archer".

This Treantmonk video and this one mechanically discuss the subclass, the various arrows and a recommended build. One main comment is the small number of uses (2/SR), and the fact that the ST DC for the shots is set using Intelligence. He suggests that the number of uses per SR should scale with level (with proficiency, or following the number of Arcane Shots). Also, picking arrow shots that does not require a ST is probably the way to go. The second video actually discusses an Arcane Archer build to show how to use them effectively, showing that the subclass is actually better than most think.

  • Banishing Arrow is effective;
  • Beguiling Arrow might be the worst;
  • Bursting Arrow has no ST and is AOE, thus not too bad;
  • Enfeebling Arrow is one of the weaker option;
  • Grasping Arrow, though is uses poison damage, it is still the best arcane shot available (no ST for the additional damage effect when target moves or is forced to move), better than many if not all Battlemaster maneuvers ("This is unreal!");
  • Piercing Arrow is worst than Bursting Arrow;
  • Seeking Arrow is among the worst, pretty niche in its usefulness but could still be useful;
  • Shadow Arrow is middle of the road.

Essentially, the build uses VHuman with Sharpshooter, initally selecting Grasping Arrow and Banishing Arrow (the "best" second option), and later Bursting Arrow, Shadow Arrow and Seeking Arrow (in this order). Using the Piercer Feat for additional damage with the arrow and the Telekinetic Feat to force Grasped targets to move and generate more damage with this shot (suggestion from myself to consider: Magic Initiate/Fey Touched/other to select the spell Hex to reduce the chances of the target from escaping the Grasping Arrow).

Overall, the proposed build delivers more DPR than his baseline and a "straight" fighter using Crossbow Expert (starting at 7th level, per his calculations).

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    \$\begingroup\$ I have changed my downvote into an upvote. This is a decent analysis challenging the premise of the question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 10, 2022 at 15:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks; still learning how this works. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 10, 2022 at 16:00

I'd suggest against it.

Except from potentially being overpowered, you're taking away from the uniqueness of the Eldritch Knight subclass. Look at it as adding spellcasting to the Battle Master, since Arcane Archer is kind of a ranged focused version of that.

Instead, I can suggest the homebrew I use as DM for the Arcane Archer:

  1. Prepared shots - same as spells, lets them prepare the shots based on the amount they choose
  2. Increase the number of uses to match the Battle Master's; 2 uses is a joke

This should keep it in line with the subclass while giving it more versatility and options, which should make it not feel underpowered.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Of what consequence is "taking away from the uniqueness of the EK" if there is no EK at the table? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 12:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov That's not completely true - making a bunch of classes that are like sorcerer but divine, like sorcerer but invocations instead of metamagic, like sorcerer but more summons and less direct damage on the spell list, and so on, will take away from the uniqueness of sorcerer, even if there's none at the table. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 21:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Phoenices: Thomas Markov's comment isn't disagreeing with the claim that the proposed change takes away from the EK's uniqueness; Thomas is just asking why that matters if nobody's playing an EK. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 21:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Phoenices I asked a question, I wasn't really making a statement. But I will make one now - diminishing the uniqueness of a particular class through house rules or homebrew isn't a priori an issue. We can say such changes "step on the toes" of that class, so to speak, but classes don't really have toes, players do. It's an issue if a player says "this homebrew class just tries to do everything my character does but better", but if there is no one around to actually experience that problem, is it really a problem? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 21:20

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