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I'm a fighter archer, just turning level 4. In my last session I rolled double 00's for loot and was rewarded with a +4 composite longbow of thundering. I'm pretty freaking stoked. I plan on taking improved critical as soon as possible, but I was wondering if there are any other ways to increase my critical threat range? I'm sure folks here know a LOT more than I would.

I can probably use some third party sources but nothing too far in left field. Unfortunately you cannot apply keen to a bow and keen edge on arrows will not stack with improved critical.

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While there may be alternative ways to increase your threat range, none of these stack. Keen, Improved Critical, etc. are all very explicit about this. The feat itself states:

This effect doesn't stack with any other effect that expands the threat range of a weapon.

In fact I would argue that if there is any possible stacking of critical range increases it is merely an error in the wording and wouldn't allow it in my games.

So taking Improved Critical, if you can spare the feat and know which weapon you want to focus on, is the cheapest way to get the highest range possible.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Sean Reynolds felt that Improved Critical and Keen should be allowed to stack, but he didn't have the final say... \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Apr 9 '15 at 2:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Keen can't be applied to a ranged weapon. d20pfsrd.com/magic-items/magic-weapons/… \$\endgroup\$ – Isaac Aug 2 '15 at 22:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is true, but Keen Edge can be cast upon ammunition. \$\endgroup\$ – frodoskywalker Feb 23 '17 at 20:17
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My ranged fighter uses Bracers of Falcon's Aim which gives a passive Aspect of the Falcon spell. http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/a/aspect-of-the-falcon

The item isn't too expensive and since nearly every ranged weapon is nat20 only (except for repeating crossbows) it is equal to the feat Improved Critical but without any prerequisites.

Critting with ranged weapons is a real uphill battle. You would need a heavy repeating crossbow (1d10 19-20x2), exotic weapon proficiency h.r. xbow, improved critical (1d10 17-20 x2), bracers of falcon's aim (1d10 17-20 x3) all the feats to get crossbow mastery (loading) and point blank master, critical focus (+4 to confirm), the Vital strike tree (+1d10 not multiplied on crit, but devastating strike bonus does get added) to get improved devastating strike (+2 to confirm) *Greater snap shot does the same, and as many attack of opportunity feats as possible to shoot as often as possible. And if you have any feats left, get bleeding critical (2d6 bleed to the enemy at the start of his turn). You'll finally need the weapon focus tree, and weapon specialization tree.

I'm playing in a game where you can purchase and learn feats (imagine Neo from Matrix downloading Kung Fu), so it's possible for me to do most of that, but I doubt anybody else can get all these feats

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The wording of Aspect of the Falcon is such that the entire benefit of the spell explicitly doesn't stack with Improved Critical, so no 17-20/x3 with crossbows. One can argue that this doesn't apply to the +3 perception and the attack bonus, but it definitely applies to any change in critical hit range or modifier. \$\endgroup\$ – MrLemon Oct 17 '14 at 8:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ what I meant was the bracers would change the x2 to a x3, it's up to the GM to decide if that change is allowed. If it were up to me, I wouldn't allow the bracers to stack the threat range (as the book describes), but I would let the buff to the multiplier go, but that's just me. \$\endgroup\$ – Mike Keyser Oct 18 '14 at 4:19
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I found two 3rd-party feats on d20pfsrd that could help you with that, if your master approves them:

  • Focused Attack, with which you make a full-attack with only 1 attack, gaining a bonus on your threat range (after calculating every other bonus, such as keen, or improved critical, or keen edge) equal to the number of attacks you gave up that round (so if you had 4 attacks/round, you only make one and gain a +3 to your threat range). Requires BAB +6

  • Savage Critical, which gives you a +1 to your critical multiplier. No prerequisites.
    The wording is strange on this one, because first it says "with a natural 20", then "or otherwise confirm a critical hit", which basically says "every time you confirm a critical hit".

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In the case of the Bracers of the Falcon's Aim (or Aspect of the Falcon spell), the wording is such that it addresses "threat range" expansion, not critical multiplier. They are two distinctly different attributes of a weapon's makeup.

From the spell Aspect of the Falcon: You take on an aspect of a falcon. Your eyes become wide and raptor-like, and you grow feathers on the sides of your head. You gain a +3 competence bonus on Perception checks, a +1 competence bonus on ranged attacks, and the critical multiplier for your bows and crossbows becomes 19-20/x3. This effect does not stack with any other effect that expands the threat range of a weapon, such as the Improved Critical feat or a keen weapon. Just wanted to point that out.

Not that it matters, because either way it improves the abilities of a character wanting to use either weapon. It also groups each of the bonuses into a single effect, that the entirety of the effect does not work in conjunction with the Improved Critical feat, as Mr. Lemon mentioned.

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Play an inspired blade swashbuckler if you want high crit range, it caps out at 13 at level 20, and you're restricted to a rapier, but the damage is pretty good, especially with critical feats added in!

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    \$\begingroup\$ You should probably include some information about where the inspired blade swashbuckler can be found and what features it has that increase critical range for this answer to be of good quality. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Apr 9 '15 at 2:50
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in 3.5 there was a half ling specific prestige class (shock-trooper or something of the like) that had an ability that was essentially improved critical but it specifically stated that it stacked with other similar things.

I'm just saying its not totally broken as long as you balance it right/ have it in the appropriate campaign. Definitely something for a DM to keep an eye on though I'd say.

also, more on par with the main question, there's the pathfinder feat Swordplay, adds +1 to crit threat range for one slash or pierce melee weapon. it says it works with keen or improved crit but the bonus is added after multiplying. I would definitly allow a similar one for bows/crossbows with appropriate weapon focus prerequisites

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    \$\begingroup\$ Shocktrooper was a feat in Complete Warrior that made Power Attack apply a penalty to AC instead of attack (among other things), and definitely had nothing to do with crits. To the best of my knowledge, all “crit extension stacking with Improved Critical” effects were holdovers from 3.0, and any that were explicitly updated had that possibility removed (so the only way to do it is to find things that were not updated). As far as I know, none of them were halfling specific. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 7 '14 at 20:32

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