I'm building a high-ish level Alchemist to jump into a campaign, and I'm thinking it'll be fun to build around being a master of infusing crossbow shots for high damage with Explosive Missile, using Improved Snap Shot (and occasional Grenadier infusions) to keep incoming attackers at bay.

The problem is, I've always been terrible with keeping track of ranged combat feats and understanding the 'tree' such as it were. I already have the following feats:

  • Point Blank Shot
  • Rapid Shot
  • Rapid Reload
  • Precise Shot
  • Deadly Aim
  • Weapon Focus
  • Imp. Critical
  • Snap Shot/Imp. Snap Shot

What am I missing? I've already ruled out Focused Shot for reasons of action economy.

Additionally, are there any classes or archetypes (other than a few levels of fighters for more feats, obviously), that would provide a lot of bang for the buck in a small dip to help this build out?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Does your gm allow stuff from older versions, or just specifically PF? There are some good things to be had from 3.5 for Xbows \$\endgroup\$ Jun 19, 2014 at 17:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LeesudFreak I probably wouldn't accept an answer based only on 3.5 material. But I'd probably upvote it. :) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 19, 2014 at 17:20

2 Answers 2


For Pathfinder, as mentioned in the comments above, Crossbow Mastery is pretty useful. Otherwise, as far as feats go, you've got 'em covered.

The Far Shot feat will turn the -2 range increment penalties into -1, which can be very useful to shoot from long range.

Here's where some cheese comes in-- when you take a 1-level dip in Rogue with the Sniper Archetype, you gain the Accuracy ability, which that further by half. This does stack RAW, which effectively doubles your range increment distance before you even see a penalty. For example, you can pick stuff off from almost half a mile away with only a -4 penalty. Granted, you'd need scrying or something to spot your targets, but your stealth check gets hilarious... Your GM will probably scowl at you for this. Pay him back by taking Leadership and Siege Engine feats... and chuck donkeys at the BBEG from the next county. On a more serious note, the Ballista is good and can be used every turn like this.

If your GM allows material from 3.5e, then you can take both Crossbow Sniper and Improved Crossbow Sniper. The former grants you half your Dex modifier to damage and a +30 feet to Sneak Attack and Skirmish ranges, and the latter bumps it up to full dex and an additional 30 feet. Furthermore, a 1-level dip in Rogue grants you a Sneak Attack, and the Craven feat from 3.5 will grant you your character level as bonus damage to SAs (at the cost of -2 will saves against fear effects).

If your GM will allow things from 3.0, you can attach a Gnome Crossbow Sight to your xbows to ignore the first two range increment penalties.

As a GM, I allow pretty much all things regarding crossbows in Pathfinder, because they're already such a sub-optimal weapon compared to bows, thanks to the absence of the strength modifier to damage and manyshot. You'll probably be using the Launching Crossbow as an Alchemist, so your experience won't be as bad as most classes, but the feat tax for using any crossbow is almost ridiculously heavy.

A little bit more cheese, but if you take a 1-level dip in Oracle, choose the Waves mystery, and take Water Sight as your first-level revelation, you'll be able to lay down Obscuring Mist a few times a day and be able to see through it without penalty. Being able to shoot with guaranteed total concealment is a huge plus to tactical fighting (its the basis for my Sniper using crossbows in my current PF game, in fact, since the concealment guarantees Sneak Attacks)

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Another potential dip is one level of Ranger for access to wands of gravity bow. Or two and a feat from the crossbow style. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bobson
    Jun 19, 2014 at 18:21

Some additional ideas:

  • Crossbow Mastery combined with combat reflexes and the imp. snapshot (which you've already taken) will allow you to take multiple Attacks of Opportunity with your crossbow (which threatens 15 feet from you) - you may even do so while flat footed. Meaning it's dangerous to move around you :)
  • Quick Draw is also useful to an extent (if both drawing and loading are free actions, you can full attack in the first round, etc.)
  • As long as you already have weapon focus, Vital Strike combined with a heavy crossbow is nice, especially when you are saving your bombs...
  • Ricochet Splash Weapon is nice for any alchemist

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