If I want to play as an Arcane Character that infuses his arrows with magical power, how do I do it according to the RAW in a way that I'll feel the closest from the old Arcane Archer prestige class' flavour?

By that, I mean, being primarily an archer, but one who has arcane knowledge which he uses to infuse arrows with arcane spells/powers. It is supposed to combine martial abilities with arcane study, making you feel exactly like someone who studied magic but also can shoot arrows like no one else. They should also primarily pack a punch on their own, they should not be a support character.

I tried the ranged weapon bard, but still it doesn't feel much like what it should be. Specially using charisma. And I also tried the sorcerer, class that have the same ability problem, but then it's not like I'm actually using arrows anyway. The bow makes actually no difference. The major problem is using charisma and, going with sorcerer, not even using arrows since all the Sorcerer Class Powers are used with implements. And in the end, the Wizard doesn't support the Arrow Shooting side of the Arcane Archer.

Is there a proper way?


The class you're looking for is the Artificer.

The artificer has a number of ranged attacks which combine a weapon with magic to the benefit of the party. Up to and including animating her crossbow with magic to fight for her while she's busy with other activities.

A great deal of its powers are:

At-Will ✦ Arcane, Weapon
Standard Action ✦ Melee or Ranged weapon

Which means any weapon will work. It only starts proficient with simple ranged weapons, but almost every artificer takes superior crossbow or greatbow proficiency. The heroic tier feat "Crossbow caster" (or bow caster if you're an elf) means that your (cross)bow is quite literally the implement you use to cast spells with. As a half-elf, you are also eligible for the Aerenal Arcanist feat, giving you the equivalent of a spellbook for your utility powers. Be careful of focusing too much on bows, though, as many of the other artificer feats require crossbows to function.

Beyond that, refluffing is 100% allowed by RAW as per the Reflavouring powers article in Dragon 394. Find the mechanics which support the desired narrative, and then shape the in-world visual consequences to suit your needs.

If you absolutely must play a striker arcane ranged bow user with a minimum of refluffing, go with the frostbow of sehanie a cleric|artificer (obviously, fluff the cleric bits as arcane) which:

The fun and unique part of this build comes from the three separate Daily weapon augments that add 3+ damage and some amount to hit. These calcs also assume you are using a Frozen Whetstone to add some more damage. You can drop these if you have other item dailies since you still get the frost keyword from your weapon. Standard setup is minor for a weapon augment and move->minor for the Frozen Whetstone. If you want to go nova, it will take two rounds for all three weapon augments and a whetstone.


The Seeker is reasonably similar to the Arcane Archer, being a Controller (sort-of) that is tailored towards the use of bows and/or thrown weapons.

While their power source is actually Primal, their powers read very close to spells that specifically manipulate elemental spirits, animal spirits and the natural world. Also in line with the Arcane Archer theme, one of the best races for building a Seeker is Elf.

Note however that the Seeker is generally considered to be a very weak class due to many of their powers being soft control (eg. the target takes damage or an effect if they do, or do not, do something specific on their turn) and single target (even most of their zone-creating abilities often require a single target before anything happens) and may suffer if you are in a party of players who optimize heavily.

However if you are in a party who don't go out of their way to optimize every stat and power, or who consider your character in their optimizations (as far as I know the Seeker is the only class with an at-will slow, and it can also be used as a ranged basic attack), the Seeker can be useful, and is much better if you build them with the mindset of them being a generalist Striker/Leader/Controller as opposed to a straight-out Controller.

  • \$\begingroup\$ There is only one problem, he is primal. \$\endgroup\$ – Davi Braid Jan 16 '15 at 6:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Power source has one of the most minor mechanical effects on the game and is much more about background flavour. It could quite easily be changed. \$\endgroup\$ – Ken Herbert Jan 16 '15 at 7:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I understand you could change the fluff and make it a wisdom class, but the question is about the raw. Besides, it doesn't make any sense to me that races with higher INT scores would not make the best Arcane Archers since the Seeker, like most primal classes, is a WIS based class. \$\endgroup\$ – Davi Braid Jan 16 '15 at 7:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Arcane Archer has no Int requirement, just Elf or Half-Elf, BAB+6, 3 (very martial) feats and able to cast level 1 arcane spells. Bards are easier to transition to Arcane Archer which are Cha-based. Also remember that stats between 3e and 4e change drastically in regards to their role: 3e stats have hard limits to what they can and can't modify, with only spellcasting ability changing, whereas 4e allows each class to pick one of 2 abilities to fuel their powers. 3e and 4e are too different to have a true RAW equivalent, so you have to pick and choose what you are willing to translate. \$\endgroup\$ – Ken Herbert Jan 16 '15 at 7:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DaviBraid "Refluff this stuff all you want" is also part of the RAW for powers. (And some other things.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 24 '15 at 1:22

As far as I know, the only option that outright allows you to use powers through a bow is the Moonbow Dedicate feat, from Dragon 386. It's basically an expertise feat that only affects shortbows, gives you proficiency in shortbows, and allows you to use a shortbow as an implement for all Arcane and Divine powers.


I finally found the perfect way

The way of playing the arcane archer is through Paragon Mulitclassing.

You go for Ranger, multiclass as Artificer and take the Novice, Acolyte and Adept feats. This way, you gain access to powers of the Artificer class with the Ranged and Arcane keywords and you can still use your bow and the Ranger's Hunter's Quarry feature with them.

This way you shoot arcane arrows being able to deal great damage but always dealing some sort of special arcane effect, always using the Weapon Damage. Besides, with the utility powers from the Artificer's Class, you can even buff your weapon for even higher damage with your Twin Strike. It's not about the damage, though, but mostly about the fact that you can use arcane utility and daily powers to infuse your weapon (bow), causing them to deal extra elemental damage and things alike, making it feel more like you actually have synergy between your archer skills and your arcane knowledge.

As an example:

Sigil of admixture is a lvl16 utility power with the following description: "You inscribe an arcane symbol on the weapon, imbuing it with a particular kind of energy"

It adds only 1d6 extra damage until the end of your next turn, but it makes you use your arcane knowledge with your weapon of choice (bow) and since you're a martial archer (ranger), you can still use your twin strike and hunter's quarry OR any Ranged Weapon power of the Artificer Class, not ever letting go the feeling that you are, before anything, a martial archer (Ranger with Hunter's Quarry).

The Artificer Class is close, but not there yet.

I made him an Eladrin just cause I believe to be the only race that actually makes you feel even more conected to the "arcane" side of the Arcane Archer. Besides, it gets DEX and INT, which you need to be a Ranger/Artificer.


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