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I've been trying to build an archer mounting a medium ride, however I haven't been able to make such a build "viable". Thank you to gatherer818 for mentioning the UnderSized Mount feat.

I've been looking for ways to ramp up the damage, mostly through sneak attack, but couldn't find any reliable way to deal sneak attack damage.

Is there a way to fill the damage dealer role with this kind of concept?

On definition of "viable": my group doesn't straight-up powerplay, but there is some optimization going on; thus I'm fine with this character not being optimal, but I need some efficiency.

As reference for the damage I'm looking for: adding the slayer's sneak attack every 2 turns, using typical archery feats such as manyshot and/or rapid shot, can be considered ideal (not counting third party material); I expect I won't reach this peak, since I'll get riding feats, but I'm looking for ways to get close to that.

Requirements are Archery( bow or crossbow preferred, firearms if they offer vastly superior options) and a mount of Medium size or smaller.

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Path of War by Dreamscarred Press. If you're restricted to first-party material only, your only options are to reskin something that can actually do ranged DPR and just say you're using a bow to do it, or just give up. Either way, your problem isn't with being mounted, it's with being an archer.

If you're going for straight DPR, Paizo materials simply do not provide the tools necessary to get level-appropriate amounts of damage out of a bow. If you're going to focus more on rider effects than on straight damage, then the situation is slightly better, but only slightly, and your (pre-edit) indication that Small works against you seems to contraindicate this approach anyway.

If you are allowed third-party material (and while just blanket permission of all things third party is a Very Bad Idea, DSP is well-regarded for a reason: their balance record is far better than anyone else in the field, including Paizo), then DSP's Path of War has some decent options for you in the already-published first book, and a ton of really awesome stuff coming in the second book (and already available via the playtest documents, which you can find linked from here). I'm currently running a Zealot (from the playtest) archer who is a very effective ranged DPR specialist, using Solar Wind maneuvers and stance, and occasionally the (also DSP) Psionic Shot feat to get some extra punch (can't use that feat very often at my current level because I need a full-round action to recharge it).

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My thoughts go like this.

Class: Slayer. Gains Some useful things like sneak attack, favored target, and some terrain bonuses as well as Full BAB.

Race: I'm a bit biased towards humans (for the bonus feat), but any standard archer type should work nicely (elf, human, the small races, anything you'd want that nets useful bonuses to archers)

Level 1 feats: mounted combat, weapon finesse

Standard kit:

Bow: I'm pretty sure you can only use a shortbow whilst mounted, so there's your main weapon. If there's a way to use a longbow mounted without major penalties then do it.

Armor: any light armor that won't mess up your ride skills a lot.

Secondary Weapons: Mostly for when/if you end up on the ground in melee

If you pick Elf: Elven Curve Blade (a d10 2 handed weapon with finesse and an 18-20 crit range). if the DM will allow 3.5 material, get an elven thinblade, elven lightblade, or both, they're good 1 handed finesse weapons with 18-20 crit range.

If not: stick with rapier and a light weapon

Either way: Lance. Jeepthingjim above me is right that charging 3x damage is worth your time. Though you better have high strength.

Slayer talents: This is the main draw for this since your higher speed on any decent speedy mount will let you flank easier.

Assassinate: if you study your target for one round (and they're a favored target) Your sneak attack has a chance of killing them instantly. Though this is an advanced trick, so you won't get it for a while.

Terrain Mastery and Slayer Camoflage:

Terrain Mastery (Ex): A slayer with this talent chooses a favored terrain on the ranger’s Favored Terrains table (Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook 65). The slayer gains a +2 bonus on initiative checks and Knowledge (geography), Perception, Stealth, and Survival skill checks when he is in this terrain. A slayer traveling through his favored terrain normally leaves no trail and cannot be tracked (though he may leave a trail if he so chooses). A slayer can take this ability multiple times, each time applying it to a new terrain, and increase by +2 the bonuses granted with all favored terrains previously taken. These bonuses don’t stack if the slayer is in terrain that falls into more than one category of favored terrain.

Slayer Camoflage:(Ex) A slayer can use the Stealth skill to hide in any of his favored terrains, even if the terrain doesn’t grant cover or concealment. A slayer must have the terrain mastery talent to select this talent.

So with those talents, there's your stealth request.

Slowing strike: halves an enemy's movement speed for a d4 rounds

Hunter's Surprise: Lets you pick one enemy to add your sneak attack damage to the damage for every attack you make against them for the round.

Optional slayer powers

fast stealth: I'm not sure if this affects a mount. So I put it as optional

Firearms training: Since this doesn't count as archery you may ignore this, but it may be worth it if you can use it. Your call.

Grit: related to the firearms training. Using grit may be a good little bonus to your guy

Feats after first level in no particular order:

and other mounted feats you need

your standard combat feats: (weapon focus, improved critical etc.)

archery stuff

Improved critical (secondary weapon) critical focus, and critical feats. I know it seems strange to say spend feats on secondary weapons (or at least make them keen). but your secondary weapons (assuming you chose the elven stuff or the rapier) can get a crit 15-20, meaning you'll be able to use critical feats a lot using them.

Strengths: +6d6 sneak attacks you can get via flanking assassinate killing enemies with master slayer by 20th

Limitations: Special powers like assassinate can only work on favored targets stealth without cover requires specific terrain. Relatively feat intensive from not using fighter

How's that?

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Answer 1: You could do Hide in Plain Sight while on the mount, though you couldn't use it to hide the mount unless you found a way to make a hide check for your mount. The only way I found to do that is at the same spell level as invisibility. So why would you ever HiPS when you could go invisibility, and it's never attacking, so invisibility would go for it's full duration. People might still hear a "phantom horse" though. Unless you go and get silenced horse shoes.

Answer 2: You'd be gimped on damage, early on, due to using smaller weapons. And later on, you'd be gimped on damage due to not being a spell caster, but compared to a martial class, you'd do fine. The size difference in damage isn't a very large deal when you've got so many other sources of damage.

Answer 3: Well, mounted characters could do pretty well for over world scouting (no dungeons, because traps). You could also hit and run, but people don't like just a single person entering combat, even for just one attack because it just takes bloody ages to get anything done in D&D/PF combat. Skill monkey doesn't really work "while mounted." But you could easily dismount and perform those skills. You don't want to be tanking, because mounts are weak. You could be a field medic, able to rapidly get from one person to the other, but that's considered an incredible waste of time in the D&D meta, since you could be killing them instead, and reduce the damage your group would then take. I can't think of any other roles.

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Consider a gnome fighter mounted on a war dog. Feat-wise I would focus on archery except for Quick Draw for backup melee weapons. I would also consider a lance; x3 damage on a charge is huge. Otherwise I would focus on archery. Do you have a strength bonus? If not, use a crossbow for better range and damage. Reference the dwarven arbalester in the NPC Codex for feat ideas, as that focuses on doing massive damage with one attack. The war dog is convenient as you can take one indoors.

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