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At 11th level a Zen Archer Monk gains the trick shot ability and I would like to understand how it fully works.

At 11th level, a zen archer may hit targets that he might otherwise miss. By spending 1 point from his ki pool as a swift action, the zen archer can ignore concealment. By spending 2 points, he can ignore total concealment or cover. By spending 3 points, he can ignore total cover, even firing arrows around corners. The arrow must still be able to reach the target; a target inside a closed building with no open doors or windows cannot be attacked. These effects last for 1 round.

For the rest of my question I will be referring to the different options by their ki cost, so when I talk about ki 1 it will be ignoring concealment.

For ki 1 its fairly straight forward, I get to ignore things that grant partial concealment like being close within mist or when they are under blur.

For ki 2 its less clear. Since I can ignore total concealment, does this mean I can ignore invisibility as long as I have line of effect and know they are somewhere around me?

For ki 3 its even worse. I can now ignore both total concealment and total cover. So as long as they are within my 10 range increments and I know they are there I can just fire arrows?

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For 1 ki point that zen archer monk's attacks ignores concealment

The opening sentence of the supernatural ability trick shot implies that the effect only affects the zen archer monk's attacks and, for example, the special ability doesn't enable him to see clearly through fey mist, and creatures can still use such concealment to make Stealth skill checks so as to hide from the monk. The zen archer monk simply makes attacks normally (that is, without any miss chance due to concealment) if he knows at least one square his target occupies.

For 2 ki points his attacks ignore total concealment and cover

This is much weirder because the zen archer monk "can't attack an opponent that has total concealment, though [he] can attack into a square that [he] think[s the opponent] occupies." Line of effect, however, is still necessary. Like the previous ability, only the monk's attacks—not the monk himself—ignores this total concealment, so the monk won't be able to see distant targets within, for example, the effect of the spell obscuring mist, but if the monk can determine the foe's square, his attacks can be made against that foe normally (that is, without the miss chance). While any archer should've already invested in the skill Perception, such an investment becomes doubly worthwhile for a zen archer monk.

That the zen archer monk's attacks ignore cover is more complicated. Presumably—based on the effects of spending 3 ki points—, this means any cover less than total cover, like cover, partial cover, soft cover, and cover creatures provide to other creatures by being in the way. The zen archer monk makes attacks against creatures with these kinds of cover (even if the cover's improved) normally, ignoring the foe's bonus to AC because of the cover. As some kinds of cover can be used by foes to make Stealth skill checks to hide, too, a zen archer monk's awareness of his foes isn't assured, so the monk may still be left guessing squares. Also note that these kinds of less-than-total cover don't usually block line of effect.

For 3 ki points his attacks ignore total cover

It seems as if the zen archer monk's attacks no longer need line of effect to his targets, as he can "even fir[e] arrows around corners" (which normal folks can do, too, but this is likely intended to mean the arrows travel around corners after they're fired not while they're fired). Likewise, making an attack against a target to which the zen archer lacks line of effect usually means the zen archer monk also lacks line of sight so the target will have total concealment—which the zen archer monk also doesn't care about. Thus the zen archer monk need only know one square his foe occupies to make attacks against the target. Presumably, the zen archer monk must know the path the attack's to take, and the attack suffers range penalties normally. How the zen archer monk comes to know this information is an exercise in employing the right combination of special abilities, spells, and magic items. That is, despite its high cost, without an effect like comic-book-style X-ray vision (q.v. the ring of X-ray vision) and maybe a successful Knowledge (engineering) skill check, the zen archer monk might only rarely find an opportunity to use this ability.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So in the end I am still guessing about which square I should target, but if there is something physically there in the square, and I beat the AC, I hit? \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jul 8 '16 at 21:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fering If the monk can't perceive the target's location then the monk's left with guessing the target's location. That is, the monk's attacks ignore concealment, not the monk himself. A dude invisible to the monk remains invisible even if the monk spends the 2 ki, but if the monk guesses a square the dude's in and beats the dude's AC, the dude's hit, and the miss chance isn't rolled. (That's how it reads anyway; I'll try to rustle up some dev commentary.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 8 '16 at 21:37
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My understanding of RAW is:

Ki 1: You ignore any modifiers associated with concealment, unless they have a rule more specific than this one that states the modifiers stay (as far as I am aware there are no such rules, but just in case there are).

Ki 2: You ignore any modifiers associated with concealment and cover besides total cover (due to wording in Ki 3). The "RP" envisioning of this in my mind is a very precise shot that nails a target that you have direct line of effect to (otherwise it would be total cover)

Ki 3: You ignore any modifiers associated with concealment and cover. You are able to target foes that have total cover provided you have some line of effect to them. I envision this in "RP" as ricocheting shots to hit your target. As long as the line of effect is less than or equal to your max range, you can fire at this foe.

Invisibility is a specific status, it is not concealment. You still suffer the normal effects of an invisible foe. If you are able to target the invisible foe with the rules above, you can fire at them, but you suffer from all invisibility penalties as normal (just having removed any cover and concealment penalties).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that without the concealment penalty of invisibility, you only need to know in whice space the target it. If you fire a shot at the right square then (by RAW) you ignore the miss chance entirely. \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Jul 8 '16 at 16:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ So as long as I know what square to aim at, I can hit the creature (assuming my attack is good enough, or no deflect arrows, ...)? \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jul 8 '16 at 17:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fering I don't have my pathfinder books with me, but as long as the invisbility state doesn't specify any other conditions or penalties besides due to concealment, yes. \$\endgroup\$ – Marshall Tigerus Jul 8 '16 at 17:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ We use the d20pfsrd site for our material in the game. d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/i/invisibility The thing about invisibility is that it leads down a long chain, so the spell, to the condition, to the special ability, which then leads to concealment. So I dont know since its just a chain of stuff how it all applies. \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jul 8 '16 at 17:52

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