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One of my 5e characters is a Longbow based archer (Wood Elf Rogue 2/Fighter X with the Sharpshooter Feat), with her weapon of choice selected primarily for flavor reasons. It's a little annoying that in most adventures (i.e. where the Longbow's additional range doesn't matter much) she is sub-optimal with regards to DPR when compared to a Hand Crossbow based build with Crossbow Expert and Sharpshooter.

Is there anything in the game (either character options or magic items that are present in Adventurers League games) that can let a Longbow based archer make a bonus action attack like a Hand Crossbow based Crossbow Expert can?

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    \$\begingroup\$ People who are answering here: He's asking for character options or magic items that would give him a way to do this. He's not asking for answers about how to do this with crossbows or how to do comparable damage with magic. Please respect the format of the stack and address the question asked. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Feb 23 '17 at 1:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Indeed. Answer the question posed or don't answer. This is not a discussion forum to give alternate ideas. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Feb 23 '17 at 4:12
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Yes, through use of the Swift Quiver spell

Swift Quiver can be found on PHB pg. 279.

As a level 17 Ranger, you get access to the Swift Quiver spell which allows you to use your bonus action to make TWO attacks with your bow, however the ammunition from the quiver is non-magical.

So, anything that grants you access to this spell will allow you to use your bonus action to make attacks with your longbow. And this is not limited to Ranger alone.

For example: Bard, level 10 feature Magical Secrets (PHB pg. 54) let's you take 2 spells from ANY class and make them Bard spells. Since Bards have full caster progression this means you can select this spell since it's a level 5 transmutation. As a bonus, if you go College of Valor, you also get the Extra Attack feature.

This means you can make two longbow attacks with your attack action, and two additional attacks with your bonus action for as long as you maintain Swift Quiver.

When all is said and done, in my opinion, Bards are better Longbow Rangers in D&D 5e than the Ranger class is, at least prior to UA releases (which may make this statement untrue at some point).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That's certainly a solution, thanks. Won't solve my problem for this character mind you, but it is indeed a solution ;-) \$\endgroup\$ – Garrett Rooney Feb 23 '17 at 2:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GarrettRooney depending on how important this is, you could ask your DM for something like a Quiver of Swift Quiver (a magic item that allows you to cast Swift Quiver once in a while) @ Lino That may not be RAW at all, but maybe put it in the answer too? \$\endgroup\$ – ammut Feb 23 '17 at 16:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Creating Magic Items is within the DM's power. Something that has a permanent level 5 spell effect on it that grants you two extra attacks would very likely fall into the Very Rare category of items. If it had limits, like three times per day or something, it would reduce it's rarity category. I mean, I can create the magic item that would do this, but that's ultimately his DM's job. I leave Rule Zero out of my answers unless it's the ONLY answer. Rule Zero trumps everything. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Feb 23 '17 at 16:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sadly, this is an Adventurers League character, I don't have the ability to convince my DM to create custom magic items just for me. \$\endgroup\$ – Garrett Rooney Feb 26 '17 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GarrettRooney - You could ask the DM for a Ring of Spell Storing that has the Swift Quiver spell already stored in it though. That's within the rules. You'd need somebody else who knows it in cities to recharge it for you in between uses though. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Mar 16 '18 at 4:12
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There is a way, although it has limited uses. If you take 1 level of Cleric, with the War domain, you may make an extra weapon attack with a bonus action. You may do this a number of times equal to your Wisdom bonus, per long rest.

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AFAIK, no, there is no object that can give you a bonus action attack with a bow. This is part of the trade off between ranged and melee combat. Ranged combat avoids some damage, and allows for better cover, but has slightly lower DPR, and can't really use a shield.

You are trading some damage output for survivability. You have the same HP as a fighter (well, except for your dip in rogue), and you will be attacked much less often.

There is a 5th level spell Quick Quiver, which lets you use a bonus action to make two attacks, but that is only a ranger spell, so you would need to find a 17th level ranger, or a 10th level bard willing to use magical secrets to get that spell. Neither are very reliable IMO.

Fortunately, as you increase in level, that bonus action attack becomes less important for fighters, who get more extra attacks at levels 11 and 20. This question looks at the extremes for melee combat at lvl 1 and lvl 20 fighters, and while it's not a perfect comparison, you can hopefully see why the bonus action attack is less important later on.

You will be much better served using your bonus action to hide. Because if you are successful (and you will be most of the time assuming you took stealth as one of your expertise skills), you have advantage on attacks, which triggers your sneak attack.

Also, being hidden makes enemies have disadvantage to hit you, assuming they even aim for the right spot.


The other thing to remember is that the crossbow expert feat only works with hand crossbows, which deal 1d6 rather than 1d8 damage. Once you hit rogue 2 / fighter 5, you will be doing

\$0.8\times(1\text{d}8+4)\times2+(1-(1-0.8)^2)\times0.9\times(1\text{d}6)=16.1\,\text{dpr}\$

with a longbow, and

\$ 0.75\times(1\text{d}6+3)\times3+(1-(1-0.75)^3)\times0.5\times(1\text{d}6) = 16.3 \,\text{dpr} \$

with a hand xbow. (assuming AC 11, a 50% chance to trigger sneak w/o hiding, and a 75% chance to hide).

At this point the difference is basically negligible, and you have an extra 1 AC, because you took the ASI instead of the feat at fighter 4.

If you want to add a comparison for the sharpshooter feat into the mix, we get the following:

\$ (0.75-0.25) \times (1\text{d}8+3+10)\times2+ (1-(1-0.5)^2) \times 0.9 \times (1\text{d}6)= 19.9 \,\text{dpr} \$

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm certainly willing to admit that hiding (when practical, it still requires DM approval) may be a fine replacement for the bonus attack, but you are discounting that the crossbow expert has the same sneak attack die, and that a bonus attack doesn't just add a longbow damage die, it also adds a DEX mod and potentially a magic weapon bonus. \$\endgroup\$ – Garrett Rooney Feb 22 '17 at 22:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ I ran the numbers for the two scenarios: longbow and hand xbow. When you apply enemy AC and reasonable odds to hide/trigger sneak, the two have basically the same output. Once you factor in crits, you will probably do better with the longbow, but I'm not going to go through the effort of figuring that out. \$\endgroup\$ – Shem Feb 22 '17 at 23:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why does one of your calculations use 0.8 and the other 0.75? Also, you are failing to account for damage from sharpshooter's -5/+10, which favors the hand crossbow. I actually doubt crits help the longbow, since you have more crits on the hand crossbow due to the bonus attack. \$\endgroup\$ – Garrett Rooney Feb 22 '17 at 23:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ I used different accuracies because I assumed you used your ASI that was otherwise used for the xbow feat to boost your Dex. That's also why I added 4 in one, and 3 in the other. I didn't take into account the the sharpshooter feat, because you can't get that and the hand xbow feat until rogue 2 / fighter 8. This comparison is being done at rogue 2 / fighter 5. The crits thing is probably true though. I was thinking about bigger crits with the longbow, but you have more crits (and crit fails) with the xbow. \$\endgroup\$ – Shem Feb 23 '17 at 0:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair point for the accuracies. \$\endgroup\$ – Garrett Rooney Feb 23 '17 at 2:37
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No, there is not.

However, to attempt to answer the question behind the question, here are some suggestions.

The crossbow expert spent two feats getting to the point where they are a fount of pointy damage. You've spent one. As your second feat, take Magic Initiate and learn hex or hunter's mark. Use your bonus action to cast that. Also, you get some cantrips, which are always useful (like mage hand to retrieve arrows from yucky blood-covered corpses :-).

Take Mobile feat, to make sure you stay of of melee. The hand crossbow archer doesn't have much of a range, so they are vulnerable to foes dashing up to them and engaging them in melee, or disarming them (it is easier to disarm a hand crossbow than a longbow).

Take Skulker and use your ROgue Cunning Action to hide and stay hidden. Using a bow from hiding means you get advantage, which means sneak attack damage applies.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You can't take spiritual weapon with magic initiate, it's a 2nd level spell. Magic initiate also is limited to once per long rest, which is unfortunate. \$\endgroup\$ – Garrett Rooney Feb 22 '17 at 21:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, misreading "level 2" for "level 1" sure torpedoed my spiritual weapon idea. :-( \$\endgroup\$ – Greenstone Walker Feb 22 '17 at 22:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer doesn't address the OP's question at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Feb 23 '17 at 1:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ The OP said "…sub-optimal with regards to DPR when compared to a Hand Crossbow based build with Crossbow Expert and Sharpshooter." My answer addresses that. \$\endgroup\$ – Greenstone Walker Apr 5 '17 at 1:32
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Here is two things

Expert crosbow allows you to use the crosbow (2d6) more than once each turn. However, it costs a feat, wich means a 2 ASI that can go On dex. And it costs 1 extra ammunition.

If we average the damage, the longbow does 4.5 and the crosbow 7 If you dont go crosbow expert you can increase your dex for another +1, wich not only increases with the DPS, but also increases your AC and Hit Chance.

Then, as you level up more and more, he might cactch you up to the +5 dex. But that would be On level 8 (assuming standart array, and variante human). Before level 8 it would be a 2d8 (av 9) vs a 3d6 (av 10.5), and you hace +1 to hit and damage, putting you On par.

At level 8 he cactches up, but then at level 12 the third attack makes the 3d8 (13.5) and the 4d6(14) difference almost neggigble.

So yeaj, maybe early he has some apparent power spike. But later you catch up, and un my opinnion, allow for a more flexible build

Extra things you can do:

Magic initate-Hunters mark for 1d6 damage On each attack for a encounter.

Go for champion, your crits are better

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    \$\begingroup\$ This, while it analyzes the damage potential, doesn't address the question asked at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Feb 23 '17 at 1:56

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