Nuh-uh! I can take crossbow expert! And if that’s not available I’ll just work towards point blank master! And if that’s not available I’ll learn gun kata

I know. Believe me I know. When I’m building a ranged character, I want my main offensive option to be online 100% of the time. By the same token though, there’s something in me that rebels against that idea of a near-mandatory feat. Every time I spend one of my precious feat selections just to make sure my main weapon functions, I wind up getting the feels-bad. That’s why I tend to go for other solutions.

  • The Switch-Hitter: You can thank the redoubtable Treantmonk for this one. Popping off a shot or three at range before wading into melee is a fun cinematic trope, as explained by Exhibit A. And for my money, It feels slightly more believable than standing next to a big angry orc with only a bit of yew wood to parry.
  • Stick and Move: It wasn’t so long ago that we talked about mobile archery platforms. A flight spell, a worthy steed, or a friendly dimension door can all pass muster here. The idea is to always be where the enemies aren’t, allowing specialist archers to do their thing.
  • Backup Weapons: We’ve talked about this once or twice before, but archers are perhaps more in need of a trusty belt knife than other character types. If your bowstring snaps or your black powder gets damp, you don’t have spells or STR-based wrestling in your repertoire. That means you want another option. A lesser cousin of the switch-hitter, the backup weapon is a last resort rather than the main battle plan. If all goes well, you’ll never have to use that short sword. But if you do, it’s a load better than stabbing your enemies with arrows.
  • The Weird: If you’ve never heard of combinations weapons, I suggest you check out this gallery. Tacking a bayonet onto a rifle is only the tip of the iceberg. Unconventional options like the dagger pistol bring some swashbuckling goodness, and with a little creative homebrewing it shouldn’t be to hard to whip up more.

So what about the rest of you bow-havers? What’s your plan for dealing with melee? Do you just try to avoid it at all costs, or do you turn your bow into a three-part-staff and go to town? Sound off with your favorite up-close-and-deadly strategies down in the comments!


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