Zen Archer Monk

Build Overview

I imagine this character to be like Green Arrow; nimbly dodging in and out of combat and firing a super-human amount of arrows with deadly accuracy.  You will be able to land attacks even on enemies you can not completely see.

As with the other builds on this site, defensive abilities will be just as important as offensive abilities.  As well we will strive to be able to offer something to the party outside of combat.

We will be creating a Monk (Zen Archer, Qinggong).


One of the biggest challenges with this class (and Monks in general) is offering something to the party outside of combat.  We can’t really be a party “face” as our Charisma score is typically weak.  But we will have a very high Wisdom score, and we will have a surplus of feats.  So we can make use of the Master Craftsman feat to augment the party crafting, and to ensure our bow remains current.

Character Creation

We will again be using a 20-point buy.  We will be creating a Female Half-Elf and our alignment will be Lawful-Neutral.  Unless otherwise stated we will be selecting +1 Skill Point as our favored class bonus.  We do not plan to multiclass so we will be swapping Multitalented racial trait for Blended View (this will give us Darkvision and Low Light Vision).  Our starting ability scores are below.

STR: 14 (5 points)
DEX: 14 (5 points)
CON: 14 (5 points)
INT: 10 (0 points)
WIS: 15 (7 points) +2 Race
CHA: 8 (-4 points)

Level 1

Monk – Zen Archer, Qinggong Archetypes
Feat (Monk) – Precise Shot
Feat – Point Blank Shot
Feat (Half-Elf) – Skill Focus (Perception)

Trait: Reactionary (Combat – +2 Init)
Trait: Forlorn (Racial/Elf – +1 Fortitude Save)

Skills:  Perception (keep maxed), Stealth, Sense Motive + 2 more

As a monk we begin play quite financially challenged. We will have to wait for our Composite Longbow, so for now we will start with a Shortbow, dagger, 40 cold-iron arrows, 20 blunt arrows, and whatever mundane gear you want.

Nothing special, a basic archer with the ability to take two attacks thanks to Flurry of Blows.

Level 2 – Level 6

Get a Masterwork Composite Longbow +2 Str as soon as possible.

Keep Perception, Sense Motive, Stealth maxed.  Start adding in some secondary skills (2 / level) – Climb, Swim, Acrobatics, Knowledge (Religion, History), Craft (Weapons).

Level 2
Feat (Class Free) – Weapon Focus (Longbow)
Feat (Monk) – Dodge

Level 3
Fast Movement (+10), Point Blank Master (Longbow), Zen Archery
We now get to use our Wisdom for attacks with our bow.
Feat: Improved Initiative (open, optional choice)

Level 4
We now get our Ki Pool, and several Ki abilities.
Use Qinggong to swap out Slow Fall for Barkskin Ki Power.
Ability Bonus: +1 Wisdom

Level 5
Feat: Deadly Aim (this could be taken at 3rd as well)

Level 6
Fast Movement (+20)
Feat (Class Free) – Weapon Specialization (Longbow)
Feat (Monk) – Improved Precise Shot

We are coming together now.  We can fire three arrows a round (4 if we spend a Ki point).  We can ignore all but total cover.  We can fire in melee range without provoking, and we can self-cast Barksin.  Our perception is +18, we have a movement speed of 50 and we can move quiet easily while stealthed. With our high Initiative we should be going first a large percentage of the time.

Assuming a modest gear supply of (4600 gp of 16,000 gp):

  • +1 Composite (+2 Str) Longbow 
  • +1 Cloak of Resistance
  • +1 Bracers of Armor


Stats at Level 6

STR: 14, DEX: 14, CON: 14, INT: 10, WIS: 18, CHA: 8
HP: 42
AC: 19 (22 with Barkskin)
FORT: 9, REF: 8, WILL: 10

Attacks (Flurry of Blows):
+10/+10/+5 (1d8+5)
with Deadly Aim
+8/+8/+3 (1d8+9)

vs AMCREL, 19 AC with Deadly Aim

AC 22





EDV 19

vs AMCREL, 19 AC with Deadly Aim and Ki Flurry

AC 22





EDV 27

Good AC as we shouldn’t really be in melee much anyway. Most important saves are Green. Our attack is only Orange but the EDV is well within Green. Should be able to full-attack every round.

Level 7 – Level 12

Level 7
Feat – Lightning Reflexes

Level 8
Ability Boost +1 Wisdom

Level 9
Fast Movement (+30), Reflexive Shot
Feat – Clustered Shots

Level 10
Feat (Monk) – Improved Critical (Longbow)

Level 11
Trick Shot
Feat – Great Fortitude

Level 12
Fast Movement (+40)
Ability Boost +1 Wisdom

Once again with only a modest gold expenditure of 56,600 gp of 108,000 gp for a level 12 character we should be able to equip the following by level 12:

  • +3 Adaptive Composite Longbow
  • +3 Cloak of Resistance
  • +4 Headband of Inspired Wisdom
  • +2 Bracers of Armor
  • +2 Ring of Protection


Stats at Level 12

STR: 14, DEX: 14, CON: 14, INT: 10, WIS: 24, CHA: 8
HP: 81
AC: 27 (32 with Barkskin)
FORT: 16, REF: 15, WILL: 16

Attacks (Flurry of Blows & Point Blank):
+22/+22/+17/+17/+12 (1d8+8)
with Deadly Aim
+18/+18/+13/+13/+8 (1d8+16)

vs AMCREL, 27 AC with Deadly Aim

AC 32


REF 15


ATK 18

EDV 53

vs AMCREL, 27 AC with Deadly Aim & Ki Flurry

AC 32


REF 15


ATK 18

EDV 69

Our AC is just below Green. Our saves are very good, almost great. We can move at 70 ft / round, we can make attacks of opportunity with our bow, we have Concussive Shots vs high DR, and still only used just over 50% of our expected wealth.

Level 13 – Level 20

Lets flesh out the remaining levels.  Continue to upgrade essential gear as you can as you level.  I will just give the final Level 20 gear at the end.  We are going to include a couple of optional feats to contribute to the party out of combat, but feel free to swap those out for anything else you would like instead.

Level 13
Feat – Master Craftsman (Craft – Weapons) (optional)

Level 14
Feat (Monk) – Combat Reflexes

Level 15
Fast Movement (+50)
Feat – Craft Arms and Armor (optional)

Level 16
Ability Boost +1 Wisdom

Level 17
Feat – Toughness

Level 18
Feat (Monk) – Pinpoint Targeting

Level 19
Feat – open – optional

Level 20
Ability Boost +1 Wisdom

Our gear at Level 20 (only 295,000 of 880,000 gp)

  • +5 Adaptive Composite Longbow
  • +4 Belt of Physical Perfection
  • +8 Bracers of Armor
  • +5 Cloak of Resistance
  • +6 Headband of Inspired Wisdom
  • +5 Ring of Protection
  • Dusty Rose Prism Ioun Stone (+1 AC)

Final Stats at Level 20

STR: 18, DEX: 18, CON: 18, INT: 10, WIS: 28, CHA: 8
HP: 193
AC: 43 (48 with Barkskin)
FORT: 24, REF: 23, WILL: 26

Attacks (Flurry of Blows & Point Blank):
+34/+34/+29/+29/+24/+24/+19 (1d8+12)
with Deadly Aim
+28/+28/+23/+23/+18/+18/+13 (1d8+24)

It is also worth noting here that at Level 20 our Ki Arrow ability becomes 2d10, it costs 1 Ki to activate and lasts for 1 round. Also we start to see some unexpected things happening. Under certain circumstances our EDV is higher without using Deadly Aim. A rough guideline, if our lowest iterative attack needs a 20 to hit, then it is better to not use Deadly Aim. And it is almost always better to use Ki Arrow over Ki Flurry, especially at level 20.

vs AMCREL, 36 AC

1] Using Ki Arrow only (2d10+12)

AC 48


REF 23


ATK 34

EDV 132

2] Using Ki Arrow and Deadly Aim (2d10+24)

ATK 28

EDV 112

3] Using Ki Flurry (one extra attack) only (1d8+12)

ATK 34

EDV 115

4] Using Ki Flurry (one extra attack) and Deadly Aim (1d8+24)

ATK 28

EDV 115

At 33AC the Ki Flurry + Deadly Aim [4] is about the same as the Ki Arrow only [1], at 32AC number [4] and [2] are about the same and slightly ahead of [1], at 30AC number [2] begins to pull ahead of [4] and is considerably ahead of [1].

So it is key to tailor your strategy based on what you are fighting. If you happen to get Bless(ed), or Haste, the numbers change again, but they will still follow the same pattern.


Overall, considering this a very old Archetype, this character is still very competitive, and defensively it can’t be beat.  At level 20 with a budget of roughly 1/3 of expected wealth, this character is able to have ALL offensive and defensive metrics well above Green!

On top of the defensive stats above, it also has Spell Resistance 30.  With a 90 movement speed it can easily stay out of range and should be able to full attack almost every round.  It has enough skills to offer something to the party besides damage, and as built above, can assist with weapon and armor crafting.

Most of the key feats are bonus feats from the archetype, so there is considerable flexibility available to suit any play style.

2 comments on “Zen Archer Monk

  1. Thomas Heflin wrote:

    Based on my math at level 6 you only have 16 Perception, given +3 for trained, +6 for levels, +4 for Wis, +3 for Skill Focus. Am I missing any bonuses at that level? You said 18.

    1. L Dwyer wrote:

      Thank you for the comment. Half-Elves have the Keen Senses Trait which gives +2 Perception as well.

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