In times of peace, the cragtop archer hunts across the deep mountain canyons, felling animals too canny for other hunters to approach. In times of war, the cragtop archer fights from a ridgeline, raining arrows down on her foes from hundreds of yards away and winning battles from seemingly impossible distances.
Cragtop archers train their eyes and minds to find targets at great distances, and to quickly compensate for wind, movement, and other factors that affect shots of such difficulty. Few warriors can match the cragtop archer's ability to hold higher ground against a group of enemies.
Human, goliath, and half-elf rangers comprise most of the small number of cragtop archers that patrol the northern ranges, but other races and classes occasionally join their ranks. Fighters, especially those with a level of rogue or ranger, make excellent cragtop archers. Rogues typically prefer to sneak close to their foes rather than train as cragtop archers, and spellcasters rarely have the martial expertise required for the class.
NPC cragtop archers are often encountered at a distance; PCs will see their arrows long before the arrows' origin becomes apparent. While most cragtop archers are content to wander the mountains and hunt for their tribes, in times of war a cragtop archer is a useful ally. Teams of cragtop archers often function like artillery for mountain warbands, striking foes from a great distance and holding the high ground against all comers.
Adaptation: With their racial archery prowess, elves could have a similar prestige class that isn't tied to the mountains. To create such a class, you'd replace the Climb and Mountain Warrior requirements with something else, and likewise replace the adept climber and strike from above class features with class features you create yourself. Alternatively, you could leave everything but Mountain Warrior and call the prestige class the "elven treetop archer."
Hit Die: d8.
To qualify to become a cragtop archer, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.
Base Attack Bonus: +6.
Skills: Climb 10 ranks, Spot 5 ranks, Survival 5 ranks.
Feats: Far Shot, Mountain Warrior*.
*New feat found in Chapter 6.
The cragtop archer's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str). See Chapter 4 of the Player's Handbook for skill descriptions.
Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.
All of the following are class features of the cragtop archer prestige class.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Cragtop archers gain no proficiency with any weapon or armor.
Adept Climber (Ex): The cragtop archer does not lose her Dexterity bonus to Armor Class while climbing.
Farsight (Ex): A cragtop archer enjoys great visual acuity. She suffers only half of the normal penalty on her Spot checks because of distance (-1 per 20 feet of distance, rather than -1 per 10 feet). In addition, the cragtop archer suffers only half the normal penalty on ranged attacks per range increment (-1 per range increment, rather than -2).
Strike From Above (Ex): Beginning at 2nd level, the cragtop archer gains a +2 bonus on damage rolls when making a ranged attack from higher ground than her target.
Arcing Shot (Ex): The cragtop archer of 3rd level and higher can fire a high, arcing shot to gain greater range with her projectile weapon. Any time the cragtop archer can fire a projectile weapon in an area with at least 40 feet of clearance between her position and the ceiling (or any other overhead obstruction, such as a forest canopy), her maximum range with the projectile weapon is fifteen range increments rather than the normal ten range increments.
Horizon Shot (Su): From 4th level on, the cragtop archer can seemingly hit targets as far away as the horizon as easily as she can hit something nearby. As a full-round action, the cragtop archer can make a single attack with a projectile weapon. This attack is made with no penalty for range, though it still has the same maximum range as a normal attack by the cragtop archer. This ability can be used in conjunction with any ability that extends the range of a projectile weapon, such as the Far Shot feat or the cragtop archer's arcing shot ability.
Mountain Skin (Su): Three times per day, a cragtop archer of 5th level and higher can gather the strength of the mountains into her own body, manifesting her bond with them within herself. While this ability is in effect, the cragtop archer gains damage reduction 5/adamantine.
Activating the mountain skin ability is a free action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The benefit from mountain skin lasts for a number of rounds equal to the cragtop archer's class level + the character's Constitution modifier.