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How to Build Hawkeye in The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

By Edited May 6, 2015 0 0
Phoenix Comicon 2011 Cosplay Hawkeye From The Avengers
Credit: Wikimedia Commons Image

Ever wonder why no one gives Barton grief for how he dresses? Well, here are some of the answers...

Hawkeye, alias Clint Barton, is easy to miss given the company he keeps. After all, when Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, and even the Black Widow are all on screen there's a lot of eyes on them. That's fine though; despite the flimsy look of his weapons, Hawkeye is one of the most dangerous Avengers on the team. Players who want a smart tactician, an unbeatable archer, and someone who can handle himself in nearly any situation may find that taking a page out of Barton's book might just be the way to go for their next Pathfinder character.

If you'd like character builds for other members of the team, in addition to builds for Gotham City's vigilantes and the cast of Game of Thrones, check out the Character Conversions page on Improved Initiative!

Also, for those who've often wondered why heroes like Hawkeye tend to wear spangly outfits with their underwear on the outside, the answer is right here!

Race and Attributes

Hawkeye should be human, both because the bonus feat, skill point, and +2 to a single stat are useful, and because he is one of the most un-augmented members of the Avengers. The floating +2 bonus is best used in Dexterity, given that it's going to be the stat he uses most often. On that note, Dexterity should be the highest trait, but Strength and Wisdom are also useful for Hawkeye. A high Constitution score is good for bonus hit points, and Intelligence is good for extra skill points. Charisma is likely the dump stat for the build discussed here, though there is an alternative path that will be mentioned later with a different array.


Hawkeye is a complicated character with a simple purpose. Traits like reactionary or warrior of old (+2 to Initiative, the former for anyone, the latter for elven characters if players choose that route) are good ones to help make sure that Hawkeye gets the first shot in any given fight. Traits like friends in high places(+1 to intimidate and diplomacy anywhere you've gathered information, and a +2 when dealing with government officials) could easily represent Barton's connections through S.H.I.E.L.D. and other government organizations.Dangerously curious (+1 to use magic device, and it is always a class skill for you) is also a useful trait if players want Barton to use magical devices as a way to duplicate the advanced gadgetry that is often his trademark.

Class and Feats

Hawkeye's base class is fighter; specifically the archer variant found in the Advanced Player's Guide. Sure that sounds obvious, but the unique tricks this variant offers, such as an increased effective range of fire as well as the ability tofeint, disarm, or sunder from a distance (an unbeatable trick for throwing a monkey wrench into an enemy's plans) makes it a perfect fit. This variant allows characters to increase attack and damage done with a bow, and it even gives you an ability called Hawkeye (fittingly enough) that increases your perception check. It is quite simply tailor made for this character.

As with most fighters Hawkeye's bag of tricks comes almost entirely from his feats. Fortunately he gets a lot of them. Point blank shot and precise shot (Core Rule Book 131) are going to be a player's bread and butter at low levels. A bonus to close-up shooting, and the ability to ignore the negative for firing into melee is standard. From that point onward players can pretty much pick and choose whatever appeals to them, but feats like rapid shot provides one extra arrow fired in a round, and deadly aim (Core Rule Book 132 and 121) is like power attack for ranged fighters; take a negative to your to-hit, increase your damage. Additional feats like manyshot (Core 130) allow you to fire two arrows at once, but only make one roll for the attack. Anything that lets players put more arrows into the air, or which allows them to increase their damage, is a good plan.

Hawkeye is going to have a lot more feats than shooting requires. That's why it's important to remember the trick shot ability he gets from the Archer variant. Once that happens feat trees like improved tripimproved grapple, and even improved disarm (Core Rule Book 127 and 128) become useful both in melee and at range. Given how many shots Hawkeye can have in a round, these feats could put all enemies prone on the ground in a single turn, if he's lucky.

Lastly, as Hawkeye goes up in level, feats like improved precise shot (Core Rule Book 128), improved critical (Core Rule Book 127), weapon focus (Core Rule Book 136) and weapon specialization (Core Rule Book 137) are all good investments. There are a lot of feat trees that characters can invest in, but it's important to look carefully at practicality as well as effectiveness. For instance, if Hawkeye will ever have to fight in melee, it might be a good idea to give him quick draw (Core Rule Book 131), throw anything (Core Rule Book 135) and improved initiative (Core Rule Book 127) to provide some breathing room and first-round advantage.

Never Underestimate What One Arrow Can Accomplish

Credit: MorgueFile Image


While fighters are not typically known for their skills, players should stop and carefully consider Hawkeye's abilities. Survival, intimidate, and knowledge (dungeoneering) are all great class skills to have. However, Hawkeye might also benefit from acrobatics, as well as use magic device. Other skills, such as craft (alchemy) might be appropriate for Hawkeye's skill set, along with a variety of different knowledge skills. Think carefully about where your Hawkeye has been, what he's seen, and how he's been trained. Oh, and max out your Perception score, you can never go wrong with that.


While Hawkeye might not have gadgetry as advanced as Tony Stark does, his arrows are certainly no normal shafts. It's for that reason that you'll need to do a little bit of bookkeeping as Hawkeye goes up in level, and it's why you'll have to shell out some gold for the good stuff.

Bracers of archery are a no-brainer for Hawkeye, as they provide a competence bonus to every attack roll. The belt of incredible dexterity (Core Rule Book 504 and 502 respectively) is also a good investment. Of course players should also have a magic bow with the highest bonus possible, as well as armor that protects without slowing Hawkeye down.

Here's where things get a little bit hinky. Rather than trying to put a lot of gold into adding elemental or damage enhancements on Hawkeye's bow, instead keep an array of different arrows on hand. Buying a bunch of different kind of arrows might seem expensive, but it ensures that Hawkeye is ready for any kind of throw down. Brilliant energy arrows for heavily armored opponents, ghost touch arrows for incorporeal foes, elemental arrows for enemies weak against certain types of energy, you get the idea. Also, once that trick shot covers sunder maneuvers, adamantine arrows might become your best friend since they can ignore an object's hardness up to 20. Miscellaneous magic items that might help include the eyes of the eagle (Core Rule Book 512) and the slaying arrow (Core Rule Book 476).

It isn't required for players to have access to the kind of gold that a lot of magical ammunition requires. At lower levels alchemical items will get the job done quite nicely. Tanglefoot bags and grenade weapons like alchemist's fire are great ways to deal some serious damage to swarms, as well as to put a hurt on enemies that might be able to ignore arrows early on. Smoke Sticks can cover a getaway, and many arrows such as Tangleshot Arrows and Trip Arrows can be tasty alchemical candy for Hawkeye. Elves of Golarion and Ultimate Equipment have lists of specialized arrows you'll definitely want to comb through.

Final Tips

Whether a player wants to use a longbow or a shortbow it's a good idea to get a composite version of that weapon for increased damage. That said, if Barton takes a significant hit to his strength he'll be unable to draw it until that damage is healed.

Players can never go wrong with more hit points, and with the human skill point already coming in it's a good idea to use the favored class bonus to boost Hawkeye's H.P.

Lastly, don't forget there's no one, right way to build a character; just more ideal ways to accomplish certain goals. For instance, some players are going to think that ranger is a better build for Hawkeye, and will take the traditional archery route that way. Others will take a Ranger/Wizard, or a Fighter/Sorcerer build and go Arcane Archer. That can work, if that is how a player chooses to embody Hawkeye's tricky shooting style. There's no ultimate method; the build presented here is meant for adaptability at every level.

Always remember that regardless of what you're trying to achieve it's keep your down-the-road in mind. Nothing is more frustrating than ruling the roost at level 1, just to be rendered obsolete by the rest of the party coming into its own by level 5 or 10. Know what you can do, know what you can't do, and find a way to meaningfully contribute to the game every step of the way. That is how you really win when it comes to Pathfinder.



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  1. "Character Conversion." Improved Initiative. 5/10/2014 <Web >
  2. "The Best Alchemical Items For Your Pathfinder Party." Improved Initiative. 5/10/2014 <Web >

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