Comments from the Finger: As far as prestige classes go, the Arcane Archer is among the oldest of them. Originally included in the 3.0 edition Dungeon Master's Guide, the Arcane Archer was one of the original 6 prestige classes released, and, since it's listed first alphabetically, might very well earn the title of First Ever Prestige Class. And it's a fitting class to hold that title! Merging bowmanship with arcane spells is something impossible to accomplish simply by multi-classing, and so solidified the need for prestige classes in 3rd edition, and later on into 3.5.
This was a surprisingly tricky class to balance, given the rate at which spells increase in power, and the various ways casting spells through ammunition might be abused. I believe we've stamped out the obvious exploits, but if these's any we've missed, let us know and we'll fix the problem immediately.
The Arcane Archers are a spectacle to behold, as skilled with a bow and arrow as they are with magic. Called bow arcanists and mage marksmen, such warriors are renowned throughout the realms for their supernatural accuracy and the devastating effects of their arcane arrows. Masters of this technique are bowmen of legend, unleashing arrows tipped with eldritch might to lay waste to entire legions of enemies in mere seconds.
Beginning at 3rd level you gain the ability to learn and cast a number of arcane spells. Choose two evocation spells from the Sorcerer spell list of a level for which you have a spell slot available. The chosen spells count as ranger spells for you but don’t count against the number of ranger spells you know. However, these spells may not be changed when you gain a level in this class. At 7th, 11th, and 15th levels, you learn an additional two spells from the Sorcerer spell list. Spells learned at 15th level may be from any school. Spells learned from this feature can only be cast with the Imbue Arrow feature.
At 3rd level, you can imbue your arrows with magical energies. As a bonus action you may imbue an arrow, bolt, or other type of ammunition with a spell you know of first level or higher, expending a spell slot and spell components as though you cast the spell normally. You may only imbue spells with a duration of instantaneous. You also may imbue an arrow with pure arcane energy, expending no spell slot, but allowing this arrow to deal an additional 1d6 force damage on a hit. If you do not fire this projectile on the turn it is imbued, the ammunition remains imbued so long as you maintain concentration on it.
When making an attack with one of these projectiles, treat it as a normal attack. If the attack successfully hits a creature, the spell is cast centered on your target or targeting only the creature hit by the arrow, as appropriate. Spells requiring spell attacks automatically hit, since the arrow has already struck the target. Line and cone spells are cast in the direction the arrow flew to strike the target.
At 7th level, you are intuitively aware of all magic auras. After you have been in the presence of a magic aura for 1 minute, you can sense its presence, though you cannot discern its origin or the school of magic to which it belongs.
At 11th level, your imbued arrows gain a limited ability to seek their target. You may now apply your Wisdom modifier as a bonus to hit with your imbued arrows.
Greater Imbue Arrows
At 15th level, you may now imbue two arrows instead of one as a bonus action, expending spell slots for each separately, and concentrate on two imbued arrows at once.
Changelog: 6/10/15: Clarified text on Imbue Arrow. Force damage changed from 1d8 to 1d6. Wording on Arcane Initiate clarified. Imbue Arrow now specified how spell components are handled.
6/11/15: Greater Imbue Arrows clarified to read that you expend spell slots separately for each arrow imbued.
7/14/15: Able Hunter replaced with Arcane Intuition.
9/12/15: Imbued Arrows fired on your turn do not require concentration.