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when talking about a guide, 3 damage does mean something. a guide is suggesting an optimal route. Rogue or ninja, in any number or combination is NON optimal compared to anything else, except maybe monk.
The FACT, the true, mechanical absolute is that a rogue is SUB optimal for this prestige class. you can argue and rail against it, but it is true. Suggesting it as a valid option for a guide is giving it 2 of 5 stars at most.... which is BARELY acceptable.
Ergo, rogue/ninjas are "poo" as you say, and the guide is right to say that. The thing is, 80% or more "optimizers" will say the same. I reckon it might be upwards of 90% even. Usually, in a community like this, the majority is right. I often say "rogues are better than you think".
In this case, they aren't. You are in the minority and the numbers back up the majority. The guide is right, deal with it, I obviously can't change your mind, I have more important things to deal with and think about than this.
1.) Right, you dont get to level 20. Fine. So when does "getting moved back a level" become a permanent loss? Say you stop at 16, or 12, or whatever. that means you still have a loss of 3 damage for MOST of your campaign, and IF you are lucky, you stop at the perfect level for you to get that extra 3 damage. Its not a guarantee. So, if its NOT a guarantee that you will have a 3 point damage loss, it is also NOT a guarantee that you will gain it back, "a level behind".
2.) Yes, it is a stealth character ,and I demonstrated how to get 8 skill points a level with a fighter. a couple traits, you have 2 class skills you didnt have before.
3.) Flanking and HiPS doesn't make Sneak Attack an instant win button, it never has and never will, no matter how hard you argue about it. The flat out truth is there are ways to negate sneak attack damage, whether through items, class abilities, spells, are innate abilities.
What will you and your flanking buddy do against a barbarian with Uncanny Dodge? Your Rogue levels are behind anywhere from 2-4 levels (assuming optimal dipping, instead of the whole class, in which case this argument is stronger) and you are not going to be a high enough level to get past Uncanny Dodge.
What do you are your partner do against a flying foe? How about one with tremor sense? how about Arcane Sight, something easily cast and easily made permanent? What about if they increase the lighting level?
Any of these things can lose you your Sneak Attack Damage.
What causes a Ranger or Fighter to lose damage? Damage reduction or the flat out negation of the whole character, not just an ability or two.
By the way, Rogues have JUST as bad saves a fighter, and have no special class abilities that make them stand out. They have Sneak Attack (bad) and Rogue Talents (some are great).
So when you say how fighters have bad saves, no class abilities, etc... you might as well say the same for rogues.
As I said before... Ranger is where it is at. You can defend Rogues all you want, but the truth is they have one thing on Fighter: class skills. Fighter (weapon master) 4/Rogue 1 with a decent INT is a better entry for Shadowdancer than straight rogue. your damage is more stable, you have the same class skills, your hp, BAB, and saves are higher... all of which benefit your Shadow.
And still, Ranger 5 is better mechanically.
1.) Yes, every 4 levels PA gets a bump. level 1, 4,8,12,16,20 BAB... okay. so a Rogue 10/ SD 10 maxes out at 14 BAB. A Ranger 10/ SD 10 has 17. SO, correct me if Im wrong, but that is a permanent loss of 3 damage. not only that, you lose 15% accuracy, which contributes to a further loss of damage. That is a PERMANENT loss, mind you, not just a "level moved back".
2.) Fighter isnt actually that terrible. Pathfinder allows a lot of skill flexibility. Acrobatics and Perception are all that matter, a SD doesnt need to "steal, lie or disable anything". Disable Device isn't really that necessary in most PF games due to the neutering of traps. In any case, a fighter can get all of these things with 10 INT. 2 skill points per level, plus 1 for human, plus 1 favored class. Thats not even touching the ever popular Lore Warden, which can do all of this with an additional Combat Expertise feat and 4 skill points per level. Add in a reasonable 14 INT... well, by golly, you have 8 SP a level. hm.
EDIT: I also dont see what "tricks" a Rogue or Ranger have over a Fighter. they all hit things with pointy things, and don't have any magic abilities.
For the record, I think Ranger makes the best shadowdancer, exactly because they have the most tricks at their disposal: damage, animal companion (maybe), spells (and therefore wands and scrolls).
Rogue has nothing on fighter, ranger has something on both.
3.) You are right, SD DOES have a built in sneak attack partner. As soon as an enemy has a +1 weapon, its a weak, dead sneak attack partner. I like to save my shadow for something its better at doing, like scouting or "poisoning" enemies. Not chilling in the middle of combat. But thats just me.
In any case, it doesn't change the fact the sneak attack is unreliable, doesn't always work, and some enemies are still flat out immune to it.
It doesn't just push back Power Attack a level, it lowers your overall BAB, which at high levels does lower your overall damage.
Fighter 5 does not do less damage. I demonstrated how to get 5 damage, plus an extra 3 damage from power attack on a fighter 4 (Weapon Master) chassis. that exceeds the average damage of 4 rogue, which is adding an average of 7 damage via sneak attack... IF you make a sneak attack happen.
For the rogue SD to deal damage, it needs to flank or stealth. Neither of these options are always possible, especially considering a scout rarely has a flanking buddy. Stealth is easy to max out, but a few first level spells easily negate your stealth. Arcane Sight or Faerie Fire, and you light up like a damn christmas tree.
At higher levels, enemies with true sight, tremor sense, etc. become common, and once again, stealth does little for you.
This is why sneak attack sucks. it is not reliable, and the average damage you gain from it is better gained from other sources.
IF you are going to argue straight Ranger or Fighter does more damage (you are right, good job)... I then reply that a straight ninja is a better stealthy sneak attacker than any rogue/shadowdancer combo ever will be.
I really like rogues, but the reality is that they are mechanically inferior to other options. One of their best options is Shadowdancer, but other classes make better shadowdancers.
5 Ranger or Fighter vs Ranger 2/Rogue 3:
Ranger 5 gets you another Favored Enemy, and +2 on top of the one you have.
Fighter 5 gets you another feat and Weapon Training. Add Duelist gloves on top of that, assume the feat is Weapon Specialization: +5 damage.
Each of these options put you an extra point ahead on BAB, which equals an extra 3 points of damage through power attack.
Once you run out of Shadowdancer levels to take, whether just for a dip or what have you, Ranger or Fighter will be a better option than Rogue. SO what is 3 levels of a rogue? Pretty much a waste, when comparing it to the other classes you could take here.
Rogue makes a fine dip for some things... Its not good for shadowdancer though. The only reason to take rogue over other classes are the rogue talents, but since you get those from Shadowdancer....
Ranger who takes Urban as his favored environment... If you are staying in one or more cities the ENTIRE campaign, I suggest Ranger (Urban archetype). Otherwise, Urban Ranger sucks.
Anyway, Ranger gets you the stealth, a decent CHA gets you some guile, the Combat Style feats and Favored Enemies get you the blade skill.
Go Skirmisher archetype if you don't like spells.
If you want to be even sneakier, add in 2 (I wouldn't go more than this) levels of rogue for class skills, a few extra points, and a rogue talent. I suggest Fast Stealth.
Go heavy on STR, spend your feats on Two Handed combat style.. power attack ,cleave, etc.
Moderate DEX (14) same for CON, whatever you can spare on INT and CHA... Only really need a 12 or 13 in WIS, for now. max of 14 later.
Wear Kikko Armor (medium, one less AC than Breastplate, one more max DEX, 170 gp cheaper) and wield whatever two hander you want. No-Dachi is the best mechanically in my opinion, but I often like a longsword in case i want to use it one handed. (wands, potions, macguffins, and fallen party members sometimes take up the other hand).
urban druid with Dervish Dance...?
By night, you are a disguised Vigilante/Assassin, your calling card is your flaming blade.
By day, your regular adventurer, perhaps wielding a more mundane and less flashy weapon.
That method permits races other than Samsaran.
Otherwise... whatever spell list you get it off of (Druid, ergo Divine) you must stay in a class of the same magical source. So, in your case, Divine caster class to gain benefit. So. Cleric. Oracle. Paladin. Ranger.
Its a touch attack, so full BAB doesn't help much. On the other hand, going the dervish Dance scimitar method would benefit from a low STR Power Attacking Ranger. However, you wouldn't be casting that spell for a long time, and not often when you do.
Ranger 2/Cleric X might be sexy though.
Since you like magic (illusion specifically) as a way to deceive people... Why not play a Bard? Inspire Competence can be used to boost your Profession: Gambler rolls, and between all of their class abilities they end up with FAR more skill points than a rogue.
When you are found to be cheating, a Bard has all of those handy escape spells too...
IF you want to stick to Rogue, however... Either pick up Weapon Finesse and an Agile weapon or... a level of gunslinger. Thus, you won't be penalized for your low strength. Use a pistol.
But i would really consider Bard.
Prehensile Tail HAS been brought up several times, and people are split on it.
In theory, the gun could be held by the tail while the free hand reloads it...
However, some people say that the tail cannot hold weapons, or isn't covered in its description, etc.
The rule hasn't been clarified, but i would rule it as a "no" at my table.
Others will respond differently; ask your GM.
Another idea is loading the first bullet in a pepperbox as a Burrowing Bullet.
Basically allows a no save staggered effect for 1d3 rounds, or until the target receives a DC 15 heal check. the next five bullets are your bullet of choice.
Barring a guy there just to provide the BBEG some heal checks, its a pretty solid way to lock down any martial types. Sadly, there are too many standard action spells to make it viable against spellcasters...
Silent Saturn wrote:
The thought of 12 free actions would make me flinch, and if I were GM, I'd want to limit it. The question is, where do you limit it? How many free actions is too many? Where do you draw the line?
Well, hence the OP I reckon. It gets worse with weapon cords and all that nonsense.
Honestly I feel using double barrels (or TWF) with pistols is more trouble than its worth, and FAR too expensive to do every round.
The Pepperbox isn't a big deal though. Basically it allows a sort of limited form of Rapid Reload+Paper Cartridges, usable for the first 6 attacks of a combat.
Once you have rapid reload and paper cartridges, its a pistol with higher misfire chance. The one advantage is that each barrel can contain a different alchemical cartridge or special material bullet. Presumably you can spin it to the correct barrel as a free action. I would allow it based on being cool but in no way overpowered, regardless of the RAI. (Flare, cold iron, silver, adamantine, pitted, and normal bullets. Awesome.)
Yes... and blow through gold faster than a UMD rogue.
Not that its a bad idea, its just a very expensive one.
i am also pondering a double barreled pistol loaded with Flare cartridges... 2 DC 15 rolls to turn being blind 1 round into dazzled. One standard attack, and your rogue will love you forever, at least at low levels.. Worst case you shoot them up with 12 flare rounds... each round is a 5% chance of failure. (total 60% to fail once at the highest levels.)
Something can be done with Entangle Shot... it just sucks that it can only be shot out of a scatter weapon. (No double barreled dragon pistols.)I've got to think about it more.
A meh (pistol + falcata) gunslinger/bard build (in my opinion) is:
Gunslinger 1/Arcane Duelist Bard X:
Half Elf, 20 point buy
(more optimized would be 10 INT and 10 WIS, but smart spies are better)
Gunslinger 1/Bard (Arcane Duelist)X
Half Elf: Ancestral Arms: Falcata
Couple problems with this build: Arcane Duelist takes penalties for casting without their Arcane Bond: which must be a weapon. So, in non combat situations, you are going to have troubles. You also have a low STR, so Falcata is pretty much for Coup De Grace situations. (could swap it out for a +1 agile kukri?)
On the other hand, You get several feats out of this.
Personally, I would pick ONE weapon to focus on: either melee or ranged.
In which case you can use vanilla Bard. You will have less combat feats, but more versatility. You will keep your place as the best skillmonkey in the game, make your allies better, and still be a good combatant on your own. You also won't look like a crazy/threat when casting disguise self via waving around a weapon at the nice court ball.
Same stats... 20 point buy, human
Gunslinger 1/Bard X:
DEX 16 (18)
1 Point Blank Shot (Human Bonus)
Snag a pistol to start with, (battered, of course) trade up for double pistol or pepperbox pistol.
A lot of people will suggest Mysterious Stranger archetype for gunslinger. There are a few reasons i think this is a bad idea.
Why Mysterious Stranger Is Bad:
1.) You lose Quick Clear. At best, you cast Jury-Rig, and your gun works for 1 round/caster level. Mending takes 10 minutes, so is fine out of combat. IN any case, hopefully you have a (very expensive) back up pistol. (Not likely at low levels.)
2.) Though you can add CHA mod as damage bonus to all attacks, Arcane Strike does +1 damage, +1/5 caster levels. you need at least 20 CHA as a mysterious Stranger to match this. Arcane Strike can be done an infinite amount/day. Mysterious Stranger can add CHA mod to damage... CHA mod times /day. Thus, Arcane Strike deals FAR more damage over the course of a day.
3.) Though you key Grit off of CHA... this is a trap. You have AT LEAST 1 grit point no matter how low your WIS is... once you have 14 WIS, you get one extra Grit. Getting it keyed off of CHA gets you 1 (ONE, singular) point more of Grit, if you follow my stat suggestions. At 16 CHA you get 2 more points than have 7-12 WIS.
In all, non of this adds up to being good enough to lose Quick Clear.
Vanilla Gunslinger with Arcane Strike is equal in DPR, greater in damage output over time, and you still have Quick Clear.
(I left off at 11 because thats the feat cutoff for PFS play, and is a good place to start.)
Revolvers are going to be hard to use... mostly because most games don't allow them.
I would suggest using a pepperbox or double barreled pistol instead.
Since you are going to be using pistols, i will once again suggest a level of gunslinger. This keeps your chance of misfire low, allows you to clear a jam, gives you a bit of Grit to toy with. Most importantly, it quickly and easily gives you the weapon proficiency you need straight off the bat at level 1.
IF Purvis Wade was a half elf, he could pick up the Falacata proficiency via the alternate racial trait: Ancestral Arms.
After that, I would shoot for whatever class makes you feel like a spy. I would go bard, but rogue, ranger, alchemist, inquisitor, urban druid or even sorcerer could pull it off with a bit of creativity.
Gunslinger 1/Arcane Duelist X? Use a pocket pistol called "Walther PPK".
haha, um.... I think that gun bard thread is influencing me...
Tell us more about Purvis Wade. We know he is inspired by James Bond, but... does he cast spells in your stories? what weapon(s) does he use? Does he have any specific magic items?
Sound Striker Bard is notoriously up for debate as to RAW, and RAI. Whether each d8+CHA affects a DIFFERENT target, if they can all stack on the same, whether each d8 gets a saving roll, etc.
Conductive adds a new element of confusion: can it channel all (up to 10) attacks, each a different targets or not?
Anyway, i think its fairly clear that Gunslinger 1/Bard X is not a bad choice, and is completely viable.
problem is that in a world of magic weapons, that becomes an expensive proposition... or you run the risk of not effectively dealing damage or piercing damage reduction.
The thing is, Bards rarely invest that much into CHA. You don't have any mechanical benefit for having more than 16 CHA, the most needed to cast your spells.
Combat bards dont focus on spells with save DCs, and the performances bards use 95% of the time don't depend on CHA for anything. They have no class abilities that truly gain much by having a very high CHA.
Paladins have Smite Evil AC bonuses, Divine Grace, Lay On Hands, Channel Positive Energy, and spells. THe more CHA a paladin has, the more numerical, mechanical bonuses they get.
Mysterious Stranger just isn't that good. They can add CHA mod to damage for however many grit points they have... often equal CHA mod. For your Paladin example, 5 times/day.
You can add Arcane Strike to damage (+4 or 5 at highest levels) an infinite amount of times to your attacks.
Arcane Strike does comparable amounts of damage/round, and can be added to ALL your attacks in a day. Ergo, Arcane Strike is better unless you have insanely high CHA.
I would prefer higher DEX than 14 for a build that has 3/4 BAB. Yes, you are still hitting touch AC, but you want to be able to add Deadly Aim to that for as many shots as possible.
I would switch DEX and CHA, add my racial bonus (Human for the feats) to DEX.
This will help mitigate the 3/4 BAB, and help maximize Deadly Aim use.
Don't skip Mysterious Stranger- just make sure to get mending as one of your cantrips. Also, don't get Arcane Strike if you go Mysterious Stranger, the +CHA modifier to damage takes a swift action to activate.
DO skip Mysterious Stranger. The only thing it does of any worth is key Grit off of CHA... which as I pointed out above is gaining you often a SINGLE grit point over vanilla Gunslinger.
Plus, the deeds you get for losing Quick Clear suck. Focused Aim? Its a pretty bad ability.
Mending is a non answer, it has a casting time of 10 minutes. So, effectively if your gun does misfire and break, you are STILL non functioning as far as combat goes.
I don't remember the last time I had a combat encounter last 10 minutes in game anyway. You finish casting mend while you fail to contribute to anything else, and once its done... combat has been over for 8 minutes.
Jury-Rig is a plausible answer, as a level 1 spell... but it has a 1 round/level limit, and then your gun is broken again.
EDIT:Skipping Arcane Strike for the Mysterious Strangers +CHA mod. to damage is a bad idea. Arcane Strike does that for free, scales to bard caster level (95% of the build)and doesn't scale to attribute investment which requires lots of gold or precious free attribute boosts.
Arcane Strike is equal by caster level 5 (assuming 14 CHA, which is standard for both combat Bards and Mysterious Strangers), and gets better from there.
So really, the best thing to do... is skip Mysterious Stranger.
I like this idea a lot, its one i have been pondering for awhile as a sort of "archer" bard.
I would SKIP Mysterious Stranger. You lose Quick Clear, which is pretty harsh.
The wording of Grit says you get Grit Points equal to your WIS modifier (minimum 1). So, a score of 7-12 in wisdom is the exact same for purposes of Grit. You need at least 14 points in WIS just to gain 1 more point of Grit. A lot of Bards have a 10 in WIS. (or even less, rarely more)
Since most combat Bards rarely start with much more than 14-16 CHA either, Mysterious Stranger is getting you 1-2 points of Grit, and if you misfire your gun is broken for the rest of combat.
SO, I suggest...
Gunslinger 1/Bard X
Get Rapid Reload, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot. Instead of Deadly Aim, Get Arcane Strike. Adds damage for no penalty, but eats your swift action. Later you might want it for something else, but early-mid levels its fine. Then get Deadly Aim, Improved Precise Shot, and maybe Clustered Shots.
Arcane Strike will make up for not getting DEX to damage, like a level 5 gunslinger would. It will also be a damage option when you feel Deadly Aim might not hit.
While you seem to prefer battle ax, and throwing ax has already been stated, I think that a build focused on throwing axes might be interesting. Taking quickdraw and the archery combat style would make you a deadly mid ranged fighter with plenty of options for close range. Plus, being a man covered in a dozen or so axes makes an interesting fashion statement.
But we have mid range pretty well covered by the pistol wielding elf gunslinger. Its literally the only reason I am not throwing axes everywhere.
The Bald Man wrote:
Perhaps, like i said I wasn't trying overly hard.
In any case, you can also get CHA to AC via some Oracle shenanigans, I believe there is a trait that adds +1 to AC when using Combat Expertise... with the levels of Magus I am sure you can lay on Mage Armor and Shield for an additional +4, respectively.
So, assuming you are right, Kensai and Duelist don't stack...
Sorcerer (Sage) 1/Monk 1/Gunslinger 3/Rogue (Scout) 11/Duelist 3/Assassin 1
AC: 10 +1(small) +1(Dodge) +6(DEX) +3(INT) +3(WIS) +5(Combat Expertise) +4(Mage Armor spell) +4(Shield spell) +7 (Offensive Defense Rogue Talent)
Total: 44 AC
Basically, Feint or Charge or Skirmish via the Rogue (Scout) Archetype. As long as you deal sneak attack damage, you gain that many dice as a bonus to AC. Levels of Gunslinger make that easy, just hit touch AC. if feinting, use a shocking grasp via Sorcerer.
Every round you should be able to sneak attack one way or another. Use a dagger pistol so you can shoot, while still using wielding a piercing melee weapon for the Duelist AC bonus.
Im sure others can do better though.
That explains it.
Though as people have mentioned rogues kind of suck, so i am still on the rocks...
looks interesting, but I'd rather just wear armor than take that archetype... not hard to find no skill check penalty armor.
Tiefling (Variant 44, Unnatural Short)
25 point buy
AC= 10 +1(small) +1(Dodge) +6(DEX) +3(WIS) +3(INT) +3(INT) +5(Combat Expertise)= 32 AC
Combat Expertise, Dodge
So 32 AC without trying, no magic items, etc. at level 18.
1.)Human preferably. Possibly some sort of half human.
2.)Battle Axe, yes.
3.)Can worship a god, just not pious enough to care beyond a quick, cynical, prayer.
4.)Stealthy, yes, but skillful in general.
I like that a fair bit as well... though I am not seeing how yo uare getting a +3 Feint via Adopted and Dirty Fighter traits... since neither involve feinting.
definitely not lawful good... The guy would rather murder someone than face him in a straight up fight. Its just more efficient, especially for a self-trained commoner fighting well trained and heavily armored soldiers and knights. And stuff.
Its a good idea though!
Shadowdancers are cool and all, the last ranger I played went there with a polearm. Its a cool build and concept, just not this time around.
Pretty sure it will be a 2 handed power attack build of some kind.
Battle Axe, post above yours. I reckon it makes a decent 2 handed weapon, I can use it one handed if necessary, use wands, potions, drag fallen party members, use a quickdraw shield, etc.
Probably have a hand axe/boarding axe as a back up weapon, with a couple daggers or "throwing daggers" (darts) for mid range.
Probably a bow of some kind for (hopefully rare) range.
I am shooting for:
a sneaky, but capable combatant running around with a battle axe... the best weapon his common background would easily provide. a bit rough around the edges. Would prefer a coup de grace over a straight fight, but still quite competent.
I am led to believe the primary enemies of the campaign are indeed human, with a small dose of other critters, and the summons of human spellcasters, so ranger could definitely work. ( I am also not opposed to flavoring ranger spells as herbal concoctions.)
Still not 100% certain which way to go though...
Are there any archetypes that really stick out? And any axe based feats I may not have noticed?
So FINALLY got people together for a game, and pinned down what everyone is playing. We have...
A human? Barbarian/Oracle, shooting for rage prophet.
An Elven Gunslinger (new player)
A Human? Monk... Quigong archetype, perhaps.
Setting Info: Homebrew, Arcane magic is regulated and licensed by a nearby expansionist empire; use of magic against the state is considered treason, punishable by death. On the other hand, arcane magic is heavily used by the Imperial Army. So... i am a little hesitant of being an arcane character, I don't know where the rest of the party is going as far as said empire is concerned. The Gm has been very clear this is a sandbox game, so there is that.
As a result, I have been considering a build using a large axe, since we rarely see it at our table.
We do need a bit of a skill monkey stealthy type, so i was considering either Fighter/Rogue or Ranger.
Which would be better for a two handed axe killer?
Making an axe wielding character, Thinking of either a Fighter/Rogue or Ranger build. Which should I pick, why, and if you have a build, show it!
Since you are giving up on CHA anyway, why not dump it entirely in favor of the Divine Strategist archetype?
This way, you can also free up/delay acquiring Improved Initiative, and addition of adding INT to flanking and AoO's seems quite useful.
The only major drawback i see here is loss of the second Domain...
How bad of a loss is that? is this a decent archetype for this kind of build?
A wizard doesn't have to get through it. A wizard of that power can bypass it entirely.
Failing that, the wizard goes to find a spell that targets the appropriately weak save, and defeats the encounter via 8 hours of preparation.
For example: how do you defeat the tarrasque with one character? Most answers will involve a wizard or sorcerer answer. Not too many fighters I reckon.
For every situation, the wizard can have an answer now or in 8 hours. The fighter had one answer: hit with physical damage. This works in one kind of encounter: combat. Wizards can contribute during combat, or any other scenario you wish to bring up. That's a fact. A fighter contributes to almost nothing... Beyond fighting. (as the name implies.)
Not certain why you are arguing otherwise. Spells bend and break rules. Physical damage cannot. True power is altering/ breaking rules. The legal way to do that is via spells. Ergo, spell casters are more powerful/versatile than a single aspect of the game (physical damage) can ever be. I.e, those that cast spells (wizards) are more powerful and versatile than those that specialise in dealing physical damage (fighters).