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RPG Superstar 2015

Ripper (Rogue)


Round 2 - Top 32: Create an archetype

1 to 50 of 51 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

Ripper (Rogue)
Rogues kill. Some kill for profit, or in the defense of others, or to further a cause. Some rogues, however, kill without purpose, driven by an overwhelming desire for bloodshed. Secretive, paranoid, and invariably evil, these rogues are called rippers.

Blitz Attack (Ex): At 1st level, a ripper begins to excel at striking from ambush. If a ripper attacks a target in the surprise round, he gains a bonus on attack rolls equal to ½ his rogue level, minimum 1. In addition, a target damaged by a successful blitz attack takes a penalty on their next initiative check equal to the rogue's number of sneak attack dice. This ability replaces trapfinding.

Butchery (Ex): At 2nd level, a ripper’s expertise with blades increases. Whenever a ripper uses a light or one-handed slashing or piercing weapon to make a melee sneak attack, his sneak attack dice increase from D6’s to D8’s. At 16th level, they increase again, to d10’s. This ability replaces evasion.

Unbound (Ex): At 3rd level, a ripper can avoid effects that would restrain or impair him. Once per day, as an immediate action, he can gain a bonus to his CMD equal to his rogue level. At 13th level, a ripper can use this ability three times a day. This ability replaces trap sense.

Mental Vault(Su): At 8th level, a ripper develops superior resistance to magical attempts to reveal his true nature. When a ripper is targeted by any spell or spell-like ability that would pry information from his mind, including detect evil, detect thoughts, or discern lies, the caster must succeed on a caster level check, or the ripper becomes immune to that effect, from that caster, for 24 hours. The DC of the caster level check is equal to 10 + the rogue’s level + the rogue’s Charisma modifier. This ability replaces improved uncanny dodge.

Inescapable Ambush (Ex): At 10th level a ripper may take an extra move action in a surprise round he initiates.

Improved Blitz Attack (Ex): At 16th level, a ripper’s blitz attack ability improves. During the first round of combat, whenever a ripper strikes a flat-footed target, it is considered a blitz attack, gaining the applicable bonus on attack rolls, although it does not affect the target’s initiative count. This ability replaces the rogue talent normally gained at this level.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

This one feels overpowered in some ways (i.e., sneak attack dice power-up, extra move action and attack bonus in surprise rounds, etc.) and disjointed in others (i.e., what does a ripper have to do with an Unbound CMD bonus and the resistance bonus of a Mental Vault ability?). This doesn't so much come across to me as a new archetype for a rogue as a bunch of power-ups for the rogue who doesn't care about trapfinding and wishes to super-focus himself on "game over" sneak attacks. In exchange for all this, you've dropped trapfinding, trap sense, evasion, and improved uncanny dodge. I'm just not feeling this one. And, though I realize several players may run campaigns with evil PCs, this archetype comes off more like a NPC build more than a playable archetype that players would be interested in.

Thus, with all that in mind, I DO NOT RECOMMEND this archetype design to advance to the next round. Even so, maybe I'm wrong and the voters really want to get behind this one (just not in front of him, in a dark alley). Let's see what they think...

Paizo Employee Developer

The archetype name you've chosen certainly brings to mind one of the world's most famous rogues, so you have me interested with that. I'm immediately put off, however, that you declare in your flavor text that rippers are "invariably evil" yet make no actual rules stipulation that they must be. And once you start making alignment restrictions on archetypes, you seriously cut into the base class's variability and move closer to PrC territory.

I like the theme of all the new abilities you present here, but they seem overpowered and not well-balanced with the class features they replace. The boost from d6s to d8s and then later d10s seems especially broken. Sure, there's a precedent in such a scaling in a monk's damage, for example, but they're not making a single attack which (if it hits) adds a pool of up to 10d10s of additional damage. Cool idea, unrestrained execution.

Unbound grants the rogue's level on top of the BAB already included in its CMD? Also seems a bit much, even at once a day. I get what you're trying to do here, but it seems you've stretched too far with this one.

Inescapable ambush should come at the expense of an existing rogue ability. Allowing for a move and attack action in the surprise round is really powerful, especially for someone almost guaranteed to get off a sneak attack in the process (and a boosted SA of 5d8 at that)! Again, cool concept but unbalanced mechanically.

This seems like a villain archetype, which immediately cuts down on its viability in a product. I can tell you intended it to be used by NPCs because it deals a penalty on future Initiative checks; a monster or encountered NPC is, 9 times out of 10, not going to survive to make a future check. PCs will.

So, James, you show with this round a real sense of theme and creative cohesion, but a lack of restraint and mechanical balance. The latter is certainly important and the first vital to being Superstar, so I think you're halfway there. That said, I DO NOT RECOMMEND this archetype for advancement, but if the voters feel otherwise, I hope you can bring the creativity but rein in the power creep in the coming rounds. Best of luck.

CEO, Goblinworks

Total Points: 2 Points
Recommendation: Not recommended for advancement

Comments In Detail

Name & Theme (.5 point)
Name doesn't really match the theme well.

Mechanics (.5 point)
There's a lot of tradeoffs here for not much benefit. Mechanically the change of sneak attack dice is a big deal but sneak attacking rogues are already supposed to be dealing huge damage so that's a question of magnitude not of direction.

What's an effect that "restrains or hampers"? You should make this specifically mechanical; like "an effect that reduces movement rate" or "an effect that negates dexterity bonuses". Restraint and hampering are not defined Pathfinder terms and should not be used.

Awesomeness (0 points)
It's just not that bloody or rippery (see below.

Template (1 point)
Used the template well.

Context (0 points)
You went with "Ripper", so you're accepting the baggage of Jack. What does Jack want? He wants to be able to operate in cities without detection. He wants to get something (lets say its a supernatural something) by performing vivisections on his victims. Rippering implies ritual murder not just bloody murder.

You used a lot of blood imagery but no Bleed effects. Why not?

Is this archetype really better than a base Rogue?

You've made this class require an evil alignment, so for 90% of the games you've made this an NPC. Is this NPC really going to be a threat to a party of adventurers? Will it be a worthy foe that could become a repeat villain? I think not.

Contributor

Blitz Attack: Hmm. You're replacing an ability that's not used every adventure with an ability that's going to be used almost every combat. That's a powerup.

Butchery: This replaces an ability the player's doesn't get to pick when they use it (when they get attacked by a Reflex-save attack) with one they do get to pick (when they get into flanking position). That's a powerup.

Mental Vault: We already have a saving throw mechanic for this sort of attacks, and this ability seems to completely bypass that. And unless the rogue has a really crappy Cha, this caster level check is going to be much more in the rogue's favor than just a Will save. That's a powerup.

This archetype has a neat theme, but it's overpowered.

RECOMMENDATION: I do NOT recommend this archetype design for advancement in the competition.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

Thanks for the kind words, gentlemen! I didn't read everything you said, but I saw the words RECOMMEND several times, so I'm just gonna assume I'm doing great!

Seriously, though, If I make it any further, I will take all of your criticisms to heart.

Hey, everyone! Please vote for me!


Sean K Reynolds wrote:


Mental Vault: We already have a saving throw mechanic for this sort of attacks, and this ability seems to completely bypass that. And unless the rogue has a really crappy Cha, this caster level check is going to be much more in the rogue's favor than just a Will save. That's a powerup.

This in specific seems designed to counter a paladin's detect evil, which has neither a save nor spell resistance.

Dark Archive

I think this is awesome. It could be toned down a bit, but its not too powerful, and you're giving away some of the good rogue stuff to get it. You get my vote, and I may steal this for a side adventure in Carrion Crown. Thanks.

Shadow Lodge

Alpha from Dollhouse, anyone?

That said, your fluff says they're invariably evil but you have no alignment restrictions in place. Seems like a way to cut corners by keeping that in the description, and personally, this screams out like every time I've heard someone mention they're playing a CN rogue... no, no, no!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Mark Moreland wrote:
So, James, you show with this round a real sense of theme and creative cohesion, but a lack of restraint and mechanical balance.

Couldn't have said it better if you paid me.

What you've made here is a vicious, melee ambush-rogue; this is a popular idea which the APB is curiously missing, and the "ripper" or "serial killer" is a great way to frame it. "Blitz" is an awesome and innovative power for such a character. Increasing melee damage is not particularly innovative but still quite appropriate, and the extra move action in surprise rounds is a great addition to the class. Ignoring game balance for a moment, this is some good stuff.

I see where you were going with the "you can't catch me" power; you're never going to take him alive. He's a hellraiser, a chaotic individual who won't be bound by anything, and the best way to stop him is on his own terms: by brutally murdering him. I understand how this may seem like a non sequitur to some ("cutting them in the surprise round, unassailable CMD bonus... huh?"), but I think there's dramatic precedence for it and it could have worked if it had been framed or developed a bit differently. I might have made it an Escape Artist bonus, personally (that seems like the rogueish way to avoid grapples); just my take based on what I think you were trying to do, so take it with a grain of salt.

"You can't divine me" is a bit more of a stretch. It can still be tied in with the rebellious spirit of the class, but it drifts even farther from your basic theme, and (to be perfectly honest) if your archetype were actually balanced you probably just wouldn't have room for it.

All that said, yea, there are balance issues. Butchery is the main offender; most attacks that a rogue makes will be sneak attacks, so you're handing out a really hardcore damage bonus here. Which puts me as a voter in a tough spot. I think your ideas are killer and I'd love to see who your villain would be, but there's just plain poor craftsmanship in some places, and you had over a week on this one (plus, the "invariably evil" thing was just plain sloppy). What happens when you're thrown a curve ball in the form of a secret challenge and only have three days to make it happen?

I'll give this one some earnest consideration though.


Reading this archetype I was asking myself, "Why does Jack the Ripper need bigger sneak attack dice? d6s are just fine for anything on Gary Gygax' random harlot chart."

Mechanically, I think this one is a little too strong; thematically, my main problem is that "Jack the Ripper style serial killer" is just too narrow a character niche.

Because of those two things, I feel like this archetype would probably be used

A) By a GM for a serial killer villain (once at most) or

B) By the kind of player who picks out mechanics first and then tries to come up with a character to fit those mechanics if necessary. Which, I'm not bashing the powergamers, but would make me think twice about how things were balanced.

With respect to this:

Mark Moreland wrote:


I can tell you intended it to be used by NPCs because it deals a penalty on future Initiative checks; a monster or encountered NPC is, 9 times out of 10, not going to survive to make a future check. PCs will.

I initially read the intent of that ability as: the ripper surprises you, uses Blitz Attack, and then if you survive you roll initiative -- so the initiative penalty would come into play in that same encounter, and the ripper has a better chance to full attack you while you're still flat footed.

If so, though, that's not completely clear by the way it's phrased.

I'm on the fence on voting for this one or not -- it has some problems but I do really appreciate the cohesive theme of it.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Dire Mongoose wrote:

I initially read the intent of that ability as: the ripper surprises you, uses Blitz Attack, and then if you survive you roll initiative -- so the initiative penalty would come into play in that same encounter, and the ripper has a better chance to full attack you while you're still flat footed.

If so, though, that's not completely clear by the way it's phrased.

I feel that it was definitely intended to stall creatures who haven't rolled initiative yet, yes. Rereading, though, I think I gathered that mostly from context, and you're right that it could be clearer.


I will probably have to run the numbers on this one, but I will come back to it before I cast my vote.


Blitz Attack (Ex) Very useful ability replacement. "Initiative penalty" should replace "penalty to next initiative check".
Note that this is just an ability to impose an interesting negative condition. Hardly gamebreaking, Sean. Much less dangerous than, say, Glitterdust. GOOD.

Butchery (Ex) Offensive ability replacing staple defensive ability. Risky choice for a Rogue. Should be optional as dragon's breath weapons are really unforgiving. Damage allows Rogues to become less irrelevant in melee. AVERAGE.

Unbound (Ex) Escape Artist alternative. Loss of useful ability. BAD.

Mental Vault (Ex) Awkward. Should be simply a version of Mind Blank. POOR.

Inescapable Ambush (Ex) GOOD.

Improved Blitz Attack (Ex) Underwhelming. POOR.

Verdict: Decent alternative for those who don't want to be assassins. RECOMMENDED (with a few reservations).

Regards,
Ruemere

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013

I'm a big fan of evil characters. The evil campaigns I run are typically more popular and memorable than the good, so this doesn't really lose any utility for me. That being said it's a huge power-up. Also, I'm not sure how the rules specifically say to deal with initiative during a surprise round, but I've always found it easiest for everyone to roll, and then simply leave out anyone who's not getting the surprise round. Because of this, penalizing a future initiative roll really only applies to PCs and returning villains, which makes it immediately less useful. While I'm a big fan of your inspiration here you're riffing off of a psycopath, and violent mental problems are really had to capture without hamstringing the PC's freedom to act. Nothing here drives the class to murder, they're just really good at it. I agree that this is needed to keep control in the hands of the player, but it does sort of deflate the theme.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

Ugh, I don't like the 'invariably evil' but doesn't require evil. I don't care what the Joker says, he is chaotic EVIL.

I agree, the powerups are a bit much (like I'm 'a bit fat') All he needs is an item that triggers on a move action and he's a nightmare with the power ups. "Hi!" *10d10+effects sneak attack, move action item to port, turn invisible dimension door, whatever* Wash rinse repeat.

Sorry, I can't vote for this. Unusual or restrictive concepts are nice, but not in the word count.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

This alternative is nearly unplayable with most general groups, especially with any good aligned characters (or sensible neutrals). It's a serial killer, pure and simple. It's a level of evil that I think in most campaigns, you're better off avoiding for player characters. It's bound to lead to inner party conflict. It would make a decent antagonist; though I'm personally burntout on the glorification of serial killers. I still don't see them as viable anti-heroes. This particular archtype screams "chaotic evil" or "neutral evil" at best.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

Thanks for the comments, everyone. I'll try an address your specific criticisms when voting is over. In any case, it's fascinating reading.


Gwaithador wrote:
This particular archtype screams "chaotic evil" or "neutral evil" at best.

To be fair, he did say "invariably evil" in the archetype text.

(And I think a Lawful Evil Ripper is very doable.)

Star Voter 2013

I think if you'd named this ambusher, and focused a little more on that front than to get your flavor right you could have gotten a far stronger entry here. I mean, it really looks like you have a villian ready for round 3 using this template and mostly flavored him and it with the same things. Doesn't work so well.

Basically, this looks like an archetype that only one NPC will use in a campaign, or every single PC in an evil campaign would use.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Yes, he did say "invariably evil" in the description. I was suggesting if we were to generalize the serial killer alignment- as an archetype, I think the prototypical alignment would be chaotic evil. I think in most societies in fantasy campaigns, even using Cheliax for example, the ripper is going to do, what he does. The laws, traditions, codes be damned. A ripper who's part of the ruling elite, well, he might be able to maintain his adherence to the laws, but this is really just lip service, because he can afford to bribe his way out of any unpleasntries. If he couldn't pay the bribe, he'd still find a way to be a ripper. By nature, he's a scofflaw; by nature laws do not apply to him. Thus, I'm hesistant to concede that a Lawful Evil alignmment truly fits a ripper archetype.

Hm. I guess I'm suggesting a Devil didn't really make him it do it. :)

As an afterthought, I think he hit on an archetype but it has limited utility in most campaigns because of its nature.


James Olchak wrote:

Ripper (Rogue)

Rogues kill. Some kill for profit, or in the defense of others, or to further a cause. Some rogues, however, kill without purpose, driven by an overwhelming desire for bloodshed. Secretive, paranoid, and invariably evil, these rogues are called rippers.

Disclaimer:

You should know the drill by now, but in case you missed it the first time round, Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a CE aligned succubus:
Spoiler:
Fairness is an adjective applicable to hair coloration, balance is what a couple of mortals rapidly losing it on opposite ends of a plank pivoted on a rocky spire a couple of hundred feet above a slowly rising pool of molten basalt try to do, and logic is one of those things which you could swear is there when you rattle the piggybank but if anyone other than a demon opens it the contents turn out to be a couple of dead moths and a three week old shopping list.
;)

Would you want this person sitting next to you as a guest at a formal evening dress dinner party?
A secretive paranoid killer? One out of 'secretive' and 'paranoid' on its own might be amusing and tolerable, but the pair together do not make for an ideal dining companion. No thank-you, I would not like to be sitting next to her.

How effective a flower-picker does this person seem likely to be?
She Does Not Pick Flowers. Any attempt to politely request her to do so is an invitation for her to attempt to stick a knife in you. The only way you're going to get her to pick flowers is if you play on the paranoia and develop some vastly complex conspiracy theory and present it to her by way of motivation, but even so the outcome is only about as likely as a coin toss to produce the result you desire.

Could you hire one person like this to do a better job than one other trained mercenary and/or to do the jobs of two (or more) other trained mercenaries?
No. You do not hire this person. You may perhaps motivate her and then cross your fingers and hope it doesn't backfire, but hiring is quite out of the question.

Other comments?
High ranking devils and daemons absolutely love this sort of person. They study her, trying to work out how to push her buttons and to use her as a weapon to further their various causes. They may successfully manipulate her for a time but usually wind up wondering how it finished blowing up in their faces.
Succubi with any sense leave this rather crude artiste to her own devices, occasionally providing a helpful piece of information and taking a 'look, at least I'm showing you that I'm a demon' line when dealing with a paranoid lunatic.
Whilst a Ripper may look a tempting snack to a demonic seductress, I would advise against it. As a comestible, she possesses potent psychedelic properties. I ate one once, and when I came to my senses six months later I appeared to have made myself leader of some sort of gang of cut-throats styled 'The Red Jennies' on a backwater prime-material world and to have engaged in a highly risky career of mayhem and melee during the intervening period. And that was the least embarrassing angle to my situation...

Desirability:
Do Not Touch With A Ten Foot Pole.

Further Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus (with half an eye on Lord Orcus) would like to clarify that mortal voters should probably rely on more than just her own (impeccable) assessments in making up their minds on how to vote. Thank You.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6, Contributor , Dedicated Voter 2013

I wound up liking the flavor of this prestige class, but I feel it's way too powerful for a class that's already deadly when in its element.

What really decided me to pass are mechanical issues:
Unbound: How long does the bonus last? It seems likely just one attack, but it should say. I'd favor one round, or making it usable after the result is known (get out of grapple free card).

Mental Vault: doesn't need a new mechanic. Either mind blank or nondetection fit the bill, and save words.

Inescapable Ambush: you either act in a surprise round or you don't, I think "that he initiates" basically introduced intent here into a game mechanic that doesn't use them.

I'd like to see another try on this archetype, though, it's not a bad idea.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

Not loving this. Do we really need an archetype for a deranged mass-murderer? As a more vanilla ambush rogue, this would be more useful and less... unsavory.


Russ Taylor wrote:


Mental Vault: doesn't need a new mechanic. Either mind blank or nondetection fit the bill, and save words.

How does a rogue get either of these without taking a spellcasting class?

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Sly Boots wrote:
Russ Taylor wrote:


Mental Vault: doesn't need a new mechanic. Either mind blank or nondetection fit the bill, and save words.

How does a rogue get either of these without taking a spellcasting class?

He is saying that the Ripper's class feature should have referenced or duplicated an existing effect, instead of starting from scratch to do the same thing.


James Olchak wrote:
Ripper (Rogue)

WOW! This guy gets three UBER level abilities by 3rd level by sacrificing some minor, albeit useful, flavor abilities granted the rogue. Way too powerful.

What more, a murderer Archetype seems a little too much for me. That seems a role a character plays in an evil campaign, rather than being worth a devoted Archetype, which suggests its a commonly desired character style.

Ken

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 , Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Demiurge 1138

I was fist put off by the "invariably evil" line. Restricting archetypes by alignment isn't something that's been done yet, but is theoretically workable. Unfortunately, then there's nothing in the actual mechanics requiring them to be evil. Off on a bad foot. And it only gets worse from there. Defensive abilities--good defensive abilities to be sure--get traded in for very powerful offense. d10s of sneak attack damage? Even more lethal surprise rounds?

Unlike some of the other commenters, I get the flavor behind them being hard to catch and to read the minds of. But the mechanics there are also a bit shaky.

I will not be voting for this entry.

Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Hi James, nice theme choice and historical nod. I agree with most of the above, over-powered being the short version. I like the power up and blitz. The ideas, if balanced, are creative.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

Not bad, but limited (evil only) and not all that inventive: "Hi, I'm Stabby McStabbington. I'll be your stabber tonight. When I get mad, I get stabby, and I'm pretty much mad all the time. STAB!"

Trading limited-use non-combat abilities for always-on combat abilities = bro-ken. This guy is a power-up to the Nth degree. Ow, ow, and triple ow.

If you think rogues are total wusses and worthless to play in PF, as some do, then this archetype makes perfect sense as a "necessary" power-up. If you think rogues as written are a fair and balanced class, though, this is way out the window power-wise.

Congrats on getting to round 2, and best of luck!


James Olchak wrote:

Ripper (Rogue)

Disclaimer: My ranking scheme for this round consists of given marks form 0 to 4 in the following three categories:

1.Is the Archetype conceptually interesting?
2.Are the mechanics of the Archetype interesting?
3.Are the mechanics of the Archetype balanced and well executed?
But rather than simply adding up the marks for a final score I'm gonna interpret them as a point in 3-dimensional space and the final mark of your submission will be the length of the vector between the origin and this point.
Note that my ranking doesn't need to directly correspond with my votes, as other factors like: Strength of your item submission, mood, my horrorscope and other random stuff still factor in. Also note that this scheme is highly subjective and only mirrors my perception and opinion about your archetype submission.

Conceptual Mojo (CM): 1, Psychokiller is not an archetype concept I find intriguing. And I'm already worried about the mechanical balance of an archetype that focuses this much on killing stuff
Mechanical Mojo (MM): 2, this seems to be lacking focus, it is not really focused on butchery, disembowelment and other psycho stuff.
Mechanical Execution (ME): 1. Some things are over powered, as suspected, some others are weirdly defined (Mental Vault) some others are cans of worms or weird freebies (Inescapeable Ambush)

Final note: A concept I don't like and lacking focus. If at least it was revolving about ripping, sickening gruesome acts of violence and other Psycho stuff, I would probably have liked it more, but as it is I couldn't care much less.

Total Score: 2.449

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4 , Star Voter 2013 aka raidou

James, your Erinyes Braid was packed with flavor and cool imagery. This round, you keep up the evil energy by giving us a psycopathic killer on the loose. So you're setting this guy up mainly to be used as an antagonist. Most PCs won't be looking too closely at this because it's too villainous; playing really, really evil PCs is a niche thing. Let's see how high his body count goes.

ripper wrote:
Blitz Attack (Ex): At 1st level, a ripper begins to excel at striking from ambush. If a ripper attacks a target in the surprise round, he gains a bonus on attack rolls equal to ½ his rogue level...

This is a combat rogue, so giving up a skill bonus for a combat one fits the theme. And only allowing the damage bonus during the surprise round is appropriate. I think the initiative thing is out of place. By the time you're in combat, you already have an initiative roll.

ripper wrote:
Butchery (Ex): At 2nd level, a ripper’s expertise with blades increases. Whenever a ripper uses a light or one-handed slashing or piercing weapon to make a melee sneak attack, his sneak attack dice increase from D6’s to D8’s. At 16th level, they increase again, to d10’s. This ability replaces evasion.

Too powerful. This is better than both Powerful Sneak and Deadly Sneak combined.

ripper wrote:
Unbound (Ex): At 3rd level, a ripper can avoid effects that would restrain or impair him. Once per day, as an immediate action, he can gain a bonus to his CMD equal to his rogue level. At 13th level, a ripper can use this ability three times a day. This ability replaces trap sense.

Thematically interesting. This guy's good at not getting caught. But balanced poorly. You're giving up a bonus of 1/3 levels to ac and reflex saves vs. traps. In the grand scheme of things that's a minor ability. That should be followed when coming up with your CMD bonus... it should be relatively minor in scope, not such an "I Win" button against people trying to grab or trip you.

ripper wrote:
Mental Vault(Su): ...When a ripper is targeted by any spell or spell-like ability that would pry information from his mind, including detect evil, detect thoughts, or discern lies, the caster must succeed on a caster level check, or the ripper becomes immune to that effect, from that caster, for 24 hours.

This ability is pretty cool, and it's got some definite narrative benefits.

ripper wrote:
Inescapable Ambush (Ex): At 10th level a ripper may take an extra move action in a surprise round he initiates.

Since you're already into overpowered territory, giving a free ability without exchanging something else for it isn't the right move.

ripper wrote:
Improved Blitz Attack (Ex): At 16th level, a ripper’s blitz attack ability improves. During the first round of combat, whenever a ripper strikes a flat-footed target, it is considered a blitz attack...

Again, much more powerful than you need to be. A TWF rogue at 16th adding +8 to every sneak attack, hitting more often than not due to his target being flat-footed. Too much. James, this is a neat theme and good for psychopath NPC's, but it doesn't feel balanced right at all compared to a standard rogue. I think your vision and theme are fine but the execution of this guy needs to be dialed back.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Name and concept: I tend to think the world of RPGs, without naming names, gives us more than enough aid and comfort for serial killer fantasies. Let's see if this can walk that fine line between hilarious-but-wrong Belkar Bitterleaf and roleplaying cutting out some woman's spleen in Whitechapel with a straight razor.
Archetype mechanics, expression of the concept: Blitz Attack: This brings in something like the sudden strike mechanic, replacing a mechanical skill. It seems more than trap sense is worth.
Butchery: Well described in mechanical terms, again increasing his attacks at the expense of effectiveness as an old-style "thief". In this case, I think that's actually the right way to go.
Unbound: I'm not inclined to be generous to this concept when it comes to justification of general power-ups. Mechanically, it trades out a trap-based ability (admittedly I said earlier that would be appropriate) for a combat power, but might be all right given that it works once a day.
Mental Vault: Pry information from his mind? That could mean anything from the named spells only, to the worst Internet interpretations of mind blank, which uses very similar language. It needs to be much more explicit about what it applies to. The caster level check mechanic looks non-standard.
Inescapable Ambush: OK, but it doesn't seem to have a cost.
Improved Blitz Attack: Potentially applies the effect of blitz attack (which is substantial by this level) on a full attack in addition to its first target. That seems like too much.
Wider relationships: On review, it might - just - stay restrained enough in tone that I could be comfortable with it.

But, having said that last bit, it's consistently high-powered and not getting the benefit of the doubt from me.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Having read the other comments, I now get where the mishmash of abilities is coming from. Mental vault is not as powerful as I first thought as it only protects against information gaining spells. Unbound is too good, a bonus equal to your class level on CMD is a lot. Barbarians have the strength surge rage power which does roughly the same thing so there is a precedent for it, but replacing trap sense (which really is a very average ability) isn’t a fair trade.

Butchery is where I really draw the line, this is obviously better than existing published abilities. The powerful sneak rogue talent turns sneak attack damage dice 1s into 2s, which basically gives +1/2 damage per sneak attack die, and the deadly sneak advanced rogue talent turns 1s and 2s into 3s, which gives an additional +1/2 per sneak attack die. Deadly sneak needs powerful sneak as a prerequisite and is only available at 10th level or above. Butchery turns d6s into d8s which gives +1 damage per sneak attack die and happens at 2nd level.

Making an archetype or prestige class overpowered doesn’t make it Superstar, it just means it gets banned by GMs, probably after finding out the hard way how powerful it is. If you get through to the next round, remember that not everyone wants to optimize to the pinnacle of optimization, make your villain flavorful and memorable ahead of being super combat effective.


Some of the abilities seem to focus on surprise rounds and ambushes. I wonder if it wouldn't have been better to focus more on the ambush theme.

The Blitz Attack ability states "...a target damaged by a successful blitz attack takes a penalty on their next initiative check ..."

It seems to read that the creatures next combat will be affected since that is when the next initiative check will be. Thus, it won't have any effect during the combat that the surprise round starts.


I have to say that this one bugged me. I can't get past the unbound ability...Why would they even need that one. I do not see the overpowered aspect as the judges do but I do see the limiting of allignment as to much to get past.

I would not want to play this one.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

All right. Voting is done. I set out to unite everyone in their opinions on my archetype, and I have done it.

I didn't set out to create entirely negative opinions, but I guess I'll take what I can get.

So, I think it's pretty clear(unless I have some giant silent fanbase willing to crush my battle opponents from the shadows) that I will not be moving on to the top 16.

Let me start by saying my retorts here aren't meant to be a rebuttal so much as an explanation--I'm not going to sit here and go "no, you're wrong!" I'm pretty sure if nobody can find anything nice to say about my archetype, I screwed up in the execution (regardless of how much I feel the idea has potential). As great historian and inventor Mr. Peabody once said: "There's no shame in trying and failing." So lemme address some of the criticisms brought up.

Complaint the first, as well as the most pervasive:

everybody wrote:
'Oh my god, too powerful! Too much for too little! Broken!'

Maybe. Again, I have to assume that everybody's coming to this with a sincere feeling that this archetype would be a wild atom in their campaign, rampaging around invincible, invisible, untouchable.

And it might be a little too powerful.

However, I'm pretty sure it's not as mechanically good as people think, and that's important.

I look at archetypes the same way I look at any choice the player makes from race to class to feats to equipment. Some are better than others, but only in the right situation. The whole Pathfinder game is built around the choices the players make, and how it enables them to respond to the situations that the player characters encounter.

If my Ripper is better than the standard Rogue in every situation, it's a big problem. If Ripper>Rogue in 75% of situations, that's really bad, mechanically. If the numbers shake out to 50%, then everything is fine. If Ripper>Rogue 25% of the time, why would anyone play it? In fact, that's probably a fair way to gauge how well an archetype is balanced.

So why is the Ripper so broken? The consensus is that he gives up defensive abilities that are of little use for offensive abilities that are tremendously good. Giving up defense for offense is exactly where I started, in my concept, and I'm a little perplexed by this complaint. Scenario forthcoming.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

Skippy the typical rogue, level 9, first attack at +12, 5d6 sneak attack.

Rusty the Ripper, level 9, first attack at +12, 5d6 ranged sneak attack, 5d8 melee sneak attack.

We'll assume that Rusty and Skippy are equipped identically.

Scenario 1: The Ambush

Skippy/Rusty leaps out from a darkened alley, makes a partial charge followed by a single attack on Vinnie the Victim. Lets assume Vinny is a CR 6 Watch Captain (Gamemastery Guide, page 260) has 57hp, and a flat-footed AC of 19.

Skippy makes his attack at +12, (hitting on a 7 or better) and deals an average of 17 sneak-attack damage, plus 6 from his short sword. 23 total damage.

Rusty makes his attack at +17, (hitting on a 2 or better) and deals an average of 22 damage, plus six from his short sword, and applying a -5 penalty to the targets initiative. 28 total damage.

Lets assume Rusty and Skippy have precisely the same initiative roll, and the penalty on initiative is such that Rusty gets to go before Vinny, once the first combat round begins, while Skippy has to wait.

Against Skippy, the Watch Captain has a chance to retaliate, maybe hitting, maybe not. He probably won't kill him, in any case. On his next turn, Skippy has to use feinting to score sneak attack, or whittle the Captain down with standard attacks. Unsatisfying, certainly.

Rusty attacks flat-footed Vinny again (at +12 now, same as Skippy), dealing 28 damage again. Maybe even again, for another 28. Huzzah! a successful ambush! The Watch Captain is dead!

Rusty clearly excels at this. He can leap out of an alley and kill an unwary target of two levels lower than him in a single round. Which is his function. He does it better than the standard rogue.

Against a lower-level target, one with a lower initiative score, or fewer hit points, Skippy could produce the same result.

Adding a flanker to the scenario pretty much brings Skippy up to Rusty's level, ambush-wise, while providing a lesser benefit to Rusty.

This is the ideal scenario for Rusty.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

Scenario 2: The tables are turned.

While leaving a tavern, Skippy/Rusty is detected by two CR 6 Highwaymen (Gamemastery guide, 258) who close to attack. Skippy/Rusty detect the assailants (no surprise round), but come in last in the initiative.

One Highwayman moves into flank, and readies an action to attack when his companion is in place. When this happens, both men attack.

Skippy has Improved Uncanny Dodge. He cannot be flanked by these attackers. His AC is two higher against their attacks, and they cannot gain Sneak against him. Assuming they hit, they do an average of 8 points of damage each with their spiked chains. Skippy can fight from a flanked position without notable penalty, enabling him to full attack his targets.

Rusty has only Uncanny Dodge. He can be flanked by these two goons, and his lessened AC makes him easier to hit. He takes full sneak from their attacks, doing an average of 15 points of damage. Rusty can't stay in flank for long, he'll get pummeled--he has to move around to negate flanking, leaving him with only single attacks.

In this scenario, Skippy is the clear winner.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

Scenario 3: Dragon's breath strafing run

At level 20, we'll assume both Rusty and Skippy are pretty powerful. Let's assume about 190 HP (average rolls, Con 20). Lets assume the both have some mad reflex saves--we'll say 25. Again, we'll assume identical equipment.

CR 19 Ancient Red Dragon Breath Weapon--DC 30, 20d10 fire.

The Red strafes the party three times. Both Skippy and rusty succeed on a roll of 5 or better.Lets say they roll a 10, a 10, and a 10.

Skippy takes 0 damage.

Rusty takes 82 damage, through no fault of his own. He's half dead.

Skippy is the clear winner, again.

Why is evasion considered a weak or rarely used ability? There are dozens and dozens of spells and breath weapons that evasion bypasses. It's one of the best class abilities in the game. Giving it up for some boosted damage potential is a fair trade. Whether the ripper gets too much boosted damage potential is where I went wrong, but the reasoning is sound. Anyone who says evasion is a weaksauce ability is playing a different game than I'm familiar with.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

Complaint the second: Mass Murderer? In My Pathfinder?

It's more likely than you think.

This is a purely subjective complaint, and thus, the hardest kind to defend against. If you don't think there should be an option to play as a psychopathic killer in your game, well, the concept isn't for you.

However, I think making that complaint in Pathfinder, a game in which even the most noble knight, the most disciplined holy man, or the most beatific druid can have (is expected to have!) personal body counts in the tens of dozens by 8th level...Well, it's a little silly. In a game in which every session free-willed creatures with hopes and dreams are killed for their property over and over again, finding a killer distasteful shows a bit of a disconnect.

In closing on this topic, I will say four words regarding what is appropriate for the Pathfinder brand of good-time adventure:

Hillbilly Rapist Inbred Ogres

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

Complaint the third: Mental Vault--It sucks

In the waning days of 3.5, the Wizards website had a series of articles concerning "proud nails" within the game of D&D. That is, those nails that stick up, creating weird rule problems that needed to be hammered down. It was good series of articles, although I think they used them as a sounding board for creating 4 point Oh.

In any case, something I consider a proud nail is detect evil.

It has no save, it has no SR, and it completely screws any attempt at crafting a murder mystery in Pathfinder, at any level of the game. Paladin's get it at 1st level, and can use it all day, for no reason, reflexively.

Lets say you, as a GM, want to craft a murder story, set in a remote snow-locked monastery, where a brutal murder has shaken the holy men to their core. You've got an isolated setting, a fixed pool of suspects, secret passages, etcetera. You watch a dozen Charlie Chan movies to come up with ideas and sit down to prep it.

Then you remember there's a Paladin in the party. "Someone was murdered? Detect evil! It was the cook! He did it!"

That sucks. It's terrible. It's basically taking a whole rich genre of fiction ideally suited to the game we play, and throwing it in the garbage at level one. If Rogues got Improved Evasion at level one it wouldn't be as poisonous to the game as detect evil is.

So you may be surprised to know that I struggled with Mind Vault longer than anything else under the hood on the ripper. And it still didn't work. I know people suggested Nondetection or Mind Blank as solutions, but I doubt giving the Ripper constant benefits of a 3rd or 8th level spell would've won me any votes, either.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

I'll try to get to more later in the week, but I would like to say that out of the hammering I took on my archetype, I liked this quote the absolute best:

Mark Moreland wrote:
So, James, you show with this round a real sense of theme and creative cohesion, but a lack of restraint and mechanical balance.

ENJOY MY THREE WHEELED ROCKET CYCLE WITH ONE HANDLEBAR WHOO HOO!


James Olchak wrote:


In any case, something I consider a proud nail is detect evil.

It has no save, it has no SR, and it completely screws any attempt at crafting a murder mystery in Pathfinder, at any level of the game. Paladin's get it at 1st level, and can use it all day, for no reason, reflexively.

I agree with you on detect evil. I actually feel the same way about detect magic. I think these spells should scale as the caster gains levels, maybe like cure spells.


James Olchak wrote:


Rusty makes his attack at +17, (hitting on a 2 or better) and deals an average of 22 damage, plus six from his short sword, and applying a -5 penalty to the targets initiative. 28 total damage.

When I read your archetype description, it seems to indicate the penalty is on the next initiative check (which occurs during the next battle not the current one).

The surprise round description in the core book indicates that initiative checks are made and then the surprise round occurs.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

Swamp Druid wrote:
James Olchak wrote:


Rusty makes his attack at +17, (hitting on a 2 or better) and deals an average of 22 damage, plus six from his short sword, and applying a -5 penalty to the targets initiative. 28 total damage.

When I read your archetype description, it seems to indicate the penalty is on the next initiative check (which occurs during the next battle not the current one).

The surprise round description in the core book indicates that initiative checks are made and then the surprise round occurs.

Well, that's my goof. In the games I've run and played in, we roll initiative after the surprise round (for those who don't get to act in the surprise round). Why would you need to determine initiative before you have any chance to act? I had no idea it was done that way.

In any case it was intended to be the check made for this encounter, not the next one.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4 aka OamuTheMonk

Complaint the fourth: Extra move action in Surprise Round? OH NOES

I really misread people here. Honestly, surprise rounds seem to happen so infrequently that I thought this was a totally negligible add. Really, how often do players get a surprise rounds in conventional play? I ran 120-odd hours of Pathfinder games in 2010, and I can't remember more than 4 or 5 surprise rounds. Is giving a rogue a better chance at actually surprising a target that crazy a concept?

Being limited to a standard-or-move action in most surprise rounds makes actually ambushing someone a total chore--by the RAW, it's almost impossible to make it happen. Either you can make a partial charge and attack once in the surprise round (assuming it's not shadowy lighting, or a barrel isn't in the way, or your target's bodyguard is one square closer to you, or you have to go down two steps), or you spend the surprise round trying to close the gap and hoping you win initiative.

I think flanking became the easy answer, with regards to sneak. The way it happens normally, the status quo, should be the name of the thing. It should be called Flank Attack, because it happens like that way more often.


Ooops! Missed this one somehow...
Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a CE aligned succubus; and in the language of the Abyss ‘sorry’ is what you make others after you’ve had a bad day, ‘commiserations’ is the concept whereby if you’ve had a miserable day you go out and make others at least as unhappy as you are, and ‘sympathy’ is military jargon for a popular model of half a mile high siege-tower with spiked wheels, ballistae and fireball hurling catapults. (By way of explanation for the latter it’s a demonic joke: ‘See, we have sympathy for your situation’.)

Obligatory End of Round 2 Results Post:

Spoiler:
In the ever-shifting chaos of Abyssal hierarchies and social-networks, Good Manners are naturally essential. One never knows when a powerful demon whom one once jostled at a dinner party and whom one never actually made sufficient reparations to for the inconvenience is going to be the new landlady of your own part of the Abyss and looking for some demons to make Very Sorry having just had a bad day herself.
Consequently a multitude of books of etiquette are in circulation with examples of ‘appropriate’ phrases to use in various situations. I shall take the liberty of quoting a few:
“Abyssal etiquette, Demon Lords” wrote:
…Greetings, your most puissant highness…
“Abyssal etiquette, Apparent Mortal Who Is Prospective Dinner” wrote:
…Why sirrah, it is a pleasure to meet you. May one inquire, is that an enchanted cold-iron dagger of demon-slaying in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?...
“Abyssal etiquette, Guests Whom There Is No Longer Any Room To Accommodate And Who Are About To Depart Through A Trapdoor Into A (Possibly) Snake Filled Pit” wrote:
…Goodbye Mr. Bond…

(The author of the work from which I derive the latter quote is incidentally a fiend with a curious affectation for monocles and white cats who happens to be a servant of Andirifkhu.)

See you around another year, perhaps. Or maybe sooner if you feel like sticking around to post for the duration of this year’s contest... ;)

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka motteditor

James Olchak wrote:

Complaint the fourth: Extra move action in Surprise Round? OH NOES

I really misread people here. Honestly, surprise rounds seem to happen so infrequently that I thought this was a totally negligible add. Really, how often do players get a surprise rounds in conventional play? I ran 120-odd hours of Pathfinder games in 2010, and I can't remember more than 4 or 5 surprise rounds. Is giving a rogue a better chance at actually surprising a target that crazy a concept?

FWIW, my group has surprise rounds a lot ... but I agree that the limits on standard-or-move actions are tough. Our group tends to fudge it a little, so someone couldn't get a full move action before attacking/casting, but could, for example, stand up and shoot or grab something a mug on a table and then throw it...

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

Thanks for the insight into your design, James.

By all means try next year, seems anyone can repeat now-a-days ;-)

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