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Guide to the Arcane Trickster


Advice

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It's not entirely done, but here's the text. If anybody can help me format it more like the other guides, that would be a big help.

A Highly Regarded Expert's Guide to the Arcane Trickster

It's quite long, and geared somewhat to newer players.

Comments and constructive criticism welcome!


You can also use Vivvisectionist Alchemist instead of Rogue.

You might want to cover good spells once you hit the capstone ability of AT. I think the best are Magic Missile and Stone Call, for one/few targets and multiple targets, respectively. Former is SR yes, but no save or attack roll. Latter gives no SR nor save, it's just pure, guaranteed damage to everyone in a HUGE radius. Not even DR helps, because it's a spell.


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I enjoyed reading this guide, an interesting take on an often neglected Prestige class.

Thank you.


You can also weasel in with Sandman 5/Rogue 1, but I don't know if there's any good reason to do so. You'll be able to get away with only having lost a single caster level, and you'll have a slightly higher BAB. I'm pretty sure that that's still not worth it, but it's kind of another flavor. Bards don't get damaging cantrips, so unless you pick those up somehow you're out that option.


I feel that you should at the very least give honorable mention to the Shadow Bloodline for sorcerers. Not only is it very thematic, if you get a robe of arcane heritage any time after entering the prc, that gives Hide in Plain Sight at the cost of 16,000 GP.


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This was terrific. Thank you. I've always thought the Arcane Trickster was one of the dopier PrCs -- painful to get into, underpowered, and just not that interesting. Your guide makes me think I've been underestimating it.

Incidentally, Magical Knack is frickin' awesome for this PrC. I never really grasped the point of this trait before, but now my eyes have been opened. If you're going to multiclass anything with a spellcasting class, you absolutely must have this trait. It's a particularly perfect fit for ATs, but it's incredibly nice for other multiclassed spellcasters as well.

Doug M.


There's a typo under the Evocation write-up:
"You'll only have 3 wizard levels until 17th character level"

That should be: "7th character level".


thats no typo


What, the PrC doesn't stack with Wizard?
/me wanders off to actually read the write-up...

edit: Well, bother. AHRE was specificly talking about the Intense Spells ability, which does indeed specifically need Wizard levels. My bad.


[thinking out loud] Gnome Pyromaniac with Magic Knack. Useless for your first couple of rogue levels, but then at 3rd level you're a Rog 2/Wiz 1 who can cast Burning Hands for 4d4 damage -- which is actually more than your straight Wiz 3.

Okay, you have to carry Pyromaniac and Magic Knack for two levels (they're both worthless to a rogue) and then Burning hands has limited utility. But when it's good, it's great -- FWOOSH 10 points of damage in a 30' cone will take out a lot of mooks quickly. And you need every edge you can get for those levels betwee 4 and 8 or so.

Doug M.


actually the 3.5 AT is not compareable to the PF one.

You cant do Spellwarp sniper/unseen seer/AT builds with 7364d6 splitted, empowered and twinned orbs anymore. The heavy nerf of ranged touch spells and the changes of the AT in general just justify the way the guide is. Because actually thats the best you can do with a AT in PF.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
Wasum wrote:

actually the 3.5 AT is not compareable to the PF one.

You cant do Spellwarp sniper/unseen seer/AT builds with 7364d6 splitted, empowered and twinned orbs anymore. The heavy nerf of ranged touch spells and the changes of the AT in general just justify the way the guide is. Because actually thats the best you can do with a AT in PF.

My success with the 3.5 AT was not based on munchkined, barely legal, cheesy, builds. Nor was it just based on doing damage. I stand with my statement. Both the Sorcerer and the AT in general got overall buffs in Pathfinder, cheesy 3.5 material not withstanding.


I have a high dex AT that i'm playing with. He uses a spring attack fighting style to flank with allies, sneak attack, then get the hell out of the way. Between a very high acrobatics (to avoid aoo), a monkey familiar (to increase acrobatics further), mobility (to increase his AC when acrobatics fails), sneak attack damage, and touch spells he's pretty awesome.


Nice Guide, A.H.R. Expert, thanks! I think the Diviner specialist wizard should get a special mention. The divination utility spells provide help in fulfilling the rogue role, which you emphasize as a necessary component of the class.
Some example low-level spells:
1: Detect Secret Doors, Identify, True Strike
2: Detect Thoughts, Locate Object, See Invisibility

Also, the Diviner school gives the Forewarned Supernatural ability (an unnamed bonus to Initiative), while the Scryer focused school gives the Send Senses Spell-like ability (create a magical sensor to see or hear at a distance).

Thus, a 4th level Diviner with Improved Initiative, a 16 Dex and the Reactionary trait will have a Init Mod of +11, before buffs.


It's an interesting guide, though I would like a more thorough assessment of wizard schools, as I kind of disagree that Admixture and Illusion are the only worthwhile ones (in fact I strongly disagree about your argument for Illusion - blinding ray quickly becomes useless with only 3 wizard levels). Divination (esp Foresight) would be a great option, I think, both for the pre-rolls (from Foresight) and the ability to always act in the surprise round (thus getting more sneak attacks).

I also think ninja can be a better choice than you seem to think, if only for the ability to effectively use quickened Vanish a couple of times per day with 2 ninja levels - very handy for early sneak attacks. Of course it synergizes best with sorceror thanks to Cha.

You could also mention that Sandman bard is the only class that can enter AT without multiclassing - might be of some interest since the powers fit the sandman bard theme quite well, and he doesn't lose any spellcasting by taking it.


I believe that the previous posters are forgetting that once you stop taking levels in your casting class, you stop all the abilities that accrue with schools, bloodlines, etc. In a PrC, you only get the spells you would normally get per level.

An illusionist's blinding ray ability is gained at first level, and times per day is based on intelligence, not level, so it works the same no matter how many illusionist or AT levels she has.

By contrast, the diviner's Forewarned ability is based on his wizard levels. He only gets 1/2 per wizard level. Levels in AT don't improve it.

Regarding other comments, the wizard is the best casting class for this PrC for many reasons. Do the math. I stand by my statement.

Sorcerers make good tricksters, but even if they have a high intelligence and keep increasing it instead of their casting stat, they still won't have the depth and breadth of skills the wizard caster gets.

You'll note that sorcerer is green, not red. Sorcerers have other features that make them good ATs, but versatility isn't one of them, at least compared to wizard ATs, in either skills or spells. Versatility is the AT's best feature, and wizard ATs are the most versatile ATs.


I'm well aware of the lack of school power progression. And I wasn't talking about uses per day of Blinding Ray, but of the fact that it only blinds creatures with HD equal to or less than your wizard level, which means that it will only blind things with 3 HD or less for the trickster (ie: effectively none of the enemies you face after lvl 4). Other targets are merely dazzled, which is a pretty weak effect not worth spending the action on.

Even though forewarned doesn't grant the progressive initiative bonus with your AT levels, it's still worth it for always acting in the surprise round, I think.


The main problem with sorcerer is needing that extra level. Delayed entry REALLY hurts when as it is under optimal conditions, you're a split class character at level 7.

I do think Teleportation school Wizard is good, though. That 1st level teleport only relies on wizard level for distance, it's still very handy just having it at all.

AT is definitely weaker in PF than in 3E where you had Unseen Seer as well. One advantage it has is that apparently in PF, there is no "volley rule" restricting you to sneak attack damage only once on a spell that fires multiple attacks in one action, like Scorching Ray. That advantage should be utilized as much as possible. It's another reason why magic missile is so good when you hit AT 10 -- autohitting with sneak attack 5 times.


Corlindale wrote:
I'm well aware of the lack of school power progression. And I wasn't talking about uses per day of Blinding Ray, but of the fact that it only blinds creatures with HD equal to or less than your wizard level, which means that it will only blind things with 3 HD or less for the trickster (ie: effectively none of the enemies you face after lvl 4). Other targets are merely dazzled, which is a pretty weak effect not worth spending the action on.

I missed that! I'll fix it. Illusion is still a good school for this class, especially at early levels when you can't just be invisible whenever you feel like it.

Quote:
Even though forewarned doesn't grant the progressive initiative bonus with your AT levels, it's still worth it for always acting in the surprise round, I think.

Again, it's nice, but you're far more likely to need a blast than a divination in a typical day.

Divinations are good, and if you're on a intel-gathering mission, they make you a super spy. One more reason a wizard is so much better than a sorcerer for this... They're in your spellbook (or at least they will be).

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
A highly regarded expert wrote:
You'll note that sorcerer is green, not red. Sorcerers have other features that make them good ATs, but versatility isn't one of them, at least compared to wizard ATs, in either skills or spells. Versatility is the AT's best feature, and wizard ATs are the most versatile ATs.

Wizards have spell preparation versatility, but sorcerers have casting versatility. They have all their spell knowledge at instant command and can choose on the fly whether to throw in feats as well. If as you said before and one of the points I agree with you think of the ARcane Trickster as a magical rogue rather than a back stabbing arcanist, this flexibility has it's own unmatched value.

This is especially noteworthy since the Arcane Trickster does not need a huge encyclopedia of spells to pull off the essentials of his role, a spell knowledge that can be covered by the sorcerer with the right planning.

Scarab Sages

Just a quick note: You forgot to mention Witch as an alternative for entering into the class. The couple of hexes won't progress very well, but Hexes like Slumber, Evil Eye, and Fortune can be quite handy, even without the progression, and you can use them all day.

Food for thought.


StreamOfTheSky wrote:

The main problem with sorcerer is needing that extra level. Delayed entry REALLY hurts when as it is under optimal conditions, you're a split class character at level 7.

I do think Teleportation school Wizard is good, though. That 1st level teleport only relies on wizard level for distance, it's still very handy just having it at all.

AT is definitely weaker in PF than in 3E where you had Unseen Seer as well. One advantage it has is that apparently in PF, there is no "volley rule" restricting you to sneak attack damage only once on a spell that fires multiple attacks in one action, like Scorching Ray. That advantage should be utilized as much as possible. It's another reason why magic missile is so good when you hit AT 10 -- autohitting with sneak attack 5 times.

There are subschools, traits, racial traits, and other tricks I didn't address. That would make the guide really long. I did say that you want to look for things that help your magic or your stealth, and the Teleport school ability does both: Move 10' as a swift action. It's a good "trick," sorta like "The Cape."


Witch's spell list is VASTLY inferior to the sorc/wiz one, and in particular lacks the blasty spells you'd want to chain sneak attack to, and only even gets invisibility spells via patron (and the only way to "get greater invisibility" as a witch is to take the patron that gets Mislead as a 6th level spell and use that!). Much of the witch's balance comes from the hexes, which will not be progressing in this case.

I think witch is a horrible option for AT.


I do think sorceror has possibilities, even if you must eat the additional level. For instance, gnome pyromaniac + magical knack + red or gold draconic bloodline + tattooed sorceror (swap dragon claws for a familiar and +1 CL to a single school) = 5d4+5 damage from Burning Hands when you hit 3rd level and take your first sorceror level.

More to the point, the limited sorceror spell selection isn't crippling -- there's a short list of stuff you'll use again and again. 80/20 rule, like.

Doug M.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Davor wrote:

Just a quick note: You forgot to mention Witch as an alternative for entering into the class. The couple of hexes won't progress very well, but Hexes like Slumber, Evil Eye, and Fortune can be quite handy, even without the progression, and you can use them all day.

Food for thought.

RAW, a Witch can't be an Arcane Trickster because they don't have Mage Hand on their cantrip spell list.

I'm currently playing a Rogue/Witch that is aiming for AT (my GM is letting me qualify by taking Spell Focus (transmutation) + Varisian Tatoo (transmutation) which will give me Mage Hand as a spell-like ability).

I would recommend taking Hexes that don't require saves, because your DC won't be very high given that you won't be taking Witch levels. Prehensile Hair, Fly, Tongues, and Disguise are the ones I'm looking at. Really, Prehensile Hair has to be a must-take as it allows you to use a good number of skills at reach, gives you a 10' touch attack, and an INT-based natural attack.

I'm also skewing my build towards transmutation spells, given that I've had to specialize in it, and that makes for a fairly unconventional witch, too.

I'm having a blast with this character, but I'm also prepared to be fairly limited at higher levels. Fortunately, I'm also the party face, so if nothing else I shine outside of combat.

On a non-Witch subject, what is the thinking on Underhanded for a Rogue Talent for an AT. It gives you automatic max damage on your Sneak Attack dice for an unforeseen attack in a surprise round. Shouldn't that be a possible Rogue Talent to consider?


Call me crazy but wouldn't Magus help an AT.


Nevermind, no mage hand on their spell list.


Would a vivisectionist alchemist qualify for this if He bought or crafted a hand of the mage item? I can see an vivisectionist alchemist at 4 th or 5th level having all the requirements and entering this presitage class unless extracts do not count as spells.


Nevermind again Magus does have mage hand.


Gnomezrule wrote:
Call me crazy but wouldn't Magus help an AT.

In a word, no. I should mention that. The summoner technically qualifies, too, but would suck for the same reasons.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
Gnomezrule wrote:
Call me crazy but wouldn't Magus help an AT.

Perhaps but you'd lose a lot on the Magus features and the Magus does not really have a lot of synergy with the rogue features of the AT. You also lose out on a lot of skills as well.


Well, I am no longer the only person with a comprehensive prestige class guide. Welcome to the club.

That being said, There are two options that I think should be mentioned for the more casty of AT's. Both the Assassin and Master Spy Prestige classes give +1d6 Sneak Attack at level one, and if you qualify for either you can lose one less caster level. It requires a caster first kind of build, but can make sorcerers a better option because you lose less by going that route.


Have you looked at guilds in Inner Sea Magic guide? Joining a guild gives you access to +1 spellcasting level(yes spells and all not just caster level) at fame 5 to +3 in one class and +1 in another at fame 40(easily reachable by levels 10-12).

For a small investment and a couple rolls/level (RAW) you can pick up any caster levels lost to rogue or alchemist/viv. effectively making him a 20th level caster with SA


Any particular reason why the Magus would not work well. Granted you would stop gaining Magus abilities but the ones you have work with the spells you gain as you go up in AT levels. Also your first few levels of Magus have a better than wiz or sorc BAB. Is there something that is glarring that I am missing?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
Gnomezrule wrote:
Any particular reason why the Magus would not work well. Granted you would stop gaining Magus abilities but the ones you have work with the spells you gain as you go up in AT levels. Also your first few levels of Magus have a better than wiz or sorc BAB. Is there something that is glarring that I am missing?

You're trading off on skills and sneak attack from what the rogue would give you. You're missing out on all of the extra features from the Magus. and the magus features don't supplement the rogue features of the AT.


LazarX wrote:
Gnomezrule wrote:
Any particular reason why the Magus would not work well. Granted you would stop gaining Magus abilities but the ones you have work with the spells you gain as you go up in AT levels. Also your first few levels of Magus have a better than wiz or sorc BAB. Is there something that is glarring that I am missing?
You're trading off on skills and sneak attack from what the rogue would give you. You're missing out on all of the extra features from the Magus. and the magus features don't supplement the rogue features of the AT.

I was thinking Magus/Rogue/Arcane Trickster. I don't think Wizard/Magus gets you there.


Why is Ninja listed as Red? Is it the loss of trapfinding?
You can just Ranger 1 (Trapper) to get that back if very important to concept to have trapfinding.

And you mentioned correctly that PF has no Volley rules, so yes, you get Sneak attack on every Scorching ray attack.
Any DM who doesn't is stuck in 3.5.


Starbuck_II wrote:
Why is Ninja listed as Red? Is it the loss of trapfinding?

You lose ki advancement, and get no evasion.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Can you talk a little bit more about Rogue Talents? I like the ones you mentioned, but I would think that any of the ones that work off of Sneak Attack would be worth a look, particularly Underhanded, Bleeding Attack, or Offensive Defense.


Ninja is red because w/o ki point or level advancement, their abilities are pretty bleh, and rogue has more ability synergy with the optimal entry class, Wizard. Also, rogue enables FAR more archetype options than ninja...

Going back to optimizing the 10th level ability, Stone Call + Bludgeoner feat + Sap Adept and Sap Master feats for the lulz? Combine with Rake rogue to demoralize everyone you hit, too.


pH unbalanced wrote:
Can you talk a little bit more about Rogue Talents? I like the ones you mentioned, but I would think that any of the ones that work off of Sneak Attack would be worth a look, particularly Underhanded, Bleeding Attack, or Offensive Defense.

When I looked over the talents, knowing that you only get one for the rest of your career, Surprise Attack is the one that serves you best to level 20. In the surprise round, no matter who did the surprising or when they went, ALL opponents are considered flat-footed to you. You add sneak damage to any attack, weapon or spell, to any of them. Or, when you hit your capstone, ALL of them. Don't startle a trickster! He might overreact! LOL!

Finesse Rogue only makes the list because it's something you want, anyway. I'd take Surprise Attack every time.


Some look into Archetypes might be a good idea. Also, some people might like for each qualifying class to have its own paragraph, explaining exactly why it got its rating. Like you did for feats and spells.


Oterisk wrote:
Well, I am no longer the only person with a comprehensive prestige class guide. Welcome to the club.

Thanks!

Quote:

That being said, There are two options that I think should be mentioned for the more casty of AT's. Both the Assassin and Master Spy Prestige classes give +1d6 Sneak Attack at level one, and if you qualify for either you can lose one less caster level. It requires a caster first kind of build, but can make sorcerers a better option because you lose less by going that route.

Yes, there are ways to get one more caster level. I only mentioned one, and it's blue. However, you do give up that 2nd level of rogue, which gives you evasion, the ability to sneak attack any way you like in all surprise rounds, a hit point, 8 skill points and +1 BAB. Those are all solid buffs, and an extra caster level may or may not be worth losing them for. It's sweet, but not painless. I call it a toss-up.

Also, Master Spy can't be entered until 8th level, requires 2 feats the trickster has no need for, and other than sneak attack, a single level of the class offers nothing of use to a trickster.

I've been reading your suggestions and adding things, so keep it up!:)


Doing some sort of "two classes that advance sneak attack" + 4 wiz/sorc levels + AT also utterly KILLS your BAB. That's a +2 BAB at your first level in AT (SA class X 1 / SA class Y 1 / Wiz or Sorc 4 / AT 1) at 7th HD. I cannot use caps and bolding enough to describe how utterly horrible that is.

Scarab Sages

If you have decent Dex. and primarily focus on touch attacks, it doesn't matter too much. :P


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I would like to give Ninja a bit more support:

1. Ninja/Sorcerer: You are going to be increasing your charisma anyways so this will also increase your ki pool. A charisma of 36 + 3 level of Ninja means you'll have 14 Ki points... you aren't likely to need more.

2. Ninja Trick Vanish: Swift action and now you are invisible allowing for you to get sneak attack. A much earlier method to get this than the arcane trickster ability and therefore more useful throughout the game.

3. Ninja Trick Pressure Points: Get more work out of those cantrips -- now not only are you getting the 1d3+2d6 but you are also deliverying a point of strength or dexterity damage each time you do it. Now it eats a feat, but when your cantrips do 1d3+2d6+1 str or dex damage each hit without a save throw people aren't going to complain too much about them.

Finally Arcane armor training blue? What are you smoking?

Look at your guide again:

Quote:
You fill in the rogue's place. Let that sink in... If they see you coming, you're doing it wrong.

Exactly -- you should not be wasting a swift action to cast in armor. Instead get yourself some silken ceremonial robes (or one of the other +1 no ASF armors) and get it enhanced -- that's 6 points of armor AC right there and you can get whatever other knickknacks you want on it.

When it comes to weapons I'm going to point out a big one that is much cheaper than other magical weapons and will offer more bang for your buck: Sword of Subtlety. It's a +2 that when you sneak attack is basically a +6 for the cost of only 22,000(ish) gp. That's not a bad deal at all.

Finally for all the rays you are suggesting I'm kind of surprised that point blank shot and precise shot hasn't made the list. I realize we are shooting for touch but taking a -4 penalty to hit and possibly giving the enemy a +4 bonus on their AC isn't high on your to do list when you're attack bonus isn't that great to begin with. I mean it's fine when it's just touch attacks but touch attacks with -4 and +4 to AC sucks.

Sorcerer Bloodline suggestion:

Aberrant: 4 levels nets you a ray attack (not bad low level very meh later) and reach with your melee touch attacks. This part is huge -- consider: What's better? Flanking right beside your target or flanking from 10+ feet away? I'll take the 10+ feet away personally.

Don't forget that rings of invisibility require activation -- still a great item but it is a detail to remember.

Finally Evasion has a price in my opinion: 20,000 gp -- it comes in ring form. I wouldn't go out of my way to get it since I can always get it later as a ring -- it honestly isn't amazing enough to warrant staying in rogue to me, especially if I can go alchemist vivisectionist and get extracts and the ability to use spell trigger items (like wands) for spells on the alchemist extract list as well as great discoveries like wings, and extra arm, fast healing or damage reduction instead.

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