First off I want to thank A highly regarded expert for his guide and the inspiration to do my own. I do not agree with him on some points but lots of props to him for making one in the first place and for suggesting to me that I should do my own.
Secondly mine is still a work in progress. I intend to continue progressing on it of course but it is currently not complete. If you see something you think I missed, or that you disagree with by all means tell me. You can leave a comment on the document itself or here. If you leave it here I'll probably see it sooner however.
So without further ado, Abraham Spalding's Guide to the Arcane Trickster.
In advance thank you for your time, comments, concerns, and criticisms.
will you evaluate all the ninja tricks, discoveries and rogue talents?
Soundstriker might still be worth it. You can still hit arcane trickster at 9th level I think, and, more awesomely, you'll be making 6 ranged touch attacks a round for the cost of 1 point of bardic performance.
Are other 9th level arcane tricksters doing ~18d6+6*mCha of damage a round at level 9 for very low resources spent?
Updated spells up through 3rd level.
@Nicos -- I might -- there are a lot of such things out there -- for now I'm going to concentrate on pointing out the best options instead of all options.
@Cheapy -- I do agree that it could still be worth it, but it's going to be very spread out and really depend on the player. As such I'll leave it orange/green for now noting that it can be a nice option for those that want it but not really top notch overall. IF it could be combined with sandman I would really consider bluing them both.
Looks pretty good. Making it all the same font and size would be good, and it looks like some of your blues aren't all the same color blue. If it is intentional, I would put up a rating system up so people know where each of the colors stand in your opinion.
I haven't done a ton of research into Arcane Trickster, so I can't really give you much of an opinion of your ratings, but I believe you hit all of the important stuff someone needs to know before they go for it.
Yup I just went through and updated the formatting and got it all on the same page and track using google documents. I wasn't completely sure when I started it last night that I would actually carry through with it so I did it in Microsoft Word to begin with. That will teach me to use two document programs on the same document when working on them.
Very good guide. Odd that you didn't list Invisibility, but had Vanish and Greater in there. Invisibility seems like the most useful of the whole lot for lasting min/level (and is super cheap to extend via lesser rod) to enable scouting well.
For archetypes, don't forget Rake Rogue. Drop SA damage by 1d6 to intimidate foes; nice as an option, especially once you have area spells doing SA damage, though also with volley spells like Scorching Ray. It really is tough to choose between Rake or Thug. Viv. Mindchemist Internal Alchemist is still my favorite "rogue" entry method, though.
Also, Stone Call is good even before AT 10. 2d6 no save or SR in a 40 ft radius and makes difficult terrain is quite nice for a level 2 even w/o the SA. :)
It's probably not worth the feats, but I do still like the idea of Shatter Defenses + Sap Adept and Master + Bludgeoner + Stone Call at high levels. "Rocks fall, everyone goes unconscious from nonlethal damage!" just has a nice ring to it.
Thank you Stream, I had meant to include the rake rogue and forgot about it with everything going on.
Other feats I intend to mention (when I get back to feats) include improved and greater feint as well as shatter defenses.
Unfortunately I don't think stone call works with sap adept/master and bludgeoner the way you are suggesting (though it would be awesome if it does). The reason being is that all three of those feats specifically call out bludgeoning weapons. IF the spell was an attack roll spell I would agree with you on it, but as it is it doesn't and isn't.
However you did remind me of combining Enforcer with the merciful spell metamagic feat in order to intimidate large groups with spells.
My only problem with stone call at earlier levels is that it lags overall in damage -- when you are only getting those few spells you want each one to be a real bang. Stone call is great for straight wizards at lower levels since they can afford a spell slot to do minor damage and slow the enemy -- for an AT I'm expecting a bit more from my blasting/battlefield control combination spells at that point however. Especially if the difficult terrain has the potential to slow my own team down too.
Enforcer specicies using a melee weapon, it's even less RAW-viable to use with an area spell than Sap Master would be.
What is considered a weapon can be debated. That a cone or blast or whatnot is not a "melee weapon" is basically beyond reproach.
Think more on Rake vs. Thug... Thug you mostly want for the Sickened option which you get at 3, and Rake you mostly want for the demoralizing, which you get at 1. Sickened IME will work on more foes than shaken, and no skill roll is required to make it stick, so it's the better option. So I think as a general rule, if doing Rogue 1 / Assassin 1 / caster 4, do Rake; if doing Rogue 3 / caster 3, do Thug.
On the feat section:
Also, you can grad Reach spell to turn any of your melee touch spells into rays.
Unless I'm mistaken, Reaching Chill Touch gives you a number of "charges" which you can fire equal to your caster level. What's more, once your BAB hits 6, you can fire 2 rays in one turn.
Abe, I gotta tell you: AHRE and you have really changed my opinion of the AT. I think it really takes both of your guides to really flesh it out but I am definitely considering rolling an AT for PFS. I'm NOT, mind you, since I haven't played in this area (or, for that matter, PFS at all) but the AT really is the spellcasty-rogue that I've always wanted to play but I didn't since I didn't realize (see my post under AHRE's guide) that you got sneak attack damage on spells that require attack rolls.
Anyway, thank you both.
Glad to help -- If you look under my alias I have one called Salis Clement that is a rogue sorcerer that you might like as well. I plan to incorporate some of the stuff I've seen with him on my next update as well.
So for that update I have:
Abraham spalding wrote:
(honestly I simply hadn't really gotten to them yet).
NO. YOU HAVE TO HAVE EVERYTHING DONE NOW.
But seriously, this is really nice. A great second perspective to AHRE's guide (which was also very helpful). Wish I had something more constructive to say, but I suppose that's why I'm reading guides and not writing them. ;)
I feel like I ask this question a lot in these guides. Have you looked Inner sea magic guide? The guild option is really good for prestige classes and multi class options that lose a few caster levels.
I don't remember the names of the abilities, but for 5 fame you gain +1 to caster level spells and all. All this easily achieved by level 2
At 40 fame(10-15 level depending on your game) you gain +3 caster level spells and all and +1 caster level to another class.
These option change a number of prestige classes completely: Dragon Disciple,Eldritch knight, mystic theurge, and arcane trickster.
The guild abilites name is Eclectic Training. Inner Sea Magic p.22
I don't have that book, so I won't be addressing it. But, as I (and now Abe,) have demonstrated, there are so many possible ways to go, a thoroughly comprehensive guide to a PrC that has about 60 ways to just qualify, let alone operate, gets really long really fast.
@ Abraham Spalding: Kudos, Abe! In the space of a week, we've gone from no guide for the AT, to two that each cover different ground. I hope everybody with any interest in the class reads them both and sees that the AT is truly more than meets the eye.
I'll be linking his document to mine very soon. It has lots of things I didn't even mention.
I've been trying to build a Rogue / Sorcerer (Fey Bloodline) as the base for Arcane Trickster lately. While I love the idea of a Fey Sorcerer, the class just doesn't get many of the good spells or abilities until after Level 9. Is there a way around that (besides Robes of Arcane Heritage)?
First off, sorry for being so long winded, I just wanted to help with some real life play experience. Also, thanks to both guide writers for the Arcane Trickster - A Highly Regarded Expert's and Abraham Spalding's. Without your guides I probably never would have played this just awesomely fun class. I will be commenting on both guides, as I honestly think of your guides as a collective of thoughts, and feel both bring some valuable insights to the table that work better when taken together. I mean no disrespect by doing it this way, it just seemed to make the most sense.
Being someone who has played 2 tricksters now through mid-levelish I'd like to give my 2 cents on a few things, and a few small oversights that I feel have been made. I am not an expert, but have a pretty good idea at this point in what works. First I'd like to start with a few general ideas I've found.
1) Neither guide mentions the importance of darkvision. In darkness, your opponents gain concealment without darkvision, which means either you have to be seen(have or be in light) or you suffer miss chance and don't gain sneak attack. Of course this can be circumvented with shadowstrike or goggles, but it will make your life hell until you get one of those two things. Personally, I don't think I'd ever make a trickster without these things. I know some groups focus less on lighting conditions than others, but I play a fair amount online, where these things are easier to track and very often come up.
2) I personally feel that blasting is the best (and most fun) combat trick of the trickster. I know that weapon finesse+touch attacks is good, but I think every trickster should highly consider point blank shot+precise shot. Improved precise shot is probably a waste though. You can often position yourself so your enemy won't have cover, unlike an archer who is stuck to 5 foot steps or they become inefficient. You are also usually targeting touch+flat footed, so by the time improved precise shot becomes available, it pretty rare your missing even on a 2. At those early levels though, you'll miss a lot without precise shot.
3) I feel skills are king to a trickster. I have seen some argument over giving up a handful of skill points. To me that handful is felt pretty hard, early on and throughout ones career. For that reason, I prefer Int based rogue/wizard over all options.
4) I would sport 0% spellcaster armor. Only if it wasn't available would I consider using arcane armor training. Which I probably would, because the shadow armor enhancement is so powerful.
5) Skill Focus Stealth & Hellcats Stealth - Hide in Plain sight/bright light/ and while being observed. Of course you have spells, but if you don't need spells, save them.
Now a brief over view on my tricksters.
The first one is one I'm actually playing in PFS, a Tiefling wizard/rogue. First thing, Tiefling makes such a good trickster it is insane. This can be so good it almost makes up for not having vanishing trick. The Tiefling is excellent for a few reasons:
My take on the wizard is, go divination wizard. In one guide it says that taking the rogue talent that makes all opponents flat-footed in the surprise round is the best talent. While I disagree with that statement, I certainly understand the value in it and think its a great talent. The problem is, if you don't act in the surprise round, its benefit is lost. And a poor perception chance, or not even getting the ability to act in the surprise round completely negates it. So why not always act. I am also sporting a magnificent +17 to initiative, so chances are REALLY good not only I go before everyone, but that I will act twice before some people act once, getting lots of SA damage. There for, this one little ability actually FREES up a rogue talent. Forewarned is excellent at every level, and there are always enough good divination spells to fill your list with and be the ultimate scout. I admit, evocation(admixture) is very tempting, but the small bonus to damage is not very helpful. The ability to change elements is huge, but is equal to a rather cheap metamagic rod, and is neigh worthless at the lower levels. If I started at a high level, I'd be more inclined to consider evocation as it will start to see more and more use.
For the Rogue, I used my trick for an extra combat feat - to pick up precise shot. I did not take weapon finesse with this character and just blasted away. Now my archetype is where it gets interesting, and is something I believe was a highly over looked, very fun archetype - the cutpurse! While, probably not as strong at the thug, it is both more thematic, and seems more fun - why? 2 reasons:
So far I have played this character with 8 different GM's and all seem to think this little trick can be used together, and so do I. I bring a little write up and this and ask before employing it. Of course, some GM's grant extra penalties to my sleight of hand, but I still have a really high +25. I also use this for my day job rolls and have a bonus for joining the thieves guild, so I double win! This can really help alter a battle, especially if they let me nab a holy symbol or spell component pouch (which some do and some don't).
My 2nd trickster is a Halfling sorcerer/ninja made for an AP. He works really well, being small is really useful and he's got bonuses in all the right places. Nothing out of the ordinary special for this race though, its just a solid choice.
I was going to make the 2nd one a Vivetionist/Wizard - but the GM wasn't down with it. In retrospect, I'm glad it happened this way so I could fully experience both.
A fun trick only a trickster can really enjoy:
So, in conclusion, both ways are doable. While vanishing trick & sorcerer are great, I do think wizard is the way to go. I also think Rogue is probably better than alchemist for entry. What make a trickster, is his ability to do everything. Being that much better at skills helps more than you can imagine at lower levels. Also, evasion is really useful. A lot of the only things that hit me are blasts, and unfortunately, tricksters don't have a lot in the way of hp's, or way to heal hp's. Its also likely that you may end up split from a party a few times when you draw that agro on to yourself. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my input! Thanks again for the wonderful guides.
Thanks for the practical experience, it will help me flesh out my build :-)
Could you maybe post your characters? I am particularly interested in how you got a +17 on initiative... :-)
Alright, I'll do them in 2 parts for the sake of time. At your request on init, I will start with the Wizard/Rogue for PFS:
Do - Tiefling Wizard (Divination) 3/Rogue (Cutpurse 3)/Arcane Trickster 3
Racial Switch Outs:
Equipment: (I'm not listing everything)
I do have a lot of loot, but I took Qadiran faction, and got the boon asap (-10% to one purchase per session) and played up a lot, so have more money than is normal.
Common Spells to have
Starting From Level 2 I became a sneak blaster. I used acid splash for a long time as my only real spell (until level 6). I was the party scout, and would always try and get the ambush and SA. After that it was a run and hide game. I'm not a frontliner, so need to be strategic, especially in PFS where you can't rely on your allies so much. Getting 2nd level spells gave me my first blasts, which I took fiery shuriken with to win.
When I can, and enemies can read, I prefer to start the combat scouting, and placing down an explosive ruin. When they blow themselves up, it initiates a surprise round, where I blast and hopefully steal something(I have positioned myself to hit the best target, i.e. a caster, with this attack) that helps shut him down. Hopefully, I act before everyone again, where I make the tactical decision to A) Run! or B) Blast again and then run! And by run I could mean stealth, withdraw, or chug a potion of invisibility depending on the opponent and situation. You need to remain flexible. Still, at this point you have a lot of Agro, and you are a squishy. This is the reason I feel evasion is really worthwhile. Most my hits will come from AOEs, because usually my allies are moving up to block the enemy at this point, and I can run back and show them the caster has lost his spell component pouch, so now its their turn.
I will actually participate again in combat, but often its unnecessary and I want to let them shine. Usually, once I am safe again, I move into a position where I can jump back in if there is a reason for it. With weaker parties I do a hellcat's stealth+blast combo more repeatedly. It is very party dependent.
Outside of combat, I'm one of the most useful characters the party could have, and am often completing faction missions for people.
I'm trying to play him a lot right now, because my main group is about to start eyes of the ten and the high tier stuff. I really want to play this character up to 16/17 (I alternate GMing with another guy, so not sure which level I'll make it too) because I think he will shine more and more. While he is painful at lower levels, its not as painful as you may think. Of course, if you have to hit for massive damage all the time, then it probably is.
Anyway, I hope this helped. Its a run down on my wizard/rogue/trickster. I will get to the sorcerer, I'm just not sure when. If you have any questions, comments or ideas I'd like to hear them.
Thank you for that info - it will help me with my AT :-)
Regrettably I have to do a very different build since we play core races only and most likely are limited to Core+APG, but still... That cutpurse trick is really cool, I had not looked at ranged lengerdemain as a combat option :-D
Yup, but you still have some good options.
A) Elf - personally, I wouldn't choose elf, but I kinda just don't like elves. While on paper they are perhaps the strongest option, I believe there are others equally as strong. While not having the bonus to dex hurts, these other options don't hurt your con, and have...more thematic additions.
B) Human - Ya Humans are good at everything! Makes me sick! Extra Skills (and trust me, you get a ton, but you will not complain about more) and a feat. The no special vision really in my opinion hurts. But, as said earlier, it depends a LOT on how much vision comes up in your games. I've played whole games where the rules never come up, and I play in some now where they are always present. Of course, with the feat you could take shadow strike, though it doesn't negate the 20% or 50% concealment from darkness.
C) Half-elf - Now- this one will take a little begging on your part, but I think this is actually my favorite route to go. By your GM some beers before asking him. For this to function, you HAVE to get Drow-Blooded racial trait from the ARG. That gives you darkvision, but you get Light Blindness as well. That is pretty rough, so if your DM is vindictive, I might not take this route, but in a normal game the blindness will only come up a handful of times, and dazzled really isn't that bad, especially when targeting flat-footed/touch. Most the game should be in the dark anyway. Skill Focus: Stealth gets you half way to Hellcat's Stealth. +2 perception is nice and multi-talented will throw a few extra HP's on you. Altogether a nice option, with a weakness that is very thematic for a trickster.
D) Half-Orc - The only real other option IMHO is the Half-orc. He starts with Darkvision, which puts him on track with the human IMO. I like trading the intimidate bonus for Endurance or +1 acrobatics & climb, and Orc Ferocity for a boost to saves. I'd also trade out weapon familiarity with city raised for the +2 to Knowledge: (Local), and whip proficiency which seems like a decent weapon choice for a weapon finesse trickster.
All in all it should still be doable. I do think you may wish to look closer at the alchemist though. The extra limb can hold a potion for you. Unfortunately it doesn't give you the ability to draw items faster, so its less useful than a tail. I think I'd still stick Rogue, but it a slightly stronger option for an all core race game.
Thanks, Sniper goggles are probably my next purchase. I still have a feat to pick this level and don't have a magic trait. That just moved up my list.
Sorry for the delay - here is my Charisma trickster.
Rajlyn - Halfling Sorcerer(orc bloodline) 4/Ninja 3
Racial Switch Outs:
Equipment: (I'm not listing everything)
Important Skills(This skill list is truly pathetic opposed to the smart trickster, of course, compared to most characters its still awesome. Even with the 2 level difference, you can tell he lacks far behind, but his social skills are much stronger, which is nice for the social situations. I have a feeling they won't stay too far ahead though, as I don't forsee having the skill points to put any more into them in the future, where the smart trickster may have some points here and there.):
Started off as a Ninja - first level was like one.
At level 4 he was rocking 5d6+5 with shocking grasps, or 3d6+3 (and str. damage) with 3 chill touches. I'll also save resources by just hiding an entire battle and hitting people with touch of rage. Keeps me nice and safe and all my (important) resources intact.
Now he's built up to Fiery Shuriken, so I can nuke a few targets at a time, though unless mooks, they hardly feel it at this level. Start getting my first trickster level next level. Overall, this character was less painful at the very low levels, but he can also do much less. I contribute the lack of pain to a full things:
Anyway, that was the other character. Sorry it took so long to get posted. Hope it helps.
I would just like to point out one thing about the Aberrant Bloodline for Sorc ATs. That is how their Long Limbs actually works.
"Long Limbs (Ex): At 3rd level, your reach increases by 5 feet whenever you are making a melee touch attack. This ability does not otherwise increase your threatened area."
"Flanking: When making a melee attack, you get a +2 flanking bonus if your opponent is threatened by another enemy character or creature on its opposite border or opposite corner.
I had been all excited for the idea of flanking from outside melee, but then I actually read it. As it reads, it only applies to melee touch attacks, and it does not increase your threatened area. Without the increased threatened area, you cannot provide flanking.
If I am mistaken in this, I apologize. But from what I am seeing, that is how I believe it goes.
You are right about the threatened area. Still does not change that you do not need to be adjacent to deliver touch spells :-)I think lunge also is possible at higher levels to extend further, though I didn't check the text.
I'd consider getting long limbs through eldritch heritage :-)
I was wondering what peoples thoughts are on Ratfolk ATs?
Scent: Some ratfolk have much more strongly developed senses of smell, instead of keen eyes and ears. These ratfolk have the scent ability, but take a –2 penalty on all Perception checks based primarily on sight or hearing. This racial trait replaces tinker.
Is Scent worth it for a Scout?
Black Lotus wrote:
Not worth it.
That is known as the thassilonian specialist -- and honestly just look at the other schools and subschools to see which you like the most.
I recommend not banning necromancy if you can avoid it -- generally it has some of the highest damage spells in the late game.
You are probably going to want evocation and conjuration as well -- early game these cover your rays and explosions and you don't want to do without those touch attacks either.
Enchantment is the easiest to give up... beyond that it's your call for how you play.
Yup it's a hard choice.
My choices would be:
Greed is probably how I would go. If not sloth.