Help me design a "ninja-like" PC with spellcasting


My friend is interested in playing a "ninja" but in his mind this involves magic, not the features of the official ninja alternate class.

He does not want to read through all the Pathfinder rules to design his PC. What advice can we give him?

Here is my idea, a spell-casting knife-thrower raised by pirates...

Start with five levels of Sanctified Slayer Inquisitor. Then do three levels of Swashbuckler. Then resume the Sanctified Slayer Inquisitor.

Traits: Magical Knack, River Rat
Feats: Breadth of Experience, Quick Draw, Divine Protection

His domain could be Tactics (initiative) or Trade (movement) or Feather (animal companion, flight).

His later feats would round out what parts he wants to emphasize. (Boon Companion? Deadly Aim? Power Attack? Insightful Gaze? Improved Monster Lore?)

His character has a lot of Wisdom (spell casting, domain powers, monster lore, initiative) and Charisma (daily Panache pool, bonus to damage, bonus to all saving throws, limited daily use boosts to saving throws and AC, discern lies DC).

Strength and Dexterity are secondary (either can be used for to-hit rolls, one focuses on damage and the other on initiative).

Overall, he is wise, likable, contributes well in and out of combat, has very solid defenses, enjoys both Studied Target and Sneak Attack for "ninja flavor", and can cast invisibility and other "ninja magic" spells.


Is there an early-entry Sorcerer/Something Eldritch Knight that can do the job even better?

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Easiest way to do this would be to let him play a Wayang Shadow Wizard.
The huge bonuses to Stealth from both being Small and having a racial +2 will make him feel very ninja-ish, and high Intelligence gives you a lot of skill points to play around with. He could even multiclass this with the actual Ninja (or Rogue or Slayer or Investigator) class to feel even more Ninja-ish.

If you can convince him to go with arcane casting, the Arcane Trickster prestige class advances spellcasting and gives sneak attack.

Have you looked at the Stygian Slayer?

Empyreal Bloodline Sorcerer lets you use Wisdom for casting if you want...

Sanctified Slayer inquisitor was my immediate thought as well; I think you're on a good path there. Inquisitors get all the right spells you'd want, and aren't too complicated to play, since they have spontaneous casting, so your options are limited to things you know will be useful.

A one level dip in the actual ninja class wouldn't be a bad way to start, just because you get sneak attack a lot earlier that way, as well as poison use, which is very thematic.

I can think of a couple options for what your friend wants...

You could play an actual ninja and take the rogue's magic talents with your ninja tricks. It doesn't give a LOT of magic, but it does fall within the range of his concept. Ki powers can emulate spells, too, like vanishing trick.

You could play an arcane trickster. I have been wanting to try this using a blade adept arcanist and vivisectionist alchemist. It would take vivi3/arcanist4 before you get into trickster, but it will net you an alchemist discovery and a sentient blackblade that levels with your entire character level rather than your class le vel if you take the eldrich blade exploit.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Probably one of the many archetypes of bard could do it.

I have a character who is a "ninja" in the style of Naruto - flashy magic, lots of special powers, doesn't really use his weapons much.

He's a 14th level wizard.

You could also just make him a Magus. They can use, say, a wakizashi or a katana, and then use magic spells, flavored as ninja magic.

I'd second the Magus, perhaps the Eldritch Scion archetype.

I'm a big fan of the Dark Tapestry Oracle Mystery. You get some really debilitating spells, you get an armor effect that boosts your stealth, and you're a full caster class. Halflings make great ones and they get a huge bonus to their stealth skill from being small. The heavens mystery has a little less sneakiness, but being able to color spray high level opponents thanks to awesome display is pretty ninja.

What does he see as ninja magic?

I like the idea of the trickery (deception) subdomain for the whole leaving logs behind him when he dodges an attack thing. Even if you try get it just through the Believer's Boon feat I think it'd be flavourful and cool.

Take away ki powers, give him bard casting.

A dervish dancing magus with the appropriate skills and magic could probably do this pretty well. The eldritch scion archetype to allow for spontaneous casting would probably make it even more fun.

Reflavor the scimitar as a katana. Or you could use slashing grace to get dex to damage. The difficult thing is finding a weapon that you can use weapon finesse and dex to damage on, and thats why the scimitar is a go to.

Yeah...I think magus is the right level of swordplay and magic for you friend.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far.

Do you know what he means by "ninja magic"? Because to me, ninjas are completely non-magical, but if he considers them magical it might help to have an idea of what kind of magic that is.

What levels is your player working with, and what type of "ninja" are we talking about? With the addition of magic are you speaking more in terms of "anime ninjas"? Also what type of weapons is he interested in using?

Primal hunter with or with out the pet. This also gives limited bard like divine casting. Pick small race then grab the shadow blending evos plus the +8 skill evo.

If wall climbing is important to him (I do not know), the Vanara race has a climb speed.

But that would not work well with my original idea, because of the Vanaran penalty to Charisma. (For a plain Sanctified Slayer Inquisitor without the Swashbuckler dip it could be groovy.)


I noticed that the Inquisitor spell list lacks some of what are probably considered the most "ninja-like" spells such as Vanish, Blur, and Mirror Image.

But it does have quite enough.

First Level - Disguise Self, Divine Favor, Expeditious Retreat, Magic Weapon, Returning Weapon, Shield of Faith, True Strike, Vocal Alteration

Second Level - Acute Senses, Bloodhound, Darkness, Death Candle, Death Knell, Detect Thoughts, Enshroud Thoughts, Escaping Ward, Find Traps, Follow Aura, Ghostly Disguise, Hold Person, Invisibility, Knock, Perceive Cues, See Invisibility, Silence, Undetectable Alignment, Whispering Wind

You know, the more I think about it the more I think if it was me building it I'd go with a Divine / Primal Companion Hunter, and just with or without the pet as Onyxlion was saying.

Trickery (deception) Domain gets you disguise self, mirror image, nondetection. It's domain powers kick ass for similarly tricksy shenanigans with an easyflank teleport and Veil.

The wild empathy/animal charming powers/hide from animals to bypass guard dogs and similar, things like negate aroma to avoid being followed or protective spirit to get out of danger or maneuver around the battlefield, tracking class feature combined with bloodhound to find your mark, spells like jump and spider climb for getting in places you shouldn't, blend and chameleon stride in place of invisibility, spells that can cause poison and ability damage, as well as summoning distracting rains of frogs or monkey swarms.

All potentially backed up with the versatility or damage that evolutions can bring.
In fact the only thing I'm not seeing here is some kind of bursty damage buff source, like sneak attack or bane would be. Closest I can see is lead blades, which is admittedly a nice spell.

The PC I'm playing right now has a very ninja-like feel to him, but is much less dependent on spells. Zen Archer Monk/Empyreal Sorcerer. I mostly just use the sorcerer spells for Gravity Bow and Mage Armor, but if you take more levels of sorcerer, it could be more mage-like. ZAM/Inquisitor would be good too. I might have to try to talk myself out of taking a level or two of that as well.

A couple things that make this more ninja-like are my traits. Magical Knack (+2 CL) and Wisdom in the Flesh (sub WIS mod for STR or DEX for any skill). You could choose Acrobatics and boost it while being less MAD. I also took the Monkey Style and Monkey Moves feats. Monkey moves lets you climb at half your speed and Monks have great speed anyway. I also chose the Tattooed Sorcerer variant and got the monkey familiar. It gives a boost to Acrobatics as well. If you want to get real good at climbing and can go Mythic, you can get the Climbing Master and Impossible Speed Mythic Path Abilities as well. Who doesn't want a climb speed of 80-100?

He has the speed, climbing ability, and acrobatics of a ninja plus the great AC and unarmed strike abilities in addition to being a great archer. I always picture him moving like the characters from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

1: Starting level? Expected end level?

2: What does he mean by Ninja?

The Greensting Slayer is a magus archetype that gains sneak attack in a way and some very rogue like abilities.

I made a rogue/magus/arcane trickster that seems right up your alley--with the new content itd likely work better as slayer/magus/arcane trickster.

If he wants to a magical stealth based character then maybe an Archeologist bard is what he should look at. They do not get sneak attack but they have some very good spells that fit the ninja magic theme. Many of their spells deal with avoiding detection, illusion, enchantments and movement all things a magical ninja should be able to do. Between archeologist luck and heroism they are decent in combat. The also get rogue talents so that means you can get things like fast stealth. Someone able to turn invisible and move at 60’ per round is hard to catch. Throw in spells like nondetection and dimension door and they can infiltrate anywhere. Alter self allows them to change into other people. He also will have one of the best perception rolls in the game. Archeologists get a straight bonus to perception not the limited one rogues get.

This assumes he wants to focus more on the magical aspect than combat. If he wants to be a combat focused ninja with more limited magic an inquisitor is probably better. While the get some of the same spells many of them are focused more on investigation and have a more religious feel.

AndIMustMask wrote:
I made a rogue/magus/arcane trickster that seems right up your alley--with the new content itd likely work better as slayer/magus/arcane trickster.

Slayer/Magus/Trickster would take a whopping 6 levels of slayer and 4 levels of magus. That means you're not getting into AT until level 11. Waiting until 7th level with your standard wiz3/rogue3 is already hard enough.

Thanks again.

Since we don't know precisely what seems "ninja-ish" to him, nor how high level the campaign will reach, we're probably done.

Feel free to keep brainstorming. Also consider this a congratulatory fist bump and we can be done.

I have sent him and e-mail with a link to this forum thread.

If anyone has time to write up what their favored concept looks like at seventh level, that might be persuasive to him. He has done enough D&D and early (fewer books) Pathfinder to know how to read a character sheet well.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
DocShock wrote:
I'm a big fan of the Dark Tapestry Oracle Mystery. You get some really debilitating spells, you get an armor effect that boosts your stealth, and you're a full caster class. Halflings make great ones and they get a huge bonus to their stealth skill from being small. The heavens mystery has a little less sneakiness, but being able to color spray high level opponents thanks to awesome display is pretty ninja.

I'm going to second the Oracle, especially with deafness. Go silent, and still spellcast.


Here is another idea to focus more on spell casting, adapting the suggestion to use Magus. Focus on Charisma and Strength.

For his traits, use Armor Master and Magical Knack.

His first level feat is Noble Scion of War to use his Charisma modifier for initiative.

Start with four levels of Eldrich Scion Magus.

This provides Charisma-based spontaneous casting off the Magus spell list, a sufficient Eldrich Pool that doubles as an Arcane Pool, and the ability to start every combat benefiting from a thematic effect (blur, protection from arrows, resist energy, or spider climb). It retains Spellstrike and most of Spell Combat.

His third level Magus Arcana should be Flamboyant Arcana, and his level three feat is Extra Arcana to get Arcane Deed for the Swashbuckler deed "Precise Strike". Now he adds his Charisma bonus to damage!

At fifth level, enjoy the Divine Protection feat and take a single level dip of Divine Strategist Cleric with the Trickery domain. He can always act in a surprise round, gets disguise self daily, and Mirror Image as a spell-like ability. The new first-level Cleric spell weapon wand can fuse a wand of true strike or shocking grasp with his weapon, to reduce spell casting without investing in more Magus Arcana options.

At sixth level switch to Mystic Theurge using the early entry divine option through the Trickery Domain.

Now his Charisma modifier is helping his damage, initiative, all saving throws, Magus spell casting, and his Eldrich Pool. He needs Strength to hit and do yet more damage.

(Dexterity and Constitution help his defenses, but he is soon wearing a Mithril Breastplate and following the Barbarian's philosophy of "do so much damage they die first". Wisdom is not very important if he only uses his Cleric spells to buff and heal. Intelligence is not his strong point.)

True, he lacks enough Magus levels to take the very appropriate Arcana choice Broad Study to use his Cleric spells with Spell Combat and Spellstrike. But his Cleric spells still buff him well, to improve his admittedly dreadful BAB. He can always go back for two more Magus levels if he really wants that Arcana.

Couple of notes:

1. Precise Strike adds Swashbuckler (turned Magus) level to damage, not Cha bonus. +4 damage for an Arcana, with an option to turn it to +8 by burning a point, isn't bad, but with a four level dip don't expect it to be awesome like Cha-to-damage could turn out to be.

2. The wand thing doesn't actually help. You still need the Wand Wielder arcana to make use of wands with Spell Combat.

3. Mithril Breastplate gives you a chance for arcane spell failure-- 15%. The Magus can only cast spells in light armor out to level 4 without incurring ASF. At level 7 they can do that in medium, but since you're only looking at four levels...

Really... I'm not sure what Cleric and Theurge are giving you here. By passing over Broad Study you're not doing a lot to make a second casting class worthwhile. Cleric buff spells can help the weak BAB... but it's only weak because of the Theurge being a 1/2 BAB instead of 3/4. Magus has a good BAB and can self-buff via the Arcane Pool (by boosting weapons or Arcane Accuracy). Divine Strategist has some admittedly nice perks, but the way I'm seeing is that you're trading a casting level for spells that are hard to use, a pocket Mirror Images, and then again trading away a handful of useful Magus abilities for... more spells that are hard to use.

Really, it seems like straight Kensai is more what you're looking for:

-Free up a trait by not having to take Cha-to-Init, since you have room for a decent to good Dex score. Use that trait on something that makes Stealth a class skill, perhaps.
-Trade out your 5th level feat for Spell Blending. Put Disguise Self and another first-level spell (Mage Armor's a nice default) on your list.
-Pick up the actual Mirror Images spell instead of the 3-a-day version from the Cleric. Magus actually has a lot of ninja-flavored spells, from the whole Invisibility tree to blastyness (if his idea of 'ninja magic' is Naruto-style, Shocking Grasp = Chidori. He can pretend to be Sasuke).
-Since you'd be going straight Kensai, Precise Strike gives level-to-damage. You can either take a Finessable weapon (Wakizashi has good flavor and capability) and leave your strength at mediocre (keeping in mind that Precise Strike is still a super Power Attack if you're taking a decent number of Magus levels), giving you only two necessary stats (Dex/Int), or you finish the package and take Slashing Grace. Personally, I'd leave it at Precise Strike, as to me that makes going dex-to-damage unnecessary (especially since, as a combat caster, the Kensai has other ways to augment damage).
-You lose the ability to always act in a surprise round for a good while, but get it at level 13... along with other abilities in that vein like Int-to-Init, and eventually immunity to being surprised and automatic natural 20s to Init.

Really, the only thing that turns the Kensai off of being ninja-esque is the class skills, and traits can adjust those.

Good points. Not sure how I misread Precise Strike this whole time.

Check out the profile for this character. It's a WIS/CHA based Oracle headed toward Zen Archer. He's only level 1, but as long as the build gets at least 3 levels of ZAM, he starts to be viable.

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