How to build a 2nd-level rogue?


Advice


Hello all,

I am new to the game and am about to take one of Miersiel's many identical cousins to the second level, so I must decide how to allocate my feats, rogue talents, and money.

These might be long-running debates already, but I am wondering:

1) What is most likely to kill me? Low hit points, low AC, or low saving throws? (If the latter, which one(s)?)

2) How often will I actually encounter traps or other situations that a rogue should specialize in? I seem to make Perception checks all the time. Should I thus get the "trap-spotting" talent that checks automatically?

3) Should I focus on melee, archery, or skills? (TWF looks handy for the former, but it carries a -2 attack penalty, and I haven't had that many full-round attacks yet.) Getting close to do sneak attacks does more damage, but it also puts me at greater risk than if I stayed at a distance and fired into fights with Precise Shot if/when I get it.

4) Rather than a longsword/rapier, is getting an elven curved blade worth spending two feats (Martial Proficiency and Weapons Finesse) for?

5) What is more important for a low-level rogue (melee or ranged): +1 to attack, or +1 to damage?

Many thanks,

Marcella


1) You can be killed by any of the 3.
low AC can lead directly to low hp killing you. The save you will be most concerned with, usually is Will as failing a will save can be disastrous at higher levels.

2) You will encounter traps but I'd invest the rogue talents in other things. Any GM worth anything will let you make a perception check to find a trap if you say you are advancing while searching for traps.

3) I'm not a big fan of rogue archers, rogues generally lead the party while searching for traps so they are in a bad position for archery when the fighting starts, and you should definitely get some skills. TWF can work, the trick is to work with other melee party members to get into flanking positions then a rapier and short sword, for instance, can both deal 2d6 on a hit.

4) Entirely up to you but I don't think so.

5) If you don't hit then no amount of bonus to damage will ever come into play.

Silver Crusade

1. Low hit points give you little resilience. Most people advise a constitution of at least 14. (Merisiel is an elf. 12 might be all you can afford.) Low AC means you should avoid being attacked, if at all possible.

If you fail a Fort save, you might die. If you fail a Reflex save, you will take some damage. If you fail a Will save, you might attack your party. As a rogue, evasion is a very important ability, and you will have the reflex save to really help it.

2. Traps are common in PFS. Some are just lose a few hit points, and evasion might help. Others are really nasty. I really love trap spotter, and it will save you if you don't carefully check your surroundings.

3. TWF is great if you get your sneak attacks a lot. Without sneak, rogues rarely do a lot of damage. Archery is difficult for a rogue. You don't get all that many feats, and 3/4 BAB limits your iterative attacks. I would work on finding ways to make sneak attack work for you.

4. Sneak attack makes more attacks more valuable. Spending 2 feats to make sneak and TWF work might be better than the elven curved blade. I would go that way. You might want the trait for knife fighter, and use two daggers. Also, because of the threat range, I would use rapier. Just find a way to get sneak attack. (I keep repeating myself, don't I?)

5. +1 to hit. Make those sneak attacks provide the damage.

Hope this helps!


DesolateHarmony,

So, how can I counter a Con of only 12? Should I switch it with my Str 14, use up a feat on Toughness, or wait for the right magic item?

> If you fail a Fort save, you might die. If you fail a Reflex save, you will take some damage. If you fail a Will save, you might attack your party. As a rogue, evasion is a very important ability, and you will have the reflex save to really help it.

Which of the 3 should I focus upon, if any?

> 4. ... You might want the trait for knife fighter, and use two daggers. Also, because of the threat range, I would use rapier. ...

Where can I learn about the various traits available? They aren't in my Core(?) rulebook.

Thanks for the help!

Sczarni

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Marcella wrote:
1) What is most likely to kill me? Low hit points, low AC, or low saving throws?

All three should be increased at roughly the same rate.

A few scenarios have "hit point checks", a mechanic or monster that deals a large amount of damage in one burst, but that otherwise can be taken care of afterwards. As long as you can survive that burst, all you have to worry about are crits by a x3 weapon.

Have at least a 12 or 14 Con. Toughness is good at higher levels. Favored Class Bonuses being spent on HP are worthwhile, since Rogues already have so many skill points.

AC wasn't a problem for my Rogue. I think he could get up to a 40 AC by level 15 with Celestial Armor, a 26 Dex, Offensive Defense, and an assortment of AC items.

And your saves are *never* high enough, Lol.

Marcella wrote:
2) How often will I actually encounter traps or other situations that a rogue should specialize in? I seem to make Perception checks all the time. Should I thus get the "trap-spotting" talent that checks automatically?

I highly recommend Trap Spotter, for two reasons.

One: checking for traps without Trap Spotter is a move action, and rarely something ppl do during combat. Having Trap Spotter lets you know there's a pit trap in the middle of a melee. Also, eventually, according to Murphy's Law, the first intersection/door/stair/chest/lock/whatever that you *don't* check for traps, will be trapped.

Two: what's the first thing other players ask when they find out you're a Rogue? "Do you have Trap Spotter?" Your party members recognize reason #1 why you should have it, and they will breathe a sigh of relief when you tell them you do.

Marcella wrote:
3) Should I focus on melee, archery, or skills?

Melee and skills are usually their stronger avenues, but reading scrolls of Greater Invisibility after taking the Snap Shot line of feats is devastating. Play what *you* want to play, and as long as you enjoy it then that was your best choice.

Personally, I specialized in natural attacks. Having Claw/Claw/Bite, without the penalties that TWF Rogues have, made hitting much easier. But if you're designing based on Merisiel, natural attacks aren't her thing.

Marcella wrote:
4) Rather than a longsword/rapier, is getting an elven curved blade worth spending two feats (Martial Proficiency and Weapons Finesse) for?

Could definitely be fun with Spring Attack.

Position yourself for a flank every time, stay out of harm's way, have one good hit for critters immune to your Sneak Attack, and it's an iconic Elven weapon.

Marcella wrote:
5) What is more important for a low-level rogue (melee or ranged): +1 to attack, or +1 to damage?

+1 to-hit, regardless of level.

Silver Crusade

The Guide to Organized Play is a free download, and the basic rules to the campaign. You need to have this, and I suggest really read it. There are several traits for each faction in it.

The PFRPG resources has some good tools. On the left, under Free Pathfinder Roleplaying Game PDFs, you can find the Character Traits web enhancement. As always, check the Additional Resources document, but I believe all of those traits are legal.

What books do you have? Archetypes (first done in the Advanced Player's Guide) can really enhance your rogue character. The Additional Resources (linked above) will tell you what is legal from each book.

Oh, and are you playing in the Core Campaign? The traits are all valid from the above sources, but the Archetypes and anything from above the CRB are not.

Edit: fixed bbcode.

Silver Crusade

The River Rat trait is from the APG:

River Rat:
River Rat (marsh or river): You learned to swim right after you learned to walk. As a youth, a gang of river pirates put you to work swimming in nighttime rivers and canals with a dagger in your teeth so you could sever the anchor ropes of merchant vessels. You gain a +1 trait bonus on damage dealt with a dagger and a +1 trait bonus on Swim checks. Swim is always a class skill for you.

Merisiel is a forlorn elf, so she could be from anywhere.

If you want to try two daggers, it is really good. But, you must own a copy of the source to use it.


Hello Marcella.

Within a month the rogue will get an upgrade in pathfinder unchained. I would advice to consult your gm how he will handle this before building your character. It looks like the rogue will just get some extra abilities so it should be easy.

The rogue is a pretty bad class now but it will get better in a month. It would be a shame to be stuck with the old rogue because the game started a month early.

Sovereign Court

Tcho Tcho wrote:

Hello Marcella.

Within a month the rogue will get an upgrade in pathfinder unchained. I would advice to consult your gm how he will handle this before building your character. It looks like the rogue will just get some extra abilities so it should be easy.

Ignore all this.

PFS.

Grand Lodge

Switch hitter rogue. Two-weapon fighting (short swords). Get weapon focus feat & finesse rogue. It will help a lot. Then get a longbow with point blank shot, precise sot, deadly aim. My 9th level vanilla rogue/shadowdancer is AwESomE!!!!


Quadstriker wrote:
Tcho Tcho wrote:

Hello Marcella.

Within a month the rogue will get an upgrade in pathfinder unchained. I would advice to consult your gm how he will handle this before building your character. It looks like the rogue will just get some extra abilities so it should be easy.

Ignore all this.

PFS.

Ahh ok, didn't know.

(I can see how I could know now)

here is the guide for some basics about rogues

Silver Crusade

Use the guide as a guide, not as gospel though. Especially the skills section doesn't work as well for PFS I think - my rogue used diplomacy and bluff far more often than stealth, to the point where I stopped putting a skill rank into stealth at EVERY level. The min/max-nature of his ability scores is also something I heavily discourage if you're a new player.
Basically the thing about the rogue boils down to this:
Archery is very difficult to pull of because getting sneak attack damage is difficult.
As a melee rogue TWF is valuable because it grants you more attacks and every attack you do should ideally trigger sneak attack. Here you absolutly need weapon finesse. Hitting at all is far more important than to deal a bit of extra damage because if you miss you don't sneak, simple as that.
I wouldn't bother with Weapon Finesse if you plan on wielding a two-handed weapon, especially if you need a feat to pick up the weapon in question anyhow. Your dex will be high with a TWF build because you need it to take the feats. You don't need the feats with a two-handed weapon, so your dex grants you AC, Ref and a little bit of a bonus in some skills only. You will want to pick a high strength to really profit from the weapon (remember, STR bonus x 1.5 to weapon damage!), so weapon finesse won't grant you a big increase in attack bonus if any.


1) What is most likely to kill me? Low hit points, low AC, or low saving throws? (If the latter, which one(s)?)

-At second level low hit points. AC and monster attacks are still kind of swingy thanks mostly to the d20.

2) How often will I actually encounter traps or other situations that a rogue should specialize in? I seem to make Perception checks all the time. Should I thus get the "trap-spotting" talent that checks automatically?

-Trap spotting is a nicer talent than normal in PFS because every DM has a different idea of what you have to do to search for traps otherwise.

"i search the door..

-no traps.

"we open he door and

"trap goes off, should have checked the door knob.

3) Should I focus on melee, archery, or skills? (TWF looks handy for the former, but it carries a -2 attack penalty, and I haven't had that many full-round attacks yet.)

-and you won't. Getting a sneak attack doesn't always happen. getting a full round attack doesn't always happen. Getting them together is a hallelujah celestial alignment of events.

Quote:
Getting close to do sneak attacks does more damage, but it also puts me at greater risk than if I stayed at a distance and fired into fights with Precise Shot if/when I get it.

The problem there is you have no means of generating a sneak attack. You need to be within 30 feet and hidden, which is kinda hard to pull off.

4) Rather than a longsword/rapier, is getting an elven curved blade worth spending two feats (Martial Proficiency and Weapons Finesse) for?

Not really.

5) What is more important for a low-level rogue (melee or ranged): +1 to attack, or +1 to damage?

Attack attack attack. Most of your damage should come from sneak attack dice.

I know you said a rogue, but have you considered the slayer or ninja? If you have the books available they can do a lot more than the standard rogue.


Quadstriker wrote:
Tcho Tcho wrote:

Hello Marcella.

Within a month the rogue will get an upgrade in pathfinder unchained. I would advice to consult your gm how he will handle this before building your character. It looks like the rogue will just get some extra abilities so it should be easy.

Ignore all this.

PFS.

He's not that far off. Pathfinder Unchained will be releasing this month and there has been discussions already about this from the higher ups and those behind the scenes. I've been told that it's "positive", which was about all my local VC could tell me without breaking the NDA. So I'm expecting the rogue class to be getting some much needed love. How much love they'll get in PFS remains to be seen, but from what I've read from blog posts, it'll be a definite buff.

The question is if the OP is willing to wait that long to see if any of the rogue class changes take effect.

Silver Crusade

Marcella said wrote:
1) What is most likely to kill me? Low hit points, low AC, or low saving throws? (If the latter, which one(s)?)

Saving throws...What's that saying? Failed Fort saves somethings you, failed Dex saves kill you, failed Wis saves kills your friends.

Marcella said wrote:
2) How often will I actually encounter traps or other situations that a rogue should specialize in? I seem to make Perception checks all the time. Should I thus get the "trap-spotting" talent that checks automatically?

If you're set on Rogue, max your trap stuff. If you don't, they'll laugh at you.

Marcella said wrote:
3) Should I focus on melee, archery, or skills? (TWF looks handy for the former, but it carries a -2 attack penalty, and I haven't had that many full-round attacks yet.) Getting close to do sneak attacks does more damage, but it also puts me at greater risk than if I stayed at a distance and fired into fights with Precise Shot if/when I get it.

TWF for a rogue is a trap. You're already behind on BAB, and there's no way for you to self buff. sneak attack on ranged is impossible. i suggest a weapon that your race gives you access to and go to town with that. speaking of race...does dwarf or half orc offend you? dwarf rogue is pretty super for traps and such, darkvision, and a big ol hammer to sneak attack with. just sayin

Marcella said wrote:
4) Rather than a longsword/rapier, is getting an elven curved blade worth spending two feats (Martial Proficiency and Weapons Finesse) for?

No. not worth it. not even close.

Marcella said wrote:
5) What is more important for a low-level rogue (melee or ranged): +1 to attack, or +1 to damage?

I'll concur with +1 to attack.

Scarab Sages

Unless you wait for unchained, the best way to make a rogue in PFS is to make an investigator, slayer, ranger, alchemist, bard, or inquisitor. They all make better rogues than the rogue class.

Grand Lodge

What Imbicatus said. I was about to say the same thing. For the next month you're going to be playing, mechanically the worst class in the game until unchained. Maybe unchained will bring them up to par or they might still be a terrible class. Time will tell. Either way you're gambling on the rogue class.

I haven't heard unchained fixing Fighters or Swashbucklers so look for them to take up the crappiest of the classes mantle if the rogue can finally shake it off.


So Marcella, you can change every aspect of your character between PFS between 1st and 2nd levels (barring a few exotic boons, which you are unlikely to have).

It would be nice if you had a concept to develop to. There are bags of tricks and class concepts that can make any reasonable character concept come to life. Feats or race abilities can be chosen to help cover weaknesses.

In general, you'll need flexibility in PFS, due to it's unpredictable nature. So a mix of skills and some sort of combat ability would be well advised.

Sczarni

@Marcella

1) Low hit points for front-liner are worst thing. It's cool to have high AC, but if only one or two hits are sufficient to drop you down, choose hp instead. Investing +1 hp from favored class into hit points is good idea since you have plenty skill points already. Saves will hurt you most in mid and end game. Since it's pretty hard to cover for both bad Saving Throws, try to choose one of them and invest some feats (Great Fortitude/Iron Will) into it.

2) This depends on your GM completely. Ask him first. I do recommend picking 1 rank in Disable Device to be able to unlock chests at very least.

3) Focus whatever you wish to focus on but choose melee or archery. You will have very little to do during combat otherwise and combat is prevalent form of gameplay in PF. If you are building for either melee or archery, build melee rogue as brute (full Str) or with 12-14 Str (you can still focus on Dex) and archer as regular archer (don't bother with sneak attack too much). If you are going melee, do yourself a favor and grab Improved Feint. Avoid TWF also if possible.

4) It's up to you. Do you have feats to spare?

5) Attack. You already have built in version of unreliable power attack. Yes I am talking about sneak attack.


@ Marcella

[snark=jk...but not really] You'll definitely want Trapspotter since it looks like you've already failed to find the trap in the "classes" section of the CRB...[/snark]

No, all derision aside, Rogues can be fun to play while being surprisingly effective. Don't let anyone discourage you from playing what you want to play. Many people WILL make derisive comments about "how bad the Rogue is..." and all that, but they will likely offer suggestions as to how be a more effective character while still retaining your Rogue flavor. If you do end up building, say, a Slayer, but you call yourself a Rogue, nobody is going to take issue with that.

That being said, several people have given good answers to your questions. Now here's my take:

1) Your HP will be low. This isn't really something that you can fix. It IS, however, something that that you can avoid dealing with. The 2 biggest threats to your HP are Attack rolls and Reflex saves. As a rogue, you are pretty much the undisputed master of making reflex saves. Even the people who say that Rogues are the worst at everything ever will grudgingly admit that, in this one particular instance, Rogues are actually pretty good.
However, that still dovetails in to the second part of our problem, and the second part of your question. Low AC. You're a Rogue, so you're limited to light armor. That is a bit of a handicap, but it can be worked around. Keep in mind exactly what proficiency actually means: when you are proficient with a weapon, armor, or shield you don't take penalties to your attack roll for using it. The penalty for non-proficiency with a weapon is a straight -4. The penalty for armor or shield use is equal to the Armor Check Penalty (ACP) of the armor or shield. This means that ANY shield made of Mithril will impart absolutely NO penalty. A +1 Mithral Heavy Shield will cost you 2020 GP and give you +3 AC. It is the absolute cheapest way to get a boost to your AC. Also consider buying Mithral Kikko armor. It is initially a little bit expensive at 4030 GP, but enchanting it will be cheaper than getting a similar armor bonus out of chain shirt, plus it's an "always available" item, so you don't need to have a high fame score, just the cash.
The third part of your defensive line is your saves. We've already established that your Reflex save is pure gold. However, your Fort and Will saves are not hot at all. As others have said, Fort means save-or-lose (or die), reflex means save for half damage (or none since you're a Rogue, yay!), and Will means save or kill your teammates (or lose, or die). The biggest problem facing you is that your ability scores that boost these saves will not be all that high. Sure, you might get a +2 in Wisdom (but it's probably only a +1), and your Con score is more than likely only 12 (another +1), so you're really dependent on that d20 roll. The easiest way to boost these saves is by taking a dip in a class that gets good Fort and Will saves. There are also feats (Great Fortitude and Iron Will) that help, and of course the ever-ubiquitous Cloak of Resistance (which you absolutely should buy, and at as high a level as you can afford! They're expensive, but still better than a Raise Dead and 2 Restorations) We will re-visit this topic later...

2) Yes.
After that wall of text response to your first question, I thought that brevity may indeed be the soul of wit. Just take Trapspotter. It's expected by your fellow Pathfinders and you will not regret taking it.

3) You should focus on being able to hit. Even with minimal investment into Int, you'll have more skill points than anybody else. Seriously, you just will.
As for archery vs. TWF, I'd just pick a style and stick with it. However, as many folks have said, it's very difficult to make full use of either style, as both are feat-intensive, require full attacks to use efficiently, and are notoriously bad at using with sneak attack. The exception to this is when you KNOW, absolutely beyond a doubt, that you will have a flanking partner ALL THE TIME, no exceptions, then TWF becomes decent.
The 2 biggest concerns are 1) getting sneak attack and 2) making contact. At the lower tiers of play, an unmodified d8 is lethal. hitting consistently is far more beneficial than hitting hard. If you're able to do both, that's great! But if you were to have to choose between accuracy and power, choose accuracy EVERY TIME. Pay no attention to the Power Attacking Barbarian, yes, I know he hits like a truck, but he's still more accurate than you, so don't be fooled by all the penalties to hit that he's willing to take!

4) No. Pure and simple. If you happen to have a decent Str score (at least a 14 or so), AND you get Martial proficiency for free, AND you have a really good Dex (which you probably will, after all), then sure use the Elven Curve Blade. But, honestly, you're not doing yourself any favors by spending a feat on just being able to use a weapon without a penalty.

5) As addressed in point 3, a bonus to attack will trump a bonus to damage every time. Until you're able to hit the enemy on a 5 or less, keep piling on to-hit bonuses instead of damage bonuses.

A couple of things to consider in addition to the questions asked here:
What kind of stat array are you looking at?
Are you interested in multiclassing at all?
Are you playing CORE, or are later books available?

If you're staying CORE, it's tougher, but still doable.
If you're open to multiclassing (even just a single level dip!), you can get some really good synergy, combat prowess, and most importantly, boosted defenses (especially saves!).
If you're sticking with Elf as your race (which I kind of presume), you'll just want to boost Dex, get as much Con as is reasonable (i.e. spend either 5 or 7 points to get a 12 or 13), put a couple of points into everything else (like literally 2 points).

A generic stat array might be:
Str 12 2 points
Dex 17 7 points
Con 12 5 points
Int 14 2 points
Wis 12 2 points
Cha 12 2 points

Of course, you may feel that you don't really need all those skill points, or perhaps you really want better social skills, so it's pretty easy to change it to your specific tastes.

Feel free to tell us exactly what you want to do, and we'll be more than happy to help. Happy gaming!

Sovereign Court

Too many questions, I'll focus

Ac - if you go ranged AC is less important. If you are melee, you can choose AC or mitigate lighting conditions, use reach, or use invisibility. Generally speaking I use a wand of deathwatch to find those near death 3 hps and kill them.

Ranged rogues have to go first, should focus on ways to create conditions where their attacks are unseen. I usually recommend firearms, flat footed touch is hard to miss. Dart launchers are fun in surprise rounds. Magical rays can be amusing as well.

Getting to flat footed - is difficult, prescient attack (magus 6), catch off guard, shatter defenses, surprise follow through, dirty trick blind, invisibility /vanish , and if allowed goz mask and weather conditions like sleet storm or obscuring mist, hide in plain sight (shadow dancer)

Be whatever rogue you want to be
2nd story man - burglar
Confidence game - charlatan
Distraction - enforcer

Plan your feats and classes to level 15 or more. High level feats have complex requirements.


Marcella wrote:
I am new to the game and am about to take one of Miersiel's many identical cousins to the second level, so I must decide how to allocate my feats, rogue talents, and money.

Merisiel, the iconic elf rogue is hardly optimized. As you can see in her lvl 7 build she took toughness to shore up her hp. You can also get a few more hp by assigning your favorite class bonus to hp. The Forlorn trait helps her Fort save.

She should probably avoid melee at level 1, and rely on thrown daggers and positioning, when engaging in combat. But there's more than combat: stealthing, scouting, skill checks, trickery.

Merisiel at lvl 7 has mobility, so tactical movement and positioning are easier for her. Check out the rules for flanking, fighting defensively and total defense in the combat rules. These can save you in a pinch until the hard hitters help you or until you are set up for a good strike.

Rogues are gerally considered to be a very weak class and it is hard to build an efficient one. Many roguish things canbe done by other classes better. You will be in danger to be outclassed by more experienced players with better optimized builds.

What do you want your character to do/ to be ?


Righty_ wrote:

Plan your feats and classes to level 15 or more. High level feats have complex requirements.

PFS is only up to lvl 12.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I am just going to say it, to get it out of the way:

Have you considered retraining into Slayer?

You could be all the Rogue you want, and better.

Sovereign Court

You can do sanctioned modules to get to level 20. You can play some PFS specials to level 15.

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