How to ninja and get away with it in pfs?


Advice

Sovereign Court

So here's the scoop.

Trying out the ninja class for the first time and decided to be a master of stealth (or at least to the best of it's abilities), and take all the feats that make the stealth skill, actually relevant.

This is a first, as playing a character with a 10 STR seems....really... odd... Anyways, lets get into it.

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Human Ninja

STR 10
DEX 18 (Racial +2 applied)
CON 14
INT 8
WIS 12
CHA 14

Traits- Reactionary, Indomitable Faith

Feat Progression:

H Weapon Finesse
1 Conceal Scent
2 nin. trick : Vanish
3 Shadow Striker
4 nin. trick : Rogue Trick : Dampen Presence
5 S.F. Stealth
6 nin. trick : Forgotten Trick
7 Hellcat Stealth

skills: acro, bluff, escape artist, climb, disguise, disable device, perception, sleight of hand, stealth, UMD, and survival (with a few of them as one point wonders).

This character is for society play, currently at level 3 from this posts date and typical tactics now include smokesticks/smoke pellets with flashpowder (with the rare chance I need to burn ki for defensive invisibility) and tanglefoot bags to troll my enemies into oblivion, with flanks with allies for sneak attack opportunities,a couple doses of drow poison I got from a chronicle, some shurikens and blow gun etc. etc. etc.

Now, my concern is, with all this stealth and planning for it, how long can this character live off of alchemical items and being a troll in upper levels?

The goal is to stay pure ninja, mind you and I still wanna take advantage of the pure stealth feats, but will someone with some ninja experience suggest some ideas I could consider for upper tier play? All the way from dealing with elementals, to dealing damage to your experience playing a DEX based character (eww). In a vain attempt to stay relevent with the rest of my fellow pathfinders.

Thanks!

(p.s. I forgot to mention my first investment was into Muleback Cords)


As far as conceal scent goes, have you considered deodorant? No, really. 30 gp for an hour-long effect is better than a feat spent most times. Not sure how PFS handles retraining but I understand it's an option.

Sovereign Court

avr wrote:
As far as conceal scent goes, have you considered deodorant? No, really. 30 gp for an hour-long effect is better than a feat spent most times. Not sure how PFS handles retraining but I understand it's an option.

I had considered spending gold in place of abilities I could just have "on" all the time, but inorder to be functional and keep pace with the party, I cant be burning up gold left and right or slowing anyone else down at the table while they wait for me to -insert item needing used-, does that make sense?

For the past week now, I've been able to casually keep up with groups, between sleeves of many garments and disguise checks to blend with NPC's durning social events, to just sticking to cover while we march through a dungeon, to popping smoke in combat to block lines of sight at the first sign of danger. My whole play style is to appear and act when its appropriate, and kind of be a literal "shadow" when not. I could care less if the party gets busted because they are clanking around, as long as enemies arn't aware of me... then I get my hands dirty.

So far it's been swell, I'm just concerned for higher levels if it will still work #gulp


Is a Shadowdancer dip viable?

I don't play a lot of PFS but dim light seems like it could be common, and it gives hide in plain scent.

You can use bluff to make a distraction for stealth.

Sovereign Court

Hide in plain sight isn't as valuable as i'd like it to be, simply because of Hellcat stealth and ninja trick vanish.

But i'm wondering how to stand up to higher CR encounters with all of a focus on stealth?

So i'm hidden, great, now what?


In PFS I have a 12th level monk with high stealth and a 4th level unchained rogue, my brother currently plays a 3rd level unchained rogue.

In PFS, it's really hard to use Stealth. Most of the time there won't be a surprise round because of it:
1) The rest of your party is probably not going to be stealthy.
2) Most of the time you're not ambushing, you're moving into a territory.
3) Solo missions using Stealth are usually extremely dangerous. And when they are needed, rare. I've used stealth, but not often.

The thing you should know is that rogues/ninja's die more often than any character class I've seen. Why?
1) They have a high initiative which means your rogue will often move first. They then get smoked by enemy melee, often getting surrounded and getting a full attack round. And sometimes you will be the only melee PC. It gets worse at high levels.
2) Getting into flanking often provokes AoO, which also gets worse at high levels.

Basically you're working with one of the most iconic classes in the game, but also one of the weakest.

Most important things for your character are:
1) Agile weapon enchantment: Adds Dex to damage.

2) Buffering Cap: So you don't get killed by crits (as much).

3) Boots of Speed: Getting into flanking position is a lot easier with the movement speed to do it.

I'd switch your WIS and INT. Basically you want lots of skill points (it's your strength) and Will saves are pretty screwed anyway. At high levels that +1 just won't make any difference.

You could also dump your Str to 8. It will suck until you get Agility, but will be good after.

Good luck.

Sovereign Court

I figured the best way to stay alive at higher levels is to not get busted, hence all the focus on stealth.

So far, I've used it to get into position or to feed information to a group; less more so for combat. Being able to nova with twf and ki spent on a weakened target seems like my end game here.

To date, I've yet to be hit by anything, with superior tactics n picking and choosing my fights has lead to success.

Anyone else played high stealth characters at higher level?

Scarab Sages

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I went the opposite direction with my ninja. I hardly ever use stealth and don't have Vanishing Trick. Instead, she focuses on feinting and is an "in your face ninja." So I don't know if I have any good suggestions for help using stealth, other than it seems like you're taking the right feats, and boost your stealth as much as you can so you can overcome that -10 penalty from Hellcat Stealth. Creatures will often have Darkvision, so you'll be taking that penalty a lot, even when there are technically shadows around.

Your damage output comes from sneak attacks, so when you run into something like an elemental, you need a backup plan. Getting Agile as suggested above is almost a requirement, as it's the main way to boost your damage so that you can overcome DR. You didn't say what fighting style you use, but you don't have the feats for TWF, so I'll assume 1 weapon. You could, then, work toward Slashing Grace instead of Agile. Eighth level trick: Weapon Training for Weapon Focus. 9th level feat Slashing Grace. That would let you actually invest in different material weapons instead of having to power through everything with your Agile weapon. Once you have Weapon Focus, you can also use Forgotten Trick to pick up Combat Trick: Weapon Versatility, which is a way to have your Agile wakizashi (or whatever) deal bludgeoning.

The combination of Forgotten Trick and Combat Trick is your friend. It's basically Martial Flexibility for the ninja. As soon as you can afford a Ring of Ki Mastery. That will bring the cost of Forgotten Trick down to 1 Ki. Using it to pick up Combat Trick lets you get a feat to boost damage when you can't sneak attack. Either Dedicated Adversary (flat +2hit +2damage against an enemy you can identify) or Piranha Strike (power attack for light weapons, but without x1 1/2 two-handing) are the best options for a quick boost.

You can actually use it to pick up Shadow Strike when you need it as well, so if you wanted you could retrain that. It all depends on how often you're using it, and how often you're sneaking around in dim light. Which reminds me...

One big question I have is what do you do for being able to see while you're stealthing? You're human, so not even low-light vision. If you're going to be in dim light a lot, you should be taking a 20% miss chance when you attack. And if you're in darkness, you can't see at all. Since I don't stealth a lot with my ninja, I get away with carrying a potion of Darkvision. You could do that, but it might get expensive. Otherwise, I'd consider picking up the Darkvision ninja trick at some point. You could use it through Forgotten Trick, but it will get expensive. I've also never gotten a good answer about whether it would last an hour in that situation (because that's what the ability says) or only your level in rounds (because that's how long Forgotten Trick gives you the ability).

Scarab Sages

Just saw you're aiming for two-weapon fighting eventually... That will come online very late for you, given the other feats you have lined up. Plus, you only get sneak attack on the first attack out of stealth/invisibility. Without some other way to deny the opponent their dexterity, you won't get a full round of sneak attacks until 10th level (without a flank). If you take Two-Weapon Fighting at 9th, you'd get three attacks in a flank. Four with ki. So that's not bad. It would be 11th before you'd get Improved Two-Weapon Fighting. By then you would have Invisible Blade. So it's not a bad strategy. It just comes online late for this build.

I did go TWF from level 1, using two-weapon feint. A full round of sneak attacks came online for me at 9th (using retraining to get Improved Two-Weapon Fighting at 8th) when I could get Improved Two-Weapon Feint (which eventually became Greater Feint through retraining when it was clarified).

If you stick with TWF, then Agile is the way to go. It's probably only worth getting it on your main hand weapon, because the damage bonus will be halved on your off hand. Instead, for your off hand weapon, consider Menacing. It will turn the bonus from flanking into +4 for you (if you're part of the flank) and whatever allies you're flanking with. Helps a lot with accuracy.


I've done it, with a 3.5 rogue/ranger/shadowdancer. It's...not perfect.

Some of the time, you can float through an encounter or two, and no one knows you're there. It's great, but you -are- asking the rest of the party to stand around while you have your fun.

Some of the time, it seems great. But you learn that Erinyes have true seeing. Or that tremorsense is hard to beat. Or that life sense is hard to beat. I don't even want to discuss half-dragon striges.

That's when you realize 'oh, I'm here by myself' or 'oh, oozes grapple really well', and sometimes, you die. Overall, I'd not do it again.

What I might do is play an investigator, a generally smart career Crimean who can pick locks, forge documents, and bribe officials. Or, I might say I'm a ninja, and play a ninja2/sorcerer X, and just choose spells like spider climb and mirror image and knock instead of enlarge person and magic Missile. You still get to do ninja-y stuff, but you get better with high levels, not worse.

Sovereign Court

Ferious Thune wrote:

I went the opposite direction with my ninja. I hardly ever use stealth and don't have Vanishing Trick. Instead, she focuses on feinting and is an "in your face ninja." So I don't know if I have any good suggestions for help using stealth, other than it seems like you're taking the right feats, and boost your stealth as much as you can so you can overcome that -10 penalty from Hellcat Stealth. Creatures will often have Darkvision, so you'll be taking that penalty a lot, even when there are technically shadows around.

Your damage output comes from sneak attacks, so when you run into something like an elemental, you need a backup plan. Getting Agile as suggested above is almost a requirement, as it's the main way to boost your damage so that you can overcome DR. You didn't say what fighting style you use, but you don't have the feats for TWF, so I'll assume 1 weapon. You could, then, work toward Slashing Grace instead of Agile. Eighth level trick: Weapon Training for Weapon Focus. 9th level feat Slashing Grace. That would let you actually invest in different material weapons instead of having to power through everything with your Agile weapon. Once you have Weapon Focus, you can also use Forgotten Trick to pick up Combat Trick: Weapon Versatility, which is a way to have your Agile wakizashi (or whatever) deal bludgeoning.

The combination of Forgotten Trick and Combat Trick is your friend. It's basically Martial Flexibility for the ninja. As soon as you can afford a Ring of Ki Mastery. That will bring the cost of Forgotten Trick down to 1 Ki. Using it to pick up Combat Trick lets you get a feat to boost damage when you can't sneak attack. Either Dedicated Adversary (flat +2hit +2damage against an enemy you can identify) or Piranha Strike (power attack for light weapons, but without x1 1/2 two-handing) are the best options for a quick boost.

You can actually use it to pick up Shadow Strike when you need it as well, so if you wanted you could retrain that. It all depends on how often you're using it, and...

I don't usually play with light conditions, but I do have umd for scrolls of dark vision when needed. 750gp or 2pp can make a scroll of darkvision with 4 castings on it btw.

For stealthily around, I primarily use two tactics: using cover to gain concealment and using smokesticks/smoke pellets with shadow strike. The latter has been my bread and butter for a while, hiding in smoke.

If I start my turn in cover, it allows me to stealth assuming I break line of sight, and end my turn in cover I can continue to sneak around, unless I'm wrong. Then there comes smoke to provide concealment allowing stealth, and eventually, hellcat stealth for just broad day light hiding.

Forgotten trick is more amazing than I gave it credit for, since a know that power of martial flexibility so that's now something I'm going to build for, ty for that tip.

Slashing grace will be what I go after next, since I retrained conceal scent for weapon focus. It was either that or wall climber for multiple dimension combat, keeping my bacon safe from melee and versatility in scouting options, not to mention skipping a lot of ground based traps.

Sovereign Court

I've found vanish + robe of needles to be a very effective vehicle for applying sneak attack/poisons. Especially if you are playing up.

Sovereign Court

Omg robe of needles, how did I not know about this before!?

So here us the new question. Burn 2-3 feats on weapon focus/slashing grace/versatile striker and use money to augment my combat options with wondrous items

Or

Use magic items to buy +1 agile Waka and a a +1 menacing waka, use my feats for ki mastery/extra ki/twf.

Sovereign Court

Primary importance of stealth tactics.
Best - worst
1. Cover/concealment with bluff to continue stealth or gain unnoticed condition for hidding. Costs no resources.

2. Smokesticks/smoke pellets. Giving myself concealment on the fly for above tactics. Costs a bit of resources, a feat (shadow striker) and action economy.

3. Uzilizing shadows for concealment. More difficult to use due to visual limitations, but still possible at the cost of more expensive resources. (potions/scrolls)

4. Hellcat stealth. -10 to stealth, must be compensated with magic items and feats. Starting to impact build choices.

5. Vanishing trick. Costs limited resource and affects build choices. Can be totally trumped by see invis

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