Dirty Trick: Slayer or Vigilante?


Dark Archive

Hail, fellow gamers. A few months ago I had a great time playing the Serpent's Rise scenario at a convention, and part of that was because I was the brawler character and used martial flexibility to gain feats with which to perform dirty trick maneuvers. I like dirty tricks, and am thinking of having one of my PFS characters specialize in them, but am having a difficult time coming up with a build. Heck, I can't even decide on the class! I've narrowed it down to two, however: slayer and vigilante. Here is where you come in. Please give me your thoughts on which of these classes would make a better dirty trick fighter. Please give me your thoughts on dirty trick builds in general. If you feel so inclined, please feel free to post builds!

PFS character, so 20pb, normal restrictions. Strong preference for human. And due to the artwork I've already picked out, extra points if he uses a scimitar. :P

Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer, and happy gaming!

Half-orc fighters are AMAZING at dirty tricks due to this Fighter archetype... which means dirty tricks with Whirlwind Attack and stuff like that. Tons of fun. I suppose a Human could always take Racial Heritage (Orc) and qualify, but Half-Orc is the better choice at that point.

Given what you've said though? A Human Slayer is an all-around good start to any martial build I feel. I'll let others go into the specifics, but given that you can get Ranger combat style feats really easily, Slayer is just a solid choice in general.

Slayer also has the benefit of not having abilities that are unlikely to come up in most PFS scenarios (read: the social abilities Vigilantes get).

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Are you familiar with the Underhanded Trick talent, from Blood of Shadows? I'm planning to use it with an unchained rogue, but slayer would work too. ^_^

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Inlaa wrote:
Half-orc fighters are AMAZING at dirty tricks due to this Fighter archetype... which means dirty tricks with Whirlwind Attack and stuff like that. Tons of fun. I suppose a Human could always take Racial Heritage (Orc) and qualify, but Half-Orc is the better choice at that point.

Not legal for PFS, I'm afraid. ^_^

Kalindlara wrote:
Inlaa wrote:
Half-orc fighters are AMAZING at dirty tricks due to this Fighter archetype... which means dirty tricks with Whirlwind Attack and stuff like that. Tons of fun. I suppose a Human could always take Racial Heritage (Orc) and qualify, but Half-Orc is the better choice at that point.
Not legal for PFS, I'm afraid. ^_^



It's a good thing I never tried to make that character and prepare to bring it to a PFS table. Argh, but it's so GOOD!

EDIT: Also, check out this gnome alternate racial trait. I... assume... this is PFS legal. It-- HMPH.

Dirty Trickster: All gnomes love pranks, but some specialize in those improvised during battle. These gnomes gain a +2 racial bonus on dirty trick combat maneuvers. They need not meet the Intelligence requirement to select Combat Expertise, Improved Dirty Trick, and any feat with Improved Dirty Trick as a prerequisite. This racial trait replaces defensive training, hatred, and keen senses.

A bounty hunter slayer gets to add a dirty trick maneuver to an attack instead of the sneak attack damage which might be handy. Add the underhanded ranger combat style and they'd be pretty good at dirty tricks.

But the class that'd be best at this? Barbarian, believe it or not. Strength Surge and Savage Dirty Trick are abilities that other classes can't practically duplicate, and the ranger combat styles/vigilante talents don't actually give feats early for dirty tricks the way they do for archery or some other ways of fighting so getting the dirty trick feats with the general feats that every character gets is perfectly viable.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

The issue with the dirty fighter archetype is twofold: nothing from the orc chapter of the ARG is legal, and characters of other races can't access ARG archetypes (even with orc blood or Racial Heritage). In addition, like many others, the archetype lost a lot of luster with the publishing of advanced weapon training.

Dirty Trickster is 100% legal, if that helps. ^_^

Shadow Lodge

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Untamed Rager Barbarian with Savage Dirty Trick and Strength Surge. Since Dirty Trick feats replace other abilities, your standard Barbarian progression is almost untouched. When you can DT (or don't need to), you can still smashface and bring the pain.

Dark Archive

Thanks for the advice, all! @Inlaa, avr, and Sammy T: I'm pretty set on either a slayer or a vigilante; I already have both a fighter and a barbarian character, and want to try different classes. Those look like fun options though, and maybe I'll throw enemies using those options at the PCs in my home game sometime. :P

@Kalindlara: Yes, I am aware of that one, and definitely will take it if I go slayer, which was my initial idea.

Character Concept Thus Far:
Qadiran merchant; human; secretly good "assassin" who takes out slavers and other sorts who give merchants a bad name/profit from the suffering of sentient creatures (see why vigilante appeals? The only concept I've ever had that actually has a use for Dual Identity!); preferred weapon scimitar; limited, if any spell-casting; dirty trick maneuver specialist

(Very) Tentative Build:
1st Feat & Human Feat: Dirty Fighting/Dodge/Iron Will/Power Attack/Toughness?
2nd Talent: Underhanded Trick (start getting those DTs off fast!)
3rd Feat: Same list as 1st
4th Talent: Fast Stealth/Weapon Training (scimitar)?
5th Feat: Same list, but Dirty Fighting has to be chosen by now
6th Talent: Combat Trick (Greater Dirty Fighting)
7th Feat: Quick Dirty Fighting
8th Talent: No idea. Maybe Combat Style (Sarenrae) for Improved Initiative?
9th Feat: Critical Focus
10th Talent: Probably Evasion or Opportunist
11th Feat: Dirty Critical Hit

Other options to consider:
Stygian Slayer: lose 4th Talent (not a big deal), 10th talent (only advanced talent a PFS char is likely to get, so kinda sucky), and Stalker (don't care) for some cool magical stealth utility, most notably invisibility

Bounty Hunter: Lose 2nd Talent (delay Improved Dirty Trick to 4th, which hurts build), 6th Talent (take human FCB 1/6 slayer talent to make up for this and still gain Greater Dirty Trick this level), and 10th Talent (again, only advanced talent, ouch) for the ability to trade sneak attack for more dirty tricks (though part of the reason to use dirty tricks is to get sneak attack...), a grapple ability I won't use since I don't have the feats to spare for Improved Grapple et al., and a knock-out ability that probably won't have the best DC in the world. Probably pass on this one.

Velvet Blade: Lose tracking and Studied Target bonus to attacks/damage (meh and ouch) for some cool social abilities that would help the concept I'm going for, but may not come up very often in PFS play.

Dervish Dance: Since the character actually uses a scimitar for flavor and is from the appropriate culture, worth looking into. Would have to fit in Weapon Finesse and Agile Maneuvers at 1st and this at 3rd, so absolutely no leeway for feats.

Haven't even looked at a vigilante build yet. Thoughts, comments, suggestions, criticisms? I very much welcome and hope for more feedback!

A teisatsu vigilante can do the swift-action vanish ninja trick to make it easier to connect with a combat maneuver, or take the redirect force ninja trick if taking damage to connect sounds like a good idea. Neither comes online until 4th level though.

As a human you could take dirty fighting and improved dirty trick at 1st level. If you're thinking of taking toughness etc. first then you're not fully devoted to your craft here.

Dark Archive

Cool, more ideas! Thanks avr!

I had looked at the teisatsu, and while it has some cool abilities, the flavor is just too far from what I am going for. For instance, loses scimitar proficiency. My build doesn't have to be completely mechanically optimal, thankfully, allowing room for flavor choices; after all, PFS scenarios don't tend to be super difficult unless you're always playing up.

I would contend that a major part of a character build is optimal allocation of resources over the whole. In this case, as far as I can tell, feats are tighter for this build than talents. Since both the slayer and the vigilante can take a talent which gives them Improved Dirty Fighting plus an additional bonus AND there aren't really all that many other things that stand out as being super useful to take instead, why use a feat at 1st when I can wait only one level and use a talent instead? Of course, with PFS allowing unlimited rebuild until level 2, in this case I CAN have my cake and eat it too, taking IDT at level 1 and then switching it out for another feat and replacing it with a talent at level 2. :)

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
AsmodeusUltima wrote:
I had looked at the teisatsu, and while it has some cool abilities, the flavor is just too far from what I am going for.

That's for the best - it also is not PFS-legal. ^_^

(While they don't generally provide reasoning for individual choices, most are assuming that it's because of the "better ninja than ninja" issue.)

Of course, with PFS allowing unlimited rebuild until level 2, in this case I CAN have my cake and eat it too, taking IDT at level 1 and then switching it out for another feat and replacing it with a talent at level 2. :)

That seems good. Do that, IMO; so make a level 1 character build (Dirty Fighting + Imp. Dirty Trick) and then a full level character build.

Since you've settled on a race and class, what are your statistics going to look like? What are you dumping, etc.?

If you decide to go with a DEX build, you'll probably need both Dervish Dance and Agile Maneuvers eventually. That's a feat tax, so I'd recommend STR > DEX. You can two-hand a scimitar just fine (and RP-wise can probably just have the one hand on the hilt while using the other for poise/balance or perhaps to press your hand behind the blade, etc), and the damage boost from, say, Power Attack may be considerable. Or you can use a shield with it.

With that said, DEX has its advantages. AC and attack and damage from the same stat isn't bad. You only get 1xDEX to damage if you take Dervish Dance, so honestly I feel like having a middling STR (12/14) and carrying a shield would work better than Dervish Dance, at least at the start of your career.

As for combat style feats: do note you can get Dodge and Combat Expertise via your Underhanded ranger styles. So, after you get Greater Dirty Trick, maybe Dodge (for +1 AC) makes a good choice at level 8?

I have a similar build for PFS. He's still low-level, but it has lots of potential. I was considering the Underhanded style, but I eventually settled on Faithful (Besmara). They have basically the same combat style choices, but they get Quick Dirty Trick at level 6, meaning you can full-attack with a dirty trick one level earlier. I've made him Strength-based, as being Dex-based takes a few feats, especially if you want to use maneuvers as well.
I also went with Stygian Slayer, as it gets a lot of cool bonuses at levels I don't really need my combat style, such as the Bounty Hunter.
My build looks like this:
1. Dirty Fighting
1. Power Attack
2. Improved Dirty Trick
3. Kitsune Style
4. Invisibility
5. Kitsune Tricks
6. Quick Dirty Trick
7. Greater Dirty Trick
8. ???
9. Superior Dirty Trick (?)
10. Shadowy Mist Form
11. ??? (Accomplished Sneak Attacker?)

You have access to Kitsune Style through Dirty Fighting, but the real kicker is Kitsune Tricks. Through getting into the style is a swift at 7, same as your studied target, slapping blinded on someone is basically the same. I'm not sure about Superior Dirty Trick, because it's already a standard to remove, upgrading to a full-round isn't that useful, I think.
I took Armor Expert as a trait so I could wear a mithral breastplate, and there's a Gnome trait called Prankster that boosts my dirty tricks, so I took Adopted so I could take it. To be honest, level 11 doesn't do a whole lot for me. 10 gives me a +1 on my study, but 11 does literally nothing but improve BAB (Swift Tracker is crap), so I might multiclass in Snakebite Striker for another d6 of sneak attack.

He's level 4 right now, but I like what he's capable of. The advantage of Slayer is that you get sneak attacks and a built-in way of boosting your attacks and damage. Eventually being able to cast spells from scrolls is pretty cool, I can't wait to use Mirror Images. I'm also going to buy lots of Slayer-specific items, such as a Headsman's Blade, Lenses of the Predator's Gaze, and Gauntlets of the Skilled Maneuver to boost my to-hit some more. If I both have the Lenses and the Blade, my to-hit when studying changes by 5 (assuming a Study bonus of +2, Lenses make it a +3, Blade another +2 on top of that).

Build-wise for you, you wanted a scimitar. Besmara is a pirate deity, and a cutlass is commonly associated with them. Luckily, scimitars and cutlasses look a lot alike, and they even have the exact same stats.

Quentin Coldwater wrote:
4. Invisibility

I wonder what you mean here. I don't remember slayers getting invisibility.

The thing I really want to use Dirty Tricks for is to Blind people and so set them up for taking Sneak Attack Damage.

So to your question: Dirty Trick: Slayer or Vigilante?

My answer is Ninja.

I was thinking I'd play a Tengu to get 3 attacks/round: Bite + 2 Claws. I would eventually take a level in White Haired Witch to get a Hair Attack. I would seek to acquire a Helm of the Mammoth Lord to get a Gore Attack. I would Blind my opponent with a Dirty Trick, and then get 5 attacks/round all doing Sneak Attack Damage.

I would take The Ninja Trick: Rogue Talent: Underhanded Maneuver to get Improved Dirty Trick, eventually to get Quick and Greater dirty Trick.

I might dip a level in Arcanist to get the Dimensional Slide Exploit to achieve Flanking to lock in SAD that way. Also, I want to use Magic Wands and Cantrips, especially those Ranged Touch Attack Cantrips like Jolt and Acid Splash. Because another Ninja Trick I'd get would be Vanishing Trick. I'd Vanish the make Ranged Touch Attacks vs. Flatfooted AC that also do Sneak Attack Damage. That makes me smile.

White Hair gets an ability something like Grab. So, wear Armor Spikes and do AS Damage with every Grapple, which since the Grapple Check is a separate Attack Roll, do Sneak Attack Damage, too.

I would Take Hamatula Strike, and then the Bite and Gore get the Benefit of HS.

You need Improved Grapple to take HS, and you need Improved Unarmed Strike to take HS, so take a level in Monk. Make that Monk a Master of Many Styles. Take Snake Style and Feral Combat Training, then you Claws get Sneak Attack Damage, too. Take 2 more levels in Monk, Drunken Master of Many Styles, and you get Drunken Ki, so you can almost endlessly replenish your Ki for your Vanishing Trick. Take something like Accelerated Drinking or Potion Glutton, and you can replenish even faster.

Well, so, now we're up to 12 attacks/round, all doing Sneak Attack Damage, thanks to Dirty Trick, mostly.

I was thinking of doing something similar with Dirty Tricks and Sneak Attack Damage with a Halfling, but instead of Full Attacking with scads of Natural Attacks, I'd take Panther Style Feats and Lunge, probably, provoking lots of Attacks of Opportunity that would all miss after taking Dodge, Mobility, and maybe Underfoot Fighting, debuffing rooms full of opponents, blinding them with Dirty Tricks, then cutting them off at the knees with Sneak Attack Damage. Also, I'd probably take Risky Striker and Power Attack, because why not? Ooh, you need Combat Expertise for Dirty Tricks: Power Attack, Risky Striker, and Combat Expertise all together: what does that even do!?!

For this build, maybe also take levels in Eldritch Guardian Fighter, and get a Mauler Familiar that Flies, like a Flying Fox Bat maybe, and use it as a flying mount (not a Mount, of course). This opens the door to a whole bunch of other stuff such as using a lance, acquiring Teamwork Feats. With levels in Fighter, I should consider those Sneak Attack Feats such as Accomplished Sneak Attacker and Precise Strike (a Combat Feat, so your Familiar will also get it).

Dark Archive

Okay, since I've seen exactly zero people talk up vigilante for this build, I think slayer it is. :P

Scott Wilhelm: Wow, those seem like some crazy and effective builds! Totally not what I am going for flavor-wise, and not really a fan of kitchen sink multi-classing, but thanks for the ideas; like I said above about the fighter and ranger ideas, maybe I'll make some NPCs for my home game. :)

@Havoq: He was referring to the invisibility ability gained by the Stygian Slayer archetype in place of their 4th level talent.

@Quentin Coldwater: Ooh, I hadn't really looked at Kitsune Style. Kitsune Tricks seems really useful!

@Inlaa: Yeah, I agree that the feat tax for dex fighting is a bit too high for this build.

Still Very Rough Build
Hassan al-Din Khurshah
Human Slayer; Exchange faction

Str 16, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 10
(I don't really like dumping a stat unless it fits the concept; I know that for optimal crunch I should drop Cha to 7 and raise Str and Dex a point each, but I roleplay my stats and I really don't see him as a Cha 7 sort)

Traits: looking at Clever Wordplay (Diplomacy) and Upstanding (Diplomacy) because I want to be a face in addition to being a merchant and stealthy warrior; if I take the Velvet Blade archetype to gain Diplomacy as a class skill then replace Upstanding with Cunning Liar

Skills to max: Acrobatics, Appraise, Bluff, Diplomacy, Perception, Profession (Merchant), Sense Motive, Stealth. Remaining points scattered among various knowledges.

1st: Dirty Fighting and Power Attack
2nd: Underhanded Trick
3rd: Kitsune Style
4th: Ranger Combat Style (Underhanded): Dodge
5th: Kitsune Tricks
6th: RCS: Greater Dirty Trick and Combat Trick: Quick Dirty Trick (via human FCB)
7th: Iron Will (low Will saves hurt)
8th: Fast Stealth or Weapon Training (Scimitar)?
9th: Critical Focus
10th: Evasion
11th: Dirty Critical Hit

Use a keen scimitar 2-handed. Can use first attack for DT to apply two conditions for multiple rounds; free DT on crit; hope most GMs will allow using weapon for most DT (nick the eyebrow to cause bleeding directly into eyes = blind, etc.) Maybe carry a backup shield for when higher AC is more important than damage output.

Regarding archetypes, I'm pretty much decided that Bounty Hunter is out.

Stygian Slayer is really cool! Not just the invisibility, but being able to bust out a scroll of mirror image or displacement for a tough fight would be incredibly useful. The flavor neither enhances nor clashes with the base concept. Only problem is that it screws up taking GDT and QDT together at level 6. Could take QDT with feat at 7th, but would probably make more sense to keep the much needed boost to Will saves and just take it with a talent at 8th. So the question presented is whether or not all the cool spell abilities are worth getting QDT two levels later. Probably? Not 100% convinced.

Still really considering Velvet Blade as well. It stacks with Stygian, so they're not competing. Gain Diplomacy (bonus) and Knowledge (nobility) (meh, but fits the concept if I go from merchant to full-on Merchant Prince), and lose Knowledge (dungeoneering) (meh). Lose medium armor (I wasn't really planning to use that anyway) and shields (oh well, it was just a backup anyway). Lose Track and Swift Tracker (double meh, wasn't planning to invest in Survival anyway), gain the Betrayal feat, the Silent Dispatch vigilante talent, and a very situational way to gain automatic sneak attack with extra dice (up from 3d6 to 6d6 at 11th!). The main thing is that Studied Target gains its bonus to Diplomacy, Disguise, Intimidate, and Stealth, but loses it to attack and damage. Great for being a face, quite a blow to combat ability. But I really love the flavor! What do you guys think; is the trade at all worth it?

Build is getting refined pretty well, definitely looks playable to me, but could probably use some tweaking. Thanks again for all the suggestions and ideas, please keep them coming!

Hm. Not CHA 7, but what about CHA 8? I only suggest this because 13 DEX with light or medium armor will hurt a bit. CHA 8 isn't SUPER low, either - and you're using Clever Wordplay as a trait, so you can roleplay your character as perhaps not having the strongest air of command, but DEFINITELY being witty and clever and prone to the occasional snide / cutting remark. This gets you 14 DEX, which means you'll do fine in a standard breastplate with a +2 belt of physical might (DEX and STR).

Eventually, you should grab heavy armor prof. via a single class dip or feat expenditure when you can afford mithral full plate. Until then, I'll bet a +1 Breastplate will do you just fine.

Inlaa wrote:


It's a good thing I never tried to make that character and prepare to bring it to a PFS table. Argh, but it's so GOOD!

Well yeah, its a neat thing for martials. PFS only gives neat things to 9 level casters.

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I think Velvet Blade doesn't stack with Stygian Slayer. They both lose medium armour. While it's the same end result, you can't replace the same thing twice.
Also, why choose the Ranger Style at level 4? The Underhanded style does pretty much the same as Underhanded Trick and all you get out of it is a free Dodge feat. If you move the Ranger style to 2, it sets you up perfectly for Stygian Slayer. All you lose is Dodge and Evasion (that one hurts, though). Then again, 13 DEX isn't the greatest, you might need it. And as Inlaa said, I'd rather dump CHA slightly and improve your chance of survival.

About the Barbarian, add Animal Fury to Savage Dirty Trick. This way you can use the Dirty Trick in place of your bite, and you don't need to sacrifice an actual weapon attack

AsmodeusUltima wrote:
Regarding archetypes, I'm pretty much decided that Bounty Hunter is out.

If you're not going to take the Bounty Hunter archetype, then it doesn't really matter if you're going Vigilante or Slayer, since the former also grants many bonus feats.

The one dirty trick-specific thing the Vigilante has over the Slayer is the vigilante talent Expose Weakness, which allows you to lower an enemy's DR 10 with your Dirty Trick Maneuver.

AsmodeusUltima wrote:
6th: RCS: Greater Dirty Trick and Combat Trick: Quick Dirty Trick (via human FCB)

Unfortunately, it was decided that you can't take FCB to gain more of an ability you haven't yet gotten. So you'd first be able to place your FCB in an extra slayer talent at level 2, forcing you to wait with Quick Dirty Trick until level 7.

Lore Wardens gain substantial CMB and CMD bonuses as they level.

These apply to all maneuvers, including Dirty Trick.


Human Lore Warden

str 16
dex 14
con 14
int 14
wis 12
cha 8

1st weapon focus scimitar
1st power attack
1st furious focus
2nd combat expertise
2nd improved dirty trick
3rd kitsune style
4th kitsune tricks
5th iron will
6th greater dirty trick
7th weapon specialization: scimitar
8th quick dirty trick
9th kitsune vengeance
10th improved iron will
11th dirty trick master

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