Best smart skill focused dirty trick PFS build?


Advice


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I am finally rebuilding one of my all time favorite PFS characters who needs to be fully rebuilt as it was based on the old now banned Lore Warden. He was a skill monkey dirty trick focused lore warden/mmaneuver master monk of the four winds/rogue (and may have had one fourth class that was arcane but I don’t recall exactly). He had +15 or higher on a dozen skills including spellcraft and all knowledges (and used a cloak of the hedge wizard -divination to cast detect magic and identify items). He was a daemon blooded tiefling with a prehensile tail. However his precise build (now broken by all kinds of errata and rule changes) doesn’t matter.

I need to do a level 11 PFS legal full rebuild of him which means everything about him can change.

The basics however I want to keep are:

- race - a tiefling
- role - high skills esp INT based ones, dirty trick focused front liner with lots of tricks up his sleeves (combat maneuvers, precision damage, Magic both items and inherent etc)
- alignment - lawful good (he was tempted by the whole Lisallian arc but

Due to multiclassing he had every skill except Heal as a class skill. However in the rebuild I don’t need to hit that somewhat dubious achievement but I would like to have all knowledge skillls as class skills.

Notable boons: - bonus feat (but use for one that isn’t part of a chain and the feat was acquired late in his leveling so best as a capstone feat not a core part of a build)

He could via rebuild be a build that wouldn’t have been great at lower levels. Previously he was Dex and Int (high and equal), con, STR, then low and dumped CHA and wis but via the rebuild that can be very different.

Builds I have considered:

Slayer (bounty hunter) - either full or multiclassed probably after level 10

Investigator - full of multiclassed (hits the skills but may not the combat maneuvers)

Unchained rogue ?

Unchained monk?

What else? I feel like I’m missing some great potential builds. I’m fine with multiclass builds as long as the synergy is there and as long as the flavor of being a very smart skill focused front liner is still there. His role in the past was to close quickly with individual enemies especially casters and shut them down via dirty tricks like blinding.


The UnChained Monk (Maneuver Master/7-winds) for Improved Dirty Trick, Flurry of Maneuvers, and Lightning Finish Ex with a waveblade.
1st feat, probably Dirty Fighting.

One level of Wild Child Brawler gets Maneuvers Training, and an animal companion/flanking buddy that can use your maneuvers you have maneuver training in.

The CAD Fighter archetype is worth looking at.

If you aren't married to the idea of being a Tiefling, the Sulking Slayer Rogue archetype for Half Orcs might be helpful.

And Untamed Rager gets Improved Dirty Trick at 2, Greater Dirty Trick at 5.

It sucks they nerfed your original build, another shining example of how martial characters aren't allowed to have nice things.

Anyways, hope some of this can be of use to you.


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No way he is going to be a half-orc - he's an old character and was a tiefling which aren't currently allowed so probably my only Tiefling in PFS.

I don't believe that in PFS you can take non-Unchained monk archetypes with the new Unchained Monk - at least not Monk of the Seven Forms (which replaces a class feature that unchained monk's don't get - maneuver training). And that same problem applies to Maneuver Master Monks that replace a bunch of class features that don't exist in the non-Unchained monk. And the two archetypes can't be taken together even with a regular Monk as they both replace the same class feature (quivering palm). Finally a regular monk would need to take Exotic Weapon Proficiency to use the Waveblade. So while it is a nice sounding combo of archetypes it isn't PFS legal (or technically legal by RAW though many GMs might house rule it as being ok)

(the fact that the two archetypes both modify Bonus Feats is also arguably another reason they can't be combined - especially since they modify the bonus feats in an opposing manner - with one archetype removing bonus feats that the other archetype ADDS as being available at an earlier level)

For high level play a 1 level animal companion is worse than useless - not worth getting and won't land them in any case (or survive to get into position to give a flank)

Untamed rager can't be combined with manuever master monk (monks and barbarians can't be multiclassed except for a few very unique archetypes that swap out alignment requirements - or very specific race and racial trait combos that open up alternative alignments). Perhaps an option to consider but this character is also ALL about being the smartest, most knowledgable character in the room - which means raging unless perhaps it was a controlled rage that allowed for the continued use of Int based skills is very much antithetical to his character (which is very much knowing something about almost everything and leveraging that knowledge to attack weaknesses - which it isn't mechanically needed I always played his Dirty Tricks as being taking advantage of weaknesses that he knew about via making his knowledge checks against a given foe)

Cad Fighter is potentially an option I will consider - doesn't help much with the skills in the same way that Lore Warden (old version) did but does offer some nice aspects. Though flavorwise it isn't a perfect fit (this character is Lawful Good - uses dirty tricks because applied well they can end combats quickly and occasionally with less bloodshed on both sides.

The nerf is many fold - huge changes to Lore Warden but not least because relative to other archetypes it was actually rather too strong (bonus to ALL combat maneuvers plus all INT skills as class skills + additional skill ranks etc made it a very strong choice as a dip into fighter for a lot of builds - most other archetypes or classes only offer at most a boost to a couple of specific combat maneuvers (i.e. see Cad Fighter). They also nerfed a bunch of the items and other options the character had chosen but a full rebuild is a very generous option (and there are a ton of very nice martial classes now available that weren't when I first made this character back in 2012 so the rebuild offers me a chance to explore many options.

He was a monk for really only a handful of things - fast movement, flurry of maneuvers to get attacks + combat maneuver (which is quite strong when you open with a blinding attack and follow up with a bunch of attacks that all deliver sneak attacks), boosts to his saves (as the old version of monk helped saves considerably even with just one level dip), improved unarmed strike and a bonus feat. Which if I multiclass with the new character is definitely still tempting (less so with the unchained monk as it no longer helps will saves).

The challenge he always faced was multiclassing hurt his BAB (and thus CMB) and to a lesser degree his HP and overall survivability as a result - the rebuild likely allows me to address that.


Rogues can pick up underhanded trick and ninja trick: redirect force, or similarly for a ninja but in reverse. The surprise maneuvers feat gives a healthy bonus to combat maneuvers. The snoop rogue archetype would help with your wanting to be good at knowledge checks.

Kitsune style can give you a DT on a charge, or cloak and dagger style can let you take an AoO when they remove a DT's condition. To get the latter you'd need to take at least one level in master of many styles monk.

Dark Archive

Unchained Rogue 4, for Finesse Training and Debilitating Injury. Take Sneaky Maneuver and Underhanded Trick. Pick up Agile Maneuvers (not necessary if you're doing the maneuvers with your weapon) and Kitsune Style.

Vigilante 6. No archetype, either Stalker (for diluted hidden strike) or Avenger (for higher BAB). Take Deceitful Trick, Turnabout, and Expose Weakness.

From there, you can dip back into Rogue for more Sneak Attack and another talent, continue Vigilante for fun toys, or go Slayer (Bounty Hunter) for a better version of Sneaky Maneuver that lets you as SA dice as a bonus.

Make sure you finish Kitsune Style and the standard Dirty Trick feats. You'll have nice bonuses, good damage, lots of skills, and some flexible Dirty Trick options.


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avr wrote:

Rogues can pick up underhanded trick and ninja trick: redirect force, or similarly for a ninja but in reverse. The surprise maneuvers feat gives a healthy bonus to combat maneuvers. The snoop rogue archetype would help with your wanting to be good at knowledge checks.

Kitsune style can give you a DT on a charge, or cloak and dagger style can let you take an AoO when they remove a DT's condition. To get the latter you'd need to take at least one level in master of many styles monk.

Instead of monk I would probably just take level(s) in Fighter with the Unarmed Fighter archetype which also helps get a style feat, gives improved unarmed strike and is full BAB (though doesn't help saves or offer other occasionally useful features as a monk level would)


If you take Gang Up Teamwork feat with two of your group members, you'll always be considered Flanking regardless of your actual position. This couples well with Dirty Fighting because you get a +4 to perform Combat Maneuvers while Flanking.

Gang Up is nice to have for fighting in cramped hallways and vs. mobs who have formed a line and you can't flank your target properly, or mobs who simply have really good positioning/mobility and are tough to flank. It's basically a constant +4 to CMB as long as you're fighting with your Gang Up buddies.


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other options I am considering:

Brawler - gets maneuver training, martial flexibility could help swap in some of the advanced ditry trick feats as needed (or swap in grapple or another chain of feats when that's better). The Wild Child archetype trades out most of the bonus feats for a full level animal companion (who will get to make all the same combat maneuvers) but that may be giving up too much. Not sure if brawler would be best as a straight class or in combination with another class that might add some further precision damage options (to take full advantage of blinded enemies). Martial flexibility however well it plays up a "smart" fighter some other Brawler class features would encourage dumping INT (since Brawlers qualify as having INT of 13 for the purposes of feats - though there are a handful of feats where having a very high INT might be really beneficial.

Fighter - Unarmed Fighter archetype to pick up style feats in particular but with some builds might be a bit redundant and makes the "smart" part of the character harder.

Rogue - Fey Prankster (some nifty features but unsure if they are worthwhile in the end) - however the flavor may fit other thoughts I have re worshipping an Eldest (there is an Eldest who has an obedience that grants a huge bonus to ALL Int skills that would fit well for this character concept)

Investigator (Questioner) - kinda out there but could it work? Easily fits the skill monkey goal (one build gets to nearly +20s across the board with all knowledge skills while still having a lot of other skills at a high level. Damage would be the challenge though not impossible (inspired weapon would help to a degree)


If you go as a Wild Child, pick a Giant Skunk :) It would work pretty well with a Dirty Trickster master :)


Rycaut wrote:
avr wrote:

Rogues can pick up underhanded trick and ninja trick: redirect force, or similarly for a ninja but in reverse. The surprise maneuvers feat gives a healthy bonus to combat maneuvers. The snoop rogue archetype would help with your wanting to be good at knowledge checks.

Kitsune style can give you a DT on a charge, or cloak and dagger style can let you take an AoO when they remove a DT's condition. To get the latter you'd need to take at least one level in master of many styles monk.

Instead of monk I would probably just take level(s) in Fighter with the Unarmed Fighter archetype which also helps get a style feat, gives improved unarmed strike and is full BAB (though doesn't help saves or offer other occasionally useful features as a monk level would)

The thing with MoMS monk is that you can have a couple of styles running at once. With that and the saves I'd take it over unarmed fighter, especially if you were going to take two such levels.


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Ryze Kuja wrote:

If you take Gang Up Teamwork feat with two of your group members, you'll always be considered Flanking regardless of your actual position. This couples well with Dirty Fighting because you get a +4 to perform Combat Maneuvers while Flanking.

Gang Up is nice to have for fighting in cramped hallways and vs. mobs who have formed a line and you can't flank your target properly, or mobs who simply have really good positioning/mobility and are tough to flank. It's basically a constant +4 to CMB as long as you're fighting with your Gang Up buddies.

This is for PFS play - so I can never assume that anyone will have any given teamwork feat unless my character either has a companion (i.e. familiar or animal companion that gets teamwork feats) or if the character has a class feature to grant teamwork feats to members of the party - but even then in any given party it is never certain that there will be another character who wants to be a front liner.


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Swashtigator is still glorious. 1 level of inspired blade, investigator the rest..
1: rapier finesse, wpn focus, fencing grace, int+1 panache and party..
2: skills, inspiration, extracts
3: wpn versatility
4: mutagen
5: single weapon trick, studied target
6: quick study
7: dirty fighting
8: sickening offensive
9: imp dirty trick
10: talent?
11: grtr dirty trick
Bonus: power attack

The damage isn't great, but being able to hit and sicken and greater trick in a round isn't terrible.. if you can't justify doing your tricks with your rapier then agile maneuvers may be required.. empiricist plus student of philosophy trait really helps the social skills..


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I like the Swashtigator but a few questions:

- what does swashbuckler add to the overall build? (it makes it harder for example to use the great burgler's buckler that fits the concept so well) - I looked at build that would be a straight Investigator (and another that would be an Investigator Questioner that I really like - gives up extracts/alchemy for spells from the Bard list - which means actual 0 level spells) - instead of trying to make it a Dex build I just made it a STR build.

- not sure that single weapon trick (light blades) is worth it - have to ponder that (other options would be quick dirty trick and/or dirty trick related style feats)

- sickening offensive is a solid option (also looked at the whole combat focused chain of investigator talents) + an inspired blade could add a decent amount of potential in combat

I think it is doable but does suffer from not being a full BAB class and being relatively feat starved compared to some other build options (and if you lose your rapier the build is far less productive in combat)

Questioner + the right Fey Obedience however does result in very very high Knowledge skills (+20 or higher easily without max skill ranks + 1d8 inspiration die = you make your knowledge checks and can even if needed take 20 on knowledge checks even in combat. So that does fit the character thematically (and overall results in a high skilled character - if also MAD to do anything very well.


Swashigator is great thanks to parry and riposte. You got plenty of panache points and I'm surprised to hear that the damage is not great... I've seen swashigator builds that rival the party archer for DPR.

Fencing grace plus studied combat plus mutagen dex and many self buffs really hurt.


The Nerf to Lore Warden was insane, and completely uncalled for. I would play a Barbarian just to spite anyone who thought that the Lore Warden was overpowered.

Strength Surge alone makes the Barbarian better at Combat Maneuvers. Auspicious Mark makes them decent at skills. If you were human you could even get all knowledge skills as class skills with an alternate racial trait, on top of the human Favored Class Bonus for Barbarian, which gives you a tremendous boost to Superstition saves.

In any way you put it, Lore Warden was certainly not overpowered. Are you absolutely married to the idea of an INT based Lawful Good Tiefling? At least if you weren't INT based you could play a fairly powerful Paladin and be almost unkillable.


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Kaouse wrote:

The Nerf to Lore Warden was insane, and completely uncalled for. I would play a Barbarian just to spite anyone who thought that the Lore Warden was overpowered.

Strength Surge alone makes the Barbarian better at Combat Maneuvers. Auspicious Mark makes them decent at skills. If you were human you could even get all knowledge skills as class skills with an alternate racial trait, on top of the human Favored Class Bonus for Barbarian, which gives you a tremendous boost to Superstition saves.

In any way you put it, Lore Warden was certainly not overpowered. Are you absolutely married to the idea of an INT based Lawful Good Tiefling? At least if you weren't INT based you could play a fairly powerful Paladin and be almost unkillable.

While technically a full rebuild in PFS can change everything about a character (other than some gold and prestige purchases) this is an 11th level character with an extensive history. I don’t want to change him dramatically.

Aspects that I won’t change:

- Skill focused with a high INT (at least very high knowledge skills and spellcraft)

- tiefling (though may change his variety)

- lawful good (so not a barbarian) - he was tempted by the whole Lissalian arc but atoned

- focused on debuffing (likely via dirty tricks) followed by a means to take enemies down (sneak attack or the like to benefit from applied debuffs. However I’m open to various means to do this)

So barbarian is an unlikely chassis for this build - he’s also the type of character to use lots of magic not be superstitious about it (and the character was always intended to have some degree of arcane ability)

As I noted he was DEX and INT focused - I’m open to switching that to STR and INT which could make some builds easier (hurts AC but simplifies boosting CMB and avoids the need for a finesse build. However he probably still needs decent DEX for some feat chains.

The original character had a glaring weakness in his will saves and poor wisdom and charisma that hurt his usefulness out of combat beyond making knowledge checks.


I second the recommendation for swashigator. Once you get studied target at 5th, your GM will cry.


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born_of_fire wrote:
I second the recommendation for swashigator. Once you get studied target at 5th, your GM will cry.

Again this is a level 11 rebuild for PFS. So what matters is the effectiveness at that level (and most of the time I’m the GM so when I play I want something really fun for me to play. Not sure swashtigator really is it as I already have a mostly swashbuckler character (who is fun admittedly but also takes a very specific approach to make work well). Parry and riposte builds take stuff like an answering weapon and provoking attacks. While the original of this character focused on locking down enemies via stuff like blinding to prevent AoOs (and then at higher levels focused on leveraging a blinded opponent to take many attacks each with sneak attack damage).


Rycaut wrote:
born_of_fire wrote:
I second the recommendation for swashigator. Once you get studied target at 5th, your GM will cry.

Again this is a level 11 rebuild for PFS. So what matters is the effectiveness at that level (and most of the time I’m the GM so when I play I want something really fun for me to play. Not sure swashtigator really is it as I already have a mostly swashbuckler character (who is fun admittedly but also takes a very specific approach to make work well). Parry and riposte builds take stuff like an answering weapon and provoking attacks. While the original of this character focused on locking down enemies via stuff like blinding to prevent AoOs (and then at higher levels focused on leveraging a blinded opponent to take many attacks each with sneak attack damage).

A mostly swashbuckler character doesn't really compare with how a swashigator plays. The only thing you have the swashbuckler level for is to facilitate the earliest possible dex-to-damage which crap....for PFS won't work because it is 100% reliant on effortless lace. Bah, that's unfortunate. Boo.


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A Swashigator is an Investigator with a one level Swashbuckler dip (generally the Inspired Blade archetype) for easy Dex to Damage. It doesn't require Effortless Lace at all.

Of course, at Level 11, you could just make the Investigator Dex based by spending money on Agile. If you want to retain the skill focus, nobody does it better than the Investigator. With Studied Combat, you can still pull off combat Maneuvers. Plus, you can grab Sickening Offensive for a no save Sicken on hit.

Investigator also has a strong Will save, and if you are going to be Lawful Good, then feel free to purchase a potion of the Paladin Spell, Bestow Grace, to add your Charisma to your saves. It's a potent buff that you can spam with Alchemical Allocation.

Another alternative, is to be a Dex & Int based Kensai Bladebound Magus. You get high AC, high damage, and great saves all around (especially since you can spend all of your money on save boosters rather than enhancing a weapon or armor).

If you want to debuff, the Frostbite build is easily the best. Rime Spell Metamagic+ Enforcer + Shatter Defenses makes you really threatening to anybody not immune to cold or non-lethal.

If you didn't mind paying for a sword, you could add Cruel to that (or take the Tiefling alternate trait that let's you count as human, then take Gnome racial heritage to select their Favored class bonus to get Cruel). If somehow you were still drowning in feats, consider also Arcane Strike into Riving Strike for further debuffs. Spellcasting teammates will absolutely love you.


Kaouse wrote:

A Swashigator is an Investigator with a one level Swashbuckler dip (generally the Inspired Blade archetype) for easy Dex to Damage. It doesn't require Effortless Lace at all.

Of course, at Level 11, you could just make the Investigator Dex based by spending money on Agile. If you want to retain the skill focus, nobody does it better than the Investigator. With Studied Combat, you can still pull off combat Maneuvers. Plus, you can grab Sickening Offensive for a no save Sicken on hit.

Investigator also has a strong Will save, and if you are going to be Lawful Good, then feel free to purchase a potion of the Paladin Spell, Bestow Grace, to add your Charisma to your saves. It's a potent buff that you can spam with Alchemical Allocation.

Another alternative, is to be a Dex & Int based Kensai Bladebound Magus. You get high AC, high damage, and great saves all around (especially since you can spend all of your money on save boosters rather than enhancing a weapon or armor).

If you want to debuff, the Frostbite build is easily the best. Rime Spell Metamagic+ Enforcer + Shatter Defenses makes you really threatening to anybody not immune to cold or non-lethal.

If you didn't mind paying for a sword, you could add Cruel to that (or take the Tiefling alternate trait that let's you count as human, then take Gnome racial heritage to select their Favored class bonus to get Cruel). If somehow you were still drowning in feats, consider also Arcane Strike into Riving Strike for further debuffs. Spellcasting teammates will absolutely love you.

Gah, you are correct. Agile would work. Sorry, I haven't played PFS in quite some time so rusty on finagling things to work within that ruleset.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Why make the character Dex based? It was previously but the rebuild doesn't have to be - feels like there is a lot of finicky bits to making that work curious why it seems to be the focus of many of the suggestions? (full rebuild means I can change his stats - going STR will make it a bit easier to make him a CMB focused character)

Studied Combat is good - but the Investigator is only a partial BAB class - so net at level 11 it is only about +2 boost to effective CMB (or basic to hit) but only has two attacks (if not going to the feat heavy route of two-weapon attacking) - so unless I take some natural weapons (and use them as secondary attacks) he will have trouble both landing a dirty trick and doing much else in a given round

the original build uses maneuver master monk for flurry of maneuvers plus the actual two weapon fighting chain of feats to offer a lot of options to land many sneak attacks when attacking

that said once the dirty trick is applied blinded helps a non-full BAB class land more hits (and combine with flanking or other boosts...)

Investigator certainly is tempting from a skills perspective.

Magus is definitely a potential options - bladebound could indeed save some funds for other items.


Rycaut wrote:

Why make the character Dex based? It was previously but the rebuild doesn't have to be - feels like there is a lot of finicky bits to making that work curious why it seems to be the focus of many of the suggestions? (full rebuild means I can change his stats - going STR will make it a bit easier to make him a CMB focused character)

Studied Combat is good - but the Investigator is only a partial BAB class - so net at level 11 it is only about +2 boost to effective CMB (or basic to hit) but only has two attacks (if not going to the feat heavy route of two-weapon attacking) - so unless I take some natural weapons (and use them as secondary attacks) he will have trouble both landing a dirty trick and doing much else in a given round

the original build uses maneuver master monk for flurry of maneuvers plus the actual two weapon fighting chain of feats to offer a lot of options to land many sneak attacks when attacking

that said once the dirty trick is applied blinded helps a non-full BAB class land more hits (and combine with flanking or other boosts...)

Investigator certainly is tempting from a skills perspective.

Magus is definitely a potential options - bladebound could indeed save some funds for other items.

Even though your BAB is only 3/4, your ability to debuff their AC is really good. You can destroy someone's AC with Blind and Trip tactics (like dirty tricks). -4AC vs melee attacks for Prone, -2AC + lose Dex/Dodge to AC for Blind... this is quite a bit, especially if your target has a decent dodge/dex bonus. You can't Trip with Dirty Tricks, per say, but if you're getting Dirty Tricks, you ought to have Dirty Fighting instead of Combat Expertise, which will allow you to make trips from behind without provoking AO's.

So as long as you can land your DT's, you can expect to be attacking someone's FFAC most of the time. Your 3/4 BAB will be just fine.


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Sure but why go Dex based if I don’t have to? And a more martial character gets all the same benefits of prone or blinded but likely has more attacks that hit hard.


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The thing is, neither the Investigator nor the Magus need to rely on Dirty Trick in order to debuff somebody. The Investigator can attack normally and still make a target sickened with Sickening Offensive. Or prevent them from being able to take AOOs with Sapping Offensive (which allows you to use further combat maneuvers against them without needing the feat investment).

The Investigator is probably the ONLY 3/4 BAB class that doesn't need significant buff time to pull off combat maneuvers. And that's entirely due to how strong Studied Combat is. It's literally the strongest offensive buff in the game. The only buffs I could possibly think of that match it are day-limited buffs like Smite Evil and a high level Inquisitor Triple Judgement, and even then, that's because they often do multiple things outside of boosting a class's offense.


Okay about your knowledge thing, there is an odd solution that I will propose. first put at least one point into each knowledge, and if you can make them all class skill, lore warden still does this level one, so if you like you can still pick up one level and not lose a Bab.

Next buy a mask of a thousand tomes, makes you blind, but gives +10 to all knowledges, Pyrrhic, yes? Well:

Next give your armor a quality called Sensing. 60 foot blindsense, 5 foot blind sight while blind, which you are. The whole thing is going to cost you monetarily like 25000 if you put nothing else on your armor, still the equivalent of 100 ranks in knowledge, and suddenly all invisible enemies are screwed vs you.

Finally pick up blind fight, and improved blind-fight to be able to do stuff at range, if you care.


Rycaut wrote:
Sure but why go Dex based if I don’t have to? And a more martial character gets all the same benefits of prone or blinded but likely has more attacks that hit hard.

I'm partial to dex-based characters. Not really any reason other than that for my suggestion. Note that if you do go str-based there's virtually no reason to dip swashbuckler.

I do think that you will struggle to find a "more martial character" that has skills even remotely approaching an investigator's capabilities. You will have to compromise between skills and combat ability somewhere.

Edit: If you pick up mutagen, the str-based mutagen penalizes your int whereas the dex-based mutagen penalizes your wis so something to consider there when deciding between str-based and dex-based. As well, tieflings get +2 int and +2 dex, do they not? Another small consideration that may lead to favouring dex-based.


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Tieflings of the default variety do but there are many heritages that get different bonus stats for tieflings so there is some flexibility there (and as a player I don't typically like using Darkness so am leaning to another variety of Tiefling in any case (or at least trading out Darkness for something else)


Rycaut wrote:
Sure but why go Dex based if I don’t have to? And a more martial character gets all the same benefits of prone or blinded but likely has more attacks that hit hard.

There's no really good reason other than personal preference, imo. Dex builds are more feat intensive, but that's because your AC and Touch AC will be much higher than Strength builds, likewise Strength builds will have a lower AC but a less feat intensive build (a dex build going for combat maneuvers would require weapon finesse/agile maneuvers).

You can mitigate the 2 feat requirement by taking a class in rogue or swashbuckler for the weapon finesse, then you're only down 1 feat in your overall build.


One nice thing about dex builds is that Celestial Armor is gloriously underpriced.


I would also recommend the swashigator. The swashbuckler level is really for the defensive benefits of parry and the extra effective feats giving easy access to dex to damage.

I would do something like the character below.

He has the key dirty trick feats. I would have liked to add in the Kitsune chain but ran out of space. He can always dirty trick as part of a full attack or in place of a melee attack. Starting CMB for it is +26 (8Bab +6dex +4 greater trick +5 studied target +1 competence ioun stone +2 gauntlet). He adds another +2 with mutagen and can gain additional bonuses from things like heroism.

Dirty fighting will give another +4 if flanking or allow him to use other maneuvers without provoking. Weapon based maneuvers such as trip or disarm add another +2 due to weapon focus and weapon enhancement.

He has a lot of skills, including all knowledges. Many are at high values and extracts can improve them further. Things like investigative mind, focused study or true skill give major bonuses. A discerning wayfinder or wand of identify will let him ID items. He can add inspiration for free on many different skills.

Extracts also allow him to make use of lots of other buffs and benefits. Greater invis means you are regularly targeting flat footed cmd, barkskin and shield will push you to tank levels of AC, combining amplify elixir and alchemical allocation allows you to make repeat use of the various powerful elixirs (vision, tumbling, elemental protection, dragons breath etc) as well as potions of 3rd level spells bought with PP (fly, heroism etc).

His saves are OK and will be improved with extracts like heroism or channel vigour. AC is competitive with just mutagen especially when backed up with parry and riposte.

He has about 93k in gear, I am not sure how much you have to spend. I would invest in a lot of wands and potions with PP if possible.

Stat Block:

The stat block includes the benefit of ant haul and mutagen and assumes he has studied his target.

Male tiefling investigator (empiricist) 10/swashbuckler (inspired blade) 1 (Pathfinder RPG Advanced Class Guide 30, 56, 100, 125, Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 264)
LG Medium outsider (native)

Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +25

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Defense
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AC 30, touch 18, flat-footed 22 (+9 armor, +8 Dex, +3 natural)
hp 83 (11 HD; 10d8+1d10+23)
Fort +11, Ref +23, Will +12 (+4 save vs. illusion and disbelievable effects)
Defensive Abilities trap sense +3; Resist cold 5, unfailing logic

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Offense
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Speed 30 ft.
Melee +1 inspired adamantine rapier +24/+19 (1d6+9/18-20 plus 5 precision damage) or
. . bite +8 (1d6-1 plus 5 precision damage)

Special Attacks deeds (derring-do, dodging panache, opportune parry and riposte), panache (7), studied combat (+5, 6 rounds), studied strike +4d6

Investigator (Empiricist) Extracts Prepared (CL 10th; concentration +16)

. . 4th—freedom of movement, greater invisibility
. . 3rd—amplify elixir[APG], channel vigor, countless eyes[UM] (DC 19), fey form I[UW]
. . 2nd—ablative barrier[UC], alchemical allocation (2)[APG], barkskin, investigative mind[ACG], see invisibility
. . 1st—ant haul[APG] (DC 17), monkey fish (2) [ACG], shield (4)

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Statistics
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Str 9, Dex 26, Con 14, Int 22, Wis 8, Cha 5
Base Atk +8; CMB +22 (+28 dirty trick, +23 disarm, +23 steal); CMD 25 (27 vs. dirty trick)

Feats Agile Maneuvers, Combat Reflexes, Dirty Fighting, Fencing Grace[UI], Greater Dirty Trick[APG], Improved Dirty Trick[APG], Quick Dirty Trick[UC], Weapon Focus (rapier)

Traits fate's favored, student of philosophy

Skills Acrobatics +25, Bluff +20 (+11 to feint), Craft Alchemy +10 (+20 to create items), Diplomacy +20, Disable Device +29, Escape Artist +26, Knowledge (all) +10, Linguistics +15, Perception +25, Sense Motive +20, Sleight of Hand +20, Spellcraft +20, Stealth +20, Use Magic Device +20

Languages Abyssal, Azlanti, Celestial, Common, Hallit, Infernal, Kelish, Skald, Tekritanin, Thassilonian, Tien, Triaxian, Varisian, Vudrani

SQ alchemy (alchemy crafting +10), bullying, ceaseless observation, inspiration (11/day), inspired panache, investigator talents (combat inspiration[ACG], mutagen[UM], quick study[ACG], underworld inspiration[ACG]), keen recollection, mutagen (+4/-2, +2 natural armor, 100 minutes), prehensile tail[ARG], trapfinding +5

Combat Gear mutagen[APG]; Other Gear celestial armor, +1 inspired adamantine rapier, belt of incredible dexterity +2, boots of elvenkind, cloak of resistance +3, cracked pale green prism ioun stone (attack), cracked pale green prism ioun stone (saves), eyes of the eagle, gauntlet of the skilled maneuver (dirty trick)[UE], headband of vast intelligence +4, lucky horseshoe[OA], vest of escape, wayfinder[ISWG], investigator starting formula book, masterwork thieves' tools

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Special Abilities
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Agile Maneuvers Use DEX instead of STR for CMB
Alchemy +10 (Su) +10 to Craft (Alchemy) to create alchemical items, can Id potions by touch.
Bullying +1 racial bonus on combat maneuver checks to disarm or steal
Ceaseless Observation (Ex) Use INT instead of CHA for gather information (+9)
Combat Inspiration (Ex) Applying inspiration to attacks/saves only costs 1 point.
Combat Reflexes (9 AoO/round) Can make extra attacks of opportunity/rd, and even when flat-footed.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white only).
Deeds
Dirty Fighting Forgo flanking bonus to make combat maneuver not provoke attack of op.
Energy Resistance, Cold (5) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Cold attacks.
Fencing Grace Use Dexterity on rapier damage rolls
Greater Dirty Trick Dirty Trick penalty lasts 1d4 rds, +1 per 5 over CMD and takes a standard action to remove.
Improved Dirty Trick You don't provoke attacks of opportunity when performing a dirty trick.
Inspiration (+1d6, 11/day) (Ex) Use 1 point, +1d6 to trained skill or ability check. Use 2 points, to add to attack or save.
Inspired Panache (Ex) Gain no panache from killing blow, only from rapier crits.
Keen Recollection At 3rd level, an investigator can attempt all Knowledge skill checks untrained.
Mutagen This discovery gives the alchemist the mutagen class ability, as described in the Advanced Player's Guide. (This discovery exists so alchemist archetypes who have variant mutagens, such as the mindchemist, can learn how to make standard mutage
Mutagen (DC 21) (Su) Mutagen adds +4/-2 to physical/mental attributes, and +2 nat. armor for 100 minutes.
Panache (Ex) Gain a pool of points that are spent to fuel deeds, regained on light/piercing crit/killing blow.
Prehensile Tail Your tail can retrieve small objects on your person as a swift action.
Quick Dirty Trick May perform a dirty trick in place of your first melee attack.
Quick Study (Ex) Use studied combat as a swift action.
Studied Combat (+5, 6 rounds) (Ex) As a swift action, study foe to gain bonus to att & dam for duration or until use studied strike.
Studied Strike +4d6 (Ex) As a free action on a melee hit, end studied combat vs. foe to add precision dam.
Trap Sense +3 (Ex) +3 bonus on reflex saves and AC against traps.
Trapfinding +5 Gain a bonus to find or disable traps, including magical ones.
Underworld Inspiration (Ex) Free Inspiration on Bluff, Disable Device, Disguise, Intimidate, or Sleight of Hand (if trained).
Unfailing Logic +4 (Ex) +4 save vs. illusion and disbelievable effects


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

So I have tried a bunch of builds and am currently most intrigued by two similar builds.

One - a pure hexcrafter magus build - gets a decent amount of spells, of course can do the whole shocking grasp trick for some nova damage (10d6 electrical isn't shabby) and is decent at landing the initial dirty trick thanks to arcane accuracy and/or spell combat with a true strike. Would play like a bit of an unusual magus thanks to the hexes (which become great if you run out of spells to spell combat with) - and evil eye + cackle is going to make you friends with the rest of the party much of the time. Not as good of a hexer as a full witch (and no major hexes) but still quite strong. Decent at the skills but not outsanding.

Or Two - my current direction I'm leaning - an investigator (Psychic Detective) 1 / Unchained Rogue (Sylvan Trickster) 10.

This build gets LOTS of options all pretty solid - sylvan trickster means at level 10 you get major hexes (and extra rogue talent means additional feats = additional hexes) - so level 10 rogue talent is for Stalker Talent (a vigilante feat) to get a dirty trick specific - and then level 11 feat is for extra rogue talent / fey tricks for major hex (Ice Tomb most likely - but Agony is tempting as well). One way to make this build that I really like is to focus on natural attacks - claws from alternative tiefling ability, prehensile hair from a hex and a bite from a ring of rat fangs means four natural attacks two of which get dex to damage (claws), one gets INT to damage (hair) and while the bite gets little regular damage - it still gets sneak attack if it lands.... and one amulet of mighty fists enhances them all.

Only +16 to hit which at level 11 might be a problem at times - but most of the time foes will have a bunch of penalties to their AC pretty quickly (either via Evil Eye or via dirty trick (blind) followed by debilitating strike (bewildered) with each additional sneak attack that lands adding further rounds to the penalties - and oh yeah, adding 5d6 damage with each hit.

And when it adds blinded via dirty trick it can't be removed for one round - and to land that initial dirty trick he can use inspiration in combat (only 3x a day but still very useful) - and arguably the amulet of mighty fists should add a bonus to CMB for dirty tricks performed with natural attacks or unarmed strikes... but Hero Labs doesn't seem to handle that so not sure about it entirely. That would be +25 for dirty tricks (which is solid if at high levels not certain of landing)

Between 10 rounds of air walk (via gale armor) + flight hex (10 mins of fly in 1 min increments) he should always be flying. When needed he can even use telekenetic projectile to land a sneak attack at range. His saves are a bit low (but inspiration could help here as well) and I suspect his AC is also a bit low (but evasion + a small amount of DR should help him)

Full Rogue Build:
Kiet - recreation #3 - rogue investigator
Male tiefling investigator (psychic detective) 1/unchained rogue 10 (Pathfinder RPG Advanced Class Guide 30, Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 264, Pathfinder RPG Occult Adventures 119, Pathfinder Unchained 20, Ultimate Wilderness 77)
LG Medium outsider (native)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +14
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Defense
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AC 24, touch 18, flat-footed 17 (+4 armor, +7 Dex, +1 insight, +2 shield)
hp 101 (11d8+43)
Fort +8, Ref +19, Will +8; +4 vs. fey and plant-targeted effects
Defensive Abilities danger sense +3, evasion; DR 2/cold iron; Resist cold 5, electricity 5, fire 5
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Offense
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Speed 30 ft.
Melee bite +16 (1d4 plus 5d6 sneak attack), 2 claws +16 (1d4+9 plus 5d6 sneak attack), hair +16 (1d3+8 plus 5d6 sneak attack)
Special Attacks sneak attack (unchained) +5d6
Rogue (Unchained) Spell-Like Abilities (CL 10th; concentration +8)
At will—feather fall (self only)
Investigator (Psychic Detective) Spells Known (CL 1st; concentration +7)
1st (3/day)—heightened awareness[ACG], ill omen[APG]
0 (at will)—detect magic, mage hand, prestidigitation, telekinetic projectile[OA]
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Statistics
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Str 7, Dex 24, Con 14, Int 22, Wis 10, Cha 7
Base Atk +7; CMB +15 (+23 dirty trick); CMD 23 (27 vs. dirty trick)
Feats Agile Maneuvers, Extra Rogue Talent[APG], Extra Rogue Talent[APG], Extra Rogue Talent[APG], Fey Obedience, Greater Dirty Trick[APG], Improved Dirty Trick[APG], Toughness, Weapon Finesse
Traits fey hex (irrisen), shadow stabber
Skills Acrobatics +15, Appraise +14, Craft (weapons) +12, Disable Device +22, Escape Artist +21, Fly +16, Knowledge (arcana) +20, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +20, Knowledge (engineering) +15, Knowledge (geography) +15, Knowledge (history) +15, Knowledge (local) +20, Knowledge (nature) +20, Knowledge (nobility) +15, Knowledge (planes) +20, Knowledge (religion) +20, Linguistics +15, Perception +14, Sense Motive +14, Sleight of Hand +23, Spellcraft +24, Stealth +21, Survival +0 (+2 to avoid becoming lost), Swim +2, Use Magic Device +12; Racial Modifiers +4 Fly
Languages Abyssal, Common, Infernal, Sylvan
SQ debilitating injury: bewildered, debilitating injury: disoriented, debilitating injury: hampered, fey tricks (cackle[APG], evil eye[APG], flight[APG], ice tomb[UM], prehensile hair[UM], slumber[APG]), inspiration (6/day), prehensile tail[ARG], rogue talents (stalker talent[UI], underhanded trick), trapfinding +1, wild empathy +10
Other Gear gale armor[UC], burglar's buckler[UE], +2 amulet of mighty fists, belt of incredible dexterity +4, cloak of resistance +3, dusty rose prism ioun stone, gauntlet of the skilled maneuver (dirty trick)[UE], headband of vast intelligence +4, ring of rat fangs[ARG], wayfinder[ISWG], investigator starting formula book, 1,577 gp
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Special Abilities
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+4 to Intelligence skill checks (Su) Gain a +4 bonus on Intelligence-based skill checks.
Agile Maneuvers Use DEX instead of STR for CMB
Cackle (Su) As a move action, extend the duration of other hexes by 1 rd.
Damage Reduction (2/cold iron) You have Damage Reduction against all except Cold Iron attacks.
Danger Sense +3 (Ex) +3 bonus on reflex saves and AC against traps.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white only).
Debilitating Injury: Bewildered -2/-6 (Ex) Foe who takes sneak attack damage takes AC pen (more vs. striker) for 1 rd.
Debilitating Injury: Disoriented -2/-6 (Ex) Foe who takes sneak attack damage takes attack pen (more vs. striker) for 1 rd.
Debilitating Injury: Hampered (Ex) Foe who takes sneak attack damage has speed halved (and can't 5 ft step) for 1 rd.
Deceitful Trick (Ex) Perform dirty trick in place of first attack of a full attack, inflict two conditions.
Energy Resistance, Cold (5) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Cold attacks.
Energy Resistance, Electricity (5) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Electricity attacks.
Energy Resistance, Fire (5) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Fire attacks.
Evasion (Ex) If succeed on Reflex save for half dam, take none instead.
Evil Eye -4 (9 rounds, DC 21) (Su) Foe in 30 ft takes penalty to your choice of AC, attacks, saves, ability or skill checks (Will part).
Fey Obedience Daily obediences to prove devotion to an Eldest and gain benefits.
Greater Dirty Trick Dirty Trick penalty lasts 1d4 rds, +1 per 5 over CMD and takes a standard action to remove.
Ice Tomb (DC 21) (Su) A storm of ice and freezing wind envelops the creature, which takes 3d8 points of cold damage (Fortitude half). If the target fails its save, it is paralyzed and unconscious but does not need to eat or breathe while the ice lasts. The ice has 20 hit
Improved Dirty Trick You don't provoke attacks of opportunity when performing a dirty trick.
Inspiration (+1d6, 6/day) (Ex) Use 1 point, +1d6 to trained skill or ability check. Use 2 points, to add to attack or save.
Prehensile Hair (10/day) (Su) The witch can instantly cause her hair (or even her eyebrows) to grow up to 10 feet long or to shrink to its normal length, and can manipulate her hair as if it were a limb with a Strength score equal to her Intelligence score. Her hair has reach 10
Prehensile Tail Your tail can retrieve small objects on your person as a swift action.
Slumber (10 rounds, DC 21) (Su) Foe in 30 ft falls asleep for duration, or until damaged or roused by ally (Will neg).
Sneak Attack (Unchained) +5d6 Attacks deal extra dam if flank foe or if foe is flat-footed.
Trapfinding +1 Gain a bonus to find or disable traps, including magical ones.
Underhanded Trick Dirty Trick blinding can't be removed for 1 rd. Can ignore pre-reqs of Greater Dirty Trick.
Wild Empathy +10 (Ex) Improve the attitude of an animal, as if using Diplomacy.

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