Specific Circumstances Arcane Trickster Advice (minor Strange Aeons spoiler territory)


The Exchange

I'm playing in a Strange Aeons game that's operating under some pretty strict parameters, turning it into an almost roguelike difficulty level. And my damn fool self decided to try and run an Arcane Trickster.

First, the parameters:
15pt Buy - This has made for some pretty rough choices. But not insurmountable on it's own, we just have to work with a tighter budget.

Automatic Bonus Progression - This is even rougher. On paper it sounds nice, but in practice it's truly terrible for casters, doubly so for those who have to build a spell book. Also, having the support items that casters need to function is way harder, since you can't save up and buy your headband. To say nothing of the lack of scroll and wand funds.

No Magic Merchants- All right, now, I know I should trust my GM, but this is just getting ridiculous. We're, at the moment, one session into book 2. Thus far, there have been no places to buy scrolls or even copy spell books via spellcasting services. I've got a pretty decent Know(Local), and Thrushmoor appears to be a good sized city, and yet no wizards anywhere. There's a subplot we stumbled onto involving a bookseller who skipped town that I intend to focus on next session, but it's starting to feel like overkill to hobble the wizard at this point.

And this is the minor spoiler I warned about, but the ENTIRETY of the first book has no option to expand a spellbook since you're in the asylum the whole time. We've not been able to buy any gear of any kind until recently.

Ok, those were the circumstances. Now onto the build I have so far:

Wizard3 (æther school, pact wizard)URogue1(Snoop archetype)
Str 10
Dex 14
Con 12
Int 19
Wis 12
Cha 7

1 extra traits
H Improved Initiative
3 Accomplished Sneak

Methodical Mind (campaign)
Student of Philosophy
Pragmatic Activator

Familiar (Figment) Flying Fox

Skills are pretty broad, so I won't bother to list them here. Suffice to say I have a little of everything, and plenty of stealth, perception and Spellcraft. I'm also taking up the Face role, as our paladin didn't make it out of book one alive, and our Oracle is deaf and not much for negotiation. Having an inspiration pool of 5 makes it way easier to cover the skill role.

Actually, that's a good segue into party composition:
Invulnerable Rager 4
Heavens Oracle 4
Wolf Shaman Druid 4

So our front line is well tended. Though without the archery feats it makes lasers... ineffective. I'm thinking the best thing to do would be to act as a support and control wizard for a while. Buffs and glitterdust galore. But I can't find someone to learn anything from. So for now, have to make due with....

1- Detect Undead (P)
Expeditious Retreat
Floating Disc (S)
Mage Armor
Magic Missile (S)
Protection vs Evil
Unseen Servant (S)

2nd - Blur (S)
Command Undead (P)
Scorching Ray

S=School Spell
P=Patron (occult)

Typical Loadout:
0 - Acid Splash
Detect Magic
Mage Hand
Read Magic

1 - Mage Armor
Protection vs Evil
Vanish x2

2 - Blur
Scorching Ray x2

I can spontaneously cast Patron spells using any nonschool slot. Giving me a little versatility to lean into, and being able to detect Haunts has been super handy.

If I ever manage to find a mentor or some scrolls I intend to adjust my tactics some. Pyrotechnics and giving alchemist fire to my familiar for one thing. Or failing that glitterdust as I already discussed.

Here's my conundrum other than what I've listed above:

It's clear to me that I'm not going to be able to lean into blasting; I've missed with every Scorching Ray I've managed to cast so far. So I think I have to abandon that path and go for heavy versatility and support. Which says to me next level is Craft Wondrous Item, as I fully expect the super rarity on magic to continue.

And I'm fine with all that if it's the only path forward. But I'm wondering if anyone else has made the laser trickster work, since the class features seem to favor it as a build.

Haven't tried this exactly, but I think you really need PBS and precise shot to make it work. Touch attacks are good but you're missing out on 5 points of attack bonus much of the time by not having those feats, so I'd rate them higher than improved initiative and extra traits. I'm sure you've got good reasons for those two, but perhaps they don't contribute to the laser trickster you want to be as much as they should.

Grand Lodge

As a GM running the AP myself, i know the feeling of my party wizard hoping he gets ahold of a spellbook soon.
i do agree with AVR that if you plan on being ranged- PBS/PRecise Shot is neccessary. if this is a home game, possibly talk to your GM about nixing the prerequisite of needing PBS for Precise Shot.

until you get those feats, focus more on zapping enemies that haven't engaged in combat- that way, you don't get the penalty.

The Exchange

Oh, I know now beyond any doubt that I need precise shot. But at this point I'm wondering whether I should commit to that path at all. I'm starting to think that the SA to spells thing might be a trap. Or rather, not the intended focus of the prestige class.

I also play this AP, and I must warn you it's the HARDEST campaign for item-reliant characters.

The asylum is a pain as it is an isolated territory, but it's not better after that: the only buying point you will find won't have any strong item to sell, and after that you're out of contact with merchants for a while.

We are currently level 10 at my table and all absolutely under-stuffed.
I'm currently the most powerful member of the team because I play a Phantom Blade, so my weapon is given for free to me and automaticaly improve with levels: it's the only +3 weapon of the team, everyone else is still stuck with +1 weapons.
I'm still wearing an armor without any enhancement bonus.

Neverless, our team is still doing fine without all this magic gear, so the encounters probably have been tuned slightly down to reflect the fact we don't have access to high-magic gear.
But I will NEVER recommand to play a f%*$ing wizard in that campaign, nor anything requiering ammunition stocks.

Yeah, I'm currently level 13 in the AP and really you don't have a good place to try to buy items until level 10ish.

The second book temporarily gives you some overpowered items...that no one in my party could use. That was fun.

And Thrushmoor doesn't have a wizard of note that we encountered, AFAIK the cleric Winter is the most powerful spellcaster in the town.

The arcane trickster dates back to the D&D 3.0 Dungeon Master's Guide. I think its intended focus was probably just to allow a rogue / wizard to advance both classes.

As to what you can use it for now - spells & sneak attack are most of what it has. I'm not sure what else you could do with it.

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