Are there any good Dex based melee classes / archetypes other then Swashbuckler?


Advice


So, I'm just curious about this, I'm thinking of making a dex based melee character who is a small race (I have yet to decide what race, But maybe Goblin..) and was wondering what my options are? I know of Swashbuckler as probably the main dex based melee combatant. But I wanted to know if there are any other options? Any other classes or archetypes that do well as dex based melee?

What are the feats I would need for a dex based melee character?

To get it straight, I dont disslike the Swashbuckler and I'm not saying I dont want to use it, I am just curious if there are any other options out there or if Swashbuckler is the only way to go.

I have already rolled stats for this backup character and what I got is 18, 17, 14, 13, 12, 11 (Not yet distributed) And for level, We are currently level 8 so this character will come in at level 8 or above.


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Unchained rogue gets free Weapon Finesse, and dex to damage at 3. It's typically more about multiple attacks, usually achieved with two weapon fighting. If that suits what you want, it would be a viable alternative.


Thank you. =) I'l take a look at it, And also take a look at the Two Weapon Fighting stuff. Thanks!


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Urogue
Dervish dance Magus
Shifter
Ustlavic duelist fighter/any fighter who takes slashing/fencing grace
Monk who shells out for an agile AoMF

The easiest way is to take the feat chain Slashing grace (requires a light or one handed slashing weapon iirc) or Fencing Grace (locks you into rapier)

Shifter can take a feat called shifters edge which basically adds + half your level in damage when using finesse with natural attacks

Urogue gets dex to damage just by levelling

Dervish dance is dex to damage and restricts to scimitar, but its a common/standard magus build and frankly the eventual 15+ crit chance with touch spells is really just....really great.

Now...on the dex based but coming at it sideways angle. These options really prefer you to keep your strength moderately high even though dex will be primary. you'll want like a 14-16, which you'll then mostly neglect to advance.

Vigilante has a talent that adds 1/2 your level if you use finesse but apply strength modifier. Avenger punch vigilante actually has the ability to get a suprisingly high passive bonus to punch damage

Fighter has an advanced weapon training that doubles the damage portion of your weapon training if you do the same.

Both of these options play decently into two weapon fighting styles, but the fiddliness of the build and order you take the feats can really make or break it. TWF chain is feat hungry and adding finesse into the mix doesn't give you much wiggle room in the build.

You can probably build some kind of dex based brawler but hell if i know how you'd go about it, or why.


A magus who relies on spells for damage can be dex-based easily. Or a dervish dancer if you don't touch probable intent. Several kinds of bard do dex-based melee well. Daring champion cavalier and virtuous bravo paladin borrow swashbuckler mechanics and may use them better than the original. With advanced weapon training a fighter can be dex-based, especially a spear fighter or weapon master. A vigilante with the lethal grace talent is dex-based, and there's several different archetypes to offer variants on that.

Anyone can get an agile weapon or amulet of mighty fists. Druids and/or monks can be terrifying with the latter.


@Ryan Freire Thanks for the information! Awesome post with loads of great information! Dident know about dex based shifters but it sounds intresting, Magus is a class I havent looked at much either but I'l have a look!

@avr Thanks! I'l take a look at the Daring Champion and Virtous Bravo Paladin aswell. =D


Samurai -- you get Challenge (read: numeric damage) and proficiency in Wakizashi (an 18-20/x2 light weapon). You also get a free horse (+1 elevation bonus to attack many opponents). Dip a level of Monk[Sohei] for Mounted Skirmisher, and make a TWF Cuisinart. Grab the Dangerously Curious trait to UMD Mage Armor off a wand, and save your money up for Celestial Armor.


Not sure if you’ve taken into account swashigator when you mention swashbuckler. One level of swash to set you up with a rapier and dex as your main combat stat then investigator the rest of the way. It’s a truly magnificent combo.


Just for the Record, Slashing Grace gives you DEX to damage, but doesn't make a 1-handed weapon finessible. If works fine withh light weapons, but you need 1 level of Swashbuckler (or similar) to make it work with a Longsword/etc.

Bladed Brush lets you use Weapon Finesse with Glaives, and should make them compatible with Slashing Grace.

Honestly any class with good static damage can work even without DEX-to-Damage. If you're willing to pay for an Agile Weapon then any class at all can do it.

I had an idea for an Arsenal Chaplain Warpriest (gets Weapon Training) of Pharasma who uses daggers. Between Weapon Training and Divine Favour you've got enough static damage that you don't care about DEX-to-Damage. He can throw 5 daggers per turn by around level 7 I think (I'll have to check) and has a pretty good chance to hit. If enemies close he pulls out magic daggers and fights in melee with Power Attack (ends up 4 attacks, same to-hit but more damage). It's not the most amazing DPR build out there, but it's well above what's usually needed for it's level.

Silver Crusade

The two that I have played, and have had great experiences with, are the "Swashtigator" (Inspired Blade Swashbuckler 1/Empiricist Investigator x), and the Dawnflower Dervish Bard. Both give you dex to damage at 1st lvl (the Swashtigator does makes you wait until 2nd for you Investigator abilities). The Dawnflower Dervish starts with Dervish Dance as a bonus feat.

I'm playing a Tiefling Swashtigator, but a Ratfolk would work very well also. Halflings make ideal Dawnflower Dervishes.


Thanks everyone =D I had not taken the Swashtigator into account! But I should have, I am realy intrested in trying Investigator sometime as it seems like a realy good and intresting class.

Thanks again! =)

Silver Crusade

The Student of Philosophy trait combined with the Empiricist Investigator archetype lets you use Int for several more skills. The Inspired Blade archetype also gives you panache from your Int, and gives you the prerequisites for Fencing Grace (your level 1 feat).


@PCScipio Sounds good, Thank you for the information! =)


Since you expressed interest, goblin is a great race for a swashigator too. I played one a couple of years back at level 9-10. I was knocking it out of the park in all aspects.


Sounds great! Goblins are a huge fun to play. =D


It can be a bit complicated to take in at first, but a melee kineticist can be a lot of fun and good damage.

Silver Crusade

Melkiador wrote:
It can be a bit complicated to take in at first, but a melee kineticist can be a lot of fun and good damage.

Goblins work well for those, too!


a whirling dervish swashbuckler is one of the easiest of course . gets the dex for damage for free (note that not only with scimitars. he treat scimitar as one handed piercing weapons and then get dex for damage with the later)


An archeologist bard can make a very good DEX based melee character. It takes a few levels to come online but once it does it works quite well. Just make sure to take Heroism as one of your second level spells. You need three feats to make it work, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus and Fencing grace. Since a bard does not qualify for weapon focus at 1st level it you don’t really come online until 5th level. After that you are good. Between a high DEX Archaeologist Luck and Heroism you will have a very good chance to hit and deal a decent amount of damage.


Mysterious Stranger wrote:
An archeologist bard can make a very good DEX based melee character. It takes a few levels to come online but once it does it works quite well. Just make sure to take Heroism as one of your second level spells. You need three feats to make it work, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus and Fencing grace. Since a bard does not qualify for weapon focus at 1st level it you don’t really come online until 5th level. After that you are good. Between a high DEX Archaeologist Luck and Heroism you will have a very good chance to hit and deal a decent amount of damage.

Nothing stopping an Archeologist Bard from starting with a level of Inspired Blade Swashbuckler to start with Fencing Grace.

The Panache Pool/Deeds are probably worth delaying your spellcasting one level by itself, plus you get a BAB, start with a D10 hit die, martial weapon proficiency, pick up another Craft and Profession skill, and add Swim to your class skills.

The dip actually allows you to start focusing on more important things as soon as level 3.


VoodistMonk wrote:
Mysterious Stranger wrote:
An archeologist bard can make a very good DEX based melee character. It takes a few levels to come online but once it does it works quite well. Just make sure to take Heroism as one of your second level spells. You need three feats to make it work, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus and Fencing grace. Since a bard does not qualify for weapon focus at 1st level it you don’t really come online until 5th level. After that you are good. Between a high DEX Archaeologist Luck and Heroism you will have a very good chance to hit and deal a decent amount of damage.

Nothing stopping an Archeologist Bard from starting with a level of Inspired Blade Swashbuckler to start with Fencing Grace.

The Panache Pool/Deeds are probably worth delaying your spellcasting one level by itself, plus you get a BAB, start with a D10 hit die, martial weapon proficiency, pick up another Craft and Profession skill, and add Swim to your class skills.

The dip actually allows you to start focusing on more important things as soon as level 3.

Inspired Blade gets you early access, but it actually reduces your Panache (since you don't get Panache back from kills). I'd probably go regular Swashbuckler if I'm dipping for that.


Panache is not the focus of the build, though, so only getting it back on a crit is fine.

You also have the Pool itself keying off of two separate stats, therefore it should be larger to begin with.

Bards are probably going to have a much better Charisma to begin with anyways, so running out of Panache shouldn't be a problem.

I'm not trying to argue, I actually don't care that much either way. Lol.


Well you're right about early access. A Human couod go regular Swashbuckler and get Slashing/Fencing Grace at level 1, others would have to wait till level 3.

The extra Panache is probably just 1 extra per day, so doesn't seem super great.

I think Inspired Blade is great for INT builds, but a bit of a downgrade for CHA-based characters.

Neither is bad, Parry is great.


about weapon focus. wasn't there a bard archtype that got it at level one. or im confusing it with magus?


I would not bother with the inspired blade if I were to dip. This build usually focuses heavily on DEX, but also needs some STR. Most of the time after you get weapon finesse, weapon focus, and fencing grace you pick up Lingering performance and then power attack for extra damage. You are also going to want enough STR to avoid encumbrance and to carry you gear. This leaves nothing for boosting INT. The bard already gets 6 skill ranks per level so extra skills are not that important.

Take the trait criminal to get disable device as a class skill. For your second trait Fates Favored is what you want to go with. It increases the archeologist luck which is a bonus to just about everything.


Straight Swashbuckler is actually on the low end of dex based melee fighter.


deuxhero wrote:
Straight Swashbuckler is actually on the low end of dex based melee fighter.

Straight Swashbuckler is on the low end of everything.


My only problem with swashbuckler is that it’s a frontline melee class without a good fortitude save. The class is otherwise in ok condition but not top tier.

Grand Lodge

For me, it has most of the rogue problems. Precision damage, and a lack of accuracy boost. Full BAB helps the latter but still on the low end.

There are, in my mind two aspects to DRP. The first is average, more obviously being better. The second is distribution. Here is a hyperbolic example character that does 100 damage on a 19 or 20 and character two does 13.3 damage on a 6 or higher. Same average damage but build 1 has a way higher chance of contributing nothing in a fight and when they do overkilling. I think the slayer is a perfect companion as they are from the same book. Better saves, more accurate, more precision damage 3.5 every 3 levels (but you have to flank or the like to get it), non-percision damage, better armour/shields, more slayer talent than swash gets feats.

Dodging Panache, charmed life, and Opportune Parry and Riposte are great but I don't think they close the gap and all the best stuff is stolen with a one or two-level dip.

All that said you can easily build a swashbuckler that will do fine. In most games, if you like the flavour won't get too deep into comparing yourself to other PCs.


Grandlounge wrote:
For me, it has most of the rogue problems. Precision damage, and a lack of accuracy boost. Full BAB helps the latter but still on the low end.

I would not call the swashbuckler inaccurate. It has its own weapon training and can qualify for fighter feats, so can also grab greater weapon focus. That's really about the same as what the slayer has, without needing to spend an action to get it.

Precision damage isn't usually a bad thing. You don't fight many creatures that are immune to it, though such creatures can pop up at any level. The rogue's problem is more that sneak attack requires you to jump through too many hoops. The bonus damage isn't just precision either. You also get free improved critical 3 levels earlier than usual, weapon training, the weapon specialization feats and multiple paths for dexterity to damage.

The AC is fairly good, since it's assumed to be using a buckler and has the nimble class ability to work with its stacked dexterity for attack and defense. And attacks that make it through the AC can still potentially be stopped by opportune parry and riposte.

The saves should have been better, but charmed life is actually a strong ability. Its problem is that it has a bad "feel". It's really a rare adventuring day where you make more saves per day than its daily limit, but people want to horde the uses for a really bad situation that probably won't happen on a given day.

The swashbuckler skills aren't up the level of the slayer but it's not bad in out of combat situations.

I really think that if it just had a good fortitude save, it'd be a fairly complete class.

Grand Lodge

Melkiador wrote:
I really think that if it just had a good fortitude save, it'd be a fairly complete class.

I don't think it's the worst problem. I compensated it without too much difficulty. Doing so for Will saves are way worse of a sore


Philippe Lam wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
I really think that if it just had a good fortitude save, it'd be a fairly complete class.
I don't think it's the worst problem. I compensated it without too much difficulty. Doing so for Will saves are way worse of a sore

Yes, but most martials have bad will saves. It's kind of expected and the swashbuckler gets off better than many of them. Meanwhile, a front-liner without a good fortitude save is going to be failing saves that he should be expected to make.


So.. I'v been thinking about this, And reading up on things.. And I started thinking of a Goblin Rogue or Unchained Rogue might be fun, Get Roll With It, Be sneaky, Try to get into position to sneak attack foes...

Then my Brain went "Yeah... But there is that one Alchemist archetype that geats sneak attacks too... And you know Alchemists are automaticaly a superior choise to non alchemists..."

And I have been resisting the Vivisectionist because I havent had any ideas for it... But I do love my alchemists for all they can do.. And Vivisectionist gets Sneak Attack like a Rogue.. But lacks other rogue things (Such as disabling magical traps)

But now I am stuck, I'm gonna go for Goblin, And either a Rogue, Unchained Rogue, Or Vivisectionist...

Speaking of Vivisectionist, Has anyone here made one that uses weapons rather then natural attacks?


Merellin wrote:
And Vivisectionist gets Sneak Attack like a Rogue.. But lacks other rogue things (Such as disabling magical traps)

Unless you add the Trap Breaker or Vaultbreaker archetypes, both of which stack with Vivisectionist, or simply use the Aram Zey's Focus spell.

Merellin wrote:
Speaking of Vivisectionist, Has anyone here made one that uses weapons rather then natural attacks?

I'm sure people have, it's just not something common because there is no mechanical reason to do so. You only have simple weapon proficiency, so your one weapon isn't even better than Feral Mutagen's three, and it's easy to get pounce via Beastmorph. It gets rather worse for a dex build, because you can't even get the advantage of reach.


Derklord wrote:
Merellin wrote:
And Vivisectionist gets Sneak Attack like a Rogue.. But lacks other rogue things (Such as disabling magical traps)

Unless you add the Trap Breaker or Vaultbreaker archetypes, both of which stack with Vivisectionist, or simply use the Aram Zey's Focus spell.

Merellin wrote:
Speaking of Vivisectionist, Has anyone here made one that uses weapons rather then natural attacks?
I'm sure people have, it's just not something common because there is no mechanical reason to do so. You only have simple weapon proficiency, so your one weapon isn't even better than Feral Mutagen's three, and it's easy to get pounce via Beastmorph. It gets rather worse for a dex build, because you can't even get the advantage of reach.

Thanks for the reply. =) With a weapon you eventualy get more attacks, And you could use TWF to get even more attacks. Though it probably wouldent be as good as the classic "Ragebreed Vivisectionist/Beastmorph" power build. I wonder if it is worth going Vivisectionist on a goblin..


The thing about Natural Attacks is that they don't take the same penalties as weapons for the extra attacks.

You could take all the TWF feats with a Vivisectionist and have 6 attacks at -2/-2/-7/-7/-12/-12, or you could take the 3 attacks from Feral Mutagen at +0/+0/+0. Chances are you'll probably hit more with the 3 Natural attacks than the 6 weapon attacks (and you save 3 feats).

All that said, that's largely because the mechanics of TWF aren't all that great. You could make a Half Orc with a Falchion and get pretty decent numbers from Power Attack and Furious Focus.

(All that said, if you want to go TWF for max sneak attacks it's doable)


While we're at it, it's entirely possible to build good Dex based melee Slayers, Brawlers, Rangers, Paladins...or even just plain fighters.

Some don't optimize as well, but can be absolutely viable.

Don't even get me started on what can be done with an Inquisitor.


Merellin wrote:
With a weapon you eventualy get more attacks

No you don't, not without TWF. A straight Alchemist never gets more attacks via iteratives than from Feral Mutagen.

TWF only gets ahead at the same investment (1 feat vs. 1 discovery, which can be grabbed by a feat) at 15th level. Sure, TWF could increase the number of attacks by also taking Improved TWF... but then again, the natural attack build could likewise increase the number of attacks by taking Spirit Oni Master (way cheaper gold-wise than a Helm of the Mammoth Lords).

It's not that it's impossible to do, or unplayably bad, or couldn't be fun to play; there's simply no mechanical reason to, even without any 'natural attack support' from the race. TWF is very weak unless you have class features that notably improve/enable it, and Alchemist has none like that.


Thanks everyone! Seems like natural attacks are the way to go for vivisectionists. Thanks! =)


They're definitely a strong way to go, but not the only way. If you want to do something different it'll probably play just fine.

Grand Lodge

I have done both before on builds including alchemists. Monstrous physique can give you reach which makes combat ref useful but you can add to this by having a reach weapon out to get some Aoos and protect your team. Then drop it and take 6 attacks as a four-armed gargoyle.

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