Should my slayer take a level of Vivisectionist, or not?


Advice


I'm building a half-elf slayer who is going weapon & shield ranger style. Iluzry's guide recommends taking a level of Vivisectionist as it somehow lets you get 'ahead' by advancing sneak attack further than if you were taking straight levels. "Rather than just stacking the number of 1d6’s, when you multiclass with vivisectionist as a class that gives sneak attack, you basically add all of the levels you have in sneak attack classes and get the progression of a rogue of that level…which means that our slayer just went from having a sneak attack of 1d6 at level 4 to 3d6 at level 5... This also means you get abilities faster. This also means you can take better feats sooner... it gives you rogue sneak attack progression if you have less than rogue sneak attack progression."

Another benefit is I can make mutagens, and boosting Str by 4 could be a wonderful help for a couple of reasons.

The downside is I delay my Slayer abilities such as advanced talents, ranger style, studied target progression, etc.

I'm wondering first if Iluzry's interpretation is correct, and if it's not is essentially gaining mutagens and brew potion worth the tradeoff?

J

Dark Archive

depends. if you exploit the broken wording of the vivisectionist sneak attack, its absolutely worth it.

Quote:


Sneak Attack: At 1st level, a vivisectionist gains the sneak attack ability as a rogue of the same level. If a character already has sneak attack from another class, the levels from the classes that grant sneak attack stack to determine the effective rogue level for the sneak attack’s extra damage dice

meaning a slayer 19/vivisectionist 1 has the sneak attack of a rogue 20.

it technically makes all the slayer levels count as rogue levels for determining sneak attack.

im not saying it should, but thats what it says it does


JDawg75 wrote:
I'm wondering first if Iluzry's interpretation is correct

It is correct by strict RAW.

Vivisectionist's SA was written with only full progression SA in mind. What's supposed to be a limitation (that e.g. Rogue 1/Vivisectionist 1 doesn't have more SA dice than a Rogue 2) turns into a benefit when combinaed with a class with slower SA progression.

THe literal interpretation utterly voilates the intend, and you're unlikely to find a GM letting you get away with such an obvious attempt at gaming the system and blatantly abusing an ill-adviced wording. It's like claiming that your Oracle doesn't have to spend a full-round action to cast a metamagic'd spell because the rules say "Sorcerers and bards must take more time to cast a metamagic spell (one enhanced by
a metamagic feat) than a regular spell.", not that all spontaneous casters do so. Or claimign that Simple Weapon Proficiency lets you ignore the penalty from e.g. Power Attack because it says "You make attack rolls with simple weapons without penalty."

JDawg75 wrote:
and if it's not is essentially gaining mutagens and brew potion worth the tradeoff?

Depends on how regularly you can have a mutagen up. It takes a standard action to drink, possibly plus a move action to draw, it only lasts 10 minutes, and takes an hour to create. If your daily combats are mostly small dungeons, that can work well. If your daily combat is spread out over the day, or if you're often in dungeons with time between fights, and your party doesn't want to/can't stop for an hour after every fight, it's rather weak. Note that Vivisecitonist delays your BAB progression, too, eating up half the attack roll bonus. It might bosst your fort and ref saves if not using fractional base bonuses, although those are already your strong saves.

What you do also gain is wand usage. That can make the difference depending on your group.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

If all you are looking for is a boost to Sneak Attack, then a single level dip in snakebite striker brawler adds +1d6 (and the RAW explicitly states that if the character "gets a sneak attack bonus from another source, the bonuses on damage stack") without losing BAB. Plus, the character gets Brawler's Cunning (does not need a 13+ Int to qualify for combat feats, like Combat Expertise), Martial Training, and Unarmed Strike. A second level grants a bonus combat feat (possibly for Improved Feint) and Brawler's Flurry. A third level grants Snake Feint (which allows more action economy efficient feinting).


JDawg75 wrote:


Another benefit is I can make mutagens, and boosting Str by 4 could be a wonderful help for a couple of reasons.

The downside is I delay my Slayer abilities such as advanced talents, ranger style, studied target progression, etc.

I'm wondering first if Iluzry's interpretation is correct, and if it's not is essentially gaining mutagens and brew potion worth the tradeoff?

So this isn't even my intrepretation, this is literally how the example is described

AON wrote:


(so an alchemist 1/rogue 1 has a +1d6 sneak attack like a 2nd-level rogue, an alchemist 2/rogue 1 has a +2d6 sneak attack like a 3rd-level rogue, and so on)

If it was just meant to stack, a alchemist 1/rogue 1 would have +2d6 instead of a 1d6 of a second level rogue. So this isn't just an assumption, this is literally working as intended, by their own description.


IluzryMage wrote:
So this isn't just an assumption, this is literally working as intended, by their own description.

No. The example makes absolutely no mention of increasing a slower sneak attack progression. Claiming otherwise, or claiming that it was intended to do so, is just being disingenuous.


If I was DMing I would not let my player take a level of Vivisectionist at, say, level 9 and allow their wizard to suddenly have a 5d6 sneak attack. The second part of the description is important, giving an example of a combination of alchemist 2/rogue 1 to have the same progression as a level 3 rogue would.

The Snakebite Striker Brawler is different. I think the difference is At 1st level, her sneak attack damage is "+1d6." The + makes all the difference, as well as that the bonuses stack. I probably would allow a rogue 3/SSB 1 to have a sneak attack of 3d6, for example.

I can see myself take a level in SSB at level 8, so I don't delay my ranger combat style or studied target as a swift action.

J

Dark Archive

so the usual way to word it would have been to say something closer to "vivisectionist levels count as rogue levels and stack with rogue levels to determine the amount of sneak attack dealt"

but unfortunately they didn't say that.


JDawg75 wrote:

If I was DMing I would not let my player take a level of Vivisectionist at, say, level 9 and allow their wizard to suddenly have a 5d6 sneak attack. The second part of the description is important, giving an example of a combination of alchemist 2/rogue 1 to have the same progression as a level 3 rogue would.

The Snakebite Striker Brawler is different. I think the difference is At 1st level, her sneak attack damage is "+1d6." The + makes all the difference, as well as that the bonuses stack. I probably would allow a rogue 3/SSB 1 to have a sneak attack of 3d6, for example.

I can see myself take a level in SSB at level 8, so I don't delay my ranger combat style or studied target as a swift action.

J

well 9 levels of wizard don't give any sneak so it won't help with vivi anyway. Vivi count the levels only if the class has sneak attack.

i think Vivi's sneak counting the levels instead of just stacking sneak dice was cute for the time one couldn't stack sneak dice. but since now a player can usuly find a 1 level dip to get an extra sneak attack the fear of a 2nd level character with 2 sneak attack dice is not worth allowing some1 to dip vivi to increase their slow progression sneak dice for a fast one (which is a lot more cheesy).

in my games i just let a vivi's sneak dice stack with what ever other sneak attack his other class give. next level said person would ether have a dead level for sneak which would even it out, have to dip into yet another class to gain a 3rd sneak dice but that would kill his bab progression or go into a class with no sneak that he intended anyway and so his sneak would be average for a character of his level. it all even out somewhat.

i find that better then having some1 get the benefits of what ever slow sneak progression give out while ignoring the slow sneak progression.

In the end you gota pay the Piper.


JDawg75 wrote:
If I was DMing I would not let my player take a level of Vivisectionist at, say, level 9 and allow their wizard to suddenly have a 5d6 sneak attack.

Well, you'd need a Sneak Attack progression from the second class, but the point still stands regarding e.g. a Sandman Bard - a Sandman8/Vivisectionist1 would just from 1d6 to 5d6 with the dip.

The main issue is that Vivisectionist uses the term "effective rogue level" (ERL), ignoring that other sources of Sneak Attack don't do so.

I think since Vivisectionist does use ERL, the best way to make the stacking part work as closely to the original language without ignoring intend is to actually use an ERL calculation for the Slayer, which is ERL=Slvl*2/3-1 rounded down, with Vivisectionist added in, that's ERL = Slvl*2/3-1+Alvl rounded down, with SA dice = ERL/2 rounded up. That makes it work like Unchained's Fractional Base Bonuses, and could actually well be used for all multiclasses between SA classes/archetypes.


Derklord wrote:
JDawg75 wrote:
If I was DMing I would not let my player take a level of Vivisectionist at, say, level 9 and allow their wizard to suddenly have a 5d6 sneak attack.

Well, you'd need a Sneak Attack progression from the second class, but the point still stands regarding e.g. a Sandman Bard - a Sandman8/Vivisectionist1 would just from 1d6 to 5d6 with the dip.

The main issue is that Vivisectionist uses the term "effective rogue level" (ERL), ignoring that other sources of Sneak Attack don't do so.

I think since Vivisectionist does use ERL, the best way to make the stacking part work as closely to the original language without ignoring intend is to actually use an ERL calculation for the Slayer, which is ERL=Slvl*2/3-1 rounded down, with Vivisectionist added in, that's ERL = Slvl*2/3-1+Alvl rounded down, with SA dice = ERL/2 rounded up. That makes it work like Unchained's Fractional Base Bonuses, and could actually well be used for all multiclasses between SA classes/archetypes.

I mean its strong, absolutely but I don't that's really much of a problem in pathfinder were like...sacred geometry exists.

Also as far as increasing slow progression...it actually exactly says it increases slow progression, because it gives any class the multiclasses with the vivisectionist rogue progression. And it doesn't limit it to any one class, just so long as they give sneak attack, you add them together. NOW this does mean that if you were to, for some instane reason, take 20 levels in classes that all give +1d6 sneak attack, you still only end up with 10d6 instead of 20d6...which means that its impossible to get MORE progression than the rogue with a vivisectionist.

Which in my eyes, seems like a fair and fun way to handle something this powerful. It's great for classes who don't have enough and poor for classes who already have plenty.

The wording itself doesn't really seem that confusing, so I'm not sure were you are getting the idea that its NOT working as intended?


Because stacking 1d6 + 1d6 to get 10d6 is not how anything else in Pathfinder works, and was not possible when Vivi was printed so there’s no way it could have been intended.

Everyone agrees that’s what the words say though. Surprised it wasn’t errata’d, or maybe the errata was done before slow progression classes were printed.


IluzryMage wrote:
it actually exactly says it increases slow progression

Stop lying. It doesn't talk about progressions other than Rogue's at all.

IluzryMage wrote:
The wording itself doesn't really seem that confusing, so I'm not sure were you are getting the idea that its NOT working as intended?

If you think a single dip into Vivisectionist is intended to give a Nature Fang 18 right away 9d6 additional Sneak Attack damage, you should look up that word in the dictionary, because you clearly don't know what it means.

Seriously, I'm not trying to be antagonistic here, but what you're arguing here is just pure nonsense.


let's look at the wording from Vivi's info:

"Sneak Attack: At 1st level, a vivisectionist gains the sneak attack ability as a rogue of the same level. If a character already has sneak attack from another class, the levels from the classes that grant sneak attack stack to determine the effective rogue level for the sneak attack’s extra damage dice (so an alchemist 1/rogue 1 has a +1d6 sneak attack like a 2nd-level rogue, an alchemist 2/rogue 1 has a +2d6 sneak attack like a 3rd-level rogue, and so on). This ability replaces bomb."

seem like if you have more then one class that give sneak attack you count all levels from every class that give sneak attack and use that as the effective rogue level to decide the total sneak attack.

how do you read it that it doesn't Derklord?

so by raw 18 nature fang and 2 Vivi is 10d6 sneak by the vivi's class ability.

again by RAW. and that is why i house ruled the way i posted above.


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zza ni wrote:
how do you read it that it doesn't Derklord?

Now I know how a windmill feels. Because that's what you're fighting here.

Seriously, read people's post before criticising them. "It is correct by strict RAW." That's what I opened my first post in this thread with. Never for a second have I argued that RAW didn't work that way - only that claiming it is intended to work that way is dishonest.

Also, it would really help the readability of your posts if you would start using capitalization.


You all obviously have a lot more faith in paizo's desire for balance than I do.


Derklord wrote:
zza ni wrote:
how do you read it that it doesn't Derklord?
Now I know how a windmill feels. Because that's what you're fighting here.

Also is that a Don Quixote Reference? Nice.


JDawg75 wrote:

I'm wondering first if Iluzry's interpretation is correct, and if it's not is essentially gaining mutagens and brew potion worth the tradeoff?

So coming back to the orginal question. RAW it 1000% works so if your DM allows it, its a fantastic idea, and is super mega worth losing a little bit of progression.

If you DM isn't a fan of how powerful such a dip is, definitely work on a homebrew with them or take that level in snakebite brawler which is also a good idea!!! Martial flexibility is fun.


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IluzryMage wrote:
You all obviously have a lot more faith in paizo's desire for balance than I do.

Do you really think that the writer of that archetype said down, considered the option of less-than-full SA progression (that at the time of writing only existed in one single archetype!), and made a conscious decision to phrase the ability in a way that strengthens some specific multiclass combinations in a way that no other multiclassing in the game does? Because if not, the RAW is not what's intended per the definition of that word.

When Vivisectionist was written, only Rogue and a single obscure Bard archetype (Sandman) granted Sneak Attack (although it's possible the author new about the upcoming Ninja). In order for the interaction to be considerable "intended", the author needs to either have known and have deliberately made the decision to strengthen the specific Sandman/Vivisectionist multiclass far beyond anything similar, or have deliberately made the decision to make Vivisecitonist interact with future classes/archetype of completely unknown design and power level in a way entirely atypical for the game.
Does that sound likely? More likely than the author simply not considering less-than-full SA progression?


Derklord wrote:

It's like claiming that your Oracle doesn't have to spend a full-round action to cast a metamagic'd spell because the rules say "Sorcerers and bards must take more time to cast a metamagic spell (one enhanced by

a metamagic feat) than a regular spell.", not that all spontaneous casters do so.

Except the rules are quite clear on oracle and metamagic, if only you read a bit further to the section titled Spontaneous Casting and Metamagic Feats where it states quite clearly: "Casting a standard action metamagic spell spontaneously is a full-round action, and a spell with a longer casting time takes an extra full-round action to cast."

Why you expect to find Oracle rules in the section titled Sorcerers and Bards is beyond me.


[not PFS legal]Alchemist archetype Vivisectionist
  personally I can't support the choice of a banned class so it ends there.
[PFS]Brawler archetype Snakebite Striker is an alternative.


BlueDragonHatch wrote:
Why you expect to find Oracle rules in the section titled Sorcerers and Bards is beyond me.

I don't. But I do expect the rules on casting a metamagic spell in the section titled "Casting a Metamagic Spell". Which is exactly where I took the quote from.

BlueDragonHatch wrote:
Except the rules are quite clear on oracle and metamagic, if only you read a bit further to the section titled Spontaneous Casting and Metamagic Feats where it states quite clearly: "Casting a standard action metamagic spell spontaneously is a full-round action, and a spell with a longer casting time takes an extra full-round action to cast."

That section is for prepared casters who can cast some spells spontaneously. The CRB doesn't actually use the term "Spontaneous Casting" to describe the casting of classes like Sorcerer. Even the index entry for "spontaneous casting" only lists cleric and druid.


Azothath wrote:

[not PFS legal]Alchemist archetype Vivisectionist

  personally I can't support the choice of a banned class so it ends there.
[PFS]Brawler archetype Snakebite Striker is an alternative.

It may have been banned for the bad sneak attack text, but I imagine it's more because of the problematic flavor text being "evil".

Quote:
Torturous Transformation: At 7th level, a vivisectionist adds anthropomorphic animal to his formula book as a 2nd-level extract. When he uses this extract, he injects it into an animal as part of a 2-hour surgical procedure. By using multiple doses of this extract as part of the surgery, he multiplies the duration by the number of extracts used.

PFS didn't want to be known as the animal torture game.


Melkiador wrote:
Azothath wrote:

[not PFS legal]Alchemist archetype Vivisectionist

  personally I can't support the choice of a banned class so it ends there.
[PFS]Brawler archetype Snakebite Striker is an alternative.
It may have been banned for ...

there are usually RAW problems, suspected play issues (like Crafting as it gets complicated, WBL issues), and/or PR issues.

the exact nature of the issues are only a consideration if the Home GM wants to fix it, and then you are clearly in a Home Game.


PFS rules are really just houserules too. I'm just pointing out that PFS bans things for various reasons, and it's not always for what you think it's for. Evil options are banned. Options that will start fights at a table full of strangers get banned.


Melkiador wrote:
PFS rules are really just houserules too. ...

that is not true at all. PFS is actually a Paizo sanctioned version of PF1, SF1, PF2, & ACG. One could argue it is the more balanced version(s) of the Game given its massive play testing and play history.


Reviewed house rules are still houserules. Or do you not allow item crafting in your game either?

Heck, even among their own releases we have suggested house rules in Ultimate Campaign and Unchained. Unchained even gives you systems that aren't compatible with each other.


I don’t see what the big deal is, a few extra sneak attack dice is hardly game breaking.

Also, I’m not convinced the author intended otherwise. Surely they knew about the Master Spy prestige class since it was published in the same book (APG) as the Alchemist (the class they modified to create the Vivisectionist archetype).

The Master Spy has slower sneak attack progression than a Rogue it would make sense why the author worded the Vivisectionist archetype the way they did if they were specifically thinking of providing synergy to the very weak Rogue/Master Spy combination.


My statement if one of my players tries to bring this bovine excrement to the table "congrats, you found a poorly worded loophole. Have a cookie and tell me what your actual character/stats are"


Java Man wrote:
My statement if one of my players tries to bring this bovine excrement to the table "congrats, you found a poorly worded loophole. Have a cookie and tell me what your actual character/stats are"

What?!?

So you object to a character that can do (drum roll please) exactly 3d6 sneak damage at 5th level instead of 2d6?

Why?!?!?!?!?


I object to tomfoolery. Like how this hax0r interpretation interacts with an eldritch scoundrel, santified slayer or nature fang (3 examples off the top of my head). If you don't see the issue I do then we just see the game differently.

Or, why should dipping 1 level into vivisectionist ever give more than 1d of sneak attack? Why should it deliver more sneak attack than 1 level of rogue?


Java Man wrote:


Or, why should dipping 1 level into vivisectionist ever give more than 1d of sneak attack? Why should it deliver more sneak attack than 1 level of rogue?

I go with what the rules say unless I have a compelling reason to do otherwise. Being more powerful than a Rogue, arguably the weakest class in the game, is not a compelling reason for me to change the rules.

Sneak attack is not a particularly powerful ability since it is situational and doesn’t multiply on a critical hit (without mythic rules) so anything that gives it a boost (within reason) is fine with me.


Well, we conveniently are not playing at the same table, so there is no need for us to agree.


Boomerang Nebula wrote:
Java Man wrote:


Or, why should dipping 1 level into vivisectionist ever give more than 1d of sneak attack? Why should it deliver more sneak attack than 1 level of rogue?

I go with what the rules say unless I have a compelling reason to do otherwise. Being more powerful than a Rogue, arguably the weakest class in the game, is not a compelling reason for me to change the rules.

Sneak attack is not a particularly powerful ability since it is situational and doesn’t multiply on a critical hit (without mythic rules) so anything that gives it a boost (within reason) is fine with me.

yes, but you should agree that giving up 1d6 damage of a bomb and gaining Xd6 damage added to your sneak attack is not the same as giving up 1d6 damage form a bomb and gaining a 1d6 increase to one's sneak attack...

take the venomblade for example. a normal venombalde get 1d6 sneak attack at level 6 and every 4 levels after to a max of 4d6 at level 18. should a level 19 venomblade/1 vivi gain 6d6 sneka attack from his 1 level dip in viv just for giving up on a 1d6 bomb damage?


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@ zza ni,

Of course I would allow it! A 20th level character should be really powerful, bordering on demigod status. I shouldn’t be quibbling with my players over a few sneak attack dice, I should be concentrating on making the game fun for everyone. Why would I worry about the Vivisectionist when the party wizard will be the one trying to pull most of the game breaking shenanigans? Why would I be so petty over something so inconsequential?

I really can’t fathom the hostility over this. It boggles my mind.


I think the hostility was more directed to the claim that the interaction was “Rule as intended” by the author. If the only comment on it had been “as far as I can tell, it is Rule as Written, and it doesn’t appear to be out of line with other character options in terms of power, so I probably wouldn’t ban it on that basis”, I think people would have generally been on board from the start. Personally, I’ve built characters to aggressively leverage synergistic rules features in ways I presume the authors didn’t foresee, but would avoid leveraging what appeared to me to be sloppy or non-future proofed rules language. I don’t think I’m the only person that views things similarly, but I’m self aware enough to consider that as ethical principles go this probably isn’t a hill worth dying on. It’s not really overpowered, but calling it Rule as Intended is olympic level trolling.


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My problem is that a lot of rule options require GM and/or players operating in good faith. Simple Weapon Proficiency says you make attacks with such weapons "without penalty", but we know it means "without non-proficiency penalty". On the topic, no proficiency feat actually grants proficiency RAW, and the armor proficiency feats RAW have zero effect; here, too, we know that's not what they're meant to do. Another example is how the polymorph rules (and some other rules in the magic section) only talk about spells, and yet we know they should be used for a wildshaping Druid.

I don't want my players (or as a player my GM or my fellow players) to start looking for loopholes. This one may not make the game imbalanced, but the next one might. I mean, simple weapons are underused and weak, right..?

Lelomenia wrote:
I think the hostility was more directed to the claim that the interaction was “Rule as intended” by the author.

I didn't post anything, but I do agree here. Boomerang Nebula, do you really think the author deliberately wrote the ability to benefit highly specific class combinations in a way that no other ability in the game does, all without pointing out this oddity in any way?

2+2 should never equal 5, unless your game is set in 1984.


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The 3.5 derived rules, in particular, were not intended for a legalistic reading. Natural language and common sense were assumed. Early Pathfinder was about the same way, but at some point things went so legalistic and future proofed that we started to assume that was the default.


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Derklord wrote:

Boomerang Nebula, do you really think the author deliberately wrote the ability to benefit highly specific class combinations in a way that no other ability in the game does, all without pointing out this oddity in any way?

2+2 should never equal 5, unless your game is set in 1984.

I don’t have a strong opinion on the author’s intent. On the one hand the Arcane Trickster already existed which has sneak attack progression one level behind the Rogue, and the Master Spy existed and has even slower sneak attack progression. I find it hard to believe that the author (a game designer) was not aware of these classes. So their intent was probably to give sneak attack a small boost. When new classes came with even slower sneak attack progression nobody thought to issue an errata, so I tend to think the designers are okay with how the Vivisectionist interacts with other classes. It clearly is not game breaking.

On the other hand the author hasn’t clarified their position so my opinion is still speculation and I’m happy to change my mind if more information is forthcoming, or someone can make a strong case otherwise.

What I do have a strong opinion on and really object to is being accused of “trolling” or “lying” for simply disagreeing on an interpretation. That is out of line.


Boomerang Nebula wrote:
I find it hard to believe that the author (a game designer) was not aware of these classes.

The author of the original Prone Shooter feat didn't even know the rules of what they made a feat about, resulting in the feat doing literally nothing.

Hell, the Vivisectionist archetype itself had a serious issue at first printing in that while the archetype repalces bombs, the list of recommended discoveries for the archetype contained plague bomb, poison bomb, and sticky bomb. This is evidence that either the author wasn't really mentally coherent when writing the archetype, or more likely that the archetype underwent some revision. It is entirely possible that the Sneak Attack ability wasn't even done (in its current form) by the author, but rather by the editor. It's also possible that the author had actually put text in there detailing the interaction with slow progression classes, and the editor cut it for page count.

I've seen many flaws in pretty much every Paizo book, and I can very easily see the writer not thinking about some prestige class that one one uses and is only in the CRB for legacy reasons. I personally did the same mistake! When I argued about the archetype in the past, I looked at whether anything actually had non-full Sneak Attack progression when Vivisectionist was written, and only found the Sandman Bard, because I didn't look at prestige classes.


Arcane Trickster characters are almost never one level behind Rogue; e.g., a wizard 3/rogue 3/arcane trickster X always has the same Sneak Attack dice as a Wizard 3/Rogue (3+x).

In the Master Spy case, within the first 12 character levels, Vivisectionist/Master Spy Sneak Attack stacking is actually slightly worse than Rogue/Master Spy Sneak Attack stacking (specifically Rogue 7/Master Spy 1 has 5d6, Vivi 7/Master Spy 1 has 4d6). Though maybe Vivi/Master Spies would argue to use the Master Spy Sneak Attack stacking rules in that scenario.

I find it approximately 100% likely that the goal of the author’s stacking language was to prevent players from getting 2d6 Sneak Attack dice at level 2 with Rogue 1/Vivi 1 (and more generally prevent characters from having more Sneak Attack dice than allowed by their class progression), which hadn’t previously been possible and appears much more disruptive than potentially allowing an extra 1d6 at character level 13 or whatever.

I had previously assumed that there was a simple rules language solution that would have achieved the dual goals of (1) preventing dipping in multiple Sneak Attack at level 1 classes to build up tons of dice at very low levels and (2) prevented players from benefiting from replacing a slow Sneak Attack progression with faster progression, but after further thought I’m not sure what that would be. Given the character options available at the time, that language was as good a compromise as I could imagine; but very not future proof.


Lelomenia wrote:
I had previously assumed that there was a simple rules language solution that would have achieved the dual goals of (1) preventing dipping in multiple Sneak Attack at level 1 classes to build up tons of dice at very low levels and (2) prevented players from benefiting from replacing a slow Sneak Attack progression with faster progression, but after further thought I’m not sure what that would be. Given the character options available at the time, that language was as good a compromise as I could imagine; but very not future proof.

Oh, but there is, the wording used for the feat Accomplished Sneak Attacker.

"If a character also has sneak attack from another class, the extra damage dice stack. The number of sneak attack dice cannot exceed half the character level (rounded up)."

There, done, and even a tad shorter.


the dynamic between technical writing, gaming the system, and a publisher having several lines of product with lesser degrees of editing/oversight is a long one. Early DnD had other licensed publishers in the mix, at least Paizo made a distinction.
Historically and based on my conversations it is clear that Paizo had the Core line, the Adventure line, and the Companion line. The "seriousness" of RAW declined with the product line (in descending order) along with editing & oversight. It was a clear business decision. From the buyers (& rule lawyer) perspective it all had the Paizo stamp on it and was equal. PFS eventually had to address the issue for their implemented version that was both generic and close to RAW.


Boomerang Nebula wrote:
Derklord wrote:

Boomerang Nebula, do you really think the author deliberately wrote the ability to benefit highly specific class combinations in a way that no other ability in the game does, all without pointing out this oddity in any way?

2+2 should never equal 5, unless your game is set in 1984.

I don’t have a strong opinion on the author’s intent. On the one hand the Arcane Trickster already existed which has sneak attack progression one level behind the Rogue, and the Master Spy existed and has even slower sneak attack progression. I find it hard to believe that the author (a game designer) was not aware of these classes. So their intent was probably to give sneak attack a small boost. When new classes came with even slower sneak attack progression nobody thought to issue an errata, so I tend to think the designers are okay with how the Vivisectionist interacts with other classes. It clearly is not game breaking.

On the other hand the author hasn’t clarified their position so my opinion is still speculation and I’m happy to change my mind if more information is forthcoming, or someone can make a strong case otherwise.

What I do have a strong opinion on and really object to is being accused of “trolling” or “lying” for simply disagreeing on an interpretation. That is out of line.

I for one, really appreciate how you are chill about this. Makes me happy. High five.


Looking over this topic, here are my two cents' worth:

"Author's intent" is not nearly as straightforward as some are arguing. Five of the nine members of Ultimate Magic's writing team were also part of the Advanced Class Guide. I doubt anyone here can speak with certainty as to what overlap there was (if any) between the people who worked on the Vivisectionist and the people who worked on the Slayer. As far as I can tell, the team that worked on the Vivisectionist had to worry about precisely one existing class/archetype that interacted with the Vivisectionist's sneak attack at time of publishing: the Sandman Bard from the Advanced Player's Guide. So if we're going to talk about author's intent, it's worth considering that this was the first time (to my knowledge) that an Archetype offered the opportunity to stack levels with a third class for the purposes of the rogue's sneak attack class feature.

"Author accuracy" is even shakier ground to stand on, precisely because there's so much evidence of editing errors and/or the authors deciding that, actually, something was either not balanced or specific enough. That's not a knock on Paizo; they're human beings with finite resources. We also know that there the designers and writers didn't get a chance to address every FAQ out there, or to provide corrections for everything in need of one prior to shifting to PF2E.

The larger issue here is that I doubt anyone here is unaware that the Vivisectionist's sneak attack class feature is an outlier. Maybe not everyone is aware that Paizo's only relevant FAQ on the matter makes the Vivisectionist even more tenuous, though, at least where RAI is concerned:

Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook FAQ wrote:

Channel Energy: If I have this ability from more than one class, do they stack?

No—unless an ability specifically says it stacks with similar abilities (such as an assassin's sneak attack), or adds in some way based on the character's total class levels (such as improved uncanny dodge), the abilities don't stack and you have to use them separately. Therefore, cleric channeling doesn't stack with paladin channeling, necromancer channeling, oracle of life channeling, and so on.

The FAQ in question came months after Ultimate Magic was published. You'll note that, unlike the Gunslinger, Ninja, the Nature Fang, etc., all of whom were published after Ultimate Combat, the Slayer has no such note by his sneak attack. It's a standalone ability, probably because the class's design team took into account that FAQ and wanted its sneak attack limited to a +1d6/3 levels rate.

Not every GM or player should be expected to know all this. At the end of the day, though, we're talking about a guide that is offering recommendations to players. At best, what the Vivisectionist offers is a loophole. To a few of the posters in this thread, a Slayer 19/Vivisectionist 1 with a 10d6 sneak attack isn't meaningfully more powerful than a Slayer 20 with a 6d6 sneak attack. How much something unbalances a game depends on the GM and the group, though. A guide should probably offer a bit more nuance than arguing that "EVERY SINGLE SLAYER" should have a level in the Vivisectionist.

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