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View Full Version : [3.5] Build Help A.K.A. My first Rogue ever



Cedrass
2009-03-21, 05:49 PM
So last session some guy talked about starting a campaign and all, and even thought there's no official word on it, I want to be prepared when it starts! And even if he ends up canceling the thing, a good character build is never wasted :smallwink:

So here I thought I'd do a Rogue, and since I'm a huge fan of the Tome of Battle, I want to multiclass him with some Swordsage levels (for the Wis bonus to AC, and the Shadow Hand discipline). I really don't know how I'll go about them as far as levels go, but I know I'd like to have the Shadow Jaunt/Stride/Blink maneuvers. I want him to be an ok damage dealer so to not be bored in battle, but I think I'l make him more of a support character with the skills and little quirks that will be usefull for the team. I'm looking at something around Swordsage 12/Rogue 8 but really, I am not sure at all.

I started looking for Feats and I was thinking about taking the Dodge/Mobility/Spring Attack line but I' wondering if I can use maneuvers when doing my attack with Spring Attack. Savvy Rogue also looks like a nice one, but I'm not even sure I'll get to have Special Abilities so... Not sure :smallconfused: Aside from those, I'm thinking about the TWF chain to do a little more damage when I can't use maneuvers and/or Sneaks but I really doubt it's a good idea. What do you guys think?

I also learned of Skill Tricks not long ago, and Spot the Weak Point is a really nice one, what you're experience with those? Are they worth it? Hidden Blade and Mosquito's Bite look like nice ones too.

I dunno what I could tell you aside from those, the DM is pretty open and I can't recall any house rules that would change my build (we use house rules for some skills, but nothing game changing)

Draz74
2009-03-21, 07:21 PM
Spot the Weak Point isn't as good as it seems, because you have to use up a standard action to prepare to use it.

Rogue/Swordsage is pretty flexible. There's too many directions you could still go for me to give definitive advice. One thing you should decide to start is whether you'll dump Strength (Finesse / Shadow Blade) or not. Also whether you're TWFing, which would mean you should study the Tiger Claw discipline carefully and probably fight with kukris.

Flickerdart
2009-03-21, 07:40 PM
The feats Craven (bonus SA damage) and Darkstalker (enemies with mindsight, tremorsense, etc. still have to Spot/Listen to notice you) are pretty much Rogue staples.

Cedrass
2009-03-21, 07:41 PM
I'll probably dump Strength, as I said I want to support my teammates, I'll probably raise Wis and Int as it'll give me AC and Will saves with Wis and skills with Int.

I also decided I wanted to do a Catfolk (Races of the Wild), they look fun and aren't bad at all with what I'm aiming for with this character. I'm also kind of ashamed to have forgotten Shadow Blade! Especially since I love Shadow Hand's stances and I rarely use other stances (Island of Blades was crazy with the barbarian on our team in the last campaign!)

So, with that in mind, I guess I'll drop TWF to concentrate on Weapon Finesse and Shadow Blade. Any Feat I should take to complete the "Combo" ?

I'm also wondering how much concealment Child of Shadow (Shadow Hand stance) gives, they aren't saying...

Being the skill monkey and overall the support character I want this guy to be, should I use Swordsage as a dip class (something around 5 or 6 levels) or the opposite and get a few levels of Rogue?

sonofzeal
2009-03-21, 07:51 PM
Re: the balance of Swordsage vs Rogue, it's pretty obvious that Swordsage is where the combat power is coming from. Rogue does have more skills, but I tend to think of "rogue" as more a state of mind. By all means take Rogue at level 1 for the extra skillpoints, as it'll make the biggest impact there. I might go up to Rogue4 for the skillpoints, Evasion, Uncanny Dodge, and to make the most of your BAB. That also means your first level of Swordsage will start you off at Initiator Level of 3, meaning you can grab some 2nd level maneuvers in that juicy starter set. I wouldn't take any more levels in Rogue after that, and instead I'd focus more on grabbing useful out-of-combat gear. Masterwork Skill Tools, lots of rope, climbing kits, magnets, flour, oil, chalk, bouncing balls, caltrops, marbles (like caltrops but often even better), paper, ink... yeah, you get the idea. Pretend you're a rogue, even if your levels are in Swordsage.

Draz74
2009-03-21, 07:57 PM
I also decided I wanted to do a Catfolk (Races of the Wild), they look fun and aren't bad at all with what I'm aiming for with this character.
I hope you can buy off the LA.


I'm also kind of ashamed to have forgotten Shadow Blade! Especially since I love Shadow Hand's stances and I rarely use other stances (Island of Blades was crazy with the barbarian on our team in the last campaign!)

So, with that in mind, I guess I'll drop TWF to concentrate on Weapon Finesse and Shadow Blade. Any Feat I should take to complete the "Combo" ?
Gloom Razor. :smallamused:


I'm also wondering how much concealment Child of Shadow (Shadow Hand stance) gives, they aren't saying...
Standard concealment is 20% unless stated otherwise.


Being the skill monkey and overall the support character I want this guy to be, should I use Swordsage as a dip class (something around 5 or 6 levels) or the opposite and get a few levels of Rogue?

If you really want to be a good skill monkey, you shouldn't just do a Rogue dip and mostly Swordsage. You should have some real Rogue levels. On the other hand, Swordsage just gets sweeter and sweeter to take levels in. So I wouldn't just dip it. Rogue 10 / SS 10 or Rogue 13 / SS 7 both sound pretty reasonable.

If you get up to Rogue 10 -- especially if you're planning on getting to Rogue 13 by the end -- don't overlook the Savvy Rogue feat. Oh, and you should trade out Trap Sense for an Alternate Class Feature -- probably Penetrating Strike from Dungeonscape -- unless you are planning to train your party in the Search Team teamwork benefit (also from Dungeonscape).

Cedrass
2009-03-21, 11:04 PM
I hope you can buy off the LA.

Well one level isn't gonna change things that much, will it? Plus the Dex and Cha boost is nice, no?

Anyways, with what you guys told me and what I want here's what I came with. I'm not sure about every maneuvers and stance but I think that's pretty much it. As for the last level (19th) I really didn't know what to choose; Rogue gave me more Sneak Attack, but Swordsage gave me a new Maneuver and Stance... Well anyways, tell me what you guys think!

28-point buy: Str 8, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 10
Catfolk: Str 8, Dex 20, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 12

Alternate Rogue class feature: Penetrating Strike

1 Rogue 1| Feat: Darkstalker
2 Rogue 2
3 Rogue 3 | Feat: Weapon Finesse
4 Rogue 4
5 Swordsage 1 | Discipline Focus (Weapon Focus (Shadow Hand)), Maneuvers: Shadow jaunt, Cloak of Deception, Fire Riposte, Burning Blade, Distracting Ember, Wind Stride | Stance: Island of Blades | Boost Wisdom
6 Swordsage 2 | Maneuvers: Emerald Razor | Stance: Child of Shadow | Feat: Shadow Blade
7 Swordsage 3 | Maneuvers: Shadow Garotte
8 Swordsage 4 | Discipline Focus (Insightful Strike (Shadow Hand)) | Maneuvers: Strength Draining Strike | Boost Wisdom
9 Swordsage 5 | Maneuver: Obscuring Shadow Veil | Stance: Assassin's Stance | Feat: Persistent Attacker
10 Rogue 5
11 Rogue 6
12 Swordsage 6 | Maneuver: Shadow Stride | Feat: Gloom Razor | Boost Wisdom
13 Rogue 7
14 Rogue 8
15 Swordsage 7 | Maneuver: Stalker in the Night | Feat: Craven
16 Rogue 9 | Boost Wisdom
17 Rogue 10 | Special Ability: Improved Evasion
18 Swordsage 8 | Discipline Focus (Defensive Stance (Shadow Hand)) | Feat: Savvy Rogue
19 Swordsage 9 | Maneuver: Shadow Blink | Stance: Fiery Assault

Weezer
2009-03-21, 11:12 PM
the only problem I see with your build is that when you take your first level of swordsage you don't have access to maneuvers higher than level 2. Non-martial adept levels only count 1/2 for initiator level so when your build is at level 5 you only have an initiator level of 3 and you need an initiator level of 5 to have access to level 3 maneuvers.

Flickerdart
2009-03-21, 11:13 PM
You also can't take Finesse at 1st level in a 3/4 BAB class, since you need +1 BAB to qualify.

Cedrass
2009-03-21, 11:18 PM
the only problem I see with your build is that when you take your first level of swordsage you don't have access to maneuvers higher than level 2. Non-martial adept levels only count 1/2 for initiator level so when your build is at level 5 you only have an initiator level of 3 and you need an initiator level of 5 to have access to level 3 maneuvers.

And I didn't take any lvl 3... Not according to my ToB anyways.


You also can't take Finesse at 1st level in a 3/4 BAB class, since you need +1 BAB to qualify.

And yeah, forgot about that... Edited my post above.

Weezer
2009-03-21, 11:24 PM
sorry about that, for some reason I thought that isle of blades was a 3rd level stance but now that I look at my book I see that I was wrong.

Curmudgeon
2009-03-22, 01:39 AM
Improved Evasion isn't the Rogue special ability you want; instead go for Crippling Strike for the STR damage on sneak attacks. With multiple opportunities to sneak attack (since you're taking Persistent Attacker) this can really add up.

You should take Craven earlier. Note that the bonus from Craven is not in the form of dice, so it's multiplied on critical hits. With weapons threatening on 15-20 you should get good use from this property.

Cute_Riolu
2009-03-22, 01:58 AM
Where is it again that you get Craven and Darkstalker? IIRC, there's a site...

Frosty
2009-03-22, 03:25 AM
Where is it again that you get Craven and Darkstalker? IIRC, there's a site...

Darkstalker I think is from Lords of Madness and Craven is from Champions of Ruin.

Cedrass
2009-03-22, 12:13 PM
Improved Evasion isn't the Rogue special ability you want; instead go for Crippling Strike for the STR damage on sneak attacks. With multiple opportunities to sneak attack (since you're taking Persistent Attacker) this can really add up.

You should take Craven earlier. Note that the bonus from Craven is not in the form of dice, so it's multiplied on critical hits. With weapons threatening on 15-20 you should get good use from this property.

I thought about it, but look at my Str score. 8, which give me a -1 modifier on Strength... But you are right with Craven. I guess Gloom Razor can wait.

Edit: I'm retarded. I dunno about Crippling Strike, 2 points of Strength isn't that much by the time I get it, even stacking it 3 or 4 times, that's only about -4 to touch and -4 damage. It may be a lot in the long run, but most combats I do rarely last longer than 5 rounds... I'll see when I get there which ability I'll take. It'll depend on how the teams doing I guess, if they kill fast or not.

Draz74
2009-03-22, 12:40 PM
Hmmmm, I was thinking your first and highest-priority Rogue Special would be Skill Mastery, since that's the focus of the character.

As for the site where you can view splatbook feats, the mods recently started [Scrubbing] references to it, and requesting that we not link there. We're quite puzzled as to why this became a sudden new policy, especially since we all thought that this site (like CrystalKeep) had some sort of special permission to post copyrighted stuff. So, sorry!

(Also, by-the-by, that same sight also recently had Lords of Madness feats mysteriously disappear from it, so you can't read Darkstalker there now anyway.)

Cedrass
2009-03-22, 12:44 PM
Hmmmm, I was thinking your first and highest-priority Rogue Special would be Skill Mastery, since that's the focus of the character.

It is, but I don't like taking 10, I'm always thinking "What if I had got a higher roll?"

monty
2009-03-22, 01:45 PM
It is, but I don't like taking 10, I'm always thinking "What if I had got a higher roll?"

On the other hand, what if you had got a lower roll? Taking 10 is for when you know a 10 will make it.

Cedrass
2009-03-22, 01:54 PM
I know, but the power gamer in me wants the highest possible results :(

But it makes sense, taking Skill Mastery as a Special Ability. This character won't be used for a while, so I'll see in due time. It's not like the special abilties are what make or break this character.

Keld Denar
2009-03-22, 02:39 PM
I really really REALLY like Crippling Strike for the same reason I REALLY like Ray of Enfeeblement and Escalating Enfeeblement on my arcane casters. The biggest thing about it is certain stat thresholds with 13 being the big number. 13 is the minimum to Power Attack. If your str drops below 13, you can't PA any more. Also, due to how prereqs work, you also can't Cleave, Improved Bullrush, Shocktrooper, Knockback, use any of your Frenzied Berzerker class abilities, and a host of other drawbacks. Also, the damage reducer is 1.5 points of damage per hit, not 1 for most things that use 2handed weapons. And the reduction to hit? Thats 2 points of PA damage you won't be eating, as reduced accuracy lowers viable PA use, providing the foe can even use PA at all.

Another thing to look at is Staggering Strike from Complete Warrior. The Staggered condition is pretty bad, denying your foe the ability to full attack back. It requires a +6 BAB though, so you wouldn't qualify until about level 9 with your build. If you can reliably get SA and do 40-50 damage a hit, it'll be a very effective debuff you can bring to the table.

Cedrass
2009-03-22, 04:08 PM
I really really REALLY like Crippling Strike for the same reason I REALLY like Ray of Enfeeblement and Escalating Enfeeblement on my arcane casters. The biggest thing about it is certain stat thresholds with 13 being the big number. 13 is the minimum to Power Attack. If your str drops below 13, you can't PA any more. Also, due to how prereqs work, you also can't Cleave, Improved Bullrush, Shocktrooper, Knockback, use any of your Frenzied Berzerker class abilities, and a host of other drawbacks. Also, the damage reducer is 1.5 points of damage per hit, not 1 for most things that use 2handed weapons. And the reduction to hit? Thats 2 points of PA damage you won't be eating, as reduced accuracy lowers viable PA use, providing the foe can even use PA at all.

Oh, the whole "under 13 Str and you suck" thing never even came to me but, damn you're right! I guess it's now official I'll relly on Crippling Strike since I am a Rogue after all and will have a load of Reflex.

Thanks I really enever saw it that way, I guess you just changed the way I'll play Mages and well, my characters in general.

Chronos
2009-03-22, 04:31 PM
Improved Evasion should be your last choice for rogue special abilities. It's an ability that only does anything at all when you fail a reflex save, and really, how often do you expect that to happen?

Personally, I think that Skill Mastery is the best, but I tend to view rogues as primarily noncombatants. But if you're looking to fight a lot, Crippling Strike is a solid choice. Remember, you should be making multiple attacks per round, and it's 2 strength damage per hit. The other thing to keep in mind for ability score damage is that most creatures either need a particular score, or have it very low: A few hits of strength damage will make the fighter much worse at what he does, and might also serve to paralyze a strength-dumped wizard.


I know, but the power gamer in me wants the highest possible results :(For most skill checks, the highest possible result is "success". Beating the DC by 1 point is just as good as beating it by 50, so what you want to maximize is the probability of getting a success. And if you're spending your skill points at all intelligently, taking 10 will usually give you a 100% chance of success.

Oh, one other note on feats: Crippling Strike adds 1 damage per character level, so it's especially useful for multiclass rogues. A rogue 1/whatever 19 with Craven will do an extra 1d6+20 on a sneak attack.

Keld Denar
2009-03-22, 04:34 PM
Yea...there is a reason nearly all of my caster characters get a Lesser Rod of Empower. All 3 of those charges go to power Ray of Enfeeblement or better, Escalating Enfeeblement (CMage). Str crippling a foe is killer, and the bigger the foe, the worse it hurts. Ray of Exhaustion + Rod Empowered Escalating Enenfeeblement (quickened via Circlet of Rapid Casting) means that in one round, you inflict (1d10+5)x1.5 +2 or +6 points of Str penalty depending on the result of the Ray of Exhaustion fort save. Thats about a -10 penalty on average, or up to -28 in ideal conditions (assuming a failed save against RoExhaustion and max roll on EE). Now, you can't reduce the str lower than 1, but still, taking that cloud giant down to Str1 in a single round is pretty badass. A Rogue can contribute to this by stacking another -10 on top of the wizards -10 can leave a foe so crippled he can't fight back. Team work and ability synergy is a big part of optimial D&D play. If you play this character, talk to your party wizard about taking complimentary abilities.

Cedrass
2009-03-22, 05:15 PM
Thanks guys, I learned a lot from this topic :smallsmile: I thought I was a pretty good player, but it seems I've got a lot to learn still :smallwink: Damage isn't the only way to slay/cripple someone.

Oh and Chronos, my DM has a house rule that if you beat a DC by 20 or more something nice happens in "bonus" of what you intended to do (it's not a precise number actually, he never told us what was his number). Something like rolling for Search, and getting 50 on a DC 25 trap, well your character would go and "Woah guys there's a tra- Oh wait, here's how to disarm it". Nothing much more better than this. But it's still a nice perk, hence why having high rolls on skills is fun :smallredface: