View Full Version : To Rogue or Not To Rogue, That is the Question

2010-05-31, 03:53 PM
So my question is simple, What would you rather play, Rogue, or Swordsage focusing on Shadow Hand?

Build is to level 10, standard WBL, prefer no LA races, but if it fits then all the better, initial stats are 17,17,17,14,15,8 (4d6 drop lowest), place them as you like.
up to 2 flaws and 1 trait, but they have to be meaningful

lets see what the playground can come up with

2010-05-31, 04:02 PM
Rogue 1 + Swordsage X + Able Learner + Shadowblade + Craven

2010-05-31, 04:10 PM
Swordsage with Shadowblade.

2010-05-31, 04:11 PM
Swordsage with Intuitive Strike.

2010-05-31, 09:26 PM
Rogue 1 + Swordsage X + Able Learner + Shadowblade + Craven
+1 Maybe Whisper Gnome with Weapon Finesse, Magic in the Blood (http://realmshelps.dandello.net/cgi-bin/feats.pl?Magic_in_the_Blood), and Silencing Strike (http://realmshelps.dandello.net/cgi-bin/feats.pl?Silencing_Strike).

2010-05-31, 09:35 PM
Rogue 1 + Swordsage X + Able Learner + Shadowblade + Craven

This is the way to go right here. Since you can use flaws I'd advise going TWF with short-swords.

2010-05-31, 10:05 PM
Rogue with a swordsage dip.

2010-06-01, 04:13 AM
I just read how rogues are your fave class, and was wondering, could you tell me your favorite build? my wife has a new campaign idea, and I enjoy playing the rogue as well. since she already kaiboshed my psionic idea, gotta go with something else.
I don't have just one favorite build; given that skills are a big part of what a Rogue is, and there's lots of flexibility in skill allocation, there are many ways you can go.

What level are you starting at? How many points do you have to spend on your stats? What's the starting equipment budget? What other classes do you have in the party? How much railroading is there? (Personally, I like to take opportunities to make sure my Rogues stay well above typical wealth by level guidelines, but if your wife/DM is heavy-handed about keeping you from earning more then that's a different constraint.) Any significant house rules or limitations?

hmm, ok, lets see, starting level would be 10 most likely, but not 100% yet. Stats, we use 4d6 drop lowest, so at worst I would be using the standard array in the PHB if my rolls are bad. standard WBL, any alignment (planning on evil). her campaign is that we are basically criminals (real or imagined), and are forced into a military unit of sorts. we are expendable, and if we complete our tour of duty we are considered to have repaid our debt to society. there is a geas on us to stop us from attacking party members, or going directly against our host country. (think commando raid type missions, go forth and cause mayhem, get them to sign this treaty by whatever means necessary)

she does not railroad too bad, but she will a bit to keep us in line if we veer too far off her path.

hope that helps

For commando raid missions where you're expendable, you're going to want to focus on two areas: combat and stealth. So here's my suggested Rogue 8/Shadowdancer 2 build at level 10. Note: you'll need to get DM approval for one semi-custom item: a +5 Use Magic Device competence booster, using the standard DMG formula for such things.

Ability requirements: INT should be highest, DEX next; CHA at least 14
With 17,17,17,14,15,8 you'll have

INT 17: increment @ level 4 ==> 18
DEX 17: increment @ level 8 ==> 20 with racial adjustment
STR 17: ==> 15 with racial adjustment
If your DM requires a lot of Spot and Listen checks, use as below. If not, reverse WIS and CHA.
WIS 15: increment @ level 12
CHA: 14
CON: 8 (annoying, I know, but HP won't matter too much if you're never seen)

Race is Rilkan (Magic of Incarnum, pages 12-15): +2 DEX, -2 STR; all Knowledges as class skills and +1 bonus to all; +2 Bluff, +2 Diplomacy

Rilkan Rogue substitution level 1; (sneak attack reduced 1d6), trapfinding
Rogue 2; Spell Reflection ACF (no evasion)
Rogue 3; Penetrating Strike ACF (no trap sense)
Rogue 4: uncanny dodge
Rogue 5
Planar Rogue substitution level 6 (detect portals)
Rogue 7
Shadowdancer 1: Hide in Plain Sight
Shadowdancer 2: evasion, darkvision 60', improved uncanny dodge
Rogue 8: Uncanny Bravery ACF (avoiding duplicate improved uncanny dodge)

ACF: Spell Reflection (Complete Mage, page 35): trade evasion for the ability to reflect spells targeted at you that miss
ACF: Penetrating Strike (Dungeonscape, page 13): trade trap sense for normal sneak attack damage vs. those normally immune, but only when you flank them
ACF: Uncanny Bravery (Dragon Magic, page 14): trade improved uncanny dodge for immunity to draconic presence and +4 to other fear saves

Rilkan Rogue substitution level 1 (Magic of Incarnum, pages 34-35): flanking bonus improves to +4; sneak attack reduced by 1d6
Planar Rogue substitution level 6 (Planar Handbook, pages 34-35): detect portals or planar breaches @ normal Rogue trap sense -1.

Trait: Quick: +10' land speed; -1 HP/level
Flaw: Vulnerable: -1 AC
Flaw: Brash (Dragon # 324): -6 penalty to AC against AoOs

Flaw: Dodge
Flaw: Combat Reflexes (req: DEX 13)
1: Darkstalker (Lords of Madness, page 179)
3: Weapon Finesse
6: Craven (Champions of Ruin, page 17): +1/character level sneak attack damage; -2 saves vs. fear
9: Knowledge Devotion (Complete Champion, page 60): bonuses to attack and damage everything based on Knowledge checks

12: Spring Attack (plannning ahead)

(Planning ahead) Rogue special ability @ Rogue 10: Skill Mastery

Maximum ranks: Move Silently, Hide, Tumble, Use Magic Device, 6 Knowledge skills (for Knowledge Devotion)
Perform: Dance 5

Skill bonus (competence) item: +5 to Use Magic Device 2,500
+1 leather armor w/ Mobility and Shadow (+5 to Hide) 7,910 (Get Cleric to add Magic Vestment for more AC)
+1 keen rapier 8,320 (Get spellcaster to add Greater Magic Weapon for more enhancement)
Heward's Handy Haversack 2,000
MW or better composite shortbow, +2 STR (price depends)
Boots of Striding and Springing 5,500

Buy leather armor before level 8: 10,310 gp
Buy skill bonus (competence) item, and Sparring Dummy of the Master (Arms and Equipment Guide, page 137) when you hit level 10: 2,500 + 30,000 gp
Train with Sparring Dummy for 4 weeks, making 244 DC 21 Use Magic Device checks to Emulate a Class Feature of a level 1 Monk; you now can take 10' steps as well as 5' steps
Sell the Sparring Dummy back for half price: -15,000 gp
Buy other gear

26,230 spent on gear; 15,000 gp on training; 41,230 gp total (excluding composite shortbow)

[49,000 @ level 10 WbL]

BAB is +7 @ level 10.
Add +5 DEX bonus for all attacks.
Flanking gives you +4 to hit.
Being visually undetectable (pretty much always) gives you another +2 to hit, and denies foes their DEX bonus to AC (so you can sneak attack them).
Knowledge Devotion gives you +2 to +5 to hit and damage, vs. everything; average will be +3.2 @ level 10.
Your sneak attack will only be 3d6+10, but you'll be able to sneak most everything. Penetrating Strike reduces your sneak attack dice by half for sneak-immune creatures you flank, but not your Craven bonus.
Adjusted average AB: +18.2 without flanking or spell assistance; +22.2 when flanking.
You'll threaten criticals 30% of the time, and confirm most of them with your excellent AB. Remember, Craven's constant bonus damage is doubled on a critical sneak attack.

You'll have evasion, uncanny dodge, improved uncanny dodge, Supernatural Hide in Plain Sight, trapfinding, Portal Breach Sense (but not trap sense), and 60' darkvision. You'll be immune to dragon frightful presence, and at +2 to other fear saves. With gear and the Quick trait your land speed will be 50', so you should be able to get around even if you have to Tumble at half speed. (At later levels when you pick up Skill Mastery you'll be able to go full speed on your Tumbles.)

If you've got the skill points to invest in Diplomacy you should try to Haggle on the prices; see rules in Complete Adventurer. This could potentially bring your training costs down from 15,000 gp to 10,333.33 gp, and other gear down 10%. If Spot and Listen are important skills in your game then forget Diplomacy.

Your AC will suck, but it mostly shouldn't matter; you'll Hide anywhere there's even a pebble or blade of grass casting a shadow within 10' of you. (This is immeasurably superior to what Shadow Hand Child of Shadow and Cloak of Deception can give a Swordsage.) Avoid AoOs at all cost: your Brash flaw could get you killed! (So Tumble and Hide to avoid them.) You'll also (try to, at least) Hide while attacking; it's a -20 penalty, but you should make it a lot of the time with your maximum ranks, good DEX, and Shadow armor property; it can't hurt to try, and you'll thwart some counterattacks. After a full attack (melee or ranged) you'll take a 10' step and Hide, with no penalty because you're moving. Foes will require a superior Spot skill and reach to ever use a full melee attack because of the 10' step. Darkstalker even lets you Hide against tremorsense, blindsight, blindsense, and scent, so you should be in good shape despite poor AC and low hit points. The biggest concern is area attacks, and you'll avoid most of those with evasion.

2010-06-01, 04:28 AM
Well, does the party need a character w/ trapfinding? If so, dip one level in rogue and continue with swordsage build. :P

(maybe two levels in rogue if you can't get evasion fast enough for your build)

2010-06-01, 05:05 AM
Swordsage all the way. Basically, I enjoy having a lot of tactical options in any given situation, and having four, five strikes readied gives me already more than a rogue has. Plus, I enjoy building characters, and selecting maneuvers is one more step the rogue does not have. :smallbiggrin:

2010-06-01, 05:12 AM
Rogue 1 + Swordsage X + Able Learner + Shadowblade + Craven

This is the way to go right here. Since you can use flaws I'd advise going TWF with short-swords.
I wouldn't expect to hit much with that approach.

BAB +7
+4 with a 17, incremented, as your DEX if you add Weapon Finesse
+2 maximum weapon enhancement because expense of 2 magic weapons will consume 1/3 your WbL
-2 penalty with Two-Weapon Fighting
That's an adjusted AB of +11 with a full attack. You'll miss with your good attacks at least half the time against typical CR 10 opponents (clay golem, fire giant, & c.) and 3/4 of the time with your second main hand attack. Plus you'll have to withstand full counterattacks.

Base damage will be middling: 1d6+8 (+2 enhancement +2 STR bonus +4 DEX bonus), with 1d6+10 extra on a sneak attack. You'll only threaten critical hits 10% of the time, and confirm well under half; that's maybe a +3% boost to damage. Martial maneuvers and stances will improve this damage baseline, of course. But most maneuvers don't increase your chance of hitting (Shadow Blade Technique is an obvious exception, but it doesn't work with TWF), which I see as the biggest problem with such a build.

2010-06-01, 05:45 AM
It all depends on your complexion, really. If you find that your cheeks are somewhat pale and sallow, a little rouge can do wonders.

Wait - you spelt it right. My bad. :P

2010-06-01, 06:23 AM
Sounds like a perfect setup for one of my favorite builds - the rogue Gish.

Int > Dex > Con > Cha > Str > Wis

Rogue 1/Wizard 1/Human Paragon 3/Unseen Seer 2/Arcane Trickster 3
Rogue 1/Wizard 1/Human Paragon 3/Unseen Seer 2/Spellwarp Sniper 3

Remaining 10 levels are filled out with more Arcane Trickster and/or Spellwarp Sniper. You have full spellcaster advancement except at levels 1 and 3, and an extra caster level (but not spell advancement) in Unseen Seer, so Practices Spellcaster is a must. Other than that, you can be equal parts spellcaster, skillmonky and gish (or at least precision damage dealer).

Hope you like it.

2010-06-01, 11:17 AM
Rogue 10/Factotum 3/Swordsage 4/Uncanny Trickster 3 is my favorite build for "has as much of the flavor of the original Rogue as possible, but is actually powerful."

This does kind of assume that you're allowed to use Fractional BAB. Use Uncanny Trickster to advance Swordsage abilities; or, if multiclassing XP penalties aren't an issue, switch to Rogue 8/Factotum 3/Swordsage 6/Uncanny Trickster 3, with Uncanny Trickster advancing Rogue abilities (so you can get Skill Mastery or Crippling Strike).

The character I've statted up using this strategy is a Halfling (for classic nostalgia's sake). With your stats, I'd put 17s in DEX/INT/WIS, 8 in CHA, and so forth (like others have been recommending). The order I'd take the first 10 levels is:

1. Rogue
2. Rogue
3. Rogue
4. Rogue
5. Factotum
6. Swordsage
7. Factotum
8. Swordsage
9. Factotum
10. Uncanny Trickster

2010-06-01, 03:25 PM
This does kind of assume that you're allowed to use Fractional BAB.

I never did understand fractional BAB, seen it a bunch on here and other forums. can anyone explain it?

2010-06-01, 03:28 PM
I never did understand fractional BAB, seen it a bunch on here and other forums. can anyone explain it?Low BAB classes (ex. wizard) get 1/2 BAB per level, medium BAB classes (ex. rogue) get 3/4 BAB per level, full BAB classes (ex. fighter warblade!) get 1 BAB per level. You just add them together.

2010-06-01, 03:29 PM
I never did understand fractional BAB, seen it a bunch on here and other forums. can anyone explain it?

It's in UA, and also the SRD. Basically, all classes either get +1 BAB per level, +.5 BAB per level, or +.75 BAB per level, always rounding down. Sum up the BABs of all classes in your build, then round down, and that's your BAB.

For the OP, I'd recommend either Rogue 2/Unarmed Swordsage X for a ninja type build (which seems like what you're aiming for) or Factotum X.