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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    The Swift Ambusher's Handbook
    (A Work in Progress)



    Introduction
    There is the seemingly much more familiar Swift Hunter, the Scout/Ranger hybrid that is amazingly mobile with their bow and their array of ranger spells. Then there is the hardly-ever-mentioned cousin of the Swift Hunter, the Swift Ambusher -- a Scout/Rogue hybrid capable of massive amounts of precision damage by stacking both skirmish and sneak attack. While the Swift Hunter excels at ranged combat, the Ambusher has an easier time in melee due to the mechanics behind sneak attack. However, that's not to say ranged Ambushers are not an option. Let's delve into the hows and whys of Ambushing!

    Table of Contents
    Part I - Races
    aaaPart Ia - Templates
    Part II - Skills
    aaaPart IIa - Skill Tricks
    Part III - Feats
    Part IV - Gear
    Part V - Dips & Prestige Classes
    aaaPart Va - Alternate Class Features
    Part VI - Example Builds


    Rating System
    Spoiler
    Show
    Red - This is awful. Do not take it. Ever.
    Purple - Useful for specific types of builds. Look elsewhere for general-purpose goodness.
    Black - It's okay, it'll see use, but there are much better options available.
    Blue - These are good, solid options.
    Cyan - These are cream of the crop, and you better have a good reason for not taking them.
    Gold - You have no good reason for ignoring these options.


    Book Acronym Index
    Spoiler
    Show
    Code:
    BoED - Book of Exalted Deeds
    CAdv - Complete Adventurer
    CArc - Complete Arcane
    CChamp - Complete Champion
    CMage - Complete Mage
    CoR - Champions of Ruin
    CSco - Complete Scoundrel
    CWar - Complete Warrior
    DM - Dragon Magic
    Dr### - Dragon Magazine issue
    DotU - Drow of the Underdark
    ECS - Eberron Campaign Setting
    FC1 - Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss
    FRCS - Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting
    Frost - Frostburn
    LoM - Lords of Madness
    MIC - Magic Item Compendium
    MM1 - Monster Manual I
    MoI - Magic of Incarnum
    OA - Oriental Adventures
    PGtF - Player's Guide to Faerűn
    PHB2 - Players Handbook 2
    PlanHB - Planar Handbook
    RoD - Races of Destiny
    RoE - Races of Eberron
    RoF - Races of Faerűn
    RoS - Races of Stone
    RotD - Races of the Dragon
    RotW - Races of the Wild
    Sand - Sandstorm
    SoX - Secrets of Xen'drik
    ToB - Tome of Battle
    ToM - Tome of Magic
    UA - Unearthed Arcana
    UE - Unapproachable East
    XPH - Expanded Psionics Handbook


    Other Useful Links
    Swift Hunter's Handbook
    The Archery Handbook
    A Guide to Proper Scouting
    Scout's Handbook
    Rogue's Handbook
    Psychic Rogue Handbook



    Ability Scores
    Strength - You're relying on precision damage to kill things, not massive weapons swung incredibly hard. This is a low priority. You can leave it at 10 or bump it a bit to use a Composite Bow.
    Dexterity - This is going to be your most important ability score. Helps AC, Reflex, many of your skills, and your attack bonus unless you go melee and don't take Weapon Finesse, which would be subpar.
    Constitution - This score is important for any character. When you only have d6 and d8 HD, it becomes more important, especially if you're playing a melee Skirmisher.
    Intelligence - Sure, you already have 8+int skill points, but, let's be honest: you can never have enough skill points when you're a skill monkey.
    Wisdom - Boosts your Will save, Listen & Spot, but otherwise doesn't do much.
    Charisma - This varies. If you're going to optimize Bluff or Intimidate shenanigans, put some points into this. Otherwise, dump it completely.



    Part I - Races
    I'll really only touch on ones that people are likely to take. Each race has its strengths, and I think you're smart enough to know which ones are wholly unsuited for this sort of character.

    0 LA
    AzurinMoI - Humans that trade out their bonus skill points for bonus essentia while keeping that tasty bonus feat. Excellent if you're dipping into Incarnum material.
    Elf - The +2 Dex is nice, as well as the bonuses to the perception skills, but -2 Con hurts on any character.
    Fire ElfUA/Grey ElfMM1 - These elf variants give +2 Dex and Int, -2 Str(Gray)/Cha(Fire) and Con. More bonuses, but more penalties as well.
    GoblinMM1 - It's got a 30-ft. movement speed despite being small-sized - something only Whisper Gnome and Kobold can also claim (As far as I am aware). +2 Dex is nice, -2 Cha hardly matters as usual, but -2 Str hurts Composite Bow use. Darkvision is nice, as is the racial bonus to Move Silently. However, the racial bonus to Ride is wasted as a Skirmisher won't be doing much riding.
    Halfling - +2 Dex and small size are excellent, not to mention the bonus to saving throws, but -2 Str sucks if you're using a composite bow and the 20-ft. movement speed is painful on what's intended to be quite a mobile character. If you're going for an Ascetic Ambusher, halfling is your only choice.
    Human - You were expecting a different rating? Bonus feat, bonus skill points. Yum.
    KoboldMM1/RotD - Blah blah blah Dragonwrought cheese blah blah blah.
    Painted ElfSand - +2 Dex, -2 Int. Getting rid of the Con penalty is nice, and a pairing of two 8+int classes can take the penalty to Int. Snow Elf is probably the better choice, but this one is decent too.
    RaptoranRotW - No extra goodies at all, but Ex flight is pretty fantastic, and gives you a lot of mobility - an important thing on a Swift Ambusher. Also, you always know which way is north. Neat little tidbit.
    ShifterECS - +2 Dex, -2 Int, -2 Cha. The 2 penalties kind of sucks, but it gets better, I promise. Shifters get to Shift (imagine that) 1/day, an ability similar to Rage. There are different types of Shifters. I shall cover them below.
    Spoiler
    Show
    Beasthide - +2 Con and +2 natural armor while shifting. Neat, but I see this as being more for a tank/bruiser type.
    Cliffwalk - +2 Dex and a 20-ft. climb speed. Cool if you plan on climbing a lot, I suppose.
    DreamsightRoE - +2 Wis and the effects of Speak with Animals, as well as a +2 to Handle Animal and wild empathy checks even when not shifting. This feels like it's for druids and maybe rangers. Pass.
    GorebruteRoE - +2 Str and horns that can be used during a charge. The horns deal 2d6(+1 per 4 levels). Using the horns bars you from attacking with anything else, even if you have Pounce. Pass.
    Longstride - +2 Dex and +10 to base land speed. Now we're talking. Both melee and ranged Ambushers will like this one.
    Longtooth - +2 Str and a 1d6 bite secondary attack. If you're a melee Ambusher looking to get as many attacks as possible, here you go.
    Razorclaw - +2 Str and two 1d4(+1 per 4 levels) claw attacks. I suppose you could be a Razorclaw Shifter and not have to worry about weapons or ever being unarmed. However, natural attacks are notoriously harder to enchant well when compared to weapons.
    SwiftwingRoE - +2 Dex and a fly speed of 20 ft. (average). However, you cannot use your arms for anything other than flying and carrying stuff (no attacking). If you're dipping Monk and/or going the unarmed route, this won't be an issue as you can still kick stuff, and if that is the case being able to fly is fantastic.
    TruediveRoE - +2 Con and a swim speed of 30 ft. Can hold breath for 5 x Con score rounds (this benefit applies even when not Shifting). Usefulness of having a swim speed varies...
    Wildhunt - +2 Con and the Scent ability. Hitpoints are always nice, and Scent is cool if you're looking to be the party tracker.

    Silverbrow HumanDM - Trade the bonus skill points for the (Dragonblooded) subtype, opening up a whole slew of feats to you.
    Snow ElfFrost - Now we're talking. Trading out the -2 Con for -2 Cha (dump stat) while keeping all the nice little bonuses of a regular elf makes this a fantastic race.
    Strongheart HalflingFRCS/RoF - However, an extra feat definitely makes up for the slow speed.
    Tiefling, LesserPGtF - The non-outsider version, losing its +1 LA while still keeping +2 Dex, +2 Int, -2 Cha, 1/day Darkness SLA.
    Whisper GnomeRoS - The gold standard for any Dex-based character. In my opinion, the only reason to take Human instead of Whisper Gnome is if you really need that feat. 30-ft. movement speed despite being small, +2 Dex, +2 Con, racial Silence SLA, racial bonus to Hide and Move Silently on top of its size bonus? Absolutely fantastical. The -2 Str is a small price to pay for all of this.


    +1 LA
    CatfolkRotW - +4 Dex sure is nice, and +2 Cha is useful if you're UMDing, but not necessary. +1 Natural Armor is cool. However, if you're taking this race it's probably for Catfolk Pounce.
    TieflingFRCS - +2 Dex is excellent, +2 Int is nice for more skills (let's be honest, as a skill monkey, you can never have enough skill points), and a penalty to the usual dump stat. Resist 5 cold/fire/electricity are tasty too. The Darkness SLA could be useful for helping you hide and thus get Sneak Attack.

    +2 LA
    Drow - +2 level adjustment sucks, but Drow DO get a lot of fun things - 3 stat bonuses, SR, +2 to Will vs. spells, darkness and faerie fire SLAs... It's up to you whether it's worth it.

    Part Ia - Templates
    DarkToM - The Dark template gives lots of goodies for just +1 LA. +10 feet to all modes of movement, 60 ft. darkvision, Hide in Plain Sight (a crappy version of it, but still), Resist Cold 10, +8 Hide, and +6 Move Silently. Better movement and better hiding make both Skirmishing and Sneak Attacking easier.
    Shadow-WalkerUE - This +1 LA template is designed for characters aiming for Telflammar Shadowlord; thus it is most optimal on a character of that sort. Nevertheless, it still has some use for a Swift Ambusher. It gives 60-ft. darkvision (but also Light Blindness), +2 Dex (but -2 Con, ugh). It also gives you a list of SLAs that only grows as your level does. The Darkness SLAs could be useful for hiding in and also for relieving your light blindness; the rest of the SLAs are really just useful for utility (Although being able to cast Displacement 2/day at level 13+ is nice). Dimension Door is most useful with Shadow Pounce, which most Swift Ambushers are unlike to have.



    Part II - Class skills
    Appraise - No. Just no.
    Balance - At least 5 ranks for dealing with Grease. Apply more as your situation fits.
    Bluff - If nothing else, it's worth putting 5 points into for the synergy bonus to Intimidate if you're looking to optimize on that skill. Other than that, mileage may vary.
    Climb - I've found it varies campaign-to-campaign how much climbing is ever actually done. Most of it in my group is fairly low DC stuff; as such, we get by with little to no ranks in it.
    Craft - Another skill where mileage varies. You can make your own weapons and armor to save money if you want. If you're a ranged character, you can craft your own arrows.
    Decipher Script - Useless.
    Diplomacy - Nah.
    Disable Device - Part of being a rogue or a scout (not to mention being both!) is being the "trap guy". However, this is another "mileage varies" skill. Personally, my group hardly ever encounters traps. Cyan in a trap-heavy game.
    Disguise - Nah.
    Escape Artist - Hopefully, mobile as you are, you'll stay out of grapples (or shackles or rope, I guess). However, should you find that not to be the case, this can be a very good way to escape; particularly on low-strength, high-dexterity characters that have little chance of breaking their way loose.
    Forgery - No way.
    Gather Information - Nope.
    Hide - You're trying to sneak attack. Hiding helps you do that.
    Intimidate - There are some fun things you can do with Intimidate if you take the right feats and maybe a skill trick or two. If you're not going that route, just ignore it.
    Jump - Mobility is your forte, and Jump can aid in that.
    Knowledge (local) - Eh, it's a knowledge skill. Knowing stuff is good. Blue if you have Knowledge Devotion.
    Knowledge (dungeoneering) - See above.
    Knowledge (nature) - See above.
    Knowledge (geography) - I personally find this to be probably the most useless of the Knowledge skills.
    Listen - Another part of being a rogue/scout is often being out in front of the group. In that case, it's nice to notice things before they notice you. Heck, that's nice at any time.
    Move Silently - See Hide.
    Open Lock - This is pretty much the same as Disable Device. This choice of class often relegates you to being "that guy" in the group, so it's good to have ranks to be able to do it well.
    Perform - Nope.
    Profession - Nope.
    Search - If you're putting ranks in Disable Device, might as well put ranks in this so you can find the devices, rather than setting them off and blowing yourself up.
    Sense Motive - Mmmm no.
    Sleight of Hand - Having weapons your enemy doesn't know about is useful. Raises your chance of being able to sneak attack.
    Spot - Same as Listen. Noticing stuff before it notices you is useful.
    Swim - See Climb.
    Tumble - You're going to be moving. A lot. Being able to do so without provoking attacks of opportunity is key. Also, several useful skill tricks rely on Tumble ranks.
    Use Magic Device - Always a good skill, although its necessity may be dictated by how many casters you have in the group.
    Use Rope - Does anybody ever put ranks in this?

    Part IIa - Skill Tricks
    Skill tricks are found in Complete Scoundrel. They are usable once per encounter and are acquired by 1) Having enough skill ranks to qualify for them 2) Spending 2 skill ranks to then acquire one. I'm only going to mention the ones I see having good combat or utility applications.
    Spoiler
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    Acrobatic Backstab - This one is fantastic for melee Ambushers. By the time you have 12 ranks in Tumble, hitting the DC 25 for moving through your opponent's space should be pretty easy. Doing so makes them flat-footed and a prime target for both SA/Skirmish. Red for Ranged Ambushers.
    Back on Your Feet - Immediate action up from prone that doesn't provoke is pretty useful.
    Clarity of Vision - Pinpointing invisible creatures is nice, but it's only for the turn you do it on.
    Clever Improviser - Ew. Why ever disable/open without your tools? Even if forced to, a -2 penalty really isn't that bad and thus not worth a skill trick.
    Collector of Stories - Pair this with Knowledge Devotion for lots of extra attack bonuses and damage.
    Easy Escape - Preferably you're never in a situation to get grappled, but if you are, this makes it a lot easier to escape it, effectively canceling out the opponent's size bonus (if any).
    Escape Attack - Again, it's better not to get grappled at all, but if you are, this lets you make an attack with a light weapon against the grappler as you escape - what's more, they're considered flat-footed, giving you sneak attack. Red for ranged Ambushers, who are unlikely to be good enough at melee or have a melee weapon in hand already to use this effectively.
    Extreme Leap - Swift action to add 10 free feet to your move. May make triggering Skirmish (or Expeditious Dodge) easier in some situations. I can see quite a few uses for this.
    Hidden Blade - Pulling a hidden weapon as a move, treating the opponent as flat-footed against your first attack. So, you get a single sneak-attack enhanced hit, but the rest are normal. And, since you used your move drawing the weapon, that means no Skirmish (unless you have Travel Devotion). Eh. Better ways of triggering your precision damage.
    Never Outnumbered - If you're optimizing Intimidate, this skill trick rocks. Demoralizing every enemy within 10 feet rather than just a single opponent that you threaten? Yes please!
    Nimble Charge - Lets you run/charge across a difficult surface without needing a Balance check. Meh.
    Nimble Stand - The precursor to "Back on Your Feet" (this needs 8 ranks, while Back on Your Feet needs 12), this allows you stand up from prone without provoking. Still a move action, though. Up to you whether you take this, or just wait 4 more levels until Back on Your Feet.
    Spot the Weak Point - Spot check with a DC = opponent's AC to get one attack treated as a touch attack. Can use at range within 30 feet. A touch attack is nice if you can trigger your precision damage.
    Sudden Draw - This is the only skill trick with a feat requirement (Quick Draw). Well, sort of; Hidden Blade also has Quick Draw as a requirement. Is it worth it? If an opponent provokes an AoO, you can draw a hidden weapon and attack as if they were flat-footed, thus getting you SA damage. YMMV.

  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Part III - Feats


    NOTE: This section is pretty much complete. If you don't see something you think should be here, suggest it in a post!

    Ambush Feats
    It wouldn't be a Swift Ambusher's guide without Ambush feats, would it? These feats require a certain amount of SA dice to qualify for, and sacrifice some of those dice for added effects. The Swift Ambusher feat allows Skirmish dice to be added to your total SA dice to determine whether you qualify for a feat. However, they cannot be sacrificed to use the feats. Ambush feats are found in Complete Scoundrel (and a few in Drow of the Underdark).
    Spoiler
    Show
    Concussion Attack -Requires 3d6. Sacrifice 2d6 to impose a -2 on Int/Wis checks for 1 minute. Meh.
    Deafening Strike - Requires 4d6. Sacrifice 3d6 to deafen the target for 3 rounds. Deafened has little use except against casters, and even then it just gives a failure chance when casting.
    Disemboweling Strike - Requires 5d6 and Weapon Focus [slashing weapon]. Sacrifice 4d6 to deal 1d4 Con damage in addition to normal damage. 1/day per target.
    Eldritch Erosion - Requires 4d6, Knowlede (arcana) 1 rank. Sacrifice 4d6, lower target's SR/PR by 5 for 1 minute. SR means nothing to you. If the casters want to mess with that, let them do it on their own.
    Head Shot - Requires 6d6, Weapon Focus [bludgeoning weapon]. Sacrifice 5d6 to confuse your opponent for 1 round with a Will save (10+number of SA dice you normally have + Dex mod). 6d6 means 11 levels of rogue. By that point you should have well over 20 Dex, giving you a save of 22+, which is actually decent. However, it's only 1 round of confusion. YMMV.
    Gloom StrikeDotU - Requires 3d6, darkness as a spell-like ability. Sacrifice 2d6 to give target a -4 to Spot checks and make them treat all other creatures as having concealment for 3 rounds.
    Impeding Attack - Requires 4d6. Sacrifice 3d6. This is Concussion Attack except for Str/Dex. More meh.
    Merciful Strike - Requires 2d6. Sacrifice 1d6 to deal nonlethal with your SA without taking the -4 for attempting nonlethal with a lethal weapon. I suppose if you're going for a subdual build this could see use, otherwise skip it.
    Mind Drain - Requires 2d6 and a power point reserve. Sacrifice 1d6 to drain PP from target equal to its manifester level. If the target is not psionic, this has no effect. If you're a psychic rogue rather than a PHB rogue and playing in a high-psionics game I can see this being useful.
    Persistent Attacker - Requires 5d6, sacrifice 4d6 to ensure that your first attack the next turn will be a sneak attack even if it normally wouldn't be. If you're able to apply this, it means you can sneak attack this turn. Get all of it. Why on earth would you sacrifice most of it just to get a single attack with it next turn?
    Sickening StrikeDotU - Requires 2d6. Sacrifice 1d6 to make your target (if it is a living creature) sickened for 1 round.
    Terrifying StrikeDotU - Requires 2d6, Intimidate 4 ranks. Sacrifice 1d6, a hit shakens target for 1 round.
    Throat Punch - Requires 3d6, Improved Unarmed Strike. Sacrifice 2d6 to apply a -5 penalty to speech-related skill checks and a 50% failure chance with verbal spells/command words for 3 rounds. If you dip Monk and pick up Ascetic Rogue I can see this being useful. Heck, even if you just pick up IUS on a non-monk character, messing with a caster's ability to cast is fun.
    Venomous StrikeDotU - Requires 2d6, Poison Use. Sacrifice 1d6 to increase the DC of the poison applied to the attacking weapon by 2. If you're going to be using poisons a lot, I can see this one actually being pretty useful, as ways to increase poison DC are few and far between, and sacrificing only 1d6 is not a bad deal.




    General Feats
    Spoiler
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    Able LearnerRoD - Humans get all the nice stuff, huh? Makes cross-class skills only cost 1 rank. You already have a huge skill list as a Scout/Rogue, but if there are skills you want that aren't on your list and you're a human, take this.
    Acrobatic StrikePHB2 - Requires Tumble 12. If you successfully use Tumble to avoid an AoO, you get a +4 on next attack vs it during your current turn.
    Arterial StrikeCWar - Requires BAB +4. If you hit with SA, you can sacrifice 1d6 to deal 1 bleed damage. You can apply this conditional several times to compound the damage, but can only apply the effect once per sneak attack.
    Combat AcrobatPHB2 - Requires 9 ranks Balance and Tumble. A multi-purpose feat: 1) make a balance check to remain standing in the face of a prone effect. 2) Balance check to ignore up to 4 squares of difficult terrain (hello charging!) Odd that you need Tumble ranks when both uses utilize Balance...
    CravenCoR - Extra SA damage equal to character level is amazing. Who cares if you take a -2 on saves vs. Fear? Worth it.
    DarkstalkerLoM - Maybe you're managing all of this precision damage without much hiding, and this is of less use to you. Even then, it's still extremely useful, hiding you from blindsense, blindsight, scent, and tremorsense as well as regular sight.
    Deadly PrecisionXPH - Requires Dex 15, +5 BAB. You can reroll results of 1 on SA dice, but must keep the 2nd result even if it is another 1.
    Demonic Sneak AttackFC1 - Allows you to reroll a number of SA dice on a successful SA equal to the number of Abyssal inheritor feats you have (said feats are found in the same book as this feat).
    Desert Wind DodgeToB - Another Dodge replacer. You'll need either a dip into Swordsage or Martial Study to pick up a Desert Wind maneuver (meh) to get this. +1 dodge and +1 fire damage if you move 10 feet and are using a Desert Wind weapon. Possibly Red for ranged Ambushers due to the weapon limitations, although you can still get the Dodge bonus and it qualifies you for feats.
    Dodge - There are much better feats out there. Particularly, ones that have better effects than this but qualify you for the same feats. Blue if you're a Whisper Gnome that also takes Titan Fighting.
    Dragon TailRotD - (Dragonblooded) only, so probably just Silverbrow Humans. It gives you a secondary attack tail slap. Another choice for melee Ambushers looking to get more attacks. 1st level only.
    Dragon WingsRotD - (Dragonblooded) only, so probably just Silverbrow Humans. Gives you wings that grant you a +10 racial bonus to Jump checks and let you glide. 1st level only.
    Improved Dragon Wings - Requires 6 HD, upgrades your wings to get a fly speed of 30 ft. (average) and allows you to fly for consecutive rounds equal to your Con modifier, up to 10 minutes total per day. At 12 HD, you can fly all you want. Ask yourself if it's worth these two feats to get permanent Ex flight, when you could have gotten it for no feats as a Raptoran.
    EducationECS - Turns all Knowledge skills into class skills. Helps you optimize your output from Knowledge Devotion.
    Expeditious DodgeRotW - This feat from Races of the Wild counts as Dodge when qualifying for other feats or prestige classes, and it's way better in 90% of cases. It gives you a +2 dodge bonus to AC whenever you move 40 or more feat in one turn; something that is not unlikely with a character that uses Skirmish.
    Extra SilenceRoS - Pretty much only useful for a Whisper Gnome who wants more than 1 use of Silencing Strike.
    Extra StunningCWar - If you're building an Ascetic Ambusher or just want a little bit of monk in a standard scout/rogue build, here you go. More stunning fists!
    Imperious CommandDotU - For those going for Intimidate shenanigans. Rather than demoralizing foes making them shaken, it makes them cower for 1 round and then shaken for 1 more after that. A cowering opponent loses their Dex to AC, thus being a prime candidate for SA. If you're not optimizing Intimidate, ignore this completely.
    Improved Initiative - Going first is always good. Opponents that haven't acted yet are flat-footed and (hopefully) still across the room, making prime targets for both SA/Skirmish.
    Improved SkirmishCSco - +2d6/+2AC bonus Skirmish if you move 20 feet rather than the normally needed 10 feet. Gravy.
    Indigo StrikeMoI - Invest Essentia to get an insight bonus on precision damage. Being an Ambusher means you get the bonus twice (once to SA, once to Skirmish).
    JotunbrudRoF - For Humans only. Allows you to count as Large-sized when applying size modifiers. Harder to get tripped, bull rushed, etc.
    Knowledge DevotionCChamp - A guaranteed +1 to hit and damage against many types of creatures; bigger bonus the better your check. No actions required. Why pass up free damage and accuracy?
    Martial StanceToB - Requires Martial Study first (or levels in an initiator class), which is totally okay as there are plenty of good things to grab with Martial Study. Here's what you grab with Martial Stance:
    Spoiler
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    Island of Blades - As long as you and an ally are both adjacent to the target, you are considered to be flanking. Easy sneak attack! Obviously this one is meant only for melee Ambushers.
    Assassin's Stance - +2d6 sneak attack damage. Weeee!

    Martial StudyToB - There are several good maneuvers you can pick up that make triggering Sneak Attack and/or Skirmish easier.
    Spoiler
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    1st level
    Sapphire Nightmare Blade - Concentration check to make the opponent flat-footed. Success means you also deal an extra 1d6 damage. Standard action means you only get a single attack though. Best at low levels, before you have iteratives. Melee only.
    Sudden Leap - Swift action to make a Jump check with the ability to Tumble to avoid AoOs. Easy skirmish activator.
    Wolf Fang Strike - Simulates TWF without needing TWF; this gets you two attacks at a -2 each as a standard action. This remains useful even once you get iteratives, as there will probably be times when you can't full attack. Obviously melee only.
    2nd level
    Cloak of Deception - Swift action Greater Invisibility for a turn. Hell yes.
    Emerald Razor - Single melee attack made as a touch attack, which is generally way easier to hit. Again, the single attack means this is best at low levels.
    Shadow Jaunt - Standard action to teleport 50' to anywhere within LoS/LoE.
    5th level
    Shadow Stride - Shadow Jaunt, except now it's a move action.
    7th level
    Shadow Blink - Shadow Jaunt as a swift action.

    Midnight DodgeMoI - Another Dodge replacer. Man, there are a lot of these. Works like normal dodge (ew) but with the bonus to AC being equal to the amount of essentia you invest.
    Mobility - Garbage, but required if you're going for Spring Attack or Shot on the Run.
    Nymph's KissBoED - An Exalted feat for you do-gooder Ambushers out there, this gets you a bonus skill point per level as well as +1 to saves vs. spells/SLAs. +2 to Cha-related checks as well, but that will only matter if you're optimizing Bluff/Intimidate
    Shifter FeatsRoE - This is a subset of feats for the Shifter race, detailed below.
    Spoiler
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    Cliffwalk Elite - While shifting, you get +10 climb speed. Not really worth a feat.
    Dreamsight Elite - Full round action to give you See Invisibility and +5 on Spot for the duration of your Shifting. Neat. Too bad you have to be a subpar variety of Shifter to get this.
    Extra Shifter Trait - Requires two other Shifter feats. Allows you get a second variety of Shifting, except for its ability score bonus.
    Gorebrute Elite - Creatures hit by your horns must make an opposed Str check or be knocked prone. You know, the horns that prevent you from making any other attacks.
    Longstrider Elite - While shifting, you get an additional +10 feet to your base land speed (netting you a total +20 feet while shifting). Up to you whether you need that extra speed.
    Longtooth Elite - Each time you damage with your Longtooth bite attack, you deal 1 Con damage. Nifty.
    Razorclaw Elite - You can attack with both claws after a charge. Mini-Pounce, neat. Unnecessary if you grabbed a Spirit Lion Totem Barbarian dip though.
    Reactive Shifting - Requires Improved Initiative. Allows you to Shift as an immediate action.
    Shifter Savagery - This one is open to Gorebrute, Longtooth, and Razorclaw Shifters with +6 BAB and Rage/Frenzy. When you Shift and Rage simultaneously, it improves natural attack damage dice by two steps and gives 19-20 crit range. This could result in a pretty decent little damage upgrade.

    Silencing StrikeRoS - Whisper Gnome only. Expend a use of your Silence SLA to turn a sneak attack into a silencing strike, applying an effect identical to the spell's to the target with no save so long as you hit with the attack. Lasts for rounds = ECL. Excellent way to screw over casters, and another way Whisper Gnomes are amazing.
    Telling BlowPHB2 - Deal precision damage on a crit, even if you normally wouldn't trigger it. The feat says "deal skirmish or sneak attack damage" but I'm sure that's just WotC assuming you don't have both. Still, check with your DM to be safe. Much better when you're wielding a weapon with a high crit range.
    Titan FightingRoS - Requires Dodge and a racial Dodge bonus vs. Giants (i.e., Whisper Gnome. Dwarves and regular gnomes too, but I doubt you're playing one of them). Allows you to apply said bonus vs. Dodge target rather than just a +1.
    Travel DevotionCChamp - What a treasure this is. 1/day swift activation to get an extra move action each round for one minute. Hello, Skirmish on full-attacks! More uses and easier acquisition should you dip (Cloistered) Cleric.
    Underfoot CombatRotW - Requires Small size. Allows you to enter the space of a Large or larger creature without provoking. While there, you get soft cover from everyone, even the creature you're underneath. This feat heralds the way for...
    Confound the Big FolkRotW - Being a tactical feat, this one has several uses. However, here's the one that really matters: when you move into a Large+ creature's square, they're flat-footed against your attacks and you get a +4 to confirm crits.
    Weapon Focus - Accuracy is always good. There are better feats out there, but some feats have this as a prerequisite, such as Crossbow Sniper.




    Melee Feats
    Spoiler
    Show
    Ascetic RogueCAdv - If you're building an Ascetic Ambusher (see the Example Builds section) or just want to dip monk in a scout/rogue build, this makes rogue advance unarmed damage as well as give a +2 DC for stunning fists that are also sneak attacks.
    Catfolk PounceRotW - As the name implies, this feat is Catfolk only. If you charge a flat-footed opponent, you can full-attack them. 1) Flat-footed means sneak-attack. 2) Charge means movement means Skirmish. 3) Full-attack means multiple applications of both. However, getting the opportunity to charge somebody who's flat-footed doesn't come up often unless you find yourself consistently going first on initiative.
    Combat Reflexes - I suppose a melee Ambusher could use a reach weapon and thus get some use out of this feat. However, I would think this would be hard to use reliably when you're constantly on the move. Correct me if I'm wrong.
    Eagle's FurySand - If you use the Eagle's Claw exotic weapon, this lets you get an extra attack at your highest attack bonus, but all attacks take a -2. The feat doesn't say otherwise, so this stacks with TWF, Haste, etc.
    Gloom RazorToB - Requires Shadow Blade, two Shadow Hand maneuvers, and +6 BAB. So, you pretty much need to dip Swordsage to get this without expending lots of resources. The usual 3-use tactical feat layout, but one of its uses is the standout: If you deal melee damage to a target and move 10 feet during your turn, the target is flat-footed against your first melee attack the next round. Now that is a nifty way to get both SA & Skirmish. A shame the flat-footed is only for one attack, but still!
    Neraph ChargePlanHB - This feat allows you to charge an opponent and deny them their dexterity on the following attack, netting you both SA/Skirmish. Usable once per opponent. Requires 15 Wisdom though.
    Power Attack - While this is the basis of all damage for big bruiser builds, you're relying on SA/Skirmish for your damage, and making yourself less accurate is just silly.
    Shadow BladeToB - Dex mod to melee damage, but only with Shadow Hand weapons and only when in a Shadow Hand stance.
    Snap KickToB - If you're a melee Ambusher looking to get as many attacks as possible, this is definitely an option, as you can take the extra attack it gives you pretty much any time you attack. If you're going the Ascetic Ambusher route, you should be picking this up, period.
    Spring Attack - Useful for darting in, getting off some Skirmish damage, and then moving to a less dangerous location.
    Staggering StrikeCAdv - Requires BAB +6, and sneak attack. Target makes a Fort save with DC equal to damage dealt by your attack (which with both SA and Skirmish is going to be HIGH!) or is staggered for one round. That means they are limited to a single action! Wicked.
    Two-Weapon Fighting - More attacks means more applications of precision damage. YMMV on whether Improved and Greater are worth it. More attacks, but they are much less accurate.
    Vexing FlankerPHB2 - Requires Combat Reflexes. Get +4 for flanking instead of +2. Attack bonuses are always welcome, and you'll be flanking an awful lot as a melee Ambusher.
    Adaptable FlankerPHB2 - Requires Vexing Flanker. Allows you to count as occupying any square adjacent to a target you designate for the purposes of determining flanking position. The Island of Blades stance from ToB does this exact thing without wasting 3 feats.
    Weapon Finesse - You're not using high strength and power attack to kill things. You're using precision damage. Thus, you probably want to pump that Dexterity and use light weapons.




    Ranged Feats
    Spoiler
    Show
    Able SniperRotW - +2 on ranged attacks vs. flat-footed opponents at least 30 feet away. Also, +4 to Hide checks made after attacking (leaving just a -16 penalty!). Usable if you're a Crossbow Sniper, but still not great.
    Crossbow SniperPHB2 - If you're going ranged and using a Crossbow (light or hand type, of course), you're taking this. 1/2 Dex modifier to damage but more importantly, the ability to apply precision damage from 60 feet away rather than 30. Gold for crossbow Ambushers.
    Deadeye ShotPHB2 - If you ready an action to shoot just as your ally hits the opponent in melee, the target loses Dex to AC. I think you're better off moving around than standing there waiting for a shot though.
    Defensive ArcheryRotW - +4 Dodge bonus on opportunity attacks made against you due to firing in melee. Why are you firing in melee?
    Far Shot - Precision damage is short range. You shouldn't be shooting from far away. However, if you're using a thrown weapon it's probably worth it, and likewise to extend a hand crossbow's range if going the Crossbow Sniper route.
    Hand Crossbow FocusDotU - This feat is Gold for Crossbow Snipers that are using the hand variety, as it counts as Weapon Focus and gets you the same effect as Rapid Reload.
    Manyshot - This might be a good feat except for this passage: "Regardless of the number of arrows you fire, you apply precision damage only once." Next.
    Greater ManyshotXPH - Requires Manyshot, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot, and +6 BAB. This feat changes Manyshot so that you may fire every arrow at a different target and (more importantly) apply precision damage to each arrow.
    Neraph ThrowPlanHB - This works similarly to Neraph Charge. Once per enemy per encounter, you can make a thrown weapon attack that the enemy loses their Dex bonus against, making them vulnerable to sneak attack.
    Plunging ShotRotW - If your target is 30+ feet below you, you deal an extra 1d6 damage. Its range requirement makes it subpar for bow users, but Crossbow Snipers have no problem being further than 30ft. away. It's better if you have a means of regular flight, rather than just being up on a hill or in a tree.
    Point Blank Shot - Gold only because it's required for all other ranged feats. That said, it will see use considering the range limit on both forms of precision damage you'll be using.
    Precise Shot - Do you want to suck when your friends are in melee with the enemy? No? Good. Then take this. The only reason not to is if you have absolutely no melee fighters in your group; unlikely.
    Ranged SkirmisherDr346 - Requires Point Blank shot, Far Shot, Wis 13. Allows you to apply skirmish within 60' rather than 30'. Nice for a pure scout, but as an Ambusher this leaves you half-way. If you're looking to extend your precision range, just play a Crossbow Sniper.
    Rapid Reload - If you're going the Crossbow route for your ranged Ambusher you pretty much need this feat if you ever want to make more than a single attack per turn. If you're going to use a Hand Crossbow, ignore this and grab Hand Crossbow Focus. Alternately, buy the Quick LoadingMIC enhancement and save yourself a feat.
    Rapid Shot - More attacks are always good.
    Improved Rapid ShotCWar - Requires Manyshot, Point Blank Shot, and Rapid Shot. Allows you to ignore the -2 penalty on Rapid Shot, which is awesome, but Manyshot is a completely wasted feat. Up to you whether it's worth it.
    Sharp-ShootingCWar - Reduces opponent's cover bonus from +4 to +2. You're a Skirmisher. If they've got cover, move somewhere where they don't.
    Shot on the Run - Decent, but Travel Devotion does it way better.
    Two-Weapon Fighting - There is one case where this also becomes a Ranged feat - doublefisting Hand Crossbows. TWFing and Rapid Shotting nets you a -4 to attacks, though. Use at your own risk.
    Woodland ArcherRotW - Requires Point Blank Shot, +6 BAB. Being a tactical feat, it has multiple uses. 1) If you miss on a ranged attack, subsequent attacks that round get a +4 to hit. Useful, as you should be trying to get as many attacks off as possible. 2) If you hit a creature that has concealment, subsequent attacks ignore that concealment. Ideally, you're getting to a spot where your enemy doesn't have concealment, as it prevents you from applying SA damage. 3) Allows you to hide and move after sniping, rather than just hide. This feat's first use is pretty awesome, but the other two are subpar.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Part IV - Gear



    What Weapon(s) to Use?
    Melee Weaponry
    Dagger - Light, easy to hide, good crit. Also, the iconic rogue weapon. If you end up getting the Shadow Blade feat, then this, spiked chain and shortsword are pretty much your only choices of weapon.
    Eagle's ClawSand - This is a curious exotic weapon. 1d6, 18-20/x2, slashing and piercing. Pick up the Eagle's Fury feat to get an extra attack that stacks with TWF, etc.
    Kukri - If you've dipped a class that gives martial proficiencies, you might as well use this rather than a dagger simply for its better crit range.
    Kusari-gamaOA - It's the Spiked Chain for those who don't want to be quite as cheesy. Finesseable weapon that has reach but also lets you attack adjacent targets. Lower damage than the chain's but it gives you the choice of slashing or bludgeoning damage and thus more versatility when getting past DR.
    Rapier - It's a pointier shortsword. Enjoy its larger crit range.
    Shortsword - It's a big dagger.
    Spiked Chain - Hate on it if you like, there's no denying it's mechanically one of the best melee weapons in 3.5 D&D.

    Ranged Weaponry
    Crossbows - Crossbows are an odd thing. They're harder to be good with, but in a build like this, they actually have the potential to be much better than regular bows thanks mostly to one feat: Crossbow Sniper, which allows you to apply precision damage at twice the range. Their slow reload is a problem, however, and necessitates spending more resources, whether it be on Rapid Reload (or Hand Crossbow Focus if you're going that route) or on the Quick Loading enchantment from the Magic Item Compendium. It's up to you whether the extra resources spent is worth their potential superiority to bows.
    Daggers - These have the nice little feature of being both a melee and ranged weapon. Unfortunately, their range increment is only 10 feet, so you'll either have to be very close to use them "at range" or be eating attack penalties. Also, you'll have to carry a lot of daggers; the Returning property is little use to you, as you need to stay in the square you threw them from to have them return to you.
    FootbowRotW - This exotic weapon was designed for Raptorans to use in flight (as such, they get it as a martial rather than exotic weapon). If you obtain some other means of regular flight, this could be an option as well. As you hold it in your feet, you can draw it with both hands to get 1.5x Str mod to damage - assuming it's composite, that is.
    Great CrosssbowRoS - This behemoth is a special case of crossbow. 2d8 damage for a medium character, 18-20 crit range. If you have the resources to spare (namely, a feat and a bunch of money), get exotic proficiency with it, slap on the Quick LoadingMIC and Self-LoadingA&EG enhancements on it.
    Javelin - Here we have another melee/thrown hybrid. Better damage die, better range increment (30 feet, perfect precision range), but heavier than daggers. Faces the same problem of carrying a lot of them.
    Longbow - If you're an elf or you dip into a class that gives martial proficiencies, there's really no reason not to use this over shortbow. Better range and damage.
    Shortbow - Both Rogue and Scout actually only get proficiency with shortbows, not longbows. This shouldn't be a problem, however, as 60 feet is plenty of range when your precision damage only works within 30 feet. Your choice on whether you want Composite for a few extra damage or not. Shortbows are the easiest to use because they require no feat expenditures to be good with apart from the ranged feats that any ranged character is going to take.
    SkiprocksRotW - Now these are a fun exotic thrown weapon, and arguably the best. They are treated as ammunition for purposes of crafting and enchanting, which means you can get, let's say, 10 or so of them enchanted for really cheap. However, they are not destroyed upon use like arrows, etc. Only a 15-ft. range increment, unfortunately. This is a rare case where Far Shot might actually be a worthwhile feat, giving them perfect precision range.



    Magical Enhancements
    This will largely be stuff that either makes it easier to get your precision damage or improves it. General purpose gear I leave to you.

    Weapons
    BlurstrikeMIC - Melee. 10 times a day you can swift action activate this ability to make the target flat-footed against the first attack you make with the weapon. Foiled by Uncanny Dodge.
    CollisionMIC - A flat +5 damage on each hit for a +2 bonus.
    Deadly PrecisionCAdv/MIC - There are two versions of this. The CAdv version is +2d6 to sneak attack for a +2 bonus, while the MIC version is +1d6 for a +1 bonus.
    ImpalingMIC - Only on piercing melee weapons. 3/day you can turn your attack into a touch attack.
    MagebaneMIC - It's a Bane weapon targeted at arcane casters/invokers. That's a good chunk of enemies covered by one bane.
    Raptor ArrowMIC - Obviously this is ammunition, not a weapon, but it is so good as to warrant mention here. For any shmuck they're +1 Returning Arrows. Pick up the True Believer feat and believe in Ehlonna and these now have the Bane property against anybody you fire them at.
    Seeking - Ranged. Negates all miss chances, taking away one of the most common ways of taking away your precision damage.
    SplittingCoR - Pure gold for a ranged Ambusher. Each arrow you fire magically splits into two arrows. You make an attack roll for each arrow, which means you apply precision damage to each one. This can effectively double your damage. Its amazingness comes in at an expensive +3 bonus though.

    Other Gear
    Anklet of TranslocationMIC - 2/day swift action teleport, and they're cheap (1,400gp a pop) so you could always buy a few and switch out when you empty one. Especially useful if you go for Telflammar Shadowlord.
    Belt of BattleMIC - +2 competence bonus to Initiative, and 3 charges/day you can spend to get more actions. 1 for move, 2 for standard, 3 for full-round. 12,000gp.
    Bracers of the HunterSoX - These net you a +5 competence bonus to Hide, +2 competence to Initiative, and +1d6 sneak attack (or sudden strike). No mention of skirmish is made, although it does go to point out that if you have both SA and SS, only one gets the bonus, so the inclusion of skirmish into the equation is irrelevant. 8,500gp.
    Chronocharm of the Horizon WalkerMIC - 1/day swift action to move half your land speed without provoking. 500gp.
    Gloves of the Balanced HandMIC - These gloves give you the benefit of Two-Weapon Fighting, or Improved TWF if you already have TWF. 8,000gp.
    Mantle of the PredatorMIC - Deal an extra 1d6 damage vs. foes denied their Dex bonus as well as getting a +5 competence bonus to Hide/Move Silently. Note that this item merely gives extra damage, it doesn't enhance precision damage. Part of the "Garb of the Hunting Cat" set, so don't look for it in the Clothing section. 8,000gp.
    Quicksilver BootsMIC - 2/day swift action to move your land speed. 3,500gp.
    Ring of the DarkhiddenMIC - This nifty ring hides you from darkvision. Combine with the Darkstalker feat for veritable nondetection! 2,000gp.
    Rogue's VestMIC - +2 competence bonus to Hide, Move Silently, and Reflex saves. However, what you really want is the +1d6 to your precision damage. The exact text reads: "if you have the skirmish, sneak attack, or sudden strike ability, you deal an extra 1d6 points of damage when making such an attack." So, I believe you get that extra 1d6 to both your Skirmish and SA. 18,000gp.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Part V - Dips & Prestige Classes
    As I see it, the more Scout/Rogue levels your build has, the more precision damage you're getting. However, there are quite a few dips that are worth sticking in; delaying your precision damage a level or two is often worth the return.

    NOTE: This section is incomplete.

    Dips
    Barbarian - For a melee Ambusher, a 1-level dip into Barbarian for Spirit Lion TotemCChamp is pretty cool. Getting to Pounce all day long is fun. Alternately, ranged Ambushers could get some use out of Whirling FrenzyUA as it doesn't specify whether the extra attack is melee or ranged. However, if your game is never going to hit high levels, you can probably skip this as pounce is only useful if you have iteratives.
    Cleric - If you're going to dip cleric, just do the CloisteredUA variety. It gets you easy access to both Knowledge and Travel Devotions, and the Turn Undead attempts to fuel Travel Devotion past just a single battle a day.
    Monk - For very specific builds I could see dipping 1 or 2 levels into this. You can take the Ascetic Rogue feat which allows rogue levels to advance unarmed damage, as well as giving a +2 to Stunning Fist DC if you're stunning with a sneak attack. Going the unarmed route does alleviate the need to look for weapons, but your fists are generally harder (Read: more expensive) to enchant. Pick up Snap Kick from Tome of Battle for an extra attack.
    SwordsageToB - Sometimes you want more than just a single maneuver and/or stance. For those times, a 1 level dip into Swordsage will net you 6 maneuvers known, 4 readied, and a stance. Plan carefully for when you take this dip so that you are able to pick up the maneuvers/stance you want, remembering that non-initiator levels count for 1/2 when determining your IL.
    Thief AcrobatCAdv - Its requirements are nothing to you - ranks in skills you'd have anyway, and Evasion. Worth a 1-level dip purely to get Kip Up, which allows you to stand up from prone as a free action that does not provoke AoOs (as opposed to a move action that does).

    Prestige Classes
    Shadowdancer - Its requirements are steep and crappy and its lack of sneak attack sucks, but it gives you the best form of Hide in Plain Sight at level 1. The requirements aren't so bad if you're going Spring Attack/Shot on the Run route, but that in itself is suboptimal.
    Telflammar ShadowlordUE - 4 levels of this PrC nets you the Shadow Pounce ability which lets you full attack after every teleportation effect. With the right combination of abilities and magic items open to you, you can pull off several Pounces per round. However, the class has tough requirements (the Spring Attack Line + Blindfight, access to Dimension Door or Shadow Jump before entering... And 2d6 SA and 10 ranks of Hide/Move Silently, but you'll have those anyway). The class's features are fantastic, apart from its lack of precision damage. It's just a question of whether they (and the tough entry requirements) are worth it, especially since that's 4 levels you're not progressing your precision damage. This is obviously Red for a ranged Ambusher.

    Part Va - Alternate Class Features
    Rogue ACFs were already covered quite well in the Rogue Handbook, so I shall just refer you there.

    Scout ACFs
    Dungeon SpecialistPHB2 - Lose fast movement and evasion. Gain a climb speed equal to half your move, attack while climbing, gain a bonus to climbing checks, retain your dex bonus while climbing. At 5th level, get an AC bonus in confining spaces.
    Go to Groundweb - Lose trackless step, gain the ability to hide from Urban Tracking.
    Hidden Stalkerweb - Lose camouflage and normal hide in plain site, gain the ability to hide more easily in urban settings.
    Riposteweb - You do not gain skirmish. Instead deal extra damage to someone who has attacked you.
    Spell Reflection CMage - Lose evasion, gain the ability to reflect spells targeted at you that miss.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Part VI - Example Builds

    Chaingun Porcupine - Totemist 2 / Scout 4 / Ranger 3 / Rogue 11. Utilizes the Manticore Belt incarnum ability to get a massive amount of attacks with precision damage.

    Quiet Murder - Scout 4 / Wilderness Rogue 13 / Fighter 1 / Swordsage 2. Concentrating on making a single, powerful attack and incapacitating enemies.

    Ascetic Ambusher - Halfling Monk 5 / Rogue 15. Here's one I hadn't thought of initially, but which somebody posted about recently: Play a Halfling Monk that utilizes the substitution levels from Races of the Wild - you trade out Flurry of Blows for Skirmish. Pick up Ascetic RogueCAdv as well, then your rogue levels advance your unarmed damage as well as sneak attack AND skirmish. And for gravy, sneak attacking gives your Stunning Fists +2 DC.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Post #6 reserved. You may now start posting.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Two very nice sample builds you may want to add are the Chaingun Porcupine and Quiet Murder.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    I'll take a look at them. Sample Builds are low on the list of priorities though; getting Races, Feats, and Gear up first.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    A few thoughts on this Swift Ambusher handbook (in the order that they appear in the handbook):

    You are making a grave mistake by ignoring melee ambushers in this guide, or even by prioritizing ranged ambushers over melee ambushers. Yes, ranged Skirmishers may be better than melee Skirmishers, as a general rule--but melee Sneak Attackers are better than ranged Sneak Attackers. This isn't even opinion--it's a matter of fact. Ranged Sneak Attack damage is much harder to get off than melee Sneak Attack damage, since you can't flank an enemy with a ranged weapon under typical circumstances. Denying an enemy their DEX bonus is typically much easier for a melee character than a ranged character (feint and demoralize optimization both do this for a melee character, but not necessarily for a ranged, for example, as do skill tricks. Other self-contained methods of denying enemies their DEX bonus, or rendering them flat-footed to you, either have a high action cost or restrict movement (such as using the Hide skill to snipe in combat, unless you have the Woodland Archer feat), and most of them bar you in some way from gaining multiple attacks to which Sneak Attack damage applies. Magical means of doing this (such as with Greater Invisibility) are either defeated by equivalent-level magic or don't specifically favor ranged Sneak Attack, in addition to being dependent on magic items or other characters. By contrast, getting a full round of Sneak Attack damage on any target you'd like is relatively easy for a melee Sneak Attacker, and can be accomplished with a one-level dip in Barbarian (Lion Totem variant) plus clever positioning (and let's be honest, there's no combination of Scout and Rogue where having 20 full levels in the combined classes is a necessity--especially in a combat-focused build in which the two chief abilities stop advancement 19 levels into a 20-level game), and if that isn't enough, you can fall back on the phenomenal flanking support (getting the Island of Blades stance through whatever means basically means you're always flanking someone). Since a Swift Ambusher is one part Skirmish and one part Sneak Attack, you can't really claim that the sum of its parts obviously favors one or the other--both are definitely legitimate builds (I would even say that, when you account for both of them, melee is stronger) that each deserve attention.

    There should probably be an option for "might be worth it in niche builds, but in general this is pretty bad". Something between black and red. If you're going blue to gold, then purple might fit in this case (just in case it ever comes up). I guess this is sort of just preference on my part, though.

    You make mention in the races of key stats and dump stats, but you never mention the ability scores themselves in their own section. I imagine this will be rectified in time.

    Lesser Tieflings are worthy of mention, especially if their LA+1 cousins are. They are the same as Tieflings except for baseline weapon proficiencies, Alter Self targets, interaction with Enlarge Person, Reduce Person and Charm Person, and they don't set you back a level--the player can decide if that's worth it.

    Bluff and Intimidate can both be useful for denying an enemy their DEX bonus: Bluff through feinting, and Intimidate through cowering (via the Imperious Command feat). On their own, these are not very good options (a standard action to deny an adjacent foe their DEX bonus? For one attack? I get Skirmish damage off this how?), but they can be optimized to relatively ridiculous extremes. A one-level dip in Assassin gets you Sneak Attack +1d6 and a spell list with Insightful Feint on it. Combined with the Improved Feint feat, this gives you the ability to feint as a free action--which means your turn would amount to "move, swift action activation of a wand of Insightful Feint, free action feint, standard action attack with all the precision damage regardless of positioning and preconditions". With the Surprising Riposte feat (Drow of the Underdark) and pounce (Lion Totem Barbarian), you can accompany your feints with full attack actions, complete with movement, provided you can keep using Insightful Feint (via a chambered wand or something of the equivalent). As for Intimidate... Imperious Command applies the cowering condition to your target, which is simply fantastic. The Fearsome armor property (Drow of the Underdark) reduces the action cost to a move action, while nine levels of Zhentarim Fighter reduce it to a swift action (but at a very hefty cost--even if you take the Sneak Attack and Thug variants, you're behind 3d6 Skirmish damage, are generally less skillful, and, well, you might as well just not be a Swift Ambusher at this point). The Group Fake-Out and Never Outnumbered skill tricks are force multipliers for these two tricks... And at the end of the day, you end up with a social application for the character as well (a neat bonus). These are niche options, and the skills aren't fantastic in a Swift Ambusher build otherwise, but they are possible options for someone who really wants to be a face.

    Remember to mention Acrobatic Backstab in the skill tricks for melee variants--it's great if you aren't able to charge, for whatever reason.

    I recommend the following feats:
    Improved Skirmish (Complete Scoundrel): If you move 20 feet instead of 10, you gain +2d6 Skirmish damage and an extra +2 to AC. It can be taken as a Scout bonus feat (if you give up four levels of Rogue without dipping something more useful). Skirmish is the more reliable form of precision damage between the two (since its conditions are easier to meet), which makes this a good idea to get.

    Dragonfire Strike (Dragon Magic): Requires you have CHA 11 and the Dragonblood subtype. Silverbrow Human (Dragon Magic) and Magic-Blooded (Dragon Magazine #306) make these less painful, but still worthy of consideration. Whenever you would gain Sneak Attack or Skirmish damage, you can choose for that bonus damage to be fire damage, and gain an extra +1d6 damage in the doing. This is mediocre in a traditional Sneak Attack or Skirmish build, but is made better in a Swift Ambusher build for two reasons: first, you can apply this separately to each source of precision damage, so you end up with an extra 2d6 points of damage where normally you'd only gain 1d6. Second, you convert your precision damage to energy damage in the doing, so you can use it to circumvent traditional precision damage immunities (as long as you still meet the conditions for sneak attacking, that is). This is extremely useful for constructs, undead and plants, which have immunity to precision damage, but not flanking, and just gives you more options in general. (Just be wary of fire resistance and immunity, and don't use it on fire immune creatures!)

    The Shock Trooper line (various): These aren't quite as useful for a Swift Ambusher as they are for a melee Swift Hunter, especially with the ready availability of Pounce in the Wildshape Ranger variant, but this is still useful for melee ambushers who wish to deal lots of Power Attack damage along with their charge.

    Neraph Charge (Planar Handbook): Your charge attack denies a foe their DEX bonus. This feat single-handedly makes charging into a foe and dealing Sneak Attack damage unconditional... At least, for the first charge on that foe. The WIS requirement is painful, though (at least, until and unless you get WIS-boosting items).

    Martial Stance (Tome of Battle): You've already alluded to this in Martial Study, but there are two stances worthy of consideration for any Sneak Attacker: Island of Blades (Shadow Hand 1) and Assassin's Stance (Shadow Hand 3). There are others, as well, but these merit consideration on their own (even if dipping Swordsage is just better if you really wanted to go this route).

    Crossbow Sniper (Player's Handbook II): Add 1/2 your DEX to damage with the crossbow of your choosing (coughlightuncough), and add precision damage (both Sneak Attack and Skirmish) from up to 60 feet away. Requires Weapon Focus in the crossbow of your choosing, but is nevertheless a good option for a conservatively played ranged ambusher (or a Small-sized race, which tends to be less than ideal for melee builds and for composite bow use, and helps make them less MAD).

    Ranged Skirmisher (Dragon Magazine #346): For the ranged ambusher who really wants to use a bow: a feat not limited by weapon (but with heftier prerequisites). Only applies to skirmish damage (sad face!).

    I'm sure these feats are useful to varying degrees at whatever capacity they are intending to work at. Just figured I'd level them as suggestions.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    You have a point with melee having a much easier time getting sneak attack. I suppose I was thinking more about the Skirmish damage when I wrote that disclaimer. I'll remove it and rethink things a bit. Thanks for the input, much appreciated.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Not a problem. I was having a think about a Swift Ambusher as an E6 character if my other options don't pan out, so I've been exploring options for it myself. This was kind of conveniently timed, really.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Interesting. A couple suggestions, and things I was just expecting to see:

    1. Classes and portions. How much scout is too much scout? How much rogue is too much rogue? Any salient ACFs, racial sub levels or variants for either? Would it be worth dipping Warblade? Barbarian? Factotum? Cleric? Highland Stalker? Drunken Master? etc.
    2. Sources. I have no idea where, say, a Painted Elf comes from or what it does. I'm having a hard time Googling a credible reference for it. If you went through and spent a few minutes adding source references, this would be much easier to use.
    3. There's lots of stuff that looks pretty niche mixed in with things that aren't. For example, neither Rogue nor Scout have an especially easy time using Knowledge Devotion without jumping through some hoops, and a swift ambusher doesn't have as easy of a time using intimidate particularly well, unless we're talking about a handful of very specific builds. It might help organization to think about breaking a couple of those off into their own themes.
    4. You might want to playtest some builds. The opening paragraph is honest, but I think it undermines your credibility. There are a few things you've listed which I disagree with, and after reading that paragraph I'm unsure whether I should take things like Catfolk Pounce's endorsement as your unfamiliarity with how obnoxious the feat is to trigger, or if I should interpret it as informed dissent.
    5. There few feats that will be salient to weigh in on, either for or against, either because they're strong appropriate feats, or because they're they're thematically consistent with this type of build: Craven, Staggering Strike, Greater Manyshot, Darkstalker, Woodland Archer, various Ambush feats (esp. worth checking DotU and Maiming strike), Crossbow Sniper, Shadow Blade, Able Learner, Adaptable and Vexing Flanker, Telling Blow, Improved and Greater TWF, Combat Acrobat, Elusive Target (since you have its prereqs for consideration), maybe Ascetic Rogue and Swift Hunter, and that crappy mobile TWF feat from PHB2 whose name escapes me.
    6. It's difficult triggering both sneak attack and skirmish. Some discussion of tactics on how to reliably use both of them would be welcome - especially if you're endorsing charges for melee characters. Charging and getting sneak attack takes quite a bit more effort than either charging or getting sneak attack alone - especially if you're the party's mobile skillmonkey-type.


    It looks like you have a good start here, and I'm interested to see how it fleshes out.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    1. I definitely planned on discussing how to balance Scout and Rogue levels. I was debating whether to include ACFs and sub levels as I've linked the handbooks to each individual class and those already have the aforementioned items in abundance. I've already started a section on good dips. This is only the first day of making the handbook and I'm kind of looking at everything as I go.
    2. You've a good point. I've thrown in sources for things here and there, but have not done it for everything. I'll be sure to fix that.
    3. Not sure what's hard about using Knowledge Devotion. Between the two classes, they get 3 knowledges. While not as good as classes that get ALL knowledges, it's still good and totally usable.
    4. You're probably right.
    5. As mentioned in #1, I'm sort of combing through books as I go. I am aware of 95% of the feats you mentioned, I simply haven't gotten around to them yet. The Feats section is FAR from being done.
    6. Another good point. Any input from others on this would be most welcome.

    As I have not actually played one, this handbook is as much an exploration of all the options for my own sake as it is anything else. I just figured that others would find such a resource useful as well.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Kobolds also have a 30ft movement speed.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Re: 3: I would probably give two separate ratings for some things (for example, [color="gold]Gold[/color] if the feat is impossible to pass up with a specific build, Black if it's mediocre otherwise). For example, I acknowledge that Imperious Command is pretty bad in a build not dedicating at least some resources to getting it off (even though I myself recommended it); I'd probably make it cyan in a dedicated build, and black or red otherwise. Knowledge Devotion is black or blue if your only Knowledge skills come from Rogue and Scout levels, but it's cyan or even gold in a build which dips Cloistered Cleric (you may not want to trade the domain granted power away in this case, as the granted power adds all Knowledge skills to your class skill list). Suddenly, Knowledge Devotion is granting you a +1 to-hit and damage to everything, with the possibility of granting more each time you initiate a fight. These are options that are not necessarily must-have for every build, and the quality is variable enough that it can't be measured in a single color; as you have Intimidate listed as cyan and red, Imperious Command can be listed basically the same way.

    Anyway, re: the new feats:

    Hand Crossbow Focus is pretty awesome, but fits a particular niche (two colors). Rapid Reload, on the other hand, doesn't really have a place to call home: it can be replaced with a +1 weapon enhancement (Quick Loading, from Magic Item Compendium), which means it's basically not worth the feat. The same can be said for Mobility (which is replaced by the Mobility property, also in Magic Item Compendium), provided that the DM allows it to qualify you for feats that require it (otherwise, it becomes marginally better).

    Guide is looking good, and it's improving rapidly. Keep it up!

    EDIT: The guide is improving more rapidly than I thought! By the time this got out, a lot of information was pretty dated.

    I agree with most of the revisions, although I would like to say that, even when not in a dedicated Crossbow build, Crossbow Sniper is still pretty good. One of the biggest problems Skirmishers have is needing to move great distances, while staying within a very limited range to get their attacks off; Crossbow Sniper opens up your tactical movement options in a huge way.

    Aside from that, I have opinions on the feats, but they are mostly minor (I think Weapon Finesse is only okay in melee builds; either you're able and willing to invest more into STR and give your attacks that extra bit of damage, or you are able and willing to invest a little into Feycraft light weaponry and focus exclusively on precision damage; I can't think of a middle ground).
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    I think I'll keep the feats' ratings as-is, and just make mention of the magic item properties that emulate/replace them once I get to that point. On rare occasions, one might rather take the feat (maybe they have an extra one floating around) than spend money (maybe their DM keeps them relatiely poor, like mine did until our most recent campaign).

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Finished adding Ambush feats. Working my way through all the Completes for feats, then moving on to the weather books and Races of ___ line.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    I have to agree with Curmudgeon, Dragonfire Strike doesn't allow you to Sneak Attack anything that you normally couldn't, and I can't see any way to interpret it like that.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    I have to agree with Curmudgeon, Dragonfire Strike doesn't allow you to Sneak Attack anything that you normally couldn't, and I can't see any way to interpret it like that.
    Nobody by that name has posted here for you to agree with.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    I have to agree with Curmudgeon, Dragonfire Strike doesn't allow you to Sneak Attack anything that you normally couldn't, and I can't see any way to interpret it like that.
    Perceptions may have changed over time, but I think you guys are in the minority there. The damage is converted to energy damage, and precision damage immunity does not confer immunity to energy damage from Dragonfire Strike any more than it would negate the critical effects of burst weapons. I can't see why it would.

    This issue, of course, is confused significantly by the lack of clarity over exactly what happens when a burst property is used on creatures immune to critical hits. The RAW of it is that you roll to confirm the critical, and then roll the extra damage dice from the burst property, but not the extra weapon damage dice or damage modifiers you'd get from a normal critical hit, but the 3.5 FAQ has flipped on this position before. How one rules on this depends largely on whether you give RAW or FAQ precedent, but most people are inclined to the former (you and Curmudgeon among them, I believe).

    The only question, then, I believe we need to ask is "when does Dragonfire Strike convert the extra damage to damage of an energy type?" If Dragonfire Strike doesn't apply until you are physically rolling damage dice (you already gained the bonus damage), then no, you would not be able to perform a Dragonfire Strike, although this would be an odd sort of situation where you are unable to convert the damage to a type that the creature is not immune to because the creature was immune to the type you are trying to change it away from. If, on the other hand, Dragonfire Strike is applied when you meet the qualifications for gaining extra damage dice (for example, you move 10 feet in a round to activate Skirmish, or you get the drop on a flat-footed foe), then you would be converting the damage to a type that the creature isn't immune to, and then doing that damage. The feat doesn't explain how this works, and is easily the weakest part of my interpretation, admittedly, so make sure to confirm that with your DM.

    Past that point, the only way I can see that the damage is expressly negated by critical-immune creatures is if the fire damage is still precision damage, even though it is now a different damage type than the weapon which dealt it (an explicit exception to the rule that precision damage is always the same type as the weapon that caused it), or some other rules-wonky dilemma. Short of that, I can't see how this isn't more closely aligned with the burst properties, by way of precedent.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Quote Originally Posted by Daftendirekt View Post
    Nobody by that name has posted here for you to agree with.
    Depends on what you mean by "here".

    Quote Originally Posted by Lonely Tylenol View Post
    The damage is converted to energy damage, and precision damage immunity does not confer immunity to energy damage from Dragonfire Strike any more than it would negate the critical effects of burst weapons.
    It is not that the creatures in question were immune to precision damage, or at least that's not the language the Rules Compendium uses. RC (page 42) defines certain creatures as "not subject to" precision damage, which would mean that the condition of Dragonfire Strike, "[w]hen you gain extra damage from a sneak arrack, sudden strike, or skirmish…", is not fulfilled.

    In other words, when attacking a creature not subject to precision damage, the precision damage is not dealt and then ignored by immunity, but doesn't trigger at all. Or that's how I see it.



    On a related topic, might not the inclusion of Swift Hunter help Scout-based Swift Ambushers to deal at least some of their bonus damage on targets that weren't normally valid?
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    I have to agree with Curmudgeon, Dragonfire Strike doesn't allow you to Sneak Attack anything that you normally couldn't, and I can't see any way to interpret it like that.
    +1

    Quote Originally Posted by Lonely Tylenol View Post
    The damage is converted to energy damage, and precision damage immunity does not confer immunity to energy damage from Dragonfire Strike any more than it would negate the critical effects of burst weapons. I can't see why it would.
    I still think the extra damage is a precision damage, even though it's now fire instead of, say, piercing. The feat description does not state it should not be considered a precision damage anymore (it does not state it should, either, but that's kind of obvious, unless stated otherwise, IMO).
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    I love rogue/scout builds. So happy to see this handbook. :D

    One PC you may want to eventually add is Thief Acrobat. A 1-level dip gets you Kip-Up, which is great for a mobility character. The entry requirements aren't steep, either.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Although the prerequisites are a bit steep, have you looked at the Blade of Orien, from the Dragonmarked book?

    It's another teleport-pounce class, with the additional ability to teleport your enemies short distances a limited amount of times per day.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Tiny bitty nitpick (hint): The dark creature template also appears in comyr the tearing of the wave (pg. 152), it allows to hide without cover or concealment (being better), but is a Su ability.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Is it actually necessary for me to certify that Greenish has summarized my analysis of Dragonfire Strike correctly?
    Benefit: When you gain extra damage from a sneak attack, sudden strike, or skirmish, you can choose for the extra damage to be fire damage.
    It's all conditional — "When you gain extra damage from a sneak attack ..." — so there's no option to choose fire damage unless the precision damage applies.

    Missing from Melee Feats: Staggering Strike.. Reducing your enemy to a single move/standard action is pretty nice if you don't kill them, and (unlike ambush feats) it doesn't reduce your sneak attack damage.

    Missing from General Feats: Telling Blow. Will enable both sneak attack and skirmish damage on any critical hit. This applies even if the target is beyond 30' range, there's concealment, and you haven't moved at least 10'. It's a statistically useful boost to a Swift Ambusher, with the actual value depending on encounter circumstances. Wide threat range weapons — keen rapier, (great) crossbow + Keen Edge wand for the bolts — are necessary for this to be worthwhile.

    Missing from Ranged Weaponry: Great crossbow (Races of Stone), largely for its 18-20 threat range, minorly for its greater damage (chance to take out an enemy with one critical hit). Only worth considering if all of these apply:
    • You take a dip that gives you Exotic Weapon Proficiency.
    • Your DM lets the (needlessly specific) crossbow feats and weapon enhancements apply to this one the same way they apply to heavy crossbows. (Seriously, what idiot came up with "Choose a type of crossbow (hand, light, or heavy).")
    • You're well-funded and can afford both Quick Loading (Magic Item Compendium; +1 enhancement cost) and Self-loading (Arms and Equipment Guide; +10,000 gp cost) to get this weapon up to semi-automatic.

    Re: "How Much Rogue, and How Much Scout?" This isn't a long discussion, because the basics (minimal Scout, maximal Rogue levels) have already been stated. Basically you always pick 3 levels of Scout unless your build desperately needs the Scout 4 bonus feat (for Point Blank Shot, most likely).

    In Templates you're way off with the rating for Dark CreatureToM. This Hide in Plain Sight is pretty sucky, since you still need to supply cover/concealment, and it flat out fails in daylight (that is, half the time outdoors). You should also add Dark CreatureCTTotW for games set in Forgotten Realms; that one's Supernatural and bypasses the cover/concealment requirement to Hide (but still no go in daylight).

    Prestige Classes needs to have Shadowdancer, simply because their Hide in Plain Sight is so good it may be worth the (high!) entry cost.

    The rating for Bluff should be improved, if for nothing other than the 4-way synergy boost if you've got 5 ranks (i.e., spend 5 skill points to get +13 total to your skill modifiers).

    You're missing a section for solutions to the basic Scout problem: how to move 10'+ and still full attack. Person_Man's got this covered, but you should select just the parts relevant to the Swift Ambusher.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    For dips you may want to add a two level dip in Totemist for the Manticore Belt. See the Chaingun Porcupine for how good this can be.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Also another nitpick

    Scouts DO have ACFs

    Dungeon Specialist (PHB 2, p 59): Lose fast movement and evasion. Gain a climb speed equal to half your move, attack while climbing, gain a bonus to climbing checks, retain your dex bonus while climbing. At 5th level, get an AC bonus in confining spaces.

    Go to Ground (CS, web): Lose trackless step, gain the ability to hide from Urban Tracking.

    Hidden Stalker (CS, web): Lose camouflage and normal hide in plain site, gain the ability to hide more easily in urban settings.

    Riposte (CS, web): You do not gain skirmish. Instead deal extra damage to someone who has attacked you.

    Spell Reflection (CM, p 35): Lose evasion, gain the ability to reflect spells targeted at you that miss.

    Personally I like dungeon specialist, but I don't know how useful would it be for Swift Ambusher's other than improving their mobility at low lvl.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    I... have to question this.

    You claim to have never played a Swift Ambusher, but are basing this merely on your knowledge of 3.5 as a whole, but just skimming it, I noticed errors. For example, the stats you provide for the Spiked Chain are just wrong. It's not a double weapon. It's nice for you to try to help out other players and this clearly has a lot of work put into it, but are you really qualified to be giving advice? Inaccurate advice is worse than none.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swift Ambusher's Handbook {WIP}

    Correction: In Races you've got Fire Elf and Gray Elf with the same racial adjustments. You're right for Gray Elf, but Fire Elf has -2 CHA rather than -2 STR. A penalty to CHA rather than STR makes the Fire Elf superior for a martial character.

    Another entry for Races: Silvanesti Elf (Dragonlance Campaign Setting). Same bonuses as Fire Elf, but darkvision as well as low-light vision makes this still better.

    All of these Elves with +2 INT as well as +2 DEX work well with Knowledge Devotion. Along those lines, your General Feats needs Education (Eberron Campaign Setting): makes all Knowledge skills class skills for all your classes, so you can maximize the 6 Knowledges related to creature types and get bonuses to hit and damage everything in D&D. It's a noticeably better feat than Able Learner for the Swift Ambusher, since (even with the extra from Knowledge Devotion) Rogue+Scout only gives you 4 of the 6 creature-related Knowledges.

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