Eclipse Pathfinder – the Rogue

   Next up on the “how to build it in Eclipse” list is how to build a Pathfinder-Style Rogue. Unlike many of the other characters, Rogues received a major bonus in Pathfinder that isn’t reflected in their point costs; Pathfinder combined many of their most important skills. Jump, Balance, and Tumble were combined into Acrobatics. Decipher Script, Forgery, and Speak Languages all went into Linguistics. Spot, Listen, and Search all went into Perception. Open Lock went into Disable Device, Hide and Move Silently were put into Stealth, and Gather Information went into Diplomacy.

   That sort of things doesn’t have that big an impact on characters who aren’t focused on Skills – but a Rogue can spend six skill points a level to max out the equivalent of fifteen 3.5 style skills, including twelve of the most important ones in the game.

   They also had more points invested in first-level skill points than any other major character type in the game – which saves them even more character points.

   A great many creatures have had their immunities to Sneak Attack removed – another system bonus which doesn’t actually cost the character anything since it doesn’t transfer.

   Finally, 3.5 rogues came out with a few left-over points originally – which I recommended that they spend on some useful contacts, immunity to divination magic, and enough magical skill to spot magical wards and alarms. That way there was some chance of them having a successful criminal career.

   Looking at all that, it seems rather likely that I won’t need Adept or Fast Learner to build a Pathfinder Rogue in a Pathfinder setting. Of course, to build a Pathfinder-style Rogue in an old-skills setting, you’ll need about fourteen or fifteen skill points per level.

   Let’s see how that comes out.

  • Hit Dice: 20d8 (80 CP).
  • Saves: +24 (72 CP).
  • BAB (Warcraft): +15 (90 CP).
  • Skills: 160 SP (160 CP).
  • Proficiencies: Light Armor (3), All Simple Weapons (3), and a limited set of Martial and Exotic Weapons (hand crossbow, rapier, sap, shortbow, and short sword, 6).
  • Magic Levels: None.

   Special Abilities

  • Augmented Attack/10d6 Sneak Attack (30 CP).
  • Professional/Search (in Pathfinder use Perception), Specialized/only in locating traps (3 CP).
  • Professional/Disable Device (6 CP).
  • Evasion (Fortune, Reflex Variant, Corrupted/only if wearing light or no armor, 4 CP).
  • Ten “Rogue Talents” (also known as “Bonus Feats”) (60 CP). (See below)
  • Awareness/Danger Sense +6 to AC and Reflex Saves versus Traps (6 CP).
  • Awareness/Cannot be caught flat-footed (6 CP).
  • Awareness/Flankless, Corrupted/fails to work if the flanking opponent has a four level or greater advantage over the user (4 CP).
  • Trick (Death Attack), Specialized/only usable in conjunction with a sneak attack (so creatures who are immune to sneak attack damage are also immune to this ability), only once per day per target (3 CP), +2 additional Tricks (Paralyze 2d6 rounds or Sleep for 1d4 hours), Specialized and Corrupted/only to provide additional options on the basic death blow trick, and thus subject to the same limitations (4 CP).
    • Now, a Trick is only usable under specialized circumstances. The classic is “requires three rounds of study of the target” – either three standard actions in combat or three full rounds during which the user can take other actions, but must remain focused on the target and either undetected or unrecognized as an enemy. Ergo, what we’ll want here is “instant study”, purchased as Reflex Training, Improved; the user may automatically “study” any opponent he or she is sneak attacking for the equivalent of three rounds (12 CP).

   Now I must admit that this sort of thing – mechanics disassociated from an in-game explanation – annoys me. Just how is Pathfinder’s “Master Strike” ability supposed to work in the setting? Do Rogues have some special trick that they all use but that opponents are prepared for after seeing it? Then why do they forget about it in twenty-four hours? Why will another Rogues trick still work? Why do they know only one trick? Why does a character who was unconscious or unaware of your attack, but saved anyway, become immune for twenty-four hours? Abilities like that may be “Extraordinary” in game terms, but – like many a colossal creatures ability to fly – it’s pretty obviously supernatural in terms of mechanism.

   One of our local players has proposed that this is actually a sort of psychic venom; when the user focuses on a target, he or she unconsciously generates a mystical toxin to augment the sneak attack. If the victim successfully resists, his or her unconscious mind will now be on guard, and hence immune. After the victim rests, however, his or her unconscious mind will relax again – and he or she is once more vulnerable. Since each user’s mind is different, each user’s psychic toxin is different – and so resistance to one user’s “Master Strike” is of no benefit against another user’s “Master Strike”.

   That’s not at all bad, so I think I’ll stick with that one unless someone proposes something better.

   That may seem like an odd complaint when you look at Eclipse. After all, Eclipse is an entire book full of abilities with unexplained mechanisms.

   There are two reasons for that.

   Firstly, it’s because Eclipse is designed to let you build a power to suit whatever idea you had in mind – which means that you start off with the in-game explanation and build the mechanics to match. You may find that you can’t afford to buy a power you want, but that’s a problem that can generally be solved by leveling up and getting and more points to spend.

   Secondarily, it’s because Eclipse is a universal d20 system. It doesn’t matter in Eclipse whether your abilities spring from magic, psionics, incredible skill, cosmic power, cyberware, divine blessings, mutations, exotic physiology, or acupuncture – or, for that matter, whether or not a given setting even has magic, or technology, or psychic powers, or whatever. That’s why it doesn’t include a list of skills, or equipment, or special effects. All of that varies from setting to setting.

   Pathfinder really doesn’t have either of those reasons. It’s got established character themes, a default quasi-medieval magical setting, and preset character classes with preset abilities. Every game has gaps, but there really isn’t any excuse for leaving people looking at basic class abilities and asking “what is the character actually doing when he or she uses that ability?”.

   Now, to get back to our grand reveal, all this comes out to a total of… 492 Character Points out of the 504 available to a 20’th level character. That’s enough left over for a couple of extra feats (I’d still go with contacts and resistance to divination magic by the way).

   The Pathfinder Rogue doesn’t need Fast Learner or Adept at all, because most of their upgrades lie in the games skill system and creatures. If you do use those modifiers you’ll have another eighty-odd points to spend – enough to be a pretty serious skill monkey or to add a good deal of flexibility to your rogue. It might also create a problem for the game master, but that’s why Eclipse includes the section on “keeping characters under control”.

   If you want to emulate a Pathfinder Rogue in a game using 3.5, d20 Modern, or a similar skill system, you’re going to need a lot more skill points. In fact, you’ll need to take Fast Learner Specialized in Skills (for +2 SP/Level, 6 CP) and Adept twice (the maximum permitted, at a cost of 12 CP), for the equivalent of 14 SP/Level – and come up with an extra six character points to pay for it by taking a disadvantage or two.

   Building Rogue Talents:

   Rogue Talents are essentially simply bonus feats – and, in Eclipse, characters are free to use those to take anything they want to within the overall theme of their character. Still, if you want to duplicate the “Rogue Talents” which aren’t already standard six-character point Feats (Combat Trick, Feat, Finesse Rogue, and Weapon Training), here’s how to buy them.

  • Bleeding Attack: Augment Attack/Continuing III, Specialized and Corrupted/only works with a sneak attack, incompatible with other abilities which augment a sneak attack, only works on living opponents (6 CP). Opponents take +1/point per round per die of sneak attack until treated or healed for at least one point of damage. As usual, this bypasses most defenses.
  • Crippling Strike: Augment Attack/Crippling, Specialized for Double Effect (two points of attribute damage)/only usable with Sneak Attacks, incompatible with other abilities which augment a sneak attack (6 CP).
  • Defensive Roll: Grant of Aid, Specialized and Corrupted/only usable when an attack would reduce the user to below zero hit points, only heals enough damage to reduce the effects of the attack by 50%, only acts once per day, requires a Reflex check with a DC equal to the damage of the incoming attack, only versus physical attacks, only HP damage, user must be aware of the attack and able to react to it (2 CP).
    • OK, that’s considerable overkill on the restrictions. More than enough to consider it double-specialized, and give it double the potential effect as well – even if that does require special permission. Personally, I’d dump some of those restrictions and make it more useful.
  • Dispelling Attack: This could simply be taken as Augment Attack/Silencing (Variant; anyone damaged by the user’s sneak attack is subject to a Dispel Magic effect with a caster level equal to the user’s level targeting the lowest-level spell effect active on the target), Corrupted/incompatible with other abilities which augment a sneak attack (4 CP). It is, however, more interesting to build it as a general ability:
    • Innate Enchantment/Dispelling Touch (from the Dispelling spell template in The Practical Enchanter, Spell Level One x Caster Level One x Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x Rapid Casting) plus a Weapons Reach Cantrip (allows a touch-based effect to act through a weapon) with the same modifiers (5000 GP effective Value, Specialized/only usable with sneak attack and incompatible with other sneak attack enhancements, 3 CP).
    • Immunity to the XP cost of zero and first level innate enchantments at caster level one (Uncommon, Minor Trivial, Specialized in this particular enchantment, 1 CP)
    • Empowerment, Specialized in Innate Enchantments, Specialized in the Dispelling Touch effect, Corrupted/only usable with Sneak Attack (2 CP).
    • That gives a total cost of (6 CP), but is far more flexible, since a wide variety of other effects can be substituted for the Dispelling effect.
  • Fast Stealth: Immunity/penalties to stealth for movement (Common, Minor, Major, 6 CP).
  • Improved Evasion: Improved Fortune (Reflex Variant), Corrupted/not usable while wearing medium or heavy armor (4 CP).
  • Ledge Walker: Immunity/penalties (speed, defenses) for balancing on narrow surfaces (Common, Minor, Major, 6 CP).
  • Minor and Major Magic: Inherent Spell (first level options) (6 CP).
  • Opportunist: Opportunist, Specialized/counts as an attack of opportunity, only usable once per round (3 CP).
  • Quick Disable: Reflex Training/when attempting to use the Disable Device skill (6 CP).
  • Resiliency: Grant of Aid/Specialized and Corrupted/only provides temporary hit points which only last for one minute (2 CP).
  • Rogue Crawl: Celerity/+10′ Ground Movement, Specialized/only while crawling (3 CP).
  • Skill Mastery: Mastery (6 CP).
  • Slippery Mind: Luck, Specialized in saving throws against enchantment spells and effects (6 CP).
  • Slow Reactions: Augment Attack/Silencing (Variant; anyone damaged by the user’s sneak attack can’t make attacks of opportunity for one round), Corrupted/incompatible with other abilities which augment a sneak attack (4 CP).
  • Stand Up: Reflex Training/when attempting to stand up (6 CP).
  • Surprise Attack: Immunity/Opponents Defensive Dexterity Modifiers (Very Common, Severe, Major), Specialized and Corrupted/only works when the user has surprised his or her opponents and only during the surprise round (6 CP).
    • This one is a bit dubious – immunity to other people’s defenses always is – but the circumstances are limited enough to allow it.
  • Trap Spotter: Opportunist/the user gets a free Search (in Pathfinder, Perception) check to notice a trap when he or she comes within ten feet of it. The GM should make this roll in secret (6 CP).

   Overall, converting the Pathfinder Rogue is pretty straightforward – but it does make me a little more dubious about the Pathfinder skill system. Combining rarely-used skills to make them more attractive is one thing. Combining important skills tends to result in must-have skills, like Perception and Stealth, while things like Knowledge Skills are relegated to the Bards, who get massive bonuses on all of them. Ideally, all the skills in the game should be equally useful – and thus equally popular.

   Eclipse: The Codex Persona is available in a Shareware PDF Version, in Print, and in a Paid PDF Version that includes Eclipse II (245 pages of Eclipse races, character and power builds, items, relics, martial arts, and other material) and the web expansion. It will be updated with Eclipse III when that’s done as well.

   Oh yes, here’s the OGL on the Pathfinder SRD site I referenced.

9 Responses

  1. One thing I have not seen is the Trap Finding ability of all rogues…?

    • Since Eclipse doesn’t really have a limited set of classes (and, for that matter, can be used with a variety of variant skill systems), skills generally work the same way for everyone (just like d20 modern) – and so no specific “trapfinding” ability is required.

      After all, with “Rogue” being simply a label that anyone can use or discard, restrictions based on being a “Rogue” don’t mean much – and it is a weird exception in the skill system. I did put in an option to include it in the expanded standard build breakdowns though, just in case a game master did want to keep it – thus this segment in the expanded rogue breakdown.

      If a game master feels that finding traps should be reserved for characters who actively develop a specialty in it, he can just require them to take an immunity to the (gratuitous) limitation that you can’t use the search skill to locate traps with a DC higher than 20 (Uncommon, Major, Minor, 4 CP).

  2. See the last listed item, Trap Spotter.

    In general, we have a huge, huge (huge) problem with the default “nobody but Rouges can spot tough traps.” It’s completely breaks every other aspect fo the skills system. It’s an arbitrary rule, but not a character ability, and one which makes no sense whatsoever in the game.

    In fact, that’s almost the one rule we not only ignore in our own private games, but treat everyone else as ignoring, too.

    • “Trap Spotter” is a Pathfinder ability that gives rogues an automatic chance to locate traps without searching, not Trap Finding.

      I fear that the rest of d20 may be running out of sensible names for abilities, just as we did. I hope that doesn’t wind up like Exalted, with long-winded names that don’t tell you anything for everything…

  3. The breakdowns for Pathfinder classes in Eclipse are great, but I wonder if they’re occurring in too much of a vacuum.

    For example, when you factor in the changes to the core PC races in Pathfinder (which are sometimes small, but sometimes not, such as humans getting a floating +2 ability score bonus), and the way receiving a favored class bonus works now, a 20th-level human rogue in Pathfinder may cost a few more CP than you’ve got listed here if you tried to make the character in Eclipse.

    • Well, to be fair, racial changes don’t go in the classes – and neither do the changes to the skill system or how favored classes work. For that you’ll want the Pathfinder Package Deal and some Pathfinder Racial Breakdowns – both of which I have just put up over HERE.

      Fortunately for those wanting to duplicate characters, the basic Pathfinder Races all turn out to be +0 ECL and the package deal comes out to a net cost of zero.

  4. […] breakdowns for the  Alchemist, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer and Summoner. The sample characters are pretty much all compatible with Pathfinder; if […]

  5. […] CPs, but not by quite so much. Interestingly, while this is a few feats’ worth below the Pathfinder rogue, it’s almost exactly as much as the 3.5 rogue […]

  6. […] breakdowns for the  Alchemist, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer and Summoner. The sample characters are pretty much all compatible with Pathfinder; if […]

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