Eclipse Pathfinder – An Arcane Rogue

I’m playing a rogue/sorcerer going the arcane trickster rogue in pathfinder. I’ve agreed with the GM to keep his rogue abilities hidden. Which is problematic if I use only the pathfinder stuff as sooner or later people will start wondering why I am lacking in magical abilities. So I’ve been thinking how to get more oomph into the build. My character is level 3, so to see what I have to work with, I created a naive rogue 3/sorcerer 3 build. This showed that there isn’t much overlap between both classes, so I can’t add much stuff to a full sorcerer. Even if I sacrifice BAB and saves in the beginning to buy abilities which save me CPs in the long run (like the suggestions you pointed out in the sorcerer eclipse build). I’ve been thinking of splitting up slots and caster level to free up some points, but I’ve been wondering if I’m too conservative. Do you have some suggestions regarding a rogue who can fool others (including players) into being nothing more than a run-of-the-mill sorcerer?

-Verequus

Well, emulating the abilities of a low-level Sorcerer isn’t all that hard; spell progressions are (quite intentionally) overpriced at low levels and underpriced at high levels for what they do. Unfortunately, the players will know that something’s up as soon as you do an unreasonable amount of damage via sneak attack or pull off some other non-sorcerous trick. It’s going to be pretty hard to avoid that (I’d suggest an agreed-on list with the GM, which may let you use Sneak Attack and a few other abilities for some time without it becoming obvious around the table). You also haven’t specified a race, bloodline or attribute generation, so I’ll go with Arcane Bloodline (most of that should be easy enough to emulate) and leave attributes out of things for the moment. .

So for a possible build…

Pathfinder Package Deal (Free)

Available Character Points: 96 (L3 Base) +10 (Disadvantages) +6 (Duties) +6 (Pathfinder Bonus Traits) +12 (L1 and L3 Bonus Feats) = 130 CP.

Basic Purchases (41 CP):

  • Warcraft (BAB): +1 BAB (6 CP), +1 Specialized and Corrupted in a particular weapon (2 CP) (to allow for a martial art later on).
  • Hit Points / Dice: 3d8 HD (12 CP)
  • Proficient with: Rogue Weapons (6 CP).
  • Save Bonuses: (Yes, these are low; he or she will have to rely on Luck for the moment)
    • Fortitude: +1 (3 CP)
    • Reflex: +1 (3 CP)
    • Will: +1 (3 CP)
  • Skill Points: 12 (Purchased, 6 CP after Fast Learner). (Remember that as an Eclipse build you get (Int Mod x 4) free skill points at level one, for a current total of (Int Mod x 6). A high intelligence will be much to this character’s advantage).

For the “Sorcery” take…

  • Three Wizard Spellcasting Levels purchased with no Components Restriction (allowing the use of armor and negating the need for minor material components), Intelligence Based, Spontaneous Caster Variant, Specialized/does not provide spell slots; only access to bonus slots and spell formula. (24 CP)
  • +2d6 Mana taken as Generic Spell Levels (10), Corrupted/only for use with Wizard Spellcasting Levels (8 CP)
  • Shaping, Specialized for Increased Effect (only works for the characters limited list of level zero Wizard spells), Corrupted/must be free to gesture and speak (4 CP).

This spellcasting build has several advantages over a standard Sorcerer; it offers access to more spells (helping to emulate the Arcane bloodline) one level earlier – and the flexibility of spell points rather than spell slots. It will also reduce this builds multiple attribute dependency. On the other hand, a Sorcerer will outpower it at high levels by simply having more spell levels to throw around. There’s always a price.

Personally, I’d recommend a few cantrips in particular: Detect Magic, Prestidigitation, Least Skill Mastery (provides a +1 Competence Bonus on a skill check made within the next minute), and The Mystic Touch (cast as a part of a skill check this makes the check appear magical and lets it be done at a range of one foot).

Other Abilities (51 CP):

  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (6 CP).
  • Adept x2 (12 CP). Between Fast Learner and a decent Intelligence this will let you keep eight skills maxed out even before buying skill points. I’d recommend that a Martial Art be one of them.
  • Luck with +2 Bonus Uses/Specialized in Saving Throws (4 CP)
  • Luck with +2 Bonus Uses/Specialized in Skill and Attribute Checks (4 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment: (6 CP/5000 GP effective value. All current spells Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.7 (If personal-only applies).
    • Dexterous Fingers: Reduces the time required to use a skill by three rounds. If this reduces it to zero time or “less”, it becomes a free action, although only one such action is permitted per round. If Dexterous Fingers is used on a continuous basis, it can reduce the time required for the long-term use of a skill by 75%. (Personal-Only, 1400 GP)
    • Tricksters Hand: The user may make a Disable Device or Sleight of Hand skill check at a range of 30 feet – although the DC is increased by five (2000 GP)
    • Force Shield: +4 Armor Bonus to AC, immune to Magic Missiles (Personal-Only, 1400 GP).
  • Companion (Woodpecker Familiar). Grants +2d6 Sneak Attack (6 CP). (This is also the last major low-level component of faking an Arcane Bloodline).
  • Professional (+ Level/2, rounded up to Perception and Disable Device), Specialized/only versus Traps (6 CP)
  • Fortune (Evasion) (6 CP).  (Takes no damage on a successful reflex save)
  • Awareness/Danger Sense +1 (1 CP). +1 versus traps.

That actually leaves 2 CP left over. Personally, I’d put it towards another 1d4 generic spell levels.

For equipment… I’d advise getting a Healing Belt (Magic Item Compendium, 750 GP). They’re just so handy at low levels.

This still leaves the character with no spare points to spend on the bonus feats and such that a Sorcerer would be expected to have – but it should cover all the basics for awhile.

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4 Responses

  1. Hey, that was a fast response! And better than I could have come up myself. :) I did completely forget to mention that I’ve chosen originally as race the Halflings. It provides nice boni to Dex and Cha – the latter more useful to a Sorcerer than a Wizard admittedly. Assuming, my GM is ok with the build (or variant thereof), I might need to switch to an Elf or Tiefling instead. Anyway, my rolled attribute scores are 16, 16, 13, 12, 12, and 12. I chose the Aberrant bloodline actually, because of the increased reach. But with the familiar, I have to check this again. It escaped my notice so far.

    Still I have some questions regarding the build.

    Martial Arts for Warcraft: Which one exactly are you referring to? The one mentioned on page 53? Or the one on page 80? 80 seems more likely, considering the mention later. Still, I wonder why recommend this option?

    Hit dice: Why not using the Finesse II option as mentioned in the Sorcerer build?

    Sorcery: So I’d get a mixture of bonus spell slots and mana points to spent on spell effects? When are the dice rolled for mana? Daily? Or just once? How many different cantrips I am allowed to choose? The same as a normal Sorcerer? Or more general, how does a spontaneous wizard choose the available spells? Still using a spellbook? Or access to the complete list?

    • Well, I’m glad you like it! Now for race… High Intelligence is obviously a priority and Dexterity will be important too – but the rest mostly fall under “Nice Extras”. Still, unless everyone is optimizing, extras can be worthwhile.

      For faking an Aberrant bloodline… the spells are easy (since you get more than a “normal’ Sorcerer anyway, see below), bonus feats are simply “spend some points on something relevant if you want (it’s not like anyone but the game master will know), Acidic Ray would require another 1-2 CP worth of Innate Enchantment (but would be an unlimited-use effect) (or you can just pretend with Acid Splash and sneak attack), and Long Limbs is just Lunge (Specialized/only for making melee touch attacks, 3 CP) – although you can also fake that bit with Martial Arts (below).

      I usually recommend taking (page 80) Martial Arts simply because it’s so handy; for a few skill points (even cheaper with Adept) you can pick some handy bonuses. Lets say you take Serpent Style (A Dexterity-Based Unarmed Style – meaning that your BAB specialization would be in unarmed combat). At level three with a 16 Dexterity you’d have a +9 total – and thus will have five techniques. Since this is an unarmed style you could (for example) have Strike, Attack +1, Defenses +1, Weapon Kata (Touch Attacks), and Reach.

      Strike lets you deal lethal damage with your bare hands. Admittedly, only 1d4 to start, but its still “I am never unarmed” and it’s compatible with your Sneak Attack (and you can always claim that you’re using some obscure spell). When fighting bare-handed you get +1 to your attacks, +1 to your armor class, and +5′ of reach – all of which also applies when you’re making touch attacks. It’s not a very big edge, but every bit does help.

      Hit Dice were taken as d8’s mostly because I wasn’t sure how closely you wanted to emulate a rogue or arcane trickster build. If you’d rather take Finesse II (12 CP) instead of d8 HD (12 CP) the results will be similar now, and advantageous in the long run as your primary ability scores get boosted.

      As far as available spells goes you would indeed be getting a mixture – although leaning far more heavily on the pool of Generic Spell Levels than on bonus slots. As far as the size of that pool goes, “rolled once”, “rolled daily”, or “Forget rolling, I’m just taking the average” is up to you. I was simply taking the 2d4 average of five for general writeup purposes. A basic spontaneous wizard uses the number after the slash on the Wizard Spellcasting Progression chart (page 14) for spells known. Other than the differing balance between spell slots and spells known and slightly lower cost a spontaneous “wizard” functions just like a standard Sorcerer.

      Basically… highly versatile and with a lot of tricks, but with less raw power than a standard Sorcerer as the levels go up. Still, the “normal” Arcane Trickster entry paths would leave you down at least three casting levels anyway, which this build doesn’t.

      And I hope that helps!

      • It does help! Though I’m still unclear on some points. :)

        I’ve been looking at the Martial Arts section but I can’t find a mention that the number of abilities depends on the ability modifier as well. The Serpent Style is one you also invented for this entry I guess? I like how it shores up the Sorcerer aspect.

        Regarding Finesse II: I don’t care that much about how close to a standard build your proposal is. It has to deviate to some degree anyway (or I wouldn’t need Eclipse in the first place). Also it is interesting, how many ways there are to achieve the same effects. More importantly, as this build is rather CP consuming, I am interested in saving CPs in the long run. The build has required some sacrifices and at least the saves need some more love. I don’t suppose that there isn’t something left which would help me out (even if I need to take it at later levels)?

      • That’s mostly just “Skill Level” (generally your total bonus) versus “Skill Ranks” (skill points invested). Thus (as per page 81, left column, first two paragraphs) styles with a history in the setting get a key ability score – and thus an advantage over styles which a player makes up to suit themselves that don’t get one.

        Given that Serpent – or Snake – Style has a long history in reality, it seemed fair to assign a key attribute – and the style is strongly associated with so-called “nerve strikes”, pressure points, and vulnerable spots – which is about as close as reality comes to touch attacks. As such, picking it for a style that worked with d20 touch attacks seemed reasonable.

        If you don’t care about how close to a standard build it is, Finesse II is indeed better than larger hit dice later on.

        The saves could be better – but the Character can “take 20” on a save three times a day, which will hopefully be enough until he or she can buy the bases up a bit.

        As for getting more points… while you already have fast learner, and have Duties and Disadvantages to pick, there are a few more things that could help out. A Package Deal (page 18) might cover a few things you’d otherwise have to buy, but if most of the other characters are not using Eclipse it may be difficult to persuade the game master to let you have one. Restrictions (Page 17) could get you a few extra points if you can think of some that make sense. Being Illiterate can get you 2 CP if you’re really desperate (and can be bought off for 2 SP later on). Finally, Relics (Create Relic, page 29) can provide substantial boosts – but can get taken away, so they’re always a risk.

        Oh, if you could use a visual on snake stile… this is the first one that popped up for me, and it covers the basic idea; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzJ59QAnbMo

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