Surprisingly Cleaver! (It’s got great cleavage!)

So I have only recently been sorting through Paizo’s Pathfinder Unchained book (which had a number of “fixes” and updates to Barbarians, Rogues, Monks and Summoners). Paizo still hasn’t fixed the awful “+1 BAB” requirements on a number of feats that really aren’t intended for Full BAB classes (but that’s a different argument). The lowly, awful, bottom tier Rogue got a huge update that makes it not only a viable choice to play, but fun to play! I whipped up a couple builds that leverage it in all its new and shiny glory!

The first build is one that I’ve been toying with for a long time, I just could never bring myself to play it due to how badly rogues used to be outclassed by everyone else. It is based around the synergy between sneak attack dice and Surprise Follow-Through. Now SFT has a prerequisite of being Orc-y to use it and that’s actually not an issue. Fantastically, the two feat prerequisites SFT needs (Cleave and Power Attack). (SOP, 20pt buy, two traits, etc). Now there are two race options, Human (plus racial heritage) or Half Orc (plus lots of racial goodies). Since we don’t have a +1 BAB at level 1 (boohoo), Half Orc is the superior choice in this situation (Darkvision, some nice weapon proficiencies, etc). Next up is the question of what we take for the level 1 feat. It really boils down to one option, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Elven Branched Spear). This weapon is from the recent Melee Tactics Toolbox (also by Paizo) and is seriously worth the feat (that entire splatbook is totally worth picking up). It is a reach weapon that is finessable AND grants bonuses to attacks of opportunities.

Nora Deftbranch – Rogue 5
Str   13  +1
Dex 18  +4 (16, +2 Racial to bring it to 18)
Con 16  +3 (this was a 15, level up at 4 went here)
Int     8   -1
Wis  12  +1
Cha 10  +0
BAB +3; CMB +4; CMD 18
HP 48; Init +6;
21; T 14; FF 17;
Saves F
+5; R +9; W +3;
30ft; Perception +X; darkvision 60ft;


1: Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Elven Branched Spear)
3: Power Attack
5: Surprise Follow Through

Class Features
1: Finesse Training, Trapfinding
2: Talent – Opportunist, Evasion
3: Finesse Training (Elven Branch Spear), Danger Sense +1
4: Talent – Combat Talent (Cleave), Uncanny Dodge
5: 3d6 Sneak Attack, Debilitating Injury, Rogue’s Edge

Unstable Mutagen – Gain a Mutagen with some random effects.
Reactionary – +2 Initiative

+1 Mithral Breastplate (5,350gp), +1 Elven Branch Spear (1,320gp), Masterwork Cestus (305gp), Cloak of Resistance +1 (1,000gp), 1045gp left for other items

Acrobatics +12, Intimidate +10, Perception +9, Sleight of Hand +12 (+10 for the Cestus Hand), Use Magic Device +8

This build is entirely circular around triggering the sneak attack damage on the second cleave target. The beauty of the Elven Branched Spear is that it is a finessable reach weapon. Since you can take a 5ft step during a Cleave action to bring the second target within reach, having a reach weapon just purely increases your threatened area and thus increases the amount of sneak attack damage we can dole out (just remember to take that 5ft step BEFORE you cleave). Assuming two targets, with the Spear, not power attacking, we’re looking at an attack profile of:

First Target: +8 (1d8+6) vs AC
Second Target: +8 (1d8+6+3d6) vs FF

If both attacks hit, we’re achieving a DPR of about 30.5. Now if we power attack instead, we loose 1 to hit, but gain 6 damage total, boosting us to a DPR of 36.5. So we’ve got okay DPR by our lonesome selves without flanking. Add in a flank buddy and power attack, and we’ve increased our average DPR by 1.5 (to 47 damage). This is unbuffed, raw DPR. If we assume a balanced party and “boss buffs” benefits, it really shoots through the roof (I’m talking Mutagen, Cat’s Grace, a level 5 inspire courage; three sustainable buffs), we can push the to the low 70’s which isn’t shabby at all!

Sadly, this build doesn’t have the feat space to really get tremendous utility. As more levels trickle in, I’d would take serious consideration of splashing two levels of brawler to scoop up some BAB progression, feats and would look at expanding into maneuvers (you get dex to CMB for Disarm, Trip and Sunder from Finesse Training). Stacking this with Opportunist (which is amazing), there’s the potential for a very, very annoying woogily spear reach build (doing the very classic, trip –> disarm –> trip combo that procs when your allies slap enemies). Once level 4 is taken for this build (for the sneak attack debuffs), staying in rogue isn’t hugely important.

That’s really all for this build, feel free to post questions/comments. Soon to follow is the other Unchained Rogue build that plays with more Melee Tactics Toolbox Goodness!


1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Best Flank Buddies Forever! (Yes, I am in flanking!) | 4d6kobolds

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