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Tyger
2008-04-11, 07:59 AM
OK, the game is starting at ECL 10, set in 1800 century Earth (with the addition of magic), and heavy on the pirate theme. The DM is using a bunch of the UA rules, including backgrounds, character traits, flaws and unarmored bonuses to AC. 32 point build. We are a small party of three, aboard a pirate ship.

I was thinking of the following.

STR: 12
DEX: 16
CON: 10
INT: 16
WIS: 10
CHA: 12

Level 1: Human Rogue - Feats: Combat Expertise (1), Combat Reflexes (Human), Dodge (Flaw), Mobility (Background)
Level 2: Rogue
Level 3: Rogue - Feats: Weapon Focus Scimitar
Level 4: Swashbuckler - Feats: Weapon Finesse (inherent) - Bonus to Dex
Level 5: Swashbuckler
Level 6: Swashbuckler - Feats: Daring Outlaw
Level 7: Shadowdancer
Level 8: Dervish - Bonus to Dex
Level 9: Dervish - Feats: Two-Weapon Fighting
Level 10: Dervish

Is this crazy? Is it worth the one level loss of either Dervish or Swashbuckler / Rogue for the extra SA to grab that level of Shadowdancer for HIPS? Any other advice?

Gear is total 49,000 GP value with no single item ofer 12,500. That is great for a +1 Flaming Adamantine Scimitar and a +1 Frost Silver Scimitar, plus some goodies.

Keld Denar
2008-04-11, 08:44 AM
A) You don't qual for Shadowdancer at that point, due to skill requirements. 10 ranks means level 7, so the earliest you can take level 1 is 8. That said, HiPS is ok, but not required. How many shadows are there going to be on the deck of a pirate ship in the middle of the ocean. On top of that, HiPSing in the middle of combat with companions is usually a waste of 2 actions, one to hide, one to move up to someone while hidden to SA. Its generally better just to flank with someone and full attack than to retreat, hide, and shank. Solo, its a grand tactic, but in party dynamics, you are leaving your companions high and dry for rounds you should be spending making your opponents kidneys look like swiss cheese.

I'd recommend full Swashbuckler from 7-20. That gives you full SA through Daring Outlaw, full BAB, and decent HP (2 average per level over a rogue). That way, you can TWF with less of a hit to accuracy.

I'd not take Combat Reflexes, or Combat Expertese if its not a prereq. CR is only really good if you use a reach weapon, which you are not. I'd go with Able Learner to keep your skills up, and EWP: Elven Lightblade. These little babies are amazing, same damage and crit range as a rapier, but are light weapons for easy duel wield. Then get Telling Blow for some SA even when you aren't flanking. That or bump your STR 1 point and get EWP: Elven Courtblade and take power attack and friends. This'll give you some nice base damage vs things you can't SA.

Person_Man
2008-04-11, 09:33 AM
Who doesn't love pirates? Sounds like a great game. Here are some ideas you might find helpful:

Dervish is a horrible PrC. Many useless requirements (Dodge, Mobility, Weapon Focus), marginal benefits.

Shadowdancer is equally bad for the same reasons. Hide in Plain site is nifty. But consider that you generally have to use a Move action to Hide, limiting you to a single Standard action each round. That's fine if you're a caster, but for a melee build, its a huge nerf.

A pure Rogue/Swash with Daring Outlaw (Comp Scoundrel) is better then a Dervish or Dervish/Dancer. High BAB and Sneak Attack, and it will free up feats for other, better uses.

Since its a pirate campaign, you might also want to consider a Bard/Dread Pirate with Dragonfire Inspiration (http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=816095) (Dragon Magic) + Words of Creation (Book of Exalted Deeds). Level/2-ish energy damage as a bonus on EVERYONE's attacks.

Or if you want to stick with the Rogue-ish background, but more hilarious, consider a Whisper Gnome (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ex/20040807a&page=3) Psychic Rogue (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/psm/20040723b)/Blade Bravo (Races of Stone). Your damage output will be a little lower then a Daring Outlaw or Dragonfire Dread Pirate. But with Compression (http://www.systemreferencedocuments.org/35/sovelior_sage/psionicPowersAtoC.html#compression), and Confound the Big Folk (Races of the Wild) you're almost impossible to hit, you have the ability to Sneak Attack/Mind Cripple quite easily, and you get some nifty psionic powers.

Tyger
2008-04-11, 09:37 AM
Good points on the Shadowdancer... the more I think, the less I think that is in, even when I can make it viable.

As for Able Learner, we have a houserule that once you get a skill as a class skill, its always a class skill, so no worries there.

Combat Expertise is a requirement for the Dervish class, though Combat Reflexes could be eliminated if I was to drop the Shadowdancer class. Which would open up another feat for Improved TWF... hmmm... the deck is getting more and more stacked against Shadowdancer.

As for the Elven Thinblade, I can certainly look into that, but the Dervish class gives you scimitars as light weapons, so its kinda tough to overlook those high crits with decent overall damage.

And while I see your point on full Swashbuckler, I think that going full out TWF is going to be far more potent with the Dervish class abilities (the ability to move and full attack!) than some increased SA... though that is certainly quite powerful. Not sure how long the game is going to run though, which is always a factor.

Thanks for your suggestions!

EDIT: due to Person Man's ninja strike

While I'll concede the point on the Shadowdancer, you really think the Dervish's abilities are that poor? The sheer beauty of the Dervish Dance, lasting upwards of 10 rounds, 2 times per day... full attacking without worrying about being subjected to a full attack back, with TWF and decent SA damage... that seems pretty hefty to me.

Talya
2008-04-11, 09:38 AM
Dervish is a horrible PrC. Many useless requirements (Dodge, Mobility, Weapon Focus), marginal benefits.


You, sir, are WAY wrong.

Dervish is one of the best pre-TOB prc's in the game. It is pure awesome. The benefits are superb, not marginal.

Now, here's my issue with the build: it's hard to use sneak attack while dervish dancing...it's hard to keep them flatfooted or flanked. One is far better off to go scout and take improved skirmish. Yes, the bonus damage is lower, but you get to use it the entire time you are dancing.

Darrin
2008-04-11, 09:52 AM
I would also recommend Swashbuckler for levels 7-20.

I'd also recommend against Dervish. It requires a lot of feats, several of which are bordering on useless. Everything cool about Dervish you can get from two feats:

1) Oversize TWF allows you to dual-wield rapiers as if they were light weapons (same stats as scimitars)

2) Travel Devotion, which allows you to move+full attack for 10 rounds 1/day (without fatigue).

Pick up Staggering Strike at ECL 9, and all you need is a consistent way to get flanking/deny dex bonus.

Dipping Shadowdancer for HiPS... eh, more of a toss-up, although "hiding in shadows" isn't the first thing that springs to mind when I hear "Pirates!".

To make sure you get lots of sneak attack...

Consider Martial Study: Shadow Blade Technique followed by Martial Stance: Island of Blades. This stance lets you treat an enemy as flanked so long as you have an adjacent ally. And once you're in this stance, picking up the Shadow Blade feat to add your Dex bonus to melee damage wouldn't be a bad idea, although you'd have to switch your weapons to shortswords or daggers (rapiers and scimitars aren't Shadow Hand weapons).

If ToB isn't allowed... Combat Reflexes + Aberrant Blood + Inhuman Reach would give you 10' reach... add Vexing Flanker and Adaptive Flanker and you can flank without any allies. That's a lot of feats, though.

Small size + Underfoot Combat + Confound the Big Folk: against opponents two size categories larger, you can enter an occupied square without AoOs, you get +4 to AC, and your opponent is treated as flat-footed. Add a Collapsing Crescent Fan (Sandstorm, p. 96) and you get a +4 attack bonus on anyone who is flat-footed.

Ring of Blinking + Blindfight + Mage Slayer + Pierce Magical Concealment: requires three feats and a 27,000 GP item, but you get to attack as if you were invisible (hello sneak attack), opponents have 50% miss chance, and you can ignore your own 20% miss chance from blinking. Add a level of Warlock or Dragonfire Adept for unlimited Darkness as a SLA, then the Blend into Shadows feat, and you can Hide in Plain Sight as a swift action. This lets you skip Shadowdancer.

Keld Denar
2008-04-11, 10:01 AM
I agree, Dervish is good, but I prefer it more with a 2hander rather than with duel wielding. Pumping that bonus to hit through 2:1 PA using a Great Falchon is better than the extra weak attacks you get from TWF. You could do the same thing with an Elven Courtblade so that you can finesse it and still get PA returns.

Other than that, I'm gonna agree with Talya, rogue and dervish don't really mix, because unless you have a lot of allies or an ally with reach and Vexing Flanker, Clarion Commander, or something similar, you are not going to be able to trigger your bonus dice on most of your attacks.

Person_Man
2008-04-11, 10:10 AM
Regarding the Dervish:


Requirements: Combat Expertise, Dodge, Mobility, Weapon Focus. Four weak feats (though Combat Expertise is arguably good for certain situations) that provide minor bonuses. Mobility, in particular, is utterly useless since Tumble exists. I don't know about you, but I have much better things I'd like to do with four feats.


Class Abilities:

AC bonus: Very minor bonus. An animated shield (which a Dervish can't use) by itself will give you more of a bonus then this.

Dervish Dance: You can move and attack, and you gain a modest bonus to hit and damage. However, you can only use this ability a limited number of times per day, and there are literally dozens of other better/easier ways to gain pounce, reach, and/or an extra move action. So while this might have been a great class ability 5 years ago when Complete Warrior was published, thanks to codex creep its now its not nearly as good.

Movement Mastery: The Skill DC's for Tumble and Jump are fixed and relatively easy to attain, so this ability isn't very useful.

Fast Movement: Minor bonus.

Spring Attack: It's a trap!!! You make 1 attack? By ECL 8ish, you should be making at least 3ish attacks every round.

Dance of Death: Cleave for free. Wow, that would have been nice 7 levels ago.

Improved Reaction: Minor bonus.

Elaborate Parry: Minor bonus that you only get when you give up all your attacks.

Tireless Dance: Minor perk that only comes into play after combat.

A Thousand Cuts: OK, my heart isn't made of stone. This is freaking cool. But are 9 levels of suck worth one cool ability that you can use ONCE per day?

This is my evidence. Feel free to disagree if you like. But I think its clear that the Dervish has cruddy requirements and a collection of minor/moderate bonuses for class abilities.

Tyger
2008-04-11, 10:14 AM
Darrin:

Looks like you are spending about the same number of feats to accomplish the same thing. Sure, the feat pre-reqs are high for Dervish, but they aren't insane, nor are they all useless.

Dodge: Yes, this sucks. No contest there.
Mobility: +4 AC vs AoO? I'll take it. Especially considering teh amount of moving you do. Sure, you get to take 10 on Tumble checks as a Dervish, but when you do blow one, this could save your bacon.
Combat Expertise: Great feat in and of itself for those times when you need to not get hit. Add to that, its the entry into all the Improved Trip, Sunder etc...
Weapon Focus: Bonus +1 to hit? Yes thank you!

Not saying that they are the best feats out there, but they aren't all bad. Hell, Combat Expertise and Weapon Focus are pretty sweet.

Lussmanj

Yeah, the Scout option does look pretty nice, though the overall damage does go down, as the Skirmish won't stack with Swashbuckler... granted, you could go Fighter 4 / Scout 1 and get the +1d6 skirmish, plus three more feats... Hmmm... options, options.

Talya
2008-04-11, 10:45 AM
Regarding the Dervish:


Requirements: Combat Expertise, Dodge, Mobility, Weapon Focus. Four weak feats (though Combat Expertise is arguably good for certain situations) that provide minor bonuses. Mobility, in particular, is utterly useless since Tumble exists. I don't know about you, but I have much better things I'd like to do with four feats.

Expertise is a good feat. Nobody playing a dervish actually takes dodge. The feat to take is "Expeditious dodge." It counts as dodge for PrC requirements, and it grants +2 ac against everyone, so long as you move a certain distance in a round. With the dervish dance, this feat is perfect.

Mobility as a dervish is actually useful, tumbling uses up extra movement you can't always aford to lose.

Weapon focus is suboptimal, but there are lots of ways to make it more optimal now.


Class Abilities:

AC bonus: Very minor bonus. An animated shield (which a Dervish can't use) by itself will give you more of a bonus then this.

A +3 AC bonus that stacks with everything is always good.



Dervish Dance: You can move and attack, and you gain a modest bonus to hit and damage. However, you can only use this ability a limited number of times per day, and there are literally dozens of other better/easier ways to gain pounce, reach, and/or an extra move action. So while this might have been a great class ability 5 years ago when Complete Warrior was published, thanks to codex creep its now a joke.

Full attack and move more times per day than you have encounters, with a longer duration than most encounters last. Furthermore, your +5 bonus to hit and damage stacks with everything and is equivalent to the best pre-epic weapon bonus you can have. And there really aren't that many ways for most characters to gain pounce. Barring a few rare races (catfolk), the only real way is to have a lenient DM and dip Barbarian, which causes additional Favored-class juggling and planning and may not fit into your build.



Movement Mastery: The Skill DC's for Tumble and Jump are fixed and relatively easy to attain, so this ability isn't very useful.

The skill DCs for Tumble go up the more people you have to tumble past.



Fast Movement: Minor bonus. And essential to the class.


Spring Attack: It's a trap!!! You make 1 attack? By ECL 8ish, you should be making at least 3ish attacks every round.
Spring attack is not a standard action in itself. You can use it as part of a full round attack action. The problem most people have is that they can't move while making a full round action. Dervishes do not have this problem. Spring attack means that they don't have to tumble past one of their victims during a dance, which means more movement, and fewer tumble rolls.


Dance of Death: Cleave for free. Wow, that would have been nice 7 levels ago.

You get to skip power attack, which most dervishes can't use.



Improved Reaction: Minor bonus.
A very useful bonus nontheless.


Elaborate Parry: Minor bonus that you only get when you give up all your attacks.

No real point to this ability.



Tireless Dance: Minor perk that only comes into play after combat.

Don't see you ripping barbarians for the same feature.


A Thousand Cuts: OK, my heart isn't made of stone. This is freaking cool. But are 9 levels of suck worth one cool ability that you can use ONCE per day?

You mean 9 levels of awesome to get there.

The requirements for dervish just aren't that high, and are actually useful. A human fighter gets all those feats at level 1 and has room for a spare (Feats: Human 1, Level 1, Fighter 1, Flaw 1, Flaw 2). You still end up with 1-2 more before you even qualify for the class.

Keld Denar
2008-04-11, 10:46 AM
Lussmanj

Yeah, the Scout option does look pretty nice, though the overall damage does go down, as the Skirmish won't stack with Swashbuckler... granted, you could go Fighter 4 / Scout 1 and get the +1d6 skirmish, plus three more feats... Hmmm... options, options.

Honestly, I think you'd be much better served with something like Rogue4/Swash16 than anything else. Go Whisper Gnome or Human and kick some butt and take some names. Its simple, effective, and straightforward. Spend your feats the way you want to, rather than how your PrC wants you to. You'll get a lot more mileage out of them.

Get Staggering Strike. Its like your melee character casts a 1 round Slow every time you hit in melee, and the save DC gets stupidly high. That'll keep you from getting full attacked a lot more than Dervishing around.

Also, take the PHBII rog4 ACF called Penetrating Strike. Use it often on your first attack in a full attack to make all your iteratives and offhands a lot more likely to hit and do damage. Its also gives you something constructive to do vs things that are immune to critical hits, because Pen Strike specifically doesn't have the "precision" clause.

Tyger
2008-04-11, 05:22 PM
After some thought, it looks like Scout / Fighter / Dervish stacks quite nicely. At level 10, it would be Scout 5 / Fighter 2 / Dervish 3. Feats total would be: Combat Expertise, Dodge, Mobility, Weapon Focus Scimitar, Improved Initiative, Combat Reflexes, TWF, ITWF, Improved Skirmish and Quick Draw. With Skirmish, at that level, its AB (counting the bonuses from the magic scimitars and Dex) is +14 / +9 / +14 +9 with an average damage of 24 per hit (1d6 Scimitar + 1d6 enchantment on the sword + 4d6 Skirmish + 4 STR, weapon enhancement and Dervish Bonus). That's average (assuming all hit) of 96 damage per round. Not too shabby. And also not counting crits.

Plus its just sexy... no?

Yes, Rogue + Swashbuckler is nice too, but this game is not likely to last much past level 12, so I may as well have some fun with a different class.

KillianHawkeye
2008-04-11, 05:53 PM
Not saying that they are the best feats out there, but they aren't all bad. Hell, Combat Expertise and Weapon Focus are pretty sweet.

It's a joke, right? :smallwink:

Also:

Spring attack is not a standard action in itself. You can use it as part of a full round attack action. The problem most people have is that they can't move while making a full round action. Dervishes do not have this problem. Spring attack means that they don't have to tumble past one of their victims during a dance, which means more movement, and fewer tumble rolls.

I dunno about this.

Benefit
When using the attack action with a melee weapon, you can move both before and after the attack, provided that your total distance moved is not greater than your speed. Moving in this way does not provoke an attack of opportunity from the defender you attack, though it might provoke attacks of opportunity from other creatures, if appropriate. You canít use this feat if you are wearing heavy armor.

You must move at least 5 feet both before and after you make your attack in order to utilize the benefits of Spring Attack.

Emphasis added. Attack action is a Standard Action. Full Attack is a Full-Round Action. I think it's different, unless you are using a house ruling. Or if the dervish gets a special version of it that I don't know about. IMO, that'd be a pretty good house rule for a dervish, but just pointing it out.

Talya
2008-04-11, 05:59 PM
I think a full attack action is also an attack action. The only reason it's not specifically spelled out is there's no way in core to make a full attack action while moving. /shrug

Anyway, I've had a lot of fun combining various boosts and stances with the dervish class. Like most melee types, a few levels in a martial adept can drasticly improve them. ToB didn't make them obsolete, it enhanced them further.

Azerian Kelimon
2008-04-11, 06:07 PM
You know what you could do? Ask your DM if he can houserule Spring attack gets you one attack per 5 pints of BAB you have. It's not like it's going to be borkened, because you have to get TWO useless feats before it.

Additionally, is your DM open to houserules? Because I have a special combat maneuver (Not the ToB ones, the ones like Charge, overrun, etc.) that helps rogues out.

Talya
2008-04-11, 06:11 PM
because you have to get TWO useless feats before it.



Expeditious dodge isn't useless! :)

Azerian Kelimon
2008-04-11, 06:18 PM
Point taken. One useless and one almost-completely-but-barely-barely-useful-useless feat.

Kurald Galain
2008-04-11, 06:45 PM
I think a full attack action is also an attack action.

While that would make sense, it is not actually how the rule (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/combat/actionsincombat.htm) works.


Weapon Focus is a trap. +1 to your rolls may sound nice and all that, but regardless of what WOTC does in its example builds, there are far better feats out there. In general, anything that enables a new ability (e.g. power attack) tends to be better than anything that gives a flat non-scaling bonus to something you can already do; and in particular, a 5% bonus really isn't all that impressive.

Talya
2008-04-11, 07:15 PM
Weapon Focus is a trap. +1 to your rolls may sound nice and all that, but regardless of what WOTC does in its example builds, there are far better feats out there.


Agreed, which is why it's so often used as a PrC requirement. It isn't useless, however. If you focus on hitting stuff, +1 to hit is a good thing. What sucks is you had to use a feat to get it.

However, what you get with dervish makes it worth it. Expeditious dodge is also rather worth it in this class... a +2 AC against all opponents you always get is nice. The same can be said for Mobility...as a dervish. One of the nice things about its PrC requirements, is that two of its requirements become very useful (compared to other classes) because of what the class does.

People think Barbarian Rage is a good ability, but it doesn't add as much as Dervish Dance, and has penalties associated with it. Yet for some reason the Dervish Dance is insignificant.

KillianHawkeye
2008-04-13, 06:00 PM
I think a full attack action is also an attack action.

Hmm... I guess that makes a little sense. I'd allow it if the player brought me cookies. :smallwink: