Thursday, August 7, 2014

Zenith's Guide to the Ninja, Part IV: Equipment, Mult-Classing & Builds

Zenith's Guide to the Ninja, Part IV
Equipment, Multi-Classing & Builds


There is a lot of equipment to consider.  I have organized this section by slot, and listed them by approximate utility.  In general I will shy away from items that grant okay skill bonuses, as the Ninja has plenty of skills to start with.

    Belt of Incredible Dexterity (****): Probably your first belt.  You can move to a Dex & Con belt if you like, or take Dex all the way up.

    Nothing great here.

    Poisoner’s Jacket (**): If you absolutely want to work with poisons, then the Poisoner's Jacket is great fun.  But you shouldn't work with poisons.
    Quick Runner’s Shirt (***): At only 1,000gp this shirt will allow you to move into melee before taking a full round action once a day.

    Eyes of the Eagle (***): +5 Perception for only 2,500gp is pretty hard to pass up.
    Goggles of the Night (**): Need Darkvision?  For 12,000gp, you can get it.
    Sniper Goggles (****):  At 20,000gp, these goggles are not cheap. However, they are one of the best items a Ninja can buy.  With them, a ninja gains +2 damage on each sneak attack die within 30 feet, transforming 8d6 from an average of 28 to an average of 44.  It also allows for sneak attack at any range.  With Invisible Blade and Sniper Goggles, you can buy a longbow and just stand in the background, comfortably getting full round sneak attacks without any problem.  If you can afford it, this is a must-buy.

    Acrobat Slippers (**): For 3,000gp you get to maintain your Dexterity Bonus to AC (you know, all of it) when doing a number of things.
    Boots of Striding and Springing (****): An easy way to increase land speed and get a +5 bonus to Acrobatics checks, get these if your speed is suffering. 5,500gp.
    Boots of Speed (****): Haste for 10 rounds a day is fantastic, though they cost 12,000gp.  Get them.
    Winged Boots (**): Flight for only 16,000!  You may want to stick with the cheaper boots however.

    Nothing too interesting here.

    Mask of Stony Demeanor (****): Only 500gp for a +10 to bluff when lying and a +5 to feint?  Grab it early, and use it when you want.
    Jingasa of the Fortunate Soldier (****): Not only does this provide +1 AC, it also negates one crucial hit or sneak attack per day.  For only 5,000gp, this is almost too good.  
    Goz Mask (**): For 8,000gp, this allows you to see through smoke and fog.  With these, you can throw some smoke sticks, then sneak attack through the haze.
    Cap of the Free Thinker (***): For 12,000gp you can roll twice against all mind-affecting effects.  Fantastic for the weak-willed Ninja.

    Headband of Charisma (***): Uninteresting, but it will boost your ki points.
    Headband of Deathless Devotion (***): Helps with some saving throws for 6,400gp.
    Headband of Fortune’s Favor (**): Provides a +1 bonus on saving throws for 7,700gp.  A bit pricey, but it will stack with that cape.

    Amulet of Natural Armor (****): A great boon to your AC, grab this right away.
    Aegis of Recovery (****):  A +2 bonus to saving throws against continuing effects, and a automatic health boost at negative hit points.  This is a winner at 1,500gp (too bad it is destroyed after bringing you back to life).
    Mind Sentinel's Medallion (***): A +2 bonus vs. mind affecting effects.  3,500gp.
    Amulet of Hidden Strength (****):  A full round action to regain two ki points once per day?  At 9,000 this is a steal.

    Ring of Protection (****):  An AC boost is great.  As usual.
    Ring of Ki Mastery (***): Can potentially increase your total ki by 2, for only 10,000.  It is also a must have if you have forgotten trick, as it reduces that cost down to 1 ki.  Go for it.

    Cloak of Resistance (****):  Don't mess around.  Go Cloak of Resistance all the way to +5.

    Bracers of Falcon’s Aim (****): At on 4,000, these are a ridiculous no brainer if you are using bows.  Grab them for the invisible blade/sniper goggles combo.

    Ki Mat (**): 10,000gp is a bit pricey for bringing back 1 ki a day, but it is something to consider.

Weapon Enhancements:  Keen may seem tempting with Wakizashis, but criticals are going to do very little for you.  Instead, grab Agile, Haste, or just stick with the +X bonuses.

Armor Enhancements:  The +X bonuses are good enough for you.


With only 3/4 BAB, we are mostly looking for full BAB classes to compliment us.  For the most part, I would recommend go to at least Ninja 10 for Invisible Blade, then branching out.  If you dip before, you are only delaying the best part of the Ninja class.

Note that Half-Elves can take two favored classes due to the "Dual Minded"

Fighter (****): There is a lot to be said for multi classing into Fighter after level 10 or 12. Your chance to hit and damage will be significantly increased, and you can grab weapon specialization. You may start to miss those Ninja Tricks, but you'll wind up with a deadly combat character. Two-Weapon Warrior is a good Archetype here, and weapon master can be strong if you are focusing heavily on one path.

Paladin (****): Paladin is a shockingly good choice. Full Bab, self-healing, and a big bonus to saves, it rounds out the Ninja completely. Smite Evil combined with Sneak Attack will allow this holy Ninja to destroy everything in sight, and most abilities key off of Charisma. The Divine hunter Archetype can be an excellent choice if you are transitioning into the short bow/sniper goggles strategy at level 10+.

Anti-Paladin (***): The Anti-Paladin also has a lot going for him, but without the lay on hands ability the survivability isn't as good.  Still, a solid choice.

Barbarian (***): +10 Move speed, d10 health, and a bonus to fort and reflex are all great.  Take the Urban Barbarian Archetype and you gain Dex when you rage.  A fair choice overall, increasing your to-hit, movement, and survivability.

Gunslinger (***): Touch attack guns would sure help with hitting enemies.  If your game starts at level 11, then the gunslinger is a great multi class.  Otherwise, it's virtually impossible to build into.

Monk (**): This lets you use unarmed strikes, and increases you ki pool.  You can get evasion at 2nd, improve your saves, and nets a few extra feats.  However, the 3/4 Bab progression and flurry aren't helping you.

Ranger (**): The ranger can do a lot for you, but only if you take it first. It can give you two-weapon fighting without the dexterity prerequisite, and add a favored enemy. However, taking it first means you are delaying Invisible Blade. On top of that, many Ranger abilities key off of Wisdom, one of your dump stats.

Druid (*): The Full Bab and animal companion are nice, but the shape changing and Wisdom dependent spell casting sure aren't.

Cavalier/Samurai (*): Ninjas and mounts don't mix well.  They kind of ruin the whole invisibility thing.  There are also a bunch of abilities that require the target to see the Cavalier.

Spellcasters (*):  It's not optimal, but you certainly can try.  There are a few Oracle revelations that might be worth it (but you have to contend with curses), and you can pick up some touch attacks for sneak.


There are a range of options for the ninja, and you should use these as starting points.

Classic Ninja (****): The classic Ninja is able to use both Shuriken and Wakizashi. In the first turn of combat, if possible, he full round, TWF, flurry of stars, extra ki point attack shurikens the enemy, then moves in for wakizashis on future turns. For the first 9 levels he relies on flanking to get sneak attack, then uses invisible blade. You can find the full build here.

Natural Attacks Ninja (****): As a Kitsune, Tengu, Teifling, or similar, you can get three natural attacks at full BAB, landing hits more frequently than TWF. This is an excellent build which outshines the others at lower levels, but is outclassed at higher levels. If you don't plan on going past level 10, this is possibly the strongest choice. At level 10, you can go the Sniper Goggles/Invisible Blade/Longbow route if you wish. You can find a full Tengu build here.

The Skill Monkey (****): Really, this is just the Classic Ninja with 14 intelligence for 10 skill points a level. You can find the full build here.

Strength Ninja (***): Pumping Strength instead of dexterity, the strength ninja grabs a two-handed weapon and swings away. He relies far less on sneak attack and is more consistent in combat, able to contribute even when he can't deal sneak attack.

Mist Assassin (***): The Goz Mask item, or the Oracle of Waves' Water Sight revelation, allows you to see through fog and smoke as if it wasn't there. Put some obscuring mist between you and your enemy, and you should be able to sneak attack through it with total concealment. There are a few ways to bring the fog up, including a wand of obscuring mist.

Sap Master Ninja (***): Thought sneak attack was situational? How about non-lethal sneak attack? The Sap Master uses the Sap Adept, Sap Master, and Knockout Artist feats to deal double damage with sneak attack, even if it is non-lethal. But when it is effective it is super effective. You can find the full build here.

Ranged Ninja (**/****): For the first 9 levels, this is painful. The Stealthy Sniper Rogue talent brings the sniping penalty down to only -10, but you still need to find cover. This build gets great with invisible blade, and absolutely unstoppable if you can pick up the Sniper's Goggles. Suddenly you are able to deal sneak attack damage with a long bow from 100 feet away.

Unarmed Ninja (**): Dip monk for the feats, then make your way into Unarmed Ninja territory.  You get access to a bunch of styles and feats, but you are going to burn more feats trying to do the same thing the Classic Ninja does.

Opening Volley Ninja (**): This build is similar to the Classic Ninja Build, with the inclusion of the Opening Volley feat.  With this feat, the next melee attack made after a ranged attack gains a +4 bonus.  The Opening Volley Ninja uses one hand to throw shuriken and the other to make melee attacks.  But... how are we getting sneak attack with the shuriken (since flanking won't do it for ranged attacks)?  And how are we avoiding attacks of opportunities?  Those are just some of the issues with this build.

Shatter Defenses Ninja (**):  The Shatter Defenses Ninja relies on a novel method of gaining sneak attack: Shatter Defenses.  When he attacks an enemy who is shaken, they are considered flat footed to him.  Shaken can be achieved pretty easily through Dazzling Display or Cornugun Smash, but Dazzling Display eats at actions and Cornugun Smash requires power attack.  Still, it can be workable.

Part I: Introduction, Attribute, and Races
Part II: Ninja Tricks
Part III: Feats
Part IV: Equipment, Multi-Classing, and Builds


  1. No mention of the mist assassin?
    The principle is see where others cannot. If you can see them, but they cannot see you, then they are flat-footed and you can sneak-attack. This is done by getting a way to see through obscuring mist, and casting it at the start of every fight.
    It is a very powerful tactic for not just ensuring sneak attacks but also controlling the field. It can be done by either multiclassing with one level of waves oracle for the mist sight mystery, or by buying a goz mask and a wand of obscuring mist.

    1. Truesight goggles and obscuring mist work well for this

  2. The mist assassin tactic of Goz mask and wand of obscuring mist should be mentioned here probably.

  3. Some coments on prestige classes might be in order.

  4. It might be worth mentioning that you can take 1 point in warpriest early on to get d6 shurikens at level 2.

  5. Any idea if Daredevil boots make sense?

    1. These guys?

      They look fine, but not really for most Ninjas. The Ninja needs those full round attacks, and he won't get them if he's spending move actions to dance through people's squares. Could be useful in some cases though, when repositioning and such!

  6. For lower levels, Spring loaded wrist sheathes are great. They can hold daggers, which have "up to 1 foot long blades". Wakizashi have "1 to 2 foot blades". Therefore, with a shorter Wakizashi that does no less damage, you can fit it in the wrist sheath and hid them.

  7. Check out the gloves of reconnaissance for your hand slot they have saved my party a few times from walking into a bad situation