Thursday, August 7, 2014

Zenith's Guide to the Ninja, Part II: Ninja Tricks

Zenith's Guide to the Ninja
Part II: Ninja Trick

Ninja Tricks are what define a Ninja.  They provide a variety of improvements and abilities ranging from skill bonuses to combat perks to assassination shenanigans.  Ninjas get one Ninja Trick every even level, then get access to Master Tricks at Level 10.  There are plenty of bad options, but enough good options for you to choose between.

If you don't like Ninja Tricks, not to fear!  There are a bunch of ways to grab feats instead, as listed below.

Ninja Tricks

Combat Trick (****): A combat feat?  Sold!  Note that if you do not take this, you can access it via forgotten trick and temporarily get any combat feat you qualify for.

Flurry of Stars (****): A souped up version of rapid fire, this gives you two additional shuriken.  This can be crazy good if your enemy is still flatfooted and you want to deal a ton of damage. Just make sure that you are nice and close, as the 10' range increment hurts.

Shadow Clone (****): Mirror image is lovely, and will keep you alive longer.

Weapon Training (****): Yes, we want to hit more things.

Rogue Talent (****): This opens up a host of talents you can now pick, and you can take the rogue talent multiple times.  Noteworthy talents include:
      Offensive Defense (****): This should be the talent that you apply to sneak attack for a good long while.  You gain a significant bonus to AC equal to the number of sneak attack damage.
      Distracting Attack (***): If you have two rogues or Ninjas with Distracting Attack, then you can gain sneak attack all day.  Otherwise, skip it.
      Stand Up (***): A lovely talent that lets you stand up as a free action.  It's pretty situational, but nice to have.
      Ki Pool (**): You can use this to gain one ki.  It's not the worst option if you burn through ki like crazy.
      Underhanded (**): This is certainly interesting, but incredibly difficult to pull off.  Unless you have other skills to back it up, I would skip it.
      Powerful Sneak (*): This is a trap, increasing the average damage on a sneak attack from 3.5 to 3.666.  That's one damage for every 6 sneak attack die you roll.  Don't take it.

Acrobatic Master (***): A +20 Acrobatics for a Ki is fun out of combat (+20 feet long jump or +5 feet vertical jump), but the real use here is for when you absolutely need to tumble away.

Choking Bomb (***): Staggered is nice, but you are going to have to take two other tricks to get this.  If you have high charisma, it might be worth it.

Pressure Points (***): The strength and dexterity de-buff is nice, but you are better off waiting for crippling strike once you hit the advanced talents.  It will be a waste of a Trick otherwise.

Vanishing Trick (***): Invisibility as a swift action is great, particularly for sneaking around and running away.  But the main reason to take this is to gain access to Invisible Blade.

Forgotten Trick (***): Boy is this pricey.  2 Ki in addition to the normal cost of use?  Every once in a while you'll wish you had it, but you are better off just grabbing an additional trick to use without the 2 ki penalty.  A ring of ki mastery brings the price down to 1 ki in addition to normal use, but that's still a lot to ask for.  However, there is something of an exploit you can do.  If you don't grab Combat trick, you can use Forgotten Trick to grab it it temporarily, and temporarily gain any combat feat you choose!

Bleeding Attack (**): While this might seem appealing, a couple points of bleed damage is worthless.  It adds a minute amount to your overall damage, doesn't stack with itself, and your efforts are better spent elsewhere.

Darkvision (**): Super situational, and you have better uses for your ki.

Deadly Range (**): If you absolutely have to be a ranged Ninja, then you've got to take this.  If you are just using shriken, then you are going to be attacking from with 30 feet anyway.

Fast Stealth (**): Out of combat you aren't going to need to move too fast while sneaking.  In combat, you are probably going to break stealth rather quickly.  No thanks.

Hidden Weapons (**): Very situational.  If you are taking this to stab people out of combat, just go invisible.  In combat it's just not handy.

Poison Bomb (**): This isn't a bad way to use poison, but the DCs for most poisons are so low it's not going to make a difference.

Slow Reactions (**): When coordinating with teammates and moving into flanking, this can be nice. However acrobatics and similar skills will help avoid opportunity attacks as well.

Wall Climber (**): A climb speed can be a lot of fun, but you could just get a good climb check instead.

Blood Debt (*): So you are injuring your squishy self to save your probably less squishy buddy.  For a while.  For a Ki.  No thanks.

Deflect Arrows (*): You aren't going to have an extra hand, and even if you did this is way too situational to be useful.

Feather Fall (*): Unless your GM is trying to kill you, your acrobatics should be more than enough to deal with most falling damage.

High Jumper (*): It is fun, but there has got to be a better way to get over that wall.  Except for the lulz, how often do you really need to jump 20 feet?

Kamikaze (*): Let's not hurt ourselves any more than we have to.

Ki Block (*): You could go through an entire campaign and never use this.

Ki Charge (*): 4d6 damage at 18th level?  That's incredibly disappointing.  If the damage wasn't so unimpressive it might be interesting, but the damage is super measly.

Redirect Force (*): It's a very interesting trick with two major problems.  First, you don't want to take damage.  Second, if you are using combat maneuvers you probably are not dealing sneak attack.

Slow Metabolism (*): The poison bonus is nice but will rarely get used, and we have better things to keep ourselves entertained.

Smoke Bomb (*): Or you could just buy a smokestick.

Snatch Arrows (*): ...Why are you catching arrows?

Style Master (*): With a poor wisdom modifier and no improved unarmed strike, these aren't going to do you much good.

Sudden Disguise (*): Fun, but just have somebody cast disguise self on you.

Unarmed Combat Training (*): If you really want Improved Unarmed Strike, dip Monk.  But I'm not sure why you wouldn't just use wakizashis.

Undetected Sabotage (*): Don't take this, and just see if your GM will let you do something creative.  He probably will.

Ventriloquism (*): Just go invisible or throw a stone.  Or do anything else.

Master Tricks

Invisible Blade (*****): I don't care who you are or what you stand for.  Greater Invisibility for 10+ rounds for each ki point as a swift action is going to make you amazing. This trick doubles your effectiveness as a Ninja, allowing sneak attack with ease and even making ranged sneak attack viable.  It also significantly increases your survivability, as they can't attack what they can't see.  Take this at level 10.  End of discussion.

Evasion (****): Lovely!  Take it!  With your high Reflex score this should be great.

Feat (****): Who can say no to a feat?

Advanced Talents (****): Now we have access to all the advanced rogue talents! Many of them are better than the Ninja tricks, so be prepared to grab a talent in here.  Noteworthy talents include:
     Crippling Strike (****): -2 strength damage with each sneak attack is fantastic.  Not only does this lower the attack and damage of monsters permanently, you can also make them go unconscious with enough hits
     Hunter's Surprise (****): Can't get sneak attack against an enemy for some reason?  How would you like to get sneak attack against that enemy?  Only once per day, but still wonderful.
     Dispelling Attack (****): Wonderful at high levels, and the enemy will never see it coming.  If you didn't need Major and Minor Magic, this would be a must have.
     Opportunist (****): As long as you are not the only ally in melee range, this will almost guarantee you another attack per round.
     Another Day (***): This is a wonderful once a day ability that prevents you from dying.  It's not without its faults, but it will still save your life.
     Improved Evasion (**): It's nice, but with your excellent reflex save you shouldn't be failing too many checks.  I would get something else.

Assassinate (***): If you have a decent Charisma, this could become your bread and butter.  Note that this doesn't have to be a melee attack.  A short bow or ranged touch attack will also do the trick.  Grab the Ability Focus Feat for this and you could potentially take down some low Fortitude enemies.

Blinding Bomb (***): Blind is a great de-buff and you generally get sneak attack against blinded enemies. The only problem is it takes three tricks to get, and the DC isn't terribly high.

Ghost Step (***): Wonderful for breaking into areas or escaping from combat through a wall.

Kawarimi (**): It's not bad, but it is only once per day.  You have better options.

Master Disguise (**): You are level 10 now.  Somebody can cast a spell that does this or better.  Don't bother.

See the Unseen (**): If you don't take it, there will be at least one combat where you wish you did.  That said, for the rest of the campaign you will wish you had something else.  I'd take something more consistent.

Shadow Split (**): Lovely fun, and it could save your life.

Unarmed Combat Mastery (**): If you are using unarmed strikes, it can increase your damage output.  But again, there are better options.

Deadly Shuriken (*): A single attack only means one roll of sneak attack. Just full round flurry of stars.

Unbound Steps (*): You are level 10+ now.  Get somebody to cast fly on you.  The fact that you have to end your turn on a solid surface gives this incredibly limited uses.

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


  1. I was looking at Forgotten Trick and I realized that it doesn't say you can't use it to obtain Combat Trick or Style Trick, meaning you can use it to get any Combat or Style feat for 15 rounds just by spending 2 Ki points.

    1. Good point! I've made a note of it and upped the color.

  2. Can you please update the guide? There have been other tricks added that a more experienced opinion could shed light on. Acceleration of form and herbal compound to name two