Thursday, August 7, 2014

Zenith's Guide to the Ninja, Part III: Feats

Zenith's Guide to the Ninja
Part III: Feats

I will not be going through every feat in the game.  Instead I will focus on either those feats that benefit the Ninja, or those feats that look like they could benefit the ninja but really, really don't.  If it's not included on this list, you better have a good reason for taking it.

I'm also going to skip any feat that gives static bonuses to skills, or some small number of spell like abilities.  These are not worth it, especially for a feat-starved ninja.

Bewildering Koan (****): A swift action and a ki point means the target probably loses his next action.  If you are a gnome, this is a must have.

Dodge (****): Yeah, we don't want to get hit.

Extra Ki (****): Oh yes, take it.  This is nearly pink.  Extra Ki is fantastic.  If you have extra feat slots, take it more than once (it stacks).

Improved Initiative (****): The first round is the perfect opportunity to let loose with a rapid shot, point blank, flurry of stars shrunken death attack.  You can potentially take down bosses like this, particularly after getting Crippling Strike.

Iron Will/Improved Iron Will (****): Your Will Save is your Achilles heel. You are going to take this eventually, so you may as well take it early.

Leadership (****): Obviously if you GM allows it, take it.  It is stupid good.  But you should tell your GM not to allow it.

Point-Blank Shot (****): All of your shuriken attacks are going to be in this range, so you should definitely pick this up.

Rapid Shot (****): Oh yes.  We want another shuriken flying out there.

Toughness (****): This will help your squishy Ninja self stay alive.

Two-Weapon Fighting/Improved Two-Weapon Fighting (****): Your bread and butter.  This applies to both wakizashis and shuriken.

Weapon Finesse (****): You want to hit things, right?

Weapon Focus (****): Right?

Combat Reflexes (***): While you will get plenty of hits due to your hit dex, chances are they won't be sneak attacks until you get invisible blade.  Wait until then, then grab it.

Bodyguard (***): Given the sheer number of attacks of opportunity you will get, this will be a great way to burn them.

Butterfly Sting (****): You aren't going to make great use of all those criticals, so why not give them to a buddy?  If you are already getting combat expertise, then you really should get this.

Defensive Combat Training/Advanced (***): Your CMD is going to be a problem at higher levels, but this will take the strain off.

Distance Thrower (***): Not bad for Shuriken, but you shouldn't have that 13 strength to make it work.

Whirlwind Attack (***): Invisibility and Greater Invisibility make this somewhat worthwhile, but it does take a bit to set up.

Eldritch Heritage (***): There are a few nice Eldritch Heritages to go around.  The only problem is, you need a skill focus to get them.  Some noteworthy Heritages are:
    Arcane (****): This gives you a familiar, which is absolutely outstanding.  You can get another +4 to initiative by grabbing the Compsognathus familiar, or maybe the Armadillo for a +1 natural armor bonus.
    Serpentine (***): You can grab a bite attack (which has some poison).  Always nice to have more attacks for sneak

Extra Rogue Talent (***): While you don't technically qualify for this, your GM will probably let you take it.  It's just as good as the talent you take.

Great Fortitude/Improved Great Fortitude (***): Fortitude saves are going to be a problem for you, so these are certainly something to seriously consider, especially at higher levels.

Ironhide (***): +1 AC is great, but you may pick up an Amulet of Natural armor at some point, rendering this irrelevant.

Opening Volley (***): Certainly an interesting option, but it likely only works on one melee roll per combat, and then only sometimes.  If you go for a niche build, hold a wakizashi in one hand and throw shrunken with the other, and alternate the attacks with your two-weapon-fighting routine, then it is awesome.

Precise Shot (***): This is less useful for the Ninja, as he will likely be shuriken-ing in the first round before the enemy is surrounded.  However, it is still useful.

Cluster Shots (***): Given that you will be hurtling 7+ shuriken at higher levels, that DR can really add up.  If the creature has 10 DR, then you have just increased your damage dealt by 60.

Snap Shot/Improved Snap Shot/Greater Snap Shot (***): If you transition to a shuriken only Build at High Levels then is fantastic, particularly when paired with combat reflexes.

Sap Adept/Sap Master/Knockout Artist (****): It is a niche build, but a very powerful one.  Grab some bludgeoning weapons and deal double the sneak attack damage, albeit only non-lethal.

Steel Soul (***): An additional +2 against spells and spell like abilities is fantastic.

Step Up/Following Step/Step up and Strike (***): Excellent for staying in flanking and performing full round attacks.  However, you can always just switch to shuriken if the enemy moves away from you.

Two-Weapon Feint/Improved Two-Weapon Feint (***): This can be a useful crutch early on, but it becomes a wasted feat with Invisible Blade.  If you don't have any melee buddies to flank with, you should consider this, but the Combat Expertise tax makes it a bit too bitter a pill to swallow.

Two-Weapon Defense (***): Awww yisss, more AC.  It won't always be up though.

Dazzling Display & Shatter Defenses (***): This isn't a bad combo, especially given how easy it is to demoralize enemies.  The only problem is it burns a turn action, but then you essentially get sneak attack the rest of the combat.  Either go for both and commit to them, or go for neither.

Agile Maneuvers (**): This is going to make a huge swing in your CMB.  It's situational, but if you are using CMB, you need this.

Armor Proficiency, Medium/Heavy (**): It looks tasty, but heavier armor is going to slow you down, impose penalties on skills you use all the time, and cut down on your Dex bonus to AC.  If you can afford Mithral then go for it.  Otherwise, shy away.

Breadth of Experience (**): If you are a skill monkey Ninja, this can give you a ton of skills.  Otherwise, don't bother.

Cartwheel Dodge(**): It's interesting, but way too situational.  You can go through a campaign and only be glad you had it once or twice.

Combat Patrol (**): You are better off attacking, and may be unlikely to get sneak attack before level 10.

Critical Focus (**):  This seems tempting, but remember that your sneak attack damage won't be multiplied on a critical.  Your standard d6 weapon damage will go up to 2d6.  Despite your high crit range, this isn't worth it.

Disorienting Maneuver (**): You won't be tumbling enough to justify this, but when you reposition it will have its uses.

Spring Attack (**): Occasionally useful, but there are far better options.

Deny Death (**): The bleeding out bonus is ignorable, but the ability to gain health while bleeding out is nice.  It won't come up that often, but if nobody can get to you to heal you it will definitely help.  The Endurance pre-requisite isn't helping anybody.

Ki Stand (**): Great, but you aren't knocked down too often.

Betrayer (**): It is certainly flavorful, but your GM will likely let you do something similar without the feat.

Far Shot (**): This is likely to only help by 1 or 2 points.  You are better off getting weapon focus.

Improved Precise Shot (**): Certainly useful, but very situational. There are better options.

Shot on the Run (**): It ain't bad, but there are much better options.

Quick Draw (**): Extremely situational.  I wouldn't bother.

Shadow Strike (**): If you don't have dark vision you may want to consider it, but really you should try and make your target visible.

Greater Two-Weapon Fighting (**): At -10 this additional last attack probably isn't going to hit anything.  Still, it's nice to have it in there.

Vital Strike (**): One extra d6 of damage sometimes really isn't worth a feat.  You will get it sometimes, however.

Combat Expertise (*): Take it if you need it for something else, this is just a feat tax for you.  Because of it, the entire combat Expertise chain is much less appealing.

Gang Up (*): If you have three or more buddies in melee, then it's good.  Of course, if you have three or more melee people in your party, then you probably don't need more chances to flank.  Also, you may want to consider a ranged character.

Improved Dirty Trick/Disarm/Trip/Reposition/Steal/Feint (*): This isn't your job or it is useless. Also, your CMB isn't going to be great.  You are better off just attacking.

Second Chance (*): While this initially seems OK, remember that you are going to be making a ton of attacks, including a second attack at the same bonus as the first.  Don't do it.

Deadly Aim (*): You aren't going to hit anything if you take this.

Close-Quarters Thrower (*): It sounds nice, but you will either be throwing before the enemy has acted (and can't take attacks of opportunity) or when you are invisible and they can't see you.  Don't bother.

Mobility (*): Your tumble should be high enough that this isn't going to be a problem.

Underfoot (*): Your acrobatics should be high enough that you don't need a situational bonus.

Wind Stance/Lightning (*): Wind is only against ranged attacks, and Lightning is obsolete by the time it is available.  Don't bother.

Fleet (*): This is rarely worth it.  If you need more speed, dip barbarian or take the Travel Domain.  Or just use take Extra Ki and use some of that.

Improved Unarmed Strike/Unarmed Strike Feats (*): You have Wakizashis for a reason. Use them.

Style Feats (*): There aren't any style feats you want, so don't bother.

Lightning Reflexes/Improved Lightning Reflexes (*): You are already great at this.  Why bother?

Nimble Moves/Acrobatic Steps/Light Step (*): Three feats to move normally through difficult terrain, this is only useful if you GM absolutely loves the stuff.

Gliding Steps (*): Just use acrobatics.

Charging Hurler (*): You have way better things to do with your turn then throw a single shuriken.

Impact Critical Shot (*): Why would you want to push the enemy farther away?

Bullseye Shot (*): Full Round Attack instead.

Manyshot (*): What, so we can get another D2 on the Shuriken? No thank you.

Parting Shot (*): You are better off attacking and then tumbling away.

Power Attack (*): Don't reduce your to hit any more than you already have to.

Razortusk (*): The bite attack is nice, but you should take the Toothy alternate racial trait or the tusked race trait.

Double Slice (*): This will only add minimal damage.

Two-Weapon Rend (**): d10 damage isn't nothing, but this is a pain to track and not very strong.  Ignore it.

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


  1. any thoughts on Accomplished Sneak Attacker: Prerequisite(s): Sneak attack class feature.
    Benefit(s): Your sneak attack damage increases by 1d6.

    Your number of sneak attack dice cannot exceed half your character level (rounded up).

    1. nvm, i just realized the last part makes this completely useless for the ninja and only helpful for multiclassing.

  2. I'm confused by your review of Gang Up. Isn't that feat suited FOR a Ranged Ninja, so they can reliably activate Sneak Attack even before getting Invisible Blade? It seems to me that melee Ninjas are the last people who should consider it.

    1. I believe you can only get flanking on melee attacks, not ranged attacks.

  3. What about Daisho Expertise?

    1. It's a third party product, so not included in the guide!