3.5 Classes for Pathfinder: Complete Adventurer

It’s been a while since I went over Complete Arcane, but I finally got around to going through another 3.5 splatbook with an eye on conversion: Complete Adventurer. (Thankfully, there are other conversions already out there, so at this point I can just cherry pick and critique the different versions.)

CA is my favorite out of the official 3.5 splatbook library.  It has a wide range of rogue-like base and prestige classes.  Many of the pres classes are fascinating hybrids: the shadowbane, daggerspell, and nightsong in particular are things I’ve always wanted to play.  And it has the shadowmind and dread pirate, which should count for something.  Granted, most of these are converted from 3.0 sources, but I never owned any of those, so I’m one of the few people who won’t bitch about the reprint rate.

Needless to say, it’s also one of the easiest (and most straightforward) to convert to Pathfinder. Why? The base classes don’t have any dead levels, meaning they’re on the right road to start with.  Making them as powerful and balanced as the Pathfinder classes takes relatively little work, though they really do need it: this isn’t 3.5 any more, and these base classes just aren’t as powerful as they used to be.

The ninja is still pretty good, though the official one is about to outshine it.  The scout is no longer guaranteed to be more powerful than either a ranger or rogue, and needs the most work to become competitive again. And while the spellthief is a decent all-around class, it really needs a boost in power to make it something people will actually play.

Ninja

Considering this is one of the playtest classes for Ultimate Combat, this conversion is a bit late. Ah well. (It also tells me Tian-Xia Setting will be a low-crunch sourcebook much like Inner Sea Setting, and that samurai and Eastern casters will probably be archetypes ala APG for existing classes. Not that I have any problems with this; just idle speculation.)

Anyways. The ninja is the most competitive of the three Complete Adventurer classes when used in Pathfinder: its sudden strike progression is exactly the same as a rogue’s sneak attack, it gets a great selection of ghost and ki-related special abilities, and it has the monk’s Wis armor bonus when wearing no armor. It has no dead levels, has an impressive array of skills, and can turn invisible for a round at a time starting when it gains Ghost Step at 2nd. All together, a very solid class.

Hit Die: d8. Rogues got the increase to d8, and besides, all classes with average BAB progression in Pathfinder have d8 hit dice.

Class Skills: Acrobatics (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Int), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Perception (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Stealth (Dex), and Swim (Str).  Ninja  originally had all the skills within Acrobatics, Perception, and Stealth, so it makes sense for them to have all three.  Gather Info is a fairly important skill, and even though it’s now part of Diplo, it’s important enough for the ninja to gain Diplo as a class skill.  (I was really tempted to add Fly as a class skill, after seeing all those wuxia movies.)

Skill per level: 6 + Int modifier. Ninja started with 6+, and lost a bunch of their skills when they were rolled into things like Perception and Acrobatics.

Class Abilities: The sudden strike progression is solid, and I’m a huge fan of the monk-esque AC bonus. Needless to say, I like how the official ninja playtest kept the sudden strike progression, and even renamed it to sneak attack (about damn time, since it’s the same damn thing). That it kept the ki pool is awesome, even though it got rid of the monk AC bonus (though, to be fair, it sucks when you can’t wear armor). The official playtest also has the nifty No Trace ability, which is far superior to the Ghost Step, and has rogue talents in the form of ninja tricks.  Fantastic selection of tricks, I might add; much like the witch, Paizo managed to cram a bajillion aspects of one trope-laden class into something cool, workable, and modular.

Anyway, I’d also note that there are a number of ninja classes for Pathfinder out there, but that most of them kinda suck.  This one is the one I liked the best, because it amped up the monk/rogue hybridization with a movement bonus (hells yeah, that’s wuxia for ya!). The idea for class archetypes (in the form of clans) is also a good choice; the examples are pretty slick, but if I had time (and incentive) I’d turn them into the Legend of the Five Rings clans. Tip of the hat, random guy on the internet who converted the ninja class.

Acrobatics: Only applies to the Acrobatics skill. I’m not a huge fan of it, since it’s just an increasing flat bonus to a skill, even though I like the wuxia tone. I’d rather see that stupid-awesome movement enhancements than these dopey Acrobatics modifiers.

Hidden Master: The official playtest’s capstone ability is hawt: turn invisible by blowing some ki points, then shank somebody, and sacrifice sneak attack dice to lower one of the target’s attributes equal to the dice sacrificed.

Scout

Once upon a time, this was a fairly solid class: it was a better woodland archer/sneak than the 3.5 ranger or rogue.  That has since changed.  Rangers are not the six-level wilderness rogue dipshits of 3.x, and have regained their d10 hit die.  Rogues have a bunch of talents, and can be kitbashed into a scout’s mold.

Hit Die: d8. Rogues got the increase to d8, and besides, all classes with average BAB progression in Pathfinder have d8 hit dice.

Class Skills: Acrobatics (Dex), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Escape Artist (Dex), Knowledge (dungeoneering) (Int), Knowledge (geography) (Int), Knowledge (nature), Perception (Wis), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Stealth (Dex), Survival (Wis), Swim (Str), and Use Magic Device (Cha). Scouts originally had all the skills within Acrobatics, Perception, and Stealth, so it makes sense for them to have all three. Other than the lack of Use Rope, this is the exact same skill list as in 3.5.

Skill per level: 6 + Int modifier. Scouts lost quite a number of their overlapping skills without gaining any new ones, so dropping their skills back balances them out.  They still have as many skill points as a ranger, while having a number of skills rangers don’t (and visa versa).

Class Features: Scouts are well on their way to being solid Pathfinder classes; they don’t have any dead levels, have a number of good class features.  Skirmish’s damage output is comparatively low, especially since it requires you to make single attacks instead of full attacks, and I’m not sure how the AC bonus makes up for this. Going up the feat tree to get pounce offsets some of the issues, but as it stands now, it’s no longer a better ranger with a wacky ability (skirmish).

Skirmish: This is a weak ability; consider that a rogue’s sneak attack has twice the damage progression (tops out at 10d6), and that even though a rogue can only sneak attack once per round, it’s not a full-round action, so they oftentimes get to make a full attack. A scout can only skirmish once per round, as the ability only works when you’ve moved (thus, allowing only a standard attack). Make the progression equal to a rogue’s in damage dice while leaving the AC bonus as it is; every time you gain Skirmish (every other level), it’ll do another +1d6 damage. This puts the scout closer to the rogue for raw damage output, and gives them the minor AC bonus to make up for the lack of rogue talents, rogue skills, traps, uncanny dodge, etc.

Bonus Feats: These occur at every level multiple of 4, and are pretty weak. Not that the selections are bad, or that they couldn’t use some expansion using feats from Pathfinder Core/APG. But in this day and age, some cool special ability would be better. I’d remove them with something a bit cooler, like, say…

Deadeye: …an increase to attack whilst skirmishing (call it Deadeye or something). Five levels of bonus feats could easily turn into five +1 bonuses to attack while skirmishing. Scouts are a combination of recon and guerrilla soldier, and this would pump up their (average) BAB when using their special ability. Since the scout is limited in numbers of attacks/round, boosting the attack bonus to skirmish doesn’t really affect that much, though this would only really say “The Scout Can Hit Nearly Everything When Skirmishing.” Another option would be…

Favored Terrain: If you’re upgrading the skirmish damage as above, giving skirmish an attack boost might prove to be a little much; instead, consider giving the scout favored terrain (as per a ranger) at these multiple-of-4 levels . That would give the scout one more favored terrain than the ranger. But, the class fits the wilderness warrior mold, and it’d give something to set it apart from rogues some more. (It already has skirmish to set it apart from rangers, replacing their spellcasting.)

Blindsight 30′: As a capstone ability, this one is lacking; also it doesn’t make much sense since it comes out of the blue for the class. (Yeah, I guess a wilderlands ninja wouldn’t have things sneaking up in the night, but it’s a little wonky.) I’d like to see the scout’s capstone deal with its skirmish ability,

One last thing: the Advanced Player’s Guide has a Scout archetype that is incredibly close to what the 3.5 scout, only better.  I’d seriously consider it over a conversion of the 3.5 scout, since it does mostly the same thing, only without the AC bonus, and the tradeoff is losing Uncanny Dodge.

Spellthief

I really want to like this class.  The idea behind it is pretty cool, it’s a slick build, and it can end up fairly powerful… provided enemy casters are nearby.  However, I’ve only seen one person attempt a spellthief, and the player wasn’t exactly a-game material.  (She explained once that she dealt with real-life issues via roleplaying.  Given that she ran away from fucking everything, made all her characters to be prepubescent girls with some ridiculous pet like a weasel or chinchilla, and wanted all characters, including her Dynastic Exalt, to have a nanny, the general consensus was she’s balls crazy.)  Anyways, it does have a few drawbacks: it’s half of an arcane caster and half of a thief in terms of abilities, and if an encounter doesn’t have an enemy caster (with the spells you guessed when making Steal Spell attempts), you may as well go take a nap. To say the class is underused is an overstatement.

Hit Die: d8. Rogues got the increase to d8, and besides, all classes with average BAB progression in Pathfinder have d8 hit dice.

Class Skills: Acrobatics, Appraise, Bluff, Craft, Diplo, Disable Device, Escape Artist, Fly, Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (local), Linguistics, Perception, Spellcraft, Stealth, Swim, Use Magic Device. Being a sneaky class, it makes sense for the spellthief to have Acrobatics, Perception, and Stealth, since it has all the former skills anyway. Since the class could theoretically cast (or steal) fly, it makes sense for it to have the skill.

Skill per level: 6 + Int modifier. The class has a good deal of skills, putting it well into the “skilled” category, but it doesn’t have quite enough (or the need) for a full 8+ like rogues get.

Saving Throws: Why the hell does it have a standard Reflex progression?  I know they’re supposed to be wizardly, but they’re still rogues after all. Improve the class’s Ref save to good progression, giving it another good save to go with its Will.

Class Features: For the most part, the class is solid for a Pathfinder class; it doesn’t have any dead levels, is evenly balanced between casting (half the spell levels as a wizard) and sneaking (half the Sneak Attack bonus as a rogue). It can work in Pathfinder fine without changing any of its features; however, it could use a little boost to make it more competitive in the Pathfinder adventuring party.

There’s a fairly solid version already on the internet (via GItP forums), though I see a number of minor errors (both Stealth and Move Silently are listed as skills, even though Move Silent is half of Stealth, and there’s a “x4 at first level” in the skills section). The big thing I like about it is the addition of rogue talents, specifically magic-centered rogue talents that fit the spellthief mold. I found that to be an awesome change; some of the other additions I just don’t get. As a partial caster class, why give it dispel magic? The class’s focus is on acquiring spells via theft for its own use, not casting suppression. Also, while I agree that it needs a badass end-cap ability, steal mind sounds much more like something for a psionic rogue/lurk than it does for the spellthief. Regardless, it’s a good inspiration, and the rogue talents are spot-on.


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