Welcome to Guidance, Private Sanctuary’s source for tips and techniques for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, written by Everyman Gamer Alexander Augunas. Today, we’re going to be looking at a shuriken-using warpriest build.
Although I wasn’t crazy about it at the start, the warpriest is quickly becoming one of my favorite Advanced Class Guide classes simply because of the sacred weapon mechanic. The ability to scale one’s unarmed damage progression is not only powerful, but it’s also cool. Very, very cool. Today’s build is focused on taking a low-damage weapon and making it absolutely terrifying via this amazingly cool mechanic. Let’s take a look and see more!
Alright, here’s the build that we’re going to be looking at today.
- Shuriken: Shuriken have a few neat aspects to them, but the one thing that really keeps this iconic weapon down is its abysmally low damage: 1d2 points. We’ll see how it feels after the warpriest has a word with it….
- Ninja: The ninja has a talent that we’re going to be taking in order to maximize the number of shuriken that we can hurl at our enemies. Because we’re mixing a Wisdom-based class with a Cha-based class, it is helpful to have an ability score strategy when you build this character. I recommend keeping your Wisdom relatively close to 15 (high enough that when you put an ability point into it at 8th or 12th level, you’ll be able to cast your 6th level spells with no problem) while pumping Cha as high as you can go. The reason for this is that we won’t be progressing the class’s ki points from levels, so its pretty much 1 + your Charisma for your entire career 2nd level onward. You’ll also want a Strength of 10 or more (don’t want to penalize those weapon damage rolls with your thrown weapon) and a Dexterity that’s as high as you can budget it. This build is filled with attack roll penalties and your Dexterity modifier is one of the few ways to offset them.
- Cult Leader: This warpriest archetype trades out most of the class’s bonus feats for sneak attack damage dice and the ability to enthrall targets. We’re not as much focused on the enthrall spell-like ability as we are the sneak attack dice, however.
With all these plans placed together, let’s look at the build itself.
Early Levels (1–7)
- Classes: ninja 2 / warpriest (cult leader) 5
- Feats: Weapon Focus: shuriken (1st), Point-Blank Shot (3rd), Precise Shot (5th), Rapid Shot (7th),
- Abilities: blessings (travel, trickery), enthrall, fervor 2d6, ninja tricks (flurry of stars), poison use, sacred weapon +1, sneak attack +2d6, well-hidden
- Traits: Fate’s Favored
The build’s pretty self-explainatory here. I’m assuming that you don’t have access to a deity that has shuriken as a favored weapon, so I made sure to grab Weapon Focus: shuriken early on with my ninja level (the only Golarion one that I can find is a Lawful Evil god of assassins and ninja, which may or may not work for PFS; I’m assuming that you grab Sun Wukong because an immortal, stone monkey god who loves to woo women and drink booze is awesome). From there, I grabbed Point-Blank Shot and Precise Shot, and then built into Rapid Shot for my first (of many extra attacks.
The real reason to dip into ninja is flurry of stars. It essentially allows you to take a –2 penalty on your full attack when using your ki pool’s ability to make another attack to make two extra attacks instead of 1. Although your base attack bonus is lagging behind a bit (+4 at 7th level), you’ll have easy access to four attacks per round by 7th level, although doing so is going to incur a –4 penalty on your attack rolls (–2 from Rapid Shot, –2 from flurry of stars). This is why having a high Dexterity and other methods to boost your attack bonus is so important for this build. I’m assuming that you have divine favor, so I made sure that one of the traits that the build takes is fate’s fortune, which will improve divine favor’s bonuses by +1 because it is a luck bonus. This’ll also hold true for divine power, making those spells your most important abilities.
Trickery and travel are two of my favorite warpriest blessings, both combining some of the better spells and domain powers of their respective cleric domains. Trickery is the real winner here, though, as in the mid levels it’ll give us access to a way to easily sneak attack with our shuriken. But for now, it’s mostly going to be a “did I get to go before my target” thing? With this build, if you EVER beat a foe in initiative, that’s your target. Blow it up with sneak attacks.
Mid Levels (8 –14)
- Classes: ninja 2 / warpriest (cult leader) 12
- Feats: Weapon Focus: shuriken (1st), Point-Blank Shot (3rd), Precise Shot (5th), Rapid Shot (7th), Weapon Specialization: shuriken (Bonus), Point-Blank Master (9th), Extra Ki (11th), Deadly Aim (13th),
- Abilities: blessings (travel, trickery), enthrall, fervor 4d6, hide in plain sight, ninja tricks (flurry of stars), poison use, sacred armor +2, sacred weapon +3, sneak attack +5d6, well-hidden
Like most ranged attacking builds, the mid-levels don’t change the battleplan much. Your new feats mostly mitigate penalties (Point-Blank Shot allows you to laugh at cover and concealment, Extra Ki helps you to use your tricks more, and Deadly Aim piles on the damage). You have less feats than a typical warpriest, but you have so many attacks that it doesn’t matter much. Your sneak attack damage continues to rise, as does your sacred weapon bonus. The big, shiny ability comes from your major trickery blessing: you can use your blessing to gain the benefits of greater invisibility for 1 round. This is an awesome effect for you, as you can essentially disappear and unleash a rain of sneak-attacking shuriken. The invisibility effect only lasts one round, sadly, and since it requires a swift action you’re not going to be able to combine it with your flurry of stars. In the end game, your trickery blessing is always going to out damage flurry of stars, but the damage trade-off is much closer in the mid-game. Use flurry of stars when you have multiple targets with relatively low DC and the trickery blessing when you have fewer targets with a relatively higher AC. Remember that your ability to use both abilities, however, is limited.
- Classes: ninja 2 / warpriest (cult leader) 18
- Feats: Weapon Focus: shuriken (1st), Point-Blank Shot (3rd), Precise Shot (5th), Rapid Shot (7th), Weapon Specialization: shuriken (Bonus), Point-Blank Master (9th), Extra Ki (11th), Deadly Aim (13th), Two-Weapon Fighting (15th), Improved Two-Weapon Fighting (17th), Greater Two-Weapon Fighting (19th), Greater Weapon Focus: shuriken (Bonus)
- Abilities: blessings (travel, trickery), enthrall, fervor 7d6, hide in plain sight, ninja tricks (flurry of stars), poison use, sacred armor +4, sacred weapon +4, sneak attack +6d6, well-hidden
For all of you at home, no. I didn’t forget that Two-Weapon Fighting allows you to throw more shuriken. So now you’re throwing three more shuriken at stuff. Let’s look at the math.
Standard Attack: +14/+9/+4
Flurry of Stars: +12/+12/+12/+7/+2
Rapid Shot: +10/+10/+10/+5/+0
Two-Weapon Fighting: +8/+8/+8/+8/+5/+5/–2/–2
So yeah, that’s eight attacks heading straight for your face. I didn’t include Weapon Focus or Greater Weapon Focus in my calculations because I assumed that they’d be cancelled out by Deadly Aim, but you’d probably have Point-Blank Shot to go off of. Additionally, you’re also likely to have sacred weapon active, netting you another +4 bonus on your attack roll if your shuriken aren’t already magical. Which they should be, because if you end up fighting a humanoid creature (or a similar creature that doesn’t have much armor), you could very well enhance your weapon with brilliant energy instead of an enhancement bonus, meaning that flurry of attacks described above all ignore the target’s manufactured armor.
Better still, if you’re able to cast divine power on yourself (which is very much a bread-and-butter spell for the warpriest), you can get up to a +6 luck bonus from the spell, magnified to +7 by the fate’s favored trait that I command you to select. So assuming that you can afford some good, +5 shuriken by 20th level and you’ve got divine power active, here’s what you’re looking at for your rain of shuriken:
Hey! All of sudden that flurry doesn’t look quite as easy to avoid, does it? How about when you factor that your Deadly Aim will add +8 to the damage, Point-Blank Shot will add +1, Weapon Specialization will add +2, and both divine power and your enhancement bonus add to your damage, factoring in another +12 damage, for a total damage modifier of +23. Which is added to your sacred weapon-amplified shuriken for a total of 2d6+23 per hit. If you go first, you’ll also get that tasty +7d6 sneak attack damage on every shuriken hit you make, too. And if you don’t go first, no worries, you can drop flurry of stars to go turn invisible using your trickery major blessing, allowing you to target your foes’ flat-footed AC AND deal an extra +7d6 damage per hit. Depends on how badly you want stuff to die (and whether or not the target is immune to sneak attack damage).
This build is a little crazy when Mythic is involved. I would go Heirophant / Champion and pick up the movement ability from champion and the spontaneous spellcasting ability from hierophant (more divine powers / divine favors). From there, most of my focus would be on Champion; pick as many mythic powers that reduce your attack roll penalties and increase your bonus as possible. Mythic Two-Weapon Fighting, Mythic Weapon Focus, Mythic Rapid Shot, and Mythic Deadly Aim are going to be great for you. If you have the inclination, you can also take either Mythic Point-Blank Shot or Mythic Rapid Shot for additional damage.
And that’s my build for this week! What did you think? Is this a build that you would use? What would you change? Leave your answers and comments below, and I’ll see you next week for another Iconic Design. Take care!
Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex’s favorite color is blue, his favorite Pathfinder Race/Class combination is kitsune warpriest. Especially one with shuriken.