Iconic Design: Scared to Death

Welcome to Iconic Design, Private Sanctuary’s source for innovative and evocative character builds for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, written by Everyman Gamer Alexander Augunas. Today, we’re going to be looking at a build for a snoop.

I apologize in advance, everyone; this is by far one of the nastiest builds I’ve ever made.

Let’s get started

Build Concept

Here’s what we’re playing with today.

  • Unchained Rogue (Snoop): This archetype is basically the, “take skills back from the investigator” archetype. It makes a bunch of trades and alterations, the most significant being the swapping of trapfinding and evasion for inspiration.

That’s it. That’s the basis of the build.

Now watch me break it for a sizable chunk of monsters in the game.

Early Levels (1–7)

  • Classes: unchained rogue (snoop) 7
  • Feats: Enforcer (1st), Shadows of Fear (3rd), Bludgeoner (Bonus), Two-Weapon Fighting (5th), Weapon Focus: light mace (Bonus), Sap Adept (7th)
  • Abilities: danger sense +2, debilitating injury, evasion, finesse training (light mace), inspiration, rogue talents, rogue’s edge, sneak attack +4d6, uncanny snoop
  • Rogue’s Edge: Intimidate (5th)
  • Rogue Talents: underworld inspiration (2nd), combat trick: Bludgeoner (4th), weapon training: light mace (6th)

Early levels makes use of several moving parts, the big ones being underworld inspiration, Bludgeoner, Enforcer, and Shadows of Fear. Shadows of Fear is a new rogue talent that lets you sneak attack an opponent once per round as if you were flanking them provided that opponent has a fear condition. Underworld inspiration allows you to get free inspiration uses on a bunch of skills, one of them being Intimidate. Enforcer allows you to make a free Intimidate check whenever you deal nonlethal damage to an opponent, and Bludgeoner removes all penalties for dealing nonlethal damage with lethal weapons that deal bludgeoning damage. Sap Adept, another shining star, gives you a bonus on nonlethal sneak attack damage equal to the number of dice rolled.

At the current game, your plan is simple. Rush in, bop the bad guy on the head to demoralize him (likely getting an extra rogue thanks to free inspiration rolls on Intimidate), and then counting that foe as being flanked for the first attack you make each round. Very handy indeed.

However, the trick doesn’t get “dumb” here. No, that happens at Level 10. Let’s go check it out.

Mid Levels (8 –14)

  • Classes: unchained rogue (snoop) 14
  • Feats: Enforcer (1st), Shadows of Fear (3rd), Bludgeoner (Bonus), Two-Weapon Fighting (5th), Weapon Focus: light mace (Bonus), Sap Adept (7th), Sap Master (9th), Dazzling Display (11th), Shatter Defenses (13th)
  • Abilities: advanced talents, danger sense +4, debilitating injury, evasion, finesse training (light mace, gauntlet), inspiration, rogue talents, rogue’s edge, sneak attack +7d6, uncanny snoop
  • Rogue’s Edge: Intimidate (5th), ANY SKILL (10th)
  • Rogue Talents: underworld inspiration (2nd), combat trick: Bludgeoner (4th), weapon training: light mace (6th), rumormonger (8th), stalker talent: twisting fear (10th), skill mastery (12th), inspired intimidator (14th)

Alright, so we’re adding some new players to the mix. Sap Master allows you to essentially roll double sneak attack damage whenever you deal nonlethal sneak attack damage to a flat-footed opponent, Dazzling Display is an AoE demoralizer, and Shatter Defenses allows you to treat anyone you smack that has a fear condition as being flat-footed. Also important is the 10th level advanced talent, stalker talent. We’re picking twisting fear, which is 100% legal because it interacts with the “vigilante’s” (now the rogue’s) reduced hidden strike damage. For our purpose, that’s just the d6s from standard sneak attack. So this combo is completely legal.

Round 1: Attack foe. Make him afraid with enforcer; add free inspiration via underworld inspiration and if needed, spend extra inspiration for a longer duration with inspired intimidator. If foe is demoralized, twisting fear triggers, causing the target to take damage equal to your sneak attack damage dice. If you’re fighting a lot of enemies or don’t want to worry about hitting things, use Dazzling Display instead and laugh as everything that you demoralize within 30 feet takes your sneak attack damage. Also, if you want, you can use your rogue’s edge for Intimidate to frighten things instead.

Round 2+: Attack someone that is shaken. Shadows of fear triggers, making your first attack count as flanking even if you’re not. If you hit, you’ll deal sneak attack damage because of shadows of fear, and the target will become flat-footed because of shatter defenses. Subsequent hits will deal double nonlethal sneak attack damage because of Sap Master. That’s 14d6 nonlethal for those keeping track at home.

Yeah, this is PRETTY nasty, and its not even talking about debilitating injury. It has its weaknesses (anything immune to mind-affecting effects is immune to all of these tricks, and plenty of things are immune to nonlethal damage), but MAN, this build is scary against things that can be scared, and honestly it gets good as early as Level 12; if you really wanted, you could drop skill mastery for the feat advanced rogue talent and pick Shatter Defenses then instead of Level 13.

Let’s look at a theoretical end game for this build.

Endgame (15+)

  • Classes: unchained rogue (snoop) 20
  • Feats: Enforcer (1st), Shadows of Fear (3rd), Bludgeoner (Bonus), Two-Weapon Fighting (5th), Weapon Focus: light mace (Bonus), Sap Adept (7th), Sap Master (9th), Dazzling Display (11th), Shatter Defenses (13th), Critical Focus (15th), Double Debilitation (17th), Blinding Critical (Bonus), Sneaking Precision (19th)
  • Abilities: advanced talents, danger sense +6, debilitating injury, evasion, finesse training (light mace, gauntlet, ANY WEAPON), inspiration, rogue talents, rogue’s edge, sneak attack +10d6, uncanny snoop
  • Rogue’s Edge: Intimidate (5th), ANY SKILL (10th), ANY SKILL (15th), ANY SKILL (20th)
  • Rogue Talents: underworld inspiration (2nd), combat trick: Bludgeoner (4th), weapon training: light mace (6th), rumormonger (8th), stalker talent: twisting fear (10th), skill mastery (12th), inspired intimidator (14th), obscuring blow (16th), Blinding Strike (18th), FREEBIE (20th)

By 20th level, you’re the king of nasty things. Monsters are more likely to be immune to your schtick, but when you’ve got it, you’ve got it. This is 100% an intrigue build because it works best when your foes are things that you can demoralize and terrify; and when you get right down to it, what more is intrigue than fear?

Well, that’s my offering for this week’s installment of Iconic Design. What did you think? Would you play this build, or is it a bit too cheesy for you? Where could you see an NPC with this build in your game? Leave your questions and comments below, and be sure to come back next week as Intriguing April continues! 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 also cohosts the Private Sanctuary Podcast, along with fellow blogger Anthony Li, and you can follow their exploits on Facebook in the 3.5 Private Sanctuary Group, or on Alex’s Twitter, @AlJAug.

Alex Augunas

Alexander Augunas lives outside of Philadelphia, USA where he tries to make a living as an educator. When he's not shaping the future leaders of tomorrow, Alex is a freelance writer for esteemed Pathfinder Roleplaying Game publishers such as Paizo, Inc, Radiance House, Raging Swan Press, and more, and also acts as a co-host and blogger on the Know Direction Network, where he has earned the nickname, "The Everyman Gamer." Recently, Alex has forayed into the realm of self-publishing through his company, Everyman Gaming, LLC.

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3 Comments

  1. Wow! Nice! My friend and I were inquiring what it would take to do a similar build, but ranged instead, and if that would be viable. Kudos, in any case, one of my favorite of your Iconic Design’s so far!

  2. Great build as always, Alex! Whenever I’m having trouble coming up with character ideas, your designs give me a lot of inspiration. I’m thinking about doing something along these lines but with a Tengu using the alternate racial trait to get two claw attacks. Since Bite and Claw are both bludgeoning weapons, they will all be able to trigger Bludgeoner/Enforcer.

    I have a question though. Enforcer says that the shaken duration is “number of rounds equal to the damage dealt”. With that language, should Inspired Intimidator be able to increase the duration when you spend inspiration? Given that Enforcer is a special case of Intimidate where the result of the check doesn’t matter beyond success/failure, I don’t think that it would work in this case.

  3. This looks like an awesome build. Would you stick with dealing non-lethal damage, or bounce back and forth?

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