Iconic Design (PF) — Don’t Forget Your Poker Face

Hello, and welcome to Iconic Design! I’m clearly Alex Augunas, and not a fox in disguise stealing his blog while he’s distracted. And using the unfettered power and reach of the Iconic Design column, I’m going to take us back into Pathfinder 1st Edition and show off a build by the talented and devilishly handsome Dustin Knight, inspired by the infamous phantom thief: Kaitou Kid!

Smiles and laughter are always good, but never forget your Poker Face.

“Smiles and laughter are always good, but never forget your Poker Face.”

In addition to being the most popular character on Detective Conan, Kaito Kid is a gentleman thief from one of my first and favorite manga, Magic Kaito. The classic manga from 1987 was finally given an anime adaptation in 2014: Magic Kaito 1412. (Which you can find on Crunchy Roll.) The titular character became a hit sensation and has popularized the phantom thief character archetype in Japanese pop-culture. In addition to his stage magic and Xanatos-level planning to complete his heists, Kaito is a master of disguises capable of becoming anyone at a moment’s notice, often drawing comparisons with  Edogawa Rampo’s The Fiend with Twenty Faces. But how can you play such a character in Pathfinder? Glad you asked!

Build Concept

  • Race: Kitsune
  • Class: unchained rogue (phantom thief) 12
  • Class Features: finesse training, refined education, broad education, social sense +3, uncanny dodge, improved uncanny dodge
    • Rogue Talents: always prepared (2nd), minor magic (4th), major magic (6th), mockingbird (6th), case the joint (8th), weapon snatcher (10th), glib facade (12th), skill mastery (12th)
    • Rogue’s Edge: Sleight of Hand (3rd), Disable Device (5th), Intimidate (7th), Appraise (9th), Sense Motive (11th)
  • Feats: Realistic Likeness (1st), Bookish Rogue (3rd), Deceitful (5th), Conceal Spell (7th), Skill Focus (sleight of hand) (9th), Deific Obedience (Nivi Rhombodazzle) (11th)

Playing the Build

Kaito Kid is all about using his sleight of hand, magic, and disguises to get what he wants without spilling a drop of blood. The phantom thief is the perfect archetype for our magician, able to completely master a number of key skills required to make this character a premiere skill monkey. Being able to take vigilante social talents gives us access to case the joint and always prepared, letting us leave our calling card the night before a heist and adapt to a situation as needed with a stash of scrolls, items, and mundane services.

But what would Kaito be without his stage magic?

Like our magician-themed thief, we are able to use a number of magic tricks to help support our insanely high skill bonuses. The character has a number of powerful spell-like abilities all able to turn the tide of any encounter, and passable as non-magical using Conceal Spell with your insanely high sleight of hand. Bookish rogue is a cornerstone feat of this build, letting you swap out spell-like abilities on the fly and helping you imitate a true spellcaster. As a kitsune, the Phantom-with-a-Thousand-Faces not only gets Realistic Likeness, but can stock up on kitsune star gems to recharge their spell-like abilities, including major magic. If you are playing this in Pathfinder Society, you can even spend two prestige points to get one for free. The kitsune favored class bonus also nets us a free rogue talent every six levels!

But what happens when you have to roll initiative? You might notice the phantom thief archetype trades away sneak attack. But Kaito Kid isn’t about gutting a guard’s vitals! In addition to an assortment of alchemical items and scrolls, the phantom thief can use weapon snatcher and their potential +36 to Sleight of Hand to go ahead and make those guards wish they had locked gauntlets. Against unarmed foes, you’ll have to rely on the Intimidate skill unlock, but most good battles have any number of opportunities to interact with the environment or abuse a well-placed magic item.

Other Notes

If you want to go full kitsune with this build, the mischievous tail feat-line from Planar Adventures will help you with your disarming. Fox Form is always super helpful too! While it doesn’t quite fit Kaito Kid, Psychic Sensitivity can help give the build a host of new options using Psychic Skill Unlocks. And depending on what kind of character you want to play, the diplomacy skill unlock might suit you better than sense motive. Just make sure to keep disable device so you can disarm magical traps, as a phantom thief inexplicably gives up trapfinding.

This is not a build for every gamer or every campaign. It requires an almost encyclopedic knowledge of 1st level spells, useful items and the ability to think on your feet to do your best to avoid a combat encounter. Many gamemasters and fellow players alike aren’t going to be prepared for you to have hired a local thug to dress like a city guard and arrest the entire party on a moment’s notice, or spontaneously conjure a secure transport and a slip of deposit from the bank of Abdar. You should let your friends know if you plan on playing this kind of a character, and make sure you don’t always try to avoid combat at all costs if the rest of your party is itching for a fight. Pathfinder is a cooperative game, and there are plenty of opportunities for this sort of character to shine, without always being in the spotlight.

See you later, maybe next time we can meet under the moonlight.

“See you later, maybe next time we can meet under the moonlight.”

Dustin Knight

Dustin has been playing and improving on RPGs since AD&D in 1999. He ran games and conventions around California while studying Graphic Design, Philosophy, English & Architecture. After developing a tabletop game seminar he began working freelance for Alderac Entertainment Games. During his stint on the East Coast, he became a Venture Lieutenant and began reviewing Pathfinder mechanics for Organized Play. After moving to Washington in 2019, he met Alex Augunas at Paizocon and developed, designed and wrote for Everybody Games LLC. He has since published work with Rogue Genius Games and Paizo. He can be found on the Know Direction discord where he goes by the username "KitsuneWarlock".

1 Comment

  1. AlphaWolves

    Another great kitsune build. Lol

    Have you looked at Ranger before? If you need an idea, “How many archetypes is too many?” would be a fun clickbait.

    Shapeshifter/Wild Hunter/Skirmisher/Wilderness Medic works surprisingly well together, I am using it as one of my favorite Vital Strike builds right now. The archetypes mesh surprisingly well, lol. Imagine Lizard Shaman from Goblin Slayer, minus the skeletons.