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Optimization Advice Sought for a Knife-Fighter


First Post
I've been considering a halfling knife-fighter for my next character--a deadly a little fellow, no more to be trifled with than any falchion-wielding barbarian. Rogue/ranger with a favored enemy of human would be my preference. However, in 3e I recall this not amounting to a particularly deadly character in D&D 3e. Does Pathfinder offer any new options that would offer a marked increase to damage output?

The character would be 5th-level. As a rogue, I'd have 3d6 sneak attack, but with the daggers themselves being so weak, the sneak attack damage is just playing catch-up. I need pluses to those dice, and they're not likely to come from STR.

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There's the new Knife Master archetype from UC (hasn't been added to d20pfsrd yet, so I can't link). I don't like it compared to more flavorful and interesting archetypes you can use instead, since all it really does is give you d8's for SA and all the rest is subpar. But if you want more damage with knives, it's the way to go.

The best route since UC came out seems to be an Enforcer intimidation build with the Sap Adept and Sap Master feats* and a bludgeoning weapon (either dual wielding actual saps or spending ANOTHER feat on Bludgeoner), plus Shatter Defenses. Oh, and the TWF line, as usual. If that sounds like a massive feats list, that's cause it is. And even then, you're only being awesome against stuff not immune to fear and/or nonlethal damage.

Since it's so feat heavy and Shatter Defenses, the biggest goal to reach, is BAB +6, I would recommend being a Brawler Fighter 3 / Rogue 4 by level 7 to qualify. With Brawler you'll get a nice +1 attack and +3 damage, and (unless your DM is incredibly rigid about what "weapon training" is) lets you pick up Gloves of Duelling from APG for another +2 attack/damage. I also recommend Thug Rogue to make foes frightened when you want instead of shaken. Or Rake Rogue to be able to free action intimidate on any sneak attack, not just nonlethal attacks.

Another alternative to look at is either to replace Rogue entirely with Vivisectionist Alchemist (trades bombs for sneak attack), or to dip VA for 2 levels. With Feral Mutagen, you have 3 primary natural attacks that all deal bludgeoning damage (why claws are B & P in PF instead of S & P like in 3E I have no idea).

*Also not up yet; basically they let you do double SA dice +X, where X is twice the amount of SA dice you'd normally have, but only on nonlethal bludgeoning attacks. So if you had 3d6 SA, with those feats on a NL bludgeoning attack, you'd do 6d6 +6 instead.


First Post
Here are the features for knife fighter:

The knife master is a trained killer who specializes in
close-up combat and the wave and weave of knife f ighting.
In her hands, daggers and other similar light blades
become truly deadly instruments..

Hidden Blade: A knife master adds 1/2 her level on
Sleight of Hand checks made to conceal a light blade. This
ability replaces trapf inding.

Sneak Stab (Ex): A knife master focuses her ability to deal
sneak attack damage with daggers and similar weapons to
such a degree that she can deal more sneak attack damage
with those weapons at the expense of sneak attacks with
other weapons. When she makes a sneak attack with a
dagger, kerambit (page 130), kukri, punching daggers,
starknife, or swordbreaker dagger (Advanced Player’s Guide
178), she uses d8s to roll sneak attack damage instead of
d6s. For sneak attacks with all other weapons, she uses d4s
instead of d6s. This ability is identical in all other ways to
sneak attack, and supplements that ability.

Blade Sense (Ex): At 3rd level, a knife master is so skilled
in combat involving light blades that she gains a +1 dodge
bonus to AC against attacks made against her with light
blades. This bonus increases by +1 for every three levels,
to a maximum of +6 at 18th level. This ability replaces
trap sense.


First Post
I've been contemplating a similar build for a while now. Although I'm not sure if I'm going to wind up using it (primarily because it relies so much on getting sneak attack + full attack in order to achieve high amounts of damage, which I fear is too conditional for my liking), here are a few thoughts I've had. Take what you will.

- The Knife Master archetype is nice - d8 sneak attack isn't huge, but every bit helps.

- I had considered going two levels of rogue, then vivisectionist/preservationist from there. This nets you:
----Full sneak attack progression.
----An extra combat feat (if you take combat trick as your lvl 2 rogue talent).
----A summonable flanking buddy (via the preservationist - I would rely primarily on the animals with the highest hit dice/AC, since I'm looking for them to survive as long as possible, rather than do damage).
----Access to a mutagen, which gives you +4 dex (likely your key attribute) and +2 natural armor.
----Discoveries such as spontaneous healing (heal 5 HP/day per 2 alchemist levels, kicks in automatically when you reach 0 HP) and tumor familiar (which gives Alertness, say, +2 will saves if you choose a hedgehog).
----The River Rat trait gives +1 damage when using daggers; not huge, but again, every bit helps.
----The Craven racial trait gives +1 attack when flanking; I think I prefer Underfoot, personally (+1 AC when fighting foes larger than yourself, which is probably often), but that's another option.

Anyway, just some thoughts I had had. Not sure if going straight alchemist isn't better (you lose a combat feat, evasion, and some handy class skills, but you gain full spell progression), but if I were to do this build, this is probably how I would approach it at this point (I think I'd find it more interesting than a straight rogue). Here's the build I had sketched out for myself, if it helps any; as you can see, it's not completely finalized.

str: 10 (2) -2 racial
dex: 19 (13) +2 racial
con: 14 (5)
int: 13 (3)
wis: 9 (-1)
cha: 10 (-2) +2 racial

- Weapon Finesse (lvl 1)
- Two-weapon Fighting (rogue 2 - combat trick - *at lvl 2)
- Weapon Focus (Dagger) (lvl 3)
- Discovery: Tentacle (place as tail) (*at lvl 4)
- Piranha Strike (lvl 5)
- Discovery: Tumor familiar (*at lvl 6)
---- Compsognathus (+4 initiative)
---- Hedgehog (+2 Will Saves)
---- Turtle (+1 Natural Armor Bonus)
- Dazzling Display? (lvl 7)
- Discovery: Bottled Ooze (*at lvl 8)
- Improved Two-weapon Fighting (lvl 9)
- Shatter Defenses?

Possible Feats:
- Quick Draw (if using a sling)
- Iron Will (lvl 5? or 3?)
- Dazzling Display & Shatter Defenses - latter makes opponents flat-footed for one round when struck if shaken

Racial Traits:
- Underfoot : +1 Dodge bonus to AC when fighting an opponent who's medium or larger
- Sure-footed: +2 acrobatics and climb
- Keen Senses: +2 Perception
- Small: +1 AC, +1 attack, -1 CMB, -1 CMD, +4 Stealth
- Fearless: +2 against fear

Possible Traits:
- Blade of the Society: +1 damage bonus to sneak attacks
or Dirty Fighter: +1 damage when flanking
- River Rat: +1 Swim, Swim as class skill, +1 damage with a dagger
- Magical Knack (if Preservationist)
- Indomitable Faith

Skills: Acrobatics +10 (1), Diplomacy +4 (1 rank), Disable Device +8 (1 rank), Intimidate +4 (1 rank), Knowledge (Local) +5 (1 rank), Perception +5 (1 rank), Sense Motive +3 (1 rank), Sleight of Hand +8 (1 rank), Stealth +12 (1 rank)


First Post
Thanks for the advice, guys. Was hoping to hear there was a way to insinuate more damage into each knife attack, like a Weapon Finesse upgrade that rolls Dex into damage. But, doesn't sound like that's the case.

I guess I could try to sell my DM on some old 3e PP's, like Invisible Blade and Master Thrower.


There's a Dervish Dance feat from the Inner Sea book (on d20pfsrd as well) to add dex to damage, but only with scimitar, and only while fighting duelist style (nothing in the other hand)$. It's...incredibly underpowered.


First Post
Had to go searching for this, but in the pathfinder society field guide (which is kosher for PFS games, so I guess it can be considered core pathfinder as well), there is the agile weapon quality which is a +1 enhancement that allows you to add your dex instead of strength to weapon damage.

Caveat: Weapon has to be finesseable. Daggers are no problem.



It mostly just annoys me that the agile properrty is only damage but still also costs a feat and an often inferior weapon for dex to attack and damage, while as Clerics get their cake and eat it, too. THe guided weapon property is also +1 and just outright replaces str for attack AND damage on any light or one-handed weapon. Yeah, you can finesse some 2H weapons like the Elven Curve Blade, but I never understood why you'd do that when half the reason to go 2H is the extra 0.5x str mod to damage (the other reason is Power Attack, which requires Str 13 anyway, so...yeah).


First Post
Guided is still a 3.5-only ability, though, despte numerous opportunities to reprint it for PF. I'm thinking Paizo's reconsidered their position on the whole Wisdom-as-attack-and-damage thing.


Hmm, I guess because it was written by Paizo just a few years ago and is listed on d20pfsrd I mistakenly thought it was for PF specifically. But Paizo just printed a feat in UC ("Guided Hand," iirc) that basically only clerics can take (requires channel energy) to replace Str OR Dex (depending on what'd normally be used) with your deity's favored weapon. Which is kinda a kick in the nuts to Zen Archer Monk, but hey. So I have trouble believing they've reconsidered anything.


Thanks for the advice, guys. Was hoping to hear there was a way to insinuate more damage into each knife attack, like a Weapon Finesse upgrade that rolls Dex into damage. But, doesn't sound like that's the case.

I guess I could try to sell my DM on some old 3e PP's, like Invisible Blade and Master Thrower.

There is such a magical weapon power (like keen) - it's called Agile from the new Pathfinder Society Field Guide @ p.50.

Agile weapons are unusually well balanced and responsive. A wielder with the Weapon Finesse feat can choose to apply her Dexterity modifier to damage rolls with the weapon in place of her Strength modifier. This modifier to damage is not increased for two-handed weapons, but is still reduced for off-hand weapons. The agile weapon enhancement can only be placed on melee weapons that are usable with the Weapon Finesse feat.

The Weapon Finesse feat works thusly:

Weapon Finesse: With a light weapon, rapier, whip, or spiked chain made for a creature of your size category, you may use your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier on attack rolls.

Note: Light weapon includes "dagger".

So, YES, long story short - your halfling rogue can be made into a "knife fighter" using a dagger sized for a halfling (which does a really crappy base damage of 1d3) and purchase a magical, Agile version of same to allow you to apply your Dex to the damage roll. Price it the same as a keen weapon and Bob's your uncle.

Throw in another magical item that allows you to cast Twilight Knife 3/ day and that would not only be TOTALLY on Character Concept, but it would permit all manner of nasty sneak attack damage during combat.

Edit: Crap -- should have finished reading the thread further -- somebody posted Agile already :)
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First Post

Rogue favored class alternative

Name: Aedan (ay-den) Aelirin
20 point buy abilities:
STR: 10, DEX: 19 +4, CON: 12 +1, INT: 14 +2, WIS: 12 +1, CHA: 8

Alignment: Lawful neutral
Role: Striker and scout. Local guide. Using wands.
Initiative: + 6
Skill points: 10 per level

1. Reactionary (+2 int)
You were bullied often as a child, but never quite developed an offensive response.
Instead, you became adept at anticipating sudden attacks and reacting to danger quickly.
2. Deft dodger (+1 ref)
Growing up in a rough neighborhood or a dangerous environment has honed your senses.

1 feat: two weapon fighting
1 bonus human feat: weapon focus dagger
2 rogue talent: weapon finesse
3 feat: dodge
4 rogue talent: slow reactions
4 scout talent: charge and SA
5 feat: disorienting maneuver
6 rogue talent: offensive defense
6 bonus rogue talent: befuddling strike
7 feat: point blank shot
8 rogue talent: combat trick precise shot
8 scout talent: move 10ft then SA
9 feat: skill focus (use magic device)
10 rogue talent: entanglement of blades
11 feat: spring attack
12 rogue talent: crippling strike
12 bonus rogue talent: skill mastery
13 feat: magical aptitude

disable device
escape artist
knowledge (dungeoneering)
knowledge (local)
use magical device

Weapons of choice:
Two daggers
Throwing dagger
Short bow

Sneak attack options:
1d8 with knifes
1. Flank for SA
2. Charge for SA. Charge again for SA with no OA.
3. Move through enemies square and SA, +2 hit
4. Move 10ft and throw a knife for SA
5. Move 10ft and melee attack for SA
6. Win initiative and throw two knifes for SA
7. Move 10ft SA Move up to 20ft (Spring attack)

Single SA's use d8 dice not d6 so they are a viable option.
Use returning daggers.
Collect a wide range of magical daggers, and wands.
Have two spring loaded wrist sheaths.
Buy boots of elvenkind, and use exlirs of acrobatics.

Equipment options:
Boots of Elvenkind +5 Acrobatics
Exlirs of acrobatics +10
Belt of incredible dexterity
Efficient Quiver
Glove of storing
Wrist braces, spring loaded
A +1 alchemical silver light mace* for bludgeoning, silver
cold-iron dagger
wooden stake
adamantine weapon
Holy water, alchemist's fire, a thunderstone, smokesticks, sunrods
Mithral Chain Shirt

align weapon
protect from evil
obscuring mist
silent image
reduce person
resist energy
mirror image
cats grace
alter self

Spell storing
Ghost touch
Throwing + Returning (essential)

This is the sneak freak...stab first, ask questions later!!