Building your heroes 10 levels at a time.
"Let's Roll" is a self-imposed challenge to build my (and your) favorite heroes in 10 levels or less. If you have a character you'd like to see developed, shoot me an email or check out the Kobold Company Facebook page to send in a submission!.
One of my favorite characters for StarCraft has always been Nova, the Ghost who first aids, then hunts Raynor...to boot, she hates Kerrigan's guts. In this pathfinder conversion for Nova from Heroes of the Storm, I'm going to try and recreate all of her abilities in just 10-levels of advancement.
She is now a character in Blizzard's new "Heroes of the Storm" game and she's a lot of fun to play. That started me thinking, though, what would Nova look like in Pathfinder stats? Obviously there are some issues with the whole "high tech" genre vs. fantasy, but I still think I can make this work. So let's try it!
|NOTE: "Let's Roll" is not a min/max character creation. It is a fun attempt to replicate hero characters from other games. Of course there are better feat choices (spells, traits, etc.), but those selected were chosen because, in my opinion, they best emulated the abilities of the hero.|
Let's Roll: Nova
Right out of the gate, I'm going a bit unorthodox. I want to simulate some of her tech with magic...she obviously has to have a rifle with which to snipeth her enemies too. For that matter, I have a set list of tech I want to replicate and I want to be able to use it often.
Let's take a look at some of that tech we want to replicate before we go into the final decision on the class(es).
Deadly Aim and one of the feats in that tree is Ranged Trip. She's not going to be very good at it without some significant effort at boosting it, but the ability is right there, staring us in the face.
OK, so those are the elements we have to have in the build to match technology with our Pathfinder magic. Pretty excited up to this point since I have a good idea what I want to do. Stealth is a must, but we also probably need to focus a little bit on intimidate, and maybe a knowledge skill or two in order to make her useful to the party.
Human Musket Master / Ninja
I think at this point, as far as Pathfinder is concerned, Nova's going gunslinger and ninja, using ninja (and rogue) talents and/or feats to her HotS abilities. There may be a couple of other ways to get to the end-game we're trying to achieves, but with Gunslinger, She gets a rifle right out of the gate and can start the game with the ability to snipe.
Stats (20 point build):
How about taking a look at stats? The musket master combined with ninja means I want a high wisdom and a high dexterity. Basically, I want to hit often and have enough grit to use her special abilities. We'll take a hit with a low ki-pool, but there is only so much you can do with 20 points.
Strength: 8 - (-2 points)Total throw away stat that will not do anything for us.
Dexterity: 18 - (10 points, +2 human bonus) Obviously...ninja.
Constitution: 12 - (2 points) We'll throw a couple points in here for Fort saves.
Intelligence: 10 - (0 points) Rogue gets a bunch of skills, plus the human bonus. Good to go here.
Wisdom: 16 - (10 points) Need this for the Musket Master and for Will saving throws
Charisma: 10 - (0 points) Nova is a big smart-ass. Ninjas benefit from a high CHA, but no points.
That covers the stats. Not incredibly diverse or spread out, but trying to create a hero archetype with 20-points ain't easy. We'll have a +2 to hit and a +4 to grit, plus some bonus spells along the way. Looking good so far!
Let's talk about how we want to start Nova out and how she'll progress in order to fit the bill we've laid out here.
|Level 1 - Musket Master (MM) 1|
- Musket Master is the obvious choice for Nova. Uses a rifle, gets free Rapid Reload and treats a musket as a one-handed firearm for purposes of reloading. She can also increase the range of the musket by 10' just by spending a move action to aim. Perfect for a sniper.
There are several routes with regards to Traits we could take and could be argued for under the right circumstances (Defensive Strategist or Paragon of Speed, to name a couple), but in the end I went with two traits that would allow her to be stealthy and fast.
AC:14 | HP: 12 | Grit: 3
BAB +1 | Fort +3 | Ref +6 | Will +3
Abilities: Deeds, grit, gunsmith
Traits: Black Sheep (Bitter Nobleman), Veteran of Battle (Act during surprise round, +1 init)
Feats: Gunsmithing (B), Rapid Reload (Musket)(B), Deadly Aim, Point Blank Shot
Deeds: Dead-eye Shot, Steady Shot
Skills: Acrobatics (8), Intimidate (4), Perception (7), Stealth (9), Survival (7)
Notable Equipment: Battered Musket, Cartridges, Paper (20), Cartridges, Entangling Shot (5)
She gets rapid reload for free as a musket master; she takes deadly aim for a +16% damage bonus, and point-blank shot because...reasons.
I hate taking Point-Blank Shot since she's a sniper and should be FAR from combat...but it's a prerequisite for nearly everything (sounds like a 3PP challenge to me).
Also, taking some paper cartridges and entangling shot cartridges at 1st level is the poor mans way of emulating some of Nova's abilities early. With the cartridge and Rapid Reload, she can reload her rifle as a move action. Just be aware of the increased misfire chances!
|Level 2 - Ninja 1
Getting into the good stuff now. Shooter baseline is accomplished - now it's time to start working towards some of those special abilities.|
AC: 12 | HP: 18 | Grit: 3 | Ki Pool: 1
BAB +1 | Fort +3 | Ref +8 | Will +3
Abilities: Poison Use, Sneak Attack +1d6
Skills: Acrobatics (9), Bluff (4), Disable Device (8), Intimidate (4), Knowledge (Local)(4), Perception (8), Sense Motive (7), Stealth (10), Survival (8), Use Magic Device (4)
Notable Equipment: Replenish paper shot as needed
At 2nd level, still relying mostly on the musket master, but we'll get there.
|Level 3 - Ninja 2|
AC: 17 | HP: 24 | Grit: 3 | Ki Pool: 1
BAB +2 | Fort +3 | Ref +9 | Will +4
Abilities: Ki Pool (1), Ninja Trick
Talent: Vanishing Trick
Feats: Combat Reflexes
Skills: Acrobatics (10), Bluff (5), Disable Device (9), Intimidate (5), Knowledge (Local)(5), Perception (9), Sense Motive (8), Stealth (11), Survival (8), Use Magic Device (5)
Gold: 3,000gp (+2000gp)
Notable Equipment: Daredevil Boots (1,400gp), Mithral Shirt (1,100gp)
Nova is fast - really fast. I'm on the fence here with getting Improved Initiative - but since we're getting other ninja talents that will fit her HotS talents, I think it will be ok. Combat reflexes is a necessity to make sure she really has a good Pinning Shot ability (as we'll soon see). Nova just needs to make sure she stays out of melee.
Ki-Pool lets her spend one point to gain a 20' movement boost - this is a great way to mimic her ability to move quickly while stealthed!
With the Vanishing Trick, she gets her Cloak feature pretty early on. Awesome. She needs several other Ninja Tricks to really get that HotS feel, but she's well on her way.
Finally, daredevil boots give her the ability to get out of combat quickly by avoiding attacks of opportunity as she makes good her escape.
|Level 4 - MM 2
AC: 18 | HP: 31 | Grit: 3
BAB +3 | Fort +5 | Ref +11 | Will +5*
Ability: Nimble +1
Stat: +1 Dex
Skills: Acrobatics (11), Bluff (4), Disable Device (10), Intimidate (4), Knowledge (Local)(4), Perception (10), Sense Motive (7), Stealth (12), Survival (8), Use Magic Device (5)
Gold: 6,000gp (+3,000gp)
Notable Equipment: Potion of Invisibility (3; 900gp), Potion of Cat's Grace (3; 900gp); Cloak of Resistance +1 (1,000gp)
Not a lot going on at level 4 - but she does get Nimble +1 giving her a bonus to her AC. In theory, she should be staying way out of combat, but not going to balk at anything granting AC.
|Level 5 - MM 3|
AC: 19* | HP: 34 | Grit: 3
BAB +4 | Fort +5 | Ref +11 | Will +6*
Deeds: Gunslinger Initiative, Fast Musket
Feats: Quick Draw
Skills: Acrobatics (12), Bluff (4), Disable Device (12), Intimidate (4), Knowledge (Local)(4), Perception (11), Sense Motive (8), Stealth (13 +5)*, Survival (8), Use Magic Device (6)
Gold: 10,500gp (+4,500gp)
Notable Equipment: Mithral Shirt +1, Shadowed (4,750gp - assuming there is change left over from previous levels)
OK, I'm going to get some grief for not getting Precise Shot at this poing - I can hear heads exploding already. The -4 to hit someone in melee is a problem, but since she's using Touch AC within the first range-increment, I'm comfortable enough without it. Nova is a sniper - this build is intended to keep her out of combat and as far from the bad guy as possible. Period.
Plus - With Gunslinger Initiative she now has a +7 initiative (+4 dex, +1 trait, and +2 Gunslinger), can act during a surprise round, draw her musket as part of her initiative check, and reload her musket as if it were a one-handed firearm. I am really itching for Improved Initiative, but there's just no room.
This, combined with paper cartridges means she's reloading as a free-action (Full-Round -> Standard Action w/ Rapid Reload -> Move Action w/ Fast Musket -> Free Action w/ Paper Cartridges).
This is exactly where we want to be...going fast!
|Level 6 - MM 4
AC: 19* | HP: 41 | Grit: 3
BAB +5 | Fort +6 | Ref +13 | Will +6*
Abilities: Bonus feat
Feats: Ranged Trip (+8*)
Skills: Acrobatics (13), Bluff (4), Disable Device (13), Intimidate (4), Knowledge (Local)(4), Perception (12), Sense Motive (9), Stealth (14 +5)*, Survival (8), Use Magic Device (6)
Gold: 16,000gp (+5,500gp)
Notable Equipment: Musket +1 (2,000gp), Beneficial Bandoleer (1,000gp)
Ranged Trip is a combat trip maneuver at -2 CMB, using dex instead of str. If she is successful, she both deals damage and trips the target. Without any other bonuses, her CMB for this attack is +8. Not shabby, but not great. Another option here would be to go with Rapid Shot, but with this build, I wanted to excel at Pinning Shot rather than getting multiple shots per round.
Also, with the new bandoleer, she can load her rifle as a swift action 1/round!
|Level 7 - MM 5
AC: 20* | HP: 48 | Grit: 3
BAB +6/+1 | Fort +6 | Ref +14 | Will +6*
Abilities: Musket Training (+Dex to damage)
Feats: Improved Trip CMB: +12 Ranged Trip*
Skills: Acrobatics (15), Bluff (4), Disable Device (14), Intimidate (4), Knowledge (Local)(5), Perception (12), Sense Motive (9), Stealth (16 +5)*, Survival (8), Use Magic Device (7)
Gold: 23,500gp (+7,500gp)
Notable Equipment: Musket +1, Shock (+6,000gp), Belt of Incredible Dexterity +2 (4,000gp)
Just one feat and another level and Ranged Trip is now pretty formidable.
Not to mention....Holy Crap...she now adds Dex to damage with her muskets!
|Level 8 - Ninja 3
AC: 21* | HP: 54 | Grit: 3 | Ki Pool: 1
BAB +7/+2 | Fort +7 | Ref +14 | Will +7*
Stat: +1 / Dex (22)*
Abilities: No Trace +1, Sneak Attack +2d6
CMB: +14 Ranged Trip*
Skills: Acrobatics (16), Bluff (5), Disable Device (15), Intimidate (4), Knowledge (Local)(6), Perception (13), Sense Motive (10), Stealth (17 +5)*, Survival (9), Use Magic Device (8)
Gold: 33,000gp (+9,500gp)
Notable Equipment: Save the coin.
No Trace is an OK ability, but nothing stellar. Not a lot going on this level.
|Level 9 - Ninja 4|
AC: 21* | HP: 60 | Grit: 3 | Ki Pool: 2
BAB +8/+3 | Fort +6 | Ref +15 | Will +6
Abilities: Ninja Trick, Uncanny Dodge
Feats: Fury's Fall (add DEX bonus to CMB for trip - yes it stacks)
Ninja Trick: Shadow Clone
CMB: +21 Ranged Trip*
Skills: Acrobatics (17), Bluff (6), Disable Device (16), Intimidate (5), Knowledge (Local)(7), Perception (14), Sense Motive (10), Stealth (18 +5)*, Survival (9), Use Magic Device (10)
Gold: 46,000gp (+13,000gp; 22,500gp total from last level)
Notable Equipment: Sniper Goggles (20,000gp)
I took Fury's Fall here over Greater Trip because it re-adds her +6 DEX bonus to her CMB for tripping. If your GM pushes back on it stacking, have him read through the attached thread (above) on Paizo about the logic behind it. Fury's Fall is intended to add both STR and DEX -or- two stat bonuses. We're just adding DEX twice.
With the ninja trick and feat next level, I would definitely encourage picking up Greater Trip, but for now, I want to make sure she can even pull off a ranged trip in the first place - give her the additional +6. Bloody brilliant.
Also, at long last we get our hands on an ability that perfectly replicates Holo Decoy in Shadow Clone. It sucks she had to wait so long to take it, but it's in there before 10th, so I'm happy.
Finally, if she scrimps and saves, we'll pick up a pair of Sniper Goggles. This makes Nova just plain lethal at any range since she can now apply her sneak attack damage at any range. If she's within 30', it's an extra +2 damage per sneak attack die. Brutal.
|Level 10 - Ninja 5
AC: 21* | HP: 65 | Grit: 3 | Ki Pool: 2
BAB +8/+3 | Fort +6 | Ref +15 | Will +6*
Abilities: Sneak Attack +3d6
CMB: +22 Ranged Trip*
Skills: Acrobatics (18), Bluff (7), Disable Device (17), Intimidate (5), Knowledge (Local)(8), Perception (15), Sense Motive (10), Stealth (19 +5)*, Survival (10), Use Magic Device (12)
Gold: 62,000gp (+16,000gp and 2,500gp from last level)
Notable Equipment: Far-Reaching Sight (4,000gp), Musket +1, Shock and Distance (+10,000gp)
Conclusion: By level 10, we have achieved the cloaking ability (to a certain extent with a Stealth up to +28), her snipe ability (range touch AC with 1d12+7+3d6 sneak attack), her pinning shot, her quick movement (Ki Pool +20 movement), and her Holo Decoy.
We still have to get a better Cloak ability (ala Invisibility), but Vanishing Trick fits the bill well enough and there are always potions to bridge any gap. Also need to find something for Precision Strike. However, at level 10, I'm fairly satisfied with the thematic feel of this character.
In the surprise round, she can draw her loaded weapon as part of her initiative, full-round attack action (shoot to trip +22 (+23 within 30') / 1d12+1d6 (shock) + 3d6 (Sneak Attack) +11, swift reload with Bandoleer, shoot to trip +22 / 1d12+1d6 (shock) + 3d6 (Sneak Attack) +11). I'd say I'm happy with that.
My thoughts on further advancement:
11th level: Musket Master (6); Nimble +2 Feat: Precise Shot
12th level: Musket Master (7); Deeds: Dead Shot (aka Triple-Tap), Targeting, Startling Shot
13th level: Musket Master (8); Feats: Rapid Shot (B), Greater Trip
14th level: Ninja (6); Ninja Trick: Fast Stealth
15th level: Ninja (7); SA +4d6, Feat: Improved Initiative
She needs to get to 7th level Musket Master in order to get the Dead Shot deed. I would probably knock those two levels out at 11th and 12th just to get them out of the way and gain access to Dead Shot as quickly as possible. From then on, it's Ninja all the way in order to continue to get Sneak Attack damage for her kill shots.
So 15 levels to really get what I wanted out of this build. Still, with the 10 levels given, I'm very happy with with way she turned out!
Notes and considerations on future abilities:
Future Ninja Tricks:
- Deadly Range - increase her range on sneak attack first by 10', then 5' each additional increment. Get her out of combat and keep her out. Since she already has the Sniper Goggles, this can be set aside for the time being.
- Fast Stealth - one of Nova's upgrades as she progresses during HotS is moving faster when she's cloaked. Between Fast Stealth and spending ki to gain that +20' speed boost, she mimics this pretty perfectly.
- Stealthy Sniper (Advanced Rogue Talent) - Since ninjas may take take ONE Advanced Rogue Talent, this is absolutely the one I would recommend. Reduce the post-shot stealth check from -20 to -10? Heck yes!
- Greater Trip (an additional +2 to CMB for trip attacks AND forces an Attack of Opportunity on those she trips!)
- Improved Initiative - She needs to be faster, ensuring she goes first in those surprise rounds. It's annoying that we can get it in the first 10 levels, but without triple-classing, it's not possible.
- Obviously, Point Blank Shot is probably next on the feat list. It's annoying, but required for a lot of future feats.
- Trick Shooter - Gain another +2 to CMB for ALL ranged combat maneuvers (if you should decide to get another one in the future, that is) AND she can deal no damage to the target, if required.
- Covering Fire - Use the aid another action with a ranged weapon to give your ally a +2 AC? For flavor purposes, this just fits the traditional sniper build absolutely perfectly.
- Far Shot - Decrease the range increment penalty from -2 to -1. She needs to stay out, far out. Combine this with a couple levels of the Deadly Range ninja trick and now she's really looking like a sniper.
- Bullseye Shot - Spend a move action to gain a +4 to hit. Nova is all about that knockout shot. Making sure she hits is a good thing.
- Shot on the Run
- Parting Shot - Nova needs to stay out of melee, period. This feat tree gives her options when the enemy isn't cooperating. She withdraws and take a shot at the guy trying to attack her.
- Clustered Shot - Calculate all damage together before applying DR. This is big at later levels and combines great with the 7th level Dead Shot deed!!!!
There are just a couple of ideas on how to take this class to 20. Hopefully you enjoyed walking through this as much as I enjoyed creating it! I appreciate you taking the time to read through it!
Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below or at Kobold Company on Facebook.
*Stats marked with "*" reflect magic items worn.
|KC Rift is a long time gamer, role-player, and computer nerd. In addition to his day-job, he moonlights as a freelance writer for Total Party Kill Games - His current published works include "The Deductionist" and "The Feybinder".|
Thanks to John Reyst - This was created using: