Thursday, April 28, 2016

Roguish Archetype: The Ninja [Second Draft]

Normally, I like to work on two (or three) projects at a time. It switches it up, keeps it interesting.

But this ninja, man. This ninja and all the things I've had to fix.

The rough draft of the ninja was mostly fine. Almost everything needing fixing was relatively small, fiddly stuff, but literally everything needed some amount of fixing, and it all snowballed into a landslide of balance tweaks. In the end, whole abilities and features got revamped.

But! It seems like it's in a good place, and that means its time for a new build. Tell me what you think, and what game-breaking bits I missed, same as always.


  • Everything. Just, everything.
  • Jutsu, Ninja Tricks, and the latter half of Ki have been combined into just "Ninja Tricks" and a Elemental monk style list of abilities that you can take, two per level. This allows you to use later levels to choose previous levels' abilities, if you want.
  • This archetype now requires Wisdom as reflected in the Ki save DC. Most, but not all, of the abilities now have some component that scales on Wisdom.
  • Several Ki abilities have had their costs adjusted. Mostly increases, because that was necessary.
  • Feathery Tread and Immaculate Footwork have been rearranged, lumping run-on-water and balancing advantage into Immaculate Footwork, and jumping and a new half-fall-damage ability into the new ability, Crane's Ascendance.
  • Everything is a Weapon now has a ranged throw with Ki that can sneak attack and scales with Wisdom, replacing its proficiency-with-anything mechanic.
  • Step onto Air has been replaced with Flawless Strike, as the scaling between Step onto Air and Crane's Ascendance would've been bananas. Flawless Strike allows you to spend ki to reroll your failed attacks.
  • Eyes of the Ghost is now Sense the Heartmind, an ability that allows you to feel people through walls and increases the range of your blindsense.
  • Deathblow is now Shadow Clone Jutsu. This ability creates a shadowy double of you, which sneak attacks enemies and confers bonuses to you. 
  • The balance on Flawless Strike seems about right, but I'd appreciate someone else looking at it.
  • I could've missed something in the rest of the overall balance. Entirely likely, in fact.
  • Sometimes, you have to drop everything to fix everything


  1. There is a typo in "Immaculate Footwork": you may expend one point of ki >TO< increase...

    Ruleswise I really like it. Everything feels super flavoury, useful and stylish. The more streamlined design works well too.

    1. Ah, typos. Where would I be without them?

      Probably with a differently named blog.

      Thanks for the heads-up, I'll fix it as soon as I have access to Photoshop.

  2. Quick question. If you decide to multiclass into the Monk as a Ninja, how do you handle the Martial Arts if you've picked the Everything is a Weapon trick?

    1. RAW, you're essentially given two options: you can choose to treat your unarmed strikes as two 1d6 almost-finesse weapons OR you can have them be unarmed strikes and use the martial arts die. As-written, you can make this distinction on an attack-by-attack basis, so you can decide to reduce your unarmed weapon die to a d6 for a Sneak Attack, and then increase it to whatever your Martial Arts is after you've landed a Sneak Attack.

      It's inelegant and messy, though. If I had to do it over again, I'd allow the Martial Arts damage die the ability to override it, while still providing Sneak Attack. Having to micromanage which type of unarmed strike you're using just isn't fun.

  3. Hey there, ive had a ninja in my party for more than a year now and im really loving this subclass, it leads to an interesting play-style that can be quite different than your average rogue.