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The Complete Adventurer's ninja gains the Ki pool ability at 1st level. But they can only use their ki at 2nd level.

It seems at first glance that the only use for ki at 1st level is to gain a +2 in will saves.

Is there anything else they can do with Ki at 1st level? A feat? Something else?

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Ninjas do not natively have any way to spend ki at 1st level. However, there are some benefits to having ki even if you cannot spend it. In addition to the +2 bonus to Will gained for having at least one ki left, having a ki pool is a requirement for a number of feats in Complete Scoundrel:

  • Enduring Ki
  • Expanded Ki Pool
  • Ascetic Stalker
  • Elemental Stalker (Dragon vol. 357, not Complete Scoundrel)
  • Martial Stalker
  • One with Earth and Water (Dragon vol. 351, not Complete Scoundrel)
  • Zen Fortitude (Dragon vol. 351, not Complete Scoundrel)

The first two don’t do anything without something to spend ki on, but you can take them as a 1st-level ninja when otherwise you might have to wait until 3rd. And Ascetic or Martial Stalker could actually do some stuff for you even if you are a 1st-level ninja—for instance, if you are also a 4th-level fighter, Martial Stalker would add +1 to your AC bonus, and if you are a 7th-level monk, Ascetic Stalker increases your unarmed strike damage by one die size (hey, I didn’t say these were good just that they are literally not nothing). Elemental Stalker is similar. And then Zen Fortitude is actually kinda good (Wis instead of Con on Fort saves).

There are also a (very few) feats that allow you to spend ki, and could be taken by a 1st-level ninja:

  • Karmic Healing (Dragon vol. 351)—spend ki to heal yourself a tiny amount.
  • Wolf’s Bite (Dragon vol. 351)—spend ki to temporarily get Improved Feint, Improved Disarm, and Improved Trip.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't have to be good. Just (barely) useful. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Nov 15 '17 at 13:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin Which they are, at least some of them. The last two even allow you to spend ki for a benefit. Was there something else you were looking for from an answer? \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 16 '17 at 3:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ On the Karmic Healing feat, spending one ki to heal (1/2 class lv) * WisMod is no tiny amount at all. Since the ki pool uses the same formula, it means the healing growth is quadratic. Compare to second wind feat, or even the paladin iconic lay on hands. A lv 20 ninja with 30 wisdom will have available a healing pool of 400HP every day. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Nov 18 '17 at 13:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin The phrasing of my entry was that each ki healed a tiny amount; I said nothing about the total. But yes, that is a tiny amount, considering the enormous cost (a feat, a lot of time, and oh yeah, basically not having any other class features that day) and the fact that even unoptimized characters routinely deal 100 damage in a round at 20th level. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 18 '17 at 16:13

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