Given the following information;

  • I have a Ninja which has the necessary feats and levels to have four attacks in a single round.
  • I can turn invisible for a full round.
  • The invisibility of a ninja does not end like the invisibility spell (i.e. when attacking), making me stay invisible even when I attack.
  • Being invisible, my opponent does not have his Dex bonus to AC, allowing me to Sudden Strike.
  • Sudden Strike apply to each attack, when applicable (immunity, conditions, etc.).
  • I have a +6d6 Sudden Strike with two +2 magic short swords, making each attack worth 7d6 + 2 damage (6d6 from sudden strike + 1d6 from short sword + 2 from magic bonus)

Questions :

  1. Does that mean that a full round of attacks, if they all hit, could do up to 28d6 + 8 damage ?
  2. If so, isn't that particular combo overpowered ? Am I the only one to find that each round could go up to 176 dmg ?
  3. If not, please explain to me where the information provided above is wrong, as I verified them over and over by many resources. It looks like a flaw and my opinion is that the DM should apply a certain constraint on the usage of the skill.

2 Answers 2

  1. Sudden Strike, like Sneak Attack, may be triggered by any attack that meets its prerequisites. Some methods of meeting those prerequisites (e.g. hiding, the invisibility spell) are nullified after the first attack, so only the first attack gets it. Others (e.g. attacking a creature before its first action, non-invisibility forms of Invisibility) persist and allow multiple attacks to qualify.
  2. Since it has prerequisites that are much more difficult to trigger than Sneak Attack (flanking doesn’t count), far from being overpowered, it’s actually quite underpowered compared to Sneak Attack. Moreover, two-handed weapon users out-damage two-weapon fighters even when the latter has lots of bonus damage dice: a Barbarian or Fighter can do far more damage than a Rogue or Ninja. Sneak Attack multiple times per round is necessary for a Rogue to almost keep up with a Barbarian and Fighter, but the latter two will still be superior at pure damage. And all of these classes pale in comparison to spellcasters, who could do as much or more damage if they really wanted but have much better things to do than damage in the first place.

    Hitting all of your attacks for full Sudden Strike damage is extremely rare, and even if we assume average damage (six hits from GTWF, 10d6 Sudden Strike at level 19 means average 35 damage per hit, total average damage 210), a typical barbarian will have no less than +11 greater attack bonus (full BAB, no TWF penalty, Mighty Rage), which turns into +22 damage from two-handed Power Attack (and, since the barbarian does not need Dex or Wis, most likely he will have higher base Str as well, which means there is more he could convert into damage if he wanted). The barbarian also gets 1½Str to damage, which is a minimum of +12 from Mighty Rage alone, but realistically there is another +6 from the extra half again of the barbarian’s base Str (typical barbarians put everything in Str, thus 18 base Str, +5 from levels, +5 from wish or manuals, +6 enhancement for 34). That’s already +40 damage to the ninja’s +35. The ninja gets two more attacks, but his damage is also highly conditional: the target must be denied its Dex bonus to AC, and must not be immune to precision damage or critical hits.

    And that’s before even getting into things like the ninja not having the barbarian’s base 34 Str, or the barbarian having more feats beyond Power Attack, or supplement materials like Complete Champion’s Pounce (which, with a lance, immediately doubles the barbarian’s damage). And the barbarian has easily twice the HP of the ninja, better saves, and better weapons (all his money in one weapon instead of split between two). So no, six Sudden Strikes a round is not overpowered in the least. It’s actually falling quite short of a simple Power Attacking barbarian.

    At high levels, the game is extremely lethal; any remotely competent damage-dealer can kill anything with one full-attack. The trick is, it’s really difficult to get a full-attack, because things are very mobile and have layered defenses that prevent it from happening. And the additional conditions on Sudden Strike make it even harder to land than your typical full-attack.

  3. N/A

If you find this unsatisfying because it makes fights very short (or very swingy), you are not alone. Unfortunately, there are no easy solutions to this problem. My own solution is quite drastic, since it relies on cutting out a rather foundational part of the system (namely, the classes, feats, and spells in the Player’s Handbook).

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ My question was not about if Ninja class is overpowered, nor did I ask about if it's any good compared to other classes; I'm focusing on specific circumstances, especially the Sudden Strike. I am aware of the class limitations and strong/weak points. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fafoon
    Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 15:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fafoon yes it was. '2. If so, isn't it overpowered ?' '3. If not, why?' \$\endgroup\$
    – Colin D
    Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 16:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Edited my post, as I suspect it wasn't clear enough. And all and, I just wanted to know 1) If I interpreted the rules correctly and 2) If the damage output isn't a bit too much DPR, if I interpreted right OR what I was misunderstanding, if I interpreted wrong. By "it", I talked more about the particular combo/situation and not the Ninja class in general. I believe the class comparison and debate is subject to another topic. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fafoon
    Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 16:42
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Fafoon I think looking at Sudden Strike in a vacuum is a mistake, because you only get Sudden Strike by taking levels in Ninja, which means you are not taking levels in some other, better class. There is a steep opportunity cost there. That said, I’ve attempted to improve the discussion of Sudden Strike itself, while removing the section on the rest of the Ninja. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 17:12
  1. Yes, it means that. You are interpreting the rules correctly.

  2. Depends on your definition of overpowered. Here's a shuriken-throwing build based on the same ninja trick that gets 8 attacks at 16d6+12 damage each. 3.5e had an ever escalating spiral of DPR and there are many fairly easy tricks to get it up there; this combo is by far not the highest. Many folks will claim that since spellcasters are super good, warrior types with this kind of one-round-kill DPR is totally OK and just means the warriors don't suck in comparison (as a mage of equal level can toss as many save-or-dies as you can do ghost step+sudden strikes). Others see this as game-breaking/ruining as it makes the game hard to balance and often comical in execution. See related questions discussing DPR escalation and associated guilt, How to mitigate glass cannon syndrome in Pathfinder? and What to do when your character is just too good? In the end, this is largely a normal part of 3.5e unless your group's social contract specifically means y'all keep all your builds a lot more on the down-low.

  3. See 1.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I’m not sure it’s wise to link dandwiki for much of anything, considering how much copyright infringement goes on on that site, plus the overall poor quality of information and mixing of homebrew and official material in unclear ways. And besides, it’s not exactly an incredible build anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 2:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Opinion duly noted. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 2:42

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .