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Unchained Rogue

Sources allowed:

  • Core Rulebook
  • Advanced Player's Guide
  • Advanced Class Guide
  • Advanced Race Guide
  • Ultimate Combat
  • Ultimate Magic

I'm asking for how to maximize damage output using Sneak Attack. In theory for all levels, but more specifically at level 1 through 6 or so. Whether it is using feats, magic items, (something I am overlooking?) or a combination of all of that, the objective is maximized damage output.

I don't really want to multiclass, and want to focus on melee attacks, not ranged attacks. My character will use a shortsword.

I am just looking for maximum damage output, not how to create a 'sneakable' condition.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan, magic items yes, spells no. I will clarify further. \$\endgroup\$ May 11 '17 at 16:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JPChapleau, maximizing damage. I know there are multiple options available in 3.5 splat, but haven't come across much in pathfinder. I'll edit. \$\endgroup\$ May 11 '17 at 16:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have edited for clarity so that others don't run into the same concern as JP did. Please review to ensure that what you want is as clear as possible. \$\endgroup\$ May 11 '17 at 18:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: What is the maximum amount of Sneak Attack dice you can roll with 1 full attack?, but the source restrictions make it not a dupe, I think \$\endgroup\$ May 29 '18 at 6:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ How do you feel about early-entry prestige class shenanigans? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 28 '18 at 4:45
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By playing an unchained rogue. They are in the group with the fastest sneak attack progression (every odd level), no class will get dice faster. The only feat which actually gives more dice, Accomplished Sneak Attacker, caps the dice at the same rate at which unchained rogues get dice (so it will never increase your dice if you're a full-leveled rogue). For maximizing possible damage, you can take the Knife Master archetype (Thanks @Yuuki) to change the sneak attack's d6's to d8's when using knife-like weapons (including daggers, but not short swords). This does come with the tradeoff of lowering all other sneak attacks to d4's.

If you choose not to use a shortsword, and instead switch to use a sap to deal nonlethal bludgeoning damage, you can use the Sap Adept and Sap Master (immediately below) feats. The former adds extra damage equal to your sneak attack dice, and the latter allows you to roll your sneak attack dice twice and add them up.

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With Strangler from ultimate combat, you can cause your sneak attack damage twice per round, once on your regular grapple check (as part of the grapple check), and again using a Swift Action that does not apply any other modifier.

Whenever you successfully maintain a grapple and choose to deal damage, you can spend a swift action to deal your sneak attack damage to the creature you are grappling.

If you are grappling a foe, which also happens to be flanked, you can use your Sneak Attack on your grapple check's free attack.

Once you are grappling an opponent, a successful check allows you to continue grappling the foe, and also allows you to perform one of the following actions (as part of the standard action spent to maintain the grapple):

Damage: You can inflict damage to your target equal to your unarmed strike, a natural attack, or an attack made with armor spikes or a light or one-handed weapon. This damage can be either lethal or nonlethal.

This means that if your sneak attack is 3d6, your will cause weapon damage + 6d6 damage using your standard and swift actions at 5th level.

PS: You can take Dirty Fighting instead of improved unarmed strike as the requeriment to qualify for Strangler.

Teamwork

If you happen to have a friend who also has sneak attack (or simply wants to cause sneak attack damage), both of you can take the Precise Strikes teamwork feat to increase your damage by +1d6. Pack Flanking might also make sneak attacks easier to deliver.

As an alternative, you can look up for an ability similar to Solo Tactics so you won't have to depend on other characters to have the same teamwork feat. The Consigliere rogue archetype from Ultimate Intrigue can do this, but much later (10th level).

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Baseline

I haven't been able to find feats or other abilities that allow you to make your sneak attack damage progress faster than a standard rogue, so that's our baseline: 1d6 + 1d6 for every two levels after 1st. So, how do we use that to it's fullest advantage?

Enhancing Sneak Attacks

As @Delioth has already mentioned, the Knife Master archetype allows you to boost your sneak attack dice to d8s when using certain weapons.

Some rogue talents provide ways to improve your sneak attack. Powerful Sneak and Deadly Sneak allow you to reroll low values on your sneak attack dice, though you have to take a -2 to attack so it's a bit risky. Underhanded allows you to deal max damage with sneak attacks that you make in the surprise round, though it has a cap on daily uses equal to your Cha bonus. Bleeding Attack causes your sneak attacks to deal bleed damage. Assault Leader doesn't actually enhance your sneak attacks, but it does allow you to give your flanking buddy a free attack if you miss once per day.

More Attacks

The other way to get more mileage out of sneak attacks is simply to make more attacks. Two-Weapon Fighting is one obvious way to do this. With some skillful positioning, you can set up attacks of opportunity that will count as sneak attacks, though you have to be careful not to get yourself killed in the process (I've heard of people using reach weapons to reduce these dangers, though I've never seen it in practice myself). The Opportunist advanced rogue talent is excellent for this, allowing you to take an extra attack when your flanking buddy hits. It gets even better if your flanking buddy has Greater Trip to provoke another AoO.

If you make your character a ninja rather than a rogue, you can spend a ki point to make an extra attack per round.

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Okay here's what to do for maximum sneak attack efficiency

  1. Unchained Rogue
  2. Knife Master archetype(d8 for sneak when using knives)
  3. Weapon Versatility, so you can do bludgeoning damage with your knives
  4. Sap Adept/Sap Master
  5. Merciful Enchantment

Enjoy.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer could be improved by demonstrating why or how this accomplishes the maximum possible sneak attack damage. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 18 '20 at 18:52
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I use unchained rogue and advance as normal. Max out your dex as much as possible, currently i have a +7 dex mod because of a belt of dexterity + 4. At level 8. Use Sap's as weapons and take the two weapon fighting feat as well as sap master and sap adept. With the rogue talent Underhanded if you are in the right situation you should be able to do maximum sneak attack damage. Currently with my base attack bonus of + 6 / + 1 I get three attacks and my sneak attack dice are 4 D6. The min damage i deal is 171 points of nonlethal and max is 186 using normal weapons and no crit. It's amazing if you add a ring of invisibility.

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take one level of sneaky fighter (maybe level 2), you will always be 1d6 ahead of the curve every second level and be 1d6 ahead at level 20 (11d6)

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