Author Topic: The Quintessential Ninja Handbook  (Read 34765 times)

Offline SleepyShadow

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The Quintessential Ninja Handbook
« Topic Start: January 14, 2012, 05:46:29 PM »
The Quintessential Ninja Handbook


Hi there, I'm SleepyShadow. I've been a fan of ninjas for a long time, whether they are in books, movies, or other media. Except for certain television shows, of course. Ninjas are stealthy assassins, they should not wear orange. Why, if I had a dime for every shredded character sheet one of my players has shown me with their attempts at statting up that orange pajama wearing idiot ...

*ahem*

As I was saying, welcome to The Quintessential Ninja HandbookTM! Why is it the quintessential handbook, you ask? I'll tell you. I looked around for quite some time, but never have I found a handbook dedicated to these most wonderful and entertaining classes.

"But SleepyShadow!" you would say. "There's only one ninja class!"

Wrong! There are in fact three ninja base classes that I have discovered. However, I will only be discussing two of them: The NinjaCA and the Rokugan Ninja. The third ninja base class belongs to Big Eyes Small Mouths d20, and only a DM willing to cry tears of bloody frustration would ever allow BESM d20 and D&D 3.X to mingle. Trust me, I've been there, done that, wept for three days.

Because this is a handbook about ninjas and not just an old man's rant about them, I'll get down to business. I've noticed that most handbooks out there use this to denote good choices, standard black text to denote average/moderate/mediocre choices, and this to denote bad choices, I'll stick with the theme and make it easy on you dear readers.

To start, let's examine the NinjaCA and what it has to offer:

  • Average BAB - Okay, we aren't winning any awards here, but you could be doing worse.
  • 6 Skill Points per Level - Alright, now we got something to work with. Your skill list isn't bad either, though you might wish Use Magic Device was a class skill.
  • d6 HD - You need hit points to survive in combat. You do not have much hp. Watch out.
  • Good Reflex Saves - Great! Dodge those pesky fireballs with ease!
  • Bad Fort and Will Saves - Ouch. Two bad saves is a bummer. These two as your bad saves make you sadly vulnerable to instant kill spells and the like.
  • AC Bonus - Wisdom mod to AC is nice, especially since you have no armor proficiency. It also slowly increases as you level up. Unfortunately, not fast enough.
  • Ki Power - This is what fuels your ninja powers of awesome. It also gives you a small bonus to your will saves as long as you haven't used up all of your ninja powers for the day.
  • Sudden Strike - Alright! We get sneak ... wait, no you don't. Sudden Strike only applies to opponents that are denied their dex to AC. No flanking. Means you must get creative, or keep reading.
  • Trap Finding - Always useful, and with your skill points and skill list, this means you are a skill-monkey in addition to being a shadowy assassin. Versatility is good.
  • Ghost Step - Congratulations! Your first real ninja power! Swift action invisibility is very nice, especially since at level 2 you likely don't have anything else that's swift action.
  • Poison Use - I rank this at standard black because it's nice if you use poison, useless if you don't. Obviously.
  • Great Leap - Quite useful outside of combat, and if you're clever you can use it in combat, too. The classic sky-high ninja jumping.
  • Acrobatics - Never say no to skill bonuses, but always ask for more  ;)
  • Ki Dodge - The second ninja skill you learn seems lackluster compared to Ghost Step. It's only 20% miss chance, and only for 1 round. My advice: Go Invisible!
  • Speed Climbing - What ninja can't run walls? Well, now you can. Not quite spiderclimb, but unless you need to cling to the walls this will be good enough.
  • Ghost Strike - Fight ghosts on equal ground. More importantly, land a Sudden Strike on an ethereal caster.
  • Improved Poison Use - This moves up to black if you're a dedicated poison user, but otherwise you typically have better things to do with your move actions. Like move.
  • Evasion - Whoo! No fireball damage! Wait ... this is at level 12. A nice ability, but comes late. You will likely have already purchased a Ring of Evasion by now.
  • Ghost Mind - So now you're dodging scrying spells. Handy, but if you're doing your job the enemy should have no reason to think about scrying for you.
  • Ghost Sight - Not quite true seeing, but certainly covers the basics.
  • Greater Ki Dodge - A nice late game benefit, but one I still advise to use as infrequently as possible by not being in a position that requires dodging attacks in the first place.
  • Ghost Walk - If you made it to level 20 in this class, congratulations. Your capstone ability: A 7th level wizard spell that has likely been seeing use for a while now.

For your stats, I recommend Dex>Wis/Con>Int>Str>Cha.

So as we've seen, some good, some bad. That's to be expected of a non-caster class though. Now we need to make the most of what you've got. After all, being a ninja isn't an easy thing to do. I like to view the NinjaCA as the thinker's Rogue. You can't just flank with the Fighter and mindlessly sneak attack you way to victory. However, if you're willing to put forth the effort, you may find you achieve greater results than the average skill monkey.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2012, 08:17:16 PM by SleepyShadow »

Offline SleepyShadow

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Re: The Quintessential Ninja Handbook
« Reply #1: January 14, 2012, 05:46:47 PM »
Rokugan Ninja

So we've already taken a look at the NinjaCA, now let's take a look at their more physically inclined counterpart: The Rokugan Ninja!

  • Full BAB - Alright! Off to a good start so far.
  • 4 Skill Points per Level - This roughly indicates that you are not a skill monkey.
  • d6 HD - Ouch, okay, ninjas get the shaft on hit points.
  • Good Will Save - One of the issues that typically plague stealth characters is a bad will save. You're in good shape!
  • Bad Fort and Ref Saves - A bad Fort comes with the territory of being sneaky. A bad Ref on the other hand is puzzling.
  • Sneak Attack - Alright, we have some good old fashioned sneak attack. Time to bust out the Two-Weapon Fighting tree!
  • Ninja Dodge - A small AC boost, which helps a little because like your counterpart, you are not proficient in armor. This ability explicitly qualifies as the Dodge feat.
  • Poison Use - Ninjas and poison. I sense a theme here.
  • Uncanny Dodge - With dexterity being a major factor in your AC, you don't want to lose the bonus.
  • Speed of Darkness - The first of the Rokugan Ninja's trademark ninja tricks. This nets you an initiative bonus equal to your intelligence modifier. Initiative is always important, especially to a ninja.
  • Improved Uncanny Dodge - The name says it all. It's improved.
  • Shadow Run - No, you don't get to use supplement books from the Shadow Run game system. Instead, you add your constitution modifier x5 to you movement speed. Note that this is specifically to your base movement speed, so it will apply to any other movements you have by virtue of your race, like swimming and flying.
  • Blind Fight and Deflect Arrows - You pick up a couple of bonus feats at 10th and 12th levels, respectively. Your mileage may vary.

For your stats, I recommend Dex>Con>Int>Str>Wis>Cha.

After 12th level, all you get is more sneak attack and ninja dodge. Like its more magically inclined predecessor, the Rokugan Ninja has potential, but it also needs some nurturing in order to fully take fruition.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2012, 11:59:42 AM by SleepyShadow »

Offline SleepyShadow

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Re: The Quintessential Ninja Handbook
« Reply #2: January 14, 2012, 05:47:06 PM »
Beneath the Mask: Races of The Ninja

We all have a race. Can't start without one. However, some races stand tall and proud among the successful races, and others just sit in the corner and sulk (Half-Elves I'm looking at you  :shakefist). So, what makes the best ninja? Well, it depends on what kind of ninja you are trying to be. However, some races are good for all flavors of ninja. Thanks to the efforts of Shiroko, my highly trained and experienced ninja (who will reveal his build later), we have gathered together a collection of corpses of other ninjas to determine what races make good ninjas, and what races are at the bottom of the body pile. What? You think we could have just asked the ninjas to tell us their races? I suppose that could have worked ...

  • Human - Most people tend to think humans are great. Well, since I'm here to judge I'd have to agree. It's hard to find such an easy bonus feat.
  • Halfling - These little buggers make good ninjas. With +2 dex, +2 racial bonus to move silently, and the benefit of being small, it's easy to see why they make good ninjas. If you are allowed to be a Strongheart Halfling, you even net the bonus feat of a human.
  • Gnome Whether you're a normal gnome or a Whispergnome, you'll have few regrets being one. With a d6 HD regardless of what variety of ninja you are, the +2 con bonus is always nice. It also pairs nicely with the Rokugan Ninja's shadow run.
  • Nezumi - The ratlings of Rokugan, these amazing creatures make equally amazing ninjas. With a +2 Con, racial bonuses to hide and move silently, and a medium sized creature with a 40' movement speed, the only thing you will regret about playing a nezumi ninja is the number of times the other players will call you Master Splinter.
  • Catfolk - Whether you view them as furry feline people or just human-looking with strange colored hair and kitty ears on top of their heads, these creatures make even better ninjas that the Nezumi! They have wonderful stat adjustments, a 40' movement speed, and access to Catfolk Pounce, all for a measly +1 LA. You aren't a caster, so a small level adjustment for these benefits is an easy price to pay. It's even better if you are allowed to buy off your level adjustment!
  • Tiefling - Bonuses to Dex and Int, and only a penalty to Cha, plus a few innate spell-like abilities that suit the ninja flavor nicely. If you are not willing to take the LA, a 'lesser' version exists that has the stat mods and no LA, but you also don't get the abilities or the Outsider creature type. Something to consider.
  • Elf - A nice +2 dex bonus is always appreciated by the ninja. Elves also grant immunity to magical sleep and a +2 bonus against enchantments. With your low will saves an additional +2 is always nice. However, the -2 con penalty is doubly painful with your already small hp, so be wary.
  • Warforged - An oddly workable idea, the warforged offer resistance or immunity to the majority of effects that trouble a ninja the most. I rank this as black for both ninjas, however those of you who follow the path of the NinjaCA need to remember that the wisdom penalty is detrimental to both your AC and your ki pool.
  • Spirit Folk - When you choose to be a spirit folk, you choose one of four subraces: Bamboo, River, Sea, or Mountain. Bamboo spirits have trackless step and a +4 racial bonus to hide (handy for a ninja). River and Sea both offer a 30' swim speed, with the former granting speak with animals (fish only) while the latter allows you to predict the weather (yawn). Lastly, the Mountain spirits grants a 30' climb speed (wall running, anyone?). Ultimately, your mileage may vary with the different types of spirit folk.
  • Jungle Kobold - Specifically the Jungle Kobold, as it is the only subspecies of the little blighters that manages to dodge both the constitution and the wisdom penalties. Small size and a dex bonus are nice, but a -4 strength penalty keeps it in the black listing. However, it shoots up to top-notch with Dragonwrought cheese.
  • Orc/Half-Orc Whether you're part of an orc or all of an orc, orcs are bad ninjas. With hits to all of the mental stats, orcs are either dragging down your ki pool and already bad will saves, or they just aren't giving you anything to work with from the Rokugan side of things.
  • Dwarf - A dwarf ninja? Oooo-kaay, aside from the fact that I can't see any dwarf finding a ninja mask big enough to hide his beard, dwarves make bad ninjas for one very simple reason: they are medium sized and have a 20' movement speed. No bonus to hide, and they are slow. +2 con is nice, but when the fighter in full plate is keeping up with the ninja's running speed, we have an issue.
  • Half-Elf - You get nothing. Period. This is at the bottom of the list for a reason.

Something worth mentioning is the Necropolitan. While not a true race, this +0 LA template turns you undead, thereby making you virtually immune to anything requiring a Fort or Will save (you know, your bad ones). However, due to the method of creating a necropolitan, it is advised that you talk it over with your DM before choosing to become one of these creatures.

If you are interested in races other than the ones I've listed here, use some good judgement to determine if they are worth the effort to make them a ninja. If it gives a dexterity or wisdom bonus, great! If not, you should make sure you are getting something good out of it. Naturally, avoid dexterity and constitution penalties if at all possible.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2012, 12:00:05 PM by SleepyShadow »

Offline SleepyShadow

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Re: The Quintessential Ninja Handbook
« Reply #3: January 14, 2012, 05:47:19 PM »
Tricks of the Trade: Feats, Prestige Classes, and Useful Tricks for the Aspiring Ninja

Excellent. You've now figured out what you are and what sort of ninja you will be. Now you need to learn a few tricks to keep you alive and to let you do what you want to do! Hmm ... ah, I know! Let's start with feats! You can avoid taking other classes, but it's hard to not take feats. Since this is a rather important aspect of character creation, I'll break it down into three sections. First, feats that are helpful for any ninja, then feats for the NinjaCA, and then feats for the Rokugan Ninja. That ought to make things easy, yes?

General Purpose Ninja Feats:
  • Craven - Oh Craven, how we love thee, let us count the ways ... Er, I mean adding your character level to sudden strike/sneak attack is great.
  • Darkstalker - Hide from things that have blindsight, blind sense, scent, or tremorsense? Yes please!
  • Deadly Precision - It's not as good as Craven, but if you have a spare feat, no harm in taking both.
  • Improved Initiative - Your big source of damage occurs when your enemy loses his dex bonus. Being flat footed makes them lose their dex bonus. Going first makes them flat footed. See where I'm going with this?
  • Able Learner - I would rate this higher for the dedicated skill monkey NinjaCA, but for anyone else it rates here. Easier use of cross-class skills is always nice, though, especially since neither ninja has UMD.
  • Void Use - Spend a void point, get a +2 bonus to whatever roll you're making. This feat starts you out with 2 void points, so not too shabby. You get this for free if you're playing in Oriental Adventures.
  • Depths of the Void - Void Use's companion feat, this gives you two more void points every time you take it. Not worth it.
  • Two-Weapon Fighting - Like with other precision damage based classes, the two-weapon fighting feat tree will quite literally double your damage output. There are few cases where a ninja would not take this, but I will discuss them later in this section.
  • Two-Weapon Defense - I have had about enough of your silliness. This is little better than Dodge and Mobility. Avoid it. Avoid them all.
  • Combat Expertise - A handy feat for either ninja, since both prefer to have a good intelligence. Doubly handy for a ninja due to the lack of armor.
  • Weapon Finesse - Strength will likely be a dump stat for most ninjas, so weapon finesse is your answer.
  • Martial Study - Your mileage may vary once again. It depends on what you learn, though most things in the Setting Sun and Shadow Hand schools are befitting a ninja. I like Shadow Jaunt and Concealing Strike, personally.
  • Martial Stance - As with Martial Study, it all depends on what you learn with it. Assassin's Stance is the typical choice.
  • Shadow Blade - If you have Weapon Finesse, this is the natural follow up. It allows you to completely dump strength, since you'll now be adding your dex mod to damage.
  • Gloom Razor - Oh look at that! It's a follow up feat for Shadow Blade! It's a tactical feat, so you get three bonuses for the price of one feat  :D
  • Desert Wind Dodge - It's a passable alternative to Dodge, if you have to take it.
  • Versatile - This feat allows you to pick two skills and permanently make them class skills regardless of what class you level up in. Any combination of Auto-Hypnosis, Use Magic Device, and Iajutsu Focus will serve you well.
  • Combat Reflexes - You have a high dexterity already (or at least you should  :eh) so this feat will work quite well for you. Moves up in ranking if you have a reach weapon.
  • Spring Attack - Unfortunately this rather ninja-flavored feat requires those poor, poor entry feats that seem to be a requirement for everything but breathing in this game: Dodge and Mobility. I move this up to black if you are a Rokugan Ninja, that way you only waste one feat getting it, rather than two.
  • Up the Walls - Yet another source of wall running! Requires at least 1 power point, but ninjas loves psionics, so if you can't wall run through some other means, this is your answer.
  • Point Blank Shot - It's like weapon focus for short ranged attacks. However, you need it if you are going to be throwing a fistful of shuriken with any regularity.
  • Precise Shot - This one is for making sure said fistful of shuriken hits the bad guy, not your party members.
  • Rapid Shot - The benefits of throwing more shuriken are quite obvious, really.
  • Far Shot - Shuriken have terrible range. So terrible, in fact, that you may be smacked by an ogre just for thinking of using them. This helps with that problem.
  • Woodland Archery - If you are a NinjaCA, your attack bonus isn't the greatest. This will help shore up your accuracy when you miss. If you are a Rokugan Ninja, your BAB may be high enough so as to obviate the need for this, but it is still a good feat regardless.
  • Dreadful Wrath - You are a ninja and you let yourself be seen? Well, if you must be seen you may as well scare the bejeezus out of your enemies. Combine this with Imperious Command and watch the hilarity ensue.
  • Apprentice/Mentor - This is like Versatile, but with a mid game Leadership cohort attached. I advise talking to your DM about this one, but if he lets you take it gobble it up and never look back.
  • Improved Feint - Only take this if it is a required feat, or you are really desperate for some way to make the enemy flat-footed.
  • Improved Toughness - If you find yourself short on hp and you have an extra feat on hand, take this.
  • Deft Strike - Most things have a much lower AC without armor or natural armor. This feat allows you to bypass those. Great! The catch? It takes a standard action to use, so you can't stab it in bloody glory until next round. This moves up to Grade-A material if you have a way of getting more than one standard action per round.

So we've taken a look at some feats to consider regardless of what variety of ninja you are. However, both of the styles of ninja have some tricks up their sleeves that aren't normally available to their counterparts. With that in mind, if your DM is allowing both sorts of ninjas to be used in his game, be sure to ask if the ninjas can intermingle their special feats.

Feats for The NinjaCA:

  • Ascetic Stalker - Monk and NinjaCA already feel like they should go hand in hand. This feat allows you to stack your monk and ninja levels for your ki pool and your unarmed damage. If you take this, I recommend Snap Kick, so you can fight with two weapons and deliver a punishing unarmed strike on top of it. A good combination would be Monk 2/Ninja 18, that way you have a few points in your bad saves and evasion at a reasonable level.
  • Martial Stalker - When I first saw this feat, I thought "Wow, I could have all the bonus feats of a fighter and only need one level of the class? Sign me up!" Then, I read the long description, and was sorely disappointed. This feat stacks your Fighter and Ninja levels for your ki pool and your AC bonus, but it only stacks the two classes for the purpose of qualifying for feats that require a minimum Fighter level. I would skip this feat if I were you.
  • Expanded Ki Pool - Three more ninja powers per day? Yes please!
  • Enduring Ki - This feat makes your fancy ninja tricks last for two rounds instead of one, plus gives an extra ki point. Why is that good? Ghost Step does not grant invisibility as per the spell, it just makes you invisible for one round. Now you are attacking from invisibility for two consecutive rounds. That's two rounds of effortless sudden strike damage. I highly recommend this feat.

Feats for the Rokugan Ninja:

  • Crippling Blow - By spending two void points, you are able to inflict 1 dex damage for every die of sneak attack you have. Dex damage hurts, especially big things (Dragon slaying, anyone?  :plotting)
  • Dark Guardian - Pick a battle buddy. As long as you are not flanked or flat-footed, neither is your battle buddy. Unless you are trying to build a tank ninja (not recommended) or your DM is running some kind of ninja clan war where you expect to be flanked a lot, don't bother with this feat.
  • Delayed Sneak Attack - There are too few situations where you want to kill someone later rather than now. Pass.
  • Killing Blow - If you land a sneak attack and drop them to 5 hp or less, they immediately die with no saving throw. However, unless they are a cleric, druid, or maybe a crusader, they are likely to die shortly after being brought to 5 hp anyway.
  • Lightning Stealth - This allows you to move at your normal movement speed while hiding and/or moving silently. Not a critical feat, but definitely nice, especially with Darkstalker.
  • Poison Immunity - I would rate this higher, but it only makes you immune to one specific type of poison. The +2 bonus against all other poisons is nice, though not nice enough to spend a feat on it.
  • Needle Strike - When full attacking and making sneak attacks (something you should do as often as possible), this doubles your critical threat range. Why is this great? It explicitly states that it stacks with other critical threat range modifiers. Dual wield keen kukris with this feat and giggle with perverse joy when you land six critical hits in a round.
  • Shuriken Mastery - This allows you to split up the individual shuriken you throw at multiple targets. It also grants a +1 damage bonus to each shuriken if you throw them all at one target.
  • Strike of the Wolf - Instead of doing sneak attack damage, you can try to trip someone. How? The enemy you just stabbed has to make a Reflex Save equal to (10+your Dex mod+the damage your sneak attack would have done). That can result in a ridiculously high DC. The best part? It's not even a standard action to use. That's right, you can try to trip someone as part of your full attack, and keep stabbing them once they have been tripped.
  • Stab at the Eyes - Largely garbage. If you score a critical hit with a weapon that you wasted Weapon Focus on, the opponent can only take move and free actions for a number of rounds equal to the critical multiplier of the weapon. In most cases, that's two rounds. I suppose it could work in a critical hit build that wields a scythe, but even in a highly focused build this feat becomes of moderate use at best.
  • Stealthy Casting - If you've taken levels in a spell casting class, this feat will let you make a Spellcraft check opposed by the enemy's Spot/Listen check. If you succeed, they don't notice you casting the spell. Your mileage may vary with this feat.
  • Stunning Blade - By sacrificing your sneak attack damage, you can try to stun someone. The Fortitude DC is equal to the damage you would have dealt. In my opinion, I would take Strike of the Wolf over this.
  • Twist the Knife - When you make a sneak attack with a dagger, your threat range is increased by 1 and your weapon damage die is increased one step. The price? Weapon Focus   :shakefist
  • Vanish - The poor ninja's Hide in Plain Sight. This allows you to make a Bluff check, which if successful allows you to make a Hide check as a move action. Not bad, but there are better feats out there.
  • Vigilant Rest - No penalty to your Listen checks when you're sleeping, and you automatically wake up if anything approaches within 5 feet. The usefulness of this feat quickly drops to a poor rating if your DM never ambushes your group.
  • Untouchable - As long as you are not helpless, you gain total concealment (and the 50% miss chance that comes with it) against all ranged attacks, including spells of course. This feat works wonderfully in tandem with Gloom Razor.

Some of you aspiring ninjas may wonder why the Rokugan Ninja's section is longer than the NinjaCA's section. The reason is that all of the feats listed for the Rokugan Ninja are specific to the Rokugan campaign setting. However, if you are a Rokugan Ninja you likely have access to those books, and therefore these feats. The NinjaCA received an unfortunately small amount of supplement support. Fear not, those of you who walk the path of the NinjaCA! Though you may have fewer supplements dedicated to your cause, you are more widely received by DMs since you are not specific to any one campaign.

As always, if you have a suggestion for worthy feats that I may have forgotten or been unaware of, feel free to post your ideas. The assistance is appreciated, and credited as well!  :D


The Elite Shadow Warriors: Multi-Classing and Prestige Classes for Ninjas

What's that? You say you want to be more ninja than ninja? How can you possibly suggest that there are more ways to be a ninja than being a ninja?! Well, since old Sleepy Shadow is here to help you be a better ninja, I'm happy to help you out with that. I've scoured the rule books for the best class combinations I could find, Shiroko has interrogated other ninjas on their character builds for further reference, and a big thanks to sirpercival for suggesting the write-up on the unofficial support (read: homebrew) that other aspiring ninjas have to offer.

So You Want to be a Ninja: Base Classes

  • Barbarian - Aside from the conflicting flavor of the classes, a few levels of Barbarian pair nicely with either ninja, though the NinjaCA gains more from it. None of the NinjaCA's abilities are interfered with by rage, and with fast movement, full BAB, and superior HD, the barbarian makes a decent choice for dipping. I would not recommend any more than four levels, however. The Spirit Lion Totem option is even stronger, if your DM allows it, granting you the Pounce ability instead of Fast Movement.
  • Bard - Ninjas are stealthy assassins. Bards are magical musicians. You also don't gain anything significant that couldn't be done better by dipping Rogue or Wizard.
  • Cleric - This is another case where the NinjaCA gains more from multiclassing into this than the Rokugan Ninja. As a NinjaCA, you should already have a high Wisdom for the ki pool and the AC, so this is playing off of your strengths. In addition to spells, domains, and turning/rebuking (anyone up for Divine Metamagic (Persist)?  :smirk), it also opens up the domain devotion feats, some of which are incredibly good. Like Travel Devotion. Plus, it increases your bad saving throws. Rokugan Ninjas could benefit from a cleric dip as well, though this tends to make them more MAD, as wisdom is usually a dump stat.
  • Druid - Though druids hate multiclassing, ninjas love dips in it. In addition to boosting saving throws, granting an animal companion, and giving you spells to play with, a few levels of druid give you access to the Daggerspell Shaper prestige class. Also, if you are a NinjaCA, there is an ACF in Unearthed Arcana that allows druids to add their wisdom modifiers to their AC in exchange for losing armor proficiency. Ask your DM really nicely if they stack.
  • Fighter - A base class two levels long. Take it for the bonus feats, and if you are a NinjaCA, you may consider snagging Martial Stalker so you can add stack those two levels with your real class.
  • Monk - Another two level long class. This time around, it's good for both sorts of ninjas, though for different reasons. Both ninjas enjoy the bonus feats, saving throw boost, evasion, and flurry of blows. For the NinjaCA, you gain a potent unarmed strike by taking Ascetic Stalker. For the Rokugan Ninja, you gain your wisdom mod to AC. Regardless of what variety of ninja you are, taking a couple levels of monk helps gain entrance into Shadow Sun Ninja, one of the best ninja prestige classes out there.
  • Paladin - No. Just ... no.
  • Ranger - Unless you need Track as a feat to qualify for something, pass this one for something better. Its rating moves to average if you use the Wildshape Ranger to qualify for Daggerspell Shaper, but you would still be better off qualifying with druid.
  • Rogue - Taking levels in rogue may seem redundant, but with 8 skill points per level it helps the NinjaCA be a better skill monkey, and allows the Rokugan Ninja to be a secondary skill monkey. If you choose to take levels in this, take 3 or 4, that way you can take Penetrating Strike instead of trap sense, allowing you to deal partial sneak attack/sudden strike damage to creatures otherwise immune.
  • Sorcerer - The sorcerer does not mesh well with either ninja, since both ninjas typically dump charisma.
  • Wizard - However, the wizard is golden with either ninja, since NinjaCAs often have good intelligence scores to facilitate their role as skill-monkey, and Rokugan Ninjas usually have good intelligence to take advantage of their speed of darkness ability. This also opens up many beneficial prestige classes, which will be discussed later.

Most of the non-core base classes all typically offer little for the ninjas, either because it makes the ninjas MAD or because the class features require too many levels invested in that class to be useful for dipping. Unless you are going for a particularly creative build, I advise against most of the non-core classes. Of special note, however, are the (Unarmed) Swordsage and the Warblade. In the case of the swordsage, the NinjaCA fares better with the unarmed version, while the Rokugan Ninja will appreciate the armor proficiency. In either case, it makes qualifying for the Shadow Sun Ninja much easier. As for the Warblade, it pairs nicely with the ninjas because its class features utilize intelligence, a stat that most ninjas of both types will typically have moderately high.

As a final note, the two varieties of ninjas actually integrate quite well. Rokugan Ninjas get all of their class abilities by level 8, so if you are feeling like being more of a ninja than the other ninjas, you could go NinjaCA 12/Rokugan Ninja 8 and have the best class abilities both classes have to offer. While this isn't particularly optimized, the right feats could make something like this shine.

So You REALLY Want to be a Ninja: Prestige Classes

When it comes right down to it, this is what we all want. Prestige. Power. The ability to tear planets in half with our nostrils. These things and more can be yours if you take the right prestige classes. Yes, even the nostril bit.

  • Arcane Trickster - If you a a magical ninja, this is what you take when your good prestige class runs out of levels. Avoid if possible.
  • Assassin - In the hands of a ninja, this prestige class is decent. There are certainly better classes out there, but there are far more that are worse.
  • Horizon Walker - Does it advance sneak attack? No. Does it give you ultimate cosmic power and an itty-bitty living space? Nope. However, being able to dimension door every 1d4 rounds is still pretty cool.
  • Shadow Dancer - I can't stress enough that you should avoid this class. It takes two crappy feats, and at best you'll take two levels of it for Hide in Plain Sight and Evasion.
  • Daggerspell Mage - Excellent class for the magically inclined ninja. Requires one bad feat, but you at least get a return on your investment.
  • Daggerspell Shaper - Another good class, though this time one for the ninja with a wild(shaping) side.
  • Dread Pirate - I know, I know, ninjas and pirates are like fire and sawdust: two things that don't go together. However, if you want to make a scary ninja, Scourge of the Seas will help out a lot. Just resist the urge to say anything even close to "Yar har! You've been ninja'd! Yar!"
  • Ghost-Faced Killer - Remember that whole 'scary ninja' idea? Yeah? Good. If you take this class, you're doing it wrong.  >:(
  • Highland Stalker - This prestige class is essentially for you goobers that thought a ninja/ranger was a good idea. This class almost makes it passable. Almost.
  • Nightsong Enforcer - Full BAB and sneak attack? Sign me up! Only problem? You need evasion. Two levels of monk or rogue will get you that, or if you are a very very patient NinjaCA, I suppose you could go in at level 13.
  • Nightsong Infiltrator - It's the Enforcer's gimpy little brother. Don't bother.
  • Shadowbane Inquisitors - This prestige class is for those of you who ignored my earlier advice and took levels in paladin anyway. It sucks. But if you took levels in paladin despite my advice, you will likely ignore this warning and take all ten levels of this garbage PrC anyway.
  • Shadowbane Stalker - For those of you who listened to my advice and took a few levels in cleric, this will further your cause, oh Righteous Ninja of Holy Shadows!
  • Shadowmind - For the psychic ninja, this class isn't bad, depending on what psychic class got you here. I recommend either Psychic Warrior or Psychic Rogue.
  • Spymaster - This is either really good, or really bad. If you are playing in a subterfuge campaign with lots of social interaction, espionage, and the occasional assassination, this class does wonders for you. If, on the other hand your campaign is heavily combat focused and subterfuge is a minimal or nonexistent aspect, find something better. As a side note, this class is wonderful for a ninja NPC trying to infiltrate, spy on, and/or assassinate a PC.
  • Streetfighter - 5 levels for 1d6 sneak attack? Pass.
  • Thief-Acrobat - No sneak attack, but the other class features aren't bad.
  • Exotic Weapon Master - If you use an exotic weapon, this class is fairly good. A few nice tricks, though nothing to write home about.
  • Invisible Blade - An excellent prestige class for ninjas! The required feats are a bit annoying, but the benefits are well worth it. It's an easy way to make someone flat-footed, unfettered defense will come in handy, and it gives you a couple d6s of sneak attack to boot!
  • Master Thrower - A must-have for the shuriken user. Take as soon as possible.
  • Ronin - If you are something of a charger ninja, or you just want to be a bit beefier, this is a fair way to do it.
  • Ninja Spy - Hey! Do you want to feel so ninja? Try NINJA SPY! It's a prestige class for people who need GRATUITOUS AMOUNTS OF NINJA! If you take this prestige class, you're going to feel UNCOMFORTABLY AWESOME! You want to wall run? Why not just jump over the buildings with your LEAP OF THE CLOUDS! Sneak attacks? You'll be good at them. It's a prestige class for ninjas. NINJA PRESTIGE! Sneak attack ninja sneak attack ninja sneak attack MORE NINJA THAN YOUR CHARACTER SHEET HAS ROOM FOR! Thanks to your +20 bonus to acrobatic skills, you'll be tumbling so fast that your DM will be like SLOOOOOW DOOOOWN. Ninja weapons ninja breathing ninja poisons ninja falling ninja dodging ninja hiding ninja water walking ninja FACES! You'll have so many FACES! 1000 FACES! Give this prestige class to your ninjas and they'll move as fast as ROKUGANISE! Your party will watch you run and think you're ROKUGANISE! You'll move so fast you'll Abundant Step and Dimension Door back to ROKUGAN! Don't gamble on your ninja's life. Take NINJA SPY! Ninjaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
  • Avenging Executioner - *ahem* Couldn't help myself on the last one. Anyway, this prestige class is good for a scary ninja, but not so much for anyone not focused on Intimidate.
  • Cloaked Dancer - I honestly feel that this prestige class works better without a magic ninja entry. It's 2/5 spell advancement and the abilities don't utilize spells anyway. Overall, I like the abilities it gives, and it's relatively easy for a ninja to qualify. Pairs nicely with the Spymaster.
  • Magical Trickster - The benefits are nice, but with only three levels the class leaves the magical ninja yearning for more.
  • Montebank - For the quick-witted ninja, or for the slow-witted who need a way out, the montebank offers little in the way of offense, but a few swift action dimension doors are always handy.
  • Psibond Agent - Like the Spymaster, this class varies depending on the style of your play and the style of your campaign. Excellent for espionage games, less so for combat oriented games. However, it does rate slightly higher than Spymaster for combat, though only barely.
  • Spellwarp Sniper - An excellent choice for the magical ninja! Since you will likely be fighting from a distance, this class offers only benefits.
  • Uncanny Trickster - Its usefulness depends on what skill tricks you choose. Your mileage may vary.
  • Abjurant Champion - This is for the melee inclined magical ninja. An excellent choice, though you may find yourself missing the lost sudden strike/sneak attack from time to time.
  • Unseen Seer - Another great choice for the magical ninja. Full casting and it advances your sneak attack. This is your ideal prestige class.
  • Suel Archanamach - An interesting choice for the ninja that suddenly realizes that they need to defend themselves against magic. The feats are of little help to you, but both ninjas are already proficient with four or more exotic weapons.
  • Telflammar Shadowlord - This is an excellent prestige class, but the rating falls to average due to the stiff entry requirements. If you can get into it, it's usually worth the effort.
  • Black Flame Zealot - For those ninjas who have taken a few levels in cleric and think that this is a good idea, think twice. You'll lose too much and gain too little.
  • Bloodstorm Blade - Another excellent choice for those of you focusing on throwing hundreds of shuriken per round, this class offers little to the melee, magical, or skill ninjas.
  • Shadow Sun Ninja - At last we get to the granddaddy of ninja prestige classes. The abilities of this class are both powerful and flavorful. I cannot recommend this class enough. If you are a NinjaCA/Monk going into this prestige class, you'll be happy to know this will also advance your monk capabilities.
  • Jaunter - Thanks to Waazraath for pointing this one out. I definitely like the class, and the teleporting and shifting abilities, but I rank it average due to the undesirable feat requirements.

Breaking News from Way of the Ninja!
  • Shosuro Tejina - Perhaps the best prestige class in the book, this prestige class gives two good saves, a host of excellent class abilities, and a handful of spells unique to the class. Let's see the party wizard try to do these tricks!
  • Kolat Assassin - This prestige class likely would have ranked higher if it did not require lackluster feats to enter. The 2nd level ability, Tiger Claw, is probably the best one they get, granting them an extra single attack per round against an opponent denied their dex mod to AC. The other abilities are nice, but they come too late in the class to be considered fantastic.
  • Goju Assassin - This class has two good saves, great class abilities, and awesome flavor to boot. Why is it red? Oh yeah ... you become an evil NPC as soon as you enter the class. That is the exact opposite of what we are trying to do. This ranks much higher for a DM creating an enemy ninja.
  • Hiruma Stalker - The Hiruma Stalker is a 5 level class that grants one semi-useful ability, and even that is dubious at best. Avoid this one.
  • Kitsuki Investigator - A noteworthy class indeed, the Kitsuki Investigator hosts two good saves, full BAB, and a host of excellent class abilities. However, I cannot rate this higher than average because it does not advance your sudden strike/sneak attack at all.
  • Shadow Hunter - The Shadow Hunter turns your ninja into a demon-slaying, ninja-hunting bad ass anti-ninja ninja. Two good saves and full BAB again, but this time you advance your sudden strike/sneak attack and pick up some decent class features as well.


Ninja Hopefuls: Helpful Home Brew:

So we've taken a look at some of the best and the worst base and prestige classes a ninja would likely consider taking. But, as sirpercival pointed out, there yet exists a mass amount of home brew out there written by your fellow ninjas. Often, such home brew is merely an attempt at recreating the powers and abilities of certain cartoon ninjas without putting in the effort of finding out such work has already been done using official material: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19530598/Psionic_Naruto_Builds

However, for every unhelpful home brew idea there are three good ones, typically written by wiser, more experienced ninjas. Such ninjas who have walked the official paths of the ninja are trying to assist their fellow ninjas, the inexperienced ones who would walk in their footsteps. And so, while there is far too much of this material for me to review here, I offer a starting point, and encourage you and your DM to search together to find the perfect balance of power and flavor to suit your individual campaign needs. Here is a stepping stone: http://www.dandwiki.com/w/index.php?title=Special%3ASearch&search=ninja&go=Go

As a final note, for those ninjas who have also decided to walk the path of the divine, I would like to direct your attention to the Divine Trickster. While strictly speaking it is home brew, it was created by Rich Burlew, who worked on several official WotC books. The class is sleek, well balanced, and perhaps the best way to combine stealth and divine magic. Here is where you will find it: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=9623145#post9623145


Ninja Vanish!: Tips and Tricks for The Ninjas

So, you figured out what species you belong to, transcended the bonds of said species to become a ninja, learned your ninja feats, decided whether or not to pick up another class, and maybe even prestige classed! Congratulations, your well on your way to becoming a Master Ninja  :clap  However, it certainly helps to have a few tricks of the trade up your sleeve, and naturally I'm here to help.

First and foremost, whether you use sudden strike or sneak attack, attacking your opponent when they have lost their dex mod to AC certainly makes that much easier. Therefore, let me point you to this most helpful resource on ways to make them lose it: http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=12405

If you are playing in Rokugan, be sure to pick a dojo. Being part of a dojo gives you a few small free benefits, and free benefits are always appreciated.

Always remember that your party members are your allies. Yes, even the fighter in full plate constantly trying to follow you around and ruin your move silently checks. Because while the wizard is turning the area into a web-filled, grease covered, glitter dusted hell hole complete with groping tentacles, the cleric is arguing with his deity that yes his nightsticks should stack, and the barbarian is frothing at the bit in eager anticipation to become a frenzied berserker, you are disabling traps that would otherwise kill your companions, running along the walls and ceiling in order to put yourself in a favorable (or at least impressive) position, and if all else fails rolling on the ground giggling in perverse glee when you kill the BBEG in the middle of his monologue.

Lastly, remember this helpful tip: If all else fails, you can outrun everyone in the party. So if you have to, throw caltrops behind you as you run to ensure that the fighter will hold off the Troll Warhulk long enough to let the more valuable members of your team escape.  ;)
« Last Edit: March 04, 2012, 04:01:34 PM by SleepyShadow »

Offline SleepyShadow

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Re: The Quintessential Ninja Handbook
« Reply #4: January 14, 2012, 05:47:53 PM »
Those Who Have Come Before: Sleepy Shadow's Ninja Dojo

Wait, I have a ninja dojo?  :lmao Of course I do! I wouldn't bother writing The Quintessential Ninja HandbookTM if I didn't already have some experience working with ninjas. I'll present a basic ninja from each of the two ninja classes, then demonstrate a few of my more successful ninja builds.

The Quintessential NinjaCA
(click to show/hide)

The Quintessential Rokugan Ninja
(click to show/hide)

The Divine Scorpion
(click to show/hide)

The Dancing Shadow
(click to show/hide)

The Forest Ninja
(click to show/hide)

The Most Ninja
(click to show/hide)

The Infiltrator
(click to show/hide)

The Shuriken Storm
(click to show/hide)

Lastly, we have one final ninja to examine. As promised, Shiroko will reveal his build. Here it is:

Shiroko, Master Ninja
(click to show/hide)


Rogue Ninjas: Submitted Builds

Waazraath
(click to show/hide)

Amechra
(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: March 04, 2012, 04:03:12 PM by SleepyShadow »

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Re: The Quintessential Ninja Handbook
« Reply #5: January 16, 2012, 07:47:48 PM »
The handbook is completed! If anyone has any suggestions on more material to include, or a build they want posted, feel free to do so here. Any help will of course be credited  :)

Also, the discussion thread can be found here: http://www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=2991.0
« Last Edit: December 20, 2012, 11:40:34 AM by SleepyShadow »

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Re: The Quintessential Ninja Handbook
« Reply #6: February 05, 2012, 01:12:37 PM »
Holy Fire Benders Batman Wizard!: Elemental Ninjas

Many thanks to Shortstraw for pointing this out to me. In Dragon Magazine #354 a short article talks about three variants of the NinjaCA, the Earth, Fire, and Water Ninjas. They are alternate class features rather than full rewrites of the base class, so the majority of the information above still stands firm. The elemental abilities replace the Ghost Step and Ghost Strike abilities at 2nd, 8th, and 10th levels. I will go into some depth about these fantastic types of ninjas that had even managed to hide themselves from me until now, and present a few tips for them as well.

Fire Ninja: Blinding Flash
  • 2nd Level - A brief save-or-suck that makes them blind on a failed save and dazzled on a successful one. While I find this less useful than invisibility, the fact that it is a swift action AoE keeps it in the black listing.
  • 8th Level - Ugh, I certainly hope you prestige class out before now. This ability makes me cringe. Instead of attacking incorporeal creatures normally, you now increase blindness effects by 1 round when you sudden strike a blinded creature. The worst part is that the ability specifically states the duration cannot be increased beyond 1 extra round regardless of how many sudden strike attacks you get.
  • 10th Level - The fire ninja's final ability is likewise a letdown. After you use your blinding flash ability, your attacks gain flaming burst for 1 round and creatures attacking you in melee suffer 1d6 fire damage if they hit you. Oh yeah, the aura damage allows a reflex save for half.

Water Ninja: Deceptive Mist
  • 2nd Level - I like this ability quite a bit, but I'm on the fence as to whether it's better than invisibility. It's a swift action obscuring mist, but you are immune to the negative effects.
  • 8th Level - Unless you are specializing in poisons, this ability will be of little use to you. You get to lace your obscuring mist with either a contact or an inhaled poison, and it will effect everyone in the cloud except you. I rank this red because poison DCs are too low to be a threat most of the time.
  • 10th Level - Your obscuring mist turns into solid fog. A swift action poisoned solid fog. Yeah, you're cool like that.

Earth Ninja: One with the Earth
  • 2nd Level - Swift action meld into stone that lasts for a full minute. Yes please!
  • 8th Level - You gain a burrow speed! It only lasts for one round, unfortunately. Of course, you can keep expending ki points to extend the duration, but just hope you don't have to burrow too far.
  • 10th Level - After you stop burrowing you gain DR 10/adamantine for 1d4 rounds. It's alright for a bruiser, but most ninjas would like to not be hit in the first place.

Wait, where's the wind ninja????? The NinjaCA is the wind ninja. Tough luck, no lightning bolt throwing ninjas today.

As one last piece of advice, I recommend that the water ninja utilizes poisons to their fullest in order to take advantage of their class abilities. Here is a handbook already written: http://www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=2714
« Last Edit: February 18, 2012, 12:03:31 PM by SleepyShadow »

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Re: The Quintessential Ninja Handbook
« Reply #7: December 20, 2012, 11:52:15 AM »
Dragon Magazine Loves Ninjas (Or: Ninjas and Their Bull****)

An update of sorts that I meant to do some time ago. Jackinthegreen found quite a lot of useful Dragon Magazine material for the NinjaCA. Rather than paraphrasing him, I think I'll just let this gold miner speak for himself  :)

Jackinthegreen:

Dragon Mag 342:

Benefits are mostly paraphrased.

Hidden Kingdom Jutsu:
Prereq: Ghost Strike (8th level)
Benefit:  Spend ki power to make an effect similar to hallucinatory terrain, but only affecting a 40 foot radius from you and lasting one level.  Can expend additional uses of ki power to add +2 rounds per ki use spent.

This might see use by confusing your opponents during a battle, but as with almost all illusions your DM will have to be open to working with it.  See if you can get circumstance bonuses to various skills or even total concealment from being within the illusory terrain that looks solid.


Jutsu Focus:
Prereqs: At least two ki feats.
Benefit: Add +2 to the save of your jutsu and if it lets you spend more ki on it to increase its effectiveness you may automatically treat it as if you had spent an extra use of ki.

If youíre investing heavily into the jutsu feats, this will probably be mandatory.

Rabbit Prince Jutsu:
Prereqs: Ghost step (invisibility) (2nd level)
Benefit:  Spend a use of ki to move under the effects of expeditious retreat for 1 round.  While under this effect your jump distance isnít limited by your height.

If you need to move fast, this might work for you.  The part about jumps being limited by height is actually not in 3.5 rules, but if your DM is restricting jumps based on height like 3.0 did then this is a boon.


Ringing Fist Jutsu:
Prereqs: Ki dodge (6th)
Benefit: Expend a use of ki to apply the effects of a knock or targeted shatter spell on any successful unarmed attack you make against an object.

In short, you punch things and they go boom or open up, whichever you feel like happening.  Combos somewhat with the Ascetic Stalker feat.

River Eel Jutsu:
Prereqs: Ki dodge (6th)
Benefit: Spend a daily use of your ki to move as if under the effects of a freedom of movement spell for one round.

This one is actually pretty darn good.  Remember that jutsu are extraordinary unless otherwise noted, and an extraordinary freedom of movement is just what the ninja ordered for many occasions.


Shadow Puppet Jutsu:
Prereqs: Ki dodge (6th)
Benefit:  Spend a daily use to force an opponent within 30 feet to make a Will save.  If it fails, it is flat-footed until the beginning of its next turn.  This is a mind-affecting effect.

Useful to set up Sudden Strike damage.

Thousand Faces Jutsu
Prereqs: Ghost Step (invisible) (2nd)
Benefit:  Spend a ki use to be affected as if by Alter Self for one minute, but you can only change into a creature of your size and type, and you gain none of the movement or combat benefits of the new form.  Spend two ki uses to assume the form of a specific creature of your type for a minute.

Looks more like Disguise Self to me.  If youíre really into this sort of thing, the Changeling race is probably a much better fit.

Wind Oxen Jutsu:
Prereqs: Ghost strike (8th)
Benefit: Make a special bull rush attack on an adjacent target with a bonus equal to your Wisdom mod + Ĺ your ninja class level and can expend additional ki to add +4 per use spent.  Thereís no need to actually touch the target, and this ability does not provoke an attack of opportunity.

Bull rushes have plenty of fun uses, but the bonus on this leaves something to be desired.   By the time you get this, your bonus should be at least +7 (4 from ninja levels and +3 from Wis mod), which is the mod the fighter could have had from 1st level (16 Str and Imp Bull Rush).  Donít expect to push around much unless you spend a lot of ki on it.



Dragon 351

Karmic Healing
Prereqs: Ki power (1st)
Benefit:  You can spend a daily use of ki to heal yourself a number of hit points equal to half your ninja level (minimum 1) times your Wis bonus, or spend a use to remove the fatigue condition or reduce exhausted to fatigued.

If youíre pumping wisdom, this might actually be pretty good once you have several ninja levels.  At 10th a single use could get you 25 HP.


Ki Smite
Prereqs: Ki power, Sudden Strike +2d6 (3rd)
Benefit:  Spend a ki use to add your Wis mod to your next melee attack roll and your ninja level plus your current ki pool (not including the one you just spent to get the smite) to damage.

Another good one if youíre pumping Wisdom and ki uses.  Note that it doesnít say the damage only applies to hit point damage, but itís safe to say the designers intended it to only work on weapon damage and not ability damage for instance.  Abuse at your own risk.

Skill Attunement
Prereqs: Wis 13, ki power (ghost strike) (8th)
Benefit:  You can spend a daily use of ki to grant yourself a bonus on all skill checks equal to your Wisdom bonus for a number of rounds equal to 1/5th your ninja level (rounded down, minimum 1).

Very useful when you want that extra oomph to your skills.

Wolfís Bite
Prereqs: Ki power (1st)
Benefit:  You can spend one daily use of ki to gain access to Improved Disarm, Improved Feint, and Improved Trip for 1 round.

This allows you to be more versatile as needed and without having to spend the prerequisite feats.  Not bad.


General feats:

Intuitive Trapsmith
Prereq: Ki power
Benefit: Add your Wisdom bonus instead of your Intelligence bonus on all Search and Disable Device checks.  These effects are always active.

Chances are your Wis is higher than your Int.  This will allow you to eke out a bit more from those skills and help you function better as a trap handler, though the ninja really isnít the best at that role.

One With Earth and Water
Prereq: Ki power (1st)
Benefit:  Add your Wisdom bonus on all climb and swim checks instead of your strength bonus.  These effects are always active.

Bit of a shame it doesnít apply to jump checks too, but if you see yourself using these skills regularly then they help make you more SAD.  If you want to totally ignore strength-based skills, the feat Agile Athlete makes your climb and jump checks key off dex instead.

Zen Fortitude
Prereqs: Ki power (1st)
Benefit: Add your Wisdom bonus (instead of your Constitution bonus) on Fortitude saves.  This effect is always active.

Another feat to make you more SAD.  Just make sure not to skimp on Con because more hit points tend to be quite helpful.


Here are some multiclass feats the CA ninja technically qualifies for, and the Rokugan ninja definitely qualifies for but technically doesnít gain the benefit.


Daring Outlaw:
Prereqs: Grace +1, Sneak Attack +2d6
Benefit: Stack swashbuckler and rogue levels to determine SA damage, Grace progression, and Dodge progression.

If your DM allows you to progress the class that gave you Sneak Attack/Sudden Strike with this, then itís probably worthwhile.  The later levels in both CA and Rokugan ninja arenít really worth much.  For the price of a feat, you get another feat youíd probably have taken anyway (Weapon Finesse), a bonus on reflex saves that will probably be overwritten by buffs since itís a competence bonus, and a bonus to AC that is better than dodge except it doesnít count as the feat for prerequisites like the Rokugan ninaís Ninja Dodge does.  Taking a third level in swashbuckler gets you Insightful Strike which will give you some extra damage but likely not much if youíre not focusing on Int.

Ascetic Rogue:
Prereqs: Improved Unarmed Strike, sneak attack
Benefit: Add 2 to the DC of your Stunning Fist attempt if itís also a sneak attack delivered with an unarmed strike.  Stack monk and rogue levels to determine your unarmed strike damage.

The unarmed strike progression is helpful.  The Stunning Fist stuff may or may not be since the feat is fairly weak on its own without specializing.  I wouldnít recommend this feat unless you really know what youíre doing.


Between all those feats, I'd be inclined to promote the CA ninja to Tier 4 due to the increased versatility and power.