Monday, August 31, 2009

The Invisible Blade

When I first saw the Invisible Blade listed in Complete Warrior I assumed that it was some sort of assassin class focused on sneaking and using blades. Well, we know what happens when one assumes. What I instead found was a bizarre punching dagger wielding character who is supposed to be a gladiator, or at least the master of one on one combat. What I did not find was a character who can turn invisible. Or even turn his blade invisible. It’s really a misleading name.

Invisible Blades are drawn from the ranks of rogues or fighter/rogues, though I actually think that a ninja is the best fit for the class (and they can actually turn invisible!). The requirements are 8 ranks of Bluff, 6 ranks of Sense Motive, Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, and Weapon Focus with a dagger, kukri, or punching dagger. And they also have to defeat a worthy opponent in one on one combat using daggers, or the other weapon options. Aside from the Weapon Focus (Punching Dagger) the requirements are not awful, though Far Shot strikes me as an odd one for this character. Rogue 6 (or human Rogue 5) is probably the most common way to get into it.

The basics for the Invisible Blade are a somewhat subpar offering; d6 Hit Die, Full Base Attack, one good save (Reflex), and 4+ skill points a level. Compared to the fighter they have less HD and 2 more skill point. Compared to the rogue they have 4 less skill points and a better base attack. Honestly, that is one of the weaker arrangements in the game, so at least they must have excellent class abilities to make up for that array. Right? Not so much. At least not until the fifth level of this five level class.

At first level and every other after that the Invisible Blade progresses it’s sneak attack. More sneak attack is always a good thing, even if it is restricted to daggers, kukris, and punching daggers. I assume the character is pretty committed to that arsenal by this point so the restriction isn’t that much of a handicap. They also get one of the most useless abilities around; unfettered defense. At first it seems okay. Add your Int bonus to your AC (to a maximum of the Invisible Blade class level). However, it only works if the character is unarmored. Yeah, no armor at all. This is one of the reasons why I think a ninja is better suited to this class. The Blade was most likely a rogue before coming into the class so there is no reason why they would not be wearing at least leather armor. Let’s do the math and see what needs to happen for unfettered defense to be worth anything. Plain old leather armor has an AC bonus of +2, which means there is no reason to give it up unless something better comes along (especially since it has no armor check penalty). So this character would have to have an Intelligence of at least 16 and be third level as a Blade to take advantage of this. Doesn’t really seem worth it. Any sort of magical armor only makes it worse. I suppose that it would work with Bracers of AC so it at least has that going for it.

Bleeding wound is the focal point of the 2nd level Invisible Blade. By sacrificing 1d6 of sneak attack on a hit the Blade can use their blade to create a wound that bleeds, doing an additional 1 point each round until a heal check or a cure spell. It’s alright if you expect combat to go for a while, but otherwise the sneak attack may be the better option. Coupled with Far Shot and Point Blank it seems as if the Blade should really be used in close ranged combat. It could actually be effective throwing daggers, moving around, and letting the enemy bleed out. If combat goes ten rounds or more then this might be the class for you.

At third level they receive what is essentially Improved Feint, allowing them to feint as a move action rather than a standard. This is a good ability for this type of character, allowing them to sneak attack when not flanking. At least they feel a little bit like a one on one combatant with this one. I do not understand why they call this ability uncanny feint and not just give them the Improved Feint feat, but whatever. When fourth level is reached the Blade can now take ten on a feinting attempt. And at fifth level they finally get a really good class skill, the ability to feint as a free action. I’m not sure that it is worth taking five levels of a below average class to get to, but they can mess up some enemies with that. I also feel that two weapon fighting is probably something that this class should have, especially if they really want to take advantage of all that sneak attack dice.

In the end I think that the Invisible Blade falls pretty flat as a class. There is really nothing that this class can do that a fighter/rogue can’t do, it doesn’t need it’s own prestige class. And seriously, what is up with the name? There is nothing invisible about this joker. If you really wanted to make a build with it I could see some sort of rogue/invisible blade/assassin as a sneak attacking machine, but other than that what is the point of it.

1 comment:

TCN said...

If I recall, Improved Feint and some skill tricks can let you make a feint as a free action. The Beguiler base class also gets those as free abilities as part of his class features.

In addition to the misnomer (invisible? not), you're right, this class is all kinds of fail.