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A few things about my build, he’s a drow which I believe helped tremendously since phantoms really have a wide variety of stats they need to be effective. I fully believe you can make a strong phantom without an ECL character but the bonuses did help. Also outside of precision and PTWF I used all my epic bonus feats for extra sneak attacks giving him 21d6 by level 29. So he hits pretty hard. Dropping 2 sneak Duce for epic prowess and expose weakness would also be viable. I decided to go more SA and forego EW because I already have a sneak with it and wanted to try something new, and full rogues or phantoms are pretty much the only way to reach those kinds of sneak dice numbers.
So here are my thoughts on the class...
Overall it is pretty strong, and the balance is pretty good. I still tend to think a pure rogue, with the addition of HiTS is probably stronger. Mostly because rogue bonuses, like the extra feats and what they open up, tend to really shine for the class, where phantom bonuses... don’t always work as intended.
For phantoms there are a few problems that are more mechanical in nature so those are what I’ll focus on.
1) Equipment. I brought this up in another thread. All off the rogue gear in the mask shop, and UD equivalent, is useable by rogues and all rogue PRCs but not phantoms. Which wouldn’t be a problem except phantoms don’t get UMD. So essentially you need to heavily invest in cross class skills just to use stuff you pretty much need as a class.
I’m actually good with phantoms not getting UMD and having less skill points a level than rogues considering their supernatural abilities, but like rogues they are pretty skill dependent and I get the feeling their exclusion from the equipment is more oversight than intentional. Could be wrong about that.
Pure phantoms really need stealth skills and really need bluff. Ghost step is great, but it’s not unlimited like HiPS. You can’t spam it, even at 30, but you will have plenty of uses otherwise, provided you start from stealth and feint when whatever you’re attacking doesn’t drop right away.
On that note, is there some reason that outside of a single +2 short sword there are no items with both stealth and bluff bonuses? Makes life hard for non HiPSters.
2) ki powers. For these I’ll try to address them individually.
This is a phantom’s bread and butter. It’s his (or hers) get out of jail free card. And unlike stealth there is no timer. It’s a great ability with one minor flaw. When it switches from invisibility to ethereal mobs are able to track you until you are able to hide, which you can do since it is 100% concealment. A side effect of this is that attacking out of being ethereal did not give me sneak attacks. So I had to wait for my stealth timer to attack again. More often than not I’d prefer to just be invisible.
My suggestion would be to just keep the power as invisibility. And leave ghost walk as an ethereal jaunt like power. So ultimately if you need to be ethereal vs invisible you can.
I’m not 100% sure this does anything. I even tested it on the closest thing I could find to actual ghosts, specters. They have a self conceal that I imagine is what it should be used against. But checking my combat logs it didn’t seem to do anything. I tried it against other enemies with concealment as well, displacer beasts, driders, duregar priests, heretic drow mages. Anything I could find that had a concealment effect I tried it on but never managed to find any evidence it worked.
If it doesn’t work at all it should be fixed or changed. If it does work but only on a specific kind of concealment I didn’t run across... I’d argue it should still be changed since it’s not useful enough to keep on your hot bar.
My suggestion would be to make it a flat AB bonus. Nothing crazy. Maybe stats with +1 and ends with +3 or +4. Useful in a particularly hard fight but nothing you would want to burn too often in lieu of ghost steps.
This is one I go back and forth on. The conceal is nice, but the duration is so short it’s tactically better just to use ghost step anyway. Especially since they both cost a ki power. Why stay in place hoping to not be hit while hoping to land a feint for more sneak attacks when you can disappear, not get hit at all, and assure your next attacks will be sneak attacks? Maybe if you’re in a group and end up having to tank something because your real tank is down? I mean if you are in a situation where your phantom is tanking, better to hide, pick up bodies and run.
I could see it being more useful, paired with feint, if the duration was longer. If you could pop out of stealth and use it to help potentially kill a few enemies then it would be useful. But right now it’s really too short a duration.
My suggestion would be to add rounds via wisdom bonus or level bonus.
This seems to be working as intended. Nice when you want to cover a lot of ground without being attacked. I wouldn’t change anything.
Phantoms don’t wear armor. The tumble bonus for this class is... completely useless. Not maxing (or taking to 30 really) the tumble skill is such a huge AC loss I’d argue it wouldn’t be a very viable build. Extra skill points in tumble is just fluff.
I’d replace it just not sure what with. A move silently bonus? Maybe a slight speed increase while moving in stealth? An attack bonus with shuriken? Something that would be marginally useful would go a long way.
That’s my general summary. If anyone is interested I’ll be happy to discuss my experiences with the class in more depth. And as a disclaimer I’m more than happy to be proven wrong about any of my assumptions.
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It’s funny, I thought about exactly that. The problem is, since you are more or less forced to take UMD and Bluff, there’s really no room for putting points into it...
However this would be a great idea if they can fix the equipment issue.
Along those lines, it also occurred to me that the same way we have greater regen cloaks, it wouldn’t be terrible to have greater versions of the other matching items (gloves, boots, armor, helms, etc). Right now stealthers are kind of forced into epic ninja gear (not an issue if you have UMD) which is mostly useless outside of the stealth and AC bonuses. It would definitely help reduce the kind of equipment juggling you need to do now. Not to mention the other equipment would probably also be beneficial for lots of non stealth builds as well.