Background: The Sneak Attack is an iconic ability associated with roguish characters of fantasy literature and games. Its ability to deliver significantly increased amounts of damage than otherwise possible makes it one of the more powerful attacks in NWN2. However, some types of adversaries are immune to sneak attacks, making them much more challenging for rogues and their ilk to successfully defeat. However, some sufficiently high-level SA characters have access via the Crippling Strike feat to Epic Precision, which allows half of that SA damage to still be dealt to even SA-immune monsters. Thus, in this RoT Character Building Primer Series installment we look at what could be a sneak attacker’s favorite epic feat: Epic Precision.
Although we are focusing on Epic Precision and its sole prerequisite feat Crippling Strike, we need to acknowledge the Sneak Attack, since without a sufficient amount of SA damage dice Epic Precision is rather lackluster.
Type of Feat: Class
Prerequisite: Rogue level 1, and many other classes.
Specifics: Whenever the character makes a successful attack against an opponent who is flat-footed, cannot see them, or who is in combat with someone else (thus presenting a flanking attack opportunity), the character's blow delivers extra damage in +1d6 increments. This extra damage is not multiplied in the case of a critical hit.
Monsters of the construct and undead types are immune to sneak attacks, as are any creatures that are immune to critical hits.
Type of Feat: Class
Prerequisites: Rogue Level 10+*, Dark Lantern 1+**
Specifics: The rogue deals an additional 2 points of Strength damage when they make a successful sneak attack.
Feats Required: None
Notes: *On attaining 10th level, and at every three levels thereafter (13th, 16th, and 19th), a rogue gains a Special Ability of choice (i.e., a class bonus feat), at which time Crippling Strike (Ex) can be chosen during level-up.
**Dark Lanterns have access to the Crippling Strike class feat so long as the character already has at least +4d6 dice of real Sneak Attack granted by classes (not “equivalent SA” like Death Attack, etc.). Note that the character must have +4d6 real SA dice before Crippling Strike becomes available as a feat choice. Also, since Crippling Strike is a selectable class feat it must be taken on a feat-granting level where a Dark Lantern class level is chosen.
Type of Feat: Epic
Prerequisites: 21st level, Crippling Strike.
Specifics: The character deals 1/2 normal sneak attack damage (rounded down) against opponents that are normally immune to sneak attacks. Other benefits related to sneak attacks do not apply, and this feat does not allow critical hits against creatures that are immune to them.
Feat Required: Crippling Strike.
Note: Only feats selected during the character levelling process count as prerequisites. Feats granted by items or spells cannot meet the requirements.
Prerequisite Feat Analysis: Crippling Strike is a selectable class feat available only to Rogue and Dark Lantern, so acquiring it mandates a build which includes at least one of those classes.
Crippling Strike granting classes:
Rogue 10(+) – Requirements: Must chose Crippling Strike as one of the Rogue bonus feats
Dark Lantern 1(+) – Requirements: BAB: +5; Skills: Bluff 4 ranks, Diplomacy 4 ranks, Spot 4 ranks.
Simple Epic Precision Build Basics:
This very limited set of only two classes granting access to Crippling Strike, and therefore Epic Precision, means that there are fewer class choice variations available for character builds, which tend to generally fall in to two broadly defined types: the stealthy rogue-based sneak attackers, and the non-rogue sneak attackers.
Note: The examples below are not recommendations but rather illustrations of minimums required for a build to qualify for Epic Precision. Substantially more analysis besides trying to get Epic Precision should be put into all builds due to many other factors, such as ease-of-leveling playability, early-to-late game survivability, fun-to-play, and roleplaying considerations.
The simplest builds that can qualify for Epic Precision are 21st level characters with at least 10 levels of Rogue: such as a Rogue 21 with +11d6 SA; or perhaps a Rogue 13/Fighter 8 with higher Attack Bonus (up to +6 more with the Fighter-only Epic Weapon Focus feat line than a pure Rogue with identical ability scores) but fewer SA dice (only +7d6).
Since Dark Lantern is a prestige class, it lends itself to Epic Precision builds that can eschew Rogue all together; so long as other real SA dice producing classes are taken to provide the minimum +4d6 SA dice along with at least Dark Lantern 1 in the build. Something like Thug 20/Dark Lantern 1 would qualify. Other base classes that produce SA damage dice include Scout and Swashbuckler with the Daring Outlaw feat. Other prestige classes that generate real SA damage dice are too numerous to elaborate upon in this article.
Builds obviously can be much more complex than these examples, but such character-building is way beyond the scope of this installment. If anyone would like to suggest other successful builds for RoT that have Epic Precision, please feel free to post their general class compositions or their NWN2DB links in replies to this article.
As always, constructive criticisms of articles in this series are welcome, especially since this series’ intended audience is new-to-RoT players seeking general character building advice. Please notify me of errors or omissions and I will make the appropriate edits.