Shadow Sniper

There are many kinds of assassins. Some excel in the use of poison dropped into an unsuspecting target's wine. Others favour the classic strategem of the knife in the back. The ranged takedown, however, is the domain of the shadow sniper.

Shadow snipers often work for guilds, or as lone mercenaries for hire. They are often called evil, but this is not always a warranted description. The most infamous shadow snipers often serve evil masters, but even more benign characters or organisations often find a need for their skills. Similarly, while some shadow snipers may be cold-blooded killers, this is by no means true for all of them (or at least no more true than for any other mercenary adventurer).

Rogues or multiclassed fighter/rogues are by far the most likely characters to become shadow snipers, because of the sneak attack prerequisite. Wizard/rogues or sorcerer/rogues are the next most likely to be found; many arcane spells such as invisibility, true strike or silence are a perfect complement for the shadow sniper's skills. Barbarians are possibly the least likely to become shadow snipers; the patience and low-key approach required for this occupation conflict directly with many barbarians' character traits.


Requirements

Base Attack Bonus: +4.

Skills: Hide 8 ranks, Move Silently 5 ranks, Spot 5 ranks.

Feats: Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Weapon Focus (bow or crossbow).

Other: Sneak attack or ranged sneak attack class ability.

Class Statistics

Hit Die: d6.

Class Skills: Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Int), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Forgery (Int), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Open Lock (Dex), Profession (Wis), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), Use Magic Device (Cha), Use Rope (Dex).

Skill Points/Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Level

Base Attack Bonus

Fort
Save

Ref
Save

Will
Save

Special

1

+0

+0

+2

+0

Sniper shot (1 range increment), ranged sneak attack +1d6, primary weapon +1

2

+1

+0

+3

+0

Safe poison use, darkvision (60 ft)

3

+2

+1

+3

+1

Ranged sneak attack +2d6, hide in plain sight

4

+3

+1

+4

+1

Improved Precise Shot

5

+3

+1

+4

+1

Sniper shot (2 range increments), ranged sneak attack +3d6, primary weapon +2

6

+4

+2

+5

+2

Chameleon

7

+5

+2

+5

+2

Ranged sneak attack +4d6

8

+6

+2

+6

+2

Shadow jump (80 ft)

9

+6

+3

+6

+3

Ranged sneak attack +5d6, primary weapon +3

10

+7

+3

+7

+3

Sniper shot (3 range increments), darkvision (120 ft)

Special Abilities

All the following are class abilities of the shadow sniper.

Weapon and armour proficiency: The shadow sniper gains no additional proficiencies beyond what she already has.

Primary Weapon (Ex): At 1st level, the shadow sniper selects a type of bow or crossbow with which she has Weapon Focus to be her primary weapon. She gains a +1 competence bonus to attack rolls made with this weapon. At 5th level the competence bonus increases to +2, and at 9th level, to +3.

Ranged Sneak Attack (Ex): Any time the shadow sniper's target would be denied its Dexterity bonus to AC (whether it actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), the shadow sniper's ranged attack deals extra damage. The extra damage is +1d6 at 1st level, and +1d6 for every two levels after that. Should she score a critical hit with a sneak attack, this extra damage is not multiplied. Ranged attacks only count as sneak attacks within 30 feet, except if the shadow sniper makes use of her Sniper Shot ability (see below).

The shadow sniper can only sneak attack living creatures with discernible anatomies undead, constructs, oozes, plants, and incorporeal creatures lack vital areas to attack. Additionally, any creature immune to critical hits is similarly immune to sneak attacks. The shadow sniper must also be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot and must be able to reach a vital spot. She cannot sneak attack while striking at a creature with concealment, or by striking the limbs of a creature whose vitals are beyond reach.

If the shadow sniper gets ranged sneak attack damage from another source (such as rogue levels), the bonuses to damage stack.

Sniper Shot (Ex): The shadow sniper has the ability to target her enemies with deadly accuracy from range. If she spends at least 3 rounds studying a target within her primary weapon's first range increment, she can treat her next attack on that target as a sneak attack. She must still satisfy all the other requirements for a sneak attack (effectively, this ability lets the shadow sniper overcome the standard 30-foot range limitation on ranged sneak attacks with her primary weapon). Once the shadow sniper has completed the 3 rounds of study, she must make her ranged attack within the next 3 rounds to gain any benefit from this ability. If she fails to take out the target, 3 new rounds of study are required before she can attempt another sniper shot.

Studying a target is a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity. While studying a target, the shadow sniper also takes a 4 dodge penalty to AC for that round.

At 5th level, the shadow sniper can make a sniper shot on a target within two range increments with her primary weapon. Alternatively, if she makes a sniper shot on a target within the first range increment, she only needs to study the target for 2 rounds instead of three. At 10th level she can make a sniper shot on a target within three range increments. Alternatively, if she makes a sniper shot on a target within two range increments, she only needs to study the target for 2 rounds; or if the target is within the first range increment, she only needs to study the target for 1 round.

Poison Use (Ex): At 2nd level, the shadow sniper can use poison without any risk of poisoning herself.

Darkvision (Ex): At 2nd level, the shadow sniper can see in the dark with no light source at all, out to a range of 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight.

At 10th level, the range of the shadow sniper's darkvision increases to 120 feet.

Hide in Plain Sight (Su): At 3rd level, the shadow sniper can use the Hide skill even while being observed. As long as she is within 10 feet of some sort of shadow, the shadow sniper can hide herself from view in the open without anything to actually hide behind. She cannot, however, hide in her own shadow. Hide in plain sight is a supernatural ability.

Improved Precise Shot (Ex): The most crowded city street or battlefield is an open book to a shadow sniper. At 4th level, she gains Improved Precise Shot as a bonus feat. She gains the benefit of this feat only when using her primary weapon.

Chameleon (Su): At 6th level, the shadow sniper gains the supernatural ability to change her appearance at will, as if via the spell change self.

Shadow Jump (Su): At 8th level, the shadow sniper gains the ability to travel between shadows as if by means of a dimension door spell. The limitation is that the magical transport must begin and end in an area with at least some shadow. The shadow sniper can jump up to a total of 80 feet each day in this way. She can split this among many jumps, but each one, no matter how small, counts as a 10-foot increment (thus a shadow sniper who jumps 75 feet cannot jump again until the next day). This is a supernatural ability.


Sample Shadow Sniper

An athletic young woman with dark, close-cropped hair, Elena Valmarya appears to be just another scruffy adventurer with a crossbow. In fact, she's a fully-fledged member of the Imperial Nighthawks, a company of spies, rogues, footpads and assassins with a long-standing (and unpublicised) working relationship with the empire. Most of their tasks revolve around intelligence gathering and keeping tabs on the underworld, or providing advice and personnel for security matters. On occasion, though, the Nighthawks are required to perform more "prejudicial" missions. It's on missions like these that operatives like  Elena step in.

Elena rarely works alone, although she's quite capable of looking after herself. Typically when on assignment, she'll work with at least two other members of the Nighthawks, to act as cover and provide backup should anything go wrong. Thus far all missions have gone according to plan, but someone as experienced as Elena knows that it's all the more reason to expect the worst next time.

Elena Valmarya: human female rog3/ftr2/shadow sniper 5; CR 10; Medium Humanoid (human); HD 8d6+2d10+20 (60 hp); Init +8; Spd 30 ft; AC 17 (touch 14, flat-footed 13); BAB +7; Grap +7; Atk +8/+3 melee (1d6/1920, m'work shortsword), or +16 ranged (2d8+2/1920, +2 distance heavy crossbow); SA Sneak attack +5d6 ranged/+2d6 melee, primary weapon +2, sniper shot, poison use; SQ Evasion, trap sense +1, darkvision, hide in plain sight; AL N; SV Fort +9, Ref +13, Will +8; Str 10, Dex 19, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 11.

Skills and Feats: Bluff +12, Climb +10, Disguise +15, Gather Information +6, Hide +22*, Intimidate +7, Jump +8, Listen +14, Move Silently +22*, Search +7, Sense Motive +7, Sleight of Hand +9, Spot +15, Tumble +11, Crossbow Expert, Far Shot, Improved Initiative, Improved Precise ShotB, Iron Will, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Focus (heavy crossbow).
* includes +5 competence bonus from cloak and boots of elvenkind.
B indicates bonus feat gained from shadow sniper prestige class.

Evasion (Ex): If exposed to any effect that normally allows a character to attempt a Reflex saving throw for half damage (such as a fireball), Elena takes no damage with a successful saving throw.

Trap Sense (Ex): Elena gains a +1 bonus on Reflex saves to avoid traps and a +1 dodge bonus to AC against attacks made by traps.

Primary Weapon (Ex): Elena gains a +2 competence bonus to attack rolls with her heavy crossbow (already figured into the stat block above).

Sniper Shot (Ex): If Elena spends at least 3 rounds studying a target within her heavy crossbow's first two range increment (600 feet), she can treat her next attack on that target as a sneak attack. She must still satisfy all the other requirements for a sneak attack (effectively, this ability lets her overcome the standard 30-foot range limitation on ranged sneak attacks with her primary weapon). Once she has completed the 3 rounds of study, she must make her ranged attack within the next 3 rounds to gain any benefit from this ability. If she fails to take out the target, 3 new rounds of study are required before she can attempt another sniper shot.

Studying a target is a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity. While studying a target, Elena takes a 4 dodge penalty to AC for that round.

If Elena makes a sniper shot on a target within her crossbow's first range increment (300 feet), she only needs to study the target for 2 rounds instead of three.

Poison Use (Ex): Elena can use poison without any risk of poisoning herself.

Darkvision (Ex): Elena can see in the dark with no light source at all, out to a range of 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight.

Hide in Plain Sight (Su): Elena can use the Hide skill even while being observed. As long as she is within 10 feet of some sort of shadow, she can hide herself from view in the open without anything to actually hide behind. She cannot, however, hide in her own shadow. This is a supernatural ability.

Possessions: +2 distance heavy crossbow, masterwork shortsword, masterwork studded leather armour, +2 amulet of resistance, +2 gloves of Dexterity, cloak of elvenkind, boots of elvenkind, 1 dose deathblade poison (1d6 temp Con initial, 2d6 temp Con secondary, Fort negates DC 18), potion of invisibility, 20 bolts.


3E version of this prestige class

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