November 15, 2019


Roguish Archetype
Notes from the Nails: have you ever wanted a splash of shadow monk in rogue without all the fiddly multiclassing and loss of Sneak Attack progression? Well, look no further!


The shinobi are an elite group of rogues who have undergone intense training, similar to that of monks, but focused on stealth, infiltration, and survivalism. Most shinobi hire out their skills as mercenaries, and they have a reputation for loyalty despite their dishonorable fighting style.

When you adopt this archetype at 3rd level, you learn the arts of the ninja. As a result, your unarmed strikes deal 1d4 damage and count as finesse weapons for you. Furthermore, you can use your Cunning Action to make an unarmed strike.

Also at 3rd level, as a shinobi, you can harness the mystic energy of ki. Your access to this energy is represented by a number of ki points. You have a number of ki points equal to your rogue level divided by 3, rounded up, which you can use to fuel special techniques. If you have ki points from another source, the points from both sources are pooled, and can be used to fuel any of your ki abilities.
     When you spend a ki point, it is unavailable until you finish a short or long rest, at the end of which you draw all of your expended ki back into yourself. You must spend at least 30 minutes of the rest meditating to regain your ki points.
     At 3rd level, you know two ki abilities: Distract and Precise Strike.
     Distract. Once on each of your turns, you can spend 1 ki point to beguile a creature you can see within 5 feet of you. You have advantage on your next attack roll you make against this creature before the end of your turn.
     Precise Strike. When you hit a creature with a weapon that uses 1d4 as its damage die, you can spend 1 ki point to inflict a status condition on the target until the end of its next turn. The condition depends on the damage type: piercing damage results in blindness, bludgeoning damage results in deafness, and slashing damage results in being grappled. You cannot add Sneak Attack damage to a Precise Strike.

Ninja Gear
By 9th level, you have mastered the use of certain specialist equipment. You can conceal this equipment on your person such that it cannot be found as long as you are wearing clothes. If your ninja gear is ever lost, you can craft replacements with 1 hour's work and 100 gp of materials. Your ninja gear includes:
     Mizugumo. These flotation devices enable you to walk on any liquid surface as if it was solid ground.
     Kaginawa. This lightweight grappling device enables you to move between surfaces that are up to 40 vertical feet apart using 10 feet of movement, as long as the surfaces are no more than 5 feet apart in the horizontal plane. No action or check is required for this movement, but the kaginawa can only be used once per turn.
     Torinoko. As an action, you can expend 1 ki point to throw a smoke bomb at a point within 20 feet of you. This functions exactly like the fog cloud spell, except that it is not magical and cannot be dispelled.

Rooftop Perch
At 13th level, you have advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks when you are standing on a solid object that is more than 10 feet off the ground (such as a tree, rooftop, or statue). While in such a location, you can attempt to Hide even if you are not otherwise in cover, and you can use an action to spend 2 ki points to become invisible for up to 1 minute. The condition ends early if you attack or cast a spell.

Shadow Warrior
When you reach 17th level, you are almost impossible to detect, even in the middle of combat. If you take an action that would normally cause you to stop being invisible or be revealed from hiding, you can spend 1 ki point to maintain your invisibility or remain hidden.

Changelog: 12/04/2019: Precise Strike slashing damage changed from incapacitated to grappled.


  1. I'm in love with this. RAI, are you supposed to be able to Precise Strike as an action and then use your bonus action to unarmed strike while benefiting from sneak attack, and should the smoke bomb have a shorter duration tied to it, since Fog Cloud has a duration of an hour normally?

    1. Well, an hour might seem long for a smoke bomb, but it's a lot easier to just call out the spell, and it can still be dispersed by wind.

      As for Precise Strike and bonus action Sneak Attack, yes, I suppose you could do that. You could also Sneak Attack with your main action and then use Precise Strike on your bonus action attack.

  2. This seems really thematic and cool, and definitely helps making a rogue more interesting to play than "sneak attack, hide, repeat". I really like this.

    I have three (albeit small-ish) issues with precise strike. One is that deafness is so mush weaker than the other 2 conditions, and the second is how powerful a no-save incapacitation is (I don't believe there are any such effect in the game below 6th level spells). And it might pretty much ruin fights against Legendary creatures.

    Assuming you want to avoid complicating matters by causing bleed or preventing speech (& verbal components), or by requiring a save (an effort which I fully praise), the choices are quite slim- but prone actually does something, unlike deafness, and perhaps automatically grappling an opponent might have use in some tactics. Exhaustion is also an option.

    Last thing is that I fail to see how you'll be able to deafen a golem or blind an elemental with such an attack.

    1. Well, I think the power of the no-save conditions is offset somewhat by the fact they only last one turn. I could maybe swap incapacitation for frightened, if that's more reasonable. Grappled might be a good call too, since the only d4 slashing weapons in the base game are sickles and whips...

      And if a golem isn't immune to deafness, then you can stun its sound detectors with a concussive blow. Seems fair enough to me. And if a monster doesn't need eyes to see, it'll be immune to blindness or blessed with blindsight. Therefore we must assume that poking an elemental in the eyes is a valid move!

    2. Frightened does seem more fair than incapacitated. I've recently seen a beholder, an archmage, 2 grells and 2 nothics (all together) beaten to a pulp when our monk just stunned both the beholder and the mage every round :/

      I did not notice that about slashing 1d4 weapons- that's pretty cool! and it means you can grapple from reach with a whip, which is really freakin' cool (and a strategy often used by monsters and almost never by players).

    3. I'd suggest frightened just to be on par with blinding. Grappled is much weaker than it, much like deafened. But that I'd personally heavily recommend, the way it works now it will very easily trivialize most bossfights.

    4. I could have sworn that daggers were still slashing or piercing. Whips are a cool idea, especially with the grappled condition. I immediately thought of multi-classing this with Sanctified Hunter for Ninja Belmont whip shenanigans.

  3. are unarmed striked bludgeoning by default?
    I suppose I can ask the DM to let me use all precise strike if I describe my attack well (fingerjab for piercing, chops for slashing), but would you guys allowed such a thing?

    1. Unarmed strikes deal bludgeoning damage (PHB 149). I do recall that we have released several things on this very blog that modify that, though.