So, I’ve been frustrated with the current group of NPC classes. Mainly, the issue is that it is hard to make sneaky, combat-effective goblins without using PC classes. Warriors don’t have any stealthy skills on their skill lists. Experts aren’t that combat-effective.
To fill the gap, I decided to create a new NPC class. I’ll eventually tweak it up and release it as open game content, but here are the basics:
The cutthroat’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Escape Artist (Dex), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Search (Int), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spot (Wis), and Use Rope (Dex).
Skill Points at 1st Level
(4 + Int modifier) ×4.
Skill Points at Each Additional Level
4 + Int modifier.
The following are class features of the cutthroat NPC class.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency
The cutthroat is proficient in the use of all simple weapons, plus the sap and shortsword. Cutthroats are proficient with light and medium armor and shields (but not tower shields).
Beginning at second level, if a cutthroat can catch an opponent by surprise, she can strike a vital spot for extra damage.
As a standard action, a cutthroat may make an attack that deals extra damage if her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not). This extra damage is 1d6 at 2nd level, and it increases by 1d6 every three cutthroat levels thereafter (at levels 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 20). Should the cutthroat score a critical hit with an ambush, this extra damage is not multiplied.
Ranged attacks can count as sneak attacks only if the target is within 30 feet.
With a sap (blackjack) or an unarmed strike, a cutthroat can deal nonlethal damage instead of lethal damage in an ambush. She cannot use a weapon that deals lethal damage to deal nonlethal damage in an ambush, not even with the usual -4 penalty.
A cutthroat can ambush only living creatures with discernible anatomies—undead, constructs, oozes, plants, and incorporeal creatures lack vital areas to attack. Any creature that is immune to critical hits is not vulnerable to ambushes. The cutthroat must be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot and must be able to reach such a spot. A cutthroat cannot ambush while striking a creature with concealment or striking the limbs of a creature whose vitals are beyond reach.
Saves: Good Reflex. Poor Fortitude and Will.
Thoughts are welcome. I was worried that Ambush was too good, but it is strictly inferior to Sneak Attack: the progression is worse, it doesn’t apply as widely, and it is only usable once per round… so I think it is OK.
This class should work pretty well for goblins, kobolds, and other creepy little guys… as well as for random street thugs who rely on stealth.