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Pathfinder - Cad Fighter Handbook

Last Updated: October 15, 2018

Disclaimer

I support a limited subset of Pathfinder's rules content. If you would like help with Pathfinder player options not covered here, please email me and I am happy to provide additional assistance.

I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
  • Green: Good options.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.

Introduction

While not particularly powerful, the Cad fighter archetype is one of my favorites. The idea of a fighter who forgoes traditional training in favor of dirty tricks seems like a fun concept. The Cad is excellent at locking down high priority targets like casters or major enemies, but isn't spectacular at damage output. if combined with allies who can benefit from crowd control effects (rogues, etc.), the Cad can be a major asset to the party.

Fighter Class Features

Hit Points: Between your d10 hit points and your heavy armor, you are very durable.

Base Attack Bonus: The biggest and best in the game.

Saves: Your fortitude saves are good, but you will need to invest in your other saves.

Proficiencies: You get the best proficiencies of any class.

Skills: Fighters only get 2+ skills, and very few of your skill choices are worthwhile, so you will likely dump intelligence.

Bonus Feats: The main reason to play a fighter. Everything a fighter would want to take is a combat feat, and there are enough options that you never have to play the same fighter twice.

Armor Mastery: DR/- is great, and you should always be wearing armor.

Archetype Features

Proficiencies: The Cad gives up proficiency in medium armor, heavy armor, and tower shields. It may be worth spending a feat on medium armor proficiency so that you can use mithral breastplate, but without Armor Training, you won't be able to move at full normal speed in medium and heavy armor. You need to get into combat quickly, so your movement speed is important.

Skills: The Cad add Acrobatics, Bluff, Escape Artist, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth to their skill list. These fit the flavor of the Cad well, but the fighter's limited skill points don't give him a lot of room to enjoy these bonuses.

Dirty Maneuvers: This is the Cad's replacement for bravery, and fits the flavor of the archetype perfectly. Disarm and Dirty Trick are crucial for the Cad, and this provides an extremely rare bonus to the Dirty Trick maneuver. Steal can be situationally useful, but I find that there are generally more important things to do in combat than pick people's pockets.

Catch Off-Guard: Catch Off-Guard is a weird feat, but can be very powerful in a Cad's hands. Proficiency with improvised weapons is fairly dull, but treating unarmed opponents as flat-footed opens up some options for the Cad, especially once he gets Deadly Surprise at level 7. This is particularly useful against NPC wizards/sorcerers who don't typically need weapons. Keep in mind that natural weapons count, so this isn't particularly useful against most monsters.

Payback: While certainly in keeping with the flavor of the archetype, this is strictly worse than Weapon Training. The Cad is good at locking down enemies and preventing them from attacking you (or doing anything else interesting). If payback comes into play frequently, the fight likely isn't going well for you.

Deadly Surprise: Level 7 is basically christmas. At this point you should have all of the Dirty Trick feats, which is great because Deadly Surprise is probably the best thing that has ever happened to the Dirty Trick maneuver. Dirty trick is, by default, a Standard Action. With Quick Dirty Trick, you can make a single dirty trick attempt per turn in place of your attack with highest base attack bonus, a limitation which isn't placed on other combat maneuvers like Trip and Disarm. However, your foe needs to be denied their dexterity bonus to use this ability. Use Quick Dirty Trick to blind your foe, then use Deadly Surprise to pile on other status effects.

If you are planning to multiclass into other classes, now is the time to do it. Deadly Surprise is easily the defining feature of the Cad archetype, and the higher level features do little to improve your maneuvers further.

Razor-Sharp Chair Leg: Changing the damage type for your improvised weapons is cute, but rarely necessary. The 19-20 threat range with improvised weapons is nice, but isn't a game changer. It's marginally more important when you get Treacherous Blow later, but still not a huge bonus.

Craven Combatant: You're going to have Combat Expertise for your combat maneuver feats, and you will likely be using it to compensate for your lack of medium and heavy armor. If you are using combat expertise, this effectively becomes Improved Uncanny Dodge.

Sweeping Prank: At this point, you should be getting to use dirty trick frequently due to Deadly Surprise, which makes Sweeping Prank only useful on surprise rounds in which you start adjacent to two foes or in rounds in which you need to move. Even then, you could simulate this effect by using Cleave and have the added benefit of dealing damage. At 17th level you can use this ability against 2+dex modifier targets. This is marginally better, but still only situationally useful.

Treacherous Blow: Because you're limited to a single immediate action per round, this won't let you use Dirty Trick more often, it simply provides a way to use it when your target isn't denied their attack bonus.

Ultimate Payback: This is a great improvement on Payback, but isn't going to be particularly helpful unless your build focuses on critical hits.

Abilities

Str: Any melee character's bread-and-butter.

Dex: Potentially more important than Constitution on a Cad, dexterity adds to your relatively low AC, improves your CMD, and improves your reflex saves. You need at least 13 for Combat Expertise. Of course, if you need AC you can always use Combat Reflexes.

Con: You have d10 hit points and strong fortitude saves, but more constitution can only help.

Int: You need 13 for Combat Expertise, but won't benefit much from anything past that. 14 might be nice for skill points, but isn't worth the points if you're using point buy.

Wis: The only real benefit you get here is will saves. While will saves are certainly important, your other abilities need more focus. Plus, you can always take Iron Will if you need it.

Cha: Dump to 7. Completely useless on a Cad. Your archetype is about fighting dirty, not about making friends.

25 Point Buy 20 Point Buy 15 Point Buy Elite Array
  • Str:18
  • Dex:14
  • Con:12
  • Int:13
  • Wis:12
  • Cha:7
  • Str:17
  • Dex:14
  • Con:12
  • Int:13
  • Wis:10
  • Cha:7
  • Str:15
  • Dex:14
  • Con:12
  • Int:13
  • Wis:12
  • Cha:7
  • Str:15
  • Dex:14
  • Con:12
  • Int:13
  • Wis:10
  • Cha:8

Races

Unfortunately, there aren't any races that give you bonuses to Dirty Trick. Instead, look for races with bonus strength and/or bonus feats.

Dwarf: Dwarves are excellent fighters normally. Bonus Constitution and Wisdom make them very durable, a +2 on saves against spells is fantastic, and Darkvision is always helpful. However, they don't bring anything specifically useful to the Cad archetype.

Elf: The bonuses to Dexterity and Intelligence are nice, but the penalty to constitution is problematic. If you plan a weird class dip into a spellcasting class, Elf could be a good choice. Otherwise, Elf doesn't really help the Cad at all.

Gnome: Gnomes are small, which gives them a -2 penalty to the ever-important CMB. The strength penalty brings another -1, rendering them wholly useless for a Cad.

Half-Elf: That variable ability bonus goes straight into strength. If you are planning a class dip, Half-Elf is a good choice due to Multitallented. Their other racial bonuses are situationally useful, and there are lots of good choices for alternate racial traits.

Half-Orc: Variable ability bonus to strength. Beyond the ability bonus, Darkvision is really the only thing Half-Orcs bring to the table. About on-par with Dwarves, but certainly nothing to get excited about.

Halfling: Halflings suffer the same issues that Gnomes do. Their racial skill bonuses and dexterity bonus are mildly useful, but not nearly enough to justify a net -3 to CMB.

Human: I can't hear you over that +2 bonus to strength. The real trade-off here is whether you want a bonus feat or the Half-Elf multitallented trait. The human skill bonus matters very little for a fighter, even with the Cad archetype, but a bonus feat opens up a lot of options. If you aren't planning a class dip, you would be hard-pressed to find a better option than Human.

Traits

  • Civilized (Social): Knowledge (Local) can be a fairly useful skill depending on your group's play style, and throwing a rank into it for the +3 class skill bonus can give you an extra way to contribute to the party out of combat. The +1 bonus to Knowledge (Nobility) probably won't do anything for you, unfortunately.
  • Friend in Every Town (Social): Knowledge (Local) and Diplomacy are both fantastic skills, but your charisma is probably garbage, so Civilized is probably the better option.
  • Savage (Social): Knowledge (Nature) is a good option for dropping a single rank to diversify your party's knowledge set, especially if your party doesn't have any druids or rangers. The +1 to survival is also nice since Survival is a class skill for fighters.
  • Reactionary (Combat): A +2 bonus to initiative is never a bad choice, but remember that you can only have one trait of each type, and you really want Surprise Weapon.
  • Surprise Weapon (Combat): If you plan to use improvised weapons (and you should), this is an absolute must. A +2 bonus from a trait is better than you will from any feat at roughly half the cost.
  • Warrior of Old (Elf Racial): +2 to initiative is fantastic, and this won't take up your much more useful Combat trait.
  • Elven Reflexes (Half-Elf Racial): +2 to initiative is fantastic, and this won't take up your much more useful Combat trait.

Skills

With only 2+ skill points, your options are somewhat limited. Cad gives you some extra skill options, but you have limited ability to cover all of your available skills. You will need 13 intelligence for Combat Expertise, so you're probably looking at 3 skill points, maybe 4 if you're human.

  • Acrobatics: Mobility is important for any melee fighter, and Acrobatics can help you get into position to do work. You may not have the feats to devote to Dodge and Mobility, so Acrobatics can help you move through combat easily.
  • Bluff: You're likely going to dump charisma, so this won't do you much good unless you're planning a class dip into something more socail.
  • Escape Artist: You have full BAB and a high strength, which will get you out of any grapples or nets which would require Escape Artists.
  • Perception: Even though it's cross-class, Perception will see more use than any other skill.
  • Sleight of Hand: This is only situationally useful on your skill monkey, and won't see much use on a fighter. If you need to rob someone, use the Steal combat maneuver.
  • Stealth: Depending on how your group approaches a fight, Stealth can get a lot of mileage. Follow along behind the rogue and use Stealth to get into a good position before the weapons come out.
  • Survival: Perhaps the best skill choice for single-class fighters, Survival lets you do some useful stuff outside of combat.

Feats

Like any fighter, the Cad depends heavily on feats. Fortunately, you get plenty of them. With normal feats at every odd-numbered level and bonus feats at every eaven-numbered level, you get a feat at every level (and two/three at first).

  • Combat Expertise: The starting feat in all of the combat maneuver feat trees. Combat Expertise will also help to compensate for your low AC. Take this at level 1.
  • Improvised Weapon Mastery: Redundant with Razor-Sharp Chair Leg, and the damage bonus is negligible.
  • Improved Disarm: Disarming an opponent lets you bring improvised weapons into play, and further wastes your opponents actions by forcing them to retreive/replace their lost weapon. Dirty Maneuvers also adds a small bonus to your disarm checks, which makes Disarm easy to optimize.
  • Greater Disarm: The +2 bonus to disarm is nice, but moving the weapon 15 away in a random direction is only occasionally useful. Your enemies will probably be too busy un-blinding themselves to go hunting for their weapons, and I like the idea of them spending every one of their turns un-blinding themselves and picking up their weapon.
  • Improved Dirty Trick: One of the precious few bonuses you can get to your CMB with Dirty Trick, and required for other Dirty Trick feats. Since Dirty Trick won't be your go-to option until mid levels, you can wait to take this until level 5.
  • Greater Dirty Trick: This is the key to making Dirty Trick effective. Not only does it extend the duration of Dirty Trick effects from 1 round to 1d4 rounds, but they require a standard action to remove early. That means blinding someone with Dirty Trick is now a huge hindrance since they have to waste their standard action to make themselves useful again. The +2 bonus is also nice since CMB bonuses for Dirty Trick are rare. Don't forget that every 5 by which you pass the targets CMD adds an additional round to the effect as normal. Take at level 6 or 7 depending on if you want Quick Dirty Trick first or second.
  • Improved Trip: While you don't get a class bonus to Trip, tripping is right in your wheelhouse.
  • Greater Trip: If you're going to spend resources on tripping, go all-in. Greater trip lets you trip targets, then use your attack of opportunity to hit them, which then lets you use Deadly Surprise. Imagine in one attack tripping, hitting, then blinding your target. If you're full attacking, your target is now prone (+2 to melee attacks) and blind (flat-footed, and another +2 to attacks).
  • Improved Steal: Despite your class bonus to this maneuver, Steal is still not a fantastic option. If you're worried about an attack of opportunity, use Dirty Trick to blind the target. If you're worried about failing the combat maneuver check, use Dirty Trick to entangled the target. A -4 penalty to strength and dexterity nets a sizeable -4 penalty to CMD.
  • Greater Steal: I can't think of any reason why you would want this. If you are stealing this much, you should have been a rogue.
  • Quick Dirty Trick: This is the key to your potential as a Cad. Take at level 6 or 7. With Quick Dirty Trick, you can start doing full attacks to pile status effects on enemies and effectively remove them from combat.
  • Combat Reflexes: you already need resonable dexterity for combat maneuvers, so Combat Reflexes becomes an excellent option. You can use Deadly Surprise with attacks of opportunity, so you can in theory hit enemies and use Dirty Trick to entangle them and prevnet them from moving away.
  • Fleet: A +5 bonus to speed is nice, but I don't know if I would spend a feat on it when there are so many other good options.
  • Great Fortitude: You are on the front lines, and are going to get hit with a lot of stuff. Buffing your saves will keep you alive.
  • Heavy Armor Proficiency: Without Armor Training, heavy armor will hurt your mobility too much to make it viable.
  • Improved Critical: If you reach high enough levels to get the Cad's critical-centric abilities, this is definitely worth taking for imrpovised weapons. I wouldn't take this before level 15 unless you are already spending feats on critical hit effects.
  • Iron Will: You are on the front lines, and are going to get hit with a lot of stuff. Buffing your saves will keep you alive.
  • Lunge: Reach is any fighter's friend, and a Cad makes for a great battlefield control fighter. The penalty to AC is hard for a light-armor fighter, but when combined with Combat Expertise, Lunge effectively lets you trade some attack bonus for extra reach. When combined with Enlarge Person, your reach goes up to 15 feet. While this doesn't affect attacks of opportunity (the effect ends at the end of your turn), it lets you hit several spread out targets, which can be helpful..
  • Lightning Reflexes: You are on the front lines, and are going to get hit with a lot of stuff. Buffing your saves will keep you alive.
  • Medium Armor Proficiency: When you are high enough level to afford mithral breastplate, this may be a good choice. You need a lot of help with your AC, and mithral breastplate won't sacrifice mobility.
  • Power Attack: Power Attack gives you a lot of options for dealing damage. However, you're going to be frequently using combat expertise, which can make power attack less useful. If you're doing well locking down targets with Dirty Trick, you can switch to power attack to take advantage of your targets' reduce AC.
  • Precise Strike: If you are flanking frequently, this is a decent choice to improve your damage output. It's not going to bridge the gap between you and a DPS-centric character, but it doesn't hurt. If you're Two-Weapon Fighting, this gets even better since you're making extra attacks.
  • Quick Draw: At some point during a fight, you may want to switch to an improvised weapon. This feat is the difference between a single attack and a full attack at least once during a fight.
  • Toughness: Since we aren't spending a lot of resources on constitution, toughness can be crucial. Your AC is going to be fairly low, so this will give you some much-needed durability.
  • Two-Weapon Fighting: Two-Weapon Fighting is a tempting proposition, especially when the Cad's high level abilities make critical hits more important. More attacks means potentially more opportunities to use Deadly Surprise. If you're going this route, definitely use a shield as your off-hand weapon to compensate for your relatively low AC.
  • Weapon Focus / Weapon Specialization: Since Cad is a weird build, weapon focus and weapon specialization can be hard to use. If you find that improvised weapons are working for you, take focus and specialization with improvised weapons.

Weapons

Any fighter is defined at least partially by their choice of weapon. The Cad is no exception. Since you are built for combat maneuvers, we want weapons that will give us bonuses to our favorite combat maneuvers. At levels 15 and higher, a high critical threat range can be helpful to take advantage of Treacherous Blow.

  • Dire Flail: All of the fantastic benefits of a flail, plus you can use Two-weapon fighting. Flails don't have a light weapon equivalent, so this one of the very few times I would ever suggest using a double weapon. Of course, it is only useful if you devote yourself heavily to a two-weapon fighting build, and doing so can be very difficult without a lot of payoff.
  • Kukri: If you want to go for critical hits, Two-weapon fighting with Kukris is probably the way to do it. You can take weapon focus/specialization with kukri and apply the bonus to both hands.
  • Flail: While the damage and crit range aren't fantastic, +2 bonuses to disarm and the ability to make trip attacks make this the Cad's weapon of choice at least until they're high enough level to care about critical hit effects.
  • Heavy Flail: all the same benefits as a flail with better damage and crit range. The marginally improved damage output may not be worth using a two-handed weapon depending on your play style. Adding Power Attack makes this a more worthwhile choice, but if you need the AC bonus there's absolutely nothing wrong with sticking to a normal flail and a shield.
  • Improvised Weapons: Carry a few empty bottles and broken chair legs to whip out when the time is right. Carry spares so that you can discard them when you're done or when you need to switch tactics. However, you will have problems with damage reduction unless you have someone to cast magic weapon.
  • Scimitar: If you're dual-weilding, you may be able to get away with a scimitar in one hand and an improvised weapon or kukri in the other. But at that point, why even bother with a scimitar when a second kukri or improvised weapon would save you feats and resources?

Magic Items

Weapons

  • Brawling (+1): Add your enhancement bonus to all of your combat maneuvers. The list of applicable weapons is limited, unfortunately.
  • Cruel (+1): You can make foes shaken with Dirty Trick, so a cruel weapon is a great way to follow up and get one of the best Dirty Trick status conditions without using another Dirty Trick. The temporary hit points make this even better, and since there isn't a requirement on hit dice for the target you can drag around a barrel of rats and kill one to get the temporary hit points for free.

Armor/Shields

  • Burglar's Buckler (4,655 gp): +2 Competence bonus to Dirty Trick CMB checks.
  • Celestial Armor (22,400 gp): Unless you have heavy armor proficiency and a Dexterity modifier of at most +5, Celestial Armor is the best armor in the game if all you need from your armor is AC. For more, check out my Practical Guide to Celestial Armor.

Wondrous Items

  • Cloak of Resistance: Too crucial to forego.
  • Gauntlets of the skilled maneuver: +2 to one combat maneuver. I bet you can guess which one. The bonus appears to be typeless, so it will stack with a Burglar's Buckler.

Multiclassing and Prestige Classes

  • Barbarian: Barbarian is a decent option for many fighters because the mathematical increases work so well for fighters. The Breaker archetype caters well to improvised weapons, though the damage bonus builds slowly.
  • Rogue: The cad is fantastic at allowing sneak attack damage. Using Dirty Trick to blind the target makes for easy sneak attacks, or you can disarm the target and hit them with an improvised weapon. Sneak attack gives you some useful skills, and brings a lot of extra damage to a fairly low-damage build. Unchained Rogue is strictly better than classic Rogue, so use the unchained version if possible.

Example Build - Fist and Flail

Why would anyone ever fight fair?

Take a buckler, a flail, and a spiked gauntlet. Most of the time you will be fighting with the flail two-handed (and taking the -1 penalty to attacks from your buckler unless you think to take it off first) at low levels, but options will evolve over time as you acquire feats. The Cad really hits its stride at level 7 when he receives Deadly Surprise, so we will need to find ways to make yourself important and useful at low levels.

Abilities

We will assume the 25-point buy abilities suggested above, but the other suggested abilities can also use this build without any problems.

Race

For this example build, we will use a Half-Elf with the suggested ability scores described above. For the multitalented racial ability, we will select Rogue as our second favored class so that we can get some extra benefits out of a rogue class dip, but your choice of race matters fairly little.

Skills

This build nets 3 skill ranks per level (2+1 for intelligence). We will maximize Acrobatics, and spread the rest of the points between Climb, Knowledge (Dungeoneering), Stealth, Survival, and Swim over our first few levels in order to get the +3 class skill bonus. Once we have a rank in all of our skills, we can put those extra 2 ranks into Perception every level until we're caught up.

When we hit level 8 and multiclass into Rogue, Perception will become a class skill and get that wonderful +3 bonus. Use the rogue skill ranks to diversify your skill set further, or to address gaps in your party's skill set. You're not going to supplant a dedicated skill monkey, but you're a great candidate to Assist Other on skill checks.

Traits

Surprise Weapon (Combat) and Elven Reflexes (Racial).

Levels

Level Feat(s) Notes and Tactics
1 - Fighter
  • Combat Expertise
  • Power Attack

At first level, you're a fairly generic sword-and-board figher. Switch between Combat Expertise and Power Attack as the situation warrants. Remember that you can forego your buckler's bonus to AC in order to ignore the -1 penalty that it applies to your attacks. Power Attack becomes a high risk, high reward option for you. If you are flanking or your opponent is otherwise vulnerable, use your flail two-handed and power attack. Otherwise, hide behind Combat Expertise.

Favored class bonus: 1 Extra Hit Point

2 - Fighter
  • Improved Trip

At 2nd level, you now have +2 BaB, +4 strength bonus, and a +2 bonus to trip/disarm with your flail. At level 2, a +8 bonus to CMB is fairly fantastic. Adding another +2 from improved trip makes you very reliable. Tripping a low level opponent can be crippling, depending on the rest of your party. A +4 bonus to attack a prone foe can make or break important attacks at nearly any level.

Combat Expertise/Power Attack penalties apply to Combat Maneuver checks, as they are technically attacks. For poorly armored targets, use power attack on the turn that you trip. When they try to stand up, you can apply your power attack bonus to the opportunity attack, and +4 bonus to attack prone foes will offset the penalty. Also remember that opportunity attack take place before the action which provokes them, so you can't trip the target to prevent them from standing.

Favored class bonus: 1 Extra Hit Point

3 - Fighter
  • Improved Disarm

3rd level brings the "Catch Off-Guard" bonus feat, which allows you to treat unarmed opponents as flat-footed when you use an improvised weapon. Disarm opponents using your flail, then hold your flail in you off-hand and use your buckler and an improvised weapon. Treating your enemy as flat footed can cost them a good deal of AC, especially on lightly armored foes. Don't forget that enemies with natural weapons are always considered armed, so fall back on your Combat Expertise/Power Attack tactics when you see something with claws.

You can also use Improved Disarm (Standard action to make one attack), then spend your move action to retreive your enemy's weapon with your empty hand.

Favored class bonus: 1 Extra Hit Point

4 - Fighter
  • Improved Dirty Trick

Improved Dirty trick gets us moving toward our intended Cad mechanic. However, Dirty Trick is still a standard action, and the effect can be removed with a move action even if you succeed. At this point, you may be more successful applying low-impact status effects liked Shaken or Sickened, since your enemy will be less tempted to spend time removing them. This will hopefully mean that the target will remain debuffed for a round or two, allowing your team to take advantage of the target's reduced AC and saves. If you have a rogue who gets their turn between you and the target, take a risk and go for Blind. Blinding the target will make your rogue considerably more effective.

Because Dirty Trick is a standard action, you will probably not be using it constantly. Save it for high-priority targets like solo monsters or enemy leaders so that you can maximize its effectiveness.

This is the first time that iterative attacks really come into play. Remember that Trip and Disarm can replace melee attacks, so you can use your primary hand to trip with a flail, and use your off hand to attack enemies after tripping or disarming them and have a nice advantage.

Favored class bonus: 1 Extra Hit Point

Ability Score increase: Strength

Favored class bonus: 1 Extra Hit Point

5 - Fighter
  • Combat Reflexes

5th level brings the Payback ability. Try not to forget the bonus, but no one will cry if you do.

Combat Reflexes adds a lot to your ability to control the battlefield. Take attacks of opportunity to trip everything that tries to move around you. Keep in mind that Enlarge Person extends your reach, which will make you even better at controlling the area around you. If you don't have a caster in the party who can spare the time to enlarge you, first level potions only cost 50gp each.

Favored class bonus: 1 Extra Hit Point

6 - Fighter
  • Quick Dirty Trick

Level 6 brings a lot of great things. Our first iterative attack, and Quick Dirty Trick. Quick Dirty trick lets you give up your first attack (the one with the +6 bonus) to make a Dirty Trick Attempt. Use it to entangle your target, dropping their strength and dexterity by 4 each, and thereby lowering their CMD by 4. Use your second attack to trip or disarm them while their CMD is garbage. On their turn, they can either spend their whole turn undoing what you did, or they can continue to be entangled/disarmed/tripped while they limp around trying to do something interesting. Either way, you've succeeded in hindering your target.

You also get the second bonus point from Dirty Maneuvers, which gives you a much-needed +2 to both Dirty Trick and Disarm. When combined with the +2 bonus to strength and size bonus from Enlarge Person, that's a pretty scary bonus.

Favored class bonus: 1 Extra Hit Point

7 - Fighter
  • Greater Dirty Trick

Level 7 is the peak of the Cad's capabilities. Deadly Surprise turns you into a Dirty Trick machine, and Greater Dirty Trick makes your Dirty Tricks crippling.

If you make a single attack in a turn (perhaps as you charge into combat), make it a regular attack. Since you're more likely to hit due to your charge bonus, you're more likely to get a free Dirty Trick attempt. Use the attempt to blind your target. If they waste their standard action to remove the blind effect, they can't attack you. If they attack you, you have a 50% chance that they automatically miss, which easily covers the -2 to AC for charging.

If you make a full attack, you can either attack or trade in your primary attack for a guranteed Dirty Trick, depending on how much trouble your enemy is giving you. Either way, blind the target. Now that they're flat-footed and you get a further +2 bonus to attack them, use your secondary attack to hit them and use the free Dirty Trick to entangle them. Now they can't see, they can't move, and they have to waste a standard action to fix one of the conditions. They can't fix both in one turn.

If your target is unfortunate enough suffer multiple Dirty Trick effects, apply them in this order: Blind (easier to hit), Entangle (lowered CMD), Sickened (lower attack, damage, and saves), Shaken (lower attack and saves), Deafened. If the target is a spellcaster, consider deafening them first so that they suffer the 20% chance to fail spells with verbal components. If the target ever manages to suffer all of the above effects, they're functionally dead. Wave your flail around until they fall over.

Favored class bonus: 1 Extra Hit Point

8 - Rogue
  • Greater Trip
  • Medium Armor Proficiency

At level 8, we multi-class into Rogue. While this sacrifices a crucial point of Base Attack Bonus, it gets us some other helpful stuff. Sneak attack is a nice way boost our fairly low damage, and the skill points are never bad. Unfortunately, there aren't any rogue archetypes which will come into play during our brief class dip.

Favored class bonus: 1 Extra Hit Point

Ability Score increase: Strength

9 - Rogue
  • Greater Trip
  • Medium Armor Proficiency

Level 9 brings Evasion and a Rogue Trick. Take Combat Trick to get an extra combat feat. Positioning Attack could be a decent option, but it's only usable once per day. Other tricks might also be good options, but since you're not a dedicated rogue you won't see nearly as much benefit as you would like.

Greater Trip makes you hillariously effective. On your first attack, trip the target. Use the free attack of opportunity to hit them, then get a free Dirty Trick to blind them. From there, they're basically helpless as you pile on status effects and damage. Attacks of opportunity can be use to do the same combination.

At this point you can probably afford a mithral breast plate, so take medium armor proficiency to get yourself some decent armor. If you're not worried about AC, take Iron Will or Lightning Reflexes instead. Boosting your saves will fill the other in gaps in your defenses.

Favored class bonus: 1 Extra Hit Point

10 - Rogue

Level 10 is our final rogue level. 2d6 sneak attack damage will see a lot of application considering how frequently your targets will be blind, but level 4 doesn't offer us anything cool, and we don't want to give up more BAB at level 5.

Favored class bonus: 1 Extra Hit Point

11+

At 11th level and beyond you have a lot of options. Returning to Fighter can get you useful feats, or you can explore other class options. I recommend sticking to Full-BaB classes like Barbarian or Ranger. Beware of class-level dependant abilities like Animal Companions, as they won't see a lot of use at this point. Remember to maintain your high CMB, and take every opportunity to get free attacks and Dirty Trick opportunities.

If you use the Unchained Rogue instead of the classic rogue, consider a 4th level to pick up Debilitating Injury. It is very good, even if you never advance it.