5E What should Rogues do?
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  1. #1

    What should Rogues do?

    There's the comment from Mearls "Our focus right now is on simplifying the rogues skill benefits and making sure the class focuses on its core strengths as a trickster and skill master. For instance, sneak attack might become an option rather than an ability given to all rogues. A smooth-talking con artist might distract enemies, evade danger, and confuse foes rather than stab them to death from behind."

    So I'm wondering if that's so then what should the rogue do? I felt the rogue was too simple in comparison to how the Fighter changed in the 2nd playtest round. I get that combat superiority is a way to get the Fighter to be more like the powers using fighter of 4e and emulate the tons of combat feats of 3e. So I'm guessing there will be a goal of giving the Rogue something that emulates 4e rogue powers, and some of the concept of skill tricks introduced in Complete Scoundrel at the end of 3e.

    But any speculation on what would such a mechanic be? Would it be a renewable pool of dice like Combat Superiority? Will it have a list of special things the Rogue can do as they gain level?

    What should something Rogue like be? Should it mean manoeuvring around cities like a Parkour Traceur? Getting opponents to drop their guards? Having an opponent stab someone else as they dodge out of the way? Inflicting certain conditions like Blinded, Slowed and so on?

    I realize that Rogue might be able to try that with freeform skill rolls, but often a DM would say, "No that can't happen" with the player arguing that they should, so I am assuming there might be mechanics for doing all of the above.

  2. #2
    My answer is simple: The 4e (Essentials) Thief (note: not the 4e Rogue).

    The 4e thief's thing beyond sneak attack is a collection of tricks - . Each trick uses their move action to use but allows them movement and some benefit beyond straight movement.

    Acrobat's Trick is close to the insane Parkourista; it grants them an out and out climb speed while they use it and adds two to their damage. If you don't have Acrobat's Trick, you aren't a better Traceur than anyone else with your dex.

    Sneak's Trick allows them to move and hide somewhere other people couldn't. In D&D Next terms I'd allow Sneak's Trick to allow the rogue to hide as part of their move when using sneak's trick - or to gain Advantage when using their standard action and Sneak's Trick together. If you don't have Sneak's Trick you aren't a better sneak than someone else with stealth training and your dex and race.

    Feinting Trick should in D&D Next do the same for bluff as Sneak's Trick does for Stealth. (The actual Feinting Trick in 4e is fairly terrible). And there should likewise be one for thievery (none of this making opening locks, picking pockets, and disarming traps separate skills please!).

    Then there are combat only tricks. Tactical Trick lets you slip past enemies and gain combat advantage against those your allies are threatening. Unbalancing trick knocks enemies down. Thug's Trick pins an enemy in place, getting an opportunity attack if they try to shift away and Tumbling Trick lets you effectively Cleave.

    Give the D&D Next Rogue just the one background and two tricks at first level (each of which provides training in its associated skill). And then a couple more as they gain levels. And drop skill mastery - it takes away the tension.

  3. #3
    Novice (Lvl 1)

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    I would like to see maneuverability being a big thing for rogues the essentials thief with its at wills being movement based was a decent idea but overall the class was poorly executed and I don't like how they were mostly used to gain CA or bonuses to attack or damage.

    In my mind I'm thinking rogues would have a replenishing pool of resources somewhat like fighter's CS but they would start with say 5 points and could spend them to perform stunts or tricks that would have differing costs depending on how difficult it is so maybe a rogue who likes to duck and weave through the action might be able to spend 2 to allow him to not provoke OAs from one enemy and spend 4 to avoid triggering from 2, now heres the trick at the start of each turn he only recovers 1 or 2 so they could either spend them for some minor benefits through out the combat or save them for a rainy day(turn) and spend all of them at once to get out of dodge, this is also why it would need a maximum so after a short rest you have like 60 of them. Other things it could achieve are say you could spend 1 to move through an enemy's square or 1 to gain a climb speed of 5 foot(you would still need to use your movement)

    The main problem I see with this is it might cover the trickster rogue and aerialist type rogues but the thug and others not so well so I'm not sure do you give them other more damage dealing or status based tricks or to give them a different mechanic.

    EDIT: I also quite like Neonchameleon's suggestion which would certainly be simpler.
    Last edited by Fazza; Wednesday, 3rd October, 2012 at 05:06 PM.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Fazza View Post
    The main problem I see with this is it might cover the trickster rogue and aerialist type rogues but the thug and others not so well so I'm not sure do you give them other more damage dealing or status based tricks or to give them a different mechanic.
    I think the 5E design for classes, is that one or more defining core mechanics sit at the class level, and then you can choose to take a customised subset of it to build a specific character.

    I would personally take that away as "if your concept works best with a major new mechanic (especially a new resource type for your character to manage), then the cleanest way to do this is to design a new class". We then equate each class with the mechanics and resources it unlocks for you to use in play. I actually dislike this approach to RPG rules, but at least it is a guideline design, and makes class boundaries meaningful.

    That may not survive the spellcasting options for the Wizard and Cleric, of course. Other threads about that.

  5. #5
    Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)

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    I think rogues should be tool experts. First we need rules for what you can do with a given piece of equipment and then we need rules how that piece of equipment performs better in the hands of the rogue.


    A grappling iron and rope allows a character to levitate 30' by attaching the hook 30' up. An action that takes one minute. A rogue can do this in one round.

    A lock pick allows a charcter to open a locked door by tinkering with the lock for one minute. A rogue can do it in one round.

    The Millennium Falcon allows a character to run the Kessel in 24 parsecs. A rogue can do this in 12.

    I've left out checks for clarity. Mundane equipment can be just as important as magical items and a whole lot more versatile too. I think it's important to show that rogues are better with tools than other characters.

  6. #6
    Cutpurse (Lvl 5)

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    Rogues should send their boy-friends into coma with a kiss.

    As for DDN, character require scaling damage output. So the rogue needs extra damage or status effects that are comparable to damage.

  7. #7
    Chat up the succubus concubine to Mephistopheles in order to gain entrance to Mephistar.

  8. #8
    Rogues ruin everything!

    Seriously though, the Rogue's real shtick, in a nutshell, is to "debuff" stuff.

    They disarm traps and bypass hazards.
    They pick locks and subvert NPCs.
    They use crippling attacks and engage in sabotage.
    They undermine the senses and good sense of others.

    This covers a really broad swath of adventuring activities.

    When you roll for initiative, the Rogue is the guy making it so that his enemies are frustrated in their attempts to do anything. He compromises their defenses, hinders their movement, and interferes with their attempts to attack or cast spells. He might blind someone with sand in the eyes, entangle a foe's weapons with a net, or mire then in a frustrating barrage of feints and dodges. Much to the opposite of Sneak Attack Damage, a Rogue's real role is to severely hurt enemies not by dealing massive damage but by compromising their abilities.

    Disarmed traps, setting traps, picking pockets, hiding in shadows, moving silently, climbing walls, and picking pockets are old hat everyone is familiar with. Not all rogues do those particular things, but every rogue has his own customized bag of exploration and/or social interaction tricks. Fast-talking, intelligence gathering, burglary, subversion, acrobatics, guerrilla warfare, terror tactics - no rogue (at least at lower levels) has mastered all these functions, but every good rogue starts somewhere.

    - Marty Lund

  9. #9
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    Block steeldragons

    I'll just preface this by saying I'm not really 100% clear on how 3e or 4e skills work. Nor do not know how the 5e playtest's "skill mastery" works. So if any of this sounds familiar or has already been done...or is specifically the kind of thing the OP is saying to get rid of...then my apologies.

    That said...

    For my own homebrew, I have what I consider a fairly simply way of handling skills:

    Anyone can try to do anything.

    Roll the d20. Add the relevant ability modifier. You beat the DC (which I know at least that bit comes from 3e) or you don't. That's an untrained person/for anything a PC is not trained in.

    PCs get a beginning allotment of skill points, determined by class and increased or decreased by any Intelligence modifier. They receive additional skill points as they increase in level...the frequency depending on the class.

    The players can select and increase a given skill by spending their skill points (+1 per skill point) up to the maximum modifier.

    The modifier scale goes like this:
    0 = untrained
    +1 = trained
    +2 = "adept", you are better than the average trained person.
    +3 = "expert", you could do this for a living...and get paid for it!
    +4 = "preeminent", you are an expert among experts, nearly the best in the given field.
    +5 = "Master", you are the best there is at what you do.

    Thieves/Rogues (though not all "Rogue classes" in my homebrew) receive a class feature called...surprise, surprise..."Skill Mastery." This grants them a +1 to ANY non-knowledge (a.k.a. "Lore") skill...the rogue can't learn stuff out of other people's heads...that's what the psychics're for

    hang on. I have this all written out someplace...here it is...
    Skill Mastery: The Rogue has become very well-acquainted with the value of paying close (if unnoticed) attention, learning quickly, and duplicating tasks accurately. So much so that a Rogue PC receives +1 to any non-Knowledge-based Skill check roll, whether the Rogue is trained in it or not, and including those skills detailed below as Class Features.

    Effectively, this gives the Rogue a leg up when dealing with any skills. The untrained skill rolls as if it were trained (+1). The trained skill is slightly more adept than the average person with that skill (+2). The Adept skills (including their Class Features) are bumped up to Expert level (+3), etc...
    So, the rogues are quite the skill monkeys in my campaign world/homebrew.

    The aforementioned "Class features" include all of the standard thieves abilities: pick pockets, open locks, traps, climb, etc...right down to ye olde Thieves' Cant.

    For backstab/sneak attack, I think I am going to change the brew to the 5e idea of "+d6" (that is what it is, right?) and have that increase over every other level or so (2d6 @ 3rd level, 3d6 @ 5th, etc...).

    There are, of course, plenty of Skills for the rogue to choose from to increase in all of those other good fun "roguish" areas mentioned: info gathering, disguise, forgery, acrobatics, etc... I try to keep the skill list...concise and split up by class as much as possible. But over the years, it seems its simply just gotten a bit...overgrown.

    I'm of a mind nowadays to simply let the Rogue, and only the Rogue (ok, probably Bards too), choose from the skill lists of ANY class..."stealing" skills, in a way, when other classes can't seems particularly "roguey" to me.

    The special "maneuvering on the battlefield" stuff, throwing sand in the eyes and all of that sorta thing is a "just try to do it" kinda thing in my games. There either is sand/dirt for you to grab or there's not, give it a toss (roll), see above re: it works or it doesn't. I'm a Theatre of the Mind guy all the way.

    I dunno...seems to work. I can't really complain (other than needing to take a weed whacker to my skill lists, now that I'm thinkin' about it.)

  10. #10
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

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    Ambush rogues acquire 'Scheme Dice' by spending their whole turn hidden. (If they reveal themselves but kill the only people who saw them, they count as staying hidden.

    Dashing rogues acquire Scheme Dice by attacking enemies but not getting hit in return. The more consecutive rounds you attack an enemy, the more dice you get, representing the dramatic rising action of a duel.

    Scholarly rogues acquire Scheme Dice in big chunks if they spend their turn examining a foe. If it's a monster, you might have to make an appropriate Lore check.

    Utility rogues earn scheme dice by using tools to muck with foes -- tanglefoot bags to slow, flashbangs to blind, alchemist fire to burn. You distract the foe with small annoyances, then pull off a big trick.

    You can spend scheme dice similarly to combat superiority dice. Ambush rogues mostly deal extra damage to unaware foes or move to cover. Dashing rogues get to parry and make extra attacks against mooks. Scholarly rogues get to apply their scheme dice to their allies, effectively shouting stuff like "Hit his weak spot: the knees!" Utility rogues can perk a minor condition-inflicting item into a big one, like using a tanglefoot bag to paralyze someone, or smashing an alchemist fire flask into a troll's mouth so it burns from within.

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