5E Rogue Archetype: Ruffian


I looked all around at the various Thug, Brute, Dirty Fighter builds (credit where credit is due appears at the end). SO, I can't take full credit. Essentially what I did was edit the builds and take some good features from some and rewrote others. (EDIT: it actually ended up being a LOT of rewriting)

Note: I Realize this is probably overpowered compared to the PHB archetypes, but compared to some of the spellcasters I don't think it is (please don't let this devolve just because of that comment, ha ha).

Anyway, I'll also put it in the downloads section (once I figure out how). Feel free to comment. I realize some things probably needed to be moved around, or reworded. But I think I've just been too close to it.

You'll note that while there are a few features, I don't think they are too overpowered (hopefully).

Here we go:


A thickly muscled half-orc springs from the shadows, snatching the nobleman and muffling his cry with a well-placed hand. He drags him quietly back into the darkened recesses of the narrow alley where his friends are waiting. A human female in a half plate stands, arms crossed, next to the fast talking halfling. When the guardsman comes threateningly close, she punches him with her mailed fist sending him unconscious to the ground. The dwarf roams through the shopkeeper’s store. “It’d be a shame if something were to happen to you and the missus. Oh, now this is a nice fine looking watch!” The shopkeeper bows fawningly as he tells the dwarf to please take it, as a gift.

Not all rogues are quick and cunning. Some have learned the tough lessons of the street, and come to understand the dog eat dog nature of the world. They focus their training on brutal attacks - fighting dirty in order to survive the dangerous world around them. Enforcers, kidnappers, thugs, and other hired muscle often follow this archetype, which is the cornerstone of many a thieves guild. Untrained in the fancy techniques of the fighter, the ruffian relies on brute force, intimidation, and cheap shots to get the job done.

Bonus Proficiencies
When you choose this archetype at the 3rd level, you gain proficiency with medium armor and improvised weapons.

No Holds Barred
At 3rd level, everything around you can become a deadly weapon. You may apply your sneak attack damage to attacks made with improvised weapons that were not on your person at the start of your turn. When you hit a creature with one of these weapons, and apply sneak attack damage, if the item is fragile it is destroyed (e.g. mugs, chairs, pixies, etc).
Also, your unarmed strikes are considered light weapons and now do 1d4 bludgeoning damage.
At 9th level you may use your unarmed strikes for sneak attacks.

Starting At the 3rd level, you can further incapacitate your enemy when wrestling. When you are grappling a creature, you can cover the creature's eyes or mouth with your hands. As long as the creature is grappled by you, the creature is blinded if you cover the eyes or silenced (cannot speak) or bite if you cover the mouth.
If you attempt to grapple a surprised target, you do so with advantage. You are then able to apply sneak attack damage. Furthermore, you do not incur any movement penalties as a result of grappling as long as the target is your size category or smaller.
At 9th level, once you have successfully grappled a target, you have advantage on rolls to maintain your grapple.
At 13th level you may apply your unarmed strike damage against a grappled target every round you maintain your grapple. Furthermore, you may use your reaction to apply sneak attack damage against your target, even when the target is not surprised.

Menacing Presence
At 9th level, you become more intimidating. You gain proficiency in Charisma (Intimidate) if you do not already have it. You may also add your Strength modifier to your Charisma modifier when making Intimidate checks.

In addition, you may use the bonus action granted by your Cunning Action to make an Intimidate check. Targets who are intimidated by your Menacing Presence are frightened of you until the end of your next turn.

Starting at 9th level, you are able to force people into giving you what you want. If you successfully use the intimidation skill against a creature that can see you, that creature (regardless of if it is hostile or not) acts as if under the effects of the Friends cantrip. For the next minute, if the creature can understand you, you and your allies have advantage on persuasion and deception checks made against that creature.
This is not a true magical effect and represents attempts by the target to placate you and avoid harm. The creature knows it has been coerced and may be hostile towards you in future encounters. Some individuals may try to seek revenge.

Fight Dirty
At 13th level, when you successfully hit a target no more than one size larger than you with an unarmed strike, you force the target to make a Constitution saving throw (DC 8+your proficiency modifier + your Strength modifier). On a failed save, the target takes damaged and is stunned until the end of your next turn or is blinded for a number of rounds equal to your strength modifier. You can use this ability once per short or long rest.

Vicious Killer
When you reach the 17th level, you may make a vicious attack. Once per short or long rest, you can attack twice instead of once when you take the Attack action. If you target the same creature with both attacks and you applied sneak attack damage to the first attack, then you are able to apply it to the second as well.

Additionally, you deal an extra die of weapon damage whenever you hit a creature that has the condition: blinded, stunned, prone, incapacitated, or frightened.


Special thanks and credit goes to:
Richard Howard for his build - http://richplayingitforward.blogspot.com/2015/01/5th-edition-builds-rogue-thug.html

Human Paragon 3 for this build - http://www.giantitp.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-386489.html

Sieje for - https://vale-1.obsidianportal.com/wikis/rogue-ruffian

Brinze_Johnson for - http://www.reddit.com/r/DnD/comments/2bma7f/5th_editionhomebrew_rogue_thugs_subclass_brutal/

And last but not least, Minigiant for this build - http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?362054-The-Brute-and-The-Thug

OH, and this......

New Weapon

Brass Knuckles
Cost: 3 gp Damage: 1d4 (1d6)* Weight: 1 lb. Properties: Light
*individuals with proficiency in unarmed strikes are do 1d6 instead of 1d4 damage when wielding brass knuckles. This is still considered an unarmed strike.
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Nice! I like it, but I think it would be cooler with more importance given to grappling and more power to unarmed strikes.
No holds barred is pretty much useless, it would be useful only in those rare cases when the rogue is disarmed/unarmed for some strange reason and has no better choice. Also why not letting them sneak attack with them right away? Even with sneak attack it's still an extremely situational (or just weak) feature. Unlike the monk, that can attack with unarmed strikes as a bonus action, this feature gives nothing over using a rapier instead, and even monks are better off with a sword at lower levels while using unarmed attacks only as bonus actions.
Kidnapper is nice but I would personally let a character already mute a person if they grapple someone surprised. I think a bonus action unarmed sneak attack when grappling sounds nicer. The muting and blinding could be just part of the grapple in a surprise round.
Menacing Presence sounds pretty good, it's a pity the game doesn't specify a default way to cause the frightened condition with intimidate checks, I personally let players do that with an action Intimidate vs Insight, but technically it's a houserule. Maybe specify this kind of rule?
I like how extortion is basically Charm Person, but I would some serious problems describing what happens to the character exactly, you intimidate the character but instead of getting frightened, they get friendly, it's... weird?
Fight Dirty is really strong, maybe even too strong, you might stunlock an enemy, and it's especially dangerous if your party outnumbers the enemies. On the bright side it finally gives a point (after 13 levels) in using unarmed strikes instead of a rapier.
Vicious Killer is a bit underwhelming especially if compared to fight dirty, it's an extra attack that (as always) doesn't let you have more than one sneak attack, so it's not particularly powerful, but comes only once per short rest, you are better off multiclassing two levels in fighter and getting action surge instead of getting this feature. Is the extra die added only on the conditions specified above or does it apply always? It feels a little unclear.

I would add something for athletics and grappling checks and modify it so that you make sure that unarmed strikes are the best option.
Really nice archetype, I like tough rogues, and this one focusing on unarmed attacks seems like a fun idea.


Hey, Ezel! Thanks for the insight.

I've made some changes based on your feedback - but I want to be careful about making some of the features too powerful.

I agree no holds bared isn't that powerful, and the unarmed strikes are more of a ribbon than anything (maybe all of no holds barred is a ribbon because it's so situational?). That's because gaining medium armor is a pretty big deal for this build. The other stuff for 3rd level rogues isn't that great (except for the Arcane Trickster because - spells) However, you no holds barred allows you to use your fist to attack as a bonus action assuming you have a light weapon in your main hand (per two weapon fighting rules). That said, I did change the build to gain sneak attack dice on unarmed strikes at level 9. I just felt at level three it made the unarmed attack more powerful than the monks.

I did up Kidinapper, so check that out. I liked the suggestion of using a bonus action for sneak attack on surprise when grappling. but raised the usefulness more than that. Again, it's situational, but it offers a little more versatility.

Menacing Presence and extortion have been reworded some to make it more clear and tighten them up.

I'm not sure about your concerns with fight Dirty, because you can only use it once per long or short rest....

Also, made some minor changes to Vicious Killer. but to answer your question, the extra die of weapon damage is Only against those conditions.

Let me know your thought!


Being proficient in medium armor is not too much a big deal in 5e, it just changes the type of abilities that you might need, without adding much to AC, in fact mountain dwarves get that without any issue for any class they might be.
Bonus Proficiency feature and No Holds Barred feature both give you proficiency in improvised weapons now, simple repetition error. I still feel like without being able to sneak attack with the feature, it's completely useless to have the feature in the first place, it will simply not be used.
"you may use a bonus action to either apply sneak attack damage" is a very vague wording, if you simply let the rogue attack with advantage as a bonus action when grappling succesfully, if they hit it will be a sneak attack anyway. When an enemy is grappled you usually don't need to use your action to drag it around, you just move at half speed and the enemy moves with you. Meaning the bonus action movement feature does nothing, but the feature that lets you move the creature without halving your movement is really nice.
You are right, Fight Dirty is fine since it's once per short rest.
"If you may apply sneak attack damage to one of the attacks, you may also apply it to the other." this is good for a 17th level feature, but requires better wording, this way I can sneak attack a guy that is near to an ally, then move, go to another guy and sneak attack that one for no specific reason. You can simply change it to "You can sneak attack twice per turn".
Also you use the word "status" but in 5e the right word is "condition".

Personally I would just remove Menacing Presence, make Kidnapper a 9th level feature and power up No Holds Barred. To avoid having the feeling of that feature being "more powerful than the monk" just compare it with martial arts.

You gain the following benefits while you are unarmed or wielding only monk weapons and you aren’t wearing armor or wielding a shield:
- You can use Dexterity instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of your unarmed strikes and monk weapons.
- You can roll a d4 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or monk weapon. This die changes as you gain monk levels, as shown in the Martial Arts column of the Monk table.
- When you use the Attack action with an unarmed strike or a monk weapon on your turn, you can make one unarm ed strike as a bonus action. For example, if you take the Attack action and attack with a quarter-staff, you can also make an unarmed strike as a bonus action, assuming you haven't already taken a bonus action this turn.

You gain the following benefits while you are unarmed or wielding only improvised weapons that weren't on you before start of your turn and you aren’t wielding a shield:
- (no finesse bonus, which gives us space for a bigger damage die by one shift if you look at how weapons usually are)
- You can roll a d6 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or improvised weapon.
- When you use the Attack action with an unarmed strike or an improvised weapon on your turn, you can make one unarmed strike as a bonus action. For example, if you take the Attack action and attack with a random rock, you can also make an unarmed strike as a bonus action, assuming you haven't already taken a bonus action this turn (considering that you already would use your bonus action for cunning action this gives an option, but not a particularly good power up)
- You can sneak attack with your unarmed strikes or improvised weapons.

This literally gives the ruffian the same power as a two-weapon fighting rogue. Without the feature you would literally have the same exact damage output, with the difference that at least a two-weapon rogue would be able to have finesse weapons, but the ruffian doesn't have that option. At least this makes no-weapon fighting feasible for the ruffian, which is the main point of the archetype.


So, I've updated a few things and I think this is a stronger build now. I think it provides a good option for a more strength based rogue, while making combat a little more interesting. if anyone knows where i can get one of those COOL looking page backgrounds, I'll get the formatting all nice and official looking and put this in the downloads section. ;)