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Level Up (A5E) A5 Rogue proto-guide


I had some time & put this together over the last couple days as character creation notes grew out of control leaving me figuring I'd just make it into a guide that could be useful to people even with things in progress. We know there are a lot of things still in progress like changes to weapons & armor and changes to combat but there are some assumptions we can make. One assumption I'm making is that Attacks of Opportunity Attacks (AoO) will be playing a more significant role than in core 5e. I base that on a lot of things but the fact that there are a good number of maneuvers that mention them or hinge on them in ways that would be almost pointless if that were not a safe assumption. For lack of something else to eyeball value against I'm expecting something like 3.5 because I'm less experienced with 4e & stock 5e might as well not have them. While I'd like to see meaningful flanking & facing make a return & will mention it when relevant I don't know how or if it will play in. I also refuse to type "if the target is within five feet of an enemy who is not incapacitated" when I can just say threatens/threatened

We know that the advantage changes were poorly received so I'm going to assume that minor (dis)advantage will be something like +/- 2 or 5 since those numbers come up a few times & have a history.

It looks like weapons will be getting some changes to be "mechanically distinct". While we don't know any details yet, one thing I feel like we can safely bet on is the return of sane for a battlemap ranges on ranged weapons based on farshot giving a bump of 10 & 30 feet at close & long ranges respectively.

The rogue gets first tier maneuvers at level 2 & 2nd at level 7 to the fighter' 1st 4th & 8th. I'm noting this just because this is all new for everyone & at least when I started writing this there were zero class guides for a5, just keep that in mind while remembering rogues have a lot of cool stuff baked into the class itself elsewhere :D
Green Trap! This might be good for someone... but probably not you
Green Underline This might be a trap or the wording might be off.
Red underline means that there are uncertainties that left me unable to decide how this should be rated
Purple This seems to be "trash" as these things tend to say. That or there are details we don't yet have
Brown this isn't a bad choice if you don't have anything better to pick... but it's probably nothing your going to write home about for whatever reason
Blue Solid choice you probably won't regret
Gold This is an amazing choice but amazing doesn't mean I think it's broken or OP

Expertise dice instead of just doubling your proficiency bonus you get to add 1d41d6/1d8/etc to your check for a skill or tool you have expertise in. There are a lot of rogue class features that grant an expertise die to a particular skill & each of those bmps the die a notch (s4->d6->d8->etc) .Bonuses are always good, but something this allows is more magic items and a progression of them. You might get (or even buy!) some magic doodad that makes your expertise die let you reroll any ones or treat ones as a two then later another that lets you reroll ones & twos or treat them as a three.
    • Agile Athlete Expertise die on athletics & a climb speed equal to your move speed. Depending on your build, one of these is really nice & the other is a nice cherry on top. You probably don't have the strength for grappling folks with athletics, but now you might hold your own at it & also have a better chance of making those athletics checks you can't use acrobatics on. The skill system is one of the areas being targeted with A5e so that athletics check might wind up being quie a bit more important with a lot less "choice of acrobatics or athletics." While a climb speed is fairly niche it makes a huge difference when you can use it.
    • Boobytrapper gain an expertise die to conceal traps. If your going to be using & making lots of traps & actively engaging in combat as war this is probably going to be a gold must have. If your going to be crawling through a dungeon slaughtering things passively waiting in neatly separated rooms for you to kill one by one this obviously drops a notch for your sporty combat as sport.
    • Delay Trap Get an expertise die with thieve's tools when working with traps or maybe when using thieve's tools in general. as an added cherry on top you get to skip the tired rote "everyone leave the room while I work on this trap" because you can delay the trap to let your allies escape the blast when things go bad
    • Expertise Training acrobatics, athletics, investigation, thieve's tools.. pick one & get an expertise die with it. If you pick the same as you did for expertise then that die becomes 1d6, pair it with delay trap & it (sometimes?) becomes 1d8!
    • Extra Skill Training acrobatics, athletics, investigation, thieve's tools.. pick one & get proficient. Maybe you picked some different skills that seemed more interesting from your class skill choices or maybe there are skill system changes where double proficiency will matter. Either way you can take this as early as level 1 so can do some interesting stuff you skill monkey you.
    • Hide in Shadows Expertise die on stealth checks & you can try to hide in dim light. Depending on how important stealth & lighting is in your game this could go up or down a notch to gold or even brown.
    • Observer Get an expertise die on perception & +3 to passive perception. Observation is a great skill for anyone & that goes double if your a sneaky sneak who is going out to scout in paces where you need to perceive stuff.
    • Scout Leader Gain an expertise die on stealth checks & allows you to substitute your roll for one of your allies. Plus you can move stealthily at normal speed. Even for a build/group role not heavy into stealth this is going to be pretty darned useful
    • Sense for Secrets Get expertise on investigate & spend a minute to get a sense of if there's anything worth investigating within 30ft of you. Maybe you wander around looking at patterns of dust in the floor, maybe you go into a fugue state & bullet time the scene. However you do it you know know that there is something worth investigating over there.
    • Tuck & Roll Expertise in acrobatics& you can reduce fall damage by the result. Personally I find that the focus in reducing/negating fall damage in d&d is undeserved with fall damage being overrated. Yea it was a big deal decades ago when pit traps were the thing in dungeon design, but these days it's kind of like "As a kid I thought I'd need to stop drop & roll a lot more by now". I rate this blue because acrobatics is a great skill, but don't suggest this for the fall damage alone.
Sneak Attack I know it, you know it, we all know it. Get some extra d6s on your damage when you have advantage or an ally threatens your target. Like it or not the current version of A5e has sneak attack working pretty much the same as core/stock 5e. Since this is a guide I'm going to point out that in both sneak attack is limited to "once per turn", a5 gives rogue a lot of ways to get an attack on someone else's turn to grant you an additional sneak attack during the round.

Thieves Cant This is one of those ideas that seem like they would make sense & add a lot because tvshows & movies regularly show people doing similar. In practice however it's missing the critical component of calling out that you can use it to find shady people/shops like a fence/assassin/information broker/etc in towns large enough to have such things similar to how the the fighter's leadership thing lets them find people. You get it & might use it but will probably never depend on it.
Cunning Action Bonus action to dash disengage or hide. Not much to say about it.

  • Combat Tactic You need to decide what kind of rogue you are going to be here. If you want to specialize with bows then sniper is probably your jam. If you want to stab things in melee then carver rocks. If you want to see how long it takes to fray your GM's last nerve then pick ambusher.
    • Ambusher This one seems great on paper but I rate it purple because it sets up an oboxious loop of ending every turn with "and I hide" or tries to turn stealth into invisibility. Either way it will kick the nerves of your group & more importantly GM in a way that sets up a fight or sends them looking for loopholes to screw you on technicalities. If it was just something like advantage on attacks when flanking from behind it would avoid all that & jump to blue or gold & give a nice middle ground between carver & sniper for players who want to do what fits any given situation... Add to that the fact that cunning action:hide would conflict with artful dodger & other things that eat a bonus action.
    • Carver Get an extra 1d6 when you do sneak attacks with a dagger raising your min damage by 1 & average damage by 3.5. Putting that in terms of "but my rapier is 1d8" the average for 4d/d6/d8 is 2.5/3.5/4.5 & 5.5 is more than 4.5. This might be even better when weapon updates come though since dagger was once 1d4 19-20/x2 as an example. Depending on weapons changes this could shoot up to gold for melee focused rogues
    • Sniper At first glance this might look inferior to carver, but there are some exceptionally nice maneuvers for ranged weapons & getting +2 damage o every ranged weapon attack adds up. If there was a stance that did something like +1 to hit with ranged weapons but move speed is halved this would shoot up to gold for ranged rogues
  • Biting Zephyr
    • 1st
      • Covering Fire: Point across the table at Bob & for a point of exertion get to fire an arrow to make him exempt from AoOs till the start of your next turn, this should be huge for letting your allies move around nasty stuff both to avoid defensive lines & safely get into flanking position when it matters in addition to letting a squishy like Alice flee in terror while still wielding the powers of creation on her turn when the baddies are closing in.
      • Doubleshot: Spend a point of exertion & fire two more shots with your bow at a small penalty. Given that you can take this at level two this is a gigantic boon for someone focusing on being a ranged combatant. While you can't use it as often as a class with a second or third attack, you can use it when the fan has been hit & stuff absolutely needs to die now. Imagine how this could change the goblin ambush at the start of LMoP by taking it from "serious chance of TPK" to "holy crap you were amazing!" or when your friendly god wizard has set things to make sure that big troll from earlier is ready to be destroyed quick. Not only is this akin to a mini ranged smite but you also get to make extra attack rolls & your attribute or weapon mods/effects go off with each shot. If your thinking of going ranged as a rogue, this should be one of your first picks for allowing a lot of power and giving a potentially bacon saving ace in your pocket.
      • Far Shot Combat Stance: Depending on weapons changes this might range from A:"sometimes kinda cool" to B:"makes $awesome but poor range ranged weapon worthwhile". Personally I'm hoping for something closer to B. If weapon ranges are not adjusted this becomes almost pointless
      • Guarded Draw: While this probably won't be your first pick its a solid choice that allows you to make ranged weapon attacks without a penalty for being in melee & without triggering an AoO. It costs a point of exertion each time you use it so you will probably still try to avoid using it, but your going to feel like you made a solid choice each time it saves your bacon.
    • 2nd
      • Counter Shot: use a reaction & burn a point of exertion to deflect a missile directed at an ally unless it's too heavy like a giant's boulder. The value of this is going to depend largely on how much your gm likes ranged attack creatures. At least in standard d&d it's probably not too helpful, but I use a lot of thrown trinkets that trigger a spell where they land tp spice things up in my eberron games & this would be really good in those kinds of situations because that trinket could explode into a fireball or something. We also don't know what changes to spells will be coming other than a vague hint that buff/debuff/battlefield control spells are likely to be back on the meaningful build choice list. It's certainly possible that this could turn into a more limited form of pseudo-counterspell.
      • Quickdraw This allows you to draw a bow and make a shot at a small penalty as a reaction for 1pt of exertion. Being able to do this on your turn is almost pointless because you probably have doubleshot already if your thinking of taking this, but you can also do it on another creature's turn meaning you can force a concentration check by shooting someone casting a spell before the spell even completes. Unfortunately "does the spell go off" falls into an "ask your gm" grey area despite some rules suggesting it probably doesn't that may or may not still exist in 5e. That alone is pretty awesome, but it doesn't end there if you look hard enough at the rules as they are written. sneak attack is "once per turn" & your usually making this attack on someone else's turn. While I think the "once per turn" is a needlessly fine hair hiding behind strict RAW, it is how sneak attack in both core & a5e is currently phrased.
      • Trickshot With current ranged weapon ranges this is just stupid in too many ways to even exist, but I'm assuming ranges are going to get reverted to sanity. spend a point of exertion, & don't move or get "targeted" by a melee weapon attack between now & the start of your next turn & you get to make an attack with a nice bonus against a target up to twice your range. I have no idea hw a performance roll comes into play & it seems like the situations where you might need this for a performance check are rather limited so don't really factor that in.
  • Mist & Shade
    • 1st
      • Deceptive Combat Stance uhh... gain a small bonus to sleight of hand checks made while in combat? This sees to be targeting a niche that is vanishingly small and downright frustrating to the rest of the table. Specifically this but in the middle of a fight & with a gm capable of handling edge cases better than a video game. Monsters rarely have equipment tracked individually at a TTRPG like in a CRPG. With the addition of eventual skill changes & weapon changes this might change to any other level depending on additions... but right now this is probably safe to skip.
      • Deft Feint bonus action & 1 point exertion to gain a bonus on your next attack if you win a Deception vrs insight check. Most high AC baddies are probably not going to be all that big on insight making this appear to be a solid choice for a melee rogue... except feinting assault gives extra damage has the same check & doesn't have an action cost.
      • Feinting Assault Make the same deception vrs insight check as deft feint for the same 1 point but do it with no action cost & if successful gain a d6 of damage on all your attacks against the target till start of your next turn. For a melee rogue this is a maneuver you will probably regret not having when something needs to die now.
      • Painful Pickpocket Point of exertion & reaction to make a sleight of hand check against it. All of the problems with deceptive combat stance apply here. As cool as it might sound to steal the macguffin from the bbeg while in a brawl with them it just isn't a situation likely to play out often enough to make this worth a choice given what we have so far. I hesitate to tag this one green right now because I feel like either the wording is off or it i intended for eventual skill/weapon changes we don't yet have. You should probably skip it for now though,
    • 2nd
      • Smart Feint: Spend a point of exertion & a bonus action to gain a bonus on your next attack if your target fails an intelligence save. There are a few other feint type maneuvers, If you already have feinting assault & are finding that your gm keeps using baddies with good insight it is probably a solid choice for a melee rogue who absolutely needs to hit things with your next attack. With that said however, you might not have the points to splurge on using this kind of thing
      • Forced Hesitation: Sped an action & two points of exertion to not attack but keep one baddie from attacking till the start of your next turn. While this is certainly good & useful for some builds, a rogue is rarely what you think of when it comes to this sort of thing & it eats your (sneak)attack. For you this is probably a hard pass & skip.
      • Lead on: I have a hard time judging this one because there are a few things that I'm not certain about with it. If you make the creature willingly move it could trigger a bunch of AoOs. If that is the case this can be a great gold maneuver even if you yourself are subject to AoOs. It's also not clear how far they need to move with you & what happens if you have reach due to weapon/race/size/etc.
  • Rapid Current
    • 1st
      • Charge use an action & a point of exertion to move 30 feet & make an attack... just like you could without spending that exertion or better yet not selecting this maneuver as currently written. I have no idea what this is supposed to do, but the wording is off in ways that make it DoA & later move+do $thing maneuvers(ie rolling strike) leave me at a complete loss unless we eventually see the return of the move action allowing you to move action & move+attack as a standard action or something...
      • Eyeslash Blind is one of the few save or suck conditions present in 5e. Even with the short duration this is a very solid maneuver Use this when you want to make sure your allies can pound a baddie or stop a baddie from splattering everyone when you think is winding up with some finishing move
      • Speed over strength Reaction & 1 point of exhaustion to make an attack against an opponent who is size large & up that hit you or any size that hit you with a heavy weapon. Keep in mind that sneak attack is "once per turn" & your making this attack on someone else's turn. While I think the "once per turn" is a needlessly fine hair hiding behind strict RAW, it is how sneak attack in both core & a5e is currently phrased. Get smacked by a giant or the bbeg's heavy weapon wielding sidekicks & getting in a second sneak attack this round can be a great way of scaling your damage in a pinch.
      • Swift Combat stance getting an extra 5 feet of movement as long as you stay in stance is not a bad deal. It might not be as cool as some other stances, but it's not a bad choice if you regularly find yourself not having enough move speed.
    • 2nd
      • Parrying Counter 1pt exhaustion & reaction "at the end of your turn" to designate 1 creature you get a+2 ac bonus against. This has the possibility of being blue but you need to use it before you even know if you might need it. To illustrate the problem consider how much use the shield spell would get if a caster needed to declare which baddie it worked against and cast it using a spell slot & their reaction before the next turn comes up.
      • Rapid Drink gulping down a healing potion is usually one of the worst ways to spend an action in a fight, other potions exist but I can't think of any ttrpg systems where you guzzle potions regularly in battle without possible "my class is based on drinking potions to battle" type stuff. I'm goin to rate this one a trap because at first glance it seems like "wow that might really save my bacon a lot" but then you realize you didn't consider how you use potions enough.
      • Rolling Strike 1 pt of exertion & an action to move up to 20feet without provoking an AoO& make a melee attack with a small bonus. Zip around the front line to stab something like that caster or the bbeg, run for your life to avoid being splatted by that troll & get to safety while stabbing that goblin now at your feet.

  • Cipher Gain an expertise die in deception, can create ciphers, & can teach them to others. Where thieves cant fails at discussing shady stuff in public with your allies this goes a step further & does the trick by allowing you to teach them to others. It's mainly for written text rather than spoken, but you might be able to convince your gm to give you an exception since it's so bad otherwise
  • Distraction Gain an expertise die in performance & can use an action to make a performance vrs insight check that gives some nice penalties to someone's perception until the end of the target's next turn.
  • Veiled Threat Gain expertise die o intimidation and you can intimidate someone in ways that leave other creatures not noticing your hostile intent. I'm tempted to put this one at gold but really veiled threat vrs distraction depends on what kind of rogue you want to be
Trapsmith This is an extremely powerful ability baked into the a5e rogue itself & you get it at level 3 so can use it for much of the campaign, huzzah! Spend ten minutes using your thieve's tools to trap 5 feet or a "large or smaller object." The really amazing part about this is that the resulting trap deals damage equal to your sneak attack. Later you get some abilities that can dramatically improve this, but for now you have an amazing tool for any combat as war or even "lets rest for the night" scenarios & more.
Ability score Improvement The core 5e rogue gets one at 10 but the a5e rogue does not currently. I've not yet seen if this was intended or not.
Improved Critical Your weapon attacks critical on a 19-20 as of level 5. This includes carver, sneak attack, feinting assault, & so on. If you get this from another class feature (should be "source") that improves to 18-20.
  • Shrewd Judgement Pretty much your big choice here is "am I the type of rogue who specializes in..." with a set of three abilities that give an expertise die in deception sleight of hand or insight along with some nifty abilities related to making you really good with applyingthose things.
    • Tricky Interrogation Get an expertise die on Deception & get a cool deception vrs deception check based ability to force a target to reveal if they believe the answer to a yes/no question is yes or no.
    • Quick Frisk Get an expertise die on sleight of hand checks & can make a sleight of hand vrs perception check to learn what type of objects a target you touch is carrying along with approximate number of "coins" they are carrying (6 copper 3 silver 1 platinum & 10 platinum are all "ten coins").
    • Spot Tell Gain expertise die on insight checks and some bonuses to discern when someone is bluffing
  • Defense style
    • Evasion Just like in core. Make a dex save that would be save for half & you save for none. When you can use this it's usually going to save you from a ton of damage (good chance of being lifesaving even)... but even though dex saves are pretty common this is often going to make less difference than either of the other two
    • Artful Dodger If you attack while your offhand is empty, you can use the dodge action as a bonus action. This is actually really powerful, consider it the equivalent of adding the dodge action to cunning action when you attack with a melee weapon & your offhand is free. Taking the dodge action causes attack rolls made against you to be made at disadvantage until the start of your next turn. You can do this every turn as long as you aren't using your bonus action for something else if you take this. If you went melee this is a choice that will make a night & day difference in how dangerous melee is to you, but if your a ranged weaponfocused rogue you won't get much mileage out of this.
    • Uncanny Dodge Lets say you get hit with an attack made by an opponent. By selecting uncanny dodge you can cut that damage in half using your reaction & like artful dodger you can do that every time your reaction is up (ie once per round). Given that there are a lot of awesome maneuvers that use your reaction this is probably a poor choice for a melee rogue, but a rogue focused on ranged attacking can't use artful dodger when making ranged attacks.
Improved Trapsmith This would be gold twice if I could. Starting at ten the traps you make with trapsmith are much better. Trapsmith traps deal damage equal to your sneak attack damage so you can add one of the following to that toolbox
  • Area Trap Each creature within 10 feet of the trap (which can be a 5 ft square or it can be a size large or smaller object!) needs to make save or get smacked with your sneak attack damage
  • Hazzard trap References chapter 12 "game mastery" which we don't have.
  • Immobilization Trap Target is caught in a net or hunting trap.. presumably taking damage too
  • Poison Trap Add a contact or injury poison to the trap with another reference to chapter 12
  • Viral Trap Funny name for "everyone within 5 feet of the trap must also save or take damage" making for a pretty brutal trap.
  • Costumer Expertise die on using a disguise kit & advantage when you use a disguise kit to fool creatures. In all honesty I'm going to rate this one green because the disguise kit is little more than a makeup kit sometimes used to not look like you by getting your head caught in a mechanical rice picker when it really needs to hinge on things like clothing tools & so on as applicable to a situation.
  • True Lie Expertise on persuasion & you can use persuade to make deception checks when telling lies. There is also a bit of maybe fluff that could potentially thwart both tricky interrogation and zone of truth as ZoT doesn't stop you from saying bob did it if you saw the imposter kill mike while dressed like bob
  • Walk it Back Gain an expertise die on deception & you can jump in as a reaction to sub your deception check for an ally's by adding some detail. Like true lie this is a solid choice but depending on how social & charismatic your group members are this could jump right into gold.
writing this from a guide PoV made me think a bit more & notice some rough edges in a new light that I didn't consider in my writeup in the rogue thread where things were mostly judged on their own or when making a character because "ooh that's what I want"
  • Delay Trap: This doesn't say if the expertise die applies specifically to working with traps or all checks. From the description & context it suggests only traps, but the strict grammatical wording says all checks needlessly setting up a fight over the rules.
  • Boobytrapper It's not clear if this applies to traps you set or traps you have hidden on your person. This should be clarified on if it applies to one or both.
  • Ambusher The mindless loop is unneeded & will only serve to annoy the rest of the party over time because bob does it almost every turn. Changing this from hidden to flanking from behind makes positioning & facing more important while removing the frayed nerves. Dropping the "melee" to allow ranged attacks means that a ranged rogue could serve as a deterrent to baddies who want to minimize the impact of being flanked by having their shield side/not-flatfooted side facing the most pointy party member when flanked.
  • Biting Zephyr: covering fire Right now this is great for escapes and letting one ally get into position despite any number of creatures they might provoke an AoO from. While that's great, it's pretty niche & can probably lead to frustrations similar to the core protection fighting style where an excited player is constantly trying to push their ability on apathetic allies & letting an ally flee is just kinda meh on the excitement scale. One change that can twist that dramatically is to allow a second targeting option where instead of just "choose one ally you can see" add words along the lines of "or one enemy you can see" along with "when an enemy is chosen you can prevent the enemy from making opportunity attacks by expending one piece f ammunition for each opportunity attack you prevent". Something like this would allow "Ok guys, I'm gong to put down covering fire o that war troll in plate with a tower shield so get yourselves in flanking positions" leaving everyone to oooh & scurry around it on their turn
  • Lead on: Changing this from "creature within reach" to be more like an trip/shove-overrun type thing that keeps you both in the sane square would clear up a lot of the confusion I saw surrounding how this should work It's also not clear if this is supposed to be voluntary or forced movement for purposes of AoOs.
  • Parrying counter: The wording is seriously off in a way that is almost certainly not the intent & if that is the intent this should probably be a stance, have a longer duration, or even some kind of debuff to apply a shaken-like condition to the target
  • Charge The cost/benefit s just not there in this version & I'm just not sure what the intent was because absent rules changes like the return of a standard action & move action it doesn't seem to do anything to justify existing.
  • Cipher This is pretty meh as others noted in the rogue thread & elsewhere. adjusting it to allow you & the party to discuss things in a private thieves cant with dc's based on who's speaking would probably go a long way to at least making it "hmm I could see that being useful for us"
  • Improved Critical I have no idea why this has a blurb for if you get this from another "class feature" rather than "source". Currently the only other class feature is high level (17th?)champion fighter but "source" would allow gaining it from a weapon, feat, or even a spell.
  • Artful dodger/uncanny dodge: They have the same end of turn always "and I x" as ambusher but avoid the frayed nerve problem by not forcing the GM to make a bunch of perception checks to tell bob if he succeeded or not so he knows if he can get the bonus to his attack roll or not so no annoying slowdown like ambusher.

  • Costumer Expertise. A disguise kit is just a makep kit & lacks the hooks needed for a player to even argue they should be able to apply it to what this describes. Speaking as the guy who wrote this & done some of that work in the past I'll say that it misses the nearly unbelievable power of social engineering stealth consisting simply of looking like you belong for example, delivery driver lookalike cartfulls of beer, 75k dressed like an armored truck driver, another armored truck driver, etc. If your GM understands social engineering methods, proactive disguises & excuses relevant to a situation can amount to an incredible level of effective invisibility This needs to make proactive use of things like the outfits on phb150 & tools on phb154 for that.

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