D&D 5E Acrobat ("Cat Burglar") subclass ideas

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I have a new young player whose Tabaxi Rogue just hit 3rd level. Based on the way he is playing and imagining his rogue, the Thief subclass is sort of an obvious choice...except that the Second Story Work feature is most redundant with Tabaxi. At first I thought about just tweaking it to emphasize the jumping, but then I started thinking about having some fun with it and designing a new subclass just for him.

How does this sound? It's a little complicated for the spirit of 5e, but it's meant for this one player, not as a published subclass.

Feline Leap
You may leap over a creature of size Medium or smaller, landing in the square that is adjacent to the creature and directly opposite from where you started. This uses 5' of movement and draws an opportunity attack from the creature you are leaping over, but if the attack hits you may, as a reaction, make a Dexterity(Acrobatics) check against a DC equal to the attack roll. On a success, the attack misses. If you then make an attack against the creature on this turn before using any more movement, attack is made with advantage.

At higher levels this could be usable against larger creatures.
 

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DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Feline Leap
You may leap over a creature of size Medium or smaller, landing in the square that is adjacent to the creature and directly opposite from where you started. This uses 5' of movement and draws an opportunity attack from the creature you are leaping over, but if the attack hits you may, as a reaction, make a Dexterity(Acrobatics) check against a DC equal to the attack roll. On a success, the attack misses. If you then make an attack against the creature on this turn before using any more movement, attack is made with advantage
Yeah, it is too wordy for my taste. I also don't like the ability to turn the hit into a miss with a check, especially when the rogue can use cunning action to disengage before making the leap, denying any OA at all. If they already used their bonus action, they risk the OA, it is just part of the chance they take.

I think the concept is great, just needs work on the mechanics IMO.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Not bad, but indeed a little complicated.

Mearls started working on an acrobat subclass a while ago where he gave them a short burst flight, much like the eagle totem barb. I'd go with something like this:

'' you have a flying speed equal to half your current walking speed. This benefit works only in short bursts; you fall if you end your turn in the air and nothing else is holding you aloft. You make attack roll with advantage if you make an attack roll at any point during this movement or if you land within 5 feet of a target at the end of this movement. ''
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Maybe an acrobat could make a "running long jump" from a standing position? Allowing them to clear another creature? Just a thought...
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Yeah, it is too wordy for my taste. I also don't like the ability to turn the hit into a miss with a check, especially when the rogue can use cunning action to disengage before making the leap, denying any OA at all. If they already used their bonus action, they risk the OA, it is just part of the chance they take.

I think the concept is great, just needs work on the mechanics IMO.

Roger that.

I think I said in another thread recently that my ideas usually start off way too complicated, and then I simplify.

It may be that this can be greatly generalized in simpler language, so that the scenario described in v1 is just one of the possible uses.

The first variant I considered was that you can move through or over somebody else's space, and if you succeed on a Dexterity(Acrobats) check your next attack (this turn, before any movement) is with advantage. But:
1) What's the disincentive to use it. Why wouldn't you just use it every turn you possibly could?
2) What's the DC of the check? I feel like it should be more difficult against some opponents than others, but based on what?
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Roger that.

I think I said in another thread recently that my ideas usually start off way too complicated, and then I simplify.

It may be that this can be greatly generalized in simpler language, so that the scenario described in v1 is just one of the possible uses.

The first variant I considered was that you can move through or over somebody else's space, and if you succeed on a Dexterity(Acrobats) check your next attack (this turn, before any movement) is with advantage. But:
1) What's the disincentive to use it. Why wouldn't you just use it every turn you possibly could?
2) What's the DC of the check? I feel like it should be more difficult against some opponents than others, but based on what?
Yeah, my stuff ALWAYS starts out too complex as well... it just comes with trying to design stuff for 5E--the need to simplify.

My first thought was you make a contested Dexterity (Acrobatics) check against your opponent's melee attack roll. If you succeed, you leap to the opposite space and attack with advantage, if you fail, you don't. You could also make it a bonus action, which is why it would not be something you can try all the time and then competes with cunning action (so you can't disengage first) or do two-weapon fighting.

That could be the "cost" so you can't spam it.

Something like:

Feline Leap. You can use your bonus action to try to leap over an adjacent creature and land in the space opposite your current position. The opposite space must be unoccupied. You make a Dexterity (Acrobatics--Or Athletics? You ARE jumping after all...) check contested by the creature's melee attack roll. If you succeed, you land in the opposite space and the next attack you make against that creature before the end of your next turn is with advantage. If you lose the check, you do not leap.

🤷‍♂️
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I'll be honest... most of the 3rd level Rogue subclass abilities do not give combat advantages. The few that do (like Assassin) have very specific ways and times to use them and they aren't used repeatedly. Especially a subclass like an Acrobat... a subclass whose narrative is not about fighting but about tumbling... I would be reticent to give it anything that would boost their combat ability in one of those 3rd level feature slots. Heck, even a swordfighting subclass like Swashbuckler only grants a new way to gain Sneak Attack but doesn't make your attacks themselves better.

Looking at both the abilities of the Thief and the ability of the Tabaxi... I don't even think the overlap is so great that you need to replace anything, personally. The Tabaxi feature is they can climb 20', the Thief feature is they can climbing does not cost extra movement (IE your climb speed is 30'). So the Tabaxi feature is the one that is "lost" by taking the Thief subclass. But then again... when you couple the other Tabaxi movement feature of being able to double your speed for a round... the Tabaxi is getting a climb speed essentially of 60' via movement in one round! I'd take that combo even if my "20' climb speed" from being a Tabaxi was superfluous.

And this doesn't even consider the fact that the Rogue can also use their Action * and * Bonus action to Dash-- thereby adding 60 feet more to their movement. Which means that depending on how you as DM rule on Feline Agility... this Tabaxi can either climb 120' in a single round (30' move doubled to 60' via F.Agility plus 30' for Dash Action plus 30' for Dash Bonus action)... or can climb 180' in a single round if you are the type of DM that considers Dash actions to just increase your movement speed-- so it would be 30' move plus 30' Dash action plus 30' Dash Bonus action equals 90' in the round doubled via Feline Agility to 180' in a single climb.

No matter how you slice it... I think this Tabaxi with the Thief subclass will be fine. :)
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I'll be honest... most of the 3rd level Rogue subclass abilities do not give combat advantages. The few that do (like Assassin) have very specific ways and times to use them and they aren't used repeatedly. Especially a subclass like an Acrobat... a subclass whose narrative is not about fighting but about tumbling... I would be reticent to give it anything that would boost their combat ability in one of those 3rd level feature slots. Heck, even a swordfighting subclass like Swashbuckler only grants a new way to gain Sneak Attack but doesn't make your attacks themselves better.

If Feline Agility cost a bonus action to use then it would be one attack with advantage rather than (potentially) two regular attacks, with a net effect roughly similar to Swashbuckler.

That said, I'm not too worried about balance compared to other subclasses or other classes, because it's not meant as a general use option, but for this one 9-year old in this one circumstance.

Looking at both the abilities of the Thief and the ability of the Tabaxi... I don't even think the overlap is so great that you need to replace anything, personally. The Tabaxi feature is they can climb 20', the Thief feature is they can climbing does not cost extra movement (IE your climb speed is 30'). So the Tabaxi feature is the one that is "lost" by taking the Thief subclass. But then again... when you couple the other Tabaxi movement feature of being able to double your speed for a round... the Tabaxi is getting a climb speed essentially of 60' via movement in one round! I'd take that combo even if my "20' climb speed" from being a Tabaxi was superfluous.

Unless I'm getting my versions in the wrong order, I believe the latest version of Tabaxi is that "your climb speed is equal to your movement speed." So no benefit from Thief...except the extra few feet of jumping, which is what got me thinking about this.
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
I agree that there is nothing wrong with the intersection of Tabaxi and Thief. The onluy think the player loses is the benefit of climb, because the race provides a fixed climb speed (which, as has been noted, can also benefit through Cunning Action and the regular action).

That's a really tight synergy, making the tabaxi thief better than almost any race with this ability; in addition the player has access to Fast Hands, which is the much more frequently used level 3 ability, IME.
 



ECMO3

Hero
I have a new young player whose Tabaxi Rogue just hit 3rd level. Based on the way he is playing and imagining his rogue, the Thief subclass is sort of an obvious choice...except that the Second Story Work feature is most redundant with Tabaxi. At first I thought about just tweaking it to emphasize the jumping, but then I started thinking about having some fun with it and designing a new subclass just for him.

How does this sound? It's a little complicated for the spirit of 5e, but it's meant for this one player, not as a published subclass.

Feline Leap
You may leap over a creature of size Medium or smaller, landing in the square that is adjacent to the creature and directly opposite from where you started. This uses 5' of movement and draws an opportunity attack from the creature you are leaping over, but if the attack hits you may, as a reaction, make a Dexterity(Acrobatics) check against a DC equal to the attack roll. On a success, the attack misses. If you then make an attack against the creature on this turn before using any more movement, attack is made with advantage.

At higher levels this could be usable against larger creatures.
I think the best thing to do is reskin the survivalist feature from scout to apply to acrobatics and athletics and replace the skirmisher feat with second story work from the thief subclass:

Level 3:

Tumbling: When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in the Athletics and Acrobatics skills if you don't already have it. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses either of those proficiencies.

Second Story Work:
When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you gain the ability to climb faster than normal; climbing no longer costs you extra movement.

In addition, when you make a running jump, the distance you cover increases by a number of feet equal to your Dexterity modifier.

Then use the 9th, 13th and 17th level features from Scout.
 
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I don't know about the specific proposal, but the premise is the best argument I've seen for racially locked 5e subclass options. While the idea that there's could never be some dwarf who was willing to teach non-dwarves to fight in silly spiked armor struck me as ridiculous, it makes perfect sense that there could be a tabaxi-only subclass of rogue that played directly off of what seems possible with catman anatomy, and made up for a similar subclass having superfluous abilities for that race option.

Race-locked subclasses actually opens a lot of design space to make races that fit classes or subclasses thematically but had redundant features actually good picks for those classes or nearly the same subclass.
 

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