D&D 5E Companion thread to 5E Survivor - Subclasses (Part XII: Rogues)

RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph
(Great. I thought I saw a really nice Old School Essentials Swashbuckler just a few hours ago, but I can't find it again. My browser history is impenetrable today. I won't be unhappy if the Swashbuckler wins, but there are several subclasses I really like that are left. EDIT: Found it.)

Heck, I like Assassin just fine. It's not meant for what people at my table tried to do with it. If you want a guy who does more like the Assassin's Creed thing, that's kind of like a DEX-y Duelist Fighter (EDIT: Or Swashbuckler Rogue). The Assassin Rogue is the guy who takes one shot at the target from a long ways off with the best weapon available and a heavily-poisoned round, and then immediately leaves the scene whether he hits or misses. If he hit and killed the target, great. If he missed or didn't kill the target, well, there's backup plans and contingencies, and he'd be better off figuring out next steps in the Safe House anyway, rather than in an alleyway while fighting irate guards.
 
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Lycurgon

Adventurer
While I think the Rogue is generally a well designed class that does what it is designed to do well, the one think I don't like is the big gap between getting the level 3 subclass features and the 9 level features. That is often a lot of game play without getting more subclass flavour adding to the class.

The soul knife has so much potential, it is a pity it is so fundamental flawed. The Soul blades can't be used for reaction attacks, and with a strict reading of RAW can't even be combined with Extra Attack. I have read of people resorting to carrying daggers and either swapping then from hand to hand or drawing and dropping them each round to be able to use both the bonus action attack and a Dagger for reactions. But that is a simple thing to fix with house rules. But this flaw is definitely enough to downvote it into oblivion.

That aside the subclass really effective. The group telepathy is really useful, the skill bolstering is very good since it doesn't use a psi dice if it doesn't help you. Those abilities alone are enough to make it a good subclass. The bonus action attack is a good way to get more chances at getting your sneak attack to work each round.

The swashbuckler is fun and I can see why it is popular. Although AC can be a bit of an issue, depending on how much magic items are available in a given campaign.

But my personal favourite subclass is the Arcane Trickster. It does overcome the issue of the big gap between subclass features by getting spells throughout those levels. The spells add a lot of versatility to the class and make the Rogue more effective. While it would be better without the school restrictions the free choice spell does open up all spells, which helps with variety and different builds. I do think the spell restrictions are a better fit for Arcane Trickster than the restrictions of the Eldritch Knight fit the arcane warrior concept (Abjuration fits well but don't think Evocation is of much use as they are generally better using their extra Attack feature than throw a damage spell - I think I would give EK Transformation instead).

I find the Assassin to be quite disappointing. It is too relent surprise and winning initiative. If that fails they don't have anything else to work with in combat. It can get very effective if it is combined with Gloom Stalker or Fighter multiclass builds that increase the number of attacks, but I think a subclass should be able to stand on its own merit. And the disguise abilities are only a little better than what PCs should be able to do with just skill rolls.
 

Undrave

Hero
While I think the Rogue is generally a well designed class that does what it is designed to do well, the one think I don't like is the big gap between getting the level 3 subclass features and the 9 level features. That is often a lot of game play without getting more subclass flavour adding to the class.
Yeah that's definately a weakness of the class.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
@Ancalagon I'm DMing for a soul knife in Spelljammer right now, great subclass!
That definitely would fit the setting!

Our campaign is in Drakkenheim, it's the one where I am playing the goblin mutagenist, mr Butters. The dwarven forge cleric and the halfling swarmskeeper are somewhat benevolent, but the rogue, the goblin and the wizard are scheemers... and a soul knife really fits well too :)
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Another rogue experience for me was the thief (standard human, sailor background) in a pbp game on this very forum. The thief's mobility and fast hand weren't useful often, but when they were... very useful. It was an underground dungeon of sort (a dragon lair with evil cultists and mercenaries and multiple PC parties in the dungeon at once... it was wild!). The dragon was able to project their essence to attack the parties remotely, so it was quite dangerous too.

The same dungeon had - first in another party, then the same "final" party (there had been some player attrition) a multi class arcane trickster/bladesigner elf. He was much more magical of course, and perhaps more effective overall... but my thief also had a tiny bit of magic (magic initiate) and I had to rely on my wits far more. So whenever I pulled something off by being creative instead of just casting a spell... very nice.

In a way, the thief has a lot of the ... purity of the rogue experience. It's all about the player's wits.
 


It is being fixed in 5.5... it's now at level 7 that the next subclass features show up. However, that means that evasion doesn't show up until level 9, so I don't know if that's a buff or a nerf...
3, 6, 10, and 14 for the subclass features. Second expertise moves from 6 to 7 and Evasion moves from 7 to 9.

Personally I hope they keep evasion at 7 and move second expertise to 9 instead. That's when the new bard and ranger get their second expertise.
 

Undrave

Hero
It is being fixed in 5.5... it's now at level 7 that the next subclass features show up. However, that means that evasion doesn't show up until level 9, so I don't know if that's a buff or a nerf...
Feels like a nerf. if they take early Evasion away. The Monk still gets it at 7th no?
 

Undrave

Hero
3, 6, 10, and 14 for the subclass features. Second expertise moves from 6 to 7 and Evasion moves from 7 to 9.

Personally I hope they keep evasion at 7 and move second expertise to 9 instead. That's when the new bard and ranger get their second expertise.
Just have both a subclass feature and second expertise at 6. Throw another one at 9th
 
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RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph
I find the Assassin to be quite disappointing. It is too relent surprise and winning initiative. If that fails they don't have anything else to work with in combat. It can get very effective if it is combined with Gloom Stalker or Fighter multiclass builds that increase the number of attacks, but I think a subclass should be able to stand on its own merit. And the disguise abilities are only a little better than what PCs should be able to do with just skill rolls.
Like I said, if you're doing the Assassin by jumping people in an alley (or even just having a "fair fight"), I don't think that's the way it's meant to be played. The Assassin is about a complete surprise attack from a rooftop across the market square, the target not even aware they have been targeted, the contract sealed in back alleys with no word leaking to anyone. That's the Assassin's key moment. She initiates combat (by attacking first), gets surprise (so her target cannot even react), hits before they go (so it's a critical), adds Sneak Attack (because she had advantage since her target was unaware of the attack), and hopefully thought to poison the crossbow bolt (so double crossbow dice, double Sneak Attack dice, and double poison dice).

If you want to do the Assassin's Creed thing, and hide in the brush, jumping out to stab your target and then jumping back into hiding, that's more a Scout thing. If you want to jump out, stab your target, and then fight the guards, that's a Swashbuckler for you.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I'm on Team Swashbuckler because one of my players has chosen it as their subclass. (shrug) The whole premise for the class is "you don't get to make Opportunity Attacks against me" and "I always get to spam Sneak Attack every round, no matter what." And you get both of those abilities as soon as you pick up the subclass and they don't scale with level--so it's a popular choice for multiclassing. Especially Fighter/Rogue builds.

My other "darling" in this round is the Thief subclass, because it does everything that a classic D&D Thief build should do. Choose Halfling as your starting race, pick up the Dungeon Delver feat at 4th level, and you're a storybook legend in the making. No multiclassing needed.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
The first 5E Rogue that I rolled up was an Arcane Trickster. I liked the idea of being able to open locks, pick pockets, and disarm traps at range.

It's a nice idea in theory, but in practice? I can count on one hand the number of times I actually used it, and even when it worked perfectly, it wasn't particularly exciting. I could do something from across the room that anyone else could do from 5 feet away, sure. But that range almost never mattered. A floating invisible hand is pretty cool in comic books. but I thought it was pretty dull at the table.

The character ended up getting snuffed by a clutch of wyverns at 8th level, and I decided to leave him in the afterlife. I rolled up a...sorcerer? I think? after that, and never went back to rogue. In hindsight, I would have chosen to play a Thief with the Magic Initiate feat instead.
 
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Undrave

Hero
Like I said, if you're doing the Assassin by jumping people in an alley (or even just having a "fair fight"), I don't think that's the way it's meant to be played. The Assassin is about a complete surprise attack from a rooftop across the market square, the target not even aware they have been targeted, the contract sealed in back alleys with no word leaking to anyone. That's the Assassin's key moment. She initiates combat (by attacking first), gets surprise (so her target cannot even react), hits before they go (so it's a critical), adds Sneak Attack (because she had advantage since her target was unaware of the attack), and hopefully thought to poison the crossbow bolt (so double crossbow dice, double Sneak Attack dice, and double poison dice).
Which is cool but not super conductive to team based play styles.
 


Lycurgon

Adventurer
Like I said, if you're doing the Assassin by jumping people in an alley (or even just having a "fair fight"), I don't think that's the way it's meant to be played. The Assassin is about a complete surprise attack from a rooftop across the market square, the target not even aware they have been targeted, the contract sealed in back alleys with no word leaking to anyone. That's the Assassin's key moment. She initiates combat (by attacking first), gets surprise (so her target cannot even react), hits before they go (so it's a critical), adds Sneak Attack (because she had advantage since her target was unaware of the attack), and hopefully thought to poison the crossbow bolt (so double crossbow dice, double Sneak Attack dice, and double poison dice).

If you want to do the Assassin's Creed thing, and hide in the brush, jumping out to stab your target and then jumping back into hiding, that's more a Scout thing. If you want to jump out, stab your target, and then fight the guards, that's a Swashbuckler for you.
As Undrave has already pointed out, this doesn't normally work well with a party of Adventurers you are running around with. Solo play is pretty rare and not the way the game was designed to be played. And that strategy also relies on winning initiative, which you might better at then your target, being a Dex primary character, but it always comes down to luck. If you don't win initiative you don't get Advantage and have a much greater chance to miss. After that first attack, if the target isn't dead (because the have more HP than you dealt, or you didn't hit) you are back to being a straight Rogue without any subclass benefits to help you in combat unless you are 17th level or more. And if you are fighting more than one opponent (a really common occurrence in most games) your Subclass only helps with the first one you attack.

The Assassin works (if luck isn't against you) as a solo operative against one target that you have taken a contract to kill. Which isn't common in D&D games. It doesn't work well in your everyday standard style of game.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
It doesn't work well in your everyday standard style of game.
Respectfully, I have to disagree and please understand I am simply offering my own view point from my experiences.

An assassin makes an fantastic scout, able to take out a sentry without triggering a general alarm. They work especially well when multiclassed. Combined with the use of poison as well, I've seen two assassins played as part of a "standard" party and they were effective, contributing via expertise outside of combat, too.

To be clear, I do think they could be a bit better designed, but overall they work well IMO. You do have to play to their strengths to get the most out of them, but that is true of many subclasses.

In our new game, one of the players is playing an Assassin and I think he'll find it enjoyable for what it can do.
 

While I think the Rogue is generally a well designed class that does what it is designed to do well, the one think I don't like is the big gap between getting the level 3 subclass features and the 9 level features. That is often a lot of game play without getting more subclass flavour adding to the class.
Plus, a lot of subclasses suffer from weak or rarely-applicable level 9 abilities, so once you finally get there, it's pretty underwhelming. The assassin and the mastermind in particular. And on the other hand there's the Phantom who has to wait all the way to 9th level to even get access to their signature ability.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Sell me on the Inquisitive subclass. Has anyone played it? What's it good at? What role does it fill?

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Sell me on the Inquisitive subclass. Has anyone played it? What's it good at? What role does it fill?

View attachment 265623
If you want to play a Sherlock Holmes type character without magic I guess this is the subclass for it. I've never seen one in play but the level 3 features seem fine. Toss expertise on Insight, put a 12+ in Wisdom, and at level 3 your insight rolls are a minimum of 12 or higher. Now you can use your insightful fighting ability with a high chance of success. Steady Eye at level 9 is certainly a feature. Unerring Eye at level 13, imo, seems like it would be better as a passive feature that illusions, shapechangers, and magical deceptions roll against instead of being a guessing game for the player. Eye for Weakness at level 17 is just a straight numbers boost but that's fine considering what the Inquisitive has so far received. It comes across as a very niche subclass and reminds me of the PHB ranger. It has areas that it can really excel at but doesn't feel particularly special on a day to day basis.
 

Argyle King

Legend
The first 5E Rogue that I rolled up was an Arcane Trickster. I liked the idea of being able to open locks, pick pockets, and disarm traps at range.

It's a nice idea in theory, but in practice? I can count on one hand the number of times I actually used it, and even when it worked perfectly, it wasn't particularly exciting. I could do something from across the room that anyone else could do from 5 feet away, sure. But that range almost never mattered. A floating invisible hand is pretty cool in comic books. but I thought it was pretty dull at the table.

The character ended up getting snuffed by a clutch of wyverns at 8th level, and I decided to leave him in the afterlife. I rolled up a...sorcerer? I think? after that, and never went back to rogue. In hindsight, I would have chosen to play a Thief with the Magic Initiate feat instead.


One of my early characters was an arcane trickster.

A few times, I used the pickpocket ability to plant items on someone else -explosives in particular.
 

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