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

But at the very least, I think this subclass has everything that players expect a "Bard" to bring to the party.
Yet in the doing you've stripped out an enormous amount of spells (seriously, this is massive and cannot be understated) and, if Inspiration works the way you've said, horribly nerfed the core shtick of the class.

You haven't made a Bard. You've made an Arcane Trickster with better features. Which is exactly my problem.
 

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Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Yet in the doing you've stripped out an enormous amount of spells (seriously, this is massive and cannot be understated) and, if Inspiration works the way you've said, horribly nerfed the core shtick of the class.

You haven't made a Bard. You've made an Arcane Trickster with better features. Which is exactly my problem.
Well what is a bard? They didn't have as much spells in 3.X for example (although more than an arcane trickster, they were "2/3 casters".) Is magic really core to the concept?

The assassin had spells in 3.X...

Lastly, I'll note that one of my players wanted to play a "bard" but they didn't want all that heavy spellcasting. I helped them make an AK with the entertainer background...
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
A Bard Rogue is perhaps where I’d build a small set of Songs, some like Song of Rest, others more like 3.5 Inspire Courage.

But the thing is….why on earth is this bard really good at stealth-stab-murder-kill?
 

Well what is a bard?
A miserable pile of (Magical) Secrets! But enough talk!

They didn't have as much spells in 3.X for example (although more than an arcane trickster, they were "2/3 casters".) Is magic really core to the concept?
Usually I say no to this question--I consider Rangers and Paladins significantly improved when they don't cast spells, but have other forms of supernatural power--but for the Bard? Yes, absolutely. The whole point of the Bard is that they do all the things. They're the equivalent of Red Mage from Final Fantasy (or, rather, Red Mage is the equivalent of Bard, since D&D very much came first.)

The assassin had spells in 3.X...
And, as above, I think that that is sad. Proper spells should be one important, but not hegemonic, branch of supernatural power. Some classes should be focused on it. IMO, those are Bard, Cleric, Druid, Invoker (a 4e class), Sorcerer, Summoner (a PF class), Wizard, Warlock. Possibly also Artificer and Shaman--I can see those going either way. But Assassin, Avenger, Monk, Paladin, anything psionics-based, Ranger, Swordmage, and Warden should all do things that aren't neo-Vancian slots-and-levels spellcasting. That doesn't mean they shouldn't have supernatural powers; instead, it means that whatever supernatural powers they have should function differently, preferably more closely tailored to the theme of these classes. (Notably, most of those which I think should use neo-Vancian casting are pretty "big tent" classes with multiple divergent takes under one roof, while most of those I think shouldn't do so are more inherently tightly-themed, with subclasses being more about focus and tone than about playstyle shifts.)

Lastly, I'll note that one of my players wanted to play a "bard" but they didn't want all that heavy spellcasting. I helped them make an AK with the entertainer background...
For someone who wants a character that is like that, awesome. Opting into that is great, and I would 100% approve of a "soft multiclass" option for a Rogue with a dabble of Bard. Making it so everyone must run with that--and, moreover, cannot opt out of it--is kind of a problem.

Or, to put it a different way: By this standard, the Eldritch Knight is a Wizard replacement. No need to waste space on a full Wizard class when the Eldritch Knight is good enough!

Providing "soft multiclass" options of all kinds is great. It isn't a good substitute for true classes. That doesn't mean we should hare off and make a class for every possible concept, because that would be silly. But it's just as silly, IMO, to pass off "soft multiclass" options as though they fully cover an extant class.
 
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Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Usually I say no to this question--I consider Rangers and Paladins significantly improved when they don't cast spells, but have other forms of supernatural power--but for the Bard? Yes, absolutely. The whole point of the Bard is that they do all the things. They're the equivalent of Red Mage from Final Fantasy (or, rather, Red Mage is the equivalent of Bard, since D&D very much came first.)

I absolutely 100% agree with you that bards should have spells...

... but full casters? Really? That doesn't sound like a jack of all trade, or a red mage... Bards being full caster is a new, 5e thing. (note: I don't know how they were in 4e so maybe that last statement isn't quite accurate)

And, as above, I think that that is sad.
I agree with you that an assassin shouldn't have to have spells... but it was one of their distinguishing feature in 3e. An assassin would use any tool that accomplishes the job IMO, and a bit of magic certainly helps a lot. Interestingly, in 2e there was no assassin class, because "anyone can be a killer for hire"

.
But Assassin, Avenger, Monk, Paladin, anything psionics-based, Ranger, Swordmage, and Warden should all do things that aren't neo-Vancian slots-and-levels spellcasting. That doesn't mean they shouldn't have supernatural powers; instead, it means that whatever supernatural powers they have should function differently, preferably more closely tailored to the theme of these classes.
You must be happy with some of the more recent "alt magic" sub-classes, like the rune knight or the soul knife? (I am)

For someone who wants a character that is like that, awesome. Opting into that is great, and I would 100% approve of a "soft multiclass" option for a Rogue with a dabble of Bard. Making it so everyone must run with that--and, moreover, cannot opt out of it--is kind of a problem.

Or, to put it a different way: By this standard, the Eldritch Knight is a Wizard replacement. No need to waste space on a full Wizard class when the Eldritch Knight is good enough!

Providing "soft multiclass" options of all kinds is great. It isn't a good substitute for true classes. That doesn't mean we should hare off and make a class for every possible concept, because that would be silly. But it's just as silly, IMO, to pass off "soft multiclass" options as though they fully cover an extant class.

Oh that wasn't what I was proposing - I was merely noting how a "bard-like subclass for the rogue" can already be sort of mimicked.
 

I absolutely 100% agree with you that bards should have spells...

... but full casters? Really? That doesn't sound like a jack of all trade, or a red mage... Bards being full caster is a new, 5e thing.
With the way 5e is designed, yes. Really, it applies to 3e as well; the Bard sucks as a caster unless you bolt on the Sublime Chord PrC...which very specifically gets a weirdo magic progression allowing a Bard to have 9th level spells.

(note: I don't know how they were in 4e so maybe that last statement isn't quite accurate)
Well, "spell" means two different things in 4e: class powers for arcane classes, and rituals. 4e Bards are excellent Ritual Casters, with a suite of Bard-only rituals to boot. It's...difficult to make direct comparisons between powers and spells proper because they are similar, but they have enough fundamental but subtle differences to make it very complicated.

I agree with you that an assassin shouldn't have to have spells... but it was one of their distinguishing feature in 3e.
And I thought that was silly back then, too. Keep in mind, in 3e, the Warlock was NOT a spellcaster of any kind, yet it makes a great deal of sense that it is one in 5e. The "original" version is not always the best version.

An assassin would use any tool that accomplishes the job IMO, and a bit of magic certainly helps a lot. Interestingly, in 2e there was no assassin class, because "anyone can be a killer for hire".
I prefer "a bit of magic" to be something that isn't Vancian spellcasting. Indeed, that is exactly where I think non-spellcasting supernatural power shines brightest.

You must be happy with some of the more recent "alt magic" sub-classes, like the rune knight or the soul knife? (I am)
Oh, sure, some are pretty neat. I haven't closely looked at the soulknife (no phone, not soup knife...) so I can't comment on that.

Oh that wasn't what I was proposing - I was merely noting how a "bard-like subclass for the rogue" can already be sort of mimicked.
I had understood that to be CleverKnickName's point, intending to completely replace the Bard class with a Rogue subclass, hence the phrasing: "And to think: some folks still think that the bard shouldn't be a subclass of Rogue." Certainly I can guarantee it's the intent of more than one poster on here, e.g. demoting Warlock to being a Cleric subclass. Class reductionism is a lamentably common interest.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
And I thought that was silly back then, too. Keep in mind, in 3e, the Warlock was NOT a spellcaster of any kind, yet it makes a great deal of sense that it is one in 5e. The "original" version is not always the best version.
Wait…it makes sense for the “breaks the rules of magic via otherworldly gifts as a shortcut to power” to be a full spellcaster, but the Ranger shouldn’t be!?

Nevermind I just don’t get your entire perspective on Spellcasting and I should just accept that and move on…
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
have spells... but it was one of their distinguishing feature in 3e. An assassin would use any tool that accomplishes the job IMO, and a bit of magic certainly helps a lot.
Same reason the ranger should have spells, IMO. And yeah I’m a D&D world, I agree that the best assassins have magic.
Interestingly, in 2e there was no assassin class, because "anyone can be a killer for hire"
That has always got my hackles up. “Killer for hire” is a mercenary or contract killer. An Assassin is something quite different.
 

Wait…it makes sense for the “breaks the rules of magic via otherworldly gifts as a shortcut to power” to be a full spellcaster, but the Ranger shouldn’t be!?
Warlocks, Clerics, and Sorcerers all get spells by endowment. This is a well-established pattern.

Rangers do tricksy wilderness things, knowing what herbs can heal a wound or kill a beast. That's nothing remotely like an endowment of magical power from an outside source. Nor is it all that much like Wizard, Bard, or Druid spells. It is a much looser, more ad-hoc thing.

Furthermore, I was speaking (as I said) within the context of 5e. 5e locks most actually useful mechanics being spellcasting. If you want to be relevant beyond level 10 or so, you should be a spellcaster of some kind. Hence the Warlock in 5e being a caster. In other contexts, it might be something different. It depends on how the game system is designed.

Nevermind I just don’t get your entire perspective on Spellcasting and I should just accept that and move on…
I honestly don't get what is confusing about this. I want a diversity of approaches to supernatural power. This requires that there be more than just the very specific mechanical and thematic limitations imposed by "you have X/Y/Z slots of level M/P/Q, which specifically refresh daily and which are totally fungible between your different magical abilities of a given level, and which are disabled or defeasible under specific well-defined circumstances no matter how you perform them, and you must specifically engage nondescript physical motions, highly specific magical materials, or nondescript verbal expressions if and only if they are mentioned in the text."

That's a very specific mechanical niche. It can do a lot of things (it is magic, after all), but it isn't, and shouldn't be mistaken for, a totally generic "this truly does cover all possible supernatural powers someone might want to use." As demonstrated by numerous supernatural/not-fully-mundane effects in 5e, like Rage, Bardic Inspiration, Ki, Channel Divinity, Wild Shape, Auras, etc. Spells would struggle to replicate several of these without massive kludge.
 

Aldarc

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.
It's incredible how our experiences shape our perception of the subclasses. I played an Arcane Trickster and had an absolute blast. One of my best characters. I played him as an arcane investigator and exfiltrator of magical relics. The spells were not the main feature, but his tricks and tools of the trade. The long-distance Mage Hand, for example, came in handy when the party had to disarm a magical bomb. At later levels, he did multiclass into wizard, but that was also due to some story reasons rather than deficiencies of the AT.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Warlocks, Clerics, and Sorcerers all get spells by endowment. This is a well-established pattern.
The absolute fundamental defining point of Warlocks even existing as a class is that they break the universal rules of magic. They offend wizards and clerics and Druids because what they do is unnatural in a world where fireball is natural.

“By endowment” is so vague that you could delete it from the sentence and all you’d lose is some grammatical coherence.
Rangers do tricksy wilderness things, knowing what herbs can heal a wound or kill a beast. That's nothing remotely like an endowment of magical power from an outside source. Nor is it all that much like Wizard, Bard, or Druid spells. It is a much looser, more ad-hoc thing.
Maybe, maybe not.
I honestly don't get what is confusing about this. I want a diversity of approaches to supernatural power. This requires that there be more than just the very specific mechanical and thematic limitations imposed by "you have X/Y/Z slots of level M/P/Q, which specifically refresh daily and which are totally fungible between your different magical abilities of a given level, and which are disabled or defeasible under specific well-defined circumstances no matter how you perform them, and you must specifically engage nondescript physical motions, highly specific magical materials, or nondescript verbal expressions if and only if they are mentioned in the text."
Eh, I’m never gonna find this argument compelling on any level. This is what I mean. I don’t see anything about this topic the same way you do, so this won’t go anywhere.
That's a very specific mechanical niche. It can do a lot of things (it is magic, after all), but it isn't, and shouldn't be mistaken for, a totally generic "this truly does cover all possible supernatural powers someone might want to use." As demonstrated by numerous supernatural/not-fully-mundane effects in 5e, like Rage, Bardic Inspiration, Ki, Channel Divinity, Wild Shape, Auras, etc. Spells would struggle to replicate several of these without massive kludge.
Bardic Inspiration is the only one that would even be mildly difficult. Rage is extremely easy. Like at a glance I’m not sure I’d change much of the wording, it just would be packaged with the structure of a spell. It’s not like you’d have to give Barbarians spell slots in order to format Rage as a spell.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Bards should not be full casters. They are the F/M/T (well, F/T/D...?) of old and should be balanced that way.
  • Good at fighting, but not great (as good as "fighting" clerics, but not as good as fighters)
  • Good at spells, but not great (half-casters)
  • Good at (most) skills, but not great (lots of skills, but no expertise--leave that to the rogues)
They are meant to be well-rounded, but bards as full-casters is overkill, bards with expertise is overkill, bards with multiple attacks is overkill.

In 5E, they have everything really, and that is the reason why I would never allow a RAW bard in my game.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
The absolute fundamental defining point of Warlocks even existing as a class is that they break the universal rules of magic. They offend wizards and clerics and Druids because what they do is unnatural in a world where fireball is natural.
I personally never got the impression that warlock magic was any sort of unnatural or broke sorts of magical laws, what i saw as offending about them is the selling of your immortal soul for power in a world where the afterlife is a known thing, wizards hate warlocks because they took the quick and nasty path to magic when the wizard put the hard work in and did it honestly off their own back, the entities that warlocks make deals with are not like the gods in that they have private goals and ambitions and warlocks are their indentured pawns in their schemes and see the material plane as somewhere to be conquered and used rather than tended to as the gods (somewhat) do.
 
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Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Bards should not be full casters. They are the F/M/T (well, F/T/D...?) of old and should be balanced that way.
  • Good at fighting, but not great (as good as "fighting" clerics, but not as good as fighters)
  • Good at spells, but not great (half-casters)
  • Good at (most) skills, but not great (lots of skills, but no expertise--leave that to the rogues)
They are meant to be well-rounded, but bards as full-casters is overkill, bards with expertise is overkill, bards with multiple attacks is overkill.

In 5E, they have everything really, and that is the reason why I would never allow a RAW bard in my game.
a small quibble...

"good at fighting but not great" can be represented pretty well by 2 attacks and "nothing else". If you have 2 attacks but no smites, no fighting styles, no action surge, no rage, no damage adder like hex etc, no flurry of blows/stunning strike etc etc etc... that's definitely not great.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
a small quibble...

"good at fighting but not great" can be represented pretty well by 2 attacks and "nothing else". If you have 2 attacks but no smites, no fighting styles, no action surge, no rage, no damage adder like hex etc, no flurry of blows/stunning strike etc etc etc... that's definitely not great.
Either or, but not both.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Bards should not be full casters. They are the F/M/T (well, F/T/D...?) of old and should be balanced that way.
  • Good at fighting, but not great (as good as "fighting" clerics, but not as good as fighters)
  • Good at spells, but not great (half-casters)
  • Good at (most) skills, but not great (lots of skills, but no expertise--leave that to the rogues)
They are meant to be well-rounded, but bards as full-casters is overkill, bards with expertise is overkill, bards with multiple attacks is overkill.

In 5E, they have everything really, and that is the reason why I would never allow a RAW bard in my game.
Having seen a lot of Bards in play, they're not that powerful. They in the top half of classes, but they're not easily outshining anyone.

The "not great" part just isn't necessary, with how 5e is built.

Nevermind that the Bard should never have been made into a jack of all trades in the first place...

That's a much better niche for either the Ranger or Rogue. The Bard should be the premiere expert of the game. Yes, they can fight, perform, and do magic, but they are the most broadly knowledgeable archetype conceptually, of all the classes. The Bard should be the person the group turns to for ancient lore, secret knowledge, how to interpret ancient texts, how to treat with the Elf King, what the heck a lich is and how to kill one, etc.

Instead we have...magic song rogue? Kinda?
 


DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Having seen a lot of Bards in play, they're not that powerful. They in the top half of classes, but they're not easily outshining anyone.

The "not great" part just isn't necessary, with how 5e is built.
Experiences differ...

Nevermind that the Bard should never have been made into a jack of all trades in the first place...

That's a much better niche for either the Ranger or Rogue.
I disagree wholeheartedly with this. Rangers and Rogues are not jacks of all trades, that is the role for the bard.

The Bard should be the premiere expert of the game. Yes, they can fight, perform, and do magic, but they are the most broadly knowledgeable archetype conceptually, of all the classes. The Bard should be the person the group turns to for ancient lore, secret knowledge, how to interpret ancient texts, how to treat with the Elf King, what the heck a lich is and how to kill one, etc.
I agree they should be the most broadly knowledgeable, but that means specifically they will not be the one the PC turn to for any sort of knowledge: Arcana to Wizards, Religion to Clerics, Survival to Rangers (or whatever classes you feel fits best, those are just my choices...).

Because of such differences of opinions (which is fine of course!) I've never been happy with the "bard" as a PC concept. No class should be able to "do it all" and be able to do it as well as other classes. Bards might not be as capable in combat as warriors (depending on subclass they can be decently close, just without the explosive potential), but they can cast just as well as any Cleric, Wizard, or whatever and are skill monkeys better than Rogues or Rangers in the long run.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
Hmm. Now I'm wondering what it might look like if "bard" was a subclass of Ranger instead of Rogue...
I always imagined if bard was a subclass it would be of wizard, they both focus on arcane magic and bits of odd knowledge, bards are just those who managed to find a different way to channel that power through music and focus more on stories and history than the arcane itself.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Experiences differ...


I disagree wholeheartedly with this. Rangers and Rogues are not jacks of all trades, that is the role for the bard.
But Rangers and Rogues actually have a need for versatility baked into the underlying concept. Rangers especially.
The Bard is a Jack of all Trades because D&D at Some point didn’t know what to do with them, and now it’s stuck in a place it has no business in.

The Bard stereotypes even fit a rogue more than the Bard!
I agree they should be the most broadly knowledgeable, but that means specifically they will not be the one the PC turn to for any sort of knowledge: Arcana to Wizards, Religion to Clerics, Survival to Rangers (or whatever classes you feel fits best, those are just my choices...).
Why? Why is knowledge not a thing a class can be “the best” at?
Because of such differences of opinions (which is fine of course!) I've never been happy with the "bard" as a PC concept.
I enjoyed their unique mechanics in 3.5, in spite of overall performance, and they were very fun in 4e for a magical swashbuckler, but yeah no edition of D&D has actually featured a Bardic PC option, IMO.
No class should be able to "do it all" and be able to do it as well as other classes. Bards might not be as capable in combat as warriors (depending on subclass they can be decently close, just without the explosive potential), but they can cast just as well as any Cleric, Wizard, or whatever and are skill monkeys better than Rogues or Rangers in the long run.
Rogues are better at skills, especially at high level. Reliable Talent is much better than Jack of All Trades. They even have an extra feat so they have more “room” to spend a feat on skills.

Rangers should have been “experts” from the beginning. It’s absurd to me that they don’t have more skill features than the Bard.
 

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