D&D (2024) Maybe this is a bit late, but let's talk about Rogue's Niche, and What Rogue Should Be.

Chaosmancer

Legend
I cannot be the only person reading this thread, seeing everyone talking about how the rogue shouldn't be doing more damage than dedicated front-line damage dealers, shouldn't be more durable than heavily armored front-line damage dealers, should have to use trickery and deception to land powerful blows... and be thinking that you are describing exactly how the rogue works right now.

Seriously, about the only exception to the Rogue NOT standing in a 1v1 trading blows with a heavily armored knight is the Swashbuckler, who SHOULD be able to 1v1 duel, because that is part of the subclass fantasy of the Swashbuckler and they have specific abilities to allow them to do this. And they still aren't going to be out-damaging or out-tanking the PAM+GWM+Charger Fighter in Heavy Platemail.

Other than "we would like the DnD skill system to be better and more robust" it doesn't feel like there is really anything to ask for here.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

ECMO3

Hero
Except, they didn't. Even in 3.5 they weren't top tier DPR builds.

IME 5E Rogues are much better than 3E rogues at DPR.

The problem with 3E Rogues were twofold - first you could not get dex for weapon damage and second you could not reliably do Sneak Attack damage in 3E because a ton of monsters were immune and you had to have certain conditions that were not always easy to get.

5E Rogues can sneak attack almost at will (not quite all the time but easily 80% of the time)
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
It was however common
Your DM was super nice.

How many bags of chip did you bribe the DM with to get consistent backstabs before 3e?


You mean that DMs aren't having entire ecosystems depopulated in an orgy of blood and violence? And don't like All Combat All The Time?

Seriously, I don't expect combat to go much past three rounds, and even on six encounter days I only expect about half of the encounters to be combat. Even in 4e where combat was actually good I didn't expect more than half of encounters to be combat.

And if the problem is "DMs aren't twisting the game and the worldbuilding into something utterly tedious" all I have to say is that of course they aren't. And that if this is the problem it's one of bad design.
Like it or not, 5e was designed around 15-25 rounds of combat between long rests.

If you didn't run that, you need house rules to create a satisfied experience.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I cannot be the only person reading this thread, seeing everyone talking about how the rogue shouldn't be doing more damage than dedicated front-line damage dealers, shouldn't be more durable than heavily armored front-line damage dealers, should have to use trickery and deception to land powerful blows... and be thinking that you are describing exactly how the rogue works right now.

Seriously, about the only exception to the Rogue NOT standing in a 1v1 trading blows with a heavily armored knight is the Swashbuckler, who SHOULD be able to 1v1 duel, because that is part of the subclass fantasy of the Swashbuckler and they have specific abilities to allow them to do this. And they still aren't going to be out-damaging or out-tanking the PAM+GWM+Charger Fighter in Heavy Platemail.
And the Swashbuckler only exists because WOTC messed up Finesse weapons, TWF, and their feats and refuse to errata. So the melee dex fighter sucks.

So they made the Swashbuckler a rogue as a patch.
 
Last edited:

GrimCo

Adventurer
IME 5E Rogues are much better than 3E rogues at DPR.
Agree. SA is easier to get, dex to damage is a thing. Some 5e rogue builds are downright nasty (ranged rogue with sharpshooter FE), less things are immune to SA, TWF is viable option since lv 1 without penalties.
The problem with 3E Rogues were twofold - first you could not get dex for weapon damage and second you could not reliably do Sneak Attack damage in 3E because a ton of monsters were immune and you had to have certain conditions that were not always easy to get.
Well, to get SA you needed to actually flank opponents in 3.5. Not that hard most of the time. Too bad that any creature immune to crit hits is also immune to SA. Oh, and SA doesn't multiply on crit.
5E Rogues can sneak attack almost at will (not quite all the time but easily 80% of the time)
Yup. As long as you have adv on att, you can sneak. And 5e rogue can sneak, bonus action to hide, sneak, bonus action to hide. 3.x rogue - move plus 1 attack or full attack. That's it. PF1 rogue did get better tho, unchained one especially.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Yeah I think it's worth noting that not only was backstabbing very difficult to perform in AD&D, with lots of caveats involved in it's use, but that there is a lot of misunderstanding about how it really worked, so let's take a closer look.
2024-06-17_125119.jpg

2024-06-17_125208.jpg

So our first caveats are that your Thief must surprise their foe, and attack from behind. Their foe must be unaware of their presence. The target must be humanoid in shape, and the Thief must be able to reach a vital organ they can strike. Only the first attack made can be a Backstab.

The attack is made at +4 to hit, but it should be noted that this replaces the normal +2 to hit any character gains from a rear attack. Left unsaid is if this includes the +1 to hit gained against a surprised opponent.
Modifiers.jpg

The loss of Dexterity bonuses is part and parcel of a rear attack (and also of a surprise attack). It's also probably a wash as few monsters have a listed Dexterity.
DefensiveAdjustment.jpg

Ok, but +2 to hit over anyone else is great, right? Not so much.
Thac0.jpg

Sure, Rogues level up faster than Warriors, but let's compare a 7th level Fighter and their equivalent (64,000 xp)...a level 7 Thief! For this exercise we'll put them both at 70,000 xp, making our Thief level 8.

This gives our Fighter a Thac0 of 14 and the Thief a Thac0 of 17. With their special bonus, the Thief has a Thac0 two worse than the Fighter. The Fighter theoretically has better bonuses to hit from Strength, but rather than worry about that, we'll mention a bonus a Fighter is much more likely to have- weapon specialization for a +1 to hit. So we can see that our Fighter is 10% more likely to hit a foe under these conditions than the Thief.

Ok, but what about that "one big hit"? Well, as you can see from the section above, the only damage that is multiplied is the damage of the base weapon, not magic or Strength or anything else. So, let's look at the best weapon a Thief can natively use- the Broadsword (because again, Backstab against large-sized foes is much more difficult).

2d4 x 3 for our 7th level Thief is going to be 15 damage on average. Our Fighter is probably using a longsword because, well, it's AD&D (and honestly the Thief should be as well, but that's another whole discussion).

His attack damage is merely 6.5 (including weapon specialization). But he has more than one attack! In fact, thanks to his level and specialization, he now has potentially two attacks per round! That brings his damage to 13 (and again, we're not even getting into potential Strength bonuses!). And yes, the Fighter can make these attacks in a surprise round as follows:
Surprise2.jpg

Sure, there's two weapon Fighting, but both classes can engage in this if they so choose. So ok, maybe we got off 2 extra damage with all our rigamarole- but it doesn't stop there!

Remember, we need more than surprise- we need our foe to be unaware of the attack! That means we probably had to succeed at Move Silently and hope our opponent doesn't turn around. And bear in mind, we have to move more slowly to use this ability! Hide in Shadows can only be used if we have areas of cover or concealment we can move between- if our opponent has a torch out and is in the center of a room, good luck! We cannot use Hide in Shadows in darkness (go see the obscure rules thread, lol) and any opponent with infravision wouldn't care about darkness or shadows anyways. But it gets even worse!
Surprise.jpg

Even if we are successful, there is only a 30% chance our opponent is surprised. Less if they have a listed Dexterity! And some monsters are surprised even less often than 3 in 10!

Now a lot of DM's give the Thief surprise just by sneaking up on someone, but it turns out, that's against the rules!
Ambush.jpg

What this means is, if you set up an ambush and attack first, your opponent is not surprised because they don't check for that until after you attack! If you attack during an ambush your opponent is now very aware of you, so you presumably have to use your ambush turn to move into position and hope your 30% chance to surprise the enemy comes up in your favor! And worse, if both you and the Fighter ambush enemies, our 7th level Fighter can attack four times in the span you can backstab once, making his damage blow yours out of the water.

Even if you have proficiency in a heavier damage weapon to backstab with. 2d6 for a greatspear x3 is still only 21 damage, and our ambushing Fighter with his longsword/shortsword combo is doing 33 damage in the same amount of time with just weapon specialization!

EDIT: on surprise, I did forget the surprise check modifiers in the DMG. Not sure how some of them would apply, but you can also be an Elf or a Halfling (both solid choices for a sneaky Thief) to potentially impose a -4 penalty to enemy surprise checks.

OTOH, though unlikely, the Thief might end up surprised when combat begins!
 
Last edited:

ECMO3

Hero
And the Swashbuckler only exists because WOTC messed up Finesse weapons, TWF, and their feats and refuse to errata. So the melee dex fighter sucks.

So they made the Swashbuckler a rogue as a patch.

I think the finesse weapons mechanic is much better than the similar mechanics in previous editions. I don't see how it is messed up.

I also think Two-weapon fighters are perfectly fine and in fact one of the strongest fighting styles if you optimize around it. Dex-based fighters are fine too (but are a different thing than TWF).

At 6th level point buy small size strength-based fighter on a wardog or similar can do 3d12+15 with two-weapon fighting style, dual wielding feat and two Lances and can sport a 19AC while doing it. That beats PAM by 6 DPR at the same level. If they waste attacks to kill your dog, climb on the back of another medium-sized PC and keep going. Worst case, if you get stuck on the ground with no one around you pull out battleaxes or morning stars and do 3d8+15 which is still the same as a PAM fighter is doing, while having many more magic weapon options.

Now a dex-based fighter can't do that, but people on here rightly piont out that a dex-based fighter are much more powerful than strength-based fighters, generally so losing some melee damage to be all around a better PC is not a bad thing IMO.
 
Last edited:

Kaiyanwang

Adventurer
IME 5E Rogues are much better than 3E rogues at DPR.

The problem with 3E Rogues were twofold - first you could not get dex for weapon damage and second you could not reliably do Sneak Attack damage in 3E because a ton of monsters were immune and you had to have certain conditions that were not always easy to get.

5E Rogues can sneak attack almost at will (not quite all the time but easily 80% of the time)
Dex to damage is the least of your problems. The essential was to get the Sneak Attack, which in later 3.5 with weapon crystals and alternate class features was doable. Also 3.X rogues, in contrast with Pathfinder, had the flask-rogue strategy which paid off.

Within a reasonable optimization milieu, you can then throw in the feat Craven and be satisfied without hunting for feat chains like full BAB classes had to do (they were rewarded with bigger number if they went all the way through, though).
Basically I am sayin @Vaalingrade is right but also wrong. He's wrong when he thinks feats are irrelevant because in 3e they are your bread and butter if you aren't a caster, and probably also if you are one (and we discussed ad nauseam when and how this failed).
He's right when he says that rogues were damage dealers before 4e. In the original 3.0 manual, to add significant damage to your 2H full BAB class full attack routine, you had to suffer severe penalties to hit. Rogue damage was, perhaps as a legacy from previous edition, very conditional but relatively high without looking for esoteric combinations - just playing the class with some TWF, a few AOOs and such you got ~40-45 damage per hit at 20th. Compare with a PHB melee class.

3.5 slid this back a bit but before certain manuals you could still play opportunistically and get a good damage dealing output. BTW, I think that is a good thing due to how the class is supposed to feel. Just, you didn't have the combos pre-made for you with specific class powers, you had to pick up specific feats and talents and make them work.
 
Last edited:

Kaiyanwang

Adventurer
Fast forward to 3.0 and all these skills became generic skills. And rather than having 8 rogue skills and some NWPs the Rogue got 8+Int mod skill points per level while the fighter and the wizard got 2+Int modifier skill points. The rogue was the best at skills (as they are in both 4e and 5e) but we're not really a skill monkey; due to the absurd number of 3.x skills the rogue is in practice a better skill monkey than in 3.x

In 3.x the rogue had more skills but other than trap finding didn't have better skills than anyone else before level 10 (and that only if they took an optional level 10 ability). Their main thing was combat style exclusivity of Sneak Attack. But the thing is that the 3.x rogue did not, in reality, work reliably. Finesse weapons needed a feat to use with Dex. Sneak Attack wasn't reliable - and couldn't be used on undead or constructs at all.
I feel I have to address this.
I think what you write here is correct... for Pathfinder 1e. PF1e made Class and Cross-class skills almost identical, perhaps allowing more character concepts but tanking the exclusivity of "skilled" classes.
In 3e, only certain classes have all the "thievery" as class skills and the skill points to use them together. The Rogue niche is therefore protected in 3e. On top of that, there is the exclusivity for Rogues and Bards for Use Magic Device. That's huge. You have enough points for that, expecially if you take into account human racial traits or just 1-2 points of int bonus.
(There is more than one rationale behind PF1e decision, but I have my own fix on that and is off-topic anyway).

Non-core rogues had plenty of tricks because Sneak Attack could be many things. Saps were mediocre (PF1e worked on that) but flanking and hit-improvement (intended both numerical as +x, and additional attacks through feats and AOOs combos) paid off, thrown alchemicals were great, then there was the occasional poison use, reasonable use of ambush feats as debuff, and esoteric stuff like garrotes could lead to many different applications of the class feature.
Plus wands and other UMD if you could count of party support to get SA trigger.
 
Last edited:

Remathilis

Legend
Yeah I think it's worth noting that not only was backstabbing very difficult to perform in AD&D, with lots of caveats involved in it's use. There's a lot of misunderstanding about how it really worked, so let's take a closer look.
View attachment 367636View attachment 367637
So our first caveats are that your Thief must surprise their foe, and attack from behind. Their foe must be unaware of their presence. The target must be humanoid in shape, and the Thief must be able to reach a vital organ they can strike. Only the first attack made can be a Backstab.

The attack is made at +4 to hit, but it should be noted that this replaces the normal +2 to hit any character gains from a rear attack. Left unsaid is if this includes the +1 to hit gained against a surprised opponent.
View attachment 367638
The loss of Dexterity bonuses is part and parcel of a rear attack (and also of a surprise attack). It's also probably a wash as few monsters have a listed Dexterity.
View attachment 367639
Ok, but +2 to hit over anyone else is great, right? Not so much.
View attachment 367640
Sure, Rogues level up faster than Warriors, but let's compare a 7th level Fighter and their equivalent (64,000 xp)...a level 7 Thief! For this exercise we'll put them both at 70,000 xp, making our Thief level 8.

This gives our Fighter a Thac0 of 14 and the Thief a Thac0 of 17. With their special bonus, the Thief has a Thac0 two better than the Fighter. The Fighter theoretically has better bonuses to hit from Strength, but rather than worry about that, we'll mention a bonus a Fighter is much more likely to have- weapon specialization for a +1 to hit. So we can see that our Fighter is 10% more likely to hit a foe under these conditions than the Thief.

Ok, but what about that "one big hit"? Well, as you can see from the section above, the only damage that is multiplied is the damage of the base weapon, not magic or Strength or anything else. So, let's look at the best weapon a Thief can natively use- the Broadsword (because again, Backstab against large-sized foes is much more difficult).

2d4 x 3 for our 7th level Thief is going to be 15 damage on average. Our Fighter is probably using a longsword because, well, it's AD&D (and honestly the Thief should be as well, but that's another whole discussion).

His attack damage is merely 6.5 (including weapon specialization). But he has more than one attack! In fact, thanks to his level and specialization, he now has potentially two attacks per round! That brings his damage to 13 (and again, we're not even getting into potential Strength bonuses!). And yes, the Fighter can make these attacks in a surprise round as follows:
View attachment 367641
Sure, there's two weapon Fighting, but both classes can engage in this if they so choose. So ok, maybe we got off 2 extra damage with all our rigamarole- but it doesn't stop there!

Remember, we need more than surprise- we need our foe to be unaware of the attack! That means we probably had to succeed at Move Silently and hope our opponent doesn't turn around. And bear in mind, we have to move more slowly to use this ability! Hide in Shadows can only be used if we have areas of cover or concealment we can move between- if our opponent has a torch out and is in the center of a room, good luck! We cannot use Hide in Shadows in darkness (go see the obscure rules thread, lol) and any opponent with infravision wouldn't care about darkness or shadows anyways. But it gets even worse!
View attachment 367642
Even if we are successful, there is only a 50% chance our opponent is surprised. Less if they have a listed Dexterity! And some monsters are surprised even less often than 3 in 6!

Now a lot of DM's give the Thief surprise just by sneaking up on someone, but it turns out, that's against the rules!
View attachment 367643
What this means is, if you set up an ambush and attack first, your opponent is not surprised because they don't check for that until after you attack! If you attack during an ambush your opponent is now very aware of you, so you presumably have to use your ambush turn to move into position and hope your 50% chance to surprise the enemy comes up in your favor! And worse, if both you and the Fighter ambush enemies, our 7th level Fighter can attack four times in the span you can backstab once, making his damage blow yours out of the water.

Even if you have proficiency in a heavier damage weapon to backstab with. 2d6 for a greatspear x3 is still only 21 damage, and our ambushing Fighter with his longsword/shortsword combo is doing 33 damage in the same amount of time with just weapon specialization!
THANK YOU!

One of the biggest things people notoriously forget is how convoluted the thief skills in B/AD&D are. Nearly every Thief Skill has so many provisions, riders and quid pro quos that they are nearly impossible to use RAW. That creates a situation where a thief's abilities are only as useful as the DM was willing to allow and had knowledge of the intricacies of the rules. Good DMs knew the rules and applied them in a way that was fair to the Thief. Bad DMs neither knew nor cared and made the penalty for failure the worst possible consequence.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top