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[Playtest 2] Flanking, Combat Advantage and Melee Rogues


The 3rd edition days were strange indeed. Codzillas, Batman Wizards, Shocktroopers and a certain kobold that could obliterate entire planes at lvl 1. BUT, if there was something that I really dig about 3e, was dualer rogues. Dualer rogues got to apply their sneak attack damage on each hit. What made them so effective was the fact that rogues could use sneak attack when they where flanking. It wasn't that hard to set up with another fellow frontline combatant and IT paid off. The bad part, however, was that ranged weapon using rogues were not mechanically powerful, but more on that in a minute.

The result was a hulking, Dumb-As-Rock Half-Orc Barbarian wielding a massive battle axe fighting side by side with a 4' tall Halfling slashing and slicing enemies left and right.

Sure, the barbarian was more durable and overall more effective and consistent with DMG, but the rogue, under the right circumstances (witch, I insist, weren't that hard to set up) dealt similar or even greater damage and had a host of other abilities at their disposal, like trap finding, sneakiness, etc.

That seems balanced to me, don't you think? Also, notice that this was also true during the 4e days, since rogues still had sneak attack and it still triggered (albeit, only once per turn) on flanking attacks.

With this new edition, you ONLY get sneak attack with combat advantage and, as far I can tell, flanking doesn't give any kind of advantage.

So, my question is as follows:

Will 5e bring about the death of the mechanically effective Melee Rogues and a new rise of the Ranged-Hidden-Sniper-Type Rogues? Will this be changed with the combat module? Making flanking give you combat advantage or at least let rogues trigger their sneak attack be a common house rule?

I, for once, wouldn't like to see the dualer rogues fall into mechanical abandon since they are a hoot to play.


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the Jester

I rolled up 4 pcs last night and started running them through a skin-of-the-teeth conversion of Lost City (B4). The rogue is a dual wielder. Even without getting sneak attack on every melee attack, she was still pretty effective, at least so far.


First Post
Some sort of support for the swashbuckling rogue might be cool, but I actually prefer how rogues are handled now. They aren't dealing sneak attack every round, but when they find a way to properly execute it, boy does it hurt! If a rogue sees a combat it won't be able to find an advantage, it's maybe better off simply avoiding it altogether, which seems to be exactly what a rogueish character would do, as opposed to a brave or cocky fighter.


while double teaming an opponent is rogue-y, I never found it particularly swashbuckler-y. Swashbucklers are all about the honorable single combat.

The thing my players and I did in our playtest was use aid actions. Any character could forego an attack to give advantage to another character. One of the ways to do that was, of course, to flank your target. The advantage came not from the flank, but by foregoing an action to give your partner an advantage.

It could be that this is outside the scope of the playtest, but it worked well, and was in line with the stated intent by the designers that gaining advantage should cost an action. This allowed anyone to spend the action if they could justify what they were doing to "aid" their partner.

Jeff Carlsen

I've long felt that the Third Edition rogue was too obvious a choice. I've seen a lot of rapier wielding high Dex rogues that end up the ultimate melee warrior. I'm glad to see that this playtest has moved that archetype more into the Fighter where it belongs.


First Post
Probably by the time dndnext ships but CERTAINLY with the first splat book covering rogues they'll have combat advantage and be able to sneak attack almost trivially.

On a other thread people are arguing that the absurd sneak attack damage is ok because rogues will only occassionally get it. Experience has shown that splat books, magic items, etc etc will make it easier and easier to get.

I'm disappointed that advantage situations in combat haven't been suitably defined. I expect things like flanking and higher ground to grant advantage -- not so much for rogues, but for others -- since advantage is the 5E version of the +2 modifier.

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