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Rogue: Pure skill personified

StreamOfTheSky

Adventurer
Alright! After the mixed responses from my Monk houserules, time to address the OTHER weakest class in PF, the Rogue! I aim to help rogue be able to contribute in combat better, make him less MAD, merge the Ninja and Rogue into one class, and most importantly... re-establish rogue as the skills-master he once was and provide better high level abilities. The massive bulk of this is my plan for "Epic Skills," a new per day subsystem to let the rogue turn his training in skills into wuxia/anime/high fantasy levels of crazy-awesome. It will be...lengthy. If people think this new giant pile of rules is too unwieldy and should be scrapped, I'd rather know now before I devote more hours into fleshing it all out. I have several samples finished. The rank requirements are pretty arbitrary, based on how powerful I think the effect is and how soon I think it should be available. Some that step on the bard's toes were intentionally pushed back a bit.

So, what do you think?

Rogue changes:
[sblock]- Rogue and Ninja are one and the same class. Any class features, tricks, talents, or ki based upon wisdom or charisma are instead based on intelligence. Talents and Advanced Talents can be used to obtain options from both the Ninja Tricks and Rogue Talents lists and advanced lists.
- Rogue gains a Good Will save progression
- Sneak attack works under concealment but not total concealment.
- A Rogue gains a bonus to Initiative equal to half his Rogue level. Starting at level 8, a Rogue may choose (before rolling) to take a -10 penalty on his Initiative roll if there is a surprise round and he can act in it. By doing so, the Rogue gains a full round of actions in the surprise round. At level 16, a Rogue always gains a full round in the surprise round, without needing to take the penalty. At 20th level, a Rogue can always act in a surprise round.
- At first level, the Rogue gains either Trapfinding or Poison Use (character's choice)
- At 2nd level, the Rogue gains Evasion and a Ki Pool, with points per day equal to 1/2 Rogue level + Int modifier, and all options available to the Ninja.
- At 3rd level, the Rogue gains either Trap Sense or No Trace (character's choice)
- Every 3rd Rogue level, choose two skills. You gain the Skill Focus feat with these skills.
- At 6th level, the Rogue gains Light Steps.
- Epic Skill (Ex): Starting at 10th level, a Rogue's abilities have been honed to a point where she can accomplish utterly superhuman feats with her various skills. A number of times per day equal to ½ her level + intelligence modifier, she may use any one of the abilities below that she has learned. At 10th level, she learns 4 techniques. Every level thereafter, she gains two additional techniques to use. In order to learn a technique, the rogue must have the minimum skill ranks listed. Unless stated otherwise, activating any of these techniques is a free action.
- New Advanced Rogue Talent!
Diverse Training: A rogue selecting this advanced talent may use any epic skill technique. If it is not one she actually knows, it costs 2 daily uses of Epic Skill. The activation time is the same as for the specific technique, and the duration is 1 minute per rogue level, or the technique's duration, whichever is shorter. The rogue must have the required skill ranks to use a technique even through Diverse Training, and the benefits tied to ranks, if any, apply as normal.
[/sblock]

Epic Skill options:
[sblock]Acrobatics (Balance + Tumble)
Dervish Dance (7 ranks): The rogue is able to weave, somersault, and roll past countless foes flawlessly. Upon activating this ability, for a number of rounds equal to ranks in Acrobatics, the rogue can automatically succeed at any acrobatics checks to move through a creature's space or through its threatened area, with no reduction in speed, regardless of how many creatures she passes by, the added difficulty of the surface she is on, and so forth.

Landing Roll (8 ranks): The rogue is able to soften a fall by tumbling upon impact. Treat a fall as if it were 10 ft shorter per rogue level. This can eliminate falling damage completely. Upon gaining 18 ranks, the Rogue can use this ability to fall any distance without suffering harm. Activating this ability is an immediate action that can be used even if the rogue is flatfooted, and it protects her from a single fall.

Light Step (11 ranks): The rogue's agility and nimbleness is such that she can tread on any surface. Upon activating this ability, she is able to perfectly balance herself upon a solid surface of any width, even hair thin, without risk of failure. Upon gaining 14 ranks, she is able to tread upon the surface of any liquid or any solid surface, even if it could not normally support her weight. If the substance is damaging, such as lava or acid, the rogue only suffers damage for being near it, none for touching it. Upon gaining 17 ranks, the rogue can walk upon air itself, as if using an Air Walk spell. This technique persists for 1 minute per rogue level.

Perfectly Centered (16 ranks): The rogue is so adept at shifting her own weight and momentum in an instant, that it is impossible for her to be tripped or made prone by any attack or effect. Should she choose to drop prone or somehow end up prone, she is able to kip up to her feet as a swift action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The benefit of this technique is constant, requires no activation, and functions as long as the rogue is not paralyzed or unable to move. Learning this technique permanently costs the rogue one daily use of her Epic Skill (to power this ability).

Roll With It (13 ranks): A rogue who is damaged by any physical attack can activate this technique as an immediate action, ignoring an amount of damage equal to her Acrobatics check result. In addition, she may choose to move in a direction that is away from the opponent or direction of the attack (if it was ranged), up to 5 ft per 5 ranks in acrobatics. This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Twisted Charge (5 ranks): The rogue, upon activating this ability, can make single turn of up to 90 degrees during one charge made that same round

Athletics (Climb + Jump)
Bounding Leap (12 ranks): The rogue is capable of graceful jumps that border on flight. Activating this ability is a move action, and includes making a jump. The jump has a maximum height of 5 ft per rank in Athletics and a maximum horizontal distance of 10 ft per rank in Athletics. This movement can exceed the rogue's speed and is traveled in the space of the single move action. If the jump brings the rogue into the air, she may hover in place and complete the rest of her turn there before harmlessly floating back down to the ground.

Monkey Climb (5 ranks): A rogue with this ability never loses her dexterity bonus to AC due to climbing and only needs one free hand to climb. She gains +5 ft reach for the purposes of being close enough to a surface to catch herself when falling, and the climb DC increase for attempting to do so is halved. The benefit of this technique is constant, requires no activation, and functions as long as the rogue is not paralyzed or unable to move. Learning this technique permanently costs the rogue one daily use of her Epic Skill (to power this ability).

Up the Walls (7 ranks): Upon activating this ability, a rogue can treat any non-horizontal surface as if it were ground until the end of her turn, able to take move actions, double move, run, charge, and so on up, down, or along a wall of any incline effortlessly. If the rogue does not reach a horizontal surface to stand on by the end of her turn, she falls, though she may use a climb check to catch herself, as normal.

Bluff
Mental Shield (10 ranks): Activating this ability causes it to persist for 24 hours. While it is active, if the rogue is targeted or within the area of any divination effect, the caster must succeed on a CL check of DC 11 + the Rogue's ranks in Bluff. If the caster fails this check, he is unaware any such resistance existed and the rogue simply does not detect at all. Upon gaining 16 ranks, the Rogue is immediately made aware of any divination effect used against her and what it does if the CL check fails. She may choose to falsely display in any fashion she likes rather than not be detected at all, such as detecting as the wrong alignment.

Modify Memory (16 ranks): The rogue is able to adjust a creature's recollection, as the spell, except you can modify up to 1 minute of memories per Rogue level and cannot allow the creature to recall with perfect clarity an actual event unless the Rogue experienced it herself. Activating this ability takes 1 round and a will save (DC of 10 + Bluff skill ranks + Intelligence modifier) negates it. This is non-magical, but is a mind-affecting compulsion effect and follows all other parameters of the spell.

Suggestion (15 ranks): By using this ability as a standard action, the rogue so cleverly and convincingly deceives a creature so as to affect it as if by the Suggestion spell. The victim receives a will save to resist, with a DC of 10 + Bluff skill ranks + Intelligence modifier. Upon gaining 20 ranks, the Rogue can mimic the effects of Mass Suggestion (one creature per rogue level) while using this. This ability is non-magical, but is a mind-affecting, language-dependent, compulsion effect.

Craft
Instant Mastery (any craft 9 ranks): By activating this ability, the rogue may move all his ranks in one craft skill to another craft skill for 10 min./level, or until he dismisses it (as a swift action).

Diplomacy
Evade Suspicion (8 ranks): When using Diplomacy to gather information, the rogue may spend one daily use of her epic skill to avoid any suspicions that might otherwise be aroused by someone pursuing sensitive information.

Fast Friends (12 ranks): A rogue may use this ability as a standard action to duplicate the effects of a Charm Person spell, with a CL equal to Rogue level. The victim receives a will save to resist, with a DC of 10 + Diplomacy skill ranks + Intelligence modifier. Upon gaining 17 ranks, the rogue can duplicate the effects of Charm Monster. This technique is non-magical, but is a mind-affecting charm effect.

Disable Device
Quick Disable (10 ranks): By using this ability before attempting to disable a trap or pick a lock, the rogue may do so as a move action. With 17 ranks, she can do so as a free action.

Disguise

Escape Artist
Contortionist (14 ranks): A rogue that activates this ability may, until the end of her turn, squeeze through impossibly small openings; this can be as small as 2 inches square for a Medium Rogue. Halve this limit for each size smaller than Medium; double it for each size category greater than Medium. If the Rogue has 19 ranks, she is able to instead use this technique to slip through a wall of force (including force cage, resilient sphere, and any other force barrier).

Double-Jointed (5 ranks): A Rogue with this technique gains the Constrict ability, dealing (if medium) 1d8 + 1 ½ times her strength modifier in damage each time she successfully grapples a creature. If small, the damage is 1d6, if large it is 2d6, and so forth. If she has at least 10 ranks, she also receives no AC penalties for grappling, pinning, or being pinned. The benefit of this technique is constant, requires no activation, and functions as long as the rogue is not paralyzed or unable to move. Learning this technique permanently costs the rogue one daily use of her Epic Skill (to power this ability).

Slippery (15 ranks): No bindings can hold a rogue! Upon activating this technique, the rogue gains Freedom of Movement, as the spell effect, for a number of rounds equal to her rogue level.

Fly

Handle Animal

Heal

Knowledge

Linguistics
Listen to This (8 ranks): By activating this ability while observing a target creature communicating, you are able to perfectly commit to memory what was said, even if you do not understand the language or are unable to successfully read lips. You may remember up to 1 continuous minute of communication per level and it stays fresh in your mind for 1 day.

Perception (Spot + Listen)

Perform

Profession

Ride

Sense Motive

Spellcraft

Stealth
Hide Another (10 ranks): A Rogue can activate this ability whenever making a Stealth check. She can then also roll for one ally (and one additional ally per 3 ranks above 10 she has in Stealth) within 30 ft, allowing the ally/allies to use her check result. Each activation lasts for each ally for 1 round per Rogue level or until a creature makes a perception check against the ally. This ability is suppressed (but does not end) while the ally is further than 30 ft from you, and the duration is not paused.

Survival

Swim

Thievery (Search + Sleight of Hand)

Use Magic Device[/sblock]

Note: I plan to houserule the groupings of certain skills. I put in () after the skill name any such changes for ease of reference. Feel free to move the techniques around as appropriate if you wish to keep PF's current groupings; the sub-skill each technique is based upon is pretty obvious, I think.

Changes besides skill groupings I plan to houserule that will have a siginificant impact on the Rogue, but are not technically part of the class:
[sblock]- Blinking allows you to sneak attack.
- You can sneak attack with splash weapons against a target you hit with the primary (not splash) damage.
- Acrobatics: Without 3 Acrobatics ranks, if you stand in an area that requires balance checks, you lose your dexterity and dodge bonuses to AC, even outside of your turn. Tumble DCs follow 3.5's rules (ie, base DC 15 and so forth, the enemy's CMD is irrelevant, etc...).
- Weapon Finesse: Any weapon that can be finessed can use the wielder's dexterity modifier instead of strength on attack rolls without need of this feat. This feat allows a creature to add his dexterity to damage with any light weapon or weapon with the finesse property instead of strength. You do not gain extra damage from wielding a weapon two-handed as you would with strength, and your damage is still modified by any strength penalty you may have (in addition to adding your dexterity modifier).
[/sblock]
 
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tylermalan

First Post
I read everything except for the Epic Skill descriptions.

So, obviously, this is a long list of stuff that the Rogue gets. And so my question is...

I know that you think the Rogue is one of the two worst classes in the game, but is it SO bad that in order to be balanced it needs THIS MUCH?
 

StreamOfTheSky

Adventurer
The size of the content =/= power of the content. They're a bunch of options, rogue will not have all of them, and they're daily use limited. It's almost like giving the rogue a spell list.

The epic skills don't come into play until later, where I feel rogue gets especially mediocre, but if you ignored that entire section and just implemented every other change I made, it'd still drastically improve the rogue. The epic skills are, admittedly, just as much about giving rogue something powerful and special and cool at high levels as they are about making rogue on par with other classes. They might NOT be needed at all (or not needed if I add some other buffs at higher level that take up far less text), I don't know. I just like the idea of them. :)

I guess that bears mentioning, my houserules are not just about balance, it's also my preferences. For example, does it REALLY matter if you leave Acrobatics and Climb the same instead of doing (Balance + Tumble) and (Jump + Climb)? Nope. I just think that's how it should be.
 

Starbuck_II

First Post
I think the unnerfs listed at the bottem are the real needs. But I like the changes except why Int instead of Wisdom or Cha. Why not let the player choose?
 

StreamOfTheSky

Adventurer
I originally had it as "pick cha or int" for the class features, but decided (ironically, given the Epic Skills thing) that made things needlessly complicated. I could just put that back in. I just think the cha-based rogue seems too disadvantaged. Why wisdom, though? Neither rogue nor ninja was wisdom based, and I specifically made will a good save to make wisdom safer for dumping to reduce MAD.
 

tylermalan

First Post
The size of the content =/= power of the content. They're a bunch of options, rogue will not have all of them, and they're daily use limited. It's almost like giving the rogue a spell list.

The epic skills don't come into play until later, where I feel rogue gets especially mediocre, but if you ignored that entire section and just implemented every other change I made, it'd still drastically improve the rogue. The epic skills are, admittedly, just as much about giving rogue something powerful and special and cool at high levels as they are about making rogue on par with other classes. They might NOT be needed at all (or not needed if I add some other buffs at higher level that take up far less text), I don't know. I just like the idea of them. :)

I guess that bears mentioning, my houserules are not just about balance, it's also my preferences. For example, does it REALLY matter if you leave Acrobatics and Climb the same instead of doing (Balance + Tumble) and (Jump + Climb)? Nope. I just think that's how it should be.
Yeah, but their saves get buffed, their skills get buffed, sneak attack gets buffed, initiative gets buffed... that's more what I'm talking about. PLUS you're giving them what really amounts to a vast array of additional options which might (I don't know) be combo-able into some nasty stuff.

And really, what is balance anyway? What is the Pathfinder baseline standard around which other things are balanced?
 

StreamOfTheSky

Adventurer
Their saves are currently the worst in the entire game (reflex is considered the least important save).

They get skill focus with a bunch of skills to make up for how badly the class skill changes burned them unintentionally.

The initiative...do you want me to list off the class features of other classes that get basically the same thing or just as good? I don't know why Rogue of all classes doesn't have such abilities. The two rogue talents are extremely limited and subpar. I could just include those buffs into them instead.

The additional options might lead to nasty combos. But in a lot of cases, its just replicating low level spell effects casters could do anyway and rogue could use with items. I don't think it'd be make the game any more problematic. Some options I'm putting in specifically to let rogue be less reliant on magic items, like Slippery. Rogue would probably have a ring of freedom of movement by 15th level anyway.
 

tylermalan

First Post
Alright, fair enough. The only thing I'm wondering now is whether or not the free Skill Focus for two skills every 3 levels is too much. I mean, doesn't this quickly negate almost every other party members' skills? And also, doesn't this speed the arrival of that level beyond which there is no more reason to put ranks into skills (because of essential auto-successes)?
 

Chronologist

First Post
I think this is an excellent fix so far. More epic skill uses would be nice, but I'm sure there are more coming.

I would particularly like to see some epic uses of Use Magic Device, perhaps allowing the Rogue to substitute her class level for the caster level on items, maybe even her intelligence modifier for the save DC of items.

I would also expand the Rogue class skill list of all skills. This would compensate at lower levels for Rogues who want to branch out into several different kinds of skills without worrying whether it's a class skill or not.
 

StreamOfTheSky

Adventurer
Alright, fair enough. The only thing I'm wondering now is whether or not the free Skill Focus for two skills every 3 levels is too much. I mean, doesn't this quickly negate almost every other party members' skills? And also, doesn't this speed the arrival of that level beyond which there is no more reason to put ranks into skills (because of essential auto-successes)?
I don't think it's too much, nor will it negate other PCs. Take Perception. Any wis-based class w/ it as a class skill will likely be on par with the rogue or better, especially now that wis is established as a dump stat. Rogue's highest stats would be dex and int, and spellcraft and most knowledges aren't class skills...and I'd still expect a wizard or witch to have higher int, so no obsoleting there. Dex skills rogue might surpass others, but...not sure that's a bad thing. In any case, it's only a +3 or +6 bonus. In 3E by 10th level (when skill focus jumps from +3 to +6), a class skill was 13 ranks max, a cross-class was 6.5.

I don't think it hastens the arrival of skills being auto-success too much. Certainly still want the 10 ranks for the +6, at least. And the Epic Skills would entice you to keep putting ranks in the skills, too.
 

StreamOfTheSky

Adventurer
I think this is an excellent fix so far. More epic skill uses would be nice, but I'm sure there are more coming.

I would particularly like to see some epic uses of Use Magic Device, perhaps allowing the Rogue to substitute her class level for the caster level on items, maybe even her intelligence modifier for the save DC of items.

I would also expand the Rogue class skill list of all skills. This would compensate at lower levels for Rogues who want to branch out into several different kinds of skills without worrying whether it's a class skill or not.
Thanks. I was planning on such things for UMD. One to use rogue's int to set save DC. Another to use rogue level as the CL against any foe who is flanked or lost dex to AC. Maybe another to have UMD replicate some functions of Spellcraft. I don't know, IME as a high level rogue its awkward to try and walk into a shop and request scrolls of dim door or a wand of grease or whatever and verify thats what it is when you have no spellcraft. Not every rogue has the luxury of a pet wizard to go shopping with / examine ill gotten gains. And yet, rogue's somehow supposed to obtain and use all these things by the rules she has no real means to ID.

Don't think rogue getting all class skills is a good idea, though. Too cheesy for dipping. Especially in PF, where getting it as a class skill and dropping a single rank in is all you need to benefit. You could do a similar thing in 3E w/ Factotum + Able Learner feat but a) that cost a feat! and b) Having it as a class skill in and of itself didn't much matter if you didn't actually max that sucker out, draining your skill points.
Doing that in PF would be too cheesy for dippers. I could ammend the every 3 levels ability to either gain skill focus or gain a class skill, choose which each time (could even do one of each option at a given level) maybe.
 

Loonook

First Post
Thanks. I was planning on such things for UMD. One to use rogue's int to set save DC. Another to use rogue level as the CL against any foe who is flanked or lost dex to AC. Maybe another to have UMD replicate some functions of Spellcraft. I don't know, IME as a high level rogue its awkward to try and walk into a shop and request scrolls of dim door or a wand of grease or whatever and verify thats what it is when you have no spellcraft. Not every rogue has the luxury of a pet wizard to go shopping with / examine ill gotten gains. And yet, rogue's somehow supposed to obtain and use all these things by the rules she has no real means to ID.
I also think that the Rogue, when presented with the option to sneak attack, should possibly get a 'sneak spell' feature. Something that boosts his wand attack spells similar to Arcane Strike, allowing him to add a certain amount of difficulty to a save/additional damage/spell resistance penetration to the effect.

UMD also seems like an enemy-mine situation if ever I heard one. Rogues who can ignore/debuff a magic-toting target when making a sneak attack would be akin to the Mageslayer feats.


Don't think rogue getting all class skills is a good idea, though. Too cheesy for dipping. Especially in PF, where getting it as a class skill and dropping a single rank in is all you need to benefit. You could do a similar thing in 3E w/ Factotum + Able Learner feat but a) that cost a feat! and b) Having it as a class skill in and of itself didn't much matter if you didn't actually max that sucker out, draining your skill points.
Doing that in PF would be too cheesy for dippers. I could ammend the every 3 levels ability to either gain skill focus or gain a class skill, choose which each time (could even do one of each option at a given level) maybe.
Why not produce something akin to the Expert? A Rogue can take any X + 2xInt modifier skills as 'class skills'. The numbers would have to be tweaked a bit, but the premise allows for what you're going for (the utterly flexible rogue who gains skill-based 'tricks' to bump himself up).

Slainte,

-Loonook.
 

SteelDraco

First Post
I had some similar thoughts about rebuilding the rogue, but have concerns and thoughts about how some of this is implemented. Anything I don't mention I'm a fan of, and I'm pretty sure most of the inspiration for the rogue remake I'm planning comes from a previous draft of this you posted somewhere on these boards, so I'm generally a fan of this as a project.

The Skill Focus doesn't seem necessary in light of the other changes you're making. I know you've stated a desire to considerably increase the power of the monk and rogue classes; I just feel like you're overshooting the mark for me. That's a design decision you've stated, though. As written, Skill Focus doesn't do much for Epic Skills - most of them don't seem to actually require skill checks, so being able to get high rolls isn't relevant, just the ranks you have. At a certain point a result of 47 just isn't that different from a 41, or whatever.

You seem to not be using the rogue talents mechanic much, which I feel is undervalued because the existing ones suck. I'd rather see those rewritten to be improved and include some kind of point-based per-day mechanic like the ninja's ki pool - I've been favoring calling it a cunning pool for Int-based rogues and a panache pool for Charisma-based rogues (with "Panache Rogue" as an archetype that basically just says "switch out Int for Charisma in class abilities"). I've also considered implementing it as a grit-like mechanic that refills when the rogue does appropriately rogue-y things, like dropping enemies with sneak attack and winning opposed skill checks by a wide enough margin.

I like the idea of giving rogues a bonus to initiative - it should be something rogues are awesome at. My plan was to give them a bonus equal to their Int modifier as long as they have any points in their cunning pool. I was going to have a talent that allowed them to act normally in a surprise round - I think the "take a penalty to your roll if you want to act normally" mechanic you have is a bit needlessly complicated.

Not sure why you have two pools of class ability points, a ki pool and an "epic skill pool" that shows up at 10th level. Wouldn't it make sense to have the epic skills spend points from the ki pool?

I can see an argument for good Will saves, but I'd almost rather have the rogue be able to get a bonus to saves from his ki pool if he wants to spend the point. A resource of "luck" or "cunning" that can run out fits better to me than a rogue just being as good at resisting mental effects as a cleric or wizard.
 

StreamOfTheSky

Adventurer
Just remembered that I didn't consider the 20th level capstones. I guess just let player choose one or the other. *shrug*

Why not produce something akin to the Expert? A Rogue can take any X + 2xInt modifier skills as 'class skills'. The numbers would have to be tweaked a bit, but the premise allows for what you're going for (the utterly flexible rogue who gains skill-based 'tricks' to bump himself up).
Because the expert is a generic "great at X skills" class, while rogue actually has some flavor and fluff attached. Certain skills are just "rogue skills" and others are not. I'm hesitant to veer from that, as I like the flavor of rogues, it's why they're my favorite class. I have every skill listed for epic skills right now, but...I don't plan on actually creating techniques for all of them. Some, like spellcraft or knowledges, may get none at all. Others like Acrobatics and Escape Artist, obviously will have many options.

I had some similar thoughts about rebuilding the rogue, but have concerns and thoughts about how some of this is implemented. Anything I don't mention I'm a fan of, and I'm pretty sure most of the inspiration for the rogue remake I'm planning comes from a previous draft of this you posted somewhere on these boards, so I'm generally a fan of this as a project.

The Skill Focus doesn't seem necessary in light of the other changes you're making. I know you've stated a desire to considerably increase the power of the monk and rogue classes; I just feel like you're overshooting the mark for me. That's a design decision you've stated, though. As written, Skill Focus doesn't do much for Epic Skills - most of them don't seem to actually require skill checks, so being able to get high rolls isn't relevant, just the ranks you have. At a certain point a result of 47 just isn't that different from a 41, or whatever.

You seem to not be using the rogue talents mechanic much, which I feel is undervalued because the existing ones suck. I'd rather see those rewritten to be improved and include some kind of point-based per-day mechanic like the ninja's ki pool - I've been favoring calling it a cunning pool for Int-based rogues and a panache pool for Charisma-based rogues (with "Panache Rogue" as an archetype that basically just says "switch out Int for Charisma in class abilities"). I've also considered implementing it as a grit-like mechanic that refills when the rogue does appropriately rogue-y things, like dropping enemies with sneak attack and winning opposed skill checks by a wide enough margin.

I like the idea of giving rogues a bonus to initiative - it should be something rogues are awesome at. My plan was to give them a bonus equal to their Int modifier as long as they have any points in their cunning pool. I was going to have a talent that allowed them to act normally in a surprise round - I think the "take a penalty to your roll if you want to act normally" mechanic you have is a bit needlessly complicated.

Not sure why you have two pools of class ability points, a ki pool and an "epic skill pool" that shows up at 10th level. Wouldn't it make sense to have the epic skills spend points from the ki pool?

I can see an argument for good Will saves, but I'd almost rather have the rogue be able to get a bonus to saves from his ki pool if he wants to spend the point. A resource of "luck" or "cunning" that can run out fits better to me than a rogue just being as good at resisting mental effects as a cleric or wizard.
Thanks. And other than merging the two classes and the specifics of the epic skills, most of this stuff I have floated around for over a year now, you probably saw it somewhere. Your concerns are all valid, and I have been considering them as well.

- Skill Focus: It's a sloppy patchwork fix. I want rogues to be able to excel at or at least nearly equal any other class at their most valued skills, like they could in 3E. I've found, from in game experience and examining the numbers, that other than Disable Device, rogues seem to be easily outshone by at least one other class at every other skill, usually by many other classes. Even something as intrinsic as stealth, archer ranger and monk do it as good or better bonus-wise, and bring other benefits to the table (ranger: spell buffs, favored terrain, and camo / HiPS; monk: ability to stealth mode at great speed). I'd definitely be open to something else, but I do want some mechanic to help the rogue ensure he can be top tier at at least some skills. As for Epic Skills, the original thought was to give a gigantic bonus on a skill check roll for the purposes of using them and then actually have the rogue attempt the epic skill DCs (which could reach 100+ in some cases!). I quickly realized how silly and messy that'd be and scrapped it for a merit-based "must be this tall to ride" system based on ranks.

- I agree rogue talents suck. I kinda just figured a rogue w/ these houserules would pick ninja tricks. Why spend effort fixing talents when paizo already did the work for me (with some issues, though) by making ninja tricks? ;)

- It might be too complicated. As long as they get something to boost initiative and surprise round actions, I'll be happy. Just sick of these War or Time mystery Oracles, Tactics domain Clerics, Sohei Monks, Diviner Wizards, and gods knows what else getting all these massive initiative boons and rogue getting zilch. That ain't right. It just ain't!

- It is awkward to have 2 pools. However,
1) I don't think ninja gets enough ki points to support both functions currently. Especially after the nerfs from playtest to final version (some ki costs went up and originally most of the tricks gave you one free usage per day before they cost ki to use additional times). If there were a ki recharge mechanic like you suggested this may not be an issue.
2) I figured these were more powerful than anything you could spend a ki point on, even compared to most advanced ninja tricks. Maybe not, Invisible Blade and a few others ARE pretty good, and don't have the high skill rank requirements epic skills do...
Making it all work off of ki pool and giving a reliable recharge mechanic to get significantly more ki per day than currently allowed may be the best solution.

- Saves is the only thing I disagree completely with you on. Having a constant good base will save can represent luck just as well as having some ki point held in reserve and (in light of your other criticisms) is less complicated. I actually think high will suits a rogue well. Rogues have always been depicted as plucky and with a knack for wriggling out of mind affecting spells (Slippery Mind).
 

Loonook

First Post
Because the expert is a generic "great at X skills" class, while rogue actually has some flavor and fluff attached. Certain skills are just "rogue skills" and others are not. I'm hesitant to veer from that, as I like the flavor of rogues, it's why they're my favorite class. I have every skill listed for epic skills right now, but...I don't plan on actually creating techniques for all of them. Some, like spellcraft or knowledges, may get none at all. Others like Acrobatics and Escape Artist, obviously will have many options.
I can totally understand that, and like that you have that view. However, there are so many awesome little tricks the Rogue could get. Honestly I like the idea a lot of a rogue using those skills and gaining dastardly little things they know how to do, the whole "I know something you don't know" tricks in spellcraft alone present some interesting options.

"The wards coming in were a nice touch... I suspect you learned them in study from Master Gillian's Ars Abjura? I noticed the curving text in the lines binding the captured there, though there is a gap in the protective aura if you know where to find it."

"Now Apprentice Jim I want you to pay attention here. Stoneskin and Mage Armor. The two fields and their overlap can be seen if you look at the effects as they cross near the heart and the neck. If you strike at this location when the target is not focused you can easily penetrate the two wards, getting right in there and twist the knife."

Rogues are those hustlers who spend three months in jail learning how to throw a key into a keyhole from thirty paces. They trade secrets of their craft, hone their skills, and are generally dangerous for their knowledge. The only flash in the rogue's arsenal is the gleam of the knife... Or the look in their eyes when they filch your stuff :p.

Slainte,

-Loonook.
 

1Mac

First Post
- Skill Focus: It's a sloppy patchwork fix. I want rogues to be able to excel at or at least nearly equal any other class at their most valued skills, like they could in 3E.... I'd definitely be open to something else, but I do want some mechanic to help the rogue ensure he can be top tier at at least some skills.
I'm more or less done with a big rogue rewrite of my own. Here's a rogue talent I came up with, based on UC talents like Wall Scrambler, which are actually fairly good.

Skill Savant (Ex): Pick one of the following skill checks: Acrobatics*, Bluff (when lying), Climb*, Diplomacy (to improve starting attitude), Disguise, Perception (when overhearing conversations or finding concealed or secret objects such as traps), Sense Motive, Swim*. You may roll twice and take the better result for that check, provided the first result isn’t an error. If she already rolls twice on this check because of another ability or effect, she gains a +2 insight bonus on both rolls instead. If the rogue is under the effect of a spell or ability that forces her to roll two dice and take the worst result, she only needs to roll 1d20 when making this check.
This talent may be taken multiple times, each time with a new skill.
*(except for evasive movement checks)
(PS "Evasive Movement" is a Trailblazer alternative to tumble checks. Basically the relevant skill check is made vs. your opponent's attack. Accept or ignore the implications of this rule at your choosing!)

Another choice would be to have bonuses for certain rogue class skills scale slowly as you gain rogue levels. Gets you where you want to go, but it slopes more gently and with less cheese.
 

SteelDraco

First Post
I'm more or less done with a big rogue rewrite of my own. Here's a rogue talent I came up with, based on UC talents like Wall Scrambler, which are actually fairly good.
I like this solution better - I was planning something similar based on the same source material, but costing cunning to activate it. I let the rogue pick any rogue class skill and didn't restrict based on the skill use, though, so they could move past foes with a good Acrobatics roll and feint with Bluff.
 

Systole

First Post
I like everything except for the extra skill focuses. You're giving the rogue an extra two feats per three levels -- it's too much. I understand they aren't combat feats, but this is way overpowered.

In 3.5 Iron Heroes, the rogue-equivalent could put 5+level points in a skill, rather than the usual 3+level. How about this for Pathfinder:

Skill savant (Ex): At third level, and every three levels thereafter, the maximum number of skill points a rogue may possess in any skill increases by one, over and above the normal progression due to character levels (i.e. s/he may have a maximum of 4 skill points in a skill at 3rd level, 8 at 6th level, etc.).
 

SteelDraco

First Post
I've found, from in game experience and examining the numbers, that other than Disable Device, rogues seem to be easily outshone by at least one other class at every other skill, usually by many other classes. Even something as intrinsic as stealth, archer ranger and monk do it as good or better bonus-wise, and bring other benefits to the table (ranger: spell buffs, favored terrain, and camo / HiPS; monk: ability to stealth mode at great speed).
My solution is to give rogues access to those abilities that alter the way the skill check works and give them more options with the skills, rather than just ramping up the numbers they can get. The "roll twice and take the better" mechanic is better to me because it reinforces the rogue being consistently the best at those skills in a way that I don't think a straight numbers bonus does.

For example, a rogue who wants to be sneaky can take Skill Adept (Stealth), the Vanish talent, and around 8th level Hide in Plain Sight. Bam, they're a master of disappearing when they want to. These would all be rogue talents, which would largely fill the purpose you're using Epic Skills for - giving rogues more than just a numerical bonus to skills, but modifying how those skills interact with other mechanics.

One of my goals is to fold at least some of the mechanics of the Assassin and Shadowdancer into the core class; I think shadow magic and stealthy murder are core enough concepts for a rogue that you shouldn't need to take a prestige class to dip your toe into it. I'm also considering a poison talent tree that lets them spend cunning to just go "this strike is poisoned and does extra stuff because of it." If alchemists can make bombs with a per-day mechanic I don't have much problem with rogues making poisons in a similar way, though I don't plan to use ability damage mechanics until later.

Clearly I like the rogue talents mechanic more than you do; I think the "choose your powers from a list" mechanic is my favorite thing in all of Pathfinder and I use it as much as I can mechanically.

- It is awkward to have 2 pools. However,
1) I don't think ninja gets enough ki points to support both functions currently. Especially after the nerfs from playtest to final version (some ki costs went up and originally most of the tricks gave you one free usage per day before they cost ki to use additional times). If there were a ki recharge mechanic like you suggested this may not be an issue.
2) I figured these were more powerful than anything you could spend a ki point on, even compared to most advanced ninja tricks. Maybe not, Invisible Blade and a few others ARE pretty good, and don't have the high skill rank requirements epic skills do...
Making it all work off of ki pool and giving a reliable recharge mechanic to get significantly more ki per day than currently allowed may be the best solution.
I think one pool would be better by far. I know I'd dislike having to track two different ones.

I think ki can do some reasonably powerful things, and at higher levels I don't see why it couldn't do some quite powerful things several steps into a feat tree. Heck, just giving a ninja in a position to sneak attack an extra attack at their highest bonus is likely to be a decent chunk of damage for their level.

I seem to recall you dislike the gunslinger (I'm not a fan of guns in D&D myself), but I like the grit mechanic and the idea of rewarding the character for doing things appropriate to their class. I'm still waffling on how they'd recharge their pool, though. So far I have just
  • Drop a worthy opponent with a sneak attack
  • Beat a worthy opponent on an opposed skill check by a significant margin
That might be all, though I'd consider adding more to complement a certain level of specialization in a talent tree (so the poison-focused rogue might have a talent later on that adds "You gain a point of cunning when an opponent fails a poison save by five or more").

I'm not sure yet on how to quantify "wins an opposed check by a significant margin". There can be a very large discrepancy between the skill check of a mid-to-high level rogue and someone untrained in whatever the skill to resist is. I feel like the margin should get larger as the rogue gains levels, but I'm not sure how the numbers should fall. My first thought was "5 or more below 10th level, 10 or more above 10th level", but it's possible to twink out skills to a degree that those are quite easy to do.

- Saves is the only thing I disagree completely with you on. Having a constant good base will save can represent luck just as well as having some ki point held in reserve and (in light of your other criticisms) is less complicated. I actually think high will suits a rogue well. Rogues have always been depicted as plucky and with a knack for wriggling out of mind affecting spells (Slippery Mind).
I see where you're coming from. I just don't agree with you. I'd rather have the rogue's mental slipperiness come from a talent that only some rogues have; it doesn't fit the base concept for me.
 

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