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D&D 5E Suggestions for improving a Halfling Mark of Healing Rogue 5 build

Raven_King

Villager
TL;DR: Newbie asking for comments on my first 5e character build, a level 5 Halfling Mark of Healing Rogue

Context: I'm about to playing my first D&D campaign in about 30 years. I've not built a 5e character before, though I DM'd a very simple one-shot for my family using WOTC pre-builds.

The DM for my new campaign is preparing a very cool-sounding homebrew adventure set in Eberron. I've got the ERFTLW book and have read most of the character creation stuff, and have most of the other source books, so I have a LOT of options open to me, and frankly the choices are a little overwhelming.

However, I think I've taken a decent stab at a character that (it seems to me) will fill a couple of unfilled roles in the party - investigator/spy/sneaky rogue with a side of healing, and will also be well grounded in the Eberron campaign setting. I built it on DNDBeyond: Maturin Brewmore. Starting level 5, point buy abilities, fixed HP, all 5e rule books seem to be usable.

The character I want to play is not a raaargh-stab-stab-stab type front row. I get that D&D has combat as a pretty central theme and I'm sure we'll end up in plenty of fights, but where possible I'm going for a character who would rather talk his way out of trouble, sneak the McGuffin out of the bad guy's chest rather than batter him to death for it, and is good at investigating and getting in and out unseen. So, to some extent, min-maxing, optimizing and picking the absolute 'best' combination of skills isn't as important to me as trying to create a character that fits the idea I have.

That said, there are clearly plenty of ways to make plain dumb choices, and I probably don't know them when I see them. Is there anything about that build that you would change, and why? Is a link to that site the best way to explain what the character build is? In summary:
  • Halfling to get +2 Dex and Eberron's Mark of Healing subrace, with healing spells and Healing Touch feature which I think grants one 'free' heal 1/long rest, but using Wiz as spellcasting ability :(
  • Rogue to fit with the spy backstory - I thought long and hard about multiclassing and decided against. I think the DM hasn't done multiclass characters in the past, which is another reason. Nor have I, of course.
  • Arcane Trickster to get the Spellcasting feature, needed to get the extra spells in the Mark of Healing dragonmark, and used to learn more healing spells
  • Lvl 4 Ability Improvements: +2 Dex
  • Proficiencies: Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Investigation, Perception (i.e. sneaky spy stuff)
  • Expertise in Thieve's Tools (for traps, locks etc.) and Investigation
  • Spells:
    • Cantrips: Mage Hand, Mending, Prestidigitation
    • 1st Level: Cure Wounds x 2 (I seem to have this from both Mark of Healing and I chose it - probably one error there), Disguise Self, Healing Word (from Mark of Healing), and Magic Missile 'cause it's a decent ranged damage spell, though not really 'in character'
    • 2nd Level: Lesser Restoration
How would you rate this? What sucks, what would you improve? What would you add as the character levels up?

Thanks in advance!
 

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
TL;DR: Newbie asking for comments on my first 5e character build, a level 5 Halfling Mark of Healing Rogue

Context: I'm about to playing my first D&D campaign in about 30 years. I've not built a 5e character before, though I DM'd a very simple one-shot for my family using WOTC pre-builds.

The DM for my new campaign is preparing a very cool-sounding homebrew adventure set in Eberron. I've got the ERFTLW book and have read most of the character creation stuff, and have most of the other source books, so I have a LOT of options open to me, and frankly the choices are a little overwhelming.

However, I think I've taken a decent stab at a character that (it seems to me) will fill a couple of unfilled roles in the party - investigator/spy/sneaky rogue with a side of healing, and will also be well grounded in the Eberron campaign setting. I built it on DNDBeyond: Maturin Brewmore. Starting level 5, point buy abilities, fixed HP, all 5e rule books seem to be usable.

The character I want to play is not a raaargh-stab-stab-stab type front row. I get that D&D has combat as a pretty central theme and I'm sure we'll end up in plenty of fights, but where possible I'm going for a character who would rather talk his way out of trouble, sneak the McGuffin out of the bad guy's chest rather than batter him to death for it, and is good at investigating and getting in and out unseen. So, to some extent, min-maxing, optimizing and picking the absolute 'best' combination of skills isn't as important to me as trying to create a character that fits the idea I have.

That said, there are clearly plenty of ways to make plain dumb choices, and I probably don't know them when I see them. Is there anything about that build that you would change, and why? Is a link to that site the best way to explain what the character build is? In summary:
  • Halfling to get +2 Dex and Eberron's Mark of Healing subrace, with healing spells and Healing Touch feature which I think grants one 'free' heal 1/long rest, but using Wiz as spellcasting ability :(
  • Rogue to fit with the spy backstory - I thought long and hard about multiclassing and decided against. I think the DM hasn't done multiclass characters in the past, which is another reason. Nor have I, of course.
  • Arcane Trickster to get the Spellcasting feature, needed to get the extra spells in the Mark of Healing dragonmark, and used to learn more healing spells
  • Lvl 4 Ability Improvements: +2 Dex
  • Proficiencies: Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Investigation, Perception (i.e. sneaky spy stuff)
  • Expertise in Thieve's Tools (for traps, locks etc.) and Investigation
  • Spells:
    • Cantrips: Mage Hand, Mending, Prestidigitation
    • 1st Level: Cure Wounds x 2 (I seem to have this from both Mark of Healing and I chose it - probably one error there), Disguise Self, Healing Word (from Mark of Healing), and Magic Missile 'cause it's a decent ranged damage spell, though not really 'in character'
    • 2nd Level: Lesser Restoration
How would you rate this? What sucks, what would you improve? What would you add as the character levels up?

Thanks in advance!
I suggest picking up the find familiar spell with the arcane trickster. It can help in combat and in scouting. Fits the spy character pretty well IMO, faithful pet watching his back and acting as lookout. You can pick up a bow for ranged combat, i don't think you need magic missile.

Suggest picking up Booming Blade if possible (maybe over mending - i'm not sure how mending fits your character). Booming Blade is pretty nice for a rogue in combat. You can bonus action disengage after hitting causing an enemy to have to take damage to chase you. (Familiar can help to provide advantage when not near allies so sneak attack still goes off.

The healing spells will be a nice addition to a rogue. Skills are fine.

I actually like wisdom on rogues for the high perception. Wisdom saves are also important. It's a great secondary/teritiary stat.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
Pick up a hand crossbow or a shortbow or throw daggers for ranged attacks, do not fill a spells-known with Magic Missile. The weapons can carry Sneak Attack damage; the spell cannot. I have yet to see any enemy drop from a Magic Missile barrage.

Another good cantrip - especially if you are sneaking around in a patron's 'plausible deniability' operation - is Message. So you can tell friends what you find out.

What skills / tools did you take Expertise in?

The rest sounds like a competent implementation of the concept.
 

Raven_King

Villager
Thank you @FrogReaver and @Eltab. I really appreciate those assessments. And the reassurance about the Wiz ability dependency. It feels a bit suboptimal to have a character who relies hugely on one excellent ability (Dex in this case) for its main role, and two supporting abilities (Int and Wiz in this case) for its secondary role.

I took Expertise in Thieve's Tools (for traps, locks etc.) and Investigation.

I have made changes as you suggest - find familiar instead of magic missile. (I already chose a shortbow which I didn't mention above).

I'm currently agonizing about replacing Mending and/or Prestidigitation with Booming Blade and/or Message. Both seem excellent cantrips, and I can see both getting used a lot - and I have a feel that any cantrip you use a lot is inherently better than a really fun or handy one that's very situational. Gaah! Arcane Trickster Rogues are constrained for spells - of course, they need to be! Do they even count as 'half casters' - or are they less?

I'm also quite looking forward to levelling up to 7th level, to get access to 2nd level spells (x2), one of which should presumably be Darkvision. I'm not sure whether or not complete darkness will feature much in the campaign we're about to start, but rogue guides in general seem to rank it highly as a requirement, and, you know, Dungeons and Dragons! Plus Healing Word relies on seeing the creature you're trying to heal, so it sucks to not be able to see your wounded buddy who's just out of reach. Darkvision seems pretty important.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Thank you @FrogReaver and @Eltab. I really appreciate those assessments. And the reassurance about the Wiz ability dependency. It feels a bit suboptimal to have a character who relies hugely on one excellent ability (Dex in this case) for its main role, and two supporting abilities (Int and Wiz in this case) for its secondary role.

I took Expertise in Thieve's Tools (for traps, locks etc.) and Investigation.

I have made changes as you suggest - find familiar instead of magic missile. (I already chose a shortbow which I didn't mention above).

I'm currently agonizing about replacing Mending and/or Prestidigitation with Booming Blade and/or Message. Both seem excellent cantrips, and I can see both getting used a lot - and I have a feel that any cantrip you use a lot is inherently better than a really fun or handy one that's very situational. Gaah! Arcane Trickster Rogues are constrained for spells - of course, they need to be! Do they even count as 'half casters' - or are they less?
While potentially flavorful, I don't think I've ever seen a situation where mending would have actually mattered. If that helps at all.

I'm also quite looking forward to levelling up to 7th level, to get access to 2nd level spells (x2), one of which should presumably be Darkvision. I'm not sure whether or not complete darkness will feature much in the campaign we're about to start, but rogue guides in general seem to rank it highly as a requirement, and, you know, Dungeons and Dragons! Plus Healing Word relies on seeing the creature you're trying to heal, so it sucks to not be able to see your wounded buddy who's just out of reach. Darkvision seems pretty important.
You'll know by level 7 if darkvision is a big deal in your campaign. Don't lock yourself into that choice because it might not actually matter much.

The reason guides rate Darkvision so highly is because there's no way to know how much a random DM will penalize having a light source present to see enemies.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
Thank you @FrogReaver and @Eltab. I really appreciate those assessments. And the reassurance about the Wiz ability dependency. It feels a bit suboptimal to have a character who relies hugely on one excellent ability (Dex in this case) for its main role, and two supporting abilities (Int and Wiz in this case) for its secondary role.

I took Expertise in Thieve's Tools (for traps, locks etc.) and Investigation.

I have made changes as you suggest - find familiar instead of magic missile. (I already chose a shortbow which I didn't mention above).

I'm currently agonizing about replacing Mending and/or Prestidigitation with Booming Blade and/or Message. Both seem excellent cantrips, and I can see both getting used a lot - and I have a feel that any cantrip you use a lot is inherently better than a really fun or handy one that's very situational. Gaah! Arcane Trickster Rogues are constrained for spells - of course, they need to be! Do they even count as 'half casters' - or are they less?

I'm also quite looking forward to levelling up to 7th level, to get access to 2nd level spells (x2), one of which should presumably be Darkvision. I'm not sure whether or not complete darkness will feature much in the campaign we're about to start, but rogue guides in general seem to rank it highly as a requirement, and, you know, Dungeons and Dragons! Plus Healing Word relies on seeing the creature you're trying to heal, so it sucks to not be able to see your wounded buddy who's just out of reach. Darkvision seems pretty important.
You're welcome!

Picking cantrips can depend on how the rest of the group interacts with your character. If they give you plenty of time to sneak around and scout things out, Message (to communicate findings, traps, treasure) and Prestidigitation (to clean up your tracks) are good; OTOH, if the group expects you to unlock the front door from inside so they can crash in, Booming Blade (which emits thunder, tells the whole city block that you are here, and increases damage) is good. If your DM lets you 'bend the rules' and exchange a cantrip at level-up, you can fix an initial goof.

From personal experience: Halfling 'move through enemy spaces' plus Bonus action Disengage for movement means the opposition not only has to block the door against you, they also have to pack the hallway behind.
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
This sounds like a great character!
  • I agree with the substitution of Find Familiar.
  • For myself, I would keep Mending over Booming blade. Mending is Great for a thief -- you break a window to get in, and it's fixed by the time you have left! Smash a lock, and repair it once you're through, etc. I find it so much fun. Also, (for myself) I do not find the same degree of fun with booming blade. Yes, it's powerful in combat, but I find it a distraction, when I want to be finding ways to get Sneak attack damage in. Plus, it doesn't sound like you want to be in melee in any case.
  • As a Spy, you get thieves tools, which is redundant. Find a tool set or language that you want as a substitute.
  • I think you should have another skill? I would strongly push you towards acrobatics and/or Athletics. If your DM is likely to allow you to use either, then just acrobatics is fine, but proficiency in Athletics is very useful, ESPECIALLY for low-STR characters.
  • Finally, you might want to think about whether you want a different ASI instead of the +2 DEX. While that is obviously useful (and arguably the most useful for your character), it's not something active. Is it going to be more FUN for you than (say) Lucky, Crossbow Expert, Observant, Ritual Caster, or Mobile? I could see any of these fitting the character you describe.

Hope this helps
 

Raven_King

Villager
Thanks @Kobold Stew ! Appreciate it. Yeah, I can potentially see some uses for Mending but it does depend on how the party ends up operating and whether they're content to wait/do something else while I sneak about. I have a feeling they may get bored and just charge in, so I'll have to see. I'm fairly sure the DM will allow a switch in cantrips if I ask early on or in a session zero (assuming he runs one). So for that one, it's Mending if it looks like the party is up for letting the rogue sneak in first and get some use out of it, and Booming Blade otherwise.

As a Spy, you get thieves tools, which is redundant.
Which Spy is that? All rogues get proficiency in thieves tools and the actual tools too. I didn't choose that proficiency again, but I did choose expertise in it (double proficiency bonus).

The House Agent background grants:
Skill Proficiencies: Investigation, Persuasion
Tool Proficiencies: alchemist’s supplies and herbalism kit (though it doesn't provide the equipment)
Equipment: A set of fine clothes, house signet ring, identification papers, and a purse containing 20 gp.
I wrote a fairly detailed backstory which I'll spare you, but these skills equipped the character to be a medic and later a spy for a different Eberron organization than his House. If there's another Spy background that I've missed, I'd like to take a look!
I think you should have another skill?
Wow, well spotted - this character should have another skill! I got Investigation twice without realising. I chose it as a rogue class skill, PHB p95, and didn't notice later on that Investigation is also granted by the House Agent background in ERFTLW, p53.

Athletics is something this character badly needs. I'm not so worried about Acrobatics checks, since he's already got a very high Dex (19, will go to 20 at 8th level ASI), but his Str is a dump stat: 8 (-1 modifier) and he's going to be awful at climbing, swimming etc. without a bit of a boost. Great suggestion!
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
Thanks @Kobold Stew ! Appreciate it. Yeah, I can potentially see some uses for Mending but it does depend on how the party ends up operating and whether they're content to wait/do something else while I sneak about. I have a feeling they may get bored and just charge in, so I'll have to see. I'm fairly sure the DM will allow a switch in cantrips if I ask early on or in a session zero (assuming he runs one). So for that one, it's Mending if it looks like the party is up for letting the rogue sneak in first and get some use out of it, and Booming Blade otherwise.


Which Spy is that? All rogues get proficiency in thieves tools and the actual tools too. I didn't choose that proficiency again, but I did choose expertise in it (double proficiency bonus).

The House Agent background grants:
Skill Proficiencies: Investigation, Persuasion
Tool Proficiencies: alchemist’s supplies and herbalism kit (though it doesn't provide the equipment)
Equipment: A set of fine clothes, house signet ring, identification papers, and a purse containing 20 gp.
I wrote a fairly detailed backstory which I'll spare you, but these skills equipped the character to be a medic and later a spy for a different Eberron organization than his House. If there's another Spy background that I've missed, I'd like to take a look!

Wow, well spotted - this character should have another skill! I got Investigation twice without realising. I chose it as a rogue class skill, PHB p95, and didn't notice later on that Investigation is also granted by the House Agent background in ERFTLW, p53.

Athletics is something this character badly needs. I'm not so worried about Acrobatics checks, since he's already got a very high Dex (19, will go to 20 at 8th level ASI), but his Str is a dump stat: 8 (-1 modifier) and he's going to be awful at climbing, swimming etc. without a bit of a boost. Great suggestion!

Glad to help.

  • If the party charges in, with Mending you can clean up...
  • Spy is in the PHB as an alternate to Criminal background. With what you've listed, Persuasion is missing (or else subbed for someting else). ((I'm all for subbing in backgrounds.)) I didn't process house agent. Thanks.
  • Agree on Atheletics, for the reasons you give. I'll also point out Squat Nimbleness as a feat, which gives you +1 to DEX, a 30' move, Athletics proficiency, and advantage on escapes from grapples (which wil aply to your Acrobatics rolls even when you are not proficient).
 
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