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The Essentials Thief: Escaping from Light Blade Hell

Felon

First Post
I've been digging the Essentials versions of the various classes. I'm not sure if they hit the mark from a game balance point of view (especially the slayer), but the idea that a weapon attack is one payload that can encapsulate in different delivery systems really hits the mark. Moreover, a class's role outside of attacking things has been given far deeoer enphasis than the niche of utility powers (where they would often wind up neglected in favor of attack buffs).

This really shows with the thief. Would like to play one--but they're trapped in a hell of constricting, shoehorning weapon options. You don't even get the option to be the classic acrobat-thief with a staff.

I'm aware of the versatile duelist feat, which allows a rogue to use heavy blades, but like many feats it's worded with the (previously understandable) assumption that attacks are entertwined with powers ("... If a rogue power requires you to wield a light blade, you can use that power with a one-handed heavy blade and can also deal your Sneak Attack damage...."). I suspect this may be the case with many other feats as well.

So, is there any way out from under this?

EDIT--Sorry, wrong forum. Hopefully it will be moved to 4e discussion.
 
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Pickles JG

First Post
Why do you want to use a different weapon?

I am not sure there are any any significant weapons dependent abilities, to get that mean you could not just reskin your eg rapier as whatever you want it to be in name.

As a DM I would allow any d8 weapon you bought proficency in to be used as a light blade, as you just get different riders on the expertise feat. Reach with a staff might be good but you lose the +1 damage per tier from light blades. You can't flank with reach anyway.

Using a weapon with a bigger damage die would seem to be a powerup but even then probably not game breaking. Thieves' with greataxes are a bit jarring though.
 

Klaus

First Post
I've been digging the Essentials versions of the various classes. I'm not sure if they hit the mark from a game balance point of view (especially the slayer), but the idea that a weapon attack is one payload that can encapsulate in different delivery systems really hits the mark. Moreover, a class's role outside of attacking things has been given far deeoer enphasis than the niche of utility powers (where they would often wind up neglected in favor of attack buffs).

This really shows with the thief. Would like to play one--but they're trapped in a hell of constricting, shoehorning weapon options. You don't even get the option to be the classic acrobat-thief with a staff.

I'm aware of the versatile duelist feat, which allows a rogue to use heavy blades, but like many feats it's worded with the (previously understandable) assumption that attacks are entertwined with powers ("... If a rogue power requires you to wield a light blade, you can use that power with a one-handed heavy blade and can also deal your Sneak Attack damage...."). I suspect this may be the case with many other feats as well.

So, is there any way out from under this?

EDIT--Sorry, wrong forum. Hopefully it will be moved to 4e discussion.
You can use a staff. When Essentials came out, one of the first articles Dragon ran was all bout the staff, with options for the Knight, Slayer, Thief, Cleric and Mage.

So you take the Sneaky Staff feat and are good to go.
 

mikeloop86

First Post
Something that just occurred to me, is if you want to be an acrobatic type character who wields a staff and steals, you might actually want to go the route of re-fluffing the Monk from PHB3. Has access to Stealth, Thievery, Acrobatics, and Athletics are trained skills for them, and like the rogue they're a dex-focused class. Their at-will disciplines all have move actions that provide similar benefits to the Essential Thief's 1st Level Rogue Tricks, and the Monk can use Staffs as weapons/implements.

Might be worth looking into.
 

Mapache

First Post
Rapiers are a +3/1d8 Military Light Blade, and Light Blade Expertise is one of the best of the new Expertise Feats. They may not match up with the flavor experience you're looking for, but mechanically it's pretty far from hell.
 

Felon

First Post
You can use a staff. When Essentials came out, one of the first articles Dragon ran was all bout the staff, with options for the Knight, Slayer, Thief, Cleric and Mage.

So you take the Sneaky Staff feat and are good to go.
Did they now? That's cool. Any other weapons get that treatment.

Looks like right now I'll wind up reskinning a kukri into a mini-falchion. But I'm not gonna be some dandy with a rapier.
 

Felon

First Post
Rapiers are a +3/1d8 Military Light Blade, and Light Blade Expertise is one of the best of the new Expertise Feats. They may not match up with the flavor experience you're looking for, but mechanically it's pretty far from hell.
Having a needlessly constrained set cookie-cutter options is pretty onerous to me. At one time in a more naive world, the sneak attack damage bonus might have seemed excessive, but I look at what a craghammer can do in the hands of a fighter (slayer or not), it suddenly ain't such a big whoop.

My preference would have been to incentivize the use of the traditional rogue "sneaky" weapons through bonuses when wielding them. thief offers such bonuses, making the weapon hamstring seem rather hard-coding seem rather unnecessary.
 

twilsemail

First Post
Are you sure that this is a fluff issue? The theif is a little guy what stabs things in the right place with a knife (or knife-like weapon). That's his schtick. It pretty much always has been.

If you're looking to deal damage with a heavy blade, head towards the striker. Hell, you could even take Melee Training (Dex) and Stealth training and call it a day. Make him a Guerilla Warfare specialist or something.

I think you're more looking for "Backstab with a Heavy Blade" than "Sneaky guy with a big sword." But that's my $.02 and it's not really worth more than that.

Edit: to add something worthwhile to the topic at hand. I can't think of anything outside of "Sneaky Staff" that's all that useful for a Thief looking to expand his portfolio outside of the Weapon Proficiency feat for some of the Light Blades he's not already proficient with.
 

Prestidigitalis

First Post
My preference would have been to incentivize the use of the traditional rogue "sneaky" weapons through bonuses when wielding them. thief offers such bonuses, making the weapon hamstring seem rather hard-coding seem rather unnecessary.

So you want all Rogues (Thief and old style) to get a damage bonus with sneaky weapons as a class feature, and the "extra something" attached to LBE to be changed to something more flavorful?
 

Klaus

First Post
Did they now? That's cool. Any other weapons get that treatment.

Looks like right now I'll wind up reskinning a kukri into a mini-falchion. But I'm not gonna be some dandy with a rapier.
Previous feats allowing eladrin rogues to use longswords and dwarf rogues to use (iirc) axes still function for the thief. He's still a rogue, after all.
 

twilsemail

First Post
Previous feats allowing eladrin rogues to use longswords and dwarf rogues to use (iirc) axes still function for the thief. He's still a rogue, after all.

Bear in mind that an MBA isn't a Rogue power, which eliminates Tunnel Stalker. Longsword Finesse is still fine.
 

Felon

First Post
Are you sure that this is a fluff issue? The theif is a little guy what stabs things in the right place with a knife (or knife-like weapon). That's his schtick. It pretty much always has been.
Actually, a 3e rogue could fit all manner of concepts. 1st and 2nd editions locked them into a straitjacket of highly situational value, 3e freed them from it, and apparently 4e wants them mechanically potent, but conceptually back in the jacket. Seems lame that thieves have to settle for one "schtick" while other classes have a multitude of options.

So you want all Rogues (Thief and old style) to get a damage bonus with sneaky weapons as a class feature, and the "extra something" attached to LBE to be changed to something more flavorful?
Personally, I'd say sneak attack should work with any weapon you're proficient with, but you only get the fullest benefit out of using sneaky weapons. This could easily be worked into a stance, for instance.

Don't see what the problem that presents. Consider the trade-off other classes make choosing between sword-and-board or two-handed weapon styles of play. They can control the ratio of offense and defense. What I'd prefer for the rogue is for player to be able to have the ability to ratchet up or down their dependence on combat advantage.
 

MrMyth

First Post
Don't see what the problem that presents. Consider the trade-off other classes make choosing between sword-and-board or two-handed weapon styles of play. They can control the ratio of offense and defense. What I'd prefer for the rogue is for player to be able to have the ability to ratchet up or down their dependence on combat advantage.

I can definitely sympathize with that view - one of my main characters in 3rd Edition, for just those reasons, was a Rogue who ran around using a Greatsword.

I've actually played around a little with that sort of build in 4E, and find one approach is to use a hybrid or multiclass character. Basically, you either dual-wield a heavy weapon (Mordenkrad) in one hand, and a light weapon (dagger) in the offhand, or you just carry an array of weapons and have quick-draw, and go ahead and use whatever weapon is best for the current situation.

I can definitely see how the rogue weapon restrictions can cramp some innovative concepts. At the same time... I think removing those restrictions, given the high damage dice of Sneak Attack, does open up the potential for abuse. They have tried to add some feats and options that allow people to use some extra reasonable weapons as rogues (staffs, longswords, warhammer, etc), or even potentially bigger ones with downsides (one handed hammers, like the Mordenkrad, at the cost of 1 die of sneak attack).

But opening up access to any 2 handed weapons or superior options... well, that's the trick. The numbers might not be unreasonable with a Falchion, but might be a problem with a Fullblade. How do you make it work with one but not the other? Simply reflavoring is one approach, and not a bad choice.

Alternatively, ask your DM if you can have an alternate rogue build, who gains proficiency with all martial weapons, and can use them with his rogue powers and sneak attack - but sneak attack does one less die of damage. I imagine that comes up relatively close to balance - enough to work as a house rule, certainly, where the DM can keep watch for any abuse.
 

Felon

First Post
But opening up access to any 2 handed weapons or superior options... well, that's the trick. The numbers might not be unreasonable with a Falchion, but might be a problem with a Fullblade. How do you make it work with one but not the other?
Let me put it likes this: why would any of this be a potential problem for the rogue, but not for the slayer? The latter class gets a non-conditional, unlimited usage +1 to hit and Dex bonus to damage on all of his attacks. His stances give him access to bigger damages than thse stances afforded the thief.

So, let's say for the sake of simplicity that using a non-sneaky weapon like a fullblade loses a die of sneak attack. At the heroic tier, he's getting an extra 1d6 3.5 points points of damage. The slayer easily makes up almost all of that with his Dex bonus, and as a consolation prize for the remainder, he's got superior AC and HP.
 

Drakhar

First Post
Let me put it likes this: why would any of this be a potential problem for the rogue, but not for the slayer? The latter class gets a non-conditional, unlimited usage +1 to hit and Dex bonus to damage on all of his attacks. His stances give him access to bigger damages than thse stances afforded the thief.

So, let's say for the sake of simplicity that using a non-sneaky weapon like a fullblade loses a die of sneak attack. At the heroic tier, he's getting an extra 1d6 3.5 points points of damage. The slayer easily makes up almost all of that with his Dex bonus, and as a consolation prize for the remainder, he's got superior AC and HP.

And Thieves get +2 to damage with rogue weapons on top of being able to use their full dex bonus for damage at level 1, and at level 2 get the +1 to hit with rogue weapons. Their bonus finesse damage also increases as they level, to a total of +5 at epic, which is likely to be a bit more or equal to half their dex mod. Then you add in bonuses from your tricks, light blade expertise and 5d8 from their sneak attack, because why wouldn't you take backstabber, and it's quite easy to out damage the slayer.
 

Felon

First Post
And Thieves get +2 to damage with rogue weapons on top of being able to use their full dex bonus for damage at level 1, and at level 2 get the +1 to hit with rogue weapons. Their bonus finesse damage also increases as they level, to a total of +5 at epic, which is likely to be a bit more or equal to half their dex mod.
You seem to be unaware that the slayer's damage bonus with all weapon attacks ramps up at a similar pace as the rogue, topping out at 8+Dex mod--or at least, you don't account for it. Advantage=Slayer

Likewise, the rogue's +1 to hit with certain weapons is trumped by the slayer's +1 to hit with all weapons. Advantage=Slayer

Then you add in bonuses from your tricks, light blade expertise and 5d8 from their sneak attack, because why wouldn't you take backstabber, and it's quite easy to out damage the slayer.
As stated before, the slayer's stances tend to be more generous than the thief's in regards to attack and damage bonuses. The thief can get +2 damage under certain conditions, while the slayer can get a conditional +4, and has a completely unconditional +2 damage stance to fall back on. Advantage=Slayer

You bring up feats like backstabber and light blade expertise. Slayers get feats too. Once again, you shouldn't emphasize what the thief gets while overlooking what the slayer has access to.

So at the end of the day, the thief is counting on sneak attack to catch up to and (hopefully) overcome the slayer's lead granted by superlative two-handed weapon and larger static bonuses. And while that might happen at 21st level when sneak gets an abrupt 2d jump, that's cold comfort to someone starting at 1st.

And while the rogue is depending CA to get his sneak attack once per round, the fighter always gets his bonsues with every attack, including any freebie attacks from oppies, feats, items, powers, and his leader buddies.

"Quite easy?" Not quite. :)

Having said all that, realize that is all incidental to my point that encentivizing a player with bonuses when using sneaky weapons is a far better mechanic than hard-coding their abilities to function solely with a specific weapon group.
 
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Drakhar

First Post
You seem to be unaware that the slayer's damage bonus with all weapon attacks ramps up at a similar pace as the rogue, topping out at 8+Dex mod--or at least, you don't account for it. Advantage=Slayer

Likewise, the rogue's +1 to hit with certain weapons is trumped by the slayer's +1 to hit with all weapons. Advantage=Slayer

8+Dex mod does not trump 5d6+5, let alone 5d8+5. Assuming a huge focus on Dex, which is a secondary stat for Slayers, you're still getting only about +16 to the attack, and concidering the fact that Thieves get brutal sneak attack damage, the minimum extra a thief will get is +15. And the Thief doesn't need +1 to all weapons because they only need to use Thief weapon types.

Felon said:
As stated before, the slayer's stances tend to be more generous than the thief's in regards to attack and damage bonuses. The thief can get +2 damage under certain conditions, while the slayer can get a conditional +4, and has a completely unconditional +2 damage stance to fall back on. Advantage=Slayer

Thieves get +6 to damage rolls with Acrobat's trick, unconditional. Also note that the Thief's tricks are about being mobile not additional damage. So again, Slayer doesn't trump Thief.

Felon said:
You bring up feats like backstabber and light blade expertise. Slayers get feats too. Once again, you're emphasizing what the thief gets and overlooking what the slayer has access to.

Alright, a Slayer is likely going to take either Heavy Blade, or Axe expertise, giving them a +2 bonus to Defenses against OA's, or the ability to Reroll one damage die that Results in a 1 but must use the second result. But then if a Slayer wants to use an Executioners axe, Axe Expertise has no benefit for them, so most likely a Slayer will wind up taking Master of Arms. You bring up Slayer's having higher AC then Thieves, which sadly is also unlikely. A rogue uses Dexterity as their main stat, which benefits them greatly to have high, and so assuming both classes take the ideal armors for them, will either have a Slayer in Scale and Thief in leather for no feat cost, or a Slayer in Plate and Thief in Hide for one feat. So a slayer is going to have either a +13/14 from their armor, while a thief will have +14/15. Even more to the point, a Thief uses one handed weapons, allowing them to have a parrying dagger in their off hand and benefit from Two Weapon Fighting and Two Weapon Defense, increasing their AC and damage even further. Now a fighter is able to take Power Attack to increase their damage, but at the cost of accuracy, which tilts things even more in favor of the the thief.

Felon said:
So at the end of the day, the thief is counting on sneak attack to catch up to and, hopefully, overcome the slayer's lead granted by superlative two-handed weapon and larger static bonuses. And while that might happen at 21st level when sneak gets an abrupt 2d jump, that's cold comfort to someone starting at 1st.

"Quite easy?" Not quite. :)

Having said all that, the point that really got missed was that giving the rogue bonuses when using sneaky weapons is a far better mechanic than locking them down to a specific weapon group.

Yes, a Slayer may do more damage at level 1 due to using a larger damage die weapon, but frankly? Not by much. A rogue will be doing a minimum of 4 damage extra at level 1 with finesse and sneak attack, where as a Slayer would need 18 dex to do as much extra damage, which for a secondary stat is expensive so more then likely the Slayer will be doing 2-3 extra damage, which balances the difference between weapon die imho especially seeing as the rogue is capable of doing a total of 14 extra damage nearly as much as the epic Slayers bonus damage. So yes, a thief is quite easily able to out damage the slayer, as well as being highly mobile and of more use out of combat thanks to their skills.
 

BobTheNob

First Post
Regarding the theif only using light blades. If that irks you, then you have a right to be irked. Personally, I would take light blades anyway...its just such a good, well supported weapon group!

Regarding this Slayer > Theif debate. I gotta point out our groups rogue, which is a cunning sneak build. Mobility is key with that character and also to the theif, and to say the theif is less than the slayer because the slayer can average out more damage and has broader weapon groups is a very shallow argument.

Every class and build is a measure of the whole, and to focus on numeric comparisons of subcomponents wont get you anywhere. The way our sneak can weave through combat and hit the right target is phenominal. All the damage in the world would meaning nothing to him if he wasnt hitting in the right place at the right time.

(BTW, I found 3rd edition rogues with great weapons to be rediculous. Most of the time people didnt do it because thats the image of the character they wanted, they did it because it caused stupid damage. Yet they would still argue that this was their characters "theme" : good themes NEVER start with numbers)
 

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