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5E The Thug, A Subclass for Strength Rogues

clutchbone

Villager
Hey everybody. I wanted to play a fun and balanced rogue subclass that embodied the archetype of the burly goon rather than the agile thief... so I made one!

What do you think, does it work?

[sblock=Design Goals]Do:

  • Invoke an alternative roguish flavour to what is already offered.
  • Encourage strength over dexterity.
  • Make it fun to play.
  • Make it balanced. Err towards average effectiveness, rather than Mary Sue homebrew OP domination.
  • Make a rogue that can Sneak Attack with a blunt object. I miss my blackjack! This idea is actually what starting the whole thing.

Don't:

  • Overshadow or conflict with existing features from feats, subclasses, etc.
  • Make it feel like you're playing a fighter/swashbuckler/etc.
  • Make it broken.
[/sblock]DX_UnearthedArcana_Article_Thumbnail.jpg
Thug
Bandits, gangsters, enforcers, and other criminals typically follow this archetype, but so do bodyguards, bounty hunters, secret police, and spies.

Bonus Proficiency
When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with medium armor.

Dirty Work
Starting at 3rd level, you have advantage on Strength (Athletics) checks made to grapple or shove creatures that are surprised.
In addition, you can use any weapon that doesn't have the two-handed or heavy property with your attack roll to use your Sneak Attack. All the other rules for the Sneak Attack class feature still apply to you.

Coercive Presence
At 9th level, you can use your menacing demeanor to browbeat others into submission. As an action, you can make a Charisma (Intimidation) check contested by an adjacent creature's Wisdom (Insight) check. The creature must be able to hear you, and the two of you must share a language. If you succeed on the check, the creature becomes frightened for 1 minute. This effect ends if you take damage, if you become incapacitated, frightened, or restrained, or if you and the target are more than 30 feet apart. While frightened, your allies have advantage on any ability check to interact socially with the creature. If the creature's Wisdom (Insight) check is successful or if the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to this feature for the next 24 hours.

Manhandler
By 13th level, you have become adept at leveraging your strength against your enemies. When you successfully grapple a creature using two free hands, you can drag or carry the grappled creature at full speed rather than half, and the grappled creature can’t speak and can’t cast spells that include a verbal component.
In addition, when you successfully shove a creature, you can knock the target prone and push it up to 10 feet away from you.

Cheap Shot
When you reach 17th level, you've honed your ability to strike when the opportunity presents itself. When you use your action to grapple or shove a creature, you can use your bonus action to make a weapon attack against that creature.

[sblock=3rd lvl Feature Notes] The medium armor is to make up for the lower AC that comes from a Strength build. I almost made it shields (thought they'd be easier to "learn", but thought better of it. Chain shirt fits the concept.)

With Dirty Work, I tried to set the Thug's theme, akin to how Assassinate, Master of Tactics, and Fancy Footwork/Rakish Audacity really dictate the playstyle and flavour of their respective subclasses. Thugs can manhandle you and club you upside the head. Pretty simple.
I started with "Bonus Action to shove/grapple" (comparable to Master of Tactics and the help action), but didn’t want to overshadow Shield Master/Grappler/Tavern Brawler, and worried that might be too powerful. Then I went with "When you have adv. on your melee attack roll, you can choose to make a shove/grapple check with adv. instead", which I still kinda like. You can't normally get adv. on grapples or shoves, and I thought the option to trade Sneak Attack for control would be an interesting tactical choice, but I went with the simpler surprise round limitation. I wasn't sure how to word it properly or balance it with 2-weapon fighting or extra attack from multiclassing.

For the weapons, at most it gives you +1 to your average damage over a rapier, if you versatile a longsword, so I think it's fine. FYI, versatile quarterstaff = baseball bat.[/sblock]
[sblock=9th lvl Feature Notes] This is a obviously a shameless bizarro version of the Swashbuckler's Panache, but it seemed like the best way to work in a buff to Intimidate for a party friendly racketeering feel. The effect might be a bit better than Panache, but it breaks more easily.[/sblock]
[sblock=13th lvl Feature Notes] Regular grapple requires one free hand. Makes sense that a super grapple would need two hands. [/sblock]
[sblock=17th lvl Feature Notes] Simple, easy to use improvement on action economy, and reinforces Dirty Work and Manhandler. Competes with Cunning Action, so choice between grapple+damage and grapple+battlefield control (grapple, then dash or disengage to move the enemy). [/sblock]
[sblock=Trash Bin] Exfiltration Expert
By 13th level, you have become adept in the art of abduction at leveraging your strength against your enemies. When you successfully grapple a creature, you can impose one of the following effects on that creature. The effect lasts until the grapple ends or until you impose a different effect, using your action to do so.
  • Snatch & Grab: When you move, you can drag or carry the grappled creature at full speed rather than half.
  • Gag:The grappled creature can’t speak and can’t cast spells that include a verbal component.
  • Blindfold: The grappled creature is blinded.

Fighting Style

When you reach 17th level, your unorthodox fighting skills rival those with more formal training. Choose a fighting style from the list of optional features. You can't take the same Fighting Style option more than once, even if you get to choose again.

  • Close Quarters Shooter: You are trained in making ranged attacks at close quarters. When making a ranged attack while you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature, you do not have disadvantage on the attack roll. Your ranged attacks ignore half cover and three-quarters cover against targets within 30 feet of you. Finally, you have a +1 bonus to attack rolls on ranged attacks.
  • Defense: While you are wearing armor, you gain a +1 bonus to AC.
  • Dueling: When you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other Weapons, you gain a +2 bonus to Damage Rolls with that weapon.
  • Two-Weapon Fighting: When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second Attack.
[/sblock]


So, any thoughts? Does it look good, dumb, redundant, boring? Is there a better way of wording anything? Would you ever play as a Thug?

Any and all feedback would be much appreciated.
 
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Imaculata

Explorer
Gag: The grappled creature can’t speak and can’t cast spells that include a verbal component.
Blindfold: The grappled creature is blinded.
It would seem to me that these are things that any class can declare to do. It doesn't sound like an actual class feature or ability.

Can't a wizard simply say: "I gag the captured bandit"? So how is that a class feature?

So far I'm not seeing anything really unique about this subclass. You mention that the Thug could be both a criminal and a none-criminal character (bodyguards, bounty hunters, secret police, and spies), but I don't see anything in the abilities that fit a good character at all. And is a bodyguard really a thug? Is a spy a thug, or a bounty hunter? I don't see it.

More importantly, I don't see how a character specialized in abduction would even function in an adventuring party.
 
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BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
First Impressions:

It looks fun.
multiclassing with barbarian looks even more fun.
Fighting style is an uninspiring subclass capstone.

I'm a fan overall.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
It would seem to me that these are things that any class can declare to do. It doesn't sound like an actual class feature or ability.
Sure any character can do it, but can they do it in the same action as a Grapple? I wouldn't rule so unless they had an ability or feat that allowed it.
 

Imaculata

Explorer
Sure any character can do it, but can they do it in the same action as a Grapple? I wouldn't rule so unless they had an ability or feat that allowed it.
Well then they do it as their next action. But does that really warrant a separate ability/feat? It just sounds like more of a roleplaying action rather than something that needs its own ability/feat.

Personally I would allow my players to declare what they are trying to achieve during a grapple. Are they simply holding their adversary in place, or trying to gag him, or blindfold him? Couldn't you try to attempt to pull your cloak over the head of the enemy that you are grappling as part of the grapple? Frankly, I would allow it, but it may require an extra check.
 

OB1

Registered User
Overall I like it!

I would consider allowing Dirty Work to expand to any STR based weapon. It would average another 3-4 points per combat which seems a reasonable bump.

As for the level 17 capstone, how about the ability to change Sneak Attack damage to a 1 round stun. Make a Con saving through with the DC being the 1/2 of the damage from the sneak attack or 10 (whichever is higher).
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
Well then they do it as their next action. But does that really warrant a separate ability/feat? It just sounds like more of a roleplaying action rather than something that needs its own ability/feat.

Personally I would allow my players to declare what they are trying to achieve during a grapple. Are they simply holding their adversary in place, or trying to gag him, or blindfold him? Couldn't you try to attempt to pull your cloak over the head of the enemy that you are grappling as part of the grapple? Frankly, I would allow it, but it may require an extra check.
Can a player attempt to blindfold and grapple at the same time? Sure, but I guess they could also, attempt to Stun and Grapple at the same time, or Paralyze and grapple at the same time, or Prone and Grapple at the same time (which is explicitly requires extra attack to do in the same action).

On the next action certainly, but things that allow extra conditions on the grapple itself in the same action I would definitely have in a feat or ability. Like advantage against grappled foes, is part of the grappled feat, Advantage on the grapple check(all athletics checks really) itself is part of the Rage ability etc.

I think those things set precedent. I try and use those precedents in my rulings.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
I think 'blindfold' and 'gag' create the impression the Thug is actually tying something to the victim, which I don't think is what you're getting at?

Maybe a 'kosh' or 'sap' sort of attack that KOs a same-size-or-smaller humanoid victim, working something like the Assassin's ability might be appropriate?
 

Kobold Stew

Adventurer
This is exactly the sort of build the Rogue needs. Well done.

I like it a lot, and I like the idea of luring rogues away from Dexterity as prime stat.

Specific thoughts:

Bonus Prof: fine. This will, I think be the only class/subclass with med armour and not shields then?

Dirty work: I'd reword the second ability, to allow any simple weapon. That will lead to a greater range of builds, and put some weapons into play that might otherwise not get used. Otherwise excellent.

Extortionist: Good, but maybe too powerful against huge opponents. I see this making sense when staring down an enemy wizard or an Ogre, but not a Red Dragon. perhaps put a size limit (Large or smaller?). I guess if the effect ends as soon as it gets outside of 30' of me, at most it's buying a round, except in locked rooms.

Exfiltration. Not something I'd work for but cool ideas.

Fighting style: too little too late. As it is, rouges often multiclass into Fighter for a level to get a fighting style; this does nothing to change that. Arguably, a fighting style would be an appropriate thing to give instead of medium amor proficiency (and allowing them to take defensive). Really, the fighting style that fits this class best is the one given the the Mariner in the Waterborne adventures UA -- but that might be too powerful here.
 

Ilbranteloth

Villager
My version is a fighter, but I'll be taking a closer look at yours too. Here's mine in case you're interested:

Thug
A thug is typically a self-trained brute that doesn't waste their time with tricks and such. Hit first, and hit hard. Honorable fighting doesn't keep you alive on the street or in the underworld. Winning does.

Cheap Shot
Beginning at 3rd level, you are always looking for an opportunity to exploit. You have advantage on an melee attack roll against a creature if at least one of your allies is within 5 feet of the creature and the ally isn't incapacitated. Due to your focus on your target when using this ability, all other hostile creatures have advantage on attacks against you until the start of your next turn.

Sucker Punch
If you score a critical hit with a melee attack, you can make an immediate unarmed strike with advantage as a reaction. The damage from the unarmed strike is added to the DC when the target makes a saving throw against your critical hit.

Violent Coercion
Starting at 7th level, you are an imposing figure that can inspire fear in others. You add your Strength modifier to your Intimidation checks. As an action, you can attempt to intimidate any target within 30 feet that you can see that has taken damage from you. The target must make a Wisdom saving throw or be frightened. The target may make another saving throw at the end of each turn to end the condition. If the target succeeds on the saving throw, they cannot be affected by your ability for 24 hours.

Dirty Fighter
Starting at 10th level, your save DC for the following special maneuvers is 10 + your attack modifier: blind, choke/garrote, groin, head/sap, lasso, trip, and any other "dirty trick" you do not have disadvantage on your attack roll when you attempt to use these maneuvers.

Kick Them When They're Down
At 15th level, you're prepared to take advantage of any weakness. Whenever a creature within 5' of you that you can see is knocked prone or is incapacitated, you can use your reaction to make one weapon attack against the prone target.

Imposing Brute
Starting at 18th level, creatures have disadvantage when attempting to save against your Violent Coercion.
 
I would consider allowing Dirty Work to expand to any STR based weapon. It would average another 3-4 points per combat which seems a reasonable bump.
Please, by all deities, archdevils and demon lords, I NEVER want to see a greatsword sneak attack again!
 

Xeviat

Explorer
Please, by all deities, archdevils and demon lords, I NEVER want to see a greatsword sneak attack again!
Why? It deals less expected damage than a TWFing shortsword rogue, what with the greater chance to hit once. Or is it just an image thing for you?

As for the OP, I like everything except Fighting Style at 17. Fighting style is worth half a feat at best, so it's not a full level's worth. I'd give them something like a save or stun against surprised foes.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Kobold Stew

Adventurer
A possibility for level 17: the opportunity to make a Sneak Attack every time you take the Attack action and are using an appropriate weapon.
 

Kobold Stew

Adventurer
Another thought for level 3:

earlier I suggested you can make a Sneak Attack while wielding any simple weapon or a weapon with the finesse ability. Maybe add "unarmed strikes". It won't be used often, but it gives a cool image, for a pit-fighter (say), who then doesn't have to be a monk.
 

Valmarius

Villager
I like it overall, but would change the Wisdom (insight) check to resist the lvl 9 ability to a Charisma save. Possibly set the DC as 8+Str mod+proficiency, so that it's essentially a strength based Intimidation check, but doesn't rely on you having Intimidation proficiency.

It just struck me as odd to use insight as the resistance, as if the character's intimidation was a bluff the target might see through.
 

clutchbone

Villager
It would seem to me that these are things that any class can declare to do. It doesn't sound like an actual class feature or ability.

Can't a wizard simply say: "I gag the captured bandit"? So how is that a class feature?

So far I'm not seeing anything really unique about this subclass. You mention that the Thug could be both a criminal and a none-criminal character (bodyguards, bounty hunters, secret police, and spies), but I don't see anything in the abilities that fit a good character at all. And is a bodyguard really a thug? Is a spy a thug, or a bounty hunter? I don't see it.

More importantly, I don't see how a character specialized in abduction would even function in an adventuring party.
Thanks for taking the time to look this over. You have some interesting viewpoints, which I'll try to address.

Yes, a wizard could gag a bandit that is already captured, but only a Thug can do this as part of a grapple action, to better capture that bandit in the first place without him yelling for help. This is Exploration Pillar stuff, to build on the Rogue's traditional roll as a scout. Sneak ahead, nab a sentry, and bring him back for interrogation (aided by your intimidation buff).

As for "good characters" I see the Thug as occupying more or less the same moral ground as the Assassin, so there's official precedent. I mean, a bounty hunter's whole profession is abducting people... "Wanted: Dead or Alive"? Secret police make people disappear, spies (think less James Bond, more Jack Bauer) exfiltrate hostile targets for extraordinary rendition, etc.

I think the grapple buff feature is pretty applicable to the adventuring life. There's the aforementioned sentry nabbing, battlefield control (grab a dude and throw him into your spellcaster's AoE spell), enemy spellcaster lockdown (there are only 9 spells in the PHB without a verbal component), and so on.

I think 'blindfold' and 'gag' create the impression the Thug is actually tying something to the victim, which I don't think is what you're getting at?
Yeah, labeling the effects with noun words like "gag" and "blindfold" is probably confusing, so I should change that.
 
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clutchbone

Villager
Well then they do it as their next action. But does that really warrant a separate ability/feat? It just sounds like more of a roleplaying action rather than something that needs its own ability/feat.

Personally I would allow my players to declare what they are trying to achieve during a grapple. Are they simply holding their adversary in place, or trying to gag him, or blindfold him? Couldn't you try to attempt to pull your cloak over the head of the enemy that you are grappling as part of the grapple? Frankly, I would allow it, but it may require an extra check.
The idea was improved action economy, doing two things at once. Next turn you can attack instead of making an extra check.
 

clutchbone

Villager
Overall I like it!
This is exactly the sort of build the Rogue needs. Well done.

I like it a lot, and I like the idea of luring rogues away from Dexterity as prime stat.
First Impressions:

It looks fun.
multiclassing with barbarian looks even more fun.
Fighting style is an uninspiring subclass capstone.

I'm a fan overall.
Thanks guys!

Yeah, I'm not happy with the fighting styles either. There are some good ideas here though to look through. I felt Medium armor was needed to compensate for lower dex, but medium armor & shields would be overcompensating.
 

clutchbone

Villager
Violent Coercion
Starting at 7th level, you are an imposing figure that can inspire fear in others. You add your Strength modifier to your Intimidation checks. As an action, you can attempt to intimidate any target within 30 feet that you can see that has taken damage from you. The target must make a Wisdom saving throw or be frightened. The target may make another saving throw at the end of each turn to end the condition. If the target succeeds on the saving throw, they cannot be affected by your ability for 24 hours.

Kick Them When They're Down
At 15th level, you're prepared to take advantage of any weakness. Whenever a creature within 5' of you that you can see is knocked prone or is incapacitated, you can use your reaction to make one weapon attack against the prone target.
True story, I first had Extortionist named as Coercion, but it didn't feel like "enough" of a name. Violent Coercion sounds great, meshes well with the Strength bonus.

I really like Kick Them When They're Down, would you mind if I used it as my 17th level feature? It trades offense for defense (Uncanny Dodge), which is a neat tactical choice. I'd probably rename it Cheap Shot for brevity. You can use your Reaction on your own turn as well.

Rules question: Fighter with Shield Master attacks (action) and prones (bonus action) a target. He could use his reaction then, but chooses not to. Ends his turn. Next creature/player's turn, could the fighter then use his reaction to Kick Them When They're Down? I'd probably clear up the timing by adding something similar to "when a creature that you can see starts it's turn prone or incapacitated within 5 feet of you".
 

clutchbone

Villager
I like it overall, but would change the Wisdom (insight) check to resist the lvl 9 ability to a Charisma save. Possibly set the DC as 8+Str mod+proficiency, so that it's essentially a strength based Intimidation check, but doesn't rely on you having Intimidation proficiency.

It just struck me as odd to use insight as the resistance, as if the character's intimidation was a bluff the target might see through.
Actually, that was what I was thinking of! :) Like you roar and beat your chest, but if they see you get hurt or knocked out they won't be afraid anymore.

Rogues are skill monkeys and I was hoping to add utility to the Thug's intimidation skill, like the swashbuckler does for persuasion with Panache, and the mastermind does for deception with Soul of Deceit. Both of those are contested by Insight, so I was following the trend.
 

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