How do you rogue, Veeky Forums? For an upcoming game, I find myself drawn to Xanathar's swashbuckler rogue, but I don't want to play a street urchin or Errol Flynn and I'm drawing a blank.
How do you rogue, Veeky Forums? For an upcoming game, I find myself drawn to Xanathar's...
Neutral evil bounty hunter.
If you are playing in 3.x cross-class into Ranger and take Favored Enemy (Human) or (Own Race). Go for the bow level path and snipe at things from the shadows like a real pro.
If you level into Ranger enough to get a companion get a bird of prey, owls are great if your DM allows it. They give perfect darkvision, great hearing checks, fly silently, the works.
Since both classes have a few shared class skills you will always be good at sneaking. Between the two you can get Use Magic Device, Craft (Poison), Track, most of the 'athletic' skills and the litany of skills like forgery that Rogues get. The synergy is very strong and you will have a variety of options available for dealing with targets.
You can be useful with that general concept in basically any campaign. In a combat focused setting you can be the damage spike and take down threatening foes. In a social setting you can be a cold private investigator who will do anything to get his mark - lie, forge documents, impersonate higher authorities, you name it.
Scummy and dishonest
to people who aren't part of the group.
You're a merchant from notVenice, use your charm to get the best deals and stab people in the back when they stop being useful to you.
I was talking more about the character than the mechanics. We're starting 3rd level, 5e. The numbers are all on the page, complete, but I can't figure out how to make the character interesting outside of combat.
Tell me about your favorite rogues, Veeky Forums. Ones you've played, ones others have played, whatever.
Multiclass into the Bard College of Blades and be a former circus performer, maybe with a side gimmick like being a bearded lady or sword swallower.
have a profession of some kind. Swashbuckling may be something natural, but maybe your character is a barber-surgeon who's saving money to own their own shop.
Plus, it gives you an excuse to get close to people's wallets and throats with their guards down
Professional Duelist (Second for Hire), fourth son of a minor noble so basically no inheritance coming, spent your adolescence killing kids just like you to settle other peoples scores, no personal sense of honor so you have fleeced every employer in the city and are looking for a group to travel with till you find a new sponsor to rob blind
Highly skilled, overly confident, and living decadently.
Well then read the rest of the post where I specify the social roles you can take on as a bounty hunter. I have not played 5e but assuming rogues are not substantially different you will have lots of options.
you may occasionally benefit from the legal status of being a bounty hunter tracking their target
try to low key scam people out of petty amounts of gold as a "law enforcer"
if your DM is willing to work with you have side bits of plot tracking your targets, who may or may not intersect with main quest stuff
use your superior investigative skills to be useful outside of combat, if not acting as the party face then working as its heel doing the "dirty work" like following up on leads from the big bad
The last one that I played was more or less the one in my original post.
be the shit son of a shit nobleman
fancy yourself a swordsman, father pays for trainers from across the land
also be a thieving little shit that gets backhanded by their father instead of dancing on the hangmans noose
eventually the peasantry rises against your family and burns their hall with everyone inside
except you, surviving only because you had come back after dark from a hunt
set out against the world with nothing but the smoking ruin of your ancestral home, a signet ring and the heirloom sword that survived the fire
live a cold and hollow life, hunting men for sport without even enjoying it
spend all you make from that living in taverns, drinking yourself to sleep and occasionally beating whores with your signet ring
It was a fun character. You can be evil without being 'i stab the king!' and have a dark character without it being anything personnel. I played him as believing himself to be in the good graces of St Cuthbert (Lawful Neutral diety, evil opposed) because he hunted for criminals and thought nothing more of it.
Eventually succumbed to vamparism and retired as a player character.
Great internal logic. Simply great. So setting specific. Almost like it was setting specific. It is setting specific. What setting, specifically?
Tell me about your favorite rogues, Veeky Forums. Ones you've played, ones others have played, whatever.
The most fun I've had as a Rogue was one where I basically just stopped and asked myself "What would Arya Stark be like as an adult?"
By far one of the most enjoyable characters I've played. My favorite thing to do was lie to peasants that I was a Paladin and I was there to collect their tithe to the church. This was made all the more fun by my buddy, who played a low Wis character and IC also believed I was a Paladin.
Rogues can make good ambush fighters within a military group. I had a wood elf who used hit and run tactics as part of a strike team against intruders in their home forest. basically a ranger without the implicit nature themes
Sorry Im going off topic but how do you guys manage to significantly differentiate your rogues from other classes thematically speaking?, I think they sometimes overlap too much with a lot of them to the point you I feel you could reduce them to a especially nimble fighter type. Rangers and their traps, bards and their chutzpah and skills, monks and their fighting techniques, you get my idea.
I think that's part of the problem I'm having as well. Looking at the class abilities, the best answer I can find is that they're particularly good at getting OUT of trouble, where a fighter does their best to get IN trouble.
You can always go with the classic Lawful Neutral "Sword for the highest bidder, but driven by a strong personal code and set of morals."
Alternatively, there's The Count of Monte Cristo style "Disgraced noble whose only purpose in life is to completely destroy the lives of those who wronged him."
I try to be original without being too contrarian and distance myself from the class = in-game profession thing, so I always wanted to try my hand at playing a LN or LG rogue. Basically rather than being a thief or thug (as the class name "rogue" implies) he'd instead be something of a thieftaker or other such official. Rather than trying to enforce the law from above, he'd enforce it on a street level. He'd be the guy who'd sniff out illegal deals and gang activity, and the kind of guy who knows that arresting any criminal willy-nilly won't do. Sometimes you need to use a small fish as bait to catch a big fish, if you catch my drift.
That's part of the overall problem with classes in D&D. "Rogue" isn't a job, it's a lifestyle. The Paladin is both. The Ranger is a job with an implicit but non-essential personality. The Barbarian can be both or neither depending on his actual culture.
It's just kind of a mess. A good GM should start the game by outlining the roles the classes actually fill in society.
Specifically, I use classes to depict the role and general abilities of the character more than its literal profession, for example a Monk is someone who perfects his body through discipline but they are not necessarily members of a monastery, so what I'm trying to do is finding a similar identity for the rogue.
A rogue at its barest components is just a smarter, faster fighter.
Any role a Fighter can hold, so can a Rogue. Except I guess a knight since there's a certain public image to that which Rogues mechanically can't really do.
Halfling thieves in the older versions were deadly. They had better hide skills than a thief until level 18 and were of course deadly ambushers. Catching people flat footed doing double damage. Flat footed being nothing more than descriptive here.
Smarter, faster, weaker, smaller, softer.
Remember a rogue isn't always a criminal.
I recently made a rogue I wasn't too happy with, the usual criminal type of shit. But then I came up with a dungeon delver, a type of guy who is highly specialized in delving into tombs and dungeons to find treasure. Could be for a museum or maybe a personal collection. Who just happend to develop a rogues toolset. My stat priority was: Dex since that is the main skill of any rogue, Int for history and arcana, charisma because i like social roleplay and just put the rest of your stats into whatever floats your boat. Pick the variant human (if your GM allows it) and get the Observant feat that way you get a +5 to passive wisdom and investigation. You can still be useful out of tombs, with an easily optainable 20-22 passive perception. You can choose theif or arcane trickster for flavor. But build however you like.
A better question would he how don't I rogue. It's an archetype that has a ton of versatility, especially if you're not confining yourself to petty things like classes.
Two Graves was a killer. Everyone knew that. He'd been an Imperial scout for almost a decade and while most scouts avoided anything heavier than a skirmish, Two Graves fought in every engagement he was close to.
When his Imperial service ended he returned to the capital and began to settle some debts. He acquired the name Two Graves when one of his targets boasted that he'd be the one to kill him and Two Graves remarked "I dug two graves" before his hatchet tore through the man's throat.
He eventually linked up with a group of adventurers who needed a trained scout for their excursion into the wilderness to find out whether the rumors about a new orc horde were true.
Rogue with some Ranger dip.
I always planned a 'planner thief' oceans 11 style. This is mostly roleplay and less mechanics, but your GM will appriciate having some one like you in the party.
Here's how you do it;
When your party is going on a raid, stealing something, or otherwise intending to start trouble, come up with something relatively clever for how to get in and get out. Feel free to spend some time 'information gathering' the GM will enjoy that bit, though the other PC's may be bored.
Come up with an actual plan for entering, performing the job, and egress. It doesn't need to be super-clever, or so clever its stupid, but it should be logical, and provide you with the greatest chance for success.
Decide what equipment you'll need to accomplish this exact mission.
Buy unique equipment for the mission, and don't tell the GM what it's for if you don't need to. Things like 'potion of feather fall' 'scroll of open door' 'scroll of temporary invisibility'. Things like that. Don't go whole hog and buy everything (not that you'd have the money for it) but actually buy only the things you need for the plan.
Your characters a little paranoid, so most of what he tells the other PC's will be need-to-know. He'll tell them his plan to get every one in, but not his plan to get every one out until they need to know. Or he'll divy up information between PC's so no individual knows the whole plan. Normal security stuff (not being-an-asshole).
Plan goes into action, by this point, the GM is curious what you're going to do, and the other PC's should be psyched, especially if you've all pulled one of these off once or twice before.
In the course of the mission, if a problem comes up, you've purchased just the item you need for the situation, or you don't have a good item and need to improvise. Both are good options and keep every one on their toes.
Head back to bar, and drink to your success, or failure.
The best situation I ever did this in, me and another PC were attempting to steal an item from a guarded storage facility in a city where about half of the buildings are floating. (Pathfinder). I purchased a few items 'heavy crossbow, lock pick, rope, two scrolls of feather fall) pretty mundane stuff, but never told the GM what it was all for.
So we're all set up, and thats when the GM watches as I start off with the first part of the plan; Me and the other guy use feather fall to jump onto the roof of the building below.
Since everything else is heavy, I leave the crossbow and rope on the roof as we sneak inside. We do this during a shift-change (because of those gather-information checks) and make it down to the vault without detection. A few open-lock skill checks later, and we are in, manage to secure the item.
That's when a few golems activate, and we hear the guards coming rushing towards us. I bolt up the stairs, and try to retain stealth, the other guy thinks this is a combat encounter (I tell him to come with me, but he refuses) and starts a fight.
I don't wait around to see what happens. So I tell him that I'll get the item out of here and he can distract them. So I run back to the roof while my companion provides a distraction. When he realizes he's outmatched (we were two low level guys, it was a CR 5 encounter), he decides to try and escape out the front door. He makes out the front door, and I tie the rope to a crossbow bolt, shoot it into one of the nearby floating buildings and swing to safety.
We both survive, but now the city guard know his face. Job mostly well done.
Im playing a kenku swashbuckler at the moment who was rescued off a dungeon floor in that one pirate city (I just woke up) after his entire mercenary band was wiped out. Jarlaxle rescued him on a whim but now the kenku sees Jarlaxle as his greatest hero, and strives to be a part of the Braegan'Daerthe. He's accepted as an alright spy and scout, because being able to repeat anything is pretty handy. As a joke I have him carry around a badge that names him as "An honorary drow and not a slave." So basically Im playing a guy trying to be jarlaxle who has no real concept of the things behind jarlaxles charm
This is how I'm rogueing in my current campaign.
My favorite rogue operated as a minor merchant or trader, he had a cart and a pair of donkeys that carried him and the party from town to town. Charlatan background, he could forge papers and smuggle goods into the city. Using the trader business as a cover, he traveled around the world gathering information and worked a second job as an assassin, since the trading gave him credible mobility and a reason to skip town fast. He mostly just wanted to open his own trading house.