Thoughts about Rogues in current playtest

First off, I will be the first to admit that when I saw how Wizards changed Rogues to using the Expertise system like Fighters I was fairly biased against it.  I'm not sure why, but something about it just rubbed me the wrong way.  After some time and actual playtesting however, I feel that it's probably a much more balanced system for Rogues than before and even gives them new abilities and actions to work with. 

However, my one big pet peeve with the Rogue revamp is Sneak Attack.  Previously at level 5 we had Sneak attack Damage of 6d6, now at level 10 we have up to 3d10, which is half the damage at twice the level.  Personally, I am in favor of using less die to achieve high numbers, so the conversion from d6s to growing expertise die is fine, and maybe Wizards felt Rogue Sneak Attack damage was too high before and fair enough it probably was.  But my single largest problem is the comparison to Fighters.  At level 10 Fighters have the same pool of expertise die as Rogues, and their core damage ability "Deadly Strike" can do the same amount of damage potential but under less conditions.  The condition to use Deadly Strike is hitting a creature, for Sneak Attack it is hitting a creature and either having advantage or attacking and hitting a creature in reach of a friendly, meaning Rogue's have to work harder to get only the same damage potential.  The next issue is Fighters at level 6 get to make an Extra Attack  which adds even more to their damage potential.  My big fear is the return of the 4E essentials "Slayer" Fighter which outpaced more complex Striker classes like Rogues by doing superior damage and having to do little to achieve that kind of damage output.

Should Rogues stay with the Expertise system I would suggest a much needed boost to Sneak Attack damage, perhaps a static modifier bonus every few levels of Rogue so that players can't just take one level of Rogue and 9 levels of fighter and get a superior damaging Sneak Attack.  A static modifier of +2 every couple of levels or a more significant bonus spread over every 4 or 5 levels, it would increase our damage output with Sneak Attack without adding more Die to roll and keeping the numbers easy to calculate. 
I have to first admit I have not yet played the rogue although the most recent iteration of the Rogue does rub me the wrong way. 

As someone who has just only read the rules, my impression of the Rogue is that it is a weaker fighter at worst, and a different fighter at best. There is nothing unique and different about the rogue compared to a fighter - unlike the Cleric Vs Wizard dichotomy. 

I had thought the previous playtest retain the class difference between the two, so much so that they feel different, and they work differently. Are rogue merely a different type of fighters now with this new package?

What are you thoughts on this?
Rogues are like baby fighters who do less damage because they are primarily a skill monkey and secondary fighter.

In other words rogues should not have expertise dice. It makes them way too similar to the fighter.
The rogue needs 100 percent different maneuvers than the fighter if it is to keep expertise dice
Someone on another board suggested that rogues should either have 1) faster expertise dice progression to signify that they are experts or an idea I like more, 2) rogues should get some kind of bonus to their expertise dice with Advantage. 

Whether everyone agrees it or not, Sneak Attack is a part of what makes my rogue feel like a rogue.  I disagree with the statement that its not a core part of their identity.  I want my rogue to have a viable sneak attack and I don't feel obligated to be a backstabbity assassin by having it.  Having said that, I would like a system that let sneak attack be worth more or less to different rogues.  Like say, every rogue gets sneak attack and then at new levels you can either improve sneak attack for the damage monkeys and new players, or take a new manuever for rogues like me who want to be the Neutral Good version of Littlefinger. 

For me, a floor of 2d6 feels right.  In the current system every rogue should get a Deadly Strike same as fighters.  Then if add a 1d6 for having advantage, you fix sneak attack right away.

Vampire Class/Feat in 2013!

I prefer Next because 4E players and CharOpers can't find their ass without a grid and a power called "Find Ass."

I believe the reason Wizards is attempting to integrate Expertise into Rogue is quite simply easier class balance and streamlined multiclassing.  They've already said in rule of three I believe that they want two class levels from similar but different classes to mesh and have a continued progression.  Thye example they used is if you multiclass Sorcerer/Wizard they would want the spell progression to continue as normal, not have two different spell lists.

That is the principle in effect here.  Keeping the Expertise die progression balanced means A fighter who takes a few levels of Rogue won't diminish his Expertise pool and vice versa.  If Rogues had a faster Expertise growth or started with higher or more die, whats to stop a Fighter from taking a level in rogue to give himself a larged headstart?  

I didn't like the idea of Rogues and Expertise at all at first, but after playing some I can say as a DM and as a player it offers more modularity and balance, and potential flexibility for multiclassing without powergaming while still keeping the Rogue better at skills but they just need to do better damage with Sneak Attack.
I believe the mistake here is that you're thinking in terms of 4e roles. The rogue isn't designed to be a "striker". He's designed to be a skill monkey. There's a reason the fighter gets damage as his free maneuver and the rogue gets skills. Looking purely at combat roles is ignoring the intended purpose of the rogue.

That said, D&D is a game primarily about combat, and the rogue's comparative weakness in combat isn't exactly something to smile about. Perhaps sneak attack does need a buff - adding the Dex modifier for each die spent seems like a good way to go about it, to me.
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It's terrible, and needs options to be an effective combatant and play out the classic assassin archetype if desired; enough said.


 community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...
I dont like rogues using the same system as fighters it makes them feel too much like the same class.
then tack on that rogues sneak attack is more restrictive they get fewer manuvers at a slower progresion rate have a lower attack bonus dont get the extra attack at 6 all to be a little better at a couple skills when the fighter could gist spend 2 feats to get those same skill bonuses.

yeah the rogue is a skill monkey but he doesnt do skills well enough to play him over a fighter who focused on skill feats.
I dont necessarily have a problem with expertise dice as I see them as martial characters version of spells.  That said I do think that sneak attack needs some serious work.  

Honestly I think rogues should do their expertise dice in damage automatically when they have advantage.  In the event they don't have advantage that's when they use their dice for it.

Rogues may be less capable than fighters in a straight up fight.  But if they approach combat in the right manner they should be feared.  Regardless of whether or not they are a skill monkey they need to have battlefield viability. 
The rogue needs 100 percent different maneuvers than the fighter if it is to keep expertise dice


I agree here.
The mechanic and the idea to have the rogue take advantage of it is sound. The implementation needs work though. 
I love the reduction in damage AN d limiting the circumstances in which sneak attack will apply.  However, I would like to see some even more limited circumstances (surprise round seems most obvious) where sneak attack is better than Deadly Strike either by adding one extra expertise die to damage or maximising the expertise dice.
I always perceived rogues to be tactical, making one attack worth many. I don't feel like that has been taken away from the character at the moment. I do agree that they need different, more stylized maneuvers, aside from sneak attack and skill buffs.

I really dislike the new rogue. Sharing the same mechanics as the fighter is not a good idea, rogues need their own game mechanic.

Why rogues game mechanics can't have a rogue feel? I mean, rogues are all about trickery, so why can't wotc translate that into game mechanics?

Think about bets, hidden dice or even the possibility of stealing a die from a creature...
Our rogue did not enjoy the changes in the most recent playtest and felt like a crappy version of the fighter.  On top of that the pregen rogue seems to have a poor selection of skills from what you might expect from the classic rogue, and having Disable Device but not Search is downright silly.

For the Sneak Attack maneuver, I think it needs a boost.  Maybe by default it works like Deadly Strike, but if the rogue fulfills the additional requirements (has advantage, or an ally is within reach), then if should be more effective, like increase the number and/or size of the expertise dice.  For example 1d4 -> 2d6, or 1d8 -> 2d10.
I love the reduction in damage AN d limiting the circumstances in which sneak attack will apply.  However, I would like to see some even more limited circumstances (surprise round seems most obvious) where sneak attack is better than Deadly Strike either by adding one extra expertise die to damage or maximising the expertise dice.


Agreed. Sorta. I was recently considering what the downside would be of matching the fighter's leveling chart more closely.

So the rogue would likewise get maneuvers at levels 1, 2, 4, 8, and 10. At level 6, in place of the fighter's extra attack, the rogue instead get's something like Backstab. The effect might be to double the total of your Sneak Attack damage dice roll if you strike with advantage.

Obviously that's just an initial idea off the cuff. It could use some serious consideration and number crunching.

At the end of the day, the rogue gets an extra maneuver along the way and a serious spleen-poke if they manage to get the drop on someone.
One other possibility is limiting deadly strike to the highest roll rather than the total, giving fighters breadth, limiting the need to boost monster hit points, and preventing deadly strike from being the default choice.  At the moment, it's the other way round - every thief will want a level of fighter in order to ignore sneak attack in favour of free deadly strike (multiclassing as a level 1 fighter will probably not grant deadly strike for free if they're smart though).  Maybe at level 10 the fighter can add the highest two dice out of all the dice spent?
I agree that possibly changing the Deadly Strike maneuver to being the highest rolled of expertise dice might be a good way to go. Another option I was thinking of was to allow the rogue to add their dextrity modifier to each of the expertise dice applied to Sneak Attack. This would give Sneak Attack a bit more power in the long run.
I don't feel that "skill monkey" is a viable concept with the current implementation. I recognize people like playing skill monkeys, and I know we need to support them, but right now, the weight of the rogues identity is entirely on one manouver. Which means a fighter can take a level in rogue and be a better fighter and almost as good as a rogue. If skill monkey is the entire point of a rogue, and that's based on one manouver, well see a lot of fighter 9/rogue 1 and rogue 1/fighter 9 s around. I'd rather that if the dice were used, the rogue was great at being a striker. That way, someone who gave up rogue levels lost something.
My group tested a pretty good alternative to the rogue, instead of changing the maneuvers, we changed how he accrued expertise dice.  He got half of the fighters expertise dice all the time, and then when he had advantage (for whatever maneuver he was using, even skill mastery) he got extra dice, a d6 for every odd numbered rogue level.  This way, the entire expertise mechanic works the same way, the rogue just gains dice differently.  The group definitely agreed that it felt like a rogue, and wasn't overshadowing, or overshadowed by, the fighter (though we also 'forgot' the fighter's level 6 extra attack).
Get rid of the rogues expertise dice and give them poisons and powders that apply conditions. Let the rogue be a support element in melee where his lack of armor and low hit dice make him a liability to the group (and a burdon to the healer) and out of combat give him interpersonal skills, subterfuge, and more skill points over all. There's no need for two melee strikers that have to be forced into seperate roles that inevitably overlap anyway.

Let the warrior be the melee boss, whether it's a swashbuckling light fighter (which needs support) or the great axe skull splitting brute.

Let the rogue be what he's always been before MMO's reduced him to a paper tiger. A skillfull conniver and manipulator that puts his foes at a disadvantage and then dispatches them. Not in toe to toe combat by sheer force of arms (or DPS).
Get rid of the rogues expertise dice and give them poisons and powders that apply conditions.

More accurately,

Keep XD and instead add maneuvers to their list that allow for the use of poisons or powders that impose conditions.

That way, if you want a poison dealing rogue, you can be one. But some people want to play a different breed of rogue. So they take the maneuvers that better fit their concept.

Now everyone wins.

Just a thought, but making sneak attack as a class feature rather than a maneuver and allowing damage to be equal to max number of expertise dice spent would probably greatly increase the viability of the rogue.  The rogue would then have all expertise dice to spend on all other maneuvers.  Alternatively, a player could select a different maneuver that expends expertise dice for this if sneak attack doesn't appeal to them.  Maybe call this favored maneuver or something...
That way, if you want a poison dealing rogue, you can be one. But some people want to play a different breed of rogue. So they take the maneuvers that better fit their concept.

Now everyone wins.




Except the light fighters, anyone who wants the fighter and rogue roles to be distinct and the healer for having to dump his heals on the low durability rogue who wants to look like he's a warrior plus skills, and then finally the party for having a 5 minute workday while the healer gets his heals back...

But yea, everyone else... wins?

If you want to play a martial role that can stand with the fighters but is quick and agile, then play a light fighter. Stop trying to get all that a fighter gets plus the skills and the lockpicking of the rogue, and whose only disadvantage is low hit dice which gets paid by the healer and the rest of the party, anyway.
Seriously...the rogue isn't going to be all that viable unless they are improved at least a little in combat.  The fighter can dish out quite a bit of damage consistantly, soak up and mitigate quite a bit of damage, and protect.  The rogue has a lot of situational-at-best maneuvers and sneak attack is important and somewhat situational, but gets in the way of using other maneuvers.  Show of hands: how many players are going to prefer to use a vastly inferior skill monkey when there is a fighter who is great in combat(as it should be) and is somewhat lacking in the skills department, most likely a ranger who has considerable potential in archery, two weapon fighting, stealth, and is SLIGHTLY less skilled, and most likely a bard that is really good in the skills department too and has a vast pool of abilities to benefit a group...

...not many hands?  That's what I thought...
Seriously...the rogue isn't going to be all that viable unless they are improved at least a little in combat.  The fighter can dish out quite a bit of damage consistantly,

As can the rogue. I only say this because, I dunno, I have a rogue in my game and see it regularly? Very infrequently is the rogue in a situation where she cannot take advantage of her bonus damage XD *if she wishes to*.

soak up and mitigate quite a bit of damage, and protect.  The rogue has a lot of situational-at-best maneuvers and sneak attack is important and somewhat situational, but gets in the way of using other maneuvers.

So the argument is that rogues have to spend their XD to do the extra damage so they can't do other things? How is this any different from the fighter's XD?

Show of hands: how many players are going to prefer to use a vastly inferior skill monkey when there is a fighter who is great in combat(as it should be) and is somewhat lacking in the skills department, most likely a ranger who has considerable potential in archery, two weapon fighting, stealth, and is SLIGHTLY less skilled, and most likely a bard that is really good in the skills department too and has a vast pool of abilities to benefit a group...

Let me see if I can get this straight. Your "proof" that rogues are inferior is to compare them to classes that do not exist? Uh huh...

Rogue's need to be worth their hit dice in combat. Yes they are skill monkeys. Yes they are lightly armored. That doesn't mean they shouldn't hold their own in combat. With how maneuvers work it's REALLY EASY to make a skill based fighter, with good armor and awesome damage, but the rogue can't even match the damage of the fighter, can't take as much damage as the fighter, and needs a lot more support than the fighter in combat.

How is this reasonable?

Sneak Attack should just be a flat +D# damage when they have advantage, and then they can use XD to increase that damage, if they so choose. That way the Rogue has combat versatility without simply being cruddy.

As to how much bonus dice? Sneak Attack would be +1d6 at levels 1-4, 2d6 at 5-8, so on and so forth. A nice bonus, but not crushingly so. 
Seriously...the rogue isn't going to be all that viable unless they are improved at least a little in combat.  The fighter can dish out quite a bit of damage consistantly,

As can the rogue. I only say this because, I dunno, I have a rogue in my game and see it regularly? Very infrequently is the rogue in a situation where she cannot take advantage of her bonus damage XD *if she wishes to*.

soak up and mitigate quite a bit of damage, and protect.  The rogue has a lot of situational-at-best maneuvers and sneak attack is important and somewhat situational, but gets in the way of using other maneuvers.

So the argument is that rogues have to spend their XD to do the extra damage so they can't do other things? How is this any different from the fighter's XD?

Show of hands: how many players are going to prefer to use a vastly inferior skill monkey when there is a fighter who is great in combat(as it should be) and is somewhat lacking in the skills department, most likely a ranger who has considerable potential in archery, two weapon fighting, stealth, and is SLIGHTLY less skilled, and most likely a bard that is really good in the skills department too and has a vast pool of abilities to benefit a group...

Let me see if I can get this straight. Your "proof" that rogues are inferior is to compare them to classes that do not exist? Uh huh...


Since when does an opinion based on concepts or data constitute proof?  I don't feel I need to prove anything....it should be blatantly obvious.

d6 vs d10

a maneuver that does bonus damage in a specified set of circumstances vs a maneuver that does that same kind of damage without requiring those same circumstances. 

circumstantial maneuvers vs more useful maneuvers

You can anticipate what future classes will bring to the table.  Did anyone think that the rogue would be lousy at skills and be a damage soaker?  Did anyone think that the fighter would be a master of arcane magic?  Just because something doesn't exist now, doesn't mean that you can't anticipate to some level what its going to be and what its going to do to game balance. 

Saying that a rogue is functioning fine in your groups also doesn't mean much.  Never did I say that the rogue wasn't in position to use their bonus damage.  What I did mean to imply is that they shouldn't need to on sneak attack.  Outside of skills, they are so weak in so many ways compared to the fighter.  They need some mechanics that offset it.  Making Sneak Attack not require spending dice just seemed like one way of strengthening the rogue.  There are others, I'll grant that 
a maneuver that does bonus damage in a specified set of circumstances vs a maneuver that does that same kind of damage without requiring those same circumstances. 

circumstantial maneuvers vs more useful maneuvers

And? What's your point? That one has an only slightly inconvenient restriction the other doesn't? So?...

You can anticipate what future classes will bring to the table.

Hmmm. OK. Well... I suppose when those classes hit the table, we can talk. Until then, don't tell me that they make the rogue obsolete. That's just plain silly.

Saying that a rogue is functioning fine in your groups also doesn't mean much.

Um? Really? I thought this was a playtest? Shouldn't I be reporting that the class functions fine by my accounting of play at my table? What the heck is the point of all this, if not that? I'd like to point out at this time that I've yet to hear anything comparable by you about your actual play experience. Are you arguing from a spreadsheet?

Never did I say that the rogue wasn't in position to use their bonus damage.  What I did mean to imply is that they shouldn't need to on sneak attack.

You do realize, if they didn't need to, it would just be called Deadly Strike, right? It's called Sneak Attack because they need to be sneaky while using it. How is that so hard to get?

In fact, I would like to point out something important that has yet to be addressed. This current version of Sneak Attack is the least restrictive of any edition that came before. The least! In the old days, you had to catch your target completely unaware. In 3rd and 4th, flanking required you be directly opposite the target. Now, you can be standing right alongside your friend to get your uber bonus. No longer do you have to recklessly risk your safety by running around in the back ranks of the opposition's line just to get your kill. That's a big deal, AFAIC.

Outside of skills, they are so weak in so many ways compared to the fighter.

"So weak?" How do you figure? Do you mean in combat, specifically? Because they do the same amount of bonus damage. Sure, their weapon tends to do a point or two less damage by die size. But that does not, in any way, constitute fitting into the "so weak" category. Save grousing like that for things like the wizard swinging his staff.

They need some mechanics that offset it.

You mean like pwning a different pillar?

Making Sneak Attack not require spending dice just seemed like one way of strengthening the rogue.  There are others, I'll grant that 

So make rogues the best at combat? Is that the answer you want? OK, sure. Why not? Lets make rogues the best at dealing damage. And skills, too, of course. That way fighter can go back to being a trap class like in the olden days. OK, I'm in. Let's do this.
a maneuver that does bonus damage in a specified set of circumstances vs a maneuver that does that same kind of damage without requiring those same circumstances. 

circumstantial maneuvers vs more useful maneuvers

And? What's your point? That one has an only slightly inconvenient restriction the other doesn't? So?...

You can anticipate what future classes will bring to the table.

Hmmm. OK. Well... I suppose when those classes hit the table, we can talk. Until then, don't tell me that they make the rogue obsolete. That's just plain silly.

Saying that a rogue is functioning fine in your groups also doesn't mean much.

Um? Really? I thought this was a playtest? Shouldn't I be reporting that the class functions fine by my accounting of play at my table? What the heck is the point of all this, if not that? I'd like to point out at this time that I've yet to hear anything comparable by you about your actual play experience. Are you arguing from a spreadsheet?

Never did I say that the rogue wasn't in position to use their bonus damage.  What I did mean to imply is that they shouldn't need to on sneak attack.

You do realize, if they didn't need to, it would just be called Deadly Strike, right? It's called Sneak Attack because they need to be sneaky while using it. How is that so hard to get?

In fact, I would like to point out something important that has yet to be addressed. This current version of Sneak Attack is the least restrictive of any edition that came before. The least! In the old days, you had to catch your target completely unaware. In 3rd and 4th, flanking required you be directly opposite the target. Now, you can be standing right alongside your friend to get your uber bonus. No longer do you have to recklessly risk your safety by running around in the back ranks of the opposition's line just to get your kill. That's a big deal, AFAIC.

Outside of skills, they are so weak in so many ways compared to the fighter.

"So weak?" How do you figure? Do you mean in combat, specifically? Because they do the same amount of bonus damage. Sure, their weapon tends to do a point or two less damage by die size. But that does not, in any way, constitute fitting into the "so weak" category. Save grousing like that for things like the wizard swinging his staff.

They need some mechanics that offset it.

You mean like pwning a different pillar?

Making Sneak Attack not require spending dice just seemed like one way of strengthening the rogue.  There are others, I'll grant that 

So make rogues the best at combat? Is that the answer you want? OK, sure. Why not? Lets make rogues the best at dealing damage. And skills, too, of course. That way fighter can go back to being a trap class like in the olden days. OK, I'm in. Let's do this.

*sigh*  I don't see improving sneak attack in such a way as making the rogue superior to the fighter in combat.  There are a myriad of things that the fighter can do that the rogue simply cant(or at least not effectively).  That said, I am now liking Kali-mada's solution more than my own in this regard.

One thing that I am going to test(now that I think of it):  The viability of the rogue with a larger than normal group of players in a session.  Or rather, maybe I'll ask players not to play a rogue and instead play one of the other classes and see if the rogue is really missed all that much.  With a greater number of players, it is easier for at least someone to have some level of mastery in each skill.  Then, maybe I'll do the same thing, only the fighter is out instead of the rogue.  I think I already know the answer to which would be missed more.

Even if the rogue were to finish SLIGHTLY ahead of the fighter in some situations, in terms of damage, would that really be all that bad? Would that really make the fighter a less superior combatant?  Does the fighter have to be the best across pretty much every aspect of combat to be superior at combat and good enough as a class? Maybe I play with really good fighter players and not-as-good rogue players(shrugs).  
I'd be okay if the Rogue was able to add his Strength or Dexterity to Sneak Attack damage to offset the restrictions on using it.
I like the expertise dice system, and think it could work well for a rogue.  The maneuvers such as parry can really help out with the rogue's fortitude in melee combat (and fits him being an agile melee fighter for that archetype), and the other maneuvers help in situations where a rogue can specialize (Tumbling Dodge for combat mobility, Controlled Fall for reducing damage, reducing the damage on a reflex or will saved spell to demonstrate their nimbleness and mental prowess against such skills).

That being said, Sneak Attack should NOT be apart of this system.  Deadly Strike fits for the fighter, what with his supply of large combat maneuvers and options - he can make the choice between, say, Deadly Strike or Cleave, or other such spells for what combat requires.  But rogues really only get one combat maneuver (Sneak Attack), although parry comes close.  So for the rogue its the choice between "Being useful in combat" or "Playing like a rogue".

A rogue could be reasonably expected to strike with a d6 or d8 weapon with 16 dexterity, and thus would have an average damage per attack of about 6.5-7.5.  Given that ranked rogues would likely only attack once every two turns (since they need to hide), and melee rogues likely would have to dip in and out of combat, I think the damage should start at 2d6 at level one as it was in the previous version of the Playtest.  Although the damage doesn't need to increase by 1d6 every level (1d6 every odd level, or even lower, depending on what fits to match sneak attacks with the total damage progression that players are expected to make).

In addition to the fact they want to give more mechanical weight to rogue schemes I think it'll work pretty well.

Oh yes, I'm also looking forward to a two-weapon fighting rule or feat which doesn't mean it disables Sneak Attack for trying to fulfill the popular dual wielding dagger rogue assassin concept. /: