Dagger 101 - a Rogue Concept

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Dagger 101
- a Rogue concept -

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Others call it a knife - you call it an art.


Motivation
Evaluate and demonstrate the ability of the Rogue to perform in the top-tier league of Strikers, while retaining both their general Rogue identity as well as their superb debuffing abilities, and give Rogue players a framework to craft their own build from.

Constraints
-- No multiclassing or hybriding is used, just resources naturally available to the Rogue.
-- Material obviously broken or often unavailable is avoided.
-- The race is largely left open, although the assumption of a basic optimal choice of Dex +2 is made.
-- Any Rogue Tactics (class feature) can be add to this framework.

Framework
-- Race: any with Dex +2
-- Attributes: 20+ Dex, 13+ Str/Cha, 13 Con, 10/10/8 the rest
-- Skills: Acrobatics, Insight, Intimidate, Perception, Stealth, Thievery (for full power access)
-- Weapon: Dagger (Subtle in Heroic, Bloodiron in Paragon, Bloodiron & Frost in Epic)
-- Paragon Path: Daggermaster
-- Epic Destiny: Deadly Trickster
-- At-Wills: Deft Strike (for mobility and the restealth and throw trick), Piercing Strike (can be retrained to Ripost Strike / Sly Flourish or Disheartening Strike after getting Deft Blade)
-- Encounters: at least one Minor Action attack (Low Slash L3 / Tumbling Strike L17), any two control powers (Dazing Strike / Positioning Strike L1, Imperling Strike / Sand in the Eyes L7, Stunning Strike / Tornado Strike L13, Scorpion Strike / Shimmering Blade / Steel Entrapment L23, Dance of Death / Safe Bet / Sheathe the Blade L27, Critical Opportunity (L11 PP), and remember you always can take / keep lower level powers instead
-- Dailys: Press the Advantage (L1), Bloodbath (L5) / ...  / Assassin's Point (L29), Knockout (L9), Deep Dagger Wound (L20 PP)
-- Utilities: any one (L2), Ugly Finish (L6), Spot Weakness (L10 Skill Power), Meditation of the Blade (L12 PP), Insightful Riposte (L16 Skill Power), Seize the Moment (L22), Epic Trick (L26)
-- Feats (Heroic): Backstabber, Slaying Action, Weapon Expertise (Light Blades) [L4], Melee Training (Dex), Nimble Blade, Weapon Focus (Light Blades)
-- Feats (Paragon): Two-Weapon Fighting, Two-Weapon Opening [L12], Deft Blade, Rogue Weapon Mastery, any two other
-- Feats (Epic): Lasting Frost, Wintertouched, Epic Recovery (or Martial Mastery), Triumphant Attack, any two other
-- Noteable Equipment: Iron Armbands of Power as affordable; Ring of Giants (L13), War Ring (L16, a second copy by Epic), Ring of Free Time (L29); Gloves of Ice, Siberys Shard of Merciless Cold (two copys), Frozen Whetstones all as affordable by Epic; Dice of Auspicious Fortune (L11), Stone of Earth (L12) for extra rolling precision; any armor; any neck; any other items as affordable

Performance Evaluation

General Considerations
-- At each check point level both nova and at-will expected damage is calculated.
-- Novas are tested against a strong mob with L+4 normalised defenses to represant a sufficently worthy target. The set-up only expects the very minimum of party support and is provided in detail.
-- Round to round damage is tested against a somewhat tougher but not out of the ordinary mob with L+2 normalised defenses. Nothing more than CA from flanking or other sources is assumed.

Stabbing an Owlbear (Level 4)
Nova
-- Set-up: We move adjacent to a mob granting CA and fire away.
-- Basic to-hit: +5 Dex +2 level +1 enhancement +4 Dagger +2 CA +1 Expertise = +15
* vs AC 22: 30% miss, 65% hit, 5% crit
* vs NAD 20: 20% miss, 75% hit, 5% crit
-- Basic damage: +5 Dex +1 enhancement +1 subtle +2 item = +9
* W die: d4 = 2.5 (4 on crit)
* Sneak Attack: 2d8 = 9 (16 on crit)
* Crit bonus damage: 1d6 = 3.5
-- Attack Sequence:
* Low Slash (minor): 0.75 * 11.5 + 0.05 * (13 + 3.5 crit) = 9.5
* Piercing Strike (standard): 0.75 * 11.5 + 0.05 * (13 + 3.5 crit) = 9.5
* Piercing Strike (standard, with AP): 0.75 * 11.5 + 0.05 * (13 + 3.5 crit) = 9.5
** Apply Sneak Attack up to two times: 0.09 * 9.5 + 0.76 * (9.5 + 9.5) + 0.14 * (9.5 + 16) = 18.9
* Press the Advantage (should have triggered by now, free): 0.65 * 14 + 0.05 * (17 + 3.5 crit) = 10.1
Total expected damage (average): 57.5
This almost kills a typical tough mob we face at that level.

At-Will
-- Basic to-hit: +5 Dex +2 level +1 enhancement +4 Dagger +2 CA +1 Expertise = +15
* vs NAD 18: 10% miss, 85% hit, 5% crit
-- Basic damage: +5 Dex +1 enhancement +1 subtle +2 item= +9
* W die: d4 = 2.5 (4 on crit)
* Sneak Attack: 2d8 = 9 (16 on crit)
* Crit bonus damage: 1d6 = 3.5
Piercing Strike: 0.85 * (11.5 + 9 SA) + 0.05 (13 + 16 SA + 3.5 crit) = 19 DPR
This usually kills a regular mob we face at that level in three rounds.

Stabbing a Mindflayer (Level 12)
Nova
-- Set-up: The Leader / Controller helps us to get adjacent to the mob and the allys in general grant us CA, preferably by application of Dazed to avoid immediate defense powers (drop Low Slash from the sequence if you need to move yourself). Meditation of the Blade was activated for the combat and Spot Weakness (and any other short lived buff) just in time during the round before. Your own tricks, items or similar and the help from allies also ensures that the core power Knockout hits. (The latter also keeps the math at a manageable level.)
-- Basic to-hit: +6 Dex +6 level +3 enhancement +4 Dagger +3 CA +1 Expertise = +23 (+22 off-hand +2 Subtle Dagger)
* vs AC 30: 30% miss, 55% hit, 15% crit
* vs NAD 28: 20% miss, 65% hit, 15% crit
-- Basic damage: +6 Dex +3 enhancement +2 item +2 feat +1 TWF +4 power = +18 (+19 off-hand +2 Subtle Dagger)
* W die: d6 = 3.5 (6 on crit)
* Sneak Attack: 3d8 = 13.5 (24 on crit)
* Crit bonus damage: (2x 3d10 bloodiron) + (0.6 * 22.5 + 0.05 * (25 + 7)) TWO = 48.1
-- Attack Sequence:
* Knockout (standard): (0.65 * (25 + 13.5 SA) + 0.15 * (30 + 24 SA + 48.1 crit)) / 0.8 re-rolling miss = 50.4 
* Bloodbath (Coup de Grace, with AP): 24 + 24 SA + 24 (ongoing SA) + 48.1 crit + 21.5 effect = 141.6
* Ugly Finish (triggered, free): All mobs within 5 sq are at -2 to attacks and grant CA (teont).
* Critical Opportunity (triggered, minor): 0.55 * 28.5 + 0.15 * (36 + 48.1 crit) = 28.3
* Low Slash (minor): 0.65 * 21.5 + 0.15 * (24 + 48.1 crit) = 24.8
* Press the Advantage (should have triggered by now, free): 0.55 * 25 + 0.15 * (30 + 48.1 crit) = 25.5
Total expected damage (average): 270.7
This usually kills a typical Elite we face at that level.

At-Will
-- Basic to-hit: +6 Dex +6 level +3 enhancement +4 Dagger +3 CA +1 Expertise = +23 (+22 off-hand +2 Subtle Dagger)
* vs AC 28: 20% miss, 65% hit, 15% crit
* vs NAD 26: 10% miss, 75% hit, 15% crit
-- Basic damage: +6 Dex +3 enhancement +2 item +2 feat +1 TWF = +14 (+15 off-hand +2 Subtle Dagger)
* W die: d4 = 2.5 (4 on crit)
* Sneak Attack: 3d8 Str = 13.5 (24 on crit)
* Crit bonus damage: (2x 3d10 bloodiron) + (0.7 * 17.5 + 0.05 * (19 + 7)) TWO = 46.6
Piercing Strike: 0.75 * (16.5 + 13.5 SA) + 0.15 * (18 + 24 SA + 46.6 crit) = 35.8 DPR
This usually kills a regular mob we face at that level in four rounds.

Stabbing a God (Level 30)
Dualwielding Frost and Bloodiron
At first these two seem mutually exclusive. But although the investment in both feats and items is significant, both are strong options and can be exploited well enough together. Usually we use the Cold Dagger, while under special circumstances we can exploit both using the Bloodiron Dagger.
-- Maintenance:
* Any time TWO triggers due a crit when using Bloodiron.
* Provided by allies who also use Frostcheese.
* Prepared ourselfs to ensure CA next round or open a combo.
-- Exploitation:
* Using a Frozen Whetstone (costs a Daily Item usage).
* A few buffs and other none-class sources that employ cold damage.

Nova (Bloodiron Dagger)
-- Set-up: We use our superb stealth (gain concealment with items or the like if cover isn't available) to hide somewhat close to our target. We prepare a our Bloodiron Dagger with a Frozen Whetstone and activate Meditation of the Blade. Just before our allies approach the mobs and trigger Initiative, we activate Spot Weakness (and any other short lived buff).
-- Basic to-hit: +9 Dex +15 level +6 enhancement +4 Dagger +3 CA +3 Expertise +2 power = +42
* vs AC 48: 25% miss, 60% hit, 15% crit
* vs NAD 46: 15% miss, 70% hit, 15% crit
** special: Due the multitude of other attack bonuses (Insightful Riposte, racial, items, allys), re-rolls (ED L21, items) and debuffs (Triumphant Attack, Coup de Grace) at our disposal we can reasonable assume to hit with every attack. The estimated ratio of normal hits to crits works out to about 80:20.
-- Basic damage: +9 Dex +6 enhancement +6 item +3 feat +1 TWF +4 power +5 shard +4 gloves +5 cold vul = +43 Frost / +49 Bloodiron Dagger (due Frozen Whetstone)
* W die: d6 = 3.5 (6 on crit)
* Sneak Attack: 5d8 = 22.5 (40 on crit)
* Crit bonus damage: (2x 7d10 bloodiron & war ring) + (3d6 high crit) + (0.8 * 50 + 0.2 * (55 + 35)) TWO = 145.5
-- 
Attack Sequence:

* Seize the Moment (triggered, free): We win initiative (45 minimum before rerolls or any other bonuses) and gain some extra bonuses (already factured in).
** Special: Due our ED L30 feature we can reliably negate any attempt of the mob to mount an out of turn defense or saving throw.
* Tumbling Strike (minor): 0.8 * (59.5 - 5 not-cold-vul-yet) + 0.2 * (62 + 145.5 crit) = 85.1
** Special: We just shifted 10+ sq (ignoring enemies and terrain) before the attack adjacent to the mob. It also grants CA now due being hit by a cold attack, and we got CA on this attack because we were hidden at the start of it. 
* Knockout (standard): 0.8 * (56 + 22.5 SA) + 0.2 * (61 + 40 SA + 145.5 crit) = 112.1
* Assassin's Point (Coup de Grace, with AP): 49 + 2x 40 SA + 2x ((2x 9d10 blood iron & war ring daily) + 3d6 high crit) + (0.8 * 50 + 0.2 * (55 + 35)) TWO = 406
** Special (War Ring, after 1st Milestone): 49 + 2x 40 SA + 2x ((2x 90 blood iron & war ring daily) + 18 high crit) + (0.8 * 50 + 0.2 * (55 + 35)) TWO = 583
* Triumphant Attack (triggered): The mob is -2 to attacks and defenses (teoe).
* Ugly Finish (triggered, free): All mobs within 5 sq are at -2 to attacks and grant CA (teont).
* Epic Recovery (triggered): We regain Tumbling Strike.
* Critical Opportunity (triggered, minor): 0.8 * 59.5 + 0.2 * (67 + 145.5 crit) = 90.1
* Tumbling Strike (minor from Ring of Free Time): 0.8 * 59.5 + 0.2 * (67 + 145.5 crit) = 90.1
** Special: We shift 10+ sq (ignoring enemies and terrain) back to safety.
* Press the Advantage (should have triggered by now, free): 0.8 * 56 + 0.2 * (61 + 145.5 crit) = 86.1
Total expected damage (average): 869.5 (1046.5 after 1st Milestone)
* Epic Trick (and our second War Ring) lets us repeat this nova a second time each day.
This easily kills every Elite in the game and puts even the toughest Solo well into bloodied.

At-Will (Frost Dagger)
-- Basic to-hit: +9 Dex +15 level +6 enhancement +4 Dagger +3 CA +3 Expertise = +40
* vs NAD 42 (L30): 5% miss, 80% hit, 15% crit
-- Basic damage: +9 Dex +6 enhancement +6 item +3 feat +1 TWF +5 shard +4 gloves +5 cold vul = +39
* W die: d4 = 2.5 (4 on crit)
* Sneak Attack: 5d8 = 22.5 (40 on crit)
* Crit bonus damage: (6d6 frost + 12 ring of giants) + (3d4 high crit) + (0.8 * 30 + 0.15 * (33 + 85.5)) TWO = 82.3
Piercing Strike: 0.8 * (44 + 22.5 SA) + 0.15 * (47 + 40 SA + 82.3 crit) = 78.6 DPR
This kills every regular mob in the game in four or less rounds.

Daggers vs Other Weapons
Comparing Melee Weapon Statistics
* Dagger: +4 +3 CA = +7 / d4 (Nimble Blade)
* Short Sword: +3 +3 CA = +6 / d6 (Nimble Blade)
* Rapier: +3 +3 CA = +6 / d8 (Nimble Blade, Proficiency)
* Longsword: +3 +2 CA = +5 / d8 (Versatile Duellist)
* Bastardsword: +3 +2 CA = +5 / d10 (Versatile Duellist, Proficiency)
Conclusion: We see that each increase in damage die size is paid either with a reduced accuracy or an extra feat. The latter are already in high demand, and the former is crucial for the Rogue, as we rely on high static damage and have compartively little weapon dice.
Furthermore we lose less if we opt for control oriented power with less Ws. And at last the Dagger has the supreme quality of not only allowing us to go Daggermaster, but being the sole choice that can be used as thrown weapon for flexibility and improved targeting capacity.
There are a few builds that employ either Rapier or Bastardsword and an appropriate set of weapon specific feats. While they perform well enough, they won't hold up against a classic Dagger build and are more limited both in combat and in power selection.

Comparing Ranged Weapon Statistics
* Dagger: +4 +3 CA = +7 / d4 (Nimble Blade)
* Shuriken: +3 +3 CA = +6 / d6 (Nimble Blade)
* Sling: +4 +2 CA = +6 / d6, high crit (Deadeye Slinger)
* Hand Crossbow: +3 +2 CA = +5 / d6
* Repeating Crossbow (two-handed): +3 +2 CA = +5 / d8
* Surperior Crossbow (two-handed): +4 +2 CA = +6 / d10 (Proficiency, Speed Loader)
Conclusion: The Surperior Crossbow is the only weapon for Rogues that can compete with the Dagger, although it requires two hands to use. Together with high-W ranged attacks the damage output can turn out higher, but the price is again the inability to go into melee, less control and more problems to gain CA. Some feats and good teamplay can solve that, and all crossbow users can benefit from Harrowing Swarm Student with Cha and the Cload Sniper PP.
The Sling has a niche use with its own powers and Daring Slinger PP dedicated to it, which offer more control than usual ranged builds.

Rogue Tactics
The Losers
-- Cunning Sneaks are very focusd on stealth, and are's good at it. The problem is that Int is a bad choice for Rogues (although we don't need to push it as far as we would Str or Cha). The special power set is also rather weak, and enough of the benefits can be replicated in other ways (Deft Strike, Secret Stride). It's helps a ranged Rogue, but still an avarage choice at best.
-- Ruthless Ruffians are broken in a bad way. Except a few rare riders they have nothing to offer a Brutal Scoundrel couldn't do better, and their weapon choice is horrible.

Artful Dodger vs Brutal Scoundrel
-- Artful Dodger advantages:
* higher mobility (more flanking, better target selection)
* better control / debuff powers
* more defensive options
* social skills
** some feat replacement for damage (Deft Blade & Sly Flourish) and Athletics (Duelist's Panache)
-- Brutal Scoundrel advantages:
* higher damage
** L4: +3.8 dmg / +6.5% nova, +1.8 DPR / +9.5% at-will
** L12: +9 dmg / +3.5% nova, +2.7 DPR / +7.5% at-will
** L30 (with with Brutal Advantage): +40 dmg / +4.5% (+4%) nova, +5.5 DPR / +7% at-will
* Athletics
* better for weapon based MCs
* Light Blade Mastery at Epic (if not a Daggermaster)

Detailed Damage Comparison
We now know the bounds of the damage increase of a BS. The relative difference is lower for novas, because the base damage is already so big, and higher for at-will attacks, because that's the least damage we can throw out.
But so far we have neglected that ADs also recieve a very combat relevant ongoing benefit. Our goal now is to construct a realistic scenario that let's us translate that mobility into damage.
Deriving the Formula
We assume that usually a Rogue gets CA in one way or another. But every so few rounds he is in a position from where he could reach the required CA only by triggering an OA.
The forumla we seek will tell us at how many rounds that break even point occurs.


For (rounds - 1) a BS does (hit-chance) * (Str + SA) over his base damage. In the remaining one round he only does base damage.

An AD can risk to trigger an OA and thus does his (hit-chance) * (SA) extra damage for (rounds). In one round he also gets CA when a BS doesn't, and thus has a 15% increased hit chance.
Now we use (rounds) as measuring stick for how crowded and hard to navigate the combat is. Because we expect that once in (rounds) the BS can reach his target, but only be employing Deft Strike, while an AD can just walk there and use the more precise Piercing Strike. In the worse case the BS's reduced mobility might even force him to attack a secondary target, either to gain CA or for other reasons. Damaging secondary targets is by approximation about half as useful as damaging the primary target. We expect the former to happen twice as often as the latter.
At last we need to introduce a dampening factor, to acknowledge that a +2 Cha bonus will mean we often cannot risky move either, or if we do might still be hit. Experience tells that a +6 Cha bonus on average removes all concerns about being hit by an OA. The scaling is linear due the flat distribution of the d20.

The Formula:
(BS dmg) = (AD dmg)
(rounds - 1) * (to-hit) * (Str + SA) = (rounds - 1) * (to-hit) * (SA) + [(to-hit) * (SA) + 0.15 * (damage) + 2/3 * 0.15 * (damage) + 1/3 * (to-hit) * (damage)] * (Cha / 6)

Simplification: 
(rounds - 1) * (to-hit) * (Str) = [(to-hit) * (SA) + [5/3 * 0.15  + 1/3 * (to-hit)] * (damage)] * (Cha / 6)
(rounds) * (Str) - (Str) = [(SA) + [1/4 * 1/(to-hit) + 1/3] * (damage)] * (Cha / 6)
(rounds) = [(SA) + [1/4 * 1/(to-hit) + 1/3] * (damage)] * (Cha / 6) * 1/(Str) + 1
(rounds) = [ [(SA dice * 5) + [1/4 * 1/(to-hit) + 1/3] * (damage)] * (Cha)] / [6 * (Str)] + 1
Running the Numbers
We just learned:
(rounds) = [ [(SA dice * 5) + [1/4 * 1/(to-hit) + 1/3] * (damage)] * (Cha)] / [6 * (Str)] + 1

If we need to use the AD class feature to increase our mobility every so many (rounds), then ADs and BSs have roughly the same damage output. Relying on the increased mobility even more often, and ADs win, but if we can get by longer without falling back to the mobility option, BSs win.
The to-hit value contained in the formula is of course the average expected value, and the damage is the base damage on a hit, rounded up somewhat to account for extra damage on crits and encounter powers and to somehow integrate other effects like de/buffs into the formula in a meaningful way.

Using the numbers from up the thread we get:
* L4: (rounds) = [ (2*5 + (1/4* 1/0.9 + 1/3)*15) * 2] / [6*2] + 1 = 4.2
* L12: (rounds) = [ (3*5 + (1/4 *  1/0.9 + 1/3)*25) * 3] / [6*3] + 1 = 6
* L30: (rounds) = [ (5*5 + (1/4 * 1/0.95 + 1/3)*60) * 5] / [6*5] + 1 = 11

Some first results, but the formula is still somewhat complicated and we only have somewhat specific results for one character build. To simplify it some more we can assume Str = Cha for the respective builds and average the factor to the damage to 0.6 .
(rounds) = [ (SA dice) * 5 + 0.6 * (damage) ] / 6 + 1

Now that's something simple enough to work with !
Using some numbers from experience we can find a more general expected values for each tier of play.
* Heroic: (rounds) = [2*5 + 0.6*18] / 6 + 1 = 4.5
* Paragon: (rounds) = [3*5 + 0.6*30] / 6 + 1 = 6.5
* Epic: (rounds) = [5*5 + 0.6*45] / 6 + 1 = 9.5

An interesting fact is, that the final formula is completely independent of the actual value of our attribute, as long as it would be the same for both builds. It merely depends on our overall damage output, and becomes more favourable for ADs the higher it gets.
This suggests that due the slower scaling of the Str bonus compared to the base damage, the increased mobility becomes more and more the deciding factor of in-play results.
There's a further consequence, which is very intriguing. The optimal character choice tends to always drift towards an equilibrium. A BS is thus actually better off picking mobility or control options, while an AD should consider higher damage weapons and encounter powers, even if they can't make the full use of some of these options.

You can of course vary the parameters of the formula to your own needs and possibly different table experiences, and you can account for things like non-equal expected attributes due race or build.
If you want to include OA defenses from other sources, simply substract them from the respective Cha bonus. This accounts for the fact that the relative advantage of the AD drops. But also consider that a BS who picks up Defensive Mobility is one feat behind to an AD, who could have picked a damage oriented feat earlier, which hence also needs to be included.
To account for Brutal Advantage at Epic, we can reasonably assume two standard action attacks for one non standard action attack. Thus the Str would recieve a factor of 1.5 that translates into replacing the 6 with a 9 in the denominator in the final forumla, which would bring our values to 7.8 (L30) and 6.8 (general Epic). But again we are one feat behind compared to a similar AD.
In the end most of these variations amount to a zero sum game.
Conclusion: The Brutal Scoundrel only pulls ahead in over-time damage compared to the Artful Dodger, if he can manage to avoid triggering an OA for 5 (Heroic) / 7 (Paragon) / 10 (Epic) rounds, while always attacking his primary target with CA. From experience we know that the avarage combat runs for 6 to 8 rounds, with quick or lucky encounters finishing as fast as 4 and hard encounters often exceeding the 10 rounds mark, with a slight decline in total combat length for higher level play.


Customisation
-- Race: Half-Orcs make excellent Brutal Scoundrels and can be built for some particularly good novas (get a cheap Blood Fury Weapon), and Bugbears have the highest sustained damage output. Drows are good Artful Dodgers and have strong control and damage options. The Rogue's thirst for feats, defenses and skills can be well fulfilled by Humans. Halfling are very defensive, and together with Kobolds and Goblins are the kings of mobility, as their small size also lets them walk through spaces of larger mobs.
-- Skills: Acrobatics is highly recommended due its usefulness and being a common requirement. All other skills can be chosen by preference and in our build were just selected them to aquire certain utility powers, although Intimidate as prerequesite for Rattling attacks is of particular interest.
-- Other Classes: As every class, Rogues can well use MCing to improve their performance. The Fighter for Battlefury Stance (L2) and the Kensai PP is a good choice, as is Ranger for extra Quarry damage, the many non-standard action and multi-attacks and the very stylish Giantslayer PP. But almost every Striker has something to offer for the Rogue, and the Paladin has a strong MC feat to screw with a mob and access to some strong damage boosting powers. Hybriding is possible as well, but you always need to keep your Light Blade / Crossbow requirement in mind.
-- Paragon Path: While no other PP is as much a damage powerhouse as the Daggermaster, about all Rogue PPs are solid choices, and all come with a cool flavour. For good damage and particularly more steady damage your best alternative is the Fighter's Kensai or Shock Trooper, and for mobility it's hard to beat the Ranger's Giantslayer.
-- Epic Destiny: The Deadly Trickster is probably the most versatile choice available and the only way to nova twice per day, and as such well suited for every Rogue. Alternatives are about any ED that gives a Dex boost, Punisher of the Gods to maximise crits and Eteneral Seeker to cherrypick powers from other classes.
-- Encounters: These are your bread and butter choices to get by between novas and at-will spamming. The three minor action attacks are the strongest choice for damage, and all offer good other benefits as well, and can even help to recover your SA damage after a miss. What they lack is some strong control effects, which is a very worthy part of the Rogue, and they neither offer good straight de/buffs, so pick up powers that do.
-- Dailys: Your core nova relies on using a high damage attack on your target, which you can guarantee to crit thanks to preparation with Knockout. From allys to yourself taking other classes' powers and even sometimes items, there are a few other ways to do such preparation, and about any high damage main attack you fancy will do. Beyond that it's just piling as many other attacks on the target in one round, but maxing that with Press the Advantage is probably not very necessary. You instead have access to a wide range of devastating control powers and others with encounter long benefits, which all make strong contenders.
-- Utilities: Use these to fill any gaps in your build, or if you don't feel you have any, refine it like we did here. You should in particular consider both powers from other classes, as mentioned there, and the huge range of tricks Skill Powers offer (there's even the Skill Power feat to pick up an extra one).
-- Feats: The selection of Heroic feats provided up-thread is what all Rogues should get eventually, but everything else is just icing the cake. Your second concern is definately picking up some defensive boosts, of which Toughness / Durable, Paragon / Robust Defenses / Combat Anticipation and Two-Weapon Defense / Parrying Dagger are the most common options. But you can find endless feats to sink into oozing out a bit more damage, too. Also consider MCing, racial feats, Secret Strike, Quick Draw / Improved Initiative / Danger Sense / Surperior Initiative, Critical Ambush to improve your first strike capacity, CA improvements like Distant Advatage / Vicious Advantage / Expert Sneak and anything skill and non-combat related.
-- Equipment: For weapons you probably want to stick to the ones discussed, although any featuring Radiant damage has its use if your allys (or you) exploit Divine means of imposing such vulnerability. Again your second concern should be defense, particularly against conditions. Also consider Solitaires to make the most out of your regular crits, and combined with a Belt of Titan Strength you can push your L30 nova as far as 1224.6 expected damage (1270.6 for Brutal Scoundrels), but you'll blow about all your daily activations on that one. As for utility powers, use items to close gaps, refine your favourite points and add improve your non-combat performance. Just remember that you should fill every slot by Paragon and that Wondrous Items like Scabbards can, while often high priced, give you benefits without taking up a valuable slot.

Further Readings
-- The Art of Striking (by mkill) for strategies how to fulfill the job as Striker well
-- The Rogue Handbook (by lordduskblade) for further opinions and options, such as racial feats, items, etc
-- Critical Hits (by AA_Metatron) for a list of ways how to crit and how to abuse them

Feedback, in-play experiences, criticism and suggestion are always welcome.
add in an ED that compliments this dagger theme and throw in some crucial epic feats and set's see your DPR at level 24.  I was quite surprised to see your DPR so high at level 4.  Upon paragon it is still among the elite, but that long stretch to level 30 with the ending result of 77 DPR was quite disappointing.  I know that you're not making many assumptions, but a paladin with a radiant full blade, morninglord and virtuous strike at level 21 should be getting around 50-60 DPR with minimal assumptions.  I think you should make a few more feat assumptions that exemplify the deadliness of rogues.  They are already one of the kings of heroic, but seeing them out-perform past level 12 is what I'm hoping for.
DPR King Candidates 3.0
How much damage should I shoot for?
You're fired : 1 Kills Per 5 Rounds = .2 KPR Fair Striker : 2 Kills Per 5 Rounds = .4 KPR Highly Optimized : 3 Kills Per 5 Rounds = .6 KPR Nerfbat please : 4 Kills Per 5 Rounds = .8 KPR It's OVER 9000!!!!!: 5 Kills Per 5 Rounds = 1+ KPR
DPR? KPR? KP4R? Bless you
DPR = Damage Per round ~= Chance to hit * damage on a hit KPR = Kills Per Round. 1 Kill = 8*Level+24 damage = DPR/(8*level+24) KPNR = Kills Per N Rounds. How many standards can you kill in N rounds?
How come Bugbears are not mentioned as a good Rogue race, expecially for dagger ones. Excluding feat support (which they have none) they seem like perfect Rogues.

1d6 dagger vs 1d4 dagger
Basically a free SA die 1/encounter
DEX/STR
racial bonus to stealth
How come Bugbears are not mentioned as a good Rogue race, expecially for dagger ones. Excluding feat support (which they have none) they seem like perfect Rogues.

1d6 dagger vs 1d4 dagger
Basically a free SA die 1/encounter
DEX/STR
racial bonus to stealth


He said it in his post:

Constraints
-- Material obviously broken or often unavailable is avoided.
if it were my build, i would use a footpad's friend. not sure there's much reason to dual-wield without hybriding or preferably multiclassing into ranger. i suggest that:

a. the expert sneak feat has changed the way the rogue can work, and the ways in which most of its potential features interact with each other, significantly. all of cunning sneak's stealth, for instance, becomes a purely defensive feature with expert sneak. brutal scoundrel also becomes much more damaging (though more prone to staying in melee and ending up at the opposite end of the defensibility spectrum from cunning sneak), and artful dodger loses some offensive potential by virtue of the fact that flanking becomes less of an advantage, since you have its benefit nearly all the time above lvl 11 if you want it.

b. since the intimidating rogue build is just generally crappy, this begs a comparison between the 2 original rogue builds (unless you are not constrained to wielding a dagger, in which case ranged weapons and multiclassing/hybriding become a lot more attractive)

c. that comparison can in turn be settled by 2 superb rogue options: the drow race, which certainly is among the very best of them and has some fairly incomparable feats for the purposes of dpr output on both rogues and sorcerers (not to mention paladins and other less synergistically ideal class builds), and the footpad's friend weapon enhancement, which provides the whole of brutal scoundrel's single most significant damage boost (and damage boosts are the best reason to be a brutal scoundrel)

since both of these fairly game-changing options favor charisma, artful dodger's rare mobility and unusual but interesting defensibility are magnified into the most uniquely roguish class feature.

d. also i almost forgot about sly flourish, which is among the most dependable at-will damage boosts in the game, even if it is significantly less damaging in the right circumstances than riposte strike. with a footpad's friend and expert sneak, though, you are practically adding double your charisma mod to damage with this power on very nearly every attack (as well as sneak attack damage, of course, though you would have that on any rogue with expert sneak). even at level 1 this damage could easily total 8, which fairly outstrips the 1d4+4 you would be doing with riposte strike IF you hit again and IF they do indeed attack you (1d6+4, of course, if you're a bugbear). at lvl 11, with a +2 weapon and the heroic gauntlets of ogre power, this is still 1d4 or 1d6 + 9 (though it could be +10 if you began with 17 charisma, at least at this specific level) as compared to a flat damage bonus of +10 (or +12 if you sunk those 11 points into charisma right off the bat).

the only challenge to this i could foresee is that new human epic feat in martial power 2 that provides you an additional rogue tactics class feature. even without abusing this in a hybrid situation, it can allow you to combine the intimidating build with brutal scoundrel, or just combine cunning sneak, which technically doesn't require that you have any decent intelligence mod to gain some significant benefits, with any of the other ones. human also has a superbly broken racial paragon path, but of course that would preclude dagger master.
@borg:
Well, in Epic I can't really squeese out any more without 1) killing any last design space and thus eg some Defense additions (this is not a DPR champion thread), 2) killing my nova, as that was one of the design goals, and doing two good novas / day (and not vs Tofu theorycraft but in a realistic scenario) is certainly unique enough, 3) any real Epic kicker build I know usually relies on race / MC or something (with a Paladin Morninglord being lucky enough to have native access to the strongest and most abusable straight DPR PP in the game).
Furthermore the Rogue can easily use only minor / out of turn powers, which means that you can easily double to triple his DPR for the first rounds with just encounter resources, and thanks to his ED and Epic Resurgence he can even reuse some of his encounter powers. The attack itself is also an MBA, which sure helps in many situations. If he doesn't go pure damage by non-standard attacks, the least condition he will inflict by Paragon and up (without compromising his DPR) is a Stun (yes, that's the least !).
But let's give you some numbers:
L24 equivalent at-will DPR: 76.4 DPR (yes, you really don't need much stuff in Epic)
L30 pushing at-will DPR (Bugbear, Demigod, Brutal Advantage, Power Attack (We hit on a 0 !), MC Fighter & Battlefury Stance): 101.9 DPR
Alternative: If you really just want to push at-will DPR, change to Kensai, get Light Blade Mastery, Surprising Charge and use a Rapier and charge items. An Epic Horned Helmet alone would add another 10.7 DPR to the classic build.

@MadMoly / glientz:
Well, basically I forgot about them. ;)
They make a fair alternative to Half-Orcs, and the Rogue suits them thematically. The higher Dagger die is solid, but not gamechanging, as Rogues don't roll that many Ws, and for novas Half-Orcs still beat them effortlessly.
They're not LFG allowed and a monster race, but that's a fair enough deal to me to mention them at least in the racial section - which is largely optional anyway. And hell, I also forgot normal Goblins as ADs.

@Konous:
Dual Wielding: You get a minor damage boost (TWF), a huge boost on crits (TWO) and can pick up a solid defense boost (TWD). Usually you just use your older Dagger as off-hand, and at Epic you have the money and feats to pull it off constantly. And then also that Bloodiron / Frostcheese combo is a heck lot of DPR for an encounter, but due daily item limitation, you can't always do it. (If you have money problems, just use cheaper Whetstones - it's only about -2 DPR for a +4 instead a +6).
Footpad's Friend: Bad choice. It costs more than Subtle as enchantment, can only be applied with SA and not any other CA attack, and even then it just barely beats Subtle if you completely max your Cha.
Expert Sneak: Nah, it's not a big deal. Except for Low Slash you're much better off just selecting strong control encounters. Why slow and invest a feat for CA instead of just Dazing them ?! It slightly beats Vicious Advantage (although it's Paragon), and can be useful in the right group (say with a Crippling Crush Warden as Defender), but usually the best choice is Distant Advantage. But none of them will carry you far enough to not bring your own means to gain CA - even Froostcheese doesn't do that.
Ruthless Ruffians: Sorry, I don't get what you mean. Basically, the feature is straight worse than a BS, and the special riders are superceeded by better powers, too. And Rattling can be used with any Rogue Tactic.
Race: There are many ways to maximise your DPR, and while Drow is one of them, it's sure not the only.
Sly Flourish: Well, it's OK but it's plain worse in damage output than Piercing Strike, and you straight need Deft Strike for its utility. I already recommended it as one of three third options for either Humans or those who got Deft Blade at Paragon. But that's as good as it will ever get.
Humans: Yes, getting a second second Rogue Tactics at Epic is nice. But due MAD you'll always pick up CS (BS/AD require pushing Str/Cha and RR just blows). Speaking of...
Attributes: Rogues are the class to start with a 20 Dex. No 18/18 build for a single class Rogue can compare (Hybrids / certain (P)MCs nonewhitstanding). The only reason not to is to pick up certain feats, but I couldn't remember a single one I'd do that for. Rogues are refreshingly non-MAD.

Edit: Found the guide to critical hits and added it as resource. Very much worth a read.
Can you tell me which books each of the magic items you suggested are in? I can't find them.
Sure...
Player's Handbook: Frost Weapon; Belt of Titan Strength
Adventurer's Vault: Bloodiron Weapon, Subtle Weapon; Iron Armbands of Power; War Ring; Frozen Whetstone; Solitaires
Adventurer's Vault 2: Gloves of Ice; Ring of Free Time; Stone of Earth
Dragon 378: Ring of Giants
Dragon 378: Dice of Auspicious Fortune
Eberron Player's Guide: Siberys Shard of Merciless Cold

In the future you can also always use the Compendium for such issues. While you cannot access the actual content as none-subscriber, you still get the overview, where you can see which source the option you're looking for comes from.
Not to bring up old arguments, but last I checked Subtle Weapons where not giving a bonus to damage if you are not attacking with them.  That was the general consensus of the forum users and seemed to be what the majority of CS and Devs were ruling. 

The now infamous AV page 56 will be pulled up whenever it is used in a build, then people will come on say rule 56 is silly and shouldn't be followed since it invalidates many item powers.  But in the end its pretty clear that Subtle Weapon works fine with this rule and that rule 56 almost certainly applies to it.

Rule 56 states that unless otherwise stated weapon properties and powers only apply when the weapon is used for the attack, unless otherwise stated.

I do agree. So erm... could you show me where I use a Subtle Weapon bonus to damage when not attacking with them ?

lvl 12 nova unless I missed something.

edit- I think I missunderstood, you are attacking with it using Two-Weapon Opening, I mistakenly thought you were addings its +2 to damage.
Only on the extra attacks from TWO, which in fact are done with my Subtle Dagger +2.
ninja'd

btw I really like this thread, didn't mean to derail it
Thanks.
And NP - questions are fair enough.
This is a really nice build, and I've already begun to apply some of it to my tiefling BS rogue (definitely not min/max, but fun nonetheless). I just wanted to know what NOVA means, because I looked through the DND forums Dictionary of Terminology, but to no avail.

Also, I was wondering if you would consider using a Cape of the Mountebank as a neck slot item (it seems you left it open) so you can immediate reaction teleport when you're hit. It doesn't really factor into the damage that much, but it can be used effectively to get CA in many of these cases. Of course, your build is clearly focused on damage output, not how you get CA, but it would definitely help.

And with the combo of bloodiron and frost daggers, if you crit on your first attack with the bloodiron dagger, does the special effect of adding the crit bonus damage to your next attack carry over to the frost dagger, or does it have to be the bloodiron? 
I don't like Cape otM that much.
It's very expensive (+1 level gets you +1 to all NADs), and has a fairly weak daily. I'd much rather suggest a good defensive utility power and/or a more defensive oriented neck, like Cloak of Survival or the cheap Cloak of Resistance. And the CA alone is not worth it.

Bloodiron effects always produce extra damage at the start of your next turn. That only works for attacks with the Bloodiron weapon, but can stack if you crit multiple times a round.

Errata Notice:
The nerf to Daggermaster affected this build indirectly. It makes Deft Blade rather questionable (non Daggermasters with Light Blade Mastery are  not affected), but aside from a slight damage decrease on TWO this doesn't affect the number much. But I might modify the feat order somewhat.
More serious is the change to Bloodiron. It doesn't change much for regular DPR, but as the extra dice are a property now, we can maximise them but cannot incease their number with the War Ring, which lops a significant amount 60 damage off the top nova. I'll recalculate it another day, and I'll see how I can make up for the lost damage, as I'd like to keep it above 1k for sh!t and giggles. It'll probably be just replacing the now fairly medicore Deft Blade with Devastating Critical, which would compensate 40 damage.
What has the errata to Daggermaster changed? (feared this would happen eventually, and I havent even gotten my first character to Paragon yet Frown)
What has the errata to Daggermaster changed? (feared this would happen eventually, and I havent even gotten my first character to Paragon yet )

The 18-20 crit range only applies to Rogue and Daggermaster powers. So, no MCing to use the crit range with other class powers, and no MBAs using the crit range.
Yes, exactly.
And a fair issue with a very bad fix, IMO. Requiring a class feature (Rogue Weapon Talent) as usual would have made much more sense. That would still have capped it to Rogues and those Hybrids who spend their Talent on Rogue Weapon Talent - and if that doesn't cap Sorcs enough, then it's because Sorcs lose so little for MCing and not because of Daggermaster.
Now a Daggermaster has to think long and hard if to make MBAs or use swapped powers. And it's even worse on a Fighter, who lost his Pit Fighter +Wis on his most important attack - his Combat Challege.Foot in mouth
I think a fair fix for both Daggermaster and Pit fighter would have been to restrict the benifits to  martial powers. It would have kept to the intent of only being able to get the benefit when using a weapon as a weapon, but would have still allowed more MC options, and allowed basic attacks.
Thats a bad fix, completely ruins the Deft Blade feat as now you cant crit without Piercing Strike, so why take Deft Blade?

Any chance they'll re-errata that?
Just wanted to say thx for the handbook, it's good!
Thanks ice.

Due popular demand I'll add a Rapier (+Charge) and maybe even a Versatile Duellist variant (particularly useful for heavy MC / Hybrids). It might take some time, because I also want to reorganise the format for better readability. If you have questions, just ask till then.
The basic package for a Rapier Rogue evolves around Rapier, Flash of Blade, Surprising Charge, Deft Blade and if you really want extra DPR get Power Attack. Kensai and Daring Acrobat are good PPs, Shock Trooper works but is a bit more tricky and tends to come as in-between build. As usual get a Horned Helmet. Vanguard works, but it will hurt your non-charge CA later - again the best use when mixing it with a subtle Dagger.
No particular guideline for Versatile Duellists yet, except the advise that VD is the time to pick up the big W powers, invest in accuracy enhancements you normally might skipp, and only get it when you heavily rely on powers of other classes, like PMC / Hybrid / Eternal Seeker Ranger|Rogues.
Observation: A "Lancing Bloodiron dagger +3" with "Superior Implement training" feat and "Devistating critical" feat would give a 6d10 critical damge on first hit and them the same 6d10 critical at the beginning of your next turn, plus "two-weapon opening" with the same weapon in your off-hand and a critical...would bring you to 12d10 crit damage first hit per hand and the same 12d10 crit damge at the begining of your next turn. That's 24d10+sneak attack+weapon damage= ALOT of Freaking Damage in one turn....Whatcha think? Gotta think on the "Superior Implement training" feat and how to get it.
I am pretty sure subtle weapon enchantment property and Iron Armbands of Power are now both item bonuses and don't stack.
True - on the other hand Light Blade Expertise gives +1 dmg / tier with CA, which about compensates.
But at the moment this thread is somewhat outdated, due the huge amount of changes that were introduced since it first creation. But right now it isn't a priority for me to update - and I want to wait with it a bit anyway, until after Wizards has finally settled their Essentials stuff and know where they want to go with it.
Until then I'll leave it as guide for folks to see how to generate 1) good novas, both daily and encounter 2) good base DPR and 3) still have a lot of room for customisation, defense improvement, etc.
* Apply Sneak Attack up to two times: 0.09 * 9.5 + 0.76 * (9.5 + 9.5) + 0.14 * (9.5 + 16) = 18.9



Pardon my ignorance, but how can you get sneak attack damage more than once? Is there a feat for that or something?
 
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Slaying Action allows you to use it again on your action point.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
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