You Can Have My Sneak Attack When You Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands

Just a heads up, this is your typical fanboy rage post when Mike Mearls says Rogues aren't working how they'd like. 

I totally get that they're seeing a problem with Sneak Attack in that, every rogue does the Advantage-Sneak Attack repeat thing until bad people go away.  But, I feel like it would be a big mistake to make such an iconic feature of the class an option to choose from.  It would be one thing if you had the Fast Talky Bastard Charisma guy who maybe can't sneak attack AS WELL AS Mr. "I am the Night" Broody DPS God Rogue.  The game is already moving in that direction with the Thief and Thug Scheme.  Thugs do it from behind, Thieves do it in the dark yelling surprise.  I just don't think a rogue would have as much appeal without that damage mechanic because looking for and roleplaying for that advantage makes my rogue feel like a rogue.  And I say this as someone who loves to play the wiseass cowardly rogue and would totally welcome something to support that.  But it's worth a few d6, not the whole thing.

Having said that, if you come up with something awesome that I love please ignore this fanboyism.  Thanks.

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."

Just a heads up, this is your typical fanboy rage post when Mike Mearls says Rogues aren't working how they'd like. 

I totally get that they're seeing a problem with Sneak Attack in that, every rogue does the Advantage-Sneak Attack repeat thing until bad people go away.  But, I feel like it would be a big mistake to make such an iconic feature of the class an option to choose from.  It would be one thing if you had the Fast Talky Bastard Charisma guy who maybe can't sneak attack AS WELL AS Mr. "I am the Night" Broody DPS God Rogue.  The game is already moving in that direction with the Thief and Thug Scheme.  Thugs do it from behind, Thieves do it in the dark yelling surprise.  I just don't think a rogue would have as much appeal without that damage mechanic because looking for and roleplaying for that advantage makes my rogue feel like a rogue.  And I say this as someone who loves to play the wiseass cowardly rogue and would totally welcome something to support that.  But it's worth a few d6, not the whole thing.

Having said that, if you come up with something awesome that I love please ignore this fanboyism.  Thanks.



Iseewhatyoudidthere.

In all seriousness, I pretty much agree - fighting dirty is a rogue mainstay, and I'd hate to see it gone. 
I think it would be in the spirit of the new edition to offer a straight DPS rogue and something with a few more bells and whistles in exchange for a reduced but still existent sneak attack.  I think abilities to distract, confuse, and baffle could be really cool.  But, I'm not crazy about mechanics that only modify combat.  Way way too often in 4E someone would use a power like Vicious Mockery or Visions of Avarice where the power's effectiveness should really demand some roleplay.  As a DM I could just tell the PCs what insult would cause physical harm or what the NPC begins chasing, but it felt like a missed opportunity when no one asked.  Or when playing I spend a couple minutes coming up with what I felt would be a convincing argument only to have a DM show no flex when it came to a rigid creativity stifling Diplomacy roll.

I loved 4E, but it did occasionally feel like I was being punished because I chose to bring an expertly crafted knife with 5 pages of backstory to a gun fight that was all about the DeePS.  It would be a mistake to have the cool **** it sounds like my Next Rogue is going to be able to do and put a barbwire fence around it with a sign that say's COMBAT ONLY.  Or going the other way and fiercely demarcate what can't be used after that initiative roll such as the 4E Wizard's Instant Friends spell.  If I wanted abilities to put me on par with a fighter in a straight up fight, I'd just roll a fighter instead.

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 don't know, I agree that Rogues aren't working right, but for me, it's all about Skill Mastery being BS, not Sneak Attack.  

Now, personally, I'd like to bring back Backstab from AD&D.  Get a bonus to hit from behind ("oh no! GM's would have to use judgement about when someone is behind!")--I'd go with getting advantage--and multiply the damage of the attack.  I think AD&D went up to x4 damage eventually, maybe even x5.

Actually, if I can play, "I know this will never happen, but I'd like it to," for a moment, I'd really just like to see Fighter and Rogue get folded together--they can be the non-magic guy who is the master of weapon combat (as opposed to spell combat) and skills (as opposed to utility magic).  You can make sneaky combat styles pretty easily and everyone wins--Fighters get better out of combat utility and Rogues get to be tougher and more useful overall. 
Go in the way of Domains and Sorcerous Origins. The used Schemes so we will call it that.
Have the base Rogue Class have just a single 1d6 sneak attack damage at 1st level and a reduced base progression but have different Schemes modify, enhance or ignore sneak attack.


  • Modify gives different effects (daze, stun, distract, whatever) or improves upon poisons.

  • Enhance drives up the sneak attack dice to gut wrenching levels, something along the current sneak attack progression.

  • Ignore gives other bonuses to other things outside of combat and keeps the base sneak attack progression.


Just an idea.

Other than that, I'm with the crowd that thinks that Skill Mastery is bland and needs work, being the primary area of improvement needed for the Rogue Class. 
I think it would be in the spirit of the new edition to offer a straight DPS rogue and something with a few more bells and whistles in exchange for a reduced but still existent sneak attack.  I think abilities to distract, confuse, and baffle could be really cool.



I'd like to see this a lot.
To me, sneak attack isn't a defining feature of the rogue.  The rogue is the skill monkey - and I think that's where I'd put the focus of the class.  I don't see why all rogues need sneak attack/backstab -to me they're more about utility and solving problems than dealing damage.  By all means have it as an option, but I'd like the ability to swap it out for something different and less combat focussed.
Whilst I do agree that SA is a huge part of being a rogue and should not be removed I also think that rogues are FAR too 1-demensional right now. Adding stuff like trap-making, something similar to UMD or just anything to give them something other than get advantagedo lots of damage
Here's a thought, and I'm not really sure what the solution is.  The desire (need?) to sneak attack comes from the idea (reality?) that the most worthwhile contribution to make during combat is damage.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but the majority of adventures released by WotC during 4E relied on encounters that ended when one side ran out of HP.  Everyone stacks damage and puts down the bloated HP monsters one at a time.  That's how you win.  That isn't to say a good DM doesn't allow for alternate conflict resolution.  But how many adventures treat the different possible resolutions of a conflict (not a combat encounter) as equally important as the other guys fall down?  That sounds damn near impossible to write out in a published adventure.  Although I would say, I think older edition adventures were more flexible in just assuming that the PCs overcome the challenge before them, not necessarily that they won a fight.

Can of worms, not really germane to the issue at hand.  But I think we could agree that one possible solution to the hide-sneak attack pattern is for adventure writers to not put PCs in situations where that is advantageous.  I know its easy to say "I want more roleplaying" but seriously, say every adventure no more than 50% of conflicts/combat encounters scripted to occur CAN be resolved by killing the enemy.  Not 50% have optional creative "outs" but adventures where what would normally be considered an out is a critical and planned part of the resolution.  This feels kind of feels like a Labor Union demanding a wage increase and a pricing freeze for the rest of the consumers, but it'd be interesting to get an answer on.  "Yes, we want adventures that reward creativity."  "Yes, it would be interesting to see a 40 page adventure with the sidebar 'what if the PCs kill everyone' rather than the sidebar discuss what happens if the PCs find a non-violent solution."

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."

The bard is the skill master for me - not the rogue (this and the bard needs to speak 3 languages at least).

Rogue means mean and dirty damage and getting to places others can't.
The bard is the skill master for me - not the rogue (this and the bard needs to speak 3 languages at least). Rogue means mean and dirty damage and getting to places others can't.


The rogue (or thief as it were) was the "original" skill master, although bards do it quite well as well.

Also, they are not looking at taking away SA. They are just looking to deemphasize it, or maybe make it an option. As it stands the last two editions have made SA the focus of being a rogue. In 1e and 2e, it was hardly the focus at all. So they are trying to meet in the middle and have a rogue that can be about both. If you still have the opion to be a SA based rogue, then what does it matter if someone else can be equally as cool as a skill based rogue? You are both happy.
My two copper.
I think the rogue concept has evolved since backstabber. I don't want a rogue to feel like the thief in Conan the Destroyer. I would prefer the rogue to be more Batman or Assassin's Creed. Yeah, sneak attacking people is something that rogues do, but it's not an essential gimmick. Batman isn't totally screwed if he can't get off sneak attacks on people.

I'd rather see sneak attack go back towards its 1E/2E roots where it was actually a sneak attack, as opposed to 3E/4E's version where it should be more accurately named "Cheap shot". Then, simply make the rogue more of a general purpose combatant who can at least hold his own in a straight fight.
I think the rogue concept has evolved since backstabber. I don't want a rogue to feel like the thief in Conan the Destroyer. I would prefer the rogue to be more Batman or Assassin's Creed. Yeah, sneak attacking people is something that rogues do, but it's not an essential gimmick. Batman isn't totally screwed if he can't get off sneak attacks on people.

I'd rather see sneak attack go back towards its 1E/2E roots where it was actually a sneak attack, as opposed to 3E/4E's version where it should be more accurately named "Cheap shot". Then, simply make the rogue more of a general purpose combatant who can at least hold his own in a straight fight.


I 100% agree with this post. 
My two copper.
I think this post alone illustrates what the dev's are talking about with the Rogue class right now. Even in here we have people saying Rogues are "skill guys" and sneak attack should be less emphasised. Then we have others popping up to claim Rogues are dirty fighters and skills should be less important compared to that.

I think the Scheme's should be the rogue's major focus myself. Allowing for all the above listed in this thread to be the rogue if that's what you want...going as far as replacing the Assassin completely and rolling everything he can do into this class.

By that I mean, Rogues should start with what they have now, but in lesser versions overall. Skill Mastery should base at "take 5" so all rogues have a base competence of 11 on any skill check they make with a trained skill. This makes sense, as a rogue should never fail at basic stuff...I'm sure people will argue this point, but one reason i've never liked rogues in the past is the chance they can fail mundane tasks they have no business failing (a rogue should never "fail" a sneak by rolling a 1 and falling on his face, or setting off a simple trip-wire trap or jamming a basic lock).

They should also have sneak attack built in, but perhaps at a base of 1d6 with +1d6 per level.

At this point, a rogue should have access to 3 or 4 "Schemes" that will define their type of rogue: how he plays. Thief is good for the "skill monkey" silent, stealthy, stealy rogue. This would buff your SM to "take 10" so a Thief is now able to pass any hard or lesser skill check, makes sense as a rogue that focuses on skills and stealth should never fail anything listed under hard or lesser skill checks...it just makes no sense and pulls me from my character if I fail to pick a basic lock.

This scheme would enhance skills, ability to hide, and all that jaz it does, and lets you use your sneak attack from advantagous positions though perhaps with a simple 1d6 SA dice per level. I would also hope the devs can come up with another idea to enhance the Thief's identity over the other schemes...perhaps allowing them to hide during combat more easily? IE letting them hide as part of their move 2/3 times an encounter so they can more reliably SA at range for less SA damage?

Another scheme would be the current Thug one. A swashbuckling rogue that is kind of a street bully. He fights dirty, kicks you in the balls, flings dirt in your eyes, gives you wet willies while stealing you lunch money; that kind of stuff. He can pull of "sneak attacks" in the heat of a fight like currently via 2 allies granting him advantage to stab his dagger in your kidney. Perhaps he get's a hit dice advancment, more advanced weapons proficiences, etc. This allows him to be that "fighter/rogue" guy that people are talking about while keeping him in the realm of a Rogue who can still do skillfull acts, though prefers to kick you while you're down then cut your coin purse.

The Assassin would be an easy scheme to work in. Replacing the assassin class with abilities rolled into what a rogue already does (incedently very much the same as an assassin). This would buff your SA dice a ton, allow for powerful poison-based skills, special stealth abilities like sprinting in stealth and perhaps leaping out into a powerful SA style alpha-strike. This rogue would be more about the set-up of the kill that when it exceutes almost guarantees a death. Instead of the Thief's more consistent SA damage from hiding more quickly/often, an assasin would take 2 or 3 turns to set up a good SA, but when it lands it would do very high damage (perhaps adding "Keen" to SA rolls allowing him to get a really high crit rate on SAs).

Another scheme might be a simple rogue. He get's most of everything: a slight bump to skills, maybe a "take 7" or just perhaps a +4 or +5 to skill checks instead of atribute (so you can do wierd stuff to your stats maybe), a better SA than Thief/Thug, but less than assassin. Perhaps some general skills that allow survival in combat, lots of movement kind of like a duelist from fighter styles since he relys less on stealth in combat, and doesn't want to go toe-to-toe with enemies like a Thug.

Just some ideas I had to keep the Rogue interesting. Seems like a solid direction to go with the class, and I hope they run with it. I would like to see each "basic" class have a powerfully defining feature: Fighters get CS, Rogues get Schemes, Sorcerers get Origins, Clerics get domains, Wizards get...something more than they have imo, something interesting like school specializations that aren't as prohibitive as earlier editions; or maybe Wizards could get things like the Necromancer specialty as a class feature and they can yank it from specialites? That might be interesting to have School's of magic give cool class-changing stuff rather than just buffed fireballs or whatnot.

I think the rogue concept has evolved since backstabber. I don't want a rogue to feel like the thief in Conan the Destroyer. I would prefer the rogue to be more Batman or Assassin's Creed. Yeah, sneak attacking people is something that rogues do, but it's not an essential gimmick. Batman isn't totally screwed if he can't get off sneak attacks on people.

I'd rather see sneak attack go back towards its 1E/2E roots where it was actually a sneak attack, as opposed to 3E/4E's version where it should be more accurately named "Cheap shot". Then, simply make the rogue more of a general purpose combatant who can at least hold his own in a straight fight.

+1
Personally, I think skills and sneak attack are both rogue mainstays. Skills are why you bother to be one, sneak attack is how you don't suck in combat and seem all right.

For me both are iconic to the class, and if you really want just one or the other you don't have to play both up.

As it is you can get it if you want it but it seems like you ought to be able to get it at level 1. I mean, how hard is it to sneak attack if you are hidden?
What if the parameters for when can sneak attack can be used were changed. For example, say sneak attack could only be used once per opponent per combat. Once the initial attack has occoured the opponent will be extra wary of getting hammered again from behind. This way you can still have the BS cause substantial damage, but it can't be a rinse and repeat ability. To do this, the thief should still get some sort of advantage if they choose to hide and attack again, but it shouldn't be as strong as the intial attack. Say, they get their int, str, or dex bonus to any ctreature they are flanking or are sneak attacking after the intial strike.