Character Creation Notes: Halfling Rogue

I'm going through full character creation for the first time, and I wanted to bring up any issues or confusion I have. This is just one character - I'm helping my son and friends generate a whole party over the next few days, so I'll hopefully do a few more of these.

  • Rogue/Acrobat gives Climb Sheer Surfaces, but not the Climb skill. The Climb Sheer Surfaces Feat doesn’t mention giving the skill. Similarly, it looks like the Thief option gives Skill Focus (Sneak) without necessarily giving the Sneak skill.

  • With a good stat, you can do crazy things. We built from die roll, and my son’s Halfling Thief happened to have a 20 DEX after creation. At level 1, he can average 9 damage with his bow (13 on sneak attack), which is kinda crazy. He’s going to waltz through Keep on the Borderlands.

  • Why would a martial character who cares about combat choose anything but Weapon Mastery as their feat? Statistically, it has a dramatically larger effect on combat than anything else.

  • There are various things that I think of as skills that have been divided into different areas – Pick Locks is part of the Thieves’ Tool proficiency, Pick Pockets is a feat, Sneak is still a skill. This was confusing for a bit – I thought my son’s rogue was lacking all of the basic Rogue skills. It turns out he’s just missing some.

  • Beyond my confusion, I can see problems with ‘skills’ being divided into different fields. They’re all special abilities that often require a Characteristic check. But I can only apply “Skill Focus” to one category, not the others. In most versions of the game, there are various spells and items and Bard songs and so on that give skill bonuses – do those only apply to “skills”? How would gloves that give me a bonus to picking locks be phrased? Maybe that's why I've been seeing "DEX-based checks" and other equally awkward phrasing in various places.

  • Halfling says its size S. It doesn’t say what this means in the game. I think it means very little except for some weapon choices, but it’d be nice to clarify that in any non-M race descriptions, especially since some other editions had more gameplay effects.

  • My son’s Halfling Rogue Acrobat with STR 17 can jump 32’ (with his free Vault feat). The way I read the jump description (page 9), he runs at least 10’ and then goes 32’ more, all as part of one move action. Combined, that’s a lot faster than his movement speed (25’). The jump section doesn’t describe any drawbacks to this, so I could see him bouncing around combat all the time. Which would feel as silly as it does in FPS games.

  • Alternately, the core Modes of Movement says you can combine movement types, deducting from your total until it’s used up. Which seems to contradict the jumping description on the next page. And I don’t know how this would work with mixed movement distances. If he can run 25’ and jump 32’, how does the deduction work? Am I supposed to do complex fractions to figure this out? Or does the Vault feat give me more jumping distance than I can ever reasonably use? (Since I have to deduct at least 10' to get going.)

As a comment that is completely unhelpful to your questions, I would like to say that I LOVE that you're playing D&D with your son.  I just had a baby boy a month and a half ago and I hope to one day be sitting at a table with him playing D&D.  That's awesome.
Yea, the Rogue's a little weird in the current packet. Personally, I don't like proficiency requirements for Thieves Tools, as it discourages inventive character types without a Feat Tax. They really should keep the Skills as Skills, and simply make the Rouge better at them than others.

A high starting Ability Score makes for a strong starting character, but with the limit of 20 they cap out earlier. Your son may do well early, but it will correct itself out fairly well.

Weapon Mastery is WAY OP. Seriously.

Small has no relation to character creation, other than the limitation on Heavy Weapons. However, there will likely be situations where a small character can have some advantages or disadvantages. Crawling in tight spaces and being swallowed whole come to mind.

I didn't realize how strong Vault was... but I don't see the confusion on the movement limitation. You simply use your full movement, and end your turn in mid-jump. On the start of the next turn you finish the jump, reducing the movement available for the turn. It may seem weird at first, but realize that technically everything that happens in a round happen near simultaneously. (Funny side note, I knew a player in 3E who had a monk that took several minutes to complete a jump... at maximum it was near a quarter mile).

Oh, and great job raising a member of the next generation of Table-top Geek!
Picking a background gives you four more skills plus one trait.
Background: Yep, I see how to get skills, but if the choice of Background is meant to be separate from Class, I found it odd that you could pick a classic Class and have so few of the associated skills. (Associated in my brain, at least) My son could have picked the Thief background, but he already knew he was a wanderer from Atlantis, so he didn't. Maybe I'll do Ranger next to test the skill/class breaks out further.

Small: Yeah, that's what I'd thought. I just wished they'd saved me the grueling 5 minutes of double-checking that I wasn't missing anything important by just saying that in the Race description.

Mixed Movements: Yeah, I can see multi-turn movement being an option, but I don't see that described anywhere in the rules. And that creates other odd issues like what if I'm between turns and a) want to change direction, or b) get moved by something else like a spell or knockback? Everything I see in the rules seems to assume that movement ends when your turn ends.

Proficiencies: I didn't mind the concept of Proficiencies - it makes equipment matter - but in practice I found it kinda confusing. The Feat Tax didn't apply here, since Rogues get it for free, but I see what you're saying about other character types. If they go further with the "Feats as micro-cross-classing", then I could see traps and locks as being the rogue equivalent to those "you can cast a cantrip or two" feats, which do make sense to me. But I also liked (was it 3e or 4e?) where they basically made Detect Magic a skill that anyone could take.

(I could probably remember the 3/4e question if I gave it a moment's thought, but it amuses me to confuse the two given the overall tone of 3e/4e discussion here, so I'm just going to leave it. Maniacal laugh.)