Wednesday, October 5, 2022

D&D Class Breakdown: Rogue

For new players, it can be hard to choose your first class. For veteran players, it can be hard to choose a class and not fall into stereotypes everyone's seen a thousand times. So now I'm going to deconstruct the 5E Player's Handbook classes (Sorry Artificer, you'll come later) and talk about what works, what doesn't, and some interesting ways to play the classes. 

I won't be going into game mechanics as much as I'll be going into roleplay. 

Let's talk about Rogues! 

What is a Rogue? 

We have yet another class based off basic pre-industrial jobs. I kind of love how what was an everyday job 500 years ago is now a fantasy aspiration, like having physical skill is only obtainable in fiction. 

Well that's a mood. 

Anyway, like the fighter and ranger, every culture has someone able to blend into the shadows for one reason for another. The need in criminal circles is obvious, since being able to sneak is handy for thieves and assassins, but the skill also comes in handy for those who need to spy, hunt animals silently, and even protect the innocent by infiltrating bad guy spaces.  

Professional criminals are of course commonly tied to rogues, with burglars being the most in need of the skills. This isn't the "Give up your GP or your HP" sort of thug that mugs people on the streets, but the one that slips into the governor's manor in the dark of the night, taking only the truly valuable jewels, and leaving before anyone even realizes he's there. That's the spirit of the rogue. 

Quick note: the X-Men Rogue, the southern belle mutant who steals people's memories and abilities with a touch, is obviously not the kind of rogue we're talking about. Her name is in reference to the more ambiguous rogue, someone who is on the outskirts of society or the group. Since Rogue can never have a physical relationship without causing harm, she took up the name to express that she will always be an outsider. 

In The Game

Always looking for the next take, the rogue is the unsavory element in society that everyone regrets to admit that they need. The rogue knows how to get into the most guarded dungeons, infiltrate the enemies bases, and deal the lethal blow quickly and effectively. 

Most other classes see the rogue as an unstable wild-card, never quite sure weather or not the rogue can stay loyal if the right about of gold is offered, or if the dangerous individual with the unsettling amount of knives may become the next big bad. 

Players generally play three types of rogues: the murder-hobo, the kleptomaniac and the edge-lord. The murder hobo is the immoral psychopath with a lust for blood and who takes any slight as an excuse to execute the countless NPCs who cross their path. The kleptomaniac will steal anything that's either not nailed down or on fire, sometimes regardless of their value or how much trouble it could cause. The edge-lord wants everyone at the table to know that their character is dark and mysterious, constantly talking about sulking alone in a dark corner and taking a no-nonsense attitude to the parties shannegains. 

Annoying, all of them. 

Breaking the Trope

People playing this class tend to focus only on the criminal aspect of the rogue, rarely exploring the possibilities the class truly has. The following ideas will break away from the basic criminal element and show what can be done with the rogue class. 

Thrillseeker: There's a certain thrill of being somewhere you're not supposed to and seeing things only certain people can see. The thrillseeker may take a trinket here or there, but their main goal is to see what they can find, see how far in they can get before they get caught, and see what dirty little secrets they can reveal. 

Scout: Having someone to scout ahead is an unappreciated strategy for parties. You're basically breaking the DM's game by taking a peek ahead and setting off traps, accessing enemy strengths and weaknesses, and taking out an annoying guard ahead of time. 

Master of Disguise: You can hide in the shadows, yes, but what if you blended into a crowd? What if you got close to the cultist leader by pretending to be one of his inner circle? Slip into the king's party, dance with the queen, taste some crudités, take out the corrupt duke, then slip out with the rest of the shocked party guests. 

Famous Rogues

Vax'ildan (Critical Role): The rangers twin from Vox Machina, Vax is prone to breaking and entering to find the bad guy's lair and getting into trouble, including being hypnotized by a vampire. He's handy in a fight, but don't put him up against a door. 

Catwoman (DC) Selina Kyle is a literal cat burglar, so much so that at one point she put on cat ears and started owning the nickname. She's robbed every bank, museum and penthouse in Gotham, broken into and out of Arkham Asylum, and robbed billionaires like Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor. The only thing you find after one of Catwoman's burglaries are some shredded curtains and your valuables missing. 

Flynn Ryder (Tangled)
I'd put Aladdin on here to represent Disney, but honestly Aladdin's a shoplifter compared to Flynn, who we meet completing a successful heist to steal a crown. He's a charismatic thief who can talk his way into and out of most situations. Not content to steal everything of value, Flynn focuses on the high value targets to get what he really wants, though his biggest prize is when he stole Rapunzel's heart. 


1 comment:

  1. I actually play a rogue scout right now. She's an 11 year old urchin gnome girl, so very small. She grew up on the streets and has taken in a lot of jobs with the theives guild here and there. For a time, she was raised by a Robin Hood type figure and trained. She's a scout and is really good at sneak attacks with her daggers and doing damage either from a distance or running in and out. She's quite capable and hates being treated like a child, even if she still is one. She has been super fun to play.