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The horror of Yukon

D&D next playtest feedback: rogue class/skill system

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so I forgot to really comment on my opinions regarding the skill system, so will do that in addition to assessing the rogue/halfling as a whole.

Again, I like the racial bonuses do damage dice on certain weapons. Especially for dagger, cause normally it is worthless as a weapon.

Regarding skills and background, I said I like them, but I really like the freeformness of skills. Using what makes sense as a check and have the player roll. The background (and class in this case) obviously give bonuses to skills. So I like the new skill system.

Again I will say though, it will be nice if you can construct your own backgrounds. Let me rephrase that, cause obviously you can, who is going to stop you. Rather, a framework on how to construct your own that are COMPARABLE to what is there already.

Theme: lurker - will come back to this. Want to address a lot of things simultaneously. This goes for naturally stealthy too.

Lucky, I like this. Matches what was seen in 4e. Again, as I said with the fighter, I think a 3/day allocation is better. Obviously they are matching "encounter" powers with 2/day, but typically you get in an average of 3. Also, this is not limited to separate encounters. You can blow them all in one go. I just think 3 seems to allow for using it once per encounter if a player chooses to do so (or blow them all if he knows the day is almost out or this is the big boss battle).

Trade - meeh. Compared to some of the others, this feature (in addition the skill bonuses) seems mediocre compared to some of the other examples. It is ok, but I am just not a fan. I wouldn't get rid of it, just not a personal fan. As for the skills involved, I think a "conversation" skill would be better fitting. Reflects you know how to chat up a storm to warm up a customer, but serves a nice purpose when visiting the local tavern to gather info.

Rogue scheme: another place to customize your thief. I am curious as to what the others look like, but this appears to be the standard skill set for a rogue/thief.

Thieves' cant: a throwback to 1st edition (did 3rd or 2nd have it, can't remember). While ok, the benefits are not overwhelming. It is a nice thematic element, but I hope it is not accounted for when saying one scheme is just as viable as another.

Thief hiding/sneak attack: again, later

Skill mastery: nice. I really like this. Without that many trained skills, it is not too powerful, but nothing is more frustrating then totally fudging a remove trap roll.

Knack: again, similar to skill mastery. I think this goes back to making rogue the skill master rather than the damage master. Whether that is required for me, I am indifferent, but I do like it. I was never comfortable with how played down a rogue's skillfulness was in 4e (but didn't affect gameplay TOO much). As such, this makes a thief really good at skills. The big problem is the lack of trained skills. I know knack is independent of that, but it would be nice if as part of being a thief, you could gain training in more skills.

Night vision: I don't know if that is a halfling thing or a rogue thing (or a combo halfing rogue thing), but what occurs if you are an elf thief. Night vision is always a nice thing to have (somewhat useless when you have the blind human trailing along), but when scouting ahead is useful.

Skulker: and this is where I will address the missing bits.

When I first glanced at the rogue, I thought, without flanking, his sneak attack reverts to its pitiful state that it was in 1st edition. I played a thief once or twice, and there was usually one in the party. It was always the same though: take forever to get hidden (if you could even do that) and get ONE sneak attack off (assuming you hit).

However, with all of his little doo-hickeys (ambusher, naturally stealthy, thief hiding, skulker) there is a bit more consistency. I think it will still be a challenge to set up that sneak attack, but that might almost make it just as fun.

But when we used to play it, if the baddy knew you where you were in the room at the beginning of the encounter, there was no hope of a sneak attack. Here, it is seems the rules support a bit a leniency. You can go hide easily (especially with knack or skill mastery) THEN sneak attack.

As for sneak attack progression, I am very hesitant. I don't know what the expected progression will be like. I don't know if it will be more like 1st edition (9th-15th level you stop getting cool stuff) 3.x (meant to stop at 20th level, use new rules past that, though) or 4e (1-10 heroic level, 11-20 paragon, 21-30 epic level type of play). In any case, I believe 1d6/level seems like low at first, but really high later on.

I think it would be better to have a high start, but slow progression. I was thinking something like HERO's scaling of killing damage, but that might be too complicated for those keeping it simple. HERO scales killing damage as damage classes (DC). for every 3 DC, there is a 1d6, in between it is either +1 or 1/2 d6. So 10 DCs is 3d6+1.

But 1/2 d6 always confuses people for some odd reason. As such I was thinking you start out as 2d6 and gain a 1d6 every other level. OR start out as 1d6+2, and gain a "+2" per level, but if greater than 3, that 3 becomes a new 1d6. So 1d6+2, 2d6+1, 3d6, etc... OR just 1d6+2/level. So at 10th level 1d6+20. The average would be 23.5 compared to the average of 10d6 (35).

But I don't think the progression rate works. In short, start big, grow slow. Otherwise, I think it will get out of hand.

Finally, I have to go back to my problem with fighter in that he is boring. Not as bad as a fighter, but in combat, he is still stuck with two choices, try for sneak attack or just attack.

I am not as adamant with the rogue though cause of all his skillfulness. He may not be able to do a lot in combat, but he can do a lot out of combat.

With a fighter, he should be able to shine in combat, especially compared to the other clerics, as that is his domain.

I have heard arguments saying, well simple players like fighters cause they are simple. I have never met a player so "simple" that he couldn't figure out a 1st level character from 4e. I understand getting lost in a paragon level runepriest, but even the essential line of fighter was straightforward enough (if not TOO straightforward) for any player to understand.

I think it is silly to allow for wizards to be more powerful, because of added complexity and complex players like complex classes. I am a total advocate for choices, options, maneuvers, etc... But I sacrificed that to play the fighter I wanted to play. Yes, sacrificed. I could have gone for a powerful spell-wielding cleric who could hold his own in combat, but no, I wanted a barbarian type (this was 1st edition before unearthed arcana). Should I have to sacrifice thematics for effectiveness? Never. It boils back down to this is a game, and thematics shouldn't have to come at the cost of effectiveness.

So in the context of a rogue, a bit limited in combat, but at least not as bad as fighter. Again, I think maneuvers would do nicely.

Of course not the same as fighter. Remember the other thing, diversity.

I think a rogues should be sneak/stealth oriented. Maneuver associated with advantage/disadvantage. Maybe something that protects the rogue from getting pummeled (a defensive advantage or something). Rogue is a bit harder, but I think it could get done.

Although, if it came to one over the other, please fix the fighter over the rogue.

Next time: the wizard and his spell system (but not specific spells)

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