Sunday, June 21, 2009

House Rules - Rogues II

First, this class is built on the thinking and sharing of others, like James Maliszewski, Skathros, Akrasia, and others. I want to thank them before I offer up my derivation of all their ideas.

Now, without further ado, Telecanter's Choose-Your-Own Rogue:


Rogues find themselves on the wrong side of the law more often than not. In order to survive they have to rely on their wits, toughness, and/or flair. You might be a backstreet cutpurse, a burly thug, or a charismatic con artist. Your role is to find a way around obstacles, whether they be locks, walls, or the law itself.

Prime Attribute: One of: Dexterity, Constitution, or Charisma, 13+ (5% experience)
Hit Dice: 1d6-1 per level (gains 1 per level after 9th)
Armor/Shield Permitted: Leather
Weapons Permitted: Any one-handed

Rogue Abilities

Choose 5 of these at start of play:

(Con) Backstab – When attacking from behind roll two dice for damage and take the highest result.

(Con) Street Lore – Know who is powerful, who owes who, and find out local rumors & gossip. Know better where to roust out hirelings and followers.

(Con/Dex) Extraordinary climbing – Climb surfaces that seem humanly impossible to climb.

(Dex) Pick locks/Disarm Traps – With the proper tools, you know how to open locks and make most mechanical traps safe.

(Dex) Two-handed fighter – Using a dagger in the off hand, fighting with two weapons will get a +2 to hit and damage is the average of the two.

(Dex) Escape – No bonds can hold you for long.

(Chr/Dex) Sleight-of-hand – Make small things-- keys, blades, scrolls-- appear to disappear. Also, take things from people without them noticing.

(Chr) Ancient Lore – While anyone might know the value of gems and objects, some have heard tales of items carrying terrible curses and stories of powerful magic items and the ways they are made to work. The rogue with lore has also picked up a smattering of useful words in many languages.

(Chr) Minstrelsy – Improvise poems and songs, play musical instruments, sing and tell jokes, all well enough to gather a crowd and earn a little money.

On the Rogue's Prime Requisite: You may only have one prime requisite. You must have two skills centered on a stat in order to choose that stat as a prime requisite, but you aren't required to. If you want your 14 Con rogue to take all the Charisma oriented skills, that's your prerogative.

Rogue Advancement: After making a table of my own, I realized it was almost exactly that of James Maliszewski's found in Knockspell #2. With one exception, all saving throws are base 15 in my campaign and rogues gain a +2 to saves versus dodgeable traps.

Attracting Followers: At 9th level your reputation will attract less experienced rogues that wish to follow your leadership . . . as long as it profits them. These followers can take the shape of a gang, guild, or troupe depending on the type of rogue you play.

Design Notes:
  • Ability scores are important not just for performing, but acquiring these abilities. For the Con abilities, I imagine the rogue would need to be tough to acquire them (continually falling from walls, getting beat, in the quest of rumors). Likewise for the Chr abilities ( you need to convince the old wizard to tell you about the magic sword or teach you the word for treasure in Stygian).
  • Notice they are called abilities. I'm trying to push towards the idea that these are unique things the rogue can do, like the cleric's ability to turn undead, not skills anybody can pick up over a fortnight. And they are things that the rogue can do most of the time successfully.
  • How to adjudicate these? DMs, you choose. I'd suggest roleplaying where possible, but you can decide if you want to roll on a d6, d20, or d%. I suggest rogues be able to perform these abilities in most cases at 1st level, be able to handle trickier situations at 3rd, better still at 6th, and by 9th only fail in the most extreme of situations.


  1. This is excellent, really sound. I love the flexibility offered.

  2. Thanks! I think the framework will work for other skills too, allowing for DMs to put in ones they like better. In fact I was getting together a post on that . . .

  3. Awesome job, good man.

    Why did you choose to relate Street Lore to Con? Perhaps Cha would have more sense, o Wis.