This is a system-agnostic alternative rogue class for D&D style adventures which goes well with the previously posted Cleric, Fighter, and Wizard.
Rogues are skilled tricksters who live by guile and cunning. Their skills are much sought-after by other adventurers, because delving dungeons and fighting evil often reward an indirect approach. Rogues gain their level bonus to tasks only if they know one or more skills in the related skill tree. The bonus is only half level without. Rogue skills are divided into 4 trees, as follows:
Tree Skilled in
Thuggery Dirty tricks and mischief
– Thugs are skilled in combat, but in sneaky ways rather than how a fighter is. Initiative is a good skill for them, but they’re only half-level skilled in attack rolls unless pulling off some kind of sneaky trick, such as a low blow, sneak attack, or feint.
Traps Laying, recognizing, and disarming traps
– Called pranksters or “security experts” depending on respectability, rogues with these skills can lay and recognize traps with skill. They are also skilled with locks and other mechanisms, and often well versed in figuring out magical items.
Stealth Hiding, silence, noticing others, tracks
– Sneak-thieves can be identified mainly by which valuables are missing after they’ve been through. They also find work as spies and scouts, often being skilled at following tracks without being tracked, as well as noticing others while remaining un-noticed.
Deception Lying, forgery, reading faces, appraisal
– Charmers and confidence men, these rogues not only know how valuable your mother’s antique vase is, but can talk you into believing it’s worth a tenth of what it ought to be – and then talk their next mark into believing it’s worth twice what it ought.
Any kind of rogue is skilled at gambling, including cheating. Of course, the style of play and cheating will change depending on the skills of the rogue, but it is an activity which exists at the perfect sweet spot between all rogue skills.
Whenever a Rogue learns a skill, he or she also gains (or remembers) a contact, who not only teaches (or taught) the Rogue that skill – but ended up owing him or her a favor when they last parted. Thus, for each skill the Rogue knows, there is a contact out there who has similar skills and can be called upon for a favor trade, and the Rogue starts one up in the trading. For example, Jimmy the first level rogue starts off with the Thuggery skill “Twist the Knife.” He’ll always remember the crazy old hobo who taught him how to really make someone squeal when he shanked them, so they wouldn’t mess with him again. If he ever needs backup for going after someone near his hometown, it’s that hobo he’d probably look for. After all, he did always buy him another bottle, whenever he had the cash.
Hit Die: d6
There are five levels of skill in a tree, each requiring a certain number of skills already learned in that tree:
Level Name Required Skills
1 New Fish 0
2 Beginner 2
3 Competent 4
4 Old Hand 6
5 Teacher 8
Thuggery New Fish Skills
– When an opponent is in a bad position, this rogue knows how to get a cheap shot in. Double any penalties to defense suffered versus this rogue’s attacks.
Twist the Knife
– This rogue – possibly due to a slightly off-kilter psyche – enjoys inflicting pain. When damaging an enemy with an attack, the rogue inflicts a -1 penalty to d20 rolls due to pain. This penalty can stack up to the rogue’s Level.
– Rogues often learn when it’s best to get OUT of a fight. When an enemy misses with an attack, the rogue may take an extra move action away from that opponent, once per round.
Thuggery Beginner Skills
Cloak and Dagger
– When an opponent believes the rogue is unarmed, the first attack she makes on him rolls twice for damage and takes the better result.
Shiv and Blackjack
– This rogue is skilled with improvised and unusual weapons. No matter the environment, if anything can be brought to hand besides the rogue’s own body, a 1d6 weapon can be fashioned out of it.
– Rogues will take the dishonorable action just to shock an opponent into some kind of reaction. By foregoing damage on an attack against a sentient opponent with whom the rogue shares a language, that opponent may be stunned for 1d4 rounds.
Thuggery Competent Skills
– An unaware opponent is a dead opponent waiting to happen. When the target is taken by surprise, this rogue does double damage.
– The rogue is comfortable hanging upside down from a ledge or walking a tightrope or in any precarious fighting situation. Nothing short of being bound hand and foot gives the rogue a penalty to defense – and the penalty for being restrained without being fully immobilized is only -2 defense.
– When striking or struck by an enemy in melee, the rogue may make a check as if picking the enemy’s pockets, and if successful may take any item carried on the enemy’s person – including a weapon or other item held in the hand.
Thuggery Old Hand Skills
– This rogue is quite practiced at going for the eyes, suffering no called shot penalty to do so.
– In his element, this rogue is quite intimidating. If encountered in a close, dark setting, this rogue may provoke a save versus terror when revealing a weapon.
Thuggery Teacher Skills
– Whenever this rogue deals damage, she also knocks an opponent prone.
– This rogue’s idea of caring for a weapon would sicken any real warrior. However, this also sickens people he stabs. A save versus disease is required the next time anyone wounded by the rogue rests; a failed save indicates a crippling disease has been contracted.
Traps New Fish Skills
– Traps set by this rogue are undetectable to small game such as rabbits or squirrels.
– This rogue can set traps for large game such as deer or bison which the game will not detect.
– Traps set for people may be made to deal damage as an oversized weapon (1d12) or to immobilize (effectively tied up and unable to act until freed, on failed save).
Traps Beginner Skills
– Finding this rogue’s traps without setting them off is half again as difficult as normal.
– Attempting to simply smash the mechanism of this rogue’s traps will set the trap off instead.
– This rogue can safely set up a poisonous trap, never poisoning himself with his trap materials.
Traps Competent Skills
– A trap may be set up as quickly as one combat turn – however, it will benefit from no other skills but this one. One other skill may be applied per additional combat turn of setup.
– This is the skill to flawlessly design a specific way around a trap. For example, a pressure plate trigger designed not to go off when stepped on at a specific spot, or a series of tripwires which allow a certain pattern of steps and ducks to get through safely.
– Traps to do less obvious things like marking someone with a smell or color, indicate that an area has been searched, or other objectives are possible without a check with this skill.
Traps Old Hand Skills
– Attacking a rogue with this skill is dangerous. When missed in combat, the attacker must save against a trap hidden on the rogue’s own person. This is actually a reactive action taken by the rogue, but the rogue has prepared the weapons for it in such a way that it must be defended against like a trap.
– A single trap can be made to perform multiple attacks, triggering multiple saves with one trigger, using this skill. Up to the rogue’s level in different save effects may be keyed to one trap without needing to roll.
Traps Teacher Skills
– Traps this rogue sets must be successfully detected and disarmed twice, because there are back-up triggers and extra hidden delivery mechanisms.
– Normally, it requires fairly extensive materials to set up a trap, or at least that the rogue have some kind of tools and supplies. This skill represents a mastery of using found objects to create traps. This rogue can set up traps using random detritus which are equally effective as traps crafted with proper tools and materials.
Stealth New Fish Skills
– Once this rogue has found a hidden spot, assuming she does nothing but stay put and says nothing, nobody will find her short of tripping over her. That is, opposed rolls against her stealth can’t be retried if she has a hiding place.
– For one combat turn per level, the rogue can move at full pace without making a single sound, even breathing.
– If this rogue begins and ends his movement in total cover or concealment, treat the condition as not ending due to the movement.
Stealth Beginner Skills
– It is possible with this skill to focus attention on just one person and be invisible to that person by avoiding his or her gaze, even though others nearby can see the rogue.
– This skill covers disappearing in crowds by becoming a member of them. With affectations of posture and mannerisms – and sometimes a quick change of a clothing item – the rogue becomes indistinguishable from just another person on the street. This allows attempts to hide in plain sight as long as there is a crowd present.
Movement and Color
– This rogue knows how to use movements and colors in the environment as camouflage. Blending in with natural elements of scenery, the rogue may move without penalty to stealth so long as he hasn’t gotten involved in combat or other activities which would alert observers.
Stealth Competent Skills
Where You Least Expect
– There are a lot of places people just don’t tend to look very often, including anywhere a few feet above or below eye level. Rogues trained to know how to recognize these excellent hiding places gain double the bonus to stealth from having any cover at all, and can take advantage of unusual cover such as pressing themselves into the corner of wall and ceiling.
– Trained well, a rogue can vanish in the momentary distraction provided by a smoke bomb, flash bomb, or even dropping a curtain over enemies. This skill eliminates any penalties for opponents being aware of the rogue’s presence before she tries to enter stealth, as long as she has some kind of tool of distraction.
– Using tricky echoes, a rogue can make sounds which seem to come from somewhere he isn’t, tricking an opponent into looking in the wrong place. When using stealth to evade pursuit, this skill doubles the margin of victory when the rogue wins the opposed check.
Stealth Old Hand Skills
Faster than the Eye
– Darting back and forth, rolling, flipping, jumping off scenery; this rogue is everywhere except where an enemy is looking. With no cover at all, a rogue trained this way can still make an opposed check to gain stealth until her action ends; this requires moving flat out, but never in a straight line.
– Trained to listen to background noise carefully, this rogue can match his movements to the timing of environmental noise. Any bonuses to moving unheard for ambient noise are doubled for this rogue, therefore.
Stealth Teacher Skills
– This rogue’s hands are so quick, she may take any object small enough to be lifted easily in one hand and conceal it on her person in plain sight with no penalty to the check not to be noticed, even under intense scrutiny and right out in the open.
– If this rogue gets initiative over an enemy who has noticed him, he may kill that enemy (save or die on hit) silently, so that no others will notice him.
Deception New Fish Skills
– It’s easier to conceal small things, especially by omission. If no evidence to the contrary is available to the deceived, then he cannot make an opposed check to detect this rogue’s lies. He must decide whether or not to believe based on the rogue sounding genuine and reasonable, and the rogue’s reputation.
– Getting away with deceit is easier when you’re trusted already. This rogue has learned to make a habit of doing small favors for people in her downtime – and should often be called on for bigger favors during play. In return, NPCs should always have one category better reactions to her, unless she’s specifically made a mortal enemy of a particular NPC.
– The best way to persuade is often to share only the facts which support your case. This rogue is skilled at this, and thus may safely capitulate against an opposed roll to sense his truthfulness when using this tactic – he will seem truthful because everything he is saying is true. An opponent can’t determine he’s leaving things out without an independent source.
Deception Beginner Skills
– Unless solid proof of this rogue’s ill intent is presented, no character will blame her for providing false or misleading information; she must have made an honest mistake. Reaction categories of NPCs will therefore not decrease without specific evidence.
– If this rogue knows what his opponent wants, he can use that desire to make the opponent persuade him or herself in the rogue’s case. This forces the opponent to succeed at a save in such a case before even trying to make the opposed check with the rogue, automatically failing the check and being convinced if the save fails.
– Words can be twisted to mean almost anything, by making irrational assumptions but backing them up as if they should be taken seriously. No penalty is applied to the opposed check made by a rogue with this skill for lacking evidence for his claims.
Deception Competent Skills
– This rogue doesn’t always hurt the one she loves, but when she does, they never see it coming. Attacks against characters who trust her are always unexpected. Obviously, any given character will stop trusting her after she starts attacking!
– If the rogue chooses not to say anything, nobody can make him talk. The rogue may choose to make a save before an opposed check for someone questioning or scrutinizing him; if he makes the save, then he automatically wins the opposed check.
– Liars often need to know if they’re being lied to. Skilled in reading tells, this rogue knows when someone else is lying, unless that person makes a successful save.
Deception Old Hand Skills
– Sexual arousal loosens lips. Any character who is attracted to the rogue loses any attribute bonus on an opposed check to avoid being persuaded by her.
In Vino Veritas
– Skilled at working his marks with alcohol, this rogue gains double advantage when his opponent in a social situation is drunk to any degree.
Deception Teacher Skills
Late is the Hour
– Double all fatigue penalties to opposed social checks against this rogue, and halve the penalties she suffers from fatigue to such checks. She is skilled in overcoming fatigue, and using it against her enemies, because late at night is the best time for her work.
– Anger is weakness; this rogue may turn an opponent’s anger against his own purposes. Negative reaction modifiers instead become bonuses for this rogue, who has equal ease using a person’s good or bad opinions to persuade him.
Ian Price, author of the Tabletop Treasury posts on this site, is the creator of Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools and Bad Decisions, and has contributed to the Ghouls, Carthians, and Chronicler’s Guide books for Vampire: The Requiem. Bad Decisions has a Kickstarter project, which successfully funded!