Eclipse and D&D Fifth Edition – The Rogue

I mentioned in the previous article that the cleric was something of a hybrid between the archetypes of the fighter and the wizard. That’s true, but the cleric has the status of being one of the three original D&D classes – the same cannot be said for the rogue.

Rogue

“Stabbing a back is philosophically the same as picking a lock.”

While initially appearing in a fanzine shortly after Dungeons and Dragons’ original release in 1974, the rogue – then called the thief – formally debuted in Greyhawk, the first supplement for D&D. It was divisive right from the start, as it’s percentage chances of performing certain actions highlighted the exception-based nature of the rules. After all, if thieves had a class ability to open locks 75% of the time, didn’t that mean that other class must therefore have a worse chance of being able to do so (if they could at all)?

Despite this, the thief became a mainstream part of the game, appearing alongside its predecessor classes from then on. It remained largely unchanged until the advent of Third Edition, which not only changed its name to the rogue (for reasons that continue to escape me) but its role in the game as well. Whereas the thief had been focused on special actions that it could undertake, with combat ability as a secondary concern; the rogue, by contrast, reversed the order in which those roles were valued – it was a skirmisher first, and a talented problem-solver second.

As for the Basic version of the D&D Fifth Edition rogue, let’s take a look at its stats, broken down via Eclipse: the Codex Persona, and see which of its historical presentations it more closely adheres to:

The Basic 5Eclipse Rogue

Available Character Points: 504 CP (level 20 base).

Basic Abilities (167 CP)

  • 20d8 Hit Dice (80 CP).
  • Proficiencies: Light armor (3 CP), simple weapons (3 CP), thieves’ weapons (hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers, shortswords) (3 CP).
  • BAB: +6 Warcraft, specialized for one-half cost/only applies to weapons that you have proficiency with, corrupted for two-thirds cost/no iterative attacks (12 CP).
  • Saves: +6 to two saving throws (36 CP).
  • Skills: +6 to four skills (24 CP), and +6 to Disable Device and Open Lock, specialized for one-half cost/require thieves’ tools (6 CP).

The rogue not only starts off with more skills than the other Basic 5E classes, but it has proficiency with thieves’ tools, letting it apply its proficiency bonus to any check that uses those tools. Since thieves’ tools are traditionally used only for disabling devices and opening locks, it makes the most sense to simply buy ranks in those skills normally, and then specialize them as requiring thieves’ tools to use.

In a game that uses the Pathfinder skill system, this would only be applied to Disable Device (as that has Open Lock as part of its functionality), saving the rogue 3 CP.

Class Features (271 CP)

  • Expertise: Four instances of Skill Focus, specialized for double effect/must be applied to a skill you have ranks in and does not provide a higher bonus than your current ranks in that skill (24 CP).
  • Sneak Attack: Augment Attack for 10d6 (when the enemy is flanked, flat-footed, or denied their Dexterity bonus to AC), specialized for one-half cost/only once per round, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only with “finessable” or ranged weapons (10 CP).
  • Thieves Cant: Speak Language 1 rank (1 CP).
  • Cunning Action: Three uses of Reflex Training (dash, disengage, and hide), all corrupted for two-thirds cost/cannot be strung together with other Reflex Training actions (12 CP).
  • Ability Score Improvement: +12 ability score increase (144 CP).
  • Uncanny Dodge: Damage reduction 5, specialized for double effect/only versus physical damage and only for one-half the total damage inflicted, corrupted for increased effect/must be aware of attacker, uses an attack of opportunity (12 CP).
  • Evasion: Improved Fortune (Reflex) (12 CP).
  • Reliable Talent: Luck with +12 Bonuses Uses, specialized for double effect/only for use with skills, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not re-roll or take 20; instead treat a result of 9 or lower as a 10 (16 CP).
  • Blindsense: Occult Sense (detect hidden or invisible creatures), specialized for one-half cost/only within 10 feet of you, corrupted for two-thirds cost/auditory-based (2 CP).
  • Slippery Mind: +6 to third saving throw (18 CP).
  • Elusive: Awareness with the Flankless modifier (12 CP).
  • Stroke of Luck: Luck with +4 Bonuses Uses, specialized for half cost/only for attack rolls and Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, specialized for half cost/only for skill and ability checks. Both corrupted for two-thirds cost/each can only be used once before requiring a one-hour rest (8 CP).

We’re making a few compromises here in favor of fewer abilities granting absolutes. For example, Uncanny Dodge as written removed half of the damage you took, regardless of how much that was. It was essentially removing one-half of infinite damage. Since Eclipse (by design) has very few unlimited abilities, we’re instead granting that as a limited form of damage reduction, which does make more sense overall. After all, it’s one thing to halve the damage from the swipe of a claw or an axe – it’s another thing to suggest that a power can halve the damage of anything, up to and including a planet being dropped on you, because you’re that good at dodging.

We’re also reinterpreting instances that would “grant advantage” in combat where things like Sneak Attack and Elusive are concerned. Since these are clearly meant to be referring the circumstances from Third Edition such as being flanked or flat-footed, we’ll simply tie them back to those circumstances directly.

Thief Archetype (39 CP)

  • Fast Hands: Three uses of Reflex Training (Sleight of Hand, disarm a trap or open a lock, or use an object), all corrupted for two-thirds cost/cannot be strung together with other Reflex Training actions (12 CP).
  • Second-Story Work: Immunity to speed penalties when climbing (uncommon/minor/minor) (2 CP). Skill Focus (Jump), specialized for double effect/only applies to a running long-jump (6 CP).
  • Supreme Sneak: Luck with +8 Bonus Uses, specialized in Hide and Move Silently checks for one-half cost, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only when moving at one-half speed or less (6 CP).
  • Use Magic Device: Immunity to class, race, and level requirements to activate magic items (common/major/major) (9 CP).
  • Thief’s Reflexes: Reflex Training (the first round of combat), specialized for increased effect/take an additional round’s worth of actions, second turn goes at initiative -10; corrupted for two-thirds cost/only works when not surprised (4 CP).

The rogue’s abilities come to a grand total of 477 CP out of 504. That’s just over a level below their total allotment, and slightly lower than the Basic 5E cleric and fighter, which also spent less than their total CPs, but not by quite so much. Interestingly, while this is a few feats’ worth below the Pathfinder rogue, it’s almost exactly as much as the 3.5 rogue spends.

The level-by-level breakdown for the Basic 5E rogue is as follows:

Every Level: d8 Hit Die = 4 CP.

Level Cost Purchases
1st 53 Proficiency with light armor (3 CP), simple weapons (3 CP), rogue weapons (hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers, shortswords) (3 CP). +2 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (4 CP). +2 to two saves (12 CP). +2 to four skills (8 CP). +2 to Disable Device and Open Lock, specialized (2 CP). Two instances of Skill Focus (12 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP). Speak Language (thieves’ cant) (1 CP).
2nd 16 Three instances of Reflex Training (dash, disengage, and hide), corrupted (12 CP).
3rd 25 Three instances of Reflex Training (Sleight of Hand, disarm a trap or open a lock, or use an object), corrupted (12 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP). Immunity to speed penalties when climbing (2 CP). Skill Focus (Jump) (6 CP).
4th 28 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
5th 30 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to four skills (4 CP). +1 to Disable Device and Open Lock, specialized (1 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP). Damage reduction 5 (12 CP).
6th 16 Two instances of Skill Focus (12 CP).
7th 17 Improved Fortune (Reflex) (12 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP).
8th 28 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
9th 24 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to four skills (4 CP). +1 to Disable Device and Open Lock, specialized (1 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP). Luck with +8 Bonus Uses (Hide and Move Silently), specialized and corrupted (6 CP).
10th 28 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
11th 21 Luck with +12 Bonus Uses (skills), specialized and corrupted (16 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP).
12th 28 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
13th 27 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to four skills (4 CP). +1 to Disable Device and Open Lock, specialized (1 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP). Immunity to class, race, and level requirements to activate magic items (9 CP).
14th 6 Occult Sense (detect hidden or invisible creatures), specialized and corrupted (2 CP).
15th 20 +5 to third saving throw (15 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP).
16th 28 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
17th 25 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to three saves (9 CP). +1 to four skills (4 CP). +1 to Disable Device and Open Lock, specialized (1 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP). Reflex Training (the first round of combat), specialized and corrupted (4 CP).
18th 16 Awareness with the Flankless modifier (12 CP).
19th 29 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP).
20th 12 Luck with +4 Bonus Uses (attack rolls), specialized and corrupted (4 CP). Luck with +4 Bonus Uses (skill and ability checks), specialized and corrupted (4 CP).

Looking over the above table, we can see that the rogue is, perhaps surprisingly, focused more on being a skill-monkey than on being a combatant. Their repeated use of Reflex Training for their skills allow for the rogue to make skill checks – which will almost certainly be successful thanks to so many uses of Luck – even in the midst of other activities. Their only major offensive ability is their signature sneak attack; virtually all of their other combat powers are defensive in nature.

Of course, the Basic 5E rogue can only afford to dip so heavily into skill-boosting abilities and still afford to have combat enhancements because of how much it, as a 5E class, skimps on BAB, saves, and skill points compared to its 3.5 and Pathfinder counterparts. Compared to its fellows, however, this new rogue might actually manage to strike a balance between combat and skills. Though it would be better served to spend the missing levels’ worth of CPs to help it do so.

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