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    Default Re: D&D 5e Subclass Contest I: It's Technical

    Variant Multiclass: Rogue
    The right tool for all the wrong jobs, every time.

    The rogue variant multiclass is an archetype that can be used for most classes other than rogue. In particular, the rules here can be used to variant multiclass with rogue with no alteration if you are a barbarian, bard, cleric, druid, fighter, monk, paladin, ranger, sorcerer, warlock or wizard. Rather than actually taking multiclass levels in rogue, it replaces - or, rather, is - your primal path, bard college, divine domain, druidic circle, martial archetype, monastic tradition, sacred oath, ranger archetype, sorcerous origin, otherworldly patron or arcane tradition. The restrictions are as follows:

    - You cannot become a variant multiclass rogue if you have any rogue levels.
    - You cannot take rogue levels if you are already a variant multiclass rogue.
    - You cannot be a variant multiclass rogue in two separate classes.

    Essentially, you can only multiclass as a rogue once, irrespective of the type of multiclassing or order of operations. In general, it's probably inadvisable to mix standard and variant multiclassing.

    All classes get similar benefits from becoming a variant multiclass rogue - it's for the player to decide, as with regular multiclassing, whether or not a particular combination is worth it - but there are slight differences in who gets what, and they get them at different times in accordance with the usual timings for their abilities.

    The following variant multiclass rogue abilities are gained by the various classes at the given levels:

    Brb Brd Clr Drd Fgt Mnk Pal Rgr Sor Wlk Wiz
    Arcane Trickery - - 1 - - - 3 - - 1 -
    Bonus Skills 3 3 1 2 3 3 3 3 1 1 2
    Thieves' Cant 3 3 - - 3 3 - 3 1 1 2
    Sneak Attack 3 3 2 2 3 3 3 3 1 1 2
    Channel Divinity: Sacred Assassination - - 2 - - - 3 - - - -
    Expertise 6 6 6 6 7 6 - 7 6 6 6
    Uncanny Dodge 10 6 8 10 10 11 7 7 - 10 10
    Reliable Talent 14 14 17 14 15 11 15 11 14 14 14
    Blindsense 14 14 17 14 18 17 15 15 14 14 14
    Elusive - - - - 18 - - - 18 - -
    Stroke of Luck - - - - - - 20 - - - -

    Arcane Trickery

    If you are a cleric, paladin or warlock, the following spells are treated as domain, oath or pact spells for you, gained at the normal levels you gain spells of that level:

    Spell level Spells
    1st Disguise Self, Silent Image
    2nd Invisibility, Knock
    3rd Haste, Sending
    4th Dimension Door, Greater Invisibility
    5th Dominate Person, Telekinesis

    Bonus Skills

    You choose two skills out of Acrobatics, Athletics, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Investigation, Perception, Performance, Persuasion, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth, and become proficient in those skills. If you by some insane method are proficient in all of them already, choose any other skill and become proficient in it. You become proficient in thieves' tools as well.

    Thieves' Cant

    You can use thieves' cant for communication just as described in the standard rogue feature.

    Sneak Attack

    You can perform a sneak attack, much as a standard rogue can, except that the damage is only 1d6, plus 1d6 per 3 levels after 1st (from 1d6 when you gain this ability at 1st, 2nd or 3rd level up to 7d6 at 19th level).

    Channel Divinity: Sacred Assassination
    You can channel divine energy into your weapon directly, bringing ruination on your foes by using your god's guidance to direct the weapon straight into the enemy's most vulnerable parts. As an action, you can channel divinity to make an attack, just like a regular attack action, except that the first attack made in this action has advantage on the attack roll.

    At seventeenth level as a cleric or 15th level as a paladin, when you attempt a sacred assassination, the first attack you make in any attack action against that target has advantage for the rest of the combat, even if the original sacred assassination attack misses.

    Example: Ysadora is a 17th-level cleric/variant rogue. She attempts a sacred assassination against a pirate with her crossbow. She rolls a 3 and a 4 for the attack roll, and her crossbow bolt thuds into the wall next to the pirate. For the rest of the combat, the first attack Ysadora makes against the pirate in any attack action has advantage - which usually means it'll be a sneak attack if Ysadora uses her crossbow.

    If you are a paladin, you can also channel divinity into your armour as a bonus action, making the metal flow like cloth. For one minute, your armour weighs nothing and if it would impose disadvantage on stealth checks, it doesn't.


    Choose two of your skill proficiencies, or one of your skill proficiencies and your proficiency with thieves' tools. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses either of the chosen proficiencies

    Uncanny Dodge

    When an attacker that you can see hits you with an attack, you can use your reaction to halve the attack's damage against you.

    Reliable Talent

    You have refined your chosen skills until they approach perfection. Whenever you make an ability check that lets you add your proficiency bonus, you can treat a d20 roll of 10 or lower as a 10.


    If you are able to hear, you are aware of the location of any hidden or invisible creature within 10 feet of you.


    You are so evasive that attackers rarely gain the upper hand against you. No attack roll has advantage against you while you aren't incapacitated.

    Stroke of Luck
    You have an uncanny knack for succeeding when you need to. If your attack misses a target within range, you can turn the miss into a hit. Alternatively, if you fail an ability check, you can treat the d20 roll as a 20. Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you finish a short rest.

    Playing a Variant Multiclass Rogue

    While a variant multiclass rogue lacks many of the abilities of a true rogue, they do have the power of another whole class backing them up. The best results are achieved when using your class features in concert.

    Barbarian/Variant Rogue: The Marauder
    "Find your enemy. Make them bleed. That is war."

    For the marauder, the plan of attack is one of catching enemies off-guard, then tearing them apart with reckless ferocity. There is a level of contradiction in a marauder's tactics: they must be stealthy and yet fly into a rage, and they must wield a weapon that rewards the use of dexterity, and then choose to use strength instead. However, there is a great synergy inherent in two of your features: namely, reckless attack and sneak attack. Every single attack you attempt can be a no-nonsense sneak attack, and the only caveat is that attacks against you have advantage in return. Fortunately for you, you have resistance to physical damage, and when you get uncanny dodge, you can halve the damage of one attack per round as well.

    Outside of combat, you have a selection of extra skills, and your thieves' tools. When you get expertise, you can either enhance your rogue abilities, your barbarian abilities, or one of each. Consider using expertise on your dexterity skills, which are likely to be weaker for you than for a standard rogue unless you use expertise on them. Alternatively, use expertise on athletics, and become the undisputed champion of grapple and shove attacks.

    Bard/Variant Rogue: The Court Spy
    "I sing the nobles a song, and they sing me schemes and politics."

    There are certainly other things that a bard/variant rogue could be, but a court spy is one of them. Whatever the case, the bard/variant rogue is skilled in both social and technical skills, and is deadly in a fight. They may be an instigator or an investigator, a hell-raiser or a hitman, but whatever the case, they're good at their job.

    With more skills than a standard rogue, an incentive to use finesse weapons anyway, and true strike as one of your cantrips, you have an exceptional versatility in and out of combat. There's rarely a skill that you can't use to outdo any other member of your party, you have full spellcasting, and you can hold your own in a scuffle with a rapier or whip and judicious use of true strike.

    Cleric/Variant Rogue: The Sacred Assassin
    "You have committed crimes against the church, and I am here to bring vengeance upon you."

    Being both a cleric and a rogue could hint to being a charlatan preacher, but more likely they are a hidden operative of their faith, striking with zeal and trickery alike. Often, these individuals are sent to hunt down enemies of the church and either bring them to heel or to the grave.

    The sacred assassin lacks a real domain, but makes up for it with devastating sneak attacks, usually delivered at the business end of a crossbow, though more subtle sacred assassins use a dagger or dart. Using their signature ability, the sacred assassination, they can occasionally land these sneak attacks without assistance from allies or spells. Of course, gaining invisibility and greater invisibility as domain spells is also helpful when attempting sneak attacks. Finally, a sacred assassin has access to twice as many skills as a standard cleric, which is fairly helpful outside of combat.

    Druid/Variant Rogue: The Hedge Witch
    "Oh, I know it's dangerous out here in the woods. In fact, you should be more careful yourself...

    The coven of hedge witches is a strange group indeed, using their stealth and shapeshifting powers in conjunction in order to perform a variety of missions most others could not. As a hedge witch, the ability to change into an animal is one of your key features, particularly since some of their natural weapons are finesse weapons and therefore work with sneak attacks! You'll have to check how the attack and damage bonuses are calculated to tell; for example the stirge's blood drain attack is calculated with its +3 dexterity modifier, hence having a +5 to hit with its +2 proficiency, and a +3 to damage. The ability to change your size, appear harmless, and fly or swim is also exceptionally useful.

    Druid spells have limited synergy with rogue abilities, but entangle is your friend: restraining enemies will allow you to make sneak attacks against them easily. Conjure Animals is also a decent option to grant you one or more flanking partners. If you prefer to defeat your enemies with spell attacks and use your rogue abilities to assist, consider putting expertise in stealth, casting call lightning, and ducking for cover while continually calling down lightning bolts on your foes as they frantically seek you out. Alternatively, spells like tree stride and meld into stone can help you hide.

    Fighter/Variant Rogue: The Thug
    "Oh, I've more ways to break your bones than with sticks or stones, believe me."

    A thug is an enforcer for a criminal gang, a mugger or robber, or someone else for whom combat prowess and stealth are both important. Perhaps, more charitably, they are a reconnoitre or vanguard, scouting ahead of an army for any trouble. Irrespective, generic plus generic makes generic, and a thug can be whatever you want it to be.

    There are many ways to play a thug. One is to wait for an enemy to rush up to an ally, then shoot the enemy, relying on your +2 bonus to hit from your combat style to allow you to hit rather than advantage, and using the presence of an ally to allow for a sneak attack. Some thugs favour the flamberge, a type of rapier usually wielded in two hands - because the rapier isn't versatile, you wouldn't think there was a point to wielding it with two hands, but the great weapon fighting style allows you to re-roll 1s and 2s with sneak attack dice - this only actually increases your damage output by two-thirds of a point of damage per sneak attack die, but it adds up when you have a few of them. Of course, two-weapon fighting with scimitars is another possibility, giving you multiple attacks to ensure that you land at least one sneak attack. Finally, using a one-handed weapon and a shield, whether you use the duelling style (for a little extra damage) or the protection style (if a creature is adjacent to both you and the enemy, then your enemy gets disadvantage to attack them and you get sneak attacks against the enemy). While the protection style initially appears ideal to protect a flanker, remember that it uses a reaction that you might prefer to use on uncanny dodge - or you can use protection if the enemy targets your ally, and uncanny dodge if they target you!

    With up to four attacks and the extra damage from sneak attacks, your damage output is exceptional, and you're no slouch at skills either, with expertise in two and regular proficiency in another two. You also have enough ability score improvements to maximise your dexterity early on, allowing you to fight on the front lines in only light armour with no problems.

    Monk/Variant Rogue: The Ninja
    "A single touch is all it takes to sever the soul."

    Ninja have always been famed for their exceptional martial arts prowess, and no wonder: the combination of monk and rogue is an exceptional one. The ability to ignore the mediocre damage die of the two weapons which are usable for both sneak attacks and monk abilities - the shortsword and dagger, or in the ninja's case the ninjato and sai - and replace it with a higher die as you gain levels is useful enough, but the ability to make a sneak attack and then follow it up with a deadly flurry of blows is exceptional.

    Because as a monk you cannot use a shield properly and as a rogue you cannot use two-handed weapons properly, it's only reasonable that you should wield two weapons, which gives you an interesting option - if your first attack hits, you apply your sneak attack damage to it and follow through with a flurry of blows. If it misses, you attempt another sneak attack with the weapon in your other hand. If you're facing off against one opponent while an ally is locked in combat with another, you can even throw one of your sai at the opponent next to your ally, and then if the sneak attack hits, make a flurry of blows against the adjacent one.

    Ninja also have an exceptional special ability: the ability to sneak attack as a reaction. To do so requires both luck and skill, but because sneak attack can be used once per turn, not once per round, you can sneak attack an enemy - potentially with their own weapon! - by using deflect missiles, and then do it again on your actual turn. Unfortunately, you have limited ability to gain advantage on your attack rolls, but stunning strike will do the job.

    Finally, ninja have exceptional mobility, able to run up and down walls, disable traps, open doors, and move at truly exceptional speeds. Using expertise on your athletics skill and taking a step of the wind can grant you the best jumping abilities in the game.

    Paladin/Variant Rogue: The Blackguard
    "I swore to stop you. I do not break my oaths."

    A blackguard is an zealous scoundrel who treads through the streets clad in armour and adorned with the symbols of religion, but underneath the shining armour is someone willing to use whatever trickery they must in order to defeat their enemies.

    A blackguard has their own code of conduct, but generally they choose any five from the following tenets (the alignments given are just suggestions; you may have to select at least one off-alignment tenet):

    Honour Among Thieves: Do not cheat your allies. Respect your superiors and your subordinates alike.
    Word is Law: The leader of your family, house or organisation is to be respected and their orders are to be obeyed if at all reasonable.

    Hold no Grudges: Do not seek revenge for petty slights.
    No-one Dies By Your Hand: Avoid killing unless your enemy is too dangerous to leave alive.

    Freedom for All: Free all who are held unjustly, no matter the risk.
    Stop for No-one: Do not allow any law or authority to prevent you from doing what you are dedicated to.

    Eye for an Eye: No-one who wrongs you can go unpunished.
    None May Oppose Me: Take whatever steps you reasonably can to stop anyone who shows public opposition to you.

    Better Part of Valour: You do not fight to the last unless it is your only viable option.
    Forbid no knowledge: You may hold personal secrets, but do not hold your tongue for fear of what your words might do.
    No Power is Absolute: You must not allow someone to gain a monopoly or absolute power if you can reasonably help it.
    Stay Your Blade...: Do not harm innocents, or through inaction, allow an innocent to come to harm if you can reasonably help it.

    Some of these tenets may seem something of a contradiction, but they are compatible - stop for no-one, word is law, hold no grudges, eye for an eye and no power is absolute would mean that you do what your leader tells you where reasonable, but don't consider anything conflicting with what you stand for reasonable, nor do you allow your leader to gain absolute power over a city. You punish those who wrong you, and once the punishment is done, they are forgiven.

    A blackguard's ability to use invisibility, sneak about with expertise, and make their armour as light as cloth means that whatever their tenets, they can operate in clandestine secrecy. Much like a thug, they may use either a rapier and a shield, or favour the flamberge, a rapier traditionally wielded in two hands, which allows you to re-roll low sneak attack dice (as well as low smite dice!). Some blackguards use a whip to make sneak attacks from a slight range, which also allows them to use their shield to protect a creature from behind that creature. Just like a sacred assassin, the blackguard can also channel divinity to make an impromptu sneak attack if they can't otherwise make the conditions conform. At 15th level, the blackguard's sacred assassination improves to allow them to hound a single target with repeated sneak attacks until it's dead.

    Ranger/Variant Rogue: Slayer
    "I can take a deer down with one shot. You're not as big as a deer."

    A slayer is a master tracker, who pursues their quarry tirelessly before shooting them down. A slayer can lie in wait for their prey, and attack them when the time is exactly right, or rush in for the killing blow. Either way, they are even more dangerous when fighting their favoured enemies.

    The slayer can get the highest stealth bonus in the game: a +27. Even at 11th level, with reliable talent, a camouflaged slayer cannot fail to roll a stealth check that is literally unbeatable by the vast majority of characters. This allows you a sneak attack from the advantage you get from hiding. Alternatively, simply shooting into melee combat with your +2 to hit from archery combat style is a decent way to land a sneak attack most of the time.

    Remember that you can only double your proficiency bonus once - don't take expertise in an intelligence- or wisdom-based skill if you plan to spend a long time in your favoured terrain!

    Your spells can be synergistic with your rogue abilities if used well - find traps is an obvious one that works well with your thieves' tools, pass without trace allows you to sneak by enemies more easily and not leave a trail, and conjure animals provides you with a variety of creatures to use for flanking. Of course, water breathing and freedom of movement are potentially great for infiltration.

    Sorcerer/Variant Rogue: Spellthief
    "Magic's in the blood, and if I cut this vein right here..."

    A spellthief didn't actually have innate magic from birth: instead, they stole someone's magical potential in some way. Now, they use their array of spells to help set them up for lethal attacks or to provide exceptional ability with trickery.

    Lacking the arcane trickster's ability to use mage hand to open locks and disable traps at range means that you need to get up close and personal with them, but fortunately, you have an array of spells which make you far more survivable (not to mention less visible) than the arcane trickster - by the time they're an arcane trickster at all, you can turn invisible. True strike is an obviously-useful setup for your sneak attacks, and your best bet is often to stand at the back of a fight with a crossbow, throwing out sneak attacks against your enemies. Of course, at later levels, you gain more options, such as animating objects to give you a chance at a sneak attack.

    The alternative, of course, is to use your rogue abilities to get into place for a sorcerer attack - if you can sneak a delayed blast fireball bead into a good position, and then sneak away without anyone realising you were ever there until too late, you can deal some hefty damage. Using burning hands and then running up to stab someone with a sneak attack in the same round is hardly the worst use of your turn, either.

    Warlock/Variant Rogue: Cultist
    "Power demands sacrifice!"

    A cultist has a dark deal with some malevolent entity, bound in others' blood rather than their own.

    Much like a spellthief, you may find true strike your best bet, and you also have access to invisibility - as well as a few spells you wouldn't normally get as a warlock, such as haste and greater invisibility, which are exceptionally useful for landing sneak attacks. Also useful is unseen servant, which allows any attacks you make to be sneak attacks just by its presence there (better yet, enemies might not be able to tell quite why your attacks are so powerful).

    The other option, of course, is to snipe people with hyper-powered eldritch spears from a convenient location - while they're not eligible for sneak attacks, they can be made quite strong in their own right, and your rogue abilities should let you slink away if needed. Alternatively, consider using a blade pact longbow to deliver sneak-attack-related injuries from afar.

    Wizard/Variant Rogue: The Daggerspell Mage
    "My studies were quite intense, but I'm glad I had time to fit in a module on anatomy."

    Wielding spells and blades alike, a daggerspell mage is a danger to any who oppose them. Their tactics are similar to a spellthief's or a cultist's, though their far greater array of spells allows them a few other options, such as using animate dead to provide a flanking partner. Using black tentacles on an encounter should provide you with at least one possible sneak attack target as well.

    It's a high-level spell, but foresight makes every single eligible attack you make into a sneak attack, so it's a viable option at the highest levels.
    Last edited by Jormengand; 2018-06-17 at 10:47 AM.