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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Beholder

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    Default What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventurer.

    I'm working on an idea for a game that features downtime as a prominent element. However, I'm stuck on how to think about the rogues identity. I'm having trouble with thinking of them in any way outside of adventures other than as pulling off heists etc. Thus, I ask you, what does the rogue aspire to be or do outside of adventures, and how do they try to affect the world, where a magician (my game, my class names) aspires to be an archmage, and uncover cosmic secrets, or a fighter strives to be a warlord, amass armies and conquer a kingdom. I really hope it's not just to acquire money, because at that point you become an adventurer, with a little light other stuff, rather than someone who occasionally goes on adventures (unless I'm wrong, in which case please correct me).
    Thanks in advance.
    78% of DM's started their first campaign in a tavern. If you're one of the 22% that didn't, copy and paste this into your signature.

    Depending on how you count, either with players strolling into town and killing everyone(vague memories of basic rules + party of murderhobos), players trying to travel to a town, only to find it pre-murdered(lasted one session), or with players in the forge/temple and one of the congregation turns into a gnoll(first proper campaign).

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    Well obviously, in his downtime, the rogue spends money. Presumably on a frivolous lifestyle, wine, women and song, gambling, fine dining, expensive clothes, and so on.

    But other than that, no other class is as singularly suited to changing the world than the rogue. A mage can change the world locally - blowing very small parts of it to smithereens - but if you want a King Maker, you hire a rogue.

    Of course at a high enough level, a mage has spells to cover all his weaknesses - but even so, if you want someone who doesn't have to rely on spells to be charming, convincing and so on, you still send a rogue, not a wizard.

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    Whatever he wants.

    Which sounds glib, but the thing is, the Fighter and the Rogue are basically the most open-ended classes in the game in terms of "narrative niche", precisely because they're generics. It's hard to say what "a Fighter" would do because "a Fighter" does not actually mean anything. A Fighter could become a duke or baronet, he might just be captain of a guard, he might spend his time protecting a small village as a vigilante, he could be a monster hunter, a merc, a military advisor... Basically, anything that involves any modicum of stabbing or military strategery, a Fighter could conceivably do.

    Similarly, anything that involves any kind of subtlety or underhand, the Rogue is at least reasonably equipped to do. Spymaster for the specific lord? Rogue's got you. Charming manipulator in the courts of diplomacy? Boy if you don't have levels in Rogue or Bard don't even show up to the party. Information broker playing kingmaker among powers? My dude, do we have you covered. Vigilante influencing things from the shadows and rooting out corruption? Yep, if you want to Batman it up during downtime to affect policy, Rogue's your guy. And of course Rogue still makes a very good explorer, troubleshooter, and generally get-****-done guy.

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default A Underground Lord

    I always enjoyed having my rogue gather intel during down time. Any intel really. Anything that could be used as blackmail. I also liked to search out black market dealers and do jobs for them, with the intent of becoming solid with them to grow a kind of underground network where I could gather information and supplies. If this path contined, a rogue like this could become the Lord of the underground. The person behind the scenes that all people of power want to know. What if your rogue wants to rule from the shadows? He/she could aspire to become a crime lord, the real ruler of the city.

    Alternatively, going against character tropes is always a fun option! What if this rogue was forced into assassin work by his/her family, but they really want to be a painter? Then he/she could spend downtime trying to sell art pieces to the rich or finding the perfect scene to paint.

    Or they could try their hand at private investigation, striving to become a "Sherlock Holmes" type figure.

    Or they could plot to become a Baron or Lord by seeking the King's/Queen's favor and attempting to disgrace the current Lord of the area.

    Whatever you decide to do, what others said is correct. A Rogue is not a clean cut class. It is what you make it, that is the measure of a Rogue.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    I don't know. Try looking at his background. That has more to.do with his lifestyle than his class

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    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    Whatever he wants to be.

    My ideal of the AD&D Thief is not Robin Hood. It's not Disney's Aladdin. It's not even Hudson Hawk.

    It is Indiana Jones.

    He CAN fight, but he's usually toast when he encounters a real warrior unless he has a trick (like propeller blades or bringing a gun to a swordfight). He's best when he can surprise people (i.e. backstab/sneak attack). Most of the time, he sneaks around, does his best to disable traps and open locks, and can read an amazing number of languages.

    So, your rogue might be an archaeologist, whose downtime is spent writing papers, teaching classes, and securing funding. He might be a expert treasure finder, who spends his time looking for leads on other treasures. He might be an ethnologist who looks up exotic cultures. Or a gentleman of leisure, who likes to spend his downtime holding dinner parties for rich people, or running an orphanage for children. Maybe he has a number of proteges that he's teaching to be vigilantes in a never-ending war on crime in his mysteriously always foggy and night time city, while maintaining the illusion of being a playboy. Maybe he runs a business selling cheese wheels to passing caravans.
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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    The answer to this comes out of his or her backstory.

    My last “rogue” (actually an AD&D Thief) grew up as an outcast, and wanted to be accepted in society. [He wound up as a nobleman, caring for his people.] He was a Thief in name of class only; he snuck into enemy camps, climbed over castle walls, backstabbed the party’s enemies, etc., but never picked a pocket.

    My first Thief (Robin Banks) was basically an adventurer. He was a hobbit, and intended to settle down with a massive hobbit structure like Brandy Hall in the east of the Shire.

    And David was the nine-year-old deposed true heir to a kingdom, trying to survive, get rich, and eventually build an army to return.
    Last edited by Jay R; 2020-01-16 at 12:01 PM.

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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    A rogue doesn't have to be a thief. He can be any tricksy character. Thinking on their feet. Might be good at social skills, or movement skills, even intellectual skills.

    Maybe he's an explorer. A merchant. A circus artist. A guild leader. A soldier. A diplomat. An author. A detective. A scout. A performer. A lazy courtier. A shrewd politician. Maybe he just wants to charm someone important, marry rich and retire in luxury.

    All works.
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    Titan in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    Especially in 3.5, a Rogue is just a set of abilities. Anybody who's skillful, able to hit people where it hurts, and good at dodging things (without being able to cast spells) is a potential Rogue. One of my favorite subversions of the class trope? Lawful Good detective with high levels of Rogue who works for the Town Guard. Use your skill points on Spot, Listen, Search, Sense Motive, Gather Information, Forgery (need a high skill check in order to detect it), and things like that.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    With the skills on offer pretty much anything it wants to be. (I'm always a fan of characters have at least one non combat skill like a trade or a craft for downtime or the like, i also have for a very long time when DMing given Fighters and any other Non Int focused classes with 2 skill points a base of 4)
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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    A miserable pile of d6.

    OP, have a look at the rogue archetypes page over in Pathfinder, and you will get a feel for just how many varied concepts can fit under the "rogue" class umbrella.

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    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    See e.g. Lies of Locke Lamora.

    One facet of the rogue archetype is that they're fundamentally tied to trouble in ways that are more about their behavior than their lack of power to resolve it. Often this is a combination of impulse control and a willingness to take on risks that others would be cowed by. They might be rich and able to live the good life off of their take for the next thousand years, but that won't stop them from flirting with the Duke's wife, or stealing something from a King who offended them, or undermining the business of a mob boss because of a happenstance act of callousness on their part.

    These rogues say to the world 'your power won't protect you from personal consequences' on both sides of the equation. They make rulers tremble, and are themselves always getting mixed up in things despite even legendary levels of skill - often through people using their connections to take power over them.

    A rogue may want to protect or nurture someone close to them, seek joy, seek justice for systemic cruelties, attain vengeance, destroy pride and pomposity, make others respect them, finally escape the curse of interesting times and retire in peace, etc.

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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    Hmm... If you want an honest rogue of sorts, they have the perfect skills to be locksmiths, watch makers, and antiquities refurbishers when not on adventures. Crafting traps to catch common pests for local businesses would be good, honest work too. Rats and the like can do tons of damage to grain silos, and every city will have a few silos.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Whatever he wants to be.

    My ideal of the AD&D Thief is not Robin Hood. It's not Disney's Aladdin. It's not even Hudson Hawk.

    It is Indiana Jones.
    And tell me Lara Croft isn't the old Thief-Acrobat

    Another starting point for the rogue IMO is the military scout or even special forces - some one who can operate away from formal command, roam away from the main force, observe enemy movements without being observed themselves, and maybe engage in military actions like ambushing poorly guarded supply trains.

    To the OP, I guess it comes down to where your characters skills are - with skills in things like lore/history etc they might spend their time researching the next adventure (or finding a target for the next adventure) or act as a research assistant to an academic, sage, mage or other learned personage, a linguist/charm based character could sell their skills as an arbitrator for merchants, a translator, a legal witness for contracts etc.

    And even if they're solely focussed on larceny, they can still potentially hire themselves out to check security for merchants warehouses and the like.

    Or maybe the party's tired of getting silver rather than gold for all their loot, decided to cut out the middleman, and the rogue runs the store they've set up to sell the wagon loads of random junk the average party hauls out of a dungeon.

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    I think the premise is wrong: Whether you prefer magic, sword or shadows, you can still strife for being the very best in your profession, conquering your own realm or living a life in luxury.
    What can change the nature of a man?

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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    Al Capone was a high level rogue. He effectively took over an entire city without ever running for office.

    Pity about those missing tax returns.
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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    A rogue doesn't have to be a thief. He can be any tricksy character. Thinking on their feet. Might be good at social skills, or movement skills, even intellectual skills.

    Maybe he's an explorer. A merchant. A circus artist. A guild leader. A soldier. A diplomat. An author. A detective. A scout. A performer. A lazy courtier. A shrewd politician. Maybe he just wants to charm someone important, marry rich and retire in luxury.

    All works.
    the first rogue i ever played with was a deposed elven noble who was trying to get her letters of nobility back from a corrupt baron. she ran away and became captain of a human army by being the scout. once that character arc was done, she moved on to get more political influence in human courts in no small part due to bribery, trickery, and outright selling blackmail. when i entered the campaign as a dwarven cleric of pelor, we brokered an arrangement with the church of pelor in large part thanks to her social skills and my vouching for her as an archbishop of that church. then, and thanks to her underground connections as part of a resistance movement against corrupt nobles in the pay of tharizdun, we got back in the good graces of the elves by earning back an elven frigate from yet another human army at war with the elves. of course, so she could still manoeuver out of the spotlight, my dwarf became captain of the ship. she was the second in command. the elves gave me funny looks for that one. a cleric being captain of a ship is weird enough, but a dwarven medic? good thing that elf's bluff was so good.

    i guess you could call her a dashing rogue (the character trait, not the class). she was certainly a broker, a scout, a diplomat, a black marketeer trading info, a fast talker, and of course a bloody magpie when it came to loot.
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    Anything that can possibly be achieved via crime can be achieved via rogues. At low levels, that might mean vandalising some inconvenient group's headquarters. Later on, it could be controlling underground crime networks which influence entire cities, mafia-style. Sure, you can get rich, but you can also get strong. While the enemy mage is writing down the secrets of the cosmos, you're peeking at his spellbook. When he creates an artifact of cosmic power, you'll be the first to know - and the first to nab it from him.

    What I'd really be worried about is what the fighter is doing. "Hit things" and "Get more people to hit things" aren't nearly as comprehensive as "Hit things, or get people to hit things, or steal things, or find things out, or manipulate people, frame people, or do basically anything that isn't magic."

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    ClericGuy

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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    So I've had to answer this question myself. A high level 'thief' is the king of the underworld and the lord of crime. Mages can scry and fry from afar, but a thief? He mentions one day that some one needs to be 'Taken Care Of' and the next day on the other side of the realm that person winds up dead in a dumpster. They have all the wealth they need, and no kingdom dares touch them for when attacked the thief can call in favours and utterly destroy them through war and assassination.

    Thieves know every thing that goes on in the realm, and are able to nudge events so that things line up as they wish. They have functionally infinite money and influence and noone knows where to find them, or sometimes even who they are. They are the Lord of Shadows.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    When I play rogue-like characters I like to give them enough social skills to be able to be able to do the social game well. That brings up a number of downtime options that can be a lot of fun, and allow the character more options.

    One of the problems of high level play is that anyone who isn't a primary spellcaster tends to fall behind. The social arena can give a rogue a way to contribute and still be a valuable member of the party.

    A rogue that forms their own criminal network or spy network is great at information gathering. This works well as a complement to magical divination methods, which are very effective but rely on the party knowing what questions to ask, or even when to ask them. Magical divination also can be thwarted by magic such as Mind Blank, which doesn't really hinder mundane information gathering methods at all.

    Having a large organization doing your bidding allows you to hear rumors and learn of things without knowing exactly what you are looking for, and if you do want to find something out, you have a large number of people who can look into it for you. Depending on how much effort the player and GM want to put into it, you could either play it out or hand wave it and have it happen in the background.

    It also works for rogues with different motivations. If you are criminal scum, organize a local thieves guild or smuggling operation. if you are a fine upstanding member of society who would never steal anything from anyone and just wants to protect the weak from those who would prey on them, then organize a spy network intended to counter criminal organizations.

    The end goal could be anything from being the head of a country-wide or even world wide criminal organization. Or be the real power behind the throne, manipulating events for your own goals.
    Last edited by Toxic Shaman; 2020-01-21 at 10:43 AM. Reason: Typos <sigh>

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: What is a high level rogue? Or, what is a rogue but a backstabbing advenadventure

    Quote Originally Posted by notXanathar View Post
    I'm working on an idea for a game that features downtime as a prominent element. However, I'm stuck on how to think about the rogues identity. I'm having trouble with thinking of them in any way outside of adventures other than as pulling off heists etc. Thus, I ask you, what does the rogue aspire to be or do outside of adventures, and how do they try to affect the world, where a magician (my game, my class names) aspires to be an archmage, and uncover cosmic secrets, or a fighter strives to be a warlord, amass armies and conquer a kingdom. I really hope it's not just to acquire money, because at that point you become an adventurer, with a little light other stuff, rather than someone who occasionally goes on adventures (unless I'm wrong, in which case please correct me).
    Thanks in advance.
    Relations and contacts. A rogue has friends to get him out of situations, contacts to obtains illicit weapons, illicit materials, easy travels, potential contracts, ... A high level rogues knows peoples in every big cities, and has a "friend of a friend" in every middle sized-city. He has plenty of peoples that own him favor (and probably own other peoples some favors).
    Take John Wick. He is a high level assassin, but what makes him dangerous is not only his fighting skills, but also his capacity to always have the good person to help him at the good moment. (This, and plot convenience, but "being the favorite of the DM" is not something related to the question here).

    All of that doesn't come by magic. Contacts have to be maintained, and you must show you can be trusted by repaying the favors you own. Friends able to get him out of situations might also require some help to get out of their problematic situations. If the rogue has some alternative identity, he must also maintain his second life (follow politics, go to receptions, seduce some prince/princess, ...)
    And for all of that, the rogue doesn't aspire just to maintain them, he also want to improve them, and make his way up to the top (or the shadow of the top, if he is more of a "I rule from the shadows" kind of character)

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