A halfling rogue
A rogue is a versatile character, capable of sneaky combat and nimble tricks. The rogue is stealthy and dexterous, and often charming as well. Where other characters have the power to defeat enemies, the rogue has the wit to track them down and lead the team past traps and barriers on the way to that fight.
Rogues have a reputation for thievery but not all rogues are thieves and in Faerûn they are as often diplomats or envoys as burglars. As a whole, rogues are an enormously diverse group and some are acrobats, spies, or swashbucklers, many with complex motivations driving them, although it would be dishonest to say that the skills of a rogue do not lend themselves well to a thief's lifestyle and thieves' guilds are found widely throughout the world, such as the powerful Shadow Thieves. Some are masters of stealth, while others prefer other methods of subterfuge. What rogues share is not any one occupation but rather an affinity for mingling with people and finding or getting into things others would rather leave unfound or unopened. Rogues of all sorts are resourceful and adaptable, having what might be called a “sixth sense” for avoiding peril, which helps them to get out of the dangerous situations they often find themselves in.
Rogues choose their daring lifestyle for a variety of reasons. Typically, rogues are imagined as selfish burglars and assassins whose sole motive is profit. This is not entirely fair but neither is it wholly untrue and most rogues, regardless of their moral standing, hope to earn something from their exploits. Many rogues seek material wealth but others seek fame, or perhaps infamy, and a few are simply daredevils seeking the thrill of a real challenge. Because of these traits, rogues are most typically in opposition to order and tradition, and are therefore wary of lawful-aligned paladins, though rogues in the service of law and order do exist and rogues are equally likely to be found serving good or evil. Many rogues, regardless of motives or morals, worship Beshaba, Cyric, Oghma, Shar, Sune, Tymora, or Waukeen. In days past, before the Spellplague and the god's subsequent disappearance, many also worshiped Mask.
Thieving rogues are sometimes members of large gangs known as thieves' or assassins' guilds but rogues can come from any number of backgrounds. Most rogues, regardless of their business, are primarily self-taught or learned their skills from a teacher, often a more experienced rogue. These rogues often recruit their students as assistants in various jobs that require their unique skills, from which the younger rogue develops their skills. Partings between the mentor and student are rarely clean and in general, rogues feel little brotherhood unless part of the same guild. In fact, most rogues tend to view eachother with even more suspicion than they do everyone else and most partnerships are short-lived.
Humans are among the best rogues, in large part due to their natural adaptability, which fits the modus operandi of many rogues to a letter. Elves and halflings have, due to their physical agility, perhaps an even greater affinity for the life of a rogue. Among the best rogues are those from the tiefling race, whose cunning and aura of confidence makes them well-suited for the rogue's lifestyle. Half-elves also make good rogues, though to a lesser extent as do dwarves of all kinds and rock gnomes or deep gnomes, all of whom are often renowned for their expert skill with disarming traps or picking locks. Half-orc rogues are not entirely uncommon either, though such individuals tend to focus more on using veiled threats and brute strength rather than stealth. Similarly, there are many rogues to be found amongst the more “savage” humanoids, particularly goblinoids. Eladrin of many kinds are often rogues as well. Regardless of race, rogues are most common in Amn, Calimshan, the Cold Lands, the Dragon Coast, Evermeet, the Great Dale, the Lake of Steam, Narfell, the North, the Shaar, Tashalar, and the Western Heartlands.
Rogues are deadly but somewhat vulnerable front line combatants, preferring to strike from the shadows and dart back into them, either excelling at ranged or light melee attacks. All in all, in combat the rogue remains more interested in supporting teammates through the harassment of enemies — and slipping around to sneak attack — than in standing up to an opponent directly, as reflected in their choice of armor, which is typically leather or lighter. Some rogues play against this stereotype however and engage in more brutal attacks, though still lacking the sheer combat endurance possessed by fighters, paladins, or swordmages. Rogues of all kinds are particularly skilled when wielding daggers or shuriken or when they have the opportunity to strike first.
The greatest value of rogues lies in the fact that they are the handymen. Without pure battle or magical power, a rogue can contribute in ways as varied as disarming traps, scouting enemies, and persuading possible allies, using their wealth of skill points and long list of useful adventuring skills. And while rogues are more physically fragile than some other classes, many possess an ability to avoid danger that can seem uncannily supernatural at times. Similarly, the mind of a rogue can sometimes be described as “slippery” and several rogues are infuriatingly difficult to charm or enchant.
Though all rogues retain training in stealth and the art of getting where they're not supposed to be, many also have a varying degree of other skills. These skills may be dependent on the precise training of the rogue in question and most adhere, though not necessarily wholly, to one of the following martial disciplines.
Aerialist rogues are, compared with other rogues, bold and swift thrill seekers, who deliberately put themselves on the edge of peril in order to test their skills or prove their worth. Like trickster rogues, aerialist rogues prefer to avoid damage, often through witty and distracting reprisals of their foes, rather than deal it. However, like brawny rogues aerialists are more than willing to face danger, if only to move swiftly out of its path as a taunt to their foes. In order to do this, aerialist rogues train themselves to unusual extremes of physical ability, becoming acrobats whose stunts are often awe-inspiring feats of dexterous ability.
While rogues have a reputation for guile and subtlety, fewer rogues subscribe to this philosophy than common perception allows. While brawny rogues, like most of their kind, like to get the sneak on their enemies, they prefer to do things with as much lethality as they can. Unlike other rogues, who might be concerned about avoiding death, brawny rogues are more concerned with meting it out to those whom they feel deserve it. Though these rogues are stealthy, they aren't necessarily agile, charming, or witty.
Cutthroat rogues are an unusual variety of warriors. Both charming and deadly, subtle and frightening, cutthroats use their natural charisma in a way far different from most other rogues. A brief and spiteful glance from a properly trained cutthroat can make his or her foe shudder and cutthroat rogues hold to the philosophy that the best method of ensuring one gets their way is through intimidation. But cutthroats also typically believe that the best method for instilling fear is a subtle one, looking down on the more overtly brutal methods of others. Cutthroats strike swiftly, yes, and they are deadly to be sure, but they are also subtle and prefer the force of fear to force itself.
In general, cutthroat rogues prefer the use of clubs or maces over the light blades favored by other rogues. The damage a cutthroat deals is more often long-lasting than immediately lethal, with cutthroats twisting pain and fear into a dual set of weapons that can leave a mark within as well as without. This emphasis on slow and painful attacks comes at the cost of lethality and cutthroats also suffer, due to their often wretched reputation and specialization in spreading fear, the loss of their ability to charm their way out of harm's way, as many rogues do. But for many cutthroats, the trade-off is more than fair.
Trickster rogues prefer to use their charm and wit in concert with their agility rather than relying on brute strength. Subtlety is the mark of a trickster rogue, who finds an affinity for exploits that allow them to trick or misdirect their enemies. All trickster rogues carry this out to some extent in their attacks but a few carry this philosophy on to their defenses as well, and many rogues are adept at using their charm, wit, and ability to skew the perceptions of their foe in order to shift themselves out of harm's way. As a result, trickster rogues tend to be less powerful than rogues of other varying disciplines, but in exchange they gain additional control over the battlefield and how and when they choose to strike.
Behind the scenesEdit
In the AD&D second edition, “rogue” was a more general term encompassing both the “thief” and bard classes. The thief was the equivalent class to what is here described as the rogue. This usage can still be seen in such contexts as the Baldur's Gate series of computer games.
With third edition the usage was revised to mean, more specifically, the thief variety of rogue, focusing more on maintaining a variety of skills and affinity for stealth than bards, who became a separate, more arcane-flavored class. In the more recent fourth edition the class was revised again to encompass less subtle aspects, expanding to take on qualities of the third edition swashbuckler class.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition, p. 26. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (August 2000). Player's Handbook 3rd edition, p. 46. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1551-4.
- ↑ Richard Baker (2008-08-12). The one and only "Ask the Realms authors/designers thread" 4. Retrieved on 2009-01-08.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (August 2000). Player's Handbook 3rd edition, p. 47. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1551-4.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition, p. 117. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition, p. 27. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition, p. 116-117. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (August 2000). Player's Handbook 3rd edition, p. 46-48. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1551-4.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Rob Heinsoo, David Noonan, Robert J. Schwalb, Chris Sims (November 2008). Martial Power, p. 72-74. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 978-0-7869-4981-6.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition, p. 117-119. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, David Noonan, Robert J. Schwalb, Chris Sims (November 2008). Martial Power, p. 72-73. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 978-0-7869-4981-6.