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Busting Stereotypes Part 3 – Roguish Looks

They’re sneaky little bastards.  They’ll rob you blind and still call you a friend.  You just can’t trust them, regardless of their alignment.  However, you need the little bastards because they can find and disarm any trap, pick any dungeon lock, and can be wicked in combat if used right.  That’s right…the rogue.  I was going to do this one next week, but a comment by Craig propted me to step up and do it now.  After all, the rogue is a common character, and they’re played to the hilt within stereotype confines.

In his comment, Craig made some great suggestions.  For example, he says he likes to play rogues who have never broken the law.  Within the 3.5 system, it’s fully possible to create a rogue who can do a great many things without ever breaking the law.  With the wide variety of skills available, you can create characters like Craig’s gnomish clockmaker, or his stage magician who uses slight of hand instead of actual magic.  I remember a buddy made a rogue character with a high INT score and because a jack-of-all-trades…and master of most of them 😉

Of course, 4e doesn’t really stop a player from going this route either.  Even without Craft and Profession skills, the Thievery skill doesn’t mean that it can be used only to steal.  A locksmith can pick locks after all, and a trap maker can also disarm them.  Creating the fluff to go with that skill is, and has always been, up to the player, so if he’s not a criminal then give a backstory that explains why he has those skills and it’s all good!

Another twist that’s been used, but not enough to be a stereotype, is the criminal gone good.  Perhaps something made him change his wicked ways and now seeks to use his talents doing good works rather than just fattening up his own purse.  This would create some great role play opportunities (perhaps he’s wanted in one town or another), while giving his companions the opportunity to trust him.

There are even more ways to play rogues other than as thieves.  For example, the spy.  The skill selection wouldn’t be unusual for a rogue, but the execution would be.  Sure, he could pick locks and pockets, find and remove traps, and everything else, but his points would be geared more towards bluff, diplomacy, disguise, etc.  Some cool equipment, and POOF!  You’ve got a D&D version of James Bond!

Another route to go is as the military scout.  In all honesty, the Scout class that I’m particularly enamoured with in 3.5 is really just a rogue with some modification.  A rogue can move quietly, take out enemy guards without anyone knowing, hide indefinitely to make note of troop movements, everything a military force needs in order to plan an attack!  Rogues, in games without the scout class, can do all of that better than anyone (scout’s advantage is really in more hit points should they find themselves in a fight).

In all honesty, rogues have so many ways to play them, that I couldn’t begin to go into them all.  Regardless of what edition you play, they can still do a lot of the same things and be played a lot of the same ways, so have some fun!  For versatility within the rules as written, it’s hard to beat a rogue!

September 6, 2008 - Posted by | RPG | ,


  1. With you all the way on this. “Rogue” doesn’t necessarily mean “Thief”; it covers that whole range of nimble, dexterous characters from James Bond to Robin Hood to the Three Musketeers and beyond.

    I’m quite fond of the “reformed rogue” character who uses skills gained while at the wrong end of the law to catch other thieves.

    Comment by greywulf | September 6, 2008 | Reply

  2. @greywulf: When they changed the Thief class to Rogue class with the switch to 3e, it really helped clarify it for a lot of people that thief wasn’t a requirement to play that class. Luckily, this one is an easier sell than most stereotype breakers 😉

    Comment by Tom | September 6, 2008 | Reply

    • The voice of ratylnaoiti! Good to hear from you.

      Comment by Dollie | January 8, 2015 | Reply

  3. Part 3, eh?…

    Comment by Reverend Mike | September 7, 2008 | Reply

  4. OK…It should have been part 4. I goofed 😉

    Comment by Tom | September 7, 2008 | Reply

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