The Assassin Class, Redux

In the Rogue Class, Part Five, I discussed the Assassin in broad terms, but didn’t have enough reference text to write about it in detail. I have since corrected this fault, with a copy of Dragon Magazine #379, with the original 4e Assassin, and Heroes of Shadow, with the Essentials version. The two are nearly unrelated in their mechanical conception of the class. That’s not uncommon in the Essentials reworks, but it’s quite pronounced here.

The Rogue Class, Part Six

While there may be some additional articles in this series touching on rogues in D&D-like systems, this week I’m talking about the Rogue class of Fifth Edition. Up to this point, we’ve seen the class change from the Thief to the Rogue, lose its assumption of selfishness and even lawlessness (because the rogue turns out to be a great class for detective or inquisitorial work, as we see in 3.x), and turn from a combat-avoidant role to a strong contributor to a party’s success in combat. At each step of the way, the class has had a unique interaction with the skill system of its edition – maybe it’s the only class with a skill system, or maybe it just gets a lot more skills, used more effectively, than any other class. Spoiler, that’s not about to change.

The Rogue Class, Part Five

In last week’s History of the Rogue, we saw the shift from fragile rogues who should stay clear of combat as much as possible to agile murder-machine rogues. This shift isn’t to everyone’s taste, but I think for most people it makes the rogue feel more like an action hero, on par with fighters, barbarians, and so on. It’s a good class choice for a swashbuckler – and 4e takes that idea and runs with it.

The Rogue Class, Part Four

At last we come to the watershed moment of the Thief’s Rogue’s development, and I don’t just mean the name change. Up to this point, thieves have a role in combat, but that role is “mostly try to stay away, you’re terrible at combat unless you’re backstabbing.” That approach didn’t fit the source fiction when it was first implemented (cf. Gray Mouser); I’d argue that the thieves who were terrible at combat in the source fiction were terrible for reasons other than being thieves, such as hobbits being too small to be effective fighters until and unless there’s some sort of Witch-King emergency. I can’t back this up with, you know, data, but I suspect that the 90s saw a lot of new finesse-based knaves who can hold up their end of a fight, and this inspired the 3.0 designers to make the Rogue into something much more potent and varied than its predecessor.

The Rogue Class, Part Two

Last time in History of the Classes, I talked about a few iterations of OD&D thieves. Now we’re on to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons thieves, as well as their close kin – assassins and thief-acrobats. The changes to the Thief itself are quite scant, but I will analyze these small changes like whoa. Let’s get to it.

The Rogue Class, Part One

Now that the History of the Ranger is, er, in the past, I’m moving on to the Rogue. Sorry, I meant the Thief… and the Assassin… and the Thief-Acrobat… oh no, I’ve gone cross-eyed. The rogue’s history is as slippery as the archetype itself. It’s one of the Core Four classes, which doesn’t mean it existed in D&D’s earliest incarnation. All of the Core Four classes except for the cleric have had name-changes here and there, but changing from “thief” to “rogue” is an actual thematic shift that partly comes along in 2e, and actually sticks in 3.0.