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Rogue Preview
Ampersand Special: The Essential Classes
by Bill Slavicsek

Hi. This is another of our special free-to-all editions of my regular column. I’m talking about our Dungeons & Dragons Essentials products throughout this month and next. In case you haven’t checked out any of the previous columns, or even if you have, let me repeat myself for clarity’s sake:

  • The Essentials consist of 10 key products that will form the baseline experience for the roleplaying game moving forward.
  • The Essentials are NOT a new game or a new edition.
  • The Essentials are NOT replacing the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, or Monster Manual.
  • The Essentials are providing a better framework and starting point for new players while also providing new options for existing players to add to their games.
  • The Essentials products work with all other Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game products, from Player’s Handbook to new products releasing in 2011 and beyond—just like all other D&D products we release.

Imagine that the Dungeons & Dragons game is a highway. Prior to the Essentials products, you entered the highway at 10th Avenue. With the Essentials products, we’ve constructed a new entry point, and you can now zip onto the roleplaying game highway at 1st Avenue. This provides a better experience for players new to the game, as well as giving existing players new class builds and options to play with.

And the Rules Compendium, which I’ll talk about in more detail in a future column, collects all of the rules of the game into an easier to use, more portable package. It’s a digest-sized paperback that’s lighter and contains all of the rules updates that have been implemented since 2008.

Got all that? Now, let’s take a look at the new rogue build—the thief. Note that I’m only showing a little bit of the 1st-level thief. For the complete class build, check out Heroes of the Fallen Lands when it debuts in September.

The Essentials Rogue

Martial Striker: Your quick wits and mastery of stealth let you slip past your enemies to strike when they least expect it. You do your best work when teamed with a defender or another striker to flank enemies.

Why This Is the Class for You: You want to play a character who is agile, sneaky, and tricky, and who focuses on mobility and damage to a single target.

Many people have a romantic view of the rogue, seeing the members of this class as dashing scoundrels with a complete disregard for the law and essentially good hearts. Others see the rogue as a shiftless ne’er-do-well, whose selfishness and greed lead inevitably to opportunism and a life of crime. Either of these extremes might capture the essence of a rogue, but the true spirit of the class lies somewhere in between.

Rogues rely on skill, stealth, and the vulnerabilities of their opponents to get the upper hand. A rogue provides versatility and resourcefulness to any adventuring party. Whether a daring stunt or a trick up the sleeve, a rogue can usually find a way to get the team out of any tough situation. The common folk are divided on their opinion of rogue heroes. Most distrust the rogue, seeing nothing more than a glorified thug or burglar. Others see a charming hero who makes up the rules along the way. You have the opportunity to mold your own destiny, to shape opinions by the actions you perform.

In the end, that’s all any rogue really wants—the ability to take every day, every dungeon, one step at a time.

The type of rogue you can create with this book is the thief.

Basic Attacks
As a rogue, you make most of your attacks using basic attacks. Some classes rely primarily on class-specific attack powers, whereas you typically make basic attacks enhanced by your rogue tricks and other class features and powers.


Key Abilities: Dexterity; Strength or Charisma

A thief specializes in agility and trickery, using hard-earned skills to pilfer and hide, escape from tight situations, and overcome deadly traps. A thief has powerful combat abilities, but relies first and foremost on circumventing an enemy’s defenses through acrobatics and stealth. Brute strength and arcane power have their uses, but a thief ’s quick reflexes and agile touch can get the drop on enemies before they know what hit them.

Most thief adventurers are explorers and treasure hunters, keen on delving into long-forgotten ruins in the hope of finding valuable lore, treasure, or magic. Many thieves learn their skills on the streets or as unapologetic criminals. However, such characters often develop noble intentions, choosing to steal only from the wealthy or from those in need of being taught a lesson. After all, sometimes bad guys make the best good guys.

Class Traits

Hit Points: You start with hit points equal to 12 + your Constitution score. You gain 5 hit points each time you gain a level.
Bonus to Defenses: +2 to Reflex
Healing Surges per Day: 6 + your Constitution modifier
Armor Proficiencies: Cloth, leather
Weapon Proficiencies: Dagger, hand crossbow, shortbow, short sword, sling
Class Skills: Acrobatics (Dex), Athletics (Str), Bluff (Cha), Dungeoneering (Wis), Insight (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Perception (Wis), Stealth (Dex), Streetwise (Cha), Thievery (Dex)
Trained Skills: Stealth and Thievery, plus four more from the list of class skills

Heroic Thief

As your career begins, you work on the basic skills that allow you to evade your enemies and escape with coins, jewels, and other treasure. Although you might begin by raiding an orc lair or a baron’s treasury, the abilities you hone in the heroic tier set the stage for far greater deeds.

Level Feats
Class Features and Powers
0 1 1 Sneak Attack
Weapon Finesse
First Strike
Rogue's Trick
1,000 2 +1 Thief Weapon Talent
Skill Mastery
Utility Power
2,250 3 Improved Backstab
3,750 4 +1 Ability score increase
Extra Rogue’s Trick
5,500 5 Cunning Escape
7,500 6 +1 Utility power
10,000 7 Extra Rogue’s Trick
13,000 8 +1 Ability score increase
16,500 9 Combat Readiness
Improved Finesse
20,500 10 +1 Utility power

Level 1: Sneak Attack

As a rogue, you fight fair only when you have no other choice. You are at your best when you have the advantage over an enemy, such as when you and an ally attack the foe from opposite sides or you deliver a surprise assault.

Benefit: When you make an attack with a light blade, a hand crossbow, a shortbow, or a sling and hit an enemy granting combat advantage to you, that enemy takes extra damage based on your level (see the Sneak Attack table). You can deal this extra damage only once per turn.

Level Extra Damage
1-10 2d6
11-20 3d6
21-30 5d6

Level 1: Backstab

Since the day you first picked up a blade, you have understood that the best fights are those that end quickly. Sometimes you need to prevent a foe from unleashing its most powerful counterattacks. Sometimes you need to drop an enemy before it can raise an alarm or call for reinforcements. Whenever you gain the advantage, your subtle combat skill ensures that your attack hits home.

Benefit: You gain the backstab power.

Rogue Utility
You take a split second to locate the most vulnerable point in your enemy’s defenses.
Encounter Martial
Free Action Personal
Trigger: You make an attack roll against an enemy within 5 squares of you using a basic attack with a weapon. The enemy must be granting combat advantage to you.
Effect: You gain a +3 power bonus to the attack roll, and the enemy takes 1d6 extra damage if the attack hits.

Level 1: Rogue’s Trick

All rogues are masters of trickery. Whether by distracting an enemy with a quick flurry of a rapier, pulling off an acrobatic maneuver that allows a rogue to slip past a foe, or uttering a few honeyed words that drop a creature’s defenses, all rogues rely on cunning and wits rather than brute force or heavy armor.

As a thief, you focus on staying in motion. After all, once you have grabbed a treasure, your next goal is to escape. Slaying a treasure’s guards is one way to avoid capture, but it is messy, noisy, and liable to create further complications for you. You know how to move quickly to slip past an enemy.

When you must stand and fight, the same talents that make your escape possible prove just as useful. Misdirection opens gaps in an enemy’s defenses, while a quick maneuver puts you in the perfect spot to find a gap in a monster’s armor.

These tactics and abilities are called tricks. Tricks are powers, usually move actions, that allow you to shift or move and gain an additional benefit. Some tricks grant you a special type of move, such as the ability to run along a wall or shift past an enemy. Their benefits vary from additional damage with your next attack, the ability to knock an enemy prone, or an additional move you can use at the end of your turn to slip away from a foe’s grasp. As you gain levels, you learn more tricks.

Benefit: You gain two of the following powers of your choice.

Ambush Trick

An exposed enemy is a far easier target for a sudden feint or bounding maneuver. With this trick, you move or feint with such speed and agility that you throw off its defenses. You might dash by an enemy to stab it in the back, or you feint in one direction, force your enemy to react, and fire an arrow while it is off balance.

Ambush Trick
Rogue Utility
You dodge and weave, making a feint that causes your foe to turn and lose track of you.
At-Will Martial
Move Action Personal
Effect: You move up to your speed. Until the end of your turn, you gain combat advantage against enemies that are within 5 squares of you when you attack and that have none of their allies adjacent to them.

Feinting Trick

A feint draws its strength from misdirection. You move one way, but your enemy expects you to move another. You take advantage of this confusion by anticipating it, aiming your next attack at where your foe’s back is as he turns in the wrong direction to meet your approach.

Feinting Trick
Rogue Utility
You slash in one direction, but quickly change the angle of your attack. While your foe reacts to your first move, your true attack slips past its defenses.
At-Will Martial
Move Action Personal
Effect: You move up to your speed. You gain a power bonus to the next damage roll you make this turn with a basic attack for which you do not have combat advantage. The power bonus equals your Charisma modifier.

Power strike is a quintessential exploit. This power is usable with a wide range of tactics and a variety of weapons. The exploit ensures that your weapon has a devastating effect on your foe.

Benefit: You gain the power strike power.

Tumbling Trick
Using a combination of speed and strength, you push your way through your enemies and use your momentum to make a quick, whirling attack that cuts through one enemy and into another. This attack is best used when your enemies press in on all sides.

Tumbling Trick
Rogue Utility
You dodge between your foes, slashing to the right and left with such speed that one attack leads into another.
At-Will Martial
Move Action Personal
Effect: You shift up to 3 squares. The next time you hit an enemy with a melee basic attack this turn, you also deal damage equal to your Strength modifier to a different enemy, which must be adjacent to you.

Next Week

First, if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by at GenCon and say hello. If you’re not at the show, check back here often as we present coverage direct from the floor of the convention. And I’ll be back again next week with more news, as well as more on our continuing exploration of the new Essentials player character classes. Next time, we’ll examine the other fighter build, the slayer. Until then …

Keep playing!

In Case You Don't Know Him

Bill Slavicsek's gaming life was forever changed when he discovered Dungeons & Dragons in 1976. He became a gaming professional in 1986 when he was hired by West End Games as an editor. He quickly added developer, designer, and creative manager to his resume, and his work helped shape the Paranoia, Ghostbusters, Star Wars, and Torg roleplaying games. He even found some time during that period to do freelance work for D&D 1st Edition. In 1993, Bill joined the staff of TSR, Inc. as a designer/editor. He worked on a bunch of 2nd Edition material, including products for Core D&D, Dark Sun, Ravenloft, and Planescape. In 1997, he was part of the TSR crowd that moved to Seattle to join Wizards of the Coast, and in that year he was promoted to R&D Director for D&D. In that position, Bill oversaw the creation of both the 3rd Edition and 4th Edition of the D&D Roleplaying Game. He was one of the driving forces behind the D&D Insider project, and he continues to oversee and lead the creative strategy and effort for Dungeons & Dragons.

Bill's enormous list of credits includes Alternity, d20 Star Wars, The Mark of Nerath Dungeons & Dragon novel, Eberron Campaign Setting, the D&D For Dummies books, and his monthly Ampersand (&) column for Dragon Magazine.

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