Tuesday, 15 September 2015

OSR Rogue Class: Part 1

Periodically, in my musings on D&D, I feel the need to create a new thief / rogue class, often mixing in elements of other rogue types such as assassins, acrobats, and bards. Well, the stars have aligned just right, and the following has been bouncing around in my head.

Rogue Class
Instead of a fixed set of skills advancing at a predetermined rate (like the standard thief class), the character has an expanding set of largely non-advancing skills. A 1st level rogue knows four of the skills below (player's choice). One more skill is learned at each level increase. From 5th level, the character may choose from the list of advanced skills (those marked with an asterisk). Learning an advanced skill requires that the rogue first learn the associated normal skill (e.g. move silently requires move quietly).

Pick pockets: requires a successful DEX check. The victim may save versus spells to notice the attempt.

Sleight of hand: used to surreptitiously manipulate items, perform tricks of legerdemain, delicately extract or swap out objects from pressure plates, etc. A DEX check is required for success.

Mimic voice: general accents can be mimicked with ease. To convincingly mimic an individual, you must listen to them speaking for at least ten minutes. If there is any uncertainty, listeners may make a saving throw versus spells to detect the ruse.

Move quietly: when lightly encumbered, you can sneak quietly. (Other characters may attempt to sneak, but without guaranteed success.) In an environment with no ambient noise to mask your movement, an attentive listener may notice you -- save versus wands.

Move silently *: when lightly encumbered, you can sneak absolutely silently.

Back stab: when attacking a humanoid victim who is unaware of your presence, you get a +4 bonus to attack with a dagger. If the attack succeeds, the precision of your strike inflicts extra damage: 1d4 + your level.

Sniper: works the same as back stab (above), but for fired missile weapons (bows, crossbows).

Garrote: when attacking a humanoid victim who is unaware of your presence, you can attempt to strangle them with a garrote or similar weapon. Make an attack roll. If the attack succeeds, you have the garrote in place, causing 1d4 damage. Each subsequent round, the victim suffers 1d4 damage and must save versus paralysis or fall unconscious (if you garrote an unconscious victim for one more round, they die). While conscious, the victim may fight back with their fists, small weapons, or by wrestling. All such attacks are at -2, but success indicates they've broken free of your garrote (in addition to normal damage, etc.).

Black jack: when attacking a humanoid victim who is unaware of your presence and who is not wearing a helmet, you can attempt to knock them out with a cosh, black jack, or similar implement. Make an attack roll. If it succeeds, the victim suffers 1d4 damage and must save versus paralysis. Failure indicates that they're knocked unconscious.

Tight rope walking: expert balance allows you to easily walk or dash across narrow beams. With a DEX check, you can walk across right ropes or beams of less than 6 inches width.

Blind fighting: training in the unusual art of fighting while blindfolded reduces the penalty to attacks against foes whom you cannot see. Instead of the usual -4 penalty, you only suffer -2 when making melee attacks.

Climb rock faces: when lightly encumbered, you can climb rough rock faces with a successful DEX check. You can climb easier surfaces without a check.

Climb rough walls *: your climbing skills are so advanced that you can scale sheer surfaces with only minimal handholds such as the cracks between stone blocks. This requires a DEX check. You can climb easier surfaces without a check.

Find hidden mechanisms: your chance of detecting secret doors or mechanical traps when searching is increased by 1 in 6. (Note that you may be able to find such mechanisms without a roll by describing to the referee exactly how you search.)

Pick locks: with decent lock picks and a turn of work, you can attempt to open locks without the appropriate key. A DEX roll is required. You may retry, if you fail.

Disable small mechanical traps: with a set of thieves' tools and a turn off work, you can attempt to bypass or disable small mechanical traps such as those found on locks. A DEX roll is required. If you fail, save versus wands to avoid setting the trap off. You may retry.

Decipher foreign text: with an INT check, you can figure out the gist of a text written in foreign languages which are related to a language you know.

Decipher obscure text *: as above, but applies to ancient or obscure languages, at the referee's discretion.

Read magic: you can decipher arcane inscriptions, including those on magic-user scrolls or in spell books. There is a 1 in 6 chance of your understanding being inaccurate. This skill does not allow you to cast spells.

Activate magic scrolls *: you can cast spells from magic-user scrolls with a 90% chance of success.

Detect magic: with a turn of concentration, you have a 2 in 6 chance of detecting the presence of magic in a 10' area or on a specific object. You may retry.

Hear noise: your chance of hearing noises when listening at doors is increased by 1 in 6.

Coming In Part 2
More skills...

Mimic behaviour
Hide in shadows *
Escape bonds
Identify common poisons
Identify rare poisons *
(...and anything else that comes to my mind in the meantime)


  1. This is really interesting. It's a great take on the class and it avoids those hard percentages people whine about.

    1. Yes! Those blasted percentages! I was aiming to create a class that's good at what it does, rather than having to suffer almost certain failure at low level. I find that really boring.

  2. Great and easy. Maybe you should note skills, that are not possible or get negative modifier without thieves tools... maybe?

    1. Ah you're right, at least one other skill requires thieve's tools.

    2. Oh, though I just noticed that Disable small mechanical traps does already mention thieve's tools. Was there another skill you had in mind?