Rogue class improvements

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Rogue class improvements

Postby Sangarunya » Thu Jul 21, 2022 1:47 pm

The forum is in slow news day mode and several class improvements are on their way so, it's suggestion time!

The rogue class suffers a clearly apparent problem: is a one-trick pony character whose main duty is making sneak attacks. Lives and dies with this ability. If the enemies have immunity to sneak attacks or if the requisites to perform the special ability are unfulfilled, the thief loses many utility in the group. The class lacks the versatility of the skill repertoire usually present in RPGs like hide in the shadows, disarm traps, open locks, etc. To compensate for this loss there are numerous rogue-only dialog options created exclusively to support the class along all levels, but the game is combat centered and the objective should be to develop this class as a valuable component of a party along the entire adventure, giving the rogue enough combat choices to have a satisfactory influence in the quarrels and not to compensate with those dialog-exclusive way outs.

Taking as reference the rogue talents options in D&D, several thief-themed abilities can be added to this class to improve the performance in battles.

First abilities group theme: toxins (to differentiate them of the Poison spell) reminiscent of the Thief Class Kit Assassin in Baldur's Gate 2. In the Pathfinder ruleset there are lots of examples:

https://www.d20pfsrd.com/gamemastering/afflictions/poison/

just like in the D&D 3.5 version:

https://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/SRD:Poisons

We don't need so many but a clever selection of them will be godly. Some creativity with the names and add some toxins with diverse effects like those in both lists: more ordinary damage, additional elemental damage, characteristics damage (Str, Dex, Con, etc.), applying conditions on the enemy (Nauseated, Sickened, Bleeding, Confused, Paralyzed) or some neat unique effect like a penalization to all Concentration DCs for several rounds.

For more versatility and power, you can create new rogue-exclusive feats to improve the venom's effects: increase the damage, the number of rounds the poison is active, the saving throw, etc. I think the best option is including a "Rogue Feat" option every X levels of the class to allow the rogue to improve the arsenal to his disposition. With the choosing of general feats every four levels, the rogue should be allowed to add these exclusive feats when leveling up gives the option of getting a general feat but not the opposite: the "Rogue feat" option shouldn't allow to select the general ones.

Why making toxins as a class power instead of the traditional consumables? Simply to provide the rogue some unique features and differentiate the character from the rest of the roster. That doesn't preclude the possibility of adding flasks of poison as consumables to be used by other classes, but the most powerful and versatile should be rogue property.


Following group: snares or traps and bombs, reminiscent of the Bounty Hunter Class Kit in Baldur's Gate 2. I don't know if Pierre has planned to add to the game in the future a class akin to the Pathfinder's Alchemist or Grenadier, distinguished for the specialized use of throwing bombs and flasks but I think that shouldn't be an obstacle to give the rogue a few of them for personal use.

There are two problems with static traps that can be placed on the floor in a squared tile game: first, one trap occupy one entire square and can provoke a bottleneck point in maps with narrow corridors or just at the door to access a room. It can be too much of an advantage, specially if there are several rogues in the group and leads to "jam traffic" style of combat. Second, the trap is set, "invisible" to enemies that shouldn't know where is placed and the 'omniscient AI' must calculate if ignores the point where the trap is and let the monster activates it or the monster avoids triggering it, giving the player the hunch of cheating, by simply averting it. Fundamentally, it transforms trap placement into a hidden random roll effect. I think the best solution is not allowing to place the traps on the floor and resort to some more primitive and direct use of them: throw traps at the enemy's face!

Usual candidates:
- Tanglefoot Bomb (entangle)
- Sunlight Bomb (able to damage undead and slimes, creatures with innate immunity to sneak attacks)
- Shock bomb (dazzled)
- Holy Water (damage evil creatures)
- Alchemist’s Fire (fire + burning)
- Flask of acid (acid + damage per turn)
- Bomb of ice (ice + slowing)
- Smoke Bomb/Choker (fog cloud)
- Grease bomb (same as the spell)
- Dispelling bomb (dispel magic spell)
- Defoliant bomb (anti-plants)
- Blinding Bomb
- Thunderstone (deafening)
- Rust Bomb (some initial damage to metal creatures plus more per turn for x rounds. It can be wiped off with a move action by the victim)
- Shrapnel Trap: several missile damage, perhaps improved with the splash damage option and bleeding.
- Slow trap
- Paralyze trap
- Maze trap (high-level)

Again, more feats to increase their power, DC, duration, reach, etc.

With a resourceful roster of toxins and traps the role of the rogue class changes for the best into the group: instead of performing again and again the sneak attack trick, now it shines for his versatility: being able to do alternative type damage to avoid damage resistances or taking advantage of damage vulnerabilities, targeting an enemy with characteristic damage to considerably weakening it, applying harmful conditions that can be leveraged by other team members, being able to damage creatures with immunity to sneak attacks or using crowd control abilities to constrain enemy movements in the battlefield. Now the rogue resembles more a class with lots tricks under the sleeve to deal with the enemies. And, of course, delivering the fatal blow with the Sneak Attack.

I've thought more suggestions, but I have to mull them over to check if they can improve the role of the rogue in the game. To implement a system like this, with toxins and traps will take some time, but I think it'll help immensely the possibilities of this class.

Names, effects and dynamics are mere drafts.
Any suggestions or criticism will be welcomed.

Thanks for reading!
Sangarunya
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Rogue class improvements

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Re: Rogue class improvements

Postby Atoch » Thu Jul 21, 2022 7:58 pm

Hello Sangarunya!

I very much agree with your whole post!

I just finished my test-run with the new barbarian in the tutorial. I choose the tutorial for its fast level-up speed … but the tutorial is to specialized, is to easy and has to many high-magic equipments, so I don’t dare to come to conclusions and will instead begin a new test-run in the main champagne.
But the stats at the end can still show some inclinations:

Image

As it can be seen, the Rouge struggles as damage-dealer … at least at lower levels.

I support your call for more versatility and usability of the rouge class – be it toxins, traps or bombs.

I would like to see it organized similar to the new Spirit Animals i.e.

- a pool of special abilities the player has to choose of at the character-creation and every few level thereafter
- a short or very short activation time
- enabling and encouragement of frequent use of the special abilities

Also some synergy-effects (and feats) for specialisation as Alchemist (toxins), Bounty Hunter (traps) or Grenadier (bombs) would be nice. (Perhaps similar in its scope to the Druid specialisation)

There should be special abilities for intelligence-focused rouges and special abilities for melee/dexterity-focused rogues → intelligence-focused rogues should become a viable option.
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Re: Rogue class improvements

Postby feanor89 » Fri Jul 22, 2022 9:34 am

I also feel that the rogue class neeeds some serious improvement in KotC2 and I think that your ideas on poison and bombs are great.
As for me, I think that PF could be of inspiration for some other features that IMO will greatly benfit rogues:
- make less enemies immune to critical and therefor sneak attacks (looking at you undeads!)
- make rogues automatically use DEX for both attack roll and damage roll with finesse weapons as per the 'finesse training' feature in the unchained rogue version https://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/unchained-classes/rogue-unchained/. This way, rogues will have a reliable way of dealing some damage that is not sneak attack based and will also let you focus just on DEX (stat consolidation is always good).
Finally, this time not from PF, adding something like the 3.5 craven feat https://dndtools.net/feats/champions-of-ruin--27/craven--484/ to boost the damage output even more.
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Re: Rogue class improvements

Postby Sangarunya » Sun Jul 24, 2022 8:36 pm

Definitely, the idea is a rogue-exclusive pool of abilities that can be chosen at character creation and improved/expanded when getting new levels. How many of them can be chosen at level one and if that number is increased by the intelligence bonus or any other characteristic is a future debate. The "Rogue feat" should be available every two or three levels to boost the thief options: increasing the effect or the toxins/traps, the duration, the DC, the range or the area of effect of traps, reduce the activation time, the number of activations before rest, etc. Of course, not all of them must be available at level one - the most potent effects can be only be chosen at higher levels and same with some of the upgrades. The use of toxins should tend to be a free action, to be able to activate them and influence the combat immediately - perhaps we can use some characteristic to limit if certain toxins that can be improved to a swift action, like Dexterity or Wisdom. Let's say, "If the rogue has a base Dexterity of X or more, this ability can be used as a free action. If not, it is activated as a Standard action. This way some abilities can be improved attaching them to one base characteristic instead of entrusting it all to choose some feats. For example, a rogue with high dexterity could choose more toxins at character creation, and some of them are upgraded to free actions only with a certain minimum dexterity while others are improved with the corresponding rogue feat. Same with intelligence for the traps: "if the rogue has a base intelligence of X or more, this trap DC is increased." Or its effects are more potent. An intelligence-focused rogue could develop more aptitude with traps and spells.

Tying certain improvements to the characteristics value can help to increase the number of races that can be used as a viable rogue. The archetypical build for rogues is Dex all the way and some Intelligence for the critics, but using other races as a rogue should be fun, perhaps not as powerful but with enough options to feel nice using them. Playing a rogue elf with 20 Dex and 20 Int is classic and safe, but being a dwarf or drake rogue should be feasible, even if their dexterity and intelligence are naturally lower.
It's only an idea but it could alter subtly the way of making builds. Habitually, you have an ability, spell, etc. and the power is increased as the character gains new levels or through certain feats acquired when leveling up. But the characteristics base value is practically never considered. Tying the ability to be more powerful when one characteristic is greater that a certain value can help considerably to play more unusual combinations of classes and races. For example, some thematic rogue powers could be increased with Str, Wis or Cha.

Playing the Baldur's Gate saga with a bounty hunter was extremely fun. Almost equal with an assassin or a pure thief. The problem is they got few abilities, and they were very spaced apart between levels, but the experience was very satisfactory in general and I think that adding a nice roster of toxins/traps to the rogue class can make a lot of good to this class in this game.

I've never liked the Pathfinder rule about letting the sneak attack bypass usual enemy immunities. It feels so cheap to use the traditional backstabbing against a lich or an iron golem. I know the motives of the decision, but I don't agree entirely with them. I'd only consider this ability as an epic feat or near epic levels and only if all the alternatives have been evaluated exhaustively. If the party is fighting a monster with immunity to sneak attacks, the rogue can utilize other tricks in the repertory, like the Sunlight Bomb against undead or slimes, the Defoliant Bomb against monsterplants, the Holy Water against undead or the Rust Bomb against mechanical enemies. With these new snares, the rogue is not dead weight in any combat. Those abilities should be powerful enough to be effective trough the entire game.
Letting the Sneak Attack work against almost any type of monster worsens rogue's function. It even specializes more the role in the party from a one trick pony to a "Rick and Morty's Butter Robot"-like: "What is my purpose? You do Sneak Attacks". Exclusively. I've always preferred the rogue as a walking myriad of gimmicks and fatal tricks. And we have to consider all the MonsterBane weapon enchantments to compensate the damage.
One key difference with the Pathfinder ruleset is that toxins and traps won't be consumables but rogue-exclusive abilities, so they won't be used by other archetypes and can be tailored to surmount the rogue's usual weaknesses.

About Finesse Training. I don't think it would be necessary an automatic Weapon Finesse. In this game the rogue gets three additional general feats more that the Pathfinder version, at levels 12, 16 and 20 so is not really feat-starved. And being optional doesn't bias the class to Dexterity-only increments just like the change from Strength to Dexterity to calculate the damage. Rogues with high Str won't benefit with this option. With the help of the toxins, the rogue can receive additional bonuses to deal that necessary damage against the backstabbing immune creatures and others with resistances. So a low-Str, high-Dex rogue can use the broad selection of toxins available to overcome the handicap.

Anyways, the thread is open to retorts and continue the discussion.

Thanks for reading!
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Re: Rogue class improvements

Postby Atoch » Sat Jul 30, 2022 6:17 pm

Hi!

Version 1.43 is out and gifts us new Rogue and Monk specialisations.
Here the new Rogue specialisations:

Image Image Image Image Image Image


There’s a missing link in the “Specialisation”-overview “Swashbuckler”.

My 2 cents:
“Assassin” and “Fencer” are an effective (and cheap ;)) way to make the Rogue more competitive to the other classes – especially in the beginning, when many enemies have (low) DR and dexterity-focused classes do have a hard time dealing with them.

“Ninja” seems comparatively weak → and perhaps a good candidate for a few “bombs” and “traps”? Please! “Ninja” would even be a fitting job-description!

“Swashbuckler” – my first impression isn’t very good – “abilities spreading” uhhh :roll: . But then – there are many magic items with ability bonuses in this game, sometimes even stacking bonuses, so the damage output should be o.k.
Still – the lower levels will be hard and the lack of spells will significantly reduce his survivability against melee-fighters. Now, if there were a large number of cheap and relevant wizard scrolls or wands accessible to the player... did I miss a game-mechanic that I’m not aware of?
The Swashbuckler could become a Dark Horse...
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Re: Rogue class improvements

Postby BlueSalamander » Wed Aug 03, 2022 7:56 pm

Hello! Thank you for all the interesting suggestions Sangarunya, Atoch and feanor89!

The rogue class suffers a clearly apparent problem: is a one-trick pony character whose main duty is making sneak attacks.
I wouldn't say that, because the Rogue class is the only class with the Rogue skillset (open lock, disarm trap, pick pocket, forgery, etc). For me, half of the interest in taking a Rogue is getting access to these skilled dialogue choices.

The Rogue also has the Assassin and Streetwise skills which you may or may not be getting from the other party members.

Combat-wise, sure, it has the highest-damage Sneak Attack of all classes (plus Crippling Strike), but it also has the 'Tumble' and 'Bypass Enemy' abilities, Mirror Image as a level-1 spell, Darkness and Invisibility spells, Slow and Confusion spells, and the Rogue Fireball spell.

add some toxins with diverse effects like those in both lists: more ordinary damage, additional elemental damage, characteristics damage (Str, Dex, Con, etc.), applying conditions on the enemy (Nauseated, Sickened, Bleeding, Confused, Paralyzed) or some neat unique effect like a penalization to all Concentration DCs for several rounds.
It's a cool idea. Perhaps the Rogue could be allowed to equip vials of liquid poison or poisonous powder on the Arms slot, just like the Bard can equip various instruments on the Arms slot.

They would probably be one-time-use stackable items. So, for example, if you equip Lich Dust (x5) on the Arms slot, it will apply the Nauseated condition for one round as part of your standard melee or ranged attack (Fortitude negates).

Each successful hit that applies the condition will reduce the stack by one, and the item will disappear once you've spent the five units.

More variety in the items that you can find is always good.

Not sure if poisons will actually make it into the game in that form at all, but I'm adding it to the list of cool ideas. Might happen together with the release of one of the upcoming modules.

I don't know if Pierre has planned to add to the game in the future a class akin to the Pathfinder's Alchemist or Grenadier, distinguished for the specialized use of throwing bombs and flasks
Nope.

Tanglefoot Bomb (entangle) - Sunlight Bomb (able to damage undead and slimes, creatures with innate immunity to sneak attacks) - Shock bomb (dazzled) - Holy Water (damage evil creatures) - Alchemist’s Fire (fire + burning) - Flask of acid (acid + damage per turn) - Bomb of ice (ice + slowing) - Smoke Bomb/Choker (fog cloud) - Grease bomb (same as the spell) - Dispelling bomb (dispel magic spell) - Defoliant bomb (anti-plants) - Blinding Bomb - Thunderstone (deafening) - Rust Bomb (some initial damage to metal creatures plus more per turn for x rounds. It can be wiped off with a move action by the victim) - Shrapnel Trap: several missile damage, perhaps improved with the splash damage option and bleeding. - Slow trap - Paralyze trap - Maze trap (high-level)
I find this idea a bit less interesting for two reasons.

First, any character could throw a bomb at the enemy, so it's not really Rogue-specific. See for example the existing consumable items Snaring Acorns, Acorns of Earthquake, and Lesser Fireball Necklace.

Second, they are somewhat redundant because they duplicate the effect of Rogue spells like the level-1 Rogue spell Grease, the level-2 Rogue spell Flaming Sphere, or the level-3 Rogue spells Poison, Confusion, Slow, and Hold Monster.

Traps that can be set on the floor also very much sound like the spell Energy Wall -- albeit a version that would perhaps be invisible to enemies, disappear when triggered by a monster, and limited to a single square.

- make less enemies immune to critical and therefor sneak attacks (looking at you undeads!)
- make rogues automatically use DEX for both attack roll and damage roll with finesse weapons as per the 'finesse training' feature in the unchained rogue version
Yup. Those are in the game now.

There’s a missing link in the “Specialisation”-overview “Swashbuckler”.
Yes, thank you. I've fixed that broken link in version 1.44.

Swashbuckler – my first impression isn’t very good – “abilities spreading” uhhh :roll: . But then – there are many magic items with ability bonuses in this game, sometimes even stacking bonuses, so the damage output should be o.k. Still – the lower levels will be hard and the lack of spells will significantly reduce his survivability against melee-fighters.
The Swashbuckler is mainly intended for people who have been calling for a magic-less version of the Rogue, that is to say a character who's closer to a Warrior type but still retaining the Rogue skillset.

Ideally, you'll want to take advantage of a high intelligence score with the Insightful Strike ability, the feats Battle Cunning and Greater Battle Cunning, and the fact that high intelligence will increase your Search skill. Precise Swing will allow you to perform Sneak Attacks against enemies who have Blur or some other form of concealment below 50%.

Essentially, you exchange the spells and a few d6 of Sneak Attack in return for the high Base Attack Bonus and extra abilities.

Cheers all! Best regards 8-)
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Re: Rogue class improvements

Postby MrLicorice » Sun Aug 14, 2022 7:15 pm

Is it possible that the cost for rogue dialogue interactions is still a bit too high?

One issue is that a party with a fighter (streetwise) and a cleric/bishop with trickery domain (forgery, gambling...) covers most of the rogue dialogue interactions. These two classes are highly desirable in any party and make the rogue unnecessary.

So what is the point of having a rogue when I can take a fighter and a cleric instead and make a much more powerful party?

I would argue that the rogue should be worthehile for what it brings to the table in combat.

The combat role that the rogue seems to be intended for in this game is high-mobility single target assassination along with light crowd control spell usage. The problem is that the rogue is bad at both tasks. What I mean is:

- The crowd control spells rely on DC, and the rogue suffers from multiple stat dependency. It is not possible to raise Intelligence during level-ups without crippling combat. The rogue DC will never be high enough to reliably disable/weaken dangerous enemies. This is compounded by the fact that the rogue has a small spell per day pool, so it is unattractive to invest in spellcasting. Investing precious feats on something that you cannot do a lot of is inefficient.
- combat: positioning the rogue to land sneak attacks is the the fun part of being a rogue. The problem is that a single sneak attack won't do (past the prologue). You need a lot more damage than that to assassinate an enemy and stay relevant to the party. What makes the fighter, monk, barbarian, psionic warrior and samouraï relevant is that they all have a mechanic to move AND make multiple attacks.

Some suggestions to bring the rogue where it needs to be:
- A mechanic to move and make a full attack. For example: "smoke bomb", allowing the rogue to vanish and reappear behind the enemy, so a short range move as a swift action. This can be an ability with X uses per rest (maybe intelligence based) and a range of 10'. The goal is to help positioning for the sneak attack and do a full attack in the same round. The Ninja can have a free feat that improves the range and number of uses of the smoke bomb.
- Better crippling strike. Maybe landing a critical hit can have more dangerous effects, like sickening or stunning an enemy (with intelligence based DC) maybe this can be purchased through feats once crippling strike is available, making the rogue a more reliable controller at higher levels.
- More unique spells: The ranger has unique spells that are really cool, that add damage and cc to her ranged attack. Rogue needs this as well. Maybe a swift action spell or two that add special effects to melee attack. This could be an alternative to the better crippling strike.

Just some thoughts. I don't think the rogue needs much to be a serious contender in a party, and a real alternative to: "let's just take trickery domain".
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