Thoughts on the LevelUp 5e Playtest III – Rogue

Well I was waiting for the next package to drop, but like a fool I was waiting on the LevelUp5e homepage rather than digging around – I missed it by weeks. Probably need to update that guys!

So this package is the Rogue class. First thoughts – it’s a lot shorter than the Fighter document. That’s probably good, given all the different options for combat they had, but now it feels like maybe the Rogue isn’t as adaptable somehow?
Let’s see the breakdown, before I make too quick a judgement.

We’ve got the introductory blurb, in the same way as the Fighter, then things get interesting.
Things we keep from the first ten levels of Rogue in the PHB:
Sneak attack (and the rate it progresses) and Thieves’ Cant at level 1, Cunning Action at level 2, Roguish Archetype at levels 3 and 9, Ability Score Increases at levels 4 and 8. And that’s it!
Things that are gone:
Expertise at levels 1 and 6 (sort of, see below), Uncanny Dodge at level 5 (see below), Evasion at level 7 (see below, again), ASI at level 10.

So what do we get instead?
At level 1, we get Expertise Dice and Exploration Knacks, at level 2 we get Combat Tactics and Martial Manoeuvres, at level 3 we have Deceptive Tricks and Trapsmith, level 5 gives us Improved Critical, level 6 Observant Trick, level 7 Improved Trapsmith, a Defence Style at level 9 and Subtle Tricks round us out at level 10.

That’s a lot of new stuff replacing old stuff, but some of it is more of a change of name and position.

First up, Expertise Dice. Now, these were a part of the D&DNext playtest, and one I quite liked, so I’m not surprised these are being put in. There’s alternate rules in the DMG for making proficiency bonus into a die and this is sort of similar, but basically Rogues now get die they can add to certain skill and tool checks instead of double proficiency bonus.
If you would get multiple dice for a single check, instead the die moves up a step, so d4 to d6 to d8. It stops at d8.

I covered Exploration Knacks in the Fighter review, but unlike the Fighter these all work on expertise die. Bonuses to Perception and Sleight of Hand and Trapmaking.

Combat Tactics are a bit like Fighting Styles, but for Rogues. One gives bonuses to ranged damage, one adds a whole extra sneak attack die but only with daggers.

Combat Manoeuvres are the same as Fighters, but Rogues only have access to three trees – Biting Zephyr, Mist and Shade, and Rapid Current. If I remember, Biting Zephyr is the ranged tree, Mist and Shade is a bit sneaky, so they all seem to fit well.

Deceptive Tricks at level 3 gives another way to use expertise dice, on Performance and Intimidation checks, and with benefits on certain applications of those checks. There’s also a trick for building ciphers.

Also at level 3, Trapmaking gives Rogues a way to build booby traps with ten minutes preparation and their thieves’ tools.

Improved Critical at level 5 lowers the roll needed for a critical hit from 20 to 19. If this ability gets picked up from another class as well, it moves down again to 18.

Level 6’s Shrewd Judgement gives the Rogue some conversation tricks and more expertise die uses – Deception, Sleight of Hand and Insight. The Deception option seems to steal Insight abilities, but it makes sense as used, Sleight of Hand is used to frisk someone (not sure how that’s a conversation trick, but OK).

Defense Style at level 7 is where the old Evasion and Uncanny Dodge abilities reappear – but this time as a choice. You only get to pick one, or you can take Artful Dodger to gain Dodge as a bonus action after a one handed attack – as long as your other hand is empty.

Also at level 7, Improved Trapmaking adds some extra abilities to any traps created, such as area of effect, poison, acid, and so on.

Finally Low Profile at level 10 is some more expertise die uses and associated benefits. Disguise Kits, Persuasion and Deception this time, and you can use Persuasion to lie instead of Deception, or when an ally fails a Deception check substitute your own new roll.

So what do I think so far?
The aim of the playtest was to give players more choice. Compared to the Fighter, I’m not seeing as many choices here, though lots of the abilities feel very rogue-y.
I can see some being upset that Evasion and Uncanny Dodge are now either/or, but I also really like some of the manoeuvres, and the expertise die was one of the things I miss from the D&DNext playtest in 5e.

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