Into the Breach: The Rogue
This installment of Flying Pincushion Games’ class-centric series of pdfs clocks in at 43 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with a massive 38 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This pdf was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.
We begin, as always, with new archetypes for the rogue class, the first of which would be the booksmart scout, who receives a modified list of class skills and replaces trapfinding with bardic knowledge. 2nd level needs passive benefits for the scout who successfully identifies hostile creatures instead of the usual evasion gained. 3rd level replaces trap sense with a swift action reroll of a filed Knowledge check at -5.
4th level nets a slightly inelegant ability – I like the notion, though: Increase sneak attack versus successfully identified foes. Alas, the increase is tied to the number by which the DC is beaten, which, considering the ridiculous minmaxing of skills is concerned, can deliver somewhat wobbly results. Adding in a level-based maximum would streamline this one. 6th level nets bonuses to social skills when first gathering info via Knowledge (local)…which is a bit wobbly, considering that you use Diplomacy, RAW, for info-gathering – NOT Knowledge (local). Uncanny dodge is delayed to 8th level and 10th level nets 1/day cognatogen. An okay archetype, though not one that blows me all away.
The second archetype would be the descrier, once again with a modified class skill list and sneak attack’s progression is slightly stunted – it’s gained at 1st level and progresses by +1d6 every 3 levels thereafter. 1st level also allows for exceptional focus, which, as a move action, lets the descrier gain some bonuses versus the chosen target and deal sneak attack damage versus such a foe, even if the creature would be immune to sneak attack…however, the damage dice is decreased to d4. This signature ability increases at higher levels. Instead of trap sense, you get a bonus feat at 3rd level, 4th level nets keen eyes (sneak versus dazed, entangled, exhausted, frightened or grappled foes), more conditions unlocked at 12th level, and 8th level lets the archetype cause sneak damage versus foes with concealment and bonuses to some skills versus the focused target. The highest level ability, at 16th level, auto-focuses foes properly identified. I like this modification of the chassis – it’s solid, though the focus could certainly be used in additional, creative ways.
The third archetype would be the fugitive, who are hard to track, gain Int-mod to initiative and delay sneak attack progression. Generally, I like the idea of making overcome obstacles more dangerous for pursuers, but I certainly wished this one had a bit more precision – RAW, the damage-increase thus gained can make caltrops hyper-lethal and is permanent. A timeframe or maximum number affected is certainly required here. 14th level shields versus discern location etc. Haunted Skulks begin play with an oracle curse, but replace their rogue talents with a phantom – I like the idea of a cursed spiritualist-rogue, but losing rogue talents deprives the archetype of cool teamwork set-ups, talent-shares and similar tricks. Basically, this is the minimum-option iteration of the cool concept and falls a bit short of the excellence the idea could carry. The honeypot would be an interesting face-type archetype – the baseline of this one would be that the archetype is about generating an appealing look that increases Cha, but also makes everyone notice the character more easily. Yeah, it’s basically the dandy/goth-archetype. 😉 Kidding aside, gender neutrality at higher level makes this a nice homme/femme fatal(e)-iteration. Solid.
The kinetic sneak would e up next and 2nd level nets elemental focus and kinetic blast, though simple blast does not scale and surprise blast allows for sneak to damage via a feint…which is generally an issue: The class needs to use two actions, win the skill check and then hit for the bonus of a signature ability…all in all, a rogue with a bit of kineticist cobbled on. Not a fan.
Okay, so far, I have not been too impressed – that changes pretty much with the master hawserier archetype; with a grappling hook and lasso instead of hand crossbow/rapier in proficiency, the also gain +1 skill point at 1st level, to be invested in Craft (rope). Yes. You read correctly. Rope. We begin with better rope-use and Equipment Tricks at low-levels, but where the archetype becomes interesting is 6th level – here, 5 ropes are chosen from a massive list (+5 at 10th and 14th) – the character may now make these. For example, Blodeuwedd Hair. Or Cavefisher Filament. Yes, these ropes can utilize unique benefits AND come with equipment stats. So yes, even if you don’t want to use this cool archetype, the item-scavenging potential here is pretty amazing. So yep, this guy – winner. My one complaint is that it takes pretty long until you get to the cool special ropes. I would have added level prereqs and dispersed the rope-gains more through the levels – as written, you have 3 bumps of versatility-trick gains, which is engine-wise less satisfying than continuous growth. Still: Nice work!
The Poacher is basically a ranger/rogue hybrid with trap emphasis. Okay, I guess, but I’m not blown away by the guy. The Quarrel knave would be more interesting – the idea behind this archetype is a valid dual-hand crossbow rogue, which does have means to use Acrobatics to deal with reload-based AoOs. I *like* the archetype’s concept. Alas, the precision exhibited is not 100% there – 6th level unlocks Hail of Needles, which is basically flurry with hand crossbows…got ya…just, well, flurry is usually melee and thus, this needs a slight rewrite. While Rapid Reload takes care of the iterative attack issue with crossbows, the archetype does not note how interaction with the TWF-tree works here, since the base flurry builds on aforementioned feat-array. The archetype does get cool, Green Arrow-style modification of crossbows, class level points to customize them…and I really like these modifications, though, once again, at 8th level, they are pretty late in the game and I wished these signature tricks would be gained sooner. Conceptually cool, but has some rough edges.
Okay, so the next one sounds wonky, but stay with me – the trickster chef is a cooking specialist, who gains a nonlethal, save-based version of sneak attack – snack attack. Sounds lame? It’s anything but that! You see, the archetype may select various recipes and snack attacks…well, make the target HUNGRY. Thus, presenting the targets with various special recipes (available via rogue talents), these guys can provide buffs, debuffs or soft terrain control – making the playing experience pretty cool and unique. Beyond this, the archetype actually gets a trick to further modify the properties of the meals cooked by using slain magical beasts…allowing for a bit of numerical tweaking. The most rounded of the archetypes so far and a rewarding, nice experience that could have carried +10 pages, engine-wise. The walking arsenal is a rogue who can hide weapons well, stitch them in clothes etc. -solid, but not an archetype that blew me away. The wild handler gets an animal companion and stunted sneak progression, but may have the companion employ rogue tricks. Pretty powerful, but considering the base rogue’s issues, I’m good with that. Solid, but not amazingly creative.
Unchained rogues also get some options, the first of which would be the brickbat striker, who gets a modified skill- and proficiency-list and d4 sneak attack dice. However, he does get ruinous assault at first level, which is basically an ability that lets you forego sneak attack damage dice in favor of inflicting various detrimental conditions, including entangling foes, sicken them or setting up higher DCs (the DC, if applicable, is btw. based on Dex and includes 1/2 class level scaling) and much like deeds, new options are unlocked at higher levels – 4th, 8th, 12th and 16th, to be more precise. Basically, a deed-like engine. The Bunk mentalist is based mostly on skill unlocks, unlocking a mentalism power alongside every skill unlock – think of these as unique, additional unlocks: Handle Animal, for example, nets you Animal Empathy at full class level. Learning one piece of info about Appraised items is a cool narrative device and a 3-round period of grace versus scrutiny when disguised similarly is nice. It should be noted that not all skills offer such powers, though. Pretty intriguing one. The Guild Capo can “add an additional +2 morale bonus to aid another actions.” As what action? Sure, it becomes apparent in the follow-ups of the ability (since AoO decreases from standard to swift) but the base ability should specify the action to activate. Similarly, what’s the range? Is line of sight required? Sure, the recipient must hear the capo…but you get the idea – the ability is functional, but could be clearer. 2nd level nets tactician and latter levels allow for teamwork feats instead of rogue talents. The sharpshooter is basically an archer-based rogue archetype and may inflict damage to foes unaware of the sniper…and OUTSIDE the first range increment. At short range, some penalties can be applied to foes nearby. My favorite non-complex archetype herein, though at-range sneak can be brutal – I’d most certainly add in a caveat that being hit by the first arrow constitutes being made aware of the sniper.
After all of these archetypes, the pdf also presents the Libertine variant class at d8 HD, 8+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Will-saves, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and all types of armor and shield. The key ability would be intrigue, gained at first level – the ability’s precise effects depend on the interpersonal relationship with another creature: The attitude of the creature to the libertine determines the type of benefits the libertine receives. When the attitude changes…well, the bonus is lost, for the ability is predicated on 48 hours of one attitude. One can be maintained at 1st level , +1 at 5th and every 5 levels thereafter. As a standard action, libertines may reveal secrets of targets gained to cause negative conditions to the subjects of her intrigue, with increasingly devastating options. The class also gets a scaling bonus versus divine spells and SPs and 2nd level unlocks so-called quirks – basically, the talents of the class. These can employ both buffs and debuffs – see, the thing is, that several of these require basically an ally to be affected by intrigue. So far, the main issue of this roleplaying-centric class would be the restrictions imposed upon the intrigue as core mechanic…and a lack of notes on what kind of action is required to determine/switch intrigues. Alas, the rules-language of this class does feature some unpleasant hiccups beyond this -take the shameless ability: “As a standard action, the libertine interrupts another creature who is casting a spell…” Read that sentence very closely. Let that stand as an example. The libertine, as a concept, is something I really like; heck, I consider myself to be at least a bit of a decadent libertine. I want to like this class and enjoy its roleplaying focus…but it needs some upgrade to its combat utility and some serious streamlining of its rules-language, which is pretty much among the weakest in this pdf. Note that I want to note that this class concept has potential galore – add in some combat-utility and streamlining and I’ll really like it. As written, its primary focus lies in very low-powered games.
The pdf concludes with a ton of traits – and these run from solid bonus traits and sport teh proper categories, but also feature some issues: Iconoclasm lets you vandalize holy symbols, altars, etc. as a full-round action. You may worsen the damage with more rounds expended – the more you expend, the longer it’ll take to make the item work again. Problem here: How does that interact with enchanted altars? Do the spells collapse? Apart from such minor hiccups, these are solid.
Editing and formatting are nice on a formal level, while on a rules-level, the offering could be more concise…though honestly, it ranges as one of the best Flying Pincushion has delivered so far…good development here! Layout adheres for the most part to a 2-column full-color standard with nice artworks in full color. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Richard Litzkow, Andrew Hoskins, Benjamin Wilkins, David S. McCrae, Frank Gori, Jacob W. Michaels, Jeff Harris, Kris Newton, Matt Medeiros and Taylor Hubler’s ItB-installment for the rogue is perhaps the most consistent the series has produced so far – this is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned. There are almost no glaring issues of the “ruins everything”-variety herein and the pdf actually does feature quite a few nice tweaks for the rogue’s engine. While a couple of them are none-too-inspired “mix two classes”-type of archetypes, there are also some that are truly worth getting this for, if only for scavenging – the master hawserier, trickster chef and brickbat striker, to name a few, certainly are interesting tweaks of the system.
This does not change the fact that the supplement, ultimately, is a mixed bag that contains some coolness and some more problematic options. In the end, though, I do believe that this does have some gems that can elevate it above mediocrity…which are balanced out by some of the less amazing components. Hence, ultimately, I can’t get higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.
You can get this evocative, though not always perfect pdf here on OBS!