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Rogues Come in Other Flavours than Vanilla

Sam Kay October 26, 2009 User blog:Sam Kay

I recently had to build a character for a D&D 4th Edition game. This time, however, we will have new players in the group. Accordingly, to make everything easier for the new players, I was to build a character without homebrew material. No problem.

Or it shouldn' be.

Except that it is me were talking about. The crazy lunatic spider guy who refuses to play a rogue (or whatever) in the standard flavour. Vanilla rogues. How boring (for me), even after I've spiced things up by making my rogue a drow. So, what to do?

Well, for a start, the drow have always been my favourite race to play—especially since they have a strong connection to spiders! So, I started with a drow. Thankfully, all of the party roles were already filled, so I could play any role I wanted. I chose striker, by far my preferred role.

But that is the easy part, next I had to choose a class, and work out how to go crazy with it within the official rules. The two striker classes that drow use best (or rather, the two I decided I liked best) are the rogue and the sorcerer. While I wanted the magic of the sorcerer, I prefer the playing style of the rogue. In addition, I wanted to use a sword of some description and I the stealthiness of the rogue fits the drow better than sorcery. So, I picked the rogue as a starting point.

But just as a starting point.

There is, of course, method to my lack of madness. Of course there is; if I ever do something that isn't mad, I generally have something cleaver, mad or both in mind. In this case, I think both.

Firstly, I previously stated that I wanted some magic. A rogue with magic! Surely that needs some serious homebrewing, I hear you say. Not so! In 4e, the introduction of powers meant that power source and balance are completely seperate. So, if you cross out 'martial' and write 'arcane' in all the rogue's class trait box and powers, in game terms it is still identical, but in flavour terms, it is moving away from bland vanilla.

Most of the reflavouring from that point is simple. Find a new class background (sorcerer type that deals in shadow and darkfire. Easy.), and do a write up. That's five minutes if you're slow. Then, reflavour powers. That's even easier; add necrotic and fire as a damage type (darkfire!), and for ranged powers, it's simple to call them implement powers and substitute in the values for a shuriken thrown by a rogue (Dexterity +3 Vs. AC (ranged) in the attack entry, x[d6] in place of x[W] in the hit entry). As an added bonus, the rogue even gets a close blast power as a 1st level daily (I'm not joking—check the PHB).

And Lo! Instead of vanilla flavoured rogue, We have the cookie-dough, lime, lemon and strawberry choc-o-toffie flavoured shadow lord, a sorcerous master of shadow and flame:

Shadow Lord

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Class Traits

Class Traits
Role: Striker. Surrounded in shadow, you dart into combat and strike with darkfire, before retreating to safety. You do best when teamed with a defender to flank enemies..
Power Source: Arcane. Your spells rely on your innate mastery over shadow and flame..
Key Abilities: Dexterity, Charisma, Strength
 
Armor Proficiencies: Cloth, leather
Weapon Proficiencies: Dagger, hand crossbow, shuriken, sling, short sword
Implement(s): Any light blade. Your blade adds its enhancement bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls and any extra damage granted by a property (if applicable) when used as an implement. You do not gain your weapon proficiency bonus to the attack roll when using your blade as an implement.
Bonus to Defense: +2 Reflex
 
Hit Points at 1st Level: 12 + Constitution score
Hit Points per Level Gained: 5
Healing Surges per Day: 6 + Constitution modifier
 
Trained Skills: Stealth and Thievery. From the class skills list below, choose four more trained skills at 1st level.
Class Skills: : Acrobatics (Dex), Athletics (Str), Bluff (Cha), Dungeoneering (Wis), Insight (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Perception (Wis), Stealth (Dex), Streetwise (Cha), Thievery (Dex)
 
Build Options: Brutal Shadow, Stealthy Shadow
Class Features: First Strike, Shadow Lord Tactics, Shadow Lord Weapon Talent, Darkfire Strike

Surrounded in magical shadow, shadow lords are dangerous and elusive masters of stealth, slipping in and out of the shadows aided with their mastery over shadow. Shadow lords never strike from the front.

As a shadow lord, you live a life surrounded in shadow, but your eyes burn with vengeful fire, a fire you can call to you at whim, amalgamated with the shadow that you command. That is the power of darkfire, a fire that you alone can master.

Cloaked in a blackness that is not entirely cloth, you slip through the darkness beyond sight. Who will suffer the next knife in the back?

Creating a Shadow Lord

The brutal shadow and the stealthy shadow are the two shadow lord builds, one relying on bluffs and feints, the other on brute strength. Dexterity, Charisma, and Strength are the shadow lord’s most important ability scores.

Brutal Shadow

You like powers that deal plenty of damage, aided by your Strength, and also stun, immobilize, knock down, or push your foes. Your attacks use Dexterity, so keep that your highest ability score. Strength should be a close second—it increases your damage directly, and it can determine other effects of your attacks. Charisma is a good third ability score, particularly if you want to dabble in powers from the other shadow lord build. Select the brutal scoundrel rogue tactic, and look for powers that pack a lot of damage into every punch.

Suggested Feat: Weapon Focus (Human feat: Toughness)
Suggested Skills: Athletics, Dungeoneering, Intimidate, Stealth, Streetwise, Thievery
Suggested At-Will Powers: Piercing Shadow, Implant Darkfire
Suggested Encounter Power: Torturous Darkfire
Suggested Daily Power: Shadow Grasp
Stealthy Shadow

You like powers that deceive and misdirect your foes. You dart in and out of the fray in combat, dodging your enemies’ attacks or redirecting them to other foes. Most of your attack powers rely on Dexterity, so that should be your best ability score. Charisma is important for a few attacks, for Charisma-based skills you sometimes use in place of attacks, and for other effects that depend on successful attacks, so make Charisma your second-best score. Strength is useful if you want to choose powers intended for the other shadow lord build. Select the artful shadow dance shadow lord tactic. Look for powers that take advantage of your high Charisma score, as well as those that add to your stealthy nature.

Suggested Feat: Improved Darkfire Strike (Human feat: Human Perseverance)
Suggested Skills: Acrobatics, Bluff, Insight, Perception, Stealth, Thievery
Suggested At-Will Powers: Shadow Step, Darkfire Strike
Suggested Encounter Power: Darkfire Step
Suggested Daily Power: Shadow Feint

Shadow Lord Class Features

All shadow lords share these class features.

First Strike

At the start of an encounter, you have combat advantage against any creatures that have not yet acted in that encounter.

Shadow Lord Tactics

Shadow lords operate in a variety of ways. Some shadow lords use their natural charm and cunning trickery to deceive foes. Others rely on brute strength to overcome their enemies. Choose one of the following options.

Shadow Dance: You gain a bonus to AC equal to your Charisma modifier against opportunity attacks.
Brutal Shadow: You gain a bonus to darkfire strike damage equal to your Strength modifier.

The choice you make also provides bonuses to certain shadow lord powers. Individual powers detail the effects (if any) your Shadow Lord Tactics selection has on them.

Shadow Lord Weapon Talent

When you wield a shuriken, your weapon damage die increases by one size. When you wield a dagger, you gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls.

Darkfire Strike

Once per round, when you have combat advantage against an enemy and are using a weapon from the light blade, the crossbow, or the sling weapon group, or a light blade as an implement, an attack you make against that enemy deals extra damage if the attack hits. You decide whether to apply the extra damage after making the damage roll. As you advance in level, your extra damage increases. The extra damage is fire and necrotic damage.

Level Darkfire Strike Damage
1st-10th +2d6
11th-20th +3d6
21st-30th +5d6

Shadow Lord Powers

Your powers are magic spells drawn from your innate mastery over fire and shadow. Some powers reward a high Charisma and are well suited for the stealthy shadow, and others reward a high Strength and appeal to the brutal shadow, but you are free to choose any power you like.

Level 1 At-Will Attack Spells

Shadow Step Shadow Lord Attack 1
You shroud yourself in shadow as you step past your foe and lash out with a fire-sheathed blade or burst of fire.
Usage::At-Will ✦ Arcane, Fire, Necrotic, Weapon, Implement
Action Type::Standard Action Melee weapon or Ranged 5/10
Requirement: You must be wielding a light blade if you make a melee attack with this power.
Target: One Creature
Special: You can move 2 squares before the attack.
Attack: Dexterity Vs. AC. (Melee) or Dexterity +3 Vs. AC (Ranged)
Hit: 1[W] + Dexterity modifier fire and necrotic damage (Melee) or 1d6 + Dexterity modifier fire and necrotic damage (Ranged).
Increase damage to 2[W] + Dexterity modifier (Melee) or 2d6 + Dexterity modifier (Ranged) at 21st level.


Darkfire Strike Shadow Lord Attack 1
You channel darkfire—a meld of shadow and fire—through your blade , striking your foe with darkfire-shrouded steel or a burst of darkfire.
Usage::At-Will ✦ Arcane, Fire, Necrotic, Weapon, Implement
Action Type::Standard Action Melee weapon or Ranged 5/10
Requirement: You must be wielding a light blade if you make a melee attack with this power.
Target: One Creature
Attack: Dexterity Vs. AC. (Melee) or Dexterity +3 Vs. AC (Ranged)
Hit: 1[W] + Dexterity modifier + Charisma modifier fire and necrotic damage (Melee) or 1d6 + Charisma modifier fire and necrotic damage (Ranged).
Increase damage to 2[W] + Dexterity modifier + Charisma modifier (Melee) or 2d6 + Charisma modifier (Ranged) at 21st level.


Level 1 Encounter Attack Spells

Darkfire Dance Shadow Lord Attack 1
You strike your foe with a darkfire-encrusted blade or a darkfire burst, then dance behind a tougher ally as swift as a shadow.
Usage::Encounter ✦ Arcane, Fire, Necrotic, Weapon, Implement
Action Type::Standard Action Melee weapon or Ranged 5/10
Requirement: You must be wielding a light blade if you make a melee attack with this power.
Target: One Creature
Attack: Dexterity Vs. AC. (Melee) or Dexterity +3 Vs. AC (Ranged)
Hit: 2[W] + Dexterity modifier fire and necrotic damage (Melee) or 2d6 + Dexterity modifier fire and necrotic damage (Ranged).
Effect: Switch places with a willing adjacent ally.


Level 1 Daily Attack Spells

Darkfire Burst Shadow Lord Attack 1
You sweep you arm in a wide arc, hurling liquid darkfire at your foes. The darkfire seeks your foes and surrounds their eyes in shadow, blinding them.
Usage::Daily ✦ Arcane, Fire, Necrotic, Implement
Action Type::Standard Action Close blast 3
Target: Each enemy in blast you can see
Attack: Dexterity . +3 Vs. AC
Hit: 2d6 + Dexterity modifier fire and necrotic damage, and the target is blinded until the end of your next turn.
Miss: Half damage, and the target is not blinded.

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