Rogue Class Guide

  • Das Rogue Guide

    Overview of the Class

    The rogue class is arguably one of the most open-ended, malleable classes in NWN. They have the most skill points per level (8 + int modifier), affording them the potential to be proficient in many skills. They also have sneak attack, which gives them the ability to do a TON of damage to their enemies. All of this utility comes at the cost of health and durability; rogues have a hit die of 6 and access to only light armour and "rogue weapons" at the start. This means you can't stand toe-to-toe with Balors like fighters and paladins can.

    Character Concepts

    Rogue character archetypes generally have two directions: combatants and noncombatants, and rogues are especially suitable as civilian, noncombatant characters. Every "speech" skill except for taunt is a class skill, so rogues are potentially the best class for a politician, leader, librarian, merchant, or an otherwise nonviolent role.

    Then there are the combat-inclined rogues, usually tailored to get behind enemies and stab them to death with sneak attack, or shoot from afar with a bow for safe sneak attacks. Often they multiclass with fighters for better weapons, attack bonus, and faster dual-wielding feats. Since more attacks per round means more sneak attacks per round, dual-wielding is a very deadly setup.

    The last general category of rogue is the "skill rogue," which sort of walks the line between the aforementioned two. They probably see a lot more combat than the civilian rogue, but they participate in it very differently from combat rogues. Rather than relying on their weapons to deal sneak attacks to the enemy, skill rogues scout ahead to check for enemies, disarm enemy traps and set their own, detect hidden enemies and objects, and serve as backup spellcasters with Use Magic Device and scrolls.


    The Politician

    The politician is a rogue who has nothing to do with swords and sneak attacks. Her goal is to push whatever social agenda she might have, or perhaps simply find a position of political power for its own sake. She uses guile, persuasion, and her silver tongue to reach her goals.

    She would likely have high charisma, persuade, bluff, and other social Skills. You might even consider taking the Silver Palm feat at level one, because you get an extra +2 to persuade, and it would reflect a politician character's social touch.

    The Scholar

    Bards and wizards aren't the only one who can act as scholars. Lore is a rogue class skill, after all. Don't forget, also, that characters can learn languages (cross-class skills) at the expense of 2 skill points, and since rogues get a LOT of skill points, they are second only to bards as linguists. A scholar might worship Oghma and seek knowledge, selling her services as a historian, expert, or translator. Or perhaps they have a very specific mission, some particular bit of information they need to find.

    Scholars would probably be best serve with high intelligence and/or wisdom, putting skill points into lore, and perhaps taking feats such as courteous magocracy (level 1, +2 lore and spellcraft) or skill focus: lore. Scholars with a background in the study (but not use) of magic might put some cross-class points into spellcraft so they can identify spells as they are cast.

    The Urchin

    Ah, urchins. The little rogues will fly past you and you'll be twenty gold poorer for it! An urchin might be a poor dockhand's son who pickpockets people in Peltarch's commerce district to feed himself. Or he might be a courier for some organized crime, and thus very adept at hiding himself. Urchins often grow out of their urchinhood and apply their ill-gotten skills to more substantial careers, so a character that you start as an urchin might become a brutal assassin, or a spy. This is a good character for those who want to start out mostly as civilians and then potentially grow into something more combat-oriented.

    Good skills for urchins include pickpocket, hide and move silently, listen and spot (child spies!), and bluff (caught pickpocketing? I just bumped into you, sir, terribly sorry!).

    The Prestigious Fencer

    Perhaps a nobleman's son with too much time on his hands, or an idealistic lad who looks up to a famous fencer and wants to be just like his hero, the fencer does combat for many reasons: sport, as a means of settling arguments, raiding merchant ships, or simply defending himself stylishly and effectively. Fencers rely on high dexterity, light or no armour, and the parry skill to avoid damage and respond to fruitless attacks with powerful ripostes.

    The fencer's fighting style can be a mere accent to their character, or it could be the core of their personality. For example, a pirate fencer probably cares more about booty than pointy and phallic swords. But a character who sees beauty and glory in the art of fencing is probably totally consumed by the art.

    Fencers need high dexterity and light armour, because parry is subject to armour weight penalties. You would also be well-advised to take weapon finesse, because rapiers (the classic fencer weapon) benefit from dexterity if you have the feat. Decent intelligence is also advisable so you can take feats like disarm, which are in the spirit of fencing. If you don't use parry, you will definitely want to do everything in your power to increase your AC (via dodge) and/or your offensive abilities (so you can down the enemy before they rip through your moderately low defenses).

    Note that in NWN, the parry skill is not fully explained in the tooltip. You get one riposte per FLURRY in a round (there being three flurries in one round). So, there is a maximum of three parries in a round. But you only get as many ripostes as you have attacks per round. So in order to have the maximum number of ripostes, your character needs at least three attacks per round. This means that if an enemy has six attacks per round, you can only riposte three of them.

    The Assassin

    Not to be confused with the Prestige Class, "Assassin," the assassin rogue specializes in killing people, plain and simple. You can spin this in many different ways. As for -how- they assassinate, they might focus entirely on the act of slaying someone with weapons, up close and personal. Or they might prefer trickery, setting traps and ambushes. As for why, they may serve an evil church with many enemies, or maybe they just kill for money or sport. A worshipper of the dead (OR IS HE) god of murder, Bhaal, might be an interesting rarity.

    Some assassins might even take fighter levels so that they're more effective at putting a shortsword through the back of someone's neck. Pure rogue assassins would probably be more inclined toward a wide range of skills, from social skills like bluff and intimidate, which would allow the assassin to get past humanoid defenses, to hide/move silently, which would allow them to sneak up on their mark.

    Depending on how you build your assassin, you might take dual-wielding and high dexterity for lots of sneak attacks in a short amount of time in addition to better stealth skills. Or you might forego dual-wielding in favour of a more "skill rogue" approach involving traps and high intelligence. In any case, a strong assassin rogue will probably walk the line between "combat" and "skill" rogue types, or even be a mixture of all three types. And eventually, assassin player characters will probably want to take the Assassin PrC, which requires an application.

    Note that assassinating characters in Narfell is no easy task. Obviously if you want to kill a PC, you can't just kill them, so if you want to play an assassin who actually assassinates people, be prepared to wait for plot opportunities, and have patience. And don't be afraid to reach out to others, players and DMs alike. You never know if a player would be willing to let their PC be killed by an assassin hired by their enemies. Of course… if the assassin -can- kill them, that is.

    The Poacher

    A mixture of the combat and skill rogue, the poacher has made his living hunting animals, legally or not, with a ranged weapon and traps. He is probably a skilled tracker (necessitating a level of Ranger for the tracking tool) and excels at downing his prey from afar. A poacher might find his skills challenged in Narfell, where HE is the prey - but the cleverness and a good aim might let him live a little bit longer.

    Considering Narfell is a very frontier land, hunters looking for skins would not be uncommon. But of course, one may come to Narfell a mere poacher… and leave it a seasoned warrior who fights with guile. A poacher or hunter may be looking to make a simple living hunting for pelts, but he might also be interested in the sport of hunting... hunting anything from goblins to Balors. And Balors will certainly require a degree of skill to bring down.

    The poacher would probably want decent dexterity and intelligence, since bows rely on dexterity for their attack bonus, and intelligence will allow the rogue to put skill points into trapping, spot, listen, hide/ms, search... all of the skills a treacherous outdoorsman might find useful.

    The Burglar

    Some people farm for a living. Others get paid to guard towns. Well, this kind of rogue steals stuff. Some do it for sport, others for money, and others still for infamy. Some are good, many are evil and neutral - A Robin Hood-like character might prefer to steal from the rich and give to the poor. In any case, the forte of this rogue is taking things which do not necessarily belong to them, which are probably guarded to some degree, either by a lock, a window, a dragon, or simply the word of the law.

    The truest sort of "burglar" breaks into people's houses to steal goods, but this kind of rogue need not be limited to burglary. They may pickpocket others, or plan grand heists to steal valuable items (or people) in transit. The degree of violence they are willing to use depends on the character of the individual. Some burglars are outright thugs, breaking into homes, killing its occupants, and making off with their belongings, while others might be unwilling to kill people in this process, and others still might have a special code regulating their activity - such as, "If I'm caught, I must return everything and escape" or "I can only steal from Dwarves."

    The distinction between urchins and burglars is that burglars have a degree of professionalism. This -is- their profession, whereas urchins simply may steal from others.

    Burglar rogues might find the hide/ms skill useful for pulling off heists undetected, open lock, search, and disarm trap for getting into (potentially trapped) homes, doors, and chests, pickpocket (sleight of hand) for stealing keys and other items from individuals, bluff for talking your way out of a nasty situation, and finally… tumble, for jumping out of windows. Trust me on that one.

    The Classic Rogue

    Who's the last classic adventurer-rogue you've met? The classic rogue uses his rogue skills, wherever he might have gotten them, to adventure, plain and simple. He might have come from an urchin background, or perhaps he was an assassin back in his day, but whatever the case, now he applies his skills in support of the Fighter, the Wizard, and the Cleric, to get through dungeons and find glory and loot.

    Odds are this person is in a troupe of adventurers, or at least he's seeking one - but he doesn't expect to delve into Beholder lairs on his own. So he focuses on supporting the rest of the party. He's a modest combatant, able to put a dagger sneak attack into a hobgoblin's side, but may or may not be a dedicated enough damage dealer to justify dual-wielding. After the battle, he'll proceed to scout ahead with his stealth skills and check for traps with his search skill… and then disarm it, and pick the lock of the door the trap was guarding. That's FIVE roles in a realistic adventuring scenario, back-to-back.

    As with many other rogue archetypes, dexterity and intelligence would serve this one well. Beyond that, the possibilities, specializations, and fortes are endless, and rarely will you find a so-called cliche, "classic" rogue who's exactly the same as the next one.

    Hints and Tips

    Rogues are squishy. If subjected to Ogre or Ettin anger… they will probably die quickly. So avoid dying. And avoid getting hit. Remember that unless you have feats that allow you to ignore opportunity attacks, you should WALK into the enemy. Charging will provoke an opportunity attack and shift the enemy's focus onto you, which is bad. The tumble skill serves to offset this. Not only do you get one point of AC per 5 ranks of tumble (invested, not net), tumble also allows you to avoid opportunity attacks provoked by movement with a roll versus a DC 15.

    Civilian rogues can be hard to play, because they are TRULY civilian, unlike sorcerer and bard politicians, who can also use their charisma to contribute in a fight with spells and songs. Thus, it helps to have friends with whom you can set up plots or simply hang out. Also, you definitely need to be more proactive with prodding DMs about plots and such, because a civilian rogue can't reasonable go out and kill goblins on their own, or even with other people - so they need to get their EXP fix purely from roleplay.

    As I said earlier, NWN's parry tooltip is misleading. You only get one riposte per flurry (so three per round at most, as there are three flurries in a round), assuming you have enough attacks per round.

    You may need to be very flighty in combat, because the AI might see you as an easier target and prefer to attack you over the fighter who's holding the line. So if you're in melee dealing sneak attacks, be careful of NPCs turning to hit you. If you think they're going to, back away slowly and let the fighter piss the monster off more, then go back in for more death-dealing.

    Social skills are not magical Iwin buttons, neither with PCs nor with NPCs. PCs can ignore your persuade or taunt roll outright if their players so choose - though sometimes if your roll makes a lot of sense, they'll play along. NPCs are more prone to reacting to rolls, but just because you rolled a 20+15 on your intimidate against that DM-controlled Balor doesn't mean he's going to acquiesce to your demands out of fear. Similarly, a net bluff roll of 42, however awesome, doesn't mean that the Senate is going to believe that you've got proof from the Fisher King himself that you're supposed to replace the Senate as the ruler of Peltarch... though that might be worth a shot, now that I think of it.

    Thieves' Cant

    Thieves' Cant is a rogue-specific language composed of euphemistic speech and gestures. It is not given to rogues for free; they must purchase it with their intelligence modifier or skill points, as a language, just as if they were purchasing Damarran or Sylvan.

    Thieves' cant is known by rogues like the burglar, the classic rogue, and sometimes the urchin and the assassin. It is a way for rogues - thieves especially, particularly rogues in a Thieves Guild, to communicate incognito. Thus, it is less likely that a politician or scholar rogue would know this… unless they came from an illicit background.

    A sample line of Thieves Cant (abbreviated as <tc>) might include:

    "Hey there buckaroo, a sullen seesaw of a day we've got now, eh? I'd skip stones to save myself from the rain if it ever did come, yep... But no time for jibba-jabba, I've got a Lucy-darlin' to find - those expensive whores I tell you what!"

    That entire paragraph could be a euphemistic warning to a fellow rogue that the guards have learned of said rogue's kidnapping, and that he should probably move his hostage. Mixed in with those words are likely various hand and facial gestures. Of course, you don't have to type up a whole cover dialogue for everything you say in Thieves Cant, but if you're ever feeling creative, it's tons of fun.

    Just remember: being a rogue only means you CAN buy the language. You have to actually buy the language - and it's advisable that you have a background for your rogue which justifies their knowing it. Fences, for example, or rogues who deal with them - either as wholesale or customers - are good examples.

    Narfell specific rules

    Narfell has its own pickpocketing system using a pickpocket widget/item. This means the NWN radial menu pickpocketing is useless - don't bother with it. When you're pickpocketing, be smart… even if your pickpocket roll is successful, and the victim doesn't see you take their gold... walking up to them without saying anything, then walking away (having taken some coins from under their nose) is suspicious as hell.

    Here's a good example of a successful pickpocket: Jimbo Thief goes to the fire at Norwick's south gate and announces that he's selling some booze. Gullible Gary says he'd like to buy some, so Jimbo proffers the booze to Gary and takes his payment... and while he's handing the bottle to Gary, he pickpockets Gary and takes a little bit of extra payment.

    Per the pickpocket widget's description, your rogue should not pickpocket the same PC more than once. Be prepared to deal with the consequences of being caught.

    In Narfell, rogues are proficient in handaxes.

    Appraise is not used for scripted store interactions. If you mistakenly put points into appraise, you can contact a DM for a quick fix.

    Use Magical Device checks are always the max roll.

    Handy links

    Check this link out if you're interested in the shadowdancer or assassin PrCs, common PrCs for rogues:

    Here for the pickpocket guide:

    Here for the NWN wikia article on rogues, which describes the base attack bonus (BAB) progression, bonus feats for each level, sneak attack progression, and all of the number crunchy stuff about rogues:

    Lock Picking Guide