Friday, May 28, 2021

OSR: The Revised Rogue

So recently I came to the conclusion that I wanted my RPG system to only have 4 classes, as the idea of only having a Fighting Man, Cleric, Thief and Wizard really appealed to me.  So I have decided to do just that.  The Fighting Man, Sage, Prophet and Scoundrel are my Core classes.  All others I will be considering as Archetype classes, which are only available in some games depending on Referee approval.  The exceptions to this rule are the Gambler, John Doe, Problem and Investigator, who are the four core classes for my Urban Fantasy/Survival Horror games.

However, if I was to do this, I decided I needed to beef up the Scoundrel.  For while I did like what I had written, I felt it was too weak to really support the other classes.  Plus, the idea of the Thief/Rogue of being a cunning, but dirty fighter is a classic, even if it's a bit overdone.  So I did my best to combine the Assassin aspect of the standard Rogue with the plucky survivor of my original Scoundrel class, which you read here.

by Borja Pindado

You are a member of the underclass, or at least affiliated with the dark and seedy parts of the world.  Work with your Referee to make a place for your character, or roll on the tables below:

When was your first brush with crime?


1- I was born to it.  Your mother, father or both parents were involved in the underworld from the moment you were born.  You were born in a bad neighborhood and nutured on crime and deceit, it was your swaddling clothes and mother's milk.  You likely have a very warped moral compass and massive daddy issues.
2- When I was a child.  You suffered a tragedy when young and ended up having to survive on the streets, or were inducted into a gang when you were young.  You're a hard-bitten, scrappy survivor.
3- Recently, you suffered a sudden brush with the underworld, either because you plunged into it or because you were victimized.

Who was your Mentor?


1- A charismatic con artist.  They seem to like you, but how much can you really trust them?
2- An older man or woman you are hopelessly smitten with.  They might know and be leading you on, or they might simply not notice your feelings.
3- A kinsmen of yours.  Your brother, uncle, cousin or other family member who got into this before you, and now they're pulling you down that same path.
4- A local crime boss.  You work for the boss because 1d4 [1= You're related.  It's the family business; 2= You owe him an enormous amount of money and need to pay him back, if you don't want to have a very bloody accident; 3= He is black-mailing you using a secret from your past that you thought buried; 4= The boss helped you when no one else would.]
5- A fellow outcast.  You never quite fit in, and neither did he.  As such, he has taken you under his wing, to try and protect you, to show you what it took him many painful years to learn.
6- A kindred spirit.  Something about you strikes a cord with your Mentor, who sees a younger version of himself in you.  He feels a unique connection to you and wants to guide and shape you into something better than what he is.

What do you owe them?


1- Everything.  Your Mentor saved your life, literally or metaphorically.  When the world crashed down on you, they dug you out and helped you get back on your feet.
2- A great debt.  Your Mentor did you a great service and you feel pressured to do something to pay them back.
3- A fresh start.  You promised you would help your Mentor start over, start fresh, but only once he's had his fill.
4- Nothing, but you don't feel that way.  Your Mentor made it very clear that he helped you on a whim because he chose to, and not because he wants anything from you.  But even so, you still likely feel inclined to help him.

What can your Mentor do for you?   


1- He's an excellent safe-cracker and is good at disabling traps and other security devices.
2- He is strong and works as muscle for a gang, or he knows someone who is.
3- He's silver-tongued, able to get information out of people, or she's a femme fatale able to seduce her way to any secret.
4- He's a semi-famous and highly skilled highwayman or other form of robber.
5- He's an excellent burglar, able to easily break into most places and escape without being seen.
6- He's an assassin, a highly proficient one.
7- He's a smuggler, able to sneak in illegal goods and smuggle out other sensitive cargo.
8- He's an information broker and a whisper-monger, with ears everywhere.  His sources are very reliable and he'll share what they say, for a price. 

What are you after?


1- Money.  Maybe you want the money because it's the only way the girl you love will ever notice you, or maybe you feel it's the only thing that can protect you, or maybe you're just greedy.
2- You want to be famous.  One day, people are going to tell stories about how smart, how cunning and how awesome you were.  You're going to carve your name into history.
3- You want to show them all.  Those people who rejected you, who laughed at you, who tormented you, you'll prove that they were just a bunch of phonies and failures, you'll become greater than they ever were. 
4- Daddy's love.  You want to make your Father (or Father figure) love you, as he's regarded you as a failure your whole life.

by Francisco Vasquez

Starting HP: 1/3 Con
Fighting Spirit: +1 per Scoundrel level, up to COG score
Starting Equipment: Knife, clothing appropriate to your level and station, a foppish, extravagent outfit or fake creditentials, loaded dice or thieves' tools, home-made map covered in shorthand only you and select others can understand


Criminal Encyclopedia: You grew up around crime and criminal activity, and thus know it pretty well.  You automatically know anything someone raised in a rough neighborhood would know, such as local gangs and rackets, crime bosses, how to steal a coin-purse without getting stabbed, etc.  Most of this knowledge is automatic, so if the Thief is about to do something dumb, you (the Referee) should tell them about the mistake they're about to make.  Additionally, unless failing to know something might have dramatic consequences or there's no way the Scoundrel could know, answer any questions the Scoundrel might have on criminality.  If in doubt though, call for a check.

Sense Motive: When in conversation with someone, you can make a check to determine someone's motivation while talking to them.  Creatures can try to resist you if they're trying to deceive or conceal their true intentions, but unless they're trying to do that, they likely will not.  However, just because someone's being honest doesn't mean you can understand them.  Potential motivations can include, but are not limited to, things like "Honor", "Greed", "Pride" or "Fear".


Dirty Fighter: If you use a dishonorable tactic or a dirty trick against an opponent, you gain advantage on your next attack against that specific creature and that creature gains disadvantage on it's next attack.  A dirty tactic is anything that would be considered not within the bounds of fair play, such as throwing sand in an opponent's face, tackling someone and covering his face with a bag, dropping a chandelier on his head, etc.  Referee's Discretion applies on whether something counts as a "dishonorable tactic or dirty trick".


Fast Hands: When you attack an enemy and successfully hit them, you can, instead of dealing damage, do something else to them, such as pick-pocket them, cut their sword-belt so they drop their sword, or plant something on them.  However, this does not work on something someone is actively protecting.  For example, if they are currently tightly holding onto something, Fast Hands could not take it from them.  But if it was hanging from their belt, it could.  When in doubt, the enemy gets a saving throw.  On a success, the Thief cannot do what they asked.


Sneak Attack: When attacking an enemy that cannot see or detect you, or is otherwise not expecting you to attack them, you have advantage on your attack roll.  Additionally, you may roll your damage di(c)e twice and select the better result.


Great Escape: You are slippery like an eel.  If you can think of no way out of situation, no clever way to escape the clutches of a foe, 1/Day your criminal mind can suddenly reveal an escape route.  The Referee should immediately point out a weak-point in the enemy's defenses, a potential chink in the armor, or some other vulnerability you overlooked.

Note to the Referee: This is not where you just let the players go.  All you should do is tell the players about a weak point and give them an escape route.


Fog of War: When in combat or in a chaotic situation, such as an evacuation, a housefire or a riot, you can vanish into the background and re-enter stealth.  You do this by making a COG or DEX check as an action.  You will be swiftly discovered if any creature is specifically paying attention to you, though unless that creature can alert others in some obvious way (such as with a warhorn or has a really loud voice) then you can still hide from other creatures.  In more general situations, you may receive penalties to your check based on how chaotic the scene is or how observant the enemies are.  Similarly, you may receive bonuses to your save if something important or eye-catching is occurring around you, or the situation is especially chaotic.

If you successfully re-enter stealth, you cannot be targeted by any enemy that does not succeed against you in a Contest (his COG vs your COG/DEX).  Enemies that cannot see you are also valid targets for 'Sneak Attack'.


Master of Disguise: You can disguise yourself as a person you have seen before, as long as you have sufficient materials for a disguise.  You can also choose to disguise yourself as a more general type of person, such as a servant in a specific household or a household guard.  When you attempt to disguise yourself, roll 1d20 and add your COG modifier.  This is the DC for any creature that attempts to see through your disguise.  If they see through it, they will recognize you are not who you appear to be.  However, creatures who have no reason to assume you are not who you say you are will usually not check, unless you are attempting to infiltrate a high-security or especially important area.

You can receive penalties to your disguise check if you are not the same sex or race of the creature you are attempting to imitate, or if you are an unconventional race (in general or in that area).  A Deerling does not stand out much in some parts of the Equatorial lands, but is very noticeable in some of the small towns, never mind distant foreign lands.  You can also receive bonuses to your check if you have props or other items to bolster your disguise, such as when you pretend to the Governor of a distant province to enter an exclusive party and you have his invitation to prove that you are supposed to be here. 


Danger Sense: Your instincts are so finely honed that you have an almost preternatural sense of self-preservation, allowing you to detect danger before it attacks.  If you are ever in a situation and you do not feel insecure, you can tell the Referee that you'd like to make a save.  On a successful save, you can observe any of the places where you might be ambushed, potential enemies nearby or other dangers around you. 

Additionally, if you're about to blunder into a trap or an ambush, the Referee may call for you to save, if you could somehow detect something is not quite right.  On a successful save, you are made aware of any potential observable danger.

For example, if our Scoundrel uses this ability while the party is crossing through a Bazaar, he might notice the man and woman who are pretending to browse and not to be watching them and suspect them to be members of the secret police or agents hired by one of the party's enemies.  Or if the party is about to blunder into an ambush, the Scoundrel could use this ability and recognize that the narrow bridge ahead of them is the perfect place for a nasty trap, or an ambush.      


One Last Job: If you are ever trapped in a desperate situation with no way out, Once and only Once, you can suddenly reveal how this was all according to your unforeseen master plan.  Suddenly the tables turn in your favor, and your comrades achieve victory, but your fate is left ambiguous, such as you were last seen wrestling Moriarty and tumbling off a ledge, or you were accidentally shot by your own allies at the last second, or something equally tragic.  However, there is no chance this actually killed you, and you'll be back.

by Patrick Shoenmaker

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