Rogues Are Ill Equipped…


Last night there was a vicious trap that the group stumbled upon. It really wasn’t a fair trap and, from experience playing a rogue, it seems the Rogue class (in D&D 3.5e) is ill-equipped for dealing with most traps.

This is an observation from a DM and someone who played a Rogue for awhile in a previous campaign.

In last night’s case, the DC to discover the trap was 34. 34! The module is designed for levels 7+. At level 7 a Rogue would have 11 ranks in Search. If he he ability modifiers (say Int 18 which gets him a +4)ย and feats (Skill Focus: Search), he could probably get that up to +18. That still requires at least a roll of 16.

The effect was instant death if they didn’t make a Fortitude save of DC 23 which is possible, especially with Action Points, but it’s still pretty tough.

Why are module writers doing this sort of thing? They create a trap that is impossible to find that can instant kill people – why?

Anyway, of all the classes I’ve played in 3.5e, the Rogue seems the coolest on paper but least useful in game and the most likely to die.

I wonder how it looks in 4e?

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11 thoughts on “Rogues Are Ill Equipped…

  1. The problem that I see is that some players try to make rogues jacks-of-all-trades. They have tons of skill points, so the practice seems to be to put them in every skill available – instead of focussing on what’s important, like Search, Spot, Disable Device. It’s great that Rogues have two-weapon fighting and can speak 12 languages, but at the end of the day, skill points need to be put into appropriate skills.

  2. Really? Did you look at Caleb (that I played) in your campaign?

    He was focused on Hide, Move Silently, Tumble, Search and Disable Device. He had max ranks in most of those and beyond that for items and feats that also augmented it. Caleb died lots too and, in many cases, offered little in combat and he was built – by me, the King of Munch – to be combat focused but also be able to find and deal with traps and locks (part of his job as an Assassin).

    As I said above, even at 7th level if the character min/maxed to get the best possible Search mod, they’d still need about a 16 (75% chance to fail) to find that trap and that’s not all that out there for DCs I see in locks or finding other traps.

    Try playing a Rogue. I’d actually suggest most of the group – Scott in particular – try it at some point because it isn’t easy and you’ll discover that you are ill equiped to survive… without multiclassing and then you won’t have the points to make the DCs… bleh.

  3. I wasn’t necessarily making comments about *your* rogue ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sometimes you just have bad luck… sometimes bad planning.

  4. Or sometimes everything you fight has blindsense, blindsight, tremorsense, smell (really we did most of those wrong…), is immune to criticals (and therefore sneak attack) and has more DR than you can do otherwise on top of resistences to all the elements. I’m still trying to locate the auther of those modules so I can junk-punch them. The creater of those cat things? Let’s just say I’ve bought a grand piano to drop on him.

    I know you weren’t directing it at my rogue but my point was, even if they are specialized in something it seems there are plenty of things out there to foil their abilities. Gord was trying to play a worldly Rogue so he had points invested in several different knkowledge skills. It worked fine in civilized areas but in dungeons or when “adventuring” it wasn’t as useful.

    This – facing things that nullifies your abilities – applies for most classes really (anti-magic zones, incorporeal creatures, DR, etc.), it just seems there is more that impacts the Rogue a lot because they do sort of dabble all over the place. I do also believe the DCs on some things are just too high for the levels they’re aiming at.

    Oh and, thanks for pigeonholing the Rogue class into “trap finder”, Mr. Walking Bandaid ๐Ÿ˜› (hehe – yes, I kid)

    In truth, yes, one of the Rogue’s main class abilities is being able to find magic traps so it’s like having a cleric that never memorizes or uses healing in combat or a wizard that never casts spells or a fighter who is a pacifist.

    Sad thing is that a Detect Magic (that’s a 0-level spell right?) could have been cast, the alarm radius would have been seen at the powerful aura of the trap would have been seen too. Good thing 7th level Rogues can’t do what a single 0-level spell could do!

  5. Actually, a rogue would only have 10 ranks in search, if he spent them all there, and probably wouldn’t have 18 int. More realistically 14 int, and maybe 5-7 ranks, so think more like +7 to +9 on the roll, which makes it effectively unfindable.

    As you know, with my rogue, I didn’t even TRY to deal with finding traps… I built the character to mitigate the effects of setting off most traps, although I still would have been burned on wednesday’s trap. In any case, of all rogues in our group, Wist seemed to have the greatest overall survivability – but Wist also had 2 levels of sorcerer to help things as well (the razor trap vs feather fall, for example)

    This is definitely something I’ll be addressing in my campaign, whether I have to manually drop all trap and lock DCs by 10, or generate new content myself. An instant death trap should have reasonable opportunity to be found, probably 75%. For a typical level 7 rogue, I say that works out to DC 15 give or take… maybe DC 20 if the DM wants to be a real ass to make it difficult and dangerous. A rogue dedicated to finding traps would have an easier time, but a well rounded rogue would be 75% at DC15, and an average character about 50/50 on the search.

  6. Yes, we didn’t handle blindsense and scent very well. We had blindsight down… I don’t know if we ever encountered tremorsense.

    Of all classes brought in so far, Bards seem to have had the lowest overall survivability and utility.

    Clerics have been OP since 3.x, but that’s just the mechanics I guess. Imagine our group with 7 clerics? woot!

  7. Actually, our group with 7 clerics would be like this:

    A_orc00 – A_orc32: You have ruined your own lands, you won’t ruin mine!

    Party: d’oh

    (party wipe)

    Cleric1: Hey, why didn’t you heal?
    Cleric2: I’m a battle cleric, I fight. I don’t memorize heals.
    Cleric3: I’m an information gathering cleric. Heal yourself.
    Cleric4: Orcs are immune to my spells.
    Cleric5: I’m a specialist cleric and can’t cast anti-sword spells. You should have healed yourself
    Cleric1: If I healed myself, they would have pasted Cleric3. I put the one down that was on him.
    Cleric6: I ran in to hit the leader with Inflict Minor Wound to kill him and disrupt their morale, but he didn’t die.
    Cleric7: I was delaying waiting for the right moment to strike with Uber Doom of My Deity.

  8. “Actually, a rogue would only have 10 ranks in search”
    You’re right, it’s level +3 not level+4 as a max. I wasn’t talking a reasonable rogue, I was talking a Paul-special that maxed out on Search. End result would have been a 80% chance of not finding that instant death trap.

    I’d actually argue Caleb had more surviability in combat (hard to hit what you can’t see), but not with regards to setting off traps – his saves were pretty crappy. I had REALLY bad rolls with him and took the Tiefling ECL+1 hit because of it (I believe they’re +2 DEX, +2 INT).

    Now there were OBVIOUS signs that a vicious trap existed, but without finding it on the Search check, the fact that it was triggered 20 feet out would have been missed.

    Heh… not memorizing heals is only an issue for EVIL Clerics or NEUTRALs that pick spontaneously casting inflicts instead of cures. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, of all the classes in the 3e game, Clerics are one of the more over powered classes. Some get more OP later on… but Clerics have eat their cake and have it too.

    By the way, I’m not kidding when I say I want to play an Ogre in your campaign, Darin. I’ll be creating Smaken Dahed… loot whorish tendencies (they’ll be some controls on that though hehe) as well as stunning (lack of) brilliance.

    I was looking at the Savage Species sourcebook and it’s pretty cool that they grow into Large sizedness.

  9. (Totally OT — dude, update your thing (address) on the thing boards (CoW blogroll) already!)

    I can’t comment on DDO… I only beta-tested it. Ah, the let down after years of faithful tabletop D&D. Here’s hoping it has improved ๐Ÿ˜€

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