Friday, December 9, 2011

Surprise Attack

I thought it would be a good thing to talk about the changes I made to beef up the rogue, specifically the surprise attack.  Here's the rule:
Once per combat engagement Rogues may attempt to perform a 'surprise attack' (usually subterfuge or survival+DEX, based on their description of the action). If this is successful, they may either add their Subterfuge skill to the damage of their initial attack or perform an additional attack with a ranged weapon.
So you are a Rogue and you are going to be in a fight - how does this work for you?  Surprise is not a sneak attack, it's no longer a backstab analogue to be used once per combat.  It means when you choose to engage someone in combat, you get a chance to pull some cool move out your ass and trip them up with it.  It might be throwing sand in their eyes and then stabbing them, it might be pulling a dagger out of your boot and flipping it into their face, it might be shouting 'Oh my god is that Flint Fireforge over there?".  It might even mean you slide into a shadow and backstab someone - or take two shots with your bow from the tree you were hiding in.  It's a very big bump in attack power for the Rogue because you can try it once per engagement - so if you are fighting a bunch of guards you might sneak up and dispatch one and then while your fellows are brawling dive under another and stab him in the goolies.  At low levels this attack is on par or better than what a fighter could do but I don't think it unbalances the two classes because you have to make an additional roll to pull off the move, and you only get to try it on the first attack.  Once you are engaged you go back to your regular attacks and can't just run off without being subject to a free attack.  I still think it's cool though, you are the hare to the fighter's tortoise.


  1. Wow, great minds and all that... I finally figured out how I want to do 'feats' in Humanity's Reign & Ruin and, though not play-tested, they have a similar vein to this. This gives me confidence that I haven't 'unbalanced' the game. Though, I disdain the word, 'unbalanced'. I even abhor the term....


  2. Ya I don't agree with a lot of game balance issues as written such as appropriate encounter levels and such, however I do think that if you have a number of classes or races players can choose from, you should try to make them all in the same ballpark so that one does not clearly overshadow the others or never get used because it is entirely inferior. I think the rogue was a bit lacking before so I hope this infusion of hunter DNA fixes that.

  3. I completely get what you are saying, I do. I just wonder how much of this balancing, to include across classes, is a result of current societal thinking. I say this because for the life of me, I don't recall us sitting around when I was young comparing balance. We, IIRC, went with what sounded cool. No meta-gaming balance checking.

    I didn't, for example, take a Cleric over a Halfling because they could heal and tank some. I did see, and it was part of my dropping out of D&D for so long, people who did this though. Especially when Unearthed Arcania came out. Everyone wanted to play Paladins, though I still believe it was because they were "cool", and not all the rules mumbo-jumbo (I maybe wrong). I left in part because I felt I didn't need a book to play a Paladin, and still don't. To me, Paladins were just Fighters who were played (lived by) a code.

    I just hate balance. We are not equal. You could be smarter than me (and probably are) and I might be stronger than you. Even modern Attribute generation techniques are, IMHO, in order to make characters balanced.

    I just seem to remember 'the good old days' when it was fun to play the weakling, or the dummy character. Maybe it was in an attempt to make who played D&D feel empowered, do to the stigma, at the time, of being 'nerds'. I don't know.

    Sorry to ramble and rant on your blog, just something I tend to wonder about often.

    I will pay attention and see if my Christmas group meta-games Beacon, and if they do - if they have a penchant for any particular class. Then I will summarily smack there noggins!

    As always,