Afternoon of the Wolf
Rogue Strategy Guide
Rogues are probably the hardest class to build and play because they do a lot of different things – they have stealth and a number of utility skills (tracking, device management) and can deal hefty damage – but while the various flavours of warrior attacks are fairly straightforward and only a little situational, the rogue attacks tend to take serious planning to use effectively. That said, they hit a lot harder than warriors do, so if you can set yourself up the results can be spectacular.
Rogue builds can vary a lot and it’s generally not worthwhile to invest into more than two of the three main attack skills, because keeping track of when to use them is a nightmare, and forgetting one to pursue another almost exclusively feels a waste.
You need good dex for most of your skills (mainly attacks and stealth) while int is important for utility skills – including all of the social skills, which come easy to this class. Str isn’t important unless you’re leaning into part-warrior territory, which is definitely tempting given that you need to invest in the basic attack, though the extra HP is nice. Faith is virtually useless unless you’re planning on dual-classing into a caster, but your plethora of utility skills should keep you busy and use up most of your MP anyway. Of all classes, Rogue can benefit most from a more average spread of stats.
Dodge is essential, Attack is (grudgingly) essential.
Attack: Not a rogue skill but this is the prereq for all your damage-dealing rogue skills. Chances are you won’t have the str to use it effectively, and it’s going to feel like dead weight on your exp totals, but all your actual combat skills are dirt cheap to compensate, and two of them add your attack as a bonus.
Backstab: Cheapest (1xp) but highly situational, and makes Stealth mandatory (though you should take it anyway). If you get the drop on your enemy that 3 bonus is good for a coordinated spike attack on a high value target. After that, you essentially only get one attack every 2 rounds, so your overall output is halved, and you’ll be haemorrhaging MP. Of course, that high rating (backstab&attack, extra keep dice) is going to pass defences (if they even get a roll) a lot easier than two basic attacks from a warrior, and the spike damage easily overwhelms healers, but it’s difficult to sustain. The low exp cost could make it worthwhile as a secondary attack skill (which you would ironically be using before your primary) if you need to round out your synergy. Also useful if you’re trying to be economical with the amount you spend on attacks to focus on utility skills.
Combo: This is a very interesting attack that’s not very easy to use – unlike the other two rogue attack skills, it doesn’t add your default Attack. In a pinch, you can use it to start the chain but only if you attack a foe with low defence, and no damage reduction (works off Life Field, so feel free to punch healers). Never chain it off Backstab – damage would be massive, but end up costing 12MP over 2 rounds, not counting later stealth/blink use. It’s overkill and not really efficient. It does work well off Precision Attack however.
*Precision attack: This is a really good one. It’s fairly cheap (2xp, 1MP) and straight up converts your attack skill from dead weight into deadly dex attack. There’s a situational +1 bonus but the real benefit is that it’s as easy to use as any basic attack. Compared to backstab the main disadvantage is less spike damage (lose a dice class), but you can attack every round and you don’t haemorrhage MP doing so.
Dodge: The most basic defence skill, it’s cheaper than block but requires more investment, as you need to match the attack to avoid damage. It’s also the prereq for the Mechanist defence skill Blink, and the other two rogue defence skills – which are interesting if not effective. It has a weakness against any sort of spike attacks – berserk, backstab and a strong precision attack.
*Counter/Deflect: I’m going to put these two together because they’re quite similar. They’re also very hard to use – they require Dodge, and Counter as well requires Deflect, so they underperform for their investment as an actual defence. What’s worse is that when they fail, their special effect doesn’t occur. Their only real use is stopping opponents you know have a subpar attack, particularly Counter which will take chunks out of weak enemies and is viable for handling rat swarms. As it is it’s a bit too much of an investment but if it were cheaper and more efficient, it would suffice as a damage dealer – drop in with backstab to get everyone’s attention, then whittle away with counters, falling back on Deflect against foes you need the extra dice against. Really the only real positive for this skill is that it lets you use your defence actions to damage foes who don’t deserve a major action to put them down.
Focus: The rogue tanky skill, if it even still works, is useful for increasing staying power and bumps rogue synergy. Not bad, but you probably have better things to spend on.
Initiative: You – and any other class with good dex/int – will definitely want at least a few points here but it’s not worth overspending. You just need to beat the str/fai focused enemies and even if you don’t, it’s only the first round. The tactical advantage is nice, but woe upon he who spends too much in initiative only to spend his first round being useless due to weak attack skills, or waiting for the enemy’s tactics to become apparent.
Stealth: Stealth has incredible utility for reconaissance and tactical positioning if you have a party willing to cooperate. It also requires a fair investment as it’s opposed by the cheap basic skills Obs, and possibly Sense, and if your DM is mean every enemy will roll once (thus several chances for bad luck to screw you over). It’s also vital for Backstab.
Locks & Traps: General utility, so a middling investment is useful. The main consequence of skipping it is that you can’t bypass certain obstacles quietly or with finesse (except with Channeller’s Lock/Unlock), as Sense/Obs is the trap detection skill and Endurance suffices as a lockpick in a pinch.
Track: Also utility, but you only need a middling investment. It’s probably better to just pick one rather than spread yourself too thin, but it does create a nice contrast between outdoorsy and indoorsy rogue.
Poison/Cure Poison: More situational than the above two, but it has some utility in investigation. The offensive ability is fairly useless – most rogues don’t bother getting a high standard attack/str (not sure if their special attacks count) and those who do aren’t going to care about slow deep wounds. It’s really more of an annoyance to the rare foes who walk away from combat with PCs. Cure Poison however is quite useful depending on how often poison comes up, as Deep Wounds on the party can be costly or outright impossible to remove.
Stun Attack: Somehow a warrior ability got lost in Rogue. Unless you have at least d6 str forget this completely, as you should be focusing on doing damage rather than disabling a foe (and as you can see, you’re very good at dealing damage already). Useful with a small investment if you are facing a single powerful foe and the rest of your party has already soaked its defences though. I wouldn’t put any more unless you expect to take a lot of your foes in alive, which might suit the roleplay.
*Worth pointing out that while abilities generally don’t have a crucial influence on your skills, Acrobat is useful for ensuring you get the juicy +1 precision, and having an extra defence action if you happen to attempt a mass-counter build.
Aside from that, same as warrior applies – play to your strengths, and the Int requirement of most of your utility skills should give you a bit of an edge there. Never hurts to take some of the tanky ones and again, non-wolves will need to take proficiencies. Gadgeteer in particularly is most useful for Rogues.
Of all the classes Rogue probably has the most dual-classing naturally built into it, such as Attack>Stun Attack or just the plain requirement of Attack. I personally feel like there is way too much going on to bother taking any attacks from other classes, especially since you can do such massive damage already. The spells are all going to cost a lot of MP which is already being used by your Rogue skills, so choose wisely and mind that most spells use Faith. The main exception is Channeler – and an attack-less rogue could easily busy himself in combat sneaking into a safe position and strategically using Spell Shield and Counter-Spell to disrupt enemy casters.