Every town and city has its share of rogues. Most of them live up to the worst stereotypes of the class, making a living as burglars, assassins, cutpurses, and con artists. Often, these scoundrels are organized into a thieves’ guild or crime family. Plenty of rogues operate independently, but even they sometimes recruit apprentices to help them in their scams and heists. A few rogues make an honest living as locksmiths, investigators, or exterminators, which can be a dangerous job in a world where dire rats—and wererats—haunt the sewers.
As adventurers, rogues fall on both sides of the law. Some are hardened criminals who decide to seek their fortune in treasure hoards, while others enter a life of adventure to escape from the law. Others have learned and perfected their skills with the explicit purpose of infiltrating ancient ruins and hidden crypts in search of treasure.
Rogues devote as much effort to mastering the use of a variety of skills as they do to perfecting their combat abilities, giving them an expertise that few other characters can match. Many rogues focus on stealth and deception, while others refine the skills that help them in a dungeon environment, such as climbing, finding and disarming traps, and opening locks.
When it comes to combat, rogues prioritize skill over brute strength. A rogue would rather make one precise strike, placing it exactly where the attack will hurt the target most, than wear an opponent down with many smaller strikes. They have an almost supernatural knack for avoiding danger, and a few rogues learn magical tricks to supplement their other abilities.
A Brief Look Back
A description of the class concept from the 2nd Edition Player’s Handbook:
The profession of thief is not honorable, yet it is not entirely dishonorable, either. Many famous folk heroes have been more than a little larcenous—Reynard the Fox, Robin Goodfellow, and Ali Baba are but a few. At his best, the thief is a romantic hero fired by noble purpose but a little wanting in strength of character. Such a person may truly strive for good but continually run afoul of temptation.