Before we even get started on our Pathfinder sessions, House Rules are being created! HAHA! Gotta love it!
When I first brought up the idea of an online asynchronous RPG, I laid claim to a Rogue-type class. This was before we had decided on Pathfinder. Honestly, other than I’d read one of Goblinworks documents on their hopeful MMO Pathfinder Online, I’d never even heard of the Pathfinder RPG.
Back when I played 2nd Edition AD&D, if my fuzzy memory serves, there was no Rogue class, it was the Thief class, with all the criminal baggage the word “thief” carries with it. Later RPGs — and of course MMORPGs — used the more rounded term “Rogue” but there was still the beady-eyed, lockpicking, pick-pocketing, sneaky, stealthy Stabby McStabberton to those. That was never the type of Rogue I role-played back then and nearly twenty years later, still isn’t the type of Rogue I want to play. I just don’t find that interesting in the least.
In Pathfinder, the core Rogue class has one ability that seems to define the class’ role in most groups: Trapfinding. Ironically, the useful part of the Trapfinding is not the ability to find traps (anyone can find traps with a Perception roll, Trapfinding simply gives a small bonus to the roll) but the ability to disarm magical traps. Therein lies my problem with the ability. Why would a level 1 Rogue be able to disarm a magical trap when he has no training in magic, no magical abilities of his own, nor has he most likely encountered said magical traps yet?
From a design standpoint, especially a design standpoint of having exclusive class abilities, I can understand why this is the case. It would especially work in today’s DikuMMO where Class A gets Ability X (That Is Most Useful To Round Out The Group) and no one else has it. But we are not playing That Type of RPG. We’re not face-to-face. We’re not playing live at the same time. We’re not playing a Min/Max or Optimization RPG either (if we were, I’d have already bowed out; I have zero tolerance for that crap in tabletop RPG players).
So I’m looking to ditch the Trapfinding ability for something more useful to my character as I’m envisioning him.
My inspirations for the character come from two directions. First, the comic character of Nightwing, specifically the Nightwing in the video game Arkham Asylum. I no longer read actual (or digital) comics and even if I did, I would not be caught dead reading a DC Comic. Hmph! Could you even imagine? I mean seriously, DC Comics? Anyway, the Nightwing in Arkham Asylum is actually a really cool and really badass character to play. So I want my Rogue to be a very acrobatic and agile fighter who specializes in escrima sticks normally (non-lethal combat, but dual daggers when lethal or Stabby McStabberton is necessary) and tends to use heights and grappling hooks to his advantage. That brought me to my second inspiration, Tom Cruise’s version of the Ethan Hunt character in his Mission: Impossible movies. Ethan also prefers heights and agile combat, making daring and death-defying entrances to dangerous situations from dizzying heights (four multi-syllabic d-words in one sentence, nice!) as well as being an intelligent man who seeks every advantage and like any good spy is familiar with disguises and being able to mix into any social situation, all of which fit the Rogue concept I was going for to a tee.
Building my Rogue:
Pathfinder does not have escrima in its weapons tables, though it does have other Eastern weaponry. I’ve decided to use the stats for clubs, except escrima sticks are smaller and lighter, so they would classify as Light Melee Weapons under the combat rules, as are daggers.
What to replace Trapfinding with? I still haven’t decided but I’ve looked at some of the other Rogue archetypes for inspiration.
The Advanced Player’s Guide has the Acrobat archetype, which simply from its name sounds like it would be perfect. But then I start reading it. The first ability is Expert Acrobat, which replaces Trapfinding. But all it really does is eliminate the armor check penalties for certain Acrobatic-related skills (I’m only planning on Padded and Leather armor which already have zero armor check penalties) and give a +2 bonus while unarmored (possibly useful since this is a real RPG not an MMO so I would presume we’re not walking around 24/7 in full armor). It’s second ability is Second Chance which replaces Trap Sense (another ability I’m unsure of with my character concept) which gives a second roll on Acrobatics, Climb or Fly skill checks, but you have to accept that second result even if it’s worse.
The Advanced Player’s Guide also has the Spy archetype, which does somewhat fit in my part of my character concept, especially the Ethan Hunt part. Its ability that replaces Trapfinding is Expert Liar which is a bonus to a Bluff skill check. I’ve already figured on needing Bluff quite a bit when dealing with non-monsters in situations where diplomacy or espionage might come into play, so Expert Liar is on the table for consideration.
Finally, Ultimate Combat has the Roof Runner archetype. This one obviously fits my idea of feeling at home in heights, especially in an urban setting, but I’m unsure of the abilities it comes with. First is the Roof Running ability that replaces Trapfinding. This simply allows moving at full speed without Dexterity penalties on rooftops. Sounds meh to me. The second ability is Tumbling Descent which replaces Trap Sense. This ability lets the Roof Runner make an Acrobatics skill check to essentially break his fall down a building or whatever, assuming there is some object along the side to grab hold of momentarily or otherwise slow his descent rate. That action has been seen in hundreds of movies, and certainly sounds exciting but here again I have to ask: why do I need a special ability when all it does it allow me to make a skill check on a skill I already have? Why can’t I skip the requirement of Tumbling Descent and simply make an Acrobatics skill check?
So, other than the fact I really would rather have a more fitting ability to my rogue concept than Trapfinding, I’m not sure what to replace it with yet. Our illustrious GM has already stated we shouldn’t expect “too many” magical traps anyway. Any character is allowed to make a Perception check to attempt to find traps anyway and his House Rule is that someone (most likely me) with the Disarm Trap skill can disarm a mechanical trap while someone with Knowledge: Arcane could handle disabling the magical part of a magical trap. That way we have not only House Rules, but also requiring some teamwork. Pretty sure I even saw mention in the Pathfinder rules about maybe getting a bonus for helping others, though I didn’t actually read that rule yet to see if it would or could apply to that situation.
I’m enjoying coming up with all these wacky ideas and “mental movies” though! Can’t wait to actually get started playing the adventures Scopique has planned for us.