Rogue tactics in solo adventure


Advice


Does someone has a good source to read or has time to help a noob on his way to become better with his rogue? Were planning to run some solo adventures with 1 character and 1 dm... I want to play a rogue, but since there won't be a lot of flanking, i was wondering what other tactics i could use to take advantage of my sneak attack.


Thierry4000 wrote:
Does someone has a good source to read or has time to help a noob on his way to become better with his rogue? Were planning to run some solo adventures with 1 character and 1 dm... I want to play a rogue, but since there won't be a lot of flanking, i was wondering what other tactics i could use to take advantage of my sneak attack.

Hit and run, attacking from a little range when unseen, bluffing for a diversion, etc.

In general a rogue's sneak attack isn't their main ability, but rather a crutch for them to be more viable in combat.

What level are you looking at here?

-James


A lot of the answer to this is going to depend on what kind of solo adventures your GM is going to run? In a one on one group like this you and your GM really need to work together. You need to be very vocal about the kind of character you want to play and what you are looking for and your GM is going to have to be very vocal about the type of adventure he intends to run and he will probably be forced to tailor things to your character quite a bit. The other question is, will your GM allow you to take the Leadership feat? If so it could be a large advantage for you. And my final question is, what sources will your GM allow you to pull from? I have some suggestions but I’ll just start with these three questions to get on the right track.


Thierry4000 wrote:
Does someone has a good source to read or has time to help a noob on his way to become better with his rogue? Were planning to run some solo adventures with 1 character and 1 dm... I want to play a rogue, but since there won't be a lot of flanking, i was wondering what other tactics i could use to take advantage of my sneak attack.

Improved bluff, sniping, tripping, basically anything that denies dex bonus allows you to sneak attack.


Depends a bit on level as well, I found the spell twilight blade from APG to be very nice for flanking purpose. Unfortunately you need at least 5 with or wizard levels to use it, I guess following up with arcane trickster is an option though.

Solo rogue, perhaps mix in some shadowdancer talent later, stunning fist, maybe with monk levels might be good, improved feint, a cohort, sniping might be an option or a scout from APG.

I don't think trip actually disallows one his dex bonus.

Liberty's Edge

Improved Feint.

Also, consider taking exactly one monk level, for Improved Grapple. Take Agile Maneuvers at first level, hold off on Weapon Finesse until your second Rogue talent.

Feint as a move action each round does double duty: makes the check to maintain Grapple gets easier (no dex to enemy's CMD), and allows you to add your Sneak Attack damage to the dagger or short sword you are using in the grapple.

It's only effective against critters you can grapple, and you'll struggle with groups, so it's not all that good of a build in a party. But solo, doing what solo Rogues do? It's nasty.


Solo adventures that I've run have typically been more about role playing and character development than about combat. For a rogue it should be about utilizing rogue skills and abilities, avoiding traps, sneaking into locked rooms, hiding from guards, haggling with fences or merchant guild leaders...

If it boils down to combat you better be able to run.


As long as the CR of encounters is appropriate for a single character, you shouldn't need too much help. Sneak up on a baddie, surprise round, kill it most of the time.

Remember, the "challenging" encounter for a 4-5 person party is APL + 1. I guess I would do something like the following:

1st: CR 1/2
2nd: CR 1
3rd: CR 1.5
4th: CR 2
5th: CR 2.5
6th: CR 3
7th: CR 4
8th: CR 5
Nth: CR (APL - 3)

If the GM throws APL = CR or APL + 1 = CR encounters at you, you're probably going to have to work *really* hard to survive. But that's pretty typical if every fight is a very difficult or deadly fight. . .


Rogue Talents:

Minor Magic - Ghost Sound
Major Magic - Vanish

This will help out a lot.


Ellington wrote:

Rogue Talents:

Minor Magic - Ghost Sound
Major Magic - Vanish

This will help out a lot.

+1.

Vanishing then making it sound as if you've scurried out of the room is incredibly helpful.

When I first started playing 3.5 my DM insisted that we each play a solo adventure. It was kind of a test run for the characters, our play style, and DM/player compatibility. Other players could hangout and watch if they wanted and offer advice or suggestions to both Dm and Player at the end of the session.
Anyway, I played a level 4 Human rogue. I was given the task of "acquiring" a small pendent from a local merchant (low level wizard). The entire scenario stunk of a trap but I really wanted into the local thieves guild so I agreed to take it on. I found that without any heavy hitters I had to rely on my stealth, sneak attacks, and setting up the environment so that it favored my combat style. I used a lot of traps. Acid splashes and trip lines are your friends. Extinguishing lights and blind-fighting is another nifty trick to stack the odds in your favor. You will probably want to take each opponent out one at a time and separate them from larger groups.
Poisons if you can afford them are also really helpful as is disguise. Being able to walk into a building and scope it out by pretending to be someone else is much better than walking into an enemy compound without knowing what to expect.
In the end I was caught by the wizard and tortured for 2 days. On the 3rd day I was admitted into the guild and told that the wizard was actually in the employment of the guild and I had passed their test. Not only had I made it into the compound and nearly gotten away with the pendent but after I had been captured I refused to divulge any information.


Play like you would in real life, and try not to fight. Use social skills to achieve your goals whenever possible.


For combat you need to create conditions where you get SA all the time.

A wand of Blacklight is by far your best friend.

Cast it on yourself, move up to enemy and they are blind with no save.
This means attacking you carries 50% miss and they are denied dex. AUTO SA :)

Shadow Lodge

As many have suggested get really good at not getting into fights.

Failing that...

The scout archtype might be an interesting and useful option, it lets you add sneak attack damage under more situations, Improved Feint is also quite useful for getting more sneak attacks in.


If you have acess to 3.5 material - you may want to consider the Persistent Blade (Spell Compendium) as your Major Magic trick. Gives you a flank and an extra attack/round (and sneak damage damage on with the magic blade since you there is an attack roll involved.)


Also, been pointed out in another thread that minor magic:ray of frost can carry SA damage.
So can major magic: shocking Grasp.

The monster feat -quicken SLA is good for making these swift. Essentially adding another SA to your attack routine a few times a day.

Persistant blade COULD be awesome, (because it lasts multiple rounds and grants flanking) but unsure if it would carry it's own SA.
Yly make the attack roll (even though you aren't actually wielding it)

I'd allow it.


According to this, yes.

Skip Williams wrote:
Any spell that requires an attack roll and deals damage can be used in a sneak attack. In this case "damage" is normal damage, nonlethal damage, ability damage, or energy drain..

Scarab Sages

Prestige into Shadowdancer to get the shadow as a flanking buddy.


Ardenup wrote:

Also, been pointed out in another thread that minor magic:ray of frost can carry SA damage.

I would go with acid splash. Fewer monsters resist acid, and there's no SR.


A solo game is a little different than a normal game. In a normal game you can count on the other party members to cover some of your weakness. The first thing to make sure is that you are building your character for the type of game the GM is going to run. Talk with him and figure out what type of character to build. If he is running a heavy role playing game a lot of social skills may be needed. If he is doing a dungeon crawl then more combat and trap finding will be in order.

Considering you are going to be the only player I am going to suggest something that may be consider a form of blasphemy. You may want to consider multiclassing. I would suggest an Arcane Trickster. This will give you a couple of things mainly spells. Probably a Half Elf, or Elf Rogue/Wizard. This will also give you more flexibility.

Another option would be a Urban Ranger. The Urban ranger would give you better combat ability and still have a decent amount of skills.


Or, play a gnome, take the animal friend trait, invest in handle animal, buy a dog and train him to flank... (Or better, take a level of ranger)

In a Solo game, I would play a bard or get at leat one level in Wizard (Diviner) or Ranger to get some tools in order to survive combat encounters as a rogue. (Vanish, True Strike, etc a a Wizard, or Handle Animal to train a flanker as a Ranger, and you get track, a favored ennemy (take human) and Wild empathy in bonus, a good boost on saves, and a d10 HD...)

As for playing a Bard, an Arcane Duelist can be quite good for building a stealty roguish character. You loose Sneak Attack, but gain Arcane Strike and Inspire Courage to deal damage instead. You get spells (Vanish is on the bard's list) and almost as much skills points. Take Thougness as a feat (you should also do it as a Rogue if you solo), the Heirloom weapon trait (you will make this weapon your arcane bound at level 5) and you will be able to hold your own in a fight, and still be able to play a stealthy character with a lot of skills.

Don't think all bards are flashy... just think about this one having the habit to slowly whistling a dark and cruel song when dueling to death in dark alleys. Bluff, Intimidate, stealth, a dash of magic and a poetic dark soul, from a lineage of spadassins. Murder as an art form. With a large black hat, a perpetual smirk on the lips, and a taste for blood-red wine and dark chocolate, or something like that.

Anyway, that's just me - A rogue is awesome in teamwork, but difficult to play solo without at leat a one level dip in Wizard or Ranger.


Thanks for the reactions, there really helpfull :-) The game won't be all combat, but there will be some combat encounters. I think a multiclass in wizard/sorcerer or bard could give some more options on handeling more enemy's... and spells are always nice to play around with.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Stuff like this makes me wish there was a sneak-attack-less Archetype for the rogue.

Late to the party by 22 minutes but my 2 cents:

- Someone mentioned Improved Feint. Also Shatter Defenses from the Dazzling Display tree (a single class Rogue can't get it till 8th level, but I don't know what character level this is starting at).

- Use Magic Device is a class skill. This can give you a lot of choices right there. If you don't multiclass, take minor magic and then as your major magic Rogue Talent take the Vanish spell from the APG.

- What I personally might be tempted to do---but more just because I think this character concept would be fun, TBH---is build a rogue with a spiked chain build. If you use APG, you could use the Half orc racial variant that makes you proficient in chain weapons so no need for . Why? Because spiked-chain does decent damage w/out sneak attack for those times when you can't get to sneak (2d4, two handed weapon) and also is a trip and disarm weapon, which allows you other combat options and as someone else mentioned, trip denies Dex bonus=then you can sneak attack.

I would probably build the character highest stat Dexterity (because of rogue skills and armor class), next highest stat Strength (boost damage), and make sure Int is 13 for Combat Expertise feat tree. I'd do Half-Orc swapping Chain Fighter for Orc Weapon familiarity. Take feats roughly in the order of Combat Expertise, Improved Trip, Weapon Finesse, Improved Feint, Improved Disarm, Greater Trip or something along those lines. Rogue talents--maybe do the minor magic (detect magic is always useful for a solo rogue) and then major magic (vanish). Since a half-orc, take Resiliency at some point just because it works together well with orc ferocity (also useful for a solo with no one to heal you). Skills in Stealth, Perception, Use Magic Device, Bluff, Disable, Intimidate, Acrobatics, and whatever else you like. If you multiclassed I wouldn't do the magical rogue talents obviously.

Scarab Sages

A solo game is also an opportunity to try a stealth approach without being hindered by unstealthy party members. Get the sneak attack from actually sneaking.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

A solo rogue adventure should not be a standard dungeon crawl. It should be an adventure which challenges and appeals to what a rogue should be. A person who achieves thier aims not by straight up combat but by any means available to avoid being skewered, imprisoned, enslaved, etc.


LazarX wrote:
A solo rogue adventure should not be a standard dungeon crawl.

It could be, but don't be surprised if you need to figure out where your dungeon dwellers sleep, relieve themselves, etc as the rogue may seek to ambush them, rob them in their sleep or the like.

-James


LazarX wrote:
A solo rogue adventure should not be a standard dungeon crawl.

Why?

I mean, I for one prefer intrigue scenarios to dungeon crawls, but I don't think there is a way a thief game should be played.

A thief does have sneak attacks and trapfinding and evasion and stealth, and a good lot of combat tricks, all abilities you can go "treasure hunting" with.

Sure, you don't kick in the door and charge! You stealth and try to get the monsters alone, or to get around them, or get them in traps. But it's still dungeon crawling. "Thief" computer games are about that, and are very fun to play.

Indiana Jones is arguably a thief (or an archivist bard) and does a good lot of dungeon crawling...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
CunningMongoose wrote:
LazarX wrote:
A solo rogue adventure should not be a standard dungeon crawl.

Why?

I mean, I for one prefer intrigue scenarios to dungeon crawls, but I don't think there is a way a thief game should be played.

A thief does have sneak attacks and trapfinding and evasion and stealth, and a good lot of combat tricks, all abilities you can go "treasure hunting" with.

Sure, you don't kick in the door and charge! You stealth and try to get the monsters alone, or to get around them, or get them in traps. But it's still dungeon crawling. "Thief" computer games are about that, and are very fun to play.

Indiana Jones is arguably a thief (or an archivist bard) and does a good lot of dungeon crawling...

He's also a scripted story that doesn't live or die on dice rolls. The standard adventure assumes roles the rogue can't fulfill on his own. It also assumes four or more people instead of one. One on one adventures by design have to be done differently.


I'm not sure if you seek char-building tips or general ideas, but I can recommend a book " the lies of Locke Lamorra", it's about a rogue (daring thief and con-man) in a lowish-magic world. Gave me lots of good ideas, and I really liked it.

I would recommend get-rich-quick-schemes, lots of running away, and assassination. You aren't meant for a fair fight, so don't even try it. Better enjoy the single-GM situation to use all of your stealth and/or bluff.


Stealth: This can get you two sneak attacks if you win initiative, and is actually EASIER solo then when walking around with sir clanksalot and your chain mail clad band-aid. Sneak up, surprise round, backstab. Win initiative, backstab, collect lootz.

-the main caveat with using stealth to move out of sight , hide, and sneak attack again is that its sort of a DM's call that you can sneak attack someone you're hidden from once they're in combat. There's an old FAQ from 3.5 that said it was supposed to be the same as being invisible, but the rules don't come out and say it.

Winning initiative : Your opponents are flat footed until they act on their turn. Flat footed opponents can be sneak attacked.

Not all low level rogues can afford improved initiative. Use the trait reactionary from the APG for a +2 and try to get improved init asap.

Bluff : Feint and improved feint.

Feint: You can use Bluff to feint in combat, causing your opponent to be denied his Dexterity bonus to his AC against your next attack. The DC of this check is equal to 10 + your opponent's base attack bonus + your opponent's Wisdom modifier. If your opponent is trained in Sense Motive, the DC is instead equal to 10 + your opponent's Sense Motive bonus, if higher. For more information on feinting in combat, see Combat.

Feint

Feinting is a standard action. To feint, make a Bluff skill check. The DC of this check is equal to 10 + your opponent's base attack bonus + your opponent's Wisdom modifier. If your opponent is trained in Sense Motive, the DC is instead equal to 10 + your opponent's Sense Motive bonus, if higher. If successful, the next melee attack you make against the target does not allow him to use his Dexterity bonus to AC (if any). This attack must be made on or before your next turn.

When feinting against a nonhumanoid you take a –4 penalty. Against a creature of animal Intelligence (1 or 2), you take a –8 penalty. Against a creature lacking an Intelligence score, it's impossible. Feinting in combat does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Feinting as a Move Action: With the Improved Feint feat, you can attempt a feint as a move action.


Trips and grapples will not deny dex. If high enough level, shadowdancer flanking buddy is best. Otherwise feints and umd vanish & grtr invis.


Another way to force sneak attack damage as much as you can would be through the use of Enforcer + Shatter Defenses, though you'd have to use either one attack to apply shaken to one target, or Dazzling Display to spread it across multiple, with Skill Focus Intimidate and any other bonuses you can get to it it's very possible to send groups of mooks running just by waving your weapon around if you chose the thug variant.

I'm actually in the middle of preplanning myself up a debuffing rogue for the next campaign I'm going in who's focus is upon Applying all the tasty -2 conditions I can [Shaken, Sickened, etc].

As for damage, pretty much everything he's gonna do will be Non-lethal via merciful daggers aside from using one Sneak attack to apply Bleeding attack so I get the satisfaction of knowing my character kills by leaving things beaten into unconsciousness before bleeding out.

Frightening [From thug variant] + Enforcer is funny as all hell when you realize you get one round of shaken for every point of nonlethal damage you do, I could be applying Fear with 0 chance for people to resist it after I get skill mastery in intimidate.


LazarX wrote:
He's also a scripted story that doesn't live or die on dice rolls. The standard adventure assumes roles the rogue can't fulfill on his own. It also assumes four or more people instead of one. One on one adventures by design have to be done differently.

I agree, but why can't you design a dungeon crawl for a solo rogue? Why does a dungeon crawl have to be "standard"?


Dirty Trick combat maneuver is a good option. Its a good way of rendering them flat-footed, but its kinda a long feat tree, but it keys off Combat Expertise, which you are likely to get anyhow.

Sczarni

Lots of good stuff here, just a couple of suggestions:

Background
1: Play Metal Gear Solid & 2. Also play Splinter Cell: Conviction, and Assassin's Creed 2, if you can. You don't need to put much time into any particular one of these (just the demo should suffice), but they create a frame of reference for sneaky, stealthy, get the job done kind of characters.

2: Read (not watch, although the movies are good) the Bourne Identity and/or The Bourne Ultimatum. Great scenes of scams, setups, and misdirections abound. Try to capture the attitude and feel of this character and you're set for the "solo operative" feel of game.

Gameplay Mechanics

Rogue is a great class for solo play, assuming you don't try for a straight-up combat game. If that's the case, a Ranger would likely prove more survivable (at the expense of Trapfinding, mostly)

Ninja (the alternate Rogue class) will also work extremely well.

Arcane Duelist Bard (or just regular Bard with Arcane Strike & Combat feats) can do pretty much everything possibly required of a solo infiltrator/operative.

Inquisitor is practically designed for this kind of play. Want to be Judge Dredd or The Punisher? Inquisitor is the way to go.

Tactics

Hit & Fade. Never stay in one location if you can help it.

Misdirection. Pulling half (or more) of the guards away from your objective while you sneak in the other way? Excellent drama, works very well with the stated design goals, and is actually achievable as written.

Traps. Sure, the Craft(Trapmaking) rules are kind of weird and hard to justify, but if your GM is willing to run a one-on-one game with you in the first place, I'm sure he/she won't look sideways when you try to set buckets of oil with flasks of alchemist fire on doorframes standing ajar. Simple trip lines and alarm traps will give you the time and space needed for your egress.

Nontraditional infiltration. Sure, kicking in the door works, but how about being hired as a "low-level-mook" in the bad guy's army? What about the privies/plumbing? Is the roof secure? How about the building next door with a shared wall? These are the kinds of things you'll need to figure out to really succeed.

good luck!

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