Thief-taker (Rogue)


Round 2: Design an archetype

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7 aka Draconas

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Thief-taker (Rogue)
In lands overflowing with bandits and thieves where the law fears to tread, a thief-taker is both a bounty hunter and crime fighter for hire. A thief-taker is skilled at capturing her adversaries alive and transporting them back to her clients for justice.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Thief-takers are proficient with all simple weapons, plus the bolas, lasso, mancatcher, net, sap, short sword, swordbreaker dagger, and the whip. They are proficient with light armor, but not with shields.

Sneaking Blow (Ex): A thief-taker concentrates her efforts to taking an opponent alive instead of dead and thus trains to deal more nonlethal damage than lethal even when wielding dangerous weapons. A thief-taker can use a weapon that deals lethal damage to deal nonlethal in a sneak attack, though with a -2 penalty to attack. When she makes a sneak attack with a weapon to deal nonlethal damage, she uses d8s to roll sneak attack damage instead of d6s, and when dealing lethal damage, she uses d4s instead of d6s. This ability is identical in all other ways to sneak attack, and supplements that ability.

On the Trail (Ex): At 1st level, a thief-taker adds ½ her level to Diplomacy skill checks made to gather information and to Perception skill checks (minimum +1). This ability replaces trapfinding.

Cut to the Chase (Ex): At 2nd level, a thief-taker can immediately act to follow an opponent that attempts to flee from her. When an opponent takes a move or withdraw action, not a 5-foot step, away from her, the thief-taker can make an Acrobatics skill check (DC = 10 + opponent’s CR + 2 per 5 feet of movement the thief-taker will make) to move up to her movement speed in pursuit as an immediate action. This ability replaces evasion.

Swordbreaker Defense (Ex): At 3rd level, whenever a thief-taker wields a swordbreaker dagger in her offhand and does not use it as part of an attack or full attack action that round, she can make a disarm or sunder combat maneuver against one opponent that made an attack against her as a swift action. At 6th level, a thief-taker gains a +1 shield bonus to AC and a +1 bonus to disarm and sunder combat maneuvers when using this ability. These bonuses rise to +2 when the thief-taker reaches 9th level and an additional +1 for every three levels of thief-taker after 9th level. This ability replaces trap sense.

Rogue Talents: The following rogue talents complement the thief-taker archetype: befuddling strike, coax information, follow clues, hard to fool, surprise attack, and underhanded.

Advanced Talents: The following advanced rogue talents complement the thief-taker archetype: hunter’s surprise, knock-out blow, and weapon snatcher.

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

Congrats, Joshua, on making the Top 32! You are one of 5 designers who chose the rogue, so let's see what we've got here.

Right off, it's interesting that this archetype is specialized in nonlethal damage. It's mechanic that doesn't see a ton of play, but maybe it just needs a specialized archetype to help.

I love the mechanic of Cut to the Chase, or at least the idea of pursuing someone who is attempting to withdraw. The Sneaking Blow for non-lethal is interesting, especially rolling bigger sneak damage dice.

I'm much less a fan of the Swordbreaker: at 3rd level getting a free disarm or sunder attempt every round against armed opponents simply seems too good, no matter how in character it is. Replacing trap sense isn't a good design choice either: it's trading a useful-but-defensive power for a biggish combat upgrade.

Overall, neat theme, unbalanced execution. Not sure this is going to make it as Top Rogue, but it could work with some fixes to Swordbreaker.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Initial Impression: So it's a bounty hunter archetype. OK, I'm down with that. Let's see what you do.

Ugh, starting off with nonlethal damage. Maybe it's just that in, oh I don't know, 35 years of gaming I think I've had players do non-lethal damage a handful of times that leads me to think this isn't the best area for design. BUT (and it's a big butt) since your archetype is all about subdual maybe that is just what non-lethal damage needed was this archetype to save it from rules irrelevance. Good bump for gather info on your target in exchange for trapfinding. Not sure about the name of the ability, but Cut to the Chase is cool! I've got to agree with Wolfgang on Swordbreaker. That is too unbalanced of a combat upgrade in my book. I'd love to hear what Sean says on that. I will admit I like the idea behind it, but it strikes me as just too good. When an archetype gives you a choice that doesn't make you think even for a second you have to wonder if that is too good--this is one of those.

At it's heart, I'm not sure the core idea is Superstar. Couple that with the mechanics issues and I have little choice but to say:

I DO NOT Recommend this archetype for advancement.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Given the frontier justice feel of the RK, I think a RK bounty hunter would be more likely to bring back a dead bandit than a live one, which means the nonlethal focus of this archetype feels off to me.

Sneaking Blow: The net effect of this ability against most creatures is +1 point of damage per sneak attack die, as there's no reason the rogue can't get the damage boost from nonlethal attacks, then kill the opponent once it's unconscious (ruthless, but effective). There are hordes of players who'll exploit that.

Cut to the Chase: This is a pretty handy ability. It's a hard choice between this and evasion, though the sneak attack boost may make it worthwhile to many players.

Swordbreaker Defense: Requiring the use of a specific weapon is kinda sad. The language is a little wobbly (especially "she can make a disarm or sunder combat maneuver against one opponent that made an attack against her as a swift action). And basically it's giving you a free attack against someone who attacks you, without all the baggage of actually using two-weapon fighting (the TWF rogue is thinking "why am I being punished by not having this ability?"). And the defensive aspects are just as good as Two-Weapon Defense, and you're only giving up trap sense for it.

I like cut to the chase, but the rest doesn't match the twist theme and is open to abuse.

I do NOT recommend this archetype for advancement.


Rogue bounty hunter is nice idea. Sneaking Blow executing is crippled however. It would be more appropriate to incorporate Sap Adept and Sap Master feats from Ultimate Combat somehow. Possibly add an ability or a talent allowing to combine sneak attack with non-lethal damage while using bludgeoning weapons with a -4 penalty ignoring the regular restriction.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

A bounty hunter type that specializes in taking them alive.
The main problem i see is several spots where you give something that seems objectively better without an apparently ability lost.

Sneaking Blow, it is normal sneak plus bonuses for nonleathal. If normal sneak was stepped down or not gained until a certain level this would be a little more balanced. Maybe have lethal sneak function at level -2 or -4 with the bonus for nonleathal from level one. It certainly isn't a perfect fix but is step in the right direction.

On the trail, half level to a specific category of diplomacy checks, but ALL perception checks. Even with the loss of the ability to disarm magical traps, it feels too powerful.

Cut to the chase seems ok
Swordbreaker Defense seems ok, but kind of encroaches on two weapon defense and a few other things.

Overall this might be a go too archetype for any kind of Two weapon fighting rogue if you don't mind the loss of trap finding. The idea of a bounty hunter type works for the river kingdoms, but I don't know if the flavor screams River Kingdoms either. Good Luck.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Hello Joshua, congrats on making it to Top 32.

This the very first archetype I have read this round, but that is because I literally had started to design my own "thief-taker" rogue were I to have made it to Round 2. It would have been my alternate if the first idea I had didn't pan out.

My own design would have been inspired by real-life old-timey British thief-taker -- Jonathan Wild. I'm not sure if this was your inspiration as well but I'd love to hear if it was (of course AFTER voting has closed when you can actually talk about it!)

Now, lets see...

Ok, the weapon prof changes seem ok.

Sneaking Blow seems like a decent design for what a thief-taker did. And the fact that it could be abused the way SKR points out only makes it more so (Wild was at times ruthless, but then again, what despot in the River Kingdoms wouldn't rather torture the perp themselves).

But I think you missed a point -- they are "thief-takers" and thus you needed to build in rules to have them be better against fellow rogues. As such, they're only going to be effective against rogues that don't have imp. uncanny dodge, etc.

I think you would have been better off changing out the whole Swordbreaker deal for either more "chasing down thieves" skills (by all accounts, Sherlock Holmes would have been a kind of thief-taker for hire) or more anti-rogue abilities.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Locke1520

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This feels like a really good first draft or a second draft it just not quite there. The concept is cool but the flavor text is meh coupled with the mechanical issues already discussed. Lucus makes a very good point about "thief taking" and "anti-rogue" abilities.

Anyway congratulations on making the top 32 and good luck with your archetype.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

A bounty hunter targeting thieves would go down hard in the River Kingdoms. It violates one of the six river freedoms, "you have what you hold." So it isn't really suitable for the River Kingdoms.

How are you going to explain having someone clapped in irons in a land where taking from others is admirable and slavery is considered an abomination?

That said, the swordbreaker thing is more than just poorly balanced, it also makes this archetype a very poor choice for anyone who doesn't want to wield a swordbreaker. Does the archetypical bounty hunter even wield a swordbreaker? I can't think of an example of a single one off the top of my head who does, maybe someone can help me out here.

I do like the weapon proficiency additions, aside from the swordbreaker they are very thematic and bounty-hunterish.

I won't be voting for this one.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

I mostly agree with what has been said above. I'd also like to add that in D&D 3.5 & PF, there are already quite many base classes, prestige classes and archetypes suited for tracking down people, and I'd very much prefer something entirely new.

However, I think the abilities fit the theme of a bounty hunter very well. Nonlethal damage, sword-breaking, etc. are good choices in my opinion. (Though the sword-breaker dagger may be too specific as Archomedes said. Sunder/disarm with mupltiple weapon types would be better.)

Anyway, good luck in round 2, Joshua!

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

I really don't like the name thief-taker. I know it's a bounty-hunter archetype, but it doesn't feel that awesome. like calling someone a hunter-ranger or the like.

The rest of the class doesn't sing to me, either. It's alright, but there's only one really good ability in the bunch.

good luck, in this and future rounds!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8 aka nate lange

your template use is good; your writing is decent... i think sneaking blow could have been written more clearly (maybe- "A thief-taker dealing non-lethal damage with a lethal weapon has the penalty for doing so reduced to -2; furthermore, she can use such attacks to deal non-lethal damage with sneaking blow.")- personally i don't feel the RK vibe.

you do have game balance issues, too. i'm willing to overlook the extra SA damage (there are creature and class abilities that give you DR or immunity to non-lethal or subdual damage, and that give you bonus/die SA damage for that matter), but: 1) on the trail shouldn't give a bonus to all perception checks, probably should be to survival checks to track (though that's a small issue); 2) cut to the chase messes with action economy (apparently, an unlimited number of times per day)- with an immediate action you can take a full move (which you never specify has to end adjacent to the target), which probably ensures getting a full attack on your turn... you can use that move to get into a flanking position (or be invisible from a spell or by picking up the ninja tricks) and get multiple sneaking blows basically every round. that alone may sell a barb (who has 40' move and acrobatics as a class skill), or other melee guy on a two level dip; 3) in case that wasn't enough- just holding a sword breaker in your off hand (without needing TWF) scores you a free combat maneuver every round (without that annoying -2 you'd get from TWF, or dipping maneuver master...), further breaking action economy. this is not a balanced archetype.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka theheadkase

I am torn. The idea is something I like and the fact that you make it a Rogue archetype is cool. Who better to take down a rogue than another rogue (well...besides anyone, but you know what I mean)?

I'm not going to rehash the criticisms from above except for this one: Forcing a player to wield a certain weapon (or assuming they always will) to gain benefit from it is bad. A class of weapons could be OK.

Overall, this didn't bring it home. You started out with a good idea that petered out about halfway through. There was a long time to do this archetype so that would cause concern for following rounds where time is scarce.

I do NOT recommend.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Clouds Without Water

I will give general impressions, but with 3 areas of particular focus that suit my personal interests. Archetype and ability names: do they show flair? How closely tied to the River Kingdom is the archetype? And last but certainly not least, do I want to play this archetype?

Archetype and ability names: Archetype name is kind of bland. Ability names are not bad, however.

River Kingdom tie: Below average. This feels like it could fit almost anywhere.

Desire to play: Average. And really, the appeal to me is all based on Cut To The Chase, which is a cool mechanic. It might need some tightening up, but the ideal is great.

Star Voter Season 6

I don't really have an issue with Sneaking Blow. I understand how Sean says it can be abused, but I find +1 damage to not be that relevant, so I don't see this as broken.
But then I got to On the Trail - a +1/2 level on all perception checks replacing one that is just against traps. I already have issues in games with players having rediculous perception, and this only makes it worse.
Cut to the Chase is wierd. I feel like you should have looked to the No Escape Barbarian rage power for better wording and mechanics. "In pursuit" in particular is not defined and I can see causing problems.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka GM_Solspiral

Good: I really loved this when Robert Jordan did it. Theif that takes other theives and carries a swordbreaker.
Bad: Forcing players to use a weapon in particular for a class feature is poor design.
Ugly: You're probably not breaking copyright infringement but its doesn't look good, what are you going to bring in the monster round an Ogier?
Overall: I cannot endorse this, maybe it wasn't intentional or you haven't read the wheel of time in so long you forgot this was a character/class out of their or maybe this was some kind of homage, but its like the guy that comes to the gaming table wanting to play a drow that duel wields scimitars, you tell that player no.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

GM_Solspiral wrote:

Good: I really loved this when Robert Jordan did it. Theif that takes other theives and carries a swordbreaker.

Bad: Forcing players to use a weapon in particular for a class feature is poor design.
Ugly: You're probably not breaking copyright infringement but its doesn't look good, what are you going to bring in the monster round an Ogier?
Overall: I cannot endorse this, maybe it wasn't intentional or you haven't read the wheel of time in so long you forgot this was a character/class out of their or maybe this was some kind of homage, but its like the guy that comes to the gaming table wanting to play a drow that duel wields scimitars, you tell that player no.

Just so you know GM_SolSpiral, "Thief Taker" was a real profession in Ye Olde England, long before Robert Jordan.

Unless this archetype looks like / borrows abilities from the d20 RPG prestige class? (I don't own the book)

EDIT -- Looks like the swordbreaker focus IS from the books :/ ... I had never read them before.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka GM_Solspiral

If it was just the name, its whatever, the swordbreaker is exactly the weapon focus of a Robert Jordan Thief-taker in fact I never heard of that weapon before reading about the thief-taker.

I made a version of this (but actually based on paladin oddly enough) for 2nd Ed but I also wouldn't submit it for a contest. This isn't breaking any rules I'm aware of but there's a line when it comes to borrowing inspiration that I this crosses at least it does for me.

Mechanically I like the nonlethal damage focus. Kind of like what a knifemaster does with less weapon restrictions.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

I like the concept - I was considering a bounty hunter non-leathal ranger as an archetype.

I think some of the abilities are well done - such as sneaking blow and cut to the chase. Swordbreaker defence is overpowered, but could be rescued - if you simply say that when weilding the swordbreaker in your off-hand, attack using two weapon fighting rules (i.e. the -2 penalty to attack) and sacrifice the off-hand attacks with the swordbreaker. So you'd attack with the primary weapon at -2, and then have your swordbreaker defence.

As for the RK tie in - I think it fits well - sure some RKs don't care about taking thieves alive, but some ruleres probably would love to get some revenge on a live prisoner. As for the interaction with "you have what you hold" freedom - that freedom is pretty anti-thieves, burglars, cutpurses, and any who steal by trickery/subtlety, even if it give a pass to those who steal through force and banditry, so I see a place for thief-takers in the RK..just not going after all of the targets they might in other realms.

While there are some mechanical flaws here, I think they could be fixed pretty easily during development, and you have a good concept...just not as good execution as it could have been. That being said, I probably will vote for you, based on the rest of the field I've seen so far.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

I really like the idea of this one -- I love "anti-rogue rogues." While there isn't a lot of non-lethal damage builds, this one works--after all, with enough sneak attack dice you CAN do enough in one blow to knock someone out, which can make it worth it. I have run campaigns where the PCs really preferred to take prisoners rather than kill so I'm sure they would have dug it had a class/archetype like this been available. I'm not worried too much about exploitation because there are creatures immune to nonlethal damage that you could otherwise sneak attack, and a knife master can deal the same amount of damage in the same amount of time lethally and kill even faster. *shrug*

When I was voting, I did my best NOT to read other thread commentary (I found it very distracting) so it was interesting to see after the fact that a lot of others echoed the concerns I had about the swordbreaker defense when I first read the archetype. In my entirely unqualified and amateur opinion, it undercuts what is otherwise a very well written archetype. It definitely is WAY too powerful for a replacement for trap sense, inappropriate as a replacement for trap sense, and I also agree that any class ability that basically requires you to use a specific weapon is undesirable (yikes, I agree with Sean Reynolds about something ;) ). Allowing the proficiency is cool, forcing you to have it or basically lose a class ability, not so much.

I think swordbreaker defense could have been replaced by a simpler ability that simply boosted a combat maneuver of the thief-taker's choice, chosen from trip, disarm, or steal. This could probably replace trap sense with a low bonus to the CMB, or maybe replace a few rogue talents gained at certain levels.

In fact, even though trapfinding is replaced, I can see trap sense being left alone for an archetype like this--if the thief-taker specializes in hunting down criminals, being able to have defenses against traps that get set off makes a lot of sense. People like to replace trap sense because--well, basically, because it is WAY too circumstantial to be desirable. No one ever says, "I'm gonna dip into this class for trap sense!" But it CAN be suitable for the right concept, and this is actually probably one of them.

I still do like the idea, and the rest of the archetype rocks. I wish Joshua good luck.

ETA: I've never read the works of Robert Jordan so had no idea what the tie-in was. If what others are saying is true, it's a good example about why not to base something on an existing fictional concept more than very broadly (beyond the inevitable "this is just ripping off x book" complaints).

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

Rogue seems an odd fit for the idea and it doesn't become more convincing from the abilities granted.

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