Greetings! Based off my own experiences and after reading plenty of game stories about how some people (mis)handle their classes, I've come to the conclusion that there are some deeply held stereotypes attached to the DnD class system that could potentially harm or at least stymie the fun at the table. To help rectify that I hope to use this (potential) series as a means to help us dive into the general themes behind each of our favorite classes, and perhaps expand our thinking a little. I would like to give players more ideas to consider while playing the game so that our characters can be more true to their class and avoid some of the more painful tropes that have developed over the years.
I will preface this primer by posing a simple question: What is a class? To me, a class is nothing more than a means to offer a sense of identity to your character. Who is this person, and what do they do better than anyone else that allows them such a title? For that is the true core of a class both mechanically and thematically: Specialization. The class you pick determines which skills you are better at than others in the world typically are, and is one of the core facets of what makes your character unique. This will be our through-line as we move forward and explore one of the commonly underappreciated and misused classes: The Rogue. The Art of Stealth
A cry rings out in the night, lanterns sputtering to life as the town guard are roused from their barracks. There's been a murder, and the culprit is still at large. Boots slap the cobblestone as droves of men scour the roads and alleys for anyone they deem suspicious. Wails of grief can be heard from the doomed household of the deceased, and a crowd gathers outside in both sympathy and curiosity.
This all works out perfectly for you as you silently slip out the back window of a home across town, that of an elderly couple too feeble to rouse from their wine-induced slumber. A small pack of valuables sits beneath your cloak as you skulk into the night, feigning a lurched step to appear hunchbacked and play off the oddly shaped protrusion along your spine, with a hacking cough just to make sure you're not disturbed. You'll fence the silverware and wedding bands in the morning, and then find a new mark to plunder as you always have.
The core idea behind the Rogue is that they are a professional thief. They commit crimes regularly for survival, to sate a habit, or perhaps even out of boredom. So what makes a Rogue special? And what makes them different than your common cutpurse, mugger or murderer? A Rogue Doesn't Get Caught.
There's a common saying among law enforcement that they only catch the dumb ones, and a Rogue has made it their business to not be part of that rabble. A Rogue specializes in obtaining things that belong to someone else without their permission, and then gets away with it
. This means that every Rogue will have specialized in skills that allows them to get somewhere they're not wanted, do what they intend to do, and then leave without being apprehended. The methods may vary, but that is the essential breakdown of any crime. Get in, do the thing, then get out.
So by contrast, what is not
a Rogue? A Rogue is not the type to endanger themselves by intentionally antagonizing others, particularly those close to them. A Rogue is not the type to expose themselves without a reliable plan to get away safely. A Rogue doesn't take unnecessary risks without a damn good reason to do so. They live a life where a single misstep could land them in chains or the gallows, so they cannot afford to do anything that would needlessly risk their own safety.
In terms of play, this means that a Rogue wouldn't antagonize their own comrades.
Why would they do something so blatantly stupid to draw anger to themselves? If they're the only sneaky type in a group they should know that they would be the first person suspected if anything goes missing or if anyone in the party is suspiciously harmed. If anything a good Rogue should be going out of their way to make sure that nothing bad happens to their comrades, just to make sure they don't get blamed for something they didn't do. The Rogue should also try to be the voice of caution during the planning phase. A Rogue will rarely want to venture into danger without a solid plan, a few backup plans, and an iron-clad exit strategy. Rogues are often critical, observant and paranoid by nature to ensure their own survival. So play into that, and always try to think about the outcomes of a plan whether it would fail or succeed.
In short, playing a Rogue is not an excuse for you to be the wangrod at the table and do horrible things because your character is the 'Evil Criminal' (TM). Playing a Rogue is an opportunity to be the shadow in the night that can pull off the impossible without leaving a trace. A Rogue is a professional
thief, with heavy emphasis on the fact that this way of life is their chosen vocation. And professionals make it their business to be the best at what they do. The Rogue's Tool Belt
Now that we know what a Rogue is and is not, let's look at some of the skills that a true Rogue utilizes to achieve their goals of getting in, doing the thing, and getting out.
Observation - The primary skill of any good thief should be the ability to read a situation. They should be able to recognize the options and threats before them, then form a plan to accomplish their desired goal. And if they lack necessary information they should be able to obtain that information through whatever means necessary. Being able to read a person, visualize a building's layout or predict the guard's patrol patterns are all crucial skills to achieve the goals of 'getting in' and 'getting out'. Knowledge is power, and the Rogue should be able to arm themselves as much as possible before they make their move.
Stealth - The 'simple' act of moving unnoticed. The ultimate goal of stealth is to blend in to your surroundings so well that nobody will notice you, or that they'll forget you seconds after they've seen you. Sometimes those surroundings are a shadowy courtyard where camouflage and being mindful of light sources will allow you to avoid any watching eyes. But sometimes your surroundings might be a public area, in which case it would be better to take the 'gray man' approach and look as unassuming as possible so you can blend in with the crowd. As long as nobody starts following you or asking questions then you've done your job right.
Integration - Sometimes going unnoticed is legitimately impossible, so instead you try to ingratiate yourself into the scenario. This could be as simple as a kind word or a bribe to make a threat friendly towards you, escalating all the way up to full on disguise and impersonation. As long as nobody suspects or even cares what your true intentions are then you've integrated yourself properly.
Misdirection - You don't want anyone paying attention to you, so instead you create something else for them to focus on. This is the core skill of all stage magic and is an integral skill of the Rogue's arsenal. Setting a building on fire is a great way to distract a lot of people at once, a sudden noise could be enough to get a guard to move, and a dancing monkey is a fun way to distract a crowd while your partner rifles through their pockets. If there's no eyes on you then you'll be free to do your Roguish business unhindered.
Intimidation - Sometimes you just need to hit them where it hurts and make them fear you to get what you want. Rogues can be just as intimidating as any Barbarian or Fighter, but they might do so in a more subtle fashion. A Rogue might have access to blackmail on a target, or they could send the message that the Rogue could harm them or those they care about. Poisons kill silently and arrows can kill from very far away. And are you sure
those personal guards are perfectly loyal to you? Even if someone discovers who you are, if they were properly scared into maintaining their silence then you got away with it all the same.
Athletics - Let's face it, sometimes you're just gonna have to get physical. Climbing walls, jumping across roofs or full-on running are key aspects to survival as a Rogue. It's rare that the front door is an option for the Rogue, so they'll more likely have to find alternative means of reaching their goal. And if (read: when) something goes wrong, then being able to escape any pursuers is critical to reach that ultimate goal of not getting caught.
Technical Proficiency - Your typical set of thief's tools includes a small file, a set of lock picks, a glass cutter, a small mirror, a set of narrow-bladed scissors, a pair of pliers, and maybe even a listening device. These tools are meant to circumvent any technical obstacle that the Rogue might encounter. Locks can be picked, glass can be cut without shattering, and chains or bars can be filed through cleanly. The Fighter or Barbarian could easily smash something open, but the Rogue can open these obstacles without any noticeable damage to the thing or the objects inside. The Rogue won't damage the goods, and when they're done they'll make it look like nothing was disturbed.
Ingenuity - The one inevitable fact of a Rogue's work, of the structure of games, and of life itself is that things rarely go according to plan. That's why EVERY good Rogue needs to be able to adapt to ever changing threats in order to get away with their life, and ideally their payday too. Very rarely should your tools and equipment only have a single purpose they can be used for. A shortsword could be used as a step-stool while sheathed, a stuck dagger could be used as an anchor to tie something off, and a smokescreen could be used for either escape or to confuse the enemy and give you the advantage while attacking. If anyone is going to come up with some wacky idea that gets the job done it should be the Rogue, since their way of life requires them to constantly be thinking of new ways to achieve their primary goals. Archetypes
With all this in mind, let's explore a few archetypes from popular media and see how they embody the essence of the Rogue.
Thief - The most simplistic form of the Rogue is the Thief. They want to steal something physical, and it's their job to figure out how to do that. Thieves could be as simple as a street urchin pickpocket or as sophisticated as a Daniel Ocean type of professional. Thieves will use their stealth, their sleight of hand and their guile to get in close to their target before going in for the lift. A Rogue will rarely use violence since it is noisy and will always draw attention if there are witnesses around, but a Thief will especially shy away from it since they are likely to not have great combat skills.
Grifter - A Grifter is similar to a Thief, but they specialize in conning their marks and sending them home with a smile. That person hosting the shell game, a used car salesman and the head of a pyramid scheme are all examples of how a Grifter operates. They weave a story and always try to give the impression that their mark is in the right or has the opportunity to gain a lot by working with them. They want their mark to feel good about themselves so that they'll willingly hand over what the Grifter wants. For examples, consider watching the films 'The Wolf of Wallstreet', 'Catch Me If You Can' and 'The Sting' (1973).
Spy - The Spy's primary skill is infiltration. Their goals my vary, ranging from information gathering to exfiltration of people or objects to outright assassination. But the one thing all Spies have in common is that they know how to get in and out of a place, no matter how tight security is. The Spy will use their words, guile and ingenuity to get inside an exclusive space meant only for a select few. They will often enter unseen or, more typically, appear as if they're supposed to be there. Spy films such as the 007, 'Mission Impossible', 'Bourne Identity' and 'Kingsmen' series are sufficient for the "Hollywood" feel, but also consider more grounded inspiration like 'Spy Game', 'Argo' and especially 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'.
Assassin - Similar to the Spy, but focused on a single goal: End your target's life, by any means necessary. Assassins come in all shapes and flavors, but the best ones are always able to keep their identities a secret which gives them the freedom to kill again. Even if an Assassin has a preferred technique, they will often be versed in multiple methods of ending a life. The 'Hitman' series of video games is a good source for generating unique infiltration and execution methods, but the movie 'Leon: The Professional' showcases the various skill levels of assassins. In Leon's words, "The better you are, the closer you can get to your target. You'll start with the rifle, and we'll end with the knife."
Thug - This is probably the least Roguish archetype of the lot, but they are thieves at heart so lets break this down. The 'Thug' is the one who uses violence and intimidation to get what they want. They don't always kill their targets and they sometimes have that Roguish silver tongue, but their primary modus operandi is violence and intimidation. A Thug is the most likely to use threats to achieve their goals, whether they be real or implied. A Thug will break an arm, destroy a shop or kidnap a loved one to gain leverage over their mark. They find the weakness in their target and exploit it, using fear or murder to ensure their victim doesn't rat them out to the authorities. Thugs can include pirates, gangers, and crooked cops, but also more weaselly types that will use blackmail or implied threats to manipulate their targets. Summary
When playing a Rogue, the most important thing to remember is that what you do is often considered illegal and morally wrong, and you do NOT want to be caught doing what you do. A Rogue's skills can lend themselves to a broad range of challenges, and it is up to the player to decide how best to use them. A Rogue is not the 'party-stealing/killing jerk' because that is stupid and unprofessional. A Rogue is the one who goes unseen, can talk their way out of most anything, can get inside anywhere, and then vanish without a trace. For those that wish to walk this path I pray you be mindful of yourself, your surroundings, and always have an exit strategy.
And that's a wrap! Please let me know if you enjoyed this primer, and what classes you'd like to have dissected next. I will likely start with the most abused or underused classes first and then work out from there, assuming I find the time to do another of these. Happy gaming everyone!
I can kinda(but not really) understand cheating in games where you play against other players and where there's a competitive system. But PAYDAY 2? This is a co-op game which means you're not competing with anyone. I'm pretty sure a major part of this game is experimenting with stuff like Weapons, Perk Decks and Skills and with the help of RNG, playing the same heists can feel different. If you're cheating, you're basically ruining the game for yourself which is why I don't understand people who play this game with cheats like these:
Silent Assassin - Not sure what this mod started as but I'd say it's a pretty cool experimental mod but please don't use this mod the majority of time you play stealth
Better Bots - Actually I think Better Bots is kinda acceptable unless you let the bots do all the shooting. But like seriously? What's the point of playing if you're not gonna shoot the cops and let some random coded AI defend you.
Unlimited Skill Points - Again, isn't this game all about experimenting? I love the trouble choosing and sacrificing important skills for another important skill. This mod completely ruins the "experimentation" aspect and also gives you a bunch of skills that you don't need (Ex. Sneaky Bastard in a armor build)
Godmode - Honestly this is just stupid. Nothing much to say. THERE IS NO CHALLENGE ANYMORE.
Friendly Cops - Why? Just Why?
I heard of this cheat called Pirate Perfection which you can cheat in many ways by just clicking a button or something.
Not really sure why I decided to post this I guess I just wanted to hear your guys' thoughts.
Edit: Apparently, I forgot to mention that as long as you help the bots shoot then I think that's ok but if you set the Better Bots' settings to make the bots completely overpowered and let the bots do all the shooting then I find that weird.