Rogue – Ruffian (v2)

Don’t call them thugs if you value your kneecaps. Their job is actually harder, when you think about it. A normal rogue relies on quick feet and quick wits to make sure they aren’t on the same plane by the time the law comes. A ruffian just has to deal with it. The law shows up a lot faster when there’s screaming.

And bloody cudgels make finding a good alibi extremely difficult.


Click below for the Ruffian rogue!



You can also find the PDF version here!


What do you do when you need someone reminded of the generosity you’re showing them, letting them roam free in your part of town? Sure, an assassin works. But then they stop paying. No need to take a life when all you really want is the gold. So what’s the most important part of sending a message?

Answer: making the messenger huge and terrifying.



  • Heavy-Handed. Sneak Attack? More like Weak Attack. Who needs knives when you have a heavy, solid club? And who needs kneecaps when you can’t pay up your dues?
  • Overt Threat. Every fight, you roll initiative. This time, you notice the other guy is huge, scary, and looks like he’s killed while being in prison for killing. Hesitation is practically a survival skill.
  • Sudden Knifing. Who needs knives when you have a heavy, solid club? A rogue who wants to stab you with a knife you didn’t know he had. How’s that for a Sneak Attack, huh?
  • Bruised and Scarred. Hit points, rather than reflecting a character’s literal healthiness, instead indicate how much of a beating they can take before passing out. And you can take a beating. Speaking of which…
  • Ringing Blow. Beating someone senseless is a delicate are. Too much and they’ll die, or forget the whole thing, their name, and the concept of algebra. But hey, sometimes it’s all or nothing right?



  • This is one of my favorites, to be honest. I just love the idea of a rogue beating the crap out of someone. Plus it makes sense, have you ever seen any organized crime movie? The big guys in ill-fitting suits with tattooed knuckles and discrete crowbars is practically as required as a music number in a Disney film.
  • So, mechanic-wise this is based around Sneak Attack and (hopefully) allowing the rogue to dump Stealth. Weird, I know. But the idea here is that by expanding the weapon selection for Sneak Attack, you allow a Strength build to be more feasible. The problem here is damage output.
  • Conventional wisdom (/rolls, 12, dammit) says that rogues can’t use non-Finesse weapons for Sneak Attack because their basic damage die is too large. However, under the rules in the Heavy Handed feature, the only weapons allowable are all 1d8 or lower – equal to the rapier. Unless you two-hand them, which is what Sudden Knifing exists to prevent.
  • Now, this still might be a lot of damage. However, unlike most other rogue subclasses, this one gets almost nothing out of combat. I’m relying on the base rogue class’s amazing skill-set to carry them here, allowing this to be an all-damage, all-the-time option.
  • What am I worried about? Lot of things actually, but with this it’s primarily Ringing Blow. I struggled a while with whether or not Stunned was a good condition for this, but ultimately I think this isn’t bad. It primarily serves to allow you to lock someone down in exchange for lower damage. So we’ll just have to see!

Let me know what you think!

2 thoughts on “Rogue – Ruffian (v2)

  1. samuraihealer

    I’d like to see toughness earlier and I’m wondering if there’s a better way to write Heavy Handed so it doesn’t allow you to use two hands on any attack eligible for sneak attack.

    Sudden Knifing also feels clunky. That attack can also gain a full sneak attack right? I’d be more worried about the half sneak attack damage rather than the 1d10 versatile, but math might show me my instincts about that are wrong.

    1. Anathemys

      Hey, thanks for the feedback!

      I agree with you on Toughness, I just couldn’t find a place for it any earlier than that. I could potentially replace it with another feature entirely, but I’ll just have to review it.
      As for Heavy Handed, I actually stumbled upon a better wording while working on a different rogue subclass: “When wielded in one hand, these weapons gain the Finesse property.” The only issue is how that allows them to scale off of Dexterity, which isn’t ideal, so I might go with something more like: “…you can use your Sneak Attack feature with a weapon that deals bludgeoning damage as long as it is wielded with one hand and lacks the…” Thank you for pointing it out though, figuring out if something is worded oddly is something that always trips me up.

      As for Sudden Knifing, you’re correct that the dagger attack shouldn’t be able to gain full Sneak Attack, but that isn’t reflected in the feature’s wording. I’ll fix that though, thanks! As for dealing half the Sneak Attack damage… mathematically I think you’re right. I really like the feature though, so I’m going to try to find some way to make it work. Plus I really like daggers, but they’re just… they’re just objectively one of the worst weapons in the game (besides whips which are technically slightly better), so I like to find ways to make them useful. I’ll consider it though. Maybe something where it just uses a bigger damage die when doing that feature? Like a d6? I’m not sure.

      In any case, thanks again for the feedback!

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