Rogue swashbuckling options - Alternative class features & powers

Written by E_FD.

Some alternative options to enable the rogue class to more effectively emulate classic swashbuckler heroes like Zorro or D'Artagnan. I believe the added versatility (no longer having to rely on allies' positioning) is counterbalanced by the need for a high Charisma, which many rogue builds can otherwise ignore.



Class Talents


Brilliant Bladework

Special: This talent may be selected in place of the rogue's Sneak Attack class feature. Powers and talents that require you to be able to deal Sneak Attack damage (Flying Blade, Sure Cut, the Improved Sneak Attack talent) provide no benefits.

You lure your opponents into making mistakes with your quips and feints. Once per round when you make a rogue melee weapon attack, you can add damage to the attack equal to your Charisma modifier, if the attack hits. (Double your Charisma modifier at 5th level; triple it at 8th level.) 

However, your flashy, bombastic style keeps your enemies' attention focused on you; you cannot perform Sneak Attacks! When you roll initiative, declare whether you are going to use Brilliant Bladework this battle. If you do, you are unable to inflict Sneak Attack damage during this battle.

Champion Feat: When you inflict Brilliant Bladework's bonus damage, you may also add damage equal to your level.



Special: This talent may be selected in place of the rogue's Trap Sense class feature.

If a rogue rolls a natural even failure on a skill check involving non-violent interaction with a creature, the rogue can reroll the skill check once. The reroll will always be based on Charisma, regardless of which ability the first skill check was based on, as the rogue uses their charm to cover their initial faux pas.

Additionally, if the rogue is affected by a fear ability, they can roll a hard save (16+) to become immune to fear abilities for the rest of the battle. The rogue may add their Charisma modifier to this roll.



Class Powers - 1st Level


As you may notice, Fencer's Flourish does not work with the Brilliant Bladework talent. This is an alternative method of enabling your rogue to fight more like a traditional swashbuckler (albeit at the cost of more dice rolls), while still leaving room open to perform Sneak Attacks when the need arises.


Fencer's Flourish

Melee attack


Quick action

Target: One enemy

Attack: Charisma + Level vs. MD

Hit: Until the start of your next turn, you may add Sneak Attack damage to a successful melee attack against the target. (You can still only deal Sneak Attack damage once per round.)

Adventurer Feat: On a hit, the enemy is also vulnerable to your attacks until the start of your next turn.

Champion Feat: If you are engaged with multiple enemies, this power now targets every enemy engaged with you.

Epic Feat: All effects of fencer's flourish now last until the end of your next turn.




Design notes:

For those curious, a comparison of the average damage of a rogue sneak attack (with and without the Improved Sneak Attack talent), and Brilliant Bladework with three possible Charisma modifier values. Note that a +5 Charisma at 1st level is extremely unlikely using 13th Age's default point buy values, but the rogue's Charisma modifier will likely improve by at least 1 over the course of the game thanks to ability boosts. The values in parentheses list the Brilliant Bladework damage after taking the talent's champion tier feat. As you can see, this feat is necessary to keep damage roughly on par with Sneak Attack:

Level Sneak Attack Improved SA BB - Charisma +3 BB - Charisma +4 BB - Charisma +5




3 4 5
2 3.5 4.5 3 4 5
3 3.5 4.5 3 4 5
4 7 9 3 4 5
5 7 9 6 (11) 8 (13) 10 (15)
6 10.5 13.5 6 (12) 8 (14) 10 (16)
7 10.5 13.5 6 (13) 8 (15) 10 (17)
8 17.5 22.5 9 (17) 12 (20) 15 (23)
9 17.5 22.5 9 (18) 12 (21) 15 (24)
10 24.5 31.5 9 (19) 12 (22) 15 (25)

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  • Panache is cool. If there is ever a second edition, I'd like to see the choice between Trap Sense and Panach as a standard option.

    Brilliant Bladework has the problem that it creates too many dice rolls. Do you really want me to spend a quick action and roll a separate attack against MD every. single. turn?
    I like the idea of having a talent that allows you to deal sneak attack damage when fencing a duel, but it should be much easier to trigger. Some ways to do it:
    - A maneuver that expends momentum
    - A talent that requires an even escalation die
    - A talent that allows you to deal sneak attack damage on natural odd attack rolls

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  • That's a very valid point. I'd been thinking about the ability in terms of balancing it against the default Sneak Attack (assuming a typical combat encounter, a Rogue's almost always going to have a valid target for Sneak Attacking, but it limits their tactical options somewhat; since the Bladework is more versatile, I figured adding the randomness of a second attack roll plus the need for a decent Charisma evened things out, while still allowing the Rogue to deal their extra damage with about the same frequency), but that overlooks the practical issue that having to resolve an extra attack every turn can get tedious.

    The other option I'd been considering, which involves a bit less rolling, was for the Rogue to roll a d6 after a successful melee attack, and deal Sneak Attack damage if the roll is lower than their Charisma modifier (or, w/an adventurer feat, lower than the Escalation Die if it's higher). Decided against it because I liked factoring in the enemy's MD as their savviness at recognizing the Rogue's flashy tactics, but you make a good point about the extra mathwork this adds to every round.

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  • And a revised version is up!

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  • I really love Panache, it's so thematic!

    I'm not quite sure I "get" Brilliant Bladework, though. It states that you must declare whether or not you are going to use during initiative. If so, you are then unable to use Sneak Attack damage during the battle. That makes sense. Seems like a good implementation.

    What I don't quite understand is selecting it in place of the Sneak Attack class feature. If it outright replaces Sneak Attack, then why am I deciding whether or not to use it on a per-battle basis? Furthermore, giving up Sneak Attack seems like a pretty hefty price, given that so many powers rely on it, even at first level.

    Am I overlooking something here?

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  • Short answer: The Brilliant Bladework thing is an editing oversight / brainfart. Frankly, looking at it again, I don't quite see what the point is. All you do is replace a die roll with a roughly equal flat bonus. Looking back, I don't quite see what I was trying to achieve there. Unfortunately I can't edit it anymore since I'm no longer the owner of this entry due to some bug.

    At least Panache still sounds like a cool idea ;)

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  • LOL! Okay then. Thanks for the response.
    The group does really like Panache, though. I think our Rogue may also end up using your Spellthief talent that you posted elsewhere. :)

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