Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Toothpick Rogue

"Is he secure?" Walden asked.

"Yes, sir," Durgen said. "I turned the locks on his cage myself."

"Good, that's good," Walden said, relaxing noticeably. The warden turned the book around to face Durgen. "If you'll just make your mark here, the transfer will be complete."

"Of course," Durgen said. He reached into his pocket, and frowned. "Strange..."

"Strange?" Walden asked, the hackles on the back of his neck rising. "What's strange?"

"My pencil's gone," Durgen said, frowning. "I must have dropped it somewhere."

That was when they heard the screams. And worse than screams, the jaunty, whistling tune of Black Death Bellamy as he stepped over those who'd been set to guard him.

Anything is a Weapon, if You Care Enough

Precision damage is the name of the game when you're a hitman. You might not be able to deal in the raw power of a barbarian, or the perfect precision of a trained fighter, but you know how to hit someone where it hurts, and guarantee they aren't going to get back up once you've done your damage. More important, though, you don't need a massive sword, or a hand-milled dwarven ax to put a hurt on someone. All you need is a moment of opportunity, and something that will get the job done.

That's where the Toothpick Rogue comes in, so named because they're exceedingly dangerous with nothing more than a toothpick in their hands. All it takes is someone relaxing their guard for a moment, and this rogue will jam a pencil into your throat, cut a main vein with a broken glass, or do something unspeakable with that tea cup they're holding.

And with nothing more than a handful of large novelty sewing needles, he killed the entire enemy gang.
This concept won't be possible in every game, but it is fairly easy to pull off in Pathfinder. All you really need is the Catch Off-Guard feat, which not only removes your penalty with improvised weapon attacks, but it makes any unarmed person flat-footed against you. So if you were to, say, take the Improved Disarm tree, thus ensuring that you could readily disarm most foes with ease, you could spend the rest of your turn showing them exactly what you can do with a deck of particularly stiff fortune telling cards. You can even combine this with the Hairpin Trick rogue talent, allowing you to pick locks with greater ease, even with improvised tools.

The trick from that point onward is to figure out how you're going to get the most out of your schtick. After all, you might be able to take out on guard with that ruler you snatched off of a desk, but what about the second one? Perhaps your best bet is to invest in the Improved Feint tree, but you can also make sure you have a flanking buddy (either a fellow party member, or for the full John Wick, an animal companion dog). Being able to turn yourself invisible, or to hide in plain sight is also useful, but much harder to do at earlier levels.

It's also important to remember that not every game is going to suit the Toothpick Rogue. They work best in urban environments, or in places where improvised weapons will be the norm (prison campaigns, or palace intrigue, for example). Most importantly, to really be in their element, these characters need to be in a place where the bluff that they're "unarmed" is going to work. Because while these characters can technically venture out into the wilderness and crack an orc's skull with a thrown rock, or stab a werewolf to death with a silvered letter opener, those kinds of adventures typically assume you're coming loaded for bear. Unless you're traveling incognito, that doesn't suit this concept as well.

That's all for this installment of Unusual Character Concepts. Hopefully I got the wheels turning in your head! For more of my work check out my Vocal archive, or go straight to my Gamers page to get only my tabletop stuff. You should also check out Dungeon Keeper Radio, a YouTube channel where I work with other gamers to make videos for players and dungeon masters alike!

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