Rogue Dwarven Demolitionists | New Player Option for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

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Playtest Content

The material here is presented for playtesting and to spark your imagination. These game mechanics are in draft form, usable in your campaign but not refined by
final game design and editing. They aren’t officially part of the game.

Constructive feedback is welcome and appreciated in either comments or social media. If you can give me a valid reason with examples why something is off, 9/10 I’m likely to make changes to the content and credit you for doing so. Otherwise, feedback without anything to back it up gets ignored (or at most a smile emoji like this 🙂 ) Thanks!

Design Notes

Here are my notes for this build.

Before the Build

This is a challenge to be sure. For whatever reason, I decided this would be a rogue subclass. Knowing what I know of rogues, I’m not sure it really fits there, but regardless, it’s what I’m going to do. Either way, I’m sure it’ll end up being just plain nutsy-cuckoo.

Here is what I will attempt with this subclass:

  • Somehow, tie sneak attack in with demolitions and explosives. Basically, a total AoE machine.
  • The demolitionist will need some sort of ability that allows it to make bombs.
  • Chances are I’ll have to create new types of explosives kinda like I did with weapons for the Weapon Expert.

A few quick notes on Sneak Attack math.

Sneak attacks are powered by two major factors: the rogue having advantage or one of the rogue’s buddy’s being within 5 feet of an enemy. When a rogue has advantage, it has an 84% chance of hitting a target with a single attack. Armed with a light crossbow, the rogue will deal 4.5 damage plus its Dex bonus (3 at 1st tier, 4 at 2nd tier, and 5 just before 3rd tier). Then it deals 3.5 sneak attack damage for every two levels it has (rounded down). That’s average damage of 11 on a hit.

Okay, so now that we understand the basics of solo damage, we have to try to figure out what that should translate into for damage on multiple targets. Our best source for that is going to be in the back of the DMG on page 284, the spell damage chart. It gives us a break down of how damage to one target equals to damage at multiple targets.

Taking a look at 1st level damage, a spell that targets just one creature should deal 2d10 damage. That right there is our 11 average damage. If the spell were to target multiple targets, it’d deal only 2d6 damage to each target, or 7.

Scaling it up a bit, a sneak attack at 5th level should deal an average of 19 damage (4.5 + 4 + 10.5). Cross-referencing the spell damage chart, that’s somewhere in between a 2nd and 3rd level spell. Looking at the multiple targets column, that’s right between 4d6 and 6d6, so I think we can safely call that 5d6 average damage or 17.5 per target.

11th level would be 30.5 for one target. Multiple would be between 6d6 and 7d6, or 22.75 per target.

And 17th level would be 41 for one target. Multiple would be roughly 28 for one target.

What does all this mean? It means that if we’re going to have an area of effect rogue, it needs to be able to deal 7 damage per target at tier 1, 17.5 damage at tier 2, 22.75 at tier 3, and 28 per target at tier 4.

One thing to keep in mind with this math: the rogue must have advantage to deal its sneak attack. Not quite sure of the mechanic (before the build, that is) that I’ll use to duplicate the effect with an explosives expert.

Looking at Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, all of the subclasses in there have variants on getting sneak attack advantage at 3rd level by either creating a new action or expanding on the cunning action ability. That’s probably the route I’ll go, too.

After the Build

Once I started writing this it really came together. Immediately, I recognized that the subclass should work similar to a quarter-caster like the Eldritch Knight or Arcane Trickster.

For fluffy reasons, it has the dwarven restriction. It doesn’t need it, but it just seems cooler. Next up, I had to create a new toolset, demolitionist’s tools. These work like a cross between artisan’s tools and a spell component bag. It helps limit the number of explosives you can create and sets a cost to creating the bombs. I set it to 10, which might be too low, but I didn’t want to give the class unlimited boom-boom power.

Bomb Craft, of course, works very similar to spell preparation. You get to create two bombs per day (an arbitrary limit, but of course, very necessary for balance) which are created at their maximum level, just like a warlock’s spells. Each of the bombs is modeled after a spell that already exists, ie dragon fist is scoring ray and flame thrower is dragon’s breath.

Speaking of the flame thrower, this is probably the nuttiest one of the bunch. It’s the dragon’s breath spell except you can’t turn it off. So it works as crowd control. To balance this, there’s a number of disadvantages: you can’t move while using it, or take actions, and if someone hits you it explodes (and yes, you get to use your Evasion against it).

Quick bombs are “cantrips” for when you need a quick bomb. Being a ranged weapon attack, you get to use a sneak attack on them as well. They must be assembled and used before the end of your next turn. This prevents players from creating a bunch outside of combat for later use. At later levels, they cause targets to suffer disadvantage, allowing you to chain explosions. Its damage levels are roughly in line with what you’d do making a ranged weapon attack with a light crossbow. Note that none of the damage rolls allow you to add an ability modifier to it. This is intentional.

Demolitionist specialization gives you some more customization options, nothing too out of whack here since it’s limited by explosives. The +2 on the quick bombs makes up for the loss of Dexterity modifier on the damage rolls.

Trick bombs give you a boost to your quick bombs, but still uses up a fair amount of action economy to pull off (both a bonus action and the action to use it). But for the shaken effect, it’s worth it.

Finally, at 17th, you can add your Intelligence bonus to your damage rolls the same way an evoker can.

dwarven-demolitions-expert
Art by David Heidhoff

Roguish Archetype

At 3rd level, a rogue gains the Roguish Archetype feature. The following Dwarven Demolitionist option is available to a rogue, in addition to those normally offered.

Dwarven Demolitionist

The smell of gun powder and sulfur, soot-covered clothing, and a missing finger or two (which is how they earned their dwarven names “haritzfingrumm” which literally translates to “gone fingers”) are the traits of the dwarven demolitionist. Considered “rogues” by their mountain-dwelling brethren, these bomb tossing dwarves are a unique twist on the classic rogue.

Restriction: Dwarves Only

Only dwarves can join the ranks of Dwarven Demolitionists. The demolitionist fills a particular niche in dwarven society and culture.

Your GM can lift this restriction to better suit the campaign.

Demolitionists’ Tools

You gain proficiency in demolitionists’ tools (costs and weighs the same as alchemist’s supplies).

In order to craft explosive devices using the Bomb Craft or Quick Bomb features, you must have a set of demolitionists’ tools available. The demolitionists’ tools have enough supplies to create 10 explosive devices. Once you’ve created 10 explosive devices with your demolitionists’ tools, you will need to replace them before you create another explosive device.

Bomb Craft

Starting when you select this roguish archetype at 3rd level, you can create explosives to assist you in your adventures.  The bombs that you can create are detailed in the “Bomb Designs” section below.

You conduct an hour-long ritual that crafts up to 2 explosive devices of your choice, selected from the list of “Bomb Designs” below. The creation is completed at the end of the hour, coalescing in an unoccupied space of your choice on a surface within 5 feet of you. After you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you complete a long rest.

Using an Explosive Device. Unless the bomb design’s description says otherwise, you must use your action to use an explosive device. Once you use the device, it is destroyed and cannot be used again. If another creature attempts to use one of your explosive devices, it must make a DC 10 Intelligence check using demolitionists tools. On a success, the creature can use the device. On a failure, it explodes in their space.

Bombcrafting Ability. Intelligence is your bomb crafting ability for your explosive devices. You use your Intelligence whenever a bomb refers to your bomb crafting ability. In addition, you use your Intelligence modifier when setting the saving throw DC for an explosive device you use. If another creature uses your explosive device, it still uses your bomb save DCs when setting the saving throw.

Bomb save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier

Quick Bomb

Beginning at 3rd level, as a bonus action, you can quickly assemble a small, unstable explosive device to use in combat. The construction of this device does not count towards the 2 explosive devices your Bomb Craft feature limits you to. However, it does use up supplies from your demolitionists’ tools as normal.

You must use an action to throw this explosive device as a ranged weapon attack at a target you can see within 30 feet of you before the end of your next turn; otherwise, the quick bomb loses its potency and the materials spent creating it are wasted. On a hit, the bomb deals 2d6 fire damage. When you reach certain levels in this class, the damage increases: 3d6 at 7th level, 4d6 at 13th level, and 5d6 at 19th level.

Bomb Designs

At 3rd level, you have learned how to create a variety of explosive devices using your Bomb Craft feature.

The bomb designs are presented here in alphabetical order. If a bomb design requires a level, you must be that level in this class to learn the design.

Boom Bucket. You can throw this explosive device at a point you can see within 30 feet of you. On impact, it explodes in a 5-foot sphere centered on that point. Each creature in the area must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw against your bomb craft DC, taking 3d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. The fire ignites any flammable objects in the area that aren’t being worn or carried. When you reach certain levels in this class, the damage increases: 4d6 at 7th level, 5d6 at 13th level, and 6d6 at 19th level.

Concussion Grenade. You can throw this explosive device at a point you can see within 30 feet of you. On impact, it explodes in a 5-foot radius sphere centered on that point. Each creature in the area must succeed on a Constitution saving throw against your bomb craft DC, taking 2d8 thunder damage and is pushed 10 feet away from the point of explosion. On a successful save, the creature takes half as much damage and isn’t pushed. In addition, unsecured objects that are completely within the area of effect are automatically pushed 10 feet away from you by the explosive device’s effect. When you reach certain levels in this class, the damage increases: 3d8 at 7th level, 4d8 at 13th level, and 5d8 at 19th level.

Door Knocker (7th Level Required). You can place this explosive device on a locking mechanism, hinge, or other functional parts of a closed door, window, gate, or chest and light the fuse. At the end of your current turn, the explosive device explodes. After the explosion, the object is easier to break or force open; the DC to break it or pick any locks on it decreases by 10. If this reduces the DC to 0 or less, the object automatically opens. If this explosive device is accidentally triggered by someone other than you trying to use it, it deals 4d6 piercing damage to the creature holding it.

Dragon Fist (7th Level Required). You can throw this explosive device as a ranged weapon attack at a target you can see within 30 feet of you. On a hit, the bomb deals 6d6 fire damage. When you reach certain levels in this class, the damage increases: 8d6 at 13th level and 10d6 at 19th level.

Fire Cyclone (19th Level Required). You throw this explosive device at a point you can see within 30 feet of you. At the end of your current turn, the device erupts into a 20-foot-radius sphere of whirling air and fire centered on that point. The sphere remains for 1 minute. Each creature in the sphere when it appears or that ends its turn there must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 4d6 fire damage on a failed saving throw or half as much damage on a successful one.

Fireworks (7th Level Required). You throw this explosive device at a point you can see within 30 feet of you. The device erupts into brilliant fireworks at the end of your current turn. Each creature within 10 feet of the fireworks must succeed on a Constitution saving throw against your bomb craft DC or become blinded until the end of your next turn.

Flame Thrower (7th Level Required). The flame thrower is an apparatus that requires both hands to use. As a bonus action, you can activate the flame thrower. Once activated, the flame thrower spews a 15-foot cone of fire from the end of the flame thrower’s nozzle. At the start of each of your turns, you decide which way the cone faces. Each creature that you hit with the fire or starts its turn in that area must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw, taking 3d6 fire damage on a failed saving throw, or half as much damage on a successful one. When you reach certain levels in this class, the damage increases: 4d6 at 13th level and 5d6 at 19th level.

An activated flame thrower stops spewing flame after 1 minute or if you use your bonus action to deactivate it. Once it is deactivated, the flame thrower is destroyed even if you did not use it for its entire duration.

While the flame thrower is activated, your speed becomes 0 and you can’t use actions or reactions, and you can only use your bonus action to deactivate the flame thrower.

If you are hit by a critical hit while the flame throw is activated, it explodes. When it explodes, you must make a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw, taking 6d6 fire damage on a failed save or half as much damage on a successful one.

Glue Bomb (7th Level Required). You can throw this explosive device at a point you can see within 30 feet of you. On impact, a mess of sticky glue fills a 20-foot cube from that point. The glue is difficult terrain. Each creature caught in the glue explosion must make a Dexterity saving throw against your bomb craft DC. On a failed save, the creature takes one level of exhaustion and is restrained as long as it remains in the glue or until it breaks free. A creature restrained by the glue can use its action to make a Strength check against your bomb craft DC. If it succeeds, it is no longer restrained.

Room Clearer (13th Level Required). You can throw this explosive device at a point that you can see within 30 feet of you. The device explodes in a 20-foot radius sphere centered on that point at the end of your current turn. Each creature in the area must make a Dexterity saving throw. A target takes 8d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. The fire spreads around corners. It ignites flammable objects in the area that aren’t being worn or carried. When you reach 19th level in this class, the damage increases to 9d6.

Smoke Bomb. You can throw this explosive device at a point that you can see within 30 feet of you. On impact, it emits a 20-foot radius sphere of smoke centered on that point. The sphere spreads around corners and its area is heavily obscured. It lasts for the duration or until a wind of moderate or greater speed (at least 10 miles per hour) disperses it. When you reach certain levels in this class, the radius of the sphere increases: 40 feet at 7th level, 60 feet at 13th level, and 80 feet at 19th level.

Stink Bomb (13th Level Required). You can throw this explosive device at a point that you can see within 30 feet of you. At the end of your current turn, the explosive device emits a 20-foot radius sphere of yellow, nauseating gas centered on that point. The cloud spreads around corners, and its area is heavily obscured. The cloud lingers in the air for 1 minute. Each creature that is completely within the cloud at the start of its turn must make a Constitution saving throw versus your bomb craft DC. On a failed save, the creature spends its action that turn retching and reeling. Creatures that don’t need to breathe or are immune to poison automatically succeed on this saving throw. A moderate wind (at least 10 miles per hour) disperses the cloud after 4 rounds. A strong wind (at least 20 miles per hour) disperses it after 1 round.

Demolitionist Specialization

At 9th level, you gain one of the following features of your choice.

Dead Eye. You gain a +2 bonus to ranged attack rolls you make with your explosive devices.

Gatherer. You have a knack for finding the supplies you need to create explosives. When you are traveling underground, you can forage for supplies for your explosives. Make a DC 10 Intelligence (Nature) check. On a successful roll, you find enough supplies to restock your demolitionists’ tools.

Lobber. The range you can throw explosive devices increases by 30 feet.

Trick Bombs

At 13th level, your quick bombs pack a punch. When you hit a creature with one of your quick bombs, the creature is shaken until the end of its next turn. While shaken, its attacks and ability checks are made with disadvantage and attacks against it are made with advantage.

Powerful Bombs

At 17th level, you can add your Intelligence modifier to one damage roll of any explosive device you use.

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Next: Rogue Gambler

Art by David Heidhoff

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