The team at Wizards of the Coast have been hard at work producing new Unearthed Arcana test-rules via their site for a few weeks now, and it has me pretty excited for future product announcements. Last week, we reviewed the Wildfire Druid, which was hot-off the presses, only to receive another batch of character options shortly thereafter. Hopefully we can cover all of them on the site, but for today, we will cover one new archetype for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition that put a twisted smile on my face. That my friends, is the Revived Rogue.
The Revived Rogue
At 3rd level, the rogue selects an archetype in additional to their standard-stabby toolkit. Myself, being a lover of the dashing-and-deceitful, instantly scanned for new rogue options, and voila! There was the Revived Rogue. The flavor text alone is sheer RPG poetry:
“You’ve had a soul-shaking realization: you’ve been dead before, yet somehow you are alive again. This life isn’t your first; it might not even be your second. Your past life, or lives, are unclear to you, but you know that you passed through the gates of death. Whatever force brought you back, you now know the truth about yourself: that you are one of death’s representatives among the living.”
Story hooks just ooze out of this archetype, and allows a bit of mystery in regard to the character’s own past, which the player might not yet be aware. This can create fantastic interplay between the DM and player, as the character’s backstory unfolds. The rules and abilities lean heavily into the theme in a concerted effort to bring the occult mystery aspect to life… again. So, let’s dive 6ft deep into this new rogue archetype.
Tokens of Past Lives:
The character draws from past life experiences, and once per day, can gain a single skill or tool proficiency. This choice can be changed each day or after a long rest. Now, rogues have often been a skill heavy class, and it’s nice that this ability plays into that strength by allowing the rogue to routinely swap out these skills. All while keeping the theme of having lived past lives. The role-play element will be delightful, as the rogue assists the wizard with some alchemical formula, and when asked where the young rogue learned such skills, the player can respond by saying “I’m not sure, but I feel like I’ve always known..”
Un-life has its advantages, and that comes with a few fun affects to your character. You gain the following abilities:
- You have advantage on saving throws against disease and being poisoned, and you have resistance to poison damage.
- You don’t need to eat, drink, or breathe.
- You don’t need sleep. When taking a long rest, all you need is to remain motionless or inactive for four hours. You can still hear normally.
These affects are certainly useful, but also, more funny than anything else. Playing a rogue that forgets to eat, and “fakes it” for the sake of the group. Always taking first watch, or relieving someone from watch. These are all fun character quirks that players should embrace.
Bolt from the Grave:
Let’s just take a second to recognize how cool this abilities name is. Okay, the character can unleash a bolt of necrotic energy immediately after using Cunning Action. This is a ranged spell attack against a creature within 30ft, and uses your Dexterity modifier for attack and damage. This does necrotic damage equal to your Sneak Attack, and uses your Sneak Attack for that round. This could raise some red flags with the party if they are not currently aware of the rogue’s plight. There could be some fun role-play with other casters that may recognize neromatic energy or perhaps question how the rogue learned such magics. If the rogue wishes to keep this a secret, I hope he/she put some points into deception! (we know they did).
Connect with the Dead:
This has to be one of my favorite new abilities, and once again, plays off the strength of the traditional rogue in RPGs. The eyes-and-hears on the street type of character will not only be well connected with the living, but also with the dead. Connect with the Dead allows the rogue to use the speak with dead spell without need of material components or spell slots. In addition, after using this ability, the rogue gains an additional temporary affect. The rogue is not sure if this knowledge came from his/her past life or the spirit in which they interacted. Unearthed Arcana provides a chart for the player to roll on, which includes things like speaking a new language, gaining a new skill, or saving throw proficiency. This extra benefit is cool, but I would encourage DMs to come up with additional affects based on the spirit’s past, or perhaps something else beyond the grave. The chart doesn’t have many options and will begin to feel repetitive, unless the DM builds upon this feature with their own twist. As the DM, be aware that there is room to play in this space.
Audience with Death:
Another ability that is both powerful and super thematic. The rogue has advantage on death saving throws, because he/she really doesn’t want to go back, but in addition, while at deaths door you can ask Death herself (I envision death as a woman) one question which can be answered with a “yes”, “no”, or “unknown”. Death answers truthfully and holds the knowledge of all who have died. Also, if you are healed or stabilized, you can change your personality, traits, bonds, or flaw. Just further entangling this amalgam of a being that is the party’s lovable rogue. I realize I keep going back to role-play elements, but how can players not be excited about a chat with death? If I was the DM, this would turn into tea with death. Death being fascinated with the character, in the span of a heartbeat, serves tea to our hero and enjoys a bit of conversation, but plays her answers coy when regarding more powerful forces. I am using this for sure.
Using your Cunning Action, the rogue can enter the Ethereal Plane to teleport to an unoccupied space within 30ft. The rogue doesn’t need to see the space, but can be blocked by magical force barriers. If the rogue cannot see the space and teleports into an occupied area, then he/she simply pops up in the next available space, and takes force damage equal to twice the number of feet moved. So, basically the rogue is ghost Nightcrawler from the X-men. This is a 17th level ability, but even still, the fact that you can access locked areas by bypassing walls/doors will be sure to give DMs nightmares.
I am a rogue at heart, and believe me, it’s going to be difficult for me to resist killing off one of my campaign characters, in order to test the Revived Rogue. What gets me most excited is how the archetype plays into the strengths of the rogue, enhancing them with further choices, all while keeping this theme of having lived multiple lives. Overall, it’s just well designed, and I can’t wait to read the rest of these new Unearthed Arcana options.