A few days back, in Do We Need Rogues?, we pondered the very secondary role most such characters have in CRPGs these days.

Now, over on his blog, Coyote has posted some suggestions on how the class might be improved. This is the final installment of his three-part series, and makes for interesting reading.

But I wonder if, as far as D&D is concerned, that may be a little late, at least in regard to the skills system. In 3rd. edition, some skills were specific to particular professions.

The classic example is Use Magic Device, which could be learned only by bards and rogues. In 3.5, that restriction was removed. In fact, all class restrictions were removed.

Now any class can learn any skill, although many would be “cross-class”, and advancement limited. Regardless, it appears that the rogue, who was much spiffed up in 3.0, is slowly being eroded.

In fact, the only active skill left to this profession now is the backstab, which is actually a class feature. There are still some passive abilities, such as Evasion, but these apply only as a reaction to dangerous situations.

In Neverwinter Nights 2, it’s even worse. They introduced the Able Learner feat, so you only need to add one point to a cross-class skill instead of two. By taking just one level of Rogue for your character, you can increase the rogue skills every level up, and be just as competent as if you were Rogue class only.

I can almost see a future revision of D&D where there is no Rogue class at all, just skills and feats anyone can take. In fact, rather like the Elder Scrolls games, which are freeform in character design.

Of course, that’s just D&D. Other CRPGs have other systems, but as we’ve seen before, the Rogue is usually along just for those locks and traps.

Coyote points out that coding in specials for the Rogue is a lot of extra work, unless the game centers on that class, as Thief did. There were many opportunities for creative action in Thief, but trying to put them in a regular CRPG would likely be a nightmare.

So with all that, we come back to the original question: Do We Really Need Rogues?

Making Rogue-Friendly CRPGs on Coyote’s blog