D&D's blind spot for expert characters

Morty

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#1
When I look at D&D's history, it seems to be that among the myriad classes published for different editions, there's pretty few examples of non-magical skill-focused and less martial-oriented characters who don't fall into the thief/assassin archetype that's kind of hard to extricate from the rogue. The three attempts I can think of are 3.5's Factotum, Pathfinder's Investigator and Starfidner's Envoy. I haven't heard good things about Factotum and Envoy, but Investigator seems okay.

I'm not sure why that's the case. Do players and designers just default to rogues and don't think past it?
 

happyhermit

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#2
The problem stems mainly (IMO) from the question of what they do in combat. Are they going to be less combat focused but out skill-monkey the rogue (and bard, etc.)? Because that has issues.
 

happyhermit

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#5
I'm not saying they should be, rather it's not obvious what they should do. Most of the things I have seen don't cover any huge archetypal ground (in combat), and are rather niche. There have been lots of attempts, but nothing that really gains mass appeal (IMO). There are a lot of options for "expert" characters, I just wonder how much demand there is for "explicitly non-magical, and absolutely not a member of a class called rogue, skillmonkey." in D&D.
 

yukamichi

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#6
Well, up until third edition, skill systems were either non-existent or entirely optional rules, so that probably has something to do with the historic absence of such a class for the first 25 years or so of the game. Even where they existed, the game still drew heavily from its "player skill" paradigm of how to adjudicate most non-combat aspects of the game; the skill systems that did exist were largely orthogonal to the primary game loop, rather than integrated neatly into it. They represented competency in certain areas, but there wasn't a lot within the core focus of the game that could be constructed entirely around them.

Later, combat became a much more distinctive and important part of the game's identity, so even with the expansion and full-integration of the skill system, there ended up being even less ideological space for a skills-only character class than ever before.
 

Matt Sheridan

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#7
Yeah, the factotum definitely ain't gonna do what you're looking for; I'm pretty sure I remember it having a bunch of spellcasting abilities.

There's a home-brewed scholar class that seems pretty close to what you want, but I haven't gotten around to really examining it, so far. Also, EN Publishing did a noble class in their A Touch of Class[/u] supplement that's pretty great. It's basically the "fighting optional" warlord that 5e always needed, rather than an expert/skillmonkey type, but it's a very nice addition to 5e's scarce non-magical options.
 

DavetheLost

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#8
When your game doesn't use "skills" outside of a few thief abilities it is hard to have a skill based class. I am not sure it is all that likely that we will see one for 5e, given the way the skill system works as bonuses to attribute checks.
 

manwhat

Formerly 'buggritall'
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#9
I saw an interesting fan-Factotum class for 5e that essentially gave a special ability to every skill.

Since the Factotum had access to all these abilities all the time, it was a bit overloaded. It might have been limited by points though and been roughly the same as a spellcaster, though; I can't recall.
 
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