The Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition group on Facebook recently enjoyed a long discussion about the damage output of rogues. In response to some concerns that the rogue might be unbalanced, Travis Marcum contributed a series of insightful, analytical, and in-depth comments showing that the rogue’s damage output isn’t perhaps as out-of-whack as it might first seem. Mr. Marcum has kindly given us permission to adapt his posts into a single guest column, which appears below.
Kaboomination Fuel: For the 5e Party, Everyone Gets to Bring Some Pain
by Travis Marcum
The rules are written so that, if a rogue is paying attention and her allies are cooperative, the rogue should be able to make one attack every turn with her Sneak Attack dice as a bonus.
If you’re going straight rogue, however, it is worth noting that rogues do not by themselves get the Extra Attack ability. And that is a balancing factor. If any rogues want to get Extra Attack, they’re going to have to multiclass, and thus slow down the progression of their Sneak Attack dice.
Therein lies the rub with going 1 to 20 rogue: You can, pretty effectively, nail a single, really hard hit each round. And your crits are absolutely ridiculous (because you roll all your dice—normal weapon dice plus Sneak Attack dice—twice). But if you miss your swing, you’re stymied. Even dual-wielding, you’re still one potential swing below another non-caster with Extra Attack.