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Exploring the 5e Rogue Mastermind Archetype

My very first Dungeons and Dragons character ever was a little Halfling Rogue by the name of Viag – who had the triple misfortunes of being named after an erectile dysfunction drug, relying on the Woman in Fridge trope, and dying after only a couple of sessions.

I still very much like the Rogue class, but have since taken most of the others for a spin for variety’s sake. The more I played Dungeons and Dragons, the more I found myself building PCs around existing concepts or characters (like my Way of the Sun Soul monk fashioned after Krillin from Dragon Ball Z). I don’t consider myself the creative type, so I love keeping a sharp eye out for interesting characters in pop culture and seeing how I might build them in 5e.

That desire came upon me in earnest as I read my way through Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora. The titular character is so darned interesting as a thief and con man that I couldn’t resist whipping him up in Hero Lab!

Roguish Archetypes

Locke Lamora struck me as a Rogue, for sure. He began as a pickpocket and after years of training from a vast array of fields like makeup, language and accents, religion, culture, history, various trades and more, he worked his way up to major cons on the ruling class.

Eventually he’d rise in the ranks of his little gang, The Gentleman Bastards, such that he’d be the de facto leader, and it was his brains that largely launched him to this position. He wasn’t much when it came to blows (though he wasn’t nothing, either), but, man, he sure could take a beating like a champ!

And, man, could this dude run a con! A master of disguise and disinformation; able to improvise in a moment and always seemingly one step ahead of those who’d benefit from his exposure. He is a master at work when you read of his exploits. Locke’s role playing abilities are like Drizzt’s combat prowess: The stuff of D&D players’ dreams.

With all of this (and more that I won’t get into here to avoid spoiler territory for the series of novels featuring the man), I sat down to choose his archetype.

It has been a hot minute since I rolled up a Rogue, so I was pleased to find the new-to-me Rogue Mastermind Archetype:

Your focus is on people and on the influence and secrets they have. Many spies, courtiers, and schemers follow this archetype, leading lives of intrigue. Words are your weapons as often as knives or poison, and secrets and favors are some of your favorite treasures.

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, pg 46

This is perfect for Locke Lamora! With it comes a host of features that further nail his character:

  • Proficiency with disguise and forgery kits
  • Additional learned languages
  • Speech mimicry
  • And eventually the ability to have your words perceived as truth when probed magically (even when you’re lying) and the inability to be compelled to tell the truth.

All of that feels true to Locke as he’s presented in the pages of The Lies of Locke Lamora (with the last of those falling more into the realm of dreams for our tricky friend).

Many on the internet give the Rogue Mastermind archetype bad lip because it diverges from a combat-oriented build. But this is okay! Not everyone in the party needs to be great at the stabby-stabby stuff. Locke had Jean Tannen for that piece of their gang’s puzzle.

It does, however, mean that you really have to play the Rogue Mastermind Archetype much differently than you do literally any of the other Rogue Archetypes.

Locke’s Rogue Mastermind Statblock

As he is presented in the book, Locke is all about Charisma, Intelligence, and Wisdom. Dexterity and Constitution would be the next stats deserving of some above average numbers by my read.

High Charisma gives him bonuses to Persuasion and Deception (both must-haves for the legendary con man that he is). You could even argue that Performance serves this well, too.

High Intelligence keeps him outsmarting his targets and pursuers. Locke also trained as an acolyte of many different religions and gods during his apprenticeship, which falls under the INT score. So, too, might disguises according to RAW (though I’d let Performance or Deception serve here, as well):

The DM might call for an Intelligence check when you try to accomplish tasks like the following:

Communicate with a creature without using words
Estimate the value of a precious item
Pull together a disguise to pass as a city guard
Forge a document
Recall lore about a craft or trade
Win a game of skill

PHB, pg. 178 (emphasis mine)

High Wisdom grants him Insight and Perception; both valuable tools for con men.

Dexterity would be my vote for his next highest stat based on his abilities within the book, and then Constitution as he’s noted as one who can hold his breath for an incredible amount of time and he’s not easily squished or made squeamish.

As for alignment, I think he falls under Lawful Neutral with just a tinge of Lawful Evil?

I pegged him with the Charlatan background and had fun selecting the appropriate accouterment:

Personality Trait: I’m a pathological liar. Or am I?

Ideal: I never run the same con twice.

Custom Bond: The members of The Gentleman Bastards are the family I never had and I would do anything for them.

Flaw: I have a habit of swindling people who are more powerful than me.

Favorite Scheme: I put on new identities like clothes.

Rogue Mastermind build
Done with Point Buy.

Playing Lamora

Playing Locke Lamora as outlined above would be a challenge for me, for sure. Most Rogue players spend 99% of combat trying to get that sweet, sweet Sneak Attack damage. Not Locke! He is a much greater asset outside of combat than in it; I’ll grant the internet that much.

But that doesn’t mean that these kinds of builds and characters have no place at any table or no significance in any adventure. I think Locke would be aces in something like Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, for instance!

Plus with two more books in this particular series unread and several more promised, who knows? Maybe Locke dips into another class and comes into his own in battle.

Regardless, if I (or you!) want to play a PC in the style of Locke Lamora or some other PC styled after a character that will steal the show when interacting with anything not pointing a sword or bow at you – do it! Rule #1 is have fun, after all.

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