Small Swords and exiles
I’ve said this in passing before, but it deserves a whole blogpost unto itself; 4e Rogue’s weapon selection sucks – but it’s easily fixed. Here’s how.
Let’s start with a quick quiz. Close your PHBs and no peeking.
What weapon proficiencies would you give to a character that has Powers called Riposte Strike, Sly Flourish, Trick Strike, Trickster’s Blade, Clever Riposte and Leaping Dodge.
If, like me, you’re immediately picturing Errol Flynn and some hot swashbuckling action with a rapier then you’re going to be disappointed, folks. Here’s the Rogue’s Weapon Proficiency list:
Dagger, hand crossbow, shuriken, sling, short sword
Swashbuckling ninjas! Yeh, that would work.
Of course, it’s an easy fix. Picking up WP:Rapier as your 1st level Feat is cool, especially if you’re playing a Human and have a feat slot to spare. That gives you a darned good Superior Weapon choice and an all-important +3 bonus with the iconic swashbuckler’s blade.
But there is another way too, and it’s all thanks to the short sword. It’s a single entry in the weapons list, but we use it to cover an awful lot of weapon choices from a Romanesque Gladius to the samurai Wakizashi or even a Kukri (in the Adventurer’s Vault, it’s essentially a short sword with the Brutal property added).
In this case, we’re going to say that the short sword in the hands of a swashbuckling-flavoured Rogue is actually a Smallsword, or épée de cour. From Wikipedia (the bestest RPG supplement, ever):
The small sword or smallsword (also court sword, fr: épée de cour or dress sword) is a light one-handed sword designed for thrusting. The smallsword evolved out of the longer and heavier rapier of the late Renaissance.
It’s a smaller and lighter Rapier popular as a dress sword among officers and nobility. It’s a dueling weapon and fashion statement combined – what hot blooded chandelier-swinging Rogue could resist it’s pointy charms? And – here’s the kicker – give it the same stats as a short sword and you’re good to go, no house rules needed.
Here’s how the entry would look in an equipment list. The base price listed below is as per the short sword for a no nonsense, slighty shoddy, version but encourage the player to pay more for an ornately designed Shortsword and jot down a description of it. Perhaps it’s an heirloom, a symbol of their regiment or a gift from a wealthy lover. The choice, as ever, is theirs.
Smallsword, Prof +3, 1d6, 10gp, 2ld, Light blade, Off-hand
I’ve kept the Off-hand property in place because the image of a two-Smallsword wielding Rogue is too cool to pass up.