Meet the 4e Halfling Rogue!


HP 25, Bloodied 12, Healing Surge 6, Surges Per Day 7
Initiative +4
AC 16, Fort 11, Ref 16, Will 13

Well, here we are again, and this time we’re looking at the Halfling Rogue. I’ve almost no doubt that the Halfling will be a popular race in 4e… well, perhaps I have a few. Mind you, Dave should be really happy because Halflings have a few changes to them which make them much more playable.

Comparing the Rogue to the Paladin we discover a few things: Hit Points are comparable (25 to 27), but the “staying power” of the Rogue is worse – only 7 Healing Surges/day compared to the paladin’s 11.

AC is worse (as we might expect) and Reflex Defence takes the place of Fort Defence as the high defence value.

[bm] Dagger +5 vs. AC; 1d4+1
[br] Dagger +8 vs. AC; 1d4+4

Basic weapons, and you can see a big difference between the rogue and the paladin. Put simply, the basic attacks for the rogue suck! However, they have a number of abilities to compensate for that.

[bm] = Basic Melee, [br] = Basic Ranged.

What’s a Basic Attack? Well, apart being the simplest form of attack, it’s also the attack you can make when making an Opportunity Attack or when making a Charge. You’ll use them, just not very often in relation to your At Will and Encounter powers.

The Halfling is also using human-sized weapons. I’m informed that there will also be Halfling-sized weapons, and some human-sized weapons that the Halfling can’t use, but I don’t know the details yet. This is another change from the controversial 3.5e weapon size rules.

Height: 4’0″; Weight: 85 lb.; Size: Small
Speed: 6 squares; Vision: Normal
Languages: Common, Goblin; Alignment: Good

What’s the big change here? The Speed. Halflings now have a 6 speed – that is, 6 squares per Move Action – rather than the 4 squares they had in 3e. Each square is 5′, but for those of us who use battlemats, it’s much easier to count in squares. (Why do you think AD&D used inches, with 1″ = 10′?) The Halfling has also become a bit taller, by about a foot.

Skill Bonus: +2 Acrobatics, +2 Thievery (already included).
Bold: +5 racial bonus to saving throws against fear.

It’s worth making a note about Saving Throws: Saving Throws are made to throw off ongoing effects. Normally, you need to roll a 10+ on a d20 to end an effect that’s hurting you (sleep, domination, ongoing acid damage, etc.) The +5 to end fear attacks that the Halfling has is unbelievably good. Even getting a +1 to a saving throw is unusual in 4e. Sure, the Halfling isn’t immune to fear, nor is the Halfling great at saving against everything else, but it’s still significant.

It also shows how the 4e Halfling is getting closer to the Kender of Dragonlance and further away from the Hobbits of Tolkien.

Nimble Reaction: +2 racial bonus to AC against opportunity attacks.
Second Chance: You can use second chance as an encounter power.

Second Chance   Halfling Racial Power
Luck and small size combine to work in your favor as you dodge your enemy’s attack.
Immediate Interrupt   Personal
Effect: When an attack hits you, force an enemy to roll the attack again. The enemy uses the second roll, even if it’s lower.

Interrupt powers allow you to trigger them before someone finishes an action; in this case, you force your attacker to reroll their attack die. Yes, this can cause the result to be worse (a critical), in which case your luck just wasn’t with you.


Deft Strike   Rogue Attack 1
A final lunge brings you into an advantageous position.
At-Will * Martial, Weapon
Standard Action   Melee or Ranged weapon
Requirement: You must be wielding a crossbow, a light blade, or a sling.
Target: One creature
Special: You can move 2 squares before the attack.
Attack: +8 vs. AC
Hit: 1d4 + 4 damage.

The first of the At Will powers that the Rogue will use again and again. As a note, you get 2 At Will powers at 1st level and they stay with you for the duration of the game. In fact, you can change them when you level (retraining), but it’s very unlikely you’ll ever have more than two At Will powers – at least as far as I understand the game without actually seeing the books yet!

Deft Strike allows you to move around the battlefield quickly. However, note well that you move two squares, not slide or shift. That means you are vulnerable to Opportunity Attacks from your opponents. Of course, that allows your Nimble Reaction racial power (+2 AC against Opportunity Attacks) and Artful Dodger class feature (+3 AC against opportunity attacks, for a total of +5 AC!) to kick in.

Also note that despite being a Ranged or Melee attack, Deft Strike uses your Dex modifier for both attack and damage, making it much better than your standard basic melee attack. The die of damage is determined by your weapon – in this case, a d4 for a dagger.

Sly Flourish   Rogue Attack 1
A distracting flourish causes the enemy to forget the blade at his throat.
At-Will * Martial, Weapon
Standard Action   Melee or Ranged weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: +8 vs. AC
Hit: 1d4 + 7 damage.

The great part about Sly Flourish is the damage it does: +7 instead of +4. I suspect the code for the damage in the full rules is [W] + Dex modifier + 3.

What does [W] mean? It’s the weapon die code. More powerful attacks (such as Encounter and Daily attacks) get [2W], [3W] or possibly even higher multipliers. A longsword does 1d8 damage, so an attack that does [W] damage does 1d8 damage; an attack that does [2W] damage does 2d8 damage. However, ability modifiers aren’t modified, so [2W] + Dex modifier for this Halfling is 2d8+4.


Positioning Strike   Rogue Attack 1
A false stumble and a shove place the enemy exactly where you want him.
Encounter * Martial, Weapon
Standard Action   Melee weapon
Requirement: You must be wielding a light blade.
Target: One creature
Attack: +8 vs. Will
Hit: 2d4 + 4 modifier damage, and you slide the target 3 squares.

This is an attack against Will, rather than AC. That’s unusual – it represents the element of bluff and surprise that the rogue can bring to bear. The weapon code is [2W] + Dex modifier, as mentioned before. Sliding the target means that you can choose exactly where you move the target – even off a cliff or into a pit, although they get a Saving Throw to avoid those last dangerous options.


Trick Strike   Rogue Attack 1
Through a series of feints and lures, you maneuver your foe right where you want him.
Daily * Martial, Weapon
Standard Action   Melee or Ranged weapon
Target: one creature
Attack: +8 vs. AC
Hit: 3d4 + 4 damage, and you can slide the target 1 square.
Effect: Until the end of the encounter, each time you hit the target you can slide it 1 square.

Are you getting the feeling that Rogues are all about moving nimbly about the battlefield and manuevering the enemy into precisely the position they want them in? You should. The damage code is [3W] + Dex modifier, and this ability has both “Hit” and “Effect” lines. The “Hit” only works if you actually hit the opponent (that is, roll 1d20+8 and equal or exceed the opponent’s Armour Class). The “Effect” always works, so even if you miss the opponent, you’ll be sliding them around for the rest of the combat.

Yes, 4e Rogues really want a Battlemat to be used; I’m sure that you could describe everything without using miniatures, but for my games I think miniatures will be used.

Artful Dodger:
You gain a +3 bonus to AC against opportunity attacks. (Your total bonus is +5 due to Nimble Reaction.)
First Strike: At the start of an encounter, you have combat advantage against any creatures that have not yet acted in the encounter.

Combat Advantage? What does that do? Well, there are a few things that can cause it – in this case, the rogue moving before an opponent – although dropping someone prone can also cause a state of Combat Advantage, or flanking them with an ally. Basically it gives the attacker +2 against someone, and allows some abilities – such as the fearsome Sneak Attack to work!

Rogue Weapon Talent: You gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls when using a dagger (already included).
Sneak Attack: Once per round, when you have combat advantage against an enemy and are using a light blade, a crossbow, ora a sling, your attack against that enemy deals an additional +2d8 points of damage.

In 3e, a first-level rogue would get +1d6 damage from Sneak Attack. In the new shiny world of 4e, it’s +2d6. However, this particular Rogue has a feat (Backstabber) that moves those dice up to d8s, thus the +2d8 damage!

Str 12 [+1], Con 13 [+1], Dex 18 [+4], Int 11 [+0], Wis 10 [+0], Cha 16 [+3]

Halflings gain a +2 bonus to their initial Dexterity and Charisma scores.

Acrobatics +11, Bluff +8, Insight +5, Perception +5, Stealth +9, Thievery +11

Rogues have six trained skills, one of which must be Thievery.

The extra damage dice from your Sneak Attack class feature increases from d6s to d8s (already included).

: Leather.
Weapon: Daggers (10. Your daggers have a range of 5/10 as thrown weapons.
Adventurer’s Kit: This kit includes: a backpack, a bedroll, flint and steel, a belt pouch, two sunrods, ten days worth of trail rations, 50 feet of hempen rope, and a waterskin.
Thieves’ Tools: To use the Thievery skill properly, you need the right picks and pries, skeleton keys, clamps, and so on. Thieves’ tools grant +2 bonus to Thievery checks to open a lock or disarm a trap.
Gold: 25 gp

Notice the range on the daggers: the first figure gives the limit of short range (no penalty to attack), the second figure gives maximum range (some penalty, possibly -2 or -5 to hit if you’re not a short range).

At 2nd level, you gain the following:

Hit Points: Increase to 30; Bloodied: Increase to 15; Healing Surge: Increase to 7.

Level Modifier: Because your new level is an even number, everything that includes one-half your level gets better. Increase your attacks, defenses, initiative, and skill check modifiers by 1 point.

Feat: Halfling Agility: When you use your halfling second chance racial feature, the attacker takes a -2 penalty to the new attack roll.

A-ha! A racial feat that improves one of your racial abilities. A critical on the reroll is still a problem, but it does make it much less likely your Halfling will be hit. Note that the ability can work against any attack, including those of fireballs, domination and the like.

Tumble  Rogue  Utility 2
You tumble out of harm’s way, dodging the opportunistic attacks of your enemies.
Encounter * Martial
Move Action   Personal
Prerequisite: You must be trained in Acrobatics.
Effect: You can shift 3 squares.

Tumble has moved from a skill to being an Encounter ability, although you still need the Acrobatics skill to take it. Shifting 3 squares allows you to move without being attacked. I’m not sure if the effect is set or is a function of your speed – perhaps it is half your movement?

At 3rd level, you gain the following:

Hit Points: Increase to 35; Bloodied: Increase to 17; Healing Surge: Increase to 8.

Note: you don’t get more Healing Surges per day; but the amount you heal increases in proportion to your HP. (the Healing Surge value = ¼ of your full HP, fractions round down).

Bait and Switch   Rogue Attack 3
You strike and weave, causing your foe to lurch forward so that you can duck around him and slip into his space
Encounter * Martial, Weapon
Standard Action   Melee weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: +9 vs Will
Hit: 2d4 + 4 damage. In addition, you switch places with the target and can then shift up to 3 squares

Here we have more bluffing/moving/repositioning tricks. Sure to be lots of fun when you cause your opponent to end up in the middle of all your friends and you’re all ready to attack them.

So, that’s the Halfling Rogue from the Keep on the Shadowfell pregenerated characters. I’m indebted to the good people of EN World who have posted scans and transcribed the stats that I’ve used to comment on.

The Halfling Rogue fulfils the role of the Striker in the party – dealing a lot of damage to a single opponent. This is primarily done by the Sneak Attack power (+2d8 damage for this PC!) which means that this character can deal an average of 18.5 damage even at first level against a flanked target with his At Will ability – compare to the paladin who is likely to be only dealing 9.5 damage per attack. Of course, the Halfling makes himself more vulnerable when doing this, and needs to manuever first before it can be used.

Still, I think whoever plays a Rogue in 4e will find them an entertaining class both on and off the battlefield.




  1. asmor

    Thanks for putting the background colors, made it much easier to read. 🙂

    I love what they’re doing with the rogue. It really gives them their own identity as masters of maneuvering foes around. Beats the hell out of the one-trick ponies they usually end up being (i.e. get into position and sneak attack)


  2. srhall79

    So far, all your comments are in line with my understanding of the game.

    On tumble, the Rogue preview listed the power as shifting one-half your speed, so you’re right there. You might want to point out to your players that the standard shift (a move action) is one square, basically the five foot step of 3E.


  3. charlesatan


    Just to expand on some of your speculations.

    In the Weapons excerpt, weapon-size will be a throwback to 3.0 (not 3.5). Thus a one-handed medium-sized weapon is a two-handed weapon for a halfling (small size).

    In the Tiers excerpt, it has a chart of how many powers one will acquire. Each character class gets 3 dailies at 9th-level and 4 at 20th-level. (Humans start out with an extra at-will power if I’m not mistaken as well.)


  4. charlesatan

    Ooops, was looking at the wrong chart with regards to at-will abilities (which I erroneously confused above as dailies). Humans still start out with an extra at-will. =)


  5. keterys

    I suspect Sly Flourish actually adds your Charisma to damage ([W] + Dex + Cha), at least for the Charisma-based rogue. Positioning Strike is 1 square default, but Charisma squares for the Charisma rogue.

    Tumble is a lot less important for the rogue with the big bonus against opportunity attacks, I found in play.


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