Hello, everyone! Today’s subclass article is a new roguish archetype, the Mountebank. This subclass relies on subverting your foes’ expectations and reaping the benefits that a false reputation can bring, making it a great fit for characters whose backgrounds already include an alter ego or pseudonym that they’ve developed.
Few adventurers enjoy the reputation given to a paladin, the armored knights famed for their oaths of service to the divine and rigid codes of conduct. Naturally, though, with fame also comes pretenders who would try and take advantage of that reputation for their personal gain. Rogues who emulate the Mountebank archetype are deceivers who would simply dress the part of the crusading paladin, enjoying the fame (or infamy) which comes from these real holy warriors’ deeds.
An opponent expecting a foe to follow strict tenets or religious guidelines may be caught by surprise when one of these false paladins begins to fight dirty, giving them an unexpected edge in a fight. However, any web of lies runs the risk of unraveling, and these charlatans might have to answer to the law, or worse, to a higher power, for their fraud. To avoid such a fate, a Mountebank may find themselves recruited into battles with the forces of evil, even if only to maintain their facade.
When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you begin to slip into a persona which you have devised as a false paladin. You gain a holy symbol of a deity of your choice, and you may use a Charisma (Deception) check in place of any Intelligence (Religion) check.
Creatures who would recognize a paladin can attempt a Wisdom (Insight) check to recognize that you are not a true paladin only when given an obvious reason not to believe your false identity. The DC for this check equals 10 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier.
Also starting at 3rd level, you don the armors you have seen paladins wear, and imitate the weapon disciplines which you have known them to practice. You gain proficiency with martial weapons and heavy armor and you may use your Sneak Attack when wielding any martial weapon.
By 9th level, you have developed a skill set to capitalize on your foes’ expectations when facing a paladin. While you are wielding a martial weapon in one hand and a dagger in the other, you gain a +3 shield bonus to your AC.
By 13th level, you have learned to wield what appears to be divine magic, empowering the most unexpected of your combat maneuvers. When you would deal your Sneak Attack damage to a creature, you may choose to roll d8’s instead of d6’s. If you choose to do so, you deal radiant damage with your Sneak Attack instead of the weapon’s damage type.
Crusaders by Opportunity
The narrative behind a Mountebank obtaining what appear to be divine abilities can vary wildly. Below are some possible ways a Mountebank might gain their abilities.
- Some Mountebanks might still be charlatans whose divine strike is a trick, dazzling a foe with smoke and mirrors.
- An evil or deceptive god endows a Mountebank with magical powers at the last second to avoid attracting other gods’ attention in a dramatic power play.
- A god the Mountebank pretended to worship has been watching them all along, granting them a fraction of their conventional followers’ gifts when they begin to genuinely reflect the god’s values.
- A Mountebank may gain the attention of a trickster god who, amused at the confusion left in their wake, has granted them a spark of the divine just to see what would happen.
Work with your Game Master to develop this narrative and how it fits with your own character – developing this turning point in a Mountebank’s career (and properly foreshadowing it) can make their triumphs into the stuff of legend.
Aura of False Expectations
Starting at 17th level, your foes not only assume that you are beholden to a code of conduct, but that your cohort would be as well. Once on their turn, a creature friendly to you within 15 feet of you can deal an extra 4d6 damage to one creature they hit with a melee weapon attack if they have advantage on the attack roll.
They do not need advantage on the attack roll if another enemy of the target is within 5 feet of it, that enemy isn’t incapacitated, and they don’t have disadvantage on the attack roll.
If a creature friendly to you already has a Sneak Attack feature, they cannot use this additional damage and their Sneak Attack in the same turn.
Some artwork © 2015 Dean Spencer, used with permission. All rights reserved.