Ah, the glass cannon (TV Tropes warning). How have we not talked about this yet? I mean there she is, big as life and twice as purple, a main character and everything. Our girl Thief sports a pair of daggers, an underwhelming d8 hit die, and some of the worst luck in all of Handbook-World. There is no surer recipe for winding up dead.

Rogues and bards and magi can make some crazy cool characters, but you’ve got to remember: if you’re built like a skirmisher, you need to skirmish. When you’re walking around with leather armor and mediocre hit points, avoiding The Death is all about playstyle. It ought to go without saying, but running in guns blazing with your one big attack will leave you standing next to the big mean thing when it unloads the pain next turn. That is not a good place stand.

Speaking for myself, the math is the real struggle here. I’ll add up the average damage, realize that I can dish out more stabs than Armor McFighterface, and go through this do I or don’t I internal struggle. The good little azata on my shoulder reminds me to bide my time. To spend a turn getting into position. And that sounds perfectly reasonable until the bad little daemon on my other shoulder reminds me that I could go for big damage right now. I could outperform the barbarian, crit for infinity damage, and feel like the biggest badass at the table. I’m pretty sure that daemon just wants to watch me die.

I even have this struggle watching my buddies play. I remember GMing a campaign where a magus pal of mine spent his early levels casting vanish, using stealth, and even resorting to a shortbow (the indignity!) when he didn’t have a safe angle of approach. I’d be sitting there like, “It’s just an ogre! Attack the friggin’ ogre!” But that wasn’t this dude’s style. And you know what? His character survived those vulnerable early levels, and went on to contribute some extremely respectable damage in later stages of the campaign. So my advice is this: when you’re squishy, you maybe want to let the big dumb guy run into the room first. It just takes a little discipline to let it happen.

What do you guys think? Have you ever seen a glass cannon PC try to play like a front line fighter? How’d it work out? Tell us your tales of immolated rogues in the comments!