Guide for rogues based on covering the bandit camp, starting a family, and swindling other dynasties for every penny they ever earn. Focuses on early game up to citizen.
Rogues are Underpowered!
I've seen several complaints that rogues are under-powered, that they just don't perform as well as crafters and farmers. Well, I have to say I've found the rogue to be the most powerful class in the mid to late game, although they are a bit slower climbing the first four ranks if you start as a Poor Fellow. Rogues are also the best class at combat, and rogue minions are the best minions at combat. Even the most pacifist hillbilly farmer will eventually want to pick up a few ranks of Rogue for the combat bonuses, and the bonus to Dexterity at present applies to all minions as well as family members. This directly contributes to their minion crafting and transport speed; it's basically a free level.
Note that several portions of this guide apply to any character, not just rogues; every character benefits from making flower bouquets at start, getting a wife and promptly siring a child or two, for instance. Take what you can from it and forgive the rest!
So I've convinced you to roll a rogue, and you're staring at the character creation screen. Before your game even begins, I recommend taking a moment and considering your stats.
I generally leave most of the stats at the default of 3, but since I focus on diplomacy and run a merry band of fools I move a point out of strength and into charisma. This improves my chances to marry on my first try, and if you're not going to do a lot of ambushing and assassination strength is not as important.
I should note, however, that there is -another- way to play rogues, for that other way I would instead move a point from intelligence to charisma. This is better if you plan to do a lot of thuggery and bash yourself some skulls. That will cause you goodwill problems down the line, but luckily your loyal minions are all experts at solving goodwill problems...one way or another.
Don't forget Maxim 16: Your name is in the mouth of others. Make sure it has teeth! And once you have a sharp name, a sharp haircut and a sharp outfit, you are ready to go to the cut scene.
The intro video is glitchy for me, so I always skip it, but whether you watch it or not we come to your first moments as a Poor Fellow. Now is a good time to hit the minus button [ - ] a couple times and slow the game down to Slo-Mo so you can take your time and take stock. The game speed adjustment, at least in single player, is your best friend as it allows you to respond to situations that may develop very quickly and require a lot of clicking to take care of.
As a poor fellow, you should have started with 3000 coin, some rags and a house. But wait! In your house are some flowers. The first thing you'll want to do is pop inside and craft a couple of bouquets for the lady you will shortly be seducing to the Dark Side.
Since you likely started in an outlying village, you'll want to click the compass rose in the bottom right and get your bearings. You want to find the closest city entrance with some buildable space near it. The closer you put your Rogue Camp to the city, the more likely your knaves are to build your rep in the busy city districts, netting you better reputation, more reputation and more coin. Start building the camp while you're arranging flowers. They build fast and you only need one or two; you can sell the rest of the stuff in the house after your date.
To More Rags
Now that you have a strategically placed camp nicely on the way and a couple flowers for your next heartbreak, you'll want to pick a date. Preferably choose someone not too far away, who is younger than 20 to maximize fertility. You can often find a level 5+ mate, even at that age, but you don't want to wander the breadth of the map to find the perfect candidate. After all, there's a chance they'll just laugh at your feeble attempts at romance.
You might want to stop at a church along the way and adopt an orphan or two, especially if you have a lot of years per turn (like the default 4). This will give you a leg up in a couple years, but it is definitely a long-term investment.
You may notice that you have a percent chance to succeed at each dating action, and for many actions that percent chance goes up as your date likes you better. If you get turned down, don't worry too much; just do a stealth->perform action to give the bruise a chance to fade, and then try again. Once you've started an affair, use the flowers as they are a high-percent, high-reward action that will move things along quickly.
Once your mate is at 100% attitude towards you, it's time to get married. They should have at least a 90% chance to accept. Most likely, they'll accept. There's a short cutscene, and then your mate teleports to your house, ready to consummate the marriage. You'll have to walk there, unfortunately, and then you'll see a new action in the social panel: make baby. You can only use it when both you and your mate are in the same house, and as you get older and make more children the percent chance of it succeeding diminishes quickly.
While your main characters are busy growing the family, it's time to consider that rogue camp. It should have finished building by now, or at least be close to done. You'll want to immediately hire all the employees you can and set them to perform, and then if you have at least 800 coin you'll want to go to addons->more workers, add two more workers, click addons again to close it, and hire another two workers. You should now have a total of six. Set all of them to juggling. This is a slower way to gain coins, but it has two advantages: it's generally completely legal everywhere, and everybody loves a troupe of performers. They'll gradually improve your reputation all over the map, which will be a powerful tool for later.
OK, so everything is ticking along, and this is generally the point where players start deciding rogues are boring and underpowered. Your jugglers are juggling all over the map, you've got a baby in the oven and while you're not losing money, things are going kind of...slowly. Ready to heat things up a bit? It's time for our first swindle.
At this point if you've been following along you have a rogue camp with 6 employees, and if you couldn't afford six employees, don't worry; just sell the flowers and cloth in your house and maybe do a bit of a dance outside the market and you should have enough. Our trick works best with a full house.
Open the Book of Dynasties (Center top, leftmost icon, looks like a shield) and start hunting for our mark. We're looking for preferably someone with a rogue camp, but at this stage almost anyone will do. Click their faction leader, look in the bottom left for the diplomacy action and open a trade with them.
At this point, you've sunk 1240 coins into building the camp, plus 300 for upgrades, plus 1200 for workers. Your total cost is 2740 coins, and you can't accept any trade worth less than that or you'll quickly wind up broke. The value of your business in trade is....7840! That means you can afford to trade your band of knaves for practically any other business, plus every penny your mark has, plus an alliance, and they'll be grateful for the opportunity.
This is very important: By default, when you demand coins, the checkbox next to the coins is NOT CHECKED. You need to check it yourself before you wreck yourself. Also, don't accept less than a thousand coins and a business, or three thousand coins in cash. If your mark doesn't have that much, you'll need to find someone else.
You'll want to open up the buildings quick-access tab and check out your new business to make sure your employees all get the memo that they're under new management. They sometimes get confused, especially transporters. Just send the dimwits home and reset their route and they'll figure it out.
If you trade for a business you aren't proficient in, that's totally fine; just hire as many employees as you can in it, get the employee addons, hire transporters, and then sell the newly refurbished business to a dynasty that hasn't built anything yet....again, for every penny they've got.
This scheme packs a triple whammy: not only are you giving yourself a vital infusion of raw cash just at the moment when you are most poor, but you are looting your competitors and, because they don't understand how to use the power of knavery properly, stunting their long-term growth. They will begin ambushing all and sundry, becoming universally hated...but as long as you have that alliance you and your minions are protected and you don't have to worry about them.
Depending on how many dynasties you are inclined to swindle, and what sort of deals you were able to strike, you should now have at least one alliance and a bundle of coins. If you sold your last business, you'll want to build another rogue camp. You should have a cash reserve of at least 1200 coins if you've been following along, so now it's time to go to the skill tree (top left, leftmost button) and buy our first rank upgrade.
This gives our children some activities for ages five to fourteen, and lets us drive our workers --not terribly important as our workers don't really "produce" anything and our children are too young just yet. However, the rank upgrade also lets us build a second business.
You might not be able to build a second business immediately. After siring a child, you can send your main characters to a resource node, like a cemetary or a flower grove, and have them harvest raw materials to send to market. You want a node that's close to your house and close to market, and you may want to invest in a carry bag or two if you do that.
Sooner or later though, it's time to build our second rogue camp. This follows the same rules as the first one - preferably close to a city gate, set everyone to juggle rather than auto, max out your workers as quickly as possible. Now we have twelve jugglers roving from town to town telling everyone how awesome we are.
It's not a bad idea to recall both main characters to the home and set them to "Boast about achievements" until the baby is born and it's time to make another one. Their twelve workers should start quickly pouring in some coins thirty at a time, and the extra influence will come in handy soon.
It's not a bad idea to consider multiclassing at this point. Trading your second camp for at least a thousand coin and a croft, craftsman's hut or herb hut will allow you to buy the starting rank of that profession and let you get legal coins faster, at the cost of building your reputation somewhat more slowly...but at this stage coin is probably the limiting factor, so it's well worth considering.
At some point, as your successful swindler prances about the marketplace boasting about how he earned his first title, the poor fellow is going to get mugged by a robber who you are not allied with. You can only ally with robbers owned by a dynasty; the only way to get an unaligned robber to stop mugging you is to buy them out, and that can be expensive.
If you don't want to keep getting mugged every time you wander home to produce another heir, you're going to want to stop by the market and shop in the self-defense aisle. In the Black Market section, a Shadow Dagger is cheap, effective and improves your ability to ambush, assault and rob people...not that a citizen as upstanding as you would ever stoop to such tactics. Why, you've got a whole team of jugglers whose sole job is to tell the world what a fine, upstanding citizen you are.
For the serious knave, nothing quite beats the deluxe model, however. The Poison Dagger is quite expensive but will handily defeat anyone not wearing City Guard Armor. It also makes it much easier to prompt business owners to contribute to the Knaves and Orphans Fund.
However, as any professional hatchetman can tell you, in your day-to-day life nothing quite beats an axe. It's a good compromise between cost and effectiveness and since most NPC's are minimally armed, it still gets the job done.
You'll also want some protective clothing. An ambush specialist can do best with citizens' garb, the better to blend into a crowd; a solicitor is better off with chainmail armor to help convince even the hardest-nosed businessmen that it's really in their best interests to donate; and a really dedicated brawler will also want to invest in a shield to minimize downtime between runs. A politician is generally better off with a Patrician's Garb, as influence makes the world go round and allows you to buy stat bonuses under the Ambition tree.
You may also want a blanket (under clothing) so you get sick less often as they are cheap and effective, and possibly a carry sack (under essentials) or, if you are feeling wealthy, a riding horse (not a regular horse) which will greatly increase your speed and generally makes the game a bit more pleasant. You can also look at various Luxury goods, which generally go in either the Artifact or Neck slots and give various bonuses. I am fond of guard dogs; perception contributes to disease resistance and makes you harder to rob.
All told, expect to pay at least six hundred to a thousand coins to get into fighting shape; fifteen hundred or more is not unreasonable for some heavy muscle.
If you do get sick, you can generally cure yourself with an Urgent Action at an herb hut, or if you are in a hurry you can buy herbal tea (under food), painkillers (under luxury goods), and so on for specific treatments. They may not be a hundred percent effective, however.
Finally, you'll want at least Rogue 2 for the extra stat boost and the ability to set ambushes. The best place to set an ambush is generally near a tier-2 or tier 3 farm or estate farm, so you can rob their high-level goods on the way to market. You can also directly attack their transporter, but be aware the transporter is likely to run away.
If you are going to assassinate the other faction leaders, hold off until at after you reach rank IV. Resident; you still have more swindling to do!