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The first thought I had upon reading about the Swashbuckler from Unearthed Arcana: Waterborne was to create a matador. Unfortunately I was unable to find (after searching through the DMG, MM, and PHB) an equivalent for the cape that a matador uses that felt appropriate.

The Main ideas that I have are:

  • the cape acts as half cover
  • while holding the cape the rogue gets +2 AC
  • while holding the cape the Rogue has advantage on Dex saves and attacks from opponents it can see have disadvantage
  • Rogue can use its reaction to move any unspent movement it has remaining while the cape is equipped
  • You can use your reaction to give a hostile creature that enters within 5 feet of you while this is equipped gains disadvantage on Dexterity and Wisdom saving throws until the next round

So my question is:

  • Which of the above seems to be balanced?

  • Is there any way besides play testing for a month that I could determine if any of these are too powerful for a level 1 rogue to have?

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closed as too broad by Miniman, Purple Monkey, doppelgreener, Wibbs, Tritium21 Jan 30 '16 at 15:53

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think we need a bit more information about what you want here. If all you want is a cape that acts like a shield than why can't you just call it a shield as Dale M mentioned? Does it need to be a magic item? If so, what kind of properties do you want it to have? "Something that's equivalent to a shield" is a shield and gives us nothing else to go on. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Jan 30 '16 at 10:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think so. I think it's a good question, and there may be a few different ideas of how to implement, the best answer will float to the top. \$\endgroup\$ – Escoce Jan 30 '16 at 16:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Equivalent to a shield in utility" does not equal "is mechanically identical to a shield" - but, this question is still a little vague in that it seems to be polling for "ways a cape could be implemented." More direction as to what effects you had in mind would be better. Just defense? Letting you attack back? At least a class of effect would help focus this from being a pure brainstorm. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jan 30 '16 at 21:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ sorry for any inconvenience in my poor wording. Hopefully the edits make it cleaer. \$\endgroup\$ – name moniker Jan 30 '16 at 22:06
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My take on this to fit with the way other class abilities work, is that using the cape should be a bonus action that a player takes to force disadvantage on the opponent until the beginning of your next turn.

Additionally to fit a matador's style, it should able to be used as part of an attack and be taken as an action similar to sleight of hand, to hide a weapon, and as your bonus action take advantage on an attack.

This makes it useful for both defense as well as attack without being overpowered because it limits the player by costing either an action or a bonus action depending on how it's used, and just increases the chance to hit or decreases the chance to be hit.

i.e. Fewer attacks, but more effective ones.

This means it is only useful under the the right circumstances but useless when not.

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Gotta be careful with this one.

You will be adding AC to a class that already benefits from a high enough AC, due to usually high dex modifier and armor. The rogue doesn't have shield proficiency and providing him with the ac bonus from the cape as would the shield do could seriously make the rogue op as you say.

If you really want to go down this road, I would suggest a couple setbacks for using the cape. I'm not sure exactly how, bit I would think about the following:

  • Require proficiency to use cape ( maybe swap a skill proficiency)
  • Require a sleight of hand check to apply the cape bonus to AC if attacked
  • Cape might take damage easily ( example: against fire)
  • Would not be able to add the cape bonus to AC while restrained or else.

Those are some ideas but you should take advice from other people with more experience too. I haven't been along long enough and I might be adapting some rules in a way that would still make the gameplay unbalanced in the end. Nonetheless, it's a start.

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Certainly not RAW, but I would think using a cape like a matador would restrict your damage output since your hands go from stabby-stabby with a sword to flappy-flappy with the cape. Then you could kind of switch between an evasion tank role (particularly if the cape also gave you abilities to distract the enemy and have them tend to focus on you) and a damage dealing role. I'm not familiar with D&D5e rules to be more specific though.

With older D&D editions, I would suggest that using the cape uses up one attack per round while given an evasion armor bonus. Maybe they can stack, so a character with three attacks per round could attack once then spend his other two attacks getting a double evasion bonus, or spend all three attacks attacking, etc.

However, my limited understanding of 5e says you don't get multiple attacks per round normally. Perhaps instead, using the cape for defense this round means A) you didn't use that action to attack, and B) the higher your defense bonus, the lower your attack bonus (or something) next round. Fiddle with the specific amounts as needed for balance.

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Using a cape like a matador feels to me a lot like taking the dodge action. As other answers have indicated, giving the Rogue a piece of equipment that can confers a defensive advantage without any tradeoff seems likely to be unbalancing.

One approach might be a Matador feat that says:

  • If you have taken the Dodge action on your turn,
  • And a creature within 5' misses you with a melee attack,
  • You may use your reaction to make a melee attack against that creature.

That still seems too strong to me.

You can already build something similar using the Martial Adept feat and the Riposte maneuver, so that seems like the right power level to shoot for. I'd be inclined to just do it that way and treat the cape as extra description for how the maneuver is usually pulled off.

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