In my last post I described 5th edition rogues, at least at low levels, as poor excuses for warriors. This may seem a bit harsh but it is only my opinion. It is certainly not the case for 7th edition rogues. In a comment to this post, Soren stated that while rogues were not as good as warriors in combat, a wizard in close combat was simply a dead wizard but not so for rogues. That got me wondering. Was that really true? It is certainly the common assumption; but how do the combat abilities of rogues and wizards stack up in 5th edition and how likely is either type to survive a typical solo adventure where they would be forced to fight at least once.
In 5th edition, wizards are limited to weapons with 2 or fewer dice. This includes all daggers, the manople, foil, baton, piton hammer, crowbar, bagh nakh, quarterstaff, assegai, javelin, very light bow, common sling, chakram, shurikin, war bola, and caltrops. That's actually not a bad assortment of weapons especially considering the starting funds of most delvers; it also includes a good number of missile weapons. The rules state that wizards must only use 2 die weapons, but it does not say that they cannot use two of these at the same time. At a minimum, a wizard can use two banks, getting 4D+6 in combat and only requiring a STR and DEX of 2. At best, a wizard can use two kukri and get 4D+10 in combat requiring a STR and DEX of 12. That's not bad in either case. Even with two banks the wizard should be able to handle a MR 20 monster single handed. Keep in mind that there is also nothing saying that a wizard cannot use poison to increase the effectiveness of these weapons. It is also important to remember, there is no limit on armor or shields for wizards in T&T. A wizard with enough money (and strength) can deck himself out in plate armor and carry a tower shield is he or she so chooses. The wizards of T&T need not rely on the protection of warriors, nor should they.
Now, what about the combat ability of rogues? They have no restriction on which weapons they can use just like warriors meaning they can use whatever they want in the lists as long as they have the money, strength, and dexterity. But what does that mean really? Will the rogue necessarily have a much higher strength or dexterity than the wizard? How many more dice and adds can the rogue bring to bear than the wizard? One most likely, maybe two. This lack of a difference is most evident at low levels. Rogues get the same use out of armor that wizards do, so they are completely even on that front.
What do wizards have that rogues do not in 5th edition? Ten spells. Starting wizards can blast their enemies to smithereens, freeze them in place, briefly enchant their own weapons doubling their effectiveness, panic their enemies so that they flee, locate hidden objects or invisible monsters, open locked doors, magically lock doors, make magical light without need for torches or lanterns, and detect the presence of magic. Oh, they can also enchant a piece of wood so that their spells require less strength to cast. True they also have a spell that allows them to teach spells to rogues, but why do that? That would cut down their edge. It is true that in 5th edition wizard spells are powered by strength and this can be a problem if the wizard is suddenly forced into combat. But it's all about being smart and conserving your strength, especially when you are delving alone. Use spells only when they will do the most good, otherwise save your strength and rely on your daggers.
Like Soren I had considered wizard useless in combat and therefore lost causes when it came to solo delving. I'm not so sure any more. As long as the mechanics of the solo allow magic to be used, a wizard should be able to survive as equally as a rogue or even a warrior. Well, most of the time.