The Mastermind Would Be The Xanathar's Subclass In D&D
Todd Kenreck: The Mastermind is the Moriarty of the D&D multiverse. I talked to Mike Mearls about this subclass in D&D.
Mike Mearls: There's a couple things that come into play for The Mastermind. First, at their level, you start out with getting a few bonus proficiencies and things like the disguise kit. You pick up some extra languages and as you level up, you become good at reading other people and it becomes much more difficult to like read your mind or use magic to get around your ability to weave convincing lies. When it comes to fighting, when you're directly interacting with other characters, your big benefit is, at third levels of bonus action, you can use the aid another action to help one of your allies but you can be up to 30 feet away from them and still provide it.
Now, the nice thing about that, it means it can apply to an attack especially if you're playing with a party with multiple rogues. You can give a rogue advantage which then gives them their sneak attack when they not might otherwise not get it, so it really captures the idea of like maybe being a master thief, the guild master, the leader of the gang but it also can apply to skill checks because it's just the aid action. The real benefit there to the mastermind is embracing that kind of leader role. The mastermind always has like the insight to help someone else or give them advice or to see the advantage that the other person can take advantage of. It was important to us, this idea that the mastermind, you really feel like you're the mastermind when you're plotting out things and when you're in play portraying your character.
In my own campaign, we have a mastermind rogue and that's exactly what the player does. He'll say like, “Go for the eyes,” or whatever it is, right, or like, “Oh, look. He’s injured here. Hit him there,” or like, “Why? There’s a crack in his armor right over there,” or whatever it is, right, but the idea is portraying it as like the mastermind being observant, being intelligent, being tactical, being able to find those advantages that other people would miss.
I think it really appeals to players who like playing with intelligent character. If you think of someone like the A-team, Hannibal, the leader of the A-team always had a plan, I think that kind of character, if you like playing in that sort of mode, that this is the ideal archetype for you. What I like about it in terms of, compared to the other rogue subclasses is it gives a really distinct feel compared to the other types of rogues that are out there. It's very distinct from the assassin or from the thief with the standard rogue choice for subclass. It really casts you more as a thinking rogue, more lovable con artist type of character.
One of the interesting things of being to provide advantage means you don't necessarily have to mix it up in combat to give the party a benefit. You can be kind of hiding in the back or cowering away or trying to pick someone's pocket or something like that while still making the rest of the party feel like you're really contributing in a fight in a really tangible way that's really helping everyone.
Todd Kenreck: Is this the subclass that Xanathar would be?
Mike Mearls: Probably, yeah. Yeah.
Todd Kenreck: The Mastermind is available in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. That book just went live on dndbeyond.com and the subclass is also available in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. I'm Todd Kenreck. Thank you for watching.