I have a little history with the Arcane Trickster. My friend Don played one in the very first Dungeons & Dragons campaign I ran. Er, well, for a little while anyway. I’m trying to recall the exact chain of events, and I think we had just gotten to the point where he was going to learn the Arcane Trickster class when his character was “disappeared.”

He rejoined the party a few weeks later as the Arcane Trickster, but I don’t recall exactly what he did with his new abilities. In a much later campaign, he reprised his role as the character but took a somewhat different route, with more study and a more moral ambiguity in his pranks. I have a pretty good idea how Arcane Trickster ticks.

Now, in my original writing, I had pegged the prestige class as a Spectral Sneak, but I no longer think that’s the case. Since then, I developed a bit more of “the fool” archetype, and I think the name of the class lends itself quite a bit more in concept than its specific powers (Ranged Legerdemain notwithstanding).

The class itself retains quite a bit of the scholarly-trickster traits necessary to gain entry (Arcana, Decipher Script, knowledge of the mage hand spell, Sneak Attack), and it seems to me that the class falls well within the thematic bounds of the Spectral state. It’s intellectual and subversive. Lots of stuff goes there.

No longer strictly roguelike, and in effect, somewhat leader-like in its pranks. I’m looking forward to reviewing the Divine Prankster from Races of Stone for much the same reasons. As a “fool,” the Arcane Trickster‘s primary skill would be Theatrics, which I think you’ll agree is more appropriate than a more strict interpretation.

Now, this does make the class more bard-like but I don’t see the harm in that. I think the bard needs some expansion in its range of abilities and interpretations. The Third and Fourth Edition bards are pretty weak conceptually. (And mechanically.)