So to start...I'm a Ninja, stealther, move-in-the-shadows kind of dood. I don't really enjoy any other style of gameplay.
My new PC is getting shipped to my house on the 26th, and I am going to give Rift a try. I haven't played a new MMO in a very long time, mostly due to my current (And incapable) PC. Rift looks interesting. With that said, I did some research and there are two classes that pike my curiosity. Assassin and Nightblade.
Assassin seems pretty generic. Stays in the shadows, stabs stuff with positional requirements, uses poisons, etc.
Nightblade has me a bit confused though. Do they like, change the element of their weapon, or actually blast magic at people from range? Both? That question probably determines if I will play it or not. If it's Stealth-esque and has ranged magical capabilities that sounds like the most fun thing ever. :|
I probably will just play until cap for fun until I can determine through research and personal experience which is more viable for PVE/PVP and go from there. I am (mostly) a PVPer, though.
I think you misunderstood the concept of character development in Rift. I can tell you a little bit about that as not only I am a Rifter, but also a rogue.
Each calling (rogue, warrior, mage, cleric) has 9 souls (classes) at their disposal. The rogue has: Riftstalker, Nightblade, Assassin, Bard, Tactician, Marksman, Ranger, Bladedancer, Saboteur. You can mix and match these to create any spec you want and it will be unique. To be more specific - you pick any 3 of these souls, arrange points and based on that your character can benefit from each soul at the same time. Assassin is a stealth guy, typical rogue - stays in the shadows, ambushes his enemies etc. Nightblade uses elements like fire and shadow to strike from melee as well as from a distance. Combine those 2 souls and you will have your stealther ninja with ranged elemental attacks. In RIFT you can be anything you want - whoever you want to create depends only on you. Have fun experimenting with the souls!
This is the most fun and creative character customization feature I've seen in an MMO. This is RIFT.
To elaborate more the souls in question specifically, Assassin is very much like Subtlety/Assassination style Rogue that utilizes bleeds and poison damage, has a strong PvP toolkit with enhanced stealth and a variety of stuns and disorients. The Nightblade is a magical rogue that, though has some ranged capabilities, is still most effective in melee range, and uses a combination of Fire and Death damage over time and instant effects as their primary source of damage. Both are stealth specs, just different flavors. For example, both souls have "from stealth" attacks that deal more damage and generate more combo points (which, by the way, stay on the rogue, and not the enemy target), but whereas the assassin requires stealth to reach close range to strike from behind, the Nightblade can launch his "surprise" attack from a moderate range.
To clarify on the Nighblade a bit, its primary combo point builders and finishers require melee range, but they have a variety of other supplemental and cooldown attacks, many of them of which are still rotational. You still have spammable ranged abilities, but they deal less damage than your spammable melee abilities. If you're stuck at range, you can rely on casting abilities like Twilight Force and Fiery Spike to close gaps and deal damage from range. (It is worth noting that, last I checked, it is worth keeping 3 stacks of Fiery Spike on a target, but later Nightblade soul points allow you to stack and refresh Fiery Spike after the initial manual application.
And to elaborate more on what Kameis said, it's all about making your own spec (though they'll obviously be the "best" builds out there). I'm quite fond of a hybrid Assassin/Nightblade build that uses a combination of the Death damage from Nightblade and Poison damage from Assassin. It's less effective, but it's a fun build.