Rouge dnd

Dungeons & Dragons 5E rogue class explained

Doing crimes isn’t inherently cool. But, in Dungeons & Dragons 5E, being a rogue and doing crimes is. (Disclaimer: please don’t actually do any crimes.)

Rogues have an innate sense of capability and cunning about them. They’re better than other D&D character classes (compare how they all stack up in our Dungeons & Dragons 5E class guide), and they know it. Having access to such a wide range of skills and confidently slipping around their foes’ clumsy attacks grants the rogue class an element of smugness that’s rightfully theirs.

Despite our earlier statement about crime being cool (but actually not cool), rogues don’t necessarily have to apply their talents to the criminal arts. However, thanks to their natural affinity for stealth, rogues are at their best when skulking through darkened streets or lurking amongst the shadows.

Rogues don’t give out their damage in waves, like some of D&D’s other martial combat classes (e.g. the barbarian or fighter). No, the rogue’s approach to combat is all about choosing the right time to strike and hitting where it hurts. They’re certainly not the biggest team player of the bunch, but they more than make up for it with the sheer number of useful skills they bring to the party.

For now, let’s have a look at what rogues have got to work with at first level.

Choosing your rogue skills, equipment, and expertise

When creating a rogue, those aforementioned useful skills come into play from the very start, as the first thing you do is to select four skills to gain proficiency in. If you’re unsure what proficiency exactly means, go and have a gander at our tips on how to create a Dungeons & Dragons 5E character. Otherwise, you can choose to gain proficiency in acrobatics, athletics, deception, insight, intimidation, investigation, perception, performance, persuasion, sleight of hand and stealth.

Dungeons & Dragons 5e Players Handbook artwork 9

With such a large pool of skills to choose from, it might be hard to suss out what’s going to work best. It does help to have a good think about the way you think your rogue likes to go about things. Do they climb city ramparts and leap onto rooftops to run away from suspicion? Consider taking some acrobatics and athletics. Are they con artists with the gift of the gab and twitchy fingers? Then grab some proficiency in persuasion and sleight of hand. Of course, with the ability to take four skills you could just build your rogue in either of the above ways, or simply focus on giving them as well-rounded a skillset as possible.

Whatever skills you choose are then further developed through the Expertise ability, which allows you to gain a double proficiency bonus in either two of your selected skills or one skill and a set of thieves’ tools. Thieves’ tools are included in one of the equipment sets you’ll get (more on that in a bit), and are essentially an assortment of items that’ll allow you to break into places you’re not supposed to go (amongst other things). Crucially, they contain a set of lockpicks, which happen to be incredibly handy even if you’re not planning on breaking-and-entering for the express purposes of theft. Which is why it might be a good idea to forgo that extra proficiency bonus on a skill, in favour of gaining proficiency in thieves’ tools. Obviously, the choice depends on whether you want your rogue to be the sleuthing type, or something a little more smash ’n’ grab.

The last choice you’ll be making at first level is what equipment you want to take. Rogues are proficient in a surprisingly wide array of weaponry, including ranged weapons like hand crossbows and more melee-focused affairs like longswords and rapiers, so you’ve got your pick of the bunch when it comes to martial equipment. You will have to choose between the (a) and (b) options of each equipment set but, no matter what you pick, you’ll be getting a melee weapon regardless. It’s whether you want to double up on the melee weapons or dabble a little in ranged weaponry that will decide if you take the shortsword or shortbow.

Dungeons & Dragons 5e Players Handbook artwork 5

From there, it’s a simple case of selecting your pack of choice between the burglar’s pack, dungeoneer’s pack, or explorer’s pack. The burglar’s pack rather speaks for itself; expect tools that enable you to access forbidden places - a hammer, crowbar and so on. The dungeoneer’s pack is rather similar to the burglar’s pack, except you get a little more general versatility with some torches and rope. The explorer’s pack leans even more into this versatility aspect, by providing a mess kit and bedroll alongside the torches. It’s not exactly the most important choice you’ll make when creating your rogue, but it’s certainly worth pondering over a bit.

What is Sneak Attack in D&D 5E?

Sneak Attack is the rogue’s signature move. They gain access to it straight away, and continue to hone the ability with every level reached, making it one of the most powerful tools in their deadly arsenal.

A standard attack can be pulled off using our guide to how to create a Dungeons & Dragons 5E character, otherwise a Sneak Attack enables you to deal an extra d6’s worth of damage to your opponents, which is already a pretty impressive amount at level one, but it will eventually go all the way up to rolling 10d6 - or ten six-sided dice - at 20th level. This ability is a really great way of laying on some heavy damage in just a single hit, potentially removing an enemy from the battlefield before they even have a chance to act.

How to use sneak attack

Certain prerequisites need to be met before you can actually perform a Sneak Attack.

If you have advantage on an attack roll then you can use Sneak Attack on an enemy your character successfully hits. Otherwise, you’ll need to have at least one ally standing five feet or less from your intended target. That ally needs to be threatening that target, and you cannot have disadvantage on your current attack roll (also, the enemy cannot be incapacitated). If all these criteria are met, then you’ll be able to perform Sneak Attack on the enemy in question. Be aware, though - you can only use Sneak Attack once per turn.

Using Cunning Action, Uncanny Dodge and Evasion

Being as slippery as an eel, rogues have the ability to manoeuvre out of harm’s way, mostly.

You’ll experience this first bout of slipperiness with at second level, with the Cunning Action ability. A player’s turn in Dungeons & Dragons 5E usually involves a standard action, a move action and a bonus action. Now, bonus actions are rarely that useful. However, with Cunning Action, your rogue will be able to use their bonus action to either Dash, Disengage or Hide.

  • Dashing allows you to take double your movement speed. Meaning, that if your movement was just 30 feet, you could actually move 60 feet in a single turn.
  • Disengage enables you to move without provoking any attacks of opportunity. If you haven't got a clue as to what an ‘attack of opportunity’ is, have the Dungeons & Dragons 5E terms explained to you in our handy jargon-buster.
  • Hide gives you the chance to roll a stealth ability check to attempt to hide in the midst of battle, which makes enemies roll at a disadvantage whenever they try to attack you.

Having access to these bonus actions makes your rogue more dexterous in combat, able to bounce and sneak across the battlefield, all whilst avoiding any hits in-between.

This level of combat dexterity further increases when you hit level five and you gain access to the Uncanny Dodge ability. If an enemy does happen to land a hit on you, with Uncanny Dodge you can use that turn’s reaction to half the damage you receive. Either way, Uncanny Dodge enables you to reduce at least one hit’s worth of damage, sometimes down to a single point.

Dungeons & Dragons 5e Players Handbook artwork 11

Your final method of evasion is called… Evasion, literally. This talent emerges at seventh level, and despite being a tad more specific than Uncanny Dodge, is arguably more useful. During your journey through the dangerous world of D&D, you’ll likely encounter various area-of-effect spells, which may require you to make a successful dexterity saving throw in an attempt to take only half damage (roll a d20 and add your saving throw modifier). However, with Evasion, a success won’t just half the damage you receive, it’ll reduce it down to a tidy zero sum, potentially turning a complete disaster into a mere trifle. When you consider that dexterity will likely be one of your rogue’s highest ability scores, there’s probably a good chance that evasion will come in useful.

Choosing your rogue’s archetype

As with all of Dungeons & Dragons’ classes, third level means choosing which subclass you want your character to specialise in.

In this case, you’ll be picking from the three roguish archetypes featured in the Dungeons & Dragons 5E Player’s Handbook. There are other roguish archetypes out there, no doubt about it, but they’re either consigned to specific Wizards of the Coast source books such as Xanathar’s Guide to Everything - one of the best sourcebooks for Dungeons & Dragons 5E - or floating around the murky waters of D&D 5E homebrew content. So we’ll be sticking to the standard rogue stuff, at least for now.

The roguish archetype you choose will widen your pool of nefarious talents, but will also set your character on a particular path, one that’ll either emphasize a certain approach to combat or how they interact with the world at large (sometimes both). Whatever archetype you set your heart on, you’ll be shaping your rogue in a surprisingly unique way, as roguish archetypes differ more than you’d think.

Thief archetype

Dungeons & Dragons 5e Players Handbook artwork 8

The thief archetype is the odd duck of the group, concentrating more on weird little talents that have some utility over any significant level improvements.

As the name suggests, this archetype pushes your rogue down the more larcenous (an excellent word) path of criminality. If you’ve already selected proficiency in thieves tools over an additional proficiency in another skill, then this archetype might be just what you’re looking for.

In fact, the very first talent you get actually utilises the thieves’ tools. Fast Hands enables you to use the bonus action you get from the Cunning Action ability (granted at second level), to also make a sleight of hand check, disarm a trap or open a lock (using the thieves’ tools), or use an object. This talent gives your rogue options beyond just saving their own skin, potentially opening up new paths when you and your party most needs it.

If you were imagining your rogue as an Indiana Jones type, then the thief archetype leans heavily into bringing this dream to light. Second-Story Work (gained at third level) and Supreme Sneak (gained at ninth level), are both very evocative of the traditional ruins-explorer toolset, as they boost your ability to climb, jump and sneak. What’s more, with the talent Use Magic Device, your rogue will be able to pick up the treasures they find and improvise using them, regardless of which class, race or level they’re intended for. Which is fun.

Assassin archetype

If you’re more interested in creating a damage-dealing rogue, perhaps consider taking the assassin archetype instead. Assassins are your traditional cut-throats, geared towards causing as much harm in as little time as possible. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that their repertoire is limited only to stabbing, slashing and shooting from the shadows. Assassins are also masters of disguise and deception, lulling their enemies into a false sense-of-security before actually doing the stabbing/slashing/shooting.

This can be seen in the bonus proficiencies in disguise and poisoner’s kits that assassins instantly receive, which enable the user to fool and weaken their chosen targets before the inevitable flash of the knife. These abilities are further fed by the Inflation Expertise (gained at ninth level) and Imposter talents (gained at 13th level), wherein rogues can confidently create false identities or expertly pretend to be another person. These talents prove incredibly useful when having to set up certain favourable situations for your D&D party, like scouting out an otherwise inaccessible location or trying to escape a particular dangerous individual.

Dungeons & Dragons 5e Players Handbook artwork 1

Where assassins really shine is in their mastery of the stealth kill. They’re immediately gifted with the Assassinate talent, which allows the player to roll advantage whenever they’re attacking an enemy that hasn’t yet taken their turn during combat. Additionally, whenever you successfully hit a surprised enemy (an enemy that isn’t yet in combat), your rogue gets to deal out all the benefits of a critical hit. Combine this talent with the already powerful Sneak Attack, and you’ve potentially got a character that’s built to instantly take out enemies.

Arcane Trickster archetype

Whereas the assassin uses a figurative kind of magic to confound their enemies, arcane tricksters use literal magic to bamboozle their unfortunate targets. Through some bizarre twist of fate, come third level and your rogue can suddenly employ the sorcerous arts to beguile and bewitch.

Taking the arcane trickster archetype grants you access to the wizard’s spell-list, which ourDungeons & Dragons wizard class guide covers, with each ascending level granting your rogue new opportunities to learn spells in the Enchantment and Illusion schools of magic. For reference as to how many spells you can learn and cast each level, have a look at the table shown on page 98 of the D&D 5E Player’s Handbook. As your rogue hits the higher levels, they’ll get select opportunities to take spells outside of the Illusion and Enchantment schools as well. This is the big draw of the arcane trickster; the sheer potential for creating a rogue holding the exact tools they need (more or less).

Alongside this, you’ll also get some universal arcane trickster talents that allow your rogue to do some nifty little things. For example, every arcane trickster has a unique version of the classic Mage Hand cantrip, which enables them to use that spell to steal things from other people (something that the standard version of Mage Hand doesn’t otherwise allow). Mage Hand only gets more wild with the Versatile Trickster talent gained at 13th level, where your rogue can use the spell to actively distract opponents on the battlefield.

What race should I play as a rogue?

Despite having somewhat answered this question in our guide to how to choose the right character race in Dungeons & Dragons 5E, we figured we’d address it a little more directly here.

Elves are a particularly excellent choice of race if you intend to make a rogue, as they’re naturally dexterous (ability score increase to dexterity), have Darkvision and proficiency in perception. The wood elf subrace grants even more opportunities for your rogue to run-and-hide, whereas the high elf could make an excellent arcane trickster.

Halfling also a great choice of race for making a rogue, for similar reasons as elves are. They benefit from an increase to dexterity, as well as the nimbleness trait; which allows you to move through the space of another creature that’s larger than you. On top of this, the lightfoot subrace of halflings can also hide behind creatures larger them. Giving them even more potential to skulk and sneak.

Dungeons & Dragons 5e Players Handbook artwork 13

Another small race, that also happens to be a suitable choice for playing the rogue class, are gnomes. Gnomes have the Darkvision ability, but more importantly, the forest subrace get an increase to their dexterity ability score. Surprisingly, enough being small helps with being unnoticed.

These are just from the selection of standard races provided in the D&D 5E Player’s Handbook; there are plenty more options available in Wizards of the Coast’s other D&D source books such as Xanathar’s Guide to Everything or in the myriad of homebrew content out there.

This guide should give you (almost) everything you need to create the rogue of your dreams. Where you go from there, is entirely up to you and the adventure your rogue goes on. But what if the rogue class isn’t actually for you? Conflicted about what class to play? Perhaps having the other Dungeons & Dragons 5E character classes explained might clear things up for you.


Dungeons & Dragons: All Official Rogue Subclasses, Ranked

By Patrick TierneyUpdated


Players can choose between several main rogue archetypes with varying abilities and traits. However, not all subclasses are made equal.

Formerly known as the Thief, the Rogue of the Dungeons & Dragons universe is part of the game's earliest foundations. Every roleplaying game, including the big ones that everyone plays online, has some variation of this favorite class. It's highly customizable, fits into virtually any backstory you could create for one, and you can fill virtually any role in the party. Not to mention any combination of skill set can work with the Rogue, just start with a high Dexterity rating and go from there.

RELATED: Dungeons & Dragons: Best Feats For A Rogue

Rogues are perfect for Dungeons & Dragons players who want to play a martial character with a little more subtlety than your average lumbering fighter. However, not all Rogues are created equally. Players can choose between five main archetypes with varying abilities and traits. We've made it a bit easier for you to choose which rogue subclass is better for you by ranking them.

Updated July 23, 2021, by Kristy Ambrose: The versatility of the Rogue has ensured its popularity and several more subclasses have been developed in honor of the class. The official D&D source materials currently list nine official Rogue subclasses, but if we included homebrew options and some of the experimental builds from Unearthed Arcana, there would be several more. Remember that your choice of Feats and Skills is also important when customizing your character and choosing the best Rogue subclass.

9 Mastermind

  • Source: Xanathar's Guide to Everything
  • Main Benefits: Master of Tactics, you can use the Help action as a bonus action.
  • Ideal Skills or Feats: Dungeon Delving
  • Party Role: Defense, Damage

The Mastermind archetype starts out by giving you a bunch of abilities that can also be gained by a combination of backgrounds and feats, making it less popular than others. You get the ability to use the Help action as a bonus action, which isn't bad but is pretty low on the list of useful things Rogues can also do with a bonus action. Plenty of Rogues are good at things like infiltration and disguise while also being useful at anything else.

Most of the higher-level abilities are useful almost exclusively in intrigue campaigns. Paired with Dungeon Delver, it can also be useful in a campaign that focuses on dungeon crawls.

8 Inquisitive

  • Source: Xanathar's Guide to Everything
  • Main Benefits: Grants bonuses to Insight, Perception, and Investigation skills.
  • Ideal Skills or Feats: Insight, Perception
  • Party Role: Defense, Damage

The Inquisitive archetype lets you see things incredibly well. It gives you many bonuses to Insight, Perception, and Investigation skills, and allows you to sense the magic that is designed to fool your senses. The only other ability you have is the ability to get free sneak attacks against a creature for a minute if your Insight roll beats their Deception roll. This is pretty good, but it doesn't make a whole subclass on its own.

Perception, Insight, and some of this subclass's skills and abilities are all Wisdom-based, so this class doesn't mesh well with the standard Rogue stats of Dexterity, Charisma, and Intelligence. It still is probably a better choice for an intriguing campaign than the Mastermind archetype though.

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7 Swashbuckler

  • Source: Xanathar's Guide to Everything
  • Main Benefits: Fancy Footwork, the ability that allows you to attack your opponent but not land any hits.
  • Ideal Skills or Feats: Defensive Duelist, Heavily Armored
  • Party Role: Defense

Swashbuckler really should be a better subclass. It's the type of Errol Flynn-esque archetype who thinks the only good type of rogue is a dashing Rogue. However, while it has a strong theme of Defense and is one of the few Rogue builds that fill this role, it doesn’t have cohesive abilities.

You can taunt people, take your turn quicker, and duel enemies one-on-one. Having another method to sneak attack is always good for a rogue, but using it can depend on the type of encounters your DM likes to create. Many abilities require you to build your rogue as a tank, which is possible, but not easy. Unfortunately, though it's a fun subclass, it comes across as a bad Bard.

6 Scout

  • Source: Xanathar's Guide to Everything
  • Main Benefits: Survivalist, you have two new skills and Expertise in both of them, giving you Expertise in a total of four things.
  • Ideal Skills or Feats: Alert
  • Party Role: Damage

This is one of the better options for a no-frills ranged damage Rogue, which edges out the melee-focused Swashbuckler because you will be hit much less. The bonus you get on Initiative is actually useful since you give a full round of advantage against the first creature you hit to your entire party. You can also use your reaction to stay away from enemies that rush you, leaving you free to rain damage from afar.

RELATED: Dungeons & Dragons: All Official Ranger Subclasses, Ranked

The extra proficiencies in Nature and Survival are most useful in a wilderness-heavy campaign, but extra proficiencies are good for any rogue. This subclass makes for a good choice for any adventure and a great choice in an adventure full of Outlanders and Rangers.

5 Phantom

  • Source: Tasha's Cauldron of Everything
  • Main Benefits: Soul Trinkets; the Phantom gathers trinkets when creatures die nearby, then spends those trinkets for extra damage or to ask dead creatures questions.
  • Ideal Skills or Feats: Magic Initiate, Shadow Touched
  • Party Role: Damage

The Phantom subclass is one way that a non-spellcasting class can also have access to casting abilities, in this case, those of a Cleric. This Rogue subclass doesn't borrow from another class but instead has a few abilities that seem to reflect the same aesthetic.

The Phantom is aptly named because this subclass actually has the ability to turn into a ghost. They can also do necrotic damage on top of regular melee damage, making them a deadly member of your party.

4 Arcane Trickster

  • Source: D&D Player's Handbook
  • Main Benefits: Spellcasting, although limited to Illusion and Enchantment.
  • Ideal Skills or Feats: Spell Sniper
  • Party Role: Damage

This archetype turns rogues into a “half-caster” class. Basically, it allows you to use a few spells in addition to your normal rogue abilities. You can also get a few other abilities, such as an invisible Mage Hand, which lets you pickpocket from across a room, and the ability to ambush enemies with spells. However, the main benefit is the spells.

Illusion spells and Find Familiar (which can be exploited to allow you to sneak attack every turn) can greatly increase your game, and the ability to steal the knowledge of other people’s spells is just icing on the cake. If you enjoy playing half-casters and rogues, this is the perfect subclass for you.

RELATED: Dungeons & Dragons: All Official Druid Subclasses, Ranked Worst To Best

3 Assassin

  • Source: D&D Player's Handbook
  • Main Benefits: Bonuses in Infiltration and Assassination.
  • Ideal Skills or Feats: Actor, Observant, Alert
  • Party Role: Damage

The Assassin Rogue subclass is exactly what it sounds like. It allows you to do two typically Rogue-ish things very well, which deal a lot of damage to people who don’t expect it and infiltrate places through impersonation.

While you might not be as great in open combat, your ability to infiltrate non-violently will be a great asset. Your ability to take enemies down by surprise and even kill them outright in one hit will ensure that you’re not useless in fights either. The subclass is elegant in its simplicity and is possibly the best intrigue Rogue on the list.

2 Soul Knife

  • Source: Tasha's Cauldron of Everything
  • Main Benefits: Use a pool of Psionic Energy dice to wield Psionic Powers.
  • Ideal Skills or Feats: Martial Adept, Eleven Accuracy
  • Party Role: Damage

Every class has a psionic option these days, and for Rogues, it's the Soul Knife. What makes this subclass unique is the use of Psionic Energy dice that are used to determine how you wield your powers. The nice thing about these dice rolls is that they're low risk, unlike other certain rolls, and you can store the better ones to use for later.

Psychic Blades is the ability that defines this subclass. It allows you to use your weapons at both melee and ranged distance, which is a handy combat ability, to say the least. Rend Mind, an ability that comes at higher levels, is a handy mind control spell that makes dangerous opponents a lot easier to kill.

1 Thief

  • Source: D&D Player's Handbook
  • Main Benefits: Fast Hands; using an item as a Bonus Action can include cantrips, healer's kits, or attacks with certain items.
  • Ideal Skills or Feats: Alert, Observant
  • Party Role: Damage

This is the subclass for players who want to play a real Rogue, with all the thievery, pickpocketing, lockpicking, and backstabbing possible. It might not be the best in combat, but it embodies all of the reasons why most people chose to play a Rogue.

Various abilities make you better at climbing, sneaking, and disarming traps in a split second. At higher levels, you can also use magic items no matter who you steal them from, and you can even take two turns on your first round of combat. Overall, you’re still just a rogue, but better.

NEXT: Dungeons & Dragons: Every Official Monk Subclass, Ranked


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 Class Features[]

Rogues might be ruthless criminals, sly tricksters, deadly assassins, or good hearted thieves who steal from the rich and give to the poor. Whichever way you decide to play one, you're guaranteed to have a number of tricks to help you achieve your goals.

Saving Throws[]

Hit Points[]

  • Hit Dice: 1d8 per rogue level
  • Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
  • Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per rogue level after 1st.


  • Armor: Light Armor
  • Weapons: Simple weapons, hand crossbows, longswords, Rapiers, Shortswords
  • Tools: Thieves' Tools
  • Skills: Choose four from Acrobatics, Athletics, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Investigation, Perception, Performance, Persuasion, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth.


You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • (a) a rapier or (b) a shortsword
  • (a) a shortbow and quiver of 20 arrows or (b) a shortsword
  • (a) a burglar’s pack, (b) a dungeoneer’s pack, or (c) an explorer’s pack
  • Leather armor, two daggers, and thieves’ tools

Leveling Up[]

Level Proficiency Bonus Sneak Attack Value Features
1 +2 1d6 Expertise, Sneak Attack, Thieves' Cant
2 +2 1d6 Cunning Action
3 +2 2d6 Roguish Archetype
4 +2 2d6 Ability Score Improvement
5 +3 3d6 Uncanny Dodge
6 +3 3d6 Expertise
7 +3 4d6 Evasion
8 +3 4d6 Ability Score Improvement
9 +4 5d6 Roguish Archetype Feature
10 +4 5d6 Ability Score Improvement
11 +4 6d6 Reliable Talent
12 +4 6d6 Ability Score Improvement
13 +5 7d6 Roguish Archetype Feature
14 +5 7d6 Blindsense
15 +5 8d6 Slippery Mind
16 +5 8d6 Ability Score Improvement
17 +6 9d6 Roguish Archetype Feature
18 +6 9d6 Elusive
19 +6 10d6 Ability Score Improvement
20 +6 10d6 Stroke of Luck


Sneak Attack[]

You know how to strike subtly and exploit a foe’s distraction. Once per turn, you can deal extra 1d6 damage to one creature you hit with an attack if you have Advantage on the attack roll. The attack must use a finesse or a ranged weapon. As you gain levels, the amount of damage increases, as shown on the level table.

  • You don't need Advantage on the attack roll if another enemy of the target is within 5 feet of it, that enemy isn't incapacitated, and you don't have Disadvantage on the attack roll.
  • Rogues typically only get one Sneak Attack per round of combat. However if some circumstance or feature allows them to react during another creature's turn, such as an Attack of Opportunity, the Battlemaster's Commander’s Strike, or the Thief Archetype's "Thief's Reflexes", and all other qualifications are met, the Rogue may get a second or third Sneak Attack during a single round of combat.


At 1st level, choose two of your skill proficiencies, or one of your skill proficiencies and your proficiency with thieves' tools. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses either of the chosen proficiencies.

At 6th level, you can choose two more of your proficiencies (in skills or with thieves tools) to gain this benefit.

Thieves' Cant[]

During your rogue training you learned thieves’ cant, a secret mix of dialect, jargon, and code that allows you to hide messages in seemingly normal conversation. Only another creature that knows thieves’ cant understands such messages. It takes four times longer to convey such a message than it does to speak the same idea plainly. In addition, you understand a set of secret signs and symbols used to convey short, simple messages, such as whether an area is dangerous or the territory of a thieves’ guild, whether loot is nearby, or whether the people in an area are easy marks or will provide a safe house for thieves on the run.

Cunning Action[]

Starting at your second level,your quick thinking and agility allow you to move and act quickly. You can take a Bonus Action on each of your turns in combat. This action can be used only to take the Dash, Disengage, or Hide action.

Roguish Archetypes[]

At 3rd level, you choose an archetype that you emulate in the exercise of your rogue abilities:

Ability Score Improvement[]

When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 10th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two Ability Scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature. Alternately you can take a [[6]] in place of your Ability Score Improvement.

Uncanny Dodge[]

Starting at 5th level, when an attacker that you can see hits you with an Attack, you can use your Reaction to halve the attack's damage against you.

  • Only damage resulting from attack rolls such as melee attacks, ranged attacks, or spells with attack rolls (i.e. firebolt, guiding bolt) qualify for Uncanny Dodge.
  • Due to the restriction of using your Reaction, only one attack per round can qualify for Uncanny Dodge.


Beginning at 7th level, you can nimbly dodge out of the way of certain area effects, such as a red dragon's fiery breath or an Ice Storm spell. When you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, you instead take no damage if you succeed on the saving throw, and only half damage if you fail.

Reliable Talent[]

By 11th level, you have refined your chosen skills until they approach perfection. Whenever you make an ability check that lets you add your proficiency bonus, you can treat a d20 roll of 9 or lower as a 10.


Starting at 14th level, if you are able to hear, you are aware of the location of any hidden or Invisible creature within 10 feet of you.

Slippery Mind[]

By 15th level, you have acquired greater mental strength. You gain proficiency in Wisdom saving throws.


Beginning at 18th level, you are so evasive that attackers rarely gain the upper hand against you. No Attack roll has advantage against you while you aren't Incapacitated.

Stroke of Luck[]

At 20th level, you have an uncanny knack for succeeding when you need to. If your Attack misses a target within range, you can turn the miss into a hit. Alternatively, if you fail an ability check, you can treat the d20 roll as a 20. Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you finish a Short or Long Rest.

Roguish Archetypes[]

Rogues have many features in common, including their emphasis on perfecting their skills, their precise and deadly approach to combat, and their increasingly quick reflexes. But different rogues steer those talents in varying directions, embodied by the rogue archetypes. Your choice of archetype is a reflection of your focus; not necessarily an indication of your chosen profession, but a description of your preferred techniques. Choose between Assassin, Thief, Arcane Trickster, Scout, and Swashbuckler.


You focus your training on the grim art of death. Those who adhere to this archetype are diverse hired killers, spies, bounty hunters, and even specially anointed priests trained to exterminate the enemies of their deity. Stealth, poison, and disguise help you eliminate your foes with deadly efficiency.

Bonus Proficiencies[]

  • You gain proficiency with the disguise kit and the poisoner’s kit.


Starting at 3rd level, you are at your deadliest when you get the drop on your enemies. You have Advantage on attack rolls against any creature that hasn’t taken a turn in the combat yet. In addition, any hit you score against a creature that is surprised is a critical hit.

  • For reference, creatures that are "Surprised" can't move or take actions on their first turn of combat if they fail to notice approaching threats. This is done by comparing the Dexterity (stealth) checks of those hiding to the Wisdom (perception) checks of those not at the start of combat.

Infiltration Expertise[]

Starting at 9th level, you can unfailingly create false identities for yourself. You must spend seven days and 25 gp to establish the history, profession, and affiliations for an identity. You can't establish an identity that belongs to someone else. For example, you might acquire appropriate clothing, letters of introduction, and official-looking certificates to establish yourself as a member of a trading house from a remote city so you can insinuate yourself into the company of other wealthy merchants. Thereafter, if you adopt the new identity as a disguise, other creatures believe you to be that person until given an obvious reason not to.


At the 13th level, you gain the ability to unerringly mimic another person's speech, writing, and behavior. You must spend at least three hours studying these three components of the person's behavior, listening to speech, examining handwriting, and observing mannerisms. Your ruse is indiscernible to the casual observer. If a wary creature suspects something is amiss, you have advantage on any Charisma (deception) check you make to avoid detection.

Death strike[]

Starting at the 17th level, you become a master of instant death. When you attack and hit a creature that is surprised, it must make a Constitution saving throw (DC 8 + your Dexterity modifier + your proficiency bonus.) On a failed save, double the damage of your attack against the creature.



You hone your skills in the larcenous arts. Burglars, bandits, cutpurses, and other criminals typically follow this archetype, but so do rogues who prefer to think of themselves as professional treasure seekers, explorers, delvers, and investigators. In addition to improving your agility and stealth, you learn skills useful for delving into ancient ruins, reading unfamiliar languages, and using magic items you normally couldn’t employ.

Fast Hands[]

Starting at 3rd level, you can use the bonus action granted by your Cunning Action to:

  1. Make a Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check
  2. Use your thieves’ tools to disarm a trap or open a lock.
  3. Take the Use an Object action.

Second-Story Work[]

When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you gain the ability to climb faster than normal; climbing no longer costs you extra movement. In addition, when you make a running jump, the distance you cover increases by a number of feet equal to your Dexterity modifier.

Supreme Sneak[]

Starting at 9th level, you have advantage on a Dexterity (Stealth) check if you move no more than half your speed on the same turn.

Use Magic Device[]

By 13th level, you have learned enough about the workings of magic that you can improvise the use of items even when they are not intended for you. You ignore all class, race, and level requirements on the use of magic items.

Thief's Reflexes[]

When you reach 17th level, you have become adept at laying ambushes and quickly escaping danger. You can take two turns during the first round of any combat. You take your first turn at your normal initiative and your second turn at your initiative minus 10. During each of those separate turns, you get an action and a bonus action, totaling two of each on your first round of combat. Because these are considered two separate turns, you may also Sneak Attack per the normal rules (if eligible) on each turn. That said, you can’t use this feature when you are surprised.


Arcane Trickster[]

Some rogues enhance their fine-honed skills of stealth and agility with magic, learning tricks of enchantment and illusion. These rogues include pickpockets and burglars, but also pranksters, mischief-makers, and a significant number of adventurers.


Arcane Tricksters gain the ability to cast Wizard spells to enhance their abilities, trick their foes, and defend themselves more effectively.

  • Cantrips: You learn three cantrips: Mage Hand and two other cantrips of your choice from the wizard spell list. At 10th level you learn another cantrip from the wizard spell list.
  • Spells Known: You know three 1st level wizard spells of your choice, two of which you must choose from the enchantment and illusion spells on the wizard spell list. The third can be from any school of magic.
    • Thereafter you learn another spell at levels 4, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 19, and 20.
    • The spells you learn at 8th, 14th, and 20th level can come from any school of magic.
    • Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of the wizard spells you know with another spell of your choice from the wizard spell list (of a level you can cast).
  • Spellcasting Ability: Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for your wizard spells, since you learn your spells through dedicated study and memorization. You use your Intelligence whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. Your spell saving throw DC is 8+ your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier. Your spell attack bonus is your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier.
  • Spell Slots: You start with two 1st level spell slots at Rogue level 3, and gain more as you gain more Rogue levels.
Level Cantrips Spells


-- Spell Slots --
1st 2nd 3rd 4th
3rd 3 3 2 - - -
4th 3 4 3 - - -
7th 3 5 4 2 - -
8th 3 6 4 2
10th 4 7 4 3 - -
11th 4 8 4 3
13th 4 9 4 3 2 -
14th 4 10 4 3 2
16th 4 11 4 3 3 -
19th 4 12 4 3 3 1
20th 4 13 4 3 3 1

Mage Hand Legerdemain []

Starting at 3rd level, when you cast mage hand, you can make the spectral hand invisible, and you can perform the following additional tasks with it:

  • You can stow one object the hand is holding in a container worn or carried by another creature.
  • You can retrieve an object in a container worn or carried by another creature.
  • You can use thieves’ tools to pick locks and disarm traps at range.

You can perform one of these tasks without being noticed by a creature if you succeed on a Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check contested by the creature’s Wisdom (Perception) check. In addition, you can use the bonus action granted by your Cunning Action to control the hand.

Magical Ambush[]

Starting at 9th level, if you are hidden from a creature when you cast a spell on it, the creature has disadvantage on any saving throw it makes against the spell this turn.

Versatile Trickster[]

At 13th level, you gain the ability to distract targets with your Mage Hand. As a bonus action on your turn, you can designate a creature within 5 feet of the spectral hand created by the spell. Doing so gives you Advantage on attack rolls against that creature until the end of the turn, and therefore allowing you to Sneak Attack the creature when nobody else is within 5 feet.

Spell Thief[]

At 17th level, you gain the ability to magically steal the knowledge of how to cast a spell from another spellcaster.

  • Immediately after a creature casts a spell that targets you or includes you in its area of effect, you can use your Reaction to force the creature to make a saving throw with its spellcasting ability modifier.
  • The DC equals your spell save DC and on a failed save, you negate the spell’s effect against you, and you steal the knowledge of the spell if it is at least 1st level and of a level you can cast (it doesn’t need to be a wizard spell).
  • For the next 8 hours, you know the spell, can cast it using your spell slots, and the creature can’t cast that spell until the 8 hours have passed.
  • Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.


Inquisitive (Unearthed Arcana)[]

As an archetypal Inquisitive, you excel at rooting out secrets and unraveling mysteries. You rely on your sharp eye for details, but also on your finely honed ability to read the words and deeds of other creatures to determine their true intent. You excel at defeating creatures that hide among and prey upon ordinary folk, and your mastery of lore and your sharp eye make you well equipped to expose and end hidden evils.

Ear for Deceit[]

When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you develop a keen ear for picking out lies. Whenever you make a Wisdom (Insight) check to sense if a creature is lying, you use the total of your check or 8 + your Wisdom modifier, whichever is higher. If you are proficient in Insight, you add your proficiency bonus to the fixed result. If you chose Insight as a skill augmented by your Expertise feature, add double your proficiency bonus.

Eye for Detail[]

Starting at 3rd level, you can use the bonus action granted by your Cunning Action feature to make a Wisdom (Perception) check to spot a hidden creature or object, to make an Intelligence (Investigation) check to uncover and decipher clues, or to use Insightful Fighting (see below).

Insightful Fighting[]

At 3rd level, you gain the ability to decipher an opponent’s tactics and develop a counter to them. As an action (or as a bonus action using Eye for Detail), you make a Wisdom (Insight) check against a creature you can see that isn’t incapacitated, opposed by the target’s Charisma (Deception) check. If you succeed, you can use Sneak Attack against that creature even if you do not have advantage against it or if no enemy of the target is within 5 feet of it. You can use Sneak Attack in this way even if you have disadvantage against the target. This benefit lasts for 1 minute or until you successfully use Insightful Fighting against a different target.

Steady Eye[]

At 9th level, you gain advantage on any Wisdom (Perception) check made on your turn to find a hidden creature or object if you do not move during that turn. If you use this ability before moving, you cannot move or ready movement during your turn.

Unerring Eye[]

At 13th level, you gain the ability to detect magical deception. As an action, you sense the presence within 30 feet of you of illusions, shapechanger creatures not in their true form, and other magic designed to deceive the senses. Though you determine that an effect is attempting to trick you, you gain no special insight into what is hidden or its true nature.

Eye for Weakness[]

At 17th level, you learn to exploit a creature’s weaknesses by carefully studying its tactics and movement. While your Insightful Fighting feature applies to a creature, your Sneak Attack damage against that creature increases by 2d6.



Your focus is on people and on the influence and secrets they have. Many spies, courtiers, and schemers follow this archetype, leading lives of intrigue. Words are your weapons as often as knives or poison, and secrets and favors are some of your favorite treasures.

Master of Intrigue[]

When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with the disguise kit, the forgery kit, and one gaming set of your choice. You also learn two languages of your choice. Additionally, you can unerringly mimic the speech patterns and accent of a creature that you hear speak for at least 1 minute, allowing you to pass yourself off as a native speaker of a particular land, provided that you know the language.

Master of Tactics[]

Starting at 3rd level, you can use the Help action as a bonus action. Additionally, when you use the Help action to aid an ally in attacking a creature, the target of that attack can be within 30 feet of you, rather than 5 feet of you, if the target can see or hear you.

Insightful Manipulator[]

Starting at 9th level, if you spend at least 1 minute observing or interacting with another creature outside combat, you can learn certain information about its capabilities compared to your own. The DM tells you if the creature is your equal, superior, or inferior in regard to two of the following characteristics of your choice:

  • Intelligence score
  • Wisdom score
  • Charisma score
  • Class levels (if any)

At the DM’s option, you might also realize you know a piece of the creature’s history or one of its personality traits, if it has any.


Beginning at 13th level, you can sometimes cause another creature to suffer an attack meant for you. When you are targeted by an attack while a creature within 5 feet of you is granting you cover against that attack, you can use your reaction to have the attack target that creature instead of you.

Soul of Deceit[]

Starting at 17th level, your thoughts can’t be read by telepathy or other means, unless you allow it. You can present false thoughts by making a Charisma (Deception) check contested by the mind reader’s Wisdom (Insight) check. Additionally, no matter what you say, magic that would determine if you are telling the truth indicates you are being truthful, if you so choose, and you can’t be compelled to tell the truth by magic.


Scout (Unearthed Arcana)[]

You are skilled in woodcraft and stealth, allowing you to range ahead of your companions during expeditions. Rogues who embrace this archetype are at home in the wilderness and among barbarians and fighters, as they serve as the eyes and ears of war bands across the world. Compared to other rogues, you are skilled at surviving in the wilds.


When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in the Nature and Survival skills. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses either of those proficiencies.


Starting at 3rd level, you are difficult to pin down during a fight. You can move up to half your speed as a reaction when an enemy ends its turn within 5 feet of you. This movement doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks.

Superior Mobility[]

At 9th level, your walking speed increases by 10 feet. If you have a climbing or swimming speed, this increase applies to that speed as well.

Ambush Master[]

Starting at 13th level, you excel at leading ambushes. If any of your foes are surprised, you can use a bonus action on your turn in the first round of the combat to grant each ally who can see you a +5 bonus to initiative that lasts until the combat ends. If the initiative bonus would increase an ally’s initiative above yours, the ally’s initiative instead equals your initiative. Each of the allies also receives a 10 -foot increase to speed that lasts until the end of the ally’s next turn.

Sudden Strike[]

Starting at 17th level, you can strike with deadly speed. If you take the Attack action on your turn, you can make one additional attack as a bonus action. This attack can benefit from your Sneak Attack even if you have already used it this turn, but only if the attack is the only one you make against the target this turn.


Scout (Xanathar's)[]

You are skilled in stealth and surviving far from the streets of a city, allowing you to scout ahead of your companions during expeditions. Rogues who embrace this archetype are at home in the wilderness and among barbarians and rangers, and many Scouts serve as the eyes and ears of war bands. Ambusher, spy, bounty hunter — these are just a few of the roles that Scouts assume as they range the world.


When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in the Nature and Survival skills if you don’t already have it. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses either of those proficiencies.


Starting at 3rd level, you are difficult to pin down during a fight. You can move up to half your speed as a reaction when an enemy ends its turn within 5 feet of you. This movement doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks.

Superior Mobility[]

At 9th level, your walking speed increases by 10 feet. If you have a climbing or swimming speed, this increase applies to that speed as well.

Ambush Master[]

Starting at 13th level, you excel at leading ambushes and acting first in a fight.

You have advantage on initiative rolls. In addition, the first creature you hit during the first round of a combat becomes easier for you and others to strike; attack rolls against that target have advantage until the start of your next turn.

Sudden Strike[]

Starting at 17th level, you can strike with deadly speed. If you take the Attack action on your turn, you can make one additional attack as a bonus action. This attack can benefit from your Sneak Attack even if you have already used it this turn, but you can’t use your Sneak Attack against the same target more than once in a turn.



You focus your training on the art of the blade, relying on speed, elegance, and charm in equal parts. While some warriors are brutes clad in heavy armor, your method of fighting looks almost like a performance. Duelists and pirates typically belong to this archetype. A Swashbuckler excels in single combat, and can fight with two weapons while safely darting away from an opponent.


When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you learn how to land a strike and then slip away without reprisal. During your turn, if you make a melee attack against a creature, that creature can't make opportunity attacks against you for the rest of your turn.

Two‐Weapon Fighting Note: Other rogue characters must use a cunning action to Disengage if they want to escape a melee, but you can use your bonus action to fight with two weapons, and then safely evade each foe you attacked.

Rakish Audacity[]

Starting at 3rd level, your unmistakable confidence propels you into battle. You can add your Charisma modifier to your initiative rolls. In addition, you don't need advantage on your attack roll to use your Sneak Attack if no creature other than your target is within 5 feet of you. All the other rules for the Sneak Attack class feature still apply to you.


At 9th level, your charm becomes extraordinarily beguiling. As an action, you can make a Charisma (Persuasion) check contested by a creature's Wisdom (Insight) check. The creature must be able to hear you, and the two of you must share a language.

  • If you succeed on the check and the creature is hostile to you, it has disadvantage on attack rolls against targets other than you and can't make opportunity attacks against targets other than you. This effect lasts for 1 minute, until one of your companions attacks the target or affects it with a spell, or until you and the target are more than 60 feet apart.
  • If you succeed on the check and the creature isn't hostile to you, it is charmed by you for 1 minute. While charmed, it regards you as a friendly acquaintance. This effect ends immediately if you or your companions do anything harmful to it.

Elegant Maneuver[]

Starting at 13th level, you can use a bonus action on your turn to gain advantage on the next Dexterity (Acrobatics) or Strength (Athletics) check you make during the same turn.

Master Duelist[]

Beginning at 17th level, your mastery of the blade lets you turn failure into success in combat. If you miss with an attack roll, you can roll it again with advantage. Once you do so, you can't use this feature again until you finish a short or long rest.


Rogue (Dungeons & Dragons)

The rogue or thief is one of the standard playable character classes in most editions of the Dungeons & Dragonsfantasyrole-playing game.[1] A rogue is a versatile character, capable of sneaky combat and nimble tricks. The rogue is stealthy and dexterous, and in early editions was the only official base class from the Player's Handbook capable of finding and disarming traps and picking locks. The rogue also has the ability to "sneak attack" ("backstab" in previous editions) enemies who are caught off-guard or taken by surprise, inflicting extra damage.

Publication history[edit]

Creative origins[edit]

The abilities of the thief class were drawn from various archetypes from history and myth, but clear debts from modern fantasy literature can be traced to characters such as J.R.R. Tolkien's Bilbo Baggins, Fritz Leiber'sThe Gray Mouser, and Jack Vance's Cugel the Clever.[2]

In his article "Jack Vance and the D&D Game", Gary Gygax stresses the influence that Vance's Cugel and also Zelazny's Shadowjack had on the thief class.[3]

Dungeons & Dragons[edit]

D&D fan Gary Switzer shared the idea for a thief class with Gary Gygax over the phone;[4] development was done in Switzer's roleplaying group, primarily by D. Daniel Wagner, one of the writers of The Manual of Aurania, the first non-TSR D&D supplement.[5] The thief was first published in the Game Players Newsletter #9 (June 1974).[6]: 18  The thief class was then included in the original 1975 Greyhawk supplement.[6]: 18  They had 4-sided hit dice under the new combat system introduced in that supplement.[7]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition[edit]

The thief was one of the standard character classes available in the original Player's Handbook.[8]: 84–85  The thief was presented as one of the five core classes in the original Players Handbook.[9]: 145  In 1st edition the thief was the only character class that any nonhuman type, such as an elf, dwarf, or halfling, could achieve unlimited levels in. The thief's hit dice improved to a d6.[7] In 1st edition, thieves were swiftest to earn new levels. At the same time, thieves were sharply limited by having their essential skills (such as Open Locks and Move Silently) defined as beginning at a flat chance of success of perhaps 10-20% regardless of most circumstances, and requiring perhaps ten levels to reach the point where they had much confidence in using them.

Basic Dungeons & Dragons[edit]

Thieves were available as a character class in the game's "Basic" edition. In the later (Moldvay and Mentzer) editions of the Basic Set, they could be any of the three available alignment options (Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic). Thieves had to be Human, as this edition treated non-human races as distinct classes.[10] They retained the same abilities (with the same high failure rates at low levels) as in the Original and Advanced games, and at higher levels gained additional abilities, such as the ability to read any nonmagical writing (including dead languages and secret codes) and casting magic-user spells from scrolls, both with a high success rate.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition[edit]

The thief, as part of the "rogue" group, was one of the standard character classes available in the second edition Player's Handbook.[8]: 84–85  According to the second edition Player's Handbook, many famous folk heroes have been larcenous like the thief class, including Reynard the Fox, Robin Goodfellow, and Ali Baba.[11]

In 2nd edition the term "Rogue" first appeared, used to describe the group of classes made up of those individuals "living by their wits day to day-often at the expense of others." In the core rules, these "rogue" classes were the thief and the bard. Thieves could be of any alignment other than lawful good while bards had to be at least partially neutral.

The thief was the robber, the thug, or the "expert treasure hunter". They specialized in the acquisition of goods, stealth, and disarming traps. Unlike in 1st edition, 2nd edition allows thieves to specialize in skills so that they needed only a few levels to master two skills.

The assassin class, a sub-class of the thief in first edition, was excluded from the second edition core rules.[12]: 84  The assumption was that an assassin could be treated mechanically as a normal thief who simply specialized in assassination-related skills.

The thief class is further detailed in The Complete Thief's Handbook.[8]: 109 

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition[edit]

The thief became known as the rogue in 3rd edition.[13] Spies, scouts, detectives, pirates, and sundry ne'er-do-wells, as well as thieves and just about any other character who relies on stealth or a broad range of skills, are stated to fall under the rogue class. In fact, the character class still bears only three large divergences from other character classes, namely their superior aptitude for skills, their capacity to notice traps, and their signature "sneak attack" maneuver.

The rogue class is given 8 skill points per level, higher than any other character class. However, the number of skill points is modified by the Intelligence attribute, so it is possible for a very low intellect rogue to be no better off than a particularly bright fighter, although they would still have a broader range of skills to choose from. Also, 3rd edition skills removed the flat percentage rolls that previous thieves had used, using their Difficulty Class mechanic to let a rogue have a better chance against the cheap locks and ordinary guards that might appear in lower-level games.

Modifying the skills system, rogues are normally the only class allowed to search for most traps; nobody else has the training to recognize them. However supplements to core D&D have added a few new classes that can also recognize traps, such as the scout.

The rogue has the ability to deliver a sneak attack whenever an opponent loses its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (i.e., when the opponent is flat-footed or flanked or cannot see the rogue). The rogue can then take advantage of this momentary weakness to strike at a vital part of the anatomy (provided the creature has a discernible enough anatomy to suffer a critical hit). This ability was formerly a "backstab," which made it difficult to define when it might be applied in open combat. Allowing flanking (attacking while a teammate is on the opposite side of the target to create a sneak attack) makes the rogue deal a great amount of damage.

The assassin was reintroduced in 3rd edition as a prestige class option.[12]: 84 

The Iconic rogue is Lidda, a halfling female.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition[edit]

Fourth edition Rogues are skirmishers, focused on getting to where the enemy does not want them and hurting them by applying extra "sneak attack" damage to enemies that grant combat advantage to them (for instance because they are flanking the enemy or the enemy is dazed or prone). They are also highly skilled, with the most trained skills of any class in the game and all with training in stealth and thievery (a skill that includes picking locks and pockets, and disarming traps). In fourth edition rules, there are two very different mechanical conceptions of the same class; Rogues and Thieves.

The Rogue was introduced in the fourth edition Player's Handbook, and initially came in two types; Artful Dodgers and Brutal Scoundrels, with Artful Dodgers being able to slip past or flank enemies easily (gaining their charisma bonus to defend against opportunity attacks) and Brutal Scoundrels adding their strength bonus to sneak attack damage to hit even further. Player's Handbook Rogues focus on their Exploits – codified tricks they can use either at will, once per encounter, or once per day and that show how they move and how they attack. Martial Power added the Ruthless Ruffian who can use maces easily and focuses on intimidating people as well as hurting them, and Martial Power 2 added the Cunning Sneak who can hide in shadows where no one else can and therefore normally specialises in ranged attacks, and added in the option to choose as their weapon talent the crossbow.

The Thief was added in Heroes of the Fallen Lands and uses a very different approach to roguish skirmishing; instead of representing the Rogue's more cinematic abilities with encounter and daily exploits it does so with "tricks" that the rogue uses as they move, with, for example, Tactical Trick allowing them combat advantage against any enemy adjacent to one of your allies and Sneak's Trick allowing the thief to hide as easily as a Cunning Sneak rogue can in order to more easily ambush enemies. The assassin was introduced as an exclusive class in D&D Insider.[12]: 84 

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition[edit]

The rogue is included as one of the standard character classes in the 5th edition Player's Handbook.[14] The Rogue's focal point in 5th edition is its aptitude for skill checks. It gains proficiency in more skills than any other class, and three of the features it gains through levels serve to improve the skills' respective ability checks. Its core features include sneak attack, which rewards a player for gaining advantage on an attack roll, such as by sneaking up on a foe unseen or incapacitating it.[15]

Players may choose from three different Roguish Archetypes at third level: Thief, Assassin, and Arcane Trickster. The Thief archetype focuses on rogues who steal, giving bonuses for sleight of hand, climbing and sneaking. The Assassin archetype deals with rogues who kill for a living, allowing them to dispatch targets swiftly and create poisons and false identities. The Arcane Trickster archetype opens up limited magic to rogues allowing them to cast spells. Several sourcebooks since the launch of 5th edition have expanded the number of Roguish Archetypes options. Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide (2015) added Mastermind and Swashbuckler to the list of Rogue archetypes. The Mastermind becomes an expert in leadership, and deception, while the Swashbuckler focuses upon swordplay and rakish taunting. Xanathar's Guide to Everything(2017) reprinted both these earlier subclasses and added the Inquisitive, which focuses on detective work and investigation, and the Scout, which focuses on swiftness and a few survival skills. Tasha's Cauldron of Everything (2020) added two more Archetypes: Phantom and Soulknife.[16]


Screen Rant rated the rogue class as the 6th most powerful class of the base 12 character classes in the 5th edition.[17]

The Gamer rated the 5th edition rogue subclass Swashbuckler as the 3rd most awesome subclass out of the 32 new character options in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.[18]

Gus Wezerek, for FiveThirtyEight, reported that of the 5th edition "class and race combinations per 100,000 characters that players created on D&D Beyond from" August 15 to September 15, 2017, rogues were second most created at 11,307 total. Human (2,542) was the most common racial combination followed by elf (2,257) and then halfling (1,797).[19]


  1. ^Livingstone, Ian (1982). Dicing with Dragons, An Introduction to Role-Playing Games (Revised ed.). Routledge. ISBN .
  2. ^DeVarque, Aardy. "Literary Sources of D&D". Archived from the original on 2007-12-09. Retrieved 2007-02-23.
  3. ^"Using a blend of “Cugel the Clever” and Roger Zelazny’s “Shadowjack” for a benchmark, this archetype character class became what it was in original AD&D." Gygax, Gary. "Jack Vance and the D&D Game"(PDF). Archived from the original(PDF) on 10 June 2015. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  4. ^Peterson, Jon (August 14, 2012). "Gygax's 'The Thief Addition' (1974)". Playing at the World.
  5. ^Wagner, D. Danial (September 24, 2013). "Manual of Aurania". Original D&D Discussion.
  6. ^ abShannon Appelcline (2014). Designers & Dragons: The '70s. Evil Hat Productions. ISBN .
  7. ^ abTurnbull, Don (December 1978 – January 1979). "Open Box: Players Handbook". White Dwarf (review). Games Workshop (10): 17.
  8. ^ abcSchick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. ISBN .
  9. ^Ewalt, David M. (2013). Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It. Scribner. ISBN .
  10. ^Part 1 of an extended review of the Holmes Basic Set
  11. ^Cook, David (1989). Player's Handbook. TSR. ISBN .
  12. ^ abcTresca, Michael J. (2014). The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. ISBN . OCLC 697175248.
  13. ^"Profiles: Monte Cook". Dragon. Renton, Washington: Wizards of the Coast (#275): 10, 12, 14. September 2000.
  14. ^"Keeping it Classy | Dungeons & Dragons". 2014-07-28. Retrieved 2014-09-21.
  15. ^Mearls, Mike; Crawford, Jeremy; et al. (2014). Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook 5th Edition. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast. ISBN .
  16. ^Turney, Alexandria (2020-11-05). "All 30 D&D Subclasses In Tasha's Cauldron Of Everything". ScreenRant. Retrieved 2020-11-06.
  17. ^"Dungeons And Dragons: Ranking All Of The Base Classes, From Least To Most Powerful". ScreenRant. 2019-02-14. Retrieved 2019-11-26.
  18. ^"10 Awesome Subclasses From Xanathar's Guide To Everything (D&D Expansion)". TheGamer. 2019-08-07. Retrieved 2019-11-26.
  19. ^Wezerek, Gus (2017-10-12). "Is Your D&D Character Rare?". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved 2019-11-26.


Cook, Monte; Tweet, Jonathan & Williams, Skip. Player's Handbook. 2000, Wizards of the Coast.

External links[edit]


Dnd rouge

Along with the Fighter, Wizard, and Cleric, the Rogue was right there in the first edition of Dungeons and Dragons. When you consider how many different heroic and antiheroic archetypes are contained within the Rogue, that’s no surprise: a Rogue could be an assassin, cutpurse, thief, smuggler, conman, private eye, bounty hunter, vigilante, pirate, spy…

It’s important to know what kind of campaign your DM is running so you can plan your Rogue appropriately. The class feature Expertise makes Rogues more skilful than any other. If wilderness survival, investigation, fiendish traps or courtly intrigue will play a bigger role in your campaign than combat, judicious choice of backgrounds, skill proficiencies and Expertise will make you the match of any other character in the party.

But make no mistake: with their deadly Sneak Attack, Rogues can be a linchpin damage dealing character. Appearing from the shadows to assassinate a high-value target, such as an enemy healer or spellcaster, is a good strategy for a Rogue to tip the balance of a fight in the party’s favour. Rogues are nimble, yet fragile, using skills like Stealth and Acrobatics, and their class feature Cunning Action, to keep themselves out of the line of fire, then manoeuvre into the perfect position to exploit the enemy’s vulnerabilities.

This article is a deep dive into the Rogue, to help you get the most from your character. But if you’ve still not decided which class to play in your next campaign, try our D&D 5E classes guide to get you started.

D&D artwork showing drow rogues sneaking along a boardwalk


Hit Dice1D8 Per Level
HP at Lvl Up1D8 [or 5] + Constitution modifier
Primary ability scoreDexterity, then Intelligence, Charisma or Wisdom
Armour proficiencyLight Armour
Weapon proficiencySimple Weapons, Hand Crossbows, Longswords, Rapiers, Shortswords
Tool proficiencyThieves’ Tools
Saving throwsDexterity, Intelligence

Dexterity is the king of stats for the Rogue. You’ll spend your adventuring career wearing light armour, so your Dex bonus is critical to boosting your armour class and keeping your insides where they belong. Rogues can only make Sneak Attacks using ranged or finesse melee weapons, so Dexterity will govern your attack bonus and boost your damage output.

Make sure to maximise your Dexterity at every opportunity

And, if that wasn’t enough, Dexterity controls the Stealth, Acrobatics and Sleight of Hand skills, a useful toolbox that will help you remain undetected, get to places you shouldn’t be, and then pilfer stuff when you get there. Make sure to maximise your Dexterity at every opportunity.

What you prioritise next will depend on your subclass. The Arcane Trickster needs Intelligence to power her spells, the Inquisitive uses Wisdom to survive inside and outside combat, while the Swashbuckler benefits from a high Charisma score. Other Rogue subclasses don’t rely on a secondary ability as heavily to be combat effective, so you can be guided by what you want to do outside combat.

D&D 5E class guide rogue portrait

There isn’t a natural ‘dump’ stat for the Rogue. Charisma makes a Rogue into a silver-tongued liar, charming rascal or intimidating villain. Extra hit points from a Constitution bonus are welcome for such a lightly-armoured class.

At low levels, a single hit point can be the difference between life and death, and from level five your Uncanny Dodge ability means that, if you’re only hit once per turn, your hit points will last twice as long as everyone else’s.

Full attack: Read our comprehensive Fighter 5E guide

Wisdom boosts the Perception and Insight skills, which are key abilities if you want a Rogue who can root out secrets, whether that’s a hidden stash of loot, or a character who’s lying to you. Though you don’t use Strength for your melee attacks, it controls the Athletics skill, which Rogues often use when they’re climbing walls, or jumping into the canal to swim away from the law.

Resist the temptation to make a jack of all trades – work out what’s most important to your character, and accept that committing to it means being weaker in other areas.

D&D artwork showing a rogue sneaking through a dungeon containing a many headed ogre


As Rogues spend so much of their time evading detection and get so much benefit from making attacks that ambush their enemy, it’s worth talking with your DM to check you are on the same page about how the “stealth” skill actually works.

A simulation-loving DM might only allow you to attempt to use the stealth skill if you can provide a clear explanation of your infiltration technique, while a narrative-loving DM might give some leeway and introduce features to the scene that make sense of a good stealth roll. The narrative DM will add a cart and haywagon to an empty street after you make a good stealth roll, while the simulation loving DM might not even let you roll.

It’s not possible to hide while you’re being observed, and in combat it’s usually assumed that once the participants are aware of each other they will remain aware. But if you’re able to break line of sight with a foe by filling the room with smoke, opening a paddock full of bucking elk into the battlefield, or just turning all the lights out, you can certainly attempt to hide again.

D&D artwork showing a goblin character with a knife


Rogues tend to have more physical, less magical abilities, though subclasses like the Arcane Trickster and Soulknife are an exception. Just because your abilities are corporeal doesn’t mean they aren’t powerful and fun to play with, however. You’ll gain the following key Class Features early in your adventuring career that define how all Rogues play.

blending in

blending in

To really become a master of stealth, pick the Skulker feat. Among its benefits, you can hide when only “lightly obscured” - in dim light, patchy fog, moderate foliage, or (we like to think) standing behind a curtain.

Thieves’ Cant

Thieves’ Cant is a special slang used by thieves to slip secret messages into normal conversation, encode messages, or leave secret information for other thieves in plain view. This feature is very flavourful, but it’s most likely to come into play in urban campaigns, or adventures involving the underside of civilization.


Starting from first level, Rogues can apply a Sneak Attack bonus to a damage roll once per round, provided they had advantage on the attack roll or the attack wasn’t made with disadvantage and the target was fighting with another character within five feet. The bonus starts at 1d6 and increases every two levels, and, as it’s dice rather than a static value, critical hits will double it. Getting a critical hit with a rogue is like rolling a shotgun blast of d6s across the table. To make the most of this damage, you need to maximise your opportunities to land those Sneak Attacks.

The most sure-fire way to enable your sneak attacks is to pair up with a buddy who can get within five feet. But this won’t always be an option, especially when prime targets like casters and healers prefer to hide on the periphery of the battlefield. You need to be proactive and seek out advantage.

D&D artwork showing a female human rogue stalking prey with a rapier, hood and mask

Beginning a fight in an ambush position is a great way to do it, but this may be your only attack from hiding in a fight, so use it wisely. If you’re playing with the Group patrons rules from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, your allies will be able to give you advantage once per long rest from the Group Assistance feature.

If your GM uses the optional rules for Facing from the Dungeon Master’s Guide, from level two you can easily give yourself advantage by using your Cunning Action to freely disengage and move behind an enemy.

Divine devastation: Read our full Cleric 5E D&D class guide

But, as you’re playing a Rogue, you probably have a flair for the dramatic. Take advantage of your character’s diverse skills and unsavoury lifestyle, roleplay your heart out, and ensure the GM is always giving you Inspiration points!

Although you can only add Sneak Attack damage once per turn, attacking twice doubles your chances of landing a hit. A Rogue that doesn’t dual wield needs to have a good reason for it – or be very confident they’re always going to have advantage.

D&D artwork showing a dagger, grappling hook and a small treasure chest


At first level, and again at sixth level, Rogues pick two of their skill proficiencies (or a skill proficiency and their proficiency with thieves’ tools) and double the bonus they receive. This can compensate for skills held back by your dump stat, or push your best skills to heights no other character can match. Stealth and Sleight of Hand are classic Rogue skills, and great choices both.

Rogues can become the party’s expert on anything they like

But, if you’re playing in a campaign with less combat and more focus on mysteries, social conflict or wilderness exploration, you can use your background or race to pick up a useful skill proficiency, combined with Expertise, to become the best in the party. It can be embarrassing for the Ranger when the Rogue has a higher Survival skill bonus!


Starting from second level, Rogues can use a bonus action to Dash, Disengage or Hide. This makes Rogues dynamic combatants, able to remove themselves from unfavourable combats, reposition without sacrificing their attack, or even disappear completely if they can make their opponent lose sight of them. Rogues never fight fair: pick your battles.

D&D artwork showing a hooded Kenku rogue with a shortsword and bow


From fifth level, Rogues can use their reaction to halve the damage they receive from an attack, provided they can see the enemy that made it. This is a powerful reaction ability that will greatly increase your survivability, but it doesn’t make Rogues frontline fighters. If you take more than one hit a turn, you’ll quickly be overwhelmed.


Another potent defensive boost, at seventh level Rogues become more adept at escaping from area of effect attacks – like fireballs and breath weapons – that allow you to reduce the damage suffered if you can succeed on a Dexterity save.

Rogues take no damage at all if they pass this Dexterity save, and only half damage if they fail. You’ll get this ability two levels after the party Wizard unlocks Fireball, so you should already have a good idea how deadly AOE spells can be…


Rogues lean hard on their Dexterity stat, so any race that starts with a +2 Dex bonus is promising.

They also like to be in the right place at the right time to trigger their Sneak Attack, or remove themselves from an unfavourable situation – so movement capabilities like the Eladrin and Shadar-kai teleportation, or the Swiftstride Shifter’s bonus speed and disengagement reaction are brilliant. If your DM allows non-core content, the treefrog-like Grung make brilliant assassins – they literally sweat poison!

Below we’ve made some selections for races that will make powerful rogues in any campaign.

D&D artwork showing a podgy halfling rogue character in brightly coloured clothing

Lightfoot Halfling

Just as the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins is the archetypal fantasy thief, the Halfling is a go-to choice for Rogues. All Halflings have +2 Dex and Halfling Nimbleness, allowing them to move through a space occupied by a larger creature – nothing can stop them from closing with their target or escaping from their foes, except for their stumpy 25-foot movement speed… They’re also Brave, giving them advantage on fear effects, and Lucky, giving you a free reroll on any d20 roll of a 1 – a small but welcome buff to your accuracy.

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Lightfoot Halflings have +1 Cha, making them effective dissemblers, and are Naturally Stealthy, letting them make a Hide action, even when only obscured by a creature one size category larger than them – they can literally hide behind the party tank, and pop out to attack with advantage. The Sage Advice Compendium clarifies that yes, this does work even when the enemy sees you running behind there, so have fun!

D&D artwork showing a wood elf rogue with a bow

Wood Elf

Sharing Darkvision, +2 Dex, proficiency in Perception, advantage against Charm spells and immunity to magical sleep, every Elf subrace is a good start for a Rogue. But Wood Elves are particularly well suited.

Fleet of Foot adds five feet to their movement speed, and Mask of the Wild makes it possible to hide, even when only lightly obscured by weather or foliage, making them fearsome woodland ambushers (- and yes, just like the Lightfoot Halfling’s Naturally Stealthy ability, you can do this even when an enemy is watching you).

Elf Weapon Training grants proficiency with the Longbow, making them effective ranged Rogues who can be sure of having advantage as long as they are in their woodland homes.

D&D artwork showing a Kobold armed with a sling


The most fragile of all Rogues, Kobolds are small, have disadvantage on attack rolls and Wisdom (Perception) checks in bright sunlight, and only gain +2 Dex.

But they’re more compensated for this in the form of Darkvision, and the incredible Pack Tactics, which grants them advantage on attacks made against enemies within 5’ of one of their allies.

Play as a coward and snipe your foes with ranged attacks and advantage every turn – then, when they finally close on you, use the Grovel, Cower and Beg ability (once per short rest) to grant your allies advantage on attacks against enemies within ten feet of you.

D&D artwork showing an Aarakocra rogue in flight


What could be an easier way to get the jump on your foes than soaring down from the sky? Aarakocra have a 50ft flight speed provided they don’t use medium or heavy armour, which won’t be an impediment for your Rogue.

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They also have +2 Dex and +1 Wis, making them perceptive and accurate, perfect traits for an archer, and well suited to the Inquisitive archetype.

D&D artwork showing a Changeling rogue character in a long cloak and hood


The ultimate masters of disguise, the Changeling’s Shapechanger ability is the ultimate disguise kit. By using an action, they can completely alter their appearance, mimicking an individual they have seen before – or even another race, provided it has the same number of limbs!

Changelings should be able to open every combat with a surprise round

Combine this with +2 Cha, +1 in another stat of their choice, and proficiency in two skills from Deception, Insight, Intimidation and Persuasion, and it’s easy to see why Changeling Rogues are master infiltrators, equally at home dealing with courtly intrigue, or infiltrating the villain’s lair. Changelings should be able to open every combat with a surprise round, before their opponents have a chance to react.

D&D artwork showing a Tabaxi thief rifling through a backpack


Like halflings, these cat-people are natural born rogues. They start with +2 Dex and +1 Cha, and racial proficiency in Stealth and Perception, abilities you are likely to want to invest in anyway. Tabaxi have Darkvision, always handy for a Rogue.

Their Cats Claws give them a back-up unarmed strike in case they’re ever disarmed, but more importantly, they grant a climbing speed of 20ft. This is an amazing boost for a Rogue.

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Tabaxi can abandon Strength as a total dump stat, as they won’t need it to boost their Athletics skill to assist with climbing checks. Sure, they won’t be able to swim – but that’s quite in character for a cat person. Just check you’re not playing in the Ghosts of Saltmarsh setting before you commit to your aquaphobic Tabaxi.

Their Feline Agility ability allows them to double their speed for one round, and recharges when they spend a turn stationary. Combine that with a free dash action, and a Tabaxi Rogue can move 120 feet in the first turn of combat – usually enough distance to put your twin shortswords into the kidneys of a wizard who thought he was safe at the back of the battlefield!

D&D artwork showing a Tiefling rogue in purple armour with a dagger

Feral Tiefling

With +2 Dex, +Int, and Darkvision, this Tiefling variant is a natural infiltrator who will be hard to spot, but won’t miss anything themselves. Hellish Resistance reduces their fire damage, making them exceptionally survivable when the Wizard gets trigger happy with her Fireball, or a trap disarmament goes wrong.

Takes all kinds: Read our guide to all the D&D 5E races

But the most useful feature is a simple cantrip provided by the Infernal Legacy racial ability at first level – Thaumaturgy. This spell’s effects are mostly for show, but some – like creating an instantaneous sound somewhere within 30 feet, or causing a door to fly open – can be used to distract enemies, saving the Rogue from detection, or misdirecting their foes in combat.

D&D artwork showing an arcane trickster rogue casting a spell on an armoured character


At third level, your Rogue will pick an archetype, giving you plenty of scope to customise your character and break the rules in the way you most enjoy.


Rogue LevelSubclass Feature
3rdSpellcasting, Mage Hand Legerdemain
9thMagical Ambush
13thVersatile Trickster
17thSpell Thief

Arcane Trickster Spells

Spell slots at each spell level
Rogue LevelCantrips knownSpells known1st2nd3rd4th

Spells must be from the Wizard Illusion or Enchantment school, except when the Rogue gains a spell on a level marked with an * .

Spell save DC = 8 + Int modifier + Proficiency modifier
Spell attack bonus = Int modifier + Proficiency modifier
Found in:Player’s Handbook

The Arcane Trickster is the choice if you want to dabble in the arcane, but still fancy your hand at a bit of larceny and backstabbing – or if you really want to embody the chaotic neutral energy of Marvel’s Loki. Rogues play dirty, and Arcane Tricksters might play dirtiest of all.

The Arcane Trickster is a spellcaster, and uses Intelligence for its spellcasting ability. Races with both a Dexterity and an Intelligence bonus are good picks. The High Elf and Forest Gnome are great, and come with handy cantrips to add to their spellcasting armament.

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Arcane Tricksters have a restricted spell-set, only going up to level 4 spells, and mostly restricted to the Enchantment and Illusion spell schools from the Wizard spell list. These spells meddle with your foe’s perceptions, charming, befuddling and deceiving them.

Fortunately, some of the best spells in the game are available. Disguise Self, Charm Person, and Invisibility can ensure your infiltrations are successful, Blur and Mirror Image are powerful defensive buffs, while Sleep, Hold Person and Tasha’s Hideous Laughter are great levellers to keep hordes of mooks or potent enemies out of a fight.

The Arcane Trickster puts a Roguish twist on their spells, too. Mage Hand Legerdemain lets the trickster use the Sleight of Hand skill with their telekinetic cantrip. The powerful Magical Ambush, gained at ninth level, gives enemies disadvantage on any saves made against the trickster’s spells cast from hiding. You won’t cast many spells, but the ones you do will be very reliable.

D&D artwork showing a cloaked assassin hanging off a castle wall


Rogue LevelSubclass Feature
3rdAssassinate, Proficiency with Disguise Kit and Poisoner’s Kit
9thInfiltration Expertise
17thDeath Strike

Found in:Player’s Handbook

The Assassin is a truly murderous Rogue archetype that doubles down on dirty fighting and deception. The Assassinate feature is extremely powerful, granting advantage on attacks made against enemies who haven’t acted yet in the initiative sequence. If you surprise your enemies and get a high initiative roll, you’ll start combat with two turns of attacks, with advantage, before your enemy gets to respond. The Alert feat provides a +5 initiative bonus, a great way to enable this.

Assassins have plenty of tools to ensure they do surprise their enemies. Their Proficiency with the disguise kit, Infiltration Expertise (which lets them cheaply create foolproof fake identities) and Imposter (an ability to unerringly mimic the behaviour of another person they have observed) features allow them to get to a priority target undetected. For the ultimate, undetectable infiltrator, a Changeling Assassin is impossible to detect without magic.

To make the most of an ambush, Poisoner’s Kit proficiency lets Assassins brew basic poison between adventures to make their attacks deadlier, or extract them from the fangs of defeated enemies. Consider the Criminal background for the Criminal Contact feature, opening up markets where you can buy and sell new poisons and venoms.

D&D artwork showing a rogue Inquisitive creating a new disguise from clothing items


Rogue LevelSubclass Feature
3rdEar for Deceit, Eye for Deetail, Insightful Fighting
9thSteady Eye
13thUnerring Eye
17thEye for Weakness

Found in:Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

The Inquisitive is a master of observation, drawing on the archetype of the noir detective to create a Roguish character with a knack for weaselling out the truth.

Ear for Deceit means they’ll never roll worse than an eight when rolling Wisdom (Insight) to detect a lie, and Eye for Detail turns Wisdom (Perception) checks to detect hidden creatures, and Intelligence (Insight) checks to find and decipher clues, into bonus actions instead of standard actions. These traits make Inquisitives hard to ambush successfully, and let them quickly finish an investigation if the heat suddenly turns up.

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You could easily imagine Inquisitives only work in roleplaying-heavy, combat-light campaigns. Not so – their Insightful Fighting feature is actually a powerful combat buff.

By making a Wisdom (Insight) check contested by an enemy’s Charisma (Deception) check, the Inquisitive decodes the enemy’s fighting style and can make Sneak Attacks against them without having advantage, provided they don’t have disadvantage on their attack rolls.

We imagine this works like the bare-knuckle-boxing scene in the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movie.

D&D artwork showing characters including a Rogue Mastermind planning a heist with markings on a map


Rogue LevelSubclass Feature
3rdMaster of Intrigue, Master of Tactics
9thInsightful Manipulator
17thSoul of Deceit

Found in:Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide

The Mastermind is an odd Rogue, with few combat abilities of their own, but some subtle tools to manipulate the flow of a battle by ensuring their allies land their critical attacks.

Half of the Mastermind’s starting abilities only really affect social and political conflicts. The Master of Intrigue feature is actually a package of buffs: proficiency with the disguise kit, forgery kit, one gaming set, and two languages of their choice. They can also perfectly fake any accent that they’ve heard. The 9th level feature Insightful Manipulator gives the Mastermind information about the stats and class levels of another creature you interact with for at least a minute.

You won’t get to play much with this half of the Mastermind unless your game features gangs, guilds or politics, so check what kind of campaign your GM plans to run if this is what excites you about the archetype.

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The other ability Masterminds gain at level three, Master of Tactics, has more obvious utility. The Mastermind can use the Help action as a bonus action, effectively giving an ally advantage on an attack against a foe, and, whenever they use the Help ability, they can target a creature within 30 feet, instead of the usual five feet.

This includes using their main action for Help. Remember, you’ll usually contribute more damage to a fight by making your own attack than by giving an ally advantage. But if you’re facing enemies with damage resistance to your attacks, Masterminds can turn into support characters in a pinch!

D&D artwork showing an elf rogue phantom carrying two daggers and wearing light armour with a hood


Rogue LevelSubclass Feature
3rdWhispers of the Dead, Wails from the Grave
9thTokens of the Departed
13thGhost Walk
17thDeath’s Friend

Found in:Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

The Phantom is a shadowy Rogue, touched by the plane of death. Their abilities are connected to the dead, and, particularly, to the spirits of creatures that die around them. Fortunately, there won’t be any shortage of those…

Whispers of the Dead allows the Phantom to gain any skill or tool proficiency from their communion with the departed once per short or long rest. This makes Phantoms extremely versatile: give them an hour and they’ll have a +2 bonus to any skill check.

Wails from the Grave is a useful combat trick. A number of times equal to their proficiency bonus per long rest, when they successfully deal Sneak Attack damage, the Phantom can target another creature within 30’ of the first and deal half as many Sneak Attack dice (rounding up) in Necrotic damage.

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This damage doesn’t need to hit and doesn’t allow a save, so it’s a good way to put damage on targets with high AC or magical defences. Just sneak attack a goon with low AC and a stack of hit points, and chain damage into their tougher-shelled boss. It’s also a convenient way to finish off targets hanging in the fight by a single hit point.

At ninth level, Tokens of the Departed grants the ability to crystallise the spirit of creatures that die within 30 feet into a Soul Trinket as a reaction, provided the Phantom has a free hand. They can carry up to their proficiency bonus in Soul Trinkets. These give advantage on death and Constitution saving throws while on the Phantom’s person, and can be crushed to provide extra charges for Wails from the Grave, or to ask a question of the spirit trapped within.

Unless you capture the soul of someone you really need to speak to in a trinket, you should aim to constantly burn through your Soul Trinkets in a fight – chaff enemies and fragile skirmishers will die quickly if you keep spending your Soul Trinkets, and will fill those charges back up for you.

D&D artwork showing a Tabaxi scout rogue with a bow


Rogue LevelSubclass Feature
3rdSkirmisher, Survivalist
9thSuperior Mobility
13thAmbush Master
17thSudden Strike

Found in:Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

Want to play a wilderness character, but don’t want to touch magic? Always felt that it was weird that Rangers had magic spells? Really miss playing tag or bulldog on the playground? The Scout is the Rogue subclass for you.

Scouts are adept in nature, gaining a double proficiency bonus in Nature and Survival from the Survivalist feature. Don’t forget that Nature proficiency has a combat application, as you can use it to extract the venom from slain or incapacitated venomous creatures, even without a poisoner’s kit.

Scouts are extremely mobile, even by the standards of Rogues. The Skirmisher feature gives them a new reaction, allowing them to move up to half their speed without provoking opportunity attacks when an enemy ends its turn within five feet of them.

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You only get one reaction per turn, and, once you get Uncanny Dodge at level five, you’ll sometimes have a hard choice between reducing the damage from a big hit, or using Skirmisher to get out of the way. Skirmishing away is the right defensive choice if it puts you out of engagement range of other enemies who haven’t yet closed the distance, and it’s the right offensive choice if it will bring you closer to a high value target.

At higher levels, Superior Mobility will increase all your movement speeds by ten feet (including swimbing, climbing and flying), while Ambush Master gives you advantage on Initiative rolls, and grants all your allies advantage on hit rolls against the first enemy you hit in the first round of combat. Use this to scalpel out a priority enemy or, if they’re particularly chunky, let your team layer them with debuffs so they hardly participate in the fight.

Races like the Wood Elf and Deep Gnome, which have advantages to hide checks in certain terrain types, can make untouchable Scouts in the right environment, using Skirmish to disengage from foes during the enemy turn, then Hiding easily as a free action on their turn, so they can immediately launch a ranged Sneak Attack with advantage.

Or, if you want a combat-focused Rogue that bounces around the battlefield like a pinball, the Mobile feat grants another 10’ of movement, the ability to ignore difficult terrain when Dashing, and immunity from opportunity attacks made by any enemy that the Rogue has targeted with a melee attack.

D&D artwork showing a male halfling soulknife rogue, brandishing his soulblades


Rogue LevelSubclass Feature
3rdPsionic Power, Psi-bolstered Knack, Psychic Whispers, Psychic Blades
9thSoul Blades: Homing Strikes, Psychic Teleportation
13thPsychic Veil
17thRend Mind

Found in:Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

What’s cooler than fighting with a blade in each hand? Fighting with a psychic blade in each hand.

The Soulknife has a pool of Psionic Energy dice that can be expended to use psionic abilities. They have a pool of these equal to twice their proficiency bonus to spend every long rest, though once per long rest they can also use a bonus action to recoup a single die. These start as D6, but increase in size as they level up.

Psi-Bolstered Knack allows them to add the result of a Psionic Energy die to the result of a failed check with a skill or tool they are proficient in, only expending the die if they pass the roll. This makes them very dependable in their specialised skill domain.

Psychic Whispers lets them create a telepathic link with a number of creatures equal to their proficiency bonus, that they can see, for a number of hours equal to the roll of one Psionic Energy die. The first Psychic Whispers per long rest is free, too, so they can set up the link before setting off on any solo stealthing.

Psychic Whispers could easily be overlooked as a combat ability. Feeding the party up-to-the minute combat data on an enemy you’re reconnoitring lets you set up perfect ambushes.

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Capitalise on this by choosing Expertise in Athletics to help maneuver into a vantage point, or a class like the Tabaxi or Aarakocra with special movement speeds, and load points into Wisdom for Perception checks to ensure you don’t miss a thing.

The title power of the Soulknife is its Psychic Blades, which allow them to manifest a psychic blade in one or both of their hands whenever they take the attack action: these are finesse melee weapons that can be thrown up to 60 feet- the first deals d6 psychic damage, while the second deals d4.

At first sight, these blades might seem underwhelming; they’re basically a shortsword and dagger. But a Soulknife can never be disarmed, never has to draw or drop a weapon, and always has their hands free at any time other than when they’re attacking. Compensating for the fact the blades can’t be replaced with +1 or better magical weapons, at 9th level the Soul Blades ability allows the Soulknife to expend Psionic Energy dice to bolster the attack roll on a missed attack, or teleport to a spot that they target with the knife.

The Soulknife is first to the draw in any combat that starts with weapons sheathed, and will always pass muster when patted down by a bodyguard. Just remember that they aren’t actually armed, except when they’re attacking, so they can’t gain the +1AC bonus from the Dual Wielder feat.

D&D artwork showing a human male rogue swashbuckler with a sabre and a great big bushy beard


Rogue LevelSubclass Feature
3rdFancy Footwork, Rakish Audacity
13thElegant Manoeuvre
17thMaster Duelist

Found in:Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

Fancy a dashing, rather than dastardly rogue? The swashbuckler channels the spirit of expert and charming duelists like the Three Musketeers, or Errol Flynn’s sword-duelling Robin Hood.

Fancy Footwork prevents any enemy that the Swashbuckler has made a melee attack against from taking opportunity attacks against them. This allows the Swashbuckler to pick and choose their melee battles; remember that Rogues can use Dash as a bonus action, and you can make your attack(s) at any point during your moves, so a Swashbuckler has plenty of options: darting into and out of engagement range with a slow-moving enemy, or landing a drive-by attack, as they run past a guard towards their real target.

Rakish Audacity gives two more compelling bonuses. Swashbucklers add their Charisma bonus to initiative rolls, helping them to set the terms of a combat. But, more importantly, they can make Sneak Attacks against enemies they don’t have advantage against, provided they’re within 5’, don’t have disadvantage, and no other allies are within 5’ of them. They’re deadly duellists.

As they won’t usually be attacking with advantage, Swashbucklers need to dual wield more than most Rogues to ensure they land a hit and trigger that Sneak Attack damage. The Dual Wielder feat is a great companion, giving them +1 AC and allowing them to dual wield weapons that aren’t light (a pair of Rapiers is the ideal choice).

Quirky one-shots: Read our review of D&D’s Candlekeep Mysteries

The ninth-level feature Panache allows them to turn on the charm, making a Charisma (Persuasion) check as an action to change the mood of a creature. If they’re not an enemy, this works like a magic-less version of the Charm spell. If they are an enemy, they have disadvantage on any attacks they make against anyone other than the Swashbuckler. This lasts for a minute or until one of your allies intercedes and breaks off the duel.

Make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew – the Swashbuckler is still a squishy Rogue. Your goal is to get into duels you can win, not pull heat away from the rest of the party.

D&D artwork showing a gnome thief running away from Xanathar the beholder


Rogue LevelSubclass Feature
3rdFast Hands, Second-Story Work
9thSupreme Sneak
13thUse Magic Device
17thThief’s Reflexes

Found in:Player’s Handbook

In the very first paper pamphlet for Dungeons and Dragons, the OG Rogue was actually called the Thief. The Thief subclass brings back that flavour, with a Rogue who brings archetypal Rogue exploration abilities into combat.

The starting ability Second-Story Work makes Thieves faster climbers and gives them a longer running jump, while Fast Hands adds Sleight of Hand checks, disarming traps, opening locks and ‘Using’ objects to the list of things they can do with a Bonus Action. If you’re fighting in a chamber with a ceiling gradually descending to crush you, having two attempts to disarm the trap per turn (or one attempt and a combat action, if there are enemies in the room too) will certainly help the party’s chances of success.

Digital dungeoneering: How to play D&D on Roll20

Likewise, scarpering into the rafters to shoot your enemies from above, or spending the surprise round of a battle on two Sleight of Hand checks to remove a wizard’s component pouch and replace it with a bag of Essence of Ether, can make for entertaining combats.

At higher levels, Thieves become sneakier, and capable of using magical items without meeting any prerequisites (another call-back to earlier versions of Rogues) – they’re a real love letter to the past. But leveraging their abilities into combat advantage relies on your DM providing interesting combat scenarios and arenas. You’ll get the most from them if you love being creative, and your GM is supportive.


Though all Rogues share a core skillset of sneaking and stabbing, and there’s never a good reason not to buff up your Rogue’s Dexterity, they’re still an incredibly varied class with deep specialisms.

D&D artwork showing a gnome rogue investigating a treasure chest, with a ferret on their shoulder


With a high damage output, the ability to reduce the damage from area of effect spells, and mobility to choose their own position on the battlefield, Rogues are well-placed to hunt out fragile mages who prefer to stay on the fringes of the battlefield. This Arcane Trickster aims to ensure that enemy casters get no sleep, and will be cathartic to play for anyone who’s ever lost a treasured hero to a well-placed spell.

Ability Scores

As ever, Dexterity is your most important stat, followed by Intelligence, which will be your spellcasting ability. Wisdom and Constitution are good choices to follow, as they will boost your survivability against enemy magic.


  • Pick the Deep Gnome subtype as your race, granting you +2 Int, +1 Dex, 120 feet of darkvision, and the ability to hide when only lightly concealed by rocky terrain. As a gnome, you gain advantage on all Charisma, Intelligence and Wisdom saves against the effect of magic, sure to irritate any wizard you’re up against.
  • Pick a background that provides Arcana skill proficiency (such as a Sage or Cloistered Scholar) and gain Expertise in it. You need to be able to identify spells and enchantments to successfully infiltrate a wizard’s magically defended sanctum.
  • Kit yourself out with as much of the standard Rogue gear as you can afford – studded leather armour for 12+Dex Bonus AC, two shortswords, and a bow, each dealing d6 piercing damage. While you’re at it, see if you can’t acquire some live bookworms and some disappearing ink. Nothing tells a Wizard you’ve got it out for her like putting bookworms in her library.
  • When you hit level three, pick the Arcane Trickster subclass. You’ll automatically gain the Mage Hand cantrip, and should pick Lightning Lure and Booming Blade as your other cantrips. The aim here is to drag unwary Wizards towards you using Lightning Lure, and then hit them with Booming Blade, so that trying to escape punishes them.
  • You’ll gain three first-level Illusion and Enchantment spells. Pick Sleep, a truly classic tool for rendering weak enemies unconscious, and Colour Spray, a tool that can blind enemies for a turn without any saves allowed. It’s a nice combat opener, or the ultimate smoke bomb to make good your escape.
  • At fourth level, pick up the Mage Slayer Feat. Spellcasters you harm have disadvantage on their Concentration check to maintain spells, you can make a reaction attack whenever they cast a spell within five feet of you, and you’ll gain advantage on saving throws against spells cast by creatures within five feet of you. Once you close with a mage, whether they try and run, or try and stay, you’ll be able to attack them.
  • At level seven, make sure you pick up Hold Person. This will paralyse your target, giving attacks against them advantage, and turning hits from attacks made within five feet into automatic criticals.
  • At eighth and higher levels, boost your Dexterity and Intelligence to make your spells harder to resist, and consider the Svirfneblin Magic racial feat to add a suite of deceptive spells to your toolbox that won’t use up your spellcasting slots.
  • From ninth level, your enemies will have disadvantage on saves against any spells you cast from hiding, so let that bonus guide your choices – though you’re best off avoiding spells that allow an Intelligence save, as this is where your prey of choice will be strongest. Crown of Madness is an interesting tool to turn a spellcaster’s bodyguards into a liability.
  • At level eight, 14, and 20, you’ll be able to pick a spell from any spell list; it’s hard to beat Fireball for your level 14 pick. Although you get it well after the Wizard, your enemies will suffer disadvantage on their attempts to escape it.

D&D artwork showing a group of kobolds stealing treasure


This build relies on underlings your gallant allies to deal out damage, while you hide 30 feet behind them and fire into combat. You’ll use your allies as shields, and to set you up for advantage and sneak attack bonuses; then, from level three, you’ll be able to return the favour by handing out advantage to your allies. This is a fragile, technical Rogue that can tune up your team’s combat performance while bringing lots of damage of their own.

Ability Scores

Like most Rogues, you should maximise your Dexterity score first – if you’re using points buy for your stats, push it as high as you dare. Charisma will come next, allowing you to cajole your underlings and blag your way out of trouble. Intelligence and Wisdom will keep you aware of potential threats, and Strength and Constitution can be your dump stats.


  • Pick Kobold as your race, the perfect start for a cowardly, backline character. This gives you +2 Dex, Darkvision, and two features that form the heart of the character: Pack Tactics, which grants you advantage on attacks against enemies within five feet of your allies, and Grovel, Cower and Beg, which gives all your allies advantage against enemies within ten feet of you. Your game plan is to stay behind your allies, shooting engaged enemies (with advantage from Pack Tactics) to provide consistent damage output that puts down foes quickly. Then, if you’re ever trapped and unable to disengage, switch to Grovel, Cower and Beg, so your allies have an easier time rescuing you.
  • Kit yourself out with as much of the standard Rogue gear as you can afford – studded leather armour for 12+Dex Bonus AC, two shortswords and a bow, each dealing d6 piercing damage.
    After your first adventure win, hire some goons! It only costs 2GP a day to hire a professional mercenary. Your Charisma score is there to make negotiations with potential new meatshields hirelings go more smoothly, and to help steel their nerve against inevitable tragic fatalities.
  • Then enquire of your GM how much it will cost to acquire blackened eye goggles that will protect your fragile kobold eyes from the (disadvantage-inducing) sun. They’re not in the equipment list, but a lens-maker who can create a Spyglass can definitely turn out a pair of shades.
  • At third level, choose the Mastermind subclass, giving you the Master of Tactics ability. You can now use a bonus action to Help an ally within 30 feet of you, granting them advantage.
  • At fourth level, boost your Dexterity. You want to push it up to 20 as soon as possible.
  • Once Dexterity is at 20, boost Charisma to help your recruitment efforts.
  • Feats to consider include Sharpshooter, which will increase your bow accuracy against enemies receiving cover from your allies, and Inspiring Leader, which lets you deliver an inspiring (if high-pitched) speech before combat, to grant up to 6 allies temporary hit points equal to your level + your charisma modifier. The longer your allies are upright, the longer before your foes can get to you!

D&D artwork showing a collection of potions, poisons, bottles and magical equipment


This Variant Human doubles down on the Assassin’s main focus – opening combat with a deeply unfair round of attacks that your enemy doesn’t see coming.

Ability Scores

Dexterity is your primary stat, and should be where you focus your stat increases, followed by Charisma, which will help you to sell your lies. Wisdom will make your character more perceptive, but, because of the Alert feat you’ll pick early on, it’s not critical to protect you from Sneak Attacks. Constitution may be useful, in case you have a mishap with any of your poisons!


  • Pick Variant Human as your race, choosing +1 Dex, +1 Cha, and the Alert feat, which grants you +5 to initiative rolls, makes you immune to surprise and means that attacks from unseen enemies don’t have advantage against you. The Criminal background will give you relevant skill proficiencies, and access to the underworld to purchase illegal substances…
  • Make sure you have skill proficiency and Expertise in Deception and Stealth. Your ideal fight begins with you unnoticed by your enemies, or with them believing you’re one of their allies.
  • Kit yourself out with throwing darts, daggers, a pair of shortswords, and the best light armour you can afford. You’re saving your money to buy a poisoner’s kit and a disguise kit by level three.
  • At level three, choose the Assassin subclass, and buy that poisoner’s kit. You’ll now have advantage on attacks against enemies who haven’t acted yet in combat – which should happen often thanks to your Alert feat – and you can brew a weak poison to apply to your weapons.
  • At level four, take the Poisoner feat from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. You already have proficiency with the poisoner’s kit, so convert that into proficiency with a forger’s kit – but, more importantly, you now ignore enemy resistance to poison, and, for 50gp, you can brew a number of doses of potent poison equal to your proficiency bonus.
  • Your combat strategy from here on out is to open combat with a surprise round, and hopefully high up on the initiative track. You’ll unleash a flurry of poisoned dart attacks, all made with advantage. A round where you land both darts will do 2d4 + 2d6 damage, and twice force the enemy to make a DC14 Con save or take 2d8 poison damage. And that’s just at level four.
  • From here on, increase your Dexterity as much as possible, and get ready to use your Infiltration Expertise at level nine to create a fake identity, for when the DM starts sending bounty hunters after your character…

D&D artwork showing a taxi climbing a rock face


With natural agility and feline charm, this swashbuckler is an elegant duellist. This build doubles down on the Tabaxi’s speed and the Swashbuckler’s maneuverability,

Ability Scores

Dexterity and Charisma are your focus here, as Dexterity is always useful for a Rogue while Charisma is the basis for your subclass’ special features. As a Tabaxi, you have a climbing speed, so feel free to leave Strength as your dump stat, as you won’t need it for either your attacks or to climb around – just stay out of the water.


  • Pick Tabaxi as your race, granting you +2 Dex, +1 Cha and a package of other useful abilities
  • Choose a pair of shortswords as your weapons for d6 damage attacks, as well as the best leather armour you can afford. You’ll upgrade to the rapiers soon enough.
  • At level three, choose the Swashbuckler subclass. This is where your game plan takes shape: with Fancy Footwork you can move past any enemy you make a melee attack against, without provoking an opportunity attack. With a weapon in each hand, you can attack (and therefore dodge) two enemies each turn, and with the Tabaxi’s Feline Agility you can effectively make a Dash move without using your bonus action.
  • Meanwhile, Rakish Audacity lets you make Sneak Attacks against enemies you are duelling one on one. With your incredible maneuverability, you should always be able to set this up.
  • At level four, take the Dual Wielder feat so you can upgrade your shortswords to rapiers, increasing their damage die to d8 and granting you +1AC.
  • After this, your main choices are whether to increase your Dexterity, Charisma, or take additional feats. It’s hard to argue with better Dexterity for a Rogue, so start there.
  • Piercer is a good choice, as it allows you to add 1 to your Dexterity, and increases the reliability of your melee attacks, letting you reroll one damage die in each attack once per turn, and granting you a bonus die on your critical hits.
  • Defensive Duellist allows you to react to a melee attack that hits you while you’re wielding a finesse weapon, by adding your proficiency bonus to your AC. This one can feel like a gamble, as you won’t know until you use it whether the bonus will stop the attack from hitting – but, if you see a low result on your enemy’s attack die, you’ll feel like a true swordsman when you successfully parry.

DnD 5e – The Rogue Handbook

Last Updated: September 24, 2021


Rogues are the quintessential Face, Scout and Striker. Sneak Attack allows them to do a huge pile of damage in a single attack, and their pile of skills allows them to easily handle locks, traps, guards, and many other challenges. While a party can function just fine without a Rogue, it’s hard to compete with the sheer number of important skill and tool proficiencies offered by the Rogue.

Rogues typically split into melee or ranged builds, though the universal efficacy of Dexterity makes it easy for many rogues to switch between the two. Melee Rogues frequently go for two-weapon fighting because it provides a second chance to score Sneak Attack, and hit-and-run tactics enabled by Cunning Action are great way to get into melee to attack before retreating behind your party. Ranged rogues typically rely on sniping, which is also enabled by Cunning Action due to the ability to hide as a Bonus Action. Hiding after each attack using Cunning Action is reliable and effective, though it can be very static and repetitive. Rogue subclasses expand upon those tactical options, but in many cases these staple tactics remain crucial to the class’s function.

After reading this handbook, I encourage you to read my Rogue Subclasses Breakdown and my Rogue Spells Breakdown if you plan to play an Arcane Trickster.

Table of Contents


RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and I can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

Rogue Class Features

Optional Class Features are detailed below under Optional Class Features.

Hit Points: 1d8 hit points is dangerous if you go into melee alone, so be sure to have a nice tanky ally nearby and a healer waiting in the wings.

Saves: Dexterity saves will protect you from things like fireballs, and Intelligence saves also exist I suppose. Evasion further improves your Dexterity saves.

Proficiencies: Rogues get all of the weapons they need to get by, but thieves’ tools, and a fantastic four skills.

Expertise: Rogues are truly the master of skills. Pick skills which fit the theme and style of your campaign and your character well.

Sneak Attack: Sneak Attack is the source of most of the Rogue’s damage, and should define your combat tactics. You can only use it once per turn, which is disappointing for two-weapon fighting builds, but once per turn is plenty. Also note that it’s per turn, not per round, so you can potentially use your reaction to Sneak Attack a second time in a round.

Thieves’ Cant: Really only matters for flavor.

Cunning Action: This is a fantastic option for bringing your Sneak Attack into play. Archers can use Hide to stay hidden between attacks, and melee Rogues can use Dash and Disengage to move around the battlefield safely and quickly.

Roguish Archetype: Rogue subclasses are briefly summarized below. See my Rogue Subclasses Breakdown for help selecting your subclass.

  • Arcane Trickster: Use illusions and enchantments to confuse and outsmart your foes.
  • Assassin: Masters of infiltration, disguise, and dealing high-damage sneak attacks at the beginning of combat.
  • Inquisitive: Masters of Insight and Investigation, the Inquisitive is hard to surprise or fool, and they can use their keen insight to allow them to Sneak Attack foes more easily than most rogues.
  • Phantom: Speak to the spirits of the dead and use their knowledge to empower your attacks and your skills.
  • Mastermind: Masters of planning and tactics, the Mastermind can use the Help action to great effect in combat, and can gain insights about other creatures outside of combat by studying them at length.
  • Scout: Adept skirmishers and ambushers, scouts are fast and difficult to pin down in combat, and move about quickly on the battlefield.
  • Soul Knife: Use psionic power to create deadly psychic blades in combat.
  • Swashbuckler: Charismatic master duelists, swashbucklers use their Charisma in unique ways both in and out of combat, and are masters at engaging foes one-on-one.
  • Thief: The iconic rogue, the Thief is a master of using tools and items (including magic items) to overcome challenges quickly.

Uncanny Dodge: If you only draw a handful of attacks this can prevent a huge amount of damage.

Evasion: Between this and uncanny dodge you are very durable.

Reliable Talent: This is especially nice for your Expertise skills, and it’s great motivation to pick up the Skilled feat.

Blindsense: Locating invisible creatures can be very hard, and even if you can’t hit them easily it goes a long way to know where they are standing.

Slippery Mind: Your Wisdom probably isn ‘t great, but at this level your Proficiency Bonus is big enough that this goes a long way.

Elusive: Between this, Uncanny Dodge, and Evasion you are very difficult to kill.

Stroke of Luck: Essential when the chips are down and you can’t afford to fail.

Optional Class Features

Introduced in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, Optional Class Features offer ways to add additional features or replace existing ones. These rules are optional, and you should not assume that your DM will allow these features without consulting them first.

Assessments and suggestions for specific Optional Class Features are presented here, but for more information on handling Optional Class Features in general, see my Practical Guide to Optional Class Features.

Steady Aim (Addition): Nowhere to hide? Nowhere to run? No shenanigans to get easy access to Sneak Attack? Steady Aim is your answer. It’s not especially exciting, but it’s incredibly effective, and provides a way for rogues to achieve Sneak Attack in situations where they might otherwise struggle to do so.

I recommend allowing Steady Aim on all single-class rogues who take subclasses that I rate orange or red, but you might also allow it for new players who are acclimating to 5e’s rules, especially if they struggle to keep track of the conditions which allow them to deliver sneak attacks. Delivering Sneak Attack is 5th edition is really easy in most situations, and having situations where the rogue can’t manage sneak attack is part of what balances the Rogue’s consistently high damage output. For a new player (or players who struggle with game mechanics) this can be a helpful crutch, but for experienced players who are comfortable with the rules, this is basically an on-switch for easy mode.

You do give up the ability to move under your own power for the turn in which you use Steady Aim, but that conveniently doesn’t apply to mounts or to a broom of flying, so abuse cases are both abundant and easy to access. If you’re asking yourself if you or someone in your game is experienced enough with the game that you don’t need Steady Aim, I recommend this as a barometer: If the player in question knows the game well enough to think of a horse as an abuse case, that player probably doesn’t need Steady Aim.

Ability Scores

Dexterity is key for any Rogue, and Intelligence is important for Arcane Tricksters, but your need for Wisdom and Charisma depend largely on your choice of skills and role in the party.

Str: Typically your dump stat. Nothing that a typical Rogue does uses Strength. However, you’re not forced to use Dexterity to make Sneak Attacks so long as you use a suitable weapon, so Strength-based rogues are technically possible. It’s usually a bad idea, but it is absolutely possible.

Dex: Rogues run on Dexterity. They add to you skills, your tools, your attacks, your damage, your AC, and your best save.

Con: Hit points are always important, especially for melee Rogues.

Int: Arcane Tricksters need Intelligence for their spells, but other Rogues only need it for Investigation.

Wis: Helpful for Insight and Perception, but otherwise useless. Inquisitives will want a bit more to power Unerring Eye, but Expertise will outweight your ability modifier anyway so you don’t need much.

Cha: Rogues make a great Face, and you can’t be a Face without Charisma.

Most RoguesArcane Trickster
Point BuyStandard ArrayPoint BuyStandard Array
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 15
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 11
  • Wis: 12
  • Cha: 12
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 15
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 10
  • Wis: 13
  • Cha: 12
  • Str: 10
  • Dex: 15
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 14
  • Wis: 10
  • Cha: 10
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 15
  • Con: 13
  • Int: 14
  • Wis: 12
  • Cha: 10


Dexterity bonuses are critical, and Darkvision is fantastic for sneaking around in the dark. Size doesn’t matter since Rogues don’t use heavy weapons. That sets a very low bar for races that work for the Rogue, so there’s a lot of room to look for other benefits. Access to better weapons like heavy crossbows, racial traits like flight, innate spellcasting, and damage resistances can all be excellent assets and with such simple requirements you have lots of room to explore racial traits which go beyond ability score increases.

Note that setting-specific races like the Changeling and the Satyr are addressed in setting-specific sections, below.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and flight in light armor. For a ranged rogue, that’s amazing. Keep in mind that the Aarakocra can’t hover, so if you use the Steady Aim Optional Class Feature you’ll need to land or you’ll fall out of the air.

Default Rules: Fantastic for an archer Rogue. Flying makes getting places much easier, especially where things like walls are an issue, and it keeps you out of range of enemies. Bonus Dexterity is also nice.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two damage resistances, and Darkvision. Transformation is still the big reason to play the Aasimar. Much like Sneak Attack, Transformation’s damage bonus is wasted if you don’t hit, so consider two-weapon fighting so that you have an additional chance to hit with an attack.

  • Fallen: The range is short so this is only viable in melee, and the DC of the fear effect is Charisma-based so it will only be reliable if you’re building to be a Face.
  • Protector: Flight when you need it. Ideal for ranged builds.
  • Scourge: Rogues don’t have the hit points to back this up.

Default Rules: Two damage resistances, Darkvision, and some innate spellcasting are neat, but without a Dexterity increase or skills or anything of the sort the Aasimar is really difficult choice for the Rogue.

  • Fallen: Bad ability spread.
  • Protector: Bad ability spread.
  • Scourge: Bad ability spread.

Aasimar (DMG Variant)DMG

Customized Origin: The innate spellcasting is neat, but not especially useful for the Rogue. The Protector Aasimar is a better fit.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and one skill. Long-limbed is great for staying out of reach, allowing you to use Cunning Action to Dash and get yourself far away from your target before your turn ends. Surprise Attack synergizes very well with Sneak Attack. A bugbear assassin is terrifyingly deadly in the first round of combat, provided that they roll well on initiative.

Default Rules: The Strength increase is totally wasted on a rogue, but reach is hard for rogues to get, you get Stealth proficiency for free, and Surprise Attack stacks with Sneak Attack so you can deal 3d6+weapon damage at first level and one-shot many enemies. The bonus damage is also multiplied on a critical hit, so the Assassin’s Assassinate feature offers an easy way to further capitalize on the bonus damage.

Custom LineageTCoE

Customized Origin: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no change to the Custom Lineage.

Default Rules: +2 increase, Darkvision, and a feat. Rogues only strictly need Dexterity, and Darkvision is a huge asset for sneaking around unnoticed, so the Custom Lineage is typically a better choice than the Variant Human. If you pick a feat which also offers a Dexterity increase, starting at 18 Dexterity is really nice.


The Draconblood and Ravenite subraces are addressed under Races of Wildemount, below.

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increase and damage resistance. The Dragonborn’s signature trait is their breath weapon, and while the ability to damage multiple foes is tempting it will almost always be less total damage than hitting with Sneak Attack.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.


Customized Origin: One +2 increase and a second increase from your subrace, poison resistance, plus a bunch of proficiencies which you’ll trade for tool proficiencies and possibly for proficiency in heavy crossbows.

  • DuergarSCAG: Invisibility as an innate spell is nice, but that’s the only big appeal here. Sunlight Sensitivitiy is a pain, and Enlarge/Reduce isn’t especially useful for the Rogue.
  • HillPHB: Bonus hit points are always nice.
  • MountainPHB: The Rogue is very SAD for a martial class, so the Mountain Dwarf’s two +2 increases aren’t a huge benefit. Medium armor is neat if you want to build around Strength for some reason, but there’s basically no reason to do so. Most likely you’ll put your increases into Dexterity and Constitution to make room for more feats later in your build.

Default Rules: The Dwarf’s traits are tangentially helpful for the Rogue, but they have trouble competing with races which provide a Dexterity bonus. Darkvision is particularly helpful, and a Constitution increase is always welcome, but since so much of the Rogue’s capabilities rely on Dexterity it’s still a challenging way to build a character.

  • DuergarSCAG: Invisibility is a great option for any rogue, but that’s not enough, especially since numerous other races can do the same and have ability increases which work better for the rogue.
  • HillPHB: Extra hit points are nice, and a bit of Wisdom helps with Perception, but without a Dexterity increase you’ll lag on core rogue competencies like Stealth.
  • MountainPHB: Strength and medium armor are both useless for most rogues, but the combination makes a Strength-based build possible. You only need the 14 Dexterity to max out medium armor, and you can be just as effective in combat as a Dexterity-based rogue. You’ll lag on normal rogue capabilities like Stealth, but a rogue isn’t required to be sneaky if you don’t want to be. High Strength also means that you can be good at things like Athletics which most rogues are bad at. If you want to explore a Strength-based build but don’t want to be a dwarf, you’ll likely need to multiclass.


The Palid Elf subrace is addressed under Races of Wildemount, below.

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace provides an additional +1), Darkvision, one skill (which you should leave as Perception). Most elf subraces offer some weapon proficiencies, most of which are martial weapons which you have little reason to use. Instead, trade some of those proficiencies to get proficiency in whips (reach) and heavy crossbows (1d10 damage compared to the Hand Crossbow’s 1d6) and you’ll have some cool options not available to other rogues.

  • DrowPHB: Decent in a subterranean campaign, but nothing good enough to offset Sunlight Sensitivity.
  • EladrinMToF: The teleportation is great, and the Charisma-based rider effect works great if you’re built to be a Face.
  • Eladrin (Variant)DMG: Trade the standard Eladrin’s rider effect for four weapon proficiencies which you can trade for better ones and/or tools. If you want the Eladrin’s teleportation but you’re not building a Face, the Variant Eladrin is a great choice.
  • High ElfPHB: Booming Blade is just too good and too easy on the Rogue. It works on any melee rogue, and it’s so effective that there’s little reason to explore other options.
  • Sea ElfEGtW / MToF: Only in an aquatic campaign.
  • Shadar-KaiMToF: The Shadar-Kai’s teleportation is good, but at only once per long rest it’s not as impactful as either version of the Eladrin. The damage resistance is nice, but necrotic damage is rare.
  • Wood ElfPHB: Mask of the Wild is a nice when you’re in forests, but otherwise the Wood Elf’s traits aren’t appealing.

Default Rules: A bonus to Dexterity, Darkvision, and Perception proficiency are perfect for the Rogue.

  • DrowPHB: Improved Darkvision range is helpful for ambushing enemies which also have Darkvision, but Sunlight Sensitivity is really impractical outside of subterranean campaigns. If you’re here for the innate spellcasting, consider the Drow Half-Elf instead.
  • EladrinMToF: Roughly on par with the High Elf, Fey Step is a massive benefit for a class so dependent on stealth and surprise, and occasionally dependent on running when a fight turns sour. While the High Elf is better offensively for melee builds, the Eladrin is great for ranged builds, and the Charisma-based rider effects are especially effective you’re playing the party’s Face.
  • Eladrin (Variant)DMG: An Intelligence increase increase is great of arcane tricksters, and if you don’t have much Charisma it’s easy to give up the standard Eladrin’s teleportation rider effect. Proficiency with longbows is the only weapon proficiency which you’ll benefit from, but it’s only slightly more damage than a hand crossbow or a shortbow, so it’s not huge. You’re mostly here for the Intelligence increase.
  • High ElfPHB: Booming Blade on a melee rogue is just ridiculously effective. Combined with Cunning Action you have an easy way to dart in, hit with Booming Blade (and ideally deliver Sneak Attack) and move away safely while punishing enemies for chasing you. The Swashbuckler archetype is especially good at abusing this combination because they can deliver Sneak Attack in melee easily without requiring allies to also be in melee with the target.
  • Sea ElfEGtW / MToF: Only in an aquatic campaign.
  • Shadar-KaiMToF: The Shadar-Kai’s teleportation is good, but at only once per long rest it’s not as impactful as either version of the Eladrin. The damage resistance is nice, but necrotic damage is rare.
  • Wood ElfPHB: Wisdom is nice for Perception, and Mask of the Wild is a nice when you’re in forests, but otherwise the Wood Elf’s traits aren’t especially impactful.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and some spellcasting that’s mostly situational. Hidden Step is great for rogues, but the duration is short so you may be better served by races which can cast Invisibility.

Default Rules: Nothing useful for the Rogue.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace provides an additional +1), but the vast majority of the Genasi’s traits come from the subraces.

  • Air: Play a race that can fly.
  • Earth: Pass Without Trace is really tempting, but if you’re worried about Stealth you should get Expertise in Stealth.
  • Fire: Sneak Attack will always outpace the spells.
  • Water: Only in an aquatic campaign.

Default Rules: A Constitution bonus never hurts, but Rogues who take a lot of damage don’t live very long no matter how many hit points they have.

  • Air: The Dexterity bonus isn’t enough to make up for the Air Genasi’s lack of other useful traits. If you want to get off the ground, play an Aarakocra.
  • Earth: Nothing useful for the Rogue.
  • Fire: Sneak Attack will always outpace the spells.
  • Water: Nothing useful for the Rogue.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace provides an additional +2), but the bulk of your notable racial traits come from your subrace.

  • Githyanki: Trade the proficiencies for whips, heavy crossbows, and three tools. The innate spellcasting is neat, but you’re mostly here for Misty Step. Compare the Githyanki to the Variant Eladrin: The Variant Eladrin gets to use Misty Step on a Short Rest, and the Githyank gets to cast Mage Hand and Jump and gets one more tool proficiency. It’s not a great trade.
  • Githzerai: Resistance to common charm and fear conditions, and interesting innate spellcasting. Keep in mind that you need a free hand to cast Shield, so two-weapon fighting is risky unless you’re throwing one of the weapons.

Default Rules: The Intelligence increase looks tempting for an Arcane Trickster, but that is not nearly enough.

  • Githyanki: Bad ability spread.
  • Githzerai: Bad ability spread.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace offers a +1 increase), Darkvision, and Gnome Cunning.

  • Deep (Svirfneblin)EEPC / SCAG: You’re not saddled with Sunlight Sensitivity, but the Svirfneblin still doesn’t offer enough that it’s useful outside of a subterranean campaign.
  • ForestPHB: Minor Illusion is great. It’s easy to compare the Forest Gnome to the High Elf: you give up the ability to pick your cantrip and a skill in exchange for Gnome Cunning.
  • RockPHB: Tinker is not useful enough to make this appealing.

Default Rules: Intelligence and Darkvision work for an Arcane Trickster, but other Rogues won’t get as much benefit from Intelligence.

  • Deep (Svirfneblin)EEPC / SCAG: Fantastic in a subterranean game, but otherwise unremarkable.
  • ForestPHB: Dexterity is great for a Rogue, and combined with the base Gnome’s Intelligence bonus this is a fantastic choice for an Arcane Trickster.
  • RockPHB: The Constitution buff is the only thing with any significant game effect.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and Darkvision. Nimble Escape is redundant, so Fury of the Small is the Goblin’s signature trait. It’s fine, but it won’t really change your tactics.

Default Rules: The ability scores are fantastic, but Nimble Escape is totally redundant with Cunning Action.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, one skill, and damage resistance. Stone’s Endurance is redundant with Uncanny Dodge.

Default Rules: Goliaths are Strength-based melee monsters, which really don’t work for the Rogue.


Customized Origin: +2/+1/+1 increases, Darkvision, and Fey Ancestry. Rogues don’t really need three increases, but they certainly don’t hurt.

  • Aquatic Half-ElfSCAG: Only in an aquatic campaign.
  • Drow Half-ElfSCAG: The innate spellcasting is Charisma-based so if you’re built to be a Face it can work reasonably well. Faerie Fire is especially appealing because it provides an easy way to deliver Sneak Attack in situations where it might otherwise be difficult.
  • High Half-ElfSCAG: Booming Blade is still amazing. You give up the Elf’s skill proficiency for a third ability score increase, but the Rogue already gets four skills so that may be fine for you.
  • Standard Half-ElfPHB: Rogues get a lot of skills, but not nearly enough to cover everything that a Rogue may want to do, especially if you’re the party’s Face.
  • Wood Half-ElfSCAG: Nothing even remotely comparable to what’s available from other half-elf subraces.

Default Rules: Three ability score increases, Darkvision, Fey Ancestry, and numerous excellent subrace options to support a variety of rogue builds.

  • Aquatic Half-ElfSCAG: Only in an aquatic campaign.
  • Drow Half-ElfSCAG: With enough Charisma, you can make the innate spellcasting very effective. But if you have a lot of Charisma you’re probably playing a Face so the Standard Half-Elf is probably a better choice.
  • High Half-ElfSCAG: Roughly equivalent to the High Elf. Grab Booming Blade and enjoy your easy hit-and-run tactics.
  • Standard Half-ElfPHB: Rogues get a lot of skills, but not nearly enough to cover everything that a Rogue may want to do, especially if you’re the party’s Face. Two more skills makes you extremely capable both inside and outside of combat.
  • Wood Half-ElfSCAG: Nothing even remotely comparable to what’s available from other half-elf subraces.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and one skill. The Half-Orc’s Savage Attacks and Relentless Endurance are their signature traits. Savage Attack synergizes well the Assasinate, so half-orc assassins may be interesing, but will drop in effectiveness after the first round of combat. Relentless Endurance is nice, but not particularly important on the Rogue.

Default Rules: I really want to use Savage Attacks with the Assassin’s Assassinate ability, but the Half-Orc’s ability bonuses just don’t help a Rogue.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Brave, and Lucky. Lucky isn’t as impactful for the Rogue as it is for classes which make multiple attacks, but the Rogue’s numerous skills may mean that you’re rolling enough skills to enjoy Lucky’s benefits frequently.

  • GhostwiseSCAG: Silent Speech is a great way to avoid notice while doing rogue things.
  • LightfootPHB: The ability to hide behind your party’s Defender is a huge tactical asset when combined with Cunning Action.
  • StoutPHB: A bit of the Dwarf’s durability, but with the ability to rearrange ability scores why not just play a dwarf?

Default Rules: A Dexterity bonus is great, and Lucky is always helpful, especially since Rogues generally only get one or two attacks.

  • GhostwiseSCAG: Silent Speech is a fun trick, but you’ll get more mileage out of other halfling subraces with more helpful ability score increases.
  • LightfootPHB Hide behind the fighter!
  • StoutPHB Good for a durable Rogue, but not as stealthy or charismatic as the Lightfoot Halfling.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and some extra proficiencies which you can use to get whips, heavy crossbows, and a tool. The Hobgoblin’s noteworthy feature is Saving Face. It provides a great way to turn near-miss failed rolls into successes, especially if you have numerous allies nearby, and since you only make one important attack per turn it may be worth using to make a Sneak Attack when it’s tactically impactful to do so.

Default Rules: The ability score increases don’t help much, but Saving Face is great on a class which frequently needs to depend on a single attack per round. Hobgoblins also get two free weapon proficiencies of your choice, so you could get proficiency in great weapons like heavy crossbows and whips, both of which can be used for Sneak Attack and have advantages over the Rogue’s normally limited weapon options.


Customized Origin:

  • Standard: With perfect ability scores on the table for every race, there is no reason to play the Standard Human.
  • Variant: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no change to the Variant Human.

Default Rules:

  • Standard: Rogues have enough skills that they can reasonably justify having several good ability scores, so take advantage of the point buy method and Human’s ability modifiers, and boost a bunch of base 13s to 14. Of course, at that point why not just play a bard and build around Jack of All Trades?
  • Variant: You still get crucial bonuses to Dexterity and something else, and you can get an awesome feat at level 1. The additional skill is great, too. Generally the Custom Lineage is a better fit for the Rogue, but if you’re going for a melee build you may prefer to split your increases between Dexterity and Constitution.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and two skills. Expert Forgery and Mimicry feel like great thematic additions to the Rogue, so even if they’re not always mechanically impactful they’re excellent flavor. Mimicry may even prove useful while scouting because you can replicate sounds or conversations which you observe.

Default Rules: Good ability score increases and two free skills. Not super flashy, and not as flexible as the Standard Half-Elf, but still good. Expert Forgery and Mimicry feel like great thematic additions to the Rogue, so even if they’re not always mechanically impactful they’re excellent flavor. Mimicry may even prove useful while scouting because you can replicate sounds or conversations which you observe.


Customized Origin: +2 increase and Darkvision. The Customizing Your Origin optional rule does little to change the Kobold, but it honestly didn’t need improvement for the Rogue.

Default Rules: Pack Tactics is insanely powerful for rogues. Get a familiar, a summoned creature, or a friend to stand next to whatever you want to kill and you get automatic Advantage. Sneak Attack is basically guranteed. Oh, and the ability increases are fantastic. The only drawback is Sunlight Sensitivity, but Pack Tactics conveniently negates that.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two skills, and natural armor. If you’re fine with Hungry Jaws being unreliable, you can build around Dexterity and hit 18 AC.

Default Rules: The Lizardfolk’s natural armor will provide more AC than manufactured light armor can, and two free skills are a nice complement to the Rogue’s already expansive skillset. Lizardfolk do great when built to emphasize Dexterity, but Hungry Jaws is always dependent on Strength, so emphasizing Dexterity likely means giving up on Hungry Jaws.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two skills, and Leviathan Will. Among the better aquatic options, Leviathan Will provides a robust defensive option against a long list of harmful status conditions which any adventurer is sure to face and which you can’t mitigate with Uncanny Dodge or Evasion.

Default Rules: The Dexterity increase and the free skills are decent, though Athletics won’t see much use for most rogues. Leviathan Will offers some useful defensive options, too. The Locathah isn’t as good as something like the Kenku or the Tabaxi, but it’s still viable, and it’s the condition resistances protect you from stuff not covered by Evasion or Unanny Dodge.


Note that errata has corrected the multiple versions of the Orc to all provide the same traits. The Intelligence decrease has been removed, and the Primal Intuition now allows selecting two skills from a list. The Orc of Exandria entry from Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount omits the Powerful Build trait, but it’s not clear if that was an intentional change.

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, two skills. Aggressive is redundant with Cunning Action, so while the Orc is viable there’s basically no reason to play an orc over something comparable like the Kenku or ther Tabaxi.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, two skills. Feline Agility is the Tabaxi’s signature trait. It combines very well with Cunning Action, allowing a tabaxi rogue to run up to six times their land speed if they do nothing else that turn.

Default Rules: Everything about the Tabaxi is perfect for the Rogue. You don’t get to select from a list of skills like the Kenku does, but basically every Rogue in existence wants Perception and Stealth anyway.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and damage resistance. Most subraces/variants offer innate spellcasting of some kind. The innate spellcasting is Charisma-based, so anything which requires an attack or a save will be difficult unless you’re building yourself to be a Face.

  • AsmodeusPHB/MToF: Fine but not impressive. Hellish Rebuke is the only part that cares about your spell DC so it hardly justifies investing in Charisma.
  • BaalzebulMToF: Even with enough Charisma to make the spells work, the spells just aren’t very good.
  • DispaterMToF: Situational utility options.
  • FiernaMToF: Weirdly the spells are a great substitute for Face skills, but you need Charisma to make them reliable which probably means that you have Face skills so these are either great in combination with your skills or worthless because you have the skills already. Hard to say.
  • GlasyaMToF: If you’re an arcane trickster, this will save you some spells. If you’re not an arcane trickers, this gives you some of their signature spell options. Either way, it’s great.
  • LevistusMToF: Ray of Frost can’t deliver Sneak Attack, and Armor of Agathys is borderline useless since you can’t cast it above first level.
  • MammonMToF: Situational utility options.
  • MephistophelesMToF: Flame blade is garbage.
  • ZarielMToF: The spells are fine and work reasonably well for melee builds, but Searing Smite isn’t good enough to justify investing in Charisma.
  • Variant: FeralSCAG: The Customizing Your Origin optional rules make the Feral variant obsolete. All it does is rearrange your ability score increases.
  • Variant: Devil’s TongueSCAG: A great choice for a Face build, Vicious Mockery offers a great ranged option in those rare situations where Sneak Attack simply isn’t possible.
  • Variant: HellfireSCAG: Sneak Attack will nearly always out-damage Burning Hands.
  • Variant: WingedSCAG: On most rogues, flight will be much easier than innate spellcasting. A Winged Tiefling is easy to compare to the Aarakocra, trading 20 ft. of fly speed for Darkvision and resistance to fire damage. Both options work very well for the Rogue, but I think the Tiefling’s traits outweight the Aarakocra’s speed.

Default Rules: Darkvision and the free spells offer some interesting options, especially with the numerous Tiefling subraces. Depending on your subclass and whether or not you want to be a Face you’ll find some subraces more appealing than others. If you have enough Charisma to be your party’s Face, the Tiefling’s innate spellcasting can be very effective. If you don’t, stick to subraces with innate spellcasting that doesn’t care about your spellcasting modifier.

  • AsmodeusPHB/MToF: Combined with Feral, this is fine but not impressive. Thaumaturgy is neat, but not especially powerful. Hellish Rebuke is exciting but again, not especially powerful. Darkness is a situational utility option, but without the ability to see through it, it’s not a massive tactical advantage for you.
  • BaalzebulMToF: Too reliant on offensive spells that won’t work well for the Rogue.
  • DispaterMToF: Good ability spread, and interesting spell options. This is a great option in a campaign with a lot of intrigue, espionage, and social interaction, but even outside of that style of campaign the spell options are likely easier for the Rogue than the Asmodeus Tiefling’s spells.
  • FiernaMToF: Too reliant on save DCs and without a Dexterity increase you’ll need to combine this with Feral and sabotage your Charisma. There’s just no way to make it work.
  • GlasyaMToF: Ideal for tiefling rogues. Several useful spell options normally only available to arcane tricksters and which don’t rely on your spellcasting ability modifier, and the ability increases work even if you don’t combine this with Feral.
  • LevistusMToF: Combined with Feral, this is workable but not ideal. Ray of Frost won’t be useful, and Armor of Agathys isn’t especially useful if you can’t cast it above 1st level, so this is strictly worse than Feral Asmoedeus.
  • MammonMToF: Situational utility options. They’re not particularly useful, but they also don’t care about your spellcasting ability modifier.
  • MephistophelesMToF: Mage Hand is the best part of this variant for the Rogue, which should tell you just how bad this is. And, as I say on every class handbook, Flame Blade is garbage.
  • ZarielMToF: Combining Feral will make this just barely interesting thanks to Searing Smite, but Searing Smite is not nearly impactful enough to make this a good idea.
  • Variant: FeralSCAG: Perfect for the Arcane trickster, and it can make several other tiefling variants viable when combined.

    According to the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, the Feral Variant is compatible with other variants.

  • Variant: Devil’s TongueSCAG: Tempting if you are building a Face with decent Charisma, but hard without a Dexterity increase and combining this with Feral makes the spellcasting less effective.
  • Variant: HellfireSCAG: If you’re casting Burning Hands then you’re not using Sneak Attack.
  • Variant: WingedSCAG: On most rogues, flight will be much easier than innate spellcasting. Combine this with Feral, and you’ll do just fine. A Feral Winged Tiefling is easy to compare to the Aarakocra, trading 20 ft. of fly speed for Darkvision and resistance to fire damage. Both options work very well for the Rogue, but I think the Tiefling’s traits outweight the Aarakocra’s speed.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, one skill, and natural armor. The natural armor stops mattering when you hit 20 Dexterity, so there’s very little reason to play a tortle beyond low levels.

Default Rules: Rogues can’t make effective use of Strength or Wisdom, and none of the Tortle’s other traits are especially appealing. If you want something similar, consider the Lizardfolk instead.


Customized Origin: The Triton’s three ability score increases aren’t as useful for the Rogue as they are for more MAD classes, and the innate spellcasting is only situationally useful.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and one skill. Telepathic Insight protects you from the most common mental saves, and Limited Telepathy allows you to communicate with allies while remaining concealed. Black-Blood Healing isn’t super impactful, but it’ll make your d8 hit dice a little bit more reliable. Altogether, this is an excellent all-around rogue without adding any complicated new mechanics like flight or innate spellcasting.

Default Rules: The Verdan has a lot that’s useful for the Rogue, but without a Dexterity increase you’ll have a lot of problems in combat.

Yuan-Ti PurebloodVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, poison immunity, and Magic Resistance. The innate spellcasting is garbage, but you really don’t need it. Magic Resistance is a powerful defense, and combined with Evasion you’re basically immune to fireballs and similar spells.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread. The Charisma increase is nice for a Face, but you’ll struggle at anything else.

Setting-specific races are address below. Not every setting allows every race, and while most races presented in the core rules and in content for the Forgotten Realms can be used in other settings, races specific to settings like Ravnica aren’t typically allowed in other settings. Talk to your DM about what races are allowed in your game. 

Races of Eberron

BugbearERLW: See above under the general Races section.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and two skills. Shapechange feels very natural on the Rogue, but with several other race options which can cast Disguise Self it feels less unique.

Default Rules: Changelings make natural rogues. Dexterity, Charisma, extra Face skills, and the ability to change your appearance at will allow the Rogue to conduct all sorts of subterfuge. However, because the Changeling’s capabilities are so heavily devoted to social situations, you may have trouble delving dungeons compared to other races.

GoblinERLW: See above under the general Races section.

HobgoblinERLW: See above under the general Races section.

OrcERLW: See above under the general Races section.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases. Resistance to psychic damage is nice, though psychic damage isn’t common. Dual Mind provides an important defense, but other options like the Yuan-Ti Pureblood and the Verdan are more appealing and may be more broadly effective at protecting you from stuff that hurts your brains.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.


Customized Origin:+2/+1 increases (each subrace provides an additional +2), Darkvision, and one skill. The Shifter’s signature trait is Shifting, which is a Bonus Action combat buff which works great but can compete with the Rogue’s other uses for their Bonus Action (Two-Weapon Fighting and Cunning, plus potentially subclass features). It’s a decent buff on its own, and your subrace will offer additional effects.

  • Beasthide: A bigger pool of temporary hit points and a modest AC bonus can be helpful, but most rogues shouldn’t be drawing enough fire for this to be consistently useful, and you have Uncanny Dodge to pad your hit points.
  • Longtooth: The attack is Strength-based and since it’s not a weapon it can’t deliver Sneak Attack.
  • Swiftstride: Redundant with Cunning Action.
  • Wildhunt: The shifting feature is borderline useless.

Default Rules: Darkvision is fantastic on any rogue, but the Shifter’s subraces offer nothing that the Rogue can’t already do.

  • Beasthide: Bad ability spread.
  • Longtooth: Bad ability spread, and the bonus action bite attack can’t deal Sneak Attack.
  • Swiftstride: The ability score increases are great, but the Shifting Feature doesn’t give you anything that you couldn’t already do with Cunning Action.
  • Wildhunt: The ability increases are fine, but the Shifting Feature is almost useless.


Customized Origin: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no meaningful changes to the Warforged. You can move the Constitution increase around, but increasing Constitution is still the best way to use that increase.

Default Rules: The flexible ability increase can give you the crucial Dexterity increase, but the bonus to AC isn’t as important to the Rogue because it’s so easy for the Rogue to remove themselves from situations where they would take damage, and you can rely on Uncanny Dodge to mitigate any damage you do suffer. Still, if you want to be a rogue but you also need to be your party’s Defender, consider a Swashbuckler build. If you get proficiency with shields, you can manage an AC of 20, and with Uncanny Dodge you’ll be difficult to kill despite relatively poor hit points compared to the Fighter.


While the design intent for Dragonmarks was that they would offer some innate spellcasting for everyone, every dragonmark includes an expanded spell list which is arguably a more significant benefit than most of the provided racial traits. Because the expanded spell options are such an important part of the dragonmarks, if you’re not playing a spellcaster you’re giving up a huge part of your racial traits, which makes it exceptionally difficult to justify playing a dragonmark character who can’t cast spells.

Dragonmarked DwarfERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Warding: While most of the spells are situational, Mark of Warding has some exciting benefits. The bonus with Thieves’ Tools will be consistently useful in many campaigns, and it works on top of Expertise so you can be truly incredible with Thieves’ Tools. Mage Armor is +1 AC compared to the best light armor and lasts 8 hours, providing a consistent increase in durability. Armor of Agathys is an interesting choice for the Arcane Trickster, and provides both an easy source of temporary hit points and a way to punish enemies for hitting you. You can also combine it with Uncanny Dodge to stretch the temporary hit points and get more out of the spell than usual.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Warding: Bad ability spread.
Dragonmarked ElfERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Shadow: Everything about Mark of Shadow is perfect for the rogue. The only new spell for the Arcane Trickster is Pass Without Trace, but Pass Without Trace is really good so that’s hardly a drawback.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Shadow: An obvious choice for the Rogue. Unfortunately, Mark of Shadow’s spell options are almost all available to the Arcane Trickster already, so the only rogue subclass which can use the extra spells gains very little benefit from them.
Dragonmarked GnomeERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Scribing: The benefits are far too situational.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Scribing: Bad ability spread.
Dragonmarked Half-ElfERLW

Dragonmark traits replace some of your normal racial traits, as described in the entry for each Dragonmark.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Detection: The skill bonuses are great for skills which are important but which typically don’t rank high enough to justify Expertise. Most of the spells are only situationally useful, but See Invisibility is excellent for a class which frequently scouts areas while separated from the party.
  • Mark of Storm: The benefits are too weak and too situational.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Detection: The flexible ability increase can go into Dexterity, and the spellcasting adds divination options which the Arcane Trickster can’t usually cast, allowing you to use magic to improve your scouting abilities. However, you do still need to learn the spells normally and with the cap on spells known beyond your school limitations that can be difficult.
  • Mark of Storm: The ability increases work for the Rogue, but the other benefits are too situational and there is very little on the spell list which arcane tricksters can justify learning.
Dragonmarked Half-OrcERLW

Dragonmark traits replace ALL of your racial traits.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Finding: The bonuses to Perception and Survival are nice, and thematically this can make the Rogue feel a bit more like the Ranger. But before you go for the Scout, remember that you don’t get to use any of the spells except Hunter’s Mark unless you’re an Arcane Trickster, and Hunter’s Mark is basically useless for the Rogue. Unfortunately, most of the spells aren’t worth learning with your few spaces for spells outside of the enchantment/illusion schools.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Finding: Bad ability spread.
Dragonmarked HalflingERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Healing: The idea of a rogue who can also heal is tempting, but the amount of healing you get to do is miniscule. Unless you’re an arcane trickster, the Variant Aasimar is a more effective package. Even if you are an arcane trickster, you still need to spend your limited non-restricted spells known to benefit, and with your tiny pool of spell slots that’s likely not worth the effort.
  • Mark of Hospitality: Very few of the traits are consistently useful. The innate spellcasting includes some neat utilities, but they’ll make little mechanical impact. The spell list is difficult to justify for the Arcane Trickster. There’s basically nothing here that you need.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Healing: The ability score increases work fine, and the expanded healing options allow the Arcane Trickster to serve as a healer in a pinch. Rogues tend to stay alive when things go poorly for the rest of the party, so having access to Healing Word is a benefit which is difficult to ignore. However, you do still need to learn the spells normally and with the cap on spells known beyond your school limitations that can be difficult.
  • Mark of Hospitality: The ability score increases work fine, but the spells aren’t especially useful for a class with access to so little spellcasting, and since you get to learn so few spells beyond enchantment/illusion it’s difficult to justify learning the spells offered by Mark of Hospitality.
Dragonmarked HumanERLW

Dragonmark traits replace ALL of your normal racial traits.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Finding: See Mark of Finding under Dragonmarked Half-Orc, above. Mechanically, the final racial traits are identical.
  • Mark of Handling: Even with the ability to rearrange ability scores, there’s no way to set your scores to support this. Even if you could, by the time an arcane trickster could put the spells to use you’ll be such high level that beasts will stop appearing often enough to justify any of this. Sure, you get The Bigger They Are, but that’s extremely situational and it’s nowhere near enough to make this worthwhile.
  • Mark of Making: Magic Weapon is neat, but nothing else here is particularly appealing, and most of the spells are already on the Wizard’s spell list so the Arcane Trickster doesn’t get any new options.
  • Mark of Passage: Misty Step once per Long Rest and arcane tricksters can learn Pass Without Trace. Mark of Shadow is generally a better choice.
  • Mark of Sentinel: Several very interesting defensive options. Shield once per day for free, and Shield of Faith among other defensive buffs available for arcane tricksters. Unfortunately, Sheild of Faith will conflict with Shadow Blade so you’ll need to choose between offense and defense, and generally rogues lean toward offense.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Finding: See Mark of Finding under Dragonmarked Half-Orc, above. Mechanically, the final racial traits are identical.
  • Mark of Handling: Thematically a scout rogue makes sense, but to benefit from the spellcasting you want to play an arcane trickster. The ability score increases work fine, and the spells are neat, but you’ll need to somehow have high scores in Dexterity, Intelligence, and Wisdom to support the spellcasting, and unless animals are weirdly common in your campaign you’ll get the spells so late that you’ll almost certainly never encounter anything worth targeting tiwth the spells.
  • Mark of Making: The ability increases work for the Arcane Trickster, but the spellcasting does surpisingly little to help you. Magic Weapon doesn’t affect Shadow Blade, and the spells are all on the Wizard’s spell list already so you don’t get any new options. The ability scores are basically all that you get.
  • Mark of Passage: Perfect ability score increases, and the spellcasting adds some useful options for the Arcane Trickster including Pass Without Trace. Beyond the ability score increases, Mark of Shadow is generally a better choice.
  • Mark of Sentinel: Bad ability spread.

Races of Ravnica


Customized Origin: Too dependent on Strength to work for the Rogue.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

GoblinGGTR: See above under the general Races section.


Customized Origin: Keen Smell is the best that the Loxodon has to offer. The natural armor will be as good as light armor at the absolute best, Trunk will be useless without heavy investment in Strength, and Loxodon Serenity can be matched by a number of other races.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.


Customized Origin: Too dependent on Strength to work for the Rogue.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

Simic HybridGGTR

Customized Origin: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no meaningful changes to the Simic Hybrid. You can move the Constitution increase around, but increasing Constitution is still the best way to use that increase.

Default Rules: Versatile and fantastic. Animal Enhancements can solve several problems which normally require magic, though some of the better options like Grappling Appendages hold little appeal for the Rogue.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, one skill, one tool. Vedalken Dispassion is a powerful defense, and Tireless Precision can provide useful bonuses with skills and tools which will stack with Expertise to make you borderline unstoppable.

Default Rules: The ability scre increases are hard without a Dexterity increase, but Tireless Precision can be very useful for crucial proficiencies like Thieves’ Tools.

Races of Theros

CentaurMOoT: See above under the Races of Ravnica section.

HumanMOoT: See above under the general Races section.


Customized Origin: 2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and one skill. Daunting Roar is neat, but if you ever need it you should probably run away instead.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

MinotaurMOoT: See above under the Ravnica Races section.


Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two skills, Fey creature type, and Magic Resistance. Not quite as durable as the Yuan-Ti Pureblood, but the Rogue needs skills more than they need Poison Immunity.

Default Rules: Dexterity, Charisma, two free skills, and Magic Resistance. Great for any build except the Arcane Trickster.

TritonMOoT: See above under the general Races section.

Races of Wildemount

AarakocraEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

AasimarEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

BugbearEGtW: See above under the general Races section.


Wildemount presents two new Dragonborn variants, each replacing the standard Dragonborn’s ability score increases and damage resistance.

Customized Origin:

  • DraconbloodEGtW: Forceful Presence is neat, but if you’re that worried about these skills then you should put Expertise into them. Still, Darkvision is a big win for the Rogue so the Draconblood Dragonborn is a good improvement on the standard Dragonborn.
  • RaveniteEGtW: Sneak Attack is once per turn, so Vengeful Assault can deliver an additional Sneak Attack outside of your turn. You also get Darkvision, which is an improvement over the standard dragonborn.

Default Rules:

  • DraconbloodEGtW: Bad ability spread.
  • RaveniteEGtW: Bad ability spread.


Wildemount elves share the core traits of PHB elves, but Wildemount adds two new subraces. See above for more information on other elf subraces.

Customized Origin:

  • Pallid ElfEGtW: The skill bonuses are helpful for skills that typically don’t rank high enough to justify Expertise, and you can cast Invisibility once per long rest. On top of the Elf’s core traits, that’s a good package. If you want more spellcasting, consider the Glasya Tiefling instead.
  • Sea ElfEGtW / MToF: See above under the general Races section.

Default Rules:

  • Pallid ElfEGtW: Wisdom is great for Perception, and Incisive Sense offers a significant bonus on skills which the Rogue is often expected to be good at. Blessing of Moon Weaver is a great addition, but while Invisibility is perpetually useful Sleep will be obsolete by the time you get the ability to cast it.
  • Sea ElfEGtW / MToF: See above under the general Races section.

FirbolgsEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

GenasiEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

GoblinEGtW: See above under the general Races section.


Wildemount halflings share the core traits of PHB halflings, but Wildemount adds a new subrace. See above for information on other halfling subraces.

Customized Origin:

  • LotusdenEGtW: The spellcasting is Wisdom-based, and with the ability to rearrange ability scores the Lotusden Halfling needs to distinguish itself with spellcasting that simply isn’t workable for the vast majority of rogues.

Default Rules:

  • LotusdenEGtW: An interesting concept and absolutely workable, but the spellcasting might not be as useful as traits provided by other halfling subraces, especially since it’s Wisdom-based.

HobgoblinEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

GoliathEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

KenkuEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

OrcEGtW: See above, under “Races of Eberron”. Wildemount uses the updated Orc racial traits rather than the original traits published in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

TabaxiEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

TortleEGtW: See above under the general Races section.


  • Acrobatics (Dex): Very situational.
  • Athletics (Str): Rogues don’t really do anything that requires Athletics. Thieves might want it for climbing, but even that is very infrequent.
  • Deception (Cha): Important for a Face.
  • Insight (Wis): Important for a Face.
  • Intimidation (Cha): Important for a Face.
  • Investigation (Int): Very helpful, but not as important as Perception.
  • Perception (Wis): Perception is by far the most important skill in the game, and it’s important that several characters in the party have it.
  • Performance (Cha): Performance is for Bards.
  • Persuasion (Cha): Essential for a Face.
  • Sleight of Hand (Dex): Sleight of Hand is very thematic for many Rogues, but it’s not very useful.
  • Stealth (Dex): A Rogue without Stealth is a very strange Rogue.


This section does not address every published background, as doing so would result in an ever-growing list of options which don’t cater to the class. Instead, this section will cover the options which I think work especially well for the class, or which might be tempting but poor choices. Racial feats are discussed in the Races section, above.

Rogues can do a lot, but they also need a lot of skills to do it all. Look for backgrounds which fill in proficiencies which are already on the Rogue skill list but which you couldn’t get with yoour choice of two skills.

If you’re having trouble deciding, here are some suggestions:

  • AcolytePHB: Insight and Religion can be decent options for a Rogue with the right abilities, and extra languages are helpful for a Face.
  • CharlatanPHB: Two Rogue skills and two tool kits.
  • City WatchSCAG: Athletics doesn’t do much for Rogues, but Insight and free languages are great for a Face.
  • Cloistered ScholarSCAG: Two knowledge skills and two language can be excellent additions to a Face with decent Intelligence.
  • CourtierSCAG: Perfect for a Face.
  • CriminalPHB: Two important Rogue skills, and two tool kits. You already get Thieves’ Tools proficiency as a Rogue, so you can replace Thieves’ Tools with another proficiency of the same type. I recommend Poisoner’s Kit.
  • EntertainerPHB: Disguise Kit proficiency is really the only interesting piece.
  • Faction AgentSCAG: Fantastic for a Face, and it allows you to fill in a social skill which you couldn’t get elsewhere.
  • Far TravelerSCAG: Two excellent skills for a Rogue, a bonus language, and proficiency with an item that you’ll probably never use.
  • Guild ArtisanPHB: Two important skills for any Face, but the tool proficiency isn’t very helpful.
  • InheritorSCAG: You can’t really use Survival, but the rest is decent. Far Traveler provides similar options with better skills.
  • Mercenary VeteranSCAG: Athletics is occasionally useful for Rogues, and any face needs Persuasion.
  • NoblePHB: A good choice for a Face. History is decent if you have a bit of Intelligence to back it up.
  • SagePHB: An Arcane Trickster might have enough Intelligence to justify two knowledge skills, and the extra languages are nice for a Face.
  • Urban Bounty HunterSCAG: Basically two additional skill choices from the Rogue class skills, plus some tool proficiencies, including the ever-important Thieve’s Tools.
  • UrchinPHB: Two important Rogue skills, and two tool kits. You already get Thieves’ Tools proficiency as a Rogue, so you can replace Thieves’ Tools with another proficiency of the same type. I recommend Poisoner’s Kit.
  • Waterdavian NobleSCAG: Potentially good for a Face with decent Intelligence.


This section does not address every published feat, as doing so would result in an ever-growing list of options which don’t cater to the class. Instead, this section will cover feats which I think work especially well for the class or which might be tempting but poor choices.

  • AlertPHB: Going first is great for Rogues, especially Assassins.
  • ActorPHB: Complements the Assassin’s disguise and infiltration abilities very nicely.
  • Crossbow ExpertPHB: If you’re built to fight at range, Crossbow Expert is tempting. Allowing an additional crossbow attack as a bonus action gives you a backup option if you fail to deliver a Sneak Attack on your first attack, and unlike two-weapon fighting you get to apply your ability modifier to damage with the additional attack. However, you can accomplish the same thing by throwing daggers (though your range is considerably reduced). The ability to use ranged weapons while adjacent to enemies is also tempting, but that’s what Cunning Action is for.
  • Defensive DuelistPHB: Very tempting for melee Rogues, but Uncanny Dodge also uses your reaction, and fills roughly the same function.
  • Dual WielderPHB: The best case scenario for this feat is upgrading from two short swords to two rapiers, and the tiny bit of extra damage is hardly worth a feat. The +1 AC is nice too, but raising your Dexterity will get you the same AC and damage boosts, plus it will improve your other crucial stats. Two-weapon fighting should be primarily considered a way to get an extra sneak attack rather than a go-to source of damage output
  • Dungeon DelverPHB: Handling traps and secret doors frequently falls to the Rogue, and with the Rogue’s skills this can make you extremely effective in a dungeon-heavy campaign.
  • DurablePHB: Leave this for your party’s front line.
  • Eldritch AdeptTCoE: If you don’t have Darkvision from your racial traits, the Devil’s Sight invocation is a great way to get it. Unfortunately you do need some spellcasting to qualify, so this is only available to the Arcane Trickster. If you want to consider other invocations, see my Warlock Eldritch Invocation Breakdown.
  • Elemental AdeptPHB: Offensive spells (with the exception of Green-Flame Blade) aren’t a good option for Arcane Tricksters because you can’t apply Sneak Attack, and if you’re worried about damage resistance you can use Booming Blade instead since almost nothing resists sonic damage.
  • Fey TouchedTCoE: Tempting for many rogues, especially arcane tricksters. Misty Step is extremely useful in a variety of situations, and the leveled spells can add some utility options which are hard to replicate without magic. Avoid Hex and Hunter’s Mark since the Rogue makes so few attacks, but consider Bless and Gift of Alacrity.

    For more advice on Fey Touched, see my Spellcasting Feats Breakdown.

  • Fighting InitiateTCoE: If you’re relying on bows, Fighting Style (Archery) can be a huge improvement to your damage output. Blind Fighting may be helpful since the Rogue doesn’t have a built-in way to handle invisible foes, and blindsight conveniently allows you to fight within the area of magical darkness or an Eversmoking Bottle so combining the two is an easy way to get the upper hand in combat.
  • GunnerTCoE: Upgrading from a hand crossbow to a musket can be a minor damage boost, but getting proficiency with longbows from your race is less costly and arguably more effective since you’re not giving away your position by shooting a gun. Bows aren’t totally silent, but they’re nowhere near as loud as a firearm.
  • HealerPHB: The best use case for this feat is the Thief. Thanks to Fast Hands, you can use a Healer’s Kit as a Bonus Action, allowing you to revive dying allies and retore a small amount of hit points. Of course, you can do the same thing with a Potion of Healing as an Action, so it’s a question of how often you need to come to the rescue in a game where Healing Word exists. In fact, you might just take Magic Initiate with Bard, Cleric, or Druid to get Healing Word for the rare times where your party’s spellcasters can’t do the job because you’ll also get two cantrips and because Healing Word works at range.
  • Inspiring LeaderPHB: A Rogue with good enough Charisma to use this feat is an excellent choice. Temporary hit points hugely reduce your need for magical healing, and there is little reason not to use this before every fight.
  • Magic InitiatePHB: The Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide introduced Booming Blade and Green-Flame Blade, both of which are an Action and allow you to make a melee attack with a weapon, thereby allowing you to use them in conjunction with Sneak Attack. Since Rogues never get Extra Attack, these cantrips can be a significant boost to both damage and utility. Booming Blade is a great way to discourage enemies from following you after you hit them and using Cunning Action to Disengage, and Green-Flame Blade grants some easy bonus damage, plus it allows you to damage a second target, which is particularly nice since Rogues are so bad at handling crowds of enemies. You may also consider options like True Strike to get easy advantage (it only has somatic components, so you can easily use it while hiding) if you’re not using the Steady Aim Optional Class Feature.

    Unless you’re an Arcane Trickster, the 1st-level spell should probably be a long-duration buff like Mage Armor (don’t do it; real armor is better) or a reliable utility option. Find Familiar is tempting so that you can get an owl to fly in and out of combat taking the Help action, but you get to cast the spell daily so you may want something that you’ll definitely use on a daily basis so you don’t feel like your under-using the feat.

    For more advice on Magic Initiate, see my Spellcasting Feats Breakdown.

  • Martial AdeptPHB: One maneuver per short rest isn’t enough to justify this for the Rogue.
  • Metamagic AdeptTCoE: Powerful, but the Arcane Trickster doesn’t get enough spellcasting to make this an easy choice. For advice on Metamagic Adept, see my Sorcerer Metamagic Breakdown.
  • MobilePHB: Hit-and-run tactics are great for melee Rogues, but moving out of a creatures threatened area is normally dangerous. This allows you to run in, attack, then run away safely. You can use Cunning Action to Dash, allowing you to move considerably further in one round, and possibly to hide behind difficult terrain.
  • Moderately ArmoredPHB: You need to be improving your Dexterity enough that medium armor shouldn’t be a good option.
  • ObservantPHB: Potentially helpful if no one else in your party has Investigation or Perception, but probably overkill. If you really need this, use Expertise to improve your skills.
  • PiercerTCoE: Easy to fit into your build, and with Sneak Attack you’ll have a die which rolls low almost every turn so you’ll benefit from the reroll mechanic constantly. The critical hit mechanic doesn’t matter much since rogues get by on small damage dice, and with so few attacks critical hits will be infrequent for most rogues (assassins are an exception).
  • PoisonerTCoE: If you have a ton of money and nothing to spend it on, this is a great way to turn it into damage output. The poison provided by the feat is both inexpensive compared to other poisons (which are prohibitively expensive) and deals a reasonable amount of damage plus the Poisoned condition. Unfortunately, the DC 14 Constitution save will be unreliable against many enemies, so you’ll need to be picky about when to use poisons rather than using them in every encounter. Because applying a poison requires your Bonus Action, you’ll need to juggle poisoning your weapons with your other Bonus Action options like Cunning Action. Fighting at range will make this action management simpler, but missing with an arrow or a crossbow bolt likely wastes the dose of poison, so you’re trading one problem for another.
  • ResilientPHB: Constitution saves might be helpful, but other saves aren’t common enough to justify taking this over Lucky.
  • Ritual CasterPHB: A great way for Arcane Tricksters to improve their utility options if your party lacks dedicated spellcasters. Find Familiar is a fantastic option because your familiar can take the Help action to grant you Advantage on your attacks.
  • Savage AttackerPHB: This is a bad feat. The largest damage die (d12), yields an average of 2 extra damage per turn, and generally the Rogue’s biggest damage die is only 1d8.
  • SentinelPHB: Sentinel can be a great way to get opportunity attacks, thereby giving you more opportunities to apply Sneak Attack. However, you may find it difficult to apply Sneak Attack because you can’t guarantee positioning or Advantage on other creatures’ turns. An enemy could easy move around within your reach until it is no longer adjacent to one of your allies before leaving your threatened area, thereby avoiding the bonus damage from Sneak Attack. Swashbucklers will be able to make best use of this part of the feat since their positioning requirements are so easily met. It’s also unlikely that enemies will attack your allies while you’re in reach because rogues are relatively soft targets. With light armor and 1d8 hit points, you’re among the most frail melee characters. However, if you have a paladin in the party you can capitalize on options like Compelled Duel.
  • Shadow TouchedTCoE: An Arcane Trickster can already replicate the interesting parts of Shadow Touched.

    For more advice on Shadow Touched, see my Spellcasting Feats Breakdown.

  • SharpshooterPHB: Absolutely fantastic for archer Rogues. Combined with Sneak Attack, you can do some truly crazy damage. Just be sure that you have Advantage, or you’re going to miss frequently, and hitting so that you an deliver Sneak Attack is more important than the damage boost from Sharpshooter. If the Steady Aim Optional Class Feature is an option, combining it with Sharpshooter is very effective.
  • Skill ExpertTCoE: You probably don’t need more skills or more expertise, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
  • SkilledPHB: With Reliable Talent you can reliably use any skill you know, even with a mediocre ability score.
  • SkulkerPHB: Very helpful for archer Rogues who like to rely on sniping.
  • Spell SniperPHB: You can’t use Sneak Attack with spell attacks.
  • TelekineticTCoE: It may be difficult to juggle your Bonus Action between this and things like Cunning Action, but it offers and easy way to get out of grapples without spending your Action to try to escape. Telekinetic is especially worthwhile for the Arcane Trickster since it removes the spellcasting components, allowing you to use it totally undetected.
  • TelepathicTCoE: Unlike many sources of telepathy, including those offered by some races, this telepathy still uses languages, so the benefits are minimally appealing even for a Face. You do get to increase a mental ability score, which reduces the cost of the feat, but the benefits are primarily the ability to communicate while being stealthy.
  • War CasterPHB: Tempting for Arcane Tricksters thanks to Green-Flame Blade and Booming Blade, but definitely not necessary.


  • Crossbow, Hand: A decent ranged weapon, but it doesn’t do anything that you can’t do with a light crossbow.
  • Crossbow, Light: The go-to ranged weapon. The same range as a short bow with a better damage die. The reload property doesn’t matter since rogues don’t get Extra Attack.
  • Dagger: Great for Two-weapon fighting, and you can throw them if you need to, but the Short Sword has a slightly larger damage die.
  • Longsword: I’m not sure why Rogues get proficiency with long swords.
  • Rapier: Your best bet for single-weapon melee.
  • Shortsword: Ideal for Two-weapon fighting. Comparable to daggers, but you can’t throw them
  • Short bow: Light crossbow is strictly better.


  • Leather: Free starting armor for light armor users. Upgrade as soon as you can afford it.
  • Studded Leather: Your permanent armor.


This section briefly details so obvious and enticing multiclass options, but doesn’t fully explore the broad range of multiclassing combinations. For more on multiclassing, see my Practical Guide to Multiclassing.

  • Artificer: The Artificer is an interesting option for many rogues. The Artificer’s cantrips include melee cantrips like Booming Blade, and their spellcasting includes a combination of buffs and healing options which can add a lot of utility. Two levels gets you access to Infusions, including powerful options like Enhanced Defence and replicate Magic Item so that you can get Goggles of Night if your race doesn’t have Darkvision. Three levels gets you a subclass, and the Armorer subclass’s Infiltrator Armor offers perpetual advantage on Stealth checks as well as a powerful ranged attack option which you can choose to use with Dexterity and which works with Sneak Attack since it’s a weapon attack. If magic items like a Cloak of Elvenkind are available in your game this is less appealing, but in games where that’s not an option the Artificer is very tempting.
  • Barbarian: Reckless Attack is very tempting because it provides a guaranteed means of gaining Advantage and dramatically improves your probability of applying Sneak Attack. However, on a class as frail as the Rogue it’s extremely dangerous to grant Advantage against yourself and there are plenty of other ways to gain reliable access to Advantage and Sneak Attack. You also need to make the attack using Strength rather than Dexterity, which is a hard way to build a rogue most of the time. At level 18 Elusive negates the downside of Reckless Attack, but building a character around one trick which won’t work until level 20 almost never pays off since so few campaigns reach high levels.
  • Bard: Want more Expertise? Consider College of Eloquence, and three levels gets you Expertise in two more skills and a floor on your d20 rolls for Depection and Persuasion checks. Perfect for a Face build.
  • Fighter: Fighting Style goes a very long way for the Rogue if you go for Archery, but Two-Weapon Fighting is a trap. Adding 2-5 damage (depending on your Dexterity) really won’t matter compared to your Sneak Attack damage, so stick to Rogue for Two-Weapon Fighting builds. Swashbucklers might consider the Fencing style and pick up a shield (and possibly even medium armor) so that they can make good use of Panache. The +2 damage outpaces the 1.75 average Sneak Attack damage you get per Rogue level, so a single level won’t cut into your damage output.

    If you can suffer three levels of Fighter, the Battle Master offer some useful options. Riposte allows you a reliable way to get an extra Sneak Attack per round (remember that Sneak Attack is once per turn), especially for swashbucklers who can apply Sneak Attack easily in melee unassisted. Feinting Attack also provides Advantage, allowing for easy Sneak Attack during your turn. However, those options depend on Superiority dice, so your usage is severely limited and you’ll need to manage your pool of dice carefully.

    If you’re going for a Strength-based build, starting with 1 level in Fighter gets you heavy armor in exchange for the Rogue’s additional skill and tool proficiencies. If you don’t need the extra proficiencies, that might be a fine trade.

  • Monk: Way of the Shadow is a massively tempting option for Rogues, but the 3rd-level benefit isn’t worth three levels, and the 6th-level benefit costs you too much to obtain.
  • Ranger: 2 levels gets you a Fighting Style and access to Hunter’s Mark, which makes Two-Weapon Fighting more viable (though still not necessarily great). Three levels opens up a Ranger achetype, and the Hunter can select Giant Slayer as their 3rd-level ability. Giant Slayer allows you an attack as a reaction, offering a way to get an extra Sneak Attack per round every round without a usage limitation.
  • Sorcerer: 1 level of Draconic Bloodline gets your damage resistance to one damage type, 13+Dex AC (beating any non-magical light armor by at least 1), and a bit of spellcasting. If you stick to spells which don’t require spell attacks or saving throws (utility options and options like Booming Blade), you could benefit from this class dip without more than the 13 Charisma required to multiclass into Sorcerer. For your leveled spells options like Absorb Elements and Shield are tempting, but don’t feel locked into those options since the Rogue gets Uncanny Dodge and Evasion which provide much of the same functions.
  • Warlock: Sadly your can’t deliver Sneak Attack with Eldritch Blast, but there’s still plenty here to make a Rogue+Warlock enticing. For a high-Charisma build, a single level of Hexblade will allow you to use Charisma for attacks, allowing you to improve your social skills and your combat abilities at the same time. 3rd level gets you Pact Boon, and if you select Pact of the Blade you can retrain your Eldritch Invocation gained at 2nd level to get Improved Pact Weapon (+1 to attacks and damage!).
  • Wizard: One level gets you some spellcasting, including ritual casting and access to great options like Booming Blade and Find Familiar. Two levels to pick up the Bladesinging tradition offers some excellent options for melee Rogues, including proficiency in a one-handed melee weapon like the Whip. Bladesong grants a nice AC boost (especially for Arcane Tricksters) and some other great benefits, and access to Wizard spells removes the need for the Magic Initiate feat. Since you have more spell options than Magic Initiate provides, pick up Find Familiar and have your familiar use the Help action to grant you Advantage (and therefore Sneak Attack) on your attacks.

Magic Items

Common Magic Items

  • Clockwork AmuletXGtE: Only works once per day, but in many encounters a guaranteed 10 on attack roll will guarantee a hit (Players will hit an average CR-appropriate enemy’s AC on an 8 or better. See my article on The Fundamental Math of Character Optimization.) For high-value attacks (any Sneak Attack, basically), that can be great insurance. Even better: you don’t need to attune this, so you can rotate through a stack of them if your DM is somehow crazy enough to let you get away with it.
  • Horn of Silent AlarmXGtE: A helpful tool for any Scout, the effect allows you to communicate with your allies (albeit in very simple fashion) at a distance without giving away your position and without relying on more complicated and expensive options like telepathy. Use one blare to alert your party that you’re in danger, and establish a meaning for two or more blares before you go off scouting. Example: Two blares means come to me, but be cautious. Three blares means come get me, but the way is safe.
  • Masquerade TattooTCoE: Disguise Self once per day. Basically a cheaper Hat of Disguises. You won’t be able to change your disguise, but it’s still fantastically useful for a Common item.
  • Moon-Touched SwordXGtE: This solves two problems for the martial characters. First, the sword glows almost as brightly as a torch, allowing you to see in dark places without devoting a hand to a torch and without asking your allies to cast light or something. Second, and more important, it allows you to overcome damage resistance to non-magic attacks. Resistances like this are common as you gain levels, and the Moon-Touched Sword is an inexpensive way to overcome them until a better weapon comes along.
  • Unbreakable ArrowDMG: Great for archers to overcome resistance to damage from non-magical attacks, but it’s only one arrow so you really want to get a magic bow. Since the arrow can’t be broken, it’s weirdly useful for wedging doors and windows closed or open.
  • Walloping ArrowDMG: Great for archers to overcome resistance to damage from non-magical attacks, but the DC of 10 won’t be reliable and knocking foes prone makes it hard to hit them with ranged attacks which may hamper you and your allies.

Uncommon Magic Items

  • Ammunition, +1DMG: Single-use and expensive. Get a +X weapon instead, if you can.
  • Amulet of Proof against Detection and LocationDMG: Permanent Nondetection, similar to the spell. Combine this with Invisibility, and you can’t be detected by common countermeasures like See Invisibility.
  • Boomerang, +1DMG: Helpful if you need a thrown weapon occasionally, but you can’t use two-weapon fighting with it like you can with daggers, and if you hit you no longer have your magic weapon. Throwing mundane daggers is almost certainly more effective.
  • Boots of ElvenkindDMG: Helpful on any stealthy character, though not effective as a Cloak of Elvenkind. Combine with a Cloak of Elvenkind for maximum effect.
  • Bracers of ArcheryDMG: With only one attack per turn (usually), this won’t be effective enough to justify the item.
  • Broom of FlyingDMG: Easily overlooked, but one of the best ways to get flight for any character. It doesn’t require attunement, and has a fly speed of 50 feet, though many medium characters will exceed the 200 pound limit to reduce the speed to 30 feet, but even then 30 feet fly speed with no duration cap and requiring no action after speaking the command word is absolutely incredible. The only drawback is that you’re using the item’s speed rather than giving yourself a fly speed, so things that improve your speed won’t make the broom move faster, and you can’t Dash with the broom. Even so, I honestly can’t justify why this is only Uncommon considering how exceptionally good it is.
  • Cloak of ElvenkindDMG: Essential on any stealthy character. Creatures attempting to detect you suffer Disadvantage, and you gain Advantage on Stealth checks to avoid being seen, so you get two layers of protection against creatures detecting you.
  • Cloak of ProtectionDMG: Good on any character, but it requires Attunement and it’s not very interesting.
  • Eversmoking BottleDMG: A great way to escape, to hide, to create distractions, or any other number of things, the Eversmoking Bottle is a great tool for any rogue.
  • Eyes of Minute SeeingDMG: Excellent in dungeon crawls. Investigation is typically used for finding things like traps.
  • Eyes of the EagleDMG: Between this and possibly Expertise, it’s basically impossible for anything to sneak up on you without using magic.
  • Gloves of ThieveryDMG: Easily replaced by the Enhance Ability spell, but still helpful for stealthy characters.
  • Goggles of NightDMG: Crucial for races which don’t get Darkvision, especially if your party can’t cast the Darkvision spell for you.
  • Hat of DisguiseDMG: Great for social situations, but usually you can get by with mundane disguises or with a lower-rarity option like a Masquerade Tattoo.
  • Pearl of PowerDMG: Tempting for the Arcane Trickster.
  • Slippers of Spider ClimbingDMG: The next-best thing to flight. Walking up a wall has all the benefits of flying out of reach, making this an excellent option for ranged builds.
  • Stone of Good LuckDMG: Excellent on literally any character, but if you just want better defense a Cloak of Protection may be more effective. Stone of Good Luck shines if you’re heavily reliant on skills and ability checks, and not that ability checks include initiative rolls.
  • Weapon of WarningDMG: While it’s not as mathematically effective as a +1 weapon, being Attuned to a Weapon of Warning is still hugely beneficial for the Rogue even if you’re actually fighting with a different weapon. Assassins in particular will enjoy Advantage on Initiative rolls so that they can more reliably benefit from Assassinate.
  • Weapon, +1DMG: +1 to hit with your attacks improves the likelihood of delivering a Sneak Attack.
  • Winged BootsDMG: Excellent on its own, but Winged Boots are more limited in use than a broom of flying, and they require Attunement.

Rare Magic Items

  • Ammunition, +2DMG: Single-use and expensive. Get a +X weapon instead, if you can.
  • Amulet of HealthDMG: Setting your Constitution to 19 means that you don’t need to put Ability Score Increases into it unless you’re really certain that you want 20 Constitution. Less ASI’s into Constitution means more room for feats.
  • Armor of ResistanceDMG: Excellent, but unpredictable in most games since you can’t perfectly predict what sort of damage you’ll face. Fire and poison are safe choices.
  • Armor, +1DMG: +1 AC, no attunement. Nothing fancy, but very effective.
  • Cloak of DisplacementDMG: Among the best defensive items in the game. Taking damage from any source (spells, etc.) suppresses the effect temporarily, so make a point to kill anything that can damage you without an attack roll.
  • Cloak of the BatDMG: A Cloak of Elvenkind may be more effective for Stealth because it also imposes Disadvantage on Perception checks to detect you, but Cloak of the Bat isn’t limited to vision-based checks so it may be more broadly effective if your enemies can also hear or smell you (yes, that’s a thing). You can also use it to fly in dim light and darkness, though your hands are occupied (you need to hold the edges of the cloak) so flying in combat may be difficult.
  • Dagger of VenomDMG: Basically just a +1 dagger with a once-per-day poison. The poison is decent, but it’s not nearly enough to justify the difference in rarity. Get a +2 weapon instead.
  • FlametongueDMG: Mathematically the +2 bonus to attack rolls from a +2 weapon will be a more consistent improvement to your damage output (especially with the damge bonus from Sneak Attack), but a Flametongue shortsword or rapier is still really fun. The 2d6 damage is multiplied on critical hits, too, so assassin rogues might find it appealing.
  • Periapt of Proof Against PoisonDMG: Poison damage is very common across the full level range, so immunity to it is a significant improvement in your durability.
  • Ring of EvasionDMG: A great way to mitigate damage from AOE spells and things like breath weapons which can often be problems from front-line martial characters, especially if you’re not build around Dexterity.
  • Ring of ProtectionDMG: Cloak of Protection is lower rarity and has the same effect.
  • Ring of ResistanceDMG: A fine item in a vaccuum, but a Ring of Spell Storing full of Absorb Elements will be much more effective.
  • Ring of Spell StoringDMG: Fill it with Absorb Elements and Shield, and recharge it whenever possible and this is a spectacular defensive asset.
  • Shadowfell Brand TattooDMG: A Cloak of Elvenkind will technically be better at keeping you hidden because it also imposes Disadvantage on Perception checks to notice you, and the Shadowy Defense effect is partially redundant with Uncanny Dodge.
  • Sun BladeDMG: Basically a +2 rapier that deals radiant damage and does a bit more damage to undead. It’s not significantly better than a +2 rapier in the majority of cases. Radiant damage is great, but most creatures with resistance to weapon damage types are affected normally by magic weapons so the benefits of radiant damage compared to piercing or slashing damage from a magical wapon are minor. It works, but I’m not certain that it’s worth Attunement compared to a +2 weapon unless you can expect to face fiends and undead with some regularity.
  • Sword of WoundingDMG: Persistent damage that stacks with itself. It’s only 1d4 and only once per turn, but it stacks with itself and “once per turn” means that if you can attack again outside of your own turn (Opportunity Attacks, etc.) you can get additional dice very quickly.
  • Weapon, +2DMG: Mathematically spectacular. It’s difficult to beat the math here.
  • Wings of FlyingDMG: Broom of Flying is much better, lower rarity, and doesn’t require attunement.

Very Rare Magic Items

  • Absorbing TattooTCoE: Good, but too high rarity to devote to a single damage type. Get a Ring of Spell Storing and fill it with Absorb Elements.
  • Ammunition, +3DMG: Single-use and expensive. Get a +X weapon instead, if you can.
  • Animated ShieldDMG: Tempting for anyone not fighting with a one-handed weapon, but a Cloak of Protection is two rarities lower, works persistently, and arguably provides a better numeric bonus.
  • Armor, +2DMG: +2 AC, no attunement. Nothing fancy, but very effective.
  • Manual of Bodily HealthDMG: Permanent Constitution bonus and raises your cap by 2. Unless you’re using a magic item that fixes your Constitution as a specific score, this is excellent.
  • Manual of Quickness of ActionDMG: It’s difficult to find an item more broadly effective for the Rogue.
  • OathbowDMG: So cool, but so weak. Unless you’re attacking your sworn enemy, it’s just a magic bow with no benefit other than being chatty. Imagine using Action Surge and Haste and making 9 attacks in one turn and having the bow struggle to whisper “Swift defeat to my enemies” 9 times in six seconds.
  • Spellguard ShieldDMG: Basically only useful against spellcasters, but if you’re facing a spellcaster there are few better defenses.
  • Weapon, +3DMG: Mathematically spectacular. It’s difficult to beat the math here.

Legendary Magic Items

  • Armor, +3DMG: +3 AC, no attunement. Nothing fancy, but very effective. It feels underwhelming at this rarity, but the math if good.
  • Blood Fury TattooTCoE: The first ability provides a great damage boost which also heals you, and since it’s “extra damage” the damage is multiplied on a critical hit. The second ability provides a way to counterattack using your Reaction, and with Advantage on that attack it’s an easy and reliable boost to your damage output, and since you make the attack with Advantage it’s an easy way to get Sneak Attack outside of your turn. However, the attack uses your Reaction which means that you’re not using Uncanny Dodge so you need to weight that risk/reward calculation very carefully.
  • Cloak of InvisibilityDMG: Invisibility is extremely powerful in 5e. Note that this is just the invisible condition, not the spell spell Invisibility, so you can still attack or whatever while invisible.
  • Ioun Stone (Mastery)DMG: Proficiency Bonuses apply to a lot of things and a +1 bonus goes a long way. Attacks, saves, skills, etc. all benefit. For many characters, a Stone of Good Luck will be a better value, but rogues get more skill proficiencies than other classes, and at highl evels you’re proficient in three saves (assuming you didn’t get more from feats or something), so Ioun Stone (Mastery) applies to enough things that I think you can justify it over a Stone of Good Luck.
  • Luck BladeDMG: Bonuses to attacks and saves, a once per day reroll, and it can cast Wish a few times (maybe. 1d4-1 could be zero). Green if it can’t cast Wish.
  • Ring of InvisibilityDMG: Cloak of Invisibility and Ring of Invisibility are very similar, but there is some important nuance to understand. Ring of Invisibility can make you indefinitely invisible, allowing you to do anything except attack and cast spells without breaking your invisibility. Use a breath weapon, activate items (as long as doing so doesn’t make you cast a spell), steal things, use the Help action, pick locks, disarm traps, take long rests, etc. can all be done while totally invisible without limit. However, the second you roll initiative the Cloak of Invisibility becomes more powerful because its invisibility isn’t broken by you attacking or casting spells.
  • Ring of Spell TurningDMG: Given the choice, I would much rather haqve a Mantle of Spell Resistance simply because the Ring of Spell Turning doesn’t provide any protection against area effect spells. Otherwise, this is a really fun item, and if it provided Advantage on saves against area of effect spells it would shoot straight up to blue.
  • Ring of Three WishesDMG: Use this to do one of the things that risks permanently removing the ability to cast Wish, such as granting 10 creatures permanent resistance to once damage type. If you lose the ability to cast Wish, pass this off to another ally who will never be able to cast Wish by any other means. Repeat until the last charge is used.

    For more help with Wish, see my Practical Guide to Wish.

  • Scarab of ProtectionDMG: An upgrade from the Mantle of Spell Resistance, the Scarab of Protection adds a limited benefit against necromancy and undead creatures, and doesn’t take up your cloak slot, leaving you free to take items like a Cloak of Protection or Cloak of Invisibility instead.

Corrie Edgecliff the Lightfoot Halfling Thief

Though her movements are lively and quick, the halfling’s green eyes give you a look that’s all business. Her leather armor, softened with some sort of oil to keep a free range of movement, has more than a few pouches built into it, the right size and shape to hold particulars such as a vial of acid, a bag of ball bearings, or a handful of iron door spikes. Though you cannot see any weapons, you would wager a dragon’s hoard that she has at least three daggers and a blowgun concealed on her person, if not more.

— Boxed text provided by dScryb(affiliate link)

This is a “Staple Build”. This build is simple, and relies on options from the SRD and the Basic Rules wherever possible. If you need a functional build with nothing fancy or complicated, this is a great place to start.

The Lightfoot Halfling Thief is, in my opinion, the most iconic example of the Rogue. My opinion may be biased by my 3rd-edition roots, in which Lidda the Halfling Rogue was the iconic example of the class, but the concept of a halfling sneaking around stealing things dates all the way back to The Hobbit.

With the options available to us in the Basic Rules and the SRD, we’ll build our rogue as a combination Face, Scout, and Striker. These are the Rogue’s typical roles, and this build can cover all the bases reasonably well at the same time. Our Face and Scout emphasis will be a balance because each will consume our limited choices of skill proficiencies and Expertise. I’ll present some suggested options, but I encourage you to customize your build to suit your tastes.

I’ll note two DPR entries below: One for a single attack, and one for two-weapon fighting. While the additional attack itself does a miniscule amount of additional damage, the additional opportunity to deal Sneak Attack damage is a massive mathematical advantage that only grows as you gain levels.


We will use the ability scores below. They’re almost identical to the suggested ability scores presented above for “most rogues”, but they’re tweaked a little bit to take advantage of the Lightfoot Halfling’s ability score increases so that we can get as much out of our build as possible.



Lightfoot Halfling. Dexterity and Charisma is likely the best ability score spread we can get for a thief, and the Lightfoot Halfling’s other racial traits offer a bunch of other useful tricks.

Skills and Tools

Rogues get more skills at first level than any other class, and they also get Expertise immediately. You also get Thieves’ Tools proficiency on top of the rest.

  • Perception
  • Persuasion
  • Sleight of Hand
  • Stealth

If you choose the Criminal background, you’ll get a redundant Stealth proficiency which you can trade for Insight or Intimidation. If you choose the Noble background you’ll get a redundant Persuasion proficiency which you can trade for Deception.

For Expertise, I recommend Perception and Stealth. Other skills are appealing, but you’re more likely to die because of a failed Perception or Stealth check than for failed Persuasion check. At 6th level you’ll get Expertise in two more skills, at which point you should consider skills which fit your campaign. If you’re doing a lot of stealing, consider Sleight of Hand and Thieves’ Tools. If you’re doing a lot socially acceptable things, consider Deception and Persuasion.


Criminal is the obvious choice here, so we’ll pick Criminal. However, it might not be the best choice among those available to use. Rogue grants Thieves’ Tools proficiency automatically, so Criminal’s tool proficiency is redundant. Under the rules for backgrounds, you can replace a redundant proficiency with one of the same type, but what other set of tools do you want? If you want proficiency in something like Healer’s Kit or Herbalism Kit, Criminal is great. If you can’t think of a second set of tools, look for other background options.

If Criminal doesn’t work for you, consider Noble. History proficiency isn’t a great choice for our low-Intelligence build, but you get Persuasion, a gaming set, and a language, and Position of Privilege is a great way to roleplay yourself into places with nice things to steal.


Rogues get one more ability score improvement than most classes, and you only need to bring on ability score (Dexterity) to 20 to be successful, so there is a lot of room for you to pick up feats if you’re willing to deviate from the Basic Rules and the SRD. If you’re new to the game, consider simple feats like Skilled or Resilient. If you want to dabble in magic, consider Magic Initiate and take a look at the Spells section above.


LevelFeat(s) and FeaturesNotes and Tactics
  • Expertise
  • Sneak Attack 1d6
  • Thieves’ Cant

For your starting equipment, take a shortsword, a short bow, any of the pack options, leather armor, two daggers, and theives’ tools.

At first level you already have most of what makes you a decent rogue. Sneak Attack is still picking up steam, but 1d6 is a big chunk of damage at this level, so do everything you can to get it.

In combat, you can either fight at range or jump into melee as the situation warrants. If you’re fighting at range, you’re totally dependent on an ally to be adjacent to your target, so make sure to communicate with your party’s front-line characters. If you’re fighting in melee, grab your short sword and a dagger and practice two-weapon fighting. If an enemy is just out of reach, throw your dagger; you have two for a reason.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+3 with +1d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 5.6)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+3 and Dagger 1d4 with +1d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 8.1)


Cunning Action shakes up your action economy in combat. Now you need think a little more about how to use your Bonus Action.

If you’re fighting at range, find cover (potentially behind a medium-sized ally) to hide behind. Each turn you should attack with your bow then use Cunning Action to hide.

If you’re fighting in melee, hit-and-run tactics are the ideal. Attack with your short sword, then use Cunning Action to Disengage and move away safely. If you miss, consider using your bonus action to attack with your dagger to get a second chance at dealing Sneak Attack. If you hit and kill your target, consider using Cunning Action to Dash and put some extra distance between you and anything dangerous.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+3 with +1d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 5.6)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+3 and Dagger 1d4 with +1d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 8.1)

  • Sneak Attack 2d6
  • Roguish Archetype (Thief)
  • Fast Hands

At 2d6, yor Sneak Attack damge should roughly match the total damage from your weapons and your Dexterity bonus.

Fast Hands is easy to overlook, but the “Use an Item” action covers a lot of great options. Ball Bearings, Caltrops, Holy Water, and some magic items are all activated using the Use An Item action normally. You can do all of those things as a Bonus Action, so you could attack, throw down some caltrops, then move to safety all in one turn.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+3 with +2d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 7.8)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+3 and Dagger 1d4 with +2d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 11.2)

  • Ability Score Improvement (Dexterity 16 -> 18)

A numerical increase to the vast majority of what you do feels very satisfying.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+4 with +2d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 8.4)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+4 and Dagger 1d4 with +2d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 11.8)

  • Sneak Attack 3d6
  • Uncanny Dodge

More Sneak Attack damage is always welcome, but it doesn’t change our tactics in any way. Uncanny Dodge is the interesting gain here. Since it uses your Reaction, it won’t cut into your normal activity during your turn. In some cases you might risk provoking an Opportunity Attack knowing that you can use Uncanny Dodge to reduce the damage if you get hit. If you decide to stay still, you can mitigate some damage with Uncanny Dodge but remember that you only get one Reaction per round so creatures with multiple attacks may be a problem.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+4 with +3d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 10.6)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+4 and Dagger 1d4 with +3d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 14.9)

  • Expertise
    • Sleight of Hand
    • Thieves’ Tools

Fast Fingers allows you to perform Sleight of Hand checks and to use your Thieves’ Tools for certain tasks as a bonus action. Expertise will make you better at these tasks. I’m not entirely sure under what circumstances you would do this, but you’re now really good at picking pockets in the middle of a fight.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+4 with +3d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 10.6)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+4 and Dagger 1d4 with +3d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 14.9)


Evasion makes many AOE effects, including breath weapons and fireballs, less threatening. Your Dexterity saves should be excellent, so you’ll frequently be able to fully avoid damage from applicable effects.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+4 with +4d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 12.8)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+4 and Dagger 1d4 with +4d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 18.0)

  • Ability Score Improvement (Dexterity 18 -> 20)

This brings our Dexterity to the maximum.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+5 with +4d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 13.4)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+5 and Dagger 1d4 with +4d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 18.6)

  • Sneak Attack 5d6
  • Supreme Sneak

Between Expertise and your 20 Dexterity, you have a +13 bonus on Dexterity (Stealth) checks, and now you have a way to get Advantage guaranteed. You’re borderline undetectable.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+5 with +5d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 15.7)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+5 and Dagger 1d4 with +5d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 21.7)

  • Ability Score Improvement (Charisma 14 -> 16)

At this level we’re getting an Ability Score Increase that we don’t strictly need. I’ve suggested Charisma, but if you’re doing more fighting than talking you may want Constitution instead.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+5 with +5d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 15.7)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+5 and Dagger 1d4 with +5d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 21.7)

  • Sneak Attack 6d6
  • Reliable Talent

Reliable Talent makes you really good at skills. You’re already really good, but this removes the possibility of horribly low rolls. It raises the average d20 roll from 10.5 to 12.75, and a +2.25 bonus on all your skills is huge.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+5 with +6d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 17.9)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+5 and Dagger 1d4 with +6d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 24.9)

  • Ability Score Improvement (Charisma 16 -> 18)

More Constitution or Charisma. Or a feat. Your choice.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+5 with +6d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 17.9)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+5 and Dagger 1d4 with +6d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 24.9)

  • Sneak Attack 7d6
  • Use Magic Device

Use Magic Device only matters in campaigns with magic items, which is odd because 5e so rarely assumes that you use magic items. There are very few magic items with restrictions which this will bypass, but you’re going to feel really special if you find one and get to break the rules to use it.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+5 with +7d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 20.1)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+5 and Dagger 1d4 with +7d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 27.9)


Invisibility becomes more common at high levels, and unless you have a spellcaster handy it’s often very difficult to deal with. This helps quite a bit, but remember tha you’ll still have Disadvantage to attack the creature because you can’t see it.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+5 with +7d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 20.1)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+5 and Dagger 1d4 with +7d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 27.9)

  • Sneak Attack 8d6
  • Slippery Mind

More saving throw proficiencies is always excellent.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+5 with +8d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 22.3)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+5 and Dagger 1d4 with +8d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 30.9)

  • Ability Score Improvement (Charisma 18 -> 20)

Still more Constitution or Charisma.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+5 with +8d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 22.3)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+5 and Dagger 1d4 with +8d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 30.9)

  • Sneak Attack 9d6
  • Thief’s Reflexes

Two turns in the first round of combat means two opportunities to deal a Sneak Attack early in the fight. Target foes which you can eliminate quickly so that your party starts the fight with an early advantage.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+5 with +9d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 24.5)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+5 and Dagger 1d4 with +9d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 34.0)


Short of Pack Tactics, most enemies don’t have easy ways to gain Advantage against players, so this won’t matter frequently, but the few times it comes up you’ll be glad to have it.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+5 with +9d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 24.5)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+5 and Dagger 1d4 with +9d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 34.0)

  • Sneak Attack 10d6
  • Ability Score Improvement (Constitution 14 -> 16)

More damage, more ability scores.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+5 with +10d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 26.7)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+5 and Dagger 1d4 with +10d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 37.1)


Stroke of Luck doesn’t apply to saving throws, so there’s little reason to sit on it. Use it early, use it often.

One Attack: Dagger 1d4+5 with +10d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 26.7)

Two-Weapon Fighting: Dagger 1d4+5 and Dagger 1d4 with +10d6 Sneak Attack (DPR 37.1)


Now discussing:

There’s no substitute for talent and the Rogue class in D&D 5e has plenty of it!

Using their wit to find and disarm traps or locks, the Rogue is a must-have for any group of dungeon delvers.

But perhaps even more than that, the Rogue’s knack for being able to take enemies by surprise and do massive damage with their Sneak Attack ability means that they can quickly dispose of high-threat enemies in combat.

In this in-depth guide, we’re diving into the Rogue class in D&D 5e. You’ll see all of the Rogue’s features and options as well as get tons of tips for optimizing your character.

So grab your blackest cowl, sharpest dagger, and quietest sneaking boots…

This is the Ultimate Class Guide to the Rogue in D&D 5e!


Rogue Class Guide for D&D 5e

Being able to find and execute solutions to practical problems that others can’t is the Rogue’s stock and trade. It might be sneaking in through a balcony window here, a curried favor there, or a well-placed arrow somewhere else.

With creativity and skill, Rogues know how to get results.

Some of these characters are expert manipulators who weave webs of intrigue and weaponized their knowledge of how people work to a dangerous effect. Others stick to the shadows until the time is right for them to make their move. Whether this is removing a target or quickly moving past them, it is calculated, swift, and incredible to watch.

Still, there are others who have found themselves with strange or magical abilities that other Rogues lack. Using those abilities to supplement their Roguish talents, these characters push the boundaries of what is possible in your world.

We’ll get to the Roguish Archetypes (subclasses) in a moment.

But first, we need to look at what all Rogues have in common. You will want to be mindful of the Rogue table as you level up because your class features and Sneak Attack will be getting used very often!

You can find the Rogue class on page 94 of the Player’s Handbook.

The Rogue Table

LevelProficiency BonusSneak AttackFeatures
1+21d6Expertise, Sneak Attack, Thieves’ Cant
2+21d6Cunning Action
3+22d6Roguish Archetype
4+22d6Ability Score Improvement
5+33d6Uncanny Dodge
8+34d6Ability Score Improvement
9+45d6Roguish Archetype Feature
10+45d6Ability Score Improvement
11+46d6Reliable Talent
12+46d6Ability Score Improvement
13+57d6Roguish Archetype Feature
15+58d6Slippery Mind
16+58d6Ability Score Improvement
17+69d6Roguish Archetype Feature
19+610d6Ability Score Improvement
20+610d6Stroke of Luck

Rogue Class Features

While all Rogues have their own unique ways of operating (either for good or otherwise), there are some things that they all have in common. These are the class features that all Rogues have.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d8 per Rogue level

Hit Points at 1st level: 8 + your Constitution modifier

Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (average of 5) + your Constitution modifier per Rogue level beyond 1st


Armor: Light Armor

Weapons: Simple Weapons, hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers, shortswords

Tools: Thieves’ Tools

Saving Throws: Dexterity, Intelligence

Skills: Choose four from Acrobatics, Athletics, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Investigation, Perception, Performance, Persuasion, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth

Rogue Starting Equipment

In addition to any equipment you receive from your background, you start with the following equipment:

  • A rapier OR a shortsword
  • A shortbow and quiver of 20 arrows OR a shortsword
  • Your choice of a burglar’s pack, dungeoneer’s pack, or explorer’s pack
  • Leather Armor, two daggers, and Thieves’ Tools

Expertise (Level 1)

Proficiency is good, but being an expert is even better!

With the Expertise feature at level 1, you choose two skills that you are proficient in (or one skill plus your Thieves’ Tools proficiency). When you are making an ability check that uses either of the skills you have expertise in, you get to double your proficiency bonus.

Even better, you’ll get to pick two more skills for this feature again when you hit level 6!

Sneak Attack (Level 1)

The ability that forms the cornerstone of just about any Rogue build, Sneak Attack is how you can deal some truly awesome damage to your enemies.

If you’re using a finesse or ranged weapon, you can deal extra Sneak Attack damage (listed on the Rogue Table) on a successful attack if one of the following is true:

  • You have advantage on the attack roll. (Commonly by attacking from a hidden position.)
  • Another enemy of your target is within 5 feet of them.
  • You do not have disadvantage on the attack. (Such as attacking from long range with your bow.)

In combat situations, you are going to want to make sure that you take full advantage of this ability. Keeping an eye out for tactical situations and knowing the ins-and-outs of Sneak Attack will serve you well.

That’s why I also wrote this handy guide to using Sneak Attack in 5e that I would HIGHLY recommend you check out. Not only will it shed more light on exactly how this ability works, but it will also help you make sure that you aren’t missing chances to roll all of those extra damage dice!

Thieves’ Cant (Level 1)

Thieves’ Cant is a secretive language commonly known by thieves, assassins and other “underworld” types.

Think of it as a type of double-speak when it’s being spoken. A harmless conversation about the price of fruit could be valuable information in Thieves’ Cant about a new bounty for someone who is “in the know” and can understand.

When written, seemingly meaningless symbols can be used to convey messages. They might warn of dangerous traps ahead or indicate that a certain area is under another faction’s control.

Being able to understand Thieves’ Cant can add a bunch of flavor to your campaign. This is particularly true if your group finds themselves navigating the webs of intrigue so common within a city’s criminal underworld.

Cunning Action (Level 2)

A Rogue can’t just be quick on their feet – they have to also be quick-witted!

Cunning Action gives you extra options for your bonus action. Specifically, you can take the Dash, Disengage, and Hide actions as a bonus action on your turn.

You’ll be using this a lot in combat to strike out with some serious damage then retreat back into the shadows.

Roguish Archetype (Level 3)

At level 3, you will choose a Roguish Archetype for your character. These are subclasses for Rogues that expand their abilities and better define how the character plays.

Currently, there are 9 officially published Roguish Archetypes to choose from.

Three are found in the Player’s Handbook, four are found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and the latest two are in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.

We’ll cover the available subclass options in more depth later in this article.

Uncanny Dodge (Level 5)

Using your reaction, you can halve the damage that you take from an attack as long as you can see the thing that’s attacking you.

While you only get one reaction per turn, using it for this can easily be the difference between life and death.

Trading your ability to make an attack of opportunity this turn to instead offset the damage of an enemy critting you in the face is pretty nifty!

Evasion (Level 7)

At level 7, your Rogue is so nimble that they can safely avoid AoE effects like fireballs or dragons’ breath attacks.

Most AoE spells allow those in the range of the effect to make a saving throw and only take half damage. For the Rogue at level 7, succeeding on this saving throw means that you’ll take no damage.


Zip! Nada! Zilch!

Even if the dice don’t roll in your favor and you fail the save, you’ll only take half damage.

This is an incredible ability, particularly if your DM is fond of having you fight a lot of casters or dragons.

Furthermore, some traps may be rigged to unleash an AoE effect if they’re set off. This also helps you against those!

Reliable Talent (Level 11)

Going back to that whole “no substitute for talent” bit, at level 11 it’s very rare that you’ll fail at abilities that you’re proficient in.

With Reliable Talent, a roll of 9 or lower for an ability check that lets you add your proficiency bonus becomes a 10.

With 10 + proficiency (doubled if you have Expertise in the ability) + ability modifier, it’s very possible that a total check of 20 will be considered low for you.

Only the most insidious of traps or observant of enemies can stand in your way!

Blindsense (Level 14)

As long as you can hear, Blindsense lets you know where any hidden or invisible creatures within 10 feet of you are.

This is a simple feature, but it can effortlessly thwart enemy ambushes or save you from attackers when your eyesight isn’t enough to get the job done.

Slippery Mind (Level 15)

Wisdom is probably not one of your Rogue’s stronger abilities, so gaining proficiency in Wisdom saves is nifty.

Especially if your DM likes to give you enemies with a penchant for enchantment effects, that extra proficiency bump can be very helpful.

Elusive (Level 18)

Unless you are incapacitated, no attack against you will have advantage.

Between this feature, Uncanny Dodge, and Evasion, you are virtually impossible to pin down in combat.

There’s not a whole lot more to say about this ability. It’s simple and insanely good.

Stroke of Luck (Level 20)

At level 20, your Rogue gains the Stroke of Luck feature once per short or long rest.

In a pinch, you can use this to turn your missed attack into a successful hit.

Additionally, you can use this when making an ability check. If you fail the ability check, you can treat the d20 roll as a 20.

Having a guaranteed success in your back pocket is always a very nice position to be in!

Optional Class Features for Rogues

In addition to the two Roguish Archetypes presented in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, there is a new optional feature available to Rogues.

Check with your DM first to make sure that they’re cool with using content from TCoE in your game. (Most won’t have a problem with it, but being clear about what books are being used is a key part of a good Session Zero!)

Personally, I really like the optional feature that Rogues gained. It’s added some extra “oomph” to Rogues who prefer to keep their distance.

Steady Aim

If you haven’t used any movement, you can use a bonus action to give yourself advantage on your next attack roll on the current turn.

Your movement is reduced to 0 for the remainder of the turn, so make sure you’ve got good positioning.

If you’re playing a ranged attacker, this will be very useful to you. Find a good vantage point where you’re unlikely to need to use your movement or bonus action and start sniping!

The Rogue’s Role in the Party

Rogues largely fit at least two of three roles within a party:

  • Striker (single target damage)
  • Face (for those who are more charismatic)
  • Ferret (finding treasure, disarming traps, getting past locks, etc)

In most cases, the Rogue will be a Single Target Striker (unloading huge damage with Sneak Attack) and a Ferret.

Masterminds and Inquisitives are most likely to make for a party Face, though any Rogue with suitable charisma could fill that role. It’s up to you if your character prefers to draw attention or sticking to the shadows.

To learn more about character roles and party composition, check out my other article on Character Roles and Party Composition!


At level 3, you will pick a Roguish archetype for your character.

Each of these subclasses add new features to your characters repertoire.

When determining how your character plays, it’s a good idea to have an idea of what subclass you’d like to play. Each have their own methods of operating and you’ll want to build your character with those abilities in mind!

I have my own opinions about how each Rogue subclass ranks, but ultimately the best choice is the one that you want to play. A Rogue by any other name would be just as mischievous!

Because there are 9 options to choose from, I’m going to go over each of the Roguish Archetype options pretty quickly here.

For each Archetype, I’ve also published guides that take deeper dives into the ins and outs of each option! There will be links to those guides in each subclass’s section.


Check out the Assassin Rogue 5e Guide

The Assassin archetype specializes in being incredibly sneaky and dealing a ton of damage to enemies that they are able to catch off-guard. They can easily remove key targets from combat before the fighting even kicks off.

  • Bonus Proficiencies (Level 3): You gain proficiency with Disguise Kits and Poisoner’s kits.
  • Assassinate (Level 3): Gain advantage on attack rolls against creatures that haven’t taken a turn in combat yet. Even more awesome, any hit against a surprised creature is an automatic crit!
  • Infiltration Expertise (Level 9): Create flawless fake identities complete with documentation and a backstory.  
  • Imposter (Level 13): Study a person for three hours to perfectly mimic their behavior, handwriting, and speech. You’ll instantly fool most observers and will have advantage on Deception checks when trying to fool those who might suspect you.
  • Death Strike (Level 17): When you hit a surprised creature, they have to make a Constitution saving throw (DC of 8 + your DEX modifier + your proficiency) or take double damage. This stacks with Sneak Attack and your Assassinate ability for some truly insane damage output.


Check out our Thief Rogue 5e Guide

Possibly the most iconic of the Roguish Archetypes, the Thief subclass offers excellent utility to any party.

Acting quickly, moving silently, and using items (even/especially those that aren’t meant for you) are just some of the Thief’s many talents.

  • Fast Hands (Level 3): This expands the use of your Cunning Action feature. It can now also be used to make a sleight of hand check, disarm traps, pick locks, or use an object.
  • Second-Story Work (Level 3): Climbing no longer costs you extra movement, which means you climb at your normal movement speed. You can also jump further (number of feet equal to your DEX modifier) if you get a running start.
  • Supreme Sneak (Level 9): If you move no more than half of your movement speed, you get advantage on Stealth checks.
  • Use Magic Device (Level 13): You can improvise the use of certain magical items. This means you can ignore any class, race, or level requirements to use the item.
  • Thief’s Reflexes (Level 17): You take two turns in the first round of any combat. The first is at your normal initiative roll and the second is at that roll minus 10. As far as subclass capstones go, being able to take two turns is pretty epic.

Arcane Trickster

Check out our Arcane Trickster 5e Guide

Use arcane magic to supplement your roguish ways!

You’ll primarily be pulling from the Enchantment and Illusion schools of magic which means you can get very creative with your shenanigans. Combining your agility and quick thinking with magical utility means that you can easily adapt to virtually any situation.

  • Spellcasting (Level 3): Instantly gain two first level spells and three cantrips (one of which must be the Mage Hand spell.) You’ll gain more spells as you level up. Your Intelligence is used as your spellcasting ability.
  • Mage Hand Legerdemain (Level 3): Get tons of extra utility from Mage Hand. Not only is it invisible, but you have finer control over it. This means you can use it to pick locks, disarm traps, and dig through peoples’ pockets with ease!
  • Magical Ambush (Level 9): Casting a spell against a creature that doesn’t know you’re there gives them disadvantage on their saving throw.  
  • Versatile Trickster (Level 13): Use your Mage Hand to distract a creature as a bonus action. Until the end of your turn, you’ll have advantage on attack rolls against the creature.
  • Spell Thief (Level 17): If a creature casts a spell at you (either targeting you or including you in its area of effect), you can force them to make a saving throw against your spell save DC. If they fail, the spell does not affect you. If it’s at least a level 1 spell (and of a level that you can cast), you know the spell for the next 8 hours and can cast it with your spell slots. The creature can’t cast the spell again until the 8 hours have passed!


Check out our Mastermind Rogue 5e Guide

An expert in social situations, manipulation, and intrigue, the Mastermind focuses on the people around them to accomplish their goals.

While the Mastermind’s abilities won’t serve them particularly well in most dungeons, it’s a solid choice if your game focuses heavily on intrigue.

  • Master of Intrigue (Level 3): You now have proficiency with disguise kits, forgery kits, and your choice of gaming set. You also gain two additional languages. Listen to someone speak for at least a minute to pass yourself off as someone from their land (though not specifically as them.)
  • Master of Tactics (Level 3): You can now use the Help action as a bonus action. Additionally, you can do this from 30 feet away. It’s handy for giving your allies advantage on their attacks!
  • Insightful Manipulator (Level 9): Spend at least a minute observing a creature outside of combat. You learn if that creature has a higher or lower score than you in two of the following characteristics: Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma, or Class Level.
  • Misdirection (Level 13): If you have cover thanks to another creature within 5 feet of you, you can redirect an attack that is meant for you to the creature that is giving you cover.
  • Soul of Deceit (Level 17): Unless you allow otherwise, your thoughts cannot be read. If you’re feeling extra crafty, make a Deception check to present false thoughts to the one trying to read your mind. Any spell (like Zone of Truth) that would try to determine if you’re lying will show you as telling the truth. Additionally, you cannot be forced to tell the truth.  


Check out our Inquisitive Rogue 5e Guide

Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes as the Inquisitive Rogue!

You’re an expert at rooting out lies and inconsistencies. That same attention to detail makes you very useful for finding traps!

In combat, read your opponents’ body language to anticipate their movements and deliver decisive counters.

  • Ear for Deceit (Level 3): You’ll never have a base roll of less than 8 when using your Insight skill to determine if a creature is lying.
  • Eye for Detail (Level 3): Use a bonus action to look for hidden creatures or objects with a Perception check. This can also be used as an Investigation check to look for clues.
  • Insightful Fighting (Level 3): Make an Insight check against your opponent’s Deception as a bonus action. On a success, you don’t need advantage to land your Sneak Attack on that enemy.
  • Steady Eye (Level 9): Move no more than half your movement speed to gain advantage on perception and investigation checks.
  • Unerring Eye (Level 13): Unless you are blinded or deafened, you can use an action to detect illusions, shapeshifters, or any other magic that is meant to fool the senses within 30 feet of you.  
  • Eye for Weakness (Level 17): While using your Insightful fighting against a creature, your Sneak Attack damage against that creature is increased by an additional 3d6.


Check out our Scout Rogue 5e Guide

A fantastic option for Rogues who prefer to keep their distance and take down enemies with precise shots from their bow or crossbow.

Not only is the Scout good at navigating the wilderness, they’re fantastic skirmishers who are able to move quickly and secure excellent positioning to rain arrows down on their foes.

  • Skirmisher (Level 3): If an enemy ends their turn within 5 feet of you, you can use your reaction to move up to half your movement speed away. This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
  • Survivalist (Level 3): Gain proficiency in the Nature and Survival skills. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any check that uses either of these skills.
  • Superior Mobility (Level 9): Your movement speed is increased by 10 feet. If you have a climbing or swimming speed, they also gain this increase.
  • Ambush Master (Level 13): Make initiative rolls at advantage. Attacks against the first creature you hit in the first round of combat have advantage until the start of your next turn.
  • Sudden Strike (Level 17): If you take the Attack action, you can make a second attack as a bonus action. This second attack can also benefit from Sneak Attack, but must be used against a different target.


Check out our Swashbuckler Rogue 5e Guide

Avast me hearties!

While it’s impossible to deny the fun, pirate-y flavor of this archetype, it’s also an excellent option for those who want to play a Rogue that is more of a duelist.

With an abundance of speed and charisma, the Swashbuckler’s abilities make for a captivating character.

  • Fancy Footwork (Level 3): Whether your attack against a creature hits or not, that creature can’t make attacks of opportunity against you for the rest of your turn.
  • Rakish Audacity (Level 3): Gain a bonus to your initiative rolls equal to your Charisma modifier. Additionally, you don’t need advantage on an attack for your Sneak Attack to work if your target is the only creature within 5 feet of you.
  • Panache (Level 9): Roll Persuasion against your opponent’s Insight check. On a success against a hostile creature, the creature has disadvantage on attacks against any creature other than you and can’t make opportunity attacks against anyone but you. On a success against a non-hostile creature, they are charmed.
  • Elegant Maneuver (Level 13): Use your bonus action to gain advantage on the next Athletics or Acrobatics check you make in the same turn.
  • Master Duelist (Level 17): Once per short or long rest, you can reroll a missed attack with advantage this time.


Check out our Phantom Rogue 5e Guide

The first of the two Roguish Archetypes released in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, the Phantom is a wonderfully macabre subclass option.

Channel the power of death itself to aid your party with the help of your ghostly allies.

  • Whispers of the Dead (Level 3): Gain a skill or tool proficiency that you don’t already have at the end of a short or long rest. You have this proficiency until you use this ability again.
  • Wails from the Grave (Level 3): When you land your Sneak Attack on an enemy, this ability lets you deal extra necrotic damage to a second target.
  • Tokens of the Departed (Level 9): When a creature dies within 30 feet of you, you can use your reaction to create a Soul Trinket with your reaction. These Soul Trinkets give you advantage on death and Constitution saves, give you extra use of your Wails from the Grave feature, and allow you to converse with the spirit.  
  • Ghost Walk (Level 13): Become like a ghost for 10 minutes. In your spectral form, you gain a flying speed of 10 feet, can move through walls, and attack rolls against you are made at disadvantage.
  • Death’s Friend (Level 17): Your Wails from the Grave feature now deals necrotic damage to both the first and second targeted creatures. If you don’t have any Soul Trinkets at the end of a long rest, one appears in your hand.


Check out our Soulknife Rogue 5e Guide

The second subclass introduced in Tasha’s Cauldron, the Soulknife archetype adds psionic abilities to your Rogue’s toolkit through the use of Psionic Energy dice.

Summon psychic blades to rip your enemies to shreds while boosting your other skills with your psionic abilities.

  • Psionic Power (Level 3): Gain your Psionic Energy dice. This resource is used for your various psionic abilities. At this level, you’re able to communicate via telepathy with others and use your psionic energy to boost your roll on a skill check that you’re proficient in.
  • Psychic Blades (Level 3): Summon blades of psychic energy to deal psychic damage to your enemies. Attacking with these blades, you can add your ability modifier to the bonus attack’s damage, which is a nice bonus if you fancy some two-weapon fighting.
  • Soul Blades (Level 9): Your Psychic Blades are now more powerful. Use Psionic Energy dice to potentially turn a missed attack into a hit or to throw the blade and teleport to its location.
  • Psychic Veil (Level 13): Once per long rest, you can turn invisible for an hour. You can use Psionic Energy dice to do this more if you need.
  • Rend Mind (Level 17): When you deal Sneak Attack damage to an enemy, you can attempt to stun them as you overwhelm them with psychic power. If they fail their save, they’re stunned for one minute or until they make the save at the end of their turn. You get this once per long rest, but can expend Psionic Energy dice to do it again before then.

Optimization Tips for Rogues in D&D 5e

For any campaign, I always maintain that it’s important to play the character that you want to play.

However, many players have the most fun when creating and playing a character that is optimized.

So here’s some quick tips to help you get the most out of your Rogue in 5e.


Starting with the basics, Rogues need to focus on their Dexterity score above all else. Higher Dexterity greatly helps their ability to land swift strikes with Finesse weapons and do better when making skill checks like Acrobatics, Stealth, and Sleight of Hand that are essential to their role in the party.

From there, your next biggest priorities really hinge on what role you’re filling for the party and/or what Roguish Archetype you’ve chosen.

  • Strength: Rogues rely on their speed way more than their strength. This will typically be your dump stat.  
  • Dexterity: Dexterity is your most important skill. Nearly everything that your Rogue does will rely on having a good Dexterity score.  
  • Constitution: I don’t imagine many characters ever wishing they had less hit points. If you plan on being right up in the action, you’ll want a good Constitution score. If you prefer ranged melee, you can probably get away with making this slightly less of a priority.
  • Intelligence: Arcane Tricksters need Intelligence for their spells. The other Roguish Archetypes don’t gain much from Intelligence, though it is very useful for finding traps with your Investigate skill.
  • Wisdom: Your Perception and Insight checks rely on Wisdom, but this isn’t a particularly “make or break” ability for you. Inquisitive Rogues may want to invest more in this, but the Rogue’s Expertise can make up for a lower ability score if necessary.
  • Charisma: Rogues can make for a good party “face” and you’ll need charisma if you plan on interacting with others very often. Masterminds and Swashbucklers will want to prioritize this right behind Dexterity.


Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything introduced new rules that remove how your chosen character race affects your stats. However, not all groups use that rule.

If you are looking to optimize your Rogue and aren’t using the new rules from Tasha’s Cauldron, these are some of the best choices for your character’s race.

  • High Elf: Not only do High Elves get a bonus to Dexterity, they also start the game with a free cantrip. If you’re planning on being up in the enemy’s face, taking the Booming Blade cantrip will get you some incredible mileage as it increases your damage output and scales as you level up. Not to mention, the Elven resistance to charm effects, immunity to sleep effects, and 4-hour trances mean that this character can stay vigilant.
  • Lightfoot Halfling: Not even just for their bonus to Dexterity, I love Halfling Rogues. While any Halfling can make for a great Rogue, Lightfoot Halflings can hide behind other creatures which is great for consistently being able to land your Sneak Attacks. Furthermore, rerolls with the Halfling’s “Lucky” trait are always incredible to have up your sleeve.
  • Variant Human: Variant Humans tend to be a solid pick for any class. Using the Variant Human, you can increase your Dexterity score while also getting a bonus feat at character creation. While there aren’t many feats that I would recommend taking instead of an Ability Score Increase before you’ve maxed out your Dexterity score, getting a free feat at level 1 is pretty sweet.
  • Tabaxi: Peanut Butter meet Jelly. As one might expect from a feline race, literally everything about Tabaxi are perfect for the Rogue class.


Your Rogue can have any background that you want. If you’re looking for an optimized pick, there are a few solid options though.

  • Criminal: The standard Rogue background. You get proficiency in Deception and Stealth plus two tool kits. (Since you already have proficiency in Thieves’ Tools, you can substitute that for a Disguise Kit or Poisoners Kit.) If you like the bonuses but don’t want to be a criminal, you can take the Spy variant of this background.
  • Urchin: Proficiency in Sleight of Hand and Stealth is great for Rogues. You also gain proficiency with Thieves’ Tools and Disguise Kits. As with the Criminal background, replace the Thieves’ Tools proficiency with something else.
  • Charlatan: Gain proficiency in Deception and Sleight of Hand as well as with Forgery and Disguise Kits.  


Rogues can get a solid amount of value from several of the available feats. However, there are still some options that are particularly worth considering!

  • Alert: For any Rogue, being able to go early in the combat round is a massive advantage.  
  • Sharpshooter: If you’re playing a ranged Rogue, you’ll want Sharpshooter. Overcoming cover and long-distance penalties while also potentially stacking your bonus Sharpshooter damage with your Sneak Attack is disgusting in the best way possible.
  • Inspiring Leader: If you’re playing a Charisma-heavy Rogue, being able to give extra hit points to your allies is nifty. Swashbucklers and Masterminds should consider this, but others might have less use of it.
  • Skilled: Gaining three more proficiencies in skills or tools of your choice combines well with Reliable Talent. I wouldn’t necessarily make a dash for this feat, but it’s still a good option for Rogues.
  • Dungeon Delver: If you’re playing a Dungeon Crawl type campaign, this is an excellent choice. After all, traps and finding secret doors are very much your problem to deal with as the party’s Rogue.

Conclusion – The Rogue in D&D 5e Guide

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to the Rogue in D&D 5e!

For a funny story about my own Rogue’s antics, check out this article here to read what happens when you mix a Thief with delusions of grandeur and a room full of genies.

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