The Ultimate DND 5e Rogue Class Guide
What are the best builds, feats, and skills for Rogues in D&D 5E? We’ve got the answers for you right here.
Rogues can be played a number of ways. Your Rogue may be a criminal who is good at pickpocketing and burglary, an assassin who knows how to kill silently, or an Arcane Trickster who uses magic to deceive others.
Regardless of what type of Rogue you play, you’ll need to know how to maximize your skills and abilities for that particular type. That’s where this guide comes in.
All Rogues need to have a high dexterity. So always place your highest ability roll into this stat. Aside from this, there are a few possible builds for a Rogue.
Every party needs a “Face” character; somebody who knows how to talk to people. This type of character is a master of deception, insight, and intimidation. They can get allies on the side of the party or lie and manipulate to avoid combat. If no one else is playing this role within the party, you may want to play your Rogue as this type of character.
For a Face Rogue, make Charisma your second-highest attribute. Choose Con or Wis for your third priority and dump your bad rolls into Int and Str.
An Arcane Trickster is a Rogue who uses magic to deceive others. If you are going to choose this archetype (more on that below), choose Int as your second-highest attribute. Make Con or Wis your third choice. Dump your bad rolls into Str or Cha.
Burglar, assassin, or other “traditional” Rogue
If you are going to play a traditional “thief” or “assassin” Rogue, make Con or Wis your second-highest attribute. Con will allow you to survive combat longer, while Wis will help with Perception and Insight. Throw your bad rolls into Str, Int, and Cha.
Here is a list of Rogue archetypes available in the Player’s Handbook. For each archetype, we’ve listed the most useful features.
This is the archetype most people think of when they imagine a Rogue. Unfortunately, it starts out underpowered. But if you can make it to levels 9-13, Supreme Sneak will give you an advantage on dexterity checks when you move no more than half your movement speed during a turn and Use Magic Device will let you ignore all class, race, and level requirements while using magical devices.
Want to play the fantasy RPG equivalent of a hit man? This is your archetype. At level 3, Assassinate gives you advantage on any attack roll against an opponent that has not yet taken a turn, and gives you an automatic crit against any surprised victim.
A magic-using Rogue, what could be cooler than that? You get Spellcasting at level 3, allowing you to learn Wizard spells. Once you get to level 9, Magical Ambush will make the victims of your spells face disadvantage on saving throws if you are successfully hiding from them.
Some races make better Rogues than others. Here are the best Rogue races:
Elf - All elves get +2 Dex, making them naturals for the Rogue class. They also get automatic proficiency in the Perception skill. Wood elves’ Mask of The Wild makes hiding easier, and high elves’ +1 to Int is useful for the Arcane Trickster archetype.
Half-elf - +2 to Cha and +1 to two other abilities is nice for just about any class. And Fey Ancestry will help prevent you from getting charmed or put to sleep
Gnome - Gnomes have advantage on all Charisma, Intelligence, and Wisdom saving throws against magic. Once you get to level 7, this can help you avoid damage using your Evasion class feature. Forest gnomes also get the Minor Illusion cantrip automatically
Halfling - Like elves, halflings get +2 to Dex, making them perfect for the Rogue class. They are also Lucky, allowing you to reroll 1s on attacks. Lightfoot halflings’ Naturally Stealthy makes it easier to hide behind others, while Stout halflings’ Stout Resilience gives resistance to poison.
Best Rogue class features
Some of the Rogue features are fantastic, and others you will hardly ever use. Here are some of the best ones for levels 1-7.
Expertise - Can be used to double your proficiency in stealth or other Rogue skills
Cunning action - At level 2, allows you to perform a bonus action to Disengage, Hide, or Dash
Uncanny Dodge - At level 5, use your reaction to halve the damage of an attack
Evasion - Rogues get this at level 7. If an effect states that a Dex saving throw will allow you to take half damage, you instead take half damage if you fail or no damage if you make the saving throw
Take these feats to make a top-notch Rogue.
Sharpshooter - Great for Rogue that use ranged weapons. It allows you to ignore penalties for long range, half cover, and three-quarters cover, plus take a -5 attack roll penalty in exchange for +10 damage
Mobile - Increases your speed by 10 ft. and prevents you from provoking attacks of opportunity from a creature you are melee attacking
Alert - +5 to initiative, keeps you from being surprised while conscious, prevents your enemies from gaining advantage on attacks if they are hidden from you
Rogue armor and weapons
If you’re playing a Rogue, you want to maximize your dexterity bonus to AC. So always use leather armor or other types or light armor. For weapons, use daggers, rapiers, bows, crossbows, or other finesse or ranged weapons.
Rogue Protection tips
So your party is in danger. How can you protect your friends?
Rogues don’t have many ways to buff party members. But what they can do is recognize danger and avoid it. See “Rogue utility” below for examples of how to do this.
Thieves do not generally have high Con. So in combat, you want to find the best opportunity to make a strike. Hide in the shadows and snipe with a crossbow. You can do terrible damage to your enemies this way. Another option is to wait until your foe is distracted by one of the other party members, then sneak in with a shortsword and stab him in the leg. Now that they are crippled, your party’s fighter or mage can finish him off easily.
Rogues really shine outside of combat. Use Perception and Insight to recognize danger and keep your party out of trouble. If a situation looks too dangerous, leave your party behind and use Stealth to infiltrate the enemy, then report back when you’re done. If you’re playing a Face character, use Persuasion and Deception to find clues, convince guards to let you by, and accomplish other social aims. If playing an Arcane Trickster, use Investigation and Arcana to find answers to your party’s questions about non-magical or magical subjects.
There are several different ways to play a Rogue. You can be a pickpocket, burglar, assassin, con-artist, or some other character type that survives by sneaking around and hiding in the shadows. But no matter what type of Rogue you play, using the class features, skills, and feats in this guide will make you a helpful addition to any party.
A Note on Thieves' Cant
Most DMs rule that Thieves' Cant is not a "language" per say as a closely guarded cypher. A rogue in any language might say something like "The weather is quite fine today, isn't it, Timmy?" and anyone listening or scrying can understand the words, but without knowing Thieves' Cant they don't know that means "Being followed up to five in party." Thieves' Cant is unique because it's not the words, it is coded talk that really sets it apart and makes sure that magic or not, this is a way for rogues, assassins, and thieves to keep their secrets.
Still confused? Here's a PERFECT example of Thieves Cant. Technically they're from different places, so they get confused, but you should get it now ;p
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Last updated: January 27, 2019
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