Rogue class definitive guide for DnD 5E

It had taken three weeks of late nights, two dozen mugs of ale, and one fat pouches of coins to get the information needed for this job, but it’d all be worth it. Under the cover of darkness you had moved silently in a half crouch towards the merchant’s guild headquarters, breathing so gently the loudest noise you made was the beat of your own heart. A few minutes of spreading caltrops one by one outside the back door, a way to cover your escape if things go wrong or an amusing prank if they go right, and you were ready to climb. With long, smooth movements you scaled the wall to the 3rd story window, five minutes later you’d shimmed the latch and were greeted by warm air you swore was even perfumed. 

Everything went to plan: your scissors cut through the alarm’s trigger string with ease, the safe’s lock was so basic even an amateur could have raked it open, but how were you supposed to know a bored guard was going to wander the halls? You were seen, Bag of Holding full of loot at your side, coming out of the treasurer’s office and suddenly practiced silence gave way to the rasp of steel and thumping of running feet. Dropping into a crouch, your body like a spring, you burst forwards towards the open window. The ball of your foot landing perfectly on the sill as you jumped for the drainpipe of the bakery across the alley, the uncomfortable thud of metal into your chest aside, you were out, a smile tugging at your masked lips as you climbed to the roof and broke into a sprint.

You’ve made it up the ranks and you’re finally ready for some real work, maybe you’re interested in that tomb raiding job, or taking care of the tyrannical lord one fiefdom over. Whatever your interest in one of the most iconic classes of Dungeons & Dragons, at the Dice Cove, we have your back.

In this guide, we’ll sneak you through all the options for the Rogue, as well as supportive choices you can make to build your character to achieve what you want. Whilst reading through this guide, you may find this article on jargon and this list of books (and their common abbreviations) helpful.

This guide will evaluate each option for the Rogue on a scale of 1-5– this is a rating of the abilities’ potency and overall usefulness, primarily focusing on combat where appropriate. That said, I will still evaluate everything. This can aid you to weigh any choices you might be considering at a glance, helping you know what to expect and make changes accordingly if desired. The rating scheme is:

1 – Usually a bad choice, to be avoided
2 – Below average, this can apply to powerful but very niche abilities
3 – Average to Good, you won’t go wrong with it
4 – Very good
5 – Amazing, a must-have if there is such a thing

Version 1.1 (10/26/2021)

This rating system exists to best help you understand the effectiveness of all the options available to the Rogue for you to build and enjoy your character. Remember though, your fun comes first; it’s actually very difficult to build a character that is entirely bad in 5E, so if you have a concept that doesn’t rate highly, you might still have fun playing it. This is a guide, not a contract written by Asmodeus. Let it advise you and not force you away from your own ideas.

It’s recommended to have your book/PDF/DnD Beyond page open to reference and follow along with the guide.

Rogue Class Abilities

Hit Dice (3) – A d8 isn’t very good for a martial, but you at least have the option of being a ranged or skirmishing combatant.

Proficiencies

Armor (3) – Light Armor isn’t so bad for a Rogue, as you’ll be wanting to max out your Dex as soon as possible anyway. The Rogue primarily mitigates damage in ways other than high AC.

Weapons (4) – Since Rogues want finesse or ranged weapons this is almost as good as it gets, really. The only improvements would be access to the longbow and heavy crossbow.

Tools (4) – You only get one, but it’s the most useful one.

Saving Throws (4) – Dexterity saving throws are common from spells to traps, and every breath weapon in between so this proficiency will save you a lot of damage taken. Intelligence is very rare, though if it comes up it probably saved your brain from a nasty fate.

Skills (5) – Rogues get the most skills of any class in the game and can choose from a broad list. The standouts here are Perception and Stealth, with the only notable skill missing being Arcana.

Expertise (5) – Doubling your proficiency bonus with certain skills or your Thieves’ Tools makes you far more consistent in passing checks and able to achieve higher DCs. For certain builds like grapplers, this is an essential feature, and overall cements the Rogue’s place as one of the best skill monkeys in the game.

Sneak Attack (5) – The core of a Rogue’s damage output and referred to as Sneak for short, it places certain limitations on what weapons you can use, but in practice, you won’t miss out on anything from this. An important thing to note here is that Sneak Attack is once per turn, not once per round. This means that if you hit someone with a readied attack or an attack of opportunity, and you qualify, you can still get your sneak damage.

Thieves’ Cant (3) – As far as ribbons go this is very limited in use but can provide story hooks for your character and discreet communication between party members. When you’re getting this on top of Expertise and Sneak Attack it can’t be too good!

Cunning Action (5) – Another integral part of the Rogue’s core abilities, this allows you to skirmish to your heart’s content, Hide better than any other class, and makes the Rogue the fastest class by default by allowing them to at-will double Dash every turn. The only downside to this great ability is that it provides you with a lot of nice things to use your bonus action for, which can be problematic if you want to two weapon fight or use bonus action spells etc.

Ability Score Increase (5) – This isn’t normally included in our guides as they’re standard for most classes, however, the Rogue gets an additional ASI at 10th level. This is a higher level than a lot of folk play, but an additional ASI can really help with feat-heavy concepts in games where it applies.

Uncanny Dodge (4) – A fantastic defensive ability that allows a Rogue to hang out in melee despite only having a d8 hit die and average AC. The reasons this only gets a 4 are the lack of protection against enemies you can’t see and the diminishing returns in combat encounters where you may get hit multiple times a round instead of one big hit. 

Evasion (5) – Dex saves are common and between this and your high Dex save bonus you’ll take no damage from Dex save-based hazards a lot of the time and even if you get unlucky you’ll only take half damage at most. The cherry on top is that this is a passive ability, you don’t even need to use your reaction!

Reliable Talent (5) – This ability makes it incredibly unlikely that you’ll fail any skill check you’re proficient in ever again. In some instances it can make your minimum result unreasonably high, for example at 11th level a Rogue with a +5 Dex and Expertise in Stealth would have a minimum Stealth check result of 23!

Blindsense (1) – You need to be very aware that this is not actually blindsight like a monster may have, you’ll be aware of anyone invisible that may try and hide but they’ll still benefit from being unseen against you.

Slippery Mind (4) – Wisdom saving throws are nasty to fail and become increasingly common the higher up in levels you go. 

Elusive (4) – It isn’t glamorous, but it is a solid defense. This is only a 4 because advantage against you is pretty situational.

Stroke of Luck (4) – Once per rest you can turn a miss into a hit or give yourself a 20 on a skill check, that’s a pretty great ability for a class that focuses on single, big hits.

Optional Class Features (TCoE)

The Rogue only gets a single optional feature from Tasha’s, this is an additional ability and does not replace anything:

Steady Aim (3) – On-demand advantage is very nice for a Rogue, but the limitation of not moving at all on that turn is a steep cost. This makes the ability useless to skirmishing Rogues and only useful to ranged Rogues that are already in a favorable position, or rarer tanking Rogues already in melee.

Stats for Rogues

Rogues are one of the easiest classes to make work with stats as they’re primarily Dex SAD, but it’s still important to understand how valuable each stat is to a Rogue before we get into the subclasses. It’s worth noting that because Rogues are mostly Dex SAD, they can afford better tertiary stats than other classes, be it for utility or roleplay

Strength (2) – Even if you want to grapple you don’t need this as you can take Expertise in Athletics, you may want a 10 in this if only to not detract from your checks and give you a reasonable carrying capacity.

Dexterity (5) – The primary stat for the Rogue and so integral that you should try and max it as quickly as you can, or try to get it to at least 18 before you take a feat with an ASI. 

Constitution (3) – The stat everyone wants, I’d recommend trying to go a little higher in Con if you can afford to, especially if you’re a melee Rogue to compensate for your d8 hit die. If you don’t want to invest too much in Con then try to put at least a 14 here.

Intelligence (2) – If you want to find loot and traps then Int is a stat you’ll want to consider for Investigation. If you’re an Arcane Trickster this goes up to a 4, but isn’t necessarily needed depending on spells chosen.

Wisdom (3) – At least a 14 would be nice for Wis, it’s not only useful for your Perception, but without proficiency in Wis saves until later in the game a positive modifier becomes more important for passing saves against nasty monster effects.

Charisma (3) – Primarily for face characters, it never hurts to have a  decent Cha score, if you’re a Swashbuckler then this goes up to 4.

Roguish Archetypes (Subclasses)

Your subclass can really influence the role and style of play for your Rogue, in some cases, it can also affect the value of certain stats so it’s important to think about which subclass you’ll choose at character creation:

Thief

The iconic thief style of Rogue is given some support here, this subclass is often regarded as one of the weakest Rogues. The value of the abilities here is somewhat DM-dependent and requires you to actively get use out of them. Once you get the hang of it there’s a surprising amount of potential here.

Fast Hands (3) – The cornerstone of the Thief, this is an ability that relies primarily on your creativity which is why this only gets a 3. With this, you can attempt to pickpocket an enemy or unlock a door to escape all mid-combat. The main power of this ability is with the Use an Object action, which will allow you to use items like a Healer’s Kit, Acid, Alchemist’s Fire, and oil. It’s important to note that if you use something like Acid you can make the attack as part of your bonus action and you include your Dex mod in the damage.

Second-Story Work (2) – Alongside Fast Hands this is pretty nice and lends a very Batman feel to the Thief, but it is a very situational ability.

Supreme Sneak (2) – Advantage on Stealth is nice, but slowing down to do so isn’t great, especially when you can already be exceptionally good at Stealth with your high Dex and Expertise.

Use Magic Device (2) – Potentially a very powerful ability, but very dependent on the DM. It’s worth noting that this allows a Thief to use spell scrolls, which can be extremely useful.

Thief’s Reflexes (5) – An extra turn on the first round of every combat is a fantastic ability, especially as it will allow at least two Sneak Attacks and two reactions on that turn. The Alert feat is highly recommended if you’re a high-level Thief.

Assassin

Another player-favorite concept is the deadly killer hidden in the shadows, waiting to strike at their target. Unfortunately, this subclass is highly dependent on the Surprise mechanic, which relies not only on Stealth but on your DM.

Bonus Proficiencies (2) – These can be of use but aren’t widely applicable, there are better tools/kits to be proficient in.

Assassinate (2) – The automatic critical hit is what everyone thinks of with this ability, and when it happens it’s great, but it won’t happen frequently. Getting advantage against creatures that haven’t taken a turn yet is nice and carries this feature, but is unreliable and pushes the Assassin to take Alert.

Infiltration Expertise (2) – As far as 9th level Rogue abilities go it isn’t a bad one and plays well into the theme of the subclass. This is only a 2 because it’s all that the Assassin gets at 9th and is very narrow in scope.

Imposter (1) – Is this useful? Potentially, very useful, but it’s been ten levels since this Assassin got better at actually killing things.

Death Strike (1) – Not only is this capstone reliant on surprise, but it’s also reliant on the enemy failing a Con saving throw, which is usually a strong save for monsters. The potential damage is excellent, but the chance of getting that damage is too vanishingly small.

Arcane Trickster

Incredibly versatile and a player favorite, this archetype allows you restricted access to Wizard spellcasting, specifically making you a third caster. Through certain spell choices, this subclass is competitive for the highest damage dealing Rogue, but you should be careful to ration your very limited spell slots appropriately. Recommended spells for this subclass include Disguise Self, Silent Image, Shield, Find Familiar, Invisibility, and Shadow Blade. For cantrips, Booming Blade is highly recommended for damage and an added control effect.

Spellcasting (4) – Adding spellcasting to a well-built class like the Rogue was always going to go well, this only gets a 4 due to the school restrictions and the extremely slow spell slot progression of being a three-quarter caster.

Mage Hand Legerdemain (5) – For what it is this ability is very nice, it takes a great cantrip and allows you to make it invisible and use it to perform your usual Rogue antics at a distance. Something you could try mid-combat is taking the items being carried or worn by your opponent with your bonus action. This is a useful and rather hilarious way of dealing with a magic item using foe.

Magical Ambush (3) – Tying in with your high Dex, potential Expertise, and ability to bonus action Hide this feature isn’t bad, far from it, but the problem is that generally your action is better spent using Sneak Attack, especially if you can successfully Hide. There could be times this comes in handy, however, such as casting Hold Person on a humanoid enemy.

Versatile Trickster (4) – Giving yourself advantage is very nice, the only downside here is the need to have Mage Hand summoned and near the creature you’re attacking. This feature may be less appealing to those that can use Steady Aim.

Spell Thief (2) – It certainly sounds cool, but this feature falls down at quite a few points: the enemy needs to be a spellcaster, it relies on your spell save DC, it relies on an enemy caster failing a save with their strong stat, and to get the full use of the feature it needs to be a fairly low-level spell for Tier 4 so you can actually cast it.

Mastermind

For those that have ambitions of running their own organization, or simply want a more support-focused Rogue. This subclass was originally published in the SCAG and was reprinted in XGtE. This is primarily a roleplay pick but can work well in a party where you have an ally with Sharpshooter or Great Weapon Master.

Master of Intrigue (3) – Not a great feature, but it goes a long way towards helping you build a more espionage-style Rogue, most useful in an intrigue-heavy game. I know, surprising right?

Master of Tactics (3) – Getting the Help action at range is very nice for your party, and can certainly help them land hits that can save the day. This ability only gets a 3 however because a single attack at advantage doesn’t age very well as martials get more attacks, it’s dependent on having more attack roll users in your party, and finally, you can’t Help yourself. Ironically the best character to make use of your Help is another Rogue!

Insightful Manipulator (1) – Incredibly niche in use, it could be useful if you can get a BBEG into a situation where you can judge what their weaker save might be, but it won’t take into account their proficiencies. Not a good feature.

Misdirection (2) – Thematically a really interesting ability, with the idea of using enemies as meat shields against their own allies, it could work like that with a lot of maneuvering. However to get real use out of this your best bet is to hide behind a willing ally. This can be beneficial if the ally has a high AC, or an effect like Armor of Agathys, though does not make for a good ability.

Soul of Deceit (1) – An overly situational ribbon ability masquerading as a capstone.

Swashbuckler

The best skirmisher of all the Rogue subclasses, the Swashbuckler places a higher value on Cha and can make excellent use of two-weapon fighting. This subclass is really primarily for melee characters, but you can still switch hit effectively when you need to. Like the Mastermind, this subclass was also reprinted in XGtE.

Fancy Footwork (5) – An excellent ability that allows you to hit and run, or retreat whilst still getting some potential damage in. Yes, it restricts you to melee, but if you wanted to play an archer Rogue this subclass wasn’t your first choice anyway.

Rakish Audacity (5) – Cha modifier added to your already nice initiative and a way to make Sneak Attack more reliable? After I Googled what rakish means, I do agree that’s very charming.

Panache (5) – This feature makes you a skirmishing tank, encouraging enemies to try and chase after you instead of attacking your party, to do this effectively you’ll likely have to use Cunning Action Dash to be able to do this unless you have other speed buffs or switch to ranged attacks. This gets a 5 because it relies on a skill contest, making it very reliable as long as you take Expertise in Persuasion, and gives you some out of combat utility with the charm effect on non-hostile creatures.

Elegant Maneuver (1) – Advantage on Acrobatics and Athletics checks can be nice for escaping grapples, or making use of shove and grapple combos. This is a bad ability because Rogues are a bad chassis for grapple builds (as they only have one attack) and it consumes your valuable bonus action. If this came alongside a more useful ability then it may be worth a 2.

Master Duelist (3) – This is a very good ability that helps you land that Sneak Attack damage, it only gets a 3 because you can only use it once per short or long rest.

Inquisitive

The Sherlock Holmes of the Rogue world, good for roleplaying a detective and excels at getting Sneak Attack reliably in combat, melee, or ranged. The Inquisitive is encouraged to take Expertise in Insight and have a decent (14+) Wisdom score in order to get the most out of their main feature.

Ear for Deceit (3) – A somewhat reliable way to determine if someone is lying, without having to use magic. Very thematic and fairly useful as far as ribbons go.

Eye for Detail (1) – Only really useful when fighting enemies that you can’t see, that are also actively hiding from you. If that comes up somewhat frequently in your game then this ability becomes extremely valuable. 

Insightful Fighting (4) – As long as you invest in your Insight modifier this is a very reliable way to get Sneak Attack, especially at later levels when Reliable Talent becomes available. This only gets a 4 because it relies on your bonus action and is best suited to encounters with fewer monsters.

Steady Eye (3) – The speed clause of this is mostly relevant for dungeoneering, this gets a 3 for likely giving you advantage on all Perception/Investigation checks, but some more utility or something more combat relevant would have been more preferable.

Unerring Eye (1) – Not only is this a pretty niche use ability, but it relies on you already being suspicious of something trying to trick you and then doesn’t give you any specifics other than vaguely confirming your suspicions.

Eye for Weakness (5) – An extra 3d6 Sneak Attack damage against targets you can reliably use Sneak Attack against? Oh yes. 

Scout

Rogue: Ranger edition, this subclass gives you a bit of a wilderness feel but focuses primarily on mobility. This archetype is best suited to a ranged Rogue rather than skirmishing, though the latter can work if you commit your bonus action to disengaging.

Skirmisher (2) – An okay defensive ability for keeping you at range, this gets a lower score because it requires your reaction, putting it in contention with Uncanny Dodge if you get hit, or just hoping they miss! 

Survivalist (5) – Two skills that you double your proficiency in? A great feature to go with the wilderness theme, just be careful you don’t pick up Nature or Survival before 3rd level to get the most of it.

Superior Mobility (2) – A 10ft boost is really nice, but as the only ability at 9th level it feels lackluster, if there was a second ability this would be at least a 3.

Ambush Master (4) – A pretty solid ability, I don’t feel that benefiting from the advantage is reliable enough to rate as a 5 however. 

Sudden Strike (5) – Two Sneak Attack eligible attacks in a turn, every turn? Even if it eats your bonus action, that’s too strong to not be a 5.

Phantom

You see dead people, and take their stuff, or to be precise their knowledge and experiences. This subclass shines as a skill monkey and is above average for a Rogue at handling multiple enemies. This is definitely an archetype that shines more at higher levels when it comes to combat.

Whispers of the Dead (5) – A tool or skill of your choice whenever you finish a rest? Excellent utility ability.

Wails from the Grave (2) – Being able to automatically damage another creature when you Sneak Attack someone is great, but the number of uses is just too few for only half your Sneak damage and it’s useless against solo big tough monsters like dragons, etc. This gets better at higher levels.

Tokens of the Departed (4) – This feature brings some Speak with Dead-ish utility which can be useful, but more importantly it allows you to use your Wail from the Grave feature a more meaningful amount. This only gets a 4 because it requires a reaction and freehand, no TWF for you, and a lot of its value is just propping up another feature.

Ghost Walk (5) – There’s a lot here and it’s all good, either in combat or exploration. One of the biggest strengths of this ability is its first free use, with subsequent uses only costing you a single soul trinket, whilst the form itself lasts a respectable 10 minutes.

Death’s Friend (4) – A pretty substantial damage bump and being able to start the day with a soul trinket are very nice, this would be a 5 if it introduced something new or gave just a little more, you can think of it more like a 4.5.

Soulknife

A psionic option for the Rogue, this archetype is very well rounded and competes for highest damage Rogue immediately from 3rd level. RAW you won’t be able to make opportunity attacks with your Psychic Blades, but this is easily remedied by holding a dagger and passing it between your hands if it becomes a concern.

Psionic Power (5) –  The pool of Psionic Energy Dice you get is very generous, as you won’t be relying on them and typically won’t expend them often. Psi-Bolstered Knack is a fantastic ability to ensure you pass your skill checks, and Psychic Whispers is most of Rary’s Telepathic Bond, a 5th level spell.

Psychic Blades (5) – This ability makes you a seamless switch hitter, with a large damage boost and the benefits of never being unarmed or slowed down by resistance to non-magical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing? Outstanding ability. This can also benefit from the Thrown Weapon Fighting Style, adding damage to each attack.

Soul Blades (5) – A bonus action teleport ability and an accuracy boost that only uses a Psionic Energy Dice if it turns a miss into a hit? Nothing but sweet psionic gravy.

Psychic Veil (4) – A better version of Invisibility you can use for free once a day and more if you need it. This would be a 5 if it was more on par with Greater Invisibility but is still really nice.

Rend Mind (5) – This is a little like Stunning Strike for a Monk, but potentially lasts a minute once it’s in place, at 17th level you’ll have plenty of Psionic Energy Dice to make use of this ability.

Race Choices

In this section, I’ll review all of the racial options based on how well they complement the Rogue as a whole, commenting where certain features may benefit certain subclasses. Races are good places to pick up abilities for certain character concepts, so if you’re thinking about playing a certain Rogue build but that race isn’t rated well here, it doesn’t mean your particular combination wouldn’t work or be fun to play. Like I said previously, it’s actually pretty difficult to make a truly bad character in 5e. 

Subraces and variants will be listed under the central race rating, indented to the right, and noted by italics.

If your DM allows the TCoE optional rules for reassigning racial stat bumps, then every race becomes a minimum rating of 3 and you should decide entirely based on the other benefits they give. The only exceptions to this, are races that give more points to stats than is typical, like the Half-Elf or Mountain Dwarf, which would be at least a 3.5 before features are considered.

Aarakocra (5) – A Dex bump and a high fly speed are pretty amazing for a ranged Rogue, the flight restrictions don’t matter as you only wear light armor anyway, and Cunning Action Dash can make up for the slightly slower walking speed.

Aasimar (4) – +2 to Cha is good for Swashbuckler and face Rogues, the real benefit here is the plethora of goodies the Aasimar gets that the base Rogue class has no access to including healing, a cantrip, and resistances.

  • Protector (2) – +1 to Wisdom isn’t the worst secondary stat you could have gotten, but it’s still sub-par, a flight speed can be useful, however.
  • Scourge (2) – +1 to Con is always nice, the aura damage isn’t ideal on a d8 martial but if you’re playing a Rogue who gets in a monster’s face it is a useful ability.
  • Fallen (1) – Frightened isn’t a bad condition, but you can hit your party members with it and Str is of little value to you unless you’re a rare Str-based Rogue.

Bugbear (2) – The stats aren’t great, but Long-limbed is useful for a skirmishing Rogue and Surprise Attack makes every subclass a little bit of an Assassin.

Centaur (1) – The only thing here for a Rogue is the increased movement speed, canter on.

Changeling (3) – Excellent for face and intrigue-based Rogues with good stats for a Swashbuckler, okay for other Rogues.

Dhampir (3) – Good stats by default, superior movement speed, and a climb speed are nice, unfortunately, the bite is basically useless to a Rogue as it isn’t eligible for Sneak Attack. 

Dragonborn (1) – Bad stats and a mediocre AOE that scales off a secondary stat, a roleplaying choice.

  • Draconblood (1) – Even worse stats, The face ability could be nice but isn’t worth it overall.
  • Ravenite (2) – This would be a very niche build, but Vengeful Assault can be used to gain Sneak Attack opportunities as a reaction somewhat reliably.

Dragonborn (FToD Version) (5) – This Fizban’s rework of the dragonborn divides the race into three subraces, with only the ability score increases coming from the core race. The freedom to choose your own stats is very potent and facilitates any type of Rogue you want to build.

  • Chromatic (3) – Resistance is nice, being able to give yourself immunity to that same damage type can be useful but is more niche of an ability. Unfortunately, the breath weapon is only so-so for you, as you only have one attack to replace, and being able to use Sneak Attack will likely be a better option most of the time. That said, if you need to change up your damage type, or there’s a lot of weaker enemies it might still be worth using for you.
  • Metallic (3) – Pretty much the same as the Chromatic option, with the caveat that the Enervating Breath is a great control ability if you have a decent Con modifier, which you should!
  • Gem (4) – An exception to the precedent set by the other dragonborn, the ability to fly as a bonus action is very valuable, and the available damage types for the breath weapon are more potent than the typical elemental damage types. The telepathy is a nice ribbon that adds a psionic feel to any Rogue.

Dwarf (2) – The weapon and armor are useless and the movement penalty hurts, but Con and poison resistance are nice.

  • Hill (2) – Extra hp can be great, especially if you’re looking to play a more tank/thug kind of Rogue, but Wis is less than ideal.
  • Mountain (2) – Medium armor is a side-grade at best for a high Dex character, the Str is usable but not what you want.
  • Duergar (2) – The strongest Dwarf option, carried by its spells, Sunlight Sensitivity can be a deal breaker depending on your game.
  • Mark of Warding (2) – If you’re an Arcane Trickster and don’t mind slow Dex progression this can be a nice choice, but niche for the Rogue overall.

Elf (5) – Darkvision, a Dex bump, Fey Ancestry and Trance make a solid package for a Rogue.

  • High Elf (4) – Getting a cantrip can be very useful, especially if you choose one like Booming Blade. The longbow is a nice upgrade for ranged Rogues.
  • Wood Elf (5) – A higher movement speed is always useful, longbow, the ever useful Wisdom, and the ability to hide in more situations? Excellent choice
  • Drow (2/3) – Charisma is good for Swashbucklers and face Rogues, but the Sunlight Sensitivity is hard to overlook. If the spells on offer interest you then give it a try.
  • Eladrin (4) – The short rest recharge teleportation ability, with its many rider effects, is a great addition to a Rogue.
  • Sea (3) – Here’s the thing, the stats are good, the base elf features are nice, so I can’t rate this lower than a 3. The actual features the sea elf provides are so niche there’s many more useful subraces to choose from.
  • Shadar-kai (4) – Good stats, necrotic is common enough to be a nice resistance (especially considering a lot of creatures reduce your max HP using necrotic damage) and a great short rest teleport.
  • Mark of Shadow (5) – The bonus to Stealth checks and spells really make this subrace pop for a Rogue.
  • Pallid (4) – Good stats and access to some nice spells, keep in mind a 1st level casting of Sleep won’t age very well.

Fairy (5) – The stats are great by default and a fly speed is very valuable for ranged and skirmishing Rogues. The restriction on armor types doesn’t really matter to you either as you’ll likely want to wear light armor anyway. Sure, the casting on offer is a nice bit of utility, and who doesn’t want to shrink down and walk under the door you just failed to pick open? Note: If you want to use the Enlarge portion of Enlarge/Reduce as a combat buff, this is best used on a party member who has Extra Attack, so they can get the most out of the additional d4 per attack. You should also be aware the Fey type may make you vulnerable to some effects, including the features of some party members.

Firbolg (3) – The stats aren’t really good at all, but the firbolg’s features are so nice for a Rogue it warrants a 3 at least, even Powerful Build to carry more gold out of the dungeon with you!

Genasi (2) – +2 Con is okay, just not ideal for a Rogue, all the details are in the subraces.

  • Air (3) – Decent stats and a spell you can get creative with, it’s okay.
  • Earth (2) – Str is pretty bad, but Pass without Trace is a fantastic spell that might be worth it depending on your build and priorities.
  • Fire (1) – Fire Resistance is nice, but the casting and stat bump are pretty terrible.
  • Water (2) – This can be a fun choice, but like all Genasi options, you’re choosing it for roleplay potential.

Gith (1) – +1 Int is a bad start, let’s see how the subraces look.

  • Githyanki (2) – If you’re playing a Str-based Rogue this can work but you have to really want Misty Step and not be an Arcane Trickster.
  • Githzerai (2) – A similar story to above, though no physical stat bump makes this a little rough for a Rogue in terms of reliably hitting for Sneak Attack damage, Shield is a great spell, and Detect Thoughts has a lot of utility.

Gnome (1) – +2 Int is awful for any Rogue but an Arcane Trickster, Gnome Cunning is a bit situational and the lower speed isn’t great.

  • Forest (2) – Dex is what you need and Minor Illusion is a fun cantrip for a Rogue to have access to, this doesn’t fully balance the drawbacks of the Gnome in general but helps.
  • Rock (1) – +1 Con is useful, but not enough to save this rating from rock bottom.
  • Deep (3) – Superior Darkvision with no Sunlight Sensitivity, a Dex bump, and situational Stealth boost makes for a pretty nice overall package.
  • Mark of Scribing (1) – No physical stats and a set of spells that only help in certain roleplay and exploration scenarios.

Goblin (3) – Normally a Goblin is a very solid choice for a lot of classes, however Nimble Escape overlaps entirely with Cunning Action. Nevertheless, the stats are perfect, Darkvision is always welcome and Fury of the Small is a nice nova ability. 

Goliath (2) – An excellent choice if you’re playing a Str-based Rogue, Stone’s Endurance can save you significant amounts of damage over the course of the adventuring day.

Half-Elf (4) – Half-elves are good at being pretty much anything, the stats are great for a Swashbuckler or face Rogue, with the two floating +1s giving you the physical stats you need. Skill Versatility, Darkvision, and Fey Ancestry aren’t flashy abilities, but solid passive benefits which suit any Rogue.

  • Aquatic Descent (1) – If you’re on, or under, the high seas then sure, otherwise hard pass.
  • Drow Descent (4) – This is a side-grade compared to the PHB half-elf, trading two skills for a set of spellcasting, personal preference.
  • Moon/Sun Descent (4) – This can be worth it if you grab something like Booming Blade, which will scale with your level and significantly improve your Rogue’s combat ability.
  • Wood Descent (3) – A couple of skills ,which will later benefit from Reliable Talent would likely be a better choice, but getting the movement speed boost can be helpful and if you’re trying to play the Hide and hit kind of Rogue then Mask of the Wild might be worth it to you.
  • Mark of Detection (2) – Overall worse than the normal half-elf, however it’s worth mentioning this variant would excel at dungeon crawls due to the skill bumps and spells.
  • Mark of the Storm (3) – Not bad, but not particularly good either, would make for a very flamboyant Swashbuckler though!

Half-Orc (2) – Increased durability, harder-hitting crits, and a skill, if you’re playing a Str-based Rogue then this is a solid choice!

  • Mark of Finding (2) – Bad stats, but the d4 to Perception checks and ability to cast Hunter’s Mark show some promise if this variant option appeals to you for roleplay reasons.

Halfling (5) – Big Dex bump, advantage against a common monster imposed condition, enhanced mobility on the battlefield, and extremely unlikely to roll a 1 on anything you do with a d20? Some stereotypes hold true, Hobbits halflings make for excellent thieves Rogues.

  • Lightfoot (5) – Face and Swashbuckler Rogues will like the Cha, but all Rogues should appreciate being able to Hide behind your own allies, or even enemies!.
  • Stout (5) – Con is great for a martial and resistance against poison damage and the poisoned condition will certainly come in handy at times in most games.
  • Ghostwise (4) – Wis isn’t as nice for most Rogues, but Inquisitives will appreciate it and telepathy is very useful for a sneaky character, and let’s face it you know it’s cool. Not as appealing to a Soulknife
  • Mark of Healing (4) – If you’re looking to take on a healer role within your party then this is a decent choice, most useful for an Arcane Trickster, carried by the general Halfling goodness otherwise.
  • Mark of Hospitality (3) – The potency of this choice is really limited by your creativity and your DM’s permissiveness, as the spells it gives you the ability to cast are utility based.

Harengon (5) – Just like the aforementioned fairy, assigning your own stats makes for a good start with great features to support them. Rabbit Hop might seem like it’s wasted on a class that can Disengage as a bonus action, but being able to move without provoking an opportunity attack actually allows you to cover more ground. Lucky Footwork works well with Evasion, and Hare-Trigger is great in general but particularly good for Assassins.

Hexblood (4) – Arrange stats to taste and benefit from Hex and Disguise Self once a day for free, that’s a solid base with some infiltration and scouting potential with the Eerie Token.

Hobgoblin (2) – The Achilles heel of this race is the lack of Dex, or even Str, as a bump and providing a redundant armor proficiency. Otherwise, the chance to grab longbow or heavy crossbow proficiency is nice, and depending on your party Saving Face can help in times of need.

Human (1) – If you rolled an array composed mostly of odd numbers, or have a really MAD character idea, then go for it. If neither of those applies then you should probably choose a variant option if you’re able to.

  • Variant Human PHB (5) – You can bump Dex and a secondary stat of your choice, grab an extra skill of your choice, and a feat! Strong choices for a Rogue include Defensive Duelist, Skill Expert, and Healer.
  • Mark of Finding (2) – The same as the half-orc version.
  • Mark of Handling (2) – Very, very niche, but potentially a fun roleplay concept and you can grab some Dex from it.
  • Mark of Passage (5) – Amazing stats, Misty Step, and increased movement speed, winner winner cockatrice dinner.
  • Mark of Sentinel (1) – The stats are subpar, Shield might be nice but Vigilant Guardian is not an ability a Rogue wants to be making use of.

Kalashtar (1) – Telepathy is still cool, advantage on all Wis saves is nice, but the rest is bad. This would be higher if it had a physical stat, even if it was just Con.

Kenku (3) – Mostly roleplay, but solid stats and two skills on offer!

Kobold (3) – Very dependent on your table and DM, if you’ll be subjected to direct sunlight often then this will be a difficult choice. However, with +2 Dex and Pack Tactics, the Kobold is a potentially very promising combat-orientated Rogue. 

Leonin (2) – Now whilst the Leonin may not have ideal stats and abilities, the enhanced movement speed, Darkvision, and skill choice make for an interesting strength-based Rogue. The potential to give yourself and others advantage by using Daunting Roar is also a fun notion. 

Lizardfolk (2) – The stats aren’t particularly good and the bite is going to be pretty useless to you as a Rogue, however, with an armor calculation better than studded leather and with a couple of scales skills on offer this cold-blooded customer remains a cool choice for some builds.

Locathah (1) – Only if you’re constantly around water.

Loxodon (1) – There isn’t really anything here for a Rogue, though the trunk is neat. Elephant folk? You’re having a giraffe!

Minotaur (1) – Stats for a Str Rogue, but the other features just aren’t appealing to any Rogue unless you’re looking for a particularly ironic cattle rustler.

Orc (1) – A roleplay pick for a Str-based Rogue, Aggressive is a worse option than just using Cunning Action to Dash.

Reborn (3) – Good stats and good features, the d6 to skill checks is particularly nice for a skill monkey-focused Rogue. 

Satyr (4) – There’s a lot of powerful features here, Magic Resistance being the most obvious, but two free skills and a higher movement speed are nothing to shake a crook at.

Beasthide Shifter (2) – Tanky Str-based Rogues need to look no further, for more conventional Rogues you may want to keep looking.

Longtooth Shifter (1) – Pretty meh stats and a bonus action attack you can’t get Sneak Attack on or use Dex with.

Swiftstride Shifter (3) – Good stats and a good shifting ability for a Swashbuckler, when shifting this would be like playing a hybrid of a Scout with whatever your actual subclass is.

Wildhunt Shifter (4) – It’s only a +1 Dex, but denying enemies advantage against you in addition to the temp hp from shifting makes for a very durable Rogue.

Simic Hybrid (3) – You can get stats you want with access to some very useful adaptations, particularly the Carapace option, solid choice.

Tabaxi (5) – Good stats, two desirable skills, a climb speed and a resourceless movement boost? A superb cat burglar. 

Tiefling (PHB aka Asmodeus) (2) – Bad stats but mostly good features, it’s worth noting Hellish Rebuke will clash with Uncanny Dodge once it becomes available. That said, the features are too good to rate this option as a 1.

  • Baalzebul (1) – Same as above, except the spells got worse, pulling the rating down with them.
  • Dispater (4) – Some Dex, Darkvision, a common damage resistance and spells any sneaky Rogue would love to have!
  • Fierna (2) – Bad stats and okay spells, which will key off of a secondary stat at best.
  • Glasya (4) – Much the same as Dispater, but with Invisibility.
  • Levistus (2) – The stats aren’t ideal, but Armor of Agathys at 2nd level is a great ability. 
  • Mammon (1) – It’s all bad here apart from Mage Hand, which there’s better ways to get.
  • Mephistopheles (1) – This wouldn’t be so bad if you could at least Sneak Attack with Flame Blade, but you can’t, so a 1 it is! 
  • Zariel (2) – If you’re a Str based Rogue then the smite spells offer a decent damage bump when you need it.

Tortle (2) – This is probably one of the best ways to build a Str-based Rogue, as Natural Armor has got your back, literally, without needing Dexterity.

Triton (2) – There’s a lot of features and casting here, which makes it hard to rate a solid 1, that said it’s not a particularly good pick even for a Strength Rogue.

Vedalken (1) – Awful stats, but Vedalken Dispassion and Tireless Precision are good enough that I can’t completely condemn this as an option. Just roll high, ‘kay?

Warforged (5) – Good stats, poison resistance, +1 AC, a skill and tool of your choice, plus other goodies? It’s like you were made to be a Rogue…

Yuan-Ti Pureblood (2) – The stats are awful but Magic Resistance and Poison Immunity are too powerful to rate this option as a 1.  

Feats

Feats can be a great way to enhance the potency and versatility of a Rogue, and with their additional ASI and relative SADness, they can afford a feat… or four! If you’ve started with an odd Dex, or don’t mind waiting a bit longer to max it out, then half feats which provide a Dex bump are great options and will be reflected in their rating. It’s worth keeping in mind the Rogue is primarily a martial which must use ranged or finesse weapons, and that is the lens through which these feats will be evaluated.

The following list of feats is arranged alphabetically but divided by the books they are found in, to make it easy to see what you can choose from if certain sources are not allowed at your table. If a feat has a race prerequisite it is denoted in [brackets]. Other prerequisites may apply, such as minimum stats, or the ability to cast a spell so be sure to check the book text when choosing feats.

PHB Feats

Alert (3) – A good feat generally, if you’re the type of Rogue to go scouting ahead alone, or an Assassin, then this feat is a 4.

Athlete (2) – It’s a Dex half feat, and that’s nice. Let’s leave it there, shall we?

Actor (2) – If you’re a face character then the abilities given can be invaluable for infiltration and pulling off cons, but given how it’s a niche this only warrants a 2.

Charger (2) – This is normally a terrible feat, but hear me out, a Rogue doesn’t get Extra Attack but is very reliant on getting a single hit every turn. So a hit and run Rogue, likely a Swashbuckler or any Rogue with Mobile, could regularly make use of dashing to get +5 to their attack! Gimmicky and niche, but potentially fun.

Crossbow Expert (3) – The additional attack can be a significant boost to your damage, but this isn’t as good for a Rogue as it would be a Fighter or other Extra Attack class.

Defensive Duelist (5) – A limitless reaction to boost your AC against an attack? You’re likely holding a finesse weapon already, why not! This should be chosen after maxing out your Dex. 

Dual Wielder (2) – You could dual wield rapiers for a slight damage boost, but I think for a Rogue the main benefit here is the AC bump. A very eh feat, if you’ve managed to get the Two-Weapon Fighting style then this goes up to a 3.

Dungeon Delver (2) – This builds on what the Rogue is stereotypically good at, but nowadays traditional dungeon style play is a bit more niche than it used to be.

Durable (1) – Only if you’re playing a rules variant like Gritty Realism that stretches your resources and makes healing harder.

Elemental Adept (1) – Useless to most Rogues, not advised for the Arcane Trickster either. 

Grappler (1) – Giving up your one attack to grapple a creature is a bad trade, even if you could be really good at it.

Great Weapon Master (1) – Great weapons are not finesse weapons.

Healer (3) – An excellent feat for adding some healing into a build, if you have no other source of healing in a party this is a 5.

Heavily Armored (1) – Not worth getting here.

Heavy Armor Master (1) – If you start out as a class who gets the proficiency sure, but not worth it or applicable to most Rogues.

Inspiring Leader (3) – Huge boon to the party’s survivability, best on a Swashbuckler or face Rogue where it changes to a 4 with the higher Cha modifier.

Keen Mind (1) – Cool ribbon abilities bundled with a stat you don’t need.

Lightly Armored (1) – You already have light armor proficiency. 

Linguist (1) – You still don’t need Int and there are better ways to deal with language barriers.

Lucky (4) – Powerful and universally useful, but a bit boring, I’d take this after anything else you want.

Mage Slayer (1) – If you’re a melee Rogue in a campaign with a lot of enemy spellcasters then this is useful, but that’s too many niches.

Magic Initiate (4) – This can actually be very nice for a Rogue, specifically something like choosing Wizard, grabbing Green Flame Blade, Booming Blade, and Shield.

Martial Adept (2) – Maneuvers are powerful, especially ones which help you land your Sneak Attack, like Feinting Attack and Precision Attack. However, one d6 per short rest is… not so great.

Medium Armor Master (1) – If you have medium armor proficiency this is a nice upgrade, to be taken after Dex increases. This is a 1 because you don’t even qualify for it by default.

Mobile (5) – Very good feat for melee Rogues, allowing all subclasses to effectively skirmish and ranged builds to stay out of reach easier.

Moderately Armored (3) – This is potentially a decent upgrade for your AC assuming you have a free hand to wear a shield. This is only a 3 as the top tier of medium armor gives disadvantage on Stealth checks and the overall potential increase is only +2 AC over studded leather.

Mounted Combatant (1) – There’s no particular reason for a Rogue to take this, if you’ve acquired a mount you’re really fond of then you may want this just to keep them alive.

Observant (2) – This can be a nice boon to a Mastermind or Inquisitive style of Rogue, or if you play in a dungeon type of environment often. A bit niche overall though.

Polearm Master (1) – Polearms are not finesse weapons.

Resilient (1) – If you really want constitution saving throw proficiency maybe, but you already have Dexterity and will get Wisdom later on, usually a pass.

Ritual Caster (2) – This can provide a nice bit of utility, particularly a familiar, provided you meet the prerequisite stats. For an Arcane Trickster this goes up to a 3.

Savage Attacker (1) – You’ll be using a d6 or d8 weapon most likely, this feat isn’t worth it.

Sentinel (4) – Using your reaction to attacks can lead to a huge amount of damage because of Sneak Attack, being able to attack as a reaction more reliably whilst preventing movement is great for melee Rogues.

Sharpshooter (2) – If you’re taking this it’s for the improved range and ignoring of cover, with only a single attack per turn and no Archery Fighting Style you can’t afford to go fishing for that +10 damage.

Shield Master (1) – Rogues don’t get shield proficiency and have Evasion.

Skilled (4) – You’re a natural skill monkey, the more skills you have the more skills can benefit from Reliable Talent.

Skulker (4) – Being able to hide with less obscurement needed is nice, not automatically revealing yourself when you miss your bow shot is even nicer.

Spell Sniper (1) – Rogues don’t qualify by default and those who do, likely won’t get much out of it.

Tavern Brawler (1) – You’d rather boost Dex and use finesse weapons.

Tough (2) – Who doesn’t like more hp? Best for skirmishing and tanky Rogues, preferably taken as a Variant Human feat or after Dex is bumped to 20.

War Caster (1) – If you have a cantrip like Booming Blade then this can be excellent, however, most Rogues don’t qualify.

Weapon Master (1) – Even if you have an odd Dex, there are better ways to get access to a longbow or heavy crossbow.  

XGtE Feats

Bountiful Luck [Halfling] (1) – Good for everyone else, not so much you.

Dragon Fear [Dragonborn] (1) – Even if you’re a Str Rogue, the fear effect will key off of your Cha modifier, best to avoid.

Dragon Hide [Dragonborn] (2) – If you’re a Dragonborn Swashbuckler then okay maybe, but generally not a good option.

Drow High Magic [Drow] (2) – This is quite a lot of casting for a feat and when combined with a Drow’s normal spellcasting would make any Rogue a budding mage.

Dwarven Fortitude [Dwarf] (1) – If Cunning Action allowed you to Dodge then this would be a 4 probably, alas it doesn’t.

Elven Accuracy [Elf or Half-Elf] (5) – You can increase your Dex as you would want to anyway, but now gain the benefit of rolling three d20s whenever you have advantage. This is fantastic for a Rogue because of the ability to Hide with Cunning Action, if your DM allows Steady Aim then this is even better. 

Fade Away [Gnome] (3) – A nice defensive ability on a Dex bump, however, to actually use it you’d need to not reduce the damage you took using Uncanny Dodge. The situations where turning invisible is better than reducing the damage are typically when you’re going to be taking more attacks that round, but this is a little niche to rate higher than a 3.

Fey Teleportation [High Elf] (2) – If you’re a Swashbuckler or Arcane Trickster this might be appealing, but there are better ways to get Misty Step if you really want it, like the Fey Touched feat coming up.

Flames of Phlegethos [Tiefling] (1) – Most Rogues won’t be able to use this at all, and it’s not great for those who can.

Infernal Constitution [Tiefling] (3) – This is a whole bunch of durability in a single feat, if you’re playing a Tiefling Rogue this is a feat I’d certainly point you to once your Dex is taken care of.

Orcish Fury [Half-Orc] (3) – If you’re playing a Str-based Rogue then this is fantastic, you get a little smite-like damage and another opportunity to get a reaction attack for even more sneaky goodness.

Prodigy [Half-Orc, Half-Elf, Human] (3) – More skills, more for Reliable Talent to apply.

Second Chance [Halfling] (3) – This is a great defensive ability on the back of a Dex increase, however, the dilemma of not reducing damage with Uncanny Dodge on the chance of turning a hit into a miss is a bit too risky for a higher rating.

Squat Nimbleness [Dwarf] (3) – This is a decent way to get the small race benefits you wanted, without the speed deficit and some other goodies mixed in.

Wood Elf Magic [Wood Elf] (4) – As long as you’ve maxed Dex this is a superb feat for wood elf Rogues, Longstrider and Pass without Trace are fantastic spells, and the opportunity to nab Guidance on a skill heavy Rogue is very tempting.

Eberron: RftLW Feats

Aberrant Dragonmark [non-dragonmarked race] (2) – If you have an odd Con this is alright as long as you pick spells that don’t rely on your casting modifier.

Revenant Blade [Elf] (5) – If you’re interested in a double-bladed scimitar this is essential to it being usable as it actually gives the weapon the finesse property. The extra AC and Dex bump just close the sale and make this a must-have for builds that want to use this weapon.

TCoE Feats

Artificer Initiate (1) – This can be an interesting choice for a mixture of magic and utility for an Arcane Trickster, but not compelling for a Rogue in general.

Chef (2) – This feat is fun and thematic and a good roleplay pick if you’ve got an odd Con or Wis with some mediocre benefits included.

Crusher (1) – The only Sneak Attack compatible bludgeoning weapon is the sling, which would be amusing with this feat, but I can’t recommend this for Rogues in general at all.

Eldritch Adept (1) – This is a 1 because the only Rogue who can even choose it is the Arcane Trickster, and whilst there are some nice Eldritch Invocations, it’s beyond niche for the Rogue class.

Fey Touched (3) – Bump the mental stat of your choice, grab a free casting of Misty Step and another spell once per day, what’s not to like here? Best for Rogues who use their mental ability scores more often.

Fighting Initiate (5) – An excellent feat, there are many Fighting Styles a Rogue can benefit from, including; Archery, Defense and, Dueling. 

Gunner (3) – If you’re a ranged Rogue then this feat lets you increase your Dex mod whilst removing the disadvantage penalty for hostiles being within 5ft of you, pretty nice.

Metamagic Adept (1) – Same story as its Eldritch associate, not relevant for the majority of Rogues, pretty nice for an Arcane Trickster.

Piercer (5) – This one is a bit boring but solid, you get to progress your Dexterity and raise your average damage. Note, the reroll will work with your Sneak Attack dice, and who doesn’t want bigger crits? 

Poisoner (2) – A poison-using Rogue is certainly a theme and this feat is what really facilitates that being a viable playstyle. If you can afford and access more potent poisons in your game then this goes up to at least a 3. The chance of poison immunity popping up making this feat entirely irrelevant is what holds it back at a 2.

Shadow Touched (3) – This is the same as the Fey Touched feat, but with Invisibility, if you use mentals often then it’s a solid choice.

Skill Expert (5) – Stat bump, another proficiency, and Expertise? Yes, please.

Slasher (4) – If you like to hang out in melee and use a Scimitar then this is a great feat that gives you some control, however, being so limited in terms of use holds this feat back from being a 5.

Telekinetic (2) – If you want an invisible Mage Hand but don’t want to be an Arcane Trickster this is a decent option, you can use the bonus action shove as a small degree of control.

Telepathic (1) – This is more niche than Telekinetic with Detect Thoughts only being available once per day unless you’re a spellcaster. If you want to be a telepathic Rogue you’re probably better off just choosing the Soul Knife subclass unless you are already playing an Arcane Trickster.

FToD Feats

Gift of the Chromatic Dragon (3) – The defensive part of this feat is great for the times you face a saving throw that deals elemental damage. With only a single attack per turn, however, the damage boost is lackluster for a Rogue unless you get a reliable way to attack off turn, like readying an attack provided by the Haste spell.

Gift of the Metallic Dragon (3) – The potency of this feat depends on if your DM rolls in the open or simply says whether you’ve been hit or not. If you are unable to know for sure that this feat will turn a hit into a miss, then you’re better off using Uncanny Dodge, especially as this reaction has limited uses. The Cure Wounds part of the feat is a nice touch of healing, but won’t age very well unless you’re investing in a mental stat and/or have spell slots to use it more, like an Arcane Trickster.

Gift of the Gem Dragon (2) – If you need a mental stat increase, and don’t we all? This can be an interesting option, however, if you’ve been hit by an attack you probably want to use Uncanny Dodge, or you may be saving your reaction for an opportunity attack.

Multiclassing Your Rogue

In this section, we’ll review each class in terms of how good of a multiclass option they are for a Rogue, mentioning how many levels and what subclass (if any) would work best. The ratings take multiclassing prerequisites into consideration; if a multiclass will require you to have a 13 in a stat other than Dex, it will likely receive a lower score unless the stat is one you would already have at 13 or higher, for example, Charisma for a Swashbuckler/face or Wisdom for anyone wanting good Perception.

General multiclass tips for the Rogue:

  • You may want to wait until after 5th Rogue level, this will ensure you have your first ASI, Uncanny Dodge and a solid base of 3d6 Sneak Attack damage to build on with your multiclass.
  • You need to use a finesse or ranged weapon, however you can still use your Str modifier if you want with finesse weapons. This means you can certainly build around Strength as your primary score and then use a class like Barbarian, just don’t start thinking of using GWM.
  • The Rogue can benefit a great deal from Fighting Styles and additional opportunities to land Sneak Attack, so you may see some bias towards other martials for those reasons.
  • Evaluate what type of Rogue you want to be, this will clarify what abilities or spells you’re hunting for in a multiclass, then review the feat section before committing to a multiclass.
  • If a class has a reliance on bonus actions then it will be rated a little more poorly, due to the clash with Cunning Action. This is similar with reactions due to Uncanny Dodge and the prospect of reaction attacks.

Artificer (3) – Now this will require Int which is less than ideal, but you’ll get in return proficiency in medium armor, shields, and a couple of tools. The round up spell casting formula works well for adding to an Arcane Trickster, and all Rogues could benefit from the diverse selection of spells on the Artificer list. If you go two levels in then giving yourself a Bag of Holding and a magical weapon are nice perks, if you take three levels then the Armorer subclass is great for Rogues, specifically the Infiltrator armor version.

Barbarian (2) – Believe it or not, this multiclass can work very well if you’re using Strength as your attacking stat and go preferably five levels deep. You’ll get access to medium armor and shields, but more importantly, you’ll gain Rage. One of the benefits of Rage is adding more damage to an offhand strike, I would generally recommend either a dual-wielding or rapier and shield build with Barbarian. For subclass it really depends on what you want, Bear totem will give you the most resilience, whilst Zealot will give you some damage to compensate for the lost Sneak attack dice. It’s important to realize you don’t need to use Rage in every combat, you’ll run out very quickly if you attempt this. Avoid this if you’re a traditional Dex-based Rogue.

Bard (2) – This is a fantastic multiclass from a skill point of view, Jack of All Trades is a boost to the few skills you aren’t proficient in (and your initiative), whilst there’s opportunity for more Expertise. However I wouldn’t recommend dipping Bard on a Rogue, vice versa would be best, this is because a Bard really needs a high Cha modifier in order to get the most of their abilities, and maxing both Dex and Cha would be expensive. For subclasses the College of Swords is a great pick for a melee Rogue, offering a choice of Fighting Style, some Flourishes, and a great speed boost for Swashbucklers.

Cleric (3) – The great thing about multiclassing into Cleric is that 13 Wis or higher is already desirable, and the choice of subclass at 1st level makes them extremely front-loaded. I would only dip 1-2 levels into Cleric, the second level only if you want a specific Channel Divinity option. For choice of a subclass, you should decide whether or not access to heavy armor is something you want, for most Rogues staying with just using studded leather and a shield would be better. Stand-out subclass choices to dip are Life if you are looking to add a little healing to your repertoire, Forge if you want to make your own +1 item, or Twilight if you are interested in an initiative boost. 

Druid (2) – This is a harder class to dip than Cleric purely because the goodies really start at the second level of Druid, which I advise you to take if you are dipping here at all. Wild Shape is a great scouting and utility ability, the Circle you choose is a little tricky as most depend heavily on your Druid level for scaling. The Circle of the Shepherd’s aura ability can be a nice boost to the party’s resilience or enable your own Sneak Attack, whilst the Circle of Stars’ adds the option of bonus action blasting, suddenly not Sneak eligible, or a surprising amount of healing.

Fighter (5) – You qualify for this multiclass by default and the early levels are extremely rewarding, what’s not to love? The Fighter can inject some valuable resources into the Rogue chassis, whilst also allowing access to shields and a Fighting Style that best suits your character. Battle Master is a popular option, the maneuvers can enable Sneak Attack, add damage, or provide support. The Samurai can allow you to give yourself advantage and temp hp three times a day, whilst the Psi Warrior can give you a balance of bonus damage and damage reduction. I would multiclass no further than six levels of Fighter and be wary that just taking one more level is a very easy trap to fall into.

Monk (1) – There’s no real temptation in the Monk class for a dip on a Rogue, you would need at least a 16 in Wisdom for Unarmored Defense to be worth it and if you want a bonus action attack you would be better off grabbing TWF from another martial. One Ki issue at hand here is just that, you won’t have enough Ki to do anything meaningful with. If you do go far enough in for a subclass the Kensei tradition is recommended for at-will abilities and giving access to the longbow.

Paladin (1) – With two prerequisite stats and a mostly dead first level this is not a good multiclass dip for most Rogues. If you do dip then at least two levels are required and you should choose either Defense, Dueling, or Blessed Warrior as your Fighting Style. Stand-out subclasses include the Oath of Vengeance for the Sneak enabling Vow of Enmity and the Oath of Conquest for Guided Strike.

Ranger (3) – You’re likely to already meet the Ranger prerequisites which is nice, taking the optional rules from Tasha’s is generally advised if possible. Hunter’s Mark won’t be much of a damage boost for you, so you’re better off taking the Two-Weapon Fighting Style for an additional attack and using your spell slots for Cure Wounds and utility spells like Longstrider. For subclasses, Hunter and Gloomstalker stand out, with the latter being preferred for the initiative boost, additional attack, and speed boost on the first round of every combat. This would pair well with all Rogues, but particularly the Assassin.

Sorcerer (4) – Sorcerer is a great dip class for a Rogue as, like a Cleric, they gain their subclass at 1st level, giving you the most bang for your gold piece. Charisma as a prerequisite isn’t bad, particularly for face and Swashbuckler Rogues, but I would recommend choosing spells that don’t require your spellcasting modifier such as Mage Hand, Booming Blade, Shield, and Absorb Elements. For subclasses, I would recommend Draconic for the permanent Mage Armor equivalent unless you already have magic armor, or the Divine Soul for Favored by the Gods and access to either Healing Word or Cure Wounds. One level of Sorcerer is enough unless you specifically want more spellcasting.

Warlock (4) – In some ways Warlock is better than Sorcerer as a Rogue dip, but without native access to Shield, it doesn’t warrant a 5. The strength of the Warlock is the mixture of patron, short rest spell slots, invocations, and pacts. I would recommend a 3 to 4 level dip if you can afford it, this would net you two short rest 2nd level slots (invisibility is highly recommended), two invocations (Devil’s Sight and Fiendish Vigor are good choices), as well as your pact and patron features. Recommended patrons are the Celestial for access to a surprising amount of healing and more cantrips, Hexblade for the Shield spell and armor proficiencies, or the Genie for Bottled Respite and the extra damage from Genie’s Wrath. For your pact, if you take three levels, combining Pact of the Blade with Improved Pact Weapon is great if you haven’t come across a magic weapon, or combining Pact of the Chain with Voice of the Chain Master gives a great degree of scouting and utility.

Wizard (3) –  This is potentially a very useful dip, particularly for Arcane Tricksters who want some Intelligence anyway and would value the extra spell slots. At least two levels to get a subclass is recommended, with the best choices being Divination for Portent, and War Wizard for the initiative boost, and Arcane Deflection. Recommended spells are Find Familiar, Absorb Elements, Shield, and whatever ritual spells you find interesting. You won’t have the spells slots to cast many leveled spells, but there’s a large number of 1st level ritual spells like Detect Magic and Alarm which could be very useful to a Rogue.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you case the best marks for your next Rogue character, and you’re looking forward to stealing victory, and a few gold pieces, from the jaws of evil. If you want a closer look into a feat you’re considering for your new Rogue, check out our Feat Spotlight. Good luck out there, adventurers, and remember, if you can’t pick that lock, there’s always the strategic use of a crowbar.

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