[5E] Arcane Trickster, optimized for fun

GhettoGoblin

Villager
Hello everyone. I wanted to share my Elven Rogue build with you all. I am currently playing in a published module set in an urban environment with a group of 5 PCs. My role is single target damage, scouting, and overall utility. Other classes in the party are: Fighter, Bard, Moon Druid/Barbarian, Bladelock (chain pact). We were given a starting array of stats which essentially made an 18 possible at level 1. Knowing I wouldn't be starved for an ASI at level 4, I decided to dip into Wizard at level 2. The reason for this is that the extra cantrips, spells, and most of all: ritual casting.

I had considered picking up Ritual Caster at level 4 as my first feat, but I had planned on multiclassing into wizard if I ever made it into the higher levels. So ritual caster would have been a waste. I decided to bite the bullet and dip into Wizard asap and it turned out to be the best decision I made.

The perks of being an AT X/ Wizard 1
  • Get spells earlier
  • More cantrips than you can shake a stick at (This is the major draw for me. Many overlooked cantrips. I detail some uses below)
  • You can get find familiar without having to waste your precious "any school" spell slot.
  • You can begin collecting spells and adding them to your spellbook, rituals in particular. This is very expensive however, prepare to be stealing ink

The drawbacks of being an AT X/Wizard 1
  • You are 1 level behind in progression, meaning you'll have to wait 1 extra level for sneak attack/rogue progression.
  • You have to make the decision of whether to continue as Rogue until you get 2nd level spells, or split the multiclass more evenly to get Wizard 3 and pick up 2nd level spells that way.
  • You have slightly less hit points.


What do you do with all those Cantrips?

  • Booming blade - Speaks for itself, but not as useful at lower levels as you'll probably start off as a ranged attacker. Pick up by level 5.
  • Chill touch - This is better at higher levels as healing becomes more common. If you are focusing on utility, a ranged attack that debuffs your enemy stopping them from being able to heal may be worth picking up.
  • Control flames - Overlooked cantrip. Allows you to double light source area, meaning you can have a bullseye lantern with a 120/240 range. Carry it with your mage hand for extra style. Scouting ahead all alone? Use this to extinguish natural light sources without making a sound (somatic component only).
  • Create bonfire - Fringe choice here. I primarily took this as it's a Dex save, which is one of the weakest monster saves in the game. Requires concentration - which makes it more situational. If you are looking for another Dex save cantrip, Acid Splash is the only other one available to wizards.
  • Dancing lights? No need, we have mage hand and control flames.
  • Friends - Slightly controversial due to the language of the spell making the target hostile towards you. But hey, combine with Disguise Self for some good shenanigans. This is a low-priority slot, so you could take something like Mold Earth instead if you'd prefer more battlefield control and the ability to dig a moat... This is a highly situational cantrip. Helps if you get caught scouting. YMMV
  • Mage Hand - This is a staple of the class. Remember that it has to stay within 30' of you or the spell ends.
  • Mending - Utility
  • Message - I didn't take this as it's effects are easily enough replicated by other means.
  • Minor Illusion - Can create sounds or illusions of OBJECTS, not creatures. Use this for anything and everything you can think of. You can use it to recreate speech at range, allowing it to double as a message-like spell, only not as quiet.
  • Mold Earth - Awesome stuff, but feel out how combat in your group goes. You will have longer turns already, especially if you use your familiar in combat as well. Good out of combat utility as well. Want to hide something? Bury it. Want to get real creative? Get a ground level room in an inn. Use a crowbar to pry up the floor, excavate the dirt and dump your stash in there, move dirt back, use mending to repair any damage, prestidigitation or unseen servant to clean up any mess.
  • Prestidigitation - Good for elves who like to be clean. Allows lighting of campfires/torches without having to use Create Bonfire. If someone else in your group has this, its less useful. I didn't take it, as the situations it alleviated are fun roleplaying opportunities.
  • Toll the Dead - Nice range, good damage. Wis save is one of the strongest in the game. Look for Dex saves imo.



When scouting
  • Mage hand with bullseye lantern keeping you in the dark, control flames to double range if needed
  • Stealthing behind mage hand, using control flames to extinguish any natural light sources ahead.
  • Bow and familiar out. If outdoors, Owl familiar scouts ahead for signs of "prey/anything alive". Indoors, Owl may not be able to fly ahead as easily, keep them on your shoulder or on the lantern (if its not too hot). Extra set of eyes with advantage on perception checks!
  • If you see something, Minor Illusion keeps your position hidden. Use it to call out with a voice behind the lantern. Options here are endless.

Utility
  • You can cast ritual spells endlessly, and you start with 6 1st level spells. Pick up shield, fog cloud,feather fall, and go wild with whatever rituals you party needs like Detect Magic, Identify, Alarm, etc.
  • Protection from Evil and Good is an overlooked spell. When you need it, you'll be glad you picked it up. YMMV
  • Mending, check.
  • Digging/stashing treasure, check.
  • Putting out fires if some should start, check.
  • All the rogue staples like finding traps, picking locks, picking pockets, check.
  • Using the familiar to deliver messages, scout unreachable areas, or even carry a small PC somewhere, check.

Single target damage
  • Basic rogue stuff here. Cunning action to hide or dash to keep you out of harms way. When you attack you'll likely have advantage. If you don't, use your familiar to do a flyby action and help, granting advantage on next action vs it.
  • If you get into melee, draw your rapier and hold your bow in your other hand. You are a perfect switch hitter. One free "use an object" action per turn means you can draw or sheath your rapier and still attack (even with a bow, attacking includes drawing an arrow).
  • If you get into an oh :):):):) situation, cast fog cloud on your party and apologize to everyone for disabling effects that require visual targeting. Talk this situation over with your DM, as the rules are a bit tricky and everyone needs to be on the same page.
  • Keep your spell slots for Shield or Fog Cloud. Play defensive, keeping yourself up at all costs, but dishing out steady single target damage.
  • At higher levels (5-10), becoming more melee focused will create higher damage per round, especially once you pick up bladesinger (if you do). Having the option to attack at any range prevents us from having to sacrifice positioning to be able to do damage.
  • Use Mage Hand before a fight starts. Keep an eye on the distance it is from you however. Use bonus actions on your turn to try to pick pocket spell casting foci, material component pouches, weapons in sheaths, quivers full of ammo, bulging pouches on BBEG, etc. Be creative. What could a sleight of hand roll achieve during combat?


Spells I use to achieve battlefield control/defensive utility. We do not use spells for damage.

1st level
  • Longstrider - If you use a grid, this will be worth it. Combine later with bladesinger +10' move, you'll have 50' move with cunning action still available.
  • Fog Cloud - Great to prevent ranged attacks from being able to target anyone. Can mess with your party's attacks as well, so discuss optimal use.
  • Shield - Obvious
  • Sleep - I'd prefer to use all spell slots on defensive gambits, but this can be quite effective at turning the tide of a fight, especially if you get the jump on them.
2nd level
  • Enlarge/Reduce - Awesome if you use a grid. Debuff a larger enemy or buff an ally. Cast on your ally who has Sentinel for best results, as it makes their area of threat that much bigger.
  • Mirror Image - One of the best defensive buffs in the game. No concentration required.
  • Blur - meh, would rather use fog cloud.
  • Misty step - very nice but would prioritize others first.
  • Levitate - not bad out of combat utility. Can also be used to levitate an enemy for 10 minutes. You will want this eventually.
  • See invisibility - Are you focusing on utility still? This can be an encounter ending buff.
  • Invisibility - Good spell for sure, but not a priority for me. More useful to use on party members. Someone else will probably pick this up, if not discuss with party.
  • Suggestion - Great when scouting or out of combat. Great all around spell.
  • Hold Person - Too offensive for defensive focused AT
  • Blindness/Deafness - Too offensive. Pick up at higher levels once you get closer to AT9 for disadvantage on saves.




That's the basics of the build in play. There's plenty of utility. Good damage at most ranges. A lot of defensive options to keep you in the fight, and plenty of creative combinations to keep you busy out of combat. I mentioned bladesinger a couple times in this post. You could also pick up Divination specialty for more shenanigans. If you think you cant stop yourself from dipping further into wizard as you level up, maybe consider starting at Rogue 1 for skills and features then diving into Wizard -> bladesinger -> profit. Avoid ending up something like Rogue 3/Wizard 3. Unless you are leveling up very fast or are a masochist, in which case, do as you please.
 
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GhettoGoblin

Villager
I haven't had any surprises, only confirmations.

Buying spells and rituals is expensive, so expect to be constantly strapped for cash.

The build I made has no modifier to charisma and no proficiencies in charisma skills, so expect to have to work a but harder to get ahead in social situations.

Your turns will take longer in combat so think ahead and pay attention.

Becuase of how much out of combat utility you have, you run the risk of stealing the spotlight. Limit this tendency by playing up your character's flaws and letting others take the reins.
 

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