5E [GUIDE] I Fought the Law and Won: The Rogue Guide

Gladius Legis

Explorer
I Fought the Law and Won: The Rogue Guide


assassin-small.jpg


"A rich rogue nowadays is fit company for any gentleman; and the world, my dear, hath not such a contempt for roguery as you imagine." — John Gay

Guide linked on Google Docs, as well.

Table of Contents:
I. Introduction
II. Basics of the Class
III. Archetypes
IV. Races
V. Feats
VI. Equipment
VII. Multiclassing
VIII. FAQ
IX. Builds and Combos

This guide will use the following ratings:
Red is dead. A choice that either adds nothing of value to your character or might even actively hurt it.
Purple is a substandard choice. It might be useful in corner-case situations, but overall it's not worth the investment.
Black is average. You're not hurting your character by taking this, and it might even help in some situations, but there are better choices.
Blue is a good choice. It definitely helps your character in the majority of cases.
Sky Blue is a fantastic choice. An option you should strongly consider above most others.
Gold is mandatory. It's a rare rating that denotes something that is so good that you must take it, or you can't call yourself optimized.

This guide takes from the following sources:
PHB - Player’s Handbook
MM - Monster Manual
DMG - Dungeon Master’s Guide
EEPC - Elemental Evil Player’s Companion
SCAG - Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide
VGM - Volo’s Guide to Monsters
XGTE - Xanathar's Guide to Everything
*** Note: Material from Unearthed Arcana is always considered playtest material and will not be rated in this guide. But feel free to discuss it in the thread.

Special thanks:
Clutchbone for the original Rogue Guide, which was a big help in writing this updated one. Even on the stuff I didn't agree with, it was highly useful in referencing and a sort of second set of eyes.


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I. Introduction

What is a Rogue?

The names have changed, the subclasses/kits/archetypes/what have you have shuffled around, the mechanics have evolved, but the general concept of the Rogue hasn't changed much over D&D. It is and always has been the guy you rely on to sneak around, scout ahead, open locked chests and doors, dismantle traps, and (of course) stab people in the back. And the Rogue has always tended to be a character that operates on the wrong side of the authorities.

In 1e AD&D, the class as a whole was named the Thief. The Assassin was explicitly a Thief subclass, with some ability prerequisites, a requirement to be evil, ability to use all weapons, special characteristics in regards to poison, and a pretty good chance to straight up kill an enemy if attacking from surprise – in exchange for a slower progression in actual Thief abilities.

2e AD&D introduced the Rogue name for the first time, but only to denote a group of classes that included what it still called the Thief, as well as the Bard. The Thief was mostly as it was in 1e, and the Complete Thief's Handbook reintroduced the Assassin as one of many Thief kits, with a lot of the same flavor and abilities the Assassin had in 1e – except most glaringly the chance to inflict instant death from surprise.

3e renamed the Thief class as it had been known into the Rogue, and with that renaming also made it generally more effective in combat – to a point. Sneak Attack was MUCH more versatile than the old AD&D backstab, with the ability to use it with ranged weapons, for one. And while backstab explicitly required getting behind someone unawares, Sneak Attack kicked in for many more combat situations than that. Moreover, with the new skills system, Rogues had the most skill points in 3e, and they were able to use them on a variety of skills. They could take skills that replicated the old AD&D Thief, or they could instead decide to focus more on diplomacy, lying, misdirection, bluffing and such.

The Assassin was reintroduced as a Prestige Class in 3e, with Rogues qualifying rather easily. It required evil alignment, featured a Death Attack that required three rounds of setup and had a rather crappy DC, which means it hardly ever worked, and for some reason introduced spells into its arsenal.

Where the 3e Rogue and derivatives faltered, however, was against enemies that were either immune to critical hits (which also negated Sneak Attack) and against other types of enemies that explicitly couldn't be Sneak Attacked ... and boy, were there plenty. 4e took the first step toward addressing that problem, designating the Rogue a Striker class and making Sneak Attack always work as long as the Rogue had Combat Advantage ... but like most 4e classes, perhaps it was a little too focused on combat. Some of those powers it had truly defied logic.

The Assassin, meanwhile, was introduced as a Shadow magic-type using Striker class that was just, well, weird, and by character optimization consensus not very effective. A later version of the Assassin, called the Executioner, was much closer to the AD&D Assassin's more martial roots (still with some Shadow elements), although still behind the 4e power curve due to the broken nature of that system.

5e does continue 4e's philosophy of making nothing immune to Sneak Attack or critical hits, thus still making the Rogue valuable in any combat. But more than anything in 5e, the Rogue's emphasis is on not only using a wide array of proficient skills, but making them the best at using those skills. The archetypes feature the classic Thief and Assassin, with more or less the same flavor and working in the same spirit as their AD&D selves (thank goodness), but with the skill flexibility first introduced in 3e, as well as other archetypes like the Arcane Trickster (originally a 3e prestige class), Mastermind and Swashbuckler.


Mechanical overview

At its heart, the 5e Rogue is almost like a greatest hits version of previous Rogues/Thieves/Assassins, etc. Their Sneak Attack is more flexible than ever (except for one glaring case, more on that later). As a full class, they have the most number of proficient skills to start with (only one specific subclass of Bard has more). And between class features like Expertise and Reliable Talent, they have the ability to excel on skill checks like no other. They also have some of their more esoteric abilities first introduced in 3e, such as Evasion, Uncanny Dodge, and Slippery Mind. Their archetypes mostly succeed at placing a sharp emphasis on a certain aspect of the Rogue package (e.g. Thief at exploration, finding/disabling traps; Assassin at big damage from the shadows, etc.).


Strengths and weaknesses

Strengths:

  • Tons of skill proficiencies, the most of any full class. Only the Lore Bard, a specific subclass, gets more. Also a class skill list with many options.
  • The potential to be the best at proficient skill checks, with Expertise and Reliable Talent. Rogues can flat rock the exploration and interaction pillars.
  • Sneak Attack makes them the best at taking advantage of Reaction attacks, in particular. Sneak Attack also makes for the most devastating critical hits in the game.
  • Reliant on just one attribute (Dexterity), and on top of that gets one more Ability Score Improvements than most other classes (and only the Fighter gets more). This makes for some amazing build versatility.
Weaknesses:

  • As good as Sneak Attack can be, Fighters and Barbarians, and even some Paladins and Rangers, will have you beat on consistent damage-per-round. And any round where you can't Sneak Attack (it happens sometimes) is pretty much a waste.
  • A few of your class features, especially at higher levels, while not bad per se, aren't as spectacular as you'd like.
  • A lot of what you can do with your skills can be taken care of more easily by characters with magic (sad face). At least you'll have your pride that you don't need no stinkin' magic? (Although one Rogue archetype actually does use magic ...)
  • No anti-horde tools to speak of. You’ll be taking them out one at a time, every time. Hope there’s a Wizard or Sorcerer, or even a Ranger or Fighter ready to step up in the party when a swarm comes.
 
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Gladius Legis

Explorer
II. Basics of the Class


Hit Die – d8: Pretty much the "average" hit die for 5e, shared by a lot of other classes. Better than Wizards and Sorcerers, so you can actually take a hit, but you won't want to take as many of those up front as the Fighter, Paladin or Barbarian, that's for sure.

Proficiencies

Armor: Light armor only, and no shields. Since you'll likely rely on and boost Dexterity, this will serve. If, for whatever reason, you choose to boost Strength, instead, then this could be a problem.

Weapons: All simple weapons, plus the hand crossbow, longsword, rapier and shortsword. All that matters is what you can Sneak Attack with, and this covers it all, so good for you. (Note on the longsword proficiency, if you care, there's at least one magical longsword that is a finesse weapon and thus works with Sneak Attack.)

Tools: Congratulations, you're one of the few classes who starts with a tool proficiency, and you have arguably the best one with Thieves' Tools. Good for dismantling and/or setting traps and picking locks, you know, typical Rogue stuff.

Saving Throws: Every class gets a "common" save (DEX, CON, WIS) and an "uncommon" save (STR, INT, CHA). You get DEX and INT, which are arguably the weakest proficiencies in both categories. INT saves are extremely rare (although devastating when they do come up, admittedly). And DEX saves mostly deal with avoiding damage, as opposed to CON and WIS, which deal with much nastier effects.

Skills: You get to pick four from the following, the most of any class at Lv. 1. Your background will give you even more skill proficiencies, which are not restricted to this list. Your race may also give you more chances to pick skill proficiencies, again not limited to this list. In any case, barring the presence of a Lore Bard and characters with questionable feat choices, you are the skill monkey of the group. Also, don't forget that Expertise can make picking even a skill attached to your "dump stats" worthwhile.

  • Acrobatics (DEX): Used pretty frequently, namely in combat helping you resist attempts to grapple or shove you. Also comes in when you're trying to keep your balance and perform stunts. Some DMs will let you use this as a substitute for many Athletics checks, too. Pretty damn important for all Rogues, except for the rare STR-based grappling Rogue.
  • Athletics (STR): It's nice to be good at climbing, and putting Expertise here can make you pretty good at it even if dumping Strength. If you must choose, however, Acrobatics is a higher priority (and your DM may even let you use Acrobatics on some climbing-related checks, depending). However, this is mandatory for the rare STR-based Rogue, who should only be going STR so they can grapple and shove, and take Expertise on top to make themselves an absolute boss at it.
  • Deception (CHA): An extremely fun skill, and one that you can use very often in social interactions. Tell lies, pass yourself off in a disguise convincingly, hide your intentions, give false reassurances, fast-talk people, con merchants, gamble effectively ... just so many possibilities. This skill particularly fits the modus operandi of Assassins and Masterminds, who even have class features that rely on this skill; this is mandatory for those archetypes, who should also strongly consider Expertise in this.
  • Insight (WIS): Counters the uses of Deception, in particular, so it's definitely worth considering. You don't want to fall for your own medicine, now. Mandatory (with Expertise) for Inquisitives, who have their major combat feature keying off this skill. Also pretty suitable for Masterminds. If someone else in the party, with better WIS, has this skill then it's not nearly as urgent for you.
  • Intimidation (CHA): Useful for getting a prisoner to talk, wringing out confessions, shaking someone down, and so forth.
  • Investigation (INT): This one is for you would-be detectives, used to look around rooms, search for clues and possible secrets, interpret forensic evidence, and so forth. It may also be used to deduce how a trap can be dismantled (a DM may also let you use it to find the trap in the first place, which otherwise uses Perception), before you go poking around on it with your Thieves' Tools. In any case, a pretty useful skill. Inquisitives have major class features that deal with the skill, so it’s mandatory for them (preferably with Expertise). Arcane Tricksters who are more likely to boost INT will also want to give it particular consideration.
  • Perception (WIS): Perhaps the most used skill in the game. Used to detect hidden enemies and traps, bust someone trying to use Sleight of Hand, among many other things. If there was ever a mandatory skill for everyone, it's this. Inquisitives will want to Expertise it, for sure, and it’s not a bad idea for any other Rogues to do so, for that matter.
  • Performance (CHA): No. 1, you're not a Bard, and No. 2, you of all people have many other ways to make good money.
  • Persuasion (CHA): Compared to Deception, this one typically reflects more honest intentions. Someone in the party definitely needs this as the "party face." And if there's not a Bard, Paladin, Sorcerer or Warlock in the group, that "party face" could very well be you. Swashbucklers have a rather potent class feature riding on this skill and should consider it mandatory and Expertise it.
  • Sleight of Hand (DEX): This isn't just for pickpocketing, folks. You can do much, much more with this skill, including planting false evidence on someone, concealing stuff on your person, sneaking weapons and poison into the king's ball, slipping poison into the king's goblet or food unnoticed ... you get the picture. Assassins, in particular, really love using this skill. For Arcane Tricksters, it's mandatory, with one of their major class features relying on it.
  • Stealth (DEX): Mandatory for Thieves, Assassins, and Arcane Tricksters, who all have class features that rely on or key off of this skill. Assassins and Arcane Tricksters, in particular, should Expertise it, too. Swashbucklers and Masterminds don't necessarily need it, but should still strongly consider it.

Non-class skills
: You can’t get these with your class options, but you might get these from your background or race:

  • Arcana (INT): Detects and disarms magical traps. That's kind of a big deal. Arcane Tricksters, in particular, should strongly consider pursuing.
  • Survival (WIS): Assassins who need to track their marks might care. No other Rogues really will.
  • Animal Handling (WIS): No.
  • Medicine (WIS): Buy a Healer's Kit if you want to play doctor that badly.
  • Nature/Religion/History (INT): Rogues need to be street-smart, not book-smart.



Attributes

Rogues in general have the luxury of truly caring about only one attribute, and that's Dexterity. The other attributes are there mostly to be better at a few skills, or qualify for any multiclasses or feats, so you can put them as you want them. (The only exception is the Arcane Trickster, who actually does need to care about Intelligence, too.) Also keep in mind that if you really care about a skill that's otherwise attached to a dump stat, Expertise can still make it worthwhile.

If you're playing point buy, basically as long as you buy a high stat that can get you to DEX 16 post-racial modifiers (so a 14 or 15 depending on race), you're in good shape, and the rest of it is to your taste. Arcane Tricksters will want to buy two 15s for DEX and INT (15, 15, 13, 10, 10, 8).

  • Strength: This is about as close to a universal Rogue dump stat as there is. Athletics checks to climb stuff (which depending on DM and specific case can possibly be substituted with Acrobatics) are about the only reason to even remotely care. If you're not multiclassing to something that has a STR prerequisite, you can pretty safely leave this at an 8. Other than that, there is the STR-based Rogue, who takes both proficiency and Expertise in Athletics and can grapple and shove like a boss, but that's the only reason to ever go that route, and that's a build that's likely multiclassing anyway. (Also, here's where I curse the fact that you can't Sneak Attack with clubs, light hammers and handaxes ... seriously, that should've been allowed.)
  • Dexterity: This means everything, to be blunt. Governs your Armor Class in that light armor you'll be wearing, governs your attack rolls with any weapon, melee or ranged, you can Sneak Attack with, governs your initiative, and governs awesome skills like Stealth, Acrobatics and Sleight of Hand. Start it no less than 16 after race modifiers, if at all possible, and get to 20 ASAP. The STR-based grappler will still at least want a 14 here, enough for the medium armor they'll likely seek to get.
  • Constitution: Everybody needs this score for hit points. You absolutely don't want to take it below 10, under any circumstances, and you should get it to at least 12 if at all possible. Swashbucklers (who are melee-focused) and Arcane Tricksters (who need to concentrate on spells) will want it at 14 or higher if they can.
  • Intelligence: Assassins and Masterminds get free proficiencies for tools that that call for INT checks, so any positive modifier here would be welcome for them. Inquisitives, with their use of Investigation, would also appreciate a decent score here. Arcane Tricksters need this most of all if they want any spells with a DC to be effective; they should aim for a 16 post-racial if at all possible. Aside from those archetypes, the useful skills Investigation and Arcana are attached to this, so keep that in mind before just straight dumping it to 8 outright; if you're not using those, then dump away.
  • Wisdom: You definitely don't want this below 10, as it's a major save attribute that tends to oppose nasty mind-affecting statuses. It also governs Insight and the all-important Perception. If you can afford a positive modifier here, it certainly doesn't hurt. This is an outright secondary stat for Inquisitives, whose main combat feature keys off of WIS and their Insight skill.
  • Charisma: Governs useful skills like Deception, Persuasion and Intimidation. Assassins, Swashbucklers, and Masterminds, in particular, will want a decent positive modifier here. If you're not using those skills, you can safely dump this at an 8.



Backgrounds

Each background comes with two skills, then a tool proficiency and/or language, plus a unique feature. You can customize your background with help from your DM, but here are the "official" backgrounds.

Also keep in mind that if a background gives you a skill you already had from your class or race, you get to pick any other skill to replace it (including a non-class skill). This is a good way to pick up, say, Arcana. This also applies to tools; if you pick a background that gives you Thieves' Tools proficiency, you get to pick ANY tool proficiency in its place. And likewise with any tool proficiencies you get once you choose your archetype.

[sblock=PHB backgrounds]
Acolyte: Insight, Religion, two languages. Insight is useful, Religion is not, and the languages may or may not be. The temple benefit is also pretty spotty, what if there's no temple of your specific god where you're headed?

Charlatan: Deception, Sleight of Hand, Disguise Kit, Forgery Kit. Terrific skills, fitting tool proficiencies, plus you have an alter-ego, and you can forge all kinds of documents like fake arrest warrants for your worst enemies and irksome annoyances ... just as an example.

Criminal/Spy: Deception, Stealth, Thieves' Tools (free pick), Gaming Set (one). So cliche, but hey, the shoe fits. This is as good as a Rogue background can get, the skills and all. And you have a criminal contact you can send messages and requests to from just about anywhere. If you're an Assassin who really loves using poison, this may be the most reliable means of getting it that exists. The Spy variant is basically just a label to make this background's pretty attributes legit.

Entertainer: Acrobatics, Performance, Disguise Kit, Musical Instrument (one). One good skill, one not. The free lodging and modest or comfortable lifestyle is nice. The Gladiator variant is pretty meaningless for you, though.

Folk Hero: Animal Handling, Survival, Artisan's Tools (one), Vehicles (Land). Two bad skills, although at least having safe houses among commoners is nice?

Guild Artisan/Guild Merchant: Insight, Persuasion, Artisan's Tools (one), one language.Two solid skills, plus a feature that gets you free lodging and food and the chance at some real political clout or connections. Assassins looking for poison may want to get in good with apothecaries of questionable morality, ahem. The Merchant variant lets you replace Artisan's Tools with Navigator's Tools and start with a mule and cart, while still getting the sexy benefits of guild membership, probably better since you're an adventurer on the move.

Hermit: Medicine, Religion, Herbalism Kit, one language. Yeah, um, moving on.

Noble: History, Persuasion, Gaming Set (one), one language. Persuasion good, History bad. At least you have some political clout and connections, though. The Knight variant replaces those connections with retainers, who are probably more trouble than they're worth.

Outlander: Athletics, Survival, Musical Instrument (one), one language. Marginal skills at best, although the guaranteed success on foraging is good if you're stuck in the wilderness somewhere.

Sage: Arcana, History, two languages. Other than Arcana, there's nothing for you here.

Sailor/Pirate: Athletics, Perception, Navigator's Tools, Vehicles (Water). One good skill and one OK one. Free passage on a ship is nice, but the Pirate variant's Bad Reputation and ability to get away with misdemeanors and petty crimes left and right is probably more fitting for many Rogues ... not to mention incredibly fun. Arr!

Soldier: Athletics, Intimidation, Gaming Set (one), Vehicles (Land). Two OK skills, and military rank has its benefits if dealing with other soldiers or guards.

Urchin: Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Disguise Kit, Thieves' Tools (free pick). Terrific skills and tool proficiencies. (Plus a pet mouse!) The faster intra-city travel feature is pretty weak, though, keeping this background a full step below the likes of Charlatan and Criminal/Spy.
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[sblock=SCAG backgrounds]
City Watch: Athletics, Insight, two languages. The city watch may be the last place you'd expect to find a Rogue, but this ain't bad at all. You can pretty much spot out any watch outpost and criminal den anywhere. And you could become a corrupt watchman and get in good with the criminal element. The Investigator variant is actually quite nice, replacing Athletics with the overall more useful Investigation.

Clan Crafter: History, Insight, Artisan's Tools (one), Dwarvish language. Ooh, you get to be friends with Dwarves. How about ... no.

Cloistered Scholar: History, another knowledge skill, two languages. Next.

Courtier: Insight, Persuasion, two languages. Alright, now we're talking. Two solid skills and an intimate knowledge of an area's politics and government connections no matter where you go? Yeah, there's just a few opportunities there.

Faction Agent: Insight, one faction-specific skill, two languages. Being an agent of one of the Realms' most powerful organizations kind of speaks for itself. Being either with the Harpers (Investigation) or, especially, their mortal foes the Zhentarim (Deception) gets you another good skill, too. The Zhentarim is likely to have easy access to poisons for Assassins.

Far Traveler: Insight, Perception, Musical Instrument (one), one language. One good skill and one necessary one, and the opportunity for more connections with some powerful people. Very good.

Inheritor: Survival, Arcana (the other two options aren't worth mention), Gaming Set OR Musical Instrument, one language. Eh, one good skill and one marginal skill, and the feature amounts to little more than an intriguing story hook. You can do better.

Knight of the Order: Persuasion, Arcana (or other weak choices), Gaming Set OR Musical Instrument, one language. Interesting note: The knight order descriptions do not mention which skill they're attached to, so pick Arcana. Attachment to a powerful knight order, and the free shelter and succor that comes with it, make this a solid pick, if not a little dissonant for Rogues.

Mercenary Veteran: Athletics, Persuasion, Gaming Set (one), Vehicles (Land). Decent skill set, and a guaranteed comfortable lifestyle as a mercenary. OK, I guess.

Urban Bounty Hunter: Two of Deception, Insight, Persuasion, and Stealth; two of Gaming Set, Musical Instrument or Thieves' Tools (pick this and get a free choice of tools, haha). All Rogue-appropriate skills and tools, and plenty of opportunities for connections from the local gangs and thieves' guilds to members of high society. Doesn't get much better.

Uthgardt Tribe Member: Athletics, Survival, Musical Instrument OR Artisan's Tools (one). Meh skills, and something similar to the Outlander's foraging, with hospitality from your tribe or powerful allies. Probably better than Outlander, but not by much.

Waterdhavian Noble: History, Persuasion, Gaming Set (one) OR Musical Instrument (one), one language. One wasted, skill, and some renown in Waterdeep and the North that lets you live a comfortable lifestyle on credit. Eh.
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Class Features

Lv. 1

Expertise (Lv. 1 and 6): Take any two skills you're proficient with (or one skill and Thieves' Tools) and double your proficiency bonus. This is excellent, as it can wind up making those skills perfectly functional even if attached to a dump stat. At Lv. 20, an Expertised skill with a stat of 8 will have a +11 bonus, which is equal to having a proficient skill with an ability score of 20! Of course, this feature also lets you make a skill you already had a good stat for even better, becoming a true master of it. You get two more Expertised skills at Lv. 6. Bards get this feature, too, but at Lv. 3 and 10 and can't select Thieves' Tools.

Sneak Attack: Your chief level-scaling damage source, starting at 1d6 at 1st level and adding 1d6 damage every two levels, all the way up to 10d6 at Lv. 19. Works with any finesse and all ranged weapons. It's more versatile than ever, too; along with working any time you have advantage, it also works as long as you have an able melee ally (read: Fighter, Barbarian, Paladin) right next to your target (even without advantage). Sneak Attack fires off once per turn. Note how that’s much different than per round; not only do you get it on your turn, but other combatants’ turns (friends’ and foes’) as well; you can get this on opportunity attacks, other Reaction attacks you get to make from certain feats, attacks granted from a Battle Master's Commander's Strike ... if you're under a Haste spell, attack on your turn with your hasted action and ready your regular action and get Sneak Attack twice. So many possibilities. All of the dice from this get doubled on crit, too, making your critical hits by far the most devastating in the game (only Paladins have crits anywhere in sight of yours, and unlike you they have to spend resources for those). The only complaints are, (a) this REALLY should've allowed light weapons in general (and thus the club, light hammer and handaxe like in the past), and (b) your on-turn DPR even with Sneak Attack is still behind most Fighters and Barbarians and even some Paladins and Rangers (*sad trombone*).

Thieves' Cant: Fluff, and situational fluff at that. Basically useless unless you're traveling or dealing with other Rogues ... or you can convince your DM to let your allies learn it.


Lv. 2


Cunning Action: Dash, Disengage or Hide as a bonus action. Simply one of the best features in the game. Dart in, attack in melee, Disengage and move out. Or cover twice the real estate other characters would with a full move and a Dash, darting well out of the movement capabilities of most melee enemies while you hit and run them to death. Or while hidden: Attack, move, Hide and repeat, getting advantage on every attack. So many possibilities, all of them exciting and keeping you on the move and hard to pin down.


Lv. 3

Roguish Archetypes discussed in the next section.


Lv. 4 (8, 10, 12, 16, 19)

Ability Score Improvement: You get 6 of these (with which you can also take feats), which is one more than most other classes get, allowing for amazing build versatility (especially since you're only dependent on Dexterity). Only the Fighter gets more.


Lv. 5

Uncanny Dodge: If you have your Reaction on hand that round, cut one hit's damage against you in half. A neat little boost to your survivability, though less of a factor in a battle against hordes or multiattacking enemies.


Lv. 7

Evasion: A 3e classic that makes anything involving a DEX save much less threatening. You negate the damage altogether if you succeed, and even if you fail, you take just half damage. Take that, Wizard with Fireball. Up yours, dragon.


Lv. 11

Reliable Talent: You're guaranteed at least a roll of 10 with all your proficient skills and tools. On some of your skills, that amounts to auto-success. On other checks with dire consequences if you fail by a certain number, this typically prevents them. In any case, a skill monkey's dream.


Lv. 14

Blindsense: And here's where Rogue features start to get less appealing. By the time hidden and invisible creatures are within 10 feet of you, it's probably too late. And if you're somehow deaf, this doesn't work at all.


Lv. 15

Slippery Mind: Back to being exciting. You get proficiency in Wisdom saves, without having to spend one of your precious ASIs on a feat for it. That's a big freakin' deal. Sure, it's late in the game, but better late than never.


Lv. 18

Elusive: As long as you aren't incapacitated, nobody can get advantage on attacks against you. Not terribly sexy, but it helps you survive nonetheless.


Lv. 20

Stroke of Luck: Once per short rest, automatically turn a miss into a hit, or automatically take 20 if you fail an ability check. Assassins actually like this capstone a lot, since they want to make sure their surprise alpha strike connects. For other Rogues, it's nice, but they could take it or leave it.



Weapon Setups

Every Rogue should pack at least one melee setup and one ranged setup. It pays to be versatile, allowing you to thrive whether caught in close-quarters combat, staying out of the fray with hit-and-run tactics, or trying to stay out of an enemy’s Blindsight/Truesight/Tremorsense range while sniping from afar.

Melee setups:

  • Rapier: Can't go wrong here. It's the most damaging finesse weapon, its 1d8 damage die the same as a longsword, and it keeps you on the move with your bonus actions all being used for Cunning Action. If you get an SCAG cantrip such as Booming Blade or Green-Flame Blade (via Arcane Trickster, High Elf, Magic Initiate, etc.), this is definitely your go-to in melee, as dual-wielding explicitly requires the Attack action and is thus incompatible with those cantrips.
  • Dual Shortswords: Dual-wielding is potent for a Rogue, as it allows the Rogue two chances, instead of just one, to land Sneak Attack. (And even more importantly, that's two chances not only to hit, but to crit with Sneak Attack.) What keeps it from being undisputedly better than a single rapier is that if you do decide to attack twice, you do not get your Cunning Action that round. Meaning, every round you'll have a choice to make on whether to make a second attack or to Disengage. However, Swashbucklers get a feature that effectively lets them Disengage for free entirely, so this is the ideal setup for them outright. And Assassins should still consider this their best melee setup, as well, since a second hit in the surprise round will add even more damage in the form of the off-hand auto-crit. On the other hand, useless with SCAG cantrips, since those are explicitly not the Attack action required for dual-wielding to work.
  • Dual Daggers: Less damage than above, but they can be thrown. They can also be concealed on your body easily via Sleight of Hand, making them ideal for Assassins who otherwise have to show up to a ball or some other gathering unarmed.
  • Whip: Your option if you want your Sneak Attacks to come with reach, though the weapon has a d4 damage die, same as a dagger. Also note that Booming Blade and Green-Flame Blade, if you get them somehow, explicitly have a reach of only 5 feet, so you can’t use the whip’s reach with those cantrips.
  • Rapier + Dagger: This classical dueling setup is ONLY possible if you took the Dual Wielder feat, which I find patently ridiculous. Because it costs you a feat you might not take otherwise, that's a strike against it. But you get the strongest finesse weapon in your main hand and a throwable off-hand weapon, so that's worth mentioning, at least.

Ranged setups:

  • Light Crossbow: The best choice for the potent sniper tactic of Shoot from Hiding, Move, Hide (w/ Cunning Action), Repeat every round. Better than a shortbow in every way for your purpose; its 80/320 range is identical to the shortbow, and the light crossbow's loading property doesn't matter to you since your actions are only one attack, anyway, leaving only the light crossbow's superior 1d8 damage die to consider. Easily your default range option if you don't take Crossbow Expert.
  • Hand Crossbow: This rating assumes you took the Crossbow Expert feat (otherwise, stick to the light crossbow). That feat turns this into a devastating option with its bonus-action shot. Like with dual-wielding, that results in 2 chances every round to hit (or crit) with Sneak Attack, and also gives Assassins a little extra doubled-up damage from potentially a second hit in the surprise round. Two things keep the hand crossbow from being the best outright: (a) shooting twice means you sacrifice your chance to Hide at the end of that round, and (b) the hand crossbow's range is only 30/120 vs. the light crossbow's 80/320, so for long-distance sniping out of an enemy's Blindsight/Truesight/Tremorsense range, you'll still need the latter.
 
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Gladius Legis

Explorer
III. Roguish Archetypes


Thief: This is the classical well-rounded adventurer of old, with features that boost the standard Thief abilities to pick pockets, deal with traps, open locks, scout ahead and even use magic items you shouldn't be able to use otherwise. Easily the most straightforward archetype, the most recommended for beginning Rogue players, and the one with the least "specialized" skill and attribute needs. Just max Dexterity, have enough Intelligence and Wisdom to spot and study traps, fill out from there, and you're set. For the most part, just don't expect to be spectacular in the way, say, Assassins and Arcane Tricksters can be.

  • Fast Hands: Lv. 3. Expands Cunning Action to using Sleight of Hand, thieves' tools to disarm traps and open locks, and Use an Object, a.k.a. typical Thief stuff. Always handy, and occasionally even lifesaving, like if your party is stuck in combat in a trapped area. Also good for drinking potions and still getting your action. Also the basis for the Thief Healer, who takes the Healer feat, carries a healer's kit and bonus-action heals allies. Dropping ball bearings, caltrops and such can be effective for the first couple levels or so while those are still a factor.
  • Second-Story Work: Lv. 3. Faster climbing and a few extra feet on your jumps. Meh.
  • Supreme Sneak: Lv. 9. Advantage on Stealth at half speed if you really want to make sure you stay undetected scouting ahead.
  • Use Magic Device: Lv. 13. Using Instruments of the Bards and staffs and wands normally reserved for spellcasters can be nice. That's about the extent of this feature. (Using spell scrolls doesn't require this, according to DMG p. 139.)
  • Thief's Reflexes: Lv. 17. A damn good reward for sticking it out as a Thief for 17 full levels without multiclassing. Took you until close to the end of your career, but you finally get a massive boost to your offensive capability with two full turns in every opening round of combat! That means two full legit chances to Sneak Attack, too. Have fun!

Assassin: Well, if you're looking for burst damage from the Rogue class, then this is clearly the archetype for you ... with some caveats. Right away you get a feature that can potentially be one of the best nova damage abilities in the game, but only if you have a high initiative. If you're playing with feats (most tables do), you're pretty much taxed one feat for Alert being so necessary. Your ability scores and skill needs are more specific than the Thief's too, as you really want at least decent Intelligence and Charisma scores, and you'll definitely want to Expertise Stealth, and likely Deception, and even possibly Sleight of Hand, too. You'll also want to either dual-wield or take Crossbow Expert for an extra hand crossbow attack if at all possible, or alternatively, get the Booming Blade cantrip on a rapier in some way. Your two middle features are very reliant on the type of campaign you're in. Consider all that carefully before fully committing to this archetype.

  • Bonus Proficiencies: Lv. 3. Disguise Kit and Poisoner's Kit. Ability checks involving both of these are based on INT. For the Disguise Kit, it takes the INT check to actually make the disguise; once you're in the disguise, then you make Deception (CHA) checks to pass yourself off in it. As for the Poisoner's Kit, crafting is pretty much a non-option; it takes 20 days and 50 gp just to make one dose of the weaksauce basic poison! The Poisoner's Kit's actual worthwhile function is harvesting poison from dead or incapacitated monsters, which is always an INT check vs. DC 20; kit proficiency makes success somewhat realistic, though still a touch difficult without Guidance, a Bard's Inspiration, or Help.
  • Assassinate: Lv. 3. This is likely the main reason you're taking this archetype in the first place. The most important thing about this feature is to win initiative. If you're playing with feats, that makes Alert mandatory, and even more important than racing to a 20 DEX. Win initiative, and you start combat with advantage against any enemy who hasn't taken their turn. But the sexiest part of this feature comes when you win initiative and surprise your enemies: You crit automatically! And with Sneak Attack's fistful of dice, that's some incredible damage. Obviously, to take advantage of that consistently, you want your Stealth maxed out as far as it'll go (that means Expertise). There may also be situations, depending on campaign, where you can manufacture surprise out of Deception and Sleight of Hand (e.g. Deception to stay in disguise and hide your intentions at the noble's shindig, then Sleight of Hand to conceal your dagger during the standard patdown at the door, and then draw it out next to your target with no one noticing.)
  • Infiltration Expertise: Lv. 9. There's something to be said for features of this nature that are more foolproof than a handful of skill checks. Sure, you could use disguise and Deception to pass yourself off as someone else in the moment, but when someone has to die, no excuses, even a slight chance of failure is no option. And after you do the deed, people are going to get suspicious; wouldn't it be nice if any eyewitness testimony led to one of your alter egos complete with paperwork establishing that identity? How good this feature is depends heavily on the type of campaign you're in; you won't get any use out of it in a dungeon crawler or hack-and-slash campaign, but in a long-term campaign featuring the interaction pillar more, this one can be quite good. Note that you can establish as many false identities as you have time and money for, so if you have days of downtime in multiples of 7 and just a little gold to spare, you should be setting up all the alter egos you possibly can. Also, fun thought: While you can't establish an identity that belongs to someone, that identity won't belong to that someone anymore if they ... ahem ... disappear.
  • Imposter: Lv. 13. Like Infiltration Expertise, there's something to be said about measures much more foolproof and reliable than a few skill checks in your line of work. This one is more or less entirely foolproof except one instance that makes you roll a Deception check (but even then with advantage!); a decent Charisma and Expertise in that skill will close up that little loophole real quick. Two fun things to keep in mind about this one: (a) There's no expiration date on your ability to mimic someone, and (b) there's no limit on how many people you can mimic. That means any time you have 3 hours or more to spare, you should be studying everyone and anyone you can. Especially if they look important, or are serving said important people. Stuck on that long ship voyage or caravan ride? Study every passenger. Have some downtime in a big city? Study all the politicians, servants, merchants, guards, guard captains, nobles, innkeepers, and so on. You just never know when you'll need to put your infinitely-growing repertoire of impersonations to use. Like Infiltration Expertise, this won't see any use in dungeon crawlers and hack-and-slash campaigns, but in long-term campaigns featuring the interaction pillar, this one is excellent.
  • Death Attack: Lv. 17. Remember how damaging your Assassinate surprise attacks have been, with those doubled Sneak Attack crit dice? Well, guess what? You get to double THAT damage with this feature. And not only that, but this feature doubles static modifiers, too! (DEX bonus, Sharpshooter, damage bonus from magic weapon, etc.) There's just one catch: Doubling all that damage requires the enemy failing a CON save, so this isn't always reliable. This is also sharply less effective against Legendary enemies who can auto-succeed ... although at least you can force them to start the fight with one less use of Legendary Resistance, burning no limited resources to do so, so that's at least something.

[sblock=Assassin surprise round damage]
Here's the sort of damage, with snapshots at a few key levels, that an Assassin can expect to deal on a surprise round, with various weapon configurations. For simplicity's sake, this assumes all attacks the Assassin attempts hit, and the figures are based on average damage dice rolls. Where Death Attack is applicable, figures assume all enemy CON saves on all hits fail:

Lv. 3, DEX 16
Single dagger: 4d6 + (2d4 + 3) = 22
Rapier OR light crossbow: 4d6 + (2d8 + 3) = 26
Dual daggers: 4d6 + (2d4 + 3) + 2d4 = 27
Dual shortswords: 4d6 + (2d6 + 3) + 2d6 = 31

Lv. 9, DEX 18
Single dagger: 10d6 + (2d4 + 4) = 44
Rapier OR light crossbow: 10d6 + (2d8 + 4) = 48
Dual daggers: 10d6 + (2d4 + 4) + 2d4 = 49
Dual shortswords: 10d6 + (2d6 + 4) + 2d6 = 53

Lv. 13, DEX 20

Single dagger: 14d6 + (2d4 + 5) = 59
Rapier OR light crossbow: 14d6 + (2d8 + 5) = 63
Dual daggers: 14d6 + (2d4 + 5) + 2d4 = 64
Dual shortswords: 14d6 + (2d6 + 5) + 2d6 = 68
Hand crossbow w/ Crossbow Expert: 14d6 + (2d6 + 5) + (2d6 + 5) = 73

Lv. 17, DEX 20
Single dagger: 18d6 + (2d4 + 5) = 73 (DA: 146)
Rapier OR light crossbow: 18d6 + (2d8 + 5) = 77 (DA: 154)
Dual daggers: 18d6 + (2d4 + 5) + 2d4 = 78 (DA: 156)
Dual shortswords: 18d6 + (2d6 + 5) + 2d6 = 82 (DA: 164)
Hand crossbow w/ Crossbow Expert: 18d6 + (2d6 + 5) + (2d6 + 5) = 87 (DA: 174)
Light crossbow w/ Sharpshooter trade: 18d6 + (2d8 + 15) = 87 (DA: 174)
Hand crossbow w/ Crossbow Expert and Sharpshooter trade: 18d6 + (2d6 + 15) + (2d6 + 15) = 107 (DA: 214)

Lv. 20, DEX 20
Single dagger: 20d6 + (2d4 + 5) = 80 (DA: 160)
Rapier OR light crossbow: 20d6 + (2d8 + 5) = 84 (DA: 168)
Dual daggers: 20d6 + (2d4 + 5) + 2d4 = 85 (DA: 170)
Dual shortswords: 20d6 + (2d6 + 5) + 2d6 = 89 (DA: 178)
Hand crossbow w/ Crossbow Expert: 20d6 + (2d6 + 5) + (2d6 + 5) = 94 (DA: 188)
Light crossbow w/ Sharpshooter trade: 20d6 + (2d8 + 15) = 94 (DA: 188)
Hand crossbow w/ Crossbow Expert and Sharpshooter trade: 20d6 + (2d6 + 15) + (2d6 + 15) = 114 (DA: 228)

And for reference, a few sample enemy hit points, special defenses and senses, and CON saves at various CRs:

CR 3
Blue Dragon Wyrmling: HP 52 (8d8 + 16), CON save +4, blindsight 10 ft.
Bugbear Chief: HP 65 (10d8 + 20), CON save +2
Hobgoblin Captain: HP 39 (6d8 + 12), CON save +2
Knight: HP 52 (8d8 + 16), CON save +4
Minotaur: HP 76 (9d10 + 27), CON save +3
Veteran: HP 58 (9d8 + 18), CON save +2
Yuan-ti Malison: HP 66 (12d8 + 12), CON save +1, immune to poison damage and poisoned condition

CR 5
Cambion: HP 82 (11d8 + 33), CON save +6, resistance to poison damage, resistance to nonmagical weapons
Drow Elite Warrior: HP 71 (11d8 + 22), CON save +5
Gladiator: HP 112 (15d8 + 45), CON save +6
Hill Giant: HP 105 (10d12 + 40), CON save +4
Revenant: HP 136 (16d8 + 64), CON save +7, immune to poison damage and poison condition
Sahuagin Baron: HP 76 (9d10 + 27), CON save +6
Troll: HP 84 (8d10 + 40), CON save +5
Vampire Spawn: HP 82 (11d8 + 33), CON save +3, resistance to nonmagical weapons

CR 6
Cyclops: HP 138 (12d12 + 60), CON save +5
Drider: HP 123 (13d10 + 52), CON save +4
Hobgoblin Warlord: HP 97 (13d8 + 39), CON save +3
Kuo-toa Archpriest: HP 97 (13d8 + 39), CON save +3
Mage: HP 40 (9d8), CON save +0
Medusa: HP 127 (17d8 + 51), CON save +3
Wyvern: HP 110 (13d10 + 39), CON save +3
Young White Dragon: HP 133 (14d10 + 56), CON save +7, blindsight 30 ft.

CR 9
Cloud Giant: HP 200 (16d12 + 96), CON save +9
Fire Giant: HP 162 (13d12 + 78), CON save +10
Young Blue Dragon: HP 152 (16d10 + 64), CON save +8, blindsight 30 ft.

CR 13
Adult White Dragon: HP 200 (16d12 + 96), CON save +11, blindsight 60 ft., Legendary Resistance 3/day
Rakshasa: HP 110 (13d8 + 52), CON save +4, immunity to nonmagical weapons, vulnerable to piercing magic weapons from Good alignment wielders
Storm Giant: HP 230 (20d12 + 200), CON save +10
Vampire: HP 144 (17d8 + 68), CON save +4, resistant to nonmagical weapons, Legendary Resistance 3/day

CR 17
Adult Red Dragon: HP 256 (19d12 + 133), CON save +13, blindsight 60 ft., Legendary Resistance 3/day
Androsphinx: HP 199 (19d10 + 95), CON save +11, immune to nonmagical weapons, truesight 120 ft.
Death Knight: HP 180 (19d8 + 95), CON save +5, immune to poison damage and poisoned condition
Goristro: HP 310 (23d12 + 161), CON save +13, resistant to nonmagical weapons, immune to poison damage and poisoned condition

CR 20+
Ancient White Dragon: HP 333 (18d20 + 144), CON save +14, blindsight 60 ft., Legendary Resistance 3/day
Ancient Red Dragon: HP 546 (28d20 + 252), CON save +16, blindsight 60 ft., Legendary Resistance 3/day
Empyrean: HP 313 (19d12 + 190), CON save +10, truesight 120 ft., immune to nonmagical weapons, Legendary Resistance 3/day
Lich: HP 135 (18d8 + 54), CON save +10, truesight 120 ft., immune to poison damage and poisoned condition, immune to nonmagical weapons, Legendary Resistance 3/day
Solar: HP 243 (18d10 + 144), CON save +8, truesight 120 ft., immune to poison damage and poisoned condition, resistant to nonmagical weapons
Pit Fiend: HP 300 (24d10 + 168), CON save +13, truesight 120 ft., immune to poison damage and poisoned condition, resistant to nonsilvered nonmagical weapons
[/sblock]


Arcane Trickster: Similar to how the Eldritch Knight is a way to get the classic AD&D Fighter/Mage without a multiclass, this archetype does it for the old Thief/Mage. The Arcane Trickster is the most MAD of the archetypes, requiring high Dexterity AND Intelligence (and Constitution would help) to function at its fullest. This also limits your feat selections to maybe 2 or 3 at the most. While you technically could dump INT and take only spells with no DC, you'd be depriving yourself of two whole class features and easily some of the best spells on your list. This archetype is absolutely worth the MAD, though; just the fact you cast spells adds a whole lot of tricks to your toolbox that other Rogues can only dream of. And unlike the Assassin or even the Thief, your features are going to see use pretty much all the time (with one exception rendered mostly redundant by a spell).

  • Spellcasting: Lv. 3. This is why you're here, I'm sure. Like the Eldritch Knight, you're a 1/3 caster. You get 2nd-level spells at Lv. 7, 3rd-level at Lv. 13 and finally top out at 4th-level spells at Lv. 19. You learn a set number of spells, akin to how the Sorcerer, Bard and Warlock learn them. Most of your spells must be Enchantment or Illusion spells from the Wizard list, but your cantrips can be anything from the Wizard list, and you have a free pick from any school at Lv. 3, 8, 14 and 20. Obviously, you'll never be anything close to a full caster, but even 1/3 casting on top of the usual Rogue talents is a pretty big deal.
  • Mage Hand Legerdemain: Lv. 3. This one's fun. Disable traps, pick pockets and open locks without risking your personal safety, and as a part of Cunning Action's bonus action, at that! Make sure you're proficient (and possibly even Expertised) in Sleight of Hand, and you're golden.
  • Magical Ambush: Lv. 9. Invoke disadvantage on saving throws against your spells from hiding. In the Rogue's typical Hidden, Shoot, Move, Hide, Repeat routine, you can replace the "Shoot" part with "Cast" and really mess up an encounter with a couple of choice hard-to-resist spells (ahem, Suggestion).
  • Versatile Trickster: Lv. 13. This one's generally redundant, as you should've had Find Familiar since Lv. 3. Your familiar gives you all the advantage you'll ever want on your turn, with better action economy. Meanwhile, this feature competes with your Mage Hand's Cunning Action and doesn't even let you move the hand, making it incredibly finicky compared to your familiar. Familiars are fragile, though, so if yours happens to get popped in combat, this is basically your backup until you can spend an hour casting Find Familiar again.
  • Spell Thief: Lv. 17. Basically one free Counterspell per long rest with an extra, situational twist. Uses your spell save DC, so a good INT is needed to use this effectively. Unfortunately, the part where you "steal" the spell is only ever going to work on a 4th-level spell or below (and only that at Lv. 19). You'll probably have an opportunity to use this feature every day, but how spectacular the result is will rely on luck.

[sblock=Arcane Trickster Spells]
General tips for spell selection:

  • Sneak Attack does not work with attack spells/cantrips, so if you want to do damage just shoot them with an arrow. (The major exceptions here are the weapon cantrips from the SCAG, which DO work with Sneak Attack.)
  • Don’t pick too many spells with Concentration as you can only concentrate on one at a time, and damage can cause you to lose the spell.
  • Try to pick spells that will see a lot of use rather than ones that are situational. You can't afford to pick niche spells.
  • Many spells of the same level compete with each other, i.e. Color Spray vs. Sleep, Blur vs. Mirror Image, Crown of Madness vs. Hold Person vs. Phantasmal Force vs. Suggestion. Don't pick more than one from each group.
  • If a spell allows additional saves per turn, end-of-turn saves are more powerful than start-of-turn saves.

For your convenience, spells will have their components listed, along with their action type (action, reaction, bonus action), their school, if they require Concentration, and if a spell uses your save DC. An "M" with an asterisk (*) means that the material component has a cost and/or is consumed by the spell, which means you can't use your arcane focus to cast it.

Cantrips (Lv. 3, 10)
You automatically learn Mage Hand, and you start with two more cantrips of your choice (although, really, two cantrips stand out as mandatory, AFAIC), then pick a third at Lv. 10. In any event, your repertoire is limited, so choose wisely.


  • Booming Blade (SCAG): Evocation; 1 action; V, M (weapon). This should be your go-to in melee every time. Works with Sneak Attack, as it's an actual weapon attack, and both the damage from the enemy moving and the damage from the attack itself have that sexy level-scaling like any other cantrip. A particularly nasty trick is to hit with this, then Cunning Action Disengage away and force the enemy to either stay in place and do nothing or come to you and eat more damage. The only thing to remember is that you can’t dual-wield with this cantrip, since that explicitly requires the Attack action, but this is hands-down superior so that’s no issue.
  • Minor Illusion: Illusion; 1 action; S,M; Save. THE consensus best cantrip in the game at the moment, there's just so many creative uses for this gem. The most obvious is creating instant total cover, allowing you to hide at-will whenever you want and get advantage and Sneak Attacks galore. You can mimic other voices, discourage movement with illusory spikes on the floor, make it look like a door is sealed, hide a door to make it look like the rest of the wall, misdirect with footprints to nowhere ... just go nuts.
  • Green-Flame Blade (SCAG): Evocation; 1 action; V, M (weapon). Like Booming Blade, will work with Sneak Attack and level scales like any other cantrip. This one splashes some damage against other minions unfortunate enough to be next to your main target, serving as some decent at-will crowd control. Not nearly as high priority as Booming Blade, but a good choice for your Lv. 10 cantrip.
  • Prestidigitation: Transmutation; 1 action; V,S. Not a substitute for Minor Illusion, contrary to what some believe, and not quite as awesome as that. It does have its own plethora of fun and creative uses, though, like creating an odor, then soiling some puffy noble's pants to embarrass the hell out of them. Or lighting and snuffing candles from 10 feet worth of safety during infiltrations. Still worth considering for your Lv. 10 cantrip.
  • Friends: Enchantment; 1 action; S,M. More like Friends to Enemies, because that's exactly what this spell does. It helps greatly when you're disguised as someone else before you cast this.
  • Message: Transmutation; 1 action; V,S,M. Good for silent person-to-person communication in stealth missions.

All other cantrips are either purple or red (all direct damage cantrips are red) and not even worth mentioning.

1st level (Lv. 3)

  • Sleep: Enchantment; 1 action; V,S,M; Save. Should be the first spell you pick. Crits galore for at least a few levels, before it runs its course past Lv. 7 or so, when you retrain it.
  • Tasha's Hideous Laughter: Enchantment; 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration; Save. Starts out inferior to Sleep because enemies make saves every round and every time they're hit, but unlike Sleep this stays effective into higher levels. Even after a successful save, they're still prone, making them fair game for melee Sneak Attacks.
  • Silent Image: Illusion; 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration; Save. Effect-wise, an upgraded Minor Illusion, up to 15 feet in size and capable of movement. Requires Concentration unlike the cantrip, though, making it not quite as awesome as it would be otherwise.
  • Charm Person: Enchantment; 1 action; V,S; Concentration; Save. The enemy won't necessarily be hostile after, like Friends, but knowing they were charmed at all is still a drawback. Use with discretion. Again, better cast if you're disguised in some way.
  • Disguise Self: Illusion; 1 action; V,S; Save. Here's a good way to make Friends and Charm Person much less risky to use. Much less important if you get Disguise Kit proficiency.
  • Color Spray: Illusion; 1 action; V,S,M; Save. Sleep and Tasha's are better in every way.
  • Illusory Script: Illusion; 1 minute; S,M*. Way too situational for your precious, limited spell list.

2nd level (Lv. 7)

  • Suggestion: Enchantment; 1 action; V,M; Concentration; Save. Because making a joke out of an encounter is fun. More fun doing it from Magical Ambush. Play it right and you can even make the seemingly obnoxious sound perfectly reasonable. ("Fighting is tiring, lay down and take a breather." "That's some crappy armor you're wearing, you should get out of it and find something better." "Hey, your friend is about to betray you, why not grapple him before he gets that chance?") Great out of combat, too. ("You sure do have a lot of wealth to go around, but you seem awfully quick to spend it all. Why not entrust all that to someone more fiscally responsible ... like me?" "You know, this nation has gone downhill, and that starts at the top? Wait, why does leadership of a country have to be hereditary again? Shouldn't it go to someone who actually knows how to run a country? Like me?") Basically, as long as you don't make your target intentionally harm themselves, it's fair game.
  • Mirror Image: Illusion; 1 action; V,S. Yes, please. A fantastic defense buff that does not require Concentration.
  • Invisibility: Illusion; 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration. Turning invisible is good for sneaking and scouting around. Higher-level slots let you get allies in on it, too.
  • Phantasmal Force: Illusion; 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration; Save. Generally more finicky than Suggestion, but can be devastating depending on the circumstances and your DM.
  • Hold Person: Enchantment; 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration; Save. Can't deny the power of paralysis and the potential for critical hits, but if you're casting this there's a good chance the enemy will save before you get a chance to take advantage of it. Also, humanoids only. Better cast by the Wizard ... or if you have a second Rogue or Paladin in the party, then you might cast this yourself.
  • Shadow Blade (XGTE): Illusion; 1 bonus action; V,S; Concentration: Maybe if you find yourself constantly in a situation where you have no access to weapons? At least the damage on the thing is nice and you get advantage vs. targets in dim light or darkness.
  • Blur: Illusion; 1 action; V; Concentration. Not the spell you're looking for. Mirror Image is that way.
  • Crown of Madness: Enchantment; 1 action; V,S; Concentration; Save. Even if Suggestion didn't exist, this would suck. An effect that requires serendipitous positioning at the start of its turns or it's not even affected, uses up your own actions, lets the enemy save every round, no, just, no.
  • Magic Mouth: Illusion; 1 minute; V,S,M*. Way too situational.
  • Nystul's Magic Aura: Illusion; 1 action; V,S,M. Way too situational.

3rd level (Lv. 13)

  • Fear: Illusion; 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration; Save. Nasty AoE status effect spell that sends a lot of enemies running and dropping their weapons. Especially good if you and melee allies are surrounding one stronger enemy, in which case you trigger a bunch of Opportunity Attacks, yours included (and you get Sneak Attack on it, too). The enemy can't make another save after the initial one until it's out of your line of sight, either. Works wonders with Magical Ambush.
  • Hypnotic Pattern: Illusion; 1 action; S,M; Concentration; Save. Another nasty AoE status effect spell, incapacitating and reducing speeds to 0. Feel free to shove your enemies down, grapple them, take their weapons, tie rope around their ankles, etc., before setting up to massacre them. No verbal component means you can cast from Stealth completely unnoticed, too, making this perfect with Magical Ambush!
  • Major Image: Illusion; 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration; Save. The next step up in the Silent Image line, this one involving even bigger size than Silent Image and sounds, smells, and temperature.
  • Enemies Abound (XGTE): Enchantment; 1 action; V,S.; Concentration; Save. Making an enemy attack friend and foe alike seems nice, but it gets plenty of chances to save and end this. Just hard to justify when you have Fear and Hypnotic Pattern at this level.
  • Catnap (XGTE): Enchantment; 1 action; S,M. Not worth a learned spell.
  • Phantom Steed: Illusion; 1 minute; V,S. Just get a real horse. Not even suitable for combat.

4th level (Lv. 19)

  • Greater Invisibility: Illusion; 1 action; V,S; Concentration. Cast on yourself and laugh all the way to the bank. Get a melee Sneak Attack, Cunning Action Hide in front of enemies’ faces, move next to another enemy while you’re hidden and have them scared of your Opportunity Attacks while they flail around trying to guess where you are but hitting nothing but air. Repeat until you waste the whole room.
  • Confusion: Enchantment; 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration; Save. Another AoE mass disabler. There's a small chance an enemy might still attack you, but a much better chance of that enemy hitting one of their allies or just doing nothing.
  • Charm Monster (XGTE): Enchantment; 1 action; V,S. Save. Like Charm Person except works on everything. Same strategies and drawbacks apply.
  • Phantasmal Killer: Illusion; 1 action; V,S; Concentration; Save. At least after the errata, the save is at the end of the enemy's turn, but frightened and some moderate damage to show for it is pretty tame compared to the control spells you've had for a while.
  • Hallucinatory Terrain: Illusion; 1 action; V,S,M; Save. A waste.

At Lv. 3, 8, 14 and 20, you get one free pick of a Wizard spell from ANY school. Here's a few suggestions:

1st level (Lv. 3)

  • Find Familiar: Conjuration; 1 hour; V,S,M*. No reason to take any other spell with your free choice at this level. All the advantage you could ever want is there for the taking, via the familiar's Help action that requires none of your own actions. (The Owl's Flyby is especially good for that.) And then there's the also-awesome-for-scouting ability to see and hear through your familiar up to 100 feet away.

2nd level (Lv. 8)

  • Blindness/Deafness: Necromancy; 1 action; V; Save. Blind means all the advantage and Sneak Attacks you want, and they won’t hit you back much, either. No Concentration for this is really special, though it does invoke a CON save every round.
  • Misty Step: Conjuration; 1 bonus action; V. Bonus-action teleport. Enough said.
  • Levitate: Transmutation; 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration. Opening up the third axis of movement is useful, though the movement options other than vertical are limited.

3rd level (Lv. 14)

  • Haste: Transmutation; 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration. Attack with your hasted action and get Sneak Attack, then ready your regular action for a highly reliable trigger like your ally attacking the same enemy and get Sneak Attack again with your reaction on a different turn. Stick to your ranged weapon if you're casting this on yourself; you don't want to risk losing Concentration.
  • Counterspell: Abjuration; 1 reaction; S. Negate a spell outright with a successful INT check. Great if you're fighting a lot of casters.
  • Fireball: Evocation; 1 action; V,S,M; Save. Not exactly your game, but adding that old reliable, iconic damage AoE to one's arsenal never hurts. Cast out of Magical Ambush to make it harder to save against.
  • Fly: Transmutation; 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration. Can trivialize certain encounters, make others considerably easier to handle, and lasts a long time.

4th level (Lv. 20)

  • Arcane Eye: Divination; 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration. Trivializes the basic function of scouting. Map out entire dungeons, where all enemies are, etc. Most doors have a 1-inch gap this can squeeze through.
  • Polymorph: Transmutation; 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration; Save. Ahh, good ol' Polymorph, as cheesy as ever. Turn a fierce enemy into some harmless CR 0 beast and clean up on its buddies before turning your attention back to them. Or change yourself or an ally into a dadgum T-Rex, with an amazing hit point cushion above your own. Have fun.
  • Conjure Minor Elementals: Conjuration; 1 minute; V,S; Concentration. A platoon of conjured creatures is a real presence on any battlefield.
  • Dimension Door: Conjuration; 1 action; V. Teleport up to 500 feet, for the win. You can bring one ally with you, too.
[/sblock]


Mastermind (SCAG/XGTE): This is the Rogue-as-master-manipulator archetype. (Think Varys and Littlefinger from A Song of Ice And Fire/Game of Thrones.) You are focused on deception and misdirection on a broad scale. Compared to most other Rogues, this archetype is light on the personal combat side of things, preferring instead to enhance a choice ally's ability to do the dirty work. You should generally favor a ranged weapon. To an even greater extent than the Assassin, your effectiveness is very dependent on party makeup and type of campaign. This archetype is not suitable for a dungeon-crawler or hack-and-slash campaign. On the other hand, in a campaign heavy with story, politics, and/or intrigue, this archetype is very suitable. Much like the Assassin, the Mastermind should shoot for at least decent Intelligence and Charisma scores, as their main tool and skill proficiencies rely on those. Expertise in Deception is a must, and Insight is a very in-character skill proficiency and possible Expertise candidate.

  • Master of Intrigue: Lv. 3. Two free languages, tool proficiencies that include the Disguise Kit, Forgery Kit and one Gaming Set, and the ability to perfectly mimic the speech of anyone you hear for one minute. Disguise Kit and Forgery Kit both key off INT; remember INT for the Disguise Kit involves making the disguise, as opposed to CHA (Deception) being used to pass yourself off in it. As for the speech mimicry, the best thing is that it's foolproof, as you run no risks of failing any skill checks for it. Also note that there's no expiration date on it, so once you know how to mimic someone, you know how to do so for good. Think of the possibilities there ...
  • Master of Tactics: Lv. 3. Your Help is now a bonus action. And when assisting an attack, your Help also now has a 30-foot range, allowing you to keep out of the front lines; how useful this is depends on the makeup of your party, though. It's fantastic when helping another Rogue (free advantage and Sneak Attack every time!), still pretty good if helping a Paladin with Smites to spare, and just modestly beneficial otherwise.
  • Insightful Manipulator: Lv. 9. Pretty much just like the Battle Master Fighter's Know Your Enemy, except scouting your target's mental stats, instead. Your DM may also give you a little piece of their history or one of their personality traits. One of those features that is obviously useless in a dungeon delve or hack-and-slash campaign, but shines brightly in the interaction pillar. Knowing whom you can manipulate or con – or who can do the same to you – is obviously a very good thing there.
  • Misdirection: Lv. 13. The only purely combat-related feature for this archetype. It's very situational, though. Masterminds really should favor ranged combat, so if you're in a situation where this feature becomes relevant, something went wrong. Even then, it's hardly a guarantee that you'll be able to maneuver in a way that an enemy will take a hit in place of you.
  • Soul of Deceit: Lv. 17. Again, useless in dungeon delves and hack-and-slash, fantastic in the interaction pillar. You get to laugh (figuratively ... or hell, literally if you prefer) in the face of telepaths, mind readers, Zones of Truth, and truth serums. The most fun comes in dealing with telepaths, for whom you can use your Deception skill to paint all sorts of naughty mental images for them – wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Swashbuckler (SCAG/XGTE): This Rogue archetype is all about mano-a-mano melee combat, with the ability to get Sneak Attack consistently in a duel. That's not to say you stand and fight the way a Fighter does; on the contrary, you prefer to keep on the move as much as any other Rogue, and you do that as well or better than any other. You can even draw one particularly nasty enemy's attention intently on you, thus making yourself in some ways a tank or Defender-type; and as that ability keys off the Persuasion skill, you are also a natural candidate for party face. You definitely want a good Charisma plus Expertise in Persuasion, and more attention to Constitution than other Rogues certainly doesn't hurt, either. This archetype works special wonders with dual-wielding, but don't let that stop you from going single rapier if Inigo Montoya is more your ideal.

  • Fancy Footwork: Lv. 3. Make a melee attack, then whether it hits or misses, back away from that enemy for free. This gives you even better mobility and action economy than the already great Cunning Action Disengage all Rogues have. Really works wonders if you dual-wield, in which case you can maneuver away from two enemies at once.
  • Rakish Audacity: Lv. 3. Now your Sneak Attack works even if you don't have an ally next to your foe ... as long as no one else other than that foe is next to you. With a little clever maneuvering, you should be able to get a Sneak Attack almost all the time, at least in anything short of an outright horde battle. Oh, and you also get your CHA mod to your initiative.
  • Panache: Lv. 9. A feature keying off your Persuasion skill (Expertise that skill, please) that is very good out of combat and has its uses in combat. Out of combat, it's basically an at-will Charm Person spell against all creature types who speak your language(s), but even better, since your mark won't know you charmed them after. In combat, it can come in handy in case you need to tank a strong foe for a bit or lead it away from the rest of your allies as they deal with the rest of the mob.
  • Elegant Maneuver: Lv. 13. Advantage on your next Acrobatics or Athletics check with a bonus action. Can be useful for your hit and run tactics when you want to climb or leap somewhere and give your Panache target a headache. Or for leaping from the balcony onto a chandelier straight to your chosen adversary.
  • Master Duelist: Lv. 17. Free reroll of a missed attack with advantage every short rest? Don't mind if I do.

Inquisitive (XGTE): The Rogue archetype meant to depict a detective-type, with most of its features keying off or enhancing the use of the skills Insight, Perception and Investigation, all of which you should take proficiency in and Expertise to get the most out of this. You want WIS as a secondary stat and average or above average INT as well. It’s not bad, but not particularly spectacular as far as archetypes go, overall.

  • Ear for Deceit: Lv. 3. Basically a low-grade Reliable Talent for Insight checks vs. lies. OK for the 3-10 level range, but it becomes obsolete at Lv. 11. Fortunately, the designers recognized that, and that’s why this is the only Rogue archetype so far with three features at Lv. 3 while the others have two.
  • Eye for Detail: Lv. 3. Bonus action for active uses of Perception and Investigation. Fine.
  • Insightful Fighting: Lv. 3. Bonus action to make an Insight check (this is why you want a high WIS and Expertise in Insight), success gives you more-or-less guaranteed Sneak Attacks for a full minute. You can use it against anyone as long as you can see them, so it’s got great range and works with ranged combat as well as melee.
  • Steady Eye: Lv. 9. Advantage on Perception and Investigation when you move half speed or less. Sure.
  • Unerring Eye: Lv. 13. WIS mod/day, determine if something within 30 feet of you is an illusion or a shapechanger, but you don’t get its true nature. Probably won’t be using this one too often, aside from a specialized campaign.
  • Eye for Weakness: Lv. 17. Gives your Insightful Fighting feature a buff with 3d6 extra Sneak Attack damage. Pretty unspectacular for a high-level feature, but whatever.

Scout (XGTE): Clearly designed to be a spell-less Ranger substitute, to say this archetype is uneven is a massive understatement. For the first 12 levels the Scout is stunningly mediocre. And if your campaign never makes it beyond Lv. 12, you should give this a hard pass. But when Lv. 13 happens this archetype suddenly becomes awesome and an ace at leading party ambushes. Whether you’ll want to take this archetype at all depends fully on whether you’re willing to put up with 12 levels of mediocrity. Of course, if you’re starting a campaign at high level, then that concern goes away ...

  • Skirmisher: Lv. 3. Half-speed movement without drawing opportunity attacks as a reaction. Starting at Lv. 5, this often competes with Uncanny Dodge for your reaction. To be fair, it remains useful in battles against multiple foes, especially hordes, where using this to keep from being surrounded and focus-fired on outweighs the one attack’s worth of damage reduction from Uncanny Dodge. But compared to what other archetypes are getting at this level, this just doesn’t measure up.
  • Survivalist: Lv. 3. Free Nature and Survival proficiency, and they’re both Expertised for free. Meant to effectively fulfill the outdoorsy, Ranger substitute flavor of this archetype. A welcome feature to be sure, but hardly a selling point.
  • Superior Mobility: Lv. 9. 10 feet extra speed is a good feature. Makes the next few levels until Lv. 13 slightly less of a chore to slog through.
  • Ambush Master: Lv. 13. And now, finally, this archetype justifies its existence. As long as you hit on the first round of combat, your whole crew gets advantage on ALL attacks against the enemy you hit. That’s beautiful. And you get advantage on initiative to help ensure you go before everyone else and get to set up all of your allies. (You still want the Alert feat by Lv. 12, just to be absolutely sure; this is a feature you do not want going to waste, ever.)
  • Sudden Strike: Lv. 17. Continuing the Scout’s late bloomer trend is this awesome archetype capstone that lets you Sneak Attack 2 enemies! And even if you don’t attack 2 foes, you can still use that extra bonus action attack against the same target. You don’t get Sneak Attack twice in that case, but even then it’s still like getting the best part of dual-wielding or Crossbow Expert for free, and with any weapon. Very nice.
 
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Gladius Legis

Explorer
IV. Races


[sblock=Common Races]

Dwarf: Dwarves for the most part make pretty substandard Rogues, other than that rare STR-based one. All Dwarves get +2 CON and resistance and advantage vs. poison, and Darkvision, and they tend on the slow side (25 ft.).

  • Mountain: +2 STR makes this the obvious choice for the STR-based Rogue, if you want to play one of those. Free medium armor proficiency means you don't even have to multiclass with Fighter. Not worth it, otherwise.
  • Hill: +1 WIS and extra hit point per level. Whatever.
  • Duergar (SCAG): This one's actually passable, thanks to free Invisibility and Superior Darkvision. The +1 STR and free Enlarge steers them clearly to that of the STR-based grappler. Sunlight Sensitivity can be a pain, though.

Elf: All Elves get a +2 DEX, making them naturals in this line of work. On top of that, they get Darkvision, free proficiency in the all-important Perception skill, immunity to sleep, advantage vs. charm, and Trance.

  • High: One of the best Rogue races there is. +1 INT is a good attribute bonus for Rogues. Longbow proficiency is awesome; you can still Sneak Attack with it, and you get the same damage as the light crossbow but MUCH better range (150/600 vs. 80/320). And then arguably the best of them all, the free cantrip, allowing Rogues who aren't Arcane Tricksters to experience the awesomeness of Minor Illusion or Booming Blade! (You Assassins can start panting heavily about the latter, in particular.) Or, you know, being an actual Arcane Trickster with an extra cantrip works just as well. Extra language can be handy, too.

[sblock=Assassin surprise with rapier + Booming Blade damage]
Lv. 3, DEX 16
4d6 + (2d8 + 3) = 26 (30.5 if enemy moves)

Lv. 9, DEX 18
10d6 + (4d8 + 4) = 57 (66 if enemy moves)

Lv. 13, DEX 20
14d6 + (6d8 + 5) = 81 (94.5 if enemy moves)

Lv. 17, DEX 20
18d6 + (8d8 + 5) = 104 (122 if enemy moves) (DA: 208; 226 if enemy moves)

Lv. 20, DEX 20
20d6 + (8d8 + 5) = 111 (129 if enemy moves) (DA: 222; 240 if enemy moves)

As you can see, Booming Blade, even with just a single rapier, instantly becomes one of the Assassin's best damage options from surprise.
[/sblock]

  • Wood: WIS +1 still has its value, you still get that wonderful longbow proficiency, and you're 5 feet faster than everyone. That's particularly nice with Cunning Action. However, the Mask of the Wild feature is of questionable value after errata, since anyone can stealth as long as the enemy can't see you clearly. Lightly obscured likely qualifies for anyone based on that criterion.
  • Drow: +1 CHA is valuable to a lot of Rogue builds. Drow Magic is great: Faerie Fire is straight-up advantage, and Darkness is obviously useful for setting up real pain. The only issue is Sunlight Sensitivity, but Rogues tend to work at night just as much, so depending on your campaign it may or may not be all that bad. And Superior Darkvision is nice.
  • Eladrin (DMG example): Basically replaces the cantrip and extra language of the High Elf with a short-rest recharge Misty Step. Depending on your build, that may actually be a worthwhile trade. Your lovely +1 INT and longbow proficiency are still there.

Halfling: +2 DEX, just like the Elf, makes for effective Rogues of all stripes. Small size is no big deal as far as weapons go, since you can wield all finesse weapons and light and hand crossbows with the best of them. The only knocks on you are (a) lack of Darkvision (hope you find some Goggles of Night soon), and (b) your slow 25-foot speed, but even the latter is mitigated by the fact you can just move straight through anyone bigger than you. And Lucky is nice protection against those dastardly 1s on the d20.

  • Lightfoot: +1 CHA and anyone bigger than you gives you cover to hide. Awesome.
  • Stout: Resistance to poison is nothing compared to the Lightfoot's stealthiness. Pass.
  • Ghostwise (SCAG): +1 WIS and telepathy. Better than poison resistance for Rogues, I suppose, but the Lightfoot's stealthiness is just too good.

Human: Meant to be the most versatile race. One particular variant delivers on that promise, though lack of Darkvision will always be rather annoying for your line of work (until you chance on some Goggles of Night).

  • Default/Stock: +1 to all attributes is all you get. Rogues, however, like to be well-rounded; they're not MAD per se, but having a chance for several positive attribute modifiers gives them better all-around use of skills and ability checks. So the Default Human is better for the Rogue than for most other classes.
  • Variant: That said, it will never top the Variant Human's free feat at the start in any lifetime. That is simply too good, giving you an ability at Lv. 1 that other races have to wait until Lv. 4 or higher to get. One free skill proficiency and two floating +1s round it out. Alas, if only you had Darkvision to start, but nobody can be perfect.
[/sblock]

[sblock=Uncommon Races]

Aaracocra (EEPC): This race's description specifically leaves it up to the DM whether to allow it or not, and for good reason. At-will flight from Lv. 1 can break a campaign. +2 DEX is right up your alley, +1 WIS is still OK, and the armor restriction on flight is nothing to you, because you're wearing light armor, anyway.

Dragonborn: Maybe if you're a STR-Rogue. Even then, you probably won't be great at using Breath.

Genasi (EEPC): All Genasi get a +2 CON. Subraces get another +1 stat and a spell per long rest.

  • Air: +1 DEX, infinite breath holding and Levitate 1/long rest. OK.
  • Earth: +1 STR, movement across difficult terrain and Pass Without Trace 1/long rest. The spell's not bad. The rest, eh.
  • Fire: +1 INT, Darkvision, fire resistance, a cantrip of moderate utility at best and Burning Hands. Meh.
  • Water: +1 WIS, breathing water and air, acid resistance, swimming speed, another iffy cantrip and Create or Destroy Water. Meh.

Gnome: +2 INT, Darkvision, and advantage on all mental stat saves against magic. Small size, again, not an issue with weapons, though you're slow at only 25 feet and can't pass through people like Halflings can. Still, not a bad Rogue race.

  • Forest: +1 DEX and the awesome Minor Illusion cantrip for free! Go nuts. And oh yeah, you get to speak with Small animals.
  • Rock: +1 CON, some History buff and ability to make mechanical toys. Not nearly as appealing.
  • Deep (SCAG): +1 DEX, Superior Darkvision, and advantage on Stealth in rocky terrain. Solid, but not quite as good as the Forest Gnome's Minor Illusion.

Half-Elf: Competitive with full High Elves among the best in the business. +2 CHA, +1s to two other stats of choice, Darkvision, the same sleep immunity and advantage vs. Charms Elves get, and another potentially strong benefit from below:

  • Skill Versatility (PHB default): The default Half-Elf gets two skill proficiencies of their choice. As good a pick as any.
  • Keen Senses (SCAG): Obviously, whoever wrote the sidebar in the SCAG completely forgot that Skill Versatility gives you proficiency in two skills when they listed this as an option. You LITERALLY lose an entire skill taking this, for absolutely nothing in return. So never, and I mean NEVER take this.
  • Wood Elf Descent (SCAG): Post PHB errata, you're going for the extra speed, which certainly isn't bad.
  • Moon/Sun (High) Elf Descent (SCAG): You get the best part of the High Elf, the free cantrip! Take Minor Illusion or Booming Blade and be merry.
  • Drow Descent (SCAG): Drow Magic without the full Drow's annoying Sunlight Sensitivity and the Half-Elf's better stats. Good deal.
  • Aquatic Descent (SCAG): 30-foot swim speed. Obviously better in a campaign that involves sea travel, but too situational otherwise compared to Skill Versatility or High Elf Descent, especially.

Half-Orc: +2 STR, +1 CON. Slight extra oomph on crits, as well as Darkvision ... they're better Fighters than Rogues, for sure.

Tiefling: The Feral variant, in particular, is well suited for the trade. Darkvision and +1 INT help, too. The other newer variants that replace Infernal Legacy also tend to be better for Rogues.

  • Feral (SCAG): Replaces the PHB default's +2 CHA with +2 DEX. Not that a CHA bonus is bad for Rogues, but DEX is straight-up better.
  • Infernal Legacy (PHB default): Pretty underwhelming in the face of the variants that can replace this. Darkness and Hellish Rebuke are OK (the latter only if you don't dual-wield), but you can do better.
  • Devil's Tongue (SCAG): Charm Person is the highlight of this variant that replaces Infernal Legacy (this is mutually exclusive against Hellfire and Winged, as well).
  • Hellfire (SCAG): Replaces Hellish Rebuke with Burning Hands, a reaction with an AoE. Probably worth the trade.
  • Winged (SCAG): As with anything with at-will flight, consult your DM. It's awesome if allowed.
[/sblock]

[sblock=Volo’s Guide Races]

Aasimar: Reimagined and substantially buffed from its debut in the DMG as what was essentially a Tiefling variant. It’s basically for anyone who wants a little Paladin in their build without multiclassing. Comes with a scaled-back Lay on Hands-type ability, along with +2 CHA (good for more than a few Rogues), Darkvision, resistance to necrotic and radiant damage, and free Light cantrip.

  • Protector: +1 WIS (never a waste), and the long-rest recharge power gives you flight plus some nifty extra radiant damage on one hit on each of your turns.
  • Scourge: +1 CON is welcome for everyone. Long-rest recharge power auto-damages everyone (including yourself and allies, so be careful) within 10 feet and also lets you deal extra radiant damage on a hit on each of your turns.
  • Fallen: This explicitly Evil subrace gives +1 STR, which is only really worthwhile for a STR-Rogue. The power is a mass frighten within 10 feet (again, not ally-friendly) with additional necrotic damage on one hit on each of your turns.

Firbolg: +2 WIS is OK, and then there’s +1 STR. Short-rest recharge Disguise Self can be very useful for Rogues, and then there’s turning invisible for a round per short rest. Pretty decent; would be even better with more Rogue-worthy stat bonuses.

Goliath: +2 STR, +1 CON, free Athletics, once per short rest damage reduction and extra carrying ability. Worth a look if you're a STR-Rogue.

Kenku: This race is practically born to be a Rogue (and particularly an Assassin or Mastermind). +2 DEX and +1 WIS, advantage on creating forgeries, two skill proficiencies from a perfectly Rogue-oriented list, and mimicry of voices. All that’s missing is Darkvision.

Lizardfolk: No DEX bonus, but +2 CON and +1 WIS are still pretty fair. Two skill proficiencies from a list that includes Perception and Stealth, natural armor that’s better than studded leather, a short-rest recharge bonus-action attack that can grant temporary HPs, and hold breath for a long time. Unfortunately, though, you can’t sneak attack with the Bite, and it’s a STR-attack regardless.

Tabaxi: Another race practically born to be a Rogue. +2 DEX and +1 CHA, and you can even be more mobile than other Rogues when the situation calls for it (though you have to spend another turn not moving at all to recharge that ability). Darkvision, climbing speed and automatic proficiency in the all-important Perception and Stealth round out this top-tier Rogue race. The only knock is that you have no use for Cat’s Claws, it being STR-based and incompatible with Sneak Attack.

Triton: +1 to STR, CON and CHA, a few pretty decent racial spells, water breathing and resistance to cold. OK, but not spectacular at being a Rogue, except perhaps for a STR-grappler.
[/sblock]

[sblock=Monster Races (VGM)]

These are explicitly subject to DM approval, so consult with your DM before picking one of these.

Bugbear: Extra 5 feet of reach on a melee attack you make on your turn. That’s 10 feet for most melee weapons and 15 feet with a whip. Auto Steath proficiency. Darkvision. Oh, and extra 2d6 of damage when you attack from surprise … which becomes 4d6 when you’re an Assassin … yeah, this has to be just about the best Assassin race in existence. Stat bonuses are +1 DEX and +2 STR, so good for Rogues of both major attack stats.

Goblin: A Rogue of this race is the ultimate of ironies. Thanks to its signature ability of Nimble Escape, being a Goblin is a fantastic way to add some “Rogue” to any other class, but unfortunately for you it’s COMPLETELY redundant with Cunning Action and thus does nothing. And all you have left after are DEX and CON bonus, Darkvision and a short-rest recharge damage spike on a single hit, which, while not bad per se, pale in comparison to other races who offer similar benefits and whose racial abilities aren’t wholesale redundant with your class.

Hobgoblin: OK stat bonuses (+2 CON, +1 INT), Darkvision and short-rest recharge to likely turn a failed save, ability check or attack roll into a hit. Decent.

Kobold: Pack Tactics is incredible for Rogues, with its practically guaranteed advantage every round. +2 DEX (though at the expense of -2 STR) and Darkvision also good. Unfortunately, Sunlight Sensitivity is a pain, as always, keeping this from being an unqualified top Rogue race, but if that’s less of a factor in your campaign for whatever reason, then have fun.

Orc: Its signature ability is 100% redundant with Cunning Action, and the rest of the Orc’s abilities worth mentioning are also present in some form or fashion on much superior Rogue races. Pass.

Yuan-ti Pureblood: CHA-based spells, including the wonderful Suggestion. Magic Resistance is advantage on all saves vs. spells. Also immune to poison, both damage and condition (terrific for Assassins who love to harvest poison). And Darkvision, too. Too bad there’s no DEX bonus, but +2 CHA and +1 INT is still good for a lot of Rogues, particularly Assassins and Masterminds. Pretty damn nice.
[/sblock]
 
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Gladius Legis

Explorer
V. Feats


With heavy reliance on just one stat (Dexterity), plus one more ASI than all other classes except the Fighter, the Rogue is very flexible on feat selection after capping that DEX at 20. The main exception there is the Arcane Trickster, who needs a high INT as well and will probably be limited to 2 or 3 feats at best.

Crossbow Expert: Mandatory if you want to rock the hand crossbow (otherwise, don’t bother). The bonus action attack is the biggest draw by far, particularly for Assassins, but also for anyone who wants two chances to land Sneak Attack on any given one of your turns.

Inspiring Leader: Someone in the party needs this; the amount of temporary hit points for the whole party is just too good. That's more likely to be the Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, or Paladin, and if someone else has this covered you can ignore it. But it might be you if there's none of the above, particularly if you're a Mastermind or Swashbuckler.

Magic Initiate: Booming Blade and Minor Illusion are not just for Arcane Tricksters and certain lucky races, didn't you know? If you prefer CHA over INT, choose Warlock and take the amazing Hex as your 1st-level spell for even more extra damage per hit and disadvantage on enemy ability checks. Good fun. If you prioritized INT, instead, Find Familiar is a fine consolation from the Wizard list.

Alert: For Assassins, mandatory, and an even higher priority than racing to a 20 DEX. +5 to initiative is everything to them. Can't be surprised and not giving up advantage to hidden foes are nice side-benefits that mean you don't necessarily need to Expertise Perception (you should still be proficient though, for other applications of that skill). Variant Human would-be Assassins need to take this at Lv. 1, all other races at Lv. 4. This is also mandatory for Scouts at Lv. 12, so they can be set up for Ambush Master to work its charm as often as possible next level. Not nearly as urgent for other archetypes, though.

Lucky: Three rerolls of attacks, ability checks or saves per long rest. Very handy to have around, and a can't-go-wrong pick if you can't think of anything else.

Resilient (CON): Mandatory for Arcane Tricksters, who need it if they want to have any real chance of maintaining most of their Concentration checks. Fun fact: at Lv. 15, a Rogue can be proficient in 4 saves, including all 3 of the major ones. You also get +1 to CON itself from this. Not a bad pick for other archetypes, but they can take or leave it.

Sharpshooter: The damage/hit trade is a DPR liability for Rogues, but being able to attack without disadvantage at long range (and thus potentially get Sneak Attack at long range) and ignore up to three-quarters cover are still very, very good things, especially for Assassins. Once high-level Assassins get Death Attack and especially Stroke of Luck, they might actually be willing to attempt the damage/hit trade for potentially much greater surprise damage.

War Caster: Resilient (CON) is higher priority for Arcane Tricksters, but extra advantage on Concentration checks is certainly nice in addition to that. And anyone who picked up Booming Blade at all, Arcane Trickster or otherwise, will appreciate being able to use it as an Opportunity Attack, complete with a Sneak Attack. Disregard if not an Arcane Trickster and you don’t have Booming Blade.

Dual Wielder: Well, if you want to go with the classical rapier + dagger combination (or, yes, 2 rapiers), then you need this feat. At least you also get +1 AC for your troubles and can draw both weapons at once. You don't need it if you're perfectly content with 2 shortswords.

Dungeon Delver: Lets you become particularly good at searching for traps and dealing with their consequences.

Healer: The basis for the Thief Healers – Thieves who use their Fast Hands to use a healer's kit as a bonus action and dish out substantial amounts of healing and stabilize dying allies in a pinch while still getting their chance to attack. Not nearly as worth it for other archetypes.

Mage Slayer: Fantastic if you fight a lot of spellcasters. Should consider more generally useful feats first, though.

Mobile: Extra speed, ignore difficult terrain on Dash works well with Cunning Action, and steal the Swashbuckler's Fancy Footwork.

Observant: +1 INT or WIS, lipreading and +5 to passive Perception and Investigation. Decent scouting feat.

Ritual Caster
: This can cover a lot of those "nice to have" utility spells Arcane Tricksters would've liked but just couldn't justify taking up a spell known for. Wizard list is the best for this feat.

Sentinel: Can actually be pretty great, IF you build specifically for it and make an unconventional melee tanky Rogue who can get Sneak Attacks galore. Which pretty much means using a shield, multiclassing for the likes of Defense Fighting Style and Shield spell, getting Parry and Riposte maneuvers from Battlemaster Fighter, etc. Straight Rogues shouldn’t really bother and should focus on the typical hit-and-run tactics, instead.

Shield Master: If you pick up shield proficiency somehow (likely by multiclassing), this can be good if you Expertise Athletics to make up for low STR. Bonus-action shove prone to set up a Sneak Attack with advantage every time you succeed. STR-Rogue grapplers need either this or Tavern Brawler.

Athlete: Nothing about this feat is particularly vital. Thieves definitely don't need it, as they get the climbing part for free.

Actor: Advantage on Deception and Performance checks when in disguise is situational (and useless for Assassins who have more foolproof class features to the same aim). Mimicry of speech, likewise, useless for Masterminds who have a class feature that does the same thing except with no risk of failure, and Arcane Tricksters and anyone else with Minor Illusion. For anyone else, only really worth a look if needing to bump up an odd CHA score.

Defensive Duelist: Not nearly as appealing to Rogues as to other DEX-based characters. Competes directly with Uncanny Dodge for your reaction and only works against melee attacks and with a melee weapon in hand. Does outperform Uncanny Dodge at high levels in that situation, but not by enough to really make it worth the pick.

Keen Mind: +1 INT and marginal benefits. Only the recalling part of this is anything really significant.

Linguist: +1 INT, three languages and ciphers. Whatever.

Martial Adept: With just one d6 Superiority Die, this really is pretty weak.

Moderately Armored: If a STR-Rogue isn't multiclassing, this is pretty much mandatory for them. STR-Rogues who aren't Mountain Dwarves really should multiclass with Fighter, though.

Mounted Combatant: While the potential for advantage on all attacks (and thus Sneak Attack) is certainly nice in a campaign where a mount is actually a factor, most mounts are either too expensive and require too much time to train, or they die easily. Basically, only Paladins really care about this.

Tavern Brawler: For STR-Rogues, an alternative to Shield Master (take one or the other), thanks to bonus-action grappling. Adds +1 to STR or CON, too. Other Rogues do not care about this one.

Charger: Beyond useless. Cunning Action Dash + Attack is better every single time.

Durable: Modest survivability boost at best for most Rogues. Pass.

Elemental Adept: You're not a Wizard or Sorcerer. (It's not all that good for them, either.)

Grappler: Useless even for characters who actually grapple. Grapple + shove prone accomplishes everything this feat aims to do, except better. Pin is beyond worthless as written.

Great Weapon Master: You don't use two-handers.

Heavily Armored: You prefer light armor.

Heavy Armor Master: You don't wear heavy armor.

Lightly Armored: You already wear light armor.

Medium Armor Master: Only STR-Rogues will care, and only if their DEX is 16.

Polearm Master: You don't use polearms.

Savage Attacker: Works ONLY on your weapon damage dice. Sneak Attack and Booming Blade dice are not helped by this feat, making it the hottest of garbage.

Skilled: You have more than enough skills already.

Skulker: Actually pretty awful. The errata made the first benefit of questionable worth, since anyone can hide as long as the enemy can't see you clearly, and lightly obscured would appear to satisfy that condition. None of the other benefits are worthwhile, either. No, not even the not giving away your position on a missed ranged attack for Assassins. The enemy won’t know where you are exactly, but will still know you’re around, so, no, this will not give you extra surprise.

Spell Sniper: You can't add Sneak Attack to spells, so don't bother.

Tough: You're much better off just going +2 CON. CON save +1 is better than an extra few hit points.

Weapon Master: You already have every weapon proficiency you need for effective Sneak Attacking.



Racial Feats (XGTE)

A new concept introduced with the XGTE, Racial Feats can only be taken by characters of a certain race. To be honest, only a few of these are really worth taking in general.

Elven Accuracy (Elf or Half-Elf): Essentially “super advantage” on all attacks with DEX. That’s incredible in your hands, even moreso if your subclass or build has built-in ways of generating your own advantage (i.e. ranged shoot-and-hide Rogues in general, Assassins, Arcane Tricksters and a couple of multiclasses). And on top of that you also get +1 to DEX (or CHA, INT or WIS). STR-attackers, forget about it.

Fade Away (Gnome): Short-rest recharge invisibility after taking damage. This one’s actually pretty good for Rogues, since invisibility = advantage. Also +1 to DEX or INT.

Wood Elf Magic (Wood Elf): Guidance is great especially for one who uses skills as much as you. A 1/day slotless casting of Pass Without Trace can also come in quite handy.

Fey Teleportation (High Elf): Misty Step 1/short rest, and also +1 CHA (or INT) and extra language. Not bad, actually.

Bountiful Luck (Halfling): Basically extend your Lucky trait to an ally. Eh.

Drow High Magic (Drow): Detect Magic at will and Levitate and Dispel Magic (CHA-based) with 1/day slotless casting. Still not really worth a feat.

Infernal Constitution (Tiefling): Resistance to cold and poison damage and advantage on saves vs. poison. Still not really worth a precious feat slot. +1 CON, too, which is nice at least.

Prodigy (Human or Half-Elf or Half-Orc): I guess if you REALLY needed another Expertised skill, but most of you Rogues will have enough of those.

Orcish Fury (Half-Orc): 1/short rest modest damage boost and a highly conditional extra attack when you’re about to get KO-ed but use Relentless Endurance. Meh.

Second Chance (Halfling): 1/short rest make an enemy reroll an attack against you when you get hit. Again, not really worth a whole feat slot.

Squat Nimbleness (Dwarf or Small race): Faster walking speed to match other races, free Athletics or Acrobatics proficiency and easier grapple escapes. Not really inspiring.

Dragon Hide (Dragonborn): Natural armor and natural weapons for unarmed strikes that you can’t Sneak Attack with, so it’s worthless.

Dragon Fear (Dragonborn): Not your thing.

Dwarven Fortitude (Dwarf): A feat for some weak-ish healing. No.

Flames of Phlegethos (Tiefling): You don’t have that many quality fire spells, or fire spells at all.
 
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Gladius Legis

Explorer
VI. Equipment


The basics:

  • Studded leather armor
  • One melee weapon option (rapier, 2 shortswords, 2 daggers)
  • One ranged weapon option (light crossbow, hand crossbow, longbow if High Elf/Wood Elf/Eladrin)
  • Thieves' tools
  • Disguise kit (if proficient)
  • Poisoner's kit (if Assassin or otherwise proficient)
  • Forgery kit (if proficient)
  • Arcane focus (if Arcane Trickster)
  • Healer's kit (if Thief with Healer feat)
  • Ball bearings (if Thief)
  • Caltrops (if Thief)
  • Climber's kit
  • Rope

Noteworthy magic items
Remember that a character can only be attuned to three magic items at one time. If an item requires attunement, it will be noted, along with other important properties like rarity and types of armor/weapon.

Assassins will be particularly interested in the Guardian minor property (DMG p. 143), which is a +2 to initiative as long as you're carrying a magic item that has it. Minor properties can be slapped on any magic item.

Weapons
In general, weapons that give a plus to hit are better for DPR figures than most other fancier weapons. Assassins, however, may consider weapons that add extra damage dice on hits, which would be doubled on their surprise round crits.

  • Weapon +1/+2/+3: Uncommon/rare/very rare. In practice, the humble basic magic weapon will be your best option in a lot of cases. A weapon that gives a bonus to hit and damage will do more for your DPR figures than most other fancier magic weapons that do not have such bonuses (especially the hit bonus). That it doesn’t require attunement is an added plus.
  • Giant Slayer: Rare; Any axe or sword. +1 to hit and damage, plus 2d6 damage against anything with the Giant type. No attunement is a huge plus; you basically have a standard +1 weapon that gets even better, particularly for Assassins, when dealing with a fairly common enemy type.
  • Oathbow: Very rare; Longbow; Attunement. Only High Elves, Wood Elves and Eladrin need apply (if you didn't multiclass). This is potent for Assassins who do somehow have the necessary longbow proficiency. That 3d6 extra damage is even tastier when you get to double that roll during surprise.
  • Frost Brand: Very rare; Any sword; Attunement. 1d6 extra cold damage (doubled on crit, naturally). If you're sneaking around in freezing conditions, keep sheathed until you're ready to strike so the light doesn't give you away.
  • Sunblade: Rare; Longsword; Attunement. It’s literally a lightsaber! It’s nominally a longsword, but it’s finesse, so you can Sneak Attack with it. +2 to hit and damage, plus 1d8 extra damage vs. undead.
  • Weapon of Warning: Uncommon; Any weapon; Attunement. Well worth the attunement slot for Assassins, giving advantage on initiative! You don’t even have to wield it, just have it on your person. Hope for a dagger version of this weapon and keep it tucked in your boot or up your pant leg. It’s just uncommon, so you stand a fair chance of finding one.

Armor

  • Armor +1/+2/+3: Rare/very rare/legendary; Any armor. The basic magic armor is as good as anything, straight plusses to AC being the most universally useful benefit. It doesn’t require attunement, either, leaving a slot open for something else.
  • Glamored Studded Leather: Rare; Studded leather. It's a +1 studded leather that changes into the appearance of normal clothing or other armor. And does not require attunement! Great for infiltration missions.

Amulets

  • Amulet of Proof against Detection and Location: Very rare; Attunement. Scrying magic can't spot you. That's a very, very good thing for your trade and well worth the attunement slot.

Belts

  • Belt of Giant Strength: Rare/very rare/legendary; Attunement. Depending on the type of giant it’s based on, sets your STR from anywhere between 21 and 29. Definitely your overall preferred type of belt to wear, and should definitely be one of your three attuned items as soon as you get one. It's the only way currently for a Rogue to break the to hit/damage bounds of a 20 attack stat. Just remember you still need a finesse weapon for Sneak Attack, and you definitely still want to take DEX to 20 for AC, initiative and skills.

Boots

  • Boots of Elvenkind: Uncommon. Advantage on moving Stealth checks. No attunement needed, and it's more common than most magic items, so go for it!

Circlets/Headbands

  • Headband of Intellect: Uncommon; Attunement. Raises INT to 19, which is higher than most Rogues (other than Arcane Tricksters) will have. Assassins who frequently extract poison may want this. Would be better if it didn't require attunement.

Cloaks

  • Cloak of Elvenkind: Uncommon; Attunement. Advantage on hiding Stealth checks, invoke disadvantage on enemy Perception checks. Good one, and you're likely to find one more often than not.
  • Cloak of Invisibility: Legendary; Attunement. Consider yourself damn lucky if you find one. That is all.

Eyewear

  • Goggles of Night: Uncommon. Humans and Halflings (and anyone without Darkvision otherwise) will hug 'em, love 'em, and call 'em George. Fairly prolific for a magic item and requires no attunement. Even races that already have Darkvision appreciate these for extending the range of it.

Gloves

  • Gloves of Thievery: Uncommon. +5 to Sleight of Hand and lockpicking, with no attunement! And you're relatively likely to come across them, too. Get them!
 
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Gladius Legis

Explorer
VII. Multiclassing


Basics to remember:

  • You need to meet the attribute prerequisites of ALL your planned classes, including your initial class. So, to multiclass as a Rogue, you need a 13 DEX, plus a 13 in the prerequisite(s) of your new class.
  • Multiple instances of Extra Attack do not stack. Want three attacks? Take 11 Fighter levels. It’s the only way.
  • Ability Score Increases, and by extension feats, are considered class features at set levels like everything else. Which means in many cases, you may fall short of the five expected of most single-class characters’ progression. Sometimes being an ASI/feat short may be worth it, but more often it may not be. Being two or more ASI/feats short is almost never worth it. Consider the tradeoffs carefully, in any event.
  • You NEVER get the saving throw proficiencies of your new class. If you want another class’ save proficiencies to start, then you need to start as a member of that class.
  • If you're starting as another class (say, because you want a different set of save proficiencies), then multiclassing into Rogue, you lose one whole skill proficiency in comparison to if you started as a Rogue. Consider that carefully before going that route.

Rogues, overall, are more free to multiclass out at whatever level they want than most other classes. While characters going for Extra Attack really need to hit Lv. 5 in Fighter/Barbarian/Paladin/etc. ASAP, and spellcasters really want to hit 3rd-level spells, Rogue progression is steadier. Sneak Attack climbs every two levels, a steady increase, so it really comes down to what features you want to nab before branching out.

Dipping out: What you lose


  • Lv. 20 Rogue: Stroke of Luck, which Assassins value quite a bit, but other archetypes don't mind trading off. Arcane Tricksters, however, also lose their any-school pick of a 4th-level spell, so they'll be reluctant to dip out here, too.
  • Lv. 19 Rogue: Your last ASI/feat and last Sneak Attack bump. Depending on what you're picking up that may or may not be worth it. Fighter's Action Surge I'd definitely say is worth it, for example. Arcane Tricksters also give up 4th-level spells, so they'll be more hesitant.
  • Lv. 18 Rogue: Elusive, which is OK, but another class' Lv. 3 can easily be more attractive.
  • Lv. 17 Rogue: Arcane Tricksters will actually give this one up pretty easily; they lose no known spells or spell slots and only lose the iffy Spell Thief feature and a Sneak Attack bump. In exchange, you recoup your lost feat if you took all four other levels in one other class. Other archetypes may be more reluctant to give this level up, Thieves and Assassins, in particular.
  • Lv. 16 Rogue: A level commonly given up to get Extra Attack from a relevant class' 5th level. You're back down one ASI/feat total, but with Extra Attack you won't complain much. Arcane Tricksters, however, also give up a known spell and a 3rd-level slot.
  • Lv. 15 Rogue: Slippery Mind is a pretty big deal, along with a Sneak Attack bump. Not something you give up unless another class' Lv. 6 feature is just that good, or you plan on multiclassing further than this.
  • Lv. 14 Rogue: Blindsense is an easy sacrifice. Arcane Tricksters give up a spell known, so they'll be somewhat more hesitant.
  • Lv. 13 Rogue: You give up your archetype feature and a Sneak Attack bump at this level. If you're taking all 8 remaining levels in one other class, you get a feat back. Masterminds will eagerly make that trade. Swashbucklers should consider it. Assassins might if they're stuck in a campaign that is all combat and nothing else. Thieves might, depending on how valuable they'll find Use Magic Device in their campaign. However, Arcane Tricksters, though their Lv. 13 feature is pretty bad, also give up their 3rd-level spells, so they'll be highly reluctant.
  • Lv. 12 Rogue: Another ASI/feat down, though if your 9 remaining levels are in one other class you're only down 1 overall. Depends on how good your other class' Lv. 9 is.

Multiclasses

Barbarian: Requires STR 13, and only STR-Rogues will really find this appealing. (Features which would be appealing to DEX-based Assassins come way too late.) If you want medium armor proficiency from this alone, you have to start as a Barbarian (and take a net loss of one skill proficiency in the process); otherwise, you’ll still need a Fighter/Paladin/Ranger dip.

  • Lv. 1: Your DEX and CON probably won't be high enough to make Unarmored Defense viable if you're a STR-Rogue, and for DEX-Rogues the opportunity cost and extra MAD to get just slightly higher AC isn’t really worth it. Rage at this level also isn't that impressive; you get just 2/day, which covers 1/4 to 1/3 of your battles per day at this point. Meh.
  • Lv. 2: Much better for STR-Rogues, who can actually take advantage of Reckless Attack. (And heck yeah, they’ll absolutely want to, free Sneak Attacks all over!) Danger Sense is OK.
  • Lv. 3: Bear Totem is resistance to everything except psychic while raging. Your rages increase to 3/day, too, covering between 3/8 and 1/2 of your battles per day.
  • Lv. 5: Extra Attack.
  • Lv. 6: Up to 4 rages/day. At this point, you're actually raging in at least half, if not more, of your battles per day. As for totem benefit … Eagle, I guess.
  • Lv. 7: Feral Instinct is great for Assassins on paper and in a vacuum, but having to wait until you're a Lv. 10 character, minimum, before realizing the benefits? And you gave up 3 Sneak Attack bumps in the meantime with no other source of more damage dice other than Extra Attack? That's a hard sell.
  • Lv. 9: Brutal Critical I. Extra crit damage is nice for Assassins, but come on, you're a minimum Lv. 12 character before realizing the benefit, and lost out on 4 Sneak Attack bumps in the process. Could've gotten a lot more with a lot less levels of another class.

Bard: You get another whole skill proficiency, which can be any skill, just for multiclassing here. CHA 13 entry makes it easy and popular for a lot of Rogues.

  • Lv. 1: No Booming Blade, unfortunately, but you still get Minor Illusion and Prestidigitation.
  • Lv. 2: Jack of All Trades makes you an even better skill monkey. Note this boosts initiative, too. And according to Jeremy Crawford here, Reliable Talent works with this, too, so have fun rolling no less than 10s on initiative and every ability check you ever make.
  • Lv. 3: Another instance of Expertise? Yes, please. That plus going Lore makes you this game's ultimate skill monkey, with 3 more skill proficiencies of any choice, plus you get the excellent Cutting Words. Or go Valor for medium armor and shields (for STR-Rogues) and martial weapons (hello longbow). As for 2nd-level spells on the Bard list: Enhance Ability and Invisibility are good universal picks; if your CHA is high enough for a respectable DC there’s also Suggestion and Blindness/Deafness.
  • Lv. 5: Bardic Inspirations become short-rest recharge, which is particularly great for Lore with Cutting Words. Plus 3rd-level spells.
  • Lv. 6: If you're Valor, Extra Attack. If you're Lore, any 2 spells in the game; get Booming Blade if you don't have it already from somewhere else. Hex is a possible target if you didn't already get it via Magic Initiate or Warlock dip. As for actual 3rd-level options, Haste is always generally good, or Assassins might even consider the Paladin's Blinding Smite (if melee) or the Ranger's Lightning Arrow (if ranged), both of which add substantial damage dice on their surprise crits.
  • Lv. 7: 4th-level spells, and Greater Invisibility is on the Bard list. See the Arcane Trickster spells section above for why that’s a very good thing.

Cleric: WIS 13 entry. War and Death domains have some appeal to Assassins.

  • Lv. 1: Both War and Death give you martial weapon proficiencies (for longbow). Also, you can and should prepare Bless.
  • Lv. 2: War Channel Divinity is +10 to hit, perfect for Assassins to make sure they hit when it counts. Alternatively, Death Channel Divinity still adds 9 damage onto a hit with 2 cleric levels, and Assassin Death Attack can double that to 18 since it's directly part of the attack's damage.

Druid: WIS 13 entry. Land is actually better than Moon for dipping purposes.

  • Lv. 3: 2nd-level spell Pass Without Trace is great for setting up ambushes.

Fighter: Easily one of a Rogue's best MC options. All Rogues have the DEX 13 to qualify automatically. Gets medium armor and shield proficiency (for STR-Rogues) and martial weapons (for longbow).

  • Lv. 1: Archery Fighting Style's +2 to hit highly recommended. Defense helps a Sentinel build. Two-Weapon Fighting also possibly an option. Dueling only worth it if you're going for Extra Attack.
  • Lv. 2: Action Surge. Attack with one action, Ready the other for two Sneak Attacks. Assassins can go to town with two full Sneak Attack crits if they can find a reliable Ready trigger before it becomes their victim’s turn. (e.g. Ally who also earned surprise and beat enemy’s initiative, then attacks.)
  • Lv. 3: Battle Master is EASILY the best choice if just dipping 3 levels, and still arguably the best if going further. Your maneuvers should be Precision Attack (because turning misses into hits is fun and wonderful), Riposte (another Sneak Attack chance! ... though only in melee), and then either Menacing Attack (fear) or Trip Attack (knock prone). For you concerned Assassins, the Superiority Dice to damage on Menacing or Trip get doubled on crits. Eldritch Knight can be a good choice, as well, for the free cantrips (Booming Blade, Minor Illusion), but its real payoff comes after a few more Fighter levels. Champion initially looks tempting with the double crit range, but it's still rather unreliable even in the best cases compared to the other two prior options, so I don’t recommend it. And forget about Purple Dragon Knight, that feature is absolute weaksauce with just 3 Fighter levels.
  • Lv. 5: Extra Attack.
  • Lv. 6: ASI/feat that no other class gets at this level. At minimum, you get Resilient (WIS) instead of Slippery Mind, but you can probably think of something better still.
  • Lv. 7: If you went Eldritch Knight, another attack on the same turn as Booming Blade is sweet.
  • Lv. 11: Extra Attack upgrade, for 3 attacks/action. Assassinate, Sneak Attack, d10 Superiority Dice, and Action Surge on top make for a nasty surprise round.

Monk: DEX 13 and WIS 13 required. Martial Arts requires you to go without armor and, even worse, is incompatible with Sneak Attack, and dipping the next few levels just won’t give you enough ki to do much of anything. Effective Rogue/Monk combinations are heavy on the Monk and light on the Rogue, not vice versa.

Paladin: STR 13 and CHA 13 required in addition to DEX 13, making it quite MAD. Still, for a melee Arcane Trickster, this can be an effective dip to use Divine Smite with their spell slots, and then go one more level for Oath of Vengeance and shoot for Extra Attack at Lv. 5. If not an AT, absolutely don't bother with just a dip; the MAD is too much of a cost for minimal gain.

  • Lv. 1: Go further, or don't bother.
  • Lv. 2: Divine Smite, which Arcane Tricksters can use with their spell slots for some extra nova punch. You also get a Fighting Style (Defense is pretty much your default if you’re dual-wielding, or Dueling if you’re single-weapon.) Also, prepare Bless, use Bless.
  • Lv. 3: Vengeance is the way to go here for the Oath, Vow of Enmity being particularly sexy for its straight-up advantage (and thus easy Sneak Attacks) against one boss enemy every short rest. VoE is also stat-independent unlike many other Paladin Channel Divinities. Having Hunter's Mark as an Oath Spell on tap is also pretty nice.
  • Lv. 5: Extra Attack. Especially good to have here in case you need to Smite nova.

Ranger: DEX and WIS 13 needed. Gets medium armor, shields and martial weapons like Fighter MC and also another skill proficiency. Good for up to Lv. 5, but don't go past that.

  • Lv. 1: Not a good dip level. Go further or don't bother.
  • Lv. 2: Fighting Style (Archery, TWF and Dueling are all options), and spellcasting means Hunter's Mark. Hunter's Mark's 1d6 extra damage per hit is doubled on crits like the rest.
  • Lv. 3: Gloom Stalker (XGTE) is the new hotness with its extra attack (with extra damage on said attack) on the first round of every combat. It’s especially terrific for Assassins. If you don’t have XGTE as an option for some reason, I guess go Colossus Slayer from Hunter.
  • Lv. 5: Extra Attack and 2nd-level spells. I recommend Pass Without Trace.

Sorcerer: CHA 13. A decent Lv. 1 dip for the Origin bonus, if nothing else. Metamagic will be limited with just a Lv. 3 dip, but Arcane Tricksters may find use for it.

  • Lv. 1: You know the drill, Minor Illusion and Booming Blade (or whatever cantrips were left on the Arcane Trickster's recommended list). As for 1st-level spells, you don't even get Find Familiar, boo. Pick something useful without a DC (Jump, Shield). As for Origin, Draconic gets you free natural armor better than studded leather and extra hit points, while Storm gets you some free flight.
  • Lv. 3: Take Quickened Spell and Twinned Spell. 3 Sorcery Points/long rest is enough for 1 quicken, or 1 twin for a 3rd-level spell. Only Arcane Tricksters need apply.

Warlock: CHA 13. Overall much better than Sorcerer for dipping, mostly due to Hex and invocations.

  • Lv. 1: Minor Illusion and Booming Blade (of course), and Hex and its lovely 1d6 extra damage per hit (doubled on crits) and its disadvantage on enemy ability checks. Patron feature is nice, too.
  • Lv. 2: Your first invocations. Devil’s Sight should definitely be one of them. Other good choices are Mask of Many Faces (at-will Disguise Self), Misty Visions (at-will Silent Image is literally an upgraded Minor Illusion) or Beguiling Influence (this becomes free skill picks if you already have Deception and/or Persuasion proficiency).
  • Lv. 3: Pact Boon. Pact of the Chain gets you a familiar, or you can go Pact of the Blade for the free weapon and later binding of magic weapons. Also 2nd-level spells; Mirror Image, Invisibility and Misty Step are on the list, and if you have a high enough CHA, Suggestion is there for you, too.
  • Lv. 5: Thirsting Blade is Extra Attack with your pact weapon if you went Blade. Otherwise, take something from the Lv. 2 list you didn’t get to take, yet.
  • Lv. 7: 4th-level spells. If you took the Archfey Patron, you get Greater Invisibility 2/short rest, so go crazy.

Wizard: INT 13. Mostly an Arcane Trickster pursuit, since they share the same casting stat.

  • Lv. 1: 3 cantrips. Of course, Minor Illusion and Booming Blade, or if you have those, the other recommended cantrips on the Arcane Trickster's list. Arcane Recovery for more spells per day, preparations of any spell in your Spellbook and Ritual Casting are all great. Good non-DC spells include Find Familiar (see Arcane Trickster entry above) and Shield.
  • Lv. 2: Arcane Tradition. Divination's Lv. 2 feature is particularly awesome. Or go Bladesinger if you're an Elf or Half-Elf.
  • Lv. 6: Extra Attack if you're a Bladesinger.
  • Lv. 7: 4th-level spells, basically your other route to Greater Invisibility, Arcane Eye, Polymorph, etc.
 
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Gladius Legis

Explorer
IX. Builds and Combos


[sblock=I. Lightfoot Halfling Thief]
We'll start out with what is arguably the iconic Rogue of 40 years of D&D. Straightforward, will fit in any party, and will always make themselves useful, if not spectacular.

Race: Lightfoot Halfling
Background: Criminal
Alignment: N

Proficient Skills: Stealth (DEX), Acrobatics (DEX), Investigation (INT), Perception (WIS), Deception (CHA), Sleight of Hand (DEX)
Proficient Tools: Thieves' Tools, Gaming Set (one), Disguise Kit

Armor: Studded leather
Weapons: Shortswords (x2), rapier (Lv. 16+), dagger, hand crossbow

Point buy array: 14, 14, 13, 12, 12, 8

Attributes and feats:
Lv. 1: STR 8, DEX 16, CON 12, INT 12, WIS 14, CHA 14
Lv. 4: STR 8, DEX 16, CON 12, INT 12, WIS 14, CHA 14, Healer
Lv. 8: STR 8, DEX 18, CON 12, INT 12, WIS 14, CHA 14, Healer
Lv. 10: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 12, INT 12, WIS 14, CHA 14, Healer
Lv. 12: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 12, INT 12, WIS 14, CHA 14, Healer, Crossbow Expert
Lv. 16: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 12, INT 12, WIS 14, CHA 14, Healer, Crossbow Expert, Magic Initiate
Lv. 19: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 12, INT 12, WIS 14, CHA 14, Healer, Crossbow Expert, Magic Initiate, Lucky

Expertise:
Lv. 1: Thieves' Tools, Perception
Lv. 6: Stealth, Investigation

Magic Initiate (Warlock):
Cantrips: Booming Blade, Minor Illusion
1st-level spell (1/long rest): Hex
[/sblock]

[sblock=II. Variant Human Assassin]
By the time one recognizes this multi-talented figure of certain death – if they even do – it's too late.

Race: Human (Variant)
Background: Criminal
Alignment: LN

Proficient Skills: Stealth (DEX), Deception (CHA), Sleight of Hand (DEX), Acrobatics (DEX), Perception (WIS), Insight (WIS), Intimidation (CHA)
Proficient Tools: Thieves' Tools, Forgery Kit, Gaming Set (one), Disguise Kit (Lv. 3), Poisoner's Kit (Lv. 3)

Armor: Studded leather
Weapons: Shortswords (x2), rapier (Lv. 12+), daggers (x2), hand crossbow, light crossbow

Point buy array: 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8

Attributes and feats:
Lv. 1: STR 8, DEX 16, CON 12, INT 14, WIS 10, CHA 14, Alert
Lv. 4: STR 8, DEX 18, CON 12, INT 14, WIS 10, CHA 14, Alert
Lv. 8: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 12, INT 14, WIS 10, CHA 14, Alert
Lv. 10: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 12, INT 14, WIS 10, CHA 14, Alert, Crossbow Expert
Lv. 12: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 12, INT 14, WIS 10, CHA 14, Alert, Crossbow Expert, Magic Initiate
Lv. 16: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 12, INT 14, WIS 10, CHA 14, Alert, Crossbow Expert, Magic Initiate, Sharpshooter
Lv. 19: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 12, INT 14, WIS 10, CHA 14, Alert, Crossbow Expert, Magic Initiate, Sharpshooter, Lucky

Expertise:
Lv. 1: Stealth, Deception
Lv. 6: Sleight of Hand, Acrobatics

Magic Initiate (Warlock):
Cantrips: Booming Blade, Minor Illusion
1st-level spell (1/long rest): Hex
[/sblock]

[sblock=III. Eladrin Arcane Trickster]
The Arcane Trickster comes packing a host of magic tricks on top of their talents at thievery and misdirection.

Race: Eladrin
Background: Charlatan
Alignment: CN

Proficient Skills: Stealth (DEX), Acrobatics (DEX), Sleight of Hand (DEX), Deception (CHA), Perception (WIS), Investigation (INT), Arcana (INT)
Proficient Tools: Thieves' Tools, Disguise Kit, Forgery Kit

Armor: Studded leather
Weapons: Rapier, light crossbow
Other: Component pouch

Point buy array: 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8

Attributes and feats:
Lv. 1: STR 8, DEX 16, CON 13, INT 16, WIS 12, CHA 10
Lv. 4: STR 8, DEX 18, CON 13, INT 16, WIS 12, CHA 10
Lv. 8: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 13, INT 16, WIS 12, CHA 10
Lv. 10: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 13, INT 18, WIS 12, CHA 10
Lv. 12: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 14, INT 18, WIS 12, CHA 10, Resilient (CON)
Lv. 16: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 14, INT 20, WIS 12, CHA 10, Resilient (CON)
Lv. 19: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 14, INT 20, WIS 12, CHA 10, Resilient (CON), War Caster

Expertise:
Lv. 1: Sleight of Hand, Thieves' Tools
Lv. 6: Stealth, Perception

Spells Known:
Racial spell: Misty Step (1/short rest)
Cantrips: Mage Hand, Booming Blade, Minor Illusion, Prestidigitation (Lv. 10)
1st-level (Lv. 3): Sleep (retrain at Lv. 7), Tasha's Hideous Laughter, Find Familiar, Silent Image (Lv. 4)
2nd-level (Lv. 7): Suggestion (after Sleep retrain), Mirror Image, Blindness/Deafness (Lv. 8), Invisibility (Lv. 10), Phantasmal Force (Lv. 11) (retrain at Lv. 13)
3rd-level (Lv. 13): Fear (after Phantasmal Force retrain), Hypnotic Pattern, Haste (Lv. 14), Major Image (Lv. 16)
4th-level (Lv. 19): Greater Invisibility, Polymorph (Lv. 20)
[/sblock]

[sblock=IV. Drow Mastermind]
This conniving individual is a master of deception and manipulation.

Race: Dark Elf (Drow)
Background: Charlatan
Alignment: NE

Proficient Skills: Deception (CHA), Insight (WIS), Acrobatics (DEX), Stealth (DEX), Perception (WIS), Sleight of Hand (DEX), Intimidation (CHA)
Proficient Tools: Thieves' Tools, Disguise Kit, Forgery Kit, Poisoner's Kit (Lv. 3, free pick), Navigator's Tools (Lv. 3, free pick), Gaming Set (one) (Lv. 3)

Armor: Studded leather
Weapons: Rapier, dagger, light crossbow

Point buy array
: 14, 14, 13, 12, 12, 8

Attributes and feats:
Lv. 1: STR 8, DEX 16, CON 12, INT 14, WIS 12, CHA 14
Lv. 4: STR 8, DEX 18, CON 12, INT 14, WIS 12, CHA 14
Lv. 8: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 12, INT 14, WIS 12, CHA 14
Lv. 10: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 12, INT 14, WIS 12, CHA 14, Magic Initiate
Lv. 12: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 12, INT 14, WIS 12, CHA 14, Magic Initiate, Inspiring Leader
Lv. 16: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 12, INT 14, WIS 12, CHA 14, Magic Initiate, Inspiring Leader, Lucky
Lv. 19: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 12, INT 14, WIS 12, CHA 16, Magic Initiate, Inspiring Leader, Lucky

Expertise:
Lv. 1: Deception, Insight
Lv. 6: Acrobatics, Perception

Magic Initiate (Warlock):
Cantrips: Booming Blade, Minor Illusion
1st-level spell (1/long rest): Hex
[/sblock]

[sblock=V. Half-Elf Swashbuckler]
Charmer, romantic, diplomat, pirate, fencing master, all in one.

Note this particular Swashbuckler uses a single rapier, since you can't dual-wield with Booming Blade. (Booming Blade is explicitly not the Attack Action, so it does not permit an off-hand attack.)

Race: Half-Elf (Moon/Sun/High Elf Lineage)
High Elf Lineage Cantrip: Booming Blade
Background: Pirate
Alignment: CG

Proficient Skills
: Persuasion (CHA), Acrobatics (DEX), Perception (WIS), Stealth (DEX), Athletics (STR), Intimidation (CHA)
Proficient Tools: Thieves' Tools, Navigator's Tools, Vehicles (Water)

Armor: Studded leather
Weapons: Rapier, light crossbow

Point buy array: 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8

Attributes and feats:
Lv. 1: STR 8, DEX 16, CON 14, INT 10, WIS 12, CHA 16
Lv. 4: STR 8, DEX 18, CON 14, INT 10, WIS 12, CHA 16
Lv. 8: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 14, INT 10, WIS 12, CHA 16
Lv. 10: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 14, INT 10, WIS 12, CHA 18
Lv. 12: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 14, INT 10, WIS 12, CHA 18, Inspiring Leader
Lv. 16: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 14, INT 10, WIS 12, CHA 18, Inspiring Leader, Lucky
Lv. 19: STR 8, DEX 20, CON 14, INT 10, WIS 12, CHA 20, Inspiring Leader, Lucky

Expertise:
Lv. 1: Persuasion, Acrobatics
Lv. 6: Perception, Athletics
[/sblock]

[sblock=VI. Mountain Dwarf Grappling Thief]
This example will show a STR-based Rogue built around grappling and shoving enemies, which is pretty much the only reason to go that route. This grappling Rogue is a Mountain Dwarf, which gets free proficiency in medium armor and so doesn't necessarily have to multiclass. Attempting this with any other race will require at least a 1-level dip in Fighter (and you might replace Tavern Brawler with Shield Master, too).

The STR-based Rogue will usually go with Thief, which has the most lenient ability requirements (you still need some DEX with this build). Swashbuckler could work, too, if you don't care about a maximum DC on Panache. Arcane Trickster is far too MAD already to attempt this. Assassins’ initiative and, thus, Assassinate will suffer from not maxing DEX. And Masterminds are weak at personal combat.

Remember that Hex from Magic Initiate invokes disadvantage on ability checks, helping your grapples be even more inescapable.

Race: Mountain Dwarf
Background: Sailor
Alignment: LG

Proficient Skills: Athletics (STR), Perception (WIS), Stealth (DEX), Insight (WIS), Intimidation (CHA), Sleight of Hand (DEX)
Proficient Tools: Thieves' Tools, Navigator's Tools, Vehicles (Water)

Armor: Chain shirt to start, breastplate as soon as can afford
Weapons: Rapier, shortsword, dagger, light crossbow

Point buy array: 15, 14, 14, 10, 10, 8

Attributes and feats:
Lv. 1: STR 17, DEX 14, CON 16, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 10
Lv. 4: STR 18, DEX 14, CON 16, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 10, Tavern Brawler
Lv. 8: STR 20, DEX 14, CON 16, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 10, Tavern Brawler
Lv. 10: STR 20, DEX 14, CON 16, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 10, Tavern Brawler, Magic Initiate
Lv. 12: STR 20, DEX 14, CON 16, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 10, Tavern Brawler, Magic Initiate, Lucky
Lv. 16: STR 20, DEX 14, CON 16, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 10, Tavern Brawler, Magic Initiate, Lucky, Healer
Lv. 19: STR 20, DEX 14, CON 18, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 10, Tavern Brawler, Magic Initiate, Lucky, Healer

Expertise:
Lv. 1: Athletics, Stealth
Lv. 6: Perception, Thieves' Tools

Magic Initiate (Warlock):
Cantrips: Booming Blade, Prestidigitation
1st-level spell (1/long rest): Hex
[/sblock]
 
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Yunru

Villager
Bugbears best Melee. Who needs Mobile/Swashbuckler, when your daggers have reach (and whips have a reach of 15ft!)? :p
 
C

CataAttaste

Guest
GUIDE I Fought the Law and Won The Rogue Guide

So after i defeated the dapper old gent in my next game, and the alliance is there - this quest will be avaible?
 

Dasem

Villager
So I've made a Tabaxi Rogue. Level 2.

Here's my stats:

8 Str
16 Dex
14 Con
9 Int
14 Wis
14 Cha

It's a two person party. Myself and a Greatsword using Fighter. I don't anticipate the campaign going past level 10.

I'm curious about what Archetype you think would be good. Obviously, Arcane Trickster is out with my low Int. All Unearthed Arcana is available, so...

Mastermind
seems alright overall.
Swashbuckler is solid all around, helping me dual wield.
Assassin doesn't add much besides nova damage, which IS great. But that's it.
Thief is... Alright. Lets me get creative with environment and item use.
Inquisitor (UA: Gothic Heroes) is... I don't know what to make of it.

I'm leaning Assassin. I figure the sooner enemies drop, the better. But after that single hit, it's... Not great. Swashbuckler, on the other hand, is more consistent damage over the battle.
 

UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
Hey I like your guide.
Just two things:
Str should not be your default dump stat. Climbing and swimming may be really useful in some campaigns. Athletics with expertise allows you to actively grapple even with mediocre strength. Being able to actually carry your loot comes as a bonus. Overall I would not rate charisma higher than strength, especially for a thief.
The other thing is spell scrolls. The page you refer only applies to non spell scrolls. Those can be used by everyone. To actually use a spell scroll you need to have that spell on your list.
 

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