Signaling for her companions to wait, a halfling creeps forward through the dungeon hall. She presses an ear to the door, then pulls out a set of tools and picks the lock in the blink of an eye. Then she disappears into the shadows as her fighter friend moves forward to kick the door open.
A human lurks in the shadows of an alley while his accomplice prepares for her part in the ambush. When their target — a notorious slaver — passes the alleyway, the accomplice cries out, the slaver comes to investigate, and the assassin’s blade cuts his throat before he can make a sound.
Suppressing a giggle, a gnome waggles her fingers and magically lifts the key ring from the guard’s belt. In a moment, the keys are in her hand, the cell door is open, and she and her companions are free to make their escape.
Rogues rely on skill, stealth, and their foes’ vulnerabilities to get the upper hand in any situation. They have a knack for finding the solution to just about any problem, demonstrating a resourcefulness and versatility that is the cornerstone of any successful adventuring party.
Skill and Precision
Rogues devote as much effort to mastering the use of a variety of skills as they do to perfecting their combat abilities, giving them a broad expertise that few other characters can match. Many rogues focus on stealth and deception, while others refine the skills that help them in a dungeon environment, such as climbing, finding and disarming traps, and opening locks.
When it comes to combat, rogues prioritize cunning over brute strength. A rogue would rather make one precise strike, placing it exactly where the attack will hurt the target most, than wear an opponent down with a barrage of attacks. Rogues have an almost supernatural knack for avoiding danger, and a few learn magical tricks to supplement their other abilities.
A Shady Living
Every town and city has its share of rogues. Most of them live up to the worst stereotypes of the class, making a living as burglars, assassins, cutpurses, and con artists. Often, these scoundrels are organized into thieves’ guilds or crime families. Plenty of rogues operate independently, but even they sometimes recruit apprentices to help them in their scams and heists. A few rogues make an honest living as locksmiths, investigators, or exterminators, which can be a dangerous job in a world where dire rats—and wererats—haunt the sewers.
As adventurers, rogues fall on both sides of the law. Some are hardened criminals who decide to seek their fortune in treasure hoards, while others take up a life of adventure to escape from the law. Some have learned and perfected their skills with the explicit purpose of infiltrating ancient ruins and hidden crypts in search of treasure.
Creating a Rogue
As you create your rogue character, consider the character’s relationship to the law. Do you have a criminal past—or present? Are you on the run from the law or from an angry thieves’ guild master? Or did you leave your guild in search of bigger risks and bigger rewards? Is it greed that drives you in your adventures, or some other desire or ideal?
What was the trigger that led you away from your previous life? Did a great constitution or heist gone terribly wrong cause you to reevaluate your career? Maybe you were lucky and a successful robbery gave you the coin you needed to escape the squalor of your life. Did wanderlust finally call you away from your home? Perhaps you suddenly found yourself cut off from your family or your mentor, and you had to find a new means of support. Or maybe you made a new friend—another member of your adventuring party—who showed you new possibilities for earning a living and employing your particular talents.
You can make a rogue quickly by following these suggestions. First, Dexterity should be your highest ability score. Make Intelligence your next-highest if you want to excel at Investigation or plan to take up the Arcane Trickster archetype. Choose Charisma instead if you plan to emphasize deception and social interaction. Second, choose the charlatan background.
The Rogue Table
|1st||+2||1d6||Expertise, Sneak Attack, Thieves’ Cant|
|4th||+2||2d6||Ability Score Improvement|
|8th||+3||4d6||Ability Score Improvement|
|9th||+4||5d6||Roguish Archetype Feature|
|10th||+4||5d6||Ability Score Improvement|
|12th||+4||6d6||Ability Score Improvement|
|13th||+5||7d6||Roguish Archetype Feature|
|16th||+5||8d6||Ability Score Improvement|
|17th||+6||9d6||Roguish Archetype Feature|
|19th||+6||10d6||Ability Score Improvement|
|20th||+6||10d6||Stroke of Luck|
As a rogue, you gain the following class features.
Hit Dice: 1d8 per rogue level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per rogue level after 1st
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
- (a) a rapier or (b) a shortsword
- (a) a shortbow and quiver of 20 arrows or (b) a shortsword
- (a) a burglar’s pack, (b) a dungeoneer’s pack, or (c) an explorer’s pack
- Leather armor, two daggers, and thieves’ tools
At 1st level, choose two of your skill proficiencies, or one of your skill proficiencies and your proficiency with thieves’ tools. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses either of the chosen proficiencies.
At 6th level, you can choose two more of your proficiencies (in skills or with thieves’ tools) to gain this benefit.
Beginning at 1st level, you know how to strike subtly and exploit a foe’s distraction. Once per turn, you can deal an extra 1d6 damage to one creature you hit with an attack if you have advantage on the attack roll. The attack must use a finesse or a ranged weapon.
You don’t need advantage on the attack roll if another enemy of the target is within 5 feet of it, that enemy isn’t incapacitated, and you don’t have disadvantage on the attack roll.
The amount of the extra damage increases as you gain levels in this class, as shown in the Sneak Attack column of the Rogue table.
During your rogue training you learned thieves’ cant, a secret mix of dialect, jargon, and code that allows you to hide messages in seemingly normal conversation. Only another creature that knows thieves’ cant understands such messages. It takes four times longer to convey such a message than it does to speak the same idea plainly.
In addition, you understand a set of secret signs and symbols used to convey short, simple messages, such as whether an area is dangerous or the territory of a thieves’ guild, whether loot is nearby, or whether the people in an area are easy marks or will provide a safe house for thieves on the run.
Starting at 2nd level, your quick thinking and agility allow you to move and act quickly. You can take a bonus action on each of your turns in combat. This action can be used only to take the Dash, Disengage, or Hide action.
At 3rd level, you choose an archetype that you emulate in the exercise of your rogue abilities: Thief, detailed at the end of the class description, or one from another source. Your archetype choice grants you features at 3rd level and then again at 9th, 13th, and 17th level.
Ability Score Improvement
When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 10th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.
Using the optional feats rule, you can forgo taking this feature to take a feat of your choice instead.
Starting at 5th level, when an attacker that you can see hits you with an attack, you can use your reaction to halve the attack’s damage against you.
Beginning at 7th level, you can nimbly dodge out of the way of certain area effects, such as an ancient red dragon's fiery breath or an ice storm spell. When you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, you instead take no damage if you succeed on the saving throw, and only half damage if you fail.
By 11th level, you have refined your chosen skills until they approach perfection. Whenever you make an ability check that lets you add your proficiency bonus, you can treat a d20 roll of 9 or lower as a 10.
Starting at 14th level, if you are able to hear, you are aware of the location of any hidden or invisible creature within 10 feet of you.
By 15th level, you have acquired greater mental strength. You gain proficiency in Wisdom saving throws.
Beginning at 18th level, you are so evasive that attackers rarely gain the upper hand against you. No attack roll has advantage against you while you aren’t incapacitated.
Stroke of Luck
At 20th level, you have an uncanny knack for succeeding when you need to. If your attack misses a target within range, you can turn the miss into a hit. Alternatively, if you fail an ability check, you can treat the d20 roll as a 20.
Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
Rogues have many features in common, including their emphasis on perfecting their skills, their precise and deadly approach to combat, and their increasingly quick reflexes. But different rogues steer those talents in varying directions, embodied by the rogue archetypes. Your choice of archetype is a reflection of your focus—not necessarily an indication of your chosen profession, but a description of your preferred techniques.
Arcane Trickster+ -