D&D Rogue 5e: The Ultimate Guide

In 5e, rogues are one of the most popular classes to play, and for a good reason. They are dynamic, have excellent backstory potential, and have seemingly infinite levels of customization.

They can deal massive amounts of damage under the right circumstances and can sneak into any building they choose. Some rogues are effectively super spies, learning everything and anything about their targets just from their faces.

This complete D&D rogue guide will walk you through the basic class statistics, the Archetypes, and how your rogue levels up.

Rogue 5E Class Overview

The D&D 5e rogue is what their name implies. They tend to be criminals (either current or ex) and flout the law for their purposes. Sometimes they are in guilds with other rogues to work towards the same goals.

They can be reclusive and may often be from minority groups. They tend to be persecuted or hired to do the work that no one else wants to do. They are sneaky, typically ruthless, and at home in many places that others might not feel safe. Many rogues are shunned as criminals.

However, they are not a monolith.

Some rogues may use their skills in high society, seeing any and every bit of helpful gossip to advance their family. Others may be called by a higher power, using their abilities to support a religious institution that raised them or repatriate stolen artifacts.

Rogues come from all different walks of life but are bound under one overarching theme: they are cunning and use skill, precision, and methods many others won’t.

Rogue Features

Starting at Level One, you get certain features.

Rogues have a relatively straightforward HP distribution:

  • 1d8 per rogue level
  • 8 + Con for the first level
  • Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + Con per level above first.

You have the following starting proficiencies:

  • Armor: Light armor.
  • Weapons: Simple weapons, hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers, and shortswords.
  • Tools: Thieves’ tools.
  • Skills: Choose four from Acrobatics, Athletics, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Investigation, Perception, Performance, Persuasion, Sleight of Hand, or Stealth.
  • Saving Throws: Dexterity and Intelligence.
  • Languages: Thieves’ Cant (occasionally).

Thieves’ Cant is not technically a language, but some DMs will allow it to function as one. Otherwise, you do not have any other language proficiencies as a 1st Level rogue.

Rogue Culture

Rogues come from different walks of life, races, and backgrounds. They are as varied as the world they come from. However, some common threads connect rogues.


Many rogues will take part in guilds of different kinds. Guilds are organized teams of like-minded individuals. These are usually joined with a test of ability or knowing someone else on the inside since they can be so elite.

Some of these thieves’ guilds resemble the mafia or other organized crime syndicates with massive networks. Others are small, closely bonded groups of thieves who want to make their spoils even larger through a team effort.

While some might be less scrupulous, others might have a strict moral code for their members. These can look like Robin Hood and his Merry Men, or they can be a cutthroat cartel that will stoop as low as possible.

No matter the case, they are bonded through a sacred brotherhood that rogues should never break. There is a certain level of connection from membership in these groups, and members rarely prey on each other.


One of the D&D rogue 1st Level class features is Expertise. This feature is one of the reasons that rogues have a reputation of being ‘overpowered’ or ‘broken.’

You can choose two of your skill proficiencies, or one of your proficiencies along with thieves’ tools, and double your proficiency bonus. This applies to any checks that use those skills.

This feature improves at the 6th Level to get even more double proficiencies.

Sneak Attack

Sneak Attack is the feature that rogue 5e is best known for. This allows your rogue to deal massive damage under certain circumstances.

Once per turn, you can deal an extra 1d6 damage to an enemy you hit while having advantage on attacks. You have to use a finesse or ranged weapon to attack, and there are ways you can waive the advantage rule.

You don’t need an advantage when there is another non-incapacitated enemy within five feet of your target, and you don’t have disadvantage on your attack roll.

Thieves’ Cant

We’ve touched on Thieves’ Cant above, but it can be a significant part of rogue DnD 5e culture as well. This language can be flavored however you want for your games, but it can be handy for a rogue on the go.

Sometimes, you could even make Thieves’ Cant a way for rogues to communicate verbally, though it takes significantly longer. Certain regions might use invisible ink to hide their messages in plain sight. They could also have regional dialects that have specialized terminology.

5e Rogue Archetypes

There are many subclasses for the 5e rogue. These cover a wide range of backgrounds and play styles. All of them handle differently from each other and will give your rogue a different feel.

This guide will cover the three Archetypes included in the Player’s Handbook and the other basic Archetypes from other sourcebooks. This 5e rogue guide does not include the Unearthed Arcana versions of the same content.

Arcane Trickster

Starting us off strong, the Arcane Trickster Archetype is the first of three Archetypes included in the Player’s Handbook that we’ll cover. It allows your rogue to learn how to do magic and merge those skills with their other sneakiness abilities.

Level 3

Your rogue gains spellcasting at Level 3.

You pull from the wizard spell list, and the highest level spell you can cast is 4th Level. However, at the 8th, 14th, and 20th levels, you can choose spells from any other spell list. You could also only select illusion or enchantment spells.

You automatically know the spell Mage Hand and choose two other spells once you reach 3rd Level. When you gain a new level, you can choose new spells from the spell list that they originally came from.

This table explains how your spellcasting level progresses:

Rogue LevelCantrips KnownSpells Known1st Level Spell Slots2nd Level Spell Slots3rd Level Spell Slots4th Level Spell Slots

This chart outlines all your rogue’s spellcasting across various levels. However, there are some other things you need to know.

Your spellcasting follows the standard rules for how spell slots are used. You cannot cast more spells once you have used up that level’s spell slots.

Since they pull from the wizard spell list, the Arcane Trickster rogue uses Intelligence as their spellcasting ability.

Your spell abilities are as follows:

  • Spell Save DC = 8 + Proficiency + Intelligence Modifier
  • Spell Attack Modifier = Proficiency + Intelligence Modifier

On top of all of this, you also get the feature Mage Hand Legerdemain. This ability improves your Mage Hand’s tasks and allows you to use Mage Hand as a bonus action during Cunning Action.

These are the additional tasks your Mage Hand can do:

  • Stow one object the Hand is holding in a container worn or carried by another creature (effectively reverse pickpocketing).
  • Retrieve an object in a container worn or carried by another creature.
  • Use thieves’ tools to pick locks and disarm traps from a distance.

You can do one of these tasks without being noticed if you succeed on a Dexterity/Sleight of Hand check against the target’s Wisdom/Perception check.

Level 9

At the 9th Level, you gain the feature Magical Ambush. This allows your rogue to impose disadvantages on an enemy. If you are hidden from your target when you cast a spell on them, the target has disadvantage on saving throws to resist it.

Level 13

Level 13 allows you to use your Sneak Attack more frequently. As a bonus action, you can use Mage Hand to distract a creature within five feet of the Hand. While distracted, you have advantage on all attack rolls against the creature until the end of the turn.

Level 17

The final improvement for your Archetype is called Spell Thief. You can effectively steal spells from a target and use them yourself.

Right after a spellcaster uses a spell that you are affected by, you can use a reaction to force the caster to make a saving throw with their spellcasting ability modifier. If the target fails the save, you can nullify the effects against you and steal the knowledge of how to use their spell.

As long as the spell is at least 1st level and of a level you can cast, it doesn’t need to be a wizard spell, and you can use it. You can use the spell for the next eight hours after this reaction, and the opponent cannot use it.

This feature has to be recharged during a long rest, but it can be perfect to use against an enemy, especially if they have only one spell that they are consistently using. You could also hypothetically use this feature against your fellow party members, but that could cause friction.


This is the second of the three Archetypes included in the Player’s Handbook. This Archetype is known for its massive damage deal-outs and focuses on sniping enemies. These are your contract killers, bounty hunters, and (yes) assassins.

Level 3

You gain two features when you first choose this Archetype.

First, you gain two new tool proficiencies. These are with a disguise kit and the poisoner’s kit.

Second, you gain the feature Assassinate. You have advantage on attacks against any creature that hasn’t taken its turn in the initiative order. Using this feature, any hit you score also becomes a critical hit.

Already, at Level 3, you can deal a massive amount of damage. Turning a hit critical with a Sneak Attack bonus factored in will create an impressive display of force.

Level 9

You gain one new feature at the 9th Level. This is called Infiltration Expertise, and it allows you to create aliases for yourself.

You have to use a week and 25 gold pieces to craft this persona. You’ll make affiliations, history, and a profession for this character. These cannot belong to someone else, and you can’t adopt another person’s identity.

These components can take several different forms. They could be passports, clothing, letters of introduction, and other official documents that will give you access. Once this identity has been created, you can adopt it, and others will not suspect that you are not authentic unless you give them a reason to.

While you can’t use this feature to help your party members, you can give yourself a leg up and move into a position to spy on others in exclusive circles.

Level 13

The 13th Level feature for an Assassin rogue is called Impostor, and it’s exactly what it sounds like.

You gain the ability to correctly mimic someone else’s behavior, writing, and speech. You have to spend three hours studying your target to earn this proficiency, but you can walk amongst unsuspecting people at will once you have it.

The average person cannot tell the difference, but suspicious creatures can look for flaws. You must then make a Deception check with advantage to avoid being sussed out.

Level 17

The last feature Assassin rogues get in this Archetype is Death Strike, and it is the most potent feature your rogue can use.

When you hit a surprised creature with an attack, your target must make a Constitution saving throw. The DC is equal to 8 + your Dexterity modifier + proficiency bonus.

If they fail the save, you double your attack’s damage against them, effectively turning the attack into a critical hit.


The next Archetype we’re going to cover is the Inquisitive Archetype. The first of the Archetypes we’ve covered come from another sourcebook, it is a dynamic class that is perfect for anyone who’s dreamed of being a secret agent.

You can find this Archetype in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.

Level 3

You get three features at Level 3, and they build off of each other: Ear for Deceit and Eye for Detail.

Ear for Deceit affects your Insight skill. Whenever you make one to determine if someone is lying, you can treat the base roll of 7 or lower as an 8. So, for example, if you rolled a three on your d20, it would become an eight, and you can add your modifier to it.

Eye for Detail allows you to see things that others might not. You can roll a Wisdom/Perception check as a bonus action to spot something or someone hidden. In addition, you can roll an Intelligence/Investigation check to uncover or decipher hidden clues.

Finally, you receive Insightful Fighting. You can make an Insight check against a non-incapacitated creature you can see, and they contest it with a Deception check. If you pass, you can use your Sneak Attack ability, even if you don’t have advantage, but not if you have disadvantage.

This set of features is perfect for an investigator who fancies themself like Sherlock Holmes or any other famous detective.

Level 9

Steady Eye is the Level 9 feature your rogue will receive. You gain advantage on any Wisdom/Perception or Intelligence/Investigation checks if you don’t move more than half of your movement speed during your turn.

Level 13

The Inquisitive rogue’s 13th Level feature is called Unerring Eye. Using an action, you can sense the presence of illusions, shapechangers who are not in their original form, and other deceptive magic.

There is a range of 30 feet for this action, and you can tell that something is trying to trick you, but you cannot understand its primary purpose. You can tell that something is afoot, but not the exact details.

You can use this a minimum of once and up to as much as your Wisdom modifier. A long rest recharges the feature.

Level 17

Finally, you receive Eye for Weakness as your 17th Level feature. It ties directly back to your Insightful Fighting ability.

If a creature qualifies under that feature, you can add an additional 3d6 to your total Sneak Attack damage pool.


Spies, courtiers, advisors, and other members of high courts could qualify as Mastermind rogues. They deal in secrets, intrigue, gossip, and above all, information. Favors are precious and can be collected.

This Archetype appears in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and is perfect for anyone who wants to indulge in their Game of Thrones fantasies.

Level 3

You gain two features at Level 3: Master of Intrigue and Master of Tactics.

Master of Intrigue gives you the following proficiencies:

  • Disguise kit, forgery kit, and one gaming set.
  • Two languages of your choice.

Master of Tactics allows you to use the Help action as a bonus action. You can also change the range of the enemy you are attacking if you’re attacking with your Help action. Instead, you can treat them as if they are within 30 feet of you instead of 5, provided they can see or hear you.

Level 9

Insightful Manipulator (your 9th Level feature) allows you to study a creature and learn its capabilities. Taking at least one minute, you can ask the DM if it has superior, equal, or inferior scores in the following categories:

  • Intelligence
  • Wisdom
  • Charisma
  • Class Levels (if any)

Depending on your DM’s rules, you might also learn more about a creature’s personality or history. They might impose other checks to recognize specific characteristics, such as History or Insight.

Level 13

Your Level 13 feature is awe-inspiring. Misdirection allows you to cause another creature to take an attack meant for you. This could turn a powerful, targeted attack into one for another enemy.

When an attack is made while a creature within five feet of you is giving you cover, you can use your reaction to have the attacker hit the shielding creature instead of you.

Level 17

Soul of Deceit is the final feature given to the Mastermind rogue. Creatures cannot read your thoughts by telepathy or other means unless you desire them. You can even make false thoughts for any mind-readers by creating a Charisma or Deception check against the mind reader’s Insight or Wisdom score.

Additionally, if you were lying, magic that would have detected that cannot. You cannot be compelled to tell the truth through magic, and you can choose to tell the truth or mislead someone if you wish.


The Phantom rogue walks the line between the living and the dead. They have a deeper connection to the unknown and the land of the deceased than others and build their skill set around their relationship with death and demise.

This Archetype is found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and has many similarities to the Unearthed Arcana Revived Archetype.

Level 3

Level 3 gives you two main features. Whispers of the Dead and Wails from the Grave are perfect for this Archetype.

Whispers of the Dead brings the ghosts of those who have died near you and gives you their skills. After a long or short rest, you can gain one tool or skill proficiency of your choice. A ghost has shared their expertise with you, but it can only last once. Once you exchange the skill, you lose proficiency.

Wails from the Grave allows you to hurt two people simultaneously. Immediately after dealing Sneak Attack damage, you can target another creature within 30 feet of the first target that you can see.

You roll half of your Sneak Attack dice (rounding up) and deal that amount of damage to the second target. You can use this feature as many times equal to your proficiency bonus and regain the use after a long rest.

Level 9

Your 9th Level feature is called Tokens of the Departed. You can take a portion of a departing soul, and it becomes a physical object you can use.

As a reaction when a creature dies, you can open your hand, and a small trinket forms there. Your DM can choose the form, or they can make you roll on the trinket table on pages 160 and 161 in the Player’s Handbook.

Typically, these trinkets will relate to the creature you took them from. You can only have as many trinkets as your proficiency bonus and cannot create new trinkets while you are at your maximum. You can use each trinket in different ways.

While you have a trinket on your person, you have both advantage on death saving throws, and Constitution saves. You can also destroy one of your trinkets when doing Sneak Attack damage to get a free use of Wails from the Grave.

Finally, you can destroy one of your trinkets, even if it is not on your person, to ask the spirit within it a question they would have known in life. They will answer you concisely in a language they knew in life, but they have no obligation to be truthful.

Level 13

Ghost Walk, your 13th level feature, allows you to temporarily enter the land of the dead and appear like a ghost.

As a bonus action, you can take this spectral form and have a flying speed of 10 feet, can hover, and attack rolls have disadvantage against you. You can move through creatures or objects as if they were difficult terrain, but you will take 1d10 force damage if you end your turn inside of something or someone.

This form lasts for ten minutes, or until you end it as a bonus action, and you must finish a long rest or destroy a soul trinket to recharge the ability.

Level 17

Level 17 grants you Death Knell.

You gain the following benefits:

  • When you use Wails from the Grave, you can deal necrotic damage to both the first and the second creatures involved.
  • At the end of a long rest, a soul trinket appears in your hand if you do not have any. The spirits of the dead are naturally drawn to you.

Both of these features really seal the deal for how close this Archetype lives with the dead and out of the land of the living.


The Scout Archetype epitomizes someone who finds and exploits ambush points for their benefit. They often work closely with rangers and barbarians in the regions outside of cities and are at home in the woods or on the trail.

This Archetype is found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and is perfect for anyone who favors rangers or other wilderness survivalists.

Level 3

Like many other archetypes, you get two starting features. Skirmisher and Survivalist are critical components of making an effective Scout rogue.

Skirmisher allows you to move at half of your movement speed as a reaction when an enemy ends their turn within 5 feet of you. You avoid an opportunity attack and can put some distance between the two of you.

Survivalist gives you proficiency in Nature and Survival. You also get double proficiency for any ability checks you make that use those skills.

Level 9

Superior Mobility improves some of your movement speeds by 10 feet. This goes for walking, swimming, and climbing, specifically.

Level 13

Ambush Master is a great feature that you get when you reach Level 13.

You have advantage on initiative rolls and can buff the rest of your adventuring party. The first creature you hit becomes easier for others to hit, and attack rolls against the target have advantage until your next turn.

Level 17

Sudden Strike is the final and perhaps the most powerful Scout Archetypal feature.

If you make an attack, you can use your bonus action to make a second attack. This move can benefit from your Sneak Attack rules, but you cannot use Sudden Strike to make two Sneak Attack hits in one turn.


Soulknife rogues are another class that walks the line between two worlds. However, instead of a formal plane of existence, they work within the minds of others, using psychic energy to attack and protect themselves.

You can find this Archetype in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.

Level 3

You gain two features when you first select this Archetype. The first is called Psionic Power, and the second is called Psychic Blades. They represent the abilities afforded to you by the pool of psychic power you carry.

Psionic Power is an ability that doesn’t grow as much with you as you work. However, it is still a great ability for this rogue build 5e.

This feature gives you Psionic Energy dice. This is equal to twice your proficiency bonus, and you can expend Energy dice to do certain things. They are d6s and can improve at different levels.

These dice recharge when you take a long rest, and you can use a bonus action to gain one die back. However, you cannot use the bonus action again until you have completed a short or long rest.

The size of your dice pool increases when you reach certain levels:

  • 5th Level: d8
  • 11th Level: d10
  • 17th Level: d12

You can use these dice to do the following things:

  • Psi-Bolstered Knack: If you fail an ability check that you had proficiency with, you can expend one of your Energy die to add the number you roll with it your total. If the new total passes the check, the die is expended.
  • Psychic Whispers: You can use your die to establish telepathic communication between yourself and others. Choose a number of creatures equal to your proficiency bonus and then roll one of the Energy die. The number you roll equals the number of hours this effect lasts.

Psychic Whispers has a few more requirements that you should keep in mind.

One, you and the creature you are communicating with must be within one mile of each other. Two, if a creature cannot speak any languages, it cannot communicate with this feature. Third, a creature doesn’t need to understand a common language for the effect to work, and they can end the connection at any time.

Finally, the first time you use this power after a long rest, you do not expend a Psionic Energy die. However, each time after that first use does expend a die.

Your second feature is called Psychic Blades, and it gives you a new weapon to utilize. You manifest your power as a psychic blade. It is a simple melee weapon classified as finesse and thrown with a range of 60 feet.

This weapon has several unique qualities. Not only does it vanish after it has been used, but it also doesn’t leave a mark on the target. You can make a second attack with this weapon if you have a free hand to create it with.

This weapon deals 1d6 + your ability modifier for the first hit, but the second hit does 1d4 + your ability modifier.

Level 9

At Level 9, you get the feature Soul Blades. You get several powers that relate to your other skills.

Honing Strikes allows you to use a die to add to a missed attack roll. If this number makes the attack a hit, you expend the die.

Psychic Teleportation allows you to summon a Psychic Blade and teleport with it. Once used, you appear in the space, and the knife vanishes.

You roll one of your Psionic Energy die and throw the blade at an open space. The number you roll determines how far you can teleport, with a maximum range of ten times the number.

Level 13

Psychic Veil allows your rogue to hide with their psychic powers.

As an action, you, and everything you’re carrying or wearing, becomes invisible for an hour. You can dismiss it at any time before the deadline, but it also ends early after you deal damage or force a creature to make a saving throw.

Level 17

Your final Archetype feature is called Rend Mind. It is a significant debuff where you can stun an enemy.

When you use your Psychic Blades on a Sneak Attack hit, you can force that creature to make a Wisdom save. The DC is equal to 8 + proficiency + your Dexterity modifier. If they fail the save, they are stunned for one minute or until they pass the save.

This feature can only be done for free once every long rest and takes three Psionic Energy dice to use before then.


The name of this Archetype is relatively deceptive. While Swashbuckler rogues can be pirates or sea-faring individuals, they don’t have to be. You’ll find duellists, actors, performers of all types, and others who specialize in single combat.

It is defined by certainness in oneself, audacity, and general charisma. This should be a high Charisma and high Dexterity build.

You can find this Archetype in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything if you’re interested.

Level 3

You get two features at Level 3 when you choose this Archetype. Fancy Footwork and Rakish Audacity

Fancy Footwork allows your rogue to ignore certain combat movement consequences. Namely, if you make a melee attack against a creature, they can’t make an attack of opportunity against you for the rest of your turn.

Rakish Audacity means you can give an Initiative bonus equal to your Charisma modifier to yourself. You also get modified Sneak Attack rules.

You don’t need advantage on your Sneak Attack roll as long as:

  • You are within five feet of the target.
  • No other creatures are within five feet of you.
  • You don’t have disadvantage on the attack roll.

All other rules still apply, but this widens the amount of times you can use it.

Level 9

Panache gives your rogue a Charm Person style ability.

You can make a Charisma/Persuasion check that the target has to contest with Wisdom/Insight. You must share a language, and they must be able to hear you.

If you succeed on the check and the creature is hostile to you, it has disadvantage on targets other than you and cannot make opportunity attacks on other combatants than you. Its focus has turned to your character. The effect lasts for one minute until your companions attack it physically or with a spell, or until you and the target are more than 60 feet apart.

Now, if the creature is not hostile to you when you use this feature, they are charmed by you for one minute. It regards you as a friendly acquaintance, but the second your party harms the creature, the effect ends.

Level 13

Elegant Maneuver allows you to use your bonus action to gain advantage on the next Dexterity/Acrobatics or Strength/Athletics check you make during the same turn. This is effectively limitless on turns, as long as you have the bonus action.

Level 17

Master Duelist is the final feature you receive with this Archetype. You can turn a failure into a successful check. If you miss an attack roll, you can roll it with advantage. However, you can’t use this feature again until you finish a short or long rest.


The last of the Archetypes on this list that’s in the Player’s Handbook, the Thief Archetype is pretty much what it sounds like. This is for the career criminal, the art thieves, the stereotypical rogue character.

Level 3

At Level 3, you get two features: Fast Hands and Second-Story Work.

Fast Hands allows you to take specific actions while using Cunning Action. You can use your Cunning Action bonus action to make a Dexterity or Sleight of Hand check, use thieves’ tools to open a lock or disarm traps, or use an object.

Second-Story Work allows your rogue to climb faster than usual and ignore the movement cost for climbing. When you make a running jump, your distance increases by a number of feet equal to your Dexterity modifier.

Level 9

Your Level 9 feature is Supreme Sneak. You have advantage on Dexterity and Stealth checks if you move at half your movement speed or less during your turn.

Level 13

Level 13 gives you the feature Use Magic Device. This allows you to ignore all class, race, and level requirements to use a magical item. Suddenly, your rogue has a way to access immense amounts of power.

Level 17

Thief’s Reflexes is your 17th level feature, and your rogue has become aware of how to avoid ambushes and how to design them.

You can take two turns during the first round of combat. The first one happens at your initiative roll, and then the second turn happens at your initiative roll minus ten. However, you can’t use this feature when you and your party have been surprised.

Building Your Rogue

Optimizing a rogue build 5e requires as much cunning as this class utilizes. You need to choose your character’s race, background carefully, and ability scores to get the best results.

Race Recommendations

You need to pick a race that will give you the best bonuses. Since rogues need to be high in Dexterity, you should choose based on that or other relevant features to your rogue abilities.

Some of the best races to choose are:

  • Elves: specifically High Elves or Dark Elves.
  • Lightfoot Halflings.
  • Humans.
  • Forest Gnomes.
  • Half-Elves.
  • Tieflings (if you are doing an Intelligence focused subclass).
  • Tabaxis.
  • Aarakocras.

All of these have impressive Dexterity, Wisdom, and Intelligence boosts. This will make your life infinitely easier. All of them will make your DnD rogue a force to be reckoned with.

Background Recommendations

There are so many backgrounds in 5th Edition that would fit the 5e rogue. However, for the sake of this guide, we’re only going to cover the backgrounds offered in the Player’s Handbook.

The best backgrounds for a 5e rogue are:

  • Charlatan
  • Criminal/Spy
  • Entertainer
  • Guild Artisan
  • Noble
  • Outlander
  • Sailor/Pirate
  • Soldier
  • Urchin

This is a more extensive list than you might expect, but that shows the versatility of the rogue class. Many of these backgrounds offer relevant proficiencies and features that will help your rogue function, but some will also pair nicely with different backstories.

All of them are excellent choices and will help your D&D 5e rogue build.

Ability Score Recommendations

Choosing the suitable ability scores to focus on is crucial to ensure that your rogue can function.

You should focus on Dexterity and Intelligence. Wisdom should be your next highest stat since you eventually get it as a saving throw.

Backstory Considerations

Backstories for a DnD 5e rogue practically make themselves. Picking the background may be all you need to do. However, some questions can help you flesh them out.

For example:

  • Why did your rogue turn to a life of crime?
  • Do they do crime for their own purposes, or is there a higher calling?
  • What is their relationship with any gods?
  • How does your rogue relate to magical ability?
  • Is there a ‘white whale’ for them somewhere? What is their long-term goal?
  • Do they have a family, and if so, are they supportive?

Thinking about these will help you build a compelling rouge that doesn’t fit into too many stereotypes. However, there is something to be said about a classic, edgy rogue. It’s all about what kind of character you want to play.

Rogue Leveling Guide 5e

There is a complete chart of the leveling up for rogues on page 95 of the Player’s Handbook, but let’s break this down in more words and walk you through the new features you’ve gathered.

Since we already covered the starting features above, we’ll not waste breath by covering them again. Instead, we’ll jump right back in with Level 2 boosts.

Rogue 5e

Level 2

Level 2 keeps you with 1d6 for Sneak Attack but gives you a new feature called Cunning Action. You can take a bonus action on every turn in combat.

You can use this for the following actions:

  • Dash
  • Disengage
  • Hide

There are no other significant boosts.

Level 3

The 3rd Level allows you to pick your Archetype from the impressive list we’ve already covered and boosts your Sneak Attack dice pool. You now have 2d6 to use with Sneak Attack.

Level 4

Level 4 is one of the chances to get an Ability Score Improvement. You can put one point into two different scores or two into one score.

Level 5

At Level 5, you get another Sneak Attack die and the feature Uncanny Dodge. Your proficiency bonus also increases to a +3.

Uncanny Dodge allows you to half damage dealt from an enemy that you can see. This is a reaction.

Level 6

Level 6 gives you an Expertise boost. You can choose two new proficiencies with tools or skills to benefit from this feature. This is the final boost for the Expertise feature, and you cannot upgrade it anymore.

Level 7

Level 7 gives you another Sneak Attack die. You also gain the feature Evasion. You can dodge out of the way from area of effect attacks, such as spell effects, by changing the damage amounts you take.

If you succeed the saving throw, you do not take any damage. Similarly, you only take half the damage if you do not pass the save.

Level 8

Level 8 gives you another Ability Score Improvement, but no other features or advancements.

Level 9

Level 9 will give you a new Archetypal Feature. You also get another Sneak Attack die (for a total of 5d6), and your proficiency bonus rises to +4.

Level 10

Level 10 offers you an Ability Score Improvement.

Level 11

Your Sneak Attack pool rises to 6d6, and you receive the feature Reliable Talent. This makes all rolls that you have proficiency in count as an automatic base 10. For example, if you rolled a 6, you could assume that it was a ten and then add your proficiency bonus.

Level 12

The only improvement you get at Level 12 is an Ability Score Improvement.

Level 13

Level 13 is a significant improvement level. Not only does your proficiency bonus increase to  +5, but you also get another Sneak Attack die for a total of 7d6 and an Archetypal feature.

Level 14

You receive the feature Blindsense at Level 14. If you can hear, you can sense any hidden or invisible creatures within 10 feet of you.

Level 15

Level 15 grants you another Sneak Attack die (for a total of 8d6) and the feature Slippery Mind. It simply gives you proficiency in Wisdom saves.

Level 16

Level 16 gives you an Ability Score Improvement.

Level 17

You get both another Sneak Attack die, and your proficiency bonus increases for the final time. You now have a +6 for proficiency and 9d6 to Sneak Attack.

On top of that, you have a Roguish Archetype feature added.

Level 18

You get the feature Elusive. Elusive means that no attacks against you can have advantage while not incapacitated.

Level 19

You gain another Sneak Attack die for the final total of 10d6, and you get an Ability Score Improvement.

Level 20

Finally, at Level 20, you gain the feature Stroke of Luck.

If an attack misses a target within range, you can turn it into a hit. You could also use this feature to turn an ability check roll into a base 20 that you add modifiers to. You can use this feature once before recharging during a short or long rest.

Food for Thought

The D&D 5e rogue is a dynamic and sneaky class built for infiltration and theft. When made well, they are a force to be reckoned with and as intimidating as any other player character.

While there are some concerns in the community about whether they are overpowered, other factors may mislead people about their abilities. It is up to every DM and player to work together and create a balanced character.

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Written By Jake Morley

Jake, the founder of The Dungeon Rats, started playing D&D in 2012. He has continued to level up his player and dungeon master skills and wanted to share his journey and helpful knowledge with other like-minded individuals. He launched The Dungeon Rats in 2021 as an outlet for those interested in learning more about Dungeons and Dragons in hopes they can take what they learn and apply it at their own table!