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DnD 3.5 - The Rogue Handbook

Disclaimer

I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which tend to be more consistent than 3.5 handbooks. Because so little of 3.5 is available on the SRD, I will attempt to tag items with a superscript indicating their book of origin. For help identifying sourcebook abbreviations, see my Sourcebook Abbreviations Guide.

It's important to note that I generally omit campaign-setting specific content. I am of the opinion that those options are intended to be limited to campaigns run in those settings, and as such they don't really apply to a generic campaign. Those options also tend to be wildly unbalanced and rarely recieve errata. I also omit the use of "Flaws" since they allow a massive increase in power with essentially no cost to the character.

Introduction

The Rogue is an iconic and important class, and nearly any party is wise to include one. With the longest skill list and most skill points of any class but the Factotum, Rogues can fill the roles of Face, Scout, and Striker.

Rogue Class Features

Hit Points: d6 hit points is hard, especially because so many Rogues go for melee builds.

Base Attack Bonus: 2/3 BAB is hard for characters so dependent on weapon attacks for damage, especially for Two-Weapon Fighting builds, but with decent planning (and with Flanking) Rogues get by just fine.

Saves: The Rogue's only good save is Reflex, and with Evasion they're very good at Reflex saves. Unfortunately, the Rogue doesn't have any built-in means to overcome their poor Fortitude and Will saves.

Proficiencies: Simple weapons offer lots of options, but your go-to choices will be the Dagger, Short Sword, Rapier, and Shortbow for most builds.

Skills: Short of the Factotum, the Rogue has the best skills in the game. Unfortunately, 8+ skill ranks isn't enough to cover everything that a Rogue can do, even with substantial Intelligence.

Sneak Attack: The Rogue's primary source of damage output. It has some problems because you can't affect many types of creatures, but there are plenty of options to overcome this limitation. Sneak Attack can be further customized and improved with Ambush Feats

Trapfinding: Not useful in absolutely every campaign, but absolutely essential in campaigns with traps.

Evasion (Ex): Fantastic for surviving fireballs and other AOE effects which would normally run through your shallow pool of hit points with ease.

Trap Sense (Ex): Very situational.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Situational, but it allows you to do silly things like Fight Defensively every round while you're walking around for an easy AC boost.

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Very situational.

Special Abilities: Special Abilities are interesting, but they're just not flashy and powerful enough to keep most people in single-class Rogue long enough to reach them.

Alternate Class Features

Substitution Levels

Abilities

Rogues are conceptually SAD because they rely so heavily on Dexterity, but in reality they are about as MAD as a Fighter if they intend to do more than stab things.

Str: Even for melee builds, you can usually get away with dumping Strength. The Rogue's damage dervices mostly from Sneak Attack, so a -1 or -2 from Strength won't matter much.

Dex: Every Rogue's primary ability. It adds to almost everything the Rogue does.

Con: Essential for melee builds, but less so for ranged builds.

Int: Essential for filling out the Rogue's enormous skill list.

Wis: Take a bit to boost your poor Will saves.

Cha: Take a bit if you plan to be a Face, but if someone else can do the talking you can dump it.

Races

Dexterity is crucial. Darkvision is nice to have, but not essential. Medium size is nice if you plan to be Reduced, but hardly essential.

Dwarf: Darkvision is really the only thing which the Dwarf offers the Rogue. As nice as Darkvision can be, there are plenty of ways to get it on another race.

Elf: Decent, especially with the Dexterity bonus, but not as helpful as Halfling or Human.

Gnome: Can't compete with Halflings.

Half-Elf: Awful.

Half-Orc: Darkvision is really the only thing which the Dwarf offers the Rogue. As nice as Darkvision can be, there are plenty of ways to get it on another race.

Halfling: Small size grants a fantastic +4 to Hide, and the Halfling's other racial bonuses work very well for Rogues. The bonus to Dexterity and penalty to Strength also work very well for Rogues

Human: A bonus feat and bonus skill points are both great for Rogues. You can become permanently Reduced to get the Halfling's racial ability bonuses.

Skills

Feats

Ambush Feats

Ambush feats works by replacing some of your Sneak Attack damage for one attack. You can combine as many Ambush Feats as you can afford with your current Sneak Attack dice, which can allow for some very potent combinations.

Weapons

Armor

Armor is presented in the order in which you should acquire it, rather than alphabetical order.

Magic Items

Weapons

Weapon Crystals

Armor/Shields

Armor/Shield Crystals

Rings

Wands

Wondrous Items

Permanent Spells

Multiclassing and Prestige Classes