DnD 5e - The Rogue Handbook
Last Updated: July 26th, 2018
I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.
- Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
- Green: Good options.
- Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can't assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won't cover Unearthed Arcana content because it's not finalized, and I can't guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.
I am currently waiting to include content from the Wayfarer's Guide to Eberron. According to Dragontalk (the official D&D podcast), it's in a semi-finishes state and is still subject to change, which could mean that character options in the book will see major changes before final publication. Once the book is complete, physical copies will be released and I will update to address the new content.
Rogues are the quintessential Face, Scout and Striker. Sneak Attack allows them to do a huge pile of damage in a single attack, and their pile of skills allows them to easily handle locks, traps, guards, and many other challenges. While a party can function just fine without a Rogue, it's hard to compete with the sheer number of important skill and tool proficiencies offered by the Rogue.
Rogues split into melee or ranged builds. Melee Rogues frequently go for two-weapon fighting because it provides a second chance to score Sneak Attack, and hit-and-run tactics are great way to get into melee to attack before retreating behind your party. Ranged rogues (archer Rogues) typically rely on sniping. Hiding after each attack using Cunning Action is reliable and effective, though it can be very static and repetitive. Arcane Tricksters expand on these options with magic, but when it's time to kill stuff even tricksters use the same tactics.
Rogue Class Features
Hit Points: 1d8 hit points is dangerous if you go into melee alone, so be sure to have a nice tanky ally nearby and a healer waiting in the wings.
Saves: Dexterity saves will protect you from things like fireballs, and Intelligence saves also exist I suppose. Evasion further improves your Dexterity saves.
Proficiencies: Rogues get all of the weapons they need to get by, but thieves' tools, and a fantastic four skills.
Expertise: Rogues are truly the master of skills. Pick skills which fit the theme and style of your campaign and your character well.
Sneak Attack: Sneak Attack is the source of most of the Rogue's damage, and should define your combat tactics. You can only use it once per turn, which is disappointing for two-weapon fighting builds, but once per turn is plenty. Also note that it's per turn, not per round, so you can potentially use your reaction to Sneak Attack a second time in a round.
Thieves' Cant: Really only matters for flavor.
Cunning Action: This is a fantastic option for bringing your Sneak Attack into play. Archers can use Hide to stay hidden between attacks, and melee Rogues can use Dash and Disengage to move around the battlefield safely and quickly.
Roguish Archetype: See "Subclasses - Roguish Archetypes", below.
Uncanny Dodge: If you only draw a handful of attacks this can prevent a huge amount of damage.
Evasion: Between this and uncanny dodge you are very durable.
Reliable Talent: This is especially nice for your Expertise skills, and it's great motivation to pick up the Skilled feat.
Blindsense: Locating invisible creatures can be very hard, and even if you can't hit them easily it goes a long way to know where they are standing.
Slippery Mind: Your Wisdom probably isn 't great, but at this level your Proficiency Bonus is bug enough that this goes a long way.
Elusive: Between this, Uncanny Dodge, and Evasion you are very difficult to kill.
Stroke of Luck: Essential when the chips are down and you can't afford to fail.
Subclasses - Rogue Archetypes
- Arcane TricksterPHB: The Arcane
Trickster brings magic to the Rogue. Enchantment and Illusion spells both
offer fantastic options, trading in utility and trickery for the offensive
options of the Assassin or the skill options of the Thief.
- Spellcasting: The Arcane Tricksters defining feature. You're limited almost exclusively to Enchantment and Illusion spells, but both of those schools work very well for Arcane Tricksters. When selecting spells, remember that Sneak Attack requires Dexterity-base weapon attacks, so you can't apply it to your spells.
- Mage Hand Legerdemain: Controlling the hand as a bonus action means that you can pick locks and pick pockets while you're doing other things fighting or casting other spells.
- Magical Ambush: Since your spell DC likely won't be as good as that of a dedicated spellcaster this can really do a lot to improve the reliability of your spells.
- Versatile Trickster: Advantage allows you to Sneak Attack the target. Remember that you will need to move the hand into range for this to work, but you can use your Cunning Action on the previous round to do so thanks to Legerdemain.
- Spell Thief: The obvious use it to steal spells from enemy spellcasters, but in a game when you might go several levels without seeing a spellcaster, a better option is to "steal" spells from your party's other spellcasters. Have them cast a useful low-level spell on you, like a buff spell or polymorph, and cast it on your own without needing to consume other spellcasters precious spell slots.
- AssassinPHB: Assassins are good at
two things: Infiltration and (you guessed it) assassination. If you want to
get into places unsuspected or just straight up murder people, the Assassin
is the way to go. However, they lack utility options for handling situations
outside their specialized skillset.
- Bonus Proficiencies: Both tool kits are fantastic and open up wonderful options for the Rogue.
- Assassinate: This is excellent motivation to lead off every combat with a huge damage die, but Sneak Attack requires that your attack be dexterity-based, so you may want to use a Rapier or Heavy Crossbow (which requires you to find the proficiency somewhere) to deal as much damage as possible.
- Infiltration Expertise: Situational, but very flavorful, and absolutely fantastic in some situations.
- Impostor: Situational, but very flavorful.
- Death Strike: Combined with Sneak Attack and Assassinate, this is an absolutely huge pile of damage.
- InquisitiveXGtE: If you want to be
really good at Insight and Perception, this is the way to do it. Combined with
Expertise there's no one who could reasonably compete with the Inquisitive's
powers of perception. However, the archetype offers nothing to do once you
notice stuff. It would be great in a campaign that includes lots of traps,
hidden doors, and people who lie to you, but in situations not specifically
tailored to the Inquisitive's skillset they fall back on basic Rogue class
- Ear for Deceit: This makes Insight much more reliable. In a small party where you can't hope for a good role due to sheer numbers, this is wonderful.
- Eye for Detail: Finding hidden creatures normally requires an action to attempt, which is a serious problem if you're ever attacked by stealth enemies which like to hide and snipe at you from afar.
- Insightful Fighting: Ear for Deceit will make this very reliable, and it last for a full minute so you have plenty of time to benefit. Even if you lose the opposed check, you can try again the following round.
- Steady Eye: Combined with Eye for Detail you're extremely reliable at spotting traps and hidden enemies, but the limitation on movement might be a problem in combat.
- Unerring Eye: Wisdom isn't an especially useful ability score for rogues, so it's frustrating that this ability is Wisdom-based. However, the effect is extremely useful, so it's hard to complain too much.
- Eye for Weakness: Extra damage never hurts, but it's not very exciting.
- MastermindSCAG / XGtE: The Mastermind works
best in a game with a lot of intrigue and social interactions. Half of the abilities
won't ever come into play in your typical dungeon-crawl.
- Master of Intrigue: A pile of proficencies which you might never use, but they might be very useful depending on the style of your game.
- Master of Tactics: Help gives the target Advantage, which is pretty great for a lot of characters. Of course, as a Rogue no one needs Advantage as much as you. Using this as a bonus action prevents you from using Cunning Action or two-weapon fighting, so your bonus actions will always be a very difficult trade-off. A good use case would be to use Master of Tactics to give your party's Fighter-equivalent Advantage, then ask them to Shove a target prone so that you can get Advantage on subsequent turns.
- Insightful Manipulator: A fun way to metagame, but not always useful since in most games you typically won't get to spend a minute chatting up enemeies before weapons come out.
- Misdirection: Lightfoot Halflings have the ability to hide behind creatures one size larger than they are, which will often also give you cover. It can be a bit rude to shuffle attacks onto an ally, but if you're using a well-armored ally as cover sometimes your ally may be better suited to absorb the attack.
- Soul of Deceit: Very situational.
- ScoutXGtE: Scouts easily outcompete
Rangers in skill use with Nature and Survival, but lack any of the actual
Ranger flavor. If you want to play a Rogue in a wilderness game, you could
definitely do worse, and it's hard to think of a better way to make a Rogue
that uses a bow. The Scout manages to keep you at a nice safe distance, keeping
you safely out of attack range while your allies distract enemies long enough
for you to Sneak Attack them.
- Skirmisher: Potentially fantastic, but if the attacker has more movement they may be able to follow you. Try to force them to run past someone in your party who can make a decent Opportunity Attack. On your own turn, try to stay as far away from enemies as possible while still being able to Sneak Attack so that they can't outrun you.
- Survivalist: Two new skills and Expertise in both of them.
- Superior Mobility: Really helpful in conjunction with Skirmisher and your need to stay as far away as you can.
- Ambush Master: Plan to pick up the Alert feat for the bonus to Initiative rolls. You want to go firs to maximize the utility of this ability. Encourage your allies to focus on your target and quickly eliminate high-priority targets early in the fight before worrying about other enemies.
- Sudden Strike: This extra attack consumes your bonus action, so two-weapon fighting is redundant. Allowing you to Sneak Attack twice in a turn effectively doubles your damage output, which is amazing at any level.
- SwashbucklerSCAG / XGtE: The Rogue's biggest
challenge is applying Sneak Attack reliably. While that's relatively easy in
5e, there are still times when you won't manage to Sneak Attack. The Swashbuckler
all but eliminates these times, making the Rogue an even more reliable source
of damage. In addition, the Swashbuckler has fantastic abilities for moving
through combat, evading enemies, and even forcing them to engage the Swashbuckler,
thereby allowing the Rogue to serve as the party's Defender.
- Fancy Footwork: You only need to attack the target, not hit them, so if you miss and don't want to stay in melee range you're free to retreat unimpeded. Using two light-weapons for two-weapon fighting allows you to move past two enemies if you feel the need. The choice between using Cunning Action to Disengage and relying on Fancy Footwork will depend both on what you're wielding and on how many enemies you need to evade.
- Rakish Audacity: This is absurdly good. Any Rogue can Sneak Attack if an ally is within 5 feet of the target. Rakish Audacity allows you to Sneak Attack if no one except the target is adjacent to you, which means that as long as you're not getting ganged up on you can reliably Sneak Attack whenever you hit. What's better is that this ability doesn't specify melee attacks, so as long as you can get away from enemies (such as by using Cunning Action to Disengage) you're guranteed to be able to Sneak Attack. Oh, and as if this wasn't absurdly good already, you add your Charisma bonus to Initiative checks on top of your Dexterity.
- Panache: Tanking generally isn't in the Rogue's skillset, but the first portion of this ability is essentially a taunt. The DM could technically end the ability by having the creature walk out of the 60 foot range, then return, but that would be a cheap metagame trick, so feel free to shame your DM if they try it. If you have enough AC to be a tank (not hard with decent dexterity and possibly a shield). Out of combat, you can use this to Charm creatures, making them a very loyal friend for a very brief period.
- Elegant Maneuver: Advantage is great, especially on a skill like Athletics which is used to Shove enemies prone. Unfortunately, this uses your Bonus Action just to grant you the bonus, so you still need to use your Action to use the skill, leaving you no opportunity to attack. This won't combine with Shield Master's ability to Shove as a Bonus Action.
- Master Duelist: Sometimes you can't risk missing, and in those cases this is a life saver. Most of the time you can still use Fancy Footwork to move away and return to attack later, but sometimes that just isn't an option.
- ThiefPHB: The Thief is the vanilla
Rogue, but that is not to say that it's boring. A Thief is reliable and very
effective at the tasks which you most associate with Rogues.
- Fast Hands: Disarming traps and open locks can typically wait until you finish combat, but using an option as a bonus action can include cool things like drinking potions.
- Second-Story Work: Situational.
- Supreme Sneak: If you combine this with Expertise, you are as close to undetectable as you can get without being magically silenced and invisible.
- Use Magic Device: This opens up all manner of weapons, wands, and staves which are normally limited to specific characters.
- Thief's Reflexes: Two entire turns is crazy. You can Sneak Attack twice, possible before enemies get a chance to act.
Dexterity is key for any Rogue, and Intelligence is important for Arcane Tricksters, but your Wisdom and Charisma depend largely on your choice of skills and role in the party.
Str: Dump stat. Nothing that the Rogue does uses Strength.
Dex: Rogues run on Dexterity. They add to you skills, your tools, your attacks, your damage, your AC, and your best save.
Con: Hit points are always important, especially for melee Rogues.
Int: Arcane Tricksters need Intelligence for their spells, but other Rogues only need it for Investigation.
Wis: Helpful for Insight Perception, but otherwise useless. Inquisitives will want a bit more to power Unerring Eye.
Cha: Rogues make a great Face, and you can't be a Face without Charisma.
|Most Rogues||Arcane Trickster|
|Point Buy||Standard Array||Point Buy||Standard Array|
Dexterity bonuses are critical, and Darkvision is fantastic for sneaking around in the dark. Size doesn't matter sinc Rogues don't use heavy weapons.
AarakocraEEPC: Fantastic for an archer Rogue. Flying makes getting places much easier, especially where things like walls are an issue, and it keeps you out of range of enemies. Bonus Dexterity is also nice.
- Fallen: Nothing useful for the Rogue.
- Protector: Nothing useful for the Rogue.
- Scourge: Nothing useful for the Rogue.
BugbearVGTM: The Strength increase is totally wasted on a rogue, but reach is hard for rogues to get, you get Stealth proficiency for free, and Surprise Attack stacks with Sneak Attack so you can deal 3d6+weapon damage at first level and one-shot many enemies.
Dwarf: The Dwarf's abilities are tangentially helpful for the Rogue, but they have trouble competing with races which provide a Dexterity bonus. Darkvision is particularly helpful.
- DuergarSCAG: Slightly better for Rogues the Mountain Dwarf, especially in a subterranean campaigns, if only because of Invisibility. Of course, Arcane Tricksters can cast that on their own, so it's not all that great.
- HillPHB: Extra hit points are nice, and a bit of Wisdom helps with Perception, but it's not very exciting.
- MountainPHB: Strength and medium armor are both useless for Rogues.
DragonbornPHB: Nothing useful for the Rogue.
ElfPHB: A bonus to Dexterity and Darkvision are perfect for a Rogue.
- Drow: Improved Darkvision range is helpful for ambushing enemies which also have Darkvision, but the limitation in direct sunlight is really impractical in games which aren't subterranean.
- EladrinMToF: On par with the High Elf, Fey Step is a massive benefit for a class so dependent on stealth and surprise, and occasionally on running when a fight turns sour. While the High Elf is better for Arcane Tricksters, the Eladrin is great for other builds, especially if you're playing the party's Face.
- High Elf: An Intelligence boost is good for Arcane Tricksters, but any archer Rogue will enjoy proficiency with Longbows, and a free cantrip offers some interesting options (Green-Flame Blade is a go-to options for the easy damage boost).
- Sea ElfMToF: Potentially useful in an aquatic campaign, but otherwise nothing special.
- Shadar-KaiMToF: If you're not going for Arcane Trickster and you still want teleportation, the Shadar-Kai is a better option than the Eladrin.
- Wood Elf: Wisdom is great for Perception, and any archer Rogue will enjoy proficiency with Longbows. Mask of the Wild is situational, but it offers some helpful options for stealth.
FirbolgVGTM: Nothing useful for the Rogue.
GenasiEEPC: A Constitution bonus never hurts, but Rogues who take a lot of damage don't live very long no matter how many hit points they have.
- Air: The Dexterity bonus isn't enough to make up for the Air Genasi's lack of useful special abilities.
- Earth: Nothing useful for the Rogue.
- Fire: Decent for an Arcane Trickster since tricksters generally don't get access to direct damage spells.
- Water: Nothing useful for the Rogue.
Gith: Nothing useful for the Rogue.
Gnome: Intelligence and Darkvision work for an Arcane Trickster, but other Rogues won't get as much benefit from Intelligence.
- Deep (Svirfneblin)EEPC / SCAG: Fantastic in a subterranean game.
- ForestPHB: Dexterity is great for a Rogue, and combined with the base Gnome's Intelligence bonus this is a fantastic choice for an Arcane Trickster.
- RockPHB: The Constitution buff is the only thing with any significant game effect.
GoblinVGTM: The ability scores are fantastic, but Nimble Escape is totally redundant with Cunning Action.
GoliathEEPC: Goliaths are Strength-based melee monsters, which really don't work for the Rogue.
Half-Elf: Darkvision, two free skills and some really great ability buffs. Great for any Rogue, but especially good if you plan to play a Face.
- AquaticSCAG: Only if you're in an aquatic campaign.
- DrowSCAG: Arcane Tricksters get access to similar options.
- High/Moon/SunSCAG: A single cantrip gets you access to either Green Flame Blade or Thundering Blade, both of which are fantastic damage boosts for melee Rogues.
- Keen SensesSCAG: The sidebar describing half-elf variants specifices that you can take Keen Senses in place of Skill Versatility, or a trait based on your elf parentage. Keen Senses give you a single fixed skill, and you're giving up proficiency in any two skills. It should be immediately apparent that this is a terrible trade.
- WoodSCAG: Mask of the Wild is tempting, and Fleet of Foot is great for hit-and-run tactics, but there are better options.
- VanillaPHB: Rogues get a lot of skills, but not nearly enough to cover everything that a Rogue should do, especially if you're the party's Face.
Half-OrcPHB: I really want to use Savage Attacks with the Assassin's Assassinate ability, but the Half-Orc's ability bonuses just don't help a Rogue.
HalflingPHB: A Dexterity bonus is great, and Lucky is always helpful, especially since Rogues generally only get one or two attacks.
- Ghostwise: Silent Speech is a fun trick, but you'll get more mileage out of other halfling subrace traits.
- Lightfoot: Hide behind the fighter!
- Stout: Good for a durable Rogue, but not as stealthy or charismatic as the Lightfoot Halfling.
HobgoblinVGTM: The ability score increases don't help much, but Saving Face is great on a class which frequently needs to depend on a single attack per round.
HumanPHB: Versatile and fantastic at everything.
- Vanilla: Rogues have enough skills that they can reasonably justify having several good ability scores, so take advantage of the point buy method and Human's ability modifiers, and boost a bunch of base 13s.
- Variant: You still get crucial bonuses to Dexterity and something else, and you can get an awesome feat at level 1. The additional skill is also helpful, but between the four skills from being a Rogue and the two from your background, it's hardly necessary.
KenkuVGTM: Good ability score increases and two free skills.
KoboldVGTM: Pack Tactics is insanely powerful for rogues. Get a familiar, a summoned creature, or a friend to stand next to whatever you want to kill and you get automatic Advantage. Sneak Attack is basically guranteed. Oh, and the ability increases are fantastic. I'm still super angry that WotC re-introduced ability score penalties, but I'm sure all of the kobold rogues running around with 6 Strength will get through life just fine.
LizardfolkVGTM: Natural armor will provide more AC than manufactured armor can, and two free skills are a nice complement to the Rogue's already expansive skillset. Lizardfolk do great when built to emphasize Dexterity, but Hungry Jaws is always dependent on Strength, so emphasizing Dexterity may mean giving up on Hungry Jaws.
OrcVGTM: Nothing useful for the Rogue.
TabaxiVGTM: Everything about the Tabaxi is perfect for the Rogue. You don't get to select from a list of skills like the Kenku does, but basically every Rogue in existence wants Perception and Stealth anyway.
Tiefling: Fantastic for a charismatic rogue .Darkvision and the free spells offer some interesting options, especially with the numerous Tiefling subraces.
- AsmodeusMToF: Bad ability spread.
- BaalzebulMToF: Bad ability spread.
- DispaterMToF: Good ability spread, and interesting spell options. This is a great option in a campaign with a lot of intrigue, espionage, and social interaction.
- FiernaMToF: Bad ability spread.
- GlasyaMToF: Ideal for tiefling rogues. Legacy of Malbolge offers useful spell options normally only available to arcane tricksters.
- LevistusMToF: Bad ability spread.
- MammonMToF: Bad ability spread.
- MephistophelesMToF: Bad ability spread.
- ZarielMToF: Bad ability spread.
- Variant: FeralSCAG: Perfect for an Arcane Trickster.
- Variant: Devil's TongueSCAG: Tempting if you are building a Face with decent Charisma, but better as a Bard.
- Variant: HellfireSCAG: If you're casting Burning Hands then you're not using Sneak Attack.
- Variant: VanillaPHB: The ability scores don't work as well as Feral, but not bad for a Face.
- Variant: WingedSCAG: On a Rogue I would absolutely take flight over the free spells.
TortleTP: Rogues can't make effective use of Strength or Wisdom, and none of the Tortle's other traits are especially appealing.
TritonVGTM: Nothing useful for the Rogue.
Yuan-Ti PurebloodVGTM: Nothing useful for the Rogue.
- Acrobatics (Dex): Very situational.
- Athletics (Str): Rogues don't really do anything that requires Athletics. Thieves might want it for climbing, but even that is very infrequent.
- Deception (Cha): Important for a Face.
- Insight (Wis): Important for a Face.
- Intimidation (Cha): Important for a Face.
- Investigation (Int): Very helpful, but not as important as Perception.
- Perception (Wis): Perception is by far the most important skill in the game, and it's important that several characters in the party have it.
- Performance (Cha): Performance is for Bards.
- Persuasion (Cha): Essential for a Face.
- Sleight of Hand (Dex): Sleight of Hand is very thematic for many Rogues, but it's not very useful.
- Stealth (Dex): A Rogue without Stealth is a very strange Rogue.
Rogues can do a lot, but they also need a lot of skills to do it all. Look for backgrounds which fill in proficiencies which are already on the Rogue skill list but which you couldn't get with yoour choice of two skills.
- AcolytePHB: Insight and Religion can be decent options for a Rogue with the right abilities, and extra languages are helpful for a Face.
- CharlatanPHB: Two Rogue skills and two tool kits.
- City WatchSCAG: Athletics doesn't do much for Rogues, but Insight and free languages are great for a Face.
- Cloistered ScholarSCAG: Two knowledge skills and two language can be excellent additions to a Face with decent Intelligence.
- CourtierSCAG: Perfect for a Face.
- CriminalPHB: Two important Rogue skills, and two tool kits. You already get Thieves' Tools proficiency as a Rogue, so you can replace Thieves' Tools with another proficiency of the same type. I recommend Poisoner's Kit.
- EntertainerPHB: Disguise Kit proficiency is really the only interesting piece.
- Faction AgentSCAG: Fantastic for a Face, and it allows you to fill in a social skill which you couldn't get elsewhere.
- Far TravelerSCAG: Two excellent skills for a Rogue, a bonus language, and proficiency with an item that you'll probably never use.
- Guild ArtisanPHB: Two important skills for any Face, but the tool proficiency isn't very helpful.
- InheritorSCAG: You can't really use Survival, but the rest is decent. Far Traveler provides similar options with better skills.
- Mercenary VeteranSCAG: Athletics is occasionally useful for Rogues, and any face needs Persuasion.
- NoblePHB: A good choice for a Face. History is decent if you have a bit of Intelligence to back it up.
- SagePHB: An Arcane Trickster might have enough Intelligence to justify two knowledge skills, and the extra languages are nice for a Face.
- Urban Bounty HunterSCAG: Basically two additional skill choices from the Rogue class skills, plus some tool proficiencies, including the ever-important Thieve's Tools.
- UrchinPHB: Two important Rogue skills, and two tool kits. You already get Thieves' Tools proficiency as a Rogue, so you can replace Thieves' Tools with another proficiency of the same type. I recommend Poisoner's Kit.
- Waterdavian NobleSCAG: Potentially good for a Face with decent Intelligence.
- AlertPHB: Going first is great for Rogues, especially Assassins.
- ActorPHB: Complements the Assassin's disguise and infiltration abilities very nicely.
- Crossbow ExpertPHB: Rogues never get Extra Attack, so this isn't very helpful. You can use a hand crossbow and a melee weapon to do two-weapon fighting, but you're better off throwing daggers.
- Defensive DuelistPHB: Very tempting for melee Rogues, but Uncanny Dodge also uses your reaction, and fills roughly the same function.
- Dual WielderPHB: The best case scenario for this feat is upgrading from two short swords to two rapiers, and the tiny bit of extra damage is hardly worth a feat.
- Dungeon DelverPHB: Handling traps and secret doors frequently falls to the Rogue, and with the Rogue's skills this can make you extremely effective in a dungeon-heavy campaign.
- DurablePHB: Leave this for your party's front line.
- Elemental AdeptPHB: Offensive spells aren't a goot option for Arcane Tricksters because you can't apply Sneak Attack.
- Inspiring LeaderPHB: A Rogue with good enough Charisma to use this feat is an excellent choice. Temporary hit points hugely reduce your need for magical healing, and there is little reason not to use this before every fight.
- Magic InitiatePHB: The Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide introduced Booming Blade and Green-Flame Blade, both of which are an Action and allow you to make a melee attack with a weapon, thereby allowing you to use them in conjunction with Sneak Attack. Since Rogues never get Extra Attack, these cantrips can be a small but useful boost to both damage and utility. Booming Blade is a great way to discourage enemies from following you after you hit them and using Cunning Action to Disengage, and Green-Flame Blade grants some easy bonus damage, plus allows you to damage a second target, which is particularly nice since Rogues are so bad at handling crowds of enemies. Unless you're an Arcane Trickster, the 1st-level spell should probably be a long-duration buff like Mage Armor (don't do it; real armor is better) or a reliable utility option. Find Familiar is tempting, but remember that you get to cast the spell daily so you want something that you'll actually use on a daily basis.
- Martial AdeptPHB: One maneuver per short rest isn't enough to justify this for the Rogue.
- MobilePHB: Hit-and-run tactics are great for melee Rogues, but moving out of a creatures threatened area is normally dangerous. This allows you to run in, attack, then run away safely. You can use Cunning Action to Dash, allowing you to move considerably further in one round, and possibly to hide behind difficult terrain.
- Moderately ArmoredPHB: You need to be improving your Dexterity enough that medium armor shouldn't be a good option.
- ObservantPHB: Potentially helpful if no one else in your party has Investigation or Perception, but probably overkill. If you really need this, use Expertise to improve your skills.
- ResilientPHB: Constitution or Charisma saves are both passable options.
- Ritual CasterPHB: A great way for Arcane Tricksters to improve their utility options if your party lacks dedicated spellcasters. Find Familiar is a fantastic option because your familiar can take the Help action to grant you Advantage on your attacks.
- Savage AttackerPHB: This is a bad feat. The largest damage die (d12), yields an average of 2 extra damage per turn.
- SentinelPHB: Sentinel can be a great way to get opportunity attacks, thereby giving you more opportunities to apply Sneak Attack. However, you may find it difficult to apply Sneak Attack because you can't guarantee positioning or Advantage on other creatures' turns. An enemy could easy move around within your reach until it is no longer adjacent to one of your allies before leaving your threatened area, thereby avoiding the bonus damage from Sneak Attack. Swashbucklers will be able to make best use of this part of the feat since their positioning requirements are so easily met. It's also unlikely that enemies will attack your allies while you're in reach because rogues are relatively soft targets. With light armor and 1d8 hit points, you're among the most frail melee characters. However, if you have a paladin in the party you can capitalize on options like Compelled Duel.
- SharpshooterPHB: Absolutely fantastic for archer Rogues. Combined with Sneak Attack, you can do some truly crazy damage. Just be sure that you have advantage, or you're going to miss frequently.
- Shield MasterPHB: A Swashbuckler with Expertise in Athletics can make excellent use of the first benefit, and the added bonus to your already excellent Reflex saves will make the third benefit especially potent. However, many Rogues prefer to carry a secondary weapon in their off-hand so that they can get a second chance at Sneak Attack if they miss with their first attack.
- SkilledPHB: With Reliable Talent you can reliably use any skill you know, even with a mediocre ability score.
- SkulkerPHB: Very helpful for archer Rogues who like to rely on sniping.
- Spell SniperPHB: You still can't use Sneak Attack with spells.
- War CasterPHB: Tempting for Arcane Tricksters, but since you can't sneak attack with a spell you're better off sticking to a weapon.
- Weapon MasterPHB: You have every weapon you could want except the Heavy Crossbow, and that's not enough to waste a feat.
- Crossbow, Hand: A decent ranged weapon, but it doesn't do anything that you can't do with a light crossbow.
- Crossbow, Light: The go-to ranged weapon. The same range as a short bow with a better damage die. The reload property doesn't matter since rogues don't get Extra Attack.
- Dagger: Great for Two-weapon fighting, and you can throw them if you need to, but the Short Sword has a slightly larger damage die.
- Longsword: I'm not sure why Rogues get proficiency with long swords.
- Rapier: Your best bet for single-weapon melee.
- Shortsword: Ideal for Two-weapon fighting. Comparable to daggers, but you can't throw them
- Short bow: Light crossbow is strictly better.
- Leather: Free starting armor for light armor users. Upgrade as soon as you can afford it.
- Studded Leather: Your permanent armor.
- Barbarian: Reckless Attack is very tempting because it provides a guaranteed means of gaining Advantage and dramatically improves your probability of applying Sneak Attack. However, one a class as frail as the Rogue it's extremely dangerous to grant Advantage against yourself and there are plenty of other ways to gain reliable access to Advantage and Sneak Attack. At level 18 Elusive negates the downside of Reckless Attack, but building a character around one trick which won't work until level 20 almost never pays off since so few campaigns reach high levels.
- Fighter: Fighting Style goes a very long way for the Rogue if you go for Archery, but Two-Weapon Fighting is a trap. Adding 2-5 damage (depending on your Dexterity) really won't matter compared to your Sneak Attack damage, so stick to Rogue and save your Bonus Action for Cunning Action. Swashbucklers might consider the Fencing style and pick up a shield (and possibly even medium armor) so that they can make best use of Panache. The +2 damage outpaces the 1.75 average Sneak Attack damage you get per Rogue level, so a single level won't cut into your damage output. If you can suffer three levels of Fighter, the Battle Master offer some useful options. Riposte allows you a reliable way to get an extra Sneak Attack per round (remember that Sneak Attack is once per turn), especially for swashbucklers who can apply Sneak Attack easily in melee. Feinting Attack also provides Advantage, allowing for easy Sneak Attack during your turn. However, thse options depend on Superiority dice, so your usage is severely limited.
- Monk: Way of the Shadow is a massively tempting option for Rogues, but the 3rd-level benefit isn't worth three levels, and the 6th-level benefit costs you too much to obtain.
- Ranger: 2 levels gets you a Fighting Style and access to Hunter's Mark, which makes Two-Weapon Fighting more viable (though still not necessarily great). Three levels opens up a Ranger achetype, and the Hunter can select Giant Slayer as their 3rd-level ability. Giant Slayer allows you an attack as a reaction, offering a way to get a second Sneak Attack per round every round.
- Wizard: Two levels to pick up the Bladesinging tradition offers some excellent options for melee Rogues. Bladesong grants a nice AC boost (especially for Arcane Tricksters) and some other great benefits, and access to Wizard spells removes the need for the Magic Initiate feat. Since you have more spell options than Magic Initiate provides, pick up Find Familiar and have your familiar use the Help action to grant you Advantage (and therefore Sneak Attack) on your attacks.