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Pathfinder - The Rogue Handbook

Disclaimer

I will use content from the core rules, but will intentionally omit any content not published on the official Pathfinder SRD due to the unmanageable volume of non-SRD content, and the wildly varying quality of non-SRD content. If you would like me to write handbooks for specific content not published on the official SRD, please email me and I will consider it on a case-by-case basis. I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.

Temporary Note: Pathfinder Unchained and Occult Adventures were both recently added to the SRD. I'm excited to explore them, and I am actively working on adding their contents to my collection of handbooks. I appreciate your patience while I make these changes.

Introduction

An iconic and important part of any party, the Rogue is an iconic Scout and Striker, but can also serve as the party's Face. Rogues are the line from which Scouts are measured, and their Trapfinding ability and affinity for stealth are fantastic. The Rogue's biggest problem is that they frequently cease functioning when situations make it difficult or impossible to use Sneak Attack.

This guide is for the vanilla Rogue. For the Unchained Rogue, see my Unchained Rogue Handbook.

Rogue Class Features

Hit Points: At d8 hit points, the Rogue is fairly squishy. Because many Rogues work best in melee, hit points are a serious concern and Rogues need to be sure to keep their AC high.

Base Attack Bonus: 2/3 BAB is difficult because many Rogues depend on two-weapon fighting, but flanking and high Dexterity can make up the deficit.

Saves: Good Reflex saves, high Dexterity, and Evasion make the Rogue exceptionally good at Reflex saves, but they often have issues with Fortitude and Will saves.

Proficiencies: Limited to simple weapons, hand crossbows, and a handful of martial weapons, Rogues have very few options. Fortunately, they get all of the ones that they really need to get by.

Skills: 8+ skill ranks and the longest class skill list in the game. Rogues can do a lot of things, but even with 8+ skill ranks it can still be difficult to cover all of the essentials. Be sure to coordinate with your party to know you're going to need to invest your skill ranks.

Sneak Attack: A pile of d6's to drop on your foes. Sneak Attack is the Rogue's primary source of damage, but because it can be hard to bring into play, Rogues occasionally find themselves useless in combat.

Trapfinding: The bonus to disarming traps is good, but the ability to disarm magical traps is the key component of this feature.

Evasion (Ex): With your high reflex saves, Evasion will save you from a lot of damage.

Rogue Talents: Basically Rogue-only feats, Rogue Talents offer a huge number of excellent ways to customize and improve your Rogue. For help picking talents, see my Rogue Talents Breakdown.

Trap Sense (Ex): The bonus scales reasonably well, but the use is highly situational.

Uncanny Dodge: The ability to never be caught flat-footed is nice, but somewhat situational. If you are expecting to be attacked, you can do silly things like using Full Defense every round until you get attacked.

Improved Uncanny Dodge: This will basically never come up.

Advanced Talents: Add an extra list of considerably better Rogue Talents.

Master Strike: Basically the Assassin's Death Strike ability. This ability is fine, but Ninjas and Slayers can take it as a talent at level 11.

Abilities

The Rogue is very frequently MAD, especially if the party has very few other skills and no Face.

Str: Only useful for a bit of damage, and Rogues depend almost exclusively on Sneak Attack for damage. Dump to 8, but don't dump to 7 unless you really need the extra points.

Dex: In light armor, Dexterity is absolutely crucial. All but the strangest Rogue builds depend on Weapon Finesse or ranged weapons, so make sure to put a lot of resources into dexterity.

Con: Essential for Fortitude saves and hit points, especially if you're in melee.

Int: Essential for skill ranks. 8+ seems like a lot, but it's nowhere near enough.

Wis: Essential for Will saves.

Cha: A little bit of Charisma is great if you plan to play a Face, but otherwise you can dump Charisma to 7.

25 Point Buy 20 Point Buy 15 Point Buy Elite Array
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 18
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 11
  • Cha: 12
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 17
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 11
  • Cha: 12
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 16
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 10
  • Cha: 10
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 15
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 13
  • Wis: 10
  • Cha: 12

Races

Bonuses to Dexterity are essential, and bonuses to Intelligence or skills are nice too. Darkvision is especially nice at low levels before you can get Darkvision from spells.

Dwarf: Not particularly well-suited to the Rogue, but Darkvision is certainly tempting.

Elf: Bonuses to Dexterity and Intelligence are fantastic, and some of the Elf's other racial abilities are helpful. The Elf favored class bonus adds additional uses to the minor magic and major magic talents, but unless you really plan to use those talents it won't matter.

Gnome: The penalty to strength hurts our damage a little bit, but small size doesn't hurt rogues much, and provides nice bonuses to Stealth, attacks, and AC. The bonus Charisma helps a bit, though not as much as a bonus to dexterity. The slow speed also hurts a bit, but can be overcome with items, and careful positioning.

Half-Elf: The flexible ability score bonus goes into Dexterity, but many of the other racial traits can be swapped out for more useful options. The Half-Elf favored class bonus is garbage, so take the Elf or Human favored class bonuses instead.

Half-Orc: The flexible ability score bonus goes into Dexterity, the bonus to Intimidate is a nice perk, and you get Darkvision. The favored class bonus is garbage.

Halfling: Bonuses to Dexterity and Charisma make the Halfling a natural Rogue. The Fleet of Foot alternate racial trait allows you to overcome the slow speed, and the bonus to Perception is welcome on any character. The bonus to saves also helps improve the Rogue's weak defenses. Unfortunately, the favored class bonus is terrible.

Human: As usual, the Human is a great option. A bonus feat and an extra skill rank per level open up a ton of great options, and the flexible ability score bonus can go right into Dexterity. The favored class bonus grants additional Rogue Talents, which adds a lot of great options.

Traits

Skills

Feats

Weapons

Armor

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

Magic Items

Weapons

Armor/Shields

Rings

Wands

Wondrous Items

Permanent Spells