Introduction

Dexterity bonuses are critical, and Darkvision is fantastic for sneaking around in the dark. Size doesn’t matter since Rogues don’t use heavy weapons. That sets a very low bar for races that work for the Rogue, so there’s a lot of room to look for other benefits.

Rogues can benefit more than many classes from racial weapon proficiencies, especially with the custom origin rules. Access to whips and heavy crossbows are both useful options, so if you’re considering races like the Dwarf and the Elf, consider trading them. Similarly, rogues do a lot with skills, so despite already getting 4 from their class more skill proficiencies are always welcome.

Because most rogues are equally good at both melee and ranged combat, flight is an excellent option for rogues. The ability to dart in and out of reach with Cunning Action creates a very effective synergy, allowing melee rogues to remain out of reach between turns by moving a few feet up into the air.

Innate spellcasting is very tempting because it offers access to things like Invisibility, but since only the Arcane Trickster can re-cast the spells it’s not always a great choice. You also can’t deliver Sneak Attack with spell attacks, so attack spells may be less useful than you’d hope.

After reading this handbook, I encourage you to read our CLASS Handbook.

Table of Contents

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Rogue Races

Keep in mind that not all races will be available in every game. Consult your DM about which races are welcome in your game, as not all settings are appropriate to every setting or even to specific campaigns within a setting which might otherwise welcome any and all races.

AarakocraEEPC

UpdatedMMoM: Flight is excellent for a rogue fighting at range, but the Fairy and the Owlin are both more effective.

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and flight in light armor. For a ranged rogue, that’s amazing, but other flying options offer more useful traits, so something like the Owlin will likely be more effective. Keep in mind that the Aarakocra can’t hover, so if you use the Steady Aim Optional Class Feature you’ll need to land or you’ll fall out of the air.

Default Rules: 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.

AasimarVGtM

UpdatedMMoM: The damage boost from transformation adds nicely to your Sneak Attack damage, and Protector provides access to short-duration flight when you need it.

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two damage resistances, and Darkvision. Transformation is still the big reason to play the Aasimar. Much like Sneak Attack, Transformation’s damage bonus is wasted if you don’t hit, so consider two-weapon fighting so that you have an additional chance to hit with an attack.

  • Fallen: The range is short so this is only viable in melee, and the DC of the fear effect is Charisma-based so it will only be reliable if you’re building to be a Face.
  • Protector: Flight when you need it. Ideal for ranged builds.
  • Scourge: Rogues don’t have the hit points to back this up.

Default Rules: Two damage resistances, Darkvision, and some innate spellcasting are neat, but without a Dexterity increase or skills or anything of the sort the Aasimar is really difficult choice for the Rogue.

  • Fallen: Bad ability spread.
  • Protector: Bad ability spread.
  • Scourge: Bad ability spread.

Aasimar (DMG Variant)DMG

Customized Origin: The innate spellcasting is neat, but not especially useful for the Rogue. The Protector Aasimar is a better fit.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

Air GenasiMMoM

The innate spellcasting isn’t very good even if you’re an arcane trickster and can re-cast it.

Bugbear

UpdatedMMoM: The Bugbear is a natural fit for the Rogue. Surprise Attack works well alongside Sneak Attack, and triggering it requires the same tactics that the Assassin needs for Assassinate. Two-weapon fighting is a great choice because it can apply Surprise Attack again, allowing you to deal massive burst damage on turn 1. However, after that initial turn you’re basically down to Long-Limbed and normal rogue tactics. Make that turn count.

Classic (Customized Origin)VGtM: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and one skill. Long-limbed is great for staying out of reach, allowing you to use Cunning Action to Dash and get yourself far away from your target before your turn ends. Surprise Attack synergizes very well with Sneak Attack. A bugbear assassin is terrifyingly deadly in the first round of combat, provided that they roll well on initiative.

Classic (Default Rules)VGtM: 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. The bonus damage is also multiplied on a critical hit, so the Assassin’s Assassinate feature offers an easy way to further capitalize on the bonus damage.

Centaur

UpdatedMMoM: Too dependent on Strength to work for the Rogue.

Classic (Customized Origin)GGTR: Too dependent on Strength to work for the Rogue.

Classic (Default Rules)GGTR: Bad ability spread.

Changeling

UpdatedMMoM: In a campaign with a lot of social intrigue, a changeling rogue is very powerful. Two Face skills and Shapechanger can let you do all sorts of sneaky nonsense. It’s not helpful outside of social situations, though.

Classic (Customized Origin)ERLW: +2/+1 increases and two skills. Shapechange feels very natural on the Rogue, but with several other race options which can cast Disguise Self it feels less unique.

Classic (Default Rules)ERLW: Changelings make natural rogues. Dexterity, Charisma, extra Face skills, and the ability to change your appearance at will allow the Rogue to conduct all sorts of subterfuge. However, because the Changeling’s capabilities are so heavily devoted to social situations, you may have trouble delving dungeons compared to other races.

Deep GnomeMMoM

120 ft. Darkvision, Disguise Self so no one knows who you are, nondetection so divinations can’t spot/detect/unmask you, Svirfneblin Camouflage to complement the Rogue’s already exceptional Stealth, and Gnomish Magic Resistance to protect you from a lot of what Evasion won’t. The Deep Gnome is an absolutely spectacular complement to the Rogue’s core capabilities.

DragonbornPHB

Chromatic: Your breath weapon will never do enough damage to outpace Sneak Attack unless your DM marches enemies into a convenient line specifically for that purpose. Damage resistance is nice, but you have Evasion and excellent Dexterity saves.

Gem: Telepathy is great for a character who spends a lot of time sneaking and might also be the party’s Face. Gem flight provides occasional access to flight, but won’t compete with the Owlin.

Metallic: The breath The additional breath options added at level 5 are neat, but won’t really help you in any meaningful way since rogues don’t typically invest a lot in Constitution.

Customized Origin:

  • ClassicPHB: If you’re using your breath weapon you’re not using Sneak Attack, and Sneak Attack will deal more damage in almost every case.
  • DraconbloodEGtW: Forceful Presence is neat, but if you’re that worried about these skills then you should put Expertise into them. Still, Darkvision is a big win for the Rogue so the Draconblood Dragonborn is a good improvement on the standard Dragonborn.
  • RaveniteEGtW: Sneak Attack is once per turn, so Vengeful Assault can deliver an additional Sneak Attack outside of your turn. You also get Darkvision, which is an improvement over the standard dragonborn.

Default Rules:

  • ClassicPHB: Bad ability spread.
  • DraconbloodEGtW: Bad ability spread.
  • RaveniteEGtW: Bad ability spread.

DuergarMMoM

120 ft. Darkvision and Invisibility as an innate spell that you can re-cast if you’re an arcane trickster..

DwarfPHB

For the updated version of the Duergar, see their separate race entry on this page.

Customized Origin: One +2 increase and a second increase from your subrace, poison resistance, plus a bunch of proficiencies which you’ll trade for tool proficiencies and possibly for proficiency in heavy crossbows.

  • DuergarSCAG: Invisibility as an innate spell is nice, but that’s the only big appeal here. Sunlight Sensitivity is a pain, and Enlarge/Reduce isn’t especially useful for the Rogue.
  • HillPHB: Bonus hit points are always nice.
  • MountainPHB: The Rogue is very SAD for a martial class, so the Mountain Dwarf’s two +2 increases aren’t a huge benefit. Medium armor is neat if you want to build around Strength for some reason, but there’s basically no reason to do so. Most likely you’ll put your increases into Dexterity and Constitution to make room for more feats later in your build.

Default Rules: The Dwarf’s traits are tangentially helpful for the Rogue, but they have trouble competing with races which provide a Dexterity bonus. Darkvision is particularly helpful, and a Constitution increase is always welcome, but since so much of the Rogue’s capabilities rely on Dexterity it’s still a challenging way to build a character.

  • DuergarSCAG: Invisibility is a great option for any rogue, but that’s not enough, especially since numerous other races can do the same and have ability increases which work better for the rogue.
  • HillPHB: Extra hit points are nice, and a bit of Wisdom helps with Perception, but without a Dexterity increase you’ll lag on core rogue competencies like Stealth.
  • MountainPHB: Strength and medium armor are both useless for most rogues, but the combination makes a Strength-based build possible. You only need the 14 Dexterity to max out medium armor, and you can be just as effective in combat as a Dexterity-based rogue. You’ll lag on normal rogue capabilities like Stealth, but a rogue isn’t required to be sneaky if you don’t want to be. High Strength also means that you can be good at things like Athletics which most rogues are bad at. If you want to explore a Strength-based build but don’t want to be a dwarf, you’ll likely need to multiclass.

Earth GenasiMMoM

The Rogue’s Bonus Action is already in high demand, so Blade Ward as a Bonus Action may not be useful. Pass Without Trace is excellent, of course, but probably isn’t enough to make an earth genasi rogue really exciting.

EladrinMMoM

Short-range teleportation is fantastic, but it’s also partially redundant with Cunning Action. Short of escaping a grapple, you rarely need the ability to teleport. And even then, the Shadar-Kai’s damage resistance may be more impactful than the Eladrin’s teleportation rider effects.

ElfPHB

For the updated versions of the Eladrin, the Sea Elf, and the Shadar-Kai, see their separate race entries on this page.

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace provides an additional +1), Darkvision, one skill (which you should leave as Perception). Most elf subraces offer some weapon proficiencies, most of which are martial weapons which you have little reason to use. Instead, trade some of those proficiencies to get proficiency in whips (reach) and heavy crossbows (1d10 damage compared to the Hand Crossbow’s 1d6) and you’ll have some cool options not available to other rogues.

  • DrowPHB: Decent in a subterranean campaign, but nothing good enough to offset Sunlight Sensitivity.
  • EladrinMToF: The teleportation is great, and the Charisma-based rider effect works great if you’re built to be a Face.
  • Eladrin (Variant)DMG: Trade the standard Eladrin’s rider effect for four weapon proficiencies which you can trade for better ones and/or tools. If you want the Eladrin’s teleportation but you’re not building a Face, the Variant Eladrin is a great choice.
  • High ElfPHB: Booming Blade is just too good and too easy on the Rogue. It works on any melee rogue, and it’s so effective that there’s little reason to explore other options.
  • Pallid ElfEGtW: The skill bonuses are helpful for skills that typically don’t rank high enough to justify Expertise, and you can cast Invisibility once per long rest. On top of the Elf’s core traits, that’s a good package. If you want more spellcasting, consider the Glasya Tiefling instead.
  • Sea ElfEGtW / MToF: Only in an aquatic campaign.
  • Shadar-KaiMToF: The Shadar-Kai’s teleportation is good, but at only once per long rest it’s not as impactful as either version of the Eladrin. The damage resistance is nice, but necrotic damage is rare.
  • Wood ElfPHB: Mask of the Wild is a nice when you’re in forests, but otherwise the Wood Elf’s traits aren’t appealing.

Default Rules: A bonus to Dexterity, Darkvision, and Perception proficiency are perfect for the Rogue.

  • DrowPHB: Improved Darkvision range is helpful for ambushing enemies which also have Darkvision, but Sunlight Sensitivity is really impractical outside of subterranean campaigns. If you’re here for the innate spellcasting, consider the Drow Half-Elf instead.
  • EladrinMToF: Roughly on par with the High Elf, Fey Step is a massive benefit for a class so dependent on stealth and surprise, and occasionally dependent on running when a fight turns sour. While the High Elf is better offensively for melee builds, the Eladrin is great for ranged builds, and the Charisma-based rider effects are especially effective you’re playing the party’s Face.
  • Eladrin (Variant)DMG: An Intelligence increase increase is great of arcane tricksters, and if you don’t have much Charisma it’s easy to give up the standard Eladrin’s teleportation rider effect. Proficiency with longbows is the only weapon proficiency which you’ll benefit from, but it’s only slightly more damage than a hand crossbow or a shortbow, so it’s not huge. You’re mostly here for the Intelligence increase.
  • High ElfPHB: Booming Blade on a melee rogue is just ridiculously effective. Combined with Cunning Action you have an easy way to dart in, hit with Booming Blade (and ideally deliver Sneak Attack) and move away safely while punishing enemies for chasing you. The Swashbuckler archetype is especially good at abusing this combination because they can deliver Sneak Attack in melee easily without requiring allies to also be in melee with the target.
  • Pallid ElfEGtW: Wisdom is great for Perception, and Incisive Sense offers a significant bonus on skills which the Rogue is often expected to be good at. Blessing of Moon Weaver is a great addition, but while Invisibility is perpetually useful Sleep will be obsolete by the time you get the ability to cast it.
  • Sea ElfEGtW / MToF: Only in an aquatic campaign.
  • Shadar-KaiMToF: The Shadar-Kai’s teleportation is good, but at only once per long rest it’s not as impactful as either version of the Eladrin. The damage resistance is nice, but necrotic damage is rare.
  • Wood ElfPHB: Wisdom is nice for Perception, and Mask of the Wild is a nice when you’re in forests, but otherwise the Wood Elf’s traits aren’t especially impactful.

FairyWBtW / MMoM

Faerie Fire is easy Advantage if you can make it stick, so the Fairy is a great choice for an Arcane Trickster with good enough Intelligence that your spells are at least somewhat reliable. You shouldn’t rely solely on Faerie Fire, but it can still be a good go-to option in many encounters, especially if you have other allies who rely on attack rolls. Keep in mind that the Fairy can’t hover, so if you use the Steady Aim Optional Class Feature you’ll need to land or you’ll fall out of the air.

Firbolg

UpdatedMMoM: Hidden Step is great for rogues, but the duration is short so you may be better served by races which can cast Invisibility.

Classic (Customized Origin)VGtM: +2/+1 increases and some spellcasting that’s mostly situational. Hidden Step is great for rogues, but the duration is short so you may be better served by races which can cast Invisibility.

Classic (Default Rules)VGtM: Bad ability spread.

Fire GenasiMMoM

Darkvision and Fire Resistance are fine, but the innate spellcasting won’t be helpful. Play a tiefling instead.

GenasiEEPC

For the updated versions of the Air Genasi, the Earth Genasi, the Fire Genasi, and the the Water Genasi, see their separate race entries on this page.

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace provides an additional +1), but the vast majority of the Genasi’s traits come from the subraces.

  • Air: Play a race that can fly.
  • Earth: Pass Without Trace is really tempting, but if you’re worried about Stealth you should get Expertise in Stealth.
  • Fire: Sneak Attack will always outpace the spells.
  • Water: Only in an aquatic campaign.

Default Rules: 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 other useful traits. If you want to get off the ground, play an Aarakocra.
  • Earth: Nothing useful for the Rogue.
  • Fire: Sneak Attack will always outpace the spells.
  • Water: Nothing useful for the Rogue.

GithMToF

For the updated versions of the Githyanki, the Githzerai, see their separate race entries on this page.

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace provides an additional +2), but the bulk of your notable racial traits come from your subrace.

  • Githyanki: Trade the proficiencies for whips, heavy crossbows, and three tools. The innate spellcasting is neat, but you’re mostly here for Misty Step. Compare the Githyanki to the Variant Eladrin: The Variant Eladrin gets to use Misty Step on a Short Rest, and the Githyank gets to cast Mage Hand and Jump and gets one more tool proficiency. It’s not a great trade.
  • Githzerai: Resistance to common charm and fear conditions, and interesting innate spellcasting. Keep in mind that you need a free hand to cast Shield, so two-weapon fighting is risky unless you’re throwing one of the weapons.

Default Rules: The Intelligence increase looks tempting for an Arcane Trickster, but that is not nearly enough.

  • Githyanki: Bad ability spread.
  • Githzerai: Bad ability spread.

GithyankiMMoM

Astral Knowledge gets you a skill and an interesting weapon like a heavy crossbow or whip. Psionics gets you invisible mage hang, which is all kinds of fun, and you can even cast Misty Step. Altogether a good basis for the rogue, and it gets even better if you’re an arcane trickster.

GithzeraiMMoM

Mage Hand is a lot of fun, but Shield is redundant with Uncanny Dodge, and Detect Thoughts is only situationally useful. The defenses are nice, but they’re not enough on their own.

GnomePHB

For the updated version of the Deep Gnome, see their separate race entry on this page.

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace offers a +1 increase), Darkvision, and Gnome Cunning.

  • Deep (Svirfneblin)EEPC / SCAG: You’re not saddled with Sunlight Sensitivity, but the Svirfneblin still doesn’t offer enough that it’s useful outside of a subterranean campaign.
  • ForestPHB: Minor Illusion is great. It’s easy to compare the Forest Gnome to the High Elf: you give up the ability to pick your cantrip and a skill in exchange for Gnome Cunning.
  • RockPHB: Tinker is not useful enough to make this appealing.

Default Rules: 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, but otherwise unremarkable.
  • 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.

Goblin

UpdatedMMoM: imble Escape is redundant, so Fury of the Small is the Goblin’s signature trait. It’s fine, but it won’t really change your tactics.

Classic (Customized Origin)VGtM: +2/+1 increases and Darkvision. Nimble Escape is redundant, so Fury of the Small is the Goblin’s signature trait. It’s fine, but it won’t really change your tactics.

Classic (Default Rules)VGtM: The ability scores are fantastic, but Nimble Escape is totally redundant with Cunning Action.

Goliath

UpdatedMMoM: Stone’s Endurance is redundant with Uncanny Dodge, so the Goliath’s signature feature will be useless.

Classic (Customized Origin)EEPC: Stone’s Endurance is redundant with Uncanny Dodge, so the Goliath’s signature feature will be useless.

Classic (Default Rules)EEPC: Bad ability spread.

Half-ElfPHB

Customized Origin: +2/+1/+1 increases, Darkvision, and Fey Ancestry. Rogues don’t really need three increases, but they certainly don’t hurt.

  • Aquatic Half-ElfSCAG: Only in an aquatic campaign.
  • Drow Half-ElfSCAG: The innate spellcasting is Charisma-based so if you’re built to be a Face it can work reasonably well. Faerie Fire is especially appealing because it provides an easy way to deliver Sneak Attack in situations where it might otherwise be difficult.
  • High Half-ElfSCAG: Booming Blade is still amazing. You give up the Elf’s skill proficiency for a third ability score increase, but the Rogue already gets four skills so that may be fine for you.
  • Standard Half-ElfPHB: Rogues get a lot of skills, but not nearly enough to cover everything that a Rogue may want to do, especially if you’re the party’s Face.
  • Wood Half-ElfSCAG: Nothing even remotely comparable to what’s available from other half-elf subraces.

Default Rules: Three ability score increases, Darkvision, Fey Ancestry, and numerous excellent subrace options to support a variety of rogue builds.

  • Aquatic Half-ElfSCAG: Only in an aquatic campaign.
  • Drow Half-ElfSCAG: With enough Charisma, you can make the innate spellcasting very effective. But if you have a lot of Charisma you’re probably playing a Face so the Standard Half-Elf is probably a better choice.
  • High Half-ElfSCAG: Roughly equivalent to the High Elf. Grab Booming Blade and enjoy your easy hit-and-run tactics.
  • Standard Half-ElfPHB: Rogues get a lot of skills, but not nearly enough to cover everything that a Rogue may want to do, especially if you’re the party’s Face. Two more skills makes you extremely capable both inside and outside of combat.
  • Wood Half-ElfSCAG: Nothing even remotely comparable to what’s available from other half-elf subraces.

Half-OrcPHB

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and one skill. The Half-Orc’s Savage Attacks and Relentless Endurance are their signature traits. Savage Attacks synergizes well the Assassinate, so half-orc assassins may be interesting, but will drop in effectiveness after the first round of combat. Relentless Endurance is nice, but not particularly important on the Rogue.

Default Rules: 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

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Brave, and Lucky. Lucky isn’t as impactful for the Rogue as it is for classes which make multiple attacks, but the Rogue’s numerous skills may mean that you’re rolling enough skills to enjoy Lucky’s benefits frequently.

  • GhostwiseSCAG: Silent Speech is a great way to avoid notice while doing rogue things.
  • LightfootPHB: The ability to hide behind your party’s Defender is a huge tactical asset when combined with Cunning Action.
  • LotusdenEGtW: The spellcasting is Wisdom-based, and with the ability to rearrange ability scores the Lotusden Halfling needs to distinguish itself with spellcasting that simply isn’t workable for the vast majority of rogues.
  • StoutPHB: A bit of the Dwarf’s durability, but with the ability to rearrange ability scores why not just play a dwarf?

Default Rules: A Dexterity bonus is great, and Lucky is always helpful, especially since Rogues generally only get one or two attacks.

  • GhostwiseSCAG: Silent Speech is a fun trick, but you’ll get more mileage out of other halfling subraces with more helpful ability score increases.
  • LightfootPHB Hide behind the fighter!
  • LotusdenEGtW: An interesting concept and absolutely workable, but the spellcasting might not be as useful as traits provided by other halfling subraces, especially since it’s Wisdom-based.
  • StoutPHB Good for a durable Rogue, but not as stealthy or charismatic as the Lightfoot Halfling.

HarengonWBtW / MMoM

Hare Trigger is great for assassin rogues, and Lucky Footwork makes Dexterity saves almost a guarantee. Rabbit Hop is mostly redundant with Cunning Action. As a whole, the Harengon is more of the same things that you like about the Rogue, but it doesn’t expand your capabilities or let you do anything new or novel..

Hobgoblin

UpdatedMMoM: Fey Gift is great, but it competes for the Rogue’s Bonus Action with things like Cunning Action and Two-Weapon Fighting so it may be hard to fit into a turn. Fortunate of the Many s good on any character, and since rogues often need to get by on one attack it’s a great way to turn a near miss into a successful sneak attack.

Classic (Customized Origin)VGtM: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and some extra proficiencies which you can use to get whips, heavy crossbows, and a tool. The Hobgoblin’s noteworthy feature is Saving Face. It provides a great way to turn near-miss failed rolls into successes, especially if you have numerous allies nearby, and since you only make one important attack per turn it may be worth using to make a Sneak Attack when it’s tactically impactful to do so.

Classic (Default Rules)VGtM: 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. Hobgoblins also get two free weapon proficiencies of your choice, so you could get proficiency in great weapons like heavy crossbows and whips, both of which can be used for Sneak Attack and have advantages over the Rogue’s normally limited weapon options.

Human

Customized Origin:

  • Standard: With perfect ability scores on the table for every race, there is no reason to play the Standard Human.
  • Variant: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no change to the Variant Human.

Default Rules:

  • Standard: 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 to 14. Of course, at that point why not just play a bard and build around Jack of All Trades?
  • 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 great, too. Generally the Custom Lineage is a better fit for the Rogue, but if you’re going for a melee build you may prefer to split your increases between Dexterity and Constitution.

KalashtarERLW

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases. Resistance to psychic damage is nice, though psychic damage isn’t common. Dual Mind provides an important defense, but other options like the Yuan-Ti Pureblood and the Verdan are more appealing and may be more broadly effective at protecting you from stuff that hurts your brains.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

KenkuVGtM

UpdatedMMoM: Kenku Recall is excellent for a skill-heavy rogue. Two additional skills gives you even more options, and Kenku Recall works with any ability check where you proficiency in a skill applies, so your abundant skill proficiencies will give you even more opportunities to apply Kenku Recall. Just try not to blow through the limited uses too quickly.

Classic (Customized Origin)VGtM: +2/+1 increases and two skills. Expert Forgery and Mimicry feel like great thematic additions to the Rogue, so even if they’re not always mechanically impactful they’re excellent flavor. Mimicry may even prove useful while scouting because you can replicate sounds or conversations which you observe.

Classic (Default Rules)VGtM: Good ability score increases and two free skills. Not super flashy, and not as flexible as the Standard Half-Elf, but still good. Expert Forgery and Mimicry feel like great thematic additions to the Rogue, so even if they’re not always mechanically impactful they’re excellent flavor. Mimicry may even prove useful while scouting because you can replicate sounds or conversations which you observe.

Kobold

UpdatedMMoM: Draconic Cry provides easy Advantage to trigger Sneak Attack in a pinch, and Kobold Legacy (Draconic Sorcery) gets you Booming Blade so that you can use Cunning Action to perform easy hit-and-run tactics. You also get Darkvision, which is crucial for sneaking around in the dark. The High Elf is comparable, but you trade Fey Ancestry and a skill for Draconic Cry.

Classic (Customized Origin)VGtM: +2 increase and Darkvision. The Customizing Your Origin optional rule does little to change the Kobold, but it honestly didn’t need improvement for the Rogue.

Classic (Default Rules)VGtM: 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 guaranteed. Oh, and the ability increases are fantastic. The only drawback is Sunlight Sensitivity, but Pack Tactics conveniently negates that.

LeoninMOoT

Customized Origin: 2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and one skill. Daunting Roar is neat, but if you ever need it you should probably run away instead.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

Lizardfolk

UpdatedMMoM: Two skills, and natural armor. Use Hungry Jaws between fights to bite your bag of rats to get temporary hp.

Classic (Customized Origin)VGtM: +2/+1 increases, two skills, and natural armor. If you’re fine with Hungry Jaws being unreliable, you can build around Dexterity and hit 18 AC.

Classic (Default Rules)VGtM: The Lizardfolk’s natural armor will provide more AC than manufactured light 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 likely means giving up on Hungry Jaws.

LocathahLR

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two skills, and Leviathan Will. Among the better aquatic options, Leviathan Will provides a robust defensive option against a long list of harmful status conditions which any adventurer is sure to face and which you can’t mitigate with Uncanny Dodge or Evasion.

Default Rules: The Dexterity increase and the free skills are decent, though Athletics won’t see much use for most rogues. Leviathan Will offers some useful defensive options, too. The Locathah isn’t as good as something like the Kenku or the Tabaxi, but it’s still viable, and it’s the condition resistances protect you from stuff not covered by Evasion or Uncanny Dodge.

LoxodonGGTR

Customized Origin: Keen Smell is the best that the Loxodon has to offer. The natural armor will be as good as light armor at the absolute best, Trunk will be useless without heavy investment in Strength, and Loxodon Serenity can be matched by a number of other races.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

Minotaur

UpdatedMMoM: Too dependent on Strength to work for the Rogue.

Classic (Customized Origin)GGTR: Too dependent on Strength to work for the Rogue.

Classic (Default Rules)GGTR: Bad ability spread.

Orc

UpdatedMMoM: Darkvision, Relentless Endurance, and the temporary hp from Adrenaline Rush. Not fantastic, but it works and it can keep you alive if you have a bad habit of being knocked unconscious.

Classic (Customized Origin)VGtM: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, two skills. Aggressive is redundant with Cunning Action, so while the Orc is viable there’s basically no reason to play an orc over something comparable like the Kenku or the Tabaxi.

Classic (Default Rules)VGtM: Bad ability spread.

OwlinSCoC

Flight, Darkvision, and proficiency in Stealth. An absolutely spectacular basis for a rogue. Keep in mind that the Owlin can’t hover, so if you use the Steady Aim Optional Class Feature you’ll need to land or you’ll fall out of the air.

Satyr

UpdatedMMoM: You’re here for Magic Resistance. The proficiencies are nice, but you’ll only benefit from Persuasion in most games, and if you want more skills there are plenty of races which grant two. The Satyr walks the line between two-skill races and the Yuan-Ti, a compromise between skills and durability.

Classic (Customized Origin)MOoT: +2/+1 increases, two skills, Fey creature type, and Magic Resistance. Not quite as durable as the Yuan-Ti Pureblood, but the Rogue needs skills more than they need Poison Immunity.

Classic (Default Rules)MOoT: Dexterity, Charisma, two free skills, and Magic Resistance. Great for any build except the Arcane Trickster.

Sea ElfMMoM

Darkvision, Perception proficiency, and cold resistance. Trance would normally be a great way to get proficiency in whips for elf rogues, but underwater your best bet is to stick to heavy crossbows. Altogether it’s a decent package, similar to the Elf before consider a subrace, but it’ll only really shine in aquatic campaigns.

Shadar-KaiMMoM

Short-range teleportation is fantastic, but it’s also partially redundant with Cunning Action. Short of escaping a grapple, you rarely need the ability to teleport. The damage resistance is great, but not super impactful.

Shifter

UpdatedMMoM: Beasthide’s durability is nice, but not especially important. Longtooth isn’t appealing because the bite is Strength-based, and Cunning Action makes Longtooth obsolete. The skill options are poor, too.

Customized OriginERLW: +2/+1 increases (each subrace provides an additional +2), Darkvision, and one skill. The Shifter’s signature trait is Shifting, which is a Bonus Action combat buff which works great but can compete with the Rogue’s other uses for their Bonus Action (Two-Weapon Fighting and Cunning, plus potentially subclass features). It’s a decent buff on its own, and your subrace will offer additional effects.

  • Beasthide: A bigger pool of temporary hit points and a modest AC bonus can be helpful, but most rogues shouldn’t be drawing enough fire for this to be consistently useful, and you have Uncanny Dodge to pad your hit points.
  • Longtooth: The attack is Strength-based and since it’s not a weapon it can’t deliver Sneak Attack.
  • Swiftstride: Redundant with Cunning Action.
  • Wildhunt: The shifting feature is borderline useless.

Default RulesERLW: Darkvision is fantastic on any rogue, but the Shifter’s subraces offer nothing that the Rogue can’t already do.

  • Beasthide: Bad ability spread.
  • Longtooth: Bad ability spread, and the bonus action bite attack can’t deal Sneak Attack.
  • Swiftstride: The ability score increases are great, but the Shifting Feature doesn’t give you anything that you couldn’t already do with Cunning Action.
  • Wildhunt: The ability increases are fine, but the Shifting Feature is almost useless.

Simic HybridGGTR

Customized Origin: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no meaningful changes to the Simic Hybrid. You can move the Constitution increase around, but increasing Constitution is still the best way to use that increase.

Default Rules: Versatile and fantastic. Animal Enhancements can solve several problems which normally require magic, though some of the better options like Grappling Appendages hold little appeal for the Rogue.

Tabaxi

UpdatedMMoM: Darkvision and two skills. Sure, you don’t get to pick the skills, but they’re great skills for the Rogue anyway. Feline Agility is the Tabaxi’s signature trait. It combines very well with Cunning Action, allowing a tabaxi rogue to run up to six times their land speed if they do nothing else that turn.

Classic (Customized Origin)VGtM: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, two skills. Feline Agility is the Tabaxi’s signature trait. It combines very well with Cunning Action, allowing a tabaxi rogue to run up to six times their land speed if they do nothing else that turn.

Classic (Default Rules)VGtM: 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.

TieflingPHB

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and damage resistance. Most subraces/variants offer innate spellcasting of some kind. The innate spellcasting is Charisma-based, so anything which requires an attack or a save will be difficult unless you’re building yourself to be a Face.

  • AsmodeusPHB/MToF: Fine but not impressive. Hellish Rebuke is the only part that cares about your spell DC so it hardly justifies investing in Charisma.
  • BaalzebulMToF: Even with enough Charisma to make the spells work, the spells just aren’t very good.
  • DispaterMToF: Situational utility options.
  • FiernaMToF: Weirdly the spells are a great substitute for Face skills, but you need Charisma to make them reliable which probably means that you have Face skills so these are either great in combination with your skills or worthless because you have the skills already. Hard to say.
  • GlasyaMToF: If you’re an arcane trickster, this will save you some spells. If you’re not an arcane trickers, this gives you some of their signature spell options. Either way, it’s great.
  • LevistusMToF: Ray of Frost can’t deliver Sneak Attack, and Armor of Agathys is borderline useless since you can’t cast it above first level.
  • MammonMToF: Situational utility options.
  • MephistophelesMToF: Flame blade is garbage.
  • ZarielMToF: The spells are fine and work reasonably well for melee builds, but Searing Smite isn’t good enough to justify investing in Charisma.
  • Variant: FeralSCAG: The Customizing Your Origin optional rules make the Feral variant obsolete. All it does is rearrange your ability score increases.
  • Variant: Devil’s TongueSCAG: A great choice for a Face build, Vicious Mockery offers a great ranged option in those rare situations where Sneak Attack simply isn’t possible.
  • Variant: HellfireSCAG: Sneak Attack will nearly always out-damage Burning Hands.
  • Variant: WingedSCAG: On most rogues, flight will be much easier than innate spellcasting. A Winged Tiefling is easy to compare to the Aarakocra, trading 20 ft. of fly speed for Darkvision and resistance to fire damage. Both options work very well for the Rogue, but I think the Tiefling’s traits outweight the Aarakocra’s speed.

Default Rules: Darkvision and the free spells offer some interesting options, especially with the numerous Tiefling subraces. Depending on your subclass and whether or not you want to be a Face you’ll find some subraces more appealing than others. If you have enough Charisma to be your party’s Face, the Tiefling’s innate spellcasting can be very effective. If you don’t, stick to subraces with innate spellcasting that doesn’t care about your spellcasting modifier.

  • AsmodeusPHB/MToF: Combined with Feral, this is fine but not impressive. Thaumaturgy is neat, but not especially powerful. Hellish Rebuke is exciting but again, not especially powerful. Darkness is a situational utility option, but without the ability to see through it, it’s not a massive tactical advantage for you.
  • BaalzebulMToF: Too reliant on offensive spells that won’t work well for the Rogue.
  • 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, but even outside of that style of campaign the spell options are likely easier for the Rogue than the Asmodeus Tiefling’s spells.
  • FiernaMToF: Too reliant on save DCs and without a Dexterity increase you’ll need to combine this with Feral and sabotage your Charisma. There’s just no way to make it work.
  • GlasyaMToF: Ideal for tiefling rogues. Several useful spell options normally only available to arcane tricksters and which don’t rely on your spellcasting ability modifier, and the ability increases work even if you don’t combine this with Feral.
  • LevistusMToF: Combined with Feral, this is workable but not ideal. Ray of Frost won’t be useful, and Armor of Agathys isn’t especially useful if you can’t cast it above 1st level, so this is strictly worse than Feral Asmodeus.
  • MammonMToF: Situational utility options. They’re not particularly useful, but they also don’t care about your spellcasting ability modifier.
  • MephistophelesMToF: Mage Hand is the best part of this variant for the Rogue, which should tell you just how bad this is. And, as I say on every class handbook, Flame Blade is garbage.
  • ZarielMToF: Combining Feral will make this just barely interesting thanks to Searing Smite, but Searing Smite is not nearly impactful enough to make this a good idea.
  • Variant: FeralSCAG: Perfect for the Arcane trickster, and it can make several other tiefling variants viable when combined.

    According to the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, the Feral Variant is compatible with other variants.

  • Variant: Devil’s TongueSCAG: Tempting if you are building a Face with decent Charisma, but hard without a Dexterity increase and combining this with Feral makes the spellcasting less effective.
  • Variant: HellfireSCAG: If you’re casting Burning Hands then you’re not using Sneak Attack.
  • Variant: WingedSCAG: On most rogues, flight will be much easier than innate spellcasting. Combine this with Feral, and you’ll do just fine. A Feral Winged Tiefling is easy to compare to the Aarakocra, trading 20 ft. of fly speed for Darkvision and resistance to fire damage. Both options work very well for the Rogue, but I think the Tiefling’s traits outweigh the Aarakocra’s speed.

TortleTP / MMoM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, one skill, and natural armor. The natural armor stops mattering when you hit 20 Dexterity, so there’s very little reason to play a tortle beyond low levels.

Default Rules: Rogues can’t make effective use of Strength or Wisdom, and none of the Tortle’s other traits are especially appealing. If you want something similar, consider the Lizardfolk instead.

Triton

UpdatedMMoM: Cold resistance and Darkvision are great, but the innate spellcasting is only situationally useful.

Classic (Customized Origin)VGtM: The Triton’s three ability score increases aren’t as useful for the Rogue as they are for more MAD classes, and the innate spellcasting is only situationally useful.

Classic (Default Rules)VGtM: Bad ability spread.

VedalkenGGTR

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, one skill, one tool. Vedalken Dispassion is a powerful defense, and Tireless Precision can provide useful bonuses with skills and tools which will stack with Expertise to make you borderline unstoppable.

Default Rules: The ability score increases are hard without a Dexterity increase, but Tireless Precision can be very useful for crucial proficiencies like Thieves’ Tools.

VerdanAcInc

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and one skill. Telepathic Insight protects you from the most common mental saves, and Limited Telepathy allows you to communicate with allies while remaining concealed. Black-Blood Healing isn’t super impactful, but it’ll make your d8 hit dice a little bit more reliable. Altogether, this is an excellent all-around rogue without adding any complicated new mechanics like flight or innate spellcasting.

Default Rules: The Verdan has a lot that’s useful for the Rogue, but without a Dexterity increase you’ll have a lot of problems in combat.

WarforgedERLW

Customized Origin: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no meaningful changes to the Warforged. You can move the Constitution increase around, but increasing Constitution is still the best way to use that increase.

Default Rules: The flexible ability increase can give you the crucial Dexterity increase, but the bonus to AC isn’t as important to the Rogue because it’s so easy for the Rogue to remove themselves from situations where they would take damage, and you can rely on Uncanny Dodge to mitigate any damage you do suffer. Still, if you want to be a rogue but you also need to be your party’s Defender, consider a Swashbuckler build. If you get proficiency with shields, you can manage an AC of 20, and with Uncanny Dodge you’ll be difficult to kill despite relatively poor hit points compared to the Fighter.

Water GenasiMMoM

None of the Water Genasi’s spells are helpful for rogues.

Yuan-Ti

UpdatedMMoM: Darkvision, poison resistance, and magic resistance. Nice and durably, but that’s about it.

Classic (Customized Origin)VGtM: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, poison immunity, and Magic Resistance. The innate spellcasting is garbage, but you really don’t need it. Magic Resistance is a powerful defense, and combined with Evasion you’re basically immune to fireballs and similar spells.

Classic (Default Rules)VGtM: Bad ability spread. The Charisma increase is nice for a Face, but you’ll struggle at anything else.

Dragonmarks

Dragonmarked DwarfERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Warding: While most of the spells are situational, Mark of Warding has some exciting benefits. The bonus with Thieves’ Tools will be consistently useful in many campaigns, and it works on top of Expertise so you can be truly incredible with Thieves’ Tools. Mage Armor is +1 AC compared to the best light armor and lasts 8 hours, providing a consistent increase in durability. Armor of Agathys is an interesting choice for the Arcane Trickster, and provides both an easy source of temporary hit points and a way to punish enemies for hitting you. You can also combine it with Uncanny Dodge to stretch the temporary hit points and get more out of the spell than usual.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Warding: Bad ability spread.
Dragonmarked ElfERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Shadow: Everything about Mark of Shadow is perfect for the rogue. The only new spell for the Arcane Trickster is Pass Without Trace, but Pass Without Trace is really good so that’s hardly a drawback.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Shadow: An obvious choice for the Rogue. Unfortunately, Mark of Shadow’s spell options are almost all available to the Arcane Trickster already, so the only rogue subclass which can use the extra spells gains very little benefit from them.
Dragonmarked GnomeERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Scribing: The benefits are far too situational.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Scribing: Bad ability spread.
Dragonmarked Half-ElfERLW

Dragonmark traits replace some of your normal racial traits, as described in the entry for each Dragonmark.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Detection: The skill bonuses are great for skills which are important but which typically don’t rank high enough to justify Expertise. Most of the spells are only situationally useful, but See Invisibility is excellent for a class which frequently scouts areas while separated from the party.
  • Mark of Storm: The benefits are too weak and too situational.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Detection: The flexible ability increase can go into Dexterity, and the spellcasting adds divination options which the Arcane Trickster can’t usually cast, allowing you to use magic to improve your scouting abilities. However, you do still need to learn the spells normally and with the cap on spells known beyond your school limitations that can be difficult.
  • Mark of Storm: The ability increases work for the Rogue, but the other benefits are too situational and there is very little on the spell list which arcane tricksters can justify learning.
Dragonmarked Half-OrcERLW

Dragonmark traits replace ALL of your racial traits.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Finding: The bonuses to Perception and Survival are nice, and thematically this can make the Rogue feel a bit more like the Ranger. But before you go for the Scout, remember that you don’t get to use any of the spells except Hunter’s Mark unless you’re an Arcane Trickster, and Hunter’s Mark is basically useless for the Rogue. Unfortunately, most of the spells aren’t worth learning with your few spaces for spells outside of the enchantment/illusion schools.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Finding: Bad ability spread.
Dragonmarked HalflingERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Healing: The idea of a rogue who can also heal is tempting, but the amount of healing you get to do is miniscule. Unless you’re an arcane trickster, the Variant Aasimar is a more effective package. Even if you are an arcane trickster, you still need to spend your limited non-restricted spells known to benefit, and with your tiny pool of spell slots that’s likely not worth the effort.
  • Mark of Hospitality: Very few of the traits are consistently useful. The innate spellcasting includes some neat utilities, but they’ll make little mechanical impact. The spell list is difficult to justify for the Arcane Trickster. There’s basically nothing here that you need.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Healing: The ability score increases work fine, and the expanded healing options allow the Arcane Trickster to serve as a healer in a pinch. Rogues tend to stay alive when things go poorly for the rest of the party, so having access to Healing Word is a benefit which is difficult to ignore. However, you do still need to learn the spells normally and with the cap on spells known beyond your school limitations that can be difficult.
  • Mark of Hospitality: The ability score increases work fine, but the spells aren’t especially useful for a class with access to so little spellcasting, and since you get to learn so few spells beyond enchantment/illusion it’s difficult to justify learning the spells offered by Mark of Hospitality.
Dragonmarked HumanERLW

Dragonmark traits replace ALL of your normal racial traits.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Finding: See Mark of Finding under Dragonmarked Half-Orc, above. Mechanically, the final racial traits are identical.
  • Mark of Handling: Even with the ability to rearrange ability scores, there’s no way to set your scores to support this. Even if you could, by the time an arcane trickster could put the spells to use you’ll be such high level that beasts will stop appearing often enough to justify any of this. Sure, you get The Bigger They Are, but that’s extremely situational and it’s nowhere near enough to make this worthwhile.
  • Mark of Making: Magic Weapon is neat, but nothing else here is particularly appealing, and most of the spells are already on the Wizard’s spell list so the Arcane Trickster doesn’t get any new options.
  • Mark of Passage: Misty Step once per Long Rest and arcane tricksters can learn Pass Without Trace. Mark of Shadow is generally a better choice.
  • Mark of Sentinel: Several very interesting defensive options. Shield once per day for free, and Shield of Faith among other defensive buffs available for arcane tricksters. Unfortunately, Shield of Faith will conflict with Shadow Blade so you’ll need to choose between offense and defense, and generally rogues lean toward offense.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Finding: See Mark of Finding under Dragonmarked Half-Orc, above. Mechanically, the final racial traits are identical.
  • Mark of Handling: Thematically a scout rogue makes sense, but to benefit from the spellcasting you want to play an arcane trickster. The ability score increases work fine, and the spells are neat, but you’ll need to somehow have high scores in Dexterity, Intelligence, and Wisdom to support the spellcasting, and unless animals are weirdly common in your campaign you’ll get the spells so late that you’ll almost certainly never encounter anything worth targeting tiwth the spells.
  • Mark of Making: The ability increases work for the Arcane Trickster, but the spellcasting does surpisingly little to help you. Magic Weapon doesn’t affect Shadow Blade, and the spells are all on the Wizard’s spell list already so you don’t get any new options. The ability scores are basically all that you get.
  • Mark of Passage: Perfect ability score increases, and the spellcasting adds some useful options for the Arcane Trickster including Pass Without Trace. Beyond the ability score increases, Mark of Shadow is generally a better choice.
  • Mark of Sentinel: Bad ability spread.

Lineages

Published in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and beyond, no Lineage exists prior to the introduction of the Customizing Your Origin rules, and as such each lineage has flexible ability score increases. Every Lineage has the choice of +2/+1 increases or three +1 increases except for the Custom Lineage which only receives a single +2 increase.

Lineages are applied on top of a base race. While the Custom Lineage isn’t affected by your base race, the three lineages published in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft (Dhampir, Hexblade, and Reborn) borrow from your base race thanks to the Ancestral Legacy trait. Despite selecting a base race, you do not count as a member of your race for the purposes of any other effect, such as qualifying for feats or using magic items.

Custom LineageTCoE

+2 increase, Darkvision, and a feat. Rogues only strictly need Dexterity, and Darkvision is a huge asset for sneaking around unnoticed, so the Custom Lineage is typically a better choice than the Variant Human. If you pick a feat which also offers a Dexterity increase, starting at 18 Dexterity is really nice.

DhampirVGTR

The Dhampir’s Vampiric Bite doesn’t qualify for Sneak Attack, which tragically means that the Dhampir’s biggest selling point doesn’t work especially well for the Rogue. The ability to empower skills is neat, but the Reborn’s Knowledge From a Past Life will be more effective.

HexbloodVGTR

Hex is useful as a damage boost, but it can also be used to impose Disadvantage on ability checks with one ability score. If you choose Wisdom, it will make it difficult for the target to find you while you’re hiding in addition to providing a damage boost when you hit them. An Arcane Trickster can use this to great effect, though as you gain levels you may find that other spells like Shadow Blade are more impactful uses of your Concentration. You can use Ancestral Legacy to get even more skills or access to a movement speed light flight if you prefer. If you do fly, using Hex and fighting at range can be very effective for relatively little cost.

RebornVGTR

Knowledge From a Past Life is a great bonus to your skills, which is great for a class that uses skills so much. The Reborn’s resistances are most useful on the front lines, so you’ll likely want to use Ancestral Legacy to get more skills and fight in melee rather than getting flight.