skip to main content
RPGOT Logo RPGBOT

Pathfinder 2e - The Rogue Handbook

Last Updated: May 15th, 2021

Disclaimer

RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks.

  • 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.

Introduction

The Rogue is the unchallenged master of skills, but their capabilities don't end there. They are adaptable, capable, and deeply customizable while only having a single major decision point (the "Rogue Racket"). While nearly all rogues will excel in stealth, thievery, and ambush tactics, the number of options which are both viable and interesting for the Rogue mean that you can build an effective rogue in a dizzying number of combinations.

The Rogue's primary role in the party is as a Scout and Striker, excelling in both evading notice and in detecting danger, and thanks to Sneak Attack the Rogue excels at ambush tactics and at quickly eliminating single targets. Thanks to their massive number of skills, Skill Increases, and Skill Feats, the Rogue can serve their party in a number of skill-based roles, including as a Librarian and as a Face. They can dip their toe into a Defender role with the Ruffian Racket, but due to the Rogue's 8+ hit points this is likely not a good choice unless you have another Defender in the party to assist you.

Rogue Class Features

Key Ability: By default, your Key Ability is Dexterity. However, your Racket may allow you to choose a different ability. This can make rogues exceptionally diverse, but it also means that you need to plan out your characters options right from level 1 because emphasizing the wrong ability score can make a lot of options less effective. In many cases Dexterity will still be your best option, so if your Racket offers other options you may still not want to do so.

Hit Points: 8+ hit points is hard if you're in melee. The Rogue is not a front-line Defender by any means, even if you go for the Ruffian Racket to get medium armor. Be sure to pad your hit points with high Constitution and strongly consider Toughness if you plan to fight in melee.

Initial Proficiencies: Rogues are the uncontested master of skills and Perception, but they have limited weapon and armor options.

  • Perception: The best Perception progression in the game. You should still put some Ability Boosts into Wisdom because it's so important.
  • Saving Throws: The best Reflex saves in the game and average Will saves, but the worst Fortitude saves in the game (seriously, the Rogue matches the Wizard).
  • Skills: A total of 8+int skills, plus one ore more from you Rogue's Racket.
  • Attacks: Simple weapons plus a tiny handful of martial options. Your proficiency improves at the same rate as martial classes like the Barbarian, but your weapon options are much more limited.
  • Defenses: Only light armor, but the Rogue is totally dependent on Dexterity, so light armor is your best option anyway. The Ruffian is an exception, and they get medium armor as well.
  • Class DC: Only the Druid has a worse Class DC progression, which is disappointing because the Rogue has several interesting options that depend on the class DC, including core class features like Master Strike.

Rogue Racket: See "Subclasses - Rogue Rackets", below.

Sneak Attack: This brings the damage for a rapier or short sword up to match the damage from a greatsword, and the extra damage from Sneak Attack increases at roughly the same levels where players are expected to add Runes of Striking to their weapons.

Surprise Attack: Making enemies flat-footed can be done in a wide variety of ways, but having enemies flat-footed in round one allows you to start the fight with a flurry of Sneak Attack damage without needing to rush into position to flank enemies and without waiting for your allies to shuffle into position.

Rogue Feats: See Rogue feats, below.

Skill Feats: Rogues get one at every level.

Skill Increases: Rogues get one at every level.

General Feats: Standard.

Ability Boosts: Standard.

Ancestry Feats: Standard.

Deny Advantage: There is a huge number of ways to make a creature Flat-Footed, and Pathfinder 2e's encounter balancing rules are written so that facing a single creature of the party's level is unusual. Most of the time you'll face multiple foes below your level. In either case, Deny Advantage applies. If you're fighting something above your level, it's a significant threat and you need to be exceptionally cautious anyway.

Weapon Tricks: Better attack bonus is always great, and you can apply Critical Specialization effects whenever you score a critical hit with a weapon which meats the same requirements as Sneak Attack. The Ruffian has had that capability since 1st level, but it's great that everyone else gets it too.

Evasion: Reflex saves are the most common type of "Basic Save", and often Basic Saves are the ones where the difference between a Success and a Critical Success is the most significant. This will protect from a lot of damage from area effects like fireballs and breath weapons.

Vigilant Senses: The best Perception progression in the game.

Weapon Specialization: Since your Proficiency with weapons improves at the same rate as martial class like the Barbarian and the Champion, you'll start at the +3 bonus in most cases.

Debilitating Strike: The default effects aren't great, but they add a little extra something for free when you hit a Flat-Footed target. You can also enhance Debilitating Strike with class feats like Critical Debilitation, and you'll pick up Double Debilitation at 15th level to make this even more effective.

Great Fortitude: Better saving throws is always great.

Rogue Expertise: The second-worst class DC progression of any class with a Class DC.

Improved Evasion: Great for all the same reasons that Evasion is great. Taking half damage on a failure means that a Failure and a Success on a Basic Save are functionally identical.

Incredible Senses: The best Perception progression in the game.

Light armor Expertise: More AC is always great.

Master Tricks: More attack bonus is always great.

Double Debilitation: By this level you've had ample opportunity to pick up class feats to improve Debilitating Strike. If you've done that (and you should), this is fantastic. If you haven't, this is borderline worthless.

Greater Weapon Specialization: More damage!

Slippery Mind: Your Will save progression is roughly average, but any imrovement is welcome.

Light Armor Mastery: More AC is always great.

Master Strike: Your Class DC improves (very important), and you get a new Free Action which you can apply when hit a Flat-Footed target. Because of the way Free Actions work, you can't combine this with Debilitating Strike, but this is considerably better and you can use Debilitating Strike as a follow-up with additional attacks if the target succeeds on their save. This is good enough that you should start every encounter by trying this once on every enemy in the encounter. Paralysis for 4 rounds will take creatures out of most fights for their duration, and if the target gets a Critical Failure you can outright kill them (or knock them unconscious for two hours if you need them alive for some reason).

Subclasses - Rogue Rackets

Eldritch Trickster

The Eldritch Trickster's spellcasting options are impressively versatile, allowing you to select any spellcasting class which offers the appropriate multiclass archetype feats as the basis for your subclass. The Wizard is a classic dating back to early editions of Dungeons and Dragons, and has long been the default for rogue/spellcaster builds (typically called an "Arcane Trickster" in every edition of Dungeons and Dragons, and even in Pathfinder 1e), but if you want to explore something exotic like the Druid that's totally fine.

A Charisma-based spellcasting class is typically your best bet for the class that gives you your magic. Since multiclass archetype feats give you one to two spell slots of each spell level, you'll want Innate Spellcasting to pad your magic options, and Innate Spells are nearly always based on your Charisma. Your choice of Ancestry is absolutely crucial here, so look at options like the Elf, the Gnome, and the Kobold. If you're fine doing without innate spellcasting (or with limiting those spells to buffs and utility spells), you can absolutely get away with any spellcasting class that you like.

Even with all of the above possibilities in mind, the Eldritch Trickster is conceptually exciting but mechanically underwhelming. Other subclasses get significant mechanical changes to the way the class works. The Eldritch Trickster gets one free Multiclass Dedication feat, and you can take Magical Trickster two levels early. Level 1 is going to absolutely suck, and you still need to put class feats into your multiclass archetype to get more spellcasting, adding a feat tax which other rogue subclasses don't face unless you're somehow happy with only the most basic spellcasting. You also still need to follow the usual rule of taking two feats from one multiclass archetype before you can pick up another archetype, so multiclassing is unusually difficult for the Eldritch Trickster.

The expectation is that you're going to take Magical Trickster and attack using spells. The scaling damage on cantrips makes that an appealing option, but you'll need to work to make enemies flat-footed since flanking won't be as easy and shouting verbal components makes stealth difficult. You may fare better at low levels by relying on weapons, and you might prefer to stick to weapons for your whole career. But at that point, play a Thief and take the Minor Magic Class Feat.

Actually, that's a good idea. Play a Thief, take the Minor Magic Class Feat, and take whatever multiclass feats you need to get the spellcasting that you want. That's almost certainly going to produce a more effective character.

As a quick fix, this whole archetype would shoot up to Green or possibly Blue if you got some of the spellcasting advancement feats from your multiclass archetype for free. I'd settle for the Basic and Expert feats.

Mastermind

If you want to lean heavily on Recall Knowledge and knowledge skills like Arcana and Occultism, Mastermind is an interesting choice. Mastermind can use Recall Knowledge to make foes Flat-Footed against your attacks, allowing you to make them Flat-Footed at range and without worrying about things like trying to Feint a creature with a high Perception DC. Counting on a Critical Success is hard, but in the rare cases where it happens you suddenly get a massive action economy advantage over other rogues because you're not spending an Action every turn to Step into flanking position, to Feint, or to do whatever else you might to do in order to qualify for Sneak Attack.

If your party lacks another high-Intelligence character such as a wizard, the Mastermind is a welcome addition to the party. Recall Knowledge can provide helpful tactical insights, and combined with other effects like the Ranger's Monster Hunter feat tree and the Automatic Knowledge feat, you can make it a very powerful tool beyond just enabling Sneak Attack. The Mastermind's high Intelligence will give you abundant Trained skills at first level, allowing you to explore more skills than most rogues even with the Rogue's already impressive number of Skill Increases and Skill Feats.

Ruffian

The Ruffian allows you to effectively build a burly, strong rogue. If you couldn't decide between the Fighter and the Rogue, the Ruffian is a happy middle ground. Ruffians don't get a built-in way to make enemies Flat-footed, so expect to rely on Athletics to Trip enemies.

The Ruffian has the option to choose Strength as their key ability score. If you want to use weapons that lack the Finesse trait, you also get the ability to deal Sneak Attack damage with simple weapons that lack Agile or Finesse, including options like maces and longspears. You gain access to Critical Specialization Effects when using simple weapons (allowing you to us them 4 levels before other rogyes), adding an extra motivation to use simple weapons over a short sword or a rapier, which would otherwise still be among your best options. You're limited to weapons that use d8 or smaller damage dice, which unfortunately rules out the Heavy Crossbow, but you can use weapon familiarity eats from your Ancestry to make additional weapons Simple Weapons for you, thereby expanding your weapon options.

Ruffians also add medium armor proficiency, and the proficiency will keep pace with the Rogue's proficiency with Light Armor. This allows you get around with as little as 12 Dexterity, but your armor's Check Penalty applies to important skills like Stealth, so if you can manage high enough Dexterity you may still prefer light armor. You never get Armor Specialization Effects, so using light armor instead of medium armor is no great loss.

Finally, the Ruffian is Trained in Intimidation for free. Intimidation is a crucial Face skill, and with a little bit of Charisma and some Skill Feats you can turn it into a useful combat option too. the Ruffian is less dependent on Agile weapons than other rogues, so Multiple Attack Penalties can be a problem, which makes your third Action in a turn bad for attacking but great for Demoralize.

Scoundrel

The Scoundrel is all about being deceptive, rather than being sneaky. You'll see a scoundrel right in front of you, but that doesn't make them any less dangerous.

Curiously, the Scoundrel also makes a good multiclassed spellcaster due to their ability to make Charisma their Key Ability Score. Expect to multiclass into Bard and/or Sorcerer, and look at feats like Minor Magic and Magical Trickster. The Scoundrel is also unusually effective with Innate Spellcasting since Innate Spellcasting is Charisma-based by default.

Scoundrels get unique ability which makes Feint dramatically more effective. If you succeed on a Feint, you get the Critical Success effect. If you critically succeed, the target is Flat-Footed against all attacks until the end of your next turn. Both results offer ample opportunity for you to deal Sneak Attack. However, Feint requires that the target be in your reach, which can be hard if you want to use ranged weapons or if you want to rely on spells.

Scoundrels are Trained in both Deception and Diplomacy, making them a great option for your party's Face.

Thief

The Thief is the closest thing to a "default" rogue. They're heavily dependent on Dexterity, even using it to replace Strength on their weapon damage with Finesse weapons. The Thief is trained in Thievery, giving you one of the Rogue's most essential skills for free.

Despite its simplicity, the Thief should not be overlooked. It has the fewest and the simplest Racket-specific feats, but the options are nearly always effective and easy to rely upon.

Ability Scores

Eldritch Trickster

The Eldritch Trickster may (not must, but may) choose to make their spellcasting ability their Key Ability Score. If you do so, consider the advice here. Otherwise, you'll likely do well by following the advice under Thief, below.

Selecting your spellcasting class is the most crucial part of determing your ability scores since the class you pick will choose your spellcasting ability score, which will then determing which other ability scores make senss to put Boosts into. You'll need to cut something no matter what you do, so pick whichever option best supports your role within the party and your vision for your character.

An Intelligence-based class like the Wizard will give you more skills at level 1 and makes you effective with skills like Arcana and Crafting, helping you to craft items like alchemical tools and even magic items. A Wisdom-based class like the Cleric makes you good at Perception and at skills like Medicine and Religion, helping you to provide inexpensive healing and other solutions often provided by spellcasters. A Charisma-based class like the Sorcerer makes you effective with Face skills like Deception and Diplomacy, helping you explore options like Bon Mot and Demoralize, and making it easier to expand your spellcasting with Innate Spellcasting from your Ancestry.

Str: Spells don't care about your Strength.

Dex: Still crucial for your AC and many of your most important skills.

Con: Always important.

Int: See above.

Wis: See above.

Cha: See above.

Mastermind

While Dexterity is absolutely crucial for the Mastermind, just as it is for most rogues, it may make sense to make Intelligence your Key Ability Score rather than Dexterity. The loss of attack bonus from your Dexterity modifier being one point lower is offset by making foes Flat-Footed when you use Recall Knowledge, and having a lightly higher Intelligence will help with Recall Knowledge so that it's easier to make foes Flat-Footed.

However, Intelligence only covers half of the four knowledge skills (Arcana and Occultism), so your other knowledge skills (Nature and Religion) won't be as realiable, so you'll want your Dexterity high to make sure that your attacks work even when Recall Knowledge isn't as reliable as you want it to be. If you increase Nature and Religion before putting Skill Increases into Arcana and Occultism, you can keep all four skills roughly even, which might negate the minor numerical issue.

If all of that sounds frustrating and confusing, that's totally fine. Just make Dexterity your Key Ability Score and keep Intelligence and Wisdom roughly even and you'll be totally fine.

Str: Take a little bit for extra damage with your attacks unless you plan to use crossbows or spells in combat.

Dex: Defines your attacks, your AC, and many of your most important non-knowledge skills. Making Dexterity your Key Ability Score is probably both the easiest and best option.

Con: Always important.

Int: Possibly your Key Ability Score. You'll get additional skills at level 1 and bonuses with Arcana and Occultism.

Wis: Nature and Religion are both Wisdom-based skills which you'll need for Recall Knowledge, and Perception remains absolutely crucial.

Cha: Necessary for Face skills, but you may need to dump it in order to focus elsewhere.

Ruffian

The Ruffian looks very similar to the Fighter in a lot of ways. You'll want some extra Dexterity since you're in medium armor, but otherwise your needs are very similar. You can absolutely built the Ruffian around Dexterity like the Thief, and make Strength your second-highest ability score, but I'll assume that if you're playing a ruffian you want to emphasize Strength.

Str: If you're playing a Ruffian, you're doing it so that you can use Strength-based melee weapons as a rogue. If you're not going to make Strength your Key Ability Score, you should consider a different racket.

Dex: You only neeed 14 to fill out Scale Mail, but you may want more to make you better at skills like Stealth.

Con: The Ruffian is typically a front-line melee character similar to the Fighter, and with only d8 hit points you need as much Constitution as you can manage to make up the difference in durability.

Int: You get a total of 9+Int Trained skills at first level, and even with Skill Increases at every level you only get enough Skill Increases to maximize 6 skills. Taking a Flaw in Intelligence only removes one of those skills, and there are plenty of appealing skills which don't rely on Intelligence.

Wis: Helpful for Perception and Will saves, but you don't need to focus on Wisdom-based skills.

Cha: Intimidation is a great option and it depends on your Charisma.

Scoundrel

The Scoundrel's abilities don't differ much from the Thief, but they need to emphasize Charisma considerably more. I still recommend making Dexterity your Key Ability Score because you can't Charisma doesn't affect your attacks or your AC, but you should make Charisma your next-highest Ability Score.

Str: Take a little bit for extra damage with your attacks unless you plan to use crossbows or spells in combat.

Dex: Defines your attacks, your AC, and many of your most important skills.

Con: Always important.

Int: You get a total of 9+Int Trained skills at first level, and even with Skill Increases at every level you only get enough Skill Increases to maximize 6 skills. Taking a Flaw in Intelligence only removes one of those skills, and there are plenty of appealing skills which don't rely on Intelligence.

Wis: Helpful for Perception and Will saves, but you don't need to focus on Wisdom-based skills.

Cha: While Charisma can be your Key Ability, it doesn't need to be and it probably shouldn't. As important as Charisma is for you, it's not what keeps you alive in combat, so putting the extra +2 into Dexterity at first level is probably the better option. However, if you plan to rely on casting spells (usually via multiclassing), you'll want to maximize Charisma.

Thief

Dexterity is your top priority, and everything else varies upon what role you're going to fill in your party.

Str: The Thief gets to add Dexterity to their melee weapon damage rather than Strength, allowing you to dump Strength without cutting into your damage output.

Dex: Defines your attacks, your AC, and many of your most important skills.

Con: Always important.

Int: You get a total of 9+Int Trained skills at first level, and even with Skill Increases at every level you only get enough Skill Increases to maximize 6 skills. Taking a Flaw in Intelligence only removes one of those skills, and there are plenty of appealing skills which don't rely on Intelligence.

Wis: Helpful for Perception and Will saves, but you don't need to focus on Wisdom-based skills so you don't need a lot of it.

Cha: You have plenty of capabity to be your party's Face, though you're less-reliant on Charisma than the Scoundrel might be..

Ancestries

Increases to your Key Ability Score are always welcome, but since the Rogue's Key Ability Score can change you have a ton of flexiblity there. Perhaps the most important things you can get from your Acenstry are Low-Light Vision and Darkvision since the Rogue tends to spend a lot of time sneaking around and trying to avoid being noticed, but remember that Darkvision is appears on all four spell lists, and you can always get Goggles of Night if you can't rely on friendly spellcasters spending a 3rd-level spell slot on you.

You might benefit from additional weapon options thanks to Ancestry Feats, especially if you're a ruffian, but remember that you'll mostly rely on Simple Weapons.

DwarfCRB: Darkvision, maximum hit points, and the Ability Boosts and Ability Flaws work great for most rogues (though the Scoundrel isn't a great option). You also get a Clan Dagger for free (this was added in Errata), and since it's Agile you can use it for Sneak Attack as well as using its Parry trait to boost your AC. So long as you never lose or sell your Clan Dagger, you don't ever need to take Dwarven Weapon Familiarity. However, there is very little to be gained from the Dwarf's Ancestry Feats, so consider Adopted Ancestry to open up additional options.

ElfCRB: Dexterity and Intelligence are great, but a Constitution Flaw can be a serious problem if you plan to fight in melee so you may want to use the Optional Flaw rules to dump something else so that you can use the extra Free Ability Boost to offset the Cosntitution Flaw. You get Low-Light Vision and Darkvision is an option with the Cavern Elf Heritage, and the Elf's Ancestry Feats offer a lot of really great options. Ancestral Longevity further increases the Rogue's superiotity with skills, and Otherworldly Magic offers access to cantrips without spending Class Feats on Minor Magic or on a multiclass archetype. As you gain levels, you gain access to Ancestry Feat options which improve your ability to use Perception to search for traps, and allow you to Step more than 5 feet in a single action, both of which can be very helpful for the Rogue.

GnomeCRB: Constitution and Charisma are great, especially for a scoundrel, and a Strength Flaw is only a problem if you wanted to play a Ruffian and make Strength your Key Ability Score. If you put the Free Ability Boost into Dexterity you'll do just fine, and since the Ruffian isn't forced to make Strength their Key Ability Score it's absolutely still an option. You get low-light vision by default, and Darkvision is an option with Umbral Gnome. For a rogue interested in spellcasting, spells are available from severale heritage options, as well as from the Fey World Magic feat chain, and with Animal Accomplice you can even get a familiar!

GoblinCRB: Dextertity and Charisma are a great start, and your get Darkvision by default. The Wisdom Flaw will hurt your Perception and your Will Saves, but not enough that you need to worry about it. Many of the heritage options are great, including options to get damage resistances by also things like Razortooth Goblin, which gives you a bite with the Finesse trait so you can use it for Sneak Attack. Many of the Ancestry Feats are excellent, too. Goblin Weapon Familiarity makes the Dogslicer and the Horsechopper Simple Weapons for you, making the Dogslicer an interesting alternative to the Short Sword, but remember that it's only for the purposes of proficiency, so even ruffians can't use horsechoppers with Sneak Attack since they're not actually simple weapons. The Very Sneaky feat chain is also a great addition, and you can use the Goblin Scuttle feat chain to help move around in combat without cutting into your Actins on your turn.

HalflingCRB: Dexterity and Wisdom are a fine start, and even if you want to fight in melee the Strength flaw isn't a big enough problem that you need to worry about it. The Flexible Ability Boost should go into Constitution in most cases. The biggest problem is that you don't get Low-Light Vision (though it's available with the Twilight Halfling Heritage), and Darkvision isn't an option. However, the Halfling still has several excellent feat options. Halfling Weapon Familiarity makes the Filcher's Fork and the Halfling Sling Staff Simple Weapons, making the Dagger, the Rapier, and the Short Sword obsolete by combining all of their most important traits on a single weapon that you can also use as a cooking implement. The Distracting Shadows feat chain is great if you plan to fight at range or if you spend a lot of time in crowded cities, and Halfling Luck is literally always good. However, Adopted Ancestry makes Ancestry Feats accessible to other races, so the Halfling's biggest appeal is easily accessible to other races with the ability to see in the dark.

HumanCRB: Despite lacking Low-Light Vision or Darkvision by default, the Human is still a great option. You can get both Low-Light Vision and Darkvision using either the Half-Elf or Half-Orc Ancestries, and you can get access to great weapons like the Filcher's Fork with the Unconventional Weaponry feat. Two Flexible Ability Boosts is probably plenty, but you could easily use the Optional Flaw rules to get a third if you really want it. Unfortunately there aren't many great Ancestry Feats for the Human if you're not a Half-Elf/Half-Orc, so consider Adopted Ancestry to expand your options.

Backgrounds

Because rogues can be built in so many ways, there's lots of room to use different backgrounds. Consider which Racket you're playing and make sure that you can increase your Key Ability, but otherwise look for anything that fits your character concept.

If you're having trouble deciding, here are some suggestions:

  • Barrister (Scoundrel)
  • Charlatan (Scoundrel)
  • Driminal (Thief)
  • Farmhand (Ruffian)
  • Guard (Ruffian)
  • Prisoner (Thief)

Skills and Skill Feats

As a rogue, you get Skill Increases at every level after 2nd, giving you 5 opportunities to raise skills to Expert, 8 to raise skills as high as Master, and 6 to raise skills as high as Legendary. That means that you can maximize at most six skills, and the rest of your skills might not advance beyond Trained.

You get Skill Feats at every level, giving you a total of 20 Skill Feats by 20th level. Generally you want to invest these feats in the same skills which you are choosing to maximize, though in some cases you may want to grab feats from skills which don't require that you be more than Trained, and you have plenty of skills to throw around.

  • Acrobatics (Dex): While not incredibly useful on its own, Acrobatics lets you qualify for Cloud Step and Implausible Infiltration, both of which are spectacular.
  • Arcana (Int): An essential knowledge skill in any party, and even if you don't have the Intelligence to back it up it's helpful to be Trained.
    • Arcane SenseCRB: Detect Magic is incredibly useful, but without spellcasting you'll often find that you can do very little about whatever magic you detect beyond avoiding it or looting it.
  • Athletics (Str): Despite most rogues not emphasizing Strength, this is still a fantastic option. With Assurance, decent Proficiency, and even modest Strength you can reliably Trip foes, and making them Prone makes them Flat-Footed until they spend an Action to stand, both allowing you to deal Sneak Attack (and other things like Debilitating Strike when you get them) and robbing them of an Action at some point. If you're a ruffian, this is absolutely essential. Even if you don't plan to use Athletics in combat, you should at least be Trained.
    • AssuranceCRB: If you're going to rely on Athletics, the reliability which Assurance provides can be helpful, but Assurance won't always work. See my Practical Guide to Assurance for more information.
    • Titan WrestlerCRB: Essential if you plan to rely on Trip.
    • Cloud JumpCRB: The Cloud Step class feat addresses the same challenges more effectively.
  • Crafting (Int): You have plenty of capacity to be good at crafting, and most rogues can afford decent Intelligence to make it effective. If you're building around poison or alchemical items, this is an absolute must even if you're multiclassing into Alchemist.
  • Deception (Cha): Crucial as a Face skill, but also a crucial combat option for the Scoundrel due to their improved usage of the Feint action.
    • AssuranceCRB: If you're healily reliant on Feint, you need this. Failure can mean that your next turn or two will be much less effective, and Critical Failure could get you killed. However, Assurance won't always guarantee success. See my Practical Guide to Assurance for more information.
  • Diplomacy (Cha): Essential for any Face.
  • Intimidation (Cha): A great option for a Face, and Demoralize makes it a useful option in combat, especially with You're Next available at first level.
    • AssuranceCRB: If you're heavily reliant on Demoralize, you need this. However, Assurance won't always guarantee success. See my Practical Guide to Assurance for more information.
    • BattlecryCRB: Demoralize for free when combat starts. It might not be a good option if you're hiding, but otherwise it's a free debuff at the beginning of every fight.
    • Terrified RetreatCRB: Counting on a critical success is hard, but if your Charisma is very high it might work.
    • Scare to DeathCRB: Spend one Action to pick out the creature in the room the lowest Will save and kill them or send them fleeing. Repeat until the room is cleared. At this point you only need weapons for things that are strong enough to threaten your whole party on their own, and even then this can still replace the Demoralize action almost entirely.
  • Lore (Int): Versatile, but vaguely defined and hard to rely upon. If you have high Intelligence at 1st level and your party can cover essential knowledge skills like Arcana and Religion, consider picking up a few types of Lore.
  • Medicine (Wis): Wisdom isn't a crucial skill for the Rogue, so Medicine isn't a spectacular option. But you have enough Skill Increases and Skill Feats to make it work if you're interested in doing so.
  • Nature (Wis): Leave this to someone in the party with higher Wisdom if you can, but being Trained is helpful.
  • Occultism (Int): An essential knowledge skill in any party, and even if you don't have the Intelligence to back it up it's helpful to be Trained.
  • Performance (Cha): Not particularly useful
  • Religion (Wis):Leave this to someone in the party with higher Wisdom if you can.
  • Society (Int): Useful for Face builds, and feats like Read Lips and Sign Language are helpful for scouting.
    • Read LipsCRB: Occasionally Helpful in campaigns with humanoid enemies which you can spy on.
    • Sign LanguageCRB: Great for communicating stealthily, provided that someone else your party also takes this.
  • Stealth (Dex): One of your most important skills. Hiding before combat starts allows you to use your Stealth check for initiative, allowing your incredible Stealth bonus to give you a higher Initiative than your excellent Perception.
    • AssuranceCRB: Get a consistently high result on Initiative, and never worry about being spotted because you rolled terribly. However, Assurance won't always guarantee success on normal Stealth checks where you're opposing a target's Perception. See my Practical Guide to Assurance for more information.
    • Foil SensesCRB: Special senses like Tremorsense can easily negate even the best Stealth checks if you don't know to be prepared for them. This feat removes that annoyance.
    • Quiet AlliesCRB: The phrase "using the lowest modifier" means that your allies add the +2 Circumstance Bonus, rather than using whichever Circumstance Bonus you would normally get based on your Proficiency. You also share a single roll with your party, so you're no longer effectively dragged down by whoever rolls the lowest/
    • Swift SneakCRB: Extremely helpful if you're sneaking in combat.
  • Survival (Wis): Only rarely useful, but you might make it Trained if you don't know what else to take.
  • Thievery (Dex): Arguably the Rogue's signature skill. Used for both opening locks and disabling traps, no adventuring party is likely to succeed without someone passable at Thievery.

Feats

Rogue Feats

1st Level

  • Nimble DodgeCRB: +2 circumstance bonus to AC as a Reaction. That's the same bonus provided by Raise a Shield, and many similar effects, though it does only apply to the triggering attack, so other options may be more effective if you're drawing a lot of fire. The Rogue's Reaction is almost never utilized, so this is an easy way to capitalize on an underutilized resource.
  • Overextending FeintAPG: A -2 penalty to the target's attacks is functionally identical to a +2 bonus to your AC. The Raise a Shield Action provides a +2 Circumstance bonus to your AC, requires no feats, requires no checks which might fail, and works against every attack targeted at you instead of just the first of the target of your Feint (or all of their attacks against you if you're very lucky of very good at Deception). There is basically no circumstance where Overextending Feint is better than Raise a Shield, and even if a shield isn't an option, a weapon with the Parry trait provides a consistent +1 to AC for the same Action cost, and that persistent +1 is almost certainly more impactful than gambling to apply a -2 penalty to one attack by one creature.
  • Plant EvidenceAPG: Very situational. I don't understand why this needs to be a feat. Aside from the added benefit of the Ruffian doing this as a free action, there's no reason that you shouldn't be able to do this with the -5 penalty just like picking someone's pocket. Heck, I can do this in real life (not the free action part while shoving), and I'm clumsy enough that it takes three tries to unlock my cell phone. This should not be a feat.

    Beyond the fact that this shouldn't be locked behind a feat, it's also a bad feat. The effect is far too situational. Planting evidence on someone is something that takes a lot of forethought to actually make it matter, and you're not going to do that often enough to justify the feat cost. Your best bet is to use this to plant explosive or poisons on the target which you can somehow trigger later.

  • Tumble BehindAPG: In a one-on-one fight this is a great substitute for Feint since it uses a Dexterity-based skill. Most rogues use Dexterity at their Key Ability Score, and not needing Feint makes it easier to dump Charisma. It also helps you safely get into positiong to flank the target, reducing or removing the need to use Tumble Through again until you've eliminated the target.
  • Trap FinderCRB: Situational by design. I would never take this at first level unless your campaign features a huge amount of dungeon crawling.
  • Twin FeintCRB: A reliable way to ensure that your target will be flat-footed against at least one of your attacks. Your second attack will still suffer the Multiple Attack Penalty, so recommend making your secon attack with an Agile weapon. Flat-footed reduces the target's AC by -2, so you're effectively only taking -2 if your second attack is with an Agile weapon. You might instead prefer to use the Feint Action and make a single attack. This uses the same number of Actions and won't have a Mutliple Attack Penalty on your attack, but it also has an extra point of failure (the Deception check) and you don't have a chance to hit twice. It's an interesting comparison, and I'm not sure which is a better go-to option.
  • You're NextCRB: Fantastic. Good enough that any decent Intimidation build should multiclass to get this. You may even be able to use it immediately following Scare to Death.

2nd Level

  • Brutal Beating (Ruffian): Good if you're not going to pursue Intimidation, but if you're using Intimidation you can just Demoralize enemies whenever your Multiple Attack Penalty starts to add up.
  • Clever GambitAPG (Mastermind): You only need to identify the creature with Recall Knowledge, so even if the target isn't Flat-Footed because you used Recall Knowledge you can still benefit from this. Turning your Reaction into movement is a great trade in many cases, but it's not always necessary and it's hard to gamble on a critical hit. This isn't useful often enough to justify a class feat. If you're worried about getting stuck in a bad position, think like a mastermind and plan ahead.
  • Distracting Feint (Scoundrel): Nice if your party includes a spellcaster who likes AOE damage spells like Fireball, but at low levels before your allies have lot of spells to throw around I don't think that this is worth the feat.
  • Minor MagicCRB: Cantrips offer a ton of options. If you have the first printing of the Core Rulebook, you'll notice that no Spellcasting Ability or proficiency is listed; the errata clarified that the Spellcasting Ability is Charisma, and that you are Trained with these spells. This proficiency never improves, so stay away from attack options unless you're building an Eldritch Trickster. Instead, stick to defensive options like Shield, buff options like Guidance, and utility options like Prestidigitation.
  • MobilityCRB: Makes Stepping obsolete. Remember that numbers are rounded down, so in most cases you're only moving 10 feet while using this. Look for ways to improve your land speed like the Fleet feat or magic items. Hitting 30 ft. speed will add 5 ft. to the amount you can move using Mobility.
  • Quick DrawCRB: Useful if you like to throw weapons, but otherwise it won't see a ton of use. Even if you like to throw weapons, you'll eventually replace this with a Returning property rune so that you can throw a single weapon with a bunch of enhancements on it.
  • Strong ArmAPG: Rogues fighting with thrown weapons typically use daggers, and since daggers have a thrown range increment of just 10 feet, adding 10 feet fully doubles your thrown weapon range.
  • Unbalancing Blow (Thief): Fantastic when it works, but it's hard to rely on Critical Hits, and it's hard to invest in unreliable feat at low level when you have so few options. If you do take this, plan to retrain it when you get Precise Debilitations: Precise Debilitations provides the same effect and doesn't require a critical hit.
  • Underhanded AssaultAPG: There is some buried complexity here because using this feat involves both the Stride and Sneak actions, Reactions, the Flat-Footed, Hidden, and Undetected conditions, and of course the Stealth skill.

    At it's most basic, you use this feat to expend 2 Actions to Stride half your speed and then Strike. So it's a slightly less than even trade in terms of Actions if you just want to Stride and then Strike. However, depending on the results of your Stealth check you can get some exciting benefits, and that's what you're here for.

    The first Action which you take with this feat is the Sneak Action. This allows you to Stride half your speed and make a Stealth check at the end of your movement. With Underhanded Assault you can do this even if you're currently observed by the creature, but you do make this check with a -2 penalty. As far as I can tell, the other normal rules for Sneak apply. If you roll a Success on the Stealth check you're Undetected by the creature (you can also make a melee Strike which we'll discuss below), but I think that goes away at the end of the Underhanded Assault Activity unless you would be able to hide normally. If you roll a Failure, you're Hidden instead, so the creature may be able to take Reactions such as Attack of Opportunity, but they do get a DC 11 Flat Check to automatically miss you (effectively a 50% chance to miss you automatically).

    If you succeed on your Stealth check, you get to make one melee Strike. Since you're Unobserved by the target, it's automatically Flat-Footed against your Strike, allowing you to deliver Sneak Attack. Making the Strike reveals your location, but since you're now in melee with the target you're almost certainly revealed anyway.

    Taken as a whole, this is a good feat for melee builds who are going all-in on Stealth. You're essentially gambling your second Action with Underhanded Assault, so unless you can reliably pass Stealth checks this is probably too risky to use. I would take this on a hief and on similarly-built rogues, but for other Rackets I would likely look elsewhere.

4th Level

  • Battle AssessmentCRB: Pathfinder has a dizzying number of creatures, and their strengths and weaknesses aren't always obvious. Knowing even one of a creature's weaknesses can dramaticaly change how well a fight goes for your party. Unfortunately, the characters most likely to benefit from this are spellcasters; even if an enemy is weak to bludgeoning damage you're unlikely to drop your +2 greater striking rapier in favor of a nonmagical club.
  • Dread StrikerCRB: Extremely easy to rely upon if there is even one person in the party built to use Intimidation. If a foe isn't Frightened on your turn, start your turn with Demoralize before you hit them.
  • Head StompAPG: Shove is a weirdly easy option for the Rogue since you can so easily maximize your Athletics proficiency, then take Assurance to negate a potentially poor Strength score. Ruffians do even better because they can afford to invest in Strength and in weapons with the Shove trait. Shove the target prone, hit them with Head Stomp, and your entire party can capitalize on the target's AC penalty for a full round. The more allies you have who rely on Strikes, the better this gets.
  • Reactive PursuitCRB: Keeping an enemy in melee is great, especially since the Rogue doesn't get something like Attack of Opportunity. However, be cautious with this: If an enemy is running back to the comparable safety of wherever its allies are standing you may find yourself standing in the middle of a bunch of hostile creatures.
  • SabotageCRB: Too situational.
  • Magical TricksterCRB: Your proficiency with the cantrips granted by Minor Magic never improves, so the only way to make this meaningful is if you're using Archetypes to improve your spellcasting. If you're doing that, the extra damage can be great.
  • MugAPG: Situational. Many enemies either don't rely on equipment or won't be carrying items which matter to them in combat. If they have things like potions, wands, or alchemical items this will cause them a lot of trouble, but those items are a rarity in game where humanoid enemies are typically a minority. Trolls and dragons typically don't care if you try to pick their nonexistent pockets. But if your game features humanoid or near-humanoid enemies (intelligent undead, fey, etc.) which frequently use items, this may be a useful option.
  • Poison WeaponCRB: Poison is a complicated mechanic, and this is a great way to get into it. The free damage poisons are nice, but their damage is negligible and using one in combat will generally be a waste of an Action, so your best bet is to poison a weapon immediately before ambushing an enemy. If you have the first printing of the Core Rulebook, errata has clarified the wording of the feat: you need a free hand to draw a poison and apply it to a weapon, so if you're using two weapons or a shield or something you'll need to drop it. If you want to use this, strongly consider spending class feats to multiclass into Alchemist.
  • PredictableAPG: Most creatures aren't proficient in Deception, so expect to use the Hard DC option most of the time. A Hard DC is very achievable if your Wisdom is decent, especially since the Rogue gets the best Perception progression in the game. Unfortunately, the AC bonus is worse than just using Raise a Shield or a weapon with the Parry trait, so you're mostly only here for the bonus to a saving throw against the target. Even then, I don't know if gambling an Action for a possible +1/+2 bonus is worth the cost.
  • Scout's WarningCRB: This is great for most characters, but it's not always a great option for the Rogue. You can use Stealth for Initiative checks if you're hiding when combat starts, and since your Stealth bonus will almost certainly exceed your Perception bonus, you want to do that whenever possible. If you do that, you're actively working to invalidate the the function of this feat. I would take this feat on literally any character who isn't trying to be stealthy. It's great for many characters multiclassing into the Rogue, but rogues should probably avoid it.
  • The Harder They FallAPG: The bonus damage is small, but still welcome for the Ruffian since they often rely on Trip to makes for Flat-Footed. Unfortunately, it's rare for your foes to already be Flat-Footed before you Trip them, so you'll rarely be able to add Sneak Attack damage. Since The Harder They Fall's damage only scales by means of your Sneak Attack damage scaling, that means that you'll rarely get more than the 1d6 bonus damage.
  • Twin DistractionAPG: Situational. Stupefied is rarely impactful unless the target is a spellcaster.

6th Level

  • Analyze WeaknessAPG: This jumps out as a good option for the Mastermind, though any rogue can use it. Unless you roll a Critical Success when you use Recall Knowledge against the target, you're going to spend an Action every turn to Recall Knowledge in order to make the target Flat-Footed against your attacks. That leaves you two Actions, and one is going to be a Strike. You could make a second Strike, but the target likely won't be Flat-Footed, so you're giving up Sneak Attack. Instead, you can use Analyze Weakness to double dour bonus damage from Sneak Attack. That means that you're spending 3 Actions to make a single high-damage Strike, so it's high risk, but if you hit you're dealing a mountain of damage.

    For non-mastermind rogues (and for masterminds who managed a Critical Success to Recall Knowledge against the target), this can be a more reliable damage option than making three Strikes in a turn. Even with an Agile weapon, the -8 Multiple Attack Penalty is crippling, and applying Analyze Weakness is a more reliable damage bonus, provided that the target is already Flat-Footed. You can apply this to any Sneak Attack made during the same turn, so if you use Analyze Weakness and then make two Strikes you have two chances to apply the damage bonus.

  • Anticipate AmbushAPG: This feat isn't formatted or worded especially well. Anticipate Ambush adds a new Exploration Activity, which you would likely use in the same situations where you might use Avoid Notice or Scout. Unfortunately, you can only use on Exploration Activity at a time (with some exceptions to that rule, but those don't matter for the purposes of this feat), and both Avoid Notice and Scout are more effective. Avoid Notice allows you to roll Stealth for initiative, and for most rogues that means that you're going to have a higher bonus to initiative than you would with Perception. Scout gives your entire party a +1 bonus to initiative even if your enemies don't surprise you. Sure, Anticipate Ambush's -2 penalty to your enemies is larger than Scout's +1 bonus, but Scout applies to every encounter while Anticipate Ambush only applies to ambushes, which are typically infrequent. Unless your GM absolutely loves ambushes, this feat is not useful.
  • Gang UpCRB: A tempting crutch if you're fighting in melee and having trouble making enemies Flat-Footed by other means, but if you can't make enemies Flat-Footed by other means you may need to reconsider how you're playing your rogue. There are tons of great options, and you need to have at least one that can rely on consistently that doesn't require you to wait for an ally to stumble into melee. That said, this mgiht still be an important option if you're using a reach weapon, and if you have numberous allies fighting in melee this could allow you to quickly change targets to spread effects like Debilitating Strike without needing to constantly move between targets.
  • Far ThrowAPG: If Strong Arm isn't enough, you need to either switch to a bow move closer.
  • Light StepCRB: Situational, and you can frequently deal with difficult terrain by jumping over it or by moving somewhere else. You can also take Feather Step rather than spending a class feat.
  • Shove DownAPG: If you need to Shove the target away, also making them Prone means that they likely need to spend two Actions to get back into melee with you. Unfortunately, if you're built to make Shove and Trip effective, you probably need to be in melee with the target so that you can Strike them. Situations where this is effective for the characters who can use this feat reliably are very rare.
  • Skirmish StrikeCRB: Effectively an extra Action on most turns. Choosing to Step out of melee after you've finish attacking means that enemies are often forced to spend their own Action to follow you or to attack one of your allies instead, such as your party's Defender who is better suited to endure those attacks. If you're fighting using a ranged weapon, this allows you to safely move out of reach without cutting into your attacks, making this a crucial option if you're forced into melee.
  • Twist the KnifeCRB: Not nearly enough damage to justify spending an Action. If you want Persistent Bleed damage, use the Critical Specialization effect with a weapon in the Knife category. It will deal more damage, it won't require you to spend an Action, and you get acces to Critical Specialization effects at 5th level which trigger against the same targets which Twist the Knife applies to. Admittedly you need to deal a Critical Hit, but I still don't think Twist the Knife is worth a feat.
  • Watch Your backAPG: This is not a good feat on its own, but in a party which likes stacking fear effects it can be worthwhile. You have few options to capitalize on the penalty to the target's Will DC on your own, and most of them are from the Intimidate skill. Demoralize is your go-to at low levels, and Scare to Death works at high levels, but both of those options require the exact same check as Watch Your Back so there's basically no reason to spend the Action on Watch Your Back.

    If you have allies who rely on fear effects (other Demoralize users, spellcasters who like fear spells, etc.), the 1-minute duration can put you at a mathematicaly advantage for the duration of the encounter. If you're in such a party, in many fights it's smart to spend your first turn using Watch Your Back and Demoralize to get enemies set up to suffer more serious fear effects produced by your allies. This produces amuzing mental images of rogues popping out of hiding places to jeer at their foes and warn of impending doom before your party's spellcasters start dropping magical nightmares into the encounter.

8th Level

  • Blind-FightCRB: This is a very well-written feat. The language is both precise and clear, and it very explicitly states how it works with Pathfinder 2e's complex system of conditions. This is a great option if you don't have Low-Light Vision or Darkvision because it makes you more effective in poor light conditions, and it's a lifesaver if you're facing invisible enemies and don't have magical options to counter invisibility. It's also a good option if you have allied spellcasters who like to use spells like Fog Cloud which obscure the battlefield without relying on darkness.
  • BullseyeAPG: It's frustrating that this only works for thrown weapons. Rogues using thrown weapons are typically using daggers, and since daggers have short range you're typically within range to Stride to reach your target, so cover is rarely of an issue.
  • Delay TrapCRB: Too situational.
  • Improved Poison WeaponCRB: An additional 1d4 damage with your free poisons is not enough to make them meaningful.
  • Inspired StratagemAPG: Though this only applies once each to each of four allies per day, the effects and the Action cost are fantastic. Reserve this for high-damage attacks like high-level spell attacks, high-damage feats like Power Attack, and other similar options which will have a major result if they're successful. Unfortunately the value of feat scales linearly based on the size of your party, so if your party is you and two others you'll get much less benefit than if you have four other player characters in the party. Generally minions like Animal Companions won't be impactful enough to justify one of the four slots, but if you have spaces it may come down to the pet or leaving a slot unused.

    The wording isn't perfectly clear, but I think the RAI is that you can only use this on four allies each day, rather than targeting groups of four allies 10 minutes at a time. Consult your GM.

  • Loaner SpellAPG: Allowing you to cast a spell of up to 3rd level is good. You can use self-targeting spells which your allies can't cast upon you, or you could use it for spell attacks, or to get buffs or area control spells running early in a fight. But you need to have an allied spellcaster who prepare spells rather than using a Spell Repertoire, and they need to be willing to donate a spell slot to make this feat work. That can be a really big ask. If you can make it happen, the spell's DC and attack modifier will be good without investing heavily in spellcasting via multiclass archetype feats.

    You also need to compare this to other ways to get the ability to cast a 3rd-level spell. If you just want one spell per day, a wand will suffice. If you need to change the spell from time to time, scrolls will suffice. If you want the ability to change the spells or cast more spells, two feats to take a multiclass dedication feat and the basic spellcasting feat for the same class will get you two cantrips and leveled spells at levels 1, 2, and 3, so for double the cost to you (and no cost to your allies) you can get considerably more spellcasting. Your save DCs and spell attacks won't scale automatically with your class DC, and your spell options may be more limited than if you borrowed a spell from an ally, but if you stick to buffs and utility options you'll probably find that the benefits are worth the trade.

  • Nimble RollCRB: This does two things: First, it allows you to take a Reaction to get a +2 Circumstance bonus on Reflex saves (see Nimble Dodge). Second, after using Nimble Dodge/Nimble Roll and avoiding an attack or succeeding on a save, you can Stride 10 feet. Keep in mind that if you Stride in this way you'll still provoke Reactions, so it may not be a great option if you're in melee.
  • Opportune BackstabCRB: You want to make as many attacks as possible, and since this attack typically takes place outside of your own turn you don't need to worry about Multiple Attack Penalties.
  • Predictive PurchaseAPG: Free consumables can include things like potions and scrolls. Sure, they only be common and a level no higher than half your level, but that can still get you some very expensive things like healing potions, elixirs of life, antidotes, poisons, talismans, and all manner of other things which are too expensive to dump money into constantly but might solve an immediate problem. Using scrolls of low-level spells with situational uses can solve a lot of problems, and means that spellcasters in your party don't need to learn or prepare those spells.
  • SidestapCRB: This requires very specific positioning that can be hard to establish, and enemies can easily avoid it by not standing adjacent to each other.
  • Ricochet StanceAPG: Get a Returning rune. They're dirt cheap, don't eat an Action, don't limit your weapon options based on damage type, and don't limit you to one range increment. Even worse, you need to be within the "lited range increment", so thing's like Strong Arm don't appear to extend the range at which Ricochet Stance functions.
  • Sly StrikerCRB: Are you bad at being a rogue? Take this consolation prize! If you're in a situation where you can't deal Sneak Attack, you should be working to change the situation, rather than flailing about and taking whatever meager damage you can get.
  • Tactical EntryAPG: Excellent if you fight at range, but essential if you fight in melee. Spending an Action on your first turn to Stride cuts into your Actions early in a fight when Actions are most impactful. If you take this, plan to use Avoid Notice as your Exploration Activity basically every time so that you can benefit from this feat cosnistently.

10th Level

This level introduces feats which expand your options for Debilitating Strikes. You probably only want one such feat since you can't use more than one Debilitation per target until level 15 when you get Double Debilitation, at which point you might consider a second Debilitation feat which would make an effective combo.

  • Eldritch DebilitationsAPG (Eldritch Trickster): Situational by design. I would only take this if you face enemy spellcasters frequently since Stupefied is only impactful for spellcasters. You can make enemies unable to Step and then Step out of reach, but that's only useful against enemies who can't already reach one of your allies to attack them.
  • Methodical DebilitationsAPG (Mastermind): Denying enemies the ability to flank can make it much easier to handle encounters with numerous foes, and it makes it much more difficult for enemies to use effects like Sneak Attack which rely on targets being Flat-Footed. The option to negate the AC bonus from shields and cover is much less-frequently useful since most foes won't use shields.
  • Precise DebilitationsCRB: Simple and straight-foward. You can make the target Flat-Footed (remember that Debilitating Strike lasts until the end of your next turn), removing the need for complicated tricks like flanking, tripping, feinting, etc.. If they're already flat-footed, you can deal an extra 2d6 damage, which isn't conceptually exciting but it's a bunch of extra damage so it's always useful even when your other Debilitating Strike options might not be.
  • Sneak SavantCRB: Take Assurance with Stealth instead. Class feats are precious and you get twice as many Skill Feats as anyone else.
  • Tactical DebilitationsCRB: The benefits are only useful in very specific situations. The most likely use case is to prevent a target from making Reactions so that you can Stride away, but if that's something that you're worried about you'll do better with Skirmish Strike.
  • Vicious DebilitationsCRB: The ability to add Vulnerability to a damage type is fantastic if you have a large party or a party which relies heavily on weapon damage, but if you're in a small party of if your party relies on spells or fire damage or something, this won't be especially useful. Clumsy 1 is neat and reliable, but it's not very exciting.

12th Level

  • Bloody DebilitationAPG: 3d6 persistent damage is massive. Spread this around early in a fight and you can deal a ton of damage very quickly. In many cases this can dramatically outpace the damage dealt by Sneak Attack. Unfortunately some enemies will be immune to bleed, but most enemies aren't.
  • Critical DebilitationCRB: It's important to remember that this only applies if you score a Critical Hit, but if you can manage that this is spectacular. Even if the target succeeds on their save, they still lose 1 Action.
  • Fantastic LeapCRB: Either throw something or use a crossbow.
  • Felling ShotCRB: You need to hit with the attack, which takes two Actions so you can only do it once per turn. If you hit, the target makes a Reflex Save against your Class DC (the Rogue has a poor Class DC progressin). If the target fails the save, they fall but they're not harmed by the fall. This is ineffective, unreliable, and unimpressive. If you need to keep an enemy from flying, consider a Tanglefoot Bag or hit the target with Dispel Magic.
  • PreparationAPG: There aren't enough good options which work with this. Inspired Stratagem, Nimble Dodge, and No Escape all qualify, but those are rarely so impactful that you need to do two of them (or the same one twice) in the same round, and spending an Action to guess when you might want to use two Reactions is a terrible gamble. This would be really good if you could use it with reactions from other classes, but Preparation specifices "Rogue Reactions".
  • Reactive InterferenceCRB: You can use this to prevent an Attack of Opportunity, so you can freely Stride past a foe. However, you're still limited to one Reaction per round, so don't try to walk past multiple enemies.
  • Ricochet FeintAPG: Ricochet Stance is not a good feat. Getting into the stance in order to enable you to Feint at horrifyingly short range (again: you need to use the "listed range increment" and you're probably using a daggger) costs an Action, plus the Action to Feint. So the feat cost is high, the action economy is bad, and benefits are mediocre. Get into melee and feint or look for a way to hide or some other way to make the target Flat-Footed.
  • Spring from the ShadowsCRB: Similar to Sudden Charge. This is a great way to start combat if you're built for melee.

14th Level

  • Defensive RollCRB: This will save your life repeatedly. it's only usable once every 10 minutes, but that's generally once per fight and that should be enough. Once this triggers, you should strongly consider running away or at least retreating and switching to a ranged weapon.
  • Instant OpeningCRB: You've spent 13 levels hiding, tripping, flanking, and feinting, and then along comes Instant Opening. No more checks or tricks or other nonsense. Simply shout "look over there!" and your target is Flat-Footed to your attacks until the end of your next turn. This is especially great for rogues who prefer to fight at range, and who generally have less options to make a target Flat-Footed.
  • Leave an OpeningCRB: If you have a party member with Attack of Opportunity, this can be useful. However, it requires that they be in reach of the target, that they haven't used their Reaction already, and that you score a Critical Hit to trigger this. Even then, your ally might prefer to not use their Reaction this way because it removes the deterrent against your enemy moving away from your and your ally.
  • Sense the UnseenCRB: Hopefully by this level your party has plenty of options for handling invisible enemies, but if they don't this is a good fallback. Be sure to combine this with Blind-Fight to mostly negate the benefits of invisibility.
  • Stay DownAPG: If you depend on making your tagets prone (common for the Ruffian, but still useful for other rogues), Stay Down is essential. Spending your Reaction to negate the target's Action is a good action economy trade, so even if the target just spends another Action to stand you're still winning. If you roll a Critical Success, the target is stuck Prone so you don't need to Trip them again on your next turn, so the targets wastes an Action, spends their turn Prone, and you have a spare Action to spend on your own turn.

16th Level

This level introduces class feats which require you to be Legendary in a skill. These feats are often incredibly powerful, but if you haven't been spending Skill Increases to improve your skills, these feats will be unavailable to you.

  • Blank SlateCRB: If invisibility is a frequent option for you, such as via an Invisiblity rune on your armor or a Cloak of Elvenkind, this keeps those options effective against enemy spellcasters who would otherwise use options like See Invisibility to reveal you. However, unless you are facing enemies with those capabilities, this won't provide any benefit.
  • Cloud StepCRB: In some ways, this is essentially flight that ends at the end of your turn. You still fall normally, so consider the Cat Fall skill feat, and since the movement is limited by how far you can travel on your turn, look at feats like Fleet and look for magic items which increase your speed.
  • Cognitive LoopholeCRB: Very situational.
  • Dispelling SliceCRB: There is no limitation on how frequently your can use this, making it a fantastic option for dealing with spells affecting your own allies. Tell them to lie on the ground to make them Flat-Footed, grab a nonmagical dagger (for the reduce damage), and stab them until the spell effect goes away.
  • Perfect DistractionCRB: The perfect way to escape combat. Activate your duplicate and run away as fast as you can. You can also use it to distract enemies while you prepare to ambush them, but hopefully you can accomplish a simple distraction with something more mundane like throwing something that will make a loud noise.
  • Swift ElusionAPG: Situational by design, and hard to use when it does work. If you choose to Stride you still provoke Reactions, and you can't even choose to move away from the target. If you choose to move your foe, it's forced movement so they don't provoke Reactions from you or your allies. You may be able to reposition enemies into dangerous spaces like above pits or in the area of ongoing spell effect, but you can't always count on those effects to be present.
  • Reconstruct the SceneAPG: This feat is borrowed from the Investigator, and it's already not a great feat for the Investigator. The Rogue benefits much less than the Investigator.
  • Steal SpellAPG: Situational by design since this only works against spellcasters. Legendary Thief requires you to remain adjacent to the target without them noticing you for a full minute, which means that you must remain adjacent to the spellcaster for a full minute undetected to steal spell, but you then have just 1d4 rounds to cast it. That makes it difficult to steal a spell and use it to good effect, especially since you likely have no way to know what spell you stole.

    It may actually be your best bet to simply let the spell expire and continue to repeatedly use Steal Spell. if you're invisible (easy via numerous means at this level) you can spend several minutes working your way down your victim's daily spell slots until they're down to cantrips and spells without targets (which are generally not harmful to you or your allies).

    The wording of the feat also notably only clearly addresses how it affects spellcasters with a Spell Repertoire. I think the intent is that for prepared spellcasters like clerics and wizards you steal a random slot which was used to prepare a qualifying spell, and you get that specific spell rather than a spell randomly selected from the Wizard's spellbook or something equally silly.

    You may also be able to use this against allies, which they might not appreciate, but if you can time it right you could work with an ally and get an extra 9th-level spell cast in round one of combat. It's definitely not the intent, but it's hard to argue with results.

18th Level

  • Implausible InfiltrationCRB: The prerequisites are steep, but the ability to pass through 10-foot thick walls means that you can easily pass through most solid structures occupied by living creatures. Castles, dungeons, homes, even many cave walls are little more than minor inconveniences for you. If you're inivisible (or at least sufficiently good at Stealth), you can walk right into a populate room, loot the room's contents, and escape without so much as opening a door. By comparison, the spell Passwall can pass through more diverse materials, and by upcasting the spell it can pass through thicker walls, but that eats spell slots and doesn't work in antimagic fields.
  • Implausible PurchaseAPG: The way this feat is worded is easy to misunderstand, but it essentially has two functions. The first function expands upon Prescient Planner, allowing you to use the feat an unlimited number of times to produce non-consumable adventuring gear. This effectively means that any piece of adventuring gear is available to your with a single Action, provided that its weight wouldn't make you encumbered (Consider purchasing a bag of holding).

    The second function improves upon Prescient Consumable. Prescient Consumable doesn't get the unlimited uses per day like Prescient Planner does, but you get 5 uses per day and the level cap on items is raised considerably, allowing you to produce numerous high-level consumable items.

  • Powerful SneakCRB: Only useful for the Ruffian, and the effect is not nearly significant enough to be such a high-level feat. This basically only exists to handle creatures which are immune to precision damage.
  • Trickster's AceCRB: Very similar to the spell Contingency, but not limited to the Arcane spell list. It's unclear if you can use this to upcast spells, but that's a minor limitation. Some example uses: "When I lose the ability to move under my own power, cast Freedom of Movement." "When I am attacked in melee, cast Fire Shield." "When I fall unconscious due to injury, cast Heal." "When I speak the phrase 'to the skies!', cast Fly."

20th Level

  • Hidden ParagonCRB: Free, reliable invisibility. Even with a 1-minute duration and a 1-hour cooldown, this is still appealing. However, you can also get invisibility from magic items or from spells, and Blank Slate can negate most magical means to detect you (though Faerie Fire and Glitterdust would still work against Blank Slate).
  • Impossible StrikerCRB: This makes it very easy to deal your Sneak Attack damage, but you could get the same effect from Instant Opening, and hitting a target that's actually Flat-Footed means that you can use Debilitating Strike and Master Strike.
  • Reactive DistractionCRB: This can allow you to negate a potentially devastating hit, and the wording is incredibly generous. Since you need to know that the attack hit to trigger the reaction, you'll also know if it was a critical hit, allowing you to use this in response to a critical hit to avoid suffering a big pile of damage. You can also use this to avoid area effects, which is helpful for area effects that aren't covered by Improved Evasion and your spectacular Reflex saves.

General Feats

  • Incredible InitiativeCRB: Going first will often make it easier to strike enemies while they're still flat-footed.
  • Incredible ScoutCRB The Scout Activity is a great choice for the Rogue while your party is moving around somewhere dangerous, and the +2 Circumstance bonus for your whole party can make a big difference.
  • Shield BlockCRB: Rogues are frail, and a shield can go a long way to keep you alive in melee.
  • True PerceptionAPG: Excellent for any character fortunate enough to get Legendary proficiency in Perception, but it feels especially fitting on the Investigator.

Weapons

  • Dagger: Despite having a slightly smaller damage die than the shortsword or the Rapier, the Dagger is a fantastic weapon. It's Agile so you can make several attacks with it with reduce Multiple Attack Penalties and you can throw it. Even if you're not using daggers as your primary weapon, keeping one in your off hand can be a great way to keep a ranged attack ready when you can't or don't want to get into melee range.
  • Main-Gauche: Agile, Finesse, Parry, and Versatile (Piercing and Slashing). It works offensively, but gives up the dagger's ability to be used effectively at range in exchange for Parry. If you're going for a two-weapon build or just need a way to boost your AC but don't want a shield, the Main-Gauche may be a good choice.
  • Rapier: Perhaps the most deadly single weapon available to the rogue, the Rapier is a great weapon if you don't plan to spend every Action attacking. If you plan to use Twin Feint, the Rapier is a good first weapon.
  • Sap: A tragic victim of the transition from the Pathfinder 1e to Pathfinder 2e. Nonlethal weapons are basically useless. You can choose to take a -2 penalty with a lethal weapon to make the attack nonlethal, and so long as you make that choice when you reduce the creature to 0 hit points you're fine. You don't need to spend a ton of gold on a sap just to have the ability to knock foes unconscious without killing them.
  • Shortsword: Basically a dagger with slightly large damage dice, but you lose the ability to throw it.
  • Shortbow: The same damage as the hand crossbow, but no Reload. The Shortbow does add Deadly d10, which is quite a bit of damage on a Critical Hit.

Ruffian Weapons

The Ruffian can fight effectively with every published simple weapon except the heavy crossbow, and in some cases you can take an Ancestry Feat to make a Martial Weapon a Simple Weapon for you, further expanding your options. Carrying several weapons to support a diverse set of weapon traits is tempting, but the cost to keep your weapon upgraded quickly becomes prohibitive so you'll generally want to stick to one favorite weapon. If you want to use multiple weapons, buy a Shifting rune.

Armor

Most rogues will wear light armor, but Ruffians can (and often should) wear medium armor.

  • Explorer's Clothing: Once you reach 10th level, your Dexterity could reach 20. At that point, Explorer's Clothing provides the same AC as Leather Armor, but without a check penalty and with less Bulk. You'll still want to put runes on it to boost your AC, bu transferring runes from your previous armor is easy.
  • Leather: Most rogues will live in Leather armor until they raise their Dexterity to 20, and even then you only need to change to Explorer's Clothing if you don't have 10 Strength.
  • Studded Leather: If you start with 16 Dexterity, this may be the right choice. You'll get the same AC as Leather armor with 18 Dexterity, and since the Dex cap doesn't matter beyond your AC, raising your Dexterity doesn't mandate changing armor. However, the Strength Threshold is higher than Leather, so if you don't have 12 Strength you might change to Leather once you have 18 Dexterity, provided that you have 10 Strength to meet Leather's Strength Threshold.
  • Chain Shirt: Noisy.
  • Hide / Scale Mail: Fine options if you want to stop at 14 Dexterity.
  • Chain Mail: Noisy.
  • Half Plate: Most rogues want more than 12 Dexterity, so there's little sense spending this much on armor.

Magic Items

Armor Property Runes

  • Invisibility: The ability to produce invisibility without an ally's help is a huge benefit.

Weapon Property Runes

  • Grievous: Not every critical speicalization effect is appealing, and many effects don't improve enough with Grievous, and some of the effects will be redundant with Debilitating Strike or with other key options like Feint.
  • Returning: A dagger is a great choice of weapon for many rogues, and the ability to throw it without giving up your weapon means that you can easily make ranged attacks with spending a bunch of Actions to switch weapons.

Talismans

  • Bloodseeker Beak: Persistant damage is always great, but by the time 20gp is easy to afford the 1d4 bleed damage isn't significant enough to justify spending a bunch of money on single-use items. Still, this is a nice option to have for difficult fights or when you're expecting an enemy to run away.

Other Magic Items

  • Goggles of Night: If you don't get Darkvision from your Ancestry/Heritage, this is essential. Otherwise, skip it. The item bonus to Perception is great, but not worth the price if you already have Darkvision.

Archetypes

  • Alchemist: Interesting if you want to explore poison, but otherwise there's little here that you want.
  • Bard: Because they're Charisma-based, the bard is is a great option for rogues looking to cast spells.
  • Fighter: Fighter Class Feats offer a ton of great options for a combat-focused rogue.
  • Monk: Stances can get you unarmed attacks which are better than most of your weapon options, and Monk's Flurry allows you to make an extra Strike every turn, meaning an extra opportunity to deal Sneak Attack.
  • Ranger: Rangers have several great feats for archery.
  • Sorcerer: Charisma-based spellcasting, and depending on your choice of bloodline you can use any spell list.