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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

    Join Date
    Feb 2016

    Default With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    If you're looking for a martial character who's able to participate in all three major parts of the game (exploration, interaction, and combat), it's hard to do better than the Rogue. There are a bunch of totally viable builds that play out very differently in the game, and you're rarely going to feel like you can't usefully participate in a particular encounter. Also, you'll get to roll buckets of dice every time you connect with a Sneak Attack, which is super fun.

    NOTE: This is incomplete. A few sections still need to be written, and I haven't rated a bunch of the newer races yet, but if you're just interested in what's there, take a look ;-)

    Color Scheme

    • This is freaking amazing! It provides many options, or will do one thing extremely well.
    • This is really good, but not quite phenomenal.
    • This is good. It will regularly be useful, though it won't provide many tactical choices.
    • Bad. It will be extremely rare that it's useful at all.

    • Occasionally very useful, but limited in scope or applicability.

    Assumptions

    I'm writing this under the assumption that you want to build a character to play in a pretty traditional D&D campaign. There are some Rogue archetypes that are super cool in a very specific sort of game, but are way less interesting in a typical game. If you're running a Gentleman Bastards style all Rogues campaign where you spend most of your time plotting epic heists and participating in intricate intrigue laden plots you may really enjoy those types of Rogues, but that's not the sort of game most people play.

    I also assume you're using the standard array or point buy for your ability scores. This means nothing starts higher than a 17, and that has implications regarding how many ASIs you need to max out a stat. If you rolled your scores and somehow managed to get some absurd starting stats (as happens shockingly often when people post about their rolled stat characters online, I presume that's a total coincidence) then the advice may not totally apply to you.

    I give abilities that come online in Tiers 1 and 2 of play (so levels 1-10) WAY more weight than those that come on later. In my experience the vast majority of the games actually played are Tier 1 and 2, so those abilities are far more important than the ones that come online later on, and an archetype that has awesome early game abilities will typically win out against one that has mediocre early game abilities.

    Finally, I have absolutely zero interest in unofficial content. I'll endeavor to stay up to date with everything that's published in an official book, but since I mostly play Adventurers League games UA might as well not exist as far as I'm concerned. Half of it will be nerfed into oblivion before it sees print anyway, so talking too much about it here doesn't seem worth the effort.

    A note about Hiding

    TODO: Write This.

    Table of Contents

    TODO: Write This.
    Last edited by rooneg; 2017-04-23 at 04:47 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

    Join Date
    Feb 2016

    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Abilities

    • Strength: A normal DEX based Rogue build wants precisely one thing from STR, Athletics checks associated with climbing. If your DM lets you get away with using Acrobatics instead then you want nothing here, dump it hard. Even if you do need to use Athletics for climbing you can probably get away with just getting proficiency in the skill and still dump it hard. The edge cases that care about STR are grapplers who are planning on taking Expertise in Athletics or the rare STR based Rogue where this will be your primary stat.
    • Dexterity: This is your main stat. Most of your skills depend on it, you're using either ranged or finesse weapons to make Sneak Attack work, and you wear terrible armor so your AC needs the help. You want at least a 16 here at 1st level, and you'll be increasing it to 20 as soon as is practical. For a STR based Rogue this is secondary, you probably still want a 14 though so you can max out the DEX mod for AC in medium armor.
    • Constitution: Your HP isn't great, so getting a bonus here is useful, but you try not to sit around where someone can hit you, so it's not like you need a +2 or +3.
    • Intelligence: Important for most Arcane Trickster builds, less important for everyone else.
    • Wisdom: Perception is an important skill, but you're probably going to get Expertise in it, so your bonus will be awesome even if you have a crap Wisdom. On the other hand, WIS saves tend to be really bad to fail and you don't get proficiency in it until late in the game. This ends up being one of those middle of the pack stats, don't dump it too hard, but don't jump through hoops to make it high.
    • Charisma: A lot of important skills rely on CHA. Also, Swashbucklers really want this to be as high as possible.

    Class Features

    • Hit Dice: At 1d8, you're at the low end of the martial classes, but you're not stuck with a d6 like a full caster, so you've got that going for you.
    • Armor Proficiency: Light Armor, no Shield. Clearly you're not going to be the party tank, but at least your DEX should help make up for it.
    • Weapon Proficiency: Mostly you're going to stick with finesse and ranged weapons. That means a Rapier if you're using a single melee weapon, two Short Swords if you're dual wielding, a Hand Crossbow if you have the Crossbow Expert feat, otherwise a Short Bow.
    • Saving Throws: DEX is useful, INT is not.
    • Skills/Tools: This is like half the reason to be a Rogue. You get 4 skills, chosen from a super good list, and on top of that you get Thieves' Tools. For detailed thoughts on each skill, see the next section.
    • Expertise: Ok, you know that awesome list of skills you're proficient in? Now pick two of them and get even more awesome. The default choices tend to be Perception and Stealth, but you can make arguments for basically anything.
    • Sneak Attack: This is where most of your damage potential actually comes from. You're going to be working overtime to make sure that you can trigger this ability as often as possible, as it's what lets your damage output compete with the other martial classes. If you can't find a way to trigger Sneak Attack on the vast majority of your turns you should consider if you really want to be playing a Rogue.
      Spoiler: Sneak Attack Trickery
      Show
      A useful point to keep in mind regarding Sneak Attack: It works on one hit per turn, not per round. This means if you have some way to hit an opponent during a turn other than your own you can potentially trigger Sneak Attack again! Some ways to do this include opportunity attacks, the Riposte maneuver from a dip into Battle Master Fighter, and the Haste Spell (you Attack on your turn with the action you get from Haste, then assuming you triggered Sneak Attack off of that attack you can use Ready with your non-Haste action so you can make another attack on someone else's turn).
    • Thieves' Cant: A pointless ability that will basically never come up in play. It's super weird that it's part of the base class and not simply included in the more unsavory archetypes.
    • Cunning Action: This is another of the iconic abilities of the 5e rogue. Most builds (the exception being dual wielding Swashbucklers and Crossbow Expert based ranged attackers) will be using this every turn, either to Dash to where they need to be, Disengage from someone that's about to kill them, or most commonly to Hide so they can get advantage on their next attack. There is plenty of variance among DMs on precisely how easy it should be for a Rogue to pull off an in-combat Hide, but if you can pull it off it's your best way to make sure your Sneak Attack actually connects.
    • ASI: You get six of them, one less than the Fighter but one more than everyone else. The only slightly awkward bit is that your bonus ASI comes at level 10, which is pretty far into the game. Still, it means you can max out your DEX and take a feat by level 10, which is awesome.
    • Uncanny Dodge: Everyone likes taking half damage! Seriously, it's the default thing you'll be doing with your reaction and it makes up for your less than awesome hit points.
    • Evasion: So, since you're already super good at DEX saves, how about we just say that when you succeed on them you take no damage at all, and when you (rarely) fail, you'll take half. Another good way to make up for your lack of hit points.
    • Reliable Talent: How do you feel about never rolling poorly on a skill check you're proficient in? This ability is why all the convoluted skill monkey multiclass builds try to take 11 levels of Rogue. It's super good.
    • Blindsense: Being aware of invisible or hidden creatures is nice, but at 14th level this isn't a hugely impactful ability.
    • Slippery Mind: It comes online pretty late, but gaining proficiency in one of the most important saves in the game is nothing to complain about. This is basically half a feat, and it's a feat that lots of people are more than willing to spend an ASI on.
    • Elusive: Another in the endless stream of "ways for a Rogue to get hit less often", hard to complain about it.
    • Stroke of Luck: Not the greatest of capstones. This is like the Diviner Wizard's Portent ability, but instead of depending on the roll of a die you just get to say "I succeed".

    Skills

    • Acrobatics: Do you want to do flips? This is how you do flips. Also how you avoid getting grappled. You should probably have proficiency in either this or Athletics for that reason alone.
    • Athletics: Other than grappling and escaping grapples (for which you should be proficient in either this or Acrobatics), the main thing this comes up for is climbing. That said, Rogues climb a lot.
    • Deception: This comes up a lot for many Rogues.
    • Insight: Sometimes being able to tell if someone is lying is just as important as being able to lie to them yourself.
    • Intimidation: Conditionally useful, especially if you haven't picked up Persuasion from somewhere else. If you have Persuasion, you need to ask why you care about Intimidation, since you really only need one of these.
    • Investigation: This does double duty with Perception in finding traps, depending on what part of the trap finding process you're talking about.
    • Perception: Super important, especially since your WIS probably isn't that high to start with. In addition to the whole trap finding thing, this keeps you from getting surprised.
    • Performance: Umm, if you wanted to play a Bard it's down the hall and to the left.
    • Sleight of Hand: Do you like picking pockets? This is how you pick pockets.
    • Stealth: The party is probably going to expect you to scout ahead and see what's going on, and for that you're going to want Stealth. Also, hiding in combat is super important for getting advantage on your attack.
    Last edited by rooneg; 2017-04-30 at 08:23 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

    Join Date
    Feb 2016

    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Races

    Rogues basically care about having a DEX bonus and darkvision. If you don't have at least one of those why are you playing a Rogue. If you have both then you're in the running for being a great Rogue race. If you've got the DEX bonus but not the darkvision it will depend what else you're bringing to the table.

    PHB Races (and Variants and Subraces from various places)

    • Dwarf: Well, at least you get darkvision, and the +2 to CON means you're set up to be a more tanky build. It's certainly not a traditional Rogue race though.
      • Hill: More hit points is nice for a tanky build, but WIS isn't really your thing, and you're going to be behind in both DEX and STR, one of which will need to be our primary attacking stat.
      • Mountain: The free medium armor proficiency means this is a good way to make a STR based Rogue.
    • Elf: +2 to DEX? Darkvision? Sign me up!
      • High: +1 INT is nice for an Arcane Trickster, and that bonus Cantrip is a great way to pick up something like Booming Blade, a favorite spell for Swashbucklers.
      • Wood: WIS isn't really something you're hugely interested in, but extra movement, proficiency in the Longbow and the ability to hide in the wild even when you're only lightly obscured are all great abilities for a Rogue.
      • Drow: Honestly, the Sunlight Sensitivity is pretty terrible for someone who's planning on using Sneak Attack a lot, and if you're not planning on using Sneak Attack why are you reading a Rogue guide? If you're in an underdark campaign this concern basically goes away, and then you get even better darkvision and the ability to cast some useful spells.
    • Halfling: It's really hard to go wrong with a +2 to DEX, alongside Lucky and Halfling Nimbleness you've got the base for a great Rogue without even looking at the subrace abilities. Honestly, the only drawback is the lack of darkvision.
      • Ghostwise: A WIS boost isn't really what you're looking for, but speaking telepathically to someone within 30 feet has endless potential uses for a clever Rogue.
      • Lightfoot: A boost to CHA is welcome for many varieties of Rogue, and the ability to hide behind larger allies and enemies makes pulling off an in-combat Bonus Action Hide a pretty commonplace way to get Advantage on your Sneak Attack. Two thumbs up.
      • Stout: More hit points is always nice, so a CON bonus is nothing to complain about.
    • Human: The lack of darkvision is the main problem with humans, and the base model doesn't have anything in particular to sell you on it beyond that.
      • Variant: A first level feat on the other hand, now that's something we can work with. There are plenty of Rogue builds that REALLY want to start with a particular feat.
    • Dragonborn: Just no.
    • Gnome: A +2 INT bonus and darkvision is a great start.
      • Deep: Even better darkvision and a +1 bonus to DEX, you're a great Arcane Trickster candidate. The optional feat gives you some added abilities that are totally on-theme for a Rogue. This is a great option.
      • Forest: A free Minor Illusion cantrip and a +1 to DEX makes you a great Arcane Trickster.
      • Rock: CON is fine, but honestly this is a distant third place after the other two Gnome subraces in the "who makes the best Gnome Rogue" rankings.
    • Half-Elf: A +2 to CHA is great for many Rogues, but particularly Swashbucklers, and the ability to stick your other two +1 bonuses anywhere you want means you can turn the half-elf into whatever you're interested in being. Add in darkvision, some bonus skills, and an extra language known and you're in great shape to make a Rogue.
      • Variants: If you don't want the extra skills how about some other fun options? Drow magic is nice, especially since you're not stuck with their sunlight sensitivity. High Elf magic is a great way to pick up Booming Blade, which is key to some Swashbuckler builds. The other options are probably less useful than the skills, but still fine options if your character concept wants them.
    • Half-Orc: STR and CON aren't really where you want your bonuses going for a Rogue. At least you get darkvision, but honestly outside some sort of weird STR based build there isn't a lot here you want.
    • Tiefling: The CHA bonus isn't the worst, maybe for a Swashbuckler, but paired with INT isn't ideal. You'd really prefer to see DEX in the mix. Darkvision and some spells are nice enough, but there are better options for Rogues out there.
      • Feral: Ok, here we go. This lets you swap your CHA bonus for a DEX bonus instead. That's more like it. This makes a nice Arcane Trickster, although remember that your Tiefling spells still work off your CHA score.

    Elemental Evil Races

    • Aarakocra: A +2 to DEX and the ability to fly at first level. You don't really care about the WIS mod, but who cares, this is an awesome race for a ranged Rogue. They're even forbidden from using medium or heavy armor if they want to fly, so you don't have to feel bad about being stuck in your Studded Leather. The only downside is they're banned from Adventurers League play (unless you've got some special way of getting access to one, like completing the King of the Ordening Quest from season 5).
    • Gensai: A bonus to CON never hurt anyone, but nothing in the base Genasi status screams Rogue to me.
      • Air: A bonus to DEX and the ability to cast the Levitate spell doesn't hurt though. It's an acceptable option.
      • Earth: The STR bonus means you're in the "maybe a STR based Rogue?" category, but being able to cast Pass Without Trace is pretty slick.
      • Fire: The INT mod doesn't really help you (maybe for an Arcane Trickster?), but you get darkvision and resistance to fire, which is nice.
      • Water: WIS mod, swim speed, and some water based magic are not things that make me scream Rogue.

    Volo's Guide Races

    • Aasimar: Okay, so the CHA bonus is fine for a Swashbuckler, but you lack any way to get a DEX bonus.
      • Protector: Wisdom is okay, but the lack of DEX is still the kiss of death for this one. The wings are fun, but not very sneaky.
      • Scourge: Nobody ever complained about more hit points, so CON is fine, but again, no DEX. An ability that lets you glow and deal radiant damage isn't exactly screaming Rogue to me.
      • Fallen: Not great normally, but a decent STR rogue. Again, the wings are fun if not exactly on-theme.
    • Firbolg
    • Goliath
    • Kenku: These are basically made to be a Rogue. The ability modifiers are ideal, their skills are on-point, and abilities like mimicry have endlessly amusing applications. The only thing missing is Darkvision. Bring on the Walking Talking Crow Rogues.
    • Lizardfolk
    • Tabaxi: It's difficult to envision a race better suited to being a Swashbuckler, other than the fact that they come from different sources and thus are not a legal combination for AL play. Even as other Rogue subclasses they're spectacular though and remain a top-tier option.
    • Triton

    • Bugbear
    • Goblin
    • Hobgoblin
    • Orc
    • Yuan-Ti Pureblood
    Last edited by rooneg; 2020-08-26 at 08:47 AM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

    Join Date
    Feb 2016

    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Archetypes

    TODO: Describe rating scheme a bit

    Arcane Trickster

    Oddly enough, this is probably the best generalist Rogue archetype. Not that the Thief doesn't have some fun abilities, but the added flexibility of an Arcane Trickster comes out on top a huge amount of the time.

    • Spellcasting: This is why you're an Arcane Trickster. Note that you have very few known spells and they're mostly limited to Illusion and Enchantment, and your INT probably isn't as high as a dedicated caster's, so your saves won't be as good. No problem though, there are plenty of awesome spells that don't have saves or attack rolls associated with them.
    • Mage Hand Legerdemain: Disarm traps from 30 feet away. Sounds good to me!
    • Magical Ambush: You know how your spell save DC kind of sucks? This makes up for it.
    • Versitile Trickster: A nice way to gain advantage once your Familiar is dead. You do have a familiar right? Using up your bonus action is unfortunate, but it is still a nice backup plan.
    • Spell Thief: A fun way to pick up some spells. Note that you can steal spells from your allies (ask first!) as well as your enemies. This also serves as sort of a one-shot pseudo Counterspell effect. Let's hope your Spell Save DC is reasonable at this point though, otherwise this is way worse.

    Assassin

    Ahh, the favorite archetype of the internet message board character optimizer. They just love the theoretical damage output on this one, despite the fact that it's heavily dependent on the DM letting you get surprise. Not saying it isn't good, but read the fine print.

    • Bonus Proficiencies: Free proficiencies are always nice.
    • Assassinate: This is the ability that people build around with the Assassin. If you're able to ensure via some means that you get surprise it's stupidly good. That said, you are in many ways dependent on the DM's whim here, so don't operate under the assumption that this will happen all the time. Ironically, you'll probably get more benefit out of the "advantage against enemies who haven't taken a turn yet" bit than you will about the auto-criting surprised enemies bit, since surprise is so conditional and you'll probably have pretty awesome initiative modifiers.
    • Infiltration Expertise: This is one of those abilities that's highly campaign dependent. In many cases it's utterly useless, but when it's relevant it's awesome.
    • Imposter: Again, campaign dependent but potentially awesome.
    • Death Strike: Your Assassinate ability just got better. It's still conditional, and still good when it works.

    Thief

    The archetypical Rogue archetype. There's nothing here that's super exciting, but it plays somewhat better than it reads. The main down side of this archetype is that the abilities you get early aren't nearly as exciting as most of the other archetypes.

    • Fast Hands: There are lots of fun options here, if you prepare for it. Don't forget your caltrops and ball bearings kids! Note that this doesn't work with most magic items that require activation, since the magic item rules explicitly say that action isn't an instance of the Use an Item action. You're also restricted to the Use an Object action, not the Attack action, so depending on how your DM rules you might be throwing that oil on the floor instead of on an enemy.
      Spoiler: Things you can do with Fast Hands
      Show
      • Control the Battlefield with Caltrops or Ball Bearings
      • Throw Oil/Acid/Greek Fire/Holy Water (if your DM thinks Use an Object lets you do this)
      • Apply poison to a weapon
      • Open or close a door or window
      • Light oil on fire
      • Pick someone's pocket
      • Put something in someone's pocket
      • Open a lock
      • Disarm a trap
      • Use a Healer's Kit (this is way cooler if you have the Healer feat)
    • Second-Story Work: Do you climb a lot? In situations where your speed is super relevant? This will help with that.
    • Supreme Sneak: So you don't have a Cloak of Elvenkind? Try this one simple trick instead!
      Spoiler: How good is Supreme Sneak?
      Show
      Oddly enough, the benefit of Supreme Sneak is somewhat less than you'd think, largely because you're probably pretty insane at Stealth by now. Assuming you used Expertise your already talking about +8, then add your DEX modifier and you're north of +11. Then in two more levels you get Reliable Talent, so you're literally never getting less than a 20 on a Stealth check. Not saying advantage doesn't help, but the lower bar on how well you can do on Stealth gets pretty absurd pretty fast for a Rogue that cares about such things. That means that Supreme Sneak will mostly end up helping you succeed at the really absurdly difficult stealth checks. For the routine stuff you're effectively invisible already.
    • Use Magical Device: Why yes, I will use that Staff of Power, thank you very much. This is conditional on the availability of cool magic items you want to use but otherwise wouldn't be able to, but there are some awesome possibilties in the right campaign.
    • Thief's Reflexes: This is spectacularly good. Getting an extra turn at the beginning of combat (including both an Action and a Bonus Action in each turn) is awesome. Don't forget that this lets you Sneak Attack twice!

    Swashbuckler

    This is the archetype you want if you're going to be a melee specialist. Moving in and out of contact with the enemy, landing huge sneak attacks, performing occasional feats of ridiculous acrobatics, that's the sort of stuff we're talking about here.

    There are basically two ways to build a Swashbuckler. The first option is dual weilder, you take your two short swords and have an extra chance to land your sneak attack. This also lets you attack two different enemies and then move away without provoking an opportunity attack, which is nice. The other option is to get a hold of the Booming Blade cantrip somewhere and pick up a Rapier. You can't dual wield with Booming Blade anyway, since you're using the Cast a Spell action and the dual wielding bonus action attack only works if you took the Attack action. Since you can't use dual wielding you have no reason to use a light weapon, so you take the Rapier for the larger damage die. Then every turn you run up to someone, cast Booming Blade, apply both that damage and your Sneak Attack damage, then move away. If they want to follow you they have to take the extra Booming Blade damage.

    • Fancy Footwork: This basically means you can disengage for free if you've attacked (not necessarily hit!) your opponent, which lets you open up the possibility of wielding two weapons, since you're no longer depending on your Cunning Action to disengage.
    • Rakish Audacity: Initiative bonuses are great, and the fact that you can get Sneak Attack if you can stay away from anyone who isn't your target means you're better equipped to actually use that bonus. A lot of Rogues end up holding their action so they can make their Sneak Attack attempt once an ally has moved up next to their target. Swashbucklers don't work that way, they run out, attack their enemy, then run away, forcing the enemy to come to them (if they're still alive) to retaliate.
    • Panache: This is a fun effect, both in and out of combat. In combat you get to effectively force a duel between you and your target, out of combat you just can randomly charm people. Fun stuff.
    • Elegant Maneuver: Your crazy Swashbuckler antics now have some mechanical advantage.
    • Master Duelist: Hitting is better than not hitting, so getting an extra shot once per rest is certainly welcome.

    Mastermind

    Do you want some Warlord style abilities in your Rogue? Here's an archetype that does that. I'm not convinced it does it well, but it does try. This archetype can work well and be a lot of fun, but it's heavily dependent on either the type of campaign you're running or the other characters in your party. In particular, it really benefits from having either another Rogue or a Paladin in the party, someone who can really benefit from the way it hands out advantage.

    • Master of Intrigue: Proficiencies, languages and mimicry. Sometimes this will be spectacular, but in many campaigns it's just meh.
    • Master of Tactics: This is a great way to give advantage to another Rogue in the party, if you've got one.
    • Insightful Manipulator: Again, super dependent on the campaign you're running. It's either awesome or terrible.
    • Misdirection: I'm honestly not sure how often this would come up. It's funny when it does, but when was the last time you got cover from someone else in combat?
    • Soul of Deceit: Once again, we're in the "campaign dependent" side of things. If you're going to be playing the sort of campaign where this is relevant it's a great ability, otherwise you're disappointed.

    Inquisitive

    ???

    • Ear for Deceit: ???
    • Eye for Detail: ???
    • Insightful Fighting: ???
    • Steady Eye: ???
    • Unerring Eye: ???
    • Eye for Weakness: ???

    Scout

    I admit, I may be biased here because I hate the fact that the 5e Ranger is a spellcaster, and the Scout Rogue is basically perfect for someone who wants to build a non-caster Ranger type, at least one who focuses on ranged attacks. So you want to sneak around in the woods and shoot people? This is your archetype.

    • Skirmisher: This is absolutely brilliant for any Rogue who focuses on ranged combat. Note that it happens when your opponent ends their turn, so they still get to take a shot at you, but it's still a way to get out of melee range without eating opportunity attacks. This also gives Longbow/Shortbow archers a way to avoid getting stuck in melee, so they don't feel so tempted by the Crossbow Expert feat.
    • Survivalist: Free proficiency in some thematically appropriate (and useful) skills, and free expertise in them to boot! Just be sure to plan your build so that you don't already have the skills before you hit level 3 so you get maximum benefit from it.
    • Superior Mobility: It's hard to complain about more speed.
    • Ambush Master: This comes on late in the game, but advantage on initiative is great, as is the ability to hand out advantage to your friends.
    • Sudden Strike: So, on one hand you've got a bunch of ways to use your bonus action already. On the other, it's a free attack, and more importantly a second round of Sneak Attack damage, even if it does have to be spread among two targets. You should get to use this all the time, and it should dramatically increase your damage output.
    Last edited by rooneg; 2017-11-11 at 03:15 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

    Join Date
    Feb 2016

    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Spells

    These are rated under the assumption that you're an Arcane Trickster, and thus are mostly choosing Enchantment and Illusion spells. I'll rate all of those, plus the likely options for the unrestricted picks at level 1, 8, 14, and 20.

    Cantrips

    You have precisely 4 cantrips over the course of your career, and one of them is already taken up by Mage Hand, so don't waste them. Specifically, you probably want to stay away from combat oriented cantrips (with a few exceptions). They don't trigger Sneak Attack, and if you're spending your action in combat doing something that doesn't trigger Sneak Attack it better be a lot cooler than a cantrip.

    • Acid Splash: Attacks that can't trigger Sneak Attack are bad.
    • Blade Ward: A neat effect, but you have limited cantrips and should be spending your actions offensively not defensively.
    • Booming Blade: This adds a LOT of damage to your one melee attack each round, especially if you're going to move away and make your enemy come after you, and since you're making an actual attack with a weapon it can trigger Sneak Attack. If you've got the Mobile feat or you're a Swashbuckler this is even better, because you don't need to us your bonus action to disengage.
    • Chill Touch: Neat rider, but attacks that can't trigger Sneak Attack are bad.
    • Control Flames: Sure, if you're into that sort of thing I guess.
    • Create Bonfire: A bit of battlefield control in your cantrip can be nice, but it's pretty far from what most Rogues want to be spending their cantrip picks on.
    • Dancing Lights: If you don't have darkvision you probably want either this or Light. This has the advantage of making dim light, and the disadvantage of not making not-dim light ;-)
    • Fire Bolt: Attacks that can't trigger Sneak Attack are bad.
    • Friends: The downside to this is real, but it has a bunch of good use cases if you're a party face type Rogue and you don't care about pissing off the target.
    • Frostbite: Nice effect, but attacks that can't trigger Sneak Attack are bad.
    • Green-Flame Blade: It's a melee attack, so it'll trigger Sneak Attack, and you can do some extra damage to another target. Sounds good!
    • Gust: I'm sure there are some clever uses for this out there.
    • Light: If you don't have darkvision you probably want either this or Dancing Lights. This has the advantage of making not-dim light, and the disadvantage of not making dim light ;-)
    • Lightning Lure: If you're looking to be a tanky Rogue who wants to get enemies in close and keep them there this is an ok way to do that.
    • Mage Hand: You don't have a choice, you need to take this. That said, even if you did have a choice you'd still take it. Lots of stuff that a Rogue wants to do gets safer if you are doing it with a conjured hand instead of your own.
    • Mending: Do you often break stuff while breaking and entering? Like not leaving evidence behind?
    • Message: Easy communication while scouting or sneaking around is super helpful.
    • Minor Illusion: There are just so many awesome options that come along with this cantrip. Heck, you'd probably take it if it just read "make an illusionary wall you can hide behind", and it does a LOT more than that.
    • Mold Earth: The ability to dig holes quickly is sometimes useful, depending on your DM's definition of lose dirt.
    • Poison Spray: Attacks that can't trigger Sneak Attack are bad.
    • Prestidigitation: A lot of neat effects here, the question is if it you like the effects enough to have it make the cut.
    • Ray of Frost: Attacks that can't trigger Sneak Attack are bad.
    • Shape Water: This is really situational, but could have neat effects.
    • Shocking Grasp: Attacks that can't trigger Sneak Attack are bad, and you already have ways to get out of melee if you want to.
    • Sword Burst: If you're really in the market for a cantrip based AOE this is ok.
    • Thunderclap: A cantrip AOE effect is actually pretty cool, but one that makes a noise that can be heard 100 feet away is not.
    • True Strike: It's awful. Just awful. The going rate for "gain advantage on your next attack" should be a bonus action at most. Spending an entire action to cast a spell for that effect is not a winning strategy.

    Level 1 Enchantment and Illusion Spells

    • Charm Person: If you're a party face type Rogue, then this is a lot of fun.
    • Color Spray: It only lasts a round, and blinded is way worse than asleep. If you're in the market for a disabling 1st level spell, just take Sleep.
    • Disguise Self: There are a huge number of builds that can do a ton of work with this spell.
    • Illusory Script: This is so incredibly specific I can't imagine a world where you'd burn a spell choice on it.
    • Silent Image: Do you like Minor Illusion? This is the bigger better version of it.
    • Sleep: This starts off awesome, but starts to suck around level 5. Pick it up early, then swap it out.
    • Tasha's Hideous Laughter: This is a useful 1st level spell that remains good throughout the game. It gives your opponent a bunch of save opportunities, but still, what do you expect from a 1st level spell.

    Level 1 Unrestricted Pick Options

    • Find Familiar: How do you feel about getting advantage on one attack every turn? On top of that, how often do you want to have an unobtrusive scout that can sneak in and look around on your behalf? Do you like having a pet owl? If any of the previous three options sound good, this is the spell for you.
    • Shield: Are you a melee Rogue who feels like occasionally getting a +5 on your AC? This is a little worse for you than it is for a lot of classes, since you have WAY more options for your Reaction than most people, but still, it's pretty slick.

    Level 2 Enchantment and Illusion Spells

    • Blur: This is a good defensive spell (if you aren't using your concentration for something else), but you have to ask if you need it. Consider that you already have a lot of non-magical ways to defend yourself.
    • Crown of Madness: Honestly, this looks better than it is. The target gets a save on each turn, you have to spend your action to maintain control, and they can still move away from their allies. As cool as the effect sounds, you don't get much value out of it.
    • Hold Person: This is the upgraded Hideous Laughter. The target gets fewer saves and they're paralyzed instead of incapacitated, so melee attacks on them are automatically crits.
    • Invisibility: You're a Rogue, it turns out that being invisible is helpful to you. Note that you still have to take the Hide action if you want people to not know where you are, but being able to do so without cover is awesome. Also, this gets you advantage on a single attack, and people who are attacking you have disadvantage.
    • Magic Mouth: This is way too specialized for an Arcane Trickster spell known choice.
    • Mirror Image: This is a fine effect, but since you actually have a decent AC and plenty of ways to protect yourself it's not clear it's good enough to spend a spell known on, or to spend your action casting in combat. That said, it doesn't use concentration, which is pretty cool.
    • Nystul's Magic Aura: Another case of hyper specialized effect that you can't justify spending a spell known on.
    • Phantasmal Force: This is fun for a creative Rogue, but is perhaps not as awesome as Hold Person would be at this level.
    • Suggestion: This is the upgraded version of Charm Person, if you're in the market for Charm Person you're probably also in the market for this.

    Level 2 Unrestricted Pick Options

    • Darkvision: Do you already have darkvision? Then you don't need this. Otherwise, you probably need this.
    • Misty Step: So, a lot of the usual uses for this spell are less than necessary when you have Cunning Action Disengage, but it's still pretty awesome.
    • Spider Climb: Did you want to be spider man? This is better than any non-magic climbing you can have.

    Level 3 Enchantment and Illusion Spells

    • Fear: This is a useful AOE effect, but it's hard to compete with Hypnotic Pattern.
    • Hypnotic Pattern: A great AOE effect, assuming that by the time you pick it up your spell save is pretty good.
    • Major Image: A bigger, better illusion spell. This is awesome in the hands of a creative player.
    • Phantom Steed: Overly specialized for an Arcane Trickster.


    Level 3 Unrestricted Pick Options

    • Fly: This is one of those effects that is awesome whenever you can do it.
    • Haste: This is insanely good for a Rogue, since it lets you get multiple uses out of your Sneak Attack. You use your action from Haste to attack on your turn, triggering Sneak Attack once, then you Ready with your regular action, so that sometime outside of your turn you can attack again, triggering a second Sneak Attack.

    Level 4 Enchantment and Illusion Spells

    • Confusion: This is a neat effect, but there are better options at this level.
    • Greater Invisibility: Do you like having advantage on all your attacks? Also giving all your opponents disadvantage? This is awesome.
    • Hallucinatory Terrain: Super specialized, you don't have room for this.
    • Phantasmal Killer: Again, a nice effect, but it's hard to compete with Greater Invisibility.

    Level 4 Unrestricted Pick Options

    • Dimension Door: When Misty Step is no longer cool enough.

    Feats

    Note that these ratings are biased towards the first half of the level range in the game. Anything rated Turquoise is assumed to be good enough that you'd consider spending an ASI on it before you finish maxing out your DEX. Anything rated Blue is assumed to be on the list of things you'd want to do immediately after you maxed out your DEX.

    • Alert: Are you an Assassin who wants to go first more often? Take this feat.
    • Athlete: A Thief already gets like half of this stuff, and those abilities are generally considered underpowered. I wouldn't waste an ASI on it.
    • Actor: If this is the type of Rogue you want to play it's an absolutely ridiculous feat.
    • Charger: Ehh, you've got a lot of uses for your bonus action already.
    • Crossbow Expert: This is probably the most important feat for a Rogue who specializes in ranged combat. Specifically, it lets you take a bonus action attack with a hand crossbow (assuming you have the other hand free for reloading), which means you have a second shot at landing your Sneak Attack if your initial attack missed. You might not always want to use your bonus action to attack (if you already hit once and you have no other way to get advantage next round, a bonus action Hide will give you more potential chances to land your next round's Sneak Attack, which is worth more than a single non-Sneak Attack hit with a hand crossbow), but having the option is super important.
    • Defensive Duelist: You've already got ways to use your reaction defensively, so spending an ASI on a way to use it that may or may not work seems questionable.
    • Dual Wielder: Basically this is what you take if you REALLY want to dual wield Rapiers. Unless you've already maxed out DEX it's not very good though, since it compares poorly to spending the ASI on a +2 to DEX. Upgrading from Shortswords to Rapiers buys you an average of 2 damage on each attack. Upgrading your DEX buys you one extra damage on your main attack (both attacks if you've got the two weapon fighting style from a Fighter dip). Both options give you an extra 1 AC. DEX gives you better initiative and improves all your DEX based skills. In my opinion, the extra damage isn't as good as the extra DEX bonus, since you're playing a class where the main point of using your bonus action on an attack is to give you an extra chance to land your Sneak Attack, which dwarfs the tiny amount of extra damage you get from upgrading to two Rapiers.
    • Dungeon Delver: If you're building the type of Rogue who searches for traps and secret doors while exploring the dungeon this lets you be super good at it.
    • Durable: Maybe if you have an odd CON score and really want some more hit points?
    • Elemental Adept: You don't have anywhere near enough Evocation spells to make this worthwhile.
    • Grappler: Honestly, even if you want to build a grappling specialist, this is still a pretty bad option.
    • Great Weapon Master: Nope!
    • Healer: This can be a useful way to give your party a bunch of healing at low levels.
    • Heavily Armored: Nope!
    • Heavy Armor Master: Nope!
    • Inspiring Leader: Nice for a Swashbuckler.
    • Keen Mind: Do you have an Arcane Trickster with an odd INT? Other than that no.
    • Lightly Armored: Umm, you've already got this proficiency.
    • Linguist: The value of this feat is exceedingly campaign dependent.
    • Lucky: Just an all around strong option.
    • Mage Slayer: Are you a melee oriented Rogue who wants to hunt casters? Then maybe you're in the market for this feat. I don't think it's the sort of thing that's likely to come up often enough to spend a feat on it, but maybe your campaign is full of casters you'd like to kill.
    • Magic Initiate: If you're not a High Elf or a Half-Elf with the High Elf magic variant this is the best non-dip way to get access to Booming Blade.
    • Martial Adept: I can't imagine this being worth it unless you're already a Battle Master Fighter and just have to have another maneuver.
    • Medium Armor Master: So, you can't take this at all unless you've somehow got proficiency in Medium Armor, but assuming you did, it's still a bad deal. Assuming you intend to go past a 16 DEX this maxes out at AC 18, which is only one more than you'd have with Studded Leather and 20 DEX. Spending the ASI on DEX helps so many other things that it's hard to justify Medium Armor master. So maybe this is ok if you already have Medium Armor proficiency, only want a 16 DEX and really have your heart set on wearing Half Plate, but other than that not so much.
    • Mobile: Do you want to play Swashbuckler style tricks without being a Swashbuckler? This lets you do that. Pairs well with Booming Blade if you've got access to it, and keeps you from getting slowed down by rough terrain.
    • Moderately Armored: Probably not...
    • Mouted Combatant: This seems unlikely to be worth it for most characters.
    • Observant: An Arcane Trickster with an odd INT score might be interested in this.
    • Polearm Master: Nope!
    • Resilient: So, mostly you'd be interested in taking this for CON saves, since you already have DEX and you get WIS eventually. Certainly worth considering if you've got an odd CON and have an extra ASI lying around.
    • Ritual Caster: This adds a lot of flexibility if you happen to have a 13 WIS or INT (note, the score you have doesn't impact what type of caster you use, you can take Wizard ritual casting, which is clearly the best kind, based on a 13 WIS even if you've dumped INT), and is an awesome way to get a hold of Find Familiar, which is among the best ways to get advantage on your Sneak Attack.
    • Savage Attacker: Ehh. It's ok I guess.
    • Sentinel: Tanky Rogue builds are all over this, especially since it gives them extra chances to trigger Sneak Attack on someone else's turn.
    • Sharpshooter: This is a weird one. The ranged Crossbow Expert build might be interested in it, but it's lower on the priority list than you'd think because the -5/+10 thing is way less useful for you. The -5 gets more dangerous to use the higher your average damage is, and your average Sneak Attack damage is super high. Also, you don't have Extra Attack, there's a cap on the number of times per round you can make use of the -5/+10. That said, the other abilities are pretty slick for a Hand Crossbow wielding Crossbow Expert. Avoiding cover is no joke, and being able to shoot more than 30 feet without disadvantage can come in handy. It's just that this is less important than picking up Crossbow Expert and maxing out your DEX, so it's at best your 4th ASI, and even then it might be worse than other options.
    • Shield Master: This is pretty fringe. You've already got great uses for your bonus action, and you probably dumped STR. Maybe if you're planning on using Expertise in Athletics for knocking people down and then Sneak Attacking them.
    • Skilled: Popular for the "get all the skills" Skill Monkey builds, but pretty useless outside of them. I mean who are we kidding, you already have a ton of skills.
    • Skulker: This is super good for a lot of Rogue play styles.
    • Spell Sniper: You snipe with weapons, not spells, because weapons can trigger Sneak Attack.
    • Tavern Brawler: Thematically appropriate and potentially worth it for a grappler build.
    • Tough: You know how you have crappy hit points? If that bothers you here's a solution.
    • War Caster: Honestly, there are very few situations where this would be relevant to a Rogue. The main use case is casting Booming Blade as an opportunity attack, but it comes up so seldom that it seems difficult to justify the feat.
    • Weapon Master: Just no.

    Ways to get Advantage

    Since so much of a Rogue's damage potential comes from Sneak Attack, and one of the major ways to trigger Sneak Attack is to have advantage on your attack, most Rogue players go out of their way to get advantage whenever possible. Here are some ways you can go about doing that.

    • Have someone else use the Help action. Some specific ways to do that deserve further discussion.
      • If you have a familiar, it can take the Help action. If your familiar is an Owl it can do so and then fly away without provoking an opportunity attack.
      • If there's a Mastermind Rogue in the party they can use Help as a bonus action.
    • Attack someone who's within 5 feet of a Barbarian with the Wolf Totem Spirit ability. This only works if you're making melee attacks.
    • Be hidden when you attack. You can often arrange for this to be the case via your Cunning Action ability letting you make a Bonus Action Hide attempt, although the amount of this you can get away with is DM dependent. Some will require you to arrange for a different hiding place each time, some will rule that jumping out and making an attack (at least a melee one, if not a ranged one) will cause you to become visible again, etc.
    • Be invisible when you attack.
    • Attack a target that is prone.
      • You can knock someone prone via a shove attack, potentially with a Bonus Action via the Shield Master feat.
      • You can arrange for them to fall down after walking on ball bearings, which you potentially scattered via the Fast Hands Thief ability.
    • Attack a creature who is one or more of: blinded, paralyzed, petrified, restrained, stunned, or unconscious.
    Last edited by rooneg; 2017-04-30 at 08:37 AM.

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    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Multiclassing

    Rogues can benefit from small dips in various classes. Let's talk about the options.

    • Barbarian: Reckless attack gives you an easy way to get advantage on attacks, but it's not clear that you're got the hit points to do that very often.
    • Bard: Do you want even more skills? Three levels of Lore Bard may be what you're looking for. Rogue plus Lore Bard is the core of most of the Skill Monkey builds, because of the ability to get a bunch of Expertise.
    • Cleric: One or two levels of Cleric lets you pick up a bunch of neat abilities, 1st level Cleric spells, Medium (or Heavy) Armor proficiency and the ability to use a Shield. There are plenty of Rogue builds that are willing to take a WIS 13 in exchange for that.
    • Druid: This requires more levels than the Cleric dip to really pay off (2 levels for Wild Shape, a 3rd level gets you neat 2nd level spells like Pass Without Trace and Invisibility if you're a Land Druid), but it's still pretty reasonable if you're ok with a multiple level dip..
    • Fighter: You can make reasonable arguments for 1, 2, and 3 level dips in Fighter. 1 level gets you Medium Armor and Shield Proficiency (or Heavy if you started as a Fighter, which also gets you CON save proficiency, at the cost of 1 skill), more weapons, and a Fighting Style, which is awesome for Archer and Dual Wielder builds. 2 levels gets you Action Surge, which is always awesome. 3 levels is usually used for Battlemaster Fighter, which lets you effectively take advantage of the Sharpshooter feat (via Precision Attack) and potentially get Sneak Attack outside of your turn (via Riposte).
    • Monk: Ehh. Rogue works better as a 2 level dip for a Monk than Monk as a dip for Rogue.
    • Paladin: This is a super MAD build, but you can potentially build a Paladin 2/Arcane Trickster X character that uses its spell slots mostly for smiting. This pretty much has to be a STR based Rogue though, since you need a 13 STR to multiclass Paladin.
    • Ranger: There is potential here.
    • Sorcerer: 1 level of Draconic Sorcerer is a great way for a Swashbuckler to pick up Booming Blade and get a natural armor class that's actually better than the best non-magical light armor. 3 or 5 levels get you into some more interesting spells.
    • Warlock: If you're dipping Warlock it's not for the usual "I'd like to spam Eldritch Blast's please" reasons that everyone else does, because spells can't trigger Sneak Attack. Instead, you're doing it to pick up darkvision, on demand mage armor, or infinite disguise self, plus some useful spells.
    • Wizard: Does your Arcane Trickster want to pick up some more 1st level spells and ritual casting? This is the dip class for you. Are you also an Elf? Then you're super excited about two levels of Wizard so you can be a Bladesinger.

    Example Builds

    These are some examples of the various options you might explore with a Rogue, built through level 10.

    TODO: Ranged Arcane Trickster

    Melee TWF Swashbuckler

    Race: Human (Variant)
    Starting Stats: STR 8, DEX 16, CON 14, INT 10, WIS 12, CHA 14
    ASIs: +2 DEX, +2 DEX, +2 CHA
    Feats: Inspiring Leader
    Skills: Perception (Expertise), Deception (Expertise), ???

    Your default plan in combat is two weapon fighting with a pair of short swords. The bonus action attack is mostly used when the initial attack misses, so you can get another chance at Sneak Attack damage. The backup plan is to use it to attack a second person so you can use Fancy Footwork to move away from them without triggering an opportunity attack. If neither of those things are relevant than you've got your Cunning Action, probably to Dash, which is probably more useful than a bonus action attack for 1d6 damage.

    Carry a Light Crossbow for ranged combat, since it's a larger damage die than a Short Bow.

    Outside of combat you use Inspiring Leader to give the party extra hit points and you have a high enough CHA and a lot of skill options so you can serve as a reasonable party face.

    TODO: Melee Booming Blade Swashbuckler

    Arcane Trickster/Bladesinger

    Race: High Elf
    Starting Stats: STR 8, DEX 16, CON 14, INT 16, WIS 10, CHA 10
    ASIs: +2 DEX, +2 DEX
    Level Progression: Rogue 1, Wizard 2 (Bladesinger), Rogue 2+ (Arcane Trickster)
    Skills: Perception (Expertise), ???

    Pick up Shield, Absorb Elements (You'll need to get this via a scroll or copying it from someone else if you're playing in Adventurer's League) and Find Familiar from your Wizard spells. Grab some SCAG Melee Cantrips (Booming Blade and Green-Flame Blade in particular). Your primary weapon is a Rapier (if you want a d8 damage die) or a Shortsword (if you're being thematically appropriate for an elf). Profit.

    STR Based Dwarf Thief

    This build eschews DEX in favor of STR. You go Mountain Dwarf for the free Medium Armor, which means that with your 14 DEX you've already got a pretty decent AC right out of the gate. This, combined with Rogue abilities like Uncanny Dodge make you a pretty decent tank.

    Race: Mountain Dwarf
    Starting Stats: STR 16, DEX 14, CON 16, INT 8, WIS 12, CHA 10
    ASIs: +2 STR, +2 STR, CON +2
    Skills: Athletics (Expertise), ???
    Archetype: Thief

    Wear a Breastplate if you care about Stealth or Half Plate if you don't. You still need a Finesse weapon for Sneak Attack, so you're talking about a Shortsword if you want to be accurate to the archetype of a dwarven rogue or a Rapier if you really care about the d8 damage die.
    Last edited by rooneg; 2018-01-25 at 10:02 AM.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by rooneg View Post
    I also assume you're using the standard array or point buy for your ability scores. This means nothing starts higher than a 17, and that has implications regarding how many ASIs you need to max out a stat. If you rolled your scores and somehow managed to get some absurd starting stats (as happens shockingly often when people post about their rolled stat characters online, I presume that's a total coincidence) then the advice may not totally apply to you.

    I give abilities that come online in Tiers 1 and 2 of play (so levels 1-10) WAY more weight than those that come on later. In my experience the vast majority of the games actually played are Tier 1 and 2, so those abilities are far more important than the ones that come online later on, and an archetype that has awesome early game abilities will typically win out against one that has mediocre early game abilities.

    Finally, I have absolutely zero interest in unofficial content. I'll endeavor to stay up to date with everything that's published in an official book, but since I mostly play Adventurers League games UA might as well not exist as far as I'm concerned. Half of it will be nerfed into oblivion before it sees print anyway, so talking too much about it here doesn't seem worth the effort.
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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by Sans. View Post
    I like you.
    Thanks ;-)

    In other news, I've finished applying some preliminary ratings to everything I've written so far. I still have to go do the remaining races (the new stuff from EEPC and Volo's Guide) and I haven't even started on the spells for Arcane Trickster yet. I also want to write a section discussing the implications of how your DM rules on hiding in combat. The bones of the guide are there now though, so if anyone has feedback I'd be happy to hear it.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    I like this.

    I think my only quibble would be that I think you underrate strength base rogues with shield master and expertise in athletics.

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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by MrStabby View Post
    I like this.

    I think my only quibble would be that I think you underrate strength base rogues with shield master and expertise in athletics.
    Mostly, I just think that sort of build isn't playing to the strengths of the class. Every time you use your bonus action to knock someone down with Shield Master you aren't using Cunning Action, which is a huge part of what makes the Rogue strong. If you want Expertise and Shield Master I'd rather be a Fighter or Barbarian base with a dip into Rogue for the Expertise, as opposed to primarily Rogue but dipping into another martial class for Shield and armor proficiency.

    It's certainly a playable build though, and if someone points me to an example I'll put it in the examples section alongside the currently planned examples (Arcane Trickster Crossbow Expert and two versions of Swashbuckler).

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    PirateWench

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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by rooneg View Post
    Mostly, I just think that sort of build isn't playing to the strengths of the class. Every time you use your bonus action to knock someone down with Shield Master you aren't using Cunning Action, which is a huge part of what makes the Rogue strong. If you want Expertise and Shield Master I'd rather be a Fighter or Barbarian base with a dip into Rogue for the Expertise, as opposed to primarily Rogue but dipping into another martial class for Shield and armor proficiency.

    It's certainly a playable build though, and if someone points me to an example I'll put it in the examples section alongside the currently planned examples (Arcane Trickster Crossbow Expert and two versions of Swashbuckler).
    I always thought it nicely complemented the arsenal of the rogue. The Shield Master is used when you need advantage this turn, Cunning Action is used when you have it already.
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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by RickAllison View Post
    I always thought it nicely complemented the arsenal of the rogue. The Shield Master is used when you need advantage this turn, Cunning Action is used when you have it already.
    That's certainly a way to look at it. Maybe I'd feel differently if I'd ever played at a table that had a STR based Shield Master Rogue, the closest I've seen is a few grappling specialists, but in practice the versions of those I've seen have ended up being at least as much Fighter and/or Barbarian as they do Rogue. Like I said though, if someone can sketch out what the build would look like I'd be happy to stick it in the examples section as an alternative route you could take.

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    MonkGirl

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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    I actually like the Sentinel feat on a Swashbuckler, it gives one more 'I maneuver better than you' piece (by restricting their movement); and also potentially gives more opportunities for off-turn Sneak Attacks.

    Most strength Rogues I have seen go Fighter or Barbarian up to 5-6, then rogue the rest of the way... though I am partial to just Fighter 1/Rogue 19 builds. You can get a lot of damage out of just one attack per round, particularly as you stack things like Booming Blade, Volo's Aasimar racial abilities; and Duelist can give another damage boost (or Defensive style for an impressive 21 AC alongside your impressive, if swingy, offensive abilities)... the version I played was a Variant Human to get Shield Master at level 1, but I think if I redid it I would try a Fallen Aasimar Swashbuckler version with pointbuy stats like... 16/13/14/8/10/14

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    I like the title, its great guide. Throw in some pictures.

    Also Easy_Lee made this Iron Scoundrel, it just shows the potential of a strength based melee rogue, shield master is a cheap source of advantage and even with an 8 in strength, expertise in athletics gives you the same score a fighter with max strength

    Medium Armor Master has some potential with rogue, fighter, ranger, barbarian multiclasses if you can squeeze it in

    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...Iron-Scoundrel

    Awesome guide
    Last edited by djreynolds; 2017-04-24 at 01:39 AM.

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    Imp

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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Woah woah woah...you seriously underrate both Sentinel and Mobile. The former gives you a much greater chance of getting the additional Sneak Attacks you mention in your sidebar and is the basis of the Tank Rogue. The latter catapults Cunning Action from merely good to superb. A Rogue without Mobile can maintain a decent pace in rough terrain; a Rogue with it is completly unhindered.

    I also think you underestimate just how good the Thief Archetype is. Sure it's not generally as good as an Arcane Trickster, but it's at least as good as Assassin, if not better. Assassin is borderline bad in the wrong party/game but Thief is, while not always going to shine, still very good. Merely the ability to jump a 10ft pit without having to make a check, while dumping Strength, is a handy thing to have.
    I apologise if I come across daft. I'm a bit like that. I also like a good argument, so please don't take offence if I'm somewhat...forthright.

    Please be aware; when it comes to 5ed D&D, I own Core (1st printing) and SCAG only. All my opinions and rulings are based solely on those, unless otherwise stated. I reserve the right of ignorance of errata or any other source.

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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Thanks everyone, this is great feedback, and I'll incorporate it tonight when I get a chance to make a pass through it all.

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    ElfWarriorGuy

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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    I think you maybe rating warlock a little to low for rogue. I find its really good for a swashbuckler rogue with the cha interactions. And if you read into some of the invocations being able to always manifest armor and weapons on a rogue is fantastic. Also even if you only dip far enough to get say thirsting blade it says prereq is 5th level (does not speficy 5th warlock level in the description) and blade pact so timing your warlock level to get the invocations at 5th character level is also good. So in theory at 8th level youre able to do with hex and sa 5d6 + 4 main attack 2d6+4 thristing blade 2d6 for off hand attack. My math might be off a little though.

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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    I'm not sure if it's enough to push either sub-race into blue, but Dwarves do make decent Rogues.

    Hill Dwarves get a valuable boost to Wisdom, which makes them better trap-spotters and the additional HP sure don't hurt if you're thinking of spending much time on the front-line.

    Mountain Dwarves get precious Medium Armour proficiency; good for Tank Rogues and the Strength boost makes them superlative candidates for Athletics Expertise (with Fast Hands from the Thief Archetypeb this makes them one of the best non-magical battlefield controllers).

    All Dwarves get Poison Resistance; as a Class most likely to suffer it due to being the prime target of traps, this can be very handy to make your HP go further. The Con boost is nothing to sniff at for obvious reasons. With the right GM, Stonecunning can also prove invaluable to a Rogue playing as the resident "dungeon guide".

    So yeah, Dwarves make more than merely decent Rogues; not as good as some other options perhaps, but still better than average IMO.
    I apologise if I come across daft. I'm a bit like that. I also like a good argument, so please don't take offence if I'm somewhat...forthright.

    Please be aware; when it comes to 5ed D&D, I own Core (1st printing) and SCAG only. All my opinions and rulings are based solely on those, unless otherwise stated. I reserve the right of ignorance of errata or any other source.

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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaxxen View Post
    I think you maybe rating warlock a little to low for rogue. I find its really good for a swashbuckler rogue with the cha interactions. And if you read into some of the invocations being able to always manifest armor and weapons on a rogue is fantastic. Also even if you only dip far enough to get say thirsting blade it says prereq is 5th level (does not speficy 5th warlock level in the description) and blade pact so timing your warlock level to get the invocations at 5th character level is also good. So in theory at 8th level youre able to do with hex and sa 5d6 + 4 main attack 2d6+4 thristing blade 2d6 for off hand attack. My math might be off a little though.
    The PHB errata says that the level requirements for warlock invocations use the warlock level, not the character level.

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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by rooneg View Post
    The PHB errata says that the level requirements for warlock invocations use the warlock level, not the character level.
    Even so, a Warlock dip for Devils Sight alone is well worth the investment for a Rogue who doesn't have Darkvision natively (which includes the otherwise excellent Halfling...even better for Lightfoot with their Cha bonus).
    I apologise if I come across daft. I'm a bit like that. I also like a good argument, so please don't take offence if I'm somewhat...forthright.

    Please be aware; when it comes to 5ed D&D, I own Core (1st printing) and SCAG only. All my opinions and rulings are based solely on those, unless otherwise stated. I reserve the right of ignorance of errata or any other source.

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    ElfWarriorGuy

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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Ah well i don't have any of the errata i was going purely off the phb sitting at home.

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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by JellyPooga View Post
    Even so, a Warlock dip for Devils Sight alone is well worth the investment for a Rogue who doesn't have Darkvision natively (which includes the otherwise excellent Halfling...even better for Lightfoot with their Cha bonus).
    True, that's something worth mentioning.

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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by JellyPooga View Post
    Mountain Dwarves get precious Medium Armour proficiency; good for Tank Rogues and the Strength boost makes them superlative candidates for Athletics Expertise (with Fast Hands from the Thief Archetypeb this makes them one of the best non-magical battlefield controllers).
    I have given this much thought, conerning a tank strogue that is. I think multiclassing (fighter) is better. If going with a pure rogue build however, mountain dwarf has indeed some value if you want to stick with twf and dont want a shield. Here is what I mean:
    1) Moderately armored + heavily armored + shield master (to make up with advantage for the loss of the off hand attack); +2 STR from the armor feats, AC=20, need 3 feats.
    2) Mountain Dwarf + heavily armored + dual wielder (mostly for the +1 to AC)*; +1 STR from the armor feat, AC=19, need 2 feats.

    It's a bit of a trade-off, that has its basis over what you value the most? A shield for better AC and some support-melee capability, or twf for less feat investment?

    *I was experimenting with these and more alternatives on a singleclass rogue that will eventually take the sentinel feat, so every point of AC counts in that case. There were actually more options, some including dex builds, some going with warforged for a race, but I dont recall them all now.

    ----------------------

    @OP: I would suggest including a list of things that can give the rogue advantage in this guide. Suffering disadvantage can shut down a rogue, and it is perhaps what scares me the most whenever I am playing a rogue. So I am always relieved a bit when I see that a rogue guide includes a small section to address that, hence the suggestion.
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    I hereby bestow upon you a magic sword, the Sword of Corran, which will henceforth be the only thing that can permanently destroy my withered undead hand and nose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corran View Post
    I have given this much thought, conerning a tank strogue that is. I think multiclassing (fighter) is better. If going with a pure rogue build however, mountain dwarf has indeed some value if you want to stick with twf and dont want a shield. Here is what I mean:
    1) Moderately armored + heavily armored + shield master (to make up with advantage for the loss of the off hand attack); +2 STR from the armor feats, AC=20, need 3 feats.
    2) Mountain Dwarf + heavily armored + dual wielder (mostly for the +1 to AC)*; +1 STR from the armor feat, AC=19, need 2 feats.

    It's a bit of a trade-off, that has its basis over what you value the most? A shield for better AC and some support-melee capability, or twf for less feat investment?
    Honestly, I think any plan that involves "take these 3 feats" and only results in a +2 to STR (and STR is your main offensive stat in this world) is a crazy plan. If your build doesn't come online until level 10, it might as well not exist IMO. The non-dwarf one sort of comes on line at level 8, but still, it seems pretty weak to me.

    I also question the use of the various "armored" feats in general in this context. If you care so much about wearing armor then just start as a Fighter for a single level. That gets you the Shield Master feat at level 5, which isn't too bad.

    Quote Originally Posted by Corran View Post
    @OP: I would suggest including a list of things that can give the rogue advantage in this guide. Suffering disadvantage can shut down a rogue, and it is perhaps what scares me the most whenever I am playing a rogue. So I am always relieved a bit when I see that a rogue guide includes a small section to address that, hence the suggestion.
    Good suggestion, I'll put it on the list of things to do.

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    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Literally the first thing I do in Guides is not to actually read anything, but to look at color coding to see how the author rates things. If it looks okay, I'll go back and read things.
    Assassin is blue, and Thief is black?
    I see no need to delve further into this "guide" because it's clearly white room rather than table tested.
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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by DivisibleByZero View Post
    Literally the first thing I do in Guides is not to actually read anything, but to look at color coding to see how the author rates things. If it looks okay, I'll go back and read things.
    Assassin is blue, and Thief is black?
    I see no need to delve further into this "guide" because it's clearly white room rather than table tested.
    Thank you for your detailed feedback. It will certainly improve the guide for future readers.

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    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by rooneg View Post
    Thank you for your detailed feedback. It will certainly improve the guide for future readers.

    This is really good, but not quite phenomenal.

    This describes Thief.

    Bad. It will be extremely rare that it's useful at all.
    This describes Assassin.

    If you think Thief is Black, then I'm sure someone will explain why it's better than that.
    If you think Assassin is Blue, then it's not really worth my time to explain how and why that's wrong.

    The Cliff's Notes version of both is this:
    On paper, Assassin is good and Thief is lackluster.
    At the actual table, Assassin sucks a big fat one and Thief is just shy of amazing. Like, just an itsy-bity, teeny-weenie, tiny HAIR shy of Light Blue. It could arguably be Light Blue, based on the first criterion listed for that color code.

    That's like two full categories off on two of the PHB Archetypes.
    I have no desire to continue reading, as you obviously haven't played the class enough to warrant writing a guide.
    Last edited by DivisibleByZero; 2017-04-24 at 01:50 PM.
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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by DivisibleByZero View Post
    If you think Thief is Black, then I'm sure someone will explain why it's better than that.
    So far, nobody has. In my experience, anyone I've ever played with who had a Thief was a Sneak Attack machine with no other discernible abilities beyond the Rogue base class. Now maybe everyone who's ever played a Thief at the same table as me has just been an idiot, but to my eye if the subclass isn't adding anything in particular beyond the base class then there's not much worth rating beyond Black.

    Now it's quite possible I'm wrong, but so far the only thing anyone has said in defense of the Thief is that it's nice to jump 10 feet. Ok, that's something, but I'm honestly curious what of the early subclass abilities are really shining in your game, because I haven't seen them in mine.

    Quote Originally Posted by DivisibleByZero View Post
    If you think Assassin is Blue, then it's not really worth my time to explain how and why that's wrong.
    The Assassin has all the same base class abilities as Thief, with the additional ability to occasional have an insane nova round. Now you can argue that the nova round hardly happens in practice, and maybe that's enough to rate it Black instead of Blue, but I certainly don't have any particular evidence for it being worse than the Thief.

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    NecromancerGirl

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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    I feel like Bladesinger at least deserves a special mention in the multiclass section, since it synergizes very well with what an AT already wants to do. Compared to any of the school goodies (which mostly rely on being a proper spellcasting), Bladesinging actually allows you to be more aggressive in Melee. I'm not sure if AT X / Bladesinger 2 is sky blue, but it's definitely a more solid option than most other Wizard subclasses.

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    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: With Skill and Steel, a Rogue's Guide

    Fine.
    I have a few minutes at work, so let's break this down.

    Assassin:
    3rd: Bonus proficiencies: disguise kit and poisoner's kit. Meh.
    Assassinate looks great on paper. The problem is the fact that gaining surprise is extremely DM dependent, and if he's lenient enough to allow you to actually do it on a consistent basis, then the rest of the party is just waiting for you. It's like scouting ahead, it's very one sided, and it's a one man show.
    Eventually the rest of the party is going to get sick of waiting for you to set it up and/or the DM is going to get tired of you murdering his encounters before they even get to act.
    In short: it sucks in actual play.
    9th: False identities? Crap. More solo action. Now the party hates you hogging the spotlight even more.
    13th: Imposter? It's their ribbon. And it's garbage.
    17th: Death Strike: See Assassinate.
    They have zero consistently useful features, and the ones that are arguably useful are the ones that the rest of the party and the DM all universally hate.

    Thief:
    3rd: Fast Hands is absolutely amazing.
    Second Story Work is their ribbon. And it's still decent.
    9th: Use the old standard rules for stealth, and gain advantage. Fantastic, since movement while hidden isn't in any hurry because no one knows you're there.
    13th: UMD. Use any magical item ever. 'Nuff said.
    17th: Thief's Reflexes: Hey, look! I essentially get Assassinate (with a minor change) just like the Assassin! Only mine comes later and requires ZERO set-up!
    They have tons of useful features, and none that anyone hates. Heck, even their ribbon is decent.
    Last edited by DivisibleByZero; 2017-04-24 at 02:23 PM.
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