Dungeons & Dragons 5e
rogue subclasses

There are currently 9 subclasses of rogues in D&D 5E, each with their own special way of being sneaky. There is a world of difference between the various types of rogues, which is one of the most versatile of the classes.

Arcane Trickster

(Player’s Handbook p.97) Arcane Trickster rogues combine magic and rogue skills to create an exciting combination of the two. They learn several cantrips and a variety of other spells. One of their cantrips is mage hand, and they can use their mage hand to conduct sleight of hand, pick locks, disarm traps, or to distract enemies to give the rogue advantage when attacking. If they are hidden when they cast a spell upon someone, their opponent rolls to save at disadvantage, and if someone casts a spell at the arcane trickster there is a chance that the rogue will be able to copy the ability to cast that spell from that magic user and can then cast the spell for the rest of the day.

Assassin

(Player’s Handbook p.97) Assassins are adept at sneaking up on people and killing them quickly. These rogues are proficient in disguise kits and poisoner’s kits. They also get advantage on attack rolls against enemies who haven’t had a turn in combat yet, any hits which the assassin makes against surprised creatures are critical hits and can sometimes do excessive damage on top of that, they can create convincing fake identities with convincing paperwork to infiltrate situations, and they can impersonate another person in speech, handwriting, and behaviour. Many of these traits are good for long-game infiltration, but they are also very handy for shorter encounters as well.

Inquisitive

(Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.45) The Inquisitive Rogue excels at ferreting out secrets and discovering the hidden. They are better at Insight checks, they can use a bonus action for Perception checks to spot hidden things or Investigation checks to look for clues, they can Insight check an opponent as a bonus action and if successful can sneak attack them for more damage than normal, they get advantage on Perception and Investigation checks as long as they move no more than half speed, and they can spend an action to sense shapeshifters, illusions, and other magical effects to deceive.

Mastermind

(Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.46, Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide p.135) The Mastermind rogue is excellent at getting secrets out of people and uncovering court intrigue. They are proficient with the disguise kit, forgery kit, a gaming set, and two additional languages. These rogues can also mimic the speech patterns and accent of a creature which they have heard speak, allowing them to pass as a person from that region. They can use the help action as a bonus action and over a greater distance, and can study a creature for a minute to determine two of the following: INT, WIS, or CHA scores, or class level. The Mastermind also can sometimes deflect an attack targeting them to target another creature instead, they can’t have their minds read and can sometimes actually plant false thoughts to be read instead, and they can successfully lie even when magic is being used to tell if they are being truthful.

Phantom

(Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything p.62) Phantoms have an intimate connection with the dead. These rogues borrow skills from the dead, can give a second creature some necrotic damage when they successfully sneak attack a creature, and they steal a sliver of the soul of someone who dies near them, which they can use to increase their vitality, deal extra damage to others, or ask a question of the dead creature. At higher levels they can become ethereal and can fly as well. This is almost certainly the creepiest of the Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition rogues, and these rogues are rarely invited to the more upscale parties.

Scout

(Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.47) The Scout is much more at home in the wilderness than in the city. These rogues can move up to half of their movement as a reaction when an enemy ends their turn near them without provoking opportunity attacks, they can move faster, and they have advantage on initiative rolls. The first creature which the rogue hits on the first round of combat is easier for everyone to hit for the next round, and they get an extra attack as a bonus action on each turn if they already attacked, and if this attack is on a different target they can also use sneak attack a second time on the turn.

Soulknife

(Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything p.63) Soulknife rogues use psionic powers to aid them in their roguery. They use their psionic powers to help them succeed in skill tests, speak telepathically with others, deal psychic damage to foes, teleport short distances, and become invisible. This would be a good way to assassinate someone without leaving a mark.

Swashbuckler

(Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.47, Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide p.135) The Swashbuckler rogue is a master of duelling. These rogues excel at hitting without being hit. If they make a melee attack against a creature, that creature can’t make opportunity attacks against the swashbuckler for the rest of that turn. They get a bonus to their initiative and they get sneak attack damage if they are within 5 feet of the creature and no other creatures are within 5 feet of them and they don’t have disadvantage. Swashbucklers use their Persuasion check to give their opponent disadvantage against attacks on anyone other than the rogue and don’t allow opportunity attacks against anyone other than them for 1 minute (or if not in combat the creature becomes charmed). These rogues can use a bonus action to get advantage on the next Acrobatics or Athletics check which they attempt on that turn, and if they miss they can roll again with advantage.

Thief

(Player’s Handbook p.97) The Thief has many of the skills that most people associate with rogues, but they do them especially well. They can use their bonus action to conduct sleight of hand, use their thieves’ tools, or use an object, they are much better at climbing and jumping, they have advantage on stealth checks as long as they move no more than half their speed, they can use any magic items regardless of class, race, or level requirements, and they get two turns during the first round of combat as long as they’re not surprised. This is probably the best generalist rogue subclass in Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition.