Welcome to another installment of the Play with Class series where we will give you solid steps to run each class for the world’s greatest roleplaying game! This week, we’re hitting you where it hurts with a sneak attack! Let’s chat about the rogue.
If you are familiar with the fantasy genre, I’m sure you are familiar with rogues. These tricky characters are famous for their abilities to lie, steal, and deliver maiming attacks their enemies rarely see coming. Like skullduggery itself, playing a rogue well requires a great deal of patience and the ability to assess your options quickly. Running a rogue to their full potential requires a solid understanding of the game rules, and for that reason, I don’t often recommend them as a starting class for new players. That said, if you are willing to get a little dirty learning how to exploit the rules, you will make a fine rogue regardless of your experience level.
Role of the Rogue
Rogues are a party’s secret weapon, literally. A rogue is at their best blitzing around the battlefield, positioning themselves to dish out maximum damage at the most critical of moments. While you do excellent damage, rogues aren’t meant to take hits, so you will typically find yourself performing hit-and-run tactics while the others in your party tank the bad guys. Rogues also play a key role outside of combat, being the most qualified to sneak, spy, and scout without attracting undue attention. A rogue’s skills with Investigation and Sleight of Hand make them shine in dungeons full of traps and locked doors.
Reasons to Play a Rogue
- You are so good at sneaking. You honestly put invisibility to shame just by existing.
- In every combat, you get to play tactical mastermind, setting up elaborate moves for a major payoff.
- You are the master of dungeons, which is half of the game, right?
Combat Crash Course
Crafting an optimal build for your rogue is not the difficult part of this class. If you pay attention to your class abilities, it becomes pretty clear what kind of equipment you need to use. The most difficult part of running a rogue is understanding how to get the most out of your class features.
Get the Advantage
The biggest struggle rogues face is making sure they can use their sneak attack every round. Sneak attack is the bread and butter of the rogue, it is the reason you deal good damage, and you need to understand how it works. If you aren’t getting to use your sneak attack every single round, you are doing something wrong. To get your sneak attack, you need to have advantage on your attack roll or meet a certain set of specific conditions. Memorize all the ways you can get advantage, and you will be slaying in no time. The most sure-fire way to get your sneak attack each round is to only attack enemies engaged in a fight with your fellow players. The exception that grants you sneak attack as long as you hit a target within 5 feet of one of your allies will save your bacon time after time. Learn to love teamwork, and you will do just fine.
Bob and Weave
Rogues get a cadre of abilities that help their survivability. Features like evasion, uncanny dodge, and expertise are absolute lifesavers. Unfortunately, remembering to use them can be a struggle. I don’t know how many times I have calculated massive amounts of damage only to have a player suddenly remember that they could have avoided it all a couple of turns later. Study the heck out of these abilities, and do whatever you need to do to remember their benefits if they creep up in the heat of combat. Your GM and your party will thank you if you use these abilities seamlessly. Learn to watch your own back because the other people at your table will not remember to remind you (nor should they have to).
A rogue’s cunning action ability is one of the most powerful and under-utilized tools at this class’s disposal. With your amazing ability to move out of danger, there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be using your bonus action every single turn of combat. If you aren’t doing something tricky with your bonus action, use it to Disengage or Hide and get that heat off you! Seriously, please do it. If you play your cards right, you should never start your turn within the range of enemy melee attacks.
If you follow the cues and make sure to use appropriate equipment, leveling your rogue will be very straightforward. The challenge for you will be finding the right combination of spells, feats, and subclass features that enhance the things you do well. Here are a couple of things to consider while death-proofing your surprise master.
Do More Than Steal
If your character is only motivated by picking pockets and stealing treasure, you (and the rest of your party) are going to become a boring trope character real quick. I recommend that you figure out some kind of personal journey for your rogue to go on. Learning to use skullduggery to achieve something more significant than greed is a very compelling narrative. Explore your options and find rules to support your development as a character!
- If you want to explore a broader range of subclass options, check out the duelist, fixer, and whisper archetypes in Midgard Heroes Handbook.
- You are good at learning things, so why not get creative with tool proficiencies? Since you stand a good chance of actually mastering new skills, finding innovative ways to use game sets, cooking utensils, or musical instruments is a great challenge for you.