Roguish Archetypes in D&D 5e Ranked from Awful to Amazing


We take a closer look at the various roguish archetypes and their features at different levels.

In Dungeons & Dragons, rogues act as skill monkeys, with multiple skill proficiency, dexterous hands, and the ability to blend into the shadows to send powerful blows to hapless enemies. Most parties rely on a skilled rogue to pick locks, explore ahead for adversaries, and, most notably, spot elusive traps before they explode in everyone’s faces. The roguish archetypes help determine how you approach combat.

However, within this role, a rogue can conduct a variety of other tasks for the group. As you’ll see in the roguish archetypes below, some rogues are made for the great outdoors, while others are masters of manipulation and finding new info from unwitting NPCs.

Roguish Archetypes Ranked

We’ll start with the roguish archetypes that most players try to avoid. Keep in mind that each subclass does have interesting features and use cases, but they tend to be extremely situational. If you’re playing a prewritten campaign that caters to their strengths, or is more concerned about the story you want to tell, don’t let us dissuade you!

We’ll end with the best of the best. The roguish archetypes with abilities in the top few are broadly applicable to various situations, cover all three pillars of play, and are suited for all campaigns. The score is from 1 (lowest) to 4 (highest) daggers.

9. Mastermind (Roguish Archetypes Rank 1)

(From Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)

Mastermind, more situational than Inquisitive, is not one of the better of the roguish archetypes. Some of the key characteristics would look great on another character but not on you. The Help action allows you to give someone else’s attack advantage, but rogues benefit the most from advantage, so this appears to be a developer oversight.

Later qualities include redirecting attacks at someone else, which can be extremely annoying to your party members, as well as preventing others from reading your thoughts. While the second ability is intriguing, it pales in comparison to the other subclasses available.

Master of Intrigue

Level 3

This feature is almost entirely for flavor and doesn’t add much mechanically to your character. Sure, you can mimic the accent of someone you hear talking for a minute, but it’s rare for you to need to impersonate someone from the region. Notably, this feature doesn’t allow you to mimic a voice, or impersonate an individual, just pass yourself off as native to the area.

Master of Tactics

Level 3

As we mentioned above, the Help action is most handy when someone else gives it for a rogue. Unless you have a second rogue in your party, there aren’t too many characters who would truly benefit from you using your bonus action to Help. It is nice that you can take the Help action from up to 30 feet away, but that doesn’t make it better when rogues have so many other things they can do.

Insightful Manipulator

Level 9

This feature is almost never useful. The fact that you need to talk to someone, or spy on them, for at least a minute outside of combat, means that it is only applicable if your party has an archnemesis.


Level 13

Misdirection lets you dodge an attack and have it hit someone else. If you’re fighting a swarm of things, that could work, but usually, the only people nearby are your friends. Rude.

Soul of Deceit

Level 17

Mind reading isn’t terribly common, so falsifying your thoughts, or being unaffected by truth spells, isn’t often helpful.

8. Phantom (Roguish Archetypes Rank 2)

(From Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything)

The Phantom subclass, which was originally released around Halloween, is a flavoring for undead rogues. Your skills include half-remembering skills or tools used by your spirit in a previous life, disclosing the agonies of death to living creatures when you attack, and capturing the souls of your slain enemies to use as tools in your daily life.

Those soul trinkets increase your vitality and make it even more difficult for future enemies to defeat you. It’s the creepiest of the roguish archetypes and would fit right in with a horror-themed campaign.

Whispers of the Dead

Level 3

Being able to choose a new skill or tool every day to have proficiency in isn’t bad. Once you hit level 11 and have Reliable Talent, this becomes a great feature, since you can guarantee a success.

Wails From the Grave

Level 3

Sneak Attack is fine, but sending half of that damage to a nearby adversary is pretty swell. Especially when it’s necrotic damage (something rarely resisted).

Tokens of the departed

Level 9

By now, your Proficiency Bonus is +4, so you can have up to four soul trinkets at once. Advantage on death saving throws and Constitution saving throws is already decent, but you can also use up trinkets for additional uses of Wails From the Grave or asking the soul a question.

ghost walk

Level 13

10 minutes as an ethereal presence is a fantastic way to go scouting into the next room or escape from a hopeless encounter.

death’s friend

Level 17

This feature lets you deal the necrotic damage to both targets of your Sneak Attack from Wails From the Grave and gives you a free soul trinket each day.

7. Inquisitive (Roguish Archetypes Rank 2)

(From Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)

Inquisitive, the Sherlock Holmes of rogues, is a subclass that does exactly what it sounds like. You gain the ability to rely on your perception of others in and out of combat. Although rogues’ Wisdom ability scores aren’t typically high, it’s worth investing in the score because many of your subclass abilities rely on it.

You learn to see through magical illusions, hear lies when they are spoken, and carefully analyze your opponents to do extra damage on top of your deadly Sneak Attack. Inquisitives, on the other hand, don’t have to be sneaky because your abilities are more about seeing than hiding. That still doesn’t make it very good compared to the other roguish archetypes.

ear for deceit

Level 3

Knowing when someone is lying to you is always handy.

eye for detail

Level 3

You’re not usually pressed for time if you’re looking for clues, but finding someone who is hidden during combat can happen.

insightful fighting

Level 3

You’ll need expertise in Wisdom (Insight) for this to work, and, even then, you don’t get any benefits other than more ways to use your Sneak Attack.

steady eye

Level 9

Advantage on two commonly rolled skills as long as you hold still is great.

unerring eye

Level 13

Seeing through illusions and other deceitful magic is lovely, but you can only do this a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier, which is never going to be high for a rogue.

eye for weakness

Level 17

An extra 3d6 to your Sneak Attack. Compared to the other amazing 17th level features of other roguish archetypes, this is almost insulting.

6. Thief (Roguish Archetypes Rank 3)

(From The Player’s Handbook)

The Thief, the rogue’s second ‘vanilla’ option, does not deal as much damage as an Assassin, but they should not be underestimated either. One of the best (and most underappreciated) abilities comes early on, allowing Thieves to use an item as a bonus action. There are many rules governing what that entails, but it allows you to attack on your turn and then do something else that is normally forbidden on the same turn.

Later in the first round of combat, the Thief is given a second turn. You can even use your Sneak Attack on both turns against the same creature, ensuring that you completely ruin one enemy’s day. It’s one of the better roguish archetypes, but it doesn’t have much flavor.

fast hands

Level 3

You might not need to disarm traps as a bonus action, but using an item could let you do any number of creative things and still have your action available.

second-story work

Level 3

Better climbing and jumping skills. Good for flavor, and doesn’t do much mechanically.

supreme sneak

Level 9

Advantage on a rogue’s signature skill check? Sign us up!

use magic device

Level 13

You ignore all requirements for using magic devices. That is HUGE. You can now use any item in D&D to cast spells, negate magical effects, or follow your heart’s desires.

thief’s reflexes

Level 17

A second turn during the first round of combat. The ability to Sneak Attack the same creature twice. If they weren’t already regretting the fight, they will be now.

5. Scout (Roguish Archetypes Rank 3)

(From Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)

The great outdoors’ rogue. This is a great option for people who wanted to play a ranger but needed more skills. The Scout automatically gains expertise in Survival (Wisdom) and Nature (Intelligence) checks, allowing you to feel at ease in the wilderness while still having the option of focusing on other skills.

However, the best ability takes time to develop. You can make an additional attack during your turn and use your Sneak Attack on it. That means you can perform two Sneak Attacks in a single turn. Two creatures will be very sorry they crossed paths with your wild rogue!


Level 3

This is ideal for a ranged fighter. You can move away from enemies without provoking attacks of opportunity as a reaction.


Level 3

Automatic expertise in Wisdom (Survival) and Intelligence (Nature) skills lets you function as a ranger too.

superior mobility

Level 9

Walking speed increases. Nothing special.

ambush master

Level 13

Advantage on initiative rolls is great, but giving everyone after you advantage on the foe you strike during that first turn? Excellent.

sudden strike

Level 17

Rogues don’t normally get a second attack on their turns, but this feature gives it to you. However, you can’t use your Sneak Attack against the same target twice, but you can use it against two different targets.

4. Assassin (Roguish Archetypes Rank 3)

(From The Player’s Handbook)

The Assassin subclass is one of the two ‘basic’ options for rogues and is nothing to scoff at. With each subsequent release, some classes have seen better and better subclasses, but the Assassin is likely the most powerful of all roguish archetypes. What’s the reason? When you use your Sneak Attack on an enemy who hasn’t taken a turn yet, your hits are automatically critical.

Enemies will frequently pursue you because rogues frequently have the highest dexterity scores in the game, which means that as long as you have advantage on your attack, you can expect to deal a heinous amount of damage every time you hit.

bonus proficiencies

Level 3

The disguise kit and poisoner’s kit are just flavor.


Level 3

This is what you’re here for. Advantage on attack rolls against targets who haven’t yet gone in combat means that you should seriously consider taking the Alert feat to maximize your chances of going first in initiative. Automatic crits against surprised targets are just the icing on the cake.

infiltration expertise

Level 9

We’re not sure when this feature would ever come into play.


Level 13

You can pretend to be someone else, but only if you can study them for 3 hours beforehand. It’s extremely situational.

death strike

Level 17

Absolutely fantastic as a capstone ability. You already automatically crit against surprised enemies, but now if they fail a Constitution saving throw, you can double your damage. Even with a dagger (1d4 damage), you’re likely looking at an average of 126 points of damage.

3. Soulknife (Roguish Archetypes Rank 4)

(From Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything)

Soulknife, a psionic roguish archetype, provides rogues with an interesting alternative to traditional weapons. Your mind has been expanded into eldritch possibilities, and you can use the power of your will to create pure energy daggers or to improve your skills.

You can telepathically connect with others and teleport to the location where you throw your energy dagger as you level up. You can stun your enemies at higher levels by rending their minds with your energy daggers, making them easy prey for your friends.

psionic power

Level 3

A number of dice twice your Proficiency Bonus may not be a lot at low levels (four total), but at higher levels, you’ll have up to 12 at a time. Plus, they change from d6s to d8s at level 5, d10s at level 11, and finally hit d12s at level 17.

Psi-Bolstered Knack

The most common use for your Psi dice is to bolster skill checks. You can only use them if you’re proficient in the skill, though. Note that you only expend the die if the check succeeds, so it’s risk-free.

Psychic Whispers

You gain one free use of Psychic Whispers once per day, but the number of hours you can telepathically talk to your friends is based on the roll.

psychic blades

Level 3

Psychic damage is far less likely to be resisted by enemies, your daggers deal 1d6 damage, and you can also attack as a bonus action.

soul blades

Level 9

You get two new options with your Psychic Blades.

Homing Strike

Now you can use your Psi dice to help you succeed if you fail an attack roll. Again, it’s risk-free since you only expend the die if you succeed.

Psychic Teleportation

You can use your blades to teleport a minimum of 10 feet, instead of attacking, as a bonus action. Very handy!

psychic veil

Level 13

One free use of the invisibility spell once per day and the ability to use it again any time you expend a Psi die.

rend mind

Level 17

Many enemies have high Wisdom saving throws, but the opportunity to try and stun them for an entire minute is absolutely worth it.

2. Arcane Trickster (Roguish Archetypes Rank 4)

(From The Player’s Handbook)

The Arcane Trickster subclass was created for anyone who has ever thought, “Gee, I want to be sneaky AND cast spells!” This is the only subclass that allows you to cast spells, though you learn them at a third of the normal rate due to the emphasis on stealth. You gain access to the wizard spell list, which contains some interesting ways to sneakily play pranks or distract your enemies while tiptoeing by.

It’s worth noting that your spell attack modifier and spell save DC are both based on your Intelligence score. Rogues are proficient in Intelligence saving throws, but it is often a dump stat for many players. You should still focus on improving your Dexterity first, but then your build needs to take Intelligence into account.


Level 3

Starting at level 3, you get three cantrips, and three 1st level spells known. You count as a quarter caster, meaning that you learn higher-level spells every four levels. For example, you don’t learn 2nd level spells until you reach 7th level. You never know that many spells, so you should choose wisely.

mage hand legerdemain

Level 3

In addition to receiving the mage hand cantrip for free, you can also do some unusual things with it. Stealing from others, planting evidence on people, or picking locks at a distance are just some of the mischief you can get into.

magical ambush

Level 9

Considering that your spell save DC likely isn’t high, giving foes disadvantage on their saving throws is fantastic.

versatile trickster

Level 13

As long as your mage hand is present, you can give yourself advantage (and access to Sneak Attack) sans allies.

spell thief

Level 17

Notably, this feature requires your adversary to make the saving throw, so you won’t often get lucky, but taking it away from the enemy for 8 hours is great. Just remember, it has to be of a level you can cast, and that’ll be 3rd level or lower.

1. Swashbuckler (Roguish Archetypes Rank 4)

(From Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)

The pirate is one of the most iconic rogues of myth and legend. Although you wouldn’t think of a pirate as a rogue due to their audacity, this subclass allows you to use your Sneak Attack in an unusual way. Basically, you approach your opponent and begin attacking. They’re probably so taken aback by your bravado that it still qualifies as sneaky.

Despite the fun flavor of high seas hunting, it’s worth noting that some of your subclass abilities are tied to Charisma, which isn’t usually a high score for rogues. However, this lends itself to making your Swashbuckler the party’s face since you have access to expertise.

fancy footwork

Level 3

If you’re going to be hanging out in melee with d8s for hit dice, avoiding opportunity attacks is essential. It only works when you make a melee attack, but it doesn’t matter whether you hit or miss; you can still make a clean getaway.

rakish audacity

Level 3

Your rogue is going to need some Charisma to succeed with this roguish archetype. A bonus to initiative is fine, but the ability to use Sneak Attack even if no one else is nearby is excellent. This adds a lot of flavor to your rogue and gives you the option of making a high Charisma rogue to function as the party’s face.


Level 9

You’ll want to take expertise in Charisma (Persuasion) checks to make good use of this ability. This feature lets you function as a tank in combat, allowing weaker or hurt allies time to get away without incurring opportunity attacks. Don’t get too cocky, since you likely won’t have the hit points to back it up, but you’re essentially guaranteeing that your opponent won’t be landing any opportunity attacks any time soon.

elegant maneuver

Level 13

Advantage on Dexterity (Acrobatics) and Strength (Athletics) checks is nice, but not game-changing.

Master Duelist

Level 17

Missing with an attack never sounded so sweet. You can reroll with advantage, meaning that you might be able to get in a Sneak Attack where you wouldn’t otherwise. Just remember that you can only do this once per day.

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