Rogues are highly skilled operatives. They excel at getting into places they aren’t supposed to and when they do decide to attack they deal devastating attacks with their sneak attacks.
Today, we’re looking at the Archetypes or Subclasses for the 5e Rogue and ranking them by our favorites.
Here is our ranked list of the Rogue Subclasses in 5e DnD:
- #9 – Mastermind
- #8 – Inquisitive
- #7 – Scout
- #6 – Swashbuckler
- #5 – Phantom
- #4 – Assassin
- #3 – Arcane Trickster
- #2 – Soulknife
- #1 – Thief
The Mastermind Subclass can be found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
The Mastermind Rogue is perfectly comfortable plotting the rise and fall of kingdoms. They work behind the scenes and everyone is one of their pawns either willing or unwilling. They’re also extremely useful to have on your side as their knowledge can be used to your advantage.
Mastermind Subclass Feature
The Mastermind’s main feature is their ability to help out the party. They can use the Help action from a distance and they’re able to study creatures and immediately determine their abilities.
Pros of the Mastermind Subclass
The idea behind the Mastermind Subclass is really cool and one of the most interesting when it comes to RP. My favorite use is their ability to stand next to someone while being targeted and use them as a human shield. It’s too funny not to use, but it’s not very nice.
Cons of the Mastermind Subclass
Their ability set is geared towards this idea that never really becomes useful. Out of all the Subclasses, it’s just not that impressive and it doesn’t hold its own. It’s an interesting idea but not a fully formed one.
The Inquisitive Subclass can be found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
Nobody expects the Inquisition! Especially when they’re stabbing you in the back. The Inquisitive Rogue is almost impossible to fool and is adept and finding all of your hidden secrets.
Inquisitive Subclass Feature
These Rogues gain bonuses to their perception. At higher levels, they’ve seen it all and can see right through illusions and disguises. The best feature they have is their ability to use sneak attack after studying their enemies, even when they’re standing right in front of them.
Pros of the Inquisitive Subclass
The Inquisitive Rogue has some nice bonuses to their sneak attack, and they can use it even when their target isn’t otherwise engaged.
Cons of the Inquisitive Subclass
The Inquisitive Rogue relies heavily on their Wisdom ability scores which don’t mesh well with the rest of their abilities. It’s not bad, but you’ll have to focus on two main ability scores instead of just one.
The bonuses to sneak attack are great, but they just don’t compare to some of the other abilities on this list.
The Scout Subclass can be found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
Scouts are a mixture of Rogue abilities and Ranger. As the name might imply, they make great scouts and are hard to get the drop on. It’s a straightforward fighting subclass that’s really great for beginners.
Scout Subclass Feature
The Scout gains extra proficiencies in Survival and Nature checks which can be nice depending upon the campaign. The big advantage of the Scout Subclass is their advantage on initiative rolls and the extra attacks and weapon proficiencies they gain.
Pros of the Scout Subclass
The Scout is a combat-focused role. They’ll still gain the standard Rogue’s sneak attack abilities, but they’ll also have a few extra attacks and weapon proficiencies. As the name implies they’re excellent for scouting ahead of the party and they deal decent damage.
Cons of the Scout Subclass
The extra skills and proficiencies are only nice-to-haves. They’re a bit of a throw-away ability. The real downside is that Scouts are a mixed bag when it comes to combat. They can fight, but the Rogue abilities are really designed for their sneak attack, and the Scout Subclass doesn’t take advantage of it.
The Swashbuckler Subclass can be found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
Swashbuckler leans heavily into its own tropes. They’re loud boisterous adventurers who are flashy as they are deadly.
Fun Fact: the term Swashbuckler comes from two disused words.
- Swash: Describes someone who is loud, boisterous, and shows bravado.
- Buckler: A small round shield.
This describes someone who is loud and shows off by either hitting their own shield or those of their opponents.
Swashbuckler Subclass Feature
The Swashbuckler features abilities that focus on dueling and moving. They are able to attack and move freely keeping control of a fight with their Fancy Footwork. They can also use their sneak attack if there are no other enemies around them which is very useful.
Pros of the Swashbuckler Subclass
The Swashbuckler excels in dueling and 1v1 fights. The ability to use their sneak attack in a one-on-one battle is fantastic and they can bounce around the battlefield relatively easily.
Cons of the Swashbuckler Subclass
Unless there’s a duel the Swashbuckler doesn’t gain too many useful combat abilities. They have some decent abilities, but there’s just not enough there to compare with some of the other Subclasses.
The Phantom Subclass can be found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
Rogues spend so much time around death that they sometimes forge a connection with death itself. They hone it to a knife’s edge and use their connection to inflict more damage and, in turn, more death.
Phantom Subclass Feature
The Phantom has two major features that make them horrifying on the battlefield. When using their sneak attack, they can immediately use their Wails of the Dead ability. It basically does half the damage of their normal sneak attack to a second target. It’s a great way to deal additional damage.
Their feature ability, Tokens of the Departed, is truly the stuff of nightmares. When the Rogue kills a character, they can trap a piece of their soul in a trinket that they can save for later use. It can be used to gain an additional Wails of the Dead charges, ask the soul a question, or gain advantage on death-saving rolls.
Pros of the Phantom Subclass
The Phantom has the potential to do a lot of extra damage with their sneak attack and it grants necrotic damage, which is always an advantage.
The trinkets are actually really useful for both combat and RP. The extra charges for Wails of the Dead are awesome. The real prize is actually being able to ask the dead questions, though. Murder a henchman and then you can trap his soul and ask it questions. It’s messed up, but still useful.
Cons of the Phantom Subclass
There’s not too much I don’t like about the Phantom. Phantom Rogues deal a ton of necrotic damage and they can steal people’s souls. I thought with the name “Phantom”, they might have some better stealth abilities, but that’s not something that bothers me too much.
The Assassin Subclass can be found in the Player’s Handbook.
Assassin Rogues are straightforward professional killers. No locked door can hold them and they seem to appear as if by magic to strike at their foes with a single fatal strike.
Assassin Subclass Feature
Assassins have excellent infiltration abilities. They can easily disguise themselves and simply walk into secure areas.
Behind enemy lines is where the Assassin really shines. Their sneak attacks are some of the most devastating out of the Rogue Archetypes.
Pros of the Assassin Subclass
The Assassin can easily sneak into unauthorized areas and then hit their target for massive damage. The damage that they can dish out is massive.
Cons of the Assassin Subclass
They won’t be able to survive in a stand-up fight with a mob of enemies. The added damage they have typically will only work for their first hit and after that, they’re down to regular Rogue abilities.
#3. Arcane Trickster
The Arcane Trickster Subclass can be found in the Player’s Handbook.
Arcane Trickster adds spellcasting to the Rogue’s repertoire. They’re able to combine their magical abilities to ambush and sneak attack.
Arcane Trickster Subclass Feature
Along with the added spells, the Arcane Trickster also gains Mage Hand. That doesn’t sound so amazing, but combine that with the Rogue’s natural stealth abilities and the special Archetype abilities, and smart players will find all kinds of new uses for their Mage Hand.
Pros of the Arcane Trickster Subclass
They’re able to cast spells and steal the knowledge of spells right out of other people’s minds. Their Mage Hand seems a little silly at first, but it’s much stronger than the average Mage Hand and they can use it to gain advantage on their attack rolls.
Cons of the Arcane Trickster Subclass
The spells are great and the Mage Hand is great for sneaking around and messing with your enemies. The spells give more versatility, but their damage output isn’t as good.
The Soulknife Subclass can be found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
Soulknifes are Rogues that gain psionic powers and imbue their attacks with psychic powers. They can use their powers to read minds and even use it to alter people’s minds to turn them invisible.
Soulknife Subclass Feature
The defining feature of the Soulknife Rogues is their Psychic Blades. They’re able to use their psionic abilities to make ranged attacks and melee attacks, which give them a lot of versatility in combat.
Pros of the Soulknife Subclass
The Soulknife is extremely versatile in combat. The addition of ranged attacks to the Rogue’s arsenal can not be underestimated, and it can be used for sneak attacks.
Cons of the Soulknife Subclass
The Soulknife is a great class. There’s not too much that I can knock. They have combat, utility, and they’re cool. The only reason you wouldn’t want to use them is if you don’t like psionics.
The Thief Subclass can be found in the Player’s Handbook.
The Thief Archetype is highly skilled. They’re able to get in and out, relying only on their skills and tools at hand.
Thief Subclass Feature
The Thief is an incredible operative. They can use almost any tool at their disposal and are quick with their hands. This can allow them to lay traps, pickpocket, and backstab.
Pros of the Thief Subclass
The Thief is everything the Rogue class offers, and more. They take the standard subclass and improve everything about it. At higher levels, they can get two free turns at the beginning of combat to lay down traps and they can use magical items without training.
Cons of the Thief Subclass
They may be the most standard Rogue of the Rogue Archetypes, but that means that they’re not specialized. They’re good at skill checks and abilities, but they don’t excel at any one particular thing.
We hope you enjoyed our guide to the Rogue Subclasses & Archetypes. Check out our Rouge 5e Class Guide and DnD Classes Guide too!
Before starting GameCows with his wife Kendra, he used to teach English Language Arts in the US. He combined his love of gaming with education to create fun game-based learning lessons until he eventually decided to run GameCows with Kendra full-time. He’s known for pouring over rulebooks in his spare time, being the rule master during game night, and as the perma DM in his DnD group. Bryan loves board games, writing, traveling, and above all his wife and partner in crime, Kendra.