Dungeons & Dragons: All Rogue Subclasses, Ranked From Least To Most Powerful

As Dungeons & Dragons explands its popular reach in 2023 and beyond, casual and expert gamers alike will benefit from knowing how to build the most effective Rogue subclasses possible. Rogues are ideal for keeping a low profile on the battlefield and striking when least expected, with certain subclasses offering different skill sets that range in powerful melee, defense, spellcasting, strategy, and defensive qualities.

D&D sourcebooks that come out each year introduce new subclasses that allow players to flavor their Rogues in myriad ways. For those in search of the most formidable Rogue subclasses, certain options balance offensive and defensive prowess in more powerful ways than others.

9 Mastermind

For dungeon-crawling campaigns, Masterminds are the least effective Rogues due to their woeful lack of combat skills. However, during campaigns where social interaction is vital, Masterminds use their ability to gather and analyze information relating to enemies and wield their extensive knowledge to manipulate and misdirect foes and help their party gain advantages.

Ideal for players who prefer deception, intrigue, and manipulation to gain a leg up on their enemies, Masterminds are also good for interacting with NPCs as the face of a party. Alas, their one-dimensionality and vulnerabilities on the battlefield leave a lot to be desired and often deprioritize the Mastermind’s role as an effective Rogue.

8 Inquisitive

An Inquisitive Rogue uses a spyglass in Dungeons and Dragons

A seer of the highest kind, Inquisitive Rogues are able to notice mundane details that the other subclasses fail to, making them ideal detectives for investigating enemies and territories. Between their Insight, Perception, and Investigation skills, they can suss out manipulative magic aimed at them and mount a quick counterdefense. As such, the subclass is ideal for sniffing out sneak attacks and ensuring the overall health of a party when playing on a physical or a virtual Dungeons & Dragons tabletop.

In addition to their helpful extrasensory perception, Inquisitive Rogues also boast more combat power than Masterminds, giving them more value and versatility when assembling a team. The Insightful Fighting skill in particular is a great way of balancing a sneak attack with detective skills. However, the Wisdom-based skills aren’t the most compatible with such typical Rogue qualities as Charisma, Intelligence, and Dexterity, so keep that in mind when building a team.

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7 Scout

A Scout Rogue aims an arrow in Dungeons and Dragons

When it comes to a balanced ranged combatant and survivalist in one, Rogue Scouts are a solid subclass to play with in the iconic folkloric tabletop RPG. Rogue Scouts function best as sneak attackers, bounty hunters, and undetected spies who use the natural environment to their own advantage, although they are less powerful in close combat and for DPS attacks than in ranged combat.

With the ability to alert their party of impending danger and the ability to fight in ranged combat, Scouts use such powerful skills as Ambush Master, Sudden Strike, and Skirmisher to use their Nature and Survival skills to outwit and overpower their enemies at once. While some find Scout Rogues a bit too straightforward, they perform well in any campaign.

6 Thief

A rogue thief scales a castle wall in Dungeons and Dragons

A classic Rogue archetype, Rogue Thieves are the absolute best at looting, lockpicking, hijacking, backstabbing, and every type of action relating to secrecy and stolen property. Most players choose to play as a Rogue for these qualities in the first place, but the Thief’s lackluster combat skills leave a lot to be desired when fighting enemies on the battlefield.

The most impressive powers attained by Rogue Thieves include climbing, skulking, disabling traps, and using magic items stolen from various characters regardless of who they’re taken from. The Thief also boasts Fast Hands, an effective skill that allows them to pilfer items woth ease and take advantage of the Use an Object action. Alas, the feature can’t be used with magical items, which detracts from the subclass’ overall power.

5 Swashbuckler

A rogue swashbuckler hangs from a ledge in Dungeons and Dragons

While some prefer Rogue Scouts to Rogue Swashbucklers because they tend to be hit less often in combat, the latter subclass is an absolute beast when it comes to a lethal fighting force. Most Rogues are poor fighters in close quarters combat, but Swashbucklers are powerfully adept at both close and ranged combat, using immense speed and skillful swordplay to toy with enemies.

With subclass Features that bolster the Swashbuckler’s sneak attacks, the subclass also has a slew of mobility options when they aren’t attacking that helps them duck, dodge, and sidestep enemy attacks. With their Panache taunting ability and Rakish Audacity skill that allows them to bolster sneak attacks on adjacent enemies, Swashbucklers combine melee acumen with Precision and Charisma skills to create an impressive balance of power.

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4 Phantom

A rogue phantom kneels on a rooftop in Dungeons and Dragons

Most D&D gamers agree that Phantoms have the most original flavors of any Rogue subclass. Much of their power derives from Tokens of the Departed, the ability to take Soul Trinkets from the deceased and use them to gain extra damage or to ask the dead key questions. Alas, as a non-spellcasting class, the overall scope of their power is somewhat limited unless casting for a Cleric.

Thanks to their Whispers from the Dead and Wails From the Grave features, Rogue Phantoms serve as a jack of all trades that can turn into a ghost, roam freely to spy and sneak up on enemies, and can even deal necrotic damage to enemies when least expected, giving them ultra-powerful and multifaceted Rogue qualities that are more unique than most in the subclass.

3 Assassin

A rogue assassin holds a knife in Dungeons and Dragons

By trade, Assassins must be as stealthy as possible to do their job efficiently. As such, the deadly Rogue subclass is as lethal as it sounds, trained only to deal as much damage to enemies as possible without regard for the consequences. At one with the shadows at all times, Assassins are highly adept at infiltration, killing classic low-level Dungeons & Dragons monsters and high-ranking baddies alike, and getting away scot-free.

While their role is fairly straightforward and often one-dimensional, the sheer power Assassins obtain through their almighty features is as punishing as they come. The Assassinate feature allows the subclass to coyly strike with Critical force, the Death Strike feature doubles the damage rate of sneak attacks inflicted on enemies, and perhaps most advantageous, the Imposter feature enables Assassins to mimic characters, which makes infiltrating enemy territory much easier and safer.

2 Arcane Trickster

An Arcane Trickster cast a spell in Dungeons and Dragons

Those looking to add unique magical sorcery to their Rogue characters ought to explore the Arcane Trickster subclass, a crafty, cunning, and deeply deceptive mastery of trickery that has very few weaknesses. As the only Rogue subclass with a Spell List, the magical acumen and sleight of hand the Arcane Trickster showcases gives them a massive leg up on the others as a wicked half-caster.

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While beginners of the classic fantasy RPG may find Arcane Tricksters a bit too hard to control, expert gamers will take their party to the next level by using the subclasses’ awesome bag of tricks. For example, they can steal spells from others, cast magical ambushes while hidden, and use the awesome Mage Hand Legerdemain to magically pilfer items from across the room and use them against enemies.

1 Soulknife

A rogue soulknife reads a letter in Dungeons and Dragons

The Soulknife is the strongest Rogue subclass in the game. Using ultra-powerful Psionic abilities in unison with their immense mechanical qualities and bountiful flavor, the supremely balanced Rogue subclass uses Psionic Energy dice rolls to determine precisely how to wield their powers, giving them much more control than the others.

Furthermore, with the almighty Psionic Powers and Psionic Blades features, Soulknives use immense mind power to fight mentally and physically, overpowering most enemies who can only do one or other. Soulknives are equally adept at ranged and melee distances, and thanks to their Rend Mind feature, they can control the minds of the enemies and manipulate them as seen fit. If that wasn’t enough, Soulknives can become totally invisible for one hour using their Psychic Veil feature, ensuring the lack of detection when infiltrating enemy territory.

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