The Best Rogue Builds For Beginners In Pathfinder 2e

Rogues are the classic scoundrels of Pathfinder. With a focus on sneaky tricks and methodical, high-damage attacks, a Rogue is a valuable member to any party. Whether you need to get somewhere you aren’t supposed to be or pick off a dangerous foe before they can become a threat, the Rogue has the skills to make it happen.


THEGAMER VIDEO OF THE DAY

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

Related: Pathfinder 2e: How To Build A Fighter

Despite being a fairly focused class compared to many of the other options in Pathfinder, Rogues have multiple build options that let you specialize in a particular aspect of your criminal lifestyle. Pick the build that’s right for you below.

All the builds in this guide exclusively use options available in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook. You may find Feats or other powers in other sourcebooks, so don’t be afraid to experiment!


Ability Scores

Quest For The Frozen Flame From Pathfinder 2e
Art via Paizo Inc

No matter which Racket you choose for your character, a Rogue’s highest Ability Score should always be Dexterity. Most of your key Skills rely on Dexterity, it benefits the weapons that you’ll be using, and it helps keep you alive by boosting your Armor Class.

If you’re choosing the Ruffian Racket, Strength is actually more important than Dexterity, but that’s the exception rather than the rule.

After Dexterity, Strength and Charisma should be second and third. The exact order will depend on your Racket (see below). Wisdom will benefit many of your Skills as well, so it’s worth trying to at least squeeze a +1 into it if you can manage it.

Ancestry

Agents Of Edgewatch From Pathfinder 2e
Art via Paizo Inc

Many of the Ancestries in Pathfinder make excellent Rogues, as Dexterity is one of the most common Ancestry Boosts.

Elves and Humans make great all-around Rogues, and can excel in any Racket. Halflings also fit the bill, though their lower Strength means they should pick the Scoundrel or Thief Racket instead of Ruffian.

Goblins and Half-Elves are well-suited to the Scoundrel racket, the former thanks to their ability boosts and the latter for their ability to take the Charm spell as a feat later on. They can also do quite well as Thieves.

Half-Orcs make the best Ruffians thanks to their Ancestry Feats and their Human versatility.

Equipment

Pathfinder character surrounded by three enemies
Surrounded by Kate Burmak

Most Rogues will use a similar suite of equipment. Since you won’t be wearing expensive armor, it’s important to have both melee and ranged weapons so that you can threaten enemies from wherever you are.

Daggers and Hatchets are fairly inexpensive and can serve as both melee and ranged weapons. If you prefer to focus on close combat, a Rapier offers the best damage potential overall, while a Main Gauche has a ton of utility thanks to its many Traits.

A Star Knife is an extremely versatile weapon in the hands of a Rogue, but building up a stockpile of them for throwing can be expensive. Consider spending the spoils of your first big heist on a set!

Leather Armor offers the best protection and shouldn’t impede your Dexterity Bonus. If your Dexterity Bonus ends up reaching +5 or higher, though, you’ll actually be better off going unarmored and relying on your speed to dodge attacks!

Related: The Best One-Shot Adventures For Pathfinder 2e

Backgrounds And Feats: Thief

Jen Santos Complicated Plan Pathfinder
Complicated Plan via Jen Santos 

Thieves rely on Dexterity even more than most Rogues, as they can use their Dexterity Bonus instead of Strength when calculating damage with Finesse weapons. Mobility and damage are the two key strengths of the Thief Racket in combat. The Acrobat, Criminal, Prisoner, and Street Urchin Backgrounds all offer Feats that can prove especially useful.

Level

Feat (Choose One)

Reason

1

  • Trap Finder makes it easier to avoid and disarm traps when you’re somewhere you aren’t supposed to be.
  • Twin Feint lets you make two attacks against the same target, setting up a Sneak Attack with the second.

2

  • Mobility
  • Unbalancing Blow
  • Mobility lets you move without triggering reactions.
  • Unbalancing Blow causes your critical hits to make foes flat-footed, setting them up for Sneak Attacks.

4

  • Lets you move along with an enemy that tries to get away from you.

6

  • Lets you ignore difficult terrain.

8

  • Lets you deal extra damage, even without Sneak Attacks.

10

  • You can no longer fail Sneak actions (but can still critically fail).

12

  • Lets you jump as part of an attack.

14

  • You can still detect the presence of hidden creatures after failing a Seek action, though you won’t know their location.

16

  • Lets you briefly walk on air, water, or things that otherwise wouldn’t hold your weight.

18

  • Effectively lets you move through thin walls.
  • Requires the Quick Squeeze General Feat.

20

  • Hidden Paragon
  • Impossible Striker
  • Hidden Paragon lets you become completely invisible with a Hide action.
  • If you have Sly Striker, Impossible Striker lets you deal full Sneak Attack damage even if your target isn’t flat-footed.

Backgrounds And Feats: Scoundrel

Pathfinder Circus Performers Leading People Into Tent

Scoundrels should prioritize Charisma over Strength, as their focus will be on manipulating, fast-talking, and lying their way out of tricky situations. Scoundrels make heavy use of the Feint action to set up their opponents for Sneak Attacks.

At Rogue Level 9, you’ll get access to a key reaction called Debilitating Strike. Use it to weaken your enemies whenever you successfully hit them with Sneak Attack!

Outside of combat, social Backgrounds like Barkeep, Barrister, Charlatan, Gambler, or Merchant all give the Scoundrel excellent opportunities to make use of their silver tongue.

Level

Feat (Choose One)

Reason

1

  • Helps keep you out of danger by giving you an AC bonus.

2

  • Your Feints also give the target a penalty to Perception checks and Reflex Saves.

4

  • Lets you ask the GM about enemy strengths and weaknesses.

6

  • Lets you deal persistent bleed damage after hitting a target with a Sneak Attack.

8

  • Lets you move after an enemy misses you with an attack.

10

  • Improves your Debilitating Strike to allow you to prevent the target from flanking or from using Reactions.

12

  • Improves your Debilitating Strike, giving you a chance to slow or even paralyze your opponents.

14

  • Lets you reduce the damage of an attack that would drop your hit points to zero, potentially saving you.

16

  • Cognitive Loophole
  • Perfect Distraction
  • Cognitive Loophole lets you shake off mental effects temporarily.
  • Perfect Distraction lets your Sneak actions also cast Mislead, even if you don’t know that spell.

18

  • Lets you prepare a 4th-Level or lower spell (even one that you don’t know) to trigger under a specific condition decided on by you.

20

  • Reactive Distraction
  • Hidden Paragon
  • If you have Perfect Distraction, you can use it to force an opponent to attack your decoy instead of you.
  • Hidden Paragon lets you become invisible with the Hide action.

Backgrounds And Feats: Ruffian

Pathfinder Tavern Brawl

The Ruffian Racket focuses more on brute force and intimidation than stealth and trickery. Focus on building up your Strength and Charisma as you level to make the best use of your Racket. The Gladiator, Guard, and Warrior Backgrounds are all great choices for a Ruffian.

In combat, a Ruffian should focus on a single enemy and beat them down before moving on to the next one. Since you can equip a wider range of gear than Scoundrels or Thieves, consider upgrading to medium armor if your Dexterity Score is only +1 or +2, and switching to a Mace or Morning Star for more consistent damage. A Buckler could also be useful.

Level

Feat (Choose One)

Reason

1

  • Lets you attempt to Demoralize an opponent after defeating an enemy.

2

  • Your Strikes inflict Frightened status if they deal damage.

4

  • Lets you count Frightened enemies as flat-footed, allowing Sneak Attacks.

6

  • Lets you Step before or after a Strike.

8

  • Lets you deal extra damage to enemies, even if they aren’t flat-footed.

10

  • Improves Debilitating Strike to let you inflict Weakness or Clumsy.

12

  • Lets you get the drop on an unsuspecting enemy, remaining hidden until after you attack them.

14

  • Your critical hits against flat-footed opponents let a nearby ally make an Attack Of Opportunity.

16

  • Lets you remove spells affecting your targets.

18

  • Upgrades your Sneak Attack dice to match your weapon’s damage dice.

20

  • Your attacks deal full Sneak Attack damage, even if the target isn’t flat-footed.

Next: The Best Adventure Paths For Pathfinder 2e

Leave a Comment