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Pathfinder - The Unchained Rogue Handbook

Last Updated: October 15, 2018


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Temporary Note: Paizo has recently discontinued support of their official SRD. From this point forward SRD links on RPGBOT.net will instead link to d20PFSRD.com. While Archive of Nethys is now Paizo's officially licensed partner for the purposes of serving the Pathfinder SRD, Archive of Nethys is a horribly designed website and it simply doesn't match d20PFSRD's ability to keep pace with published content and d20PFSRD's search functionality.

If you encounter any links which still point to the old SRD, please email me so that I can correct them. I also recently added a page explaining my supported content which you may find helpful. --September 15, 2018


The Rogue is a staple of DnD-style games, but as Pathfinder has grown, the vanilla Rogue has been left behind in a lot of ways. In the core rulebook, the Rogue was the unmatched master of stealth, skill, and surprise attacks. Over time these masteries have been eclipsed by other classes which overcame a lot of the issues which Rogues faces in core. The Unchained Rogue addresses many of Rogue's biggest pain points, and gives the Rogue enough new and unique abilities to make it interesting in the face of all of the other exciting base classes.

This guide is for the Unchained Rogue. For the vanilla Rogue, see my Rogue Handbook.

What's New?

The Unchained Rogue has some shiny new abilities added or reworked from the vanilla Rogue. Here's a quick list of the new/updated features, but see "Unchained Rogue Class Features" below for more information.

Rogue Class Features

Hit Points: At d8 hit points, the Rogue is fairly squishy. Because many Rogues work best in melee, hit points are a serious concern and Rogues need to be sure to keep their AC high.

Base Attack Bonus: 2/3 BAB is difficult because many Rogues depend on two-weapon fighting, but flanking and high Dexterity can make up the deficit. Debilitating Injury also allow you debuff and enemy's AC, which can go a long way to compensate for your relatively low BAB.

Saves: Good Reflex saves, high Dexterity, and Evasion make the Rogue exceptionally good at Reflex saves, but they often have issues with Fortitude and Will saves.

Proficiencies: Limited to simple weapons, hand crossbows, and a handful of martial weapons, Rogues have very few options. Fortunately, they get all of the ones that they really need to get by.

Skills: 8+ skill ranks and the longest class skill list in the game. Rogues can do a lot of things, but even with 8+ skill ranks it can still be difficult to cover all of the essentials. Be sure to coordinate with your party to know you're going to need to invest your skill ranks.

Sneak Attack: A pile of d6's to drop on your foes. Sneak Attack is the Rogue's primary source of damage, but because it can be hard to bring into play, Rogues occasionally find themselves useless in combat. Unchained Rogue's version of Sneak Attack notably allows you to Sneak Attack targets with concealment, though you sitll can't Sneak Attack creatures with total concealment.

Trapfinding: The bonus to disarming traps is good, but the ability to disarm magical traps is the key component of this feature.

Finesse Training (Ex): One of the most important additions to the Unchained Rogue, Finesse Training give you Weapon Finesse for free at first level, and an effect similar to Slashing Grace at 3rd level. Ranged Rogues will mostly only see this as a fun backup ability when they're force into melee, but melee Rogues will save themselves a required feat, and the 3rd-level ability nets them a massive boost to damage.

Evasion (Ex): With your high reflex saves, Evasion will save you from a lot of damage.

Rogue Talents: Basically Rogue-only feats, Rogue Talents offer a huge number of excellent ways to customize and improve your Rogue. For help picking talents, see my Unchained Rogue Talents Breakdown.

Danger Sense (Ex): A minor improvement over Trap Sense, but the bonus is small and scales very slowly.

Debilitating Injury (Ex): A fantastic rider effect which you add to your Sneak Attacks. Remember that you can only apply one penalty to a target at a time, but your successive attacks will each add an additional round to the duration, which gives you some nice padding if you can't hit the target for a round or two for some reason.

Uncanny Dodge: The ability to never be caught flat-footed is nice, but somewhat situational. If you are expecting to be attacked, you can do silly things like using Full Defense every round until you get attacked.

Improved Uncanny Dodge: This will basically never come up.

Advanced Talents: Add an extra list of considerably better Rogue Talents.

Master Strike: Basically the Assassin's Death Strike ability. This ability is fine, but Ninjas and Slayers can take it as a talent at level 11.

Compatible Archetypes

Because the Unchained Rogue's abilities are mostly the same as the vanilla Rogue's, most Rogue archetypes are compatible. The only questionable part is the change from Trap Sense to Danger Sense. Because Danger Sense is strictly better than Trap Sense (it's Trap Sense with an additional Perception bonus), any reasonable GM should allow you to use Danger Sense in place of Trap Sense because you're giving up more for the same benefits.

For more on Rogue Archetypes, see my Rogue Archetypes Breakdown.


The Rogue is very frequently MAD, especially if the party has very few other skills and no Face.

Str: Only useful for a bit of damage, and Rogues depend almost exclusively on Sneak Attack for damage. Dump to 8, but don't dump to 7 unless you really need the extra points.

Dex: In light armor, Dexterity is absolutely crucial. All but the strangest Rogue builds depend on Weapon Finesse or ranged weapons, so make sure to put a lot of resources into dexterity.

Con: Essential for Fortitude saves and hit points, especially if you're in melee.

Int: Essential for skill ranks. 8+ seems like a lot, but it's nowhere near enough.

Wis: Essential for Will saves.

Cha: A little bit of Charisma is great if you plan to play a Face, but otherwise you can dump Charisma to 7.

25 Point Buy 20 Point Buy 15 Point Buy Elite Array
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 18
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 11
  • Cha: 12
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 17
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 11
  • Cha: 12
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 16
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 10
  • Cha: 10
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 15
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 13
  • Wis: 10
  • Cha: 12


Bonuses to Dexterity are essential, and bonuses to Intelligence or skills are nice too. Darkvision is especially nice at low levels before you can get Darkvision from spells.

Dwarf: Not particularly well-suited to the Rogue, but Darkvision is certainly tempting.

Elf: Bonuses to Dexterity and Intelligence are fantastic, and some of the Elf's other racial abilities are helpful. The Elf favored class bonus adds additional uses to the minor magic and major magic talents, but unless you really plan to use those talents it won't matter.

Gnome: The penalty to strength hurts our damage a little bit, but small size doesn't hurt rogues much, and provides nice bonuses to Stealth, attacks, and AC. The bonus Charisma helps a bit, though not as much as a bonus to dexterity. The slow speed also hurts a bit, but can be overcome with items, and careful positioning.

Half-Elf: The flexible ability score bonus goes into Dexterity, but many of the other racial traits can be swapped out for more useful options. The Half-Elf favored class bonus is garbage, so take the Elf or Human favored class bonuses instead.

Half-Orc: The flexible ability score bonus goes into Dexterity, the bonus to Intimidate is a nice perk, and you get Darkvision. The favored class bonus is garbage.

Halfling: Bonuses to Dexterity and Charisma make the Halfling a natural Rogue. The Fleet of Foot alternate racial trait allows you to overcome the slow speed, and the bonus to Perception is welcome on any character. The bonus to saves also helps improve the Rogue's weak defenses. Unfortunately, the favored class bonus is terrible.

Human: As usual, the Human is a great option. A bonus feat and an extra skill rank per level open up a ton of great options, and the flexible ability score bonus can go right into Dexterity. The favored class bonus grants additional Rogue Talents, which adds a lot of great options.






Armor is presented in the order in which you should acquire it, rather than alphabetical order. Magic armor is covered below in the Magic Items section.

Magic Items





Wondrous Items

Permanent Spells