Basic Combat Rogue Guide (3.5e Guide)

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Author: Ghostwheel (talk)
Date Created: August 15th, 2009
Status: Complete
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Introduction[edit]

Your basic combat rogue build with many variants to show off the possibilities.

References[edit]

Game Rule Components[edit]

Progression[edit]

Race: Halfling (alternatively, Whisper Gnome if Races of Stone is allowed)

ECL Class/HD/LA Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Feats Class
Features
Special
Fort Ref Will
1st Rogue 1 +0 +0 +2 +0 Two-Weapon Fighting Sneak Attack +1d6, Trapfinding
2nd Swashbuckler 1 +1 +2 +2 +0 Weapon Finesse
3rd Rogue 2 +2 +2 +3 +0 Optional Evasion
4th Rogue 3 +3 +3 +3 +1 Sneak Attack +2d6, Trap Sense +1
5th Rogue 4 +4 +3 +4 +1 Uncanny Dodge
6th Swashbuckler 2 +5 +4 +4 +1 Daring Outlaw Dodge Bonus +1, Grace +1, Sneak Attack +3d6
7th Swashbuckler 3 +6 +4 +5 +2 Insightful Strike, Sneak Attack +4d6
8th Swashbuckler 4 +7 +5 +5 +2
9th Swashbuckler 5 +8 +5 +5 +2 Improved Two-Weapon Fighting Sneak Attack +5d6
10th Swashbuckler 6 +9 +6 +6 +3 Dodge Bonus +2
11th Swashbuckler 7 +10 +6 +6 +3 Acrobatic Charge, Grace +2, Sneak Attack +6d6
12th Swashbuckler 8 +11 +7 +6 +3 Greater Two-Weapon Fighting Improved Flanking
13th Swashbuckler 9 +12 +7 +7 +4 Sneak Attack +7d6
14th Swashbuckler 10 +13 +8 +7 +4
15th Swashbuckler 11 +14 +8 +7 +4 Optional Dodge Bonus +3, Lucky, Sneak Attack +8d6
16th Swashbuckler 12 +15 +9 +8 +5
17th Swashbuckler 13 +16 +9 +8 +5 Acrobatic Skill Master, Sneak Attack +9d6
18th Swashbuckler 14 +17 +10 +8 +5 Optional Weakening Critical
19th Swashbuckler 15 +18 +10 +9 +6 Sneak Attack +10d6
20th Swashbuckler 16 +19 +11 +9 +6 Dodge Bonus +4, Grace +3

At level 20: Rogue 4 / Swashbuckler 16

Optional Races[edit]

  • Thri-kreen (XPH) will net you four arms. Use them all to make more more attacks (via Multiweapon Fighting or Multiattack) which translates into more Sneak Attack damage.
    • Monster Manual 2 contains a "lesser" version of the Thri-kreen, which consists of it losing its racial Power Points and all of its Psi-Like abilities to reduce its LA from +2 to +1.
  • Kobolds get two claws attacks as well as a bite. Pick up the Dragon Tail feat (Races of the Dragon) for another natural attack.
    • Note for both of these: When using Multiattack, be sure to pick up manufactured weapons that do not require the use of hands (such as armor spikes or knee blades and elbow blades found in Complete Scoundrel) so that you may make Claw attacks with all available limbs on top of iterative attacks and two-weapon fighting.

Optional Feats[edit]

  • Craven (Champions of Ruin) to add more sneak attack damage
  • Improved Buckler Defense (Complete Warrior) for more AC
  • Two-Weapon Defense line for more AC
  • Shadow Blade (Tome of Battle) to add dex to damage
  • Deepspawn (Lords of Madness) for more attacks per round
  • Snap Kick (Tome of Battle) for more attacks per round
  • Vexing Flanker (Player's Handbook 2) for for a higher attack bonus when flanking
  • Telling Blow (Player's Handbook 2) when combined with a keen kukri will let you Sneak Attack more often
  • Sacred Strike (Book of Exalted Deeds) upgrades your sneak attack dice from d6 do d8 against evil creatures
  • Staggering Strike (Complete Adventurer) will limit your foes to a single standard action
  • Go Human or Changeling and pick up Able Learner (Races of Destiny) to have the opportunity to maintain high trapfinding skills (Search, Disable Device) throughout your progression
  • Surprising Riposte, especially when combined with Scarlet Corsair or Invisible Blade, can be really good for combining full attacks with feints

Optional Items[edit]

  • Sword of Subtlety is a steal, giving you massive boosts when Sneak Attacking
  • Rogue's Vest (Magic Item Compendium) for an extra 1d6 Sneak Attack damage
  • Bracers of the Hunter (Secrets of Xen'drik) for an extra 1d6 Sneak Attack damage
  • Deadly Precision enhancement (Magic Item Compendium) for an extra 1d6 damage when Sneak Attacking
  • Blurstrike enhancement (Magic Item Compendium) to easily Sneak Attack when alone
  • Deathstrike Bracers (Magic Item Compendium) to Sneak Attack foes that you couldn't normally hurt
  • Use Magic Device on a wand of Hunter's Eye (Player's Handbook 2) for more sneak attack damage
  • Use Magic Device on a wand of Wraithstrike (Spell Compendium) to target Touch AC
  • Use Magic Device on a wand of Grave Strike, Vine Strike, or Golem Strike to sneak attack Undead, Plants, or Constructs respectively. (Found in Complete Adventurer and Spell Compendium)

Optional Classes[edit]

  • Pick up the Penetrating Strike alternate class feature in Dungeonscape to Sneak Attack foes normally immune
    • A lesser form of this (only works on Undead) is Death's Ruin found in Complete Champion
  • The Shield of Blades alternate class feature in Player's Handbook 2 will net you extra AC whenever you attack with both weapons
  • Two levels of Swordsage (Tome of Battle) will net you wisdom to AC when in light armor, Weapon Focus, open up the ability to take the Shadow Blade feat, and net you some sweet maneuvers, especially if you take the first after level 4 and the second at level 8 or 9. These include...
    • Adding 1d6+IL to all attacks in a round (Burning Blade)
    • Attacking with both weapons as a standard action (Wolf Fang Strike)
    • A short-range teleport (Shadow Jaunt)
    • Shoring up a low saving throw modifier if you invest in Concentration (Moment of Perfect Mind, Mind Over Body, Action Before Thought)
    • The ability to use Greater Invis that lasts during your turn for free Sneak Attack (Cloak of Deception)
    • Being able to flank alone through the use of a summoned flanker (Distracting Ember)
    • Allowing you to move as a swift action so you can continue full-attacking (Sudden Leap)
    • The ability to easily flank when you and an ally are adjacent to the same foe (!!!) (Island of Blades)
    • Gaining an extra +2d6 Sneak Attack when you flank normally and don't require Island of Blades (Assassin's Stance)
  • Following Swordsage, two levels in Bloodclaw Master may be an option to eliminate the penalties from Two-Weapon Fighting, though you lose one BAB and 1d6 Sneak Attack from doing so.
  • Invisible Blade (Complete Warrior) will continue advancing your Sneak Attack progression while giving you full BAB and some nice class features. The original author offered a change of prerequisites found here (9th post down). Basically, switch out the current feat prerequisites for Weapon Focus and Weapon Finesse.
    • Saved another version here in case the other one's taken down
  • Nightsong Enforcer, Shadowbane Inquisitor (Complete Adventurer), Scarlet Corsair (Stormwrack), and Ronin (Complete Warrior) are three other classes that advance both full BAB and Sneak Attack

Highlights[edit]

  • This build allows you to maintain a high Sneak Attack progression while keeping the high BAB needed to hit foes while under the penalty of Two-Weapon Fighting

Let's take a look at a basic combat rogue at level 20 while flanking, with the above progression. The optional feats will be Martial Study (Shadow Hand maneuver), Martial Stance (Island of Blades), and Shadow Blade. We'll be fighting with two +5 Shadow Hand Flaming Frost Corrosive Shock Swords of Subtlety. Base Dex is 16, +2 from halfling.

  • Dexterity: 16 (Base) + 2 (Racial) + 6 Item) + 5 (Level) + 5 (Tome) = 34 (+12)
  • Attack: 19 (BAB) + 12 (Dex) + 5 (Magic) + 3 (Shadow Hand) + 4 (Subtlety) + 1 (Size) - 2 (TWF) +4 (Improved Flanking) = 46/46/41/41/36/36/31
  • Damage: 1d6 (Shortsword) + 4d6+5 (Magic) + 12 (Shadow Blade) + 4 (Subtlety) + 10d6 (Sneak Attack) = 73.5 on average
  • On a full attack against an AC of 40 that's 463.05 DPR (the SA damage will be halved if the target is normally immune to Sneak Attack due to Penetrating Strike)

Combat Sequence[edit]

  • Get in close in a flanking position and full attack as much as possible

Further Optimization[edit]

  • Have a friendly caster cast Haste or Snake's Swiftness on you
  • Invest in Use Magic Device and activate wands that carry buffs. Some good buffs include...
    • Daggerspell Stance (Spell Compendium)
    • Distract Assailant (Spell Compendium)
    • Divine Agility (Spell Compendium)
    • Divine Favor
    • Divine Insight (Spell Compendium)
    • Divine Power
    • Grease to get enemies flatfooted unless they have at least 5 ranks in Balance
    • Hunter's Eye (PHB2)
    • Wraithstrike (Spell Compendium)
  • Spiritual Weapon to make Dexterity your primary ability score
  • Shielded in Life to increase your AC
  • Penetrating Strike to help damaging those creatures who are immune to Sneak Attack

Limitations[edit]

  • Creatures with a lot of DR or those immune to Sneak Attack

DM Counters[edit]

  • Usual melee defences apart from AC (illusions, concealment, distance, etc)
  • Creatures that don't stay in one place



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Ghostwheel's Homebrew (340 Articles)
Ghostwheelv
Article BalanceHigh +
AuthorGhostwheel +
Final Class ProgressionRogue 4 / Swashbuckler 16 +
Identifier3.5e Guide +
RaceHalfling +
Rated ByHavvy +
RatingRating Pending +
SummaryYour basic combat rogue build with many variants to show off the possibilities. +
TitleBasic Combat Rogue Guide +