The rogue, originally known as the thief, is a character class in Dungeons & Dragons. They cannot cast spells, but are experts in stealth.


Notable rogues and thievesEdit

For a complete list, see Category:Rogues.

Publication historyEdit

The class was known as the thief until D&D third edition (2000), where it became known as the rogue.

Original D&DEdit

The thief was not added to Dungeons & Dragons until the release of Supplement I: Greyhawk (1975), although an early version of the class appeared in a May 1974 issue of Great Plains Games Players Newsletter.[1]

In the Greyhawk supplement, thieves have the ability to open locks, remove small traps, listen for noise, move stealthily, pick pockets, hide in shadows, "strike silently from behind", and climb nearly sheer surfaces; the success rate of these abilities increases with level. They can wear leather armor and wield magic daggers or swords.

The thief's most potent combat ability is to gain +4 to hit and deal double damage whenever they can "strike silently from behind", with the damage multiplier increasing at level 5 and every 4th level afterward. As they progress in level, thieves gain the ability to read most languages (useful for reading treasure maps) and understand magical scrolls.

Characters of any race may be thieves, with no level limit, and they may be any alignment except lawful. They are physically weak, having d4 hit dice.

AD&D 1st editionEdit

Thieves in AD&D appear in the Players Handbook (1978).

They retain most of their original abilities, with minor adjustments to percentage chances of success and the level at which abilities are gained. Additionally, they now explicitly have the ability to find traps, not just merely disarm them, and can learn thieves' cant, a language exclusive to thieves. At level 10, thieves gain the ability to set up a base of operations.

Thieves tend to be evil, but may be of any neutral or evil alignment. Thieves now have d6 hit dice. Their ability to strike silently from behind is now known as "back stabbing", and the damage multiplier applies even if the opponent is not surprised.

AD&D introduced the assassin, a specialist subclass of thief with the abilities to use poison and disguises, and a percentage chance to instantly kill when they back stab.

AD&D 2nd editionEdit

The thief class appears in the AD&D 2nd edition Player's Handbook (1989). It is considered a subtype of "rogue", a category which also include the bard.

Instead of a table of percentage chances for thief skills, thieves now have a base percentage chance for each of the eight thief skills, 60 additional points to spread between them at character creation, and 30 points every time the character levels up. Wearing armor penalizes the character's skills.

D&D 3rd editionEdit

In D&D third edition, the thief class was renamed to rogue. It appears in the Player's Handbook (2000).

Rogues have d6 hit dice, average base attack bonus, and good Reflex saves. They have the most skill points of any standard class, typically spent on what earlier editions of the game called rogue skills, like Move Silently and Disable Device.

Their main offensive ability is sneak attack, similar to the back stab of earlier editions but now deals bonus damage dice rather than a multiplier, and applies when flanking an opponent or in numerous conditions where the enemy's guard is down.

As they level up, rogues gain various abilities to dodge and avoid damage, increased sneak attack damage, and various optional attack abilities.

Thieves' Cant was replaced with the Innuendo skill. In D&D 3.5 (2003), the Innuendo skill was removed in favor of uses of Bluff and Sense Motive.

D&D 4th editionEdit

D&D 5th editionEdit

Rogues appear in the D&D 5th edition Player's Handbook (2014).

The rogue retains many iconic abilities from D&D third edition, including sneak attack (bonus dice of damage against an opponent if you have advantage), evasion (avoid area attacks) and uncanny dodge (avoid melee attacks). They also recover thieves' cant from AD&D.

Rogues now have d8 hit dice, and gain the ability to move or hide for free each around. They can specialize in skills. At level 3, they can further customize the class by selecting a roguish archetype: the traditional thief, the deadly assassin, and the magic-using arcane trickster.

Creative originsEdit

D&D creator Gary Gygax credits the idea of the thief class to Gary Switzer, a D&D player who suggested the idea in 1974.[1] Its literary inspirations included Fritz Leiber's Gray Mouser series, and other fantasy thieves.

"The Thief was based on Jack of Shadows (Zelazny) and Cugel (Vance) with a touch of REH’s Conan, rather than solely on the Gray Mouser. Mouser was too good a swordsman to serve as the pure model."
— Gary Gygax, Q&A with Gary Gygax part 5, ENWorld (2004).


  1. 1.0 1.1 Gygax's "The Thief Addition" (1974) , Playing at the World (2012).
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