When it comes to creating a character, some players are here to tell a story, and others are here to play a game and win it with the highest “score” possible.
While most players fall in between the two sides, knowing whether or not your cool, new build is actually viable is on most players’ minds.
Tabaxi Rogues have a solid mechanical background that puts them at the forefront for choices for players who want to balance roleplay and mechanical prowess.
Tabaxi are bipedal cat-like humanoids. In general, Tabaxi are very reclusive. They travel in tribes and very rarely interact outside of their tribe.
While they may trade between tribes and other groups, they view this as a negative mark against their tribe, preferring to stay self-sufficient.
They’re the Cat God’s servants, each blessed with a special skill. The Tabaxi you meet outside of Tabaxi tribes have been blessed with the gift of curiosity from the Cat God.
The gift of curiosity compels the Tabaxi to wander from their homes during their formative years and bring back information and tales from other lands.
Tabaxi are almost always chaotic, caring little for the world’s ways, but they are rarely evil. However, they will go above and beyond to sate their curiosity for the tales and artifacts of other nations.
In this reckless curiosity lies some of the most compelling roleplay for Tabaxi Rogues.
They’re not above working outside of the law to get what they want and very rarely take “no” for an answer when they’ve become fixated on an object or tale.
Rogues are the sneaky edgelords of the shadows. Rogue in 5th Edition is a Dexterity-based Damage Class with a wide variety of support and utility, making them easily one of the best classes you can pick.
Much like the Wizard, there’s nothing in the DPS wheelhouse that Rogues can’t do, and they can even spec slightly into supporting, much like Abjuration Wizards.
Rogues do pack it all and are possibly the best catch-all class for people who don’t know what they want to do yet besides maybe Bard. There’s nothing that Rogues are evil at.
Even Rogues who don’t want to cross-class Wizard can take the Arcane Trickster archetype to access upwards of 5th-level Wizard spells without sacrificing their capstone.
Sneak Attack is the Rogue’s primary damage-dealing trait. It gives bonus damage to Rogues when they have advantage on an attack. The damage scales up with level and represents Rogues’ primary method of damage dealing.
Expertise allows players to double their proficiency bonus in specific chosen skills. Rogues get Expertise options for any skills they have proficiency with. They get two Expertise skills at 1st level and two more at 6th level.
Once you reach the 11th level, you can’t roll lower than a 10 as long as you have proficiency in a skill. Any rolls of a nine or lower will be treated as a 10.
You’ll get proficiency in Wisdom Saving throws starting at 15th level.
Stroke of Luck
This is the Rogue’s capstone ability. It is… perfect, to say the least. Starting the 20th level, if you miss an attack, you can choose to hit instead, or if you fail a skill check, you can choose to take a natural 20 instead!
You can only do it once per long rest, but that’s insanely good nonetheless.
Roguish Archetypes become available to Rogues starting at the 3rd level. There were nine published Roguish Archetypes at the time of writing this article.
We’ll discuss what each archetype provides and how it synergizes with the Tabaxi race.
Arcane Trickster is a tremendous Roguish Archetype in general, but even more so for the curious Tabaxi.
The archetype allows the Rogue to choose spells from the Wizard spell list and provides spell slots up to the 5th level, allowing them a taste of Wizardry without sacrificing their capstone.
Assassin is an overall perfect archetype. It packs excellent single-target damage, especially against surprised enemies. It also features infiltration and mimicry skills to assist the Assassin’s sneaky endeavors.
However, this archetype doesn’t fit in with the Tabaxi roleplay as they’re rarely evil and would be more suited to a life of petty crime than one of back-alley murder.
Thief is a great vanilla Rogue class, and it goes very well with the Tabaxi race.
Tabaxi are known for getting their hands on relics and artifacts by any means possible, which means that the Thief archetype works well with their modus operandi within the world.
Thief also provides bonuses to set up ambushes with solid damage-dealing capabilities.
Inquisitive Rogue is a great roleplay class for Tabaxi players. Inquisitive Rogues get a bonus to Perception, which fits well with the Tabaxi aesthetic.
Using their superior feline senses, Inquisitive Rogue Tabaxi find their stride as spies and infiltrators. They don’t get any archetype-based damage until the 17th level, which can turn off players looking for a purely DPS-build.
Mastermind is the supervillain Rogue. These Rogues have the potential to command vast networks of underground ne’er-do-wells and schooze their way in and out of the situations they need to be in.
Ultimately, it doesn’t jive with the Tabaxi modus operandi and may leave the player at odds with their allies more often than some other archetypes.
Phantom is a perfect class that doesn’t jive with the Tabaxi aesthetic. Phantoms are ghosts in human bodies. They get bonus damage and the ability to walk in the space between life and death.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a roleplay class, Phantom isn’t necessarily the best roleplay class for Tabaxi players, but this won’t conflict with the racial culture the way Mastermind might.
Scout is a perfect roleplay class for Tabaxi. Scouts are feral children whom wolves raised… or something. They’re excellent survivalists who can produce good results with very little since they can live off the land.
This is a perfect class for Tabaxi, who value self-sufficiency above all things.
Soulknife is a perfect class but just doesn’t fit with the Tabaxi vibe and some of the other Roguish Archetypes. In short, Soulknife is the Psionic Rogue with bonus psychic damage and is complete with psionic powers.
Swashbucklers are the most fantastic kids you know. Swashbucklers get Panache, Fancy Footwork, and a mishmash of dueling buffs.
The class doesn’t have any particular synergy with the Tabaxi race but is generally considered pretty good overall.
Is Tabaxi Rogue Good?
Tabaxi Rogues have a solid mechanical background because the Tabaxi race gives a +2 bonus to Dexterity and Rogues are a Dexterity-based class. Tabaxi Rogues get great use out of the Feline Agility trait.
Additionally, since the Tabaxi’s claws can be used to scale walls, Rogues will be able to get to better vantage points for combat or just general thievery.
How To Play: Tabaxi Rogue
Honestly, it doesn’t get more straightforward than Tabaxi Rogues. Rogues are a very straightforward class to build, and Fifth Edition made them even more straightforward to get the most out of the class.
You’ll want to put your highest Ability Score into Dexterity for starters. You could start with 20 Dexterity for people rolling their stats if you rolled an 18.
Standard Array and Point Buy either put a 14 into Dexterity and begin with a 16 or put the 15 into it and start with 17.
Your starting stats should be even numbers rather than odd ones since you only get a modifier point on an even number when choosing your stats.
So, if you are okay with sinking more Ability Score Increases into Dexterity, you can start with a 14, which will be boosted to 16 by your racial trait.
If you’d rather reach your Ability Score benchmark faster and start sinking into feats, begin with the 15 (increased to 17) so you can get there with just 1.5 ASIs instead of needing two full ones.
You’ll need to wield weapons since the Tabaxi’s claws rely on Strength, and you’ll want a finesse weapon that allows you to use your high Dexterity score directly as your damage modifier.
In this way, the Tabaxi race meshes a little bit better with the Monk class since Natural Weapons — like the Tabaxi’s claws — are considered Monk Weapons.
Daggers are among the best bets for the Tabaxi Rogue, along with rapiers and short-swords.
If you’re looking to deal more damage at a range, consider crossbows or a regular longbow. Really, any Dexterity or finesse weapon will do.
As far as archetypes go, Swashbuckler is Rogues’ most comprehensive combat archetype. You really can’t go wrong with it if you’re using melee weapons.
Thief is an excellent option for Tabaxi, who are in the market to separate some shinies from their owners.
If you’re looking to get a little bit of spellcasting ability — maybe you have the mystical wizard-less party — Arcane Trickster is an excellent option for Tabaxi who will want to learn the lore of the land as they travel.
Tabaxi Monk vs. Tabaxi Rogue
Tabaxi Monks will have more significant raw damage because they’re not reliant on weaponry. Should the Tabaxi Monk be disarmed, they can just punch and scratch their way to victory.
Since all natural weapons are considered Monk weapons, it also boosts the Tabaxi’s claws by making them finesse-able.
However, Rogues are just better than Monks in almost every way. Monks do what Monks do better than Rogues do it, but Rogues just have more options available to them in the metagame.
Tabaxi make better Monks than they do Rogues, but Rogues are just better than Monks on paper.
This is not to say Monks can’t excel and that Monks are bad so much as it is to say that Rogues might be “too” good…
Choosing a class and race combination that suits you is an integral part of tabletop gaming. You’ll want your character to both represent you and help you fulfill the fantasy role you wish to explore.
As always, the most crucial factor to consider is whether or not something will be fun for you and your allies.
It doesn’t matter how much time and thought you put into your character if you end up hogging all the spotlight and making life miserable for your friends!
Talk to your party members and DM to get a good idea of whether or not your character will fit the tone and atmosphere of the campaign.