Note: I did not write this guide. This guide was put into the Google Docs trash and it has been saved here. If you are the owner of this guide, please let me know.
Moxie: A Practical Guide to Roguing with Style
So, none of the rogue guides I know of cover all of the published material, so far, so I thought I would make one. It is heavily influenced by Rogue Eidolon’s Guide to Rogues and Jb200’s Pathfinder Ninja Guide. To be completely honest, I really made this guide because I think rogues are one of the most underpowered classes in Pathfinder, and I think they deserve more than that after countless incarnations in different roleplaying games. Basically it’s like this:
What I think rogues should be: Assassins, duelists, swashbucklers, scouts, savvy fighters who use speed, precision and intelligence instead of brute strength.
What I think rogues are: Kinda underwhelming fighters with lots of skill points.
So, as a DM, I decided made this guide to determine their exact mathematical level of underpowered-ness, so I could determine what changes, if any, could be made to remedy the situation. Fortunately for you, if you’re thinking of playing a rogue, they’re much better than I originally thought, possessing a wide variety of fairly awesome tactics and abilities to choose from. However, they still do require a bit more thought to reach their full potential than your average two-handed fighter.
Blue: Excellent, or possibly overpowered. These options are highly recommended; some I even consider “must haves” but that choice is ultimately up to you.
Green: Good choices that most characters will find useful. Strong options for filling out a build, or giving your character more utility to bring to the group.
Orange: Okay choices. Most characters will probably find some use for them, or characters will find them to be very useful rarely or only in specific circumstances. Nearly always skippable, these choices should be taken with care.
Red: Poor choices. Naturally some are worse than others, but you generally want to avoid these options if you have the chance. Generally speaking, these are options that are so useless you wouldn’t get much use out of them if you got them for free, or else there is another thing that does the same thing better, or possibly a combination of the two.
First, some general discussion on rogues. Rogues are a unique class, and not always in a good way. Rogues are the only class with 8 skill ranks per level, so clearly they are good at skills. Yet other classes are also good at skills without needing 8 skill points per level: bards, for example, getting versatile performance to spread their skill points farther, or alchemists, being likely to have higher intelligence, and both get 3/4 spellcasting which trivializes many skills. Furthermore, the role of dedicated skillmonkey cannot effectively contribute to combat encounters, which make up the majority of a normal pathfinder game. How about combat focused builds? As a fully martial class, the rogue plays a lot like a fighter, except the rogue has a lower base attack bonus and only light armor proficiency.
Seems like the rogue isn’t matching up very well, doesn’t it? What does the rogue have going for him that the other classes don’t? Well, when the rogue gets a sneak attack off he hits harder than most other martial classes in the game, and even a combat focused build has that big pile of skill points, which can be used to make sure your party is ready for any encounter. Therefore the primary focus of any build should be two things: 1) maximizing hit chances, and 2) maximizing opportunities to sneak attack.
There are four ways to reliably get sneak attack: flank, feint, turn invisible, or make your target flat-footed.
Flanking: Usually rogues will be flanking with the party tank, but you can also flank with another striker-type character, and animal companion, or even a familiar if they’re big enough to threaten. Hopefully your flanking buddy has a good idea of where they need to position themselves to make it easier to flank, but even then you’ll probably need to keep acrobatics maxed out so you can move through threatened squares to get to your flanking position.
Feinting: I like Two-Weapon Feint better than Improved Feint because it gives you more attacks, but feinting should always be a second choice since it always cuts into your attacks.
Invisibility: Turning invisible is only better than feinting if you can do it as at least a swift action. This is the ninja’s modus operandi, but the rogue can get in on the fun too if you try hard enough.
Flat-Footed: Making your target flat footed after the first round of combat is by far the hardest way to get sneak attack, but it can also be the most rewarding considering your relatively low attack bonus. The only two ways I know of to reliably get your target flat footed are the Greater Feint and Shatter Defenses feats. The latter is particularly potent when combined with the Dazzling Display feat, as discussed later in the feats section.
You should be prepared to specialize in at least one of these methods of getting sneak attacks, but it never hurts to have more than one.
All of these builds discuss the pros and cons of each build, as well as an overall rating. The ability score suggestions assume you get a floating +2 bonus to any one stat (usually the highest).
Two-Weapon Fighting: Using two weapons detracts from your already low attack bonus, but generally speaking you’ll still come out ahead in number of hits per round. Since most of your damage comes from sneak attack, which applies equally to both weapons, rogues are one of the best users of two-weapon fighting. Unfortunately, this will take a lot of feat investment to get the most out of, but it’s worth it to contribute effectively to combat.
Example ability score layouts:
10 pt - Str 10/Dex 18/Con 14/Int 8/Wis 11/Cha 7
15 pt - Str 11/Dex 19/Con 14/Int 8/Wis 12/Cha 7
20 pt - Str 12/Dex 20/Con 14/Int 8/Wis 12/Cha 7
25 pt - Str 14/Dex 20/Con 14/Int 10/Wis 12/Cha 7 - At this level you could try a strength-based two-weapon fighting build, in which case you would want 15 or 16 dex and the rest in strength. This would save you a feat (Weapon Finesse) and make you do slightly more damage in exchange for lower AC, reflex saves, and dex-based skills.
Brute: The Brute uses a two-handed weapon to deal more damage on a single attack and opportunity attack. Since most of your damage is coming from sneak attack anyway, a bigger reason why Brute might be a good choice is the significantly lower number of feats required to make it work. This means that you could branch out more. Unfortunately you will deal less damage on full attacks due to fewer sneak attacks, have lower AC due to reduced DEX, and not be as good at typical rogue skills which are DEX-based. If this is your style of rogue, I would definitely recommend dipping at least one level in another martial class for weapon and armor proficiencies. You won’t lose that much, and the other benefits of the chosen class won’t hurt.
Example ability score layouts:
10 pt - Str 17/Dex 12/Con 14/Int 9/Wis 10/Cha 7
15 pt - Str 18/Dex 12/Con 14/Int 10/Wis 11/Cha 7
20 pt - Str 19/Dex 13/Con 14/Int 10/Wis 13/Cha 7
25 pt - Str 19/Dex 13/Con 14/Int 10/Wis 13/Cha 7
Dervish Dance: The Dervish Dance build is sort of a midway point between the TWF and Brute builds, in certain interesting ways. You need fewer feats than the two-weapon fighter, but more than the Brute. Likewise, you lose the many attacks of the two-weapon fighter, but keep the high DEX (which is great for AC and certain skills). You do more damage per attack, but not as much as the Brute. Finally, unlike either of the two previous builds, you can completely dump strength, which frees up ability points for other stats making this build a good choice for a skill-monkey rogue.
Example ability score layouts:
10 pt - Str 7/Dex 18/Con 14/Int 10/Wis 10/Cha 9
15 pt - Str 7/Dex 19/Con 14/Int 10/Wis 12/Cha 9
20 pt - Str 7/Dex 20/Con 14/Int 10/Wis 12/Cha 10
25 pt - Str 7/Dex 20/Con 14/Int 12/Wis 14/Cha 10
If you have the feat slots, you could combine two-weapon fighting with dervish dance, if you use a cestus in your off-hand (or get the Improved Unarmed Strike feat). Your off-hand attack won’t do much damage, but it’s mostly for the purposes of delivering a sneak attack.
Skill Monkey: There are few classes that approach the rogue’s level of proficiency with skills (ok, it’s mostly just the Bard). It is important to remember that even if you want other skills, you can’t neglect your presence in combat. Generally speaking, you’ll want the basics of one of the other builds, plus higher INT and CHA and a few skill-based feats.
Example ability score layouts (assuming two-weapon fighting as secondary build):
10 pt - Str 10/Dex 16/Con 12/Int 12/Wis 11/Cha 10
15 pt - Str 10/Dex 17/Con 12/Int 14/Wis 11/Cha 10
20 pt - Str 10/Dex 17/Con 14/Int 14/Wis 12/Cha 11
25 pt - Str 10/Dex 18/Con 14/Int 14/Wis 13/Cha 12
If you choose a secondary build other than two-weapon fighting, modify the stats accordingly. If you don’t need to cover any face skills then you can safely dump charisma. Essentially, these ability score suggestions are even more malleable than the other ones.
Archer: It is really hard to get sneak attacks with ranged weapons, and if you’re not getting sneak attacks then you’re a fighter with 3/4 base attack bonus and no bonus feats (i.e. you suck). The only way I know to make this style consistently effective is to convince one of your party member’s to pick up Dazzling Display (or some other method of causing mass fear conditions) and using Shatter Defenses to treat all enemies as flat-footed all the time, thus granting you sneak attack. You could also try being a ninja and abusing your invisibility powers. Otherwise (or possibly even in this case) you should really think about being a different class and maybe splashing one or two levels of rogue.
Example ability score layouts:
10 pt - Str 10/Dex 18/Con 12/Int 10/Wis 10/Cha 8
15 pt - Str 10/Dex 19/Con 12/Int 10/Wis 10/Cha 10
20 pt - Str 11/Dex 20/Con 12/Int 10/Wis 10/Cha 10
25 pt - Str 12/Dex 20/Con 14/Int 10/Wis 11/Cha 10
Anything with a bonus to Dex is good, or if you go with a strength build, strength. Generally speaking, I’m going to assume a dex-based rogue build unless otherwise specified (this will be a recurring pattern in this guide).
Dwarves: No bonus to dex or str, and slow speed. The benefits are Darkvision, a bonus to both wis and con, stonecunning, and the dwarf bonus against spells. These bonuses are nice, but it’s not quite enough to make up for the Dwarf’s major disadvantages. The only way you can benefit from Slow and Steady is if you gain armor proficiencies by multiclassing, which is only a good idea for the brute build.
Elves: A bonus to dex is good, but the penalty to con and bonus to int cancel each other out. Other than that, they really don’t have any amazing race features for rogues. They get a bonus on perception, and proficiency with longbows. Silent Hunter could be an interesting variant racial feature, as it would let you move very quickly while using stealth.
Gnomes: Gnomes are the only really bad core race for rogues. Your average damage per hit will be 2 points lower than a medium creature, and you don’t have a dex bonus to compensate. The +1 bonus to AC and attack rolls compensates for the lack of a dex bonus a little bit, but not entirely. Compared to a human, you have lower speed, lower damage, lose your bonus feat and skill point, and gain almost nothing in return. Ninjas may appreciate the bonus to cha, but Halflings are better in almost every respect.
Half-elves: Half-elves get everything elves get for rogues, plus some. Your racial ability score bonus is probably going into dex (although it could also go to str for a brute build) and you get low-light vision, +2 vs enchantments, AND a free skill focus. Their alternate racial features are interesting also, letting you trade your skill focus for Exotic Weapon Proficiency or +2 will, or low-light vision for darkvision plus light blindness (which could be a good trade, you can just wear cool sunglasses or something).
Halflings: You’ll probably get some chuckles from experienced players about playing a halfling rogue, but there is a reason why this combination is infamous. You get +1 to hit, +1 AC, +4 stealth, +1 to all saves, and +2 perception, all in exchange for, essentially, -2 average damage per hit. They have a 20ft base speed normally, but you can easily fix that by trading out Surefooted for Fleet of Foot. In general, I think this is a good idea, but you might want to check out some of the other things halflings can trade Surefooted for, like Swift as Shadows.
Half-orcs: Half-orcs make surprisingly good rogues. They get their choice of ability bonus (strength or dex, as usual), darkvision, and ferocity, which together put them already ahead of dwarves. Weapon Familiarity with greataxes and falchions is excellent for brute rogues, unless you’re already planning on multiclassing into a class that gets those proficiencies. There are a couple really good alternate race features that replace Ferocity or other things.
Humans: Like pretty much every class, humans are excellent rogues. The bonus feat really helps out feat-starved TWF rogues, and is still excellent on any build. The extra skill point is likewise welcomed, at the very least it lets you drop your intelligence down a couple points and spend those points elsewhere. For skill monkeys, Focused Study gives you THREE skill focus feats for the price of one, and is mandatory if you are even considering taking skill focus. As usual, humans have something for everybody.
Anything with a bonus to dex (or strength for brutes) is an acceptable choice (at least orange). This makes up a significant percentage of the many, many races available, so instead of listing them all I’m just going to list the ones that I think are green or blue. This list is by no means exhaustive, and I encourage you to look at other races not listed here before choosing one.
Catfolk: They get decent ability score bonuses, some skills, and increased move speed when you need it. They can trade their skill bonuses for other skill bonuses or claws, and they can trade their move speed bonus for a climb speed. Lastly, you can trade low-light vision for scent, which is kind of ridiculously awesome.
Goblins: Similar to halflings, but trade a net 4 points of cha for an extra +2 dex, which is a pretty good deal if you’re not using any cha based skills. +8 stealth and darkvision make goblins an excellent choice for any dex-based rogue, but goblins really stand out for dervish dancers. You’ll probably have trouble in towns though.
Hobgoblin: +2 to your two favorite stats, and no downsides. Plus, you get +4 stealth and darkvision. What’s not to like? Well, the fact that you’re likely to get murdered by townsfolk maybe...
Plumekith Aasimar: +2 dex and wis, and all of the other traits that make Aasimars overpowered. No reasonable DM will let you choose from the variant special abilities table, but in case you have an unreasonable DM you might be able to get an additional +2 to any ability score.
Strix: Decent stat bonuses, if you don’t care about charisma, plus a fly speed, darkvision, and a couple other useful abilities make a pretty killer combination.
Tengu: Tengu get a bonus to dex, and their bonus to wis balances out their penalty to con. They also get a bonus to some useful skills, proficiency with some of the best weapons, and a bite attack that gives you an extra sneak attack opportunity on a full attack. They also get your choice of extra languages known or permanent feather fall, both of which are very rogue-flavored.
Tiefling: Another good race choice if you don’t care about charisma. You get darkvision, resistances, and skill bonuses. Darkness once per day is actually a useful spell like ability for a character that relies on stealth, and you can trade Fiendish Sorcery for a useful prehensile tail (essentially Quick Draw for free). Some of the variant tieflings are acceptable, if your DM allows you to choose them without taking the Fiendish Heritage feat, otherwise don’t bother.
Rogue Talents/Ninja Tricks
Rogue talents are supposed to be feat equivalent. I will be rating them with this in mind.
A note about ninjas: Because ninjas can take rogue talents and rogues can take ninja tricks, for the purposes of this guide I won’t be making a distinction between them (I may even use the terms interchangeably). You’ll find them both mixed together on this list. However, one primary difference between the rogue and the ninja (particularly when choosing rogue talents) is the size of their Ki Pool. Ninjas have a fairly large Ki Pool at ½ level plus charisma mod, while rogues only get their wisdom mod. This, combined with the fact that rogues must take a rogue talent to even have a ki pool, makes the ratings for all ki-based talents different for rogues and ninjas. You will find all talents that have a dual rating are rated half for rogues, half for ninjas (in that order).
Acrobatic Master (Su): +20 is auto-succeed for any reasonable check. It costs ki and so it very limited in its uses, but when you need to jump a gap or avoid attacks of opportunity, it could come in handy.
Assault Leader (Ex): This is a neat trick, but being only usable once per day pretty much ruins it. I can’t think of any situation in which this would be more than a once per day damage boost. If you like the style of this talent, maybe you could convince your party to check out Sieze the Moment and all its related shenanigans.
Befuddling Strike* (Ex): At level 3 Offensive Defense (see below) becomes strictly better, and just keeps going from there. Your DM is more likely to let this stack, so ask how they’ll both work before you pick. I would say no, but if your DM disagrees, this is at least orange.
Black Market Connections (Ex): This could be really useful for hooking up your party members with items that they want, especially at high levels when you can afford a lot of specific magic items that aren’t automatically available. This rating assumes your DM actually follows the guidelines in the rulebook for determining magic item availability. Some DMs hate the idea of their PCs being able to choose their own magic items, and won’t sell anything, while some DMs have much more relaxed restrictions. If your DM strays very far in either direction, it quickly reduces the usefulness of this rogue talent a lot.
Bleeding Attack* (Ex): This amount of bleed damage is just way, way too low. At higher levels when you’ll actually have enough sneak attack dice to make this number significant, you’ll be suffering from the fact that it doesn’t stack from your multiple attacks. If you were to get this, I would definitely recommend getting at least one other sneak attack based talent that you can use once you’ve set up the bleed.
Camouflage (Ex): This gives you +4 stealth with a bunch of restrictions (including only being usable once per day, wtf?). Even if you want to make a stealth-focused rogue, I probably wouldn’t pick this up. Skill Focus(stealth) and the other stealth based rogue talents are much higher priority.
Canny Observer (Ex): This is a +4 bonus to what is probably the majority of perception checks you’ll be making. Skill Focus(Perception) is probably better, since it increases to +6 at level 10, but this is still ok.
Charmer (Ex): According to my calculations, rolling two d20s and taking the higher result has an average outcome of 13.85, that’s 3.35 points higher than the average roll of a single d20 (10.5). So, essentially this gives you a bonus of around +3 on one diplomacy check per day. Is there any way in which Skill Focus(Diplomacy) is not better? No, not really.
Choking Bomb (Ex): If you already have Smoke Bomb and Poison Bomb then you might as well add this to the mix. It will result in action denial in combat and slow pursuers out of combat. I really can’t recommend this for rogues, who will have spent four talents on something they can only use once or twice per day.
Coax Information (Ex): This is a cool way to double up on your skills, assuming you’re maxed out in either bluff or diplomacy. There are very few “use x skill in place of y skill” abilities in pathfinder, so this jumps out at me as unique and interesting.
Combat Swipe: You’re probably not all that good at combat maneuvers, but this makes you better at one without having to take its crappy prerequisite (Combat Expertise). Use to great effect on enemy spellcasters by stealing their component pouches (except sorcerers, watch out for them).
Combat Trick: You are going to be feat starved. This is a fact. Two-weapon fighters need a ton of feats, archers need a ton of feats, brutes need fewer feats but feel like they need more because they need to compete more directly with full BAB classes (also, brutes are more MAD). Skill monkeys will need more feats because they need skill-related feats ON TOP of the feats for one of the other builds.
Convincing Lie (Ex): People who repeat a lie you tell them use your own bluff modifier. This has potential for some really ridiculous mass cons, but make sure you get out of town before the effect wears off (after only a few days). Very flavorful, lots of potential.
Cunning Trigger (Ex): I haven’t seen very many PCs who spend their time making traps, and if I did I would probably just try to lead the target into them instead of spending a talent on this. Furthermore, making traps is only useful if you have time to set up beforehand, which you often don’t.
Darkvision (Su): Darkvision is very important for any rogue who fancies themselves an assassin, but it is generally better gotten from your race or a magic item. If you can’t rely on getting a specific magic item, then this is a good alternative. Ninjas won’t have a second thought about grabbing this, but rogues have to spend a talent to get not very many ki points, so they might be iffy on this anyway.
Deadly Range (Ex): The range on ranged sneak attacks is terrible, but 10ft won’t really help. If you want to deal ranged sneak attacks, step one is figuring out how to get your target flat footed. Step two is getting Sniper’s Goggles and ignoring this rogue talent.
Deflect Arrows: Deflect Arrows is a good feat, but you have to have a hand free in order to use it and I’m assuming that you don’t. If you do for some reason (Dervish Dance build) then this is orange because it still requires you to get Improved Unarmed Strike.
Deft Palm (Ex): I’m like 99% sure you can already do this with Sleight of Hand, and I’m not sure it would be worth spending a rogue talent on even if you couldn’t.
Distracting Attack* (Ex): I can’t think of many situations where you would want to forgo your sneak attack damage to make the target flat-footed against a single ally. Maybe if you have decent damage without sneak attack (like a brute or Dervish Dancer) and you know the target has low flat-footed AC?
Esoteric Scholar (Ex): There’s not really much of a point in making knowledge checks if you don’t have any ranks in them, and you aren’t exactly starved for skill ranks, especially if you have a high enough intelligence modifier to have decent untrained knowledge checks.
Expert Leaper (Ex): This is borderline red. In my experience you usually have enough room to do a running jump (ninjas get this for free), and the falling damage is only reduced by 1d6. This would be a cool talent if it were a little bit more substantial. High Jumper is a better version of this, but requires Acrobatic Master (which requires a ki pool). Ninjas get all the cool stuff...
False Friend (Ex): A +4 bonus is substantial, but Skill Focus(Bluff) is still better.
Fast Fingers (Ex): Another roll twice once per day talent. If it were usable at will it would be roughly equivalent to Skill Focus, but as it stands it’s pretty mediocre.
Fast Getaway (Ex): Usually where you want to be is right next to the baddie. In the event that this is not the case, your acrobatics check should be enough to avoid an attack of opportunity.
Fast Picks (Ex): How often do you need to pick locks in combat? Occasionally? Ok, maybe. How often does an extra move action make a difference? Far less often.
Fast Stealth (Ex): A solid choice for a rogue who wants to scout for the party, or even just tag along unseen. Small rogues may want this to make up for their inherently slow speed.
Feather Fall (Su): Taking this plus Ki Pool is more or less equivalent to Minor Magic and Major Magic for feather fall twice per day. It could save your life, or it could sit there gathering dust.
Finesse Rogue: Unless you’re a strength based brute rogue, you’ll want this. If you are a TWF or Dervish Dance rogue, you’ll want this ASAP (ironically, this means you are actually less likely to take it as a talent, and more likely to take it as a first level feat).
Firearm Training (Ex): You’ll probably never be really good with firearms (leave that to the Gunslingers), but they make great one-shot wonders. The fact that they target touch AC means you’ll have no trouble hitting even with your lower BAB. Like all ranged attacks, you’ll have trouble lining up sneak attacks with guns.
Flurry of Stars (Ex): Shurikens are as good a ranged weapon as any when you’re limited to 30ft for sneak attacks. Rogues won’t get nearly as much mileage out of this, since they aren’t proficient with shurikens and have way too small a ki pool.
Follow Clues (Ex): More doubling up on skill usage. Assuming you have any interest in the uses of survival besides tracking, most of them have low DCs and can easily be reached with only a few ranks. Either way, the net result is more bang for your buck.
Forgotten Trick (Ex): The sheer versatility of this trick will more than compensate for it’s ki cost. Rogues will likely only be able to use this once per day at most, but it’s still not terrible . Don’t rely on any of the uses or you’ll run out of ki points, but keep track of where and when they are useful so you can pull out the obscure tricks when you really need them. Getting the full benefits of this trick will require a lot of bookkeeping.
Getaway Artist (Ex): If you want ride as a class skill, I’d recommend getting it with a trait. There are better ways to get bonuses on drive checks.
Grit (Ex): Two feats for the price of one! Not a bad deal, even if they’re not very good feats. With the Quick Clear deed you could actually get pretty good with guns. Of course, this requires investing in Rapid Reload, and carries all the same issues with any other kind of ranged rogue. At some point I have to ask if it wouldn’t be better just to play a gunslinger, maybe even with a rogue dip.
Guileful Polyglot (Ex): If you need more languages then this is the talent for you. I don’t usually find extra languages to be all that useful, but if you were in a campaign where espionage was a viable strategy it could come in handy. Either way, if you invest enough in the linguistics skill you’ll have so many languages by level 20 that it’s hard to argue that four more would be useful.
Hard to Fool (Ex): Another ‘roll twice once per day’ talent. See my complaints about Charmer and Fast Fingers.
Hidden Weapons (Ex): +level to checks to conceal weapons means no one will ever find your concealed weapons. That plus half of Quick Draw makes this talent pretty attractive. Ask your DM if being able to draw your concealed weapon as a move action means you can draw it as part of a move or charge, and also if this stacks with Quick Draw for drawing concealed weapons as a free action. It would be cool if you could full-attack throwing concealed daggers. If not then this is probably orange.
High Jumper (Ex): This requires you to have the Acrobatic Master trick, meaning you can already get a +20 by spending a ki point. Making the conservative estimate of an acrobatics check result of 33+level, you can jump straight up 8ft+1/4 level with a ki point. This talent doubles that number. It is a very ninja-thing to be able to do, but how often do you need to jump 16ft+1/2 level straight up in the air? I think it would be better to invest in the Climb skill. If you’re a ninja, you already halve the DC of jump checks at level 10, which means you pretty much never fail.
Hold Breath (Ex): +2 rounds is the same bonus you’d get from increasing your con by 1. Even if it were a significantly larger bonus, you still probably would never use it since there are so many ways to extend your breath-holding time (magic, Air Crystals, etc.). If you really want something like this, check out Slow Metabolism (below).
Honeyed Words (Ex): Another ‘roll twice once per day’ talent. I’m really not going to copy-paste my stuff, so just see Charmer for my reasoning why these are dumb.
Iron Guts (Ex): Compare to Great Fortitude. The tiny bonus against poisons (ingested only :/) is pretty much useless, so this is essentially a +4 vs nauseated and sickened. It isn’t red because those are pretty nasty conditions that you’ll want to avoid, and your fort save is pretty low.
Ki Block* (Su): Unless you are pretty much exclusively fighting tons and tons of monks and ninjas, if you’re even considering this trick just get Forgotten Trick and use that to replicate this when you need it. This is assuming, of course, that it is actually more useful than anything else you could do in those situations, which is a bit of a stretch.
Ki Charge (Su): You can’t deal sneak attack damage with a splash weapon, and 5d6 at level 18 isn’t really all that much, considering it costs you a ki point. On the other hand, if you got Flurry of Stars and spent a ki point on that you would get at least five attacks which each deal 1d2+strength. Assuming your strength mod is at least 2 or you get any other bonuses, you’re going to deal a lot more damage with that, and that’s assuming you don’t get sneak attack.
Ki Pool (Ex): Your wisdom modifier is probably pretty small, so this is only usable a couple of times per day. That said, it is a stepping stone to some other more powerful uses of ki points. You’re still limited by the uses per day, so if I wanted to use ki powers I would just play a ninja.
Lasting Poison (Ex): If you hit a target twice with the same poison, the save DC increases by 2 and the duration is half-again as long. Essentially, this just makes it so if they roll well on the first save they may roll poorly for the second one. Additionally, it is pretty much strictly inferior to the alchemist discovery Sticky Poison.
Ledge Walker (Ex): I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this come up in a game. I’m sure it could, but it is definitely not worth taking a rogue talent to mitigate.
Major Magic (Sp): There are a couple good choices for this, like vanish, shield, grease, mount, etc. I will point out that most of the spells that would be good for you to pick up with this would be just as good from a wand using Use Magic Device.
Minor Magic (Sp): Having a spell-like ability apparently counts the same as spellcasting ability for the purposes of feats, meaning this rogue talent allows you to take the Arcane Strike feat for free extra damage. A single cantrip three times per day probably won’t make much of a difference in the long run, but it’s also the first step towards the excellent familiar and dispelling attack rogue talents.
Nimble Climber (Ex): Ok, so you just failed a check by 5 or more, and now they expect you to succeed by +10? You’d have a <25% chance of success at best. If you’re making a climb check that has big consequences for failure, I’d spend my effort making sure I don’t fail rather than this.
Obfuscate Story (Ex): This is an interesting use of diplomacy, but it’s unclear what the actual effect is. After carefully reading the text, it looks like all that happens is the listener doesn’t get the message of the story. Depending on interpretation, the storyteller may realize their story didn’t get across, and could just keep trying until you fail.
Offensive Defense* (Ex): Ok, wow. Have you seen Befuddling Strike (above)? This is that, except the bonus to AC is equal to your sneak attack dice and it applies against all enemies, not just the one you hit. I’d also like to point out that by RAW this stacks for every hit you make, although that is super cheesy and probably broken (Disclaimer: most DMs I’ve played with say that multiple bonuses and penalties from the same source don’t stack, I couldn’t find that as an actual rule but it could still be out there).
Peerless Maneuver (Ex): Another ‘roll twice once per day’ talent. See Charmer for my opinion of these.
Poison Bomb (Ex): Inhaled poisons are expensive, but with tactical application you could really screw up the enemy’s positioning in addition to whatever poison you apply.
Positioning Attack (Ex): Now this is a once-per-day ability with potential. Once per day you can shore up your positioning with NO action, really vital to a rogue who depends on both positioning and full attacks. Make sure you save it for when it is the most tactically significant.
Powerful Sneak* (Ex): -2 on attack rolls in exchange for a +1/6 average point of damage per sneak attack die. In order for this to be equivalent to power attack (assuming two weapon fighting), you would need to have 18 sneak attack dice. Your attack bonus is going to be low enough, you don’t need to be helping it along (although power attack is still good sometimes).
Pressure Points* (Su): This is pretty much strictly worse than the Crippling Strike advanced talent, so if you’re planning on taking that you should skip this. Otherwise it’s not bad, but think carefully about how many sneak attacks you’re likely to stack against a single target before they’re dead.
Quick Disable (Ex): Disabling a trap in combat takes 2d4 rounds. This talent reduces it by half, to around 1d4 rounds. It’s still not a great idea to try to disable a trap in combat if you can help it, but I could see it coming up.
Quick Disguise (Ex): I doubt this will ever come up, but it is better than Quick Disable. The ability to make a minor disguise (which I assume to mean anything other than race, gender, age, or size) as a full-round action is the main reason this isn’t red. If you have enough ranks in Use Magic Device, you could just get a wand or scroll of Disguise Self for situations like this.
Quick Trapsmith (Ex): This could actually be really cool. If you found a CR appropriate trap that had a high enough to-hit to be dangerous, and your party was cool with setting up traps and luring enemies to them, this could be a great way to start some fights with a bang. If you don’t get reusable traps this could get expensive. If you want to be a trap-setting specialist rogue, this is probably mandatory.
Resiliency (Ex): This is essentially toughness once per day, applied when you need it most. Unless you’re in a particularly hardcore campaign (in which case you probably shouldn’t be playing a rogue), you will rarely get knocked unconscious more than once per day.
Rogue Crawl (Ex): Your CMD is low for a melee character, so you’re likely to get tripped occasionally. However, this doesn’t really help you much if you do get tripped, unless what you want to do is escape (which it probably shouldn’t be) or you’re a ranged character.
Rope Master (Ex): This is essentially a x4 climb speed (or x2 climb speed with a +5 bonus, which is also good) on rope-related climb checks (which should be most of them, if you’re considering this talent). The other two bonuses are not as helpful, but are likely to come up. If you fancy the idea of climbing without ropes, check out the Wall Climber trick (below).
Shadow Clone (Su): As a standard action (plus a ki point) you can give your enemies a 50%-80% miss chance against you. Each hit will reduce that number, but that’s one hit that you didn’t take. It’s not as good as the spell, but it’s still pretty good.
Slow Metabolism (Ex): Compare to Hold Breath (above). Sometimes, Paizo, sometimes (>.>). Anyway, holding your breath for twice as long still isn’t very useful when you can get cheap alchemical items to help out. The poison thing might save your cleric an action in combat since they might not need to heal you until after combat, but it’s still not all that great.
Slow Reactions* (Ex): The ability to prevent an enemy from making opportunity attacks has some interesting tactical uses, but you are the one who is most likely to provoke the attacks of opportunity and if you are already in position and sneak attacking then you won’t be moving around.
Smoke Bomb (Ex): Essentially the Fog Cloud spell, which has a variety of uses. Devastates archers of all kinds, and allows for an extra layer of defense for any casters in the party. If you can get your hands on a set of Fogcutting Lenses then this could be a really scary combination. Otherwise, you might want to consider picking up Poison Bomb and Choking Bomb to maximize the battlefield control use.
Snap Shot (Ex): If you’re going to make a ranged attack, it should be in the surprise round so your enemies are flat-footed. If you have access to firearms, this would be a good time to use them. It is usually difficult to get into position and sneak attack on the first round, and often the other melee aren’t in position yet either.
Snatch Arrows: Once again, great feat for a monk but you need to have a hand free. Plus, it doesn’t actually do anything cool except against thrown weapons. If you’re making an unarmed ninja build for some reason, this is probably orange.
Sniper's Eye (Ex): Concealment is the bane of rogues, but this only applies to ranged attacks, and you’re unlikely to be making a lot of ranged sneak attacks anyway.
Stand Up (Ex): It sucks that this still provokes an attack of opportunity, but sometimes that’s worth it to still get a full attack and not take the penalties associated with being prone.
Steal the Story (Ex): Why do you want to give someone a penalty on diplomacy checks?
Strong Impression: Good for a brute rogue who likes to use intimidate. Since that’s a pretty specific combination, this is a poor choice for most rogues.
Strong Stroke (Ex): Here’s a talent that lets you roll twice on a skill check all day long. Why can’t the other skill talents be like this? I mean, it still kind of sucks because it’s swim, but still...
Sudden Disguise (Su): Compare to Quick Disguise. This is faster, more extensive, and uses a ki point. I would say that this is probably better for ninjas, but maybe not rogues.
Surprise Attack (Ex): If you’re a dex-based rogue, you ought to be going first most of the time anyway (especially if you go for improved initiative). Still, this is good for a slow brute rogue, or if you roll poorly or wait for your allied bruisers to get in position.
Survivalist: Most of the uses for Heal and Survival don’t require much in the way of ranks, and the uses that do require you to be fully invested in them. Check out Follow Clues to let you use perception in place of survival for some things, and leave the healing to the cleric. If you must pick up one of these skills, you could always do so with a trait. This talent is only ok if you REALLY want BOTH of these skills, and even then traits might be better.
Swift Poison (Ex): Generally speaking, full attacking is going to be better than using a move action to apply poison. If you are a brute rogue heavily invested in standard attacks (Vital Strike line?) maybe this could be useful, but that’s a pretty niche build.
Terrain Mastery (Ex): For the right terrain in the right campaign, this is +2 initiative, perception, stealth, survival, and knowledge(Geography), plus you’re impossible to track. This is an easy blue... if you’re going to spend all your time in that terrain. Take it a second time to improve all your bonuses to +4 in addition to choosing a second terrain.
Trap Spotter (Ex): If you expect to run into a lot of traps this is MANDATORY. You are the de-facto trap detector, so you might as well invest a talent into the job, and this is the best one.
Unarmed Combat Training: If you really want to be an unarmed character, you really should take at least one level of monk. You don’t even have to be lawful, you can take the Martial Artist archetype.
Underhanded* (Ex): This looks really nice at first, but then I noticed that even with the Quick Draw feat drawing a concealed weapon is a move action, meaning that you can’t actually attack with one in a surprise round. If your DM lets you draw a concealed weapon as part of a charge (with Quick Draw) then you could actually use this talent, but you still need to have a good charisma, which is not a given. If all of these things work out, then this is a pretty neat way to start a fight with a bang, but I wouldn’t spend any energy building for it.
Undetected Sabotage (Ex): Most of the time you won’t care if anyone notices that you’ve disabled a trap. Even if you did, the disable device skill says you can attempt to leave no trace of your sabotage by increasing the DC by 5. It doesn’t give specific rules for this, but they’re probably more than enough to convince you to not take this trick.
Vanishing Trick (Su): This is the main reason to play a ninja, since you’ll be able to use this so many more times per day than a rogue. It’s still worth taking as a rogue, but you probably have to take the Ki Pool talent as well, which means you’re spending two talents for a couple uses of invisibility per day.
Ventriloquism (Su): Even if your save DC was enough to convince everybody, this would still be of questionable use. As a DM myself, I would probably let a PC throw their voice with a skill check anyway, rather than relying on magic.
Wall Climber (Su): What does a climb speed give you? +8 on climb checks, you can always take 10, and you retain your dex mod to AC. This beats out all other climb-based talents, including Wall Scramble and Rope Master, unless you’re specifically looking to climb across ceilings.
Wall Scramble (Ex): Rolling twice amounts to a +3 bonus on average, so Wall Climber is generally much better than this. If you really like the idea of climbing on ceilings, then maybe you could consider taking this instead of Wall Climber, but I’m sure that most characters will do just fine without.
Weapon Training: Your attack bonus is your weakest point. You really need to do everything you can to improve it, Weapon Focus is just the starting point.
Another Day (Ex): This only works on melee attacks, but it’s still a “once per day you don’t die” ability. I would get Redirect Attack first, for a number of reasons, but that talent does require another nearby creature.
Confounding Blades* (Ex): This is identical to the Slow Reactions talent. Since the latter was printed in the Core Rule Book, and isn’t an advanced talent, why does this even exist?
Crippling Strike* (Ex): 2 strength damage will severely hamper any melee enemy, which is most of them. Any enemies using composite bows (which should be most ranged NPCs in most games) will be likewise be severely hampered. Casters generally have low strength, but you’re not likely to reduce it to zero before you kill them. Be sure to remind your DM about carrying capacity, and perhaps you might see casters get debuffed by that.
Deadly Cocktail (Ex): If you specialize in poisons this could be useful. If you combine it with Lasting Poison you essentially negate the penalty and have a really long lasting poison that is good for two strikes.
Deadly Sneak* (Ex): So you take a -2 on attack rolls, and get an average of ½ extra damage per sneak attack die. This is slightly better than powerful sneak, but you’re spending two rogue talents on it, as well as debuffing your already low attack. I can’t see this ever being more useful than one of the other sneak-attack based talents, like Crippling Strike. Heck, even Bleeding Attack is better.
Defensive Roll (Ex): Your reflex save should be high, but if this is a lot of damage it might not be enough. Still, you should have a good idea if it is enough, and this is still another “once per day you keep fighting” talent, all of which are good for the squishiest of melee classes.
Dispelling Attack* (Su): Anything to debuff casters is a worthy investment, but unfortunately this requires Major Magic and Minor Magic.
Entanglement of Blades* (Ex): Preventing enemies from taking 5 foot steps will probably screw over their positioning, but the question is, is it worth using over the other excellent sneak-attack talents?
Familiar (Ex): Familiars are great. Since you’ll probably already have UMD maxed out, you can use them as backup casters, or have them throw alchemical items or whatever. Still requires Minor Magic and Major Magic, which is a drawback. You could also use the familiar as a flanking buddy, if you don’t mind buying a new one frequently...
Fast Tumble (Ex): If you are using acrobatics to dodge AoOs, this is either +10 on your check or double movement speed. This sounds good, but usually you don’t need to move that far to get into position.
Frugal Trapsmith (Ex): You would have to make a LOT of traps before this started to pay off.
Feat: If you’re a TWF build, you’re probably still feat starved. This isn’t a poor choice for other builds either, you’re unlikely to run out of good choices for feats.
Getaway Master (Ex): I’m not entirely sure what drive checks do, but it seems to me that unless you regularly pilot many different kinds of crafts it would be better to specialize in the specific skill.
Hard to Fool (Ex): Mind-affecting spells covers all enchantment spells and many illusion spells, meaning this is going to apply to the majority of will-save based effects. Since your will save is poor, this is a solid investment. Note that this effect never ends, you just keep rolling saves until you succeed, even if the spell itself already allows a new save every round (presumably they stack).
Hide in Plain Sight (Ex): Not as good as the ninja’s invisibility powers, but the ki-less rogue does ok in the area of stealth. Too bad it only applies to one terrain type, but many campaigns have a primary terrain type.
Hunter's Surprise (Ex): This is good for that one point in the boss fight when you can’t get flanking, but can’t afford to lose a round of sneak attacks. Note that this actually gives you two rounds of sneak attack, but hopefully you would be able to set up flanking by then.
Knock-Out Blow (Ex): So, the ninja gets to kill people and you get to knock them out for 1d4 rounds? Doesn’t seem fair... Even if the duration was significantly longer, too many creatures will succeed on the fortitude save for this to be excellent. I’d rather get your party’s resident caster to use silence and beat the target to unconsciousness with a sap.
Improved Evasion (Ex): You should already be succeeding on the majority of reflex saves, but this is an extra safeguard. I would focus on the talents that shore up my other defenses first.
Master of Disguise (Ex): This could be useful if you have to go undercover for a long period of time or something. It’s probably better than Skill Focus(disguise).
Opportunist (Ex): One free extra melee attack per round? Yes please. This is assuming you’re flanking with someone who can hit worth a damn, and since, as a rogue, you likely have the lowest attack bonus of all the melees, for your sake I hope you do.
Redirect Attack (Ex): This is pretty awesome. Save it for a group fight, so you can redirect it towards an enemy. It’s nice that it’s triggered off a hit instead of an attack, so if you really needed to redirect it to an ally at least you’re forcing a reroll.
Rumormonger (Ex): This has many interesting roleplaying opportunities, but it’s not very useful in the dungeon. It’s great if you’re looking for a way to really derail your DM’s campaign (pro-tip: don’t intentionally derail your DM’s campaign, especially if you ever want to be invited back). This could be really, really good in an intrigue-based campaign.
Skill Mastery: When you’ve really maxed out a skill, the only thing you’re really afraid of is bad rolls. Plus there are many skills (like Climb, Swim, or Use Magic Device) that have fixed DCs, stiff penalties for failure, and taking 10 is often auto-succeed. The fact that you can get many of these with one talent makes it acceptable.
Slippery Mind (Ex): Hard to Fool (the advanced talent, not the regular talent) is strictly better than this for multiple reasons. I suppose if you wanted to really make your rogue impervious to enchantments, you could take both, but at that point you’re better off investing in improving your will save bonus itself.
Stealthy Sniper (Ex): If you want to be a sniper, this is mandatory, but you still have to be within 30 feet (which totally sucks, by the way). If you play a halfling rogue with the Swift as Shadows alternate racial feature, then you take no penalty for sniping, which could be an interesting niche build.
Thoughtful Reexamining (Ex): Rerolling a failed perception or sense motive check could be vital, the problem is you have no way of knowing when to use it (assuming the DM doesn’t tell you when someone is lying to you or when there is a trap to find).
Unwitting Ally (Ex): This could be interesting if you fight a lot of groups of enemies. Hardly any mooks will even be trained in Sense Motive, so this will almost always work. It’s not even limited to once per day, or even once per fight.
Weapon Snatcher (Ex): Disarming is nice and all, but this doesn’t say anything about ignoring the attack of opportunity you provoke when attempting a disarm. If you also picked up Improved Disarm then you wouldn’t, but at that point you would be spending two feats (including Improved Disarm’s prerequisite, Combat Expertise) and a rogue talent on disarming, which seems a bit much except on a specialized build (...and why would you do that on a rogue?).
Advanced Talents: There are quite a few advanced talents that are worth looking at, such as Crippling Strike or Hard to Fool. Although ninjas can take advanced talents, nothing says that rogues can take master tricks. As DM I would okay it, since rogues can really use any help they can get.
Assassinate (Ex): One hit kills are perfect for taking out guards before they sound the alarm. I wouldn’t try using this in the heat of combat though, even if you can get your DM to allow it.
Blinding Bomb (Ex): This brings the total number of tricks you’ve spent on these bombs to 4. That’s too many, in my opinion. Blinding enemies is great, but spellcasters can do this way more easily than you. Just stick with greater invisibility to get your sneak attacks and let the other members of the party worry about blinding enemies.
Deadly Shuriken (Ex): This ability only seems like it would be useful if you needed to pile all of your damage into a single attack, such as if you were ambushing an enemy or breaking invisibility. At this level you have greater invisibility for the whole fight, so a full attack is much better.
Evasion (Ex): Your reflex should be off the charts, but taking half damage even on a success is a drag.
Feat: If you run out of other tricks to get, you should be able to find a good feat. TBH, there are plenty of awesome master tricks and advanced talents, so you could easily never take this. On the contrary, you might find yourself taking the Extra Rogue Talent feat.
Ghost Step (Su): You can literally walk through walls. It’s probably not the best trick for combat (although I could see it being useful), but damn does it ever make it hard to stop you breaking into places. Also great for a quick escape if you get spotted during an infiltration attempt.
Invisible Blade (Su): This should probably be your level 10 trick choice. This will give you a full attack worth of sneak attacks every round for the whole encounter, no flanking buddy required. It also opens up the possibilities of a ranged sneak attack build.
Master Disguise (Su): While I can see Sudden Disguise being useful in a pinch, I don’t really see an increase in duration as being useful. You should be able to get out of whatever sticky situation you’re in and don a real disguise, plus at this level you should have a hat of disguise.
See the Unseen (Su): Meh. Invisible creatures are the least of your worries at high levels. You should have true seeing or something. If you’re fighting an invisible creature, try dusting them with flour or chalk, that’s a great trick and doesn’t require you to waste a valuable master trick.
Shadow Split (Su): You can probably come up with a distraction pretty cheaply. Unless you already have Shadow Clone I wouldn’t even consider this. If you do take this I hope you really love sowing confusion, since with all your abilities that let you simply disappear you probably don’t need a distraction at all.
Unarmed Combat Mastery: If you want to be a monk, then I would suggest playing a monk. Perhaps with a couple level dip into rogue or ninja for sneak attack dice.
Unbound Steps (Su): You pretty much need to be able to fly at high levels, but this is an unreliable method. I would suggest something more reliable, such as a magic item.
I’m only going to cover feats for the melee builds. Archers can look at other guides that cover archery, it’s pretty much the same for everyone (with the exception of Dazzling Display and Shatter Defenses), while skill monkeys will, once again, take the basics of one build and supplement them with skill-based feats.
Secondly, I’m only going to cover the feats that are worth taking. Anything not listed here can be assumed to be rated red, or else it was not on the PFSRD when I last looked, or else I didn’t notice it. If it’s one of the latter two, and you think it deserves a spot here, contact me or make a comment or something.
Agile Maneuvers: Weapon Finesse already allows you to use your dex mod for combat maneuvers made with a weapon, and you probably won’t want to be grappling or bull rushing anyone.
Armor Proficiency, Medium: If you have a dex-based build you’ll definitely get high enough dex in your career that light armor will be more than enough, while if you have a non-dex build you’re better off dipping a level in a class for whatever proficiencies you want.
Blind Fight: You’ll fight plenty of things with concealment, but the problem is that you still can’t get sneak attack against a target with concealment.
Improved Blind Fight: Hopefully your DM lets you sneak attack things with concealment when you have this feat, otherwise it’s useless. You still have to spend two feats to just ignore partial concealment, which isn’t really worth it IMO.
Greater Blind Fight: You’d hope this would let you sneak attack things with total concealment, but it doesn’t. Oh well. I suggest grabbing a set of fogcutting lenses, darkvision, and the ability to see invisible critters. That should let you sneak attack just about everything and skip this whole chain. If you’re really worried about fighting things that have concealment that you can’t overcome, check out the Shadow Strike feat. It actually makes this feat chain much, much better, if you don’t mind blowing four feats on it.
Moonlight Stalker: If you have a reliable way of getting concealment and still getting sneak attacks (such as smokesticks and fogcutting lenses, or a cloak of displacement, or vanishing trick) then this is a +2 on attack and damage rolls. Unfortunately you have to take two less useful feats to qualify for it, but that’s more or less equivalent to weapon focus, greater weapon focus, and weapon specialization.
Moonlight Stalker Feint: If you have concealment you may have total concealment, in which case you can sneak attack as much as you want already. If you only have a reliable way to get partial concealment, then this will let you get at least one sneak attack each round, which is totally worth it. Since you already have Combat Expertise it might be worthwhile to grab Greater Feint so your feint action can last all round.
Bullying Blow (Orc): As Cornugon Smash, but you have to be an orc and it only works on standard attacks. Combined with Shatter Defenses, it makes a reasonably good opener at the beginning of combat, or if you can’t get sneak attacks another way.
Cartwheel Dodge: You can’t grab this until level 12, but after that the only real prerequisite is getting the Improved Evasion advanced talent, which isn’t a totally terrible talent to have. Anyway, this feat lets you move half your speed as an immediate action when you dodge an area attack. Extra mobility is always good, but this won’t come up in every fight.
Combat Expertise: This already terrible feat was made even more terrible in pathfinder now that you have less control over it. Your attack bonus is too low to be wasting it on this rubbish. Your Offensive Defense rogue talent gives you almost twice this bonus and all you have to do is hit, which you definitely won’t do if you use this crummy feat.
Butterfly's Sting: You can get a bunch of crits, but you don’t do that much extra damage on them. Better to pass them on to someone who does a bunch of extra damage on a crit, say, someone with a x3 or x4 weapon perhaps? Or maybe a fighter with a couple critical feats?
Improved Disarm: You suck at combat maneuvers, but you do get a lot of attacks. If your enemy’s weapon is problematic then this is a solid debuff.
Greater Disarm: An additional +2 and you make it harder for the target to recover the weapon. Great. Your CMB still isn’t good enough to not be decidedly mediocre at this.
Break Guard: Get a free bonus attack when you disarm someone. Works great on standard attacks, because you double your attacks. On the other hand, you still suck at combat maneuvers.
Gang Up: You flank a target as long as at least two allies threaten it. This seems like a decent way to get sneak attacks more often. Ask your DM if you count as an ally for this purpose, since that seems reasonable to me. It is unclear to me if this allows you to be considered flanking with ranged attacks, but if it does it might be a good way to build a ranged rogue.
Improved Dirty Trick: This seems like something rogues should be good at, but unfortunately you’re just as bad at them as any other combat maneuvers. If you’re not strength based and your DM doesn’t let you use a weapon to perform a dirty trick, then don’t even bother. Man, being a rogue is tough...
Greater Dirty Trick: Your dirty tricks last longer, which is good because you certainly won’t be beating the target’s CMD by 5 or more points to extend it. With this much feat investment, you start to approach the skill of a fighter who has taken none of these feats. Doesn’t that make you proud?
Quick Dirty Trick: So you can make a dirty trick combat maneuver in addition to your other attacks. For a two-weapon fighter that makes this much, much better, but it still take three feats to pull off. As a general rule, anything that takes three feats to pull off should be better than MAYBE blinding someone for a round.
Improved Feint: I don’t approve of using feint, even when it’s a move action, since it means you can’t full attack. That said, it is one of the few reliable ways to give yourself an opening to use sneak attack, which is still usually better than full-attacking without sneak attack. Only take this feat if you only use one weapon, otherwise pick Two-Weapon Feint since that is way better for two-weapon fighting.
Greater Feint: This is to help out your friends. The same friends who, incidentally, aren’t helping you flank, probably because they’re jerks. Whatever, it’s cool. Actually, come to think of it, I think the Dazzling Display line would be better for helping your party.
Improved Trip: Tripping is a good debuff, granting a -4 to AC and a -4 to attacks, but you still stink at combat maneuvers.
Greater Trip: You spent an attack trying to trip. This gives you it back, minus the not-insignificant chance that you failed.
Two-Weapon Feint: Strangely enough, this doesn’t require Improved Feint, and it’s way better than that feat anyway. Losing a single attack is much better than losing all but one. Anyway, using feint is one of the few reliable ways to give yourself sneak attack opportunities.
Improved Two-Weapon Feint: This feat is in every way inferior to Greater Feint, since it only lasts until the end of your turn. Still, it’d take an extra feat to get Greater Feint. TECHNICALLY this feat doesn’t list Two-Weapon Feint as a prerequisite, but this is almost definitely an oversight and shouldn’t be taken seriously.
Combat Reflexes: Dex based builds will have tons of attacks of opportunity. The question is whether you’re going to be getting sneak attack damage with those opportunity attacks. If the guy you’re flanking is trying to escape then you will, but let’s face it, if he’s recklessly provoking attacks of opportunity like that he’s not long for this world anyway.
Bodyguard: You’ve got the opportunity attacks, you might as well use them to buff your allies.
Critical Focus: This feat is primarily taken for the critical based feats that follow it. If you have a couple extra feat slots, these aren’t terrible, but your ¾ BAB means you can’t get them until very late in your adventuring career. If you haven’t already chosen to focus on high-crit weapons, don’t even bother with this.
Bleeding Critical: An extra 2d6 damage every time you crit isn’t bad, but you already deal tons of damage with sneak attack. On the other hand, as a bleed effect it will last the whole encounter unless they waste actions, and the feat specifically says that multiple crits stack extra damage. This would be great against something that just had a ludicrous amount of hit points.
Sickening Critical: Sickened is a good debuff, giving a -2 on most checks. It’s much better when you can apply it reliably instead of randomly, but at least it doesn’t allow a save.
Staggering Critical: You can’t get this until level 18, but it does disrupt enemy movement and stops them from getting full attacks.
Sneaking Precision: This feat lets you add the effects of your chosen critical feat on your second sneak attack, regardless of whether you crit or not. This is fairly nice. Note that if your second sneak attack is also a crit, you get to add the effect twice. This is only really good if you chose a critical feat which stacks with itself, like Bleeding Critical. By this level if you’re using Two-Weapon Fighting you really should get at least two sneak attacks per full attack.
Defensive Combat Training: Your CMD is low for a melee character, and this feat will give you a boost. If you find yourself getting tripped or grappled too much, consider picking this up.
Desperate Battler: If you’re using this feat you’re probably not flanking (although you could be if someone was using a reach weapon, or you were flanking a large creature), and if you’re not flanking you’re probably not getting sneak attack. I see this feat as being more useful for a solo assassin type, who gets sneak attack through other means, like concealment or invisibility.
Dodge: With only light armor proficiency, your AC is going to be severely lacking for a melee class. Especially if you don’t get the Offensive Defense rogue talent. I highly recommend getting it, but you never can have too high AC, and you won’t always be able to hit with a sneak attack.
Mobility: This really ought to give you a bonus while using acrobatics to ignore attacks of opportunity, because that’s what you’ll be doing instead of taking attacks of opportunity.
Spring Attack: You have to take a useless prerequisite, and a single attack is never as good as a full attack, but if you’re fighting something really, really dangerous then it’s possible that you really don’t want to stand next to them. That’s when this feat will come in handy.
Landing Roll: This lets you avoid attacks of opportunity from getting tripped by shifting away, then taking a 5ft step back after you stand up. It’s not terrible, but I, for one, wouldn’t expect to get tripped nearly enough for it to be worth spending a feat on. Depends on your DM, I suppose.
Extra Rogue Talent: A lot of rogue talents suck, but there are a lot of good ones too, especially once you reach level 10 and can pick up advanced talents with this.
Fleet: Since getting full attacks is your primary goal, extra mobility is useful. Since you’re already a light-armor user, this restriction is unlikely to bother you.
Great Fortitude: Rogues have many weaknesses, and fortitude save effects are not the least of them. Often these effects are debilitating or even deadly.
Improved Great Fortitude: If this feat saves your life even once it is worth it, and it probably will.
Improved Critical: Most of your damage comes from sneak attack, which isn’t doubled on a crit. To make matters worse, you can’t grab this until 11th level, and you can’t pick up most of the juicy crit-based feats that fighters can. The extra damage is always appreciated, but crits aren’t amazing for you.
Improved Initiative: The sooner you go, the sooner you get in position for a sneak attack. On the other hand, you still need to wait for your flanking buddy to move as well. Basically, you still want to move ahead of your enemies, but it’s less important for you to move ahead of your allies too.
Improved Unarmed Strike: This feat is basically terrible for anyone but monks. It lets you fight without a weapon, but that doesn’t happen all that often.
Knockout Artist: Sap Adept is the same thing but better, I only list this because the two do stack. If you want to make an unarmed specialist rogue for some reason (maybe with a monk dip?) then all of these feats will add together to give you a sizeable bonus on unarmed sneak attacks.
Strangler: Deal sneak attack damage to any foe you grapple. Rogues aren’t amazing at grappling, generally speaking, so this might be best for, say, a gestalt rogue/monk or something silly like that.
Intimidating Prowess: If you have a strength based build this is great, and makes a great lead into the Dazzling Display line.
Iron Will: Rogues have a lot of weaknesses, and many of your feats will be spent covering for them.
Improved Iron Will: At this point you should have the Hard to Fool advanced talent, which lets you reroll many will saves every round. If you want to get this, it will be useful for non-mind affecting saves, or you could double it up by rerolling a really important save.
Lightning Reflexes: Your reflex save should already be through the roof.
Lunge: This will let you hit or make a full attack when you otherwise might not be able to, but you’ll find it difficult to get sneak attacks while using this. This might be better for a ninja who can become invisible and thus obtain sneak attacks without flanking.
Nimble Moves: If you need to take a 5ft step in difficult terrain, this is the feat you need. It’s not as good for you as for a caster though.
Acrobatic Steps: As a DM, I would probably let my players ignore difficult terrain with an acrobatics check, but otherwise I can see this being useful for positioning purposes.
Power Attack: Power attack becomes considerably less useful the more damage you deal per hit and the lower your attack bonus, so this is much less valuable for you than other melee classes.
Cleave: Your damage mostly comes from sneak attack, so having multiple attacks is the best way to increase your damage. Your lower chance to hit gives you a lower chance of getting the second hit, but it’s better than just a standard attack. Standard attacks are a rogue’s weak point.
Surprise Followthrough (Orc): If you’re using cleave a lot, you’ll find it hard to line up your attacks so you can sneak attack the second target. This feat handles all that for you.
Cornugon Smash: It requires a bit of investment, but it lets you debuff enemies for free when you use power attack. It’s not as good for you as it is for a fighter though (who will be power attacking all the time forever), especially since you probably don’t have enough feats to go all the way down the Dazzling Display line.
Quick Draw: This is useful if you want to full-attack with thrown weapons or switch weapons a lot, generally you’ll be sticking with a single weapon (or two) and you should have it drawn so this is just for flavor.
Razortusk (Half-Orc): More attacks means more sneak attacks. This is at least as good as Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, only you don’t need to be fighting with two weapons.
Sap Adept: +2 damage per sneak attack die when you deal nonlethal damage with a bludgeoning weapon. An unconscious enemy is as good as dead, so there is pretty much no way this is not a good deal.
Sap Master: You deal double sneak attack damage when you do nonlethal damage with a bludgeoning weapon. By RAW these two feats give you 2d6+4 points of sneak attack damage for EVERY die you have as base. As a DM, at the very least I would declare that effects based on sneak attack dice use your base number of dice, making this 2d6+2 per die. Otherwise you can have some pretty ridiculous effects from other talents based on number of sneak attack dice. I don’t really have any argument for this being RAI, but any DM who allows this RAW deserves having whatever unbalanced character they end up with in their game.
Shadow Strike: You can deal sneak attack damage against foes that have concealment. You still have a miss chance against them, unfortunately, so it’s still a good idea to find ways to ignore concealment whenever possible.
Skill Focus: Generally not necessary, but if you’re expecting your character to excel at a skill then this is the best way to do it. Humans can get three for the price of one by trading out their bonus racial feat. You have a couple good choices, such as Perception, Use Magic Device, Intimidate, or Stealth.
Eldrich Heritage and co.: You need to not dump charisma, which hurts, but you can get a wide variety of really slick abilities from these feats. If you get at least 13 cha for skills I highly recommend picking one of these up.
Step Up: This is good for getting attacks of opportunity against enemies, but it’ll be hard to maintain sneak attacks when you use it.
Following Step: A major improvement over Step Up since you can move farther and therefore better maintain your flanking positioning. Enemies who try to take a 5ft step to escape your flanking will be unpleasantly surprised.
Step Up and Strike: Gives you a bonus opportunity attack when enemies try to escape. If you were flanking and they’re trying to escape, you should have no difficulty moving into a new flank position and getting a free sneak attack.
Taunt: Demoralize enemies with bluff instead of intimidate. You should be able to use this in conjunction with Dazzling Display. On the other hand, you probably have plenty of skill points, and not enough feats, so you might not want this anyway.
Toughness: Hit points are another area in which you fall short of the other melee classes. If you have the spare feats, this is even more valuable for you than it is for them.
Two-Weapon Fighting: By mid levels, the large majority of your damage will be coming from sneak attack dice. This means that the actual damage of your weapon matters less than the number of hits you make per round. Number of hits per round is one of the only areas in which two-weapon fighting is better than two-handed fighting. Since rogues also don’t mind having a fairly high dex score, in many ways it seems like rogues were tailor made for two-weapon fighting.
Improved Two-Weapon Fighting: A second off-hand attack gives you an extra chance to hit, which means an extra chance to do sneak attack damage.
Greater Two-Weapon Fighting: At a -10 penalty, with your already mediocre attack bonus, this third attack just doesn’t add as much as the previous two. Feel free to cut it out of your feat build if you have something else you need to pick up.
Double Slice: If you happen to be using a high-strength TWF build, this feat will come in handy. Otherwise it won’t. Pick it up if you need the damage boost and have the extra feat slot, both of which seem unlikely to me.
Two-Weapon Rend: This does quite a bit of damage. If you’ve already picked up Double Slice then you might as well pick this up too. On the other hand, doing lots of damage when you hit isn’t exactly one of your weak points.
Weapon Finesse: Mandatory for all dex-based builds. Rogue’s lack of significant armor means that they generally need to go dex-based in order to survive. You get lots of bonus damage from sneak attack, so you don’t really suffer much from not pumping your strength.
Dervish Dance: I discuss the pros and cons of the dervish dance build in the first section, above. On the one hand, you just took your last required feat, on the other hand, you just took the last feat that will significantly boost your damage output.
Weapon Focus: Your attacks have some of the highest damage of any martial class, so an extra 5% chance to hit is that much more valuable to you. This is absolutely mandatory.
Dazzling Display: Not amazing if you dump charisma, but good for your party if you’ve put points in intimidate. Applies the shaken debuff for a -2 on most things. The real reason for taking this is as a prerequisite…
Shatter Defenses: This is one of the few ways to give yourself sneak attack opportunities when none are available, and it is much more effective than specializing in feinting. Would be blue but for the round(s) of setup required to make it work, but spending a round to inflict the shaken condition really isn’t a waste if you couldn’t get sneak attack anyway.
These feats get their own separate section because using them requires a lot of coordination with your group. Do not use these feats if your group is inexperienced, uncoordinated, or just plain stupid. These ratings assume a maximum amount of coordination with your teammates, so reduce their rating proportionally to the level of teamwork you can support. Almost all of these teamwork feats benefit tremendously from getting a familiar with the Valet archetype to increase the number of nearby allies with your teamwork feats.
Broken Wing Gambit: This feat kind of requires the target to be surrounded by PCs to work, and there’s no guarantee the target will attack you. If your DM tends to have the target attack the user of this feat then let your tank use it and reap the free attacks, unless you plan on provoking an attack of opportunity from the target. Otherwise skip it. All in all, I like Outflank much better.
Coordinated Charge: You can’t get this until level 14, and it requires two teamwork feats, so it takes quite a bit of planning to pull off. If you can do it though not only can you and your melee buddies get free charges, you also set yourself up for full attacks on your next turn, which is awesome because you’re kind of lame when you’re not getting full attacks. The number of teamwork feats you and your allies will need to swallow will cut deeply into everyone’s builds, so it would be easier if you had an inquisitor or cavalier on your crew.
Outflank: An additional +2 to hit and free opportunity attacks? Sign me up! You should be flanking as much as possible, and it shouldn’t be too hard to convince your flanking buddy to take this.
Precise Strike: You should be flanking all the time, so if you can convince your flanking buddy to take this then you both get +1d6 damage. Pretty sweet deal, but requires some coordination.
Seize the Moment: You won’t be able to get this until high levels, but depending on the number of melee characters in your group, this can get really silly.
Shake it Off: +1 on all saves per adjacent ally. As long as you have at least one adjacent ally, this is totally worth a feat slot. Generally speaking you’ll always be at least one square away from your flanking buddy, and so likely won’t see as much use from this feat as I’d like. If you have a familiar this feat becomes much better since you can always have at least a +1 bonus.
Stealth Synergy: It won’t help you scout, but it will help your party hide from things. Whether this is worth every single member of your party spending a feat slot is debatable, but I could see it being useful in some campaigns.
Target of Opportunity: If your party is specced for ranged attacks, this feat will give you a free one each round. You do have to have the weapon in hand already though, so it’s probably only good if your melee are using weapons that can be thrown. Perhaps if your whole party sprung for the Throwing weapon enchantment? Or if you all had quickdraw and drew a thrown weapon at the end of every turn?
To be totally honest, most of the rogue archetypes are awful. Most of them replace Trapfinding with a completely mediocre ability that you will probably never use. But here they are anyway:
Technically, Ninja is a rogue archetype, and it is so much better than all the other archetypes that is isn’t even fair to compare them. If you’re not interested in keeping your trapfinding ability, I recommend being a ninja instead of looking at the other crappy archetypes.
You can wear a magic item in each of the following slots: Armor, Belt, Body, Chest, Eyes, Feet, Hands, Head, Headband, Neck, Rings (two), Shield, Shoulders, and Wrist
Weapons: Two short swords is your default option for a two-weapon rogue, or two wakizashis if you’re a ninja. You deal enough damage, so you tend to want straight enhancement bonus so you can hit better. Depending on your party’s strategy you could make use of an ability like Menacing to increase your hit. The Ghost Touch or Heartseeker properties can help you sneak attack more things, which could come in handy depending on the campaign.
If you feel like you hit often enough, and really want some extra damage, the Agile weapon property is my favorite for finesse rogues. The Spell Storing property can do some interesting things, but none spring to mind other than a once-per-fight damage boost. If you’re the party scout or infiltrator or whatever you can give your weapon the Glamered ability (which doesn’t even increase the cost of other enchantments), either as part of a disguise or in the hopes that enemies don’t take them if you get captured.
Armor: Use the heaviest kind of armor that lets you use all of your dex mod, to keep your touch AC high. Probably studded leather or a chain shirt. As for enhancements of a magical nature, there isn’t really anything especially useful for you other than a straight enhancement bonus. There are a couple enhancements that give you bonuses on skill checks and don’t increase the cost of further enhancements, so you should totally get them if you’re a scout.
Belt: You want whatever belt will help your hit chance, which is probably a belt of incredible dexterity. If you’re strength based, you’ll want a strength belt, then eventually a Belt of Physical Might with a bonus to both strength and dex.
Body: The Corset of the Vishkanya is listed under body slot items, but says it is a chest slot item. I’m going to pretend it’s a body slot item because there aren’t any other good ones. A Xorn Robe lets you pass through 20ft of earth per day, and is pretty pricey for the benefit. Perhaps the most stylish is a Smuggler's Collapsible Robe, which can provide for an instant escape and refuge, but is likewise prohibitively expensive. An Otherworldly Kimono replicates the benefits of a cloak of resistance, and lets you effectively cast maze once per day. The most expensive, and most valuable, body slot item that might interest a rogue is a Robe of Eyes, which gives you both darkvision and the ability to see invisible and ethereal creatures, but it also has its drawbacks.
Chest: The best item in this slot is probably a Quick Runner’s Shirt, just because it is so ridiculously cheap for its effect, which lets you get a free move action once per day. Technically speaking, you could buy a bunch of these and keep changing them after every battle. This would probably anger your DM with its cheesiness, which is generally not a good idea. A Sipping Jacket has a number of interesting applications, mostly involving drawn out spell effects like invisibility or haste. An Unfettered Shirt gives you freedom of movement for 10 minutes a day, a highly valuable and sought after effect. A Vest of the Cockroach is almost a free feat, although I like it better if you don’t have the resiliency talent already. A Spectral Shroud lets you see invisible creatures, and thus sneak attack them.
Eyes: There are a few great items for this slot, so you’ll have to prioritize. If you get your hands on a set of Fogcutting Lenses you’ve got it made. For the low, low price of 8000gp, you can ignore concealment due to fog, smoke, and mist. Not only does this cut down on situations which limit your sneak attack (can’t sneak attack an enemy with concealment), it also gives you additional chances to sneak attack since in sufficiently thick fog you will have total concealment from your enemies. Be sure to stock up on smokesticks! Eyes of the Owl are a cheap way to get low-light vision if you don’t already have it, and their big brother Goggles of Night give you darkvision (although in my opinion you ought to get it from a Greater Hat of Disguise). Sniper Goggles are mandatory for any rogue that wants to make ranged sneak attacks, but their actual effects are slightly ambiguous. I, for one, think +2 damage per sneak attack die is unbalancing and they probably meant the +2 to apply to the attack roll, but your DM might disagree. Truesight Goggles are amazing for a number of reasons, but are incredibly expensive, and still can’t replicate the effects of the lowly Fogcutting Lenses.
Feet: Feather Step Slippers are reasonably priced and enhance your mobility when in difficult terrain. Boots of Striding and Springing give you a reasonable boost to speed, but don’t stack with similar bonuses. There are a few types of footwear which, surprisingly enough, give you additional movement modes, such as Slippers of Spider Climbing, Sandals of the Lightest Step, or Boots of Levitation. If you find yourself in need of such movement modes then grabbing a pair couldn’t hurt, but your large number of skill points, your party spellcaster, and even your rogue talents give you plenty of alternatives. Shoes of Lightning Leaping are essentially a 50ft teleport once per day with the benefits of blasting a hole in anything you pass through. Boots of Speed are a classic item for martial characters, which can give you up to 10 extra attacks per day but only if you don’t already have a caster using haste. Personally, my favorite foot slot item for a dedicated melee character is the Winged Boots, because they let you ignore the disabilities inherent in being restricted to melee combat for three encounters per day. Last but not least, Boots of Teleportation are pretty expensive, but let you teleport some 900 miles three times per day, and unlike most such items, let you bring your friends along with.
Hands: For a scout, Gloves of Reconnaissance let you see through walls, which is cool. Apprentice's Cheating Gloves let you cast mage hand and prestidigitation at will, two spells which can cause quite a lot of trouble in the hands of a creative rogue. Deliquescent Gloves for the price of a +2 weapon, you can give all your weapon +1d6 acid damage, not bad. For quick storage and swapping weapons fast, there’s nothing like a Glove of Storing.
Head: If you need to do infiltration, a Hat of Disguise is a classic. In a fight a Buffering Cap gives you some extra survivability (or its big brother Jingasa of the Fortunate Soldier). A Circlet of Persuasion gives you a +3 bonus to all charisma-based checks, many of which you’ll probably have ranks in, including Use Magic Device. Helm of the Mammoth Lord is an interesting item which gives you an extra attack (which translates to an extra sneak attack). If will saves are a problem, Cap of the Free Thinker looks interesting, and I bet it stacks with your advanced talents that also give you rerolls. My personal favorite hat is a Greater Hat of Disguise, which, in addition to functioning as an infiltration device can give you a number of minor buffs.
Headband: If you’re a ninja you’ll want a Headband of Charisma, otherwise you’ll want a Headband of Wisdom to boost your will save (especially if you have a ki pool based on wisdom). If you’re a skill monkey you might want a Headband of Intelligence for extra skills. One other headband slot item that is good for rogues is the Headband of the Ninjitsu, which gives a bonus on attack rolls when sneak attacking and lets you sneak attack creatures with concealment.
Neck: Your default choice for a neck slot item is an Amulet of Natural Armor, since as a melee character you’ll want your AC to be high. A Medallion of Thoughts lets you use detect thoughts at will, which could come in handy.
Ring: You get two rings, and one of them is likely to be a Ring of Protection. Many high level characters will want a Ring of Freedom of Movement to go along with it, but I’m going to list alternatives anyway for fun. Ring of Rat Fangs gives you a bite attack (which is an extra sneak attack) but makes you look weird after a week. A Ring of Forcefangs protects you from force spells and lets you throw magic missiles at enemies as well. In an espionage campaign, you’ll need a Ring of Mind Shielding. For a ninja (or a rogue with a ki pool) Ring of Ki Mastery gives you effectively two extra ki points, a bonus to CMD, and also reduces the cost of some of your ki powers. If your team can handle teamwork feats, a Ring of Tactical Precision will make them much stronger. A Decoy Ring could be useful for a quick escape or distraction, but you could just cast vanish from a wand or something. If you’re fighting a dragon or something, you’ll probably want a Ring of Energy Resistance or it’s cousin the Ring of Energy Shroud. If you really want to be the best at stealth, a Ring of Chameleon Power gives you +10 to stealth and disguise self at will. A Ring of Inner Fortitude gives you a resistance to ability damage and debuffs, which is useful for any character. A Minor Ring of Spell Storing will give you added versatility in fights if you have a spellcaster who can put spells in your ring. A Ring of Return has some neat possibilities, but the range is kind of short. I normally don’t recommend charged items, but the charges from a Ring of Delayed Doom may save your life. A Ring of Continuation is good for any character, if you know what spell to put on it. A Ring of Telekinesis might be fun. A Ring of Regeneration will heal you over time, but at the level you can afford it you’ll probably have enough healing. Lastly, a Ring of Spell Turning can let you reflect spells on enemy casters, but it also reflects allied spells.
Shoulders: At higher levels this slot will need to be reserved for a good Cloak of Resistance if you want to survive against deadly enemy spells. If your DM lets you graft multiple effects together, or if you’re playing at low levels and aren’t really worried about save-or-lose magic, there are some other cool options. A Quick Change Cloak is slightly cheaper than a hat of disguise, and is not vulnerable to magical senses like the latter. If you’re the party scout then a Cloak of Elvenkind will give you a sizeable bonus on stealth. A Cloak of the Hedge Wizard is pretty cheap and gives you a few nice spells and may help you fool someone into thinking you’re a wizard. An Eagle Cape has a number of effects all of which are useful, feather falling is always nice to have and turning into an eagle lets you get to hard to reach places, as well as giving you a sizable bonus to perception (and stealth if you were medium). A Cape of the Mountebank is a classic that is always fun. A Prestidigitator's Cloak isn’t terribly practical, but could be a lot of fun if you abuse it’s storage power. A Highwayman's Cape gives you a bonus to both bluff and stealth and also makes you all but immune to grapples, which is pretty nice. A Charlatan's Cape and a Cloak of Etherealness both let you become ethereal, which could be good for infiltration.
Wrist: If you use ranged weapons it’s hard to beat a Bracers of Falcon's Aim which give you a +1 on ranged attack rolls, +3 perception, and increase your critical range to 19-20/x3. Duelist's Vambraces give you +1 AC and +2 on one attack per round when you’re using two weapons, which is probably most rogues. A Seducer's Bane Bracelet simultaneously buffs your will save (and sense motive) and also lets you do silly things to enemy enchanters.
A Dueling Cestus or Spiked Gauntlet gives you a +4 bonus to initiative and simultaneously gives you a backup weapon. Since the weapon is always drawn you’ll never be without the +4 initiative bonus.
Scrolls, Wands and Staves Use scrolls for spells that you’ll only cast once in a blue moon but will really need at that time (such as Stone to Flesh). Use wands for low level spells that you’ll be casting often. Staves can be useful for high level spells, but since you’re not a caster you won’t be able to recharge them or take advantage of their variable caster levels or save DCs. Generally speaking they don’t have any advantage over wands except that they work for higher level spells, so you should try to find a wand that serves your purposes most of the time.
Handy Haversack is efficient and affordable. It is quite often the first magic item I buy.