Rogue Class Color Guide for Role Playing in DnD
Updated: Apr 3, 2022
Welcome to the latest article in the Class colors series, a series where we discuss the classes of Dungeons and dragons through the lens of the color pie in order to gain a better understanding of these classes and in turn create more well rounded and interesting characters. I this episode we will be diuscuissing the ever popular class of the Rogue
Suggested Reading to understand the use of the color pie in DnD https://www.dicetry.com/post/usethecolorpieinstead
The interesting thing about the rogue is that it’s the one class that seems to accompany a party wherever it goes, sometimes pushing ahead into the front lines looking for traps and locked doors, other times in the shadows waiting to strike or in some cases it’s the very face of the party, using its clever tongue and street smarts to the party’s advantage. Even outside of Dungeons and Dragons we see the rogue architype time and time again, as we are naturally endeared to the scoundrel with the heart of gold. Because of this the rogue architype is solidified in all of our minds and each one of us has a picture we conjure when we hear the word rogue.
In some cases, we imagine the assassin, or killer for hire. In other cases, it’s a character with a shady past who finds some kinship with the group who struggles with their dark past. For me personally when I imagine a rogue, I think of the type of character who is a bit of a wild card, sure they follow along but only while it suits them. This dichotomy can lead to moments when the party is uncertain of whose side the Rogue is on, but you accept that this sort of behavior is all they know and is what they have relied on to survive. No matter what your idea of a rogue is I intend to illuminate each one through the use of the color pie. That way when you build your next rogue you will have a better understanding of how to express their motivations. Alright with all that said, let’s get into the class colors of the Rogue by first discussing the colors chosen by Wizards of the Coast in the set Adventures in the Forgotten realms.
The difference between a simple thief and a true rogue is the culmination of ages spent honing their craft. It has been debated that it takes 10,000 hours to master a craft and while this may be an exaggeration for you and me, it’s the truth for the rouge. It is this dedication that proves to me that Rogues are clearly Blue. The truth is that it’s not just the mastery, but the concept at the core of blue, in that the Rogue never reaches a cap on what it can work towards and there is always something new to master or a new skill or proficiency to learn. With that said I would hesitate to say that blue is the one and only color at its core as I do see another part to the whole picture. The other side of the Rogue can be seen on the Class Card for the Rogue. Wizards of the coast, and to be more specific, the Magic team has decided that the Rogue is Blue Black, and I would have to agree. Why Black, well if it isn’t already obvious then let me expand on what Blue started.
Black it the color that feeds the Rogues motivations, while Blue is the mechanism that it reaches its goals. The Rogue needs Black to be what it is and to have survived as long as it has. In many cases the Rogue has lived a hard life, one that hardens it and creates an outlook which demands it only look out for number one. As we will see this isn’t always the case, but I do think as base this is very accurate. So, what does this look like when we put it all together? Well, the Blue-Black Rogue is one that was given no chances in its early life and has learned very quickly that the world is a hostile place and people will take from you unless you can take from them. This life isn’t easy though and it requires many skills. Because of this the Rogue perfects a mixture of practical skills and proficiencies that it hones over time.
Skills that utilize the path less tread, the swiftness of a blade or in some cases the use of magic. The Rogue in this context believes it’s better to never be seen than to face confrontation, it’s better to pick a lock than ask to be let in and its more efficient to take a gold coin than earn it. This Rogue has no illusions of heroism, it is practical, and these abilities are what has allowed it to not just survive but to thrive. The Blue-Black rogue is aware that a mistake can cost you your life and so the perfection of its skills is always top of mind. It’s the combination of ruthless realization and constant improvement. To me this is the ideal trope of the rogue, but there is so much more to be found, so let’s dive into some of my own thoughts on what else the rogue can be. To do that let’s simply add White to our established core and see what we get with our first iteration.
White Blue Black
When we add White to this combination something new happens. What we get, in this case, is a Rogue who has a purpose outside of self-interest. Sure, they still go about it with the same amoral resolve that Black provides, yet it has a grander objective. Perhaps this Rogue was purely Blue Black when they were younger but over time, they have learned that they can put their skills to use for good or at least the good of their group. This Rogue would have an easier time fitting into your party as they have learned that there are those that exist who have their back even if those allies’ number in the few. In the case of the White Blue-Black Rogue or Esper Rogue as it’s called in Magic, the Blue present still provides the mechanism for its perfection and proficiency.
Black is still the means to which it can get the job done, but it no longer is the driving force of its motivations, for that we look to white. In this instance White is a balancing system, it keeps the Rogue from acting selfishly and instead puts its various skills to use for a cause outside of itself. Perhaps this Rogue has some sort of moral code and doesn’t kill or steal interminably, instead it focuses on those that do not deserve their wealth or whom their lives bring upon suffering of others. Perhaps this Rogue could be an assassin of Slavers, a spy for their kingdom, or thief of important objects.
This Rogue still hides in the shadows and does dirty work, it’s just that it does not waste its efforts on petty crimes or acts of selfish greed. As we can see the shift from purely Blue Black to Esper provides us with a turning point for the Rogue, and in a lot of ways I see this Rogue as one who has lived a selfish life, but as age and experience has set in, they have come to learn that they are more than a terror in the shadows and that their efforts can be more important and impact others in a way that is beneficial. In the end becoming a force for good, or at least one that aids those it deems its kin. Now that we have established this version of the Rogue, I want to move things in a different direction, lets shed both Blue and White, still hold onto that Black I am so fond of and then add in Red to see what sort of Rogue comes from these circumstances.
This right here is such a fun version of the Rogue, by tapping into certain aspects of both Black and Red we come up with a character that is both charming and unpredictable, suave, and yet violent. Personally, I think this type of Rogue is the most fun to play and one we see across media all the time with characters like Han Solo or Zoro. They are witt and charm comes from their red side, and yet they are quick to the draw or fast with the sword due to their Black side. But let’s break it down a little further to see what I mean. As we are familiar by now Black is the side of the Rogue that is a realist, routed in a possible tough upbringing where it was forced to use its skills to survive. It understands that no one ever got anywhere playing nice.
This Rogue is a scoundrel through and through and while this does not mean they are a thug out to do no good, they are still the kind of character that will not hesitate to take any advantage presented to them. Now the part that makes this Rogue unique, and well fun, stems from the inclusion of Red, in this instance it is the source of its charm, and of its inability to simply stand by when there is adventure or loot to be had. This can result in a rogue that is a swashbuckler, a sword fighter, or a con artist. They constantly put themselves into precarious situations and enjoy the thrill of finding a way out.
The thing about Red and Black when they are combined is that you have a combination that almost runs away with itself. In that its Black side gets an idea in its head and then the Red side is adamant on following it through to its fullest extent. A lot of times this means simple pleasures, and instant gratification. In the case of the Rogue though it manifests into someone who seeks out adrenaline or someone who gains pleasure from charming or intimidating others. It’s a hard and fast lifestyle that forces it to use every ounce of its skill to get it itself out of the situations it places itself into. For the final Combination I want to talk about a Rogue that strips away Black completely and one that uses their deeds in a selfless way. So, let’s take away Black and instead bring in the colors White and Blue to see what happens.
Check out my video on the topic of the rogue's class colors
White Blue Red
I wanted to piece together this Rogue to show that while I believe Black shows up in the Rogue nine times out of ten, it isn’t necessary when building your Rogue. Instead, we will lean into the other one of its core colors in Blue, and then pair it with strong motivators in White and Red. Once again let’s break down this Rogue and see why these colors work and how in this context they make sense.
First up is White, as we know White is the color with strong convictions. It can be a force for equality, for humanity or order. Of course, a Rogue isn’t much for order so instead let’s look at how this works for ideas like equality and humanity. I could see this Rogue stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Perhaps they have been on the bad side of power structures and now look to set things right by taking from those who take from the vulnerable. On another end it could be a Rogue who looks to bring others together under their banner, to collect a group of outcasts who society has deem unworthy for one reason or another. Then we have Blue, the color that is in many ways very straight forward, as it’s the driving force for the Rogues perfectionism of it its craft, and in some cases the source of its ability to learn some magic as well.
Magic that is beyond the scope of any cutpurse and would require immense dedication. Then we have Red, this is where their ability to bring other in comes from, it’s their charisma, their empathy and to top it all off their desire for adventure. When we bring this all together, we have a Rogue who is much like the Robin hood archetype, well without the long bow proficiency that is, but I think this fits quite well. This rogue fights for those that cannot fight for themselves, through the use of their immense talent and in doing so can actually rally others around them. In many cases the Rogue is a solo act and that doesn’t always have to be the case. They can be a presence of pure leadership, that is if they lean into a sense of morality and adventure aided by their proficient hand. I believe this Rogue makes for an interesting build and is one that can bring something fresh to the table, remember the Rogue doesn’t always have to be the brooding edgelord.
In this episode we came to the conclusion pretty quickly that Black and Blue when combined make for a great core to the Rogue but in many ways, I could argue that either of the two when alone does just as well as a core color. The interesting thing about this is that Black on its own is in many ways the motivation or the backstory. It shows us that the rogue learned the hard way that life isn’t going to hand you anything and you must learn to take it, but to live this way it needs Blue to be the mechanism which facilitates the skills which it used to survive and now to flourish. I am sure you have noticed though that there was one color missing from this whole video, which is unlike what we saw in previous episodes and that is Green. Now while I do think there is room for Green, it is more of an edge case which is fine as some classes are more defined in what they represent. But don’t feel like Green is excluded all of the time, as I am sure you could find ways to work it into your character but in the end to me Green denotes a Ranger more than a rogue. As always though let’s go through each color and see how they are reflected in the context of the Rogue. First up we have White.
White in the perspective of the Rogue is the sort of moral compass that sets them on a path that is less selfish. This may reflect in a rogue who is a bit older and has seen that their actions have consequences or perhaps it’s a rogue who works within a bigger organization or guild. One who at least looks out for those it deems friends. Next, we have Blue, a color that is in many ways essential to the rogue, sure you may not apply this every time, but I do believe that this represents the vast skills of the rogue and the training required to reach its heights. Then there is Black a color that is just as much a part of the rogue as Blue, perhaps even more so, as the rogue usually comes to this profession because of a mindset built at a young age.
One that has seen all that life has to offer and understands that it is an inherently selfish place and only those willing and able to take what they want to get anywhere. Then there is Red a Color that can either be a tool or a source of adventure. In the first case the Rogue might use his charm and empathy to manipulate others, to con them or to gain the upper hand in a tough situation. On the other hand, it could reflect more in the type of Rogue who is an adventure seeker, a swashbuckler, or sword fighter. Red within a rogue is really what produces the type of rough and tumble characters we love. Finally, there is Green, a color I could almost remove from the equation, but won’t, as there is space for every type of Rogue and I don’t want to discourage you from using it. So, what would Green mean for a Rogue? Green in the context of the rogue is perhaps someone who uses their skillset to sabotage the unnatural creations of man, or perhaps it’s a character who carries on the traditions of those who taught them. In the end its fine for there to be colors that don’t quite fit a class and I think a class like the rogue is so defined that colors outside of Black Blue and Red become a bit tricky.
No matter how you build your rogue though it’s important to think about how they use their skills and why. Did something in their past cause them to take the higher road or the dark alley. Do they pick the pockets of unsuspecting victims or from those who take from the poor? Do they swing a sword for that hit of adrenaline, or do they stalk the shadows using magic to pull keys from back pockets? In the end it’s all about mechanisms and motivations, so as long as you keep these points in mind I’m sure you’re next rogue will be a more robust and interesting creation.
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