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This article is about the player role. For the game, see Rogue (game).
The Rogue is a player role. Rogues can be humans or orcs, and are always chaotic. Rogues are skilled thieves. The NetHack encyclopedia says of them:

I understand the business, I hear it: to have an open ear, a
quick eye, and a nimble hand, is necessary for a cut-purse; a
good nose is requisite also, to smell out work for the other
senses. I see this is the time that the unjust man doth
thrive. <...> The prince himself is about a piece of iniquity,
stealing away from his father with his clog at his heels: if
I thought it were a piece of honesty to acquaint the king
withal, I would not do't: I hold it the more knavery to
conceal it; and therein am I constant to my profession.

[ Autolycus the Rogue, from The Winter's Tale by
                William Shakespeare ]

...and from the guidebook:

             Rogues are agile and stealthy  thieves,  with  knowledge  of
         locks,  traps,  and  poisons.   Their advantage lies in surprise,
         which they employ to great advantage.

Starting equipment

  • an uncursed +0 short sword (orcish short sword if an orc)
  • 6–16 uncursed +0 daggers (orcish daggers if an orc)
  • an uncursed +1 leather armor (5% chance of being blessed)
  • an uncursed potion of sickness
  • an uncursed lock pick
  • an uncursed sack
  • 20% chance of a blindfold
  • for orcs, 2 random food items (each of which has the usual chance of being a stack of 2)


Rogue skills
Max Skills

Rogues start with Basic skill in Short sword and Dagger.


Rogues can only be humans or orcs. The following are advantages that each race has over the other; note that many of the human advantages are not too helpful until later in the game.

Human advantages

  • Human rogues start with better weapons, including a stack of regular daggers (as opposed to orcish daggers).
  • Elven monsters, which can be a nuisance because they appear fairly early, in groups, and ignore Elbereth, will sometimes be peaceful to chaotic, human heroes. They will always be hostile to orcs.
  • Human rogues start with 12 hit points (orcs start with 11), and have slightly better hit point and energy growth than orcs.
  • Human rogues can reach a base strength of 18/**, so they do not need gauntlets of power to obtain the maximum strength damage bonus (+6), unlike orcs, who can only reach a base strength of 18/50 (+3 damage bonus). Throwing large numbers of daggers can be deadly to monsters, but is especially so when it is done by a high-strength rogue.
  • Human rogues have higher maximum intelligence, wisdom and charisma, which is helpful if you eventually want to make your rogue a spellcaster, and for interactions with foocubi.

Orc advantages

  • Orcs start with poison resistance. Not only does this prevent many YASDs, but it is especially useful for rogues, since it allows you to use your starting potion of sickness to create poisoned darts without worrying about the monsters poisoning you by throwing the darts back at you.
  • Orcish rogues start with food, human rogues don't. This makes it safer to play slowly early in the game for an orc than for a human.
  • Orcs can also eat food that humans can't eat without penalty (human corpses, cat and dog corpses, tripe), further allowing them to play cautiously in the early game, without having to worry about hunger.
  • Orcs have infravision. In particular, this makes the mines a little less dangerous for them than for human rogues, although they are still quite dangerous for both races.
  • Orcish monsters are sometimes peaceful to orcish heroes, but not to human heroes. As an orc, you don't need to fear large numbers of orcs as much as humans do (again, poison resistance is useful here).
  • Orcs can easily convert any altar via orcish sacrifice.



Main article: Rogue quest

The Rogue quest sees you fighting the Master Assassin for The Master Key of Thievery. Inspired by the profession you have chosen, there are lots of stealing monsters, traps, shapeshifters and challenges to even access the quest nemesis!

Rank titles

The status line shows you to be one of the following ranks when you reach the specified experience level:

  • XL 1-2: Footpad
  • XL 3-5: Cutpurse
  • XL 6-9: Rogue
  • XL 10-13: Pilferer
  • XL 14-17: Robber
  • XL 18-21: Burglar
  • XL 22-25: Filcher
  • XL 26-29: Magsman/Magswoman
  • XL 30: Thief


  • Rogues are better suited to fighting with ranged attacks, like daggers, crossbows, darts, and knives. However, later in the game when one's AC is sufficiently negative, melee combat with an artifact weapon is common.
  • Rogues can get to expert skill in twoweaponing as well, but they cannot become expert in the better artifact weapons (besides Magicbane) and cannot get backstab damage while twoweaponing, so this may not be the best use of skill points.
  • Rogues should throw their starting daggers as their primary attack in the early game. The skill should be raised to expert before anything else, because this allows up to 4 daggers to be thrown at once, as well as 2 extra damage per dagger. It should be noted that rogues also get an additional +1 multishot when throwing daggers. Because of the potential for shooting peaceful monsters behind your intended target, rogues should use the shot limitation prefix to fire only one dagger at a time when necessary.
  • A ring of increase damage is a very nice item for rogues, as the damage bonus applies to each dagger thrown.
  • Rogues start with a potion of sickness. This can be used to make poisoned weapons by #dipping the stack of weapons into the potion. Poisoned weapons do an additional d6 damage to non-resistant monsters and also have a 10% chance of killing the monster outright. Unfortunately daggers cannot be poisoned, so you will need to pick another weapon like darts to poison and use on tough monsters. Fortunately, dart traps are fairly common, and #untrapping one will usually yield a good number of darts. Finally, be careful that an intelligent monster does not pick up a poisoned weapon and toss it back at you if you don't yet have poison resistance! Orcs start with poison resistance and thus are immune to this problem. (Note that magic cancellation does not protect against thrown poisoned weapons, as was previously noted here.)
  • Using a dagger instead of your short sword as your melee weapon will help you to raise your dagger skill faster (you won't be using short sword skill once you get an artifact anyway). One dagger can be separated from your starting stack for wielding by naming the stack, dropping one dagger, renaming the stack, and picking up the dagger again. #Adjusting the stack to a lesser inventory letter will cause any new daggers that merge to be added to the stack rather than the wielded dagger.
  • Because Rogues tend to use low damage weapons which hit often, strength is an especially important attribute. Early boulder pushing may be in order, and gauntlets of power are good candidates for wishing if you are playing an orc and thus can't get up to 18/** strength naturally.
  • Runed daggers are wooden and thus not affected by acid and rust, so it's a good idea to pick up a couple of these to use against monsters that would otherwise damage your weapon. If you're playing Slash'EM, try to get the Great Dagger of Glaurgnaa (chaotic Necromancer great dagger) if you can, because can drain levels from monsters and gives you magic resistance when carried.
  • Rogues can gain an additional 1d(XL) "backstab" damage when striking a fleeing monster and not two-weaponing. Because of this, Elbereth, scrolls of scare monster, and tooled horns are particularly useful for rogues. Rogues might consider wishing for Magicbane (or they might find it in the bones file of a Wizard)--its scare attack can often cause monsters to flee, and more importantly, it is an athame, so you can engrave Elbereth even more effectively. However, Magicbane is not a chaotic artifact, so watch out for the (admittedly small) blasting damage. Grayswandir is another worthwhile weapon to consider; Rogues can reach Skilled in saber, and backstab damage can be doubled by artifacts with double damage, including Grayswandir. In versions of NetHack prior to 3.6.0 and variants, Rogues could also get backstab damage with thrown weapons for each hit. This was removed in 3.6.0 for being too powerful. [1]
  • Rogues are one of the classes that lose the least from wearing a shield, as it doesn't block backstabbing and the spells they are good at are non-combat. Checking Perseus's statue for a shield of reflection can be especially rewarding for a rogue, provided you are careful not to get stoned by Medusa.
  • The Rogue quest is a bit tricky.
    • The home level contains several chameleons. The longer you spend on this level, the greater the chance that one will turn into a master- or arch-lich, warp to you, and cast a spell that ruins your day. If you don't have magic resistance, try to kill them fast, and be ready to engrave Elbereth if one does show up. If you have a ring of protection from shape changers, keep it on until you have hunted down all eight chameleons.
    • About 1/7th of generated monsters will be nymphs, with the corresponding hazards of losing your weapon and armor and having your wands used against you. Use your daggers/darts to eliminate them from a distance, and try to avoid getting surrounded on the locate level. If you have polymorph control, polymorphing into a nymph or succubus will protect you from their theft attacks. Guardian nagas are also quite common, so have either MC3 or a ring of free action to prevent paralysis.
    • There are three distinct sections of the goal level: one containing the up stairs, one containing the Nemesis, and one containing neither. Because the three segments are partitioned by non-diggable walls and the level is no-teleport, gaining access to the Master Assassin is non-trivial. One can overcome this in a few ways:
      • Digging down from the previous level and hopefully landing in the region where the quest nemesis is, waking him, and then getting out of the level by quaffing a cursed potion of gain level or by reading a cursed scroll of teleportation or reading an uncursed scroll of teleportation while confused. Once the Master Assassin is awake, he will warp to the up stairs, and you can meet him there by descending the stairs normally. Be prepared to do this multiple times if you land in the section without the Nemesis.
      • Polymorphing oneself into a xorn to be able to walk through walls (be sure to remove your cloak and body armor first to avoid destroying them).
      • Applying a drum of earthquake may wake up the Master Assassin..
      • Using the psychic blast of a tame mind flayer (or polyself) to alert the Master Assassin of your presence.
  • The Rogue quest artifact is the Master Key of Thievery, a very nice artifact which confers the half physical damage, warning and teleport control extrinsics. It can also be #invoked to untrap boxes and doors with 100% success, though this is somewhat useless unless you know the door or chest is trapped, something most players don't bother to check.
  • Don't neglect your spells! Rogues can reach Skilled in divination spells and escape spells, as well as the somewhat less useful matter spells, and human rogues can reach a respectable 87% success rate without a robe. You most likely started the game with a mediocre intelligence, so consider performing alchemy to brew up some potions of gain ability.
  • Human rogues do not start with food or poison resistance, so they can starve fairly easily. Orcish rogues do not have these problems, so are a good choice for new players.

Weapon Choice

Rogues are good twoweaponers but better missile users. Thrown weapons will often make sense at all ranges. Note that twoweaponing removes backstab damage, so it's not always the best choice.

Damage of selected weapons versus small targets with only skill +damage. Daggers thrown except as noted.

weapon skill(s) base per hit #attacks (avg) total damage notes
Crossbow E 2.5 8.0 1-3(2) 16 +d6 poison
Dart E 2.0 7.5 1-3(2) 15.0 +d6 poison
ElvenDagger E 3.0 5.0 1-4(2.5) 12.5
ElvenShort+ElvenBroad E/E 4.5/6.0 5.5/7.0(t) 2 12.5 two handed
OrcishDagger E 2.0 4.0 1-4(2.5) 10.0
Dagger E 2.5 4.5 1-4(2.5) 11.25
ElvenDagger+ElvenBroad E/E 3.0/6.0 4.0/7.0(t) 2 11 two handed
ElvenShortx2 E/E 4.5 5.5(t) 2 11.0 two handed
Katana x2 S/S 5.5 5.5(t) 2 11.0 two handed
Crossbow S 2.5 7.0 1-2(1.5) 10.5 +d6 poison
DwarfShortx2 E/E 4.0 5.0(t) 2 10.0 two handed
Dart S 2.0 6.5 1-2(1.5) 9.75 +d6 poison
ElvenDagger+LongSword E/E 3.0/4.5 4.0/5.5(t) 2 9.5 two handed
LongSword x2 S/S 4.5 4.5(t) 2 9.0 two handed
Dagger S 2.5 3.5 1-3(2) 7.0
Crossbow B 2.5 6.0 1 6.0 +d6 poison
Broadsword S 5.0 6.0 1 6.0
Dart B 2.0 5.5 1 5.5 +d6 poison
Longsword S 4.5 5.5 1 5.5
Halberd B 5.5 5.5 1 5.5 two handed, ranged
Spetum B 4.5 4.5 1 4.5 two handed,ranged
Dagger(wielded) E 2.5 4.5 1 4.5
Dagger B 2.5 2.5 1-2(1.5) 3.75

Damage versus small targets with +3 damage from strength and a +3 damage from enchantment.

weapon skill base per hit #attacks (avg) total damage notes
ElvenDagger E 3.0 11.0 1-4(2.5) 27.5
Dart E 2.0 13.5 1-3(2) 27.0 +d6 poison
Dagger E 2.5 10.5 1-4(2.5) 26.25
OrcishDagger E 2.0 10.0 1-4(2.5) 25.0
ElvenShort+ElvenBroad E/E 4.5+6.0 11.5+13(t) 2 24.5 two handed
ElvenBroadx2 S/S 6.0 12.0(t) 2 24.0 two handed
ElvenDagger+ElvenBroad E/E 3.0+6.0 10.0+13(t) 2 23.0 two handed
Katana x2 S/S 5.5 11.5(t) 2 23.0 two handed
Crossbow E 2.5 11.0 1-3(2) 22.0 +d6 poison, no strength bonus
LongSword x2 S/S 4.5 10.5(t) 2 21.0 two handed
Dagger S 2.5 9.5 1-3(2) 19.0
Broadsword S 5.0 12.0 1 12.0
Longsword S 4.5 11.5 1 11.5
Halberd B 5.5 11.5 1 11.5 two handed, ranged
Spetum B 4.5 10.5 1 10.5 two handed,ranged
Dagger(wielded) E 2.5 10.5 1 10.5

Damage vs. demons in the late game, blessed +7 weapons, XL30, 18/**-25 strength, with backstab for non-twoweapons: (assumes demon is large, fire resistant, drain resistant, poison resistant, hates silver, and is fleeing): As you can see, due to the double backstab damage, Grayswandir by itself beats Grayswandir and a silver saber twoweaponed--against a non-silver-hating monster, where the silver damage doesn't help, the effect would be even more dramatic.

weapon skill base average per hit #attacks (avg) total damage notes
SilverDagger E 2.0 45.5 1-4(2.5) 113.75 silver
ElvenDagger E 2.0 35.0 1-4(2.5) 87.5
Dagger E 2.0 35.0 1-4(2.5) 87.5
OrcishDagger E 2.0 35.0 1-4(2.5) 87.5
Grayswandir S 4.5 74.0 1 74.0 silver
Grayswandir+Saber S 4.5+4.5 42.0+30.5 2 72.5 silver
Dart E 1.5 34.5 1-3(2) 69.0
SilverDaggerx2(wielded) S 2.0+2.0 28.0+28.0 2 56.0 silver
Silver Saber S 4.5 47.0 1 47.0 silver
SilverDagger(wielded) E 2.0 45.5 1 45.5 silver
Magicbane(wielded) E 2.0 38.8975 1 38.8975
Barehanded w/ silver ring E 1.5 20.0 1 20.0 silver


In SLASH'EM, rogues can be doppelgangers, humans, orcs, or vampires, and are always chaotic.

Starting equipment

Rogues start with the following equipment:


Rogue skills
Max Skills


Rogues gain the following techniques:

Level Technique
1 Critical strike
15 Cutthroat

Other abilities

Rogues can steal gold from monsters with the #borrow command. This is not terribly useful, as at low levels where gold matters there are much more efficient ways of getting it (e.g. credit cloning with your oilskin sack), and the amount of gold stolen is only your level x 25-50. Finally, it has a chance of angering peacefuls, most of whom are dangerous in the early game.


The early game for SLASH'EM rogues is about finding an altar and doing a sac-fest for the Bat from Hell. Once you have this item, you will be very strong in melee through the end game. Additionally, Rogues start with a lot of gold, which can be used to run the protection racket or buy some decent equipment in Minetown or the Mall (though Rogues will pay a markup of 3x the normal rate). Other than that, the early game is played much the same as in Vanilla ... acquire daggers in the Gnomish Mines, advance skill to expert, pummel foes from range as they approach. This is slightly more difficult if you start with the pistol and bullets instead of daggers, but a careful approach to fighting weaker foes should allow you to get a stack of daggers and decent dagger skill relatively quickly. Use a scroll of teleportation to get out of scrapes, and poison your stack of daggers with your potion of sickness for maximum effectiveness.

The mid-game is also similar to Vanilla, but since non-lycanthrope and non-doppelgangers rogues can two-weapon, and SLASH'EM allows two-weaponing with artifacts, it's worth trying to get one of the stronger artifact weapons (or a strong non-artifact such as a silver saber, silver long sword, or crysknife) as a second to use with the bat. Doomblade, Serpent's Tongue, and Stormbringer are all good choices here, as is the Great Dagger of Glaurgnaa if you have a wish. You will also encounter Yendorian army members in the mid-game, from whom you can and should collect as many bullets as possible and enchant up to +7, then keep an assault rifle or two handy for use in mowing down powerful opponents. Rogues and Undead slayers are the only roles that can achieve expert in firearm skill, which gives a chance of up to two extra shots fired per round. A rogue who is expert in firearms, firing +7 bullets from an assault rifle will fire 5-9 shots per round (average 7) and do 1d20 + 7 damage per hit (average 17.5), for an incredible average of 122.5 damage per round. Using silver bullets for special occasions (Demogorgon, etc.) would add an additional 73.5 average damge to that.

A user has suggested improving this page or section as follows:

"Does having skilled or expert in firearms give extra damage per hit?"

In the late game, you may want to reverse-genocide gypsies and wish for a few stacks of silver daggers for use in Gehennom. Thrown weapons can strike from behind as well, so a stack of +7 silver daggers becomes an extremely powerful weapon against the demon princes. Between the bat, your silver daggers, and your assault rifles, you should be nigh-unstoppable in the end game.

A good ascension kit for a Rogue is:


In SporkHack ranged attacks do not backstab, which wipes out the 4d30 nuclear ranged option. Elbereth is also less effective, but Magicbane is still worthwhile because it can cause fear (even against monsters which ignore Elbereth) and grants magic resistance (especially useful because reflection is less useful).

See also

This page may need to be updated for NetHack 3.6.0.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.4.3. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-343}} tag to {{nethack-360}} or {{noversion}} as appropriate.

  1. uhitm.c in NetHack 3.6.0, line 648