As a classic Dungeons and Dragons (DND) character, rogues possess many special abilities that border on magic.
Can rogues use magic in DND?
Rogues can use magic in DND. The Arcane Trickster archetype gives rogue characters the ability to use magic at level 3. Rogues can also multi-class with spellcasters to learn and cast spells. They can use magical items. At level 13, rogues can use scrolls with the Magic Device feature.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about rogues and magic.
Can Rogues Use Magic in DND? (Official Answer)
According to the official rules and unofficial rulings, Rouges are capable of using magic in DND.
The official Players Handbook explains the Arcane Trickster subclass:
Some rogues enhance their fine-honed skills of stealth and agility with magic, learning tricks of enchantment and illusion. These rogues include pickpockets and burglars, but also pranksters, mischief-makers, and a significant number of adventurers.
Sage Advice and D&D rule designer, Jeremy Crawford, also chimed in on Rouges using magic.
Crawford simply stated: “Use Magic Device is intended to work with spell scrolls.”
To top it off, the official Wizards of the Coast website also specifically mentions that some rogues learn magic tricks to supplement their thievery.
5 Sneaky Ways Rogues Can Use Magic in DND
Rogues can use magic in at least five different (and sneaky) ways in Dungeons & Dragons.
We go into more detail about each “way” later.
Here is the short version of those five ways:
- Multi-Classing with a Spellcaster—Players can combine the skills and abilities of a rogue with magical characters such as wizards and sorcerers.
- Magic Items—rogues can tap into items infused with magical power.
- The Magic Device feature—Once they reach level 13 in DND, rouges get access to the Magic Device Feature which allows them to use scrolls.
- Arcane Trickster—This is a subclass of the classic rogue character that can learn and cast limited spells.
- Racial Benefits—Certain races, such as Tieflings, automatically get access to magic.
Can Rogues Use Spells?
Yes, rogues can use spells in D&D.
There are four main ways for them to do so: racial abilities, multi-classing, subclassing as an Arcane Trickster, or accessing spells written on scrolls through their Magic Device Feature after they reach level 13.
Magical Races for Rogues
If a player chooses the following race, they can use magic spells:
- Yuan-Ti Pureblood
Multi-Classing for Magic
Multi-classing is another simple way for a rogue to learn spells.
Rouges can multi-class as:
If they choose to multiclass into a spellcasting class, they will gain access to that class’s spell list.
However, they will only be able to cast a limited number of spells per day, based on their combined levels in both classes.
The Arcane Trickster subclass is specifically designed for rogues who want to learn spells.
At the 3rd level, an Arcane Trickster gains the ability to cast a small number of spells from the wizard spell list.
As they level up, they learn more and more spells.
Here is a chart that shows their spell usage by level:
|Rogue Level (Arcane Trickster)||# of Spells Known|
You might also want to know that rogues can learn up to a total of 13 spells.
All of these spells fall between a spell level of 1-4. Therefore, rogues do not wield high-level magic if you follow the rules as written (RAW).
Finally, an Arcane Trickster starts with two spell slots at the third level.
By level 20, they possess a total of 11 spell slots.
Here is a good video that goes over how to play an Arcane Trickster:
What Spells Can Rogues Use?
Here is a list of spells that rogues can use when they choose the Arcane Trickster archetype.
Remember, a rogue can’t become an Arcane Trickster until they reach the third level. That means many adventures without any access to spells and magic.
Also, note that most of the spells fall into the Enchantment or Illusion school of magic.
However, there are a few exceptions where you get to choose (or steal) spells from any school of magic.
Here is a list of the Enchantment and Illusion spells that Arcane Trickster rogues can use:
|Spell Level||Illusion & Enchantment Spells|
|1||Tasha’s Hideous Laughter|
|2||Crown of Madness|
|2||Gift of Gab|
|2||Jim’s Glowing Coin|
|2||Nystul’s Magic Aura|
|2||Tasha’s Mind Whip|
|4||Raulothim’s Psychic Lance|
|4||Raulothim’s Psychic Lance|
Like I mentioned earlier, an Arcane Trickster can sometimes access spells outside of the Illusion and Enchantment schools.
Here is the chart that covers the number of spells rogues can access from different schools of magic:
|Arcane Trickster Level||# of Spells from Enchantment & Illusion Schools||# of Spells from any School|
Anytime an Arcane Trickster advances a level, they can switch out the spells they know.
You simply choose a new spell from the list of Wizard spells from one of the allowed schools of magic.
Can Rouges Use Cantrips?
Rogues can use cantrips when they multiclass or subclass as an Arcane Trickster.
An Arcane Trickster gets three cantrips at the 3rd level. You automatically get Mage Hand. You can choose two additional cantrips from the list of Wizard spells.
After that, a rogue doesn’t get another cantrip until they make it to level 10.
Your rogue never learns more than a total of four (4) cantrips over the entire course of their lives in the game.
Typically, a rogue uses cantrips to trick, disguise, befuddle, disarm, rob, con, or escape.
In other words, the cantrips usually are not meleed combat spells designed to inflict damage.
For example, a rogue might use the Dancing Lights cantrip to distract a snooping guard or Minor Illusion to make a hasty retreat.
Here is a list of Cantrip spells:
- Mage Hand (Required cantrip)
- Acid Splash
- Blade Ward
- Booming Blade
- Chill Touch
- Control Flames
- Create Bonfire
- Dancing Lights
- Encode Thoughts
- Fire Bolt
- Green-Flame Blade
- Lightning Lure
- Mage Hand
- Mind Sliver
- Minor Illusion
- Mold Earth
- Poison Spray
- Ray of Frost
- Sapping Sting
- Shape Water
- Shocking Grasp
- Sword Burst
- Toll the Dead
- True Strike
Can Rouges Use Magic Items?
In Dungeons and Dragons, rogues are often thought of as non-magical characters.
While it’s true that they don’t naturally have access to spells like wizards or clerics, that doesn’t mean that they can’t use magical items.
In fact, many of the most useful magic items in the game are perfect for rogues.
Consider, for example, the ever-popular Boots of Striding and Springing. These simple boots allow a character to cover great distances in a single bound, making them perfect for escape or chase scenes.
Or what about the Cloak of Invisibility?
This powerful item allows a rogue to move undetected through enemy territory, setting up ambushes or gathering information.
There are literally dozens of magic items that can be put to good use by a clever rogue.
Can Rouges Use Scrolls with the Magic Device Feature?
Yes, rouges can use scrolls with the Magic Device feature.
The Player’s Handbook describes the feature this way:
By 13th level, you have learned enough about the workings of magic that you can improvise the use of items even when they are not intended for you. You ignore all class, race, and level requirements on the use of magic items.
Therefore, a rouge character accesses the Magic Device feature at level 13.
Since your rouge can ignore all requirements of using scrolls, they can cast the spells written on the scrolls.
Can Rogues Use Spellbooks?
Rogues don’t use spellbooks unless they multiclass with Wizards (or any other magical class).
Even as an Arcane Trickster, rouges don’t need spellbooks.
Therefore, no, rouges can not use spellbooks.
However, at level 17, Arcane Tricksters can magically pluck spells from other spellcasters.
Once again, let’s go right to the source (The Players Handbook):
At 17th level. you gain the ability to magically steal the knowledge of how to cast a spell from another spellcaster.
Immediately after a creature casts a spell that targets you or includes you in its area of effect, you can use your reaction to force the creature to make a saving throw with its spellcasting ability modifier. The DC equals your spell save DC.
On a failed save, you negate the spell’s effect against you and you steal the knowledge of the spell if it is at least 1st level and of a level you can cast (it doesn’t need to be a wizard spell). For the next 8 hours, you know the spell and can cast it using your spell slots. The creature can’t cast that spell until the 8 hours have passed.
Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.
Therefore, your thieving rogue can temporarily steal magic spells from spellcasters.
That’s just another way that rouges can, indeed, use magic.
Final Thoughts: Can Rogues Use Magic in DND?
To be clear, a single class rogue that doesn’t take the Arcane Trickster subclass can not use magic.
Except for magic items and any homebrew permissions granted by your Game Master (GM).
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