Most people who look at the rogue class come to the conclusion that the rogue could make a good tank with all of their defensive abilities. As I discussed in my article best tank class, while the rogue has some good abilities the ok health and the poor AC leaves something to be desired.

So, how to get a good tank rogue? The things that make tanks strong are AC, health, saves, and other defensive abilities. Although the rogue has some of these it needs help with the rest.

Born into it

Picking a race that increases you tanking abilities is the first start. What you are looking for is a race with a con and or dex bonus. Most rogues only need dex for most of their abilities and high constitution gives you the health to survive the fight.

That being said there are other races that can give more defensive bonuses. Githyanki gains a +1 to ac for when not wearing armor of shields and the ability to cast shield as an ability once a day. Beasthide shifters give you a +1 to AC along with temporary HP.

If these races are not to your liking than any race with con and or dex bonus will do fine. One thing you can also do is get a race with a bonus to wisdom. We will get back to why this is important later.

tank

Abilities that Score you a Tank

Abilities that play a role in a rogue tank build is dexterity and constitution. Here are the stats I suggest at level 1 (racial bonuses are not applied).

  • Strength: 8 since rogues are dex based you do not need any strength
  • Dexterity: 15 for defense and rogue abilities
  • Constitution: 15 the more health the better chances for survival
  • Intelligence : 10 since this is a save for rogues
  • Wisdom: 14 this is for more cleric spells and slippery mind
  • Charisma: 8 not relevant to this build

As you can start to see this build uses clerics and rogue levels. But since this is a discussion about tank rogues lets go over that first.

Note: most of the medium and heavy armor have a max dex of +2. When your dex gets higher you can switch armor to accommodate it if you desire.

Putting the Rogue in Tank Rogue

I went over this a little in the best tank classes in D&D 5e but rogues really do get some good defensive abilities

  • Uncanny Dodge lets you half physical damage
  • evasion that you take no damage if you succeed the check
  • Slippery mind give you proficiency to wisdom saves
  • elusive make sure you can’t get attacked with advantage

When combined with the armor and healing the cleric gives you, these four abilities make you almost invincible.

The Archetype of Their Destruction

The archetype I would go with for rogue is the arcane trickster. This goes great with the spells the cleric gives you. As a result of this, let the arcane trickster to do the heavy lifting terms of spells slots but actually only using mostly cleric spells.

The one downside to the arcane trickster in terms of a tank build is that most of your spells have to be illusion or enchantment. Luckily cantrips don’t follow this rule so you can choose the best can trips without worrying about restrictions. Although there is an argument that some of the spells in these schools can be helpful for tanking it is the exception not the rule. The rest of the spells you choose when you follow these restrictions can just be filler spells. I call these filler spells because in reality you should be saving the spells slots for defensive and healing spells to keep you alive in a pinch.

This is not a caster; this is a non-magical fighter with magical tricks.

Forge

One Class is Weak, Many Classes are Strong

The tank rogue is missing some survivability by itself which is why I pair it with 1 level in cleric. This level can be taken any time after 1st. With wisdom of 14 you can multiclass into cleric whenever you want. The one thing that is great about clerics is that they prepare spells based on spell slots not your level in the class.

Taking a level in cleric gives you better proficiency in armor and with shields. You also gain access to healing and other spells to keep you alive.

While there are a few domains you can choose from the one I recommend is the forge domain. This is because it has the strongest level one domain for becoming a tank. The blessing of the forge, which lets you increase the AC bonus of your starting armor, is great. The forge domain also gives you proficiency in heavy armor that you can use to increase your AC.

The Spell Book of Tricks

As stated above arcane trickster spells are mostly restricted to illusion and enchantment spells. What spells do you choose? Since cleric spells give you options while the trickster spells are more finite I will say what I would defiantly take for the trickster and be more open for cleric spells. Let’s start the trickster spells.

Spell book

Cantrips

  • Blade Ward, this gives you resistance to bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage
  • Lightning Lure, because nothing says tank like pulling agro

Level I Spells

  • Absorb Elements, this gives you instant resistance to an elemental effect, fire, cold, acid, etc.
  • Shield, another great reaction spell to give you a bonus to AC

Note: both the spells are great and I would highly recommend one of them for your free non-illusion or enchantment spell. It may be worth grabbing the other one at level 8.

Level 3 Spells (there are really no worthwhile level 2 defensive wizard spells)

  • Protection from Energy, gives you a more fixed duration resistance of one element

Level 4 Spells

  • Fire Shield, like protection from energy but with more of a bite
  • Stone Skin, gives you resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage for one hour

Cleric Spells

Cantrips

  • Resistance, gives you a bonus to a saving throw

Level 1 Spells

  • Cure Wounds, gives you the healing you need
  • Shield of Faith, gives you more ac for more tanking

Level 2 Spells

  • Protection from Poison, remove poison, resistance to poison, and better saves against poison

Level 3 Spells

  • Protection from Energy, in case you want the wizard spell for something else

Level 4 Spells

  • Death Ward, If you would go to 0 hp you are now at 1 enough said

What This All Looks Like

Here is a basic rundown of what I would pick

Race beasthide shifter since you get a +1 to ac and a lot of temporary health

For equipment armor is half plate (because this is the highest ac bonus with the best max dex) and a shield. With the forge domain enhancing your armor you AC should be along the lines of 21 at level 2 (assuming you have the money for half plate)

The spells are what you think you need (there are arguments to be made for all of them) however I would always pick a healing spell and the trickster spells I mentioned above.

Final Thoughts

What draws me to this build is that you get great combat durability with the skills and out of combat fun the rogue class provides. If you want to try out a tank that is off Meta then try out the tank rogue.

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