How to build a Monk Rogue in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition offers many classes for players to pick and choose from, but sometimes when a single class does not offer enough, players will opt to multiclass instead. Splitting their levels into any distribution between two or more classes, players are able to create custom combinations that better suit their fantasy and roleplaying needs. Some multiclasses can be unique in the juxtaposition of the two picks, such as the Hexblade Paladin

Others pick classes that lend to each other’s strengths, allowing for incredibly potent builds. One such build is the Monk Rogue hybrid, which takes the explosive power of the monk and combines it with the sneaky underhanded methods of the Rogue. 

Players that take this class will be able to strike from the shadows, cripple opponents, and manipulate their body’s energy to elevate their abilities beyond their normal limits. In this guide, we will break down how to build and play a Monk Rogue multiclass.

monk rogue build 5e

Choosing your Monk Rogue build race

Your Race will determine your strengths at the start of the campaign or upon character creation. It will also determine the way you see the world around you and how the world will see you, both of which influence your character’s backstory and story throughout the campaign. 

While many Races will be suitable for just a Monk or just a Rogue, in order to maximize your multiclass’s effectiveness, you will want to pick from the provided list of Races to ensure positive results.

Best Race Pick – Tabaxi

The Tabaxi is a feline, humanoid creature playable in Dungeons and Dragons. The Tabaxi offers a blend of agility and feline traits that complement the Monk Rogue multiclass. Your bonus to Dexterity increases your attack checks while the inherent bonus to Perception will align with the Rogue’s playstyle of looking for traps or how to approach various situations. 

You gain a bonus to unarmed combat with your claws, allowing you to roll higher and deal slashing damage when attacking plus the Tabaxi’s Feline Agility trait boosts your movement speed, making you elusive and swift. 

Second Best Race Pick- Wood Elf

The Wood Elf is a natural fit for this combination of classes, as you gain a boost to Dexterity and Wisdom, both of which are key Ability Scores for the Monk and Rogue separately. Mask of the Wild will also enhance your stealth, allowing you to play into the Rogue portion of their classes more. 

The only reason Wood Elf is second to Tabaxi is that the Tabaxi Race blends the two classes together, while the Wood Elf Race will have players choosing between if they want to be a Monk for one action and a Rogue for the next. This can still be powerful however, so do not neglect the Wood Elf purely for optimization purposes.

Third Best Race Pick- Half-Elf

Being a blend of Human and Elf, the Half-Elf is a Race that offers flexibility to your builds. As a player taking up a multiclass, consider taking the Half-Elf for its Ability Score distribution, as you are able to pick which stats you would like to increase. 

Investing in Dexterity, Constitution, and Wisdom will create a well-rounded character for an early game experience, or if joining the game midway into a campaign as a second character, you can take any Ability Scores that can support what your party needs. On the other hand, the Half-Elf does not receive any traits that specifically benefit the Monk Rogue multiclass, so be mindful of being less advantaged than the other Races.

5e dnd Monk Rogue Build

Allocating Ability Scores

Once you have selected your Race and various backstory elements, it is time to tackle Ability Score Allocation. Your Ability Scores will determine how effective you are with various checks done throughout the game including when in combat. Because of this and because we are building a multiclass, there are some right and wrong choices that can be made. 

However, even when using the recommended three Ability Scores here, always consider how your game is playing and what your party needs are, as you can always grow a different stat slowly when leveling up.

Highest Priority- Dexterity

As a Monk and Rogue hybrid, all of your actions in combat will utilize Dexterity, making this Ability Score the highest priority investment. Along with your attack rolls, your Armor Class and Initiative will also benefit from investing in Dexterity. This helps with survivability and taking early leads in combat. 

Lastly, Dexterity improves the Rogue’s stealth abilities which are important for play styles that will be discussed later. The multiclass has explosive potential, so moving first can mean ending an encounter in a single turn before the enemy even knows what hit them.

Second Pick – Wisdom

Wisdom is utilized for the Monk’s Ki features and saving throws. Ki is like an ammunition that Monks tap into for their abilities, so having more Ki and larger bonuses to Ki abilities will be important for the class’s success. Your Perception checks will also be enhanced even without proficiency in the stat, supporting the multiclass greatly.

Final Option  – Constitution

As a final pick for Ability Scores, consider taking Constitution. This increases hit points which is always an important stat for any class, especially early on when you lack abilities to increase your dodge rates. 

However, despite this importance, only invest into Constitution if you are satisfied with your Dexterity and Wisdom Ability Scores already and do not need another stat to be padded, such as if you are in the negative bonus range but are only 1 away from hitting neutral. 

Determine Class Progression and Synergies

As a multiclass, you can determine your strengths more precisely than a single-class character is capable of. Initially, you may feel weaker than your allies since they will hit certain power spikes earlier than you, but as you gain levels in both classes, you will see your strength shine in mid to late-campaign areas. 

We highly recommend planning out your leveling route ahead of time from Player Levels 1 through 20. Either use software on your device, pen and paper, or simply type notes out when making your progression plan. Think about the fantasy you are trying to fulfill and what skills will help you go about this. Are you a classic and pure ninja, a monk banished from your temple, a thief trying to do the right thing, or something else entirely? 

These will all influence your decision for levels, and while we cannot simply give a route for levels, we do have important recommendations that you touch on before expanding your character into their unique identity. 

Rogue Levels 1 – 4

  1. Start your character with Rogue Level 1. This will give you important proficiencies such as light armor, simple weapons, Stealth, and access to your Thieves’ tools. You also gain Sneak Attack, an ability that will significantly boost damage output at every level within the campaign. At Player Level 2, you can split into Monk right away or keep leveling Rogue, but you will want to reach Rogue Level 3 for your subclass sooner than later. 
  2. Rogue Level 2 grants Cunning Action, allowing you to use your bonus action to Dash, Disengage, or Hide. These enhance your mobility and survivability plus they pair well with the Monk’s Ki abilities, as you may spend points to gain various effects when taking these actions. 
  1. Rogue Level 3 is an important power spike for both the Rogue alone and the multiclass we are building. You are able to take your Roguish Archetype, the Rogue’s subclass that pinpoints your character’s flavor better. We highly recommend going Swashbuckler for its mobility, bonus damage against targets in one-on-one combat, and additional defensive capabilities. All of these support how the Monk plays, allowing your character to excel in combat. Rogue Level 3 is the minimum level needed for your multiclass to be more effective than simply single-classing Rogue or Monk.
  1. Rogue level 4 is important as it grants an Ability Score Increase of your choice. Refer to our recommended investments for where to put the additional +1. It is highly recommended you at least reach Roge Level 4 in your multiclass regardless of how you split the levels. 

Monk Level 1 – 4

  1. Monk Level 1 grants Unarmored Defense, Martial Arts, and Ki points. These are all crucial to how the Monk plays, so it is highly recommended you take this at Player Level 2.
  2. Monk Level 2 grants the Ki feature, allowing you to utilize your Ki points. As you level up your Monk, you will gain Ki points since the amount you have is equal to your Monk Level. Abilities such as Flurry of Blows and Patient Defense are also unlocked.
    1. Since Ki is directly tied to your Monk Level, if you find yourself loving them or highly relying upon them for the various effects, consider heavily investing into Monk after you reach your required Rogue levels. 
  3. Monk Level 3 is important because you gain your Monastic Tradition, the Monk’s subclass. Way of the Shadow and Way of the Open Hand are both popular choices for the Monk/Rogue multiclass, so pick whichever fits your flavor more. Because this subclass will do more for your Ki points and your overall character than the Roguish Archetype, it is recommended you take this by Player Level 4. This is also the minimum needed for your multiclass to be effective.
  4. Monk Level 4 is similar to Rogue Level 4 in that the best boon is the Ability Score Increase. However, you also gain Slow Fall which will always be useful. It is recommended you at least reach Monk Level 4 before splitting your investments.

Finding Balance

Balancing and synergizing your levels between classes can feel like a tall order. We recommend balancing the first 4 levels of each class closely, as outlined below, then taking up whichever class you enjoy more or are more interested in. 

Popular splits include Rogue 4/Monk 16 or Monk 3/Rogue 17 if you want to lean into one class more than the other. For a strictly middle-of-the-road path, consider Monk 11/Rogue 9 as both of these levels earn a new feature from your subclass, whereas a 10/10 split cuts the Monk off from an important power spike. Below is a chart for a sample route in levels:

Player LevelClass LevelEarned Feature
1Rogue 1Sneak Attack, Thieves’ Tools, Expertise, various proficiencies
2Monk 1Unarmored Defense, Martial Arts
3Monk 2Access to Ki points, Flurry of Blows
4Monk 3Monastic Tradition (Shadows of Open Hand recommended)
5Rogue 2Cunning Action
6Rogue 3Roguish Archetype (Swashbuckler recommended)
7Monk 4Ability Score Improvement
8Rogue 4Ability Score Improvement
Final Split- RogueRogue 17/Monk 3Rogue 17 finishes your Roguish Archetype while still granting access to Monastic Tradition and some Ki points
Final Split- MonkRogue 4/Monk 16Rogue 4/Monk 16 grants the most Ability Score Improvements possible and maxes out Ki abilities except for Monk 20’s feature
Final Split- EvenRogue 9/Monk 11Rogue 9/Monk 11 each tap into the subclasses enough for your power spikes to rival full level 20 Player Characters if built properly

Play Strategies

When it comes to strategy, there is typically a difference between combat and roleplay strategies for characters to follow. However, for the Rogue Monk hybrid, your skills tend to overlap between both combat and roleplay. In general, you will want to utilize your stealth abilities to sneak around and gain the upper hand while unseen. 

When striking while undetected, you will gain various advantages thanks to your Rogue class, and once you land an attack, you can cash in a Ki point to boost the damage further with your Monk Ki Abilities. As for roleplay, think about your in-game reasoning for taking on two classes at once and play off of that. 

Use your morality as a guide for decision-making. Perhaps you are Lawful Good but are working as a spy for your king, which is why you are a Rogue but efficient at combat, or maybe you play as Chaotic Neutral and are willing to cause issues for others if it furthers your own agenda. No matter which route you take, you will want to consider both sides of your multiclass to better support yourself and your table throughout the campaign.

Conclusion on a Monk Rogue Build in 5e

Over the course of this article, we covered the elusive yet mighty Monk Rogue multiclass. With this information now in your hands, you will be able to take control of the stealth operations within your game and will lead your party to victory while unseen. 

You will have to balance between stealth and hand-to-hand combat, but with the right investments and level splits, you will be more than capable of handling anything your Dungeon Master throws your way.