Rogue in D&D 5e and Pathfinder 2

Comparison build

gaming 5e pathfinder dnd

There's a lot of overlap between D&D and Pathfinder. Originally, of course, Pathfinder was the D&D 3rd edition rule set copied and pasted (legally permitted by the Open Game License), with a few nominal adjustments, into a book labeled "Pathfinder". Now that D&D is on its 5th edition (and heading toward its next incarnation), and Pathfinder has released a 2nd edition of its own, their paths have diverged substantially, and yet they're both implementing essentially the same game. It occurred to me that it might be interesting to do a comparative build, creating ostensibly the same character in the two different systems. I decided to start with a halfling rogue, because it's an archetype I enjoy, and anyway most of us know what that's supposed to look like.

It's Bilbo Baggins. It looks like Bilbo Baggins.

This isn't a very scientific process, but I tried to keep a few principles in mind:

  • Defaults: Use the core systems to build, with no extra source books and no variant classes.
  • Intent: If there's an option that grants resistance to poison in one system, but no similar option in the other system, then I'll try to boost CON to mimic that resistance.
  • Close enough is good enough: I'm not aiming for the exact same specs, because that's not possible. Besides, the literal same specs, aside from attribute modifier numbers, aren't treated the same way by their different systems anyway. I am trying to get close enough to see how a character concept is expressed through two different systems.

Ancestry (race)

Halflings are very broadly similar in both systems. They're both small creatures with a speed of 25 feet.

In 5e, several traits are written into the race. A few additional traits are earned by selecting a subrace.

  • 5e:
    • Ability: +2 to Dexterity
    • Luck: When you roll a 1 on a d20, you can re-roll it.
    • Brave: Advantage on saving throws against being frightened.
    • Nimble: You can move through the square of any creature of a larger creature.
    • Stout: With this subrace, you are resistant to poison, and +2 to Constitution. I chose this subrace exclusively because it seems more useful than the Lightfoot option.

In Pathfinder 2, your ancestry determines ability score boosts and flaws, and vision. Everything else, you take as a heritage and an ancestry feat.

  • Pathfinder 2:
    • Vision: +2 bonus when using the Seek action to find hidden or undetected creatures, and a DC reduction for targeting something that's concealed or hidden.
    • Ability: +2 to Dexterity, Wisdom, and one of your choice.
    • Flaw: -2 to Strength
    • Hillock: This heritage enables you to add your level to the HP you regain during an overnight rest, and you get a bonus when your wounds are tended to by a Medicine check. This isn't exactly a boost to Constitution (as with the Stout subrace of 5e) but it helps you stay alive, which is similar enough in the end.
    • Luck: With the Halfling Luck ancestry feat, you're able to re-roll a failed check once a day.


In 5e, your background grants you skill proficiencies, a language, some equipment, and sometimes some roleplaying benefits (free lodging, specialized knowledge about something, and so on.)

In Pathfinder 2, your background grants you attribute boosts and more skills.

There were a few backgrounds that were similar (both systems have a background called Street urchin, for example.) To round out my build, though, I chose Sage (Researcher) in 5e and Scholar in Pathfinder.

  • 5e: Skill proficiencies in Arcana and History. When you don't know something, you know where you can learn more about it.
  • P2: +2 to either Intelligence or Wisdom, and one of your choice. +2 (Trained) to your choice between Arcana, Nature, Occultism, or Religion. You gain the Assurance feat in that skill. You're also trained in Academia (Lore).


In D&D and Pathfinder, a class determines, essentially, your character's job. A rogue indicates that you're skilled in stealth and thievery. There's more flexibility here than you might think. You could be a rogue that's focused on lockpicking and finding and disarming traps. You could be a rogue that's focused on acrobatics and nimbleness on the battlefield. Or you could be a pickpocket and cat thief.

For this experiment, I tried to stick close to the concept of a halfling burglar.

Hit Points

As a rogue, you start with 8 HP + your CON modifier in both systems.

In 5e, you increase your HP by 5 + CON (or you can roll a Hit Die for it) at every level. Regaining HP after damage requires you to either:

  • Take a short rest, and roll some number (equal to or less than your level) of Hit Die
  • Take a long rest to restore all HP

In Pathfinder 2, you increase your HP by 8 + CON every level. That obviously means the numbers for HP are higher in Pathfinder 2 than 5e. However, regaining HP is a little harder in Pathfinder 2.

  • Take an 8 hour rest to regain your CON modifier (minimum of 1) × your level in HP. For example, at level 3 with a CON modifier of 2, you have 30 HP, but you only regain 6 HP after a night's rest. At level 15 with the same CON modifier, you have 150 HP but you only regain 30.


Skills work a little differently in each system. In 5e, having a skill means you add the corresponding attribute modifier to your roll. Having proficiency in that skill means you add your Proficiency Bonus to the roll, as well.

In Pathfinder 2, your proficiency in a skill governs how much you add to your roll.

  • If you are Trained in a skill, you add 2.
  • If you're an Expert in a skill, you add 4.
  • If you're a Master of a skill, you add 6.
  • And if you're Legendary at a skill, you add 8.

Unlike in 5e, your proficiency isn't locked to your level. You can be an Expert in something even at level 1.

  • 5e: From a list of choices, I chose Acrobatics, Deception, Perception, and Stealth. They all seemed broadly useful for the burglar archetype I was building toward.
  • P2: The rogue class grants +4 (Expert) in Perception and +2 (Trained) in Stealth. You can take training in a number of skills equal to your INT modifier, but nothing has boosted this build's Intelligence yet, so 0 new skills are acquired.

In both systems, further skills are available depending on other choices you make.

Saving Throws

Your class also grants a bonus to saving throws.

In 5e, this amounts to your Proficiency Bonus to two attributes when you make a saving throw.

In Pathfinder 2, there are three saving throws: Fortitude (based on CON), Reflex (based on DEX), and Will (based on WIS). This means your stat in a saving throw is a little more flexible in Pathfinder, because it's calculated from both your proficiency and your attribute (which you can adjust during the build).

  • 5e: Dexterity, Intelligence
  • P2: +2 Fortitude, +4 Reflex, +4 Will


In each system, your class grants your proficiency (at level 1, that's +2 in 5e and at least +2 in Pathfinder.)

  • 5e: Light armor
  • P2: Light armor, unarmored defense


In each system, your class grants your proficiency (at level 1, that's +2 in 5e and at least +2 in Pathfinder.)

  • 5e: simple weapons, hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers, shortswords, thieve's tools
  • P2: Trained (+2) in simple weapons, rapier, sap, shortbow, shortsword, unarmed attacks


In 5e, your 1st level perk for being a rogue is Expertise, which allows you to choose two skills (or just your skill with thieve's tools) and double the proficiency bonus.

In Pathfinder 2, it's up to the player to choose a Rogue's Racket, along with a 1st level feat. I couldn't find anything similar to Expertise in 5e. I decided to take the Rogue's Racket called Thief, which allows you to use DEX instead of STR for melee attacks. That should boost this build's capability in combat to make up for its somewhat limited Sneak Attack.

Sneak Attack

In 5e, you deal extra Sneak Attack damage when you have advantage on a foe, or when an ally is within 5 feet of that foe.

In Pathfinder 2, Sneak Attack requires your foe to be flat-footed, a condition that gets imposed, for instance, during a surprise attack. Fortunately, the Surprise Attack trait means that when you roll Deception or Stealth for initiative, creatures that haven't acted are flat-footed to you.

Leveling up

In Pathfinder 2, you get to choose a class feat at 1st level. I took the Nimble Dodge, which grants you +2 to AC, as a reaction, against attacks you can see.

There are several feats to choose from, and it mimics the Roguish Archetypes you choose at 3rd level in 5e, except that these start at 1st level, and you get to choose your own path at every step.

In 5e, class features start at level 3.


In 5e, the official method of generating attribute scores is to roll 4d6 six times, ignoring the die that rolls the lowest each time. Once you have six numbers, you assign them to attributes.

In Pathfinder 2, all attributes start at 10. As you choose your ancestry, background, and class, you gain boosts and flaws to your attributes. At the end of that process, you boost four more of your choice.

Here's what I ended up with in Pathfinder 2:

  • STR 8 (-1)
  • DEX 16 (3)
  • CON 12 (1)
  • INT 10 (0)
  • WIS 14 (4)
  • CHA 10 (0)

5e gives the player a lot more control, so I just mimicked what I ended up with in Pathfinder 2:

  • STR 8 (-1)
  • DEX 17 (3)
  • CON 14 (2)
  • INT 12 (1)
  • WIS 14 (2)
  • CHA 10 (0)

Pretty similar.

A rogue by any other name

Through this experiment, it became clear to me that whether you're playing 5e or Pathfinder 2, you've got a lot of freedom during even the default character creation process. Add supplemental source books to that, and there's even more to play with.

In a way, after trying this, I feel like maybe it was the wrong experiment. Can you build the most obvious builds in each system? Yes, yes you can. Can you build something really unique or quirky or cool or unexpected? That's probably a better experiment, and it's the one you should go try for yourself in both 5e and Pathfinder 2.

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