In this post, we will examine different choices you is likely to be given when leveling up your Swashbuckler in D&D 5e. We are discussing everything where ability scores to max out, to which races provides you with the best stats (and everything in-between). This article will focus primarily on content from the Dungeon Master’s Guide and Player’s Handbook, but will also delve into a few of the content in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
What is this guide?
This guide is intended as a heavy dive in to the Rogue Subclass , the Swashbuckler 5e. You can find the full overview of the Rogue class here: DnD 5E Languages.
For the full class guides, we use the following color rating scheme:
- Red isn’t likely to subscribe to the potency of your character build at all
- Orange can be an OK option
- Green is an excellent option
- Blue is a good option, you need to strongly consider this program for your character
- Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you may not take this program your character wouldn’t be optimized
For the Subclass Guides, we focus mainly on the Blue and Sky Blue options and options which are distinctive from the parent class ‘rating for races, backgrounds, and feats. This is to allow a streamlined view of the subclasses features and because one other choices are discussed in the Unarmed Strike D&D 5E Explained or other Subclass Guides.
Did you know?
D&D Beyond might help create your characters by making choices using a step-by-step approach. Full customization and control of your character, none of the flipping through a huge selection of pages to reference obscure rules.
What is a Swashbuckler 5e?
Swashbucklers are an appealing twist on Rogues. Their main subclass feature could be the tweak to Sneak Attack, allowing Swashbucklers to apply their extra damage when dueling an enemy 1v1 as opposed to the original circumstances (advantage, an ally within 5ft, etc).
This enables Swashbucklers to be a bit more autonomous than the usual normal rogue. They could dive into combat, do massive damage on a target, then move away for their Fancy Footwork ability. Forget about waiting in the shadows for among your party members to interact an enemy when you rush in.
Swashbucklers are amazing at a few things: mobility and single target damage. Their Fancy Footwork ability allows them to disengage from the target free of charge they made a melee attack against it. Combine this using their buffed sneak attack and Swashbucklers will commonly find themselves dancing across the battlefield, sneak attacking for their heart’s content.
The Swashbuckler’s Panache ability also adds a reasonable amount of battlefield control to the Swashbuckler’s arsenal which will be more compared to remaining portion of the Rogue subclasses, save the Arcane Trickster, find yourself with.
As with many rogue subclasses, Swashbucklers tend to be a single target combatant. Because they do not get extra attacks, Rogues count on Sneak Attack to keep pace with other martial classes. Unfortunately, Sneak Attack is just put on a single target per turn so that it limits the Swashbuckler’s capability to crowd control.
The other noted weakness of the Swashbuckler 5e could be the Rakish Audacity feature. While good the theory is that, most Rogues don’t find a whole lot of trouble scoring Sneak Attack against enemies once per turn provided that they’ve another martial class at their party.
Before You Start
Check out our Guide to DnD Races for non-standard races. Keep in mind, most races and subraces are limited by the setting and source material chosen by the DM. Listed here are some of the finest choices for Swashbucklers from the conventional races.
Elf: A +2 to DEX, Darkvision, and proficiency in the Perception skill. This is a good start for Swashbucklers
- High Elf: Beneficial here is longbow proficiency and a free cantrip from the Wizard spell list. The cantrip could possibly be Minor Illusion, Mage Hand, or Prestidigitation, as well as better, Green-Flame Blade and Booming Blade.
- Wood Elf: Wood elves are your stereotypical choice for Rogues. Everything here is useful: WIS bonus (for Perception), longbow proficiency, and the capability to hide in nature. The greatest benefit this is actually the additional movement speed. Swashbucklers live and die on their ability to go freely through the battlefield. More movement means more opportunity to obtain in, do massive harm to a high-value target, and get out.
Half-Elf: The +2 CHA bonus and a +1 to DEX is a good starting ASI. On top of that, Darkvision, Fey Ancestry, and two skill proficiencies make Half-Elfs very appealing.
Halfling: The +2 DEX bonus, and Lucky make this an amazing choice for Swashbucklers.
- Lightfoot: +1 CHA may help with face skills and, due to Rakish Audacity, help with initiative rolls. The capability to hide behind larger party members allows more situations to roll with advantage in combat.
- Stout: +1 CON score increase is solid and the poison resistance is helpful. This subrace is mainly carried by the beds base Halfling stats.
Variant Human: +1 DEX and +1 CHA is really a decent base for Swashbucklers. The free feat and skill is another huge benefit of going with the Variant Human.
We cover the best background for Rogues in our 5e Rogue Guide , the sole changes will be:
- Entertainer: Acrobatics is always an excellent skill to possess for Swashbucklers since they will probably be doing parkour at least once per combat. The Performance skill can replace with having less a Bard in the party and infiltration to important events but isn’t great for much else.
- Pirate: Athletics, Perception, and a very flavorful background. This is a good background for the unsavory swashbucklers.
- Sailor: Athletics, Perception, and a very flavorful background. This is a good background if your swashbuckler toed the line and kept to the straight and narrow.
Ability Score Increases (ASI) at 4th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level.
Rogues are believed a SAD (single ability dependant) class , which means most Rogues may do quite nicely by pumping their DEX and spreading the remainder of their skill points because they so choose.
Because the Swashbuckler’s Rakish Audacity feature allows them to add CHA for their Initiative, it becomes a greater priority to buff. The suggested order of ASI is DEX > CHA > CON.
STR: Leave the heavy lifting to your friends.
DEX: Swashbucklers, like every rogue subclass , love DEX. You may wish to fully grasp this to 20 when possible because it indicates more damage, more AC, better stealth, etc.
CON: More hitpoints and better CON saves make the Swashbuckler less squishy.
INT: Let the Wizard function as smart one, you’re the stabby one.
WIS: Can help with WIS saves and Perception.
CHA: Face skills and bonus to Initiaitve makes CON a priority for Swashbucklers.
Swashbuckler Class Progression
Hit Points: Reference the 5e Rogue Guide
Saves: Reference the 5e Rogue Guide
Proficiencies: Reference the 5e Rogue Guide
Skills: Usually Rogues would pick either Deception or Persuasion and ensure their face interactions stay glued to that specific skill. Swashbucklers would certainly function as subclass to take both Deception and Persuasion if you had been ever going to.
Expertise: Reference the 5e Rogue Guide. Rogue’s grab another Expertise at 6th Level.
Sneak Attack: Reference the 5e Rogue Guide
Thieve’s Cant: Reference the 5e Rogue Guide
Cunning Action: Reference the 5e Rogue Guide
Rogueish Archetype: Swashbuckler
Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
Fancy Footwork: Free disengages from enemies you’ve attacked allows your swashbuckler 5e to skirt across the battlefield and be difficult to pin down. This is a super fun and super great ability.
Rakish Audacity: Their Rakish Audacity allows Swashbucklers to add their CHA modifier for their Initiative roll. Because of the long set of Proficiencies and the Expertise ability, Rogues are usually considered a “skill monkey” class. What this means is they are quite likely to have a solid CHA modifier to greatly help be the face for the party.
This feature also buffs the Rogue’s Sneak Attack ability. Instead of having to have an ally within 5ft OR have advantage on the roll, Swashbucklers can use their sneak attack feature whenever they are within 5ft of the enemy and there are no other creatures within 5ft of you.
The wording is fairly confusing, but essentially Swashbucklers get sneak attack if:
- You have advantage on the attack roll
- The prospective you are attacking comes with an enemy within 5ft of it
- You’re attacking a target and no other creatures are within 5ft of you
Long story short, there are not many opportunities that Swashbucklers will ever NOT have sneak attack against a target.
Uncanny Dodge: Make reference to the 5e Rogue Guide
Evasion: Make reference to the 5e Rogue Guide
Panache: Panache is a superb ability. Granting disadvantage to a creature to any or all targets except you might seem such as for instance a backward ability for squishy rogues (usually this is a choice for tankier classes). But, the Swashbuckler’s ability to escape dodge making use of their Fleeting Footwork and Cunning Action Dash will likely leave any creature in the dust.
Panache also essentially grants a free of charge Charm Person spell if you are out of combat. Speak about value for a subclass feature.
Reliable Talent: Make reference to the 5e Rogue Guide
Elegant Maneuver: Granting your bonus action to provide advantage to Acrobatics or Athletics checks will definitely be useful every once in a while. Usually, Swashbucklers want to be using their Bonus Action to Dash, Hide, or Offhand attack but when, say, you are grappled with a scary creature you will definitely be using this bonus action to provide you with advantage on getting out of it.
Blindsense: Make reference to the 5e Rogue Guide
Slippery Mind: Make reference to the 5e Rogue Guide
Master Duelist: This is type of a last-ditch effort ability. If your or your party member’s life is on the line and you miss an attack, you are likely to be very thankful for this ability. Resetting this ability on a short and long rest is solid and means you will likely get multiple uses within an adventuring day.
Elusive: Make reference to the 5e Rogue Guide
Stroke of Luck: Make reference to the 5e Rogue Guide
We cover the best feats for Rogues in our 5e Rogue Guide , the only changes would be:
- Actor: If you should be lacking for a Bard, or simply want to be Mission Impossible-style amazing with infiltration this is a solid feat to select up. Not only can it increase your Swashbuckler’s CHA (and therefore initiative), nonetheless it may also offer you advantage on Deception and Performance checks when wanting to pass yourself off as another person AND mimic other people’s speech patterns.
- Inspiring Leader: Swashbucklers love their CHA. If you’re able to provide your party a rousing speech each Short or Long rest, this can equate to a great deal of HP over a campaign.
- Magic Initiate: To be able to get a cantrip and a 1st level spell is really insanely best for the Swashbuckler.
- Our suggestion is to find the Wizard spell list as it will allow you to take the Green Flame Blade and Booming Blade cantrips and the Find Familiar spell. Green Flame Blade is really a solid choice to squeeze out some more damage once you get the possibility but the true winner here is Booming Blade. Swashbuckler’s Fancy Footwork allows them to go away after taking a weapon attack, so you can relocate, attack, and move out without provoking an opportunity attack. This will make your opponent face a difficult choice, do they follow you and take the additional damage? Or just let you escape? Find Familiar is definitely a great spell to be able to cast once a day because, if you decide on an owl, your familiar may use its flyby ability to provide you with advantage on your next attack while remaining relatively safe.
- Warlock is another great choice as it synergizes well with the swashbuckler’s high CHA. You get to get Booming Blade, Eldritch Blast, and Hex, all of which are great spells for the swashbuckler.
- Mobile: This is some of those weird times a feat becomes worse for a subclass. Fleeting Footwork already lets you disengage against creatures you swung only at that turn, so taking this feat for 10ft of extra movement and avoiding difficult terrain when dashing isn’t worth it.
Example Swashbuckler Build
- Race: Lightfoot Halfing
- Background: Sailor
- Ability Scores: STR 8, DEX 15, CON 15, INT 8, WIS 8, CHA 15
- Skill Proficiencies: Perception, Stealth, Persuasion, Deception
- Equipment: Shortsword, short bow, burglar’s pack, leather armor, two daggers, and thieves’tools
- Expertise: Stealth, Persuasion
- Sneak Attack
- Cunning Action
- Rogueish Archetype: Swashbuckler
- Fleeting Footwork, Rakish Audacity
- Feat: Magic Initiate
- Cantrips: Booming Blade, Green Flame Blade
- Add Spells: Find Familiar
- Uncanny Dodge
- Expertise: Deception, Perception
- ASI: +2 DEX (DEX 17)
- ASI: +2 DEX (DEX 19)
- Reliable Talent
- ASI: +1 CHA, +1 DEX (DEX 20, CHA 16)
- Elegant Maneuver
- Slippery Mind
- ASI: +2 CHA (CHA 18)
- Master Duelist
- ASI: +2 CHA (CHA 20)
- Stroke of Luck
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