This article is about the player role. For the game, see Rogue (game).

The Rogue is a player role. Rogues can be humans or orcs, and are always chaotic. Rogues are skilled thieves. The NetHack encyclopedia says of them:

I understand the business, I hear it: to have an open ear, a
quick eye, and a nimble hand, is necessary for a cut-purse; a
good nose is requisite also, to smell out work for the other
senses. I see this is the time that the unjust man doth
thrive. <...> The prince himself is about a piece of iniquity,
stealing away from his father with his clog at his heels: if
I thought it were a piece of honesty to acquaint the king
withal, I would not do't: I hold it the more knavery to
conceal it; and therein am I constant to my profession.

[ Autolycus the Rogue, from The Winter's Tale by
                William Shakespeare ]

...and from the guidebook:

             Rogues are agile and stealthy  thieves,  with  knowledge  of
         locks,  traps,  and  poisons.   Their advantage lies in surprise,
         which they employ to great advantage.

Starting equipment[]


Rogue skills
Max Skills



Main article: Rogue quest

The Rogue quest sees you fighting the Master Assassin for The Master Key of Thievery. Inspired by the profession you have chosen, there are lots of stealing monsters, traps, shapeshifters and challenges to even access the quest nemesis!

Rank titles[]

The status line shows you to be one of the following ranks when you reach the specified experience level:

  • XL 1-2: Footpad
  • XL 3-5: Cutpurse
  • XL 6-9: Rogue
  • XL 10-13: Pilferer
  • XL 14-17: Robber
  • XL 18-21: Burglar
  • XL 22-25: Filcher
  • XL 26-29: Magsman/Magswoman
  • XL 30: Thief


  • Rogues can be better suited to fighting with ranged attacks; like daggers, crossbows, darts, and knives. However, realistically, at higher XLs or later in the game when one's AC is sufficiently negative, melee combat with an artifact weapon obviously becomes the norm.
  • Rogues can get to expert skill in twoweaponing as well, but as they cannot become expert in the better artifact weapons (besides Magicbane) and cannot get backstab damage while twoweaponing, this may not be the best use of skill points.
  • Rogues start with a lot of daggers and they should be thrown often. The skill should be raised to expert before anything else, as they can throw up to 4 daggers at once at expert. They also have a high dexterity, so it is rare for them to miss. Even at start they get a +1 bonus to the number of daggers they randomly throw so this is a source of extra damage, but watch out for pets and peaceful monsters behind the desired target in case of overkills. (Both rogues and rangers need to consider the shot limitation prefix from the start of the game in order to limit themselves to a single dagger or arrow at a time as needed.)
  • Rogues start with a potion of sickness. This can be used to make poisoned weapons, which are capable of instakills if the monster doesn't have poison resistance. In the beginning of the game, it's a good idea to #dip a stack of darts in the potion of sickness to use on tougher monsters. Rogues are good at finding and disarming dart traps, but care should be taken so that a poisoned dart is not tossed back at the Rogue (or triggered from a trap) before a decent cloak or better yet poison resistance is acquired.
  • Since in the later game you will not use your short sword, you should use any dagger (even a crude one) as your primary weapon as soon as possible. This will help you to raise the dagger skill. One dagger can be separated from your starting stack for wielding by naming the stack, dropping the chosen dagger, renaming the stack, and picking up the dagger again. #adjust the stack to a lesser inventory letter so that new daggers are added to the quiver instead of the wielded dagger.
  • Because Rogues tend to use low damage weapons which hit often, strength is an especially important attribute. Early boulder pushing may be in order, and gauntlets of power are good candidates for wishing if you can't get up to 18/** (ex. if you are an orc)
  • Remember that runed daggers are made from wood, so you would like to have one or three in case of an acid blob or something like that. If you're playing Slash'em, try to get a Great Dagger; The Great Dagger of Glaurgnaa (chaotic Necromancer great dagger) if you can, because it gives you magic resistance when carried and its level-drain ability can be helpful.
  • Rogues can gain an additional +1d(XL) "backstab" damage when striking a fleeing monster and not two-weaponing. Because of this, Elbereth, scrolls of scare monster, and tooled horns are useful to rogues in close quarters. This is extremely powerful when combined with thrown daggers. In addition, Rogues might wish for Magicbane or find it in the bones file of a Wizard - its scare attack can very often cause monsters to flee, giving the Rogue backstab opportunities, and more importantly, it is an athame, so when uncursed or blessed, it can engrave Elbereth in one turn. However Magicbane is not a chaotic artifact so it can cause damage when picked up or wielded so it should not be wished for before the rogue has enough hitpoints to handle it and care should be taken when switching the wielded weapon to use a pickaxe or such. Boots of speed are very useful for a Rogue when combined with Magicbane because it increases your chance of landing scare results on monsters faster than they recover. Grayswandir is another worthwhile weapon to consider for backstab; Rogues can reach Skilled in saber and backstab benefits greatly from Grayswandir's guaranteed double damage.
  • Rogues are one of the classes that lose the least from wearing a shield as it doesn't block backstabing and their spell groups are non-combat. A trip down to the lady who always has a bad hair day can be especially rewarding for a rogue, as long as she doesn't stiff him.
  • If one starts with a blindfold it's a good idea to consume a floating eye corpse as soon as possible, because this always conveys telepathy.
  • The Rogue quest is a tad trickier than others.
    • The home level contains several chameleons. The longer you spend on this level, the greater the chance that one will turn into a master- or arch-lich, warp to you, and cast a spell that ruins your day. If you find a ring of protection from shape changers, keep it on until you have hunted down all eight chameleons. Otherwise, you may want to delay beginning the Quest until you have genocided either chameleons or whatever other monsters you deem a threat.
    • About 1/7th of generated monsters will be nymphs, with the corresponding hazards of losing your weapon and armor and having your wands used against you. Use your daggers/darts to eliminate them from a distance, and try to avoid being surrounded on the locate level. If you have polymorph control, polying into a nymph or succubus will protect you from their theft attacks. Guardian nagas are also quite common, so have either MC3 or a ring of free action to prevent paralysis.
    • There are three distinct sections of the goal level: one containing the up stairs, one containing the Nemesis, and one containing neither. Because the three segments are partitioned by non-diggable walls and the level is non-teleport, gaining access to the Master Assassin is non-trivial. One can overcome this in a few ways:
      • By digging down from the previous level and hopefully landing in the region where the quest nemesis is, waking him, and then getting out of the level by quaffing a cursed potion of gain level or by reading a cursed scroll of teleportation or reading an uncursed scroll of teleportation while confused. Once the Master Assassin is awake, he will warp to the up stairs, and you can meet him there. Be prepared to do this multiple times if you land in the section without access to the Nemesis or stairs.
      • By polymorphing oneself into a xorn to be able to walk through walls (make sure to take off the appropriate pieces of armor which would break upon polymorphing first). Note that unlike Wizards, Rogues lose almost all of their special role abilities while polymorphed so they should reserve polymorphs for items and pets for the most part.
      • Applying a drum of earthquake sufficiently close to the Master Assassin to alert him of your presence.
      • Use the psychic blast of a tame (master) mind flayer to alert the Master Assassin of your presence.
      • The quest nemesis is a bit of a pushover and might even easily be overcome when the player is in the form of another monster. Even if the player is reduced to 0 HP in polymorphed form, however, they will return to their original form at whatever HP they had before the polymorph. The quest nemesis could then be dispatched from their original form.
  • The Rogue class artifact is the Master Key of Thievery, a very nice artifact which confers the half physical damage, warning and teleport control intrinsics. It can also be #invoked to untrap boxes and doors with 100% success.
  • Don't neglect your spells! Rogues can reach Skilled in the very useful divination and escape schools (as well as the somewhat less useful matter school), and human Rogues can reach a respectable 87% success rate without a robe. You most likely started the game with a mediocre IN score, so consider performing alchemy to brew up some potions of gain ability.
  • Human Rogues do not start with food, poison resistance, cloak or spells so they run the risk of losing strength to starvation or poison. Orcish Rogues do not have the first two of those problems so are a good choice for players learning how to play the role.
  • Rings that unmask the giant mimics in Sokoban can be used in the first level of the Rogue quest (accessible before reaching level 14) to upgrade pet cats and dogs, but some players would rather can it.

Shields up!

Weapon Choice[]

Rogues are good twoweaponers but better missile users. Thrown weapons will often make sense at all ranges. If you do twoweapon, consider leading with a dagger to allow expert skill and conserve skill slots.

Damage of selected weapons versus small targets with only skill +damage. Daggers thrown except as noted.

weapon skill(s) base per hit #attacks (avg) total damage notes
Crossbow E 2.5 8.0 1-3(2) 16 +d6 poison
Dart E 2.0 7.5 1-3(2) 15.0 +d6 poison
ElvenDagger E 3.0 5.0 1-4(2.5) 12.5
ElvenShort+ElvenBroad E/E 4.5/6.0 5.5/7.0(t) 2 12.5 two handed
OrcishDagger E 2.0 4.0 1-4(2.5) 10.0
Dagger E 2.5 4.5 1-4(2.5) 11.25
ElvenDagger+ElvenBroad E/E 3.0/6.0 4.0/7.0(t) 2 11 two handed
ElvenShortx2 E/E 4.5 5.5(t) 2 11.0 two handed
Katana x2 S/S 5.5 5.5(t) 2 11.0 two handed
Crossbow S 2.5 7.0 1-2(1.5) 10.5 +d6 poison
DwarfShortx2 E/E 4.0 5.0(t) 2 10.0 two handed
Dart S 2.0 6.5 1-2(1.5) 9.75 +d6 poison
ElvenDagger+LongSword E/E 3.0/4.5 4.0/5.5(t) 2 9.5 two handed
LongSword x2 S/S 4.5 4.5(t) 2 9.0 two handed
Dagger S 2.5 3.5 1-3(2) 7.0
Crossbow B 2.5 6.0 1 6.0 +d6 poison
Broadsword S 5.0 6.0 1 6.0
Dart B 2.0 5.5 1 5.5 +d6 poison
Longsword S 4.5 5.5 1 5.5
Halberd B 5.5 5.5 1 5.5 two handed, ranged
Spetum B 4.5 4.5 1 4.5 two handed,ranged
Dagger(wielded) E 2.5 4.5 1 4.5
Dagger B 2.5 2.5 1-2(1.5) 3.75

Damage versus small targets with +3 damage from strength and a +3 damage from enchantment.

weapon skill base per hit #attacks (avg) total damage notes
ElvenDagger E 3.0 11.0 1-4(2.5) 27.5
Dart E 2.0 13.5 1-3(2) 27.0 +d6 poison
Dagger E 2.5 10.5 1-4(2.5) 26.25
OrcishDagger E 2.0 10.0 1-4(2.5) 25.0
ElvenShort+ElvenBroad E/E 4.5+6.0 11.5+13(t) 2 24.5 two handed
ElvenBroadx2 S/S 6.0 12.0(t) 2 24.0 two handed
ElvenDagger+ElvenBroad E/E 3.0+6.0 10.0+13(t) 2 23.0 two handed
Katana x2 S/S 5.5 11.5(t) 2 23.0 two handed
Crossbow E 2.5 11.0 1-3(2) 22.0 +d6 poison, no strength bonus
LongSword x2 S/S 4.5 10.5(t) 2 21.0 two handed
Dagger S 2.5 9.5 1-3(2) 19.0
Broadsword S 5.0 12.0 1 12.0
Longsword S 4.5 11.5 1 11.5
Halberd B 5.5 11.5 1 11.5 two handed, ranged
Spetum B 4.5 10.5 1 10.5 two handed,ranged
Dagger(wielded) E 2.5 10.5 1 10.5

Damage vs. demons in the late game, blessed +7 weapons, XL30, 18/**-25 strength, no misses, with backstab for non-twoweapons: (assumes demon is large, fire resistant, drain resistant, poison resistant, hates silver, and is fleeing): As you can see, due to the double backstab damage, Grayswandir by itself *beats* Grayswandir and a silver saber twoweaponed -- against a non-silver-hating monster, where the silver damage doesn't help, the effect would be even more dramatic.

weapon skill base average per hit #attacks (avg) total damage notes
SilverDagger E 2.0 45.5 1-4(2.5) 113.75 silver
ElvenDagger E 2.0 35.0 1-4(2.5) 87.5
Dagger E 2.0 35.0 1-4(2.5) 87.5
OrcishDagger E 2.0 35.0 1-4(2.5) 87.5
Grayswandir S 4.5 74.0 1 74.0 silver
Grayswandir+Saber S 4.5+4.5 42.0+30.5 2 72.5 silver
Dart E 1.5 34.5 1-3(2) 69.0
SilverDaggerx2(wielded) S 2.0+2.0 28.0+28.0 2 56.0 silver
Silver Saber S 4.5 47.0 1 47.0 silver
SilverDagger(wielded) E 2.0 45.5 1 45.5 silver
Magicbane(wielded) E 2.0 38.8975 1 38.8975
Barehanded w/ silver ring E 1.5 20.0 1 20.0 silver


In SporkHack ranged attacks do not backstab, which wipes out the d4xd30 nuclear ranged option and E-graving is less effective, but Magicbane is still worthwhile because it grants Magic Resistance which is even more useful because reflection is limited. It is also the most damaging weapon which uses dagger skill and can cause fear (and hence backstab damage) against monsters that ignore E-graving.