A guide for all things rogue, how to play them solo or in a party, what skills to choose, their weapon options, their strengths and weaknesses.
Rogue Guide for New Players
Who’s The Shady Fellow Over There?
A rogue is a pragmatic utilitarian, a realist with little care for principles and beliefs when you are surrounded by unreliable people and creatures that want to turn your insides out.
Therefore, the rogues’ first regard goes to their own skills, to their proficiency with their tools and the keen of their steel. That is not to say that rogues are loners, but they are certainly self-reliant.
Enough Flowery Bull***t, What Do You Do?
As you have noticed, Dark and Darkest is a slow game. Ironmace wanted a dungeon crawl, and they put the crawl in big bolded letters. Combat is slow, movement is slow, interaction is slow, but death can come very fast.
Fast is what rogues do.
Rogues are good at:
- Moving hella fast.
- Interacting with objects.
- Stabbing and backstabbing.
- Dying to mosquito bites.
Rogues suck at:
- Fighting head on.
- Approaching stabbing distance in large rooms against ranged characters.
- Bleeding without dying.
The rogue presents a binary compromise for any player.
Having the highest speed stat in the game, they also have the lowest health pool (about 85~ points) after wizards, but surprisingly acceptable armor.
This means that while you have the tools to certainly tackle any encounter, you also have the ability to die faster than any other character if you can’t use your only true advantage – your speed.
The Value of Speed
Only shields and a select amount of weapons have the ability to block. That means that your only reliable way to avoid an Early Forced Extraction (or an F) is to dodge. Dodge the swings, dodge the arrows, dodge the traps, dodge your taxes.
Movement speed is tied according direction, so backstepping is slower than moving forward.
However, swinging the camera around to engage in a French Charge (running away in the opposite direction) will give you enough speed to get out of the range of most attacks.
Sidestepping incoming blows is also a possibility, but consider many weapons have very wide swing angles and it falls on exactly what you are against.
Speed is not only essential in immediate combat, but also in how you approach those battles.
We will go into strategies for solo and party rogues later on.
Getting started as a rogue is hard.
While you have your incredible speed naked, your initial dagger does damage comparable to a love peck, your skill selection is limited at best, and your bag of tricks is practically empty.
However, as they level up, their skill path becomes very obvious, and so does their ability to survive without good equipment.
There are currently 4 active skills for rogues, of which – like all classes – you can only take 2 with you to use from the Q and E buttons.
Hide makes you invisible as long as you do nothing. You cannot move, you cannot attack, you cannot heal, you cannot interact with anything. The only thing you can do is move the camera.
Without certain passives, it is very hard to use reliably: as you hide, you leave a misty swirl of particles that is easily seen in the dark, and anybody that played a rogue knows that you are pretty much standing there.
Hide has about 45~ second cooldown and lasts for about a minute. The cooldown only starts when Hide has run out.
- Ambush gives you 50% extra bonus damage for about 3 seconds after you leave Hide. It is not great, but Hide has no casting time whatsoever, so you can activate it in the middle of a fight to gain that bonus damage.
- Crawl gives you 10 steps to move while in stealth. The limited amount might not seem much, but it’s just enough to disorient people and get an easy backstab when they think you are somewhere else.
- In my opinion: Hide is a situational, unreliable skill to use for most cases. While it can give you a solid advantage for its ambush potential, there are other ways to achieve the same that do not rely on wasting an Active skill for it.
An instant-cast skill with about 25 second cooldown, and 20 second duration.
It generates a thick smoke cloud on the spot where you cast it, which hinders enemy movement and their vision.
It’s not my skill of choice, but it is certainly useful.
This ability adds 20 magical damage to be delivered in 5 seconds to a single strike.
Upon activation, this infuses you (not your weapons, per se) with a single bleeding strike, which you can discharge with any weapon, fist, torch, throwing knives, or your daggers.
Hitting the air doesn’t discharge the ability, but shields and walls will.
As most of your weapons at green level deal about 20~ points of damage, this practically doubles the damage of one of your stabs. You can leave it enabled indefinitely and it only discharges upon impact, there’s (almost) no casting time and you can use it in combination with Weakpoint Attack.
Easily, the simplests, and best active ability for rogues.
This ability behaves very similar to the [bleed skill], and it only varies slightly in effect.
Upon activativation, this gives your next strike +50% damage, and it incurs a 50% armor penalty on the target for 6 seconds.
While neither value is particularly much, it all adds up, and its ability to be simultaneously activated with the previous bleeding skill makes it a no brainer for rogues that want to kill and kill fast.
At levels 5, 10, and 15 you receive an additional passive skill slot to take with you. Some of these are mild, and some are game changers.
The signature skill of any good rogue, the ability to defeat any lock.
Whether you find chests valuable or not is entirely up to you, but some doors have the pesky habit of being lock closed, and being the only class that has access to the ability to get into anywhere without a lockpick in your inventory is just grand.
Situational, but it’s great if you want to open every lion chest in your way. If you are in a party, you will be very much expected to take lockpicking.
Easily the best passive skill for rogues.
Your weapons deal an additional small amount of damage over time that stacks up to 5 times.
With rogues having all the fastests weapons in the game, this is just great.
Information is power, and muffling the sound of your steps to not announce your movements is an incredibly powerful tool, as paired with Backstab you can kill plenty of characters before they have the time to react.
Not necessary, but always a solid pick.
30% extra damage against backs.
What’s not to like? If you are in a group, you are guaranteed to always make use of it.
If you are a solo, you are probably going to want to take your opponents by surprise, and you can still find a way to use it reliably against mobs for delicious extra damage.
This allows you to see (in a VERY bright red outline, at a very small range) traps and disarm them.
Which has effectively 3 uses:
- Teach you about the location of traps.
- Open safe passages, for you and your teammates, into dangerous zones.
- Deny rangers their free trap kill.
If you don’t know what else to take, this is a great choice.
5% extra damage with daggers.
The other tools are more reliable to give you chances to get extra damage.
Allows you to steal one item from somebody.
The day I use this perk I’ll tell y’all.
The items on your belt are invisible.
This is more useful than you’d think, since healing and protection potions are a bright red and blue that can be seen in pitch black darkness, which makes carrying them a hazard, and hiding a gamble.
Optional, but neat to have.
Crawl and Ambush
Explained in the Hide skill up there.
Weapons and Equipment
Rogues have a very limited set of equipment.
They wear Cloth and Leather armor (which is a lot better than you’d think at the time of writing this).
They wield daggers and rapiers.
Acquiring better tiered weapons is essential for the rogue, as their damage increases considerably. A blue dagger and a starter dagger are effectively the difference between killing a fighter from 8 stabs or 4.
Weapon damage varies slightly with tier, but as a rule of thumbs, each tier adds +3 damage than the previous.
The tiers are:
- Brown (Starter gear)
Rogues are also the only class that can Dual Wield, but each weapon has a specific hand where they belong and they cannot be used simultaneously.
Their starter equipment includes 3 throwing knives, which deal mediocre damage but it’s better than nothing when you need ranged options, and you can always Poison them freely.
Let’s talk armor.
Leather and cloth armor is generally light, so you can wear the heaviests of the armor in your range and you won’t feel a difference in your speed.
These 2 are the best choices you can have (without going into special stuff).
Cloth, but offers the best armor rating available for the rogue.
Rogue exclusive, a good choice but offers slightly less armor than the gambeson. It’s pretty so there’s that if you are into fashion.
Main hand weapon.
Your initial dagger, purely stab-based.
Stabs are better than you’d think; without the wide swing, you can attack in small spaces and corridors with little chance of getting your weapon stuck on the walls. However, stabs can also be harder to land, and it’s almost impossible to multihit with this dagger.
A dagger with 2 slashes followed by a stab, slightly slower but has better damage.
Main Hand Weapon
The kris is a fairly rare weapon to find, but pretty much on par with the other daggers.
It has a slash-stab-slash combo.
It is very similar to the Castillon Dagger, which only main difference is that it’s a main hand weapon.
Another fairly rare weapon, it is very much the offhand version of the Rondel as it has a quick 3 stab combo.
Main hand weapon.
The only non dagger rogues can use.
It is generally slower than daggers and for some reason, considerably weaker, but has a fairly longer-range stab as first attack, followed with two slashes. Due to its compromise in speed and damage, it is probably the worst weapon available to rogues.
As a rogue, you do not have any method of sustain if you don’t have a friendly Cleric nearby or a Ranger with a campfire. if you are short on long, carrying a stack of 3 health potions might be sufficient, but if you have the money to spare, bandages are the way to go, which you can use incredibly fast due to your Item Interaction speed.
If you run out of healing material, memorizing the location of healing shrines and striding to their location might be your only salvation, or cowering and waiting for the chance to take an escape portal if you must.
Rogue Life (and Keep on Living)
Rogues have very different playstyles depending on whether they are alone, or in a party. Let’s start with everybody’s favorite.
First rule: Run.
Don’t think the solo rogue a loot rat that is incapable of a fight.
A rogue is only incapable of a fair fight. Go one on one with a fighter in the middle of his Second Wind and you will die.
No, sir. You are a rogue. You must stalk, evade, reposition and backstab at your leisure.
As a rogue, you have the speed and the abilities to get away from any situation. This is your greatest strength to keep the situation always to your advantage. With your reduced sound, you are less likely to draw the attention of wandering parties, so it should be your call whether you decide to engage them or not.
So let’s say you WANT to engage them, because stabbing people is fun.
First of all, know your opponents:
- Barbarian: Can 2-hit you, slow af, tanky. Avoid, weaken, harass, outlast.
- Fighter: Same as barbarian.
- Cleric: Can be dangerous, do not underestimate them, abuse them if you have the advantage, run away if you don’t.
- Ranger: If they have a melee weapon, they can be formidable. If they are at range, you shouldn’t be in the same room as them.
- Rogue: Other rogues are just as dangerous to you as them. Every fight with a rogue depends on your equipment, your resources and your ability to consider whether you want them deader than they need you to be.
- Wizards: A wizard at range is a menace. A wizard in close quarters is dead meat.
Success for a rogue relies heavily on opportunism, rather than carving a path through your opponents. It’s about turning back to go all the way around your opponents to find their backs when they don’t expect it. It’s about activating everything you can do your advantage.
One of your most conspicuous abilities is your Item Interact Speed.
- A cleric can take several seconds to pull a lever.
- You do it in 1.
- A fighter takes about 3 to open a door.
- You do it in 1.
This small advantage gives you the ability to block the path behind, scurry between mobs, skeletons and zombies and just find another path to engage your targets. You are hard to pin down, other classes don’t have the same luxury and risk getting stuck in the level geometry or mobs if they try to mindlessly pursue you.
Memorize traps, memorize spawn locations, lure Wraiths, use everything you must to your advantage, because a rogue has both the speed and the means to leap from around a corner and kill an entire party before they realized they were under attack. Sound is your greatest ally and worst enemy; information is the name of your game, and improvization is only what you must rely on when everything else fails.
Remember, an open door is both an escape route, and an invitation for unannounced guests.
In a party, you serve a role similar as that of the ranger. You are eyes and ears, you are a wayfinder and a scout. You shouldn’t stick too close to your teammates, instead, use your speed to always keep an eye on neighboring rooms and keep them informed of danger nearby.
Your friends do not have your speed, generally. Anything but rangers will be left behind if you stride, so you must always keep an eye on where they are and how long will you take to reach them.
If a fight breaks loose, they may not have the luxury of running away, so positioning along your frontliners – with due mind of their weapons, as to not take friendly fire – and swarming opponents whenever you are given the chance to deal any amount of damage is your modus operandi.
It is risky, but all head-on fights are.
In these fights, you have to decide quickly whether you are a help or a liabiltiy to your frontline, and whether you are more useful trying to get a stab in their frontline, or rushing through to pursue their backline support, healer clerics, rangers and wizards. Given the chance, sinking a dagger in the squishy targets is usually the best choice.
On The Undead and How to Deal With Them
Skeletons and zombies can be a nuisance for a rogue with a brown weapon, but they are nothing you can’t handle without taking damage. Liberal use of abilities like Rupture and Weakpoint Attack will dispatch skeletons quickly, and your general speed will allow you to land combos of 2,3 and 4 attacks against different enemies before they have had the chance to recover and land swing again.
Mummies are incredibly slow and they have a comically small attack range, however, they do hit like a truck so avoid getting unnecessary slaps.
Most skeletons are easy to deal with, but if you are used to other classes killing them in 2 and 3 strikes, boy you have to get used to the rogue life. Until you have a good weapon, you might have to land more than 10 stabs in a single skeleton to get rid of it. So patience, and always get any green+ from the market if you have the money to spare for a good start.
Be wary of two-hander skeletons; their attack is faster than it looks and they can take half your healh away in a single slash.
Skeleton knights are a solid no for you alone. If you have empty space, by all means, use it and punish the skeletons as they are busy in their 3 attack combo, but otherwise they can spell doom for you.
Wraiths can be sidestepped, so, again, fight them in any space where you can make liberal use of your speed.
Mimics are a least concern for the most part, but their attack pattern is erratic, so do not try to land more than one strike every time they attack.
Dragonflies are the bane of existence. Poison a throwing knife or avoid the fight. Trust me.
Skeleton heads present little challenge, as they are easily dodged and easily dispatched in 2 stabs with a half-decent weapon.