DnD Swashbuckler 5e subclass guide

Dexterity, ahoy! The 5e Swashbuckler is an elegant and exciting Dungeons and Dragons subclass, perfect for lovers of pirates and agile anti-heroes.

Wizards of the Coast art of two DnD Swashbuckler 5e characters swordfighting

If your favorite thing about a Rogue is their dazzling Charisma and fancy footwork, the DnD Swashbuckler is the perfect choice for you. The Swashbuckler 5e subclass is a pirate-inspired character option that turns your character into a master of both sword and words. You’ll charm your foes with your quick wit, and then you’ll carve your initials into their chest.

The Swashbuckler is both simple and satisfying to play, and you’ll find all you need below to begin creating your next DnD Rogue. We’ve also used our knowledge of DnD classes and DnD races to recommend character options for your perfect Swashbuckler DnD character build.

Here’s everything you need to know about the DnD Swashbuckler 5e subclass:

DnD Swashbuckler 5e - Wizards of the Coast art of a Tiefling child pointing a toy sword at two friends

Swashbuckler 5e features

Fancy Footwork

Level: Three

If you make a melee attack against a creature during your turn, that creature can’t make any opportunity attacks against you. This lasts for the rest of your turn.

Rakish Audacity

Level: Three

You can add a bonus to your initiative rolls equal to your Charisma modifier. You also don’t need advantage to use Sneak Attack against a creature, as long as:

  • You’re within five feet of the creature
  • No other creatures are within five feet of you
  • You don’t have disadvantage on the attack roll

All other regular Sneak Attack rules still apply.

DnD Swashbuckler 5e - Wizards of the Coast art of Drizzt Do'Urden leaping through the air


Level: Nine

You can spend an action to make a Persuasion check, which your target (a creature that can hear you and shares a DnD language with you) must counter with an Insight check. The feature has different effects depending on whether the creature is hostile to you or not.

Succeeding on a check against a hostile creature gives your target disadvantage on attack rolls against targets other than you, and the target can’t make opportunity attacks against those targets. This lasts for a minute, until a companion attacks or affects the target with a spell, or until you move 60 feet away from your target.

A success against a non-hostile creature causes your target to become charmed for one minute (or until you or a friend harms the target).

Elegant Maneuver

Level: 13

Spend a bonus action on your turn, and you can gain advantage on the next Acrobatics or Athletics check you make. This check must be made in the same turn as your initial bonus action.

Master Duelist

Level: 17

If your attack misses, you can roll again with advantage. You can only do this once before you need a short or long rest 5e.

DnD Swashbuckler 5e - Wizards of the Coast art of a human Rogue

Swashbuckler 5e builds

Swashbuckler 5e stats

The most important DnD stat for your Swashbuckler is Dexterity as this makes them agile in combat. Your secondary priorities should be Charisma (to make the most of your subclass feature) and Constitution (to let you soak up more hits).

Three stats is plenty to manage with limited DnD level ups, so your remaining stats should be left out of ability score increases. Having passable Strength is alright for nailing those Athletics checks, but there isn’t much else your Swashbuckler needs to focus on.

DnD Swashbuckler 5e - Wizards of the Coast art of a Harengon

Swashbuckler 5e races

If you’re looking to use DnD races from the Player’s Handbook, there’s plenty of solid options for a 5e Swashbuckler. A Lightfoot Halfling 5e gets buffs to Dexterity and Charisma, as well as some extra skills in sneaking and hiding. The Drow Elf 5e also gets these stat boosts, plus extended Darkvision that’ll come in handy on nighttime stealth missions.

Plus, the Variant DnD Human is always a safe bet. You get flexible stats and a free feat – something the Swashbuckler might not want to waste a level up on later, given how many stats they rely on.

If you’d like to play a rarer race, the DnD Harengon and the Tabaxi 5e are our top choices. Both offer unique features that boost your movement and agility, meaning it’s even easier to position your Swashbuckler for a powerful Sneak Attack.

Need more advice on D&D characters? Here’s all you need to know about the best 5e feats and DnD backgrounds. Or, for something fresh, here’s the next DnD books coming up on the DnD 2023 release schedule.