The Scout rogue in 5e is an excellent choice if you want to be the eyes and ears of your party and excel at wilderness survival. This subclass offers abilities that help you move quickly and deal damage from a distance. In this guide, we’ll discuss what the Scout rogue in 5e is all about and how you can make the most of its abilities in your games.
Let’s uncover what makes this scouting archetype tick as well as explore its weaknesses.
In this guide, we cover:
- What is the Scout rogue in 5e?
- What sets the Scout rogue in 5e apart from other archetypes?
- Abilities and features for the Scout rogue in 5e
- Tips for the Scout rogue in 5e
- Is Scout Rogue good 5e?
What is the Scout rogue in 5e?
You are skilled in stealth and surviving far from the streets of a city, allowing you to scout ahead of your companions during expeditions. Rogues who embrace this archetype are at home in the wilderness and among barbarians and rangers, and many Scouts serve as the eyes and ears of war bands. Ambusher, spy, bounty hunter — these are just a few of the roles that Scouts assume as they range the world.Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
Most rogues excel in urban and dungeon environments. But the Scout is most at home in the wilderness. Some liken it to a ranger without the intense affiliation with nature and magic.
What sets the Scout rogue in 5e apart from other archetypes?
Most rogue archetypes revolve around sneaking through urban environments, lurking around corners in dungeons, and having questionable morals. But the Scout prioritizes Nature and Survival skills to scout ahead and aspires to be the eyes and ears of the party.
The Scout, a rogue subclass, leans toward being a loner type. But the difference is that the Scout acts alone to ensure his or her companions are safe. The Scout is a loner, but not an edgelord.
Abilities and Features for the Scout rogue in 5e
Scout Rogue Features & Abilities
- 3rd Level—Skirmisher, Survivalist
- 9th Level—Superior Mobility
- 13th Level—Ambush Master
- 17th Level—Sudden Strike
Skirmisher (3rd Level)
The first Scout ability makes you a nightmare for Dungeon Masters.
Starting at 3rd level, you are difficult to pin down during a fight. You can move up to half your speed as a reaction when an enemy ends its turn within 5 feet of you. This movement doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks.Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
The Scout is geared toward ranged combat. So this initial ability is excellent for staying out of melee weapon attack range. The enemy will still get a chance to attack you upon getting into melee range. But at least you can spend your reaction to move away and get ready to make a ranged weapon attack on your next turn.
And you won’t provoke opportunity attacks when you back away. Big win!
Normally, you could use a bonus action to Disengage and avoid an opportunity attack. But you may want to use your bonus action for another ability instead.
Namely, Steady Aim.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything introduced Steady Aim as an optional 3rd level rogue ability. The desciption reads as follows:
As a bonus action, you give yourself advantage on your next attack roll on the current turn. You can use this bonus action only if you haven’t moved during this turn, and after you use the bonus action, your speed is 0 until the end of the current turn.Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
So, you can be attacked, retreat half of your movement speed, and then on your next turn get Sneak Attack damage against your attacker. Great combo!
Just remember, if you want to use the Skirmisher ability, don’t waste your reaction on Uncanny Dodge.
Survivalist (3rd Level)
Doubling your proficiency bonus on more skills is BIG.
When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in the Nature and Survival skills if you don’t already have it. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses either of those proficiencies.Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
I imagine you’re thinking about choosing the Scout archetype because you’re playing in a campaign where scouting would be important. If that’s the case, choosing an archetype where your proficiency bonus is doubled on Nature and Survival skills can make your rogue a better survivalist and tracker than the ranger in your party.
DM’s typically require Nature checks to recall lore about terrain, plants and animals, the weather, and natural cycles. And Survival checks to follow tracks, hunt wild game, guide your group through frozen wastelands, predict the weather, or avoid natural hazards.
When your proficiency bonus is doubled in the beginning, it amounts to a +4 on those skills. But by the 17th level, you’re looking at a +12.
Superior Mobility (9th Level)
Rogues depend on being able to maneuver around the battlefield to avoid confrontation. And the Scout subclass is no exception (hence the Skirmisher feature).
At 9th level, your walking speed increases by 10 feet. If you have a climbing or swimming speed, this increase applies to that speed as well.Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
If you have the standard 30 feet of movement your walking speed (or climbing or swimming speed) increases to 40 feet. That boosts your Skirmisher movement from 15 to 20 feet and your Dash speed from 60 feet to 80 feet.
One of the best aspects of this feature is that it’s universally useful. You don’t need certain conditions to use it and it applies to your climbing speed and swimming speed, not just your walking speed.
Ambush Master (13th Level)
This next feature is situational, but it can be great.
Starting at 13th level, you excel at leading ambushes and acting first in a fight.
You have advantage on initiative rolls. In addition, the first creature you hit during the first round of a combat becomes easier for you and others to strike; attack rolls against that target have advantage until the start of your next turn.Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
If you’re playing a Scout focused on ranged attacks, this is a great feature because you can get your Sneak Attack damage in and set your party up to focus their attacks on the same creature for maximum damage. Just remember to call out the enemy so your party can attack the same target.
Going first as a melee-focused Scout is not always advantageous because you don’t want to run into a confrontation only to be surrounded by the enemy once it’s their turn. The exceptions would include situations where you know your party will be able to engage the other enemies before they have a chance to attack you. Or situations where the enemies are weak so you’re not risking much by jumping into the fray.
Sudden Strike (17th Level)
One of the limits on a rogue’s damage capability is that Sneak Attack can only be used once per turn. Well, say goodbye to that!
Starting at 17th level, you can strike with deadly speed. If you take the Attack action on your turn, you can make one additional attack as a bonus action. This attack can benefit from your Sneak Attack even if you have already used it this turn, but you can’t use your Sneak Attack against the same target more than once in a turn.Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
Being able to use Sneak Attack twice in one turn is a huge powerup. You’re still limited by not being able to Sneak Attack the same target. But if you’re near another hostile creature and have enough movement speed distance left, take advantage of this powerful ability.
Tips for the Scout rogue in 5e
How do you connect a Scout rogue in 5e to the party?
A Scout rogue makes for an excellent addition to a party of adventurers who embark on dangerous quests into the wilderness or behind enemy lines. If you need someone to scout ahead, then the Scout’s superior mobility, advantage on initiative rolls, and extra proficiencies will make the Scout a valuable asset to the party.
In terms of roleplaying, you could have just returned from a military campaign or completed basic training. Imagine a Scout who grew up as a street urchin but was taken in by a hunter on the outskirts of town who trained you to put your questionable skills to less questionable uses.
Which race should you choose for a Scout rogue in 5e?
Well, you chose the rogue class and you’re playing 5e, so you need Dexterity. And Scout rogues rely on a lot of Nature checks, Perception checks, and Survival checks, so Wisdom and Intelligence are important.
Below is a list of 5e races that receive bonuses to Dexterity and Intelligence or Wisdom.
The aarakocra receive +2 to Dexterity and +1 to Wisdom.
High elves receive +2 to Dexterity and +1 to Intelligence.
First, all elves have darkvision so you are better able to perceive and scout ahead in low light conditions.
As a high elf, you gain access to a cantrip of your choice from the wizard spell list. From a roleplaying perspective, I’d look at cantrips like message to communicate to your party if you’re scouting ahead and need to relay information. Or dancing lights to distract enemies while you sneak by.
Wood elves receive +2 to Dexterity and +1 to Wisdom, and darkvision.
As a wood elf, you get Mask of the Wild. This ability allows you to hide when you are only partially obscured by things such as foliage, heavy rain, snowfall, mist, etc. Mask of the Wild is perfect for a sneaky type, especially out in the wilderness.
Eladrin elves receive +2 to Dexterity and +1 to Intelligence, and darkvision.
Eladrin elves have Fey Step which grants them the ability to use misty step once after a short or long rest. This is great if you need to get out of a sticky combat situation.
Ghostwise halflings receive +2 to Dexterity and +1 to Wisdom.
Halflings get the Lucky trait which allows them to reroll a 1 on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw. So that’s great for your Perception, Nature, and Survival checks.
Additionally, they have the Silent Speech ability. This allows you to speak telepathically to any creature within 30 feet.
Lotusden halflings receive +2 to Dexterity and +1 to Wisdom, and the Lucky trait.
These halflings have two useful racial abilities.
One is Child of the Wood which grants you various druid spells at 1st level (druidcraft cantrip), 3rd level (entangle), and 5th level.
The second is Timberwalk. This makes it more difficult for others to track you and it allows you to move normally across difficult terrain made of nonmagical plants and undergrowth.
Kenku receive +2 to Dexterity and +1 to Wisdom.
The kenku make for some of the best rogues, period. Kenku have Expert Forgery to duplicate documents that might be important in your detective work.
Kenku training provides you with proficiency in two of the following: Acrobatics, Deception, Stealth, or Sleight of Hand. So you can use your Expertise to gain proficiency in other skills you want for your scout.
And mimicry lets you mimic sounds and words/sentences you hear. So this can include all of the animal sounds the kenku might have picked up in the wild.
Feral tieflings receive +2 to Dexterity and +1 to Intelligence, and darkvision.
Feral tieflings know the thaumaturgy cantrip at 1st level. Then at 3rd level, you can cast hellish rebuke. Then at 5th level, you can cast darkness. However, as a tiefling, your spellcasting ability is Charisma for those spells, so it’s not the best choice for the Scout.
Conclusion—Is the Scout subclass a good choice?
The Scout rogue in 5e is arguably one of the best rogue archetypes thanks to the abilities that help it excel in exploration, combat, and mobility. It’s less optimal for melee rogues, but if you want to play the sneaky Scout sniper and wilderness survival expert, there’s no better choice.
What do you think of the Scout subclass? What would you change, if anything, about this subclass to make it better? Let us know in the comments!