The Scout is a subclass option for the Rogue class in Dungeons & Dragons 5e.
This archetype’s abilities are all designed to help them stand out as a quick-moving ranged combatant. With a great deal of emphasis on exploration, combat tactics, and mobility, the Scout fills a very important role in most parties!
This guide will discuss the Scout in D&D 5e and how their playstyle and abilities work.
So ready that bow and roll for initiative as we dive right in!
- 1 What is the Scout Rogue in D&D 5e?
- 2 The Scout’s Role in the Party
- 3 Scout Rogue Abilities in 5e
- 4 Connecting your Scout to the Story
- 5 Is the Scout Rogue Archetype Good in D&D 5e?
- 6 Conclusion – The Scout Rogue Subclass in D&D 5e
What is the Scout Rogue in D&D 5e?
The Scout Rogue swings between stealthy and fast, with just the right blend of natural outdoor skills. This is a Rogue archetype that values speed and ranged attacks.
They get powerful first-turn abilities, can rival Rangers when it comes to Nature and Survival checks, and have one of the best damage-dealing capstone features in the game.
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything introduced a ton of genuinely awesome subclasses to 5e and the Scout is no exception!
You might want to consider playing a Scout Rogue if you like:
- Being the party’s ranged attacker, ideally from as far away as possible.
- Exploring new and unexplored areas by scouting ahead or by taking out enemies before they get too close.
- Utilizing stealth for positioning purposes more than anything else.
The Scout’s Role in the Party
As the name suggests, the Scout best finds themselves as the party’s eyes and ears. Checking ahead for enemies or traps, keeping an eye out for threats, and guiding their party safely towards their goal are all key responsibilities for the Scout.
The Scout may not necessarily be the most versatile character in your adventuring party. After all, this archetype’s abilities really hammer in a specific and clear way that the subclass plays. But they will help you explore dungeons or other areas that would otherwise be inaccessible to a non-Scout.
Thanks to their skillset and equipment focused on ranged attacks, Scouts can take care of enemies lurking up ahead without putting themselves at risk. If you know the enemies are coming, the Scout can set traps or coordinate an ambush with their allies to surprise the enemy!
You’ll want to check out my other article explaining Ranged Combat if you plan on playing a Scout! That article covers ranged weapons, rules and mechanics, and ways to improve your ranged combat performance!
Additionally, they get more time to shine if your adventure has any “survival” aspects to it. The Scout’s affinity for nature and quick reflexes can greatly help the party make it through the wilderness alive!
Scout Rogue Abilities in 5e
In many ways, the Scout is a type of mixture of the Rogue and Ranger classes.
These characters are survivalists with keen eyes and quick reflexes. They aren’t scared to move up ahead of the group to check for any signs of trouble. If anyone has the skills to get back out safely, it’s the Scout!
So let’s take a look at this subclass’s abilities!
The first of two level 3 features for the Scout is Skirmisher.
When an enemy ends their turn within 5 feet of you, you can use your reaction to move up to half of your movement speed away.
Not only does this not provoke opportunity attacks, but it can greatly help you get out of a sticky situation if a big bruiser has managed to get in close to you!
To get away safely, you would typically need to use a bonus action so that you could disengage with the Rogue’s Cunning Action ability. Instead, this only takes a reaction for the scout and it happens at the end of the enemy’s turn!
Especially for a ranged character, being able to quickly back away is incredibly important. Positioning is key to playing a ranged combatant and this ability helps you reliably maintain good vantage points and find cover.
Keep in mind that the enemy doesn’t necessarily even need to attack you for this to trigger! If the enemy went first, ran up next to you, and attacked someone else, you can still get away.
As long as they end their turn within 5 feet of you, you get some free movement with no risk of getting smacked by an opportunity attack!
Skirmisher and Action Economy
As a quick note, you’ll want to keep in mind all of the options that you have for using your reaction in a round.
In many situations, using your reaction with Skirmisher is a great idea. It helps you carve out some distance between yourself and the attacker while giving you a good opportunity to still maintain the best positioning you can.
However, using this ability means that you can’t use your reaction for other things.
For example, you won’t be able to make any opportunity attacks or use the Rogue’s Uncanny Dodge ability until your reaction resets on your next turn.
If you expect that you might still get hit by something big or if the enemy that is triggering your Skirmisher ability has the potential to put out some massive damage, you might be better off using Uncanny Dodge.
You’ll want to quickly read the situation to determine what the best strategic move is!
The second ability that the Scout gains at level 3 is the Survivalist feature.
If you don’t already have proficiency in the Nature and Survival skills, you gain it. Additionally, your proficiency bonus is doubled on any check that uses these.
This is crazy!
As you level up, you will eventually surpass the Ranger in using these skills.
(Quick note: If someone else in your group is considering playing as a Ranger, it’s probably worth mentioning this in your Session Zero. This will avoid some redundancy in the later levels of your game and prevent someone feeling like they’ve been replaced.)
At lower levels, this will be giving you a +4 bonus to your ability checks. As you level up, that will eventually turn into a +12 bonus!
At level 9, the Scout gains the Superior Mobility feature.
With this feature, your walking speed increases by 10 feet. If your character has a climbing or swimming speed, this bonus applies to those as well.
It sounds simple, but compounds in ways that are absolutely crazy.
For starters, your Skirmisher ability will take you farther. A medium-size character now has a movement speed of 40 feet, which means your Skirmisher ability will let you move 20 feet when that triggers.
Need to take the Dash action? How does 80 feet of movement sound?
Because you now move faster than most or all of your allies, you’re in a good position to do some reconnaissance as your party travels. You can scout ahead to make sure there’s no danger and quickly make it back to your party to report what you find.
As seemingly small as this feature sounds, it really helps to clearly carve out the Scout Rogue’s role in the party.
But the fun doesn’t stop there! There are more awesome abilities on the horizon!
Level 13 sees the Scout gaining the Ambush Master feature.
This gives you advantage on initiative rolls. Additionally, the first creature that you hit in the first round of combat becomes easier for you and your allies to strike. Until the start of your next turn, attack rolls against that creature have advantage.
On the rare occasion that you aren’t going first in the combat, you’ll certainly be going early. Tagging a high-priority target for your allies to focus their damage on can quickly remove a major threat from the board.
Because your allies are all rolling with advantage against that enemy, it’s possible that they’ll be dealt with before the end of the first round!
The ideal situation is that you’re able to attack this enemy from a Stealth position. You make that attack with advantage, deal your Sneak Attack damage, and open up plenty of space for your allies to finish them off.
Looking for the biggest threat that can likely be taken out quickly (like a caster, for example) will help you make the most of this ability.
Look to have a clear tactic with your allies so that there’s plenty of follow-through to make the most of your Ambush Master feature!
Finally, at level 17 we get the Scout archetype’s capstone ability: Sudden Strike.
This is vicious. I just can’t think of any other words to fully describe how much I love this.
Sudden Strike allows you to take an additional attack as a bonus action on your turn if you’ve already taken the Attack action.
Even better: both of these attacks can benefit from your Sneak Attack. (Just note that you can’t use the Sneak Attack against the same target more than once in a turn.)
Because you’re almost certainly built as a ranged combatant for this class, you shouldn’t have any problem picking two targets that you can quickly drop. Look for enemies that are adjacent to your allies and focus on taking them out.
(It’s possible if you’re in melee, but both targets would need to be within movement speed distance and adjacent to an ally and yourself. That’s a bit harder to pull off.)
There are some situations where you will still want to use your bonus action to take the Rogue’s Cunning Action to quickly hide or disengage. But, honestly, those situations are probably rare now. Let’s be real: being able to drop an extra 9d6 damage (or 10d6 at later levels!) is pretty hard to pass up!
If your party is fighting a boss and their minions, you’ll likely want to look at splitting your attacks to put out the most damage. Take a shot at the boss and deal your Sneak Attack damage on a hit. Now use your Sudden Strike to fire at one of the minions that’s next to another ally.
It’s very likely that you’ll be able to deal consistent damage to the bad guy while also removing minions from the board each turn. (Or at least making it easier for your allies to clean up!)
Connecting your Scout to the Story
The Scout is a subclass whose mechanics strongly incline it towards playing a specific way. However, how that character experiences the world is open to a very wide variety of interpretations.
There are possibly more openings for tying a Scout into the world than any other Rogue archetype! There’s a clearly defined “canvas” to paint on, but how you color it is left wide open for you to decide.
The Scout clearly spends enough time in nature to get bonuses on Nature and Survival checks. Your character might be a hunter.
They clearly rely on tactics and communication in their role as scouts. Perhaps your character has a military background and served in a scouting unit.
It’s also very possible that the Scout is an experienced dungeon delver. Nature and Survival skills aren’t only for the woods. There are plenty of dangers in abandoned dungeons that the Scout’s knowledge can help handle!
What about a bounty hunter or spy? After all, this class is good at getting into places undetected, dealing a ton of damage, and getting out!
Unlike some other classes that follow clear tropes, the only limit here is your imagination!
Is the Scout Rogue Archetype Good in D&D 5e?
The Scout Rogue subclass is a very mobile class. It can also be played in an aggressive way, such as ambushing enemies from a distance or using stealth to get close without being detected.
This type of playstyle may not be for everyone – especially if you’re more interested in getting up close with your opponents than shooting them from afar.
As with most of the Rogue subclasses, I would highly recommend that you check out my article that covers the Sneak Attack mechanic. It’s the key to getting the most out of your Scout!
But the Scout is most certainly a great addition to most parties. Its playstyle is straightforward mechanically, but frees you up to focus on combat strategies with your team.
Just keep in mind that your role in the party will evolve as you gain levels.
In the early game, you offer a great deal of utility when it comes to traversing the wilds. Mid-game is when you start seeing some major bonuses for combat and the high levels are where you become insanely powerful in combat.
If you’re looking for something different that opens a ton of strategic options for your party, the Scout is a fantastic choice.
I could certainly see this class in adventures where there’s a ton to explore and lots of environmental dangers to overcome. Something like the Tomb of Annihilation adventure is perfect for Scouts! (You could even channel a bit of Indiana Jones in that kind of setting with this subclass if you are so inclined!)
If you want to see how the Scout stacks up against the other Rogue subclasses, check out my ranking of every Rogue Archetype in 5e!
Conclusion – The Scout Rogue Subclass in D&D 5e
So that wraps up this guide to the Scout in D&D 5e.
It’s definitely something to consider for anyone who is looking to play a ranged combat character.
In groups that favor taking a strategic approach to their D&D game, the Scout can quickly become the foundation for a good combat strategy.
In groups that aren’t particularly strategic, the Scout still offers a ton of opportunity for exploration. They’ll very likely be able to spy on enemies and possibly learn some new plot hooks that would have otherwise gone unnoticed!
I hope you’ve found this guide helpful!
If so, consider leaving a comment and signing up for the Tabletop Joab newsletter!
Looking to play a Rogue in your next D&D game? Don’t skip my Complete Guide to the Rogue Class in 5e!
Until next time!