Although some of the most obvious choices for character classes in a high fantasy setting, such as DnD, are found in the martial and magical quarters, if you embrace their nature, The Rogue class can provide just as much fun and perhaps even more roleplaying opportunities.
And of the various subclasses and specializations which make up this dexterous and oft-nefarious realm, the Scout Rogue is perhaps one of the most fun, especially if you want to balance the Rogues inclinations to “look after number one” and also being a valuable and respected part of an adventuring party.
The role of the Scout Rogue is to be the eyes and ears of the party, and while their skills lend themselves to dungeon delving and dark places, it is in the wilderness terrain where they excel.
In some ways, it is helpful to think of them as a Ranger, only without the affiliation with nature and the ability to perform magic. Their power lies in more practical applications of their skill set. They are stealthy, quick, and can deal damage from a distance.
What is the Scout Rogue 5e?
The Scout Rogue came into being via that most excellent rules expansion Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. At the same time, the likes of the Mastermind, Inquisitive, and Swashbuckler joined the game. It has since become one of the archetype characters in the game and perhaps the closest to what the Thief of the original rule set was designed to represent.
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything has this to say about the role of such a character.
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.
Why choose Scout Rogue in 5e?
Most Rogue subclasses and stereotypes are geared towards a character at home in the urban jungle and the classic adventuring environment of castle basements and dungeon labyrinths. They are experts at blending into city streets or lurking out of sight in the shadows of a subterranean maze. Typically they are also people with, let’s just say, more questionable moral compasses.
But the Scout is an altogether different sort of person. They are more of the outdoor adventurer, the survivalist, and the tracker. And while their peers might be considered morally ambiguous or even downright self-centered, the Scout is a team player. They act for the greater good of the party, even if they are often found working alone, either scouting ahead or undertaking reconnaissance missions on its behalf.
It’s a neat balance. While choosing to follow a career as a Scout suits players who like acting alone, acting on their own initiative, and often being well away from their comrades, their mission is to ensure their party stays safe. If that gives them opportunities for personal gain, so be it.
Scout Rogue 5e Abilities & Features
As with all Rogue subclasses, the Scout has a few neat abilities as they move up the ranks. What sets them apart is that these often have more to do with taking an offensive stance than the more defensive or at least opportunist role that most Rogues are forced into playing.
Natural Explorer: Starting at the 3rd level, the Scout gains significant benefits while traveling through specific terrains, such as forests, mountains, or deserts. The character can move stealthily at a normal pace, track creatures, forage for food and water, and avoid non-magical hazards.
Skirmisher: Also at the 3rd level, the Scout can use its bonus action to move half its speed without provoking opportunity attacks from creatures it targets with an attack that turn.
Survivalist: At the 9th level, the Scout gains proficiency in Nature or Survival skill. Additionally, the character can use its action to gain temporary hit points equal to its rogue level, provided it is not incapacitated.
Superior Mobility: At the 13th level, the Scout gains climbing and swimming speeds equal to its walking speed. Additionally, difficult terrain doesn’t cost extra movement, and the character can move through non-magical difficult terrain without taking damage or suffering penalties.
Ambush Master: Finally, at the 17th level, the Scout gains several benefits when it attacks creatures that haven’t taken a turn yet in combat. The character can deal extra damage, impose disadvantage on the target’s attacks, and move away without provoking opportunity attacks.
Playing a Scout Rogue in 5e
For all a party’s martial skills and magical offenses, their muscular “tanks,” and their dexterous spellcasters, they are at a significant disadvantage, not to mention facing a lot of real danger if they don’t have any idea what they are walking into, especially in the wilderness lands far away from the civilized cities.
You need a set of eyes and years to go ahead, especially if those eyes and ears can look after themselves if they should wander into unexpected danger. Or at least be able to hightail it out of there before they get hurt.
You need someone to reconnoiter ahead, spy out the land, someone mobile and silent, someone quick off the mark and with a skill set that makes them best suited to surviving in the hostile landscapes of the world. That person is the Scout.
Creating a background for the character should be straightforward, with a bit of thought and imagination. Perhaps you were a military scout, but now that the war you served in is over, you are looking for work.
Maybe you grew up in a wild part of the world, and such skills and survival instincts were needed to stay alive on the fringes of society. Or maybe you were born into poverty on the streets of the capital. The skills you developed in those formative days running with the street gangs have proved to be easily adapted to the rural setting, where there is also less competition for your particular skill set.
Best Races for Scout Rogue in 5e
All Rogue subclasses rely on Dexterity, but given your wilderness skills, you will depend on Survival, Perception, and nature checks to get by, high Wisdom and Intelligence are also good to have. Rogues combine with many races, and here are some of those which are well suited to the Scout’s specialist skill set.
The Aarakocra already receive +2 to Dexterity and +1 to Wisdom, meaning they have a natural affinity with the skills and specialisms that make for a good Scout.
Most Elves receive +2 to Dexterity and +1 to Intelligence, which automatically gives them a natural edge when performing scout skills. All Elves also have Darkvision ability, so their Perception is further enhanced when low light hampers others.
High Elves also gain access to a cantrip of your choice garnered from the Wizard spell list, which puts you ahead of most non-Elf scouts who dent to be non-magically inclined.
Good options here would include cantrips such as Message so that you can communicate to your party if you’re scouting ahead and need to relay information back to them, or Dancing Lights, which you can use to distract enemies while you sneak by.
As an Elf, you receive the usual +2 to Dexterity and +1 to Wisdom and Darkvision, and as a Wood Elf, you also get Mask of the Wild. This allows you to hide when you are only partially obscured by things such as foliage, heavy rain, snowfall, and mist.
Mask of the Wild is perfect for the Scout working out in the wilderness; it ramps up the sneakiness and ability to hide from view in conditions where others would be easily spotted.
As always, Elves receive +2 to Dexterity and an additional +1 to Intelligence, and they have Darkvision. Eladrin Elves have access to Fey Step, which allows them to use Misty Step with certain caveats regarding resting times. This is a great skill to have in your back pocket if you need to get out of a tricky situation in a hurry, which Scoouts do from time to time.
Like Wood Elves, Ghostwise Halflings receive +2 to Dexterity and +1 to Wisdom. Halflings also get the Lucky trait which allows them to reroll any result that comes up 1 on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, perfect for someone working close to nature and constantly trying to read the land for clues.
Additionally, the Silent Speech ability, which allows them to speak telepathically to any creature within 30 feet, is a great bonus for any wilderness adventurer.
In addition to the standard bonuses for their race – +2 to Dexterity, +1 to Wisdom, and the Lucky trait, Lotusden Halflings also have a couple of additional racial abilities, which are valuable additions to the Scout skill set.
The first is Child of the Wood, which grants various Druid spells at the 1st, 3rd, and 5th levels. The second is the ability to Timberwalk. This ability makes it harder for others to track your path and allows you to move normally through difficult terrain, provided that terrain is a natural (i.e., non-magical) environment.
The Kenku makes for some of the best Rogues. As well as receiving +2 to Dexterity and +1 to Wisdom, they have several other abilities that make them perfect for the role. Kenku has Expert Forgery skills, which means they can duplicate documents that might be important in your detective work.
Perhaps more helpful in the urban environment, but travel passes and false identities, letters of introduction, and other official-looking documents can be beneficial in any surroundings.
Kenku training means that they also start with proficiency in two of the following: Acrobatics, Deception, Stealth, or Sleight of Hand. All skills with beneficial wilderness applications. They also have Mimicry, meaning they can copy sounds, words, and language they hear, including animal sounds they might have heard during their wilderness travels.
Feral Tieflings receive +2 to Dexterity and +1 to Intelligence and have the ability of Darkvision, meaning they are not hindered by low-light situations. They also know the Thaumaturgy cantrip at 1st level and can cast Hellish Rebuke at 3rd. Then at the 5th level, they are able to cast Darkness. However, as a Tiefling, this spellcasting ability is based on Charisma for those spells, which isn’t often one of the prominent statistics for a Scout.
Scout Rogue 5e FAQs
Is Scout Rogue any good?
Good? It’s actually one of the best, especially if you want to combine combat with sneaking about. They have a great set of skills, especially when it comes to tracking and survival, and are a must for any party heading beyond the fringes of civilization.
What race is best for Scout Rogue 5e?
Plenty of races bring something additional to the Scout career, but Elves, with their Dexterity bonus and Darkvision ability, are an obvious choice. Halflings are worth considering if playing an Elf doesn’t appeal to you.
What is the easiest Rogue subclass?
Because their premise and features are so simple, the Assassin is one of the easiest Rogue subclasses to play. They don’t have much in the way of complicated additional mechanics, so if you’re comfortable with the Rogue’s core features, you’re already ready to handle the Assassin.
Final Thoughts on Scout Rogue 5e
The Scout is not only one of the best specializations within the Rogue class but arguably one of the best character types to play. They excel at exploration and tracking, are fast and silent, and combine the best aspects of the lone wolf and the team player.
There are certainly better options if you want to be a bit more involved in the melee side of things, even within the Rogue class. Still, if you like the idea of being the sneaky, silent sniper scout who knows how to thrive in the toughest of wilderness settings, then this is the choice for you.
Kendra has always been a hardcore fantasy nerd. Growing up in the worlds of Tolkien, Sanderson, Jordan, and Abercrombie, DnD & board games just came naturally. She and her husband, Bryan, started GameCows.com in 2018 as a fun passion project that just took over their lives. An avid board gamer since childhood and chronic DnD chronicler for more than two decades, she loves to play, write, travel, and learn dead languages.