In Dungeons &Dragons Fifth Edition, Feats provide an alternative boost to Ability Score Increases. Any time a player could take an ASI, they have the option to take a Feat instead.
Feats offer additional skills and abilities beyond the norm of what your class can provide.
How Does The Skulker Feat Work?
Skulker is a feat best used for stealth and reconnaissance. The Skulker feat provides bonuses to characters who are often hiding in the shadows. By taking the Skulker Feat your character gains the ability to hide from lightly obscured creatures, miss an attack without revealing your location, and have no disadvantage to perception in dim light:
Prerequisite: Dexterity 13 or higher
You are an expert at slinking through shadows. You gain the following benefits:
You can try to hide when you are lightly obscured from the creature from which you are hiding.
When you are hidden from a creature and miss it with a ranged weapon attack, making the attack doesn’t reveal your position.
Dim light doesn’t impose disadvantage on your Wisdom (Perception) checks relying on sight.
Source: Player’s Handbook
Skulker does require at least a 13 score for Dexterity. Characters who play Dexterity-focused classes and those who are playing races with a natural affinity for Dexterity.
Of course, anyone who meets the prerequisite can take the Skulker feat, but reaching the Dexterity prerequisite may require extra ASIs for those with no natural affinity towards Dexterity.
The first feature of Skulker is a buff to the Hide action. The rules are intentionally vague to allow Dungeon Masters to tailor the ruling to their situation when it comes to hiding.
Many Dungeon Masters would raise the check DC or disallow a player who is only Lightly Obscured when trying to hide. However, the Skulker feat allows them to take the Hide action when Lightly Obscured.
The second feature is another buff to the Hide action. Usually, when attacking with a ranged weapon from a concealed position, missing the shot will give away your place. By taking the Skulker feat, you no longer have to worry about giving away your work when you miss an attack with a ranged weapon.
Lastly, because of your propensity for the shadows, you have improved your ability to see in the dark. Dim light will no longer impose disadvantage to your Perception checks that rely on sight.
This is great for getting around and avoiding enemies in otherwise dark locations. It’s also great for reconnaissance as you’ll be able to see in darker areas while gathering information.
Is the Skulker Feat Good?
Skulker is a good feat on characters who are going to use it often. The biggest issue with Skulker is that it has a niche that it fills, and it doesn’t have much use outside of it. If your character goes in guns blazing, there’s not much use for it.
However, in situations where there is a lot of need for hiding or campaigns underground, Skulker can be an invaluable trade tool. Skulker isn’t as ubiquitously good as something like Lucky or Tough, but what it lacks in versatility it gains in niche uses.
Skulker affords any character who is using a lot of Stealth checks significant advantages when doing so. Whether for mechanical or roleplay purposes, Skulker’s abilities allow for advantageous movement within the shadows.
Hiding Rules: Lightly vs. Heavily Obscured
Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition covers the rules for the Hide action in the Players’ Handbook. The rules are intentionally vague and defer to the Dungeon Master’s intuition as the final say in whether a player can hide.
The biggest takeaway from the rules as written is “you can’t hide from a creature that can see you.” Ultimately what that means is up to the DM’s interpretation of the rule and the situation you’re trying to invoke it in.
The rule is written so that it automatically allows characters who are Heavily Obscured or in total cover to take the Hide action. However, the key to understanding the Hide action is in the phrasing “can’t see you.”
Characters in a Heavily Obscured location — that is, a place where vision is blocked entirely by fog, foliage, or some other kind of cover — cannot be seen by their enemies. Thus, they can hide because the enemy can’t see them.
A Lightly Obscured area is one in which vision is difficult but possible. Perception checks relying on sight in these areas are made with Disadvantage, but vision is still possible. The things here aren’t unseen, just hard to see.
The ultimate implication here is that a creature who is only Lightly Obscured can’t hide because their enemies can see them; it’s just “difficult.” Additionally, Skulker provides the ability to hide when only Lightly Obscured hammers home that being Lightly Obscured isn’t good enough to hide behind.
What Does It Mean to Be Lightly Obscured?
To be considered “lightly obscured,” your character must be challenging to see with a Perception (Wisdom) check that relies on sight. A thin fog, sheer curtain, or dim light would grant the Lightly Obscured status.
Some examples of things that might provide a Lightly Obscured status:
- Light foliage
- Thin smoke
- Dim light
- Sheer fabric
- A cloudy or dirty window
- Cloudy water when underwater
What Synergizes with Skulker?
Since Skulker has a Dexterity prerequisite, Skulker has the most synergy with Dexterity-focused classes. Perhaps apparent from the context, Rogues have fantastic synergy with Skulker.
For starters, Rogues are a Dexterity class. Their damage is all centered around their Dexterity score. Additionally, the Rogue’s Cunning Action allows them to take the Hide action as a Bonus Action, allowing them to Hide more often and effectively using the Skulker feat.
The Skulker feat also has strong synergy with the Ranger class. Making weapon attacks without fear of being discovered when you miss is a massive boost to the Ranger class. Gloom Stalkers, in particular, will love the extra features provided by Skulker.
Additionally, Way of the Shadow Monks will be able to utilize the features from Skulker. Skulker’s additional hiding ability enables them to teleport from shadow to shadow unseen.
Can You Use Skulker with Sneak Attack?
Whether or not Skulker aids a player using the Rogue’s Sneak Attack feature depends on a few factors. Sneak Attack requires the player to have Advantage on the attack roll to get the bonus damage. Where the Advantage comes from does not matter.
Players who attack from an unseen position have Advantage when attacking, and Skulker allows you to Hide when Lightly Obscured. So, players often wonder if Rogues can dodge in and out shadows with Skulker to get Advantage on their attacks for Sneak Attack continually.
First of all, we have to distinguish between Hiding and being Unseen. Fifth Edition does not have a Hidden status. Rather, what being hidden means for the character is up to the Dungeon Master’s discretion.
To be considered “unseen” is pretty straightforward: Has the enemy seen you? So, leaving the safety of your shadow would void your “unseen” status — and your Advantage — before you even attacked.
Now, attacking with a ranged weapon would solve the problem, but for Rogues who want to get up-close-and-personal with their enemies, you’ll need to rely on your allies to provide Advantage for you with Flanking.
It’s also worth pointing out that even when attacking with a ranged weapon, your position is given away when you land an attack. Skulker only allows you to conceal your position when you miss.
If you land your attack, you’ll need to reposition to a location where you are similarly unseen to maintain your status as unseen.
Skulker is a remarkable feat when used correctly. While it doesn’t have the same versatility that some other feats provide, its power fills a niche need for characters.
Feats provide our characters with bonus stats and abilities that can’t be achieved through regular class training, and Skulker does not disappoint for Rogues and Rangers.
As always, the essential part of any Dungeons and Dragons game is that you are having fun. Just because Skulker isn’t an ideal choice for your character doesn’t mean you can’t take it.
Good luck, have fun, and happy questing!