Author Topic: A Guide to Proper Scouting  (Read 4310 times)

Offline JaronK

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A Guide to Proper Scouting
« on: May 07, 2013, 03:40:41 AM »
The Scout's Handbook


To be clear, this is a handbook on how to properly scout for your party.  It is not a handbook for the Scout class (though that class will be touched upon).  We'll cover the basic philosophy and tactics, as well as various possible builds, useful items, and so on.

The first question is this: what is a scout?  The simple answer: a scout is a character who can detect enemies before they detect the party.  This could mean a sneaky Rogue staying a bit ahead of the party and keeping a sharp eye out, an arcanist using mindsight with telepathy and similar effects to notice enemies like a magical radar system, or even a Binder sending little birds to be his eyes and ears.  However you do it, it's your job to make sure that your party is ready to act before any threat even knows you're there.

And the second question is: why have a scout in the party?  It's an iconic role, usually built into the "skillmonkey" of the classic Tank, Healer, Arcanist, Skillmonkey team up, but what's the point?

This is a game where actions are everything, and a single standard action can screw your entire party.  If a fight starts with a hidden Beguiler casting Glitterdust on the party in the surprise round, you could be looking at a TPK.  If it instead starts with your party landing the Glitterdust and revealing the Beguiler as well as his little Rogue friends, this is going to be a trivially easy fight.  Plus, in a game full of monsters with various immunities and vulnerabilities, strengths and weaknesses, knowing your enemy in advance and knowing how to fight him is critical.  Far better to avoid wasting attacks that do nothing against a creature that was immune, or to use AoEs and hit the hidden ambushers instead of single target effects that only hit the bait.  Thus, what the scout gives the party is actions, and lots of them.  Surprise rounds to destroy enemies instead of having those same surprise rounds used against you, and fewer wasted actions when a player fails to account for what's actually against him.  And in a game where battles are effectively over after the first round or so (which is often the case when save or lose and crowd control spells start dropping), that's critical.  It also can thwart traps, which at lower levels are virtual guaranteed kills against party members if you don't protect against this.

In this first section, we'll cover the basics of how to scout.  Scouting requires four basic things: be as hard to detect as possible, detect as effectively as possible, chose the proper range to scout at, and have appropriate ablative defenses for when things go wrong.  Cover all these things appropriately and you should never be in serious danger of dying while scouting.

1)  Be invisible to as many things as possible. 

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2)  Have better detection than your enemies.

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3)  Be at the right range.   

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4)  Have ablative defenses. 

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As a final note, don't spend everything on scouting.  You should still be able to do other stuff.  Most scouts are actually assassins or diplomats or combat archers or something that's very helpful even when not scouting.  There's no requirement to spend huge resources on being a scout... you should still be very effective for the party in general.

JaronK

Offline JaronK

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Re: A Guide to Proper Scouting
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2013, 03:41:20 AM »
Skills, Teamwork Benefits, and Feats


First, skills.

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Next, Skill Tricks.  There's a few solid appropriate ones, and their cost of 2 skill points is quite cheap.  You can learn half your level in tricks.  They're all in Complete Scoundrel.

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Teamwork Benefits are a handy way to work with your party, and they generally cost you very little (a few skill ranks you probably already had).  They're found in Heroes of Battle, Dungeonscape, PHB2, and DMG 2.

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There's also a few feats that are well worth the investment.  Spending too many feats on stealth may leave you unable to contribute meaningfully to many encounters once said encounters have started, but some feats are critical.

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Offline JaronK

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Re: A Guide to Proper Scouting
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2013, 03:41:49 AM »
Scouting Classes and Races


Here we'll summarize the standard scouting classes in terms of strengths and weaknesses.  We'll cover them roughly in order of weakest to strongest, so that you can fit in with a group of an appropriate power level (scouting with a Binder 1/Beguiler 4/Anima Mage 10/Shadowcraft Mage 5 in a group that's got a Fighter, Healer, and Warmage is a little silly).

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And now, the PrCs.  There's a lot out there and I can't cover them all, but I'll try to get the most notable ones.

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And next, on to races.  We'll start with the base races... templates come after that.

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And now, scouting templates!

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Offline JaronK

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Re: A Guide to Proper Scouting
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2013, 03:42:19 AM »
Items


There are many useful items out there for scouts, and many of them are quite cheap.  Don't overspend here... you still have to be useful to the party once the scouting is done.  Mundane items are first, magic second.  Mundanes item have the advantage that if you can craft them (with Fabricate or just a lot of time) you can get them for 1/3 cost.

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