This column aims to provide players with tips on creating effective and interesting characters of various types. So whether you're a beginning player creating your very first character or an experienced gamer looking to put some punch into an old standby, this column is for you!
The Pros and Cons of a Scout
The scout offers a potent combination of stealth, speed, and fighting ability. A well-played scout can ferret out danger, strike swiftly and then vanish, and perform many other feats of derring-do.
Like the rogue, the scout offers a useful array of game abilities that provide lots of room for customization. You can create an outrider for an army, a stealthy infiltrator, a reconnaissance specialist, a guide specializing in wilderness terrain, or even a sneak thief, depending on where you choose to place the character's skill emphasis. Below are several assets you have going for you when you choose a scout.
As with any class in the D&D game, the scout's advantages come at a price. Below are a few of the disadvantages you should keep in mind if you're considering a scout character.
Playing a Classy Scout
Great scouts usually use the following techniques, so try to incorporate a few of them into your strategy when you play this kind of character.
No matter what kind of scout you are, you're at your best when leading the way or probing ahead to discover what awaits the group. The party's back rank usually isn't the place for you unless the group needs a rear guard.
Thanks to your skirmish ability, you do your best fighting while on the move. It pays to keep up your speed rating. Avoid carrying too much gear or loot. Consider feats and skills that help you get around on the battlefield, such as Tumble and Mobility.
Weigh Your Risks
Despite the above advice, beware of getting into trouble that you can't handle. Above all, avoid taking unnecessary chances or putting the rest of the party in danger. You excel at slinking ahead of the party, but don't do so unless you have a pretty good idea of what you stand to gain. If the benefits you can expect from your intended action don't outweigh the risks, think up something else to do.
Keep Your Options Open
You can't always know what tricks and stratagems will work in a given situation, so try to have a backup plan. Likewise, avoid actions that may limit your options in the future. Finally, since escape is often the best option when a situation goes sour, always have a plan for getting out of whatever you've gotten into.
Keep Help Close at Hand
Try to avoid situations that force you to face danger alone. When taking point for your group, don't range so far ahead that your friends can't mount a rescue in a round or two. In a battle, consider who your best allies are.
The Party's Main Warrior: You need to keep moving to take advantage of your skirmish ability, but keep in mind that most other fighting characters are at their best when they can stay put and use the full attack action. So make a point of discussing tactics with the party's fighter types before a battle starts. It's often best to allow a more heavily armored and less mobile character to attack the foe's center while you maneuver around the flanks. Also, avoid moving too far ahead of your fighting allies. You probably won't survive for long if you must fight the enemy alone, even for a few rounds.
The Party's Arcane Spellcaster: This character is weaker and more vulnerable than you are when it comes to physical combat, so be prepared to come to her aid when trouble arises. Your speed and skirmish ability make you a natural rescuer, and you might be the only one who can get free to deal with the situation if the party's arcane spellcaster faces an unexpected threat. This character might also be able to assist you with useful effects such as fly or haste.
The Party's Divine Spellcaster: Get friendly and stay friendly with your party's cleric, druid, or paladin. This character's healing spells can stave off death, especially if you mange to get poisoned or fall victim to some other debilitating attack. A divine spellcaster also has access to many spells that can assist you, such as shield of faith, bless, aid, and the various ability boosting spells.
Some Key Equipment
The right gear can help to ensure a long and prosperous career for a scout. The essentials include the following.
About the Author
Skip Williams keeps busy with freelance projects for several different game companies, and he served as the sage of Dragon Magazine for eighteen years. Skip is a codesigner of the D&D 3rd edition game and the chief architect of the Monster Manual. When not devising swift and cruel deaths for player characters, Skip putters in his kitchen or garden (rabbits and deer are not Skip's friends) or works on repairing and improving the century-old farmhouse that he shares with his wife, Penny, and a growing menagerie of pets.
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