Characters with a talent for living by their wits hold a special appeal for the right kind of player. The beguiler offers a wealth of options for players who have the gift of blarney (or who would like to play a character with a honey tongue). A beguiler need not be a sweet talker. Your beguiler could be a cunning smuggler, cool diplomat, fiery revolutionary, or even a sneak thief.
The beguiler relies mostly on spells that cloud the mind and fool the senses. The beguiler also excels at the unexpected magical attack. Here's a brief list of things you'll have going for you when you choose a beguiler:
A beguiler cannot do everything well. Here are a few drawbacks with which every beguiler must contend --
Playing a Classy Beguiler
People who play great beguilers usually keep the following in mind.
Prepare Ahead of Time
You excel at meeting challenges with what you have at hand (and in your head). Still, a little forethought can go a long way.
Start by carefully considering your skill selection. Choose at least six skills that either fit your character concept or that you know will prove useful (or both). For example, if you plan to play your beguiler as a tomb breaker, explorer, or spy, concentrate on skills that deal with movement, stealth, and perception. Your list of skills might include Disable Device, Listen, Move Silently, Open Lock, Search, and Spot. If your tastes lean more toward manipulating or fooling other creatures, your skill selection should reflect that. Such a skill list could include Bluff, Diplomacy, Disguise, Gather Information, Sense Motive, and a Knowledge skill.
Whatever your character concept, you'll need plenty of ranks in Bluff and Concentration to make the best use of your cloaked casting and surprise casting class features. When choosing skills, remain aware of your class spell list. Remember that you can cast any spell from the list anytime you like -- your level and daily spell allotment permitting. The Hide skill, for example, is great for setting up ambushes or simply disappearing when things turn sour. When you reach 4th level, however, you can cast invisibility several times a day, which makes ranks in the Hide skill less important unless you plan to disappear fairly often. It also pays to consider how your skills interact with each other. For example, if you want to use the Hide skill to get out of a tight spot, you'll probably need to distract your foe or foes with a Bluff check before you can get out of sight.
Once you've settled on your skill list, be ready to use spells that enhance your capabilities or cover gaps in your abilities. As noted earlier, invisibility spells can make up for a lack of Hide ranks. Your spell list, however, is crammed with things that can help you when your skills prove lacking. For example, a comprehend languages spell is an excellent stand-in for a Decipher Script check, and an expeditious retreat spell indirectly improves your jumping ability (by boosting your speed).
Apply Advanced Learning Wisely
Your advanced learning class feature offers excellent opportunities to customize your spell list and make it your own. Never choose a new spell lightly. Always keep your character concept in mind, and also look for ways to fill gaps in your capabilities.
As noted earlier, advanced leaning allows you to add one sorcerer/wizard spell from the enchantment or illusion schools to your class spell list when you reach 3rd, 7th, 11th, 15th, and 19th level. You also must be able to cast the spell you choose as a beguiler. For example, you can cast only 1st level spells as a 3rd-level beguiler, so only 1st level spells (and 0-level spells) are available to you through advanced learning when you reach 3rd level. Choices worth considering at 3rd level include the ventriloquism spell from the Player's Handbook (good for beguilers with a taste for trickery), the whelm spell from Player's Handbook II (good for combat), and serene visage from the Spell Compendium (useful anytime you make a Bluff check). As you rise in level, be on the lookout for spells that expand your capabilities and that allow you to deal with mindless or unliving foes that are immune to most of your class spells. Illusion spells from the shadow subschool are great choices because they produce quasi-real effects that you can use in many ways. The various shadow conjuration spells, for example, allow you to produce shadow allies or servants. The various shadow evocation spells, on the other hand, expand your ability to attack a wide range of foes (and to damage objects).
Stay On Top of the Action
Your penchant for deception and the unexpected maneuver is very likely to be frustrated repeatedly unless you constantly think ahead during adventures. For example, it's very difficult to finesse someone who's warding off sword blows and fireball spells. Try to anticipate where the action is headed and be ready to seize opportunities to use your skills or spells before events overtake you.
Likewise, your class spell list is full of excellent defensive spells such as mirror image, displacement, and repulsion that can keep you safe in a battle. It pays to cast these spells before combat begins whenever you can. Otherwise, you'll be faced with a choice between acting decisively at the beginning of a battle or taking a moment to protect yourself and most likely missing a chance to use your class features to best effect.
You cannot seize opportunities while skulking around in the back of the party. You don't have the Armor Class or the hit point to walk in the party's front rank all the time, but try to stay where things are most likely to happen -- in the second rank when the party is on the move. Don't be afraid to forge ahead or look around when the pace slows or your allies dawdle a bit.
Minimize Your Risks
You can go too far with the advice in the previous section. It's easy to find more trouble than you can handle if you get too far ahead of your allies, and your friends won't like it a bit if you repeatedly plunge them into battles they can barely handle in your eagerness to land the first blow in a fight. Remember that you're on the lookout for opportunities to make an impact on the adventure, not chances to take blind risks. If you're not sure what the outcome of a potential action might be, reconsider the action.
Remember Who Your Friends Are
No matter what sort of beguiler you are, the key to a long and successful career lies in working well with your allies. These are the people who can help you finish what you start and who can pull your fat out of the fire when things don't go according to plan.
The Party's Main Warrior: This character's job is to carry the fight to the enemy and protect more vulnerable party members -- such as yourself. Your relationship with this character depends on the role you've assumed in your group -- it always pays, however, to work with this character before an adventure starts to minimize the chance that you'll get in each other's way. No matter what your style of play, always try to keep a fighting ally close at hand. You never know when you'll need that character's physical prowess and fighting skills.
If your talents lean toward negotiation or subtle influence, try to persuade a fighting ally to let you have a shot at using your influence before open hostilities commence. When possible, agree in advance that the party will try the subtle approach first. Make sure, however, that your fighting ally can recognize the sorts of opponents you aren't good at influencing, such as mindless vermin and oozes, undead creatures, and constructs.
The Party's Main Scout: It's possible you could fill this role in your party, especially if you have loaded up on stealth skills or if you like to cloak yourself with spells. If there's a rogue, monk, or other stealthy character in your group, be ready to work with the character. If you're stealthy yourself, you might accompany the scout on reconnaissance trips, either as a second pair of eyes and ears, or perhaps a few steps back where you can provide support or a quick rescue if things go sour. In any case, do your best to keep track of what the scout is doing so that you can react quickly to whatever the scout uncovers.
The Party's Arcane Spellcaster: You are an arcane spellcaster yourself but perhaps not the only one in your group. If you have an arcane spellcasting ally, be sure the character is aware of your strengths and limitations. You can handle most magical information gathering with spells such as detect thoughts, clairaudience/clairvoyance, or true seeing. You also are a master of the subtle attack spell, such as charm person, vertigo, or confusion. Encourage your arcane ally to load up on useful spells that aren't on your class list, such as fireball, fly, and other spells that provide offensive punch or utility.
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 yourself poisoned or suffer from some other debilitating attack. You may find that divine spellcasters cramp your style a little (especially when they're straight arrows and you have a larcenous streak), but make an effort to stay in their good graces.
Some Key Equipment
Your gear is nearly as important to you as your spells, so don't neglect it. Here are some essentials:
About the Author
Skip Williams keeps busy with freelance projects for several different game companies and was the Sage of Dragon Magazine for many years. Skip is a co-designer 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.
©1995-2008 Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.