The lurk from Complete Psionic combines stealth, good melee potential, and a taste of psionic power. Lurks excel at the sudden and deadly attack, but they also make effective scouts, pickpockets, or confidence men. With the right mix of skills and psionic powers, a lurk can literally walk and fight unnoticed on the enemy's turf, making him lethal indeed.
Lurks enjoy a wealth of abilities that make them deadly foes in melee. They also have psionic powers that make them even more formidable and adaptable. Here's a look at what the class has to offer:
As with everything in the D&D game, the lurk's advantages come at a price. Here are a few disadvantages you'll want to be aware of when considering a lurk character:
Playing a Classy Lurk
Here are a few tips for playing a great lurk.
Plan on Getting into the Action
You don't have the Armor Class or hit points to stay in the party's front line for long, but don't plan to skulk in the rear ranks, either. Your lurk augment ability is useful only with melee attacks, so plan to get up close and personal with any foes your group decides to fight. Your psionic sneak attack ability depends on your ability to strike quickly when the opportunity arises.
Develop a Fighting Style
You're at your best when you can strike quickly while your foes are distracted or unaware of your presence. That leaves you plenty of room to work out your own approach to battle. For example, your fighting style might emphasize speed and mobility (so that you can dash into a battle and really hit the foe where it hurts). To that end, you might choose skills such as Tumble and Jump and a psionic power such as skate, burst, or mighty spring. Your fighting style might emphasize stealth and deception. You can create such a fighting style with skills such as Move Silently, Hide, and Bluff and a power such as chameleon, distract, or sensory gloom.
As you advance in level, choose powers that enhance your fighting style or give you new capabilities. For example, if you've emphasized speed, powers such as body equilibrium and psionic dimension door can work well for you. You can give yourself new combat options, however, with powers such as evade attack, touchsight, and steadfast perception.
Use Your Psionic Potential Quickly and Aggressively
Your fairly limited psionic reserve may tempt you to hold back, but powers you don't manifest won't help you or your party. You don't need to burn through all your power points during the first few encounters every adventure, but don't take a beating when using a power can make things easier. Likewise, it usually requires a standard action to manifest a power. Once a fight begins, you might not have a standard action to spare (though you can spend extra power points to manifest some powers as swift actions), so it usually pays to manifest your powers when a battle begins or even before it begins if you can anticipate the encounter.
While it's a great idea to develop a fighting style, keep in mind that you can fill several different roles in a party, especially once you gain a few levels and build up your repertoire of psionic powers and ranks in varied skills. Depending on what skills and powers you select, you could serve as your party's scout, probing ahead for hidden dangers, act as your group's chief negotiator, or find ways to defeat obstacles in your group's path. In time, you could fill a combination of these roles.
Even if you wind up spending most of your time fighting, remaining flexible can pay dividends for you and your group. When traveling with your group, consider a position near the center of the marching order. From there, you're protected from sudden assaults, and you can move to meet threats to the party's front or rear. You can't always know what tricks and stratagems will work in a given situation, so always try to have a backup plan whenever you head into danger. Likewise, avoid anything that limits your options in the future. Finally, remember that escape is often the best option when things go wrong -- always have a plan for getting yourself out of whatever you've gotten into.
Weigh Your Risks
While it usually pays for a lurk to be bold, be aware of getting into trouble that you can't handle. Above all, avoid taking unnecessary chances or doing things that put the rest of the party in danger. You might have the ability to slink on ahead of the party or deal a devastating blow to a key foe, but don't try to do so unless you have a pretty good idea of what you stand to gain if you succeed. If the benefits you can expect from your intended action don't outweigh the risks, think up something else to do.
Remember Your Friends
You'll be at your best when you can balance your fighting ability, psionic power, and fairly low hit points, and that's easiest to achieve with help from your allies.
Fighting Allies: Characters such as barbarians and fighters have more hit points, a slightly better attack bonus, and better Armor Class than you have. You might be tempted to leave the bulk of the combat chores to such allies. This isn't always a bad thing, especially when you need time to manifest a power or two to get into fighting trim.
Remember, however, that you're a fighting character, too. Don't hang back too long when a fight breaks out. When you join a fight, keep track of what your fighting allies are doing. Do your utmost to make sure those allies don't become surrounded or flanked, and look for opportunities to flank opponents yourself. Try to gauge the opposition. Double up with a fighting ally to defeat powerful opponents quickly. When facing hordes of lesser foes, form a fighting line or ring and engage as many foes as you can. When you're outnumbered, eliminate weaker foes as quickly as you can to limit the number of foes who can attack you.
Stealthy Allies: Stealthy characters such as rogues and rangers often need the same kinds of combat support that fighting characters do. If your equipment, skills, and psionic powers permit, be ready to accompany stealthy characters on scouting trips to provide the scout some protection or an extra set of eyes and ears. If you stay behind by choice or by necessity, be ready to go to the scout's rescue when he finds trouble (as characters often do when taking point). Just be careful to avoid whatever fate befell the scout.
Arcane Spellcasters and Psionicists: Wizards, sorcerers, psions, and bards can pack a real punch with their spells, and they often serve as the party's heavy artillery. These characters are notoriously vulnerable to physical attacks, thanks to their poor Armor Classes and very low hit points. These characters rely on you to keep the opposition at a distance, and it's in your best interest to do so, even though you're fairly vulnerable yourself.
Divine Spellcasters: Get friendly and stay friendly with your party's cleric, druid, or paladin. This character's healing spells can keep you on your feet when you take damage. These characters usually are fairly capable fighters in addition to their spellcasting ability. Be ready to support them in battle as you would your group's main fighters.
Some Key Equipment
No matter how carefully you choose your psionic powers, you still must rely on your gear to reach your full potential. The essentials for you include:
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.
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