This column aims to provide players with tips on creating effective and interesting characters of various types. 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.
Dark hunter is a solid prestige class that bestows many benefits on characters taking levels in it.
The dark hunter's advantages come at a price. Here are a few things to consider when thinking about a dark hunter character:
Playing a Dark Hunter
Dark hunters generally prefer to work alone, striking from ambush before a foe is even aware of the danger. Thus, you should keep the following things in mind when playing a dark hunter.
A single-classed ranger or rogue can make an effective dark hunter, but taking levels in several different classes helps to ameliorate some of the dark hunter's weaknesses. Most dark hunters have at least one level of ranger to get Track as a bonus feat, but adding levels of rogue, scout, or ninja has certain advantages. Because dark hunters are skilled at striking from ambush, being able to deal extra damage to a flat-footed opponent is very handy. Remember that the extra sneak attack damage gained with the third level of dark hunter stacks with that bestowed by rogue levels. Also remember that sneak attack damage can stack with both skirmish damage (gained with levels of Scout [Complete Adventurer 10]) and sudden strike (gained with levels of ninja [Complete Adventurer 5]).
If your character is a dwarf, this prestige class combines very well with stonelord (Complete Warrior 81). Finally, depending on your proclivities, dark hunter mixes well with bloodhound (Complete Adventurer 28) and dungeon delver (Complete Adventurer 42).
Feats and Skills
Most dark hunters need to take their foes by surprise, preferably acting while they are flat-footed. Improved Initiative is, therefore, a necessity for these characters. Dark hunters usually have poor Will saves, so taking Iron Will is sensible. Dark hunters with a poor Fortitude save should also take Great Fortitude. Alertness and Stealthy are also handy feats.
Ideally, a dark hunter should max out his Balance, Climb, Jump, Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Spot, and Survival skills to enhance his ability to operate underground. Adventuring underground provides its own unique challenges. Truly successful dark hunters learn to use the terrain and features of the Underdark to their advantage.
Dark hunters should buy equipment that plays to their strengths and compensates for their weaknesses. Any item that increases their ability to hide and strike from ambush is desirable. Elixir of hiding and elixir of sneaking are good, cheap choices for dark hunters and actually give better bonuses than boots and cloaks of elvenkind (but do not last as long, obviously). Dark hunters also tend to wear light (or no) armor, and so need to concentrate on raising their AC as high as possible. Dark hunters should consider adding the shadow and silent moves enhancements to their armor.
Dark hunters should also look to purchase items that increase their mobility, such as rings of climbing or jumping, slipper of spider climbing, boots of striding and springing, or winged boots. A ring of X-ray vision is also useful to a dark hunter, allowing him to spy on his quarry from the safety of another passageway.
Sample Dark Hunter: H'yterak
A gray, mottled, muscular reptilian humanoid with large claws leaps out at you. A frill running from its forehead to the base of its neck crowns its lizardlike head. Black, beady eyes are full of malignant hate.
H'yterak CR 11
H'yterak is an implacable hunter, preying on the dwarves that have begun exploring his tribe's tunnels.
H'yterak had the following ability scores before racial adjustments, Hit Dice ability score increases, and stat boosting items: Str 13, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 8.
Have a feat progression you prefer for the dark hunter? Any additional advice you would include for this prestige class? Let us know, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Creighton Broadhurst is a member of Living Greyhawk's Circle of Six and a mad-keen World of Greyhawk fan. His hobbies include trying to complete his original Temple of Elemental Evil campaign (most adventurers daring that dangerous locale do not survive) and clearing up the devastation left by his two-year-old son (who delights in wielding exotic toys to bizarre and deadly effect).
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