Classes: The Scout

In writing up this post, it also gave me time to go back and review pieces of the class that I haven’t in about a year now. It gave me some perspective on how the class plays, and how it’s balanced against other classes in the game, so I was able to make changes to address that. I also took and removed this specific class from the long form document that explains all the classes and separated it into it’s own document. You can find that link here, and you don’t even need to be signed in to view it.

The Scout is generally the last one standing.

Interestingly enough, my D&D post from last week seemed to be the most popular of the bunch, so as promised I’ll start going through the classes in more detail. First up is the formally trained Scout. I made this class with the help of one of the players in my campaign by picking out some of his favorite moments of the past few years and tying those into specialized skills that fit his playstyle. This is one of the less technical classes, and the abilities were ones that we made up for the class specifically, most of the classes are that way.

All of these combined classes retain most of the basic skills and abilities from the normal classes, and pay a steep XP penalty to do so. Scouts, being a fighter class, are allowed to use the fighter specialization tables that we have developed. They have high requirements for their starting stats, although we use a modified rolling system where the average turns out to be around 12. Their thac0 is a combined average of what the ftr/rog would be at each level, so a bit lower than normal fighter rates. They retain all of the rogue skills, but at adjusted rates that reflect their training towards hide, move silent, and detect noise where their other standard abilities start a bit lower. Their rate of gain however is adjusted to be slower, and is compounded by their much slower leveling rate. Some charts to illustrate how this works out across the rogue classes. Don’t worry, they’re the first of many many charts. I mean the casters are just… well, anyway.

Their key ability outside of those skills is their sneak attack, normally in 2e, it’s melee only and there’s a multiplier for damage. This is one of the changes from 3e that I liked, changing it to a number of extra dice depending on your level. I’m a fan of rolling lots of dice, players like rolling lots of dice. They might not do as much damage with extra dice, but there’s a certain feel to rolling a handful of dice for an attack. The ranged sneak portion attack works like you would find in Skyrim. If they can’t figure out where you’re hiding, you get to pick your shots. This is negated by them taking cover, or if they take off running, which makes it hard to pinpoint a weak spot.

Other key abilities include a knockout blow, there are rules in 2e for subdual combat, but I’ve always found them pretty clumsy and generally they go unused anyway. The main difference with the KO is that it requires an injured target or a fair amount of potential damage for it to occur. This is to show the difference between trying to KO a larger or more powerful target vs a smaller weaker target and moves away from the % based system the subdual rules call for. It also wedges in a bit of playstyle that is encouraged for the class, sometimes a captured prisoner is more valuable than a dead enemy.

There is an instant vanish ability, provided there’s something nearby to hide behind. It appears to be magical, but with a bit of misdirection and smoke, all it really takes is a while to master and minimal components that are assumed to be gathered in town. We added this in due to previous campaigns where a player would ask to hide during combat, and it just wasn’t allowed. You see ninjas do this all the time in movies, and it makes sense to me that with training and practice, this class should be able to do the same. It adds flexibility for the scout in combat, which is one of the biggest things needed when you’re the only class in a campaign without access to magic.

They also get a defensive stance, where they give up normal actions during the round to increase their AC, and make counterattacks instead. At first glance it seems pretty powerful, but comparatively alongside the other classes lv8 ability, it’s pretty tame. These are intended to be closer to class defining abilities. It’s a big ol’ carrot on a stick as far as wanting to reach that level that you finally get to use your really cool ability.

Last thing to note is on reaching level 10, all of the classes can go back for additional training that changes their Class to an advanced version. In the original Final Fantasy, about halfway through the game you upgrade to the advanced version of your class. That’s what this is, and they’re not even developed yet really. Due to the experience ramp, hitting level 10 with one of these classes would take dozens of sessions, it hasn’t happened yet. Of course at that point I’ll sit down with whoever does and go through creating the advanced version of the class with them.

Most abilities at this point would be borderline supernatural. The Scout upgrades to a Stalker, of which the first ability is to infiltrate enemy encampments well enough that even creatures of another race or species wouldn’t think anything of them wandering around. By the time they hit this level, players are going to be really hard pressed to find a challenge in the mundane world. Usually by now they’re at the point of hunting down relics, taking on dragons, or even travelling the planes on big epic quests. The XP comparison to stock 2e classes would put players at this point into the level 20 range.

One of the things that I try to focus on when creating classes, is avoiding a lot of the highly detailed work that really forces you into tight roles. That’s just not what D&D is about, at least back in the day. These classes still have a lot of the flexibility that allows players to really shape their character depending on how they want to play them. Scout might not start with a lot of thieving ability, but that’s mostly due to the formal training. They’re not forbidden from picking pockets or opening locks, and could very well dump points in those skills to make them a prominent piece of their class.

One of the things about the Scout that I try to make clear, is that he IS a fighter. Just because he has the ability to sneak around in the shadows, doesn’t mean that’s going to be the best call. A Scout can fight head on nearly as well as any other fighter, they just happen to have a few tricks up their sleeve as well. In melee combat, if you drop the guy in front of you, it’s easy enough to spin around and catch a sneak attack on the guy your ally is fighting.

 

Feel free to ask any questions or leave a comment down below.

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