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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Troll in the Playground

    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    Default A Guide to Proper Scouting (Rescued from Brilliant Gameologists)

    To be clear, this is a handbook on how to properly scout for your party. It is not a handbook for the Scout class (though that class will be touched upon). We'll cover the basic philosophy and tactics, as well as various possible builds, useful items, and so on.

    The first question is this: what is a scout? The simple answer: a scout is a character who can detect enemies before they detect the party. This could mean a sneaky Rogue staying a bit ahead of the party and keeping a sharp eye out, an arcanist using mindsight with telepathy and similar effects to notice enemies like a magical radar system, or even a Binder sending little birds to be his eyes and ears. However you do it, it's your job to make sure that your party is ready to act before any threat even knows you're there.

    And the second question is: why have a scout in the party? It's an iconic role, usually built into the "skillmonkey" of the classic Tank, Healer, Arcanist, Skillmonkey team up, but what's the point?

    This is a game where actions are everything, and a single standard action can screw your entire party. If a fight starts with a hidden Beguiler casting Glitterdust on the party in the surprise round, you could be looking at a TPK. If it instead starts with your party landing the Glitterdust and revealing the Beguiler as well as his little Rogue friends, this is going to be a trivially easy fight. Plus, in a game full of monsters with various immunities and vulnerabilities, strengths and weaknesses, knowing your enemy in advance and knowing how to fight him is critical. Far better to avoid wasting attacks that do nothing against a creature that was immune, or to use AoEs and hit the hidden ambushers instead of single target effects that only hit the bait. Thus, what the scout gives the party is actions, and lots of them. Surprise rounds to destroy enemies instead of having those same surprise rounds used against you, and fewer wasted actions when a player fails to account for what's actually against him. And in a game where battles are effectively over after the first round or so (which is often the case when save or lose and crowd control spells start dropping), that's critical. It also can thwart traps, which at lower levels are virtual guaranteed kills against party members if you don't protect against this.

    In this first section, we'll cover the basics of how to scout. Scouting requires four basic things: be as hard to detect as possible, detect as effectively as possible, chose the proper range to scout at, and have appropriate ablative defenses for when things go wrong. Cover all these things appropriately and you should never be in serious danger of dying while scouting.

    1) Be invisible to as many things as possible.

    A) The most basic part of this is Hide and Move Silently, because everything has Spot and Listen, even if they have no ranks. As a rule, you're only truly safe if your Hide and Move Silently, after modifiers, are 11 higher than the enemy's Spot and Listen. That way, if you take 10 while sneaking around the enemy cannot possibly find you. This is trivially easy... a Halfling straight out of the box gets +5 Hide, and +3 Move Silently, while a Whispergnome gets +9 Hide and +5 Move Silently. Through in max ranks in both skills and a 14 base thrown into dex and you're looking at +11/+9 or +15/+11 even at level 1, when the vast majority of enemies don't even have spot ranks. Note also that distracted people have a -5 to their spot and listen, and there's an additional -1 to spot and listen for every 10 feet between the observer and what they're spotting. With these kinds of penalties, you don't even need items to avoid any chance of detection. As you go up in levels you'll want to invest a bit of money into keeping Hide and Move Silently up, an amount determined by how much it comes up. The Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis (22k continuous, 10k for 10 minutes per day) is great for this, providing the Dark template cheap (which gives +8 hide, +6 move silently, Darkvision and Superior Low Light Vision, and (Ex) hide in plain sight along with a few other nice abilities). Shadowsilk Leather Armor is just 1,750gp and provides +2 to hide and move silently while also being extremely light weight (an issue for low strength stealth types), and it's not even magical so crafting it for 1/3 price is a possibility in games where that works. There's also basic mundane gear like Silent Shoes and Darkweave Clothing that can increase both skills. And if you're a Factotum, you even get to add your Int to it. In the end, you should have little to no trouble keeping your Hide and Move Silently up so high that nothing can possibly detect you via Spot or Listen.

    B) Scent, Tremorsense, Blindsense, and Blindsight are all relatively common abilities that autodetect you, and you just can't have that. Luckily, these are easily countered by taking the Darkstalker feat, which requires them to follow the Spot-Hide/Listen-Move Silently mechanic. Since you needed those to be up anyway, this handles the problem nicely, but the feat is basically required if you want to be a stealthy character. Without it, you're hosed... which is part of why Wizards and such actually aren't very good at this sort of thing. No spell protects you from these things (at least not in a useful way).

    C) Lifesense. This feat from Libris Mortis is only available to undead and causes all living creatures to glow brightly in your vision (a medium or smaller creature gives off 60 feet of light, while larger creatures double the light given off for every size category they are above medium). Note that even invisible light sources give off light, so this sense completely trumps invisibility and no amount of hiding will save you (the enemy won't see you, but they'll know exactly where you are anyway. They'll even see you coming from around corners). On the bright side (heh) Necropolitans are found in this same book. Basically, if Libris Mortis is in play, you absolutely want to be a Necropolitan (which is very useful for stealthers anyway for a variety of reasons). If it's not in play, Lifesense isn't an issue anyway so there's nothing to worry about. And if you do become a Necropolitan, take this feat!

    D) Touchsight. This auto-win detection can be annoying, but with a minute per level duration, it shouldn't even be up unless the party has already given away the fact that it's there (which may happen). Nothing besides being incorporeal can evade it (and being permanently incorporeal has its own issues), but it has some weaknesses. First of all, it requires Line of Effect to see things. If you have the ability to see through walls (Mindsight, Earthdreamer) you can watch someone who might have Touchsight up without fear, and remember the following from the Line of Effect rules: "An otherwise solid barrier with a hole of at least 1 square foot through it does not block a spellís line of effect. Such an opening means that the 5-foot length of wall containing the hole is no longer considered a barrier for purposes of a spellís line of effect. " In other words, if you're peering at the target through a keyhole or grating or any other surface that doesn't have a full 1 square foot hole in it, Touchsight can't see you at all. Also, note that it has a 60 foot radius, though this can be enhanced. We'll get more into proper scouting distance later. Finally, it's a rare power available only to Psions and Wilders, so it shouldn't come up much at all.

    E) Mindsight. This is a feat from Lords of Madness that autodetects anything with a mind within the range of your telepathy (for most creatures, this will be 100 feet or less). First of all, check with your DM to see what this power actually does. By RAW, it autodetects everything with no chance of blocking it... if this is so, TAKE THIS FEAT. However, the same book that published it mentions that Illithids hate undead, and one of the reasons is that their mental detection abilities don't work on undead. This suggests that RAI was for Mindsight not to work on people who are immune to Mind Affecting, in which case you'll want to be Necropolitan even more (or at least get some other method of getting that immunity). But if it's played by RAW, this is a good reason to stay 100 feet away from enemies that might have the feat. Note that this is another rare ability... it requires the enemy to be telepathic and have taken the feat. This is one good reason why having a few Knowledge skills is wise, as it lets you know about such abilities.

    F) Darkvision. This is a really common sense that still works off spot/hide, so you can hide from it just fine. It's mentioned here because the Ring of Darkhidden makes you completely invisible to it, and most underground/night monsters that use it rely on it as their sole vision mode when it's dark. With that ring, which is quite cheap, you're now completely invisible to them the whole time. If you play in the underdark or some similar area, your whole party should have such rings. An important note is the range here... Darkvision is usually a 60' range, sometimes 120', very rarely anything past this. You want to scout so that your party doesn't come within 120' of areas you haven't scouted, so that they're not picked up by this visual mode.

    G) Magical detection. There's a bunch of abilities (Arcane Sight, Detect Magic, Detect Undead, etc) that use magic to spot unusual things. Theoretically, they should still require spot, but just in case note that almost all magical senses are blocked by a thin layer of lead. Yes, you can actually hide behind a lead sheet or lead-lined cloak (though note that weight could make this impractical). The obvious permanent one people could use is Arcane Sight, but the range on that ability is 120' and it makes their eyes glow blue, so if you see someone with blue glowing eyes, stay out of the 120' range (and note that they're likely a caster). Like Touchsight, these senses aren't that common, but you should consider their existence.

    2) Have better detection than your enemies.

    A) Spot and Listen are handy ways to find things... they're automatic, after all. But as we saw earlier, using Spot and Listen are at a serious disadvantage against Hide and Move Silently. Distraction carries a -5 penalty, and distance gives a -1 per 10 feet penalty. Considering most scouts want to stay pretty far from the enemy, Spot and Listen end up being pretty poor ways of locating people. Also, Invisibility screws Spot pretty good and Silence screws Listen. As such, while it's a good idea to have a decent Spot score, it may not be worthwhile to waste too many points and resources maxing both these skills out (though that will depend on where else you spend your skill points and what exactly your character intends to do). As before, having night vision abilities (Low Light, Darkvision) are nice, but don't rely on them.

    B) Scent, Blindsight, Blindsense, Tremorsense. These are obviously useful abilities to have, as they autodetect enemies who don't have Darkstalker (few will). Blindsight is easily gotten via the Blindfold of True Darkness, but doing that means you can't see anything past 30' (but non visual senses like Mindsight work fine). If you're using Lifesense, this is obviously a terrible idea, but in general getting a Blindfold that you can put on temporarily at times might be worth having. Scent is easiest gotten via Hunter's Stance. But again, the range is quite short, so neither of these abilities are all that great. It's pretty hard to get any of these senses with any decent range. Heck, if anything, it's almost better to have an attack animal with the party that has these (like bats or dogs or whatever) and leave them back there in case the party is about to get jumped by an invisible thing you somehow missed, while you go ahead and do the scouting thing. These aren't high priority senses.

    C) Lifesense. As above, this sense is AMAZING for spotting things. It works on anything that's alive (take that, Mimic) and lets you know about them long before you even get close. If it's available, be a Necropolitan and take it, no question.

    D) Mindsight. As above, this is another amazing sense. If it's available and you can do so, take it. It's easy for Beguilers, Arcane Tricksters, and Factotums to get via a Mindbender dip. Rogues, Scouts, and Ninjas are left out in the cold on this one (part of why they're really not that good at scouting). Make sure to check with your DM so you know what it can pick up... by RAW, this thing works through walls (unlike divination, it goes through lead too).

    E) Magic. For the most part, magical detection isn't very good. Abilities like Mindblank trump it wholesale, while a sheet of lead or bit of rock stops it cold, and there are even abilities that make magical detection give the wrong answer. Plus, the durations are generally low. If you can get something like Permanent Arcane Sight or Persistent Detect Undead or whatever then go for it, but as a rule you want abilities that warn you if something's there when you didn't realize it, not abilities you have to cast once you already suspect an enemy.

    3) Be at the right range.

    Note how most of these abilities have specific ranges where they function, from 30' to 120' generally. Make sure you're not walking into an autodetect ability that you can't counter, and definitely keep your party from walking into such a thing. Also, your distance from your party is important. You want to be far enough away that they don't get heard or spotted (remember, there's that -1 penalty per 10 feet, so if you can detect things while they're 200 feet away from the party then the party is fine), but not so far away that you're outside of your party's engagement range (which will depend on party composition and level... Beguilers have no trouble dropping Glitterdusts from 130' away and archers usually can fire at 200' away, but full attack melee types are often unable to effect anything usefully unless they're already adjacent, so plan accordingly). After all, if you screw up, you don't want to be by yourself fighting something. You also need to be able to communicate with the party (another good reason why having Telepathy is handy, though there are other methods), in case you get hit while they can't see you. I generally find that being 95' away from the front of the party is just about right in most situations. As a scout, if you're splitting the party, you're doing it wrong.

    4) Have ablative defenses.

    Since you're in front, you're likely to take one big hit before the party kills whatever attacked you, so you want one off defenses that guarantee survival. A ring of +1 natural armor is all fine and well for the tank, but you need stuff that guarantees survival right now from that one hit you're going to take from a trap or from a creature that somehow managed to spot you. This is a reason why a dip into Swordsage is extremely useful for any scout... Moment of Perfect Mind (and similar maneuvers), Counter Charge, and Shadow Jaunt are amazing as once per encounter defenses. They guarantee that one save or lose won't kill you (including traps), that one melee opponent won't reach you, and that you can escape (even from grapples) when you need to. Shadow Jaunt with Cloak of Deception is already a great stealth combo anyway, so this works perfectly. Note that initiative itself can be considered an ablative defense... if you can move (and escape, or kill the enemy) before they can even act, you have successfully defended against the attack. In the end, if you do it right, a monster jumping you is actually falling for bait and guaranteed to be dead as the entire party destroys it, and you're the best person to trigger a trap anyway (though try to avoid said traps, the published ones are incredibly deadly at low levels). The primary things you need to be able to do are succeed in one critical save, escape a grapple or other death trap, win an initiative roll, and spoil one charge or attack.

    As a final note, don't spend everything on scouting. You should still be able to do other stuff. Most scouts are actually assassins or diplomats or combat archers or something that's very helpful even when not scouting. There's no requirement to spend huge resources on being a scout... you should still be very effective for the party in general.


  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground

    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    Default Re: A Guide to Proper Scouting (Rescued from Brilliant Gameologists)

    First, skills.

    Hide and Move Silently: As covered above, these are basic skills that you absolutely want high enough to be 11 above the Spot/Listen bonus of any creature you're trying to evade. You can, however, factor in the -1 penalty per 10 feet and the -5 distraction penalty into these calculations. It's not hard to get these skills up to the point where it's just not an issue... but make sure you get them high enough. Remember that Darkstalker means these skills apply to almost every detection attempt that will occur. Remember also that you don't even need to make Hide checks if you have total concealment (a plus for the Shadow template) and that you can hide other people in your party at a -30 penalty or use a teamwork benefit to hide your party for an ambush. Also, remember that invisibility gives a +20 to moving hide checks and a +40 to hide checks when not moving. Also, get Hide in Plain Sight if you can... a variety of options can be found in this handbook. And remember the sniping rule if you're an archer.

    Spot and Listen: The opposite of Hide and Move Silently, these skills are the standard way of starting encounters and locating enemies. Having them is useful, but don't rely on them... it's very hard to beat someone who focuses on hide at that game, and a variety of abilities (like Silence, Invisibility, etc) negate these skills entirely. As these skills are Wisdom based, few stealthers are actually particularly good in them. Note however that you need 8 ranks in both of these to get nifty teamwork benefits, and also note that Listen is quite handy for checking if something nasty is on the other side of a door.

    Search: If you plan on not just springing every trap, pump this skill. Note that you'll need items to boost this skill to actually find traps with it, as traps tend to have VERY high search DCs. You'll need 8 ranks for the Door Procedures teamwork benefit, which is something you'll want to have.

    Knowledge Arcana, The Planes, Dungeoneering, Local, Nature, Religion: These skills let you identify monsters, which helps you know how likely they are to detect you. That alone is critical. However, it takes a lot of skill points to get really good at this, and may be too much for you to reasonably spend. If you do pump your knowledge skills, the Knowledge Devotion feat is going to be a very obvious choice. Note that the Educated feat gives you all of these as class skills if you need.

    Bluff, Diplomacy, Sense Motive, Forgery: Sometimes, scouting is less about being undetectable and more about being unnoticed. A good bluff roll can remove the need for stealth entirely... just walk on in, as you were absolutely invited (just check the invitation!). This will only apply to certain kinds of games though, and the strengths of traditional stealth (being invisible, great detection) don't really apply here, so this is in some ways a completely different role that could be handled by another party member. With that said, Bluff can let you hide while observed and Sense Motive might let you notice if an enemy has detected you but is trying to hide that fact.

    Use Magic Device: Arcane Lock will completely stop any scout that can't cast Knock, phase through the door, or smash the door down (the latter is rather unstealthy, and the middle one is a high level ability). And it's not the only example where magic is going to be by far the easiest way to deal with a situation. As such, the ability to use a few wands can be very helpful for Stealth types that lack magic of their own. However, note that some games have very limited magic item availability... check in advance before dumping a ton of points into this skill.

    Next, Skill Tricks. There's a few solid appropriate ones, and their cost of 2 skill points is quite cheap. You can learn half your level in tricks. They're all in Complete Scoundrel.

    [spoiler]Collector of Stories: This trick automatically gives you a +5 to learn a creature's special powers or vulnerabilities, which is exactly what you want as a scout. Check with your DM to see if it works with Knowledge Devotion.

    Easy Escape: If you don't have an ability like Shadow Jaunt to get out of grapples, Easy Escape will be a tremendous help.

    Escape Attack: Take Easy Escape if you're doing this. It works great with sneak attackers to land one attack against them while they're flat footed. Between this and your party gang jumping the hapless attacker, you should be able to take them out.[spoiler]

    Teamwork Benefits are a handy way to work with your party, and they generally cost you very little (a few skill ranks you probably already had). They're found in Heroes of Battle, Dungeonscape, PHB2, and DMG 2.

    Awareness: Requires 12 Listen and Spot for the leader, 2 Listen or Spot for team members. Everybody on the team gets a +2 Circumstance to Listen and Spot if any other team member is within 30 feet. It's not much, but it's easy to get.

    Cunning Ambush: Requires 8 Hide and Listen for the leader, 1 Hide for the members. Allows the team leader to make hide checks for the members of the team (though this uses their dex bonus and armor check penalty instead of the leader's), though it does take 10 minutes per team member. The fluff for this even suggests pulling monsters ala MMORPGs. This isn't something for use every day, but it's pretty cool. There's also an improved version that requires a few more skill ranks but lets your camouflaged party take full actions instead of standard actions in the surprise round.

    Door Procedures: Requires 8 Search and Listen ranks for the leader, 1 rank in Listen or Search for the team members. This gives +1 to Listen and Search to the leader (you) for every team member within 10 feet to any check at a door, and you can take 20 in half the time. It's a nice way to figure out what's on the other side of the door before opening it, and it makes it much easier to search for traps. Really, you might as well get this if you had the skills to use it.

    Infiltration: Requires 8 ranks of Hide and Move Silently, and the rest of your party needs 1 rank of Hide or Move Silently. The result is that your whole team can move at full speed with no penalty, which is quite useful indeed. Plus, the team can always see other team members regardless of anything other than total concealment (including invisibility!). You do need to stay visible to the team for the benefit to continue. Works quite well with Exemplar/Marshal types, allowing the entire party to stay right together without alerting enemies of their presence. Without Darkstalker, however, they can still be spotted... and I doubt the entire team will have that feat unless you're all intentionally going for a stealth theme.

    Scouting: Requires 8 ranks of Listen and Spot for the leader, and each team member needs 1 rank in Listen and Spot or Alertness. This lets the entire team make a free spot check and free listen check using the lowest spot/listen modifier of the group +1 for every member of the group every round. This works as an active Spot or Listen attempt and gives you an extra chance to locate enemies.

    Search Team: Requires 5 ranks Search and Trapsense +1, team members need a rank of Search. As a full round action, the team leader (you) can apply your search check result to every square searched by a team member... and they can aid another to boost that check. It's unclear, though, whether your trapfinding ability works with this, so ask your DM. Still, it's a nice way to speed up searching.

    There's also a few feats that are well worth the investment. Spending too many feats on stealth may leave you unable to contribute meaningfully to many encounters once said encounters have started, but some feats are critical.

    Craft Wonderous Item: There are many very nice magic items that help with being a scout (as well as with any other role you might be filling). Classes like Factotums, Warlocks and Beguilers can take advantage of this with CWI, which gets them the items they need at half price. This feat is campaign dependent though... don't take it if items are freely available or if time to craft them isn't. Also in this category is Craft Wand (mostly for Factotums and Warlocks). Remember that when making custom items you can restrict the items to only work for people like you to discount the cost (but it will be worth less if you want to sell it later). If you do this as a Factotum, note that Distill Joy is a standard action for you to cast (BoED, normally it's a day) and might be worth the little bit of extra exp.

    Darkstalker: This is a critical feat for any stealth character. It's found in Lords of Madness and it lets you use Hide/Move Silently normally against creatures with Scent, Tremorsense, Blindsense, and Blindsight. Without it, these things autodetect you... but most creatures with those abilities have terrible Spot scores (their listen scores might be okay) so with this feat they'll never find you. Take this feat.

    Dumb Luck (CSc): This feat lets you spend a luck reroll (which it gives you one of) to turn a natural 1 on a save into a natural 20. It's obviously handy, and better if you took other luck feats too.

    Item Familiar: Located in Unearthed Arcana, this feat gives you a host of benefits including the ability to effectively double your ranks in a few skills. If you can take it, the boost from this means you never have to buy another hide/move silently boosting item again, and it might even get your Spot score high enough to defeat enemy hide scores easily as well. There's a host of other available benefits. If you do take, make sure it's an item that's hard to lose... my favorite is a Dwarvencraft Quality Obdurium Quickrazor, since that stays out of line of sight (making it impossible to target) except when you whip it out, and with a hardness of 32 and +2 to saves it's really hard to destroy. Another option is armor with the 500gp Durable quality from Dungeonscape... remember that armor can't be sundered, and Durable removes the other primary way of killing it. Blueshine from MiC works too, for 1500gp, but also includes a +2 hide bonus. If you do this, consider adding in Restful for another 500gp so you never take it off either.

    Knowledge Devotion (CCh): Not really a scouting feat, but it deserves mention as a great feat for anyone who pumps their knowledge skills. It's especially good for archers, but it's definitely solid in general. Who can say to +5 to hit and damage with every attack (which is what you'll get eventually)?

    Lifesight: From Libris Mortis, this feat requires being undead but makes every living thing glow brightly in your vision. This means you're going to see enemies moving around corners and nothing can hide from you if it has a heartbeat. If Libris Mortis is in play, you NEED this feat which means you need to be undead. Luckily Necropolitan is from that same book, so if this feat is in play, you can get around it safely. As an added benefit, it's one of very few ways to tell if there's an undead critter disguised as though he's alive easily, so if you see something that isn't a clanking automaton or moving statue and it's not glowing, instruct the Cleric to nuke it (unless you're a Factotum, in which case nuke it yourself).

    Lucky Fingers: Gain a luck reroll, and you can spend one to reroll a failed disable device check (or open lock or sleight of hand). In trap heavy campaigns this is very handy.

    Mindsight (LoM): This feat is amazing but what it does is somewhat unclear. It says it simply detects anything with an Int score within range of your telepathy ability, and gives you their Int score as well as their type. Obviously, this is amazing, and by RAW it works on absolutely everything regardless of intervening terrain (there are a tiny subset of abilities that might counter this) or any protections they may have that don't specify immunity to mental based detection. However, note that the same book says that Illithids hate undead in part because their psychic detection abilities can't find undead, which suggests this feat was not intended to work on creatures that are immune to Mind Affecting abilities. Discuss with your DM in advance so you know what's going on. Either way, it's an amazing feat, though it does require telepathy of course (Mindbender 1 is the easiest way to get this). If it doesn't get through mental immunity, being a Necropolitan or Ghost is that much better, and Mindsight will stop this. If it does, congratulations, you can now see everything no matter what. Still, if you have the option, take this feat.

    Obtain Familiar: This feat gets much better for classes like Beguilers who actually had a lot of skills, as the familiar's usual skill usage abilities become much more potent. Losing a familiar hurts so sending it out to scout alone is a bad plan, but it can use aid another to boost any skill you want by 2 while staying safely with you. Also, the free Alertness could be handy. Consider Improved Familiar feat as well if you take this, or if not get a Hummingbird familiar for +4 initiative.

    Yondalla's Sense: It's Halfling only, but this feat lets you add your Wisdom bonus to your initiative. If you're a Cleric, Ninja, or Monk this one could be very nice indeed.


  3. - Top - End - #3
    Troll in the Playground

    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    Default Re: A Guide to Proper Scouting (Rescued from Brilliant Gameologists)

    Here we'll summarize the standard scouting classes in terms of strengths and weaknesses. We'll cover them roughly in order of weakest to strongest, so that you can fit in with a group of an appropriate power level (scouting with a Binder 1/Beguiler 4/Anima Mage 10/Shadowcraft Mage 5 in a group that's got a Fighter, Healer, and Warmage is a little silly).

    Monk: Yes, the lowly Monk. With Hide, Move Silently, Spot, and Listen on the class list, plus all good saves, this guy are capable of doing the job... to a degree. Their lack of trapfinding hurts, and they can't get Mindsight, but their ability to run away quickly can actually be handy at lower levels and they do have evasion to go along with those nice saves. They're not ideal, but they can get the job done in low power games. Consider being Necropolitan to reduce MAD, and dipping something with Trapfinding if possible.

    Complete Adventurer Ninja: They've got all the basics of scouting available, including trapfinding and the various skills, plus useful tricks like Invisibility when needed. Lack of UMD means a single Arcane Locked door can foil them, and they lack advanced detection options. Like Monks, they suffer from MAD and thus could really use Necropolitan. Sadly, they can't Ki Dodge in response to a trap being triggered or an unexpected attack (since it's a swift action), and Ghost Step is a Move Action for some reason, but it could get them out of a few nastier death traps. For some reason they don't get evasion until level 12, which really hurts.

    Marshal: What's this guy doing in here, you might ask? Simple: a one level dip into this class lets you add your Charisma to all dex based checks for you and your party, which means all Initiative checks, Move Silently checks, and Hide checks are covered. Note the requirement is that the party can hear you and understand you, so you'd have to be close to the party and whispering to keep them stealthed... but that's still likely better than running around with no ranks. Ask your DM if telepathy lets you do this silently... if so this gets much better. But even without that you can use the boost on yourself.

    Expert: Yes, an NPC class can do the job, mostly due to getting all the appropriate class skills. They lack trapfinding and evasion, but what were you expecting from an NPC class? Usually games where you're playing NPC classes also have low wealth which hurts too, meaning their UMD may go to waste. Best of luck.

    Spellthief: MAD hurts these guys bad, and their skill list isn't as impressive as some of the other dedicated scout classes. But they do qualify for Mindbender and Earth Dreamer, they're amazing with Shadowcraft Mage, and they've got some spells to work with. The Master Spellthief feat is critical if you do anything other than pure Spellthief. Though low power in general, these guys can be part of some serious nasty builds... consider Spellthief 9/Mindbender 1/Shadowcraft Mage 5/Earth Dreamer 5 with Mindsight and Master Spellthief.

    Warlock: Lack of Hide and Move Silently really hurts these guys, but they do qualify for Mindbender and they can have all day invisibility/flight available. Detect Magic at will is handy too, as it can find magical traps, and their UMD and item creation abilities are nothing to scoff at. See Invisibility is handy too (though Detect Magic usually handles this), and so is their teleportation. You're probably going to want to Multiclass to really make this work.

    Scout. Like Rogues, Scouts have lots of skill points to work with, but they lack UMD which means they're stuck when dealing with many magical things. They do have more Knowledge skills to work with, and a few solid minor abilities that help (such as boosted movement speed and initiative). Still, despite the name, they're by no means the best in this category. Hide in Plain Sight comes rather late for them and while they do get Blindsense/Sight eventually, the limited range means its of little use.

    Rogue. The classic scouting class, these guys have a solid number of skill points to get the job done, and have all the basic scout skills covered except for Knowledge skills. Evasion is solid, and so is their eventual ability to take 10 on all skills. UMD is their only way of getting around Arcane Lock, but at least they have it. The class even has Defensive Roll, which can function as an ablative defense (though it comes rather late in the class to be of serious use). Unfortunately, they have a tough time standing up to a single attack that doesn't target reflex saves due to weak HD and generally poor AC, but dips into other classes can help with that. Consider also the Wilderness Rogue variant, which adds the Ranger's Hide in Plain Sight to their special abilities.

    Ranger: They've got some useful skills for the job and generally more hitpoints and armor to work with. Plus, they naturally combine well with the Scout class, and they do get Hide in Plain Sight eventually. They're one of very few scouting classes with full BAB, and while it's late they do get Evasion eventually. If you want to be a scout, this is a class worth playing with a bit. Scout 4/Ranger 16 is a very natural scouting build. Also consider the Wild Shape variant, which adds much needed mobility and versatility. Note that they have ACFs to gain Trapfinding if necessary.

    Bard: Though they lack trapfinding and a bunch of other important skills, the Bardic Knack ACF can really make up for this and their social abilities are impressive indeed. They can also easily get into Mindbender, so it's possible to get the job done with these guys.

    Beguiler: A true Int based class, Beguilers will regularly have more skills to work with than Rogues, and bring magical power into the mix. Their ability to dip Mindbender easily for Mindsight is a huge boon, and there's a few other really solid arcane PrCs they can use to dramatically increase their abilities (Earth Dreamer and Shadowcraft Mage come to mind). Low hitpoints and defenses are a danger to worry about, but their spells usually make up for this... Mirror Image is great, and Silent Image can trick enemies into attacking the wrong you entirely. Solid Knowledge abilities really help here.

    Binder. Binders can absolutely rock the scouting role, even at level 1 if they took Improved Binding. Malphas can give them unlimited birds that scout for them, triggering traps safely. Note that these birds can still trigger alarms and alert enemies to your presence so it's not entirely without risk, but they're still really handy. You also get the ability to go invisible for short periods starting at level 5 (before Invisibility starts becoming useless due to Blindsense and the like). Note that while you do get some nice knowledge skills, you lack Hide, Move Silently, Spot, and Listen, so you'll need to dip other classes if you plan to scout with anything other than birds. Other useful vestiges to consider include Acererak (Detect Undead and Hide From Undead at will), Balam (reroll one save or skill check every 5 rounds, insight boost to AC, initiative, and reflex saves), Chupoclops (Ethereal at will though you can't move while doing so, short range Blindsense/Deathwatch ability), Dantalion (+8 Knowledge Checks, thought reading at decent range, short range teleportation, a no save "don't harm me" effect), Haures (Immunity to all mental detections including Mindsight and free Mind Blank, Incorporeality at will, Major Image at will), Karsus (Autodetect all magical auras within 30 feet, Dispell Magic at a touch, use Wizard magic items), Leraje (+4 Hide, Superior or regular low light vision), Marchosias (+16 Hide and Move Silently, Gaseous Form at will, Death Attack), Naberius (Disguise Self at will, Diplomacy and bluff as standard actions while taking 10 even when threatened or distracted, command enemies at will, heal con damage which works amazingly with the Ritual of Shadow Walking), Orthos (Blindsense 30, 50% miss chance, messages via Whispering Wind), Otiax (Concealment at will, Open objects at range, unlock any door), Shax (Freedom of Movement at will, swim speed), and Tenebrous (Deeper Darkness at will, See in Darkness, Flicker a few times per day). Yeah, there's lots here. Plus the Anima Mage PrC can be quite good.

    Swordsage: Lack of trapsense hurts, and you're missing some useful skills. But this class multiclasses extremely well... a two level dip in Swordsage (preferably the Unarmed variety) is recommended for almost any scout build. Shadow Hand provides amazing ablative defenses and maneuverability tricks like Shadow Jaunt, while Diamond Mind can guarantee you always pass a save when you need to, and even Stone Dragon lets you punch through walls without trouble (great for escaping certain death traps). Nothing surprises a DM the first time like his nifty monster charging the scout... only for it to be thwarted by Counter Charge and then chucked right back into the party with Mighty Throw. The initiative bonus this class gives can't hurt either. They even get Evasion, though it's a bit late in the class to be of serious use. If you're going to dip Swordsage, wait until level 5 to do it so you can get second level maneuvers to start. The most obviously useful scouting maneuvers include Moment of Perfect Mind (succeed at a will save), Counter Charge (one charge against you fails utterly), Action Before Thought (succeed at a reflex save), Cloak of Deception (turn Invisible for a round, combos great with Shadow Jaunt), Shadow Jaunt (teleport 50 feet as a standard action, though note they can see you do it if you didn't go invisible already), Mountain Hammer (ignore DR and Hardness and do an extra 2d6 damage, great for smashing through objects), and Mind over Body (succeed at one fort save). There's more at higher levels if you want of course, but that's the basics. If you're taking two levels, make sure you have one combat stance and one non combat stance... I like Assassin's Stance for combat (+2d6 Sneak Attack) and Hunter's Stance out of combat (Scent). Dance of the Spider gives Spider Climb for free and is worth considering, but you could likely get climbing (or flight) via items instead, and Child of Shadows is also worth considering as it gives a miss chance when you move.

    Factotum. An Int and Dex based class that adds Int to all Dex and Str based skills, this class is the master of all skills and the quintessential scout. Brains over Brawn also gives Int to initiative, making this one of the highest initiative classes on this list. You have enough magic to get through basic situations, and a variety of very useful abilities when you need them. You also have all knowledge skills to work with, which is a handy ability. This class synergizes VERY well with Swordsage. Note that you do qualify for Mindbender so you can take that dip for Mindsight. You'll probably want to either go for an Iajuitsu Focus/Quickrazor based character or a Knowledge Devotion/Archery based character when doing the scout thing, depending on how you spend your skill points. Note that you lack evasion and thus might want a Ring of Evasion. Alter Self is a great spell to have and you've got it by level 5... the ability to turn into a Skulk, Air Mephling, Earth Mephling, Aquatic Elf, or Crucian when you need is really useful. Also consider Craft Wonderous Item or Craft Wand, as you've got everything else you'd need to get the crafting done.

    Psion: In addition to their usual powers, a Psion has a psicrystal that can take Lifesense (due to being a construct) and Mindsight (but only 30ft range). Since it can telepathically talk to its owner, it's quite capable of moving ahead a bit and scouting... but note that it only has 40 foot standard vision. Their ability to see in any form of darkness is quite handy as well. Note that this article grants Telepaths telepathy... allowing them to take Mindsight.

    Artificer: You have few skill points to work with but are Int based and have trapfinding, and with items can easily be an amazing scout. With that said, Artificers are so powerful that scouting is just one of things they can do when they feel like it, so it's hard to make an Artificer that actually feels like a scout (it's hard to make an Artificer that feels like he's any specific role... it just feels like he's rocking that particular role right now, but if he made different items he'd be something else). Still, this class can definitely rock the ninja concept if he wants to.

    Cloistered Cleric: You'll need Kobold domain to detect traps and Trickery Domain for hide. But you've got the skills and skillpoints, and anything you don't have naturally can be gotten via spells. Like the Artificer, it's hard to really feel like a scout class... you're just a demigod who feels like scouting right now. But if you ever wanted to play a crazed sneaky Kobold who sneaks up on people and then lets down the full fury the gods while yelling "DRAGON SNEAK ATTACK!" then this class will work... technically you can't sneak attack with Miracle but don't tell the Cleric that or he'll smite you.

    Druid: The last of the T1 scouts, these guys are hard to make feel like scouts... they're gods who can scout when they want. Still, there's no arguing with the fact that they're extremely good at it, with their high Wisdom scores, useful Wild Shape abilities, and host of handy spells.

    And now, the PrCs. There's a lot out there and I can't cover them all, but I'll try to get the most notable ones.

    Assassin (DMG): Hide in Plain Sight is handy, plus you get spells and can now qualify a Rogue for Mindbender. Death Attack is actually good on a scout, and Uncanny Dodge is useful enough. It's not an amazing class, but it's appropriate for most campaigns and it's found in the DMG, so more DMs tend to allow it than some other classes. The evil requirement can be problematic though.

    Dread Commando (HoB): Add your class level to initiative for you and all allies within 30', and eventually have no penalty to move silently and hide while moving your normal speed. Armor check penalties are also reduced. It's solid for a lower power game.

    Earth Dreamer (RoS): You can glide and see through earth and stone. If the campaign has lots of underground areas or even just castles, this is an amazing class. Also, the prerequisites are a great set up for Shadowcraft Mage, which is an awesome class. The low skillpoints hurt of course, and the divination ability works really well before walking into a classic dungeon under a mountain. Seriously, how many classic dungeons aren't within 50 miles of a mountain, usually called "Mount Doom" or "Mountains of Evil Demise" or something like that? 10 foot tremorsense is cute, but unlikely to matter much... still, you can glide through stone already, so feel free to dart around under the floor of the next room and auto detect everything on the ground in it.

    Exemplar9 (CAd): The ability to take 10 on a bunch of skills is great, and their ability to give skills to the party means the whole party can sneak around together. That's quite useful. The boost to fort saves and concentration checks can be very useful (dip Swordsage for the save maneuvers to take full advantage of this), and eventually you can add Intelligence to Initiative and Reflex Saves. You get all class skills too, so a single dip into this with Able Learner can be very handy.

    Hellbreaker (FCII): From Fiendish Codex II, this rarely seen class can be entered at level 6 but requires +2d6 precision damage and three feats to enter. However, it's rather impressive for scouting. At level 1, they gain the Mantle of Darkness Ex ability, which is basically hide in plain sight in any form of darkness (even against critters who can see in the dark!). They also disrupt telepathy within 20 feet, meaning they're one of few classes that by RAW are immune to Mindsight (and they completely negate divination Sp abilities from critters that don't have a decent Spellcraft score). That's one heck of a 1 level dip... the high prerequisites hurt though. The rest of the class is interesting as well.

    Horizon Walker (DMG): Like the Assassin, this class is found in the DMG and is thus more likely to be allowed. Dimensional Door every 1d4 rounds is certainly handy, and Tremorsense is decent but short ranged. Appropriate for lower optimized campaigns.

    Mindbender (CAr): A one level dip is all you need. This class requires caster level, not actual spells, so Factotums and Warlocks can get here just fine. The class gives one thing you care about: Telepathy. That's enough for Mindsight and that's exactly what you need to really rock the scouting. The fort save boost isn't too bad either. If you can take this class, do so... the requirements are really easy for any class that wanted to be a scout anyway, as long as you can handle the arcane part.

    Ninja Spy (OA): This Oriental Adventures class grants Hide in Plain Sight by level 4 and Alter Self at will by level 7. The latter is quite impressive. The huge bonus to jump is quite handy when combining with Tiger Claw maneuvers via Swordsage.

    Shadowcraft Mage (RoS): Also in the category of "Hi I'm a god, also I can do stealth today" this class brings tremendous power, great ablative defenses, and the ability to be even more shadowy than normal. If you're native to the Plane of Shadows (hi there, Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis, I wanted you anyway) you can use Planar Bubble to auto maximize all your already silent, extended spells.

    Shadowdancer (DMG): Hide in Plain Sight at level one, Evasion by level 2. Decent teleportation over time (though Shadow Jaunt is generally better due to having more uses). Not a bad class, and it's in the DMG. This one's a classic stealth character PrC that's worth a look.

    Wildrunner (RotW): This class is very easy to get into if you have Ranger levels, and grants both Fast Movement and Trackless Step at level 1, as well as Scent by level two (remember, you can track things by scent and thus know what creatures are in a dungeon before you walk in). It also gives Hide in Plain Sight, though this only works in natural surroundings and thus the utility of it is campaign dependent. Annoyingly, you have to be elven to use it, and the class has some MAD issues (requiring Charisma for some of its abilities). But it's one of very few stealthy classes that has very nice flip out and kill people brute force abilities, for those of you who like sneaking up on enemies and then screaming "SNEAK ATTACK" at the top of your lungs while hacking them to pieces.

    Wild Plains Outrider (CAd): This class is here for one reason: you can share your hide skills with your mount. Combine this with something like a Desmoderu Hunting Bat (a domesticated creature in MMII that has 100' Blindsense and decent flight) and the utility of this will become obvious. You'll want to be a small race if you want to do this, so that you can go everywhere with your mount. Consider also Halfling Outrider, PrC Ranger, and Fey Variant Bard from UA if you're going this route.

    And next, on to races. We'll start with the base races... templates come after that.

    Halfling: These guys should be available in the vast majority of campaigns. Small size gives these guys a nice hide bonus and their Dex helps too, so they effectively have a +5 hide and +3 Move Silently right ouf of the box. +2 to Listen might help a bit too. Their low speed is problematic and they lack alternate vision modes, but the slight boost to saves is useful. Consider also the Strongheart Halfling, which trades the save boost for a bonus feat... definitely useful. They're also amazing for mounted scouts due to their small size and access to the Halfling Outrider PrC, and note that their racial weapons include the War Sling and Halfling Skiprock, which is great with the feat that makes all racial weapons of your race martial.

    Human: Bonus feats are good and so are bonus skill points. They can also take Able Learner, which combined with a quick Factotum or Exemplar dip will mean you don't have to worry if some of your classes don't progress the skills you wanted. Plus, it's VERY rare to see a campaign where these aren't allowed.

    Whispergnome: With their natural +9 Hide and +5 Move Silently (factoring in size and stats) these guys make natural scouts... their bonus to spot and listen isn't bad either, nor is their Silence ability once per day. Complete Warrior lets them trade their racial proficiency for the Gnomish Quickrazor which isn't bad at all for Iajuitsu based builds. They qualify for Shadowcraft Mage and are an all around solid stealth choice. Regular Gnomes are decent as well, but Whispergnomes are better at this.

    Skulk: While their numbers look great on paper and they've got some awesome stealth bonuses, their ECL of 3 makes them much less attractive (they're competing with Shadow Dark Whispergnomes at that ECL). These guys are great as an Alter Self form, but of limited use otherwise.

    Changeling: The Changeling Rogue 1 substitution is absolutely wonderful, granting a bunch of bonus skill points, and Changelings have a bunch of other useful abilities as well. They can also take Able Learner, which is really handy if you dip Factotum or Exemplar for a level. Worth a look, certainly.

    Kobolds: Especially with the Web Enhancement, Kobolds have a lot of useful stealth abilities to work with (Tiny size when needed can be great!). Of course you can do the Dragonwrought Kobold cheese, but that will rapidly send you towards "God who felt like doing stealth today" instead of a character that feels like a scout. The Kobold Domain is great for Clerics who want to play scout.

    And now, scouting templates!

    Necropolitan: This template from Libris Mortis costs a bit of money to enter and loses you a class level (which can be regained over time). For the most part, all it does is make you undead, but this alone is amazing. You are now immune to Lifesight and can take the feat yourself (DO SO!), and depending on your DMs reading of Mindsight you might be immune to that as well. You're also immune to a host of traps, due to gaining poison, mind affecting, and death effect immunity. It's strongly recommended if you take this template that you get a decent Disguise score, so that you can make yourself look alive. Disguise is only opposed by Spot (even True Seeing won't get through it) and looking alive will keep you from being targeted by undead specific attacks (though the template does give you extra resistance to those). Also, make sure when you do the transformation that you do so next to a Desecrated Alter (+2 HP/HD) and try to get it done by a UA Variant Necromancer or level 8+ Dread Necromancer (+4 enhancement bonus to Str and Dex, +2 HP/HD). While straight D12 HD isn't that impressive (equivalent to the standard D6 HD stealther with 16 Con), D12+4 HP/HD is equivalent to a stealther with 24 Con which is much better (and who doesn't like a free enhancement bonus to the other stats?). Another benefit is you can now wield Lifedrinkers (DMG special weapon) which make any class far more dangerous... and remember that MiC gives rules for using different base weapons with special weapons. As another boost, you can use the Ritual of Shadow Walking (endless teleportation at will) without the con damage drawback. The final advantage of this template is that you can dump Con safely, reducing MAD and letting you pump the other stats you wanted. This template is absolutely worthwhile if available.

    Dark: The Dark Template from Tome of Magic is a wonderful scout template to grab, as it gives +10' movement to all movement modes, 60ft Darkvision, Hide in Plain Sight, Superior Low Light Vision, +8 Hide, and +6 Move Silently all for just +1LA. However, note that the Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis grants this template without the level adjustment, so if magic items are plentiful and you can afford it, that's probably the better option. Then again, if you're using LA paydown, you might as well grab this guy.

    Shadow: From Manual of the Plains, this +2 LA template grants a host of handy abilities. +50% to all movement modes, +6 Move Silently, Dark and Low Light Vision, Total Concealment in any shadow (except in daylight), and a bunch of other abilities as you level up like Evasion or +2 to Saving Throws make this a very handy template to consider.

    Ghost: Though the level adjust is painful, this template grants Incorporeality... one of the few ways to completely ignore Touchsight. Plus, it makes you undead, so everything said about the Necropolitan template applies here (including the part where it's wise to turn into a Ghost under the right conditions... though disguising yourself as living takes work). The various abilities this template gives are very helpful to any scout. See the Ghost Handbook for more information.


  4. - Top - End - #4
    Troll in the Playground

    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    Default Re: A Guide to Proper Scouting (Rescued from Brilliant Gameologists)

    There are many useful items out there for scouts, and many of them are quite cheap. Don't overspend here... you still have to be useful to the party once the scouting is done. Mundane items are first, magic second. Mundanes item have the advantage that if you can craft them (with Fabricate or just a lot of time) you can get them for 1/3 cost.

    Adamantine Weapons (DMG): For +3kgp, you can make a weapon out of Adamantine. The big advantage here is that it will ignore hardness less than 20, meaning you can hack your way out of various death traps, through Arcane Locked Doors, and generally out of trouble or bypass obstacles in unexpected ways. It's advisable to use silence effects when doing this if you don't want to alert everything nearby.

    Armor Spikes (PHB): Why are these mentioned? Because you can put passive weapon enchantments on them for handy bonuses. Consider Eager (+2 Initiative) and Warning (+5 Initiative).

    Collapsable Pole (Dun): It's a 12 foot collapsible pole. Considering how many traps have 10' radius effects, this is just perfect.

    Darkweave Clothing (ECS): 100gp gets you a +1 Circumstance bonus to hide. Cheap and easy.

    Forestwarden Shroud (RotW): For 100gp, this item will negate any Move Silently and Tumble checks for moving through undergrowth and heavy undergrowth. If you're going to be in forested terrain at some point, why not?

    Leading Lining (CSc): For 10gp you can lead line any pocket or container, thus preventing most divinations from piercing it. No sense getting your cover blown by glowing when someone uses Arcane Sight. It would only add half a pound to lead line a Handy Haversack so that no one even knows it's magical. Ask your DM about whether a lead lined cloak can be used to hide you from magical detection as well.

    Listening Cone (Dun): This cheap little item effectively gives you +3 listen when trying to hear through a door or +10 when listening through stone walls.

    Longspoon Thieves' Tools (CAd): Disarm traps and open doors from 5' away. Very handy for avoiding many sorts of traps. It's 150 for the Masterwork version (which has a +2 bonus to negate the -2 penalty these things create).

    Masterwork Tools (PHB): At just 50gp for +2 per skill, these should never be overlooked.

    Periscope (Dun): This device gives you a +7 bonus to hide when peaking around corners. Very handy.

    Shadow Silk Armor (ToM): Shadowsilk is a material that weighs significantly less than normal leather (a major concern for small low strength types) and grants an untyped +2 to Move Silently and Hide. It also increases max dexterity bonuses and reduces spell failure in shadowy areas. Plus, it looks like deep black silk, so it's perfect for the ninja about town. Shadowsilk Leather will run you 1750gp and has no spell failure in the dark along with a 4 pound weight, while Shadowsilk Padded (1500gp) provides a max dex of +10 for those folks with a dex of 28 or higher.

    Silent Shoes (A&EG): Just 20gp gives you a +1 to Move Silently from these shoes.

    Spyglass (PHB): It's rather expensive for a mundane item, but this lets you see things as though they were only 1/3 the distance away. Consider that at 150' this means you're at -5 to spot enemies, and they're at -15 to spot you. That's quite a bonus.

    Skill Boosting Items in general: These have a set formula for a generic bonus to a skill. You'll probably want some for Hide, Move Silently, and Search. I won't bother listing them all here, but they're a good idea to get in general... and remember, different bonus types stack.

    Amulet of Fortune Prevailing (MiC): For 5kgp, this item lets you reroll one save per day. Simple, and it works.

    Amulet of Second Chances (MiC): Though expensive at 40kgp, this item completely undoes one round. That's enough to avoid any ambush or trap. Not bad.

    Aspect Mirror (CSc): For 4kgp each these allow for both visual and auditory communication. Just leave one with your party and keep one with you, and you can show your party everything you're seeing (or whisper to them, or use hand signs to communicate). Your party can even scry on your location with their mirror (though if you're far enough away that that's necessary, you may be in trouble).

    Belt of Battle (MiC): For 12kgp, this item grants +2 to initiative and can give a few extra actions... enough to seriously change the opening rounds of any one fight.

    Blindfold of True Darkness (MiC): 9kgp buys you an item that grants 30' Blindsight, but you can't use normal vision. It's handy to keep around, but due to limited range it shouldn't be worn all the time. Those folks who already have Mindsight might find it useful enough, though, especially if the DM has stated that Mindsight works on everything.

    Boots of Bigstepping (MiC): 6kgp for the ability to teleport 60' twice per day isn't bad, though the Shadow Hands might be a better choice.

    Boots of Sidestepping (Dun): For 3kgp, these boots let you move 5' any time you would need to make a reflex save as an immediate action. If this pulls you outside the area of effect, you simply dodge and don't even need to make a save. It's basically immunity to many traps, in addition to a number of other effects (remember that if you dodge behind cover you'll gain cover bonuses). Note the MiC version of these boots is twice the cost and not nearly as good.

    Boots of Striding and Springing (DMG): For 5.5kgp, these give +10' to your run speed and a +5 to jump. Having a higher speed than the average monster can be quite useful if you find yourself in a bad spot, so these are likely worth it... especially if you're already a Swordsage with Tiger Claw maneuvers.

    Charming Eye (Fiend Folio): At 120kgp this thing is horribly overpriced, but at higher levels it's free... if you can get someone to summon a Sibriex (Fiendish Codex 1) they'll make up to three Fiendish grafts including this one free of charge. You have to be evil to use it (if you're not it'll corrupt you towards evil) but it lets you see just fine in all forms of darkness, including magical darkness. There's no range limit for this ability, which makes it one of VERY few ways of seeing more than about 200' in darkness, and since it works in magical darkness there's a few other interesting tricks you can use this for. It also comes with a DC 14 charming gaze attack... unlikely to matter except if a critter rolls a 1 on the save, but hilarious when it works (remember any creature attacking you will have to make this save).

    Chronocharm of the Laughing Rogue (MiC): It's only 500gp for a once a day reroll on a failed disable device roll, even after seeing the trap go off. Not bad at all, and plenty cheap.

    Cloak of the Bat (DMG): It's pricey at 26kgp, but this cloak does give a +5 bonus to Hide and the ability to turn into a (Tiny sized) bat and fly around. That size thing is a big (heh) bonus when you're trying to be sneaky, and unless you have some innate ability to do it having the ability to fly is something you needed anyway.

    Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis (Tome of Magic): This amazing piece of equipment is valuable to any scout who doesn't already have the Dark template. It simply grants the template for a short time per day for 10kgp or continuously for 22kgp. Since the template includes movement speed, hide in plain sight, improved vision, and boosted stealth skills, it's an automatic choice.

    Contact Medallion (MiC): 3kgp lets you telepathically contact anyone you know within one mile for a minute 3/day. Should be enough to contact your party if you have no other means and need to. Technically if you have Mindsight this might let you automatically see the location of that one person when you use the ability, if that matters.

    Collar of Perpetual Attendance (Online Supplement): Yes, this is an official item (google it!). For 2kgp you get to cast Unseen Servant at will. Consider springing traps, pulling levers, opening doors you've already unlocked, grabbing possibly dangerous items, and generally doing anything dangerous of that sort.

    Deathward Armor Enchantment (MiC): For a +1 Enchantment, this one is a great ablative defense. Once per day (as an immediate action) you can ignore any death effect or negative energy effect. It's cheap enough to be well worth it.

    Diamond Eye Circlet (MiC): 2kgp gets you Detect Undead at will. If you were using Lifesense, now everything but constructs is automatically detected for you.

    Dimension Stride Boots (MiC): These 2kgp boots are another teleport escape option... they'll send you 20 feet 5 times a day (or farther fewer times per day). It's just one more great way to get out of grapples and such.

    Eager Weapon Enchantment (MIC): This +1 Enchantment lets you quickdraw the weapon, but more importantly grants a +2 to initiative. That's always a big deal... but if you don't care about the quickdraw aspect, Warning is the higher priority.

    Easy Travel Armor Enchantment (MiC): For 1500gp this lets you hold a medium load as though it were light. Many scout types have trouble carrying everything, and this helps a great deal... and it's quite cheap.

    Energy Immunity Armor Enchantment (MiC): This +2 bonus gives you a once a day immunity for one minute to any energy type of your choice as an immediate action. It's a great way to prevent one attack from landing.

    Enveloping Pit (MiC): At only 3,600gp, this is one of the cheapest significant portable spaces around, and it's huge (it's 50 feet deep and 10 feet square). The relic power is cute but not necessary at all. What's great about this is that you can hide the entire party in the pit (make sure they won't have air problems if it will be a while) and sneak them past all kinds of obstacles safely. Combine it with a Glove of Storing or Gloves of the Master Tactician so you can instantly pop it open when you need and now your party is where ever you wanted them to be. You must be within one step of Lawful Evil to use it though. Otherwise, you'll need to stick with a Portable Hole.

    Fast Leg (Fiend Folio): 4kgp for an untyped 10' boost to movement speed is quite handy, and it gives a +5 to climb and jump as well. It's a fiendish graft though... you have to be evil to use it, but you can get it for free from a Sibriex (FC1).

    Fearsome Eye (Fiend Folio): Like the Charming Eye above, this graft is so expensive that no one in their right mind would ever buy it... but using Planar Binding to get a Sibriex (FC1) will get it permanently for free. It grants permanent See Invisibility along with a likely completely useless (at the level you'd be getting it) fear effect. But hey, if you happen to be at such a high level and happen to fight something that's not immune to fear, having it get paralyzed when it rolls a 1 on the save while attacking you would be really funny. Either way, if you didn't have Permanent Arcane Sight or similar already and are evil, you might as well score this.

    Feathered Wings (Fiend Folio): For 10kgp, these wings give a decent flight ability (Average, twice your ground speed). You also get a free buffet ability. It's a nice cheap way to get permanent flight, but you do have to be evil. Like the other fiendish grafts, you can get it for free from a Sibriex.

    Gloves of Object Reading (MiC): These 3kgp items are vastly underestimated and a must have. If you're sneaking into a dungeon and you loot a chest, whatever is in that chest likely belongs to someone important in that dungeon. You can now ask questions like "what traps did he have to avoid when walking around the dungeon" and "what password did he use to get past the green door?" Used right these can function as a map to the entire dungeon.

    Golembane Scarab (DMG): 2500gp lets you detect golems as a standard action, and you ignore Golem DR. If you have Lifesight and the Diamond Eye Circlet, there's very little that you don't instantly know about.

    Gwaeron's Boots (MiC): At 6kgp, these boots give permanent pass without trace, and make you undetectable to scent. Without Pass Without Trace, even a seriously stealthy character could still be tracked.

    Hand of the Mage (DMG): For just 900gp this item lets you use Mage Hand at will, letting you trigger traps, make sounds far away from yourself, and generally get creative. Considering how cheap it is, you really should get this.

    Hat of Anonymity (MiC): Pricey at 12,500gp, this hat gives an untyped +5 bonus to hide (nice) and permanent nondetection (really nice!).

    Headband of Conscious Effort (MiC): 2kgp lets you make a concentration check instead of a fort save 1/day. Nice, but consider also the Novice Ring of the Diamond Mind, which could teach you the Moment of Perfect Mind Maneuver.

    Helm of Telepathy (DMG): Detect Thoughts at will is handy, and so is the telepathy this gives. And hey, it's a way to throw Mindsight on a non magic character! It's 27kgp, though.

    Intelligent Items (DMG): If you can get one, these can be surprisingly useful. +12kgp gets you one with 120ft Blindsense and Darkvision, and it can observe for you while telepathically informing you of anything important. Other useful available abilities include Detect Magic at will (3600gp) and Detect Thoughts at will (pricey at 44kgp). If you're close to Neutral Evil, consider the Dagger of Denial from MiC for a handy example.

    Iron Heart Vest (ToB): The Novice version of this item costs just 3kgp. If you can double it up (7500gp if your DM allows it) for two maneuvers, you could get Iron Heart Surge once per encounter... absolutely worthwhile. No sense letting one debilitating shot take you out of the fight.

    Linked Armor Enchantment (MiC): Though expensive at 6kgp, and both you and a party member must wear such items, this lets you communicate with your party within 10 miles easily and silently. If you lack telepathy, this is one way to get the job done.

    Lockpicking Ring (MiC): This 3500gp item gives a +5 to Open Locks... but more importantly, it casts Knock once per day without need for UMD. It's one of few ways certain scout classes can deal with Arcane Lock (Ninjas, for example).

    Mask of the Tiger (MiC): If you don't have Low Light Vision already, you want it. This 2kgp item will get it, and you get the Track feat free (or +5 Survival if you had it already).

    Medallion of Thoughts (DMG): It's only 12kgp for a Helm of Telepathy without the actual Telepathy part. Detect Thoughts is quite nice if you wanted to learn more about what's waiting for you in the dungeon, and if you already had telepathy some other way, this is much cheaper.

    Ring of Anticipation (DoU): +2 Competance to Spot and Listen for 3kgp is a rip off, until you notice the other effect... re-roll any initiative check. That's a huge effective boost to initiative and shockingly cheap.

    Ring of Chameleon Power (DMG): At 12kgp this one's a little pricey, but +10 hide and unlimited Disguise Self is extremely handy. Combined with Bluff this can let you seem to be on the side of your enemies, which can be quite useful...

    Ring of Communication (MH): You'll need at least two of these 2kgp items, but they let the wearers talk to each other with a range of up to a mile. This is the only all day communication item like this, and they're quite cheap.

    Ring of Darkhidden (MIC): For just 2kgp this ring grants total invisibility to Darkvision. Take a look at a lot of creatures designed to function at night or underground... many of them rely on Darkvision alone as their means of finding anything. This ring makes them totally helpless against you, and is so good the rest of your party should probably have one too. Plus, this way you don't have to worry about Darkvision creatures being able to spot you due to lack of shadows to hide in. It's too cheap and too good not to take as soon as it becomes relevant unless you're always running around in daylight.

    Ring of the Diamond Mind (ToB): The novice version is just 3kgp and lets you have Moment of Perfect Mind, which when combined with a decent concentration score means one automatically passed will save per encounter. If your DM lets you double up the ring (or if you just have one on each hand) you could get Mind over Body too to pass a fort save. Even added into another ring for 4500gp this is absolutely worthwhile.

    Ring of Mind Shielding (MiC): For 8kgp this item hides your mind from many detection abilities. Ask your DM if it protects you from Mindsight (if that's in play). If so, this is absolutely amazing.

    Ring of Mystic Defiance (MiC): For 7500gp this item lets you take an immediate action to reduce the damage from any spell or spell like ability by 10, and lets you add up to +3 to fort saves against spells and spell like abilities if you have an item that boosts Int or Charisma that much.

    Ring of Nullification (ToM): A great example of ablative defense, the Ring of Nullifcation costs just 3,200gp and nullifies up to 20 damage from an attack type of your choice. "When I'm hit by a trap" is an obvious one to go with, and should insure you live through one otherwise nasty attack.

    Ring of Spell Battle (MiC): For just 12kgp this item automatically informs you of all spellcasting that occurs within 60 feet of you even if you can't see it, and lets you use Spellcraft to figure out what the spell is. It's great for knowing if you're about to get attacked and what the capabilities of enemies are. Plus, you can then counterspell one spell per day or redirect the target of any one spell... REALLY nasty.

    Ritual of Shadow Walking (LoD): Technically not a magic item, but close enough: this ritual costs 2k Xp and 500gp, and gives you the ability to travel through shadows at will up to 100ft. You can also hide in shadows indefinitely. It costs 2 temporary con damage and 2d4 damage to teleport, or 4 con and 3d4 damage per round to hide in the shadows. Still, it can get you out of a jam, and if you happen to be binding Naberius (via a dip into Binder) you can heal the con damage immediately... or if you're immune to con damage anyway you can have all kinds of fun.

    Sandals of the Light Step (MiC): This is pretty expensive at 9kgp. But you get +10' to movement speed, Pass Without Trace, and a complete lack of difficult terrain penalties. Quite handy at times.

    Scrolls of Uncertain Provenance (MiC): These 8kgp scrolls require that you be within one step of Lawful Neutral, but at 8k they provide a +5 to all Knowledge checks just for possessing them. They have relic powers too but those are less relevant. These can be quite handy for making sure you actually know your enemy, and are an obvious choice if you took Knowledge Devotion.

    Shadow Hands (ToB): 3kgp gets you one maneuver from the Shadow Hand school. Shadow Jaunt is a great idea, though Cloak of Deception works too. Even once per encounter it's a great escape, and it's very cheap.

    Shadow Cloak (DoU): This 5500gp cloak gives a +1 deflection bonus to AC, and more importantly three times per day you can either teleport 10' or gain concealment as an immediate action in response to an attack. Any sort of attack. It's much like the Conjurer Wizard trick, and can let you completely spoil one attack against you.

    Shirt of Wraith Stalking (MiC): This 6kgp gives you a permanent hide from undead effect... and intelligent undead can't even make a save. You're just impossible to see for them.

    Silent Portal Disk (MoF): For just 350gp you get a disk that can be attached to any door to make it totally silent. Not bad for sneaking around.

    Slicksilk Belt (MiC): 2kgp lets you use Escape Artist checks as a Move Action and gives a +10 boost once per day. Usually that's enough to help get out of grapples safely, and if it fails you've still got a standard action.

    Slippers of the Setting Sun (ToB): 3kgp for Counter Charge once per encounter? Yes please. It's cheap enough that adding it to any existing boots for 4.5kgp is absolutely worth it. Consider adding it to the Steadfast Boots... now if something charges you while you've got a reach weapon, you can hit it with a readied attack, then hit it with an attack of opportunity, then redirect the creature away so it doesn't hit you at all. Total cost for such boots? Just 5,100gp.

    Steadfast Boots (MiC): These are quite cheap at 1,400gp, and as long as you're holding a two handed weapon you automatically count as having it readied against any charge against you. Combined with Improved Trip or some other ability to spoil charges, and these boots will completely ruin one attack against you if your cover is blown. They also help protect against tripping, bull rushing, and overrunning.

    Stone Dragon Belt (ToB): The novice version of this costs 3kgp, and gives you the Mountain Hammer maneuver once per encounter. Ignoring hardness means smashing through anything. This can open up all kinds of unexpected routes.

    Third Eye Clarity (MiC): For 3kgp this item lets you negate any of the following conditions: Stunned, Confused, Dazed, or Fascinated. You can chose to use it after finding out you've failed the save for the effect. Considering how much these conditions screw you, this is quite nice.

    Third Eye Conceal (MiC): At 120kgp, this is an extremely expensive item only appropriate for very high levels. However, it protects against Mindsight (as well as all other forms of mental based detection), so in some games it may be the only way to do so. Warlocks with CWI can craft it a bit earlier, as can Artificers.

    Third Eye Freedom (MiC): Cheap at just 2,600gp, this item gives you a round of Freedom of Movement once per day as an immediate action. That's one guaranteed escape from a grapple or other binding effect.

    Third Eye Sense (MiC): 24kgp is a steep price, but this item lets you at will see from any location either familiar to you or obvious to you (such as behind a door that you can currently see, around a corner, etc). The uses for this are obvious... remember the usual penalties for spotting go away if you can see from right next to the target! This is also very handy for archers, who otherwise have trouble seeing targets from far away.

    Torc of Displacement (MiC): This immediate action item runs at just 2kgp and lets you gain a 20-40% miss chance for one round when you need it, depending on the number of charges used (it has 3 per day).

    Trackless Boots (DoU)): These boots are just 1kgp and while wearing them scent can't detect you, plus people tracking you are at a -5 to do so. This is one nice way to deal with patrol dogs and such if your DM uses them against you, and is especially nice if Darkstalker isn't available to you.

    Wand of Knock (DMG): For 4,500gp this item means Arcane Lock doesn't outright screw you. It's critical for Rogues, and useful for others.

    Warning (MiC): This +1 enchantment gives +5 initiative. Simple, cheap, effective. Don't leave home without it. You might want to put it on armor spikes.


  5. - Top - End - #5
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: A Guide to Proper Scouting (Rescued from Brilliant Gameologists)

    Thanks for saving this. I tend to play skill-focused characters and this is one of my most oft-referenced guides.

    For detection abilities, I think Deathwatch is worth mentioning. It won't pinpoint anyone, so it needs to be combined with another method of detection, but it's low level, has excellent duration, is Necromancy rather than Divination (meaning Mind Blank won't block it), works through lead, and doesn't care about Darkstalkers, necropolitans and the rest. Its biggest downside is that, as an emanation, total cover blocks it.

    I also think that Arcane Sight and the like are a little underrated. As far as I can tell, while Mind Blank would seem to initially trump it, it won't do anything to hamper the detection of the user's magic items. So unless everything remotely magical has been covered in lead, it's still a pretty good way to find hidden enemies.

    And I definitely think Trapsmith is worth bringing up in the class section. The spell list includes excellent scouting spells like Arcane Sight, Clairvoyance/Clairaudience and Arcane Eye, plus it has Fabricate to quickly generate necessary items. It also combines well with Earth Dreamer (Trapsmith 1/Earth Dreamer 5 can be added on to pretty much any skill-based character, and Wall of Stone + Earth Sight/Earth Glide is pretty fun).
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  6. - Top - End - #6
    Colossus in the Playground
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    Default Re: A Guide to Proper Scouting (Rescued from Brilliant Gameologists)

    Add Psychic Rogue to the classes section; All the advantages mentioned for a psion, plus you are much more natively sneaky as well.

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  7. - Top - End - #7
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    Thumbs up Great Guide!

    Just wanted to post to say it's a great guide. I've bookmarked it and will surely use it for future reference when I play.

  8. - Top - End - #8
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    Default Re: Great Guide!

    Quote Originally Posted by trop1co View Post
    Just wanted to post to say it's a great guide. I've bookmarked it and will surely use it for future reference when I play.

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  9. - Top - End - #9
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: A Guide to Proper Scouting (Rescued from Brilliant Gameologists)

    A few things that should be added to the Senses section:

    The Nemesis feat, from Book of Exalted Deeds, is another special sense that's very hard to bypass. It only works on one favored enemy, but that can be pretty flexible if you can get Favored Enemy: Evil. Alternately, FE: Arcanists or FE: Undead might be worth it, depending on your campaign.

    For psionic characters, if your DM allows psicrystals to gain feats, the pet rock qualifies for Mindsight, and is just a small Cha boost away from qualifying for Lifesight as well, making it a very capable scout. It's even better if you can get a single casting of Planar Familiar, via a UMDed scroll or a Ring of Spell Storing, to make it axiomatic: Now, so long as your crystal isn't surprised, neither are you.

    Listen and Spot might start off behind the curve relative to Hide and Move Silently, but they eventually vault into the lead, due to the Shared Perceptions spell from PHB2. It gives a stacking +2 per ally to all allies, which can really add up if your party has familiars, animal companions, etc.

    And something that should be added to the invisibility section: Six levels of Slayer will give you the Cerebral Blind ability, which stops detection by most non-mundane means, including Touchsight.

    I guess what I'm saying is, if you want to scout, be a ranger/psion/slayer.
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