I apologize in advance; the following may not make sense to the structured mind (chaos FTW)
So here's the situation: Mr. Rogue Sniper is a jerk. Or maybe a businessman who's seeing to some 'business. Either scenario, he's about to make someone have a sucky day.
Scout + Sniper Archtypes (they don't overlap, far as I can tell)
(( Brief synopsis from these two: Opponent treated as flatfooted if you move 10 feet first, and Longer range on Sneak attacks. ))
Let's just say lvl 20 for simplicity (I assure you it makes sense that way). Mr. Rogue Sniper wants to get his Sneak Attack on with someone from a range--we'll say 60ft. With Sniper, he can make it happen easily. He's picky about weapons, and only uses with Crossbows--bows are for wimps and Elves, after all.
This dude's rocking the following feats/rogue talents (and their prereqs as obvious):
Rapid Reload (particularly for the lt crossbow)
Bullseye Shot (just because)
Crippling Strike (turns out he IS a jerk)
Stealthy Sniper (-10 instead of -20)
What I'm looking for is legitimacy + other options here. I'm not looking for broken--if I was, I wouldn't choose a ranged rogue with a crossbow!--just effective enough to be more than a waste of flesh and graphite.
I fire at said dude (using Vital Strike). Does this action signify a Surprise round, or simply "my turns first, suck the damage"?
(( SRD on Surprise rules ))
The wording that catches me is the following:
"If some but not all of the combatants are aware of their opponents, a surprise round happens before regular rounds begin"
This seems (to me) to imply that at least one of the enemies has to know the good guys are coming, which seems stupid to me. Clarification from the community here would smooth things over dramatically.
* Assuming this IS a surprise round, am I screwed for hiding because I don't have the move action? I'd essentially need to make first initiative if that were the case.
* Assuming this is NOT a surprise round and I get the rest of the actions, we move onto exhibit 2:
I hit em with Vital Strike (standard, sneak attack or not), and get a free withdrawl. During that withdrawl, after 10 ft I get another attack from Parting Shot. The Parting Shot is made a sneak attack by Scout.
Am I insane, or does this actually work? Can one make a coward ranged rogue into an effective combatant (once per encounter)?
THIRD QUESTION (multi-part, because I'm also a jerk):
All of that aside, I've seen a lot of people suggest Shot on the Run for ranged rogues. Is Shot on the Run truly necessary? It seems all you need to do for maximizing the Scout Archtype is to move first (up to 30ft or so), then choose to shoot (ideally with manyshot, but that's another issue). Does hiding and/or sniping ever really come up if that's the strategy?
With so many feats already necessary for making a ranged rogue "work" (there never seems to be a clear-cut-"Do This" layout), does a cool-LOOKING feat like Bullseye Shot ever actually end up being useful? Obviously it wouldn't with Scout, but what if you went the Burglar or Poisoner route? That's an attractive bonus to attack, but when they're flat-footed, is said bonus necessary?
If you've made it this far, I applaud your patience. If you have answers for these passing questions from a wayward soul, I'd giggle like a leprechaun.