|Fatespinner RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32|
I personally like archers in general for scouting, but in particular, a ranger archer.
They have tons of bonuses to their terrain, and since they tend to be in their terrain a lot, regardless of the bonuses, they have good pluses to their perception, acrobatics, and stealth. These 3 skills are typically the number 3 skills for scouting. Also, their speed is typically higher, so in case of danger or a situation, they can quickly run back,or have their animal companion get them there faster.
The rangers wisdom will be somewhat high for their perception, to see and hear new information or danger occur. Archers in general have enormous Dex scores, so your reflex save, stealth, and acrobatics will be high as well. this will help in hiding from enemies, climbing into trees to get a lookout post, climb up and sneak around in the rafters and so forth. Plus, in case you need to get away, cause a diversion, or slow the enemy down, there are a nice range of arrow types to help you with all this, as well as poisons (which works best with archers), while you head back to your party to let them know.
Another good note is that due to archers being able to scout really well, a ranger archer is really good at crafting for your poisons, arrows, and bows. You can do this while waiting for a target to leave a building, the gnolls from finishing their meal before you sneak back to inform your group.
Anyone with perception and stealth as class skills can do it. Anyone who can increase their bonus with good ability scores, feats, racial features, magic, etc. will do it better.
Rangers and rogues are the easy choices thematically. A monk can can do it just as well. Heck, the barbarian I am currently playing is the party scout.
Theres a guy in one of my parties running Ranger > Shadow Dancer. He has something like +30 to stealth checks at level 14 with magic items. That plus the shadow they get is amazing for scouting as it can float through walls and generally go unseen. Add on top of that their Shadow Jump class ability and they can get in and out of almost anywhere, along with jumping out of a wizards shadow and cutting them in two is always fun.
Probably the best scout in the game is going to be an inquisitor. They have climb, disguise, perception, sense motive, stealth, survival, and swim as class skills. Disguise and sense motive can be useful for scouting in urban environment.
They also have detect magic, guidance and sift as 0 level spells which means they can cast them all day long. Being able to tell when something is magic and to search at range are huge advantages.
With spells like expeditious retreat, hide from undead, detect thoughts, invisibility and nondetection just to name a few they have a major advantage over most other classes. Throw in cunning initiative, the ability to detect any alignment , and tracking equal or better than a ranger and not many classes can come anywhere close.
They also are proficient in almost all bows and crossbows. They have 6 skill points per level and add half their level to 3 skills. They also get their wisdom as an additional bonus to identify monsters and with a feat can gain an extra bonus equal to half their class level.
So the inquisitor is a skill monkey with full spell caster level with a lot of useful spells. What more do you need for a scout.
Gonna have to agree with AD on this one - who needs a high stealth when it's assumed that you're supposed to be there? "Oh, I think that nondescript bird saw us!".... "I think that bush is on to us!"
Okay, after reading other posts, this can be broken down in lots of different ways. Shape changing/disguise works, flying invisibly works, divination works, being able to get to places others can't works, using uber powered skills works. Imagination and your DM are going to have a lot to do with what works or not in your game.
Urban druid scouting...
So in one session my druid wildshaped into a dog to do some scouting inside the town. The GM decided the local dogs would come after her.
A couple dice rolls later, my druid had a pack of dogs working for her.
Cat forms are also great for scouting inside human areas. But pigeons....
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Hard to beat a druid...
While druids make decent scouts in natural surroundings they don't work quite so well in an urban environment. Yes they can stay outside but if you need to go inside a building then they will stick out more.
Also while they have the ability to blend in their ability to gather information is not as good. As I pointed out an inquisitor can use detect magic, detect chaos, evil, good and law as often as they need. A detect magic can locate a druid even in wild shape.
Detect thoughts can allow an inquisitor to get information from the opponents from 60' away. Nondetection allows you protection vs. detection spells. Speak with dead give you a chance to get information from a the dead body of the previous group that always seems to be in every adventure.
Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Anything an invisible inquisitor can do, an invisible sparrow can do better.
By pure mechanics, the monk is probably your best bet. The two primary skills for a scout are Stealth and Perception, which plays right into a monk's primary attributes: Dexterity and Wisdom. Rangers also tend to score high marks in these stats (especially archers) but often favor DEX over WIS.
Halflings and gnomes both get a size bonus to Stealth and a racial bonus to Perception, but Halflings have a DEX bonus built-in so that gives them a slight edge from a pure optimization standpoint, especially combined with the "Swift as Shadows" alternative racial trait from the ARG that greatly reduces the penalty for swift movement in stealth.
So, from a purely mechanical standpoint, at a glance it looks like Halfling monks would be ideal scouts (not counting non-core races and other weirdness).
Monks, especially ones that are already high WIS builds (say a Zen Archer) can make exceptional scouts - not least because their fast movement combined with Ki pool for further movement can give them enough speed to outrun nearly anything pursuing them.
Though a higher level Druid with wildshape from very very small to huge has a flexibility to go nearly anywhere (yes even in urban environments if you are clever - lots of birds, cats, dogs, badgers, horses, camels etc in urban environments).
But there are other options as well - a teleportation or divination specialist wizard likely can do a lot of scouting (and may be able to get back easily as well) with lots of knowledge and detection abilities to support that scouting.
(I play a Zen Archer/Druid in PFS - in a few levels he will be an amazing scout - already is quite good. He moves quickly, has decent stealth, insane Perception (in the right conditions he is nearing a Perception of +30 at level 7 - in a few levels he'll likely be over 40 (when skill focus kicks in among other factors) . Combine this with Wild Shape (to get in or to get out), a trait that gives him Disable Device as a WIS based skill and great sense motive and he's quite effective.
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Except cast speak with dead, detect thoughts, detect <insert alignment> or nondetection. While druids are great at identifying animals and fey any other kind of monster including magical beasts they are at a huge disadvantage. Also invisibility is not a druid spell so without a magic item they are not going to be invisible.
Also if the druid needs to interact with someone to gather the information they are at a huge disadvantage. sneaking is only a small part of a scout. Getting relevant information is equally if not more important.
Consider a demon in disguise guarding something. The druid is going to able to sneak up and find that the guard is there but will probably think he is a human or whatever he is disguised as. An inquisitor on the other hand can take the time to check his aura and find that there is something wrong when the town guard is radiating evil like no tomorrow.
If what you are looking for is someone to sneak around a wild shape druid is dam good. But if you want someone to bring back more information then an inquisitor is hard to beat. A lot of their spells and abilities are designed for uncovering and discovering hidden things. The can also function in a social setting where the druid is going to have trouble.
It depends on what parameters you want/need to scout.
All classes can be tailored for scouting, depending on the build, the environment, and the situation at hand.
So let's list universal scout wants instead of gearing towards anything or filtering anything regarding environment, terrain, or specifics. I can argue all day long that in a Forest, I want the Druid or Ranger. But when I'm in a city, could I use an Urban Barbarian if I built him correctly? You betcha I could. So, taking all of the specifics out, that leaves my generic scout with four areas of expertise, right?
Stealth, Perception, Information Gathering, Movement.
Right away, that brings two classes to mind. Bard and Inquisitor. These two classes excel at naturally and magically meeting all four of those areas of expertise. They require very little tinkering to work correctly.
So, to me it comes down to playstyle between the two for your choice:
If you want to find the truth through fear, interrogation, and suspicion, you want an Inquisitor. Pros: You will know the truth because you have skills and magic to discern it on your side. Cons: You're not going to be very well liked socially.
If you want to find the truth through charm, intimidation, and magic, you want a Bard. Pros: You are well liked or well-known, and have all the tools to keep yourself in good graces. Cons: Even charmed people can lie if not asked the right questions. I hope you have the Detective Archetype or some serious skills in Sense Motive.
If by scout you mean the guy who goes out front to make sure the party doesn't walk into a trap, or surveillance a hostile environment to get some intel on the layout, etc... ZAM/druid take the top spot imo, followed by Inq, then basically everyone else. All three are wisdom based with perception as a class skill, so they won't miss anything, but the zam is crazy fast without expending resources (even faster if he does), and has the best defenses in case he bumps into trouble. If built for it, he can also 1v1 pretty much any solitary baddy he may bump into. The druid has that whole 'I'm not the sparrow you're looking for' going for him, though, which is amazing out in nature...
One other thing I'd mention that's important for a scout which hasn't come up much yet is identifying any monsters you might be dealing with.
There's a big different between a scout who will come back and tell you "There's a weird looking bug-thing up ahead" and one who can tell you "There a Rust Monster up ahead."
Inquisitors and Bards have a bit of an edge on this aspect of scouting, thanks to their Monster Lore and Bardic Knowledge abilities.
Heretic Inquisitor of Irori with the Heresy Inquisition and the Wisdom of the Flesh trait(Stealth).
Take the Hellcat Stealth, and Conceal Scent feat.
Nab a pair of Boots of the Soft Step, Goz Mask, and a Rod of Shadows.
Be a Duergar.
This nets you x2 wisdom for Stealth, Invisibility, ability to hide from Tremorsense, Scent, Hide in Plain Sight(even without shadows), double d20 rolls on Stealth taking the better of the two, and the ability to see in supernatural darkness, smoke, and fog.
Ideally I'd want my "ultimate scout" to do so without involving any magic at all. No worrying about Nondetection failing or accidently walking into an Antimagic Field etc.
With magic points to the entire thread and answers D) All of the Above.
Alchemist: Perception and low to none armor check penalty. Lots of self-buffs that could be useful while scouting but Dexterity mutagen penalizes Wisdom.
Barbarian: Fast and durable. Also has Perception and Survival as class skills. Might or might not have decent Wisdom and Dexterity but Stealth isn't his strong suite.
Bard: As mentioned before a very good option for a scout - can combine skills (Perception, Stealth and Knowledge) and spells (invisibility, spells that improve senses, spells that improve skills). Archaeologist archetype is even better for scouting...
Cavalier: Mount means outdoors scouting viable option but otherwise Cavaliers are as great scouts as Fighters (i.e. don't), except Fighters get reduction to armor check penalty.
Cleric: High Wisdom applies to Perception but his best pick for scouting probably is using spells, like asking higher authority if it is safe to go further.
Druid: High Wisdom, Perception and Survival as class skills plus Wild Shaping which allows for more efficient hiding oneself, masking as innocuous creature and/or augmenting druid senses.
Fighter: If by scouting you mean reconnaissance by fire... Or stumbling upon enemy/trap and warning friends with death scream.
Inquisitor: Combines scouting strength of Cleric and Bard. Skills, spells, high Wisdom.
Magus: Invisibility. Possibly spells to buff movement and senses. Possibly decent Knowledges. Possibly decent or better Dexterity.
Monk: Above average Dexterity and Wisdom, Perception, Stealth, movement speed, slow falling, teleport ability... Possibly the best non-caster scouting class.
Ninja: (noted separately despite being Rogue alternate class due to certain differences). High Dexterity, Perception, Stealth, optionally invisibility as a swift action... The sole weakness is that Ninja may lack points to spare for good Wisdom and does not have trapfinding. At 20th level becomes epitome of stealthy scoutishness but who have seen 20th level ninja?
Oracle: Might be better than Cavalier in scouting due to lighter armor (and thus lower armor check penalty) and spells but how often and how many of the Oracle's limited spells are picked for scouting?
Paladin: Better than Fighter for reconnaissance by fire due to better saves and self-heal. Which in general means that Paladins are sending others to scout and wait for the report...
Ranger: Very skilled scouts, especially in their favored terrain and have some spells that benefit that role as well.
Rogue: High Dexterity, Perception, Stealth. Lack Ninja's ki powered stealth-improving tricks (at least without serious talent dedication) but might have better Wisdom than ninjas.
Sorcerer: The same problem as Oracle except the armor check penalty is even lower. Still, how many spell known were dedicated to scouting?
Summoner: Some summons are decent if short-term scouts but their primary advantage is that they are expendable. Scouting-capability usually cuts down Eidolon's combat power ("I'll send my Huge Eidolon for scouting ahead! What are you laughing of?!") but is doable. Scouting-dedicated Eidolon makes this class great scout (or rather great scout overseer).
Witch/Wizard: Today is a terrible scout. Tomorrow is the best long-distance, spying, scrying, mind-reading, location discerning scout. Unless, you know, anti-magic field, mind blank and a few more abjurations were used. Or one just needs to check a length of corridor for traps...
Oracle of Wind is a nice one. Revelations offer flight, invisibility and a flexible clairvoyance-power. Stealth as a class skill. No Perception, but that can be arranged via. traits - and in any case Wind Sight offers an effective +10 perception on anything more than 100 feet away.
By pure mechanics, the monk is probably your best bet. The two primary skills for a scout are Stealth and Perception, which plays right into a monk's primary attributes: Dexterity and Wisdom.
Dex isn't a primary ability for Monks. It's barely tertiary, considering they get almost all the benefits of Dex from boosting Wis instead.
You can build a Monk to be a good scout, but Dex-based monks suck in combat, so you better make sure you get a lot of fun from being the stealthy dude who doesn't contribute in any other way.
What are some of the best scouting classes? I know many classes have quite useful scouting abilities particular if they are built in that direction but who would you recommend, maybe give a why?
What are you looking at here?
What's the rest of your group, what kind of scout do you want, what levels will you be playing?
All of these matter.
But let me throw one more out:
If you are routinely scouting ahead then you want to be able to disengage if found, and to at least avoid (and mark) traps you encounter if not disable them yourself.
While I agree that a scout needs to be able to function without magic I think that magic is something that they do need. Magic is the best defense vs. other magic. How does the non magic scout find out that the normal looking "person" is actually a demon that has changed his form? Plenty of creatures are able to assume other forms and without magic are nearly impossible to spot. Also some areas are impossible to reach without flight or other magical means. Very few player races have non magical flight.
The way I see it a scout needs to be able to move ahead of the party undetected gather relevant information, and inform the party of what he finds. He needs to be able to operate on his own without the rest of the party. He should be able to find locate and identify any threats to the party. And last she should be able to operate in any setting or environment. This means he needs both social and stealth.
In a lot of parties this may mean that the role of scout may need more than one character. Mostly a tactical scout and a social scout. Very few characters are able to fill both roles fully. Bards, and inquisitors are about the only thing I know that would be able to do both. Some multiclass or prestige classes would also work well particularly an arcane trickster.
Some classes may excel in limited fashion particularly a druid. The original poster's question was what classes make the best scout. Too me the best overall scout can be built with an inquisitor or a bard. I would give the advantage to the inquisitor mainly due to the bonus on skills. With improved monster lore they get a bonus of half their class level on intimidate, sense motive, survival for tracking and 5 knowledge's when it comes to identifying monsters. Knowledge's like history and engineering while nice are not really important for scouting so the bard is a little behind the inquisitor.
Saganen Hellheart wrote:
:) Yep even my ideal no magic scout is going to need access to lots of magic at times. He just needs to learn when to turn it on and off. Infiltrating the City Guard is a whole different cup of tea than infiltrating the local Wizard's Guildhall or Tower and both are likely quite different from scouting out the wilderness to find the Orc bandits hideout.
The best one I ever designed would probably be best recreated as mostly a Bard with both Rogue and Assassin classes as well though she was intended as more of a spymaster and assassin than scout.
And my Living City character was very much a Scout/Archer sort late in his "career" and his primary class was Cleric. Pretty much anything can be built into a very capable scout. Some builds will just hit very capable sooner than others.
druids.... no Q about it ...
perceptions is a class ability, stealth you take via trait.
summon + speak with animals, talk to stone walls, animal messengers....
Yes Druids are very potent infiltrators and among the best scouts but ...
Wildshape is a supernatural ability. This means 1) it can be dispelled. and 2) it won't function in Antimagic 3)its effects can be duplicated by other magic spells and gear.
Not to mention the same overall goal can be accomplished in many different ways. Nothing mentioned can't be duplicated or accomplished by other classes in other ways.
Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Oh, I see the problem here. I thought the issue here was what class would be on the list of "best scouting classes".
I neglected to consider that "scouting" included "speaking with undead, being totally undectable by any means possible, including magical, psionic or divine intervention; demonic intervention or acting as a super high charisma influencer of others."
I thought it was all about, you know, scouting.
My bad. You are totally right. Druids suck as ultimate divination, undetectable duiguised party faces for the reasons you stated.
I'm actually quite intrigued by your Inquisitor concept. I may have to try to build it and then build a similar Bard concept and compare/contrast for which has more tools/utility for scouting.
Supernatural abilities can't be dispelled.
Then either the rules have changed between 3.5 and PF or I've found a typo in my old 3.5 DMG which clearly states otherwise on the table under Special Abilities pg. 290.
*heads off to more thoroughly search the PF SRD*
Mysterious Stranger wrote:
MANY rules have changed between 3.5 and Pathfinder. If you're using your 3.5 PHB and DMG to run Pathfinder, you're going to find a lot of things wrong. Why people insist on still bringing 3.5 issues here is beyond me. Is it "compatible"? Sure, roughly. Is it the "basis"? Yes, it certainly is. Is it "Pathfinder"? NO, it is not.
A druid or a shape changer might great to scout. Who is going to think anything of a bunny rabbit that is running around in the forest or a fox or some other little animal?
Running around the forest or the edge of the village mostly no ... unless I'm truly paranoid.
Running around my Loremaster's Tower or its grounds knowing my opponents include things like Druids and Arcanists who can shapechange guessing I'd be using some magic to figure out if harmless is truly harmless or otherwise taking precautions. Of course, finding out about my defenses and response to infiltrators is part of being a good scout. Wouldn't be the first time a scout or other attacker deliberately provoked a response from the defenders would it?
Barry Armstrong wrote:
Totally understood actually. My bad in not making clear I was looking at 3.5 rules set at the very least. And in this case for what it's worth I found a what amounts to a typo/errata. (current 3.5 rules also say a Supernatural Abilities are not subject to Dispel Magic). Apologies again, I'll blame it on sleepiness impairing my usual tendency to search more thoroughly and wisdom on posting a rule without making sure it was PF correct as well.