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Scoffney Tactics

From DivNull RPG

With the addition of his Alchemist classes, Scoffney is a bit more complicated than he used to be, though still pretty straightforward. He also has a number of choices to make when attacking, so this page suggests some things to think about when sorting that out.

Who is the best target?[edit]

Scoffney is built for ranged sneak attacks. At this point, if he can’t sneak attack, he is pretty much just wasting bullets. So, the first question is always which targets can be sneak attacked?

Next, of those targets he can sneak attack, which have the least damage reduction (or damage reduction which Scoffney can penetrate)? Damage reduction is most effective against flurries of lower damage attacks, which is exactly what Scoffney does (though, sneak attacking makes this less of an issue).

Next, who is within point-blank range?

Next, of the remaining targets, are any particularly vulnerable to whatever ammunition he happens to be using?

Next, of the remaining targets, are any using ranged weapons? The front line fighters are likely to mow down close-combatants, but have trouble with ranged opponents.

Next, which of the remaining targets has the worst armor class?

What combat options?[edit]

Three abilities give Scoffney options. Some types of targets/situations make using these abilities ideal, so may override targeting considerations above. Keep in mind with all this that Scoffney’s base attack bonus is merely average (BAB = 75% of level), so he is going to hit less often than front line fighters (BAB = 100% of level). When scaling opposition, the game tends to tune the AC of in-your-face combat monsters to the front-line fighter BAB and more secondary fighters to a rougue’s BAB.

Should he use Arcane Strike? The answer to this is almost always yes. There is no downside other than costing a swift action to activate, so the only time not to use it is if you need to use your swift action for something else that round. (A swift action is like a free action, but you only can use one per round). (Note that Arcane Strike scales with arcane caster level. As a level 6 alchemist, this means this bonus is +2 to damage.)

Should he use Rapid Shot? When making a full attack, take a -2 to all ranged attacks for the turn in order to get an extra attack (this stacks with haste, by the way). Many of Scoffney’s best abilities trigger each time a hit occurs, so additional attacks are good, especially when sneak attacking and/or using bullets that give bonus damage. When doing either of these, rapid shot is probably worth it, and will become more so as you increase in level (the -2 penalty is fixed, so becomes less and less important, and the benefit of a hit will get better and better).

Should he use Deadly Aim? Currently, this gives +6 damage for -3 to hit. (Note that with both Arcane Shot and Point Blank Shot, this nets out to +0 to the hit roll.) This applies to all attacks for the round, but can be used both with standard and full attacks. Because you need to hit to trigger sneak attack damage and extra damage from special bullets (e.g. holy), this decision is a bit harder to make for a rogue than it is for a fighter using Power Attack. If you know the target’s AC is particularly bad, using this is a no brainer. Similarly, with a known very high AC, it should be avoided. Somewhere in the middle? A bit of a toss up. If the target has damage reduction, lean towards using it. If you are using Rapid Shot, lean away from using it.

For some perspective, at current level (12), some average damage in various full attack situations (all with the rifle), and assuming all attacks hit:

  • No options: 13 damage
  • Arcane shot: 17 damage
  • Deadly aim: 25 damage
  • Arcane shot, rapid shot: 25.5 damage
  • Arcane shot, deadly aim: 29 damage
  • Sneak attack: 34 damage
  • Arcane shot, rapid shot, haste: 34 damage
  • Arcane shot, sneak attack: 38 damage
  • Arcane shot, rapid shot, deadly aim: 43.5 damage
  • Sneak attack, deadly aim: 46 damage
  • Arcane shot, sneak attack, deadly aim: 50 damage
  • Arcane shot, rapid shot, sneak attack: 57 damage
  • Arcane shot, rapid shot, haste, deadly aim: 58 damage
  • Arcane shot, rapid shot, sneak attack, deadly aim: 75 damage
  • Arcane shot, rapid shot, haste, sneak attack: 76 damage
  • Arcane shot, rapid shot, haste, sneak attack, deadly aim: 100 damage

What critical strategy?[edit]

With the change to more official firearm rules, Scoffney’s guns do a bit less damage, but have an insane critical multiplier (x4). The bonus from Arcane Strike does get multiplied on crits but, unfortunately, precision damage (sneak attack, special bullet additions, etc.) don’t, so Scoffney has to think hard about what critical strategy to use. Also, since Scoffney’s BAB is only average, the confirm roll can sometimes be a problem. Our house rules provide the following choices when you roll within the critical range of the gun:

  • You may avoid the confirmation roll and take max damage. Since this is a x4 crit weapon, it does three times the max. With the rifle (1d10+1 damage), this would be 33 points (39 with Arcane Strike). This doesn’t suck. For example, if you assume that just one of the attacks in the list of damage above is within the critical range, it would add 33.5 to the totals. The extreme case (the last line), where all of the attacks roll in the critical range, that would be 198 points of damage.
  • You may roll to confirm critical hit, and if successful, choose one:
    • roll the 1d10+1 (or 1d10+3 for Arcane Strikes) damage four times. This will average 34 points of damage (compared to an average of 8.5 for a non-crit roll). At best, you’ll get 52 points, one time in a thousand. Since you can do better than the average without needing to make the confirmation roll, rolling this way is probably a bad idea.
    • draw a card from the Critical Hit deck, doing what the card says. Since this is a x4 crit weapon, if the card says to multiply the damage by x, add 2 to x. Most cards will say to roll damage twice, meaning you would roll four times. This works out the same as the prior option, but with an added effect from the card, usually. As such, its a better choice plain rolling damage, but perhaps not by much.
    • draw three cards from the Critical Hit deck. You then select one of the cards and do what it says exactly (i.e. no adjusting the multiplier). This one comes down to luck. Usually, with three choices, one of the effects will likely be helpful (and you will still probably roll damage twice, averaging 17 points). Is choosing one of three random effects worth about 20 damage? It might be.

Of these possible choices, the first one is probably better mathematically, but the last one is probably more fun. If the target has a high AC, definitely go with the first one.

Bombs[edit]

If Scoffney can’t sneak attack, he may be better off attacking with bombs. Since you have the Quick Draw feat, you can make full attacks with bombs and other thrown weapons. Splash weapons are ranged touch attacks, so bombs are often a good choice against foes with really high AC (as, often, such foes have low touch AC). How does this interact with some of your other feats, abilities and such:

  • Sneak attack: you can’t sneak attack with splash weapons, so can’t use this with bombs.
  • Deadly Aim doesn’t work with touch attacks, so can’t use this with bombs either.
  • Arcane Strikes works with all attacks, and bombs are an attack, so Arcane Strike works with bombs. The damage bonus is added to both the primary targets and splash damage.
  • Since you can make full attacks with bombs, Rapid Shot works with bombs.
  • Point-Blank Shot works with bombs, if within the range.

When using bombs, Scoffney needs to worry about two things:

The first is splash. He can either choose a 10’ radius splash around a main target, or can blast a 30’ cone extending from himself, picking one target inside as the primary target. He also has the ability to exclude four squares from the splash, allowing him to throw bombs into a crowd of allies. Splashed targets get a Reflex save to take half damage, but the primary target doesn’t.

The second choice is type of bomb:

  • Acid. Primary target 3d6+4 acid damage, 1d6 acid next round. Splashed targets: 7 points acid damage. Very few targets are resistant to acid damage, so this is a solid choice. (With a point blank, arcane strike bomb, damage becomes 3d6+7, splash 10.)
  • Explosive. Primary target 3d6+4 fire damage, 1d6 fire each round after until flames extinguished. Splashed targets: 7 points fire damage.
  • Dispelling: No damage, but primary target suffers a targeted dispel magic attempt. This requires a high dispelling roll to work well, but can be devastating in the right circumstances.

One other thing to remember: Scoffney has a necklace of fireballs which also make good explosives.

Alchemical Weapon[edit]

Scoffney can use various alchemical reagents to enhance a bullet as a swift or move action. (Note that, if using as swift action, you can’t use Arcane Strike that turn). These tend to be useful in special cases; however, most alchemical reagents have really low save DCs, so this trick is a bit more useful at lower levels. Using weapon blanch to get past damage reduction can be a good idea.

Extracts[edit]

Alchemists have a sort-of-like-spells-but-not-really ability to make “extracts” and drink them to generate spell effects. A couple of tips here: each day, Scoffney has to spend some time preparing extracts (sort of like wizards memorising spells for the day), but he does not need to prepare all of them in advance. They take a minute to make (and last only for the day), but you can leave most of your slots open and, say make them right before you attack something. The list of available effects isn’t terrific, but you can use any extract in your “formulae book”. You add items to this book as you level, but you also can copy them from wizard spell books. Scoffney has run across enough spell books that he probably has most first and second level extracts in his book, so has quite a bit of flexibility. Some decent choices:

  • anticipate peril: +5 to initiative in one encounter
  • cure light: if you end the day with unused slots, extra healing doesn’t suck
  • reduce person: makes you smaller, but winds up making you a bit better at nearly everything you do.
  • true strike: when you really need to hit with that special bullet
  • alchemical allocation: lets you gain the effects of a potion without consuming that potion. This may be the only 2nd level extract you ever prepare. If you don’t mind spending two rounds to use it (one to drink alchemical allocation, one to drink and spit the potion), you can essentially cast higher level spells on your self. Note that potions use the caster level of their creator for things like duration and such. So, something like a high caster level heroism potion is great with this.
  • detect thoughts: decent scouting ability.
  • fox’s cunning: A +4 Intelligence bonus may not sound like much, but nearly every alchemist ability adds the Int bonus, including bomb damage and save DCs.
  • invisibility: Ends if you attack, but that attack will ignore Dex bonuses to AC and, therefore, allow a sneak attack.
  • resist energy: this will be better when you are a level 7 alchemist, as it bumps to negate 20 points per attack, but not terrible now, either.
  • lesser restoration: one of the “divine”-type “spells” that alchemists can use. Also a good thing to spend unused slots on at the end of the day.
  • levitation: being 15’ above an angry foe is a lot different than being 15’ in front of him.
  • see invisibility: as the group sniper, this probably is more useful to Scoffney than for other party members. You can probably find ways to use the alchemical weapon ability to “mark” invisible targets as well.
  • spider climb: decent mobility.

Being sneakier[edit]

Now that Scoffney has Furtive Shot, he can sneak attack more often than before; however, there are also ways to deny a target a Dex bonus that he can take advantage of.