Scholar Help Thread.

Foxworthy

Mongoose
Ok, a player in my game wnats to play a Stygian Scholar, now Roleplaying wise I'm sure this will go over well but I want to give him some info on tricks and tatics that he can do within the current game mechanics to help the character survive and thrive. For example Vincent advice about yusing smoke bombs and hide to disappear, anyone else have tricks or skill combo ideas to help a scholar survive?
 
Mine usually take a level or two of a martial class or hide behind the meat shields....8)

More seriously, people can't hit what they can't see/hear Move Silent/Hide. Note that while MS is a Scholar skill class, Hide isn't. This is where Hyborians shine. Take Hide as an Adaptability skill, making it a class skill and giving a +2 bonus. Throw in MS too if you want for the bonus.

That or become a Priest of Bel who gets Gather Info, Move Silent and Hide as class skills at all times. 8)

Raven, who has a Stygian Priest of Bel in her campaign
 

Turim

Mongoose
I'll assume this scholar starts at a low level and can't afford a high Str. Unlike Raven's players I would go scholar all the way. He will lose out on some martial abilities, but will have access to important scholar abilities faster.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that a strong enemy can knock out even a high level scholar with one hit. He should stay far away from melee and use Total Defense if he isn't doing anything important. He could use the Stygian bow at low levels, but at higher levels increasing DR/HP's will make it next to useless.

Meat shields are vital to his survival. Unfortunately, the rest of the party might not always be willing or able to protect him. At level 6 the Leadership feat could give him meat shields. He could also hire bodyguards, but this might be risky/expensive. The Animal Ally spell makes for a fine bodyguard, but depending on what he chose he might not be allowed to take it with him in urban settings.

Skills are more important in Conan than in D&D, but he still can't rely on them in a combat heavy campaign. He should read the skills carefully so that when an opportunity presents itself he will be able to use his skills to great effect. Remind him that Int 12+ will allow him to buy some cross-class skills, like tumble.

Alchemy is time-consuming, expensive, and requires him to have a base of operations for his lab. For these reasons I don't think alchemy is a reliable or important part of the low level PC scholar arsenal. But if he has the opportunity to make it, Blue Devil's-Flame (SoS) is good. Herbal items only require ingredients and time to brew them, so they might be slightly more accessible, depending on your campaign.

War of Souls can be good if the party outnumbers the enemies. If the enemy sorcerer fails his Will save he will be Power Attack bait unless his turn is up next and he wins the opposed check.

There are very few reliable spells at low levels that I know of (AE, SoS, Free Companies). Gelid Bones is one of them, but it requires him to take Curses and Oriental Magic, both of which have very few good spells at low levels. And this spell forces him into melee as well. Torment (SoS) is decent, but by the time it lasts 2 rounds he might well encounter enemies with 8+ HD.

Defensive Blast is in my opinion his best chance. It's a free action, can be used with AoO's, and has no components. This means he can use it even when wearing armor/shield or in a grapple. He should ask the party tanks to do nonlethal damage to weak enemies, then Energy Drain and sacrifice them. Use Energy Drain whenever possible to increase PP's. At level 6 he should consider Opportunistic Sacrifice, as it works well with DB and some of the good spells.
 

Bregales

Mongoose
Turim said:
I'll assume this scholar starts at a low level and can't afford a high Str. Unlike Raven's players I would go scholar all the way. He will lose out on some martial abilities, but will have access to important scholar abilities faster.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that a strong enemy can knock out even a high level scholar with one hit. He should stay far away from melee and use Total Defense if he isn't doing anything important. He could use the Stygian bow at low levels, but at higher levels increasing DR/HP's will make it next to useless.

Meat shields are vital to his survival. Unfortunately, the rest of the party might not always be willing or able to protect him. At level 6 the Leadership feat could give him meat shields. He could also hire bodyguards, but this might be risky/expensive. The Animal Ally spell makes for a fine bodyguard, but depending on what he chose he might not be allowed to take it with him in urban settings.

Skills are more important in Conan than in D&D, but he still can't rely on them in a combat heavy campaign. He should read the skills carefully so that when an opportunity presents itself he will be able to use his skills to great effect. Remind him that Int 12+ will allow him to buy some cross-class skills, like tumble.

Alchemy is time-consuming, expensive, and requires him to have a base of operations for his lab. For these reasons I don't think alchemy is a reliable or important part of the low level PC scholar arsenal. But if he has the opportunity to make it, Blue Devil's-Flame (SoS) is good. Herbal items only require ingredients and time to brew them, so they might be slightly more accessible, depending on your campaign.

War of Souls can be good if the party outnumbers the enemies. If the enemy sorcerer fails his Will save he will be Power Attack bait unless his turn is up next and he wins the opposed check.

There are very few reliable spells at low levels that I know of (AE, SoS, Free Companies). Gelid Bones is one of them, but it requires him to take Curses and Oriental Magic, both of which have very few good spells at low levels. And this spell forces him into melee as well. Torment (SoS) is decent, but by the time it lasts 2 rounds he might well encounter enemies with 8+ HD.

Defensive Blast is in my opinion his best chance. It's a free action, can be used with AoO's, and has no components. This means he can use it even when wearing armor/shield or in a grapple. He should ask the party tanks to do nonlethal damage to weak enemies, then Energy Drain and sacrifice them. Use Energy Drain whenever possible to increase PP's. At level 6 he should consider Opportunistic Sacrifice, as it works well with DB and some of the good spells.
This is a good post with lots of good suggestions. One of my players has a Stygian Scholar, we've a heavily role-play game, and his character is ruthlessly evil. But he seldom is openly, outrightly demonic in his actions/attitudes. Keep a low profile, hide from the melee combatants. Defensive Blast is his only ally at low levels, but my scholar has only used it defensively once, he uses it torture/kill those who annoy him.

I'd probably recommend he join a pact (my player started with the Black Ring): you have NPC allies (if you don't betray them), the pact can give up to 5 Power Points (or take them from you if they're performing some ritual, or if your player betrayed them). Pacts also make great roleplaying source. Sorry if it isn't called pact, I'm writing this at work.

Lastly and most importantly, if he's not set on controlling the rest of the party, encourage him to make allies of his co-players. The scholar in my group is ruthless, evil, and a megalomaniac, but cunning, scheming, clever. This makes great roleplaying between the other players who love the conflict, even though their characters fear him and no longer trust him.

It will make your job as GM tough, because scholar players take away some of the mystery of mysticism, and you have to do more bookkeeping to bring in magic, demons, etc in other than a purely adversarial role. In my case the scholar in the group makes me work on a level I wouldn't have considered had he not made a scholar, so I have to create adventures considering him as the tie-in. But it's really interesting, usually fun, and I'm always learning something new in this situation.
 

DasClay

Mongoose
OK so let me ask this to you guys as far as scholars with magic abilites... I was asked about the magic in a game Im running, and I had 3 players say they wanted to be of the casting type... I was against it from the start because the way I see the World of Conan, is that the Casters arent a dime a dozen like in D&D, they should actully be respected, and in some cases feared... So I have like a 1 caster rule ive been using...
From a GM point of view is that being too tough...
 

Bregales

Mongoose
DasClay said:
OK so let me ask this to you guys as far as scholars with magic abilites... I was asked about the magic in a game Im running, and I had 3 players say they wanted to be of the casting type... I was against it from the start because the way I see the World of Conan, is that the Casters arent a dime a dozen like in D&D, they should actully be respected, and in some cases feared... So I have like a 1 caster rule ive been using...
From a GM point of view is that being too tough...
I don't think it's too harsh. Honestly, I would have preferred GMing a campaign without any scholar characters, as this world as written is low-magic. Sorcerers are more rare than priests, and priests are more public speakers than divine channelers. However, there are cultures that accept (or fear, or both) magic: *the picts, *various tribes in the Black Kingdoms, *Vendhyans, *Khitai, and of course ancient *Stygia for example - note that in each of these cases the actual spellcasters are in or ARE the ruling class, and so are a distinct minority within the cultural populace. If a player agreed to be from one of these cultures, it's easier to accept than a lightning-calling Aesir.

Basically, like you noted, magic is a lot more rare than in the typical D&D setting. Characters can experience many situations where magic occurs, or a sorcerer is making life for them hell, but most hyborians will never experience an occurance. But they will believe it if the characters tell them of an occurance of magic. :shock:

Personally, I believe the game is more fast-paced, combat-oriented and fun and easy without scholars in the player group; if player insists on playing a scholar, then the game should become [more] politically charged, and the characters' actions should have repercussions. It should be more than slinging lightning bolts. Indeed, you shouldn't see lightning doing anything but come from the sky in this game. Although a powerful scholar can certainly call such lightning down himself! :twisted:
 
Turim's suggestions are good, but as the resident Pict shaman let me say there is more than one way to skin a Hyborian. 8)

By focusing on Scholar levels alone, you increase the advantages of being a Scholar, but increase the weaknesses as well. Low hp/DV, nearly no weapon proficiencies, no armor proficiences, poor Fort/Ref saves. Also carrying around sorcerous apparatus and robes screams 'I'm a Scholar!' making you sniper bait. Low Initative makes you Sneak Attack bait. Set help you if someone combines the two. [Our Zamorian Pirate/Thief sniper can drop the average enemy Scholar in 1-3 combat rounds] Your meat shields may not be around when needed, or worse yet decide that they want more money.....

My advice- take one or two levels of Borderer [for civilized races] or Barbarian [for barbaric races]. The first level alone will give you a hp boost and all the weapon proficiencies you'll need. The Fort/Ref saves of the two classes compliment the Will save of the Scholar and give a much needed boost to Initative. Borderer only gives you light armor proficiency as opposed to Barbarian's light and medium, but the average scholar isn't going to have the Strength to use medium armor effectively.

Also, the two classes give you the best defence option- stealth. Hide/Move Silently are class skills for the two classes. What the enemy can't seem it can't hit. [Usually] And casting spells doesn't need to be done in the open- just your target needs to be. It also doesn't give away your position as shooting would. Borderers gets Favoured Terrain bonus to these as well as a much needed DV increase to Dodge. Just be sure to pick a common terrain for your part of the world like Plains or Forest. Plus when the enemy is looking for the spell caster, the guy in a Mail Shirt with a Arming Sword and Axe at his belt is going to blend in with the rest of the party's Soldiers and Barbarians....

As for the sorcery failure option of armor, a not-so-strict GM [like me] may waive the rules. After all, Strength and finances restrict armor a lot better than some hard to fathom rules. [Magic doesn't like iron? Can't move to cast spells?] If not, a little foresight can tell you when to wear and when not to. A powerful ritual- no. Heading into unknown territory- yes.

A Stygian has a good option here. By taking two levels of Borderer he can take the Rapid Shot feat. Two shots a round w/ a Stygian bow's 1d12 points of damage works wonders on lightly armored targets- like other sorcerers. Why War of Souls when you can plunge sharp objects into their body from a safe distance? 8)

Of course, the true beauty of this combination is the Feat Opportunistic(sp?- forgive me long day) Sacrifice. The feat gives you PP when you kill by any means- magic, distance attack or melee. Using a spell burns PP you may not get back if the target survives the attack. Shooting a target or driving a sword into its gut cost no PP, so it's all Power Point profit, baby! 8) You can even hold PP above your total if you already fully charged. So thus, when the magic is needed you are stronger at the end of the conflict when the enemy sorcerers are crying out for Power Points and cleaving through their cannon fodder has merely whetted your appetite for magical war.

Raven, whose campaign has a Stygian Level 2 Borderer/Level 5 Scholar Priest of Bel- who is the only character to survive from the beginning of the campaign. In Hyborian, survival is the ultimate proof that you are doing it right......8)
 
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