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6.1 Scout
[03/31/2003] [Randall]

It has been nearly two months since I wrote an article for e-Samurai. We had a grand total of four articles for the month of March. For awhile, I was convinced this was due to apathy – I just didn’t want to do anything – but then I realized it was something else. The sad fact was that I had run out of anything to say. Now you have to realize that, for a bard, such a thing is a fate worse than death. That’s why I realized it was impossible and therefore forced myself to find an issue.

As it happens, I suddenly had an epiphany or two after asking Aramithris three times on the AmtgardInc list if there was a list of changes between 6.1 and 6.12 – first of all, no, there was no such list of changes, and second, I should write it. The third epiphany was that there’s something vaguely Lovecraftian about asking Aramithris to do something three times. After being lectured about how McArthur should’ve finished shooting the Chinese during WWII, I decided to embark on a journey through each of the character classes and tell you, my dear readers, what’s changed for the better or for the worse.

There’s a whole other article here about apathy in Amtgard, but I’ll save that for a rainy day.

The scout class is one of the better classes in Amtgard, but it’s also a bandaid class. Whenever anyone starts the game and says they want to play a warrior, I gently urge them to play scout instead. It can do everything a warrior can effectively do better than a warrior can do it. Sure, sure, you get more lives as a warrior, which is nice for a newbie, but most people who’ve been in the game more than a few months don’t die more than four times a battlegame anyway. And sure, a warrior can wear more armor, but only folks in the Iron Mountains and a few wannabe stick jocks on the east coast actually wear armor. So, let’s see what’s changed in this versatile and unique class – and let’s see what should have changed.

First, let’s take the difficult three seconds to answer the question I asked on the AmtgardInc list. The only change between 6.1 and 6.12 is one sentence. The second-level ability ‘Flame Arrow’ previously said ‘May now used thrown weapons except boulders’ and now says ‘May now use throwing weapons’. I imagine this means the scout can use all throwing weapons at level two, but it’s listed as part of the Flame Arrow ability. . . does this mean that the scout make throw a flaming dagger, or does this mean that the scout may only use throwing weapons if they also use Flame Arrow? I think it was just a mistake on the part of the editors, but it’s pretty odd that, even after obviously editing their error in 6.1, the ability was still mistakenly listed as part of the Flame Arrow subset.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get down to brass tacks and see what’s changed from 6.0.

The first change is a pet peeve of mine – garb. In 6.0, the scout may wear a green tunic or a green sash, but in 6.1 they are required to wear only a green sash. I don’t know about you, but I hate never having any idea what people are playing because they have some sash hanging on their belt but their garb never changes. Garb is useless if you can’t tell what someone’s playing, which is why I think all garb requirements must make a class easily and inerrantly identifiable from 50’ away. A scout should have to wear a green tunic. Period.

The weapons were also changed. In 6.0, the wording was pretty clear; you could pick either a short bow or a long sword, and were also able to use any non-hinged short weapon, any melee axe, and javelins. In 6.1 (and 6.12 – I’m assuming you know I mean they are one and the same for purposes of critiquing scout), the wording is munged and the weapons changed. You may now use any melee weapon under four feet in length, and may pick one of melee axes, throwing axes, staves, and a short bow. This may be just an error in editing, but it changes the scout somewhat. Before, I could use a bow, a sword and shield, and have javelins to throw. Now, if I take a bow, I can’t carry javelins. This is a curious and inexplicable change that I put down to poor use of a period and the word ‘or’ in the list of weapons you may use. On the plus side, scouts can now use staves, which, while mostly appealing only to newbies, does actually make sense for scouts. And for people wanting to cheese the system and make a staff that can be used just like a spear.

Armor and shield rules weren’t changed except to explicitely say that scouts may use bucklers.

First level abilities were changed. The scout bandage is no longer part of Amtgard and has been replaced by a non-magical heal. This is nice, since it makes the scouts more effective, but it makes the class lose a lot of its flavor. A better change would be to keep scout bandages with a few minor modifications. First, the bandages need to be a certain size so they cannot be mistaken for enchantment strips. Second, the bandages should work instantly – no counting to 100, no waiting around, just instantly. Heal is nice, but a bandage you can tie on and use right away is cooler and keeps the class flavor.

Second level abilities were also changed because of the loss of the bandage. In 6.0, a 2nd-level scout has two bandages. In 6.1, he has one heal. I don’t think this is really a great improvement. Honestly, would it really unbalance the class to give it two heals? Such a change would keep it consistent with what it could do in 6.0 and still present it as an improved, streamlined class. That is, if you insist on keeping heals instead of bandages.

Third level abilities are basically unchanged. The scout’s ability to get information has been replaced by the truth spell, but the effect is the same. . . except there are now people who are immune to the scout’s interrogation skills. Monks. 6.1 has thus downgraded the scout in this area.

Fourth level gives the scout a bit of added oomph by upgrading the tracking ability. You can now track your way through a thornwall. You can also do something useful – you can dispel camouflage or blend abilities. I’m not sure what this means, but I suspect it’ll let you break any ability that hides someone from your ability to stab them. Monks in sanctuary? Druids in commune? I don’t know if that’s how they intended it to work, but it sounds pretty good to me. And any ability that lets me stab the crap out of a frigging unicorn can’t be all bad.

Fifth level presents another minor boost to the scout. Whereas before a scout-entangled foe would merely have to strike their legs, in 6.1 the victim must also state ‘free this leg’ while cutting at himself. Most people would probably take this to mean that you have to say it every time you hit a leg, thus slowing down the release time, but it also has another avenue of cheesing the rules: silencing the scout-entangled person.

Sixth level scouts are weaker in 6.1 only if they are particularly asinine sixth level scouts. The scout’s ability to carry two enchantments may no longer be used in conjunction with the wizard stack spell. This means they can only carry two enchantments instead of the three that they came to know and love. Also, tracking goes to twice per life (well, gee, yay) and they can use crossbows and longbows. It’s with these added weapons that we again stumble across the confusing IF/THEN/OR nature of the scout class. IF they use a crossbow, THEN they may not use a short bow OR a melee axe OR a staff OR a throwing axe. Or short swords. Maybe.

Overall, 6.1 presents a better, more useful scout than 6.0 did. The weapons list needs to be clarified again so it’s… well, clear. Other than that, the only changes I’d recommend are cosmetic (require a green tunic!) or for flavor (give them back bandages!).

That is, unless we’re going to go hog wild. If that’s the case, give scouts the ability at third level to cast the release spell. And give it to ‘em twice at sixth level. They’re scouts, after all. Surely they can help you find your way out of an entangle spell. This also let’s ‘em stick a pin in yields, stuns, and pretty much any charm spell, but is that really so far-fetched?

(“Ranger! Please, you must help my father! He’s barking at trees!” “Your father is under the effect of a powerful charm. Give him this herbal remedy to drink and he will be freed.”)

In the end, though, we can’t have everything we want – and scout ain’t bad. Minus my pet peeves and suggestions, all it really needs is an editor.

Changes from 6.1 to 6.12

May use all throwing weapons at level two.

Changes from 6.0 to 6.1

Must wear a green sash.
May use staves, throwing axes, javelins, or a short bow.
May use any non-hinged melee weapon under four feet.
Gets heal instead of a bandage at level one.
Doesn't get an extra heal at level two.
May use throwing weapons at level two, except boulders.
Gets the truth spell at level three instead of old interrogation ability.
Tracking has been upgraded to include immunity to thornwall.
Tracking now lets scouts find foes who are camouflaged.
Scout-entangle now requires that you state 'free this leg' when cutting yourself loose.
Scout stack no longer works in conjunction with wizard stack.
Gets tracking twice per life at level six.

6.0 Scout: B
6.1 Scout: B

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