How to Role-Play a Scout in Dungeons & Dragons
Scouts are the first line of defense for cities and towns, as well as adventuring parties, caravans, and military forces. The personalities and dispositions of scouts vary widely, depending on the groups they work with, the terrain they scout, and their personal histories. However, there are some key principles to keep in mind when role-playing scouts.
Scouts commonly dress to blend into their environment, wearing clothes that match the general colors and textures of the landscape. Their clothing is heavily worn, but of good quality, having weathered many storms of rough conditions. The goal of a scout is to remain unseen, as exposure can lead to a quick death, as well as comfortable out in the elements.
The race of scouts can vary widely depending on the terrain and the organization they are scouting for. It is common for forces to hire scouts that are familiar with the area they are traveling through. As such, scouts in the Underdark are commonly drow, as they are naturally stealthy and have a wide knowledge of the area. Above ground, scouts are commonly human or elvish, though outsiders such as firbolgs, half elves, grung, kenku, tieflings, and tabaxi often find work as scouts as well.
Scouts, much like rangers, spend a significant amount of time alone in the wilderness. As such, they have significant survival skills and natural instincts. They are not afraid to get dirty or spend a night sleeping on the ground. High dexterity (stealth) and wisdom (survival) are important traits for scouts. Because scouts spend significant time outside of society, they tend to have a Neutral or Chaotic alignment.
Personalities between scouts can vary widely. Some scouts may enjoy spending time alone in nature and shun social interactions; Others may be desperate for the social interaction they miss out on while scouting. Many scouts work with animals, such as owls or bats that can scout from the sky, or use mounts which allow them to travel and report on threats more quickly. As such, scouts are often bonded with animals and hold them in high regard.
The most important traits of a skilled scout are the ability to assess situations and quickly react. Because scouts are primarily tasked with remaining unseen and locating enemy forces or other threats, it is important that they are able to quickly sense or see dangers, swiftly extricate themselves from the situation, and safely return to the group where they can warn others of the impending peril.
Scouts have a variety of trained behaviors which allow them to quickly and quietly investigate areas. For instance, when traveling with a caravan, scouts may focus primarily on searching the sides of the road for potential ambushes or hazards. They may distance themselves further from the caravan, so they can detect threats that are far off earlier on, giving the slow caravan time to turn around and flee, rather than trying to fight.
However, scouts working with a traveling army may focus on exploring known entry points for enemy forces. Instead of searching in every nook and cranny, they look for larger ingress points that could be used. They would also search for possible escape routes and vantage points, which could be used if an unexpected battle were to break out.
When traveling with an adventuring party, scouts may focus on finding shelter for the night and looking for general threats. Because adventurers are often chasing monsters and other supernatural forces, the scout would likely have experience in tracking unusual beasts and perhaps have some magic aptitude.
Overall, a scout’s behavior is directly linked to what force they are traveling with as well as what potential threats they are searching for.
If scouts are scouting away from their party when combat breaks out, they focus primarily on returning to the party and alerting them of the danger.
In direct combat, scouts utilize their ranged multi-attacks (150/600 ft) to wear the enemy down while staying at a safe distance. They choose strategic locations, attacking from cover if it is available and positioning themselves at vantage points. If necessary, scouts can also fight in melee combat, utilizing their melee multi-attacks.
A female wood elf works with falcons, owls, and kites to hunt game as well as scout the area around her. Specializing in forests, she offers the party protection as they travel through an ancient wooded grove. The trees here are more than they seem; Imbued with the souls of those that died beneath their branches.
An elven scout native to the jungles of Chult. Adorned with brightly colored feathers, leaves, and animal skulls, he embodies the rich culture of the area while also blending into the lush rain forest. He charges twice the standard rate, but offers a 100% money back guarantee if you don’t make it out of the jungle alive.
In summary, scout NPCs vary widely in race, personality, and alignment. Use the surrounding area to inspire your creation of scouts and their appearances.
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