STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC

"Hardcore" Solo Scoundrel Guide
by Macready
January 15, 2012

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FORMATTING NOTE
This guide is best viewed in a text editor, or using a fixed-width font such
as Courier New.

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REVISION HISTORY
01/15/2012 - First release.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

[A] Introduction
[B] Building Your Character
    [B01] Class
    [B02] Starting statistics
    [B03] Skills
    [B04] Feats
    [B05] Alignment
[C] General Strategy
[D] Walkthrough
    [D01] Endar Spire
    [D02] Upper Taris
    [D03] Lower Taris
    [D04] Undercity
    [D05] Sewers
    [D06] Vulkar Base
    [D07] Brejik
    [D08] Duel Ring
    [D09] Sith Military Base
    [D10] Davik's Estate
 [E] Final Thoughts

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[A] INTRODUCTION

This guide is not intended for those as yet unfamiliar with the game mechanics
of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (henceforth to be referred to as
"KotOR").  If you are not yet acquainted with the game's basics, I encourage
you to first read a more general guide, and/or spend some time playing the
game, prior to reading this guide.  For that matter, I'd go so far as to say
that if you have not yet fully played through the game at least once, it's too
soon to be using a guide such as this one.

KotOR's Scoundrel class is an interesting one.  Although it suffers from an
alarming number of combat weaknesses, such as having the lowest number of
vitality points (VPs) per level, the fewest elective feats, and the worst base
attack bonus (BAB) progression, it also is the only class in the game to have
access to the massively powerful and hugely satisfying Sneak Attack feat line.
Furthermore, Scoundrel's Luck mitigates some of the vulnerability with its
very nice bonus to defense.  The Scoundrel is also the only class to have
Persuade available as a class skill from the start of the game.

For me personally, the Scoundrel class presents a major dilemma.  Sneak Attack
is a coveted addition to my Jedi class of choice (Guardian), and having a
fully developed Persuade on Taris is hard to live without once you've had the
chance to experience the game with it.  So what's the problem, then?  Just
this: once you have become familiar with the game, KotOR is really not that
difficult.  So, I am simply not satisfied with my play experience unless I
adhere to a specific set of "rules" in order to increase the difficulty.  They
are as follows:

* No deaths (or in Diablo terms, "hardcore")
* No annoying stumbles (e.g., losing a duel on Taris)
* No skipping of quests, unless for alignment / roleplay reasons
* No abuse of the save game feature (i.e., if things are going badly, I am
  not allowed to reload mid-fight in order to prevent a death)
* Play solo (in particular, no use of other NPCs in combat except when the
  game forces them on you)
* Game difficulty set to difficult

Failure on any of the above counts will cause me to abandon the game in
progress immediately.  I'll either start over from scratch, or move on to
another game entirely.  This may seem draconian, but it does serve to raise
the tension considerably when playing.

In addition, I also try to limit doing things which I consider exploits.  I'll
mention specific examples as they come up, but for now know that I consider
using items via the inventory screen as a means to preserve turn advantage to
be inherently lame.  In my mind, using an item on the inventory screen should
cause the act of using whatever item (medpack, stimulant, energy shield, etc.)
to be added to my action queue, where it will take a turn in order to complete
the action (thereby preventing me from doing something else such as attacking
the opposition).  Instead, you are often able to use such items instantly,
without interrupting the execution of your action queue at all.  Although I
will make use of this "feature" if I feel that my success is seriously in
jeopardy, it bothers me to do so, and I will remember doing so as a blight on
an otherwise "perfect" game.

I will unapologetically make use of my prior knowledge of the game, however.
I simply cannot "un-know" what I have learned in previous playthroughs.  Then
too, what I am proposing to accomplish is, frankly, quite impossible without
planning ahead while making full use of your foreknowledge of the game's
events and combats.  My restrictive rules are just my way of compensating for
the power of already knowing what dangers are lying in wait for me.

Anyway, by now you should be able to perceive the dilemma of the Scoundrel
class quite well.  It offers some attractive and unique features, but its
fragility is a real problem in a hardcore environment.  If you are playing
solo, you are solely responsible for winning fights, and worse, all enemy
attacks will be directed squarely at you.  Worse still, the "difficult" game
setting means that all of those attacks will be significantly more damaging
(1.5x damage done by all enemy attacks).

So, this guide will mainly concern itself with how to keep a Scoundrel alive
throughout a solo adventure on Taris played according to the restrictive rules
that I have described.  Once Taris is safely in your rear view mirror, you can
enjoy the enhanced defense and the fearsome and powerful sneak attacks which
are a part of your Jedi arsenal.

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[B] BUILDING YOUR CHARACTER

I should probably take a moment to discuss the methodology I'll be using along
the way.  This guide will read a bit like a gaming blog, because I will be
playing the game from the very start and recording the choices I make, and
more importantly, the reasons WHY I made them.  You are, of course, free to
make your own decisions, and if you choose to divert from the advice given
here, at least you'll better understand the dynamics of your decisions.

[B01] CLASS

Choose the Scoundrel.  That was easy!

I will be playing with the goal of becoming a Guardian when the time comes to
select a Jedi class, for a number of reasons.  For starters, the Sneak Attack
feat line gels ever so nicely with the Guardian's Force Jump feats.  Then too,
the Guardian is certainly a good pick for a hardcore play style, with all of
its VPs and feats.  And lastly, I simply enjoy it the most.  There are times
during the game when it seems like a Consular is the best pick - you'll find
rooms full of enemies who can be crushed easily using your force powers alone,
such that it isn't even worth brandishing your saber.  But regardless of the
choices we make along the way, we all end up in the same place, which is to
say, toe to toe with Malak.  If you've been neglecting your combat abilities,
you'll feel that shortcoming here.  Since I prefer this final battle to be
a satisfying climax to a triumphant playthrough, I like to build characters
which are well equipped for saber combat.

As for the level split, I will level my Scoundrel to 7 and then delay any
further levelling until the Guardian class becomes available.  Scoundrel level
7 gives me access to Improved Scoundrel's Luck (+4 to my defense rating) as
well as Sneak Attack IV (6-24 bonus damage for every successfully executed
sneak attack).

[B02] STARTING STATISTICS

I will be focusing primarily on physical, combat oriented development in order
to make maximum use of sneak attack.  Use of the force later in my career will
be confined to limited buffing (force speed and improved energy resistance,
and force immunity situationally) as well as incapacitation of enemies (stasis
field, force wave, or insanity).

STRENGTH (STR) - 14
I will be focusing on strength as my primary stat - most of my elective points
will go here.  Scoundrels get the Critical Strike feat for free, which can be
used as a means to stun a single opponent.  Since the DC of the stun is based
on attacker level and STR bonus, a focus on strength really helps.  Further,
sometimes the best defense is a strong offense.  In the end game, we are
shooting to be able to take down most opponents in a single round.  Being able
to leap in, dispatch the first opponent in a group in your first salvo, and
then leap on to the next is much safer than staying in one spot for a multi-
round kill (e.g., if someone throws a grenade at you, you'll already be gone
from the point of detonation by the time it goes off).  The flow of combat
against multiple enemies is also supremely satisfying when you are routinely
scoring one-round kills.

DEXTERITY (DEX) - 14
Focusing on strength over dexterity does NOT mean that the latter should be
entirely neglected.  You will make ample use of that two point DEX bonus on
Taris, in blaster accuracy, use of stealth, and most importantly, overall
defense rating.

CONSTITUTION (CON) - 14
You need the bonus VPs.  A LOT.  Playing hardcore will eventually lead you to
a situation in which you sustain a Surprising Amount of Damage ("SAD").  If
you barely squeak by, you'll be immensely grateful that your bonus VPs just
prevented your game from coming to an abrupt conclusion.  If you die, you'll
wonder if just a few more VPs might have made the difference.

INTELLIGENCE (INT) - 10
It would be incredibly convenient to have this at 12, but not because of the
one-time skill point bonus at character creation.  A modified Demolitions
score of 10 will allow you to recover "minor" type mines set by others (of
which there are many on Taris).  Since INT is the governing statistic of
Demolitions, having no bonus here means that you won't be able to recover
mines until character level (clvl) 6 or 7.  That is a LONG time to wait for an
ability that we will desperately need in order to make it off Taris.  But I am
not comfortable with borrowing from any other stat just for this purpose.

WISDOM (WIS) - 14
Wisdom is important for defense (Will saving throws) as well as offense (force
power DCs).  It also governs bonuses to force points, which are always nice to
have (and if you go dark side, you won't get ANY such bonus from equipment).

CHARISMA (CHA) - 12
Charisma helps with force points and force power DCs, in addition to providing
a bonus to the Persuade skill.

[B03] SKILLS

I will have 53 skills points available for use (16 starting, plus 24 from the
6 additional Scoundrel levels, plus 13 from the Guardian levels).  A nice
feature of the Scoundrel class is that I will have almost all the skill points
required to invest as much as desired in each skill as soon as I am able.

I will put 18 points into Persuade.  It is extremely useful throughout the
game.

I will invest 18 points into Stealth.  I suspect that Stealth falls short of
what anyone interested in it would wish it to be, but it does have its uses,
particularly on Taris, where we are most vulnerable.

I will be placing 11 points into Demolitions.  This skill level will allow me
to recover minor mines (on Taris! where we need it most) and to disarm average
and deadly ones.  Later in the game I'll also be able to recover average ones,
so long as I keep the Bothan Sensory Visor handy (which I might be wearing
anyway for its critical hit protection).

Awareness will get 5 points.  The Wisdom bonus and the Bothan Sensory Visor
can easily push my modified score over 10, which will suffice for detecting
most mine types.

Finally, I will place one point into Security.  Given that you are able to
"take 20" just about every time you need to use the skill, it offers a very
convenient way around minor obstacles (I always think that my poor character
must feel like an ass when forced to stand in a public hallway, hacking at a
metal door with a sword).  Again, the Bothan Sensory Visor will boost this
nicely later on.

Note that I have omitted the very useful Treat Injury skill.  This should help
me to resist the temptation to resort to the ever-so-lame inventory screen
heal.

[B04] FEATS

One of the KotOR community's favorite topics to argue over is the question of
whether Flurry, Critical Strike or Power Attack is better.  So, which of them
do I recommend you choose?

Easy.  None of the above!

Or at least that's one of the options.  If I had as many feats as I wanted,
I'd probably opt for Flurry, just to get in one more sneak attack per round
against every disabled opponent.  But, the bottom line is that we are feat-
starved.  Our primary goals are to remain alive (hardcore!) and to maximize
damage per attack in order to achieve those lovely one-round kills once we
are fully developed, and our feat selection will reflect that.

As a 7/13 Scoundrel/Guardian, we get 10 elective feats in all, three of those
on Taris.  Our first 6 feats will be the following, chosen in this order:

Toughness, Implant Level 1, Implant Level 2, Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved
Two-Weapon Fighting, Master Two-Weapon Fighting

Implant Level 2 is a must for Taris, as it is the only way to gain immunity to
critical hits.  Without that immunity, one-hit kills are a looming threat at
seemingly every turn for our poor little VP-barren Scoundrel.  That leaves us
with one more feat on Taris.  Two-Weapon Fighting is way too underdeveloped to
seriously use.  So, we might as well add the extra VPs from Toughness right
from the start.

The next two feats will be Weapon Focus: Lightsaber and Weapon Specialization:
Lightsaber.  They gives us a +1 attack bonus, and more importantly, an extra
+2 damage per attack, which will contribute along with our STR bonus to our
minimum attack damage.  Remember, our goal is to achieve as many one-round
kills as possible.

That leaves us with two last feats, and here is where you can customize to
taste.  On the defense and buffing front, you can pick from a pool of feats
including the Toughness Line, Implant Level 3, or Conditioning.  On the
offensive front, you could spend those two feats on picking up Improved
Critical Strike and Master Critical Strike.  I don't recommend that you use
the Critical Strike line when up against multiple targets (unless you've
disabled them already), because it negates your defenses terribly.  Then too,
the Critical Strike line does not gel well with the double-bladed saber, which
is by far the best weapon to use for damage efficiency when chasing one-round
kills.  BUT, because we are pursuing a strength build, the stun effect from
Critical Strike is almost a sure bet, especially when you are getting three
chances per round due to Master Speed.  You'll find yourself using Critical
Strike against single opponents for that reason, and it also works great for
disabling force-resistant enemies (fights against terentateks can be won quite
easily with this).  But you already get the stun effect with the first feat,
so it's up to you whether to invest any further.  I will say that it is fun to
see those high damage hits, so if you enjoy that as well, you might as well
increase your critical hit chances when fighting those single opponents.

The preferred method of attack in the end game will be force-jumping enemies
while using Master Force Speed (as soon as it is available).  Master Force
Jump combined with Master Force Speed will give us four attacks, with each
attack at +4 damage, plus our STR bonus, plus our +2 Lightsaber spec bonus,
plus our 4-24 sneak attack bonus, all on top of whatever damage is on the
saber itself.  Once we've jumped into the fray with that opening Force Jump,
we'll opt to disable any remaining opponents with a force power, and then
resume sneak attacking (with all bonuses except the Force Jump bonus intact).

[B05] ALIGNMENT

Whether you follow the light side or the dark is entirely up to you.  Be aware
if you are not already that pursuing a completely light path on Taris will amp
up the difficulty considerably, moreso for a Scoundrel than for the other two
classes.  More on this subject to come.

I myself usually prefer to play the light side.  I've completed the game three
times thus far (twice light, once dark).  This time I will be using a female
protagonist so that I can see how the Carth romance plays out.  I definitely
enjoy the light side more, so I will probably go that route, with a few very
carefully picked exceptions on Taris as needed.  I will make a save before the
final light/dark decision so that I replay the last bit with the dark ending -
I've heard there's an extra bit of Carth content if the dark side is chosen.

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[C] GENERAL STRATEGY

The guiding principle of the early game is quite simple: we're going to buy
our way off of Taris.  No, there isn't some man behind the curtain that we're
able to bribe for safe passage.  What I mean is that we are going to be using
LOTS of grenades and mines, far more than the game dishes out to us in the
form of loot and recovered mines.  That means that we are going to need a very
steady flow of credits in order to buy them from Kebla and Igear.

This, by the way, is why playing the light side will pose such a challenge for
our young Scoundrel.  Not only does it mean passing up a number of lucrative
opportunities, but actually paying out credits to help others out of their own
pecuniary difficulties.  Although I will be tending toward the light side, I
suspect I'll be indulging my baser instincts now and again to amass all of the
credits I'll need in order to act "for the greater good" (e.g., I'm pretty
sure that the rakghoul serum is going to Davik).

As for combat, the general strategy will be never to fight against more than
one opponent at a time whenever it can be helped, with few exceptions (one
such exception might be a couple of garden variety Vulkars with blasters, who
could be managed by using an energy shield charge to limit incoming damage).
When there are multiples, grenades and/or mines will be used to whittle the
opposition down to a single opponent ASAP.  And tougher opponents will be
handled exclusively via grenades and mines (fair fights are for Soldiers, and
for the Guardian we will eventually become).

Those of you who are familiar with the game's mechanics may have noticed that
whenever you level up, any damage you may have sustained recently is fully
healed.  This may tempt you into saving level-ups for use as emergency heals.
I would encourage you not to do this.  For one thing, it feels very much like
an exploit, at least in my book.  Let's not taint our perfect game with such
foolishness.  More importantly, you really need those levels on Taris.  In
addition to the very important VP increases, each level brings with it much
needed abilities.  Stealth and Demolitions increases.  Improved sneak attacks.
Improved Scoundrel's Luck.  So, level up as soon as you're able, until you
have reached level 7.

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[D] WALKTHROUGH

One thing which amuses me about following the light path in KotOR, at least
when compared to the Star Wars movies, is the extent of the body count.  In
the films, the Jedi frequently find ways to resolve their difficulties while
keeping violence to a minimum.  You, on the other hand, will make Conan the
Barbarian look like Mister Rogers.  So, as I progress, I will try to keep
track of the overall body count.  I will omit droids, as they are not living
and sentient beings.

[D01] ENDAR SPIRE

There's not much to say about your trip through the Endar Spire, but I will
mention a few points.

Try to be conservative with your grenade use here.  If you die, the "hardcore"
penalty of needing to restart is not so terrible.  And even though I play the
Endar Spire with a riskier hand than I would use anywhere else, I don't think
I've ever died.  In this playthrough, I used only one grenade.  After the Sith
vs. Republic soldier fight cutscene, there are three Sith soldiers nicely
lined up in the distance.  If you target the middle one with a frag grenade,
you will almost surely kill one or two, and soften up whoever is left.  In my
game, all three went down.  In hindsight, I wish I had been able to roll that
grenade like a bowling ball... strike!

Trask will be launched into two or three fights via mini-cutscene.  Don't let
this bother you.  Keep solo mode on, and ditch him whenever you are able; but
when he magically appears for a pre-fight cutscene, just roll with it.

I turned on stealth prior to opening the door leading to the second pair of
Sith soldiers.  I was able to make it to the footlocker and snag the combat
suit, long sword, and whatever else was in there before I was detected.  I
got clipped by two blaster shots as I ran away (shaving 6 of 9 VPs), but I was
then able to exchange my crappy clothing for the much nicer and safer combat
suit, and have access to the more lethal long sword, prior to stabbing myself
with a medpack and re-engaging.

I used plain medpacks a few times, but I was either out of combat, or used one
via my action queue.  No inventory heals!

For that last room full of Sith soldiers before you get to Carth, I always opt
to repair the droid.  You don't need to bother with activating its shields;
just spend four parts on activating patrol mode, and back off.  It will clean
up the soldiers quite nicely, saving all of your computer spikes and four of
the repair parts for use elsewhere (or for selling - the spikes fetch a nice
price).

*Body count: ~20
I'm not counting the third Sith soldier on the bridge, as I had nothing to do
with his death (I think there's a scripted explosion which kills everyone up
front).  I'm also not sure how many Sith are in the pre-Carth room, but I am
pretty sure that it is 4 or 5, so I went with 4.

*Total body count: ~20

[D02] UPPER TARIS

Carth is forced on you for the first fight against the cranky Sith guy in the
hallway; enjoy the help while you're able.  Focus on taking out the droid on
your side with your ion blaster, then equip your upgraded prototype vibroblade
(you DID get that blade on the Endar Spire and upgrade it with the vibration
cell in your apartment, right?) and sneak attack Mr. Crankypants (who, sadly,
has his back to you) while Carth takes out the other droid.

At this point you need to begin planning your economic path forward.  The
first truly difficult (potential) encounter that is facing you will come in
the form of the beefed up rakghoul threatening poor Hendar the Outcast just
outside of the gates to the Undercity village.  If you want to play it safe,
you will opt out of this encounter.  But if you are playing the light path
and want to keep your options open here, some advance planning is required.

Level 5 is a must, for the added VPs, Sneak Attack III, and Implant Level 2,
which will enable you to use the Retinal Combant Implant to protect yourself
from critical hits.  I'm not entirely sure that it is always possible to earn
enough experience to hit level 5 prior to exiting the Undercity village, but
I am going to try.  And speaking of that implant, it will set you back around
560 credits at Igear's store, so plan on having that in your wallet if you
want to give Hendar a chance to live on.

On the subject of Igear, keep your purchases to a minimum until you've had a
chance to visit his store.  He's got the lowest prices in town.  That also
extends to what he offers you for your wares, though, so don't ever sell him
your loot.  Because he's so cheap, you should wait until the last possible
moment to fulfill Rukil's quest (if you're going light side) in order to keep
Igear available if you need him.

But, back to the present.  Normally I'm pretty averse to hard driving sales
pitches, but I'd go ahead and purchase the energy shield that our green friend
in the hallway outside our apartment is pushing.  A time will come when you
are swimming in these energy shields, but that time is not now, and you will
have occasion to use this one before the winds of Fate blow another one your
way.  The upgraded Stealth belt (with +2 Stealth bonus) is also a good use of
credits, although get that from Kebla, who is cheaper.

Avoid speaking to Lena in the Upper City cantina just yet.  Pissing her off
results in a subsequent fight against two of her father's thugs outside the
cantina, which is best delayed until we are a bit stronger.  But we don't want
to placate her either (unless you are really going all out in your pursuit of
the light, even when force alignment changes are not at stake), because we can
use the experience and loot.

Save your grenades when confronting the two bounty hunters bullying the old
man near the exit to the other end of the Upper City.  They're both packing
blasters, so as long as you maintain your distance, you can use your energy
shield to negate incoming damage for long enough to take one of them out with
your blaster in order to make a fair fight of it.  Once I had dispatched them,
I further assisted my new friend by handing over some credits to help him
settle his debt.  So what if he had to tug harder than he was expecting to get
them out of my hand?

Make sure to loot any unlocked, abandoned apartments up here.  Don't be shy
about stealing from the Sith soldier you met at the cantina, either.  You need
the credits!  Don't go down to the Lower City until you have purchased the
upgraded Stealth belt and two frag mines.

*Body count: 5
*Total body count: ~25

[D03] LOWER TARIS
Your initial foray into Lower Taris presents an immediate opportunity for
SADness (you remember my "Surprising Amount of Damage" warning, right?).
After the little cutscene depicting the Bek/Vulkar fight, you will be faced
with three melee opponents.  One of them is wielding a double-bladed sword,
too - so that means four melee attacks per round directed your way.  By the
way, you are level 3 at this point.

Fortunately, the game developers imparted upon us the small mercy of being in
control of triggering this encounter; it won't start until you advance near to
the first left/right intersection just ahead (the bad guys are to the left).
So, avail yourself of this advantage by preparing yourself.

Begin by taking off that stupid Sith armor and replacing it with whatever
superior armor you were wearing prior to fooling the guard at the Upper City
elevator.  Next, immediately lay a mine about halfway between yourself and the
corner ahead.  Then advance just a bit (not too far!) and lay another ahead of
it and to the left, like so:
____     ____

____     ____
   | x   |
   |  x  |
   |_____|
  elevator

Finally, go ahead and inch forward far enough to trigger the cutscene.  The
second it is over, hit PAUSE.  Target the middle enemy around the corner with
a frag grenade and let it fly.  Then, fall back a bit behind the first mine so
that anyone left will have to advance through it (but not the second one,
which should now be to the side of you) in order to reach you.  Make sure to
space your mines such that this is possible.

There are a lot of variables at work here (three enemies times two explosive
devices equals six saving throws), so it's hard to say just what you'll be
facing after your grenade and mine do their work.  If it is just one wounded
opponent, go ahead and finish them with your vibroblade.  If you feel that you
are still at risk, cut across to the other side of the hallway past the second
mine and let it work its magic.

Now that you are safely established in the Lower City, you can easily clear
the streets with very little risk to yourself.  Whenever you spot an enemy,
fire off a quick shot to get their attention, and then pull them back to the
guards outside the cantina and the Bek base.  They will engage the Vulkar
thugs while you sit in safety waiting to reap the rewards.

When you are clearing the apartments, remember to set a mine or two in the
hallways to fall back to if needed.  And use that sneak attack!  A great
strategy for taking on pairs is to activate your shield, stealth your way
behind your target, and open with a vibroblade sneak attack.  Then quickly
withdraw a bit to encourage blaster use by your opponents, and mop them up
from the cover of your energy shield.

Don't mess with Selven until you have obtained critical hit immunity via
implant and mind-affecting immunity via the Republic Mod Armor.

If you'll be going light side, I'd defer completing light side quests for as
long as possible.  I've noticed that the alignment swings in the other
direction seem bigger the further you are from the middle, so if you are
going to do some "dark" things, do them first before you start piling on the
good deeds.

*Body count: ~40
*Total body count: ~65

[D04] UNDERCITY

Upon arriving in the Undercity, I was short of both funding (for the Retinal
Combat Implant) and experience (for level 5).  But, by backtracking and
completing the Matrik bounty (light side) and the first two duels (Duncan
and Gerlon), I was able to solve both problems.  So, now I was faced with
the big question: do I help Hendar?

I opted not to help ("it's not safe; don't open the gate").  I know, quite a
cowardly path to follow, especially after I put so much thought and work into
fulfilling the necessary prerequisites for the encounter with the rakghoul.
But the simple truth is this: that's a fight for a Soldier, not a Scoundrel.
By being forced to charge directly into the fray, you sacrifice all of the
important Scoundrel advantages.  No setting of mines as a fallback; no stealth
to set up the encounter and guarantee an attempt at a sneak attack.  Then too,
Hendar's close proximity takes grenades off of the table (if you're serious
about saving him instead of killing him, that is), and a fast, direct attack
is required to save his life.  I very seriously doubted that I'd be able to
kill the rakghoul prior to its killing Hendar.  I also had my doubts about
surviving myself, and thought it would be especially unlikely without using
inventory heals, which is lame.

As a weak Scoundrel, you need to make your own luck by stacking the deck in
your favor, not by leaving things up to chance (and a poor chance at that).
When that's not possible, you opt out.  So, I very stonily instructed Trewin
to keep the gate closed, and I stood there and watched Hendar die.  There was
no dark side shift, but there is no question that this was a real blow to my
light side resumé.  Alas, poor Hendar: I shed a Scoundrel's tear for you!

Well, that's settled.  Out into the Undercity I go.  First order of business
was to set a few fallback mines.  Then I took out Hendar's rakghoul (which
was nearby) using my typical sneaky methods.  It has a weird AI glitch post-
Hendar which causes it to fall back to a particular spot if you retreat far
enough.  Not sure what's up with that, but it complicated pulling it across a
mine.

It's well worth provoking the Sith patrol into combat ("I don't like your
tone!"), because the loot is awesome (blaster rifles x3 = 360 credits, plus
Motion Detection Goggles which add a point to Demolitions, enabling mine
recovery at level 6 instead of 7, and other assorted crap).  Use an energy
shield charge before approaching, and once they're hostile, chuck a frag
grenade at them and pull back.  I dropped both the flunkies with my own
grenade, and then retreated (the patrol leader was too busy activating his
energy shield and using a medpack to give chase).  Then I stealthed up and
used a sneak attack with a vibroblade to drop him in one shot.  Sorry, Sithie!

At this point, very shortly after the Hendar low, something good was beginning
to take shape.  The Sith patrol gave a nice upward jolt to my cash flow.  And
I barely had to use any mines at all in order to clear the Undercity outside
of the Outcast camp.  When I finally had the rakghoul serum in my hands, it
was beginning to look very much like I would never need to cash it in with
Davik!

*Body count: ~31
*Total body count: ~96

[D05] SEWERS

Much of the sewers plays out like usual.  Set your fallback mines, then either
pull singly, or if your targets are clumped, raise hell with a grenade, then
fall back in order to string them out for separate kills (or mine them if that
proves impossible).  But it's not long before the opportunity for SADness
manifests itself again.

You are not getting into the upper sewers without Mission's help.  You aren't
getting Mission's help without first rescuing Zaalbar.  And you aren't getting
that done without going through four very dangerous Gamorreans.  The chief in
particular is to be avoided at all costs.  My original plan was to set a huge
line of mines (about 10), which I did; but then I noticed the broken droid in
the room across the hall and thought, "why not?"  I'd been collecting repair
parts all game and had only spent 4 of them on the Endar Spire, so...

I reactivated the droid, upgraded its defense and accuracy, and activated its
patrol mode.  I didn't have enough parts for the shields as well.  As it
turned out, that is one badass little droid, and he did just fine without the
shields.  He took out all four of the super-dangerous Gamorreans, by himself,
all at the same time.  And knocked off the two in the next room.  And then
proceeded to take out 5 or 10 more bad guys that I pulled to it in ones and
twos.  It was so effective that I nearly got myself into trouble.  I was
pulling a few rakghouls to it from the other side of the map, when on my way
back, I ran into the respawn from a rakghoul room I'd already cleared.  Oops.
Fortunately I managed to lose some of them, and my little droid friend thinned
out the group that was still on my tail before finally succumbing.  In the end,
it saved me a TON of mines.  Farewell, Droidicus; you shall be remembered.

Aside from that, nothing noteworthy.  Just remember to always keep a couple of
fallback mines out in case you get in over your head.  You can always recover
them later if you don't end up needing to use them.

*Body count: ~51
*Total body count: ~147

[D06] VULKAR BASE

The upper level here is pretty standard fare; it certainly shouldn't slow you
up much after having made it through the sewers.  I turned level 7 somewhere
around here, and also acquired the second upgrade for the Republic Mod Armor.
Once that had been installed using the workbench on the lower level, I was as
strong as I was going to get on Taris: 63 VPs, 22 defense, and immune to both
critical hits and mind-affecting attacks.

Make sure that you don't run into the elevator room until you've dealt with
the security system, or you'll die a script death.  That'd be a hell of a way
to go at this point.

On the lower level, stealth up and immediately set some fallback mines.  Once
the Vulkar Garage Head and his two cronies have made their first pass, set
some mines in their path and then pull them with a grenade.  Mop up whatever
is left using a blaster and your energy shields.

Set plenty of mines for the Kandon encounter.  I can't remember what this guy
and his bodyguard are capable of, but I'm assuming it's bad, so I accomplished
the whole thing via grenades and mines.  Do NOT opt to betray Gadon, or you
will be opening yourself up to a world of hurt when you confront him in that
little room with his own bodyguard at the Bek base.  There's a perfect dialog
option here for you dark-siders, anyway.  After Kandon suggests that instead
of just taking the prototype accelerator, you should instead backtrack, take
out yet another entire base full of gang members, and then kill Gadon, simply
reply, "how about I just kill you instead?"

I thought seriously about leaving the loading bay alone, because that droid
inside is about the single deadliest thing on all of Taris.  But you can
actually take it out safely from a distance using grenades from the edge of
its AI range (throw one near the edge of its patrol route - when the droid
doubles back in the opposite direction, it will reach the point of detonation
just at the right moment).  Of course, that feels like an exploit, because
it's ridiculous to think that it wouldn't immediately give chase upon the
first grenade going off.  So, to curb my exploit guilt, I set about ten mines
in a line outside the loading bay doors prior to opening them.  I knew they
wouldn't be needed, but by going through the motions I can at least argue that
I would have won anyway even if that droid wasn't such an idiot.

*Body count: ~24
*Total body count: ~171

[D07] BREJIK

The Brejik fight which occurs after the swoop race can be dangerous.  Brejik
is a Scoundrel himself, which means the potential for a taste of our own
medicine: sneak attack!  The key to surviving is to deny him that chance.
When the fight begins, activate your energy shield and engage him with your
blade.  A fight at melee range will deny him his DEX bonus to ranged weapons.
NEVER turn your back on him, even for a second.  Don't even turn slightly away
from him - the game is very generous in giving him the chance for a sneak
attack.  Even if another NPC engages you at melee range, keep your attacks
focused upon Brejik.  It is actually not all that important to fight well
here, because Bastila is fighting on your side whether you like it or not, and
will quickly mop up everyone except him.  Then, the two of you together will
finish him off.  So just deny Brejik a look at your flank by focusing your
attacks on him in order to stay alive.

*Body count: ~3
*Total body count: ~174

[D08] DUEL RING

I'd wait to begin dueling until you are level 7, which you will be once you've
finished the Vulkar Base.  Improved Scoundrel's Luck and Sneak Attack IV will
be in your arsenal, and you will have obtained the Retinal Combat Implant and
the fully upgraded Republic Mod Armor.  However, Duncan and Gerlon are easy
opponents and can be taken down sooner if you really need the credits.

All duels begin with the combatants at maximum attack / AI range.  There is
also a very brief period after the announcer finishes before your opponent
turns hostile.  You can use these two facts to your advantage - if you pull
back away from your opponent as soon as the announcer finishes and before they
turn hostile, you will have stepped out of their AI range.  This means that
they will not advance on you or attack.  Use this opportunity to engage your
stealth ability.

Does this pass the exploit sniff test?  It's a close call, but I'd say yes.
It's a bit stupid that your opponent does not immediately advance and attack,
but the bottom line is that you clearly start on opposite sides of the arena
by design.  So being able to cloak at that range is OK.  It would be better
if your opponent then advanced immediately in order to begin registering
awareness checks, but... there's a limit to how far I'll go to compensate for
the game's AI deficiencies.  Charging in just because the AI doesn't respond
appropriately to stealth amounts to throwing away a key Scoundrel advantage
and acting like a Soldier instead.  So, in the final analysis, I believe that
the starting distance between you and your opponent can and should be regarded
as an opportunity to cloak yourself.

With that settled, the best way to begin any duel (except for the Bendak one)
is to step back and turn on stealth as soon as the announcer finishes.  What
you do next depends on your opponent.

*Duncan
Duncan is armed with a sword.  Simply flank him and attack with a melee
weapon while still stealthed.  If you miss with your sneak attack, stand your
ground.  He will most likely go down the first time that you land a hit.

*Gerlon
Gerlon is armed with a blaster.  Equip a melee weapon and flank him as you did
Duncan.  Since you'll get a +10 to hit bonus for melee on ranged, you will
very likely take him out with your opening sneak attack (at least at level 7).

*Ice
Ice is armed with some sort of heavy blaster.  A bit more care is required
here.  After stealthing, activate your energy shield and then flank her with a
melee weapon as you did the other two.  Although your opening shot should take
a nice chunk out of her health (that melee on ranged bonus helping you to hit
again), Ice will still have around half of her health left.  Immediately pull
back so that she keeps her blaster equipped, and switch to a blaster yourself.
Your energy shield will protect you as you whittle her the rest of the way
down.  If you missed with your opening sneak attack, you might want to soften
her up with a frag grenade after pulling back before you begin firing the
blaster.

*Marl
Do NOT attempt Marl prior to achieving level 7.  Make sure that you are using
the Retinal Combat Implant AND fully upgraded Republic Mod Armor (for the
immunity to mind-affecting).  You should be carrying at least 6+ concussion
grenades and 5 minor frag mines in your inventory.

Marl is supremely dangerous.  He embodies everything that's terrifying to a
vulnerable young Scoundrel: he's melee only (which means that he won't stand
still at range to be grenaded), he has multiple attacks per round (due to his
double-bladed sword), and those attacks are strong (and multiplied by 1.5x to
boot due to the game difficulty).  If you let this guy even get in a swing at
you, you're doing something dangerously wrong.

First off, let's talk about fallback strategy in case the stealthing does not
work for some reason (e.g., he rushes you before you cloak, or his awareness
pierces your stealth, or whatever).  If he has seen you and is approaching,
stab yourself with an alacrity stim, and make sure you are wielding a melee
weapon (to deny him the +10 melee on ranged bonus).  Your strategy will be to
throw a concussion grenade at your feet once he is in front of you (to which
you are immune thanks to your armor) and hope he fails his save.  If he is not
stunned, run around for a few seconds and then try again.  Once he is stunned,
get in two or three sneak attacks, then grenade him again.  You may have to
resort to using medpacks via the inventory screen if you are forced into this
cat and mouse grenade game.

If you do get stealthed successfully, immediately use an alacrity stim.  This
will boost your stealth skill, and also your defense and running speed if you
are forced into the fallback plan.  Now, lay about five evenly spaced mines
along a path that's easy to lead him along:

       M
       
       x
   x   x
    x x

Start with the mine positions furthest from him so that you are guaranteed to
get at least some laid without being detected.  One amusing thing to note is
that if you finish this fight without Marl having tripped all of your mines,
they will still be there to recover when you fight Twitch!

Finally, now that your minefield has been placed, sneak up to Marl and flank
him.  Swing your vibroblade at him, and then immediately pause the game.  With
any luck, you will have scored a hit - if so, it will be a fairly punishing
sneak attack.  Immediately retreat and lead him through the mines in order to
finish him.  If he somehow survives all this (let's say you missed your sneak
attack and he was lucky with the reflex saves), check his life bar.  If he's
nearly dead, let him approach and throw a frag grenade at your own feet -
you'll survive it and he won't.  If not, fall back on the concussion grenade
strategy.

*Twitch
Twitch is not bad at all, at least compared to Marl.  You are going to want to
close to melee range ASAP in order to deny Twitch the opportunity to put a
dual-wielding blaster beatdown on you.  After you stealth up, use an energy
shield charge, because Twitch's first attack upon seeing you, even at melee
range, will almost certainly be with his blasters.  Twitch has a very good
chance to hit with any weapon, so you might consider using an alacrity stim
as well to raise your defense a bit.

Once you are all buffed up, flank him as usual and attack with a melee weapon.
Ah, melee on ranged to-hit bonus, how I do love thee.  Your opening sneak
attack will almost surely hit, and Twitch's blaster response should be almost
(or completely) consumed by your energy shield.  By the time he gets his blade
out, you're off to a commanding lead.  He does hit easily and somewhat hard,
though, so be prepared to stop attacking and use a medpack if needed.  Aside
from that, just stand your ground and take him out with your blade.

*Bendak
Light path or dark, I don't think I've ever given this fight a pass.  It's
just too much fun, and so very satisfying.

After all the talk you've heard about this guy, you'd expect something pretty
damn scary.  And Bendak is dangerous, no question about it; but he is still
much easier than Marl, due to his unfortunate choice to stay planted in one
spot at range.  You should be carrying a bunch (6+) of concussion grenades
before starting this duel.  Also, activate a Sith energy shield charge before
speaking to Ajuur to kick things off - it's long enough lasting to get through
the introductions and into the fight.

Don't bother with the stealthing here.  It probably won't work, and this fight
will take place mostly via ranged attacks anyway.  Bendak will begin by
throwing a bunch of grenades in sequence.  Your response should be to wait
until each grenade is just out of his hand (i.e., until you know for sure it
is going to detonate where you are standing) and then sidestep enough to get
out of the blast radius.  As soon as you have dodged out of harm's way, launch
your own counterattack.

My preferred strategy is to throw a consussion grenade at him.  If he fails
his save, you've got time to perform three actions before he comes out of it.
If he makes his save, wait until he has thrown his next grenade (to sidestep
yet again - don't let yourself get caught flatfooted by his grenade because
you started throwing yours too soon!) or committed to using his blaster before
you try again.

Once you do have him stunned, you'll have to decide how best to make use of
the time.  Start by tending to yourself; if you are seriously wounded, use an
advanced medpack.  If your shield is down, activate another charge.  Once any
housekeeping of that nature is out of the way, it's time to decide what sort
of hurt to put on him.  If you've got any plasma grenades, I'd probably start
with those (but do try to save a few for later use on Taris).  Otherwise I'd
just use the best blaster you've got to launch sneak attacks.

In any event, you can see the winning recipe here.  Make SURE that you dodge
his grenades, and then apply a stun as soon as possible so that you can hit
him with grenades and sneak attacks in safety.  Repeat until dead.

*Body count: 1.5
RIP, Bendak.  I'm also adding 0.5 for Marl since we broke his spirit.

*Total body count: ~175.5

[D09] SITH MILITARY BASE

I came close to dropping the ball in this phase (more than once, too).  It had
been a while since my last playthrough, and I'd forgotten something: when at
range, the Sith soldiers throw grenades.  Clearly they realized that the only
way in which a hardcore Scoundrel could have made it so far was through heavy
grenade use, and decided to give me a taste of my own medicine.

I had thought about skipping the side room full of soldiers that's just off
the entrance, but I was worried about running into a small army if I had to
fall back in a hurry.  So I set two fallback mines, stealthed up, opened the
door, and threw in a poison grenade.

My first mistake was in not setting some proactive mines right outside their
door (not for fallback purposes, but to be used immediately to thin their
numbers).  But, I figured I could stand back and use energy shields to deflect
damage while I threw much cheaper frag grenades and fired my blaster.  My
error in strategy was shortly made clear to me.  Blam-blam!  The two grenades
detonated so close together, that the two red "30" damage numbers were hanging
in the air above my head simultaneously (I failed both saves).

Let's quickly run some VP numbers here.  I'm a level 7 Scoundrel - 42 base
vitality points.  I have a CON bonus of two, meaning another 14 bonus VPs.
Finally, I have the Toughness feat, resulting in 7 more.  42 + 14 + 7 = 63.
I just took 60 damage in less than a single real-time second.  SAD.  Oh so
very SAD.  Allow me to quote my own guide: "Playing hardcore will eventually
lead you to a situation in which you sustain a Surprising Amount of Damage
("SAD").  If you barely squeak by, you'll be immensely grateful that your
bonus VPs just prevented your game from coming to an abrupt conclusion."  If I
had skimped on CON at all, or passed on the Toughness feat in order to start
developing Two-Weapon Fighting sooner, I'd have ended my career as a stain on
the floor of the Sith military base.  Not even a long-lived stain, given
Malak's plan for Taris.

Feeling chastened (yet grateful), I retreated outside the base, healed up,
and then came back in and mopped up the soldiers.  Grenades, fallback mines,
and spreading out crowded rooms into isolated groups made short work of the
rest of the first floor.  Most of it, anyway.  I had intended to burn some
computer spikes on downgrading or disabling the big assault droid (I can't
remember what your options are here), but I mistakenly opened its door before
doing so.  This was also one of those moments where Bioware gave the stealth
crowd the short end of the stick, as the game engine was nice enough to dump
me out of stealth mode as soon as the mini-cutscene ended, leaving me with my
pants down in front of one big, bad droid.

I ran back toward the now locked entrance to the hallway, then circled back to
the elevator room.  I'm not sure what I was trying to accomplish.  Trying to
gain some distance before firing off an ion rifle shot, I suppose.  But I
somehow managed to confuse the droid, which was left standing at the end of
hallway.  Since it was out of sight around the bend, I quickly took care of
the two turrets and decided to deal with the droid later.  I hopped onto the
elevator to confront the Sith governor.

After surviving two stupid mistakes, I surely wouldn't make another here,
right?  I know how dangerous this guy is.  But, I did.  Because the hallway
before his door is short, I set only two mines.  This makes no sense - as far
as I know, there's no issue with setting mutliple mines right on top of each
other, so I could have set much more.  But I had an adhesive grenade in my
inventory, and figured that with that to hold him in place for a few rounds,
I could pile on the damage with plasma grenades.

He made all of his saves on the grenades - he was not very wounded at all when
my stickybomb wore off.  My two mines would help whittle him down further, but
not nearly enough.  At two points in this encounter, I threw critical,
"this works or it's my a**" concussion grenades.  By looking at the detailed
combat feedback after the fact, I could see that a roll of 5 or less was
needed for him to fail his save.  A 1 in 4 chance.  For two grenades to both
work, make that 1 in 16.

He failed both saves, and the stun periods allowed me to finish the job.  But
conceptually, this was a failure.  The entire essence of this character's life
on Taris is the idea that luck is for chumps - we stack the deck such that
things are not left to chance, and luck is not required.  But if that Sith
governor had made either of those two critical saves, which he was over 93%
likely to do, he'd have proceeded to Force-Stasis me and then chop me into
pieces with his double-bladed sword.

What a miserable mess I'd made of the Sith base.  But despite raging stupidity
at every turn, I was still alive - and I hadn't even used an inventory heal!
I did still have to deal with the droid on my way out, though, and this time I
was taking no chances.  I stealthed up, set eight frag mines in the hallway
outside the elevator, and then pulled it with a sonic grenade (I was pretty
sure an ion grenade would be negated by its energy shield that I'd forgotten
to disable).  The grenade and the mines took it down to a sliver of life - one
swipe of the sword finished the job.  A win expensive in materials, but I at
least ended my time in the base with a victory on my terms.

*Body count: ~16
*Total body count: ~191.5

[D10] DAVIK'S ESTATE
This should pretty much be a cakewalk for your grizzled Scoundrel.  There are
only two events worth noting.

Don't get anywhere near the torture droids.  They are packing flamethrowers
which redefine SADness.  Set some mines to be safe, but if you stay at max
range, use your energy shields, and plink away with an ion rifle, what could
have been a game-stopping encounter will breeze by without a problem.

The fight against Calo and Davik is pretty straightforward.  Activate your
Sith energy shield (yes, use the good one) prior to entering the hangar.  Even
though you have solo mode turned on, Canderous will appear out of nowhere by
your side.  Because the game forces him on me, I use him indirectly.  I don't
ever take control of him or reposition him, but I do swerve my own character
to the left in the hopes that Davik (on the right) will focus his attention on
Canderous.

Focus on Calo - just keep the grenades flowing, one after another.  In my game
I had two plasma grenades left, so I started with those.  He made his save
against the first and failed the second.  Then I switched to sonic grenades.
It only took one or two before the scripted cutscene kicked in.  Be aware that
the Sith orbital lasers will hit you with a ~17 damage pulse every so often
now, so if you are wounded after the cutscene use an advanced medpack right
away.  Then quickly loot Davik's corpse and hop onto the Ebon Hawk.

The Sith have one last chance to ruin your perfect hardcore game: the fighters
that they send to attack your ship.  I've found that as soon as the cutscene
in space concludes prior to the start of this mini-game, many of these enemy
ships start lined up right in your gun sights.  So pull the trigger like mad
just after the cutscene ends and you should take a bunch of them out.  Clean
up whatever is left, and you've made it!  My own character, Raven, breathed
a welcome sigh of relief at this point.  Despite her slipups at the Sith base,
she had lived.  Those jedi masters droning on and on about stopping Malak and
saving the Republic just didn't seem to get that she had already accomplished
something much more difficult!

*Body count: ~23
*Total body count: ~214.5

[E] FINAL THOUGHTS
The path of peace, serenity and knowledge now lies open to you.  And you only
had to kill a couple hundred people to get here!

I've summarized the philosophy of this character more than once already, so I
won't retread that same ground here.  Instead I'll make a few points about
transitioning to life as a jedi.

Stick with your armor and your prototype vibroblade for a while.  The average
damage on that blade is 0.5 higher than a standard saber, and it has a +3 to
hit bonus as well.  In addition, your jedi-ness is still too immature to
compensate for the loss of defense you'll suffer upon abandoning your armor.
So pick some starting force powers that are not restricted by armor (energy
resistance is a great defensive one), and stick to your Scoundrel roots until
you have developed a bit as a jedi.  You have to do something with all of
those leftover mines and grenades anyway, right?

I hope that you've enjoyed the guide.  Don't let the Scoundrel's "weakness"
dissuade you from playing one.  If you develop them like Soldiers (good
physical stats), but play them like Scoundrels, they'll survive Taris just
fine.  And they are far and away the best Guardians around, with their massive
defense bonus and punishing sneak attacks.