STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC "Hardcore" Solo Scoundrel Guide by Macready January 15, 2012 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ FORMATTING NOTE This guide is best viewed in a text editor, or using a fixed-width font such as Courier New. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ REVISION HISTORY 01/15/2012 - First release. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ [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. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ [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. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ [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. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ [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.