Scoundrelous Moves: The Jump Skill  

Posted by Michael Donaldson

WotC's Complete Scoundrel focused heavily on the skills a scoundrel uses to get what he wants, and by and large it was a Complete Warrior for skill monkeys. Far too often, however, players forget that even without the variety of skill tricks introduced in the book, skills are an incredibly useful tool in combat as long as you use a little ingenuity in their application.

(Note: Pathfinder did us the favor of jamming together several 3.x skills into a smaller list. The relative skill for you here is "Acrobatics", but today we'll primarily be focusing on the jumping aspect of that skill.)

Jumping has obvious benefits, such as not falling into a pool of lava or clearing that horrific thousand-foot drop into a pit of advanced dire ropers. This requires no imagination, and is not the sort of benefit you need to imagine when picking your skills. That sort of obstacle is easily cleared by anyone in the group having the required skill, a piton, and a rope.

Imagine the following scenario, however. It's still an easy one, but just walk with me and we'll get where we're going.

Imagine for a second that all that green muck is rough terrain. Your friend is at -6 HP and the enemy is nearly dead, but unless you can take him out he's all set up to coup de grace your ally. Now it doesn't take much of an imagination to create a solution here, but it bears mentioning that if you try to move through the muck to your friend you can reach him with clever use of diagonals and end up right at 30 feet of movement used. You could heal him, but he would still be the enemy's primary target.

You could, on the other hand, take a quick step back and make a simple DC 20 jump check and completely clear all of the difficult terrain, landing next to your foe with a standard action to spare. As the rules state that horizontal movement via a jump still counts as regular movement, you can't jump further than your movement speed in any one round, but you can avoid all of the hassles that walking creatures are faced with. If this isn't starting to form new ideas in your head, let me help.

High-Flying Acrobatics

Did you know that you can tumble while jumping? Yes sir! You could tumble while leaping between two boats with an angry Kraken in the middle threatening all those scary squares in between. Similarly, you could tumble in the air from the bank of a river to land in the center of a group of enemies without being subject to the crippling movement and difficulty penalties that come with tumbling through difficult terrain.

The vertical distance traveled while horizontally jumping does not count towards your total. If you can muster up large jump check totals, you can literally jump so high above your enemy that you effectively move through their square without provoking. A check result of 40 is sufficient to totally clear the square above an opponent, much to their certain dismay.

Combat Jumping for Maximum Frustration

CharOp Math Time!: 7th Level Character - 10 ranks + 5 Strength + 9 Item. With minimal effort (some boots of striding and springing) you have an average result of 34. Combined with a 1st level potion (Jump) you've now got an average result of 44.

A spring attacker that can muster jump checks like this should keep in mind that for every 10 feet your speed is above 30, you get a +4 to jump checks. A spring attacking barbarian with boots of striding and springing would more likely have an average jump check of around 50 at that level. In an urban environment, he could literally leap off of a building, hit someone with a power attack, and then SPRING back up onto another building!

Pathfinder monks, who receive a class bonus to jump checks, can spend ki points to gain a +20 to jump, and speed increases, could be quite nightmarish. Imagine for a second a battle over a river where a monk could hit you and then leap over the river, forcing you to cross over the bridge or wade through the water over and over until you gave up.

The Ballsy Jump

Having a high jump check opens up a few more courageous maneuvers, primarily aimed at casters who think they're the only ones who can fly. I recall a situation where a psion was suspended over a rushing rapid, and I thoughtlessly jumped 25 feet over the raging waters to grapple her, suspending both of us above the waters and subsequently making her absurdly easy prey.

Some feats to make jumping more fun:
  • Battle Jump - Think "Dragoon" from the FF series, and land for double damage with a leap from above.
  • Vault - If you're into actually wielding a lance or spear for the Dragoon flavor, this feat will make jumping over even huge enemies a much easier task.
  • Leap Attack - This is actually one of the foundations of the ubercharger. Since Battle Jump makes the maneuver a charge, combining these two feats can actually create absolutely bone-shattering damage totals.

Many other uses of jump are up to the situation and the DM. Your DM might let you, in a narrow alleyway, jump from wall to wall for some sweet ninja climbing. Or perhaps you could swing from a chandelier. Tell me rockers, got any good jumping stories?

This entry was posted on March 8, 2010 at Monday, March 08, 2010 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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