Friday, March 7, 2014

The Silent Stalker: Resourcefulness

 "The first thing an agent develops is an immunity to guilt" - Imperial Agent: SW:ToR

Agent Hawkens: Stalker (Art by Sushi)
THE STALKER: Featuring guest commentary from Agent Hawkens (OC for Johne of WSRP, and author of the Scowling Cassian)

Passing unseen in the shadows, the Stalker relies on secrets and cunning to survive. Whether stealing valuables or breaking into an enemy fortress, they are the masters of infiltration and subterfuge, calling upon every trick in the book to outsmart their opponents and always remain one step ahead. Whether working for a higher cause or to fatten their own pockets, the Stalker relies on their wits and tools to know precisely when, where and how to strike.

The Stalker represents the very essence of Resourcefulness. Equipped with a knowledge born from a rough life or drilled training, they carry around with them a variety of tech and other tools that would make any Engineer jealous, as well as the knowhow to use them. But the stalker takes this even one step further, with a specialized serum that is injected directly into their blood that gives them the necessary advantage they need to come out on top. No matter the situation, the Stalker knows how to make the best use of their own capabilities and how to use their opponent’s weaknesses against themselves.

Agent Hawkens: “A skilled stalker knows how to best utilize the skills and tools at their disposal. Sometimes a well-timed word can be just as effective as a well-placed knife.”

A stalker leaping in for the kill (Image from here)

Carbine has introduced a sleek and inventive design for their stealth based class with a hybridization of the up-close, leather and blades of the rogue like character with the fancy technology and sci-fi edge of a cyberpunk based operative. Since I picked up a feral cat druid in World of Warcraft, I have always enjoyed the stealthy, close-combat specialists, such as the Imperial Agent in SW:ToR, enjoying their versatility and resourcefulness in both group dynamics and in solo play. Seeing what WildStar has to offer with the Stalker has given me high hopes with this excellent class, both for gameplay and roleplaying reasons. But before we delve into roleplaying, let’s take a look at this malleable class!

First of all, if you haven’t seen the official stalker class video, check it out here! As well as this link to the official class page.

And a quick breakdown:

Resource-Suit Power
Innate Ability-Stealth
Armor Class-Medium
Tools-Nanites & other Devices

The Stalker is one of two Medium armor classes that runs on a resource called Suit Power which regenerates quickly and remains full outside of combat, diminishing by certain powerful abilities or even potentially gained through others. This resource also regenerates slowly in combat, making sure that clever utilization of your energy always leaves you prepared for the perfect moment to strike. Wielding a pair of finely honed claws, the clever Stalker can carve their way to victory with a swift and deadly assault from the shadows, using their precision and power for perfectly lethal strikes that leave their enemies six feet under.

Agent Hawkens: “Always watch your back when a stalker is on the prowl, for we know the shadows well and we do not miss. Flee if you value your life. When you see us, you are already dead.”

But you don’t have to rely on only your claws, the wily Stalker has an entire arsenal of tricks and traps up their sleeves such as a tether mine that chains your enemies in place or yanks them back as they pitifully try to escape your grasp. Or strike them down with nano-darts to prove that they cannot outdistance you.

All claws and tools aside, the Stalker has one final, VERY powerful weapon at their disposal: Themselves. With the infusion of the microscopic machines that inhabit the hyper advanced Eldan-made serum, every muscle, every cell has been added to their repertoire. From regenerative properties to the ability to cloak themselves in plain sight, the Stalker can use these nanites to bolster themselves with superhuman abilities or even bolster their own physical strength and agility for their martial arts style close-quarters combat.

Agent Hawkens: “With the Eldan’s Serum, ICI agents do not just wield weapons for the glory of the Dominion, we /are/ the weapon. The ICI wields us to bring down those who would stand in the way of the Emperor.”

Use these assets to carve a path of victory through your foes or defend your allies. Set yourself up as a deadly DPS, utilizing the shadows to strike your enemies from behind or bolster yourself to be impossible to hit as a TANK and tweak your nanites to best face your opponents head on. Don’t forget you can mix and match whichever skillset suits you best. Become a hardy close range fighter or a stealthy saboteur to always keep them guessing and play however you like.

Remember, you are the Stalker, your ingenuity is your greatest advantage. Most flee at the notion of an operative in the field. The rest are already dead…

Examples of some Stalker-like RP personalities: Ezio the Assassin from Assassin's Creed, Adan Jensen: The Agent from Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Garrett: The Thief from the Thief series

So now that we have an idea of what the stalker is in terms of gameplay, let’s explore what the stalker means in terms of roleplaying. To start, I’ll share a couple of stereotypical personalities that I have found through my years of reading and roleplaying, talk about some ideas for character building specific to the WildStar universe and share some food for thought, for some more unusual personality/background ideas.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to be 120% unique in order to have a good character. Stereotypes are there for a reason and sometimes that can be a good thing! What is truly unique is the way you play your character. There can be hundreds of people playing the cheeky rogue type but no one out there will play them quite like you will. So choose what is fun, take a little time to explore and round out your character and maybe even do a little research to add some more plausibility to the mix and you will be the most beloved of the battlefield in no time!

In my opinion, there are six stereotypes to the personality of the Stalker: The Thief, The Assassin-For-Hire, The Saboteur, The Secret Agent, The Hunter, and The Night Walker. Keep in mind that these are not exclusively all there is and can certainly be mixed and matched. They’re simply the most common stereotypes that I can think of.

The Thief- This character uses all the tools at their disposal to become exactly as their title suggests: a master thief. They specialize in breaking and entering into places they don’t belong, lifting valuables with skillful ease and supplementing these ill-gotten goods with the occasional pickpocketing or street-swindling. Sometimes this character is cheeky and cheerful, making friends easily and believes that they’re really only taking what others don’t need, while sometimes, this character might be dark and mysterious, keeping to themselves and hoarding their secrets like gold. While not all thieves may belong to a guild or collection, the idea of a thief’s honor still holds. They are not murderers and while their moralities might be a bit flexible, they will not stoop too low just for a simple sum of coin.

Examples-The Cheeky Thief, The Cat Burglar, Garrett from the Thief series

The Assassin-For-Hire- This stereotype is good at putting an end to problems, especially the sort that move and talk and...breathe. If it walks, they can change that - For the right price, of course. While few assassins-for-hire advertise openly, word certainly gets around in the right circles and the most skilled rarely find themselves hurting for work. While some may attempt to uphold some personal code of conduct, many will do whatever it takes, so long as there is a sizable paycheck at the end. One twist might be a version of the Thief, who solely works for others and does not bear any of the misgivings for ending life and limb while on the job. While these characters tend to be more somber and withdrawn, they may also be entirely different outside of their job. Not every assassin is dark and brooding. Some may even view their work with a religious or political zeal or as a necessary evil depending on who they work for.

Examples- Desmond from Assassins Creed, The Dark Brotherhood and Morag Tong from the Elder Scrolls series, and Jared Kincaid from Dresden Files

The Saboteur- Specializing in destroying the creations of others, the saboteur uses their tools and skills to bring down entities of mechanical and social use for both political and wartime efforts. Stopping communication lines, weakening enemy factories, or even undermining the digital highways, these agents of destruction vary in the severity of their acts though most attempt to refrain from any act that may be directly lethal. Rarely in a combative position, these characters carry their seemingly mundane acts out in complete secrecy and are quite familiar with the concept of the long game, rarely rushing for quick results. Some may commit their actions of their own accord while others might work for specific military, civilian or political groups to help further their goals as a whole. More often than not, the saboteur believes strongly in their work, rarely setting aside their intentions or morals for a simple paycheck, especially since their livelihood rarely depends on their success. So long as they keep it hidden, that is.

Examples-Trinity from The Matrix, The Hacker, V in V for Vendetta

The Secret Agent- Specializing in espionage, infiltration, seduction, impersonation, and assassination, these highly skilled operatives are groomed and trained into the perfect tools for whatever power they serve. These characters will go anywhere and perform any task, from social dancing to gain information, to stealthy clandestine field operations to steal a secret prototype at the behest of their employer, often with support from an inside handler or fellow agent. Often these characters are very loyal to those they serve, sometimes even to a fault. Though this might be changed as their story progresses. Possible ideas for character development include a variety of paths. The agent may find something that triggers their sense of morality or justice in opposition to the work they are ordered to perform or they might be burn-noticed or straight up abandoned by their employer, causing them to rethink their training and loyalties. Perhaps the agent finds that, by wearing so many masks and being forced to interact completely separated from society, they begin to lose a sense of their own identity and find trouble defining who they are. While an agent in the field may act like anything or anyone, their talents and the fact that they often operate on a level apart from everyone else tends to lend an arrogant or cocky nature to their personality. They may also delve into numerous vices to hide from their actions.

Examples- The Imperial Agent from SW:ToR, James Bond, J.C. Denton or Adam Jensen from the Deus Ex series

Agent Hawkens: “It is my honor to serve the glory of the Dominion as an agent of the ICI.”

The Hunter- Unlike the Assassin-For-Hire, this master killer isn’t shy about letting others know about it, and they may not even be for hire. The Hunter constantly strives to prove their dominance over bigger and badder game, from monsters to people. All their tools and tricks were built to give them that edge alongside their cunning to bring down anything this side of Nexus and beyond. Driven and dedicated, if this character isn’t researching and figuring out the best way to defeat their mark, then they’re researching the next in line or boasting about it to everyone who will listen for even one moment. While loud and proud in casual social situations, they tend to be very focused and competent in the field. They had to get those kills for their stories afterall!

Examples- Kraven the Hunter from Ultimate Spiderman, Predator, Van Pelt from Jumanji

The Night Walker- Similar to the Vigilante from the Spellslinger article, these characters seek to do right by their beliefs outside the jurisdiction of the law. The difference is, while the Vigilante might be loud and proud about their work, or at least do not waste too much time hiding it away from others, the Night Walker works their magic behind the scenes. While they may potentially be noticed, they will do their best to retain their secrecy or do their best to conceal their identity while on the job. They use all their tools and tricks to pull off feats that are meant to intimidate or drive off those they dislike or who oppose their views and ideals.

Examples- Batman, Blade, Robin Hood

These are just a couple ideas that could be used with the stalker class, but they are not the only ones! WildStar alone has an incredible pool of lore to pull from. Instead of something more generic, why not try something straight from the world of Wildstar?

  • -Perhaps your Cassian Stalker is an agent of the ICI, a deadly tool that is completely loyal to the core of the Dominion, even if that means rooting out enemies from within…
  • -Maybe your Aurin Stalker uses their skills for scouting, watching the position of enemy movements or helping guide their own to resources in these alien lands.
  • -Your Draken Stalker lives for the thrill of the Hunt. All their equipment is finely tuned to help make them into the most dangerous predator this side of Nexus. Just check out their trophy collection!
  • -Your Exile Stalker is cheerful and lovable person who just has the unfortunate tendency towards kleptomania and often finds themselves with miraculous five-finger discounts. It’s not their fault, they swear!
  • -Perhaps your Mechari Stalker is a rogue Assassin-for-Hire, picked by only the richest and most corrupt of the Dominion society and used to help shift the political balance where it serves the employer the most.
  • -Maybe your Mordesh Stalker is a member of the Black Hoods, specializing in the creation and application of various poisons and toxins. Just try to be far away when it’s time for them to test their latest prototype…

And how about some additional food for thought that breaks the mold a bit?

  • -What if your character was subject to the nanite serum, but did not actually wish for it? If they escaped, would they learn how to use their newfound strengths, or would they try their best to pretend it never happened?
  • -Your character’s abilities aren’t from a serum at all. While they are happy using technology to help them, they refuse to let any of that stuff into their body, lest it control them like they control it.
  • -What would happen if your Stalker’s nanites suddenly malfunctioned, turning on and off at random, or even if they were somehow blocked or disabled altogether?

Agent Hawkens: “A stalker’s serum is a blessed weapon we use to mold us into the perfect tools for the Dominion. To run from this duty, or to wield it in selfish gain is an unforgivable trangression.”

The Stalker is as versatile and moldable as they are powerful, lending a wide variety of personality types and career paths to consider when building your very own character. However, as with all classes, remember that your class choice does not have to strictly influence every single part of your character. If you just plain enjoy the Stalker, but you rather focus on your character’s path, or even something else entirely, that’s okay!

Otherwise get out there, have fun and remember: By the time they see you, it will already be too late...


  1. -What would happen if your Stalker’s nanites suddenly malfunctioned, turning on and off at random, or even if they were somehow blocked or disabled altogether?

    So what if you were to be exposed to a powerful EMP?
    Nanobots are in your bloodsteam, so they are in your brain as well. Memory loss? Black out?

    1. Oooo those are some excellent questions! I imagine the results would be unpleasant at best.