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Skill Guide for Darkest Dungeon's Highwayman

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Darkest Dungeon is a pretty tough game the first time you jump into it. Characters will die, you'll struggle to keep your party sane, and it can be overwhelming to choose who to take on your next quest.

These guides are designed to help with that. Each one focuses on a character class, discusses each of their skills, and gives you a general build or two to try out.

Note these aren't intended to be “perfect” guides but more of a roadmap for the newer player who wants some help getting their head around things. Please leave a comment if you feel anything has been left out so that we can all benefit from it.

It's also worth noting that Darkest Dungeon has undergone repeated alterations and tweaks to class skills as it has been developed. Therefore, whilst these guides will strive to be as accurate as possible, by the time you are reading them, all of the information may not be 100% correct. Always double check your game in case skill properties have been altered in some way.



The Highwayman is the other class that you begin the game with. Like the Crusader, the Highwayman is a fairly simple class to get your head around. Physically, he lacks the same constitution as the Crusader, with significantly lower HP and lower damage output, but comes with a much better dodge, speed and move rating, and the ability to attack at longer ranges.

Strategically, the Highwayman's role is that of damage dealer and problem solver. Whilst the Highwayman's damage is never going to eclipse that of your front-line units, his ability to attack from pretty much any range with his gun enables him to get the jump on those annoying enemies that hide in the back ranks, whilst your melee fighters deal with those in the front.

Skills Available for the Highwayman

Wicked Slice

Position: 1st, 2nd or 3rd rank
Target: 1st or 2nd rank.

This is the standard attack skill that pretty much every class in the game gets. Wicked Slice's most interesting feature is that it can be used from the 3rd rank, meaning your front ranks can be reserved for more close range oriented fighters. Also, the skill boasts quite a high base critical hit rating (5%) , it's nothing to go crazy over, but is worth noting and increases as the skill levels up.

Pistol Shot

Position: 2nd, 3rd, or 4th rank
Target: 2nd, 3rd or 4th rank

The primary skill for any Highwayman character, Pistol Shot is what gives the Highwayman a lot of his strength. For starters, it only possesses a minor damage modifier (-20%) meaning shots will do fairly good damage. In addition, the skill receives a +25% buff if hitting a marked target, negating the damage modifier and then some, giving the Highwayman incentive to be on “marking” teams to utilize this synergy since he has no innate way to mark enemies.

This is going to be the Highwayman's primary method of attack. Use it to pick off weaker straggles at the back of enemy ranks, who, typically, have much lower HP.

Point Blank Shot

Position: 1st rank
Target: 1st rank

An interesting but rather narrow skill, Point Blank Shot hits for tremendous damage (+50%) and knocks the target back, whilst also moving the Highwayman back to the second rank. Unfortunately, the skill's strict position requirements limit its effectiveness.

It's not a totally worthless skill mind, and, provided you take Duelist's Advance, there's definitely room for a moving Highwayman as you push forward using the advance before unleashing Point Blank Shot.

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Open Vein

Position: 1st, 2nd or 3rd rank
Target: 1st or 2nd rank

As with Wicked Slice, Open Vein is a melee skill that has the benefit of being usable in the 3rd rank, combining well with the Highwayman's more long range skills.

The most important element about Open Vein however, is that it's a bleed skill. Damage over time effects are at a premium in Darkest Dungeon, bleed and blight effects stack, meaning the skills are never useless and ensure that tougher enemies go down quicker in a drawn out fight. Most importantly, they get around the protection stat of the enemy, preventing them from simply absorbing the damage.

Open Vein is everything you could want out of a bleed skill. It's incredibly accurate (200 ACC) and only comes with a minor, -15% damage modifier, meaning, a lot of the time, it's simply one of the Highwayman's most damaging moves, regardless of the bleed effect.

As with most bleed and blight skills, make sure to upgrade them as soon as possible. Most of them improve the amount of damage over time as they are upgraded.

Tracking Shot

Position: Any
Target: 2nd, 3rd or 4th rank

A minor attack that grants the Highwayman a range of buffs, improving his damage, accuracy and critical hit rate.

On the whole this kind of attack is too situational to regularly make use of. Against bosses, Tracking Shot provides a useful buff that will last but against regular enemies you want to be taking them down so quickly that the buffs simply don't outweigh the cost of a whole turn when the Highwayman could have been using Pistol Shot or Open Vein.

Duelist's Advance

Position: 2nd, 3rd or 4th rank
Target: Any

Like with the Crusader's Holy Lance, Duelist's Advance allows the Highwayman to move forward whilst still attacking. What's more, the skill enables the Highwayman to attack any unit, bolstering his already impressive ability to attack pretty much any unit on the enemy side.

The other obvious trick with Duelist's Advance is to use it in conjunction with Point Blank Shot, alternating between the two skills as the Highwayman “dances” between the 1st and 2nd ranks each turn.

Grapeshot Blast

Position: 2nd or 3rd rank
Target: 1st 2nd and 3rd rank

The Highwayman's multi-hit ability is perfect for clearing away chaff. The skill will never do tremendous damage with a -60% damage modifier and a penalty to its critical hit rate. Instead, the skill should be used later in a fight when multiple targets are weakened and nearly dead. It can push units into lethal bleed or blight damage, and soften up multiple units for a close combat fighter's killing blow.

Sample Builds

Here are two potential builds for the Highwayman:

“Mark Your Target”

  • Pistol Shot
  • Open Vein
  • Duelist's Advance
  • Grapeshot Blast

This build is primarily for marking teams that can take advantage of the Pistol Shot's damage buff to marked targets. Have your Arbalest, Occultist or Bounty Hunter mark the target, and then let loose with the Pistol Shot.

Open Vein deals with units with protection or for those turns where no enemy has been marked yet, whilst Grapeshot Blast deals with mopping up weaker units. Duelist's Advance is primarily there to put the Highwayman back into position if he's pushed back, or to swap position with a more vulnerable party member who has been pulled forward. The Highwayman has the advantage of being equally effective in the second and third ranks that it typically doesn't matter which he's in.

“Run & Gun”

  • Point Blank Shot
  • Duelist's Advance
  • Open Vein
  • Grapeshot Blast

This is an example of how changing one skill can change the synergies of an entire character. Here, we've swapped the Pistol Shot for the situational (yet powerful) Point Blank Shot. The advantage being that we no longer have to rely on marking skills and can instead use the synergy between Duelist's Advance and Point Blank Shot to keep using the latter skill every other turn.

Despite how powerful it is, remember that Point Blank Shot can only be used on the front rank enemy, you'll likely want a Bounty Hunter or Occultist on your team to keep pulling forward a new enemy to hit with the skill.

Overall, the Highwayman makes a great “supporting attacker” for close combat members of your party. He typically won't attack for as much damage but makes up for this by being able to pick his targets more carefully and attack from a variety of ranges.

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