All along the crooked way - An Assassin's Handbook

674 posts / 0 new
Last post
It's been difficult for me to update the handbook due to my new job (commuting time went up a lot, before I was working from an home office).
Most likely I'll do a revamp in August when I'll be on holiday. Honestly I think I should simply rewrite it because my perspective on the class has changed a lot since one year ago and I'll probably do that.

I just started a thread about the Baseline Striker here on the CharOp board, which will help me in setting targets for assassin builds and re-evaluate all options. This was my first Handbook and looking at it in hindsight I see that it could have been done better.

If somebody has suggestions about the new handbook (Ok, I'll do it) please try to post here in the next couple of weeks.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/23.jpg)

This handbook is severly out of date. When do you plan on adding options from PHB3 onwards? Including, but not limited to, racial stat upgrades and ki foci.

Or do you simply not have the time to update it? I would just like to see this handbook updated now that the Assassin can perform decently at its job, power issues aside.



I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that the answer to your question lies 1 post above yours.



For DR400 and the Class Act you're right. New racial bonuses would need more time as evaluating races (especiall feat-wise vs. racial bonuses) takes more time. 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/23.jpg)

It's been difficult for me to update the handbook due to my new job (commuting time went up a lot, before I was working from an home office).
Most likely I'll do a revamp in August when I'll be on holiday. Honestly I think I should simply rewrite it because my perspective on the class has changed a lot since one year ago and I'll probably do that.

I just started a thread about the Baseline Striker here on the CharOp board, which will help me in setting targets for assassin builds and re-evaluate all options. This was my first Handbook and looking at it in hindsight I see that it could have been done better.

If somebody has suggestions about the new handbook (Ok, I'll do it) please try to post here in the next couple of weeks.



Looking forward to the new handbook already.

A new handbook will let you come at things at a different angle and see if what you wrote about something a year ago still holds true today.
I can't wait to see the new handbook.

Looking at your build stub:

Would there be significant benefit from changing it to a double scimitar build? That is, switch out the axe feats for DS prof and the new feat that gives a damage bonus to all shadow attacks? I know to take full advantage you need some strength for feat requirements, but there'd be a reasonable chance of the following AP round:

Normal attack, crit. Crit triggers MBA and no loss of shrouds, MBA crits, no loss of shrouds. AP attack, crit, same as above. Next turn, full shrouds, still decent crit chance.

Makes the shroud stacking feats a lot more appealing, too, so you can make that your fist round of combat.

Don't remember, does the 62% crit chance require half elf (rev) using twin strike?



I like it, though. And I like that it most of the required options are cool options, not just "+1 to X" feats.

I finally feel like I can make the assassin I've been wanting to make without cringing or houseruling. :P
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
The 62% comes from 6 rolls with Shadow Fire (three rolls twice for OoE). Twin Strike with OoE would give you a lower chance to crit as you only roll 4 times.
I thought about double scimitar, but then you would need Two Weapon Fighting and Two-Weapon Opening  I guess as Rending is only for axes and this build is already using a whole lot of feats (I still need some room for defensive feats and some revenant goodness, like Ghostly Vitality). What exactly would you suggest to do? I see some potential as it frees the weapon enhancement.

By the way the build is a little cheesy because I just wanted to have a completely sure way to trigger Dark Reaping the first time. In a real case you will often not need it: you have a prep round and you can bet somebody will go bloodied in the first round.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/23.jpg)

The 62% comes from 6 rolls with Shadow Fire (three rolls twice for OoE). Twin Strike with OoE would give you a lower chance to crit as you only roll 4 times.
I thought about double scimitar, but then you would need Two Weapon Fighting and Two-Weapon Opening  I guess as Rending is only for axes and this build is already using a whole lot of feats (I still need some room for defensive feats and some revenant goodness, like Ghostly Vitality). What exactly would you suggest to do? I see some potential as it frees the weapon enhancement.

By the way the build is a little cheesy because I just wanted to have a completely sure way to trigger Dark Reaping the first time. In a real case you will often not need it: you have a prep round and you can bet somebody will go bloodied in the first round.



Well, for the character I'm building close to these lines, I'm using a Shadar-kai.

Other than that, the feats would stay about the same, except that I'd grab prof. double scimitar instead of thin the herd, ki focus expertise and shadow resevoir instead of axe expertise and focus. thought about venom hand and spiderkissed, but it precludes other weapon properties and it's another feat. (obviously the damage bonus one would replace focus)

Instead of reaping renewal, it'd be two weapon fighting, then of course later on two weapon opening. I'd like to have a reason to put enough points into strength to qualify for heavy blade opportunity instead of using melee training, but I'm not playing a goliath. :P

Then again, it only takes 3 points and one stat increase...hrm....

That's about where I'm at so far. I still haven't decided what the best PP is. The most obvious choice is Covenent Agent, of course. For some reason, I don't like Soul Thief. I don't know, just eh.

Was thinking about taking assassin's escape as well. At some point...:P ugh...too many feats to take...
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
Here a striker's build for an assassin (whooooaaa). It's based on an encounter nova going:

- immortal curse (the nova will most likely start in the second round)
- 4 shrouds via Killer's insight and a couple of free shrouds from Soul Thief's shards, as you'll normally start an encounter with at least 2 shards
- minor for Oath of Enmity
- AP: Flurry of Talons (6 rolls with 18-20 crit chance, one double re-roll eventually via Elven Accuracy). We'll most likely crit.
- Extra action: recover Flurry of Talons via Epic Resurgence and use it immediately (once again we'll most likely crit)
- Standard: Shadow fire (and again we'll most likely crit)

If all goes well and we crit 3 times (not unlikely) we'll dish out something more than 650 points of damage (depending on how many shards we still have). This should wipe out any 30th level elite brute. As we have two sources of OoE (two feats) we may also decide to go against two different targets during the course of the encounter.
Well of Shades is there for minion clearing and some utility effect (invisibility mainly).

The rest of the build is quite defensive (Bleak Disciple, defensive utilities and feats).

Dailies: Twilight assassin for extra melee attacks against a solo with a minor action (we enjoy double rolling from OoE here as well as the assassins attack is melee), Wall of Death for control and Sundered Shadow to use our encounter combo from a distance against some difficult enemies (though we'll have to get in melee to use it first).

Please comment!!!!

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Finally Striking, level 30
Revenant, Assassin, Soul Thief, Punisher of the Gods
Guild Training Option: Bleak Disciple
Choose your Race in Life: Elf
Theme: Student of Evard
 
FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 12, CON 24, DEX 26, INT 12, WIS 16, CHA 13
 
STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 10, CON 14, DEX 16, INT 10, WIS 14, CHA 11
 
 
AC: 43 Fort: 43 Ref: 43 Will: 42
HP: 165 Surges: 13 Surge Value: 41
 
TRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +28, Bluff +21, Endurance +29, Perception +23, Religion +21, Stealth +28, Thievery +28
 
UNTRAINED SKILLS
Arcana +16, Athletics +16, Diplomacy +16, Dungeoneering +18, Heal +18, History +16, Insight +18, Intimidate +18, Nature +18, Streetwise +16
 
POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Revenant Utility: Dark Reaping
Assassin Feature: Assassin's Shroud
Assassin Feature: Shade Form
Assassin Feature: Shadow Step
Elf Racial Power: Elven Accuracy
Avenger Feature: Oath of Enmity
Punisher of the Gods Feature: Immortal Curse
Assassin Attack 1: Shadow Storm
Assassin Attack 1: Executioner's Noose
Endurance Utility 2: Endure Pain
Avenger Utility 2: Holy Blessing
Assassin Attack 5: Twilight Assassin
Assassin Utility 10: Slayer's Endurance
Soul Thief Attack 11: Soul Shadow
Soul Thief Utility 12: Stalking Phantom
Assassin Attack 13: Flurry of Talons
Assassin Attack 13: Well of Shades
Assassin Attack 15: Sundered Shadow
Assassin Utility 16: Liquid Shadow
Assassin Attack 17: Shadow Fire
Soul Thief Attack 20: Final Ending
Assassin Utility 22: Soul of Death
Assassin Attack 25: Wall of Death
Punisher of the Gods Utility 26: Repel Legions
 
FEATS
Level 1: Killer's Insight
Level 2: Past Soul
Level 4: Ki Focus Expertise
Level 6: Grave Dust Assassin
Level 8: Lethal Shroud
Level 10: Cruel Shroud
Level 11: Disciple of Divine Wrath
Level 12: Acolyte Power
Level 14: Superior Will
Level 16: Devastating Shroud
Level 18: Hero of Faith
Level 20: Superior Reflexes
Level 21: Ghostly Vitality
Level 22: Epic Resurgence
Level 24: Superior Fortitude
Level 26: Superior Initiative
Level 28: Fierce Vitality
Level 30: Toughness
 
ITEMS
Rapier x1
Death Shroud Mighty ki focus +6 x1
Flowform Drake Leather Armor +6 x1
Cloak of Translocation +6 x1
Belt of Sonnlinor Righteousness (epic tier)
Circlet of Indomitability (epic tier) x1
Bracers of Assassination
Dice of Auspicious Fortune

====== End ======

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/23.jpg)

Just a quick question, I'm building a Human Assassin, what would be the best third at-will? Thanks
Just a quick question, I'm building a Human Assassin, what would be the best third at-will? Thanks



I would take Inescapable Blade. It may be helpful from time to time if you want to avoid moving adjacent to the target but still make a weapon attack.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/23.jpg)

Do the properties of superior ki focuses apply to weapon attacks? Superior Implement training doesn't specify Implement keyword attacks only. Neither does the entry for the Accurate ki focus item - in fact it says "You gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls made with an accurate implement." The implements section for the assassin class entry doesn't specifically allow or disallow it either.
Do the properties of superior ki focuses apply to weapon attacks? Superior Implement training doesn't specify Implement keyword attacks only. Neither does the entry for the Accurate ki focus item - in fact it says "You gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls made with an accurate implement." The implements section for the assassin class entry doesn't specifically allow or disallow it either.


The superior implement rules in PHB3 (page 195) restrict the properties of all superior implements to implement attacks only:

"They affect only implement powers, even if an implement can be used to make weapon attacks."

"My flying carpet is full of elves."

Ah, right. I have the PHB3, but typically I'm too lazy to go to the bookcase and hunt down rules by hand and I just search the compendium.
I think they do apply to weapon attacks as well as looking as you are using the ki focus to "empower" the weapon. The general rule about ki focuses says that you either apply the weapon properties or the ki focuses properties even to weapon attacks. So I guess the same extends to superior ki focuses which are just a subclass of ki focuses.

I could have gone for a weapon too but this way we can use Flurry of Talons with a ki focus and finally kill some stuff with a teacup.

By the way, the main reason I went for Soul Thief is the fact that it has more shrouding power and we can easily build 4 shrouds in the first round without using too many feats (this build is feat starved).
Alternatively we could think about a Traveler's Harlequin/Perfect Slayer (a fantastic infiltrator assassin). Traveler's Harlequin gives us an extra re-roll on an action point, a good utility and the choice of our 20th level daily (Knockout, Mind Blade?) plus an extra multiclassing feat and multiclass versatility. Perfect Slayer saves some feats like Cruel Shroud right from the start and some other stuff later. On top of that it gives us a fantastic 26th level utility and a great capstone. A 30th level build just looks awesome (I'm working on it), but before you put your bloody hands on the capstone it is not so great.
Punisher of the Gods gives us a better nova thanks to immortal curse and the extra standard action ans straight from level 21. Perfect Slayer would be comparable with a Rending Axe build or a Two Weapon Opening build but only at 30th level as before we would lose shrouds if we don't crit.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/23.jpg)

Do the properties of superior ki focuses apply to weapon attacks? Superior Implement training doesn't specify Implement keyword attacks only. Neither does the entry for the Accurate ki focus item - in fact it says "You gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls made with an accurate implement." The implements section for the assassin class entry doesn't specifically allow or disallow it either.


The superior implement rules in PHB3 (page 195) restrict the properties of all superior implements to implement attacks only:

"They affect only implement powers, even if an implement can be used to make weapon attacks."



I didn't consider that. Then we probably need to use a feat to get an high-crit weapon like a fullblade for weapon attacks. Thanks for pointing it out.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/23.jpg)

It may be relevant to note that superior ki focuses work for assassin|warlocks with PBM. Basic playstyle would be to use the pact blade at-will when stacking up shrouds, and then throw out a decent assassin power.

Works better for executioners, but assassin and warlock have decent synergy, in spite of having different attack stats.
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
Fey Warlocks are Cha/Dex while Executioners are Dex/Cha.

Start with the hybrid warlock but pick up Pact Blade Manifestation. This way you get warlock's curse too.

Opt to take shrouds instead of finesse. That way you can take the nice new shroud feats - in particular Lethal shroud and Cruel shroud, which are both well ahead of the curve in power and IMO bring shrouds ahead of finesse a little. Moreover, unlike a hybrid osassin, you can use these shrouds with an MBA (such as your pact blade at-will) and you can stack up to 4.

All in all you can use your pact blade attack, which is highly accurate (Superior implement training, Deft blade, Nimble Blade, Cruel Shroud) and get to also apply your curse and shrouds fully every round with no restrictions.

It's probably better to shy away from ossassin or warlock encounter powers with such a build, as they won't trigger curse damage and don't have both the implement and weapon keywords so will miss out on some of the feat benefits. Warlock encounter powers have a similar restriction. Thus, Assassin's Strike might be the best option, as it just rides off of your MBA. Some dailies might be worth taking in spite of this restriction - or you could just take poisons instead and apply them with your super-accurate, double-striker mechanic MBA.

It may be a little boring though. And with all the nice light blade/warlock feats to make use of, you might be a little feat starved.
Stacking curse and shroud damage on the same attack clearly violates the hybrid RAI so I'd probably houserule that a player couldn't do both (and it's almost a certaintly that this will be errat'd some time soon) but that's still an interesting method of obtaining more versatile and more powerful shrouds for a hybrid, which would still be a plus for a hybrid warlock assassin.  It's a tempting choice, although I do also rather like quite a few of the assassin encounter powers (I'd probably want to take the feat to train out a poison for a 'proper' assassin power too).

EDIT: Hmm, I'm not sure how legal this would be.  The hybrid rules say that you cannot mix the hybrid executioner with any other type of assassin and that may have been intended to prevent this kind of feature swapping (since both options appear in the same article).  It's probably one to clear with your DM first.

As an aside, they really should just give the hybrids the option to treat the basic attack as a class power of ONE of their classes for the purposes of striker damage, marking etc when making a basic attack as a general update of the hybrid rules.  The imbalance is frustrating.
Stacking curse and shroud damage on the same attack clearly violates the hybrid RAI so I'd probably houserule that a player couldn't do both (and it's almost a certaintly that this will be errat'd some time soon) but that's still an interesting method of obtaining more versatile and more powerful shrouds for a hybrid, which would still be a plus for a hybrid warlock assassin.  It's a tempting choice, although I do also rather like quite a few of the assassin encounter powers (I'd probably want to take the feat to train out a poison for a 'proper' assassin power too).

EDIT: Hmm, I'm not sure how legal this would be.  The hybrid rules say that you cannot mix the hybrid executioner with any other type of assassin and that may have been intended to prevent this kind of feature swapping (since both options appear in the same article).  It's probably one to clear with your DM first.

As an aside, they really should just give the hybrids the option to treat the basic attack as a class power of ONE of their classes for the purposes of striker damage, marking etc when making a basic attack as a general update of the hybrid rules.  The imbalance is frustrating.


I agree that it probably violates RAI, but it's legit RAW, IMO. Plus, if you're leery about making a hybrid shroud executioner, you can stick with attack finesse and it will still work fine.
The hybrid executioner doesn't seem to have an easy fix, anyway. Executioners make a fair few MBAs - their at-wills are good but quite situational, so they do tend to rely upon those MBAs. For the Red Scales Executioners, one AW requires a garotte and being hidden, one could be slightly better than an MBA in some situations, but only for poison attacks (and it limits your weapon choice substantially as well as restricting you from benefiting from MBA boosting feats such as deft blade, thus rendering it of questionable utility as a spammable AW) and the other doesn't add dex mod damage. They're great, but not particularly spammable. Changing hybrid finesse so that it didn't apply to MBAs wouldn't completely gut hybrid executioner but I think it would be a bit harsh. Not much less harsh than if the hybrid Slayer (which admittedly doesn't exist yet) was denied their dex bonus to MBAs!

There are many ways of getting class at-will powers that are MBAs. E.g. there are 2 for the warlock. Even without Pact Blade Manifestation, a hybrid warlock could take Eldritch Strike and do something quite similar - it just wouldn't have the implement keyword so couldn't also benefit from using a superior rod/wand/ki focus or whatever. Power of skill for any divine class (such as Avenger) is another example - it wouldn't be too hard to make an effective hybrid executioner|avenger with Overwhelming strike and Power of Skill. The difficulty lies with essentials strikers, which, to varying extents, rely on MBAs. I'm guessing this is why there's no essentials Slayer yet.

It's kinda hard to see what Wizards can do re: hybrid essentials strikers. Perhaps they could list all the hybrid striker mechanics and make a general rule that states that they cannot be used on the same attack. Incidentally, this would allow them to change the classic hybrid class striker mechanics to make them work with MBAs - it's a bit of a pain that they currently don't.
Yeah but there is a simple fix that would fix hybrid classes across the board so that they all have the option to nominate basic attacks that are not already class powers to be treated as a class power for the purpose of 'X' class feature.  It's simple in that it's obvious.  It's complicated in that it might be necessary to add a line to every class description.  They could do it as part of the overall class updates but they can't just do a feat patch like they have with the assassin because, as you say, the essentials classes really need those basic attacks.
Hmm. If an assassin with Assassin's Cloak casts eyebite, what happens? Do they get to make a stealth check just against the enemy they hit with eyebite?
This is a good question. The same happens with Consign to Shadow. Is the assassin insubstantial for what regards the other creatures for any purpose (say, Dread of Sakkors)? AFAIK the rules are silent on cases like these.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/23.jpg)

Have assassins gotten any better since the guide was released?
Thanks for the reply, now I have another question.

It might be very simple, but I can't seem to figure it out. If you take Covenant Agent, you can do radiant and necrotic damage with a lot of attacks, but what if your target has, say, resist 10 necrotic AND vulnerable 10 radiant? What happens?

They take 10 extra damage. To resist damage you must resist all the types that are delt but to suffer from vulnerability you only need to take the type of damage that you vulnerable to, regardless of other types of damage that occur at the same time.

Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Have assassins gotten any better since the guide was released?



The last Black Flame Zealot article helped a lot. I started a new handbook called Children of a Faceless God and will slowly update it. Anyway some interesting archetypes are already in so you could give them a look and maybe give me some feedback.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/23.jpg)

Someone please update this or start another handbook.
Yeah, I'm very keen to see Erleni's new guide when he posts it up. Keep at it Erleni! :P
It hasnt been touched since the 1st day it was created 3 months ago.   I felt teased when it was made. =(
Assassin's striker capabilities seem to depend on certain reading. I can't find the original discussion of this topic, so would somebody (erachima in best case, since his way to read was the foundation for the disagreement, if im informed correctly) please explain in short, what's the deal?

My vague speculation would be that it has to do with Assassin's Shroud's reading that doesn't clearly specify the damage, a shroud deals, as extra damage and that would make either every single shroud a separate damage instance (up to four additional instances...don't think someone with a conscience should read it this way ;)) or the sum of all shrouds at least one additional damage instance, that's a roll on top.

Please enlighten me.  
Erachima has a handbook called "Look Around Very Carefully", it's in the complete list thread under Assassin Handbooks, right next to this one in fact.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Thanks a lot.
Worth noting that shadowblade uses the ki focus's stats, and the capstone feature is super nice for drow or against them
Sign In to post comments