Class Acts: Assassin: Assassin's Shroud (Hybrid) has no attack restrictions, feat for Shadow Walk.

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The assassin is the first Dragon Magazine-exclusive class, as well as the first class of the tenuously-flavored shadow power source. An assassin is a Dexterity-based melee striker/controller who utilizes mobility, stealth, cover, and concealment to position herself exactly where she wishes to be. As she engages an opponent of her choice using an assortment of powers that manipulate shadows and induce debilitating terror, she scrutinizes it with a killer's eye, building up her Assassin's Shrouds like a lethal Aufbau before adroitly lashing out with a masterstroke, felling the foe. She can be either a Dexterity/Constitution-reliant Bleak Disciple who invigorates herself with temporary hit points, that she may fight on and see the battle through to its end, or a Dexterity/Charisma-focused Night Stalker who reinforces her striker role by gaining a bonus to damage rolls against isolated enemies. Both of these builds offer their own forms of control, though there are no coherent themes for either. An assassin is a master of weaponry to boot: thanks to her proficiency with ki foci, she can switch between weapons as the battle demands, making her a versatile combatant.

Alas, all of the above had panned out rather dismally. The assassin is classified under the same category that the avenger and the warlock belong to, the category that is "Somewhat Ineffective Classes." (They can take pride in the fact that they are above the pit that is "Miserably Ineffective Classes," where the battlemind lays, but that is a tale for another thread.) The following factors are what had undermined the class:

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• Frailty. The assassin is arbitrarily burdened by invoker/psion/wizard-level hit points. Five other strikers (monk, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, warlock) have 12 + Constitution modifier hit points at 1st level and 5 additional hit points at every level thereafter, and two (avenger, barbarian) are blessed with 14/15 + Constitution modifier hit points at 1st level and 6 additional hit points at each subsequent level. Why, then, must the assassin have only 10 + Constitution modifier hit points at 1st level and 4 hit points at every following level? How, pray tell, is a magician whose body and soul have been fortified by the essence of the Shadowfell itself less hardy and durable than a wiry rake from the streets?

• Unnecessary feat tax. Melee Training is required by the assassin for viable charge attacks, opportunity attacks, and melee basic attacks granted by leader powers. For whatever reason, Hidden Insight is required for your shrouds to be imperceivable by your victim. The former can be chalked up to Wizards remaining ignorant of the issue of Melee Training being a tax feat, but the latter is something that should have been integrated into Assassin's Shroud itself.

• Low striker damage. A +1d6/+1d6+3/+1d6+6 extra damage progression for Assassin's Shroud averages out to +3.5/+6.5/+9.5 damage on a regular hit and +6/+9/+12 damage on a critical hit. This is severely wanting, especially when the much mediocre Warlock's Curse "boasts" a +1d6/+2d6/+3d6 progression that averages out to +3.5/+7/+10.5 on a regular hit and +6/+12/+18 damage on a critical hit. The assassin is not aided by the fact that the feat to upgrade this damage, Brutal Shroud, simply increases its average damage by a diminutive 0.5 per shroud, upgrading the average damage on a regular hit to +4/+7/+10.

• Shroud dispersal. The assassin is designed to compensate for its low striker damage by building up four shrouds on a single target and then unleashing them in a spike of damage that shall prove devastating on a hit and respectable on a miss. This is the crux of its advertised damage per round values. However, this tactic is all too disruptable. It can, for instance, be veritably sundered by the assassin somehow being rendered incapable of attacking through debilitating conditions, by the target becoming an unviable target due to invisibility or whatnot, or by another party member finishing off the enshrouded opponent before the assassin does, forcing the assassin to begin the shrouding process anew.

• Lack of power support. As of this writing, the assassin is a six-month-old class, but due to being a Dragon Magazine-exclusive class that has been neglected by the publication's writers, it can choose from only four at-will attack powers, twenty-eight encounter attack powers, twenty-eight daily attack powers, and twenty utility powers. Eight powers may appear to be much, but other classes have a substantially wider selection of powers. The introduction of more options induces an increase in the power level of a class, and conversely, a limited range of options restricts a class's potential.

• Implement/weapon concerns. Classes that mix together implement powers and weapon powers suffer from unnecessary design philosophies. The monk being converted from an implement/weapon class to a pure implement class after Wizards of the Coast having realized this should reinforce this observation. Not only is the assassin an arbitrarily implement/weapon-using class, but the ki focus system does not work as it should for the class. It is currently impossible to gain a feat bonus to damage rolls on implement attacks made using a ki focus, making weapons-as-implements much more viable due to Weapon Focus. An assassin who has invested feats in, say, Weapon Proficiency (Fullblade), Versatile Expertise (Heavy Blades), and Weapon Focus (Heavy Blades) has little reason to switch to "a less accurate but devastating weapon such as a greataxe" when she "battles a brute that relies on endurance to defense," as page 22 of Dragon Magazine #379 remarks, defeating the point of the weapon versatility that ki foci are meant to offer.


Dragon Magazine #385 dares to improve the assassin with its Class Acts: Assassin: Shadow's Seduction article, presumably in the standard Wizards of the Coast fashion of issuing feat taxes, as they did with the Painful Oath paragon feat in the Avenger Essentials article of Dragon Magazine #382. This document's author, the infamous Robert J. Schwalb, has stepped up to the metaphorical plate. Can he do it? Can he eliminate the six issues of the assassin delineated above? Can he repair the class, elevating it into the heights where the barbarian, the monk, the ranger, the rogue, and the sorcerer rest? What shall be the fate of the striker of shadow?

Included in this article are the class entry for the hybrid assassin, twenty-two heroic feats (fourteen of which are racial feats), and one paragon (multiclassing) feat. Let us examine these new options as we have done in the past, shall we now?

Hybrid Assassin

The hybrid assassin is one of the more potent hybrid classes available due to the simple fact that Assassin's Shroud Hybrid (applies) on all of your attacks. Though this significantly increases the damage output of any hybrid character, this comes with the balancing factors of low hit points, poor armor proficiencies, and unimpressive attack powers. The hybrid assassin, unlike the hybrid monk, does not allow you to use any weapon you are proficient with as an implement, but it does expand your magic weapon options through proficiency with ki foci. Such items are highly economical for characters who use more than one weapon. An extra trained skill rounds out this hybrid class.

All in all, this is a very good choice for any hybrid character with Dexterity as a primary or secondary ability score. Hybrid assassin|avengers, assassin|barbarians, assassin|druids, assassin|fighters, assassin|monks, assassin|rangers, assassin|rogues, and assassin|sorcerers can excel with their offensive capacities. However, this does generate a drastic issue: the hybrid assassin renders the pure assassin nearly obsolete. The ill-wrought hybrid assassin may not be overpowered when stacked against other hybrid classes, but it most certainly is overpowered in comparison to the pure assassin. Why bother playing a pure assassin when its signature class feature, Assassin's Shroud, can be used with nearly equivalent efficacy by a hybrid assassin? I believe we all agree that it would have been preferable if the hybrid assassin and the pure assassin had both been weak; at least they would have been on even ground then.

Assassin's Shroud (Hybrid), Hybrid Class Feature

Every other hybrid striker must use their class powers and paragon path powers to gain their prescribed striker damage. Why must the hybrid assassin deviate from this? Would it have been so difficult to write, "You gain the assassin power assassin's shroud (Dragon #379, page 19), except that you can use it to place a shroud only immediately before using an assassin attack power or an assassin paragon path attack power?" Limiting the maximum number of shrouds on an enemy to two is not a meaningful restriction. It does not adhere to the guidelines for hybrid characters, and I consider it to be a very poor judgment call in terms of design. The incarnation of this class feature is the sole cause of the hybrid assassin outclassing the pure assassin by a large margin. (Also, a goliath assassin|fighter, assassin|barbarian, or assassin|ranger with the Hungry Sky Shadows heroic racial feat, which causes you to deal extra damage equal to your Strength modifier when you both invoke your shrouds and hit your target, looks to be quite a vicious striker.)

Guild Training (Bleak Disciple [Hybrid]), Hybrid Talent Option

The benefits of Guild Training, a Hybrid Talent option, being tied to assassin powers and assassin paragon path powers is atrociously backwards. For one, the Bleak Disciple assassin is literally the only class build in the system that is designed with a Dexterity/Constitution ability score pair. In order to make use of this Hybrid Talent option effectively, you must be a Dexterity/Constitution-based character, and you must use your assassin powers as opposed to the powers from your other hybrid class which can benefit from your other hybrid class feature, be it Combat Challenge, Hunter's Quarry, Oath of Enmity, Sneak Attack, or Spell Source. Even then, this is little more than a glorified, conditional Battlerager Vigor. Terrible.

Guild Training (Night Stalker [Hybrid), Hybrid Talent Option

This Hybrid Talent option is somewhat better off due to the fact that Artful Dodger rogues and Storm/Wild Magic sorcerers make use of both Dexterity and Charisma, but it still fails to overcome the relative weakness of assassin attack powers in the hands of a hybrid character. As a hybrid assassin|sorcerer, for example, your assassin powers are most likely to be eschewed in favor of sorcerer powers that gain your Dexterity modifier as additional damage. This does, however, have a small use for assassin|rogues who make use of non-standard-action rogue attack powers such as Low Slash and Tumbling Strike.

Shade Form, Hybrid Talent Option

Shade Form's Stealth function is valuable only to characters with builds centered around optimal use of that skill, but gaining one round of insubstantiality is a decent benefit for some characters, particularly assassin|fighters.

Shadow Step, Hybrid Talent Option

Your mobility is greatly expanded should you choose this as your Hybrid Talent option. Avoiding opportunity attacks as you teleport from one foe to another, placing yourself in just the right square, is wonderful.

Assassin's Challenge, Heroic Feat

Be you an assassin/paladin, a paladin/warlock, or an assassin|paladin, you are not going to gain any meaningful increase to your Divine Challenge damage with this feat.

Betrayal of Zerthimon, Heroic Githzerai Racial Feat

Forcing combat advantage onto an enemy that you have beaten in the initiative count is decent enough, especially when the combat applies not only to you, but to your allies as well.

Cursed Shadow, Heroic Feat

Not only does this feat grant you the actual, bona fide Shadow Walk class feature, allowing you to take advantage of Shadow Warlock Armor for a reliable source of combat advantage, but it also synergizes perfectly with your Shade Form power. Consider that Shadow Walk grants you concealment under certain movement conditions, and that Shade Form allows you to make a Stealth check to become hidden whenever you have any cover or concealment. Cunning Sneak rogues shall envy you... or perhaps they shall not, given that an assassin|rogue/warlock (alternatively, a rogue/assassin/warlock from the Windrise Ports) can reap the benefits of this feat and synthesize it with Cunning Sneak for even more effective Stealth-enabler.

Darkness's Wings, Heroic Shadar-Kai Racial Feat

Shadow Jaunt is not that large an upgrade from Shade Form, but it is an upgrade nonetheless, as it provides an additional 3-square teleport each encounter. Darkvision should be useful for many an assassin as well.

Disciplined Killer, Heroic Feat

This is definitely more useful than the abysmal Assassin's Challenge, but you would still be hard-pressed to reap a significant amount of additional damage from this feat in a convenient and practical manner. After all, though keeping your shrouds on an enemy may bolster the damage of your Flurry of Blows against that foe, you may be best off simply invoking the shrouds for large spikes of damage.

Eilserv's Treachery, Heroic Drow Racial Feat

Lolthtouched powers are generally more useful and more upgradeable than the relatively limited Shade Form, though you could consider this feat for a drow assassin/warlock with the Cursed Shadow heroic feat.

Eye of Death and Despair, Heroic Vistani Bloodline Feat

Upgrading the hit effect of your Evil Eye of the Vistani encounter power to immobilization and universal combat advantage is far from stellar, but is a solid use for a feat slot. For comparison, this is objectively superior to the Advantageous Eye heroic feat, which only causes the target to grant combat advantage, for a Vistani assassin.

Far Shadow, Heroic Drow Racial Feat

Cloud of Darkness is fundamentally designed to be used as a close burst power. Enemies can move out of its area only via shifting, lest they provoke opportunity attacks from you, and you are to protect yourself from most melee and ranged attacks by remaining within the cloud. Turning it into an area burst 1 is, by all means, a downgrade in most cases, especially since enemies can waltz out of the tenebruous fog at their leisure. Even with a Cloud of Darkness augmented by feats such as Cloud of Poison, Seeker of the Devouring Dark, and Clutch of Darkness, this is a poor feat.

Flickering Fortunes, Heroic Githzerai Racial Feat

Shade Form is usable as a minor action. Of what use is activating it as a free action upon using your second wind, something that you are not wont to do in most encounters?

Ghostly Voyage, Heroic Wilden Racial Feat

Insubstantiality for one round per encounter would be solid were it not tied to the Voyage of the Ancients racial encounter power, which is contingent upon hitting with an area or close attack and which is ultimately weaker than the dazing, attack-granting Wrath of the Destroyer for a melee-centric wilden character.

Horned Nightmare, Heroic Minotaur Racial Feat

Due to the fact that Shade Form ends the moment you make an attack roll, all this does is grant you phasing for one virtual move action each encounter. Quite a conditional benefit, though it does enable you to bypass walls and obstacles outside of combat by charging through them, in a style most befitting of a master of the labyrinth.

Hunting Shadow, Heroic Wilden Racial Feat

Just as Ghostly Voyage is undermined by the fact that it calls for Voyage of the Ancients, so too does this affect only your Pursuit of the Hunter racial encounter power. Even then, the upgrades to the power in question are of negligible value.

Insidious Shroud, Heroic Changeling Racial Feat

This is nothing more than a slightly (due to most monsters lacking high Wisdom scores and training in Insight) limited version of the Killer's Insight heroic feat, which I do not consider a good feat due to how it falls short of the once-per-encounter-extra-damage measuring sticks that are the Hunter's Quarry, Student of Malediction, Monastic Student, Sneak of Shadows, Shadow Initiate, and Bravo multiclass feats. There are more favorable feats for improving your striker capacities.

Lolth's Embrace, Heroic Drow Racial Feat

This suffers from the exact same issues as Insidious Shroud (see above), and it is even worse off due to Darkfire being less "accurate" than Changeling Trick and the feat being rendered null and void in an encounter wherein you have opted to use Cloud of Darkness as your Lolthtouched racial feature.

Menacing Sorcery, Heroic Feat

A sorcerer who lacks Shimmering Armor or Shadowdance Armor can, in a scenario wherein she would otherwise be forced to provoke an opportunity attack as she uses one of her powers, use this feat to place a shroud on her intended target and abrogate its right to perform the opportunity attack. However, this does not apply on area attacks, this does naught to stop other enemies from making their opportunity attacks, and a sorcerer generally has enough close attacks to make do in such tactical exigencies anyway.

Merciless Nature, Heroic Wilden Racial Feat

We finally arrive at our Wrath of the Destroyer-based wilden racial feat, and alas, it fails to live up to expectations. All it does is grant you combat advantage for the melee basic attack, which is a moderately low-key benefit.

Murderous Hunter, Heroic Feat

I shall assume that this feat does not bypass the once-per-round limitation of Hunter's Quarry. In any case, damage on a miss is all well and dandy, but this is much too situational for my liking, especially since assassin|rangers already have high chances of triggering their Hunter's Quarry damage due to their multiattack powers.

Roguish Killer, Heroic Feat

Once again, I shall assume that this feat does not circumvent the once-per-round restriction of Sneak Attack. Given that assassin|rogues almost always wield +3 proficiency bonus weapons, frequently target Fortitude and Reflex with their powers, and require combat advantage for their Sneak Attack class feature, I am doubtful of the value of a conditional feat that requires you to miss for it to trigger.

Shadowforged Killer, Heroic Drow Racial Feat

Warforged Resolve is one of the most potent racial encounter powers available. Withering it away to regain Shade Form is a fool's deal.

Spirited Shadows, Heroic Drow Racial Feat

I had previously mentioned that the Cloud of Darkness racial encounter power is fundamentally designed to be used as a close burst power. By using this feat, you allow enemies in the cloud to move away as they wilt, also forgoing the protection provided by total concealment, in exchange for a minor, minor upgrade to your Shadow Step power once per encounter.

Uncovered Hatred, Heroic Kalashtar Racial Feat

This is yet another conditional source of additional damage each encounter, limiting its usefulness. Even worse is the fact that you cannot ensure that the enemy that triggers your Bastion of Clarity racial encounter power is one that currently bears your shrouds.

Word of Shadow, Heroic Feat

Concealment for any target of your Majestic Word is quite a good deal, since it effectively bestows a +2 bonus to all defenses against melee and ranged attacks. A bard multiclassing into assassin, or perhaps even an assassin|bard, should definitely look into this feat.

Darkened Soul, Paragon Multiclassing Feat

Paragon multiclassing into the assassin, in most circumstances, a depressingly suboptimum waste of feats and your paragon path, but should you do so anyway, gaining Shade Form would be a decent enough use of a feat.

Dragon Magazine #385 was doing well, looking to redeem itself from the slump of #383 and #384, up until this most demeritorious article. The hybrid assassin is opprobiously designed as I have covered above. The staggering majority of the feats in this article are overly conditional and barely useful, and they insist on upholding the tradition of assassin feat lists being bloated with racial feats rather than options that any assassin can make good use of. Most of the hybrid assassin feats herein are chaff as well. The only thing that this article does to aid pure assassins is introduce the Cursed Shadow heroic feat for assassin/warlocks, and even then, it does not address any of the six issues that I have listed above, and a hybrid Cunning Sneak assassin|rogue can make far more optimal use of it.

Before anyone brings up the weightless "I would like to see you do better" argument, yes, I can do better. For one, the creation of a hybrid assassin class entry should be simple enough to create while respecting the guidelines of hybrid classes.

Hybrid Assassin Class Traits



Role: Striker
Power Source: Shadow
Key Abilities: Dexterity, Constitution, Charisma

Armor Proficiencies: Cloth, leather; light shield
Weapon Proficiencies: One-handed simple melee, military heavy blades, military light blades, simple ranged
Implements: Ki foci, weapons with which you have proficiency
Bonus to Defense: +1 Fortitude or Will

Hit Points at 1st Level: 5
Hit Points per Level Gained: 2
Healing Surges per Day: 3

Class Skills: Acrobatics (Dex), Arcana (Int), Athletics (Str), Bluff (Cha), Endurance (Con), Insight (Wis), Perception (Wis), Stealth (Dex), Streetwise (Cha), Thievery (Dex)
Extra Trained Skill: Choose an extra trained skill from the class skills list above.

Class Features: Assassin's shroud (Hybrid), Guild Training (Hybrid)
Hybrid Talent Options: Shade Form, Shadow Step, True Guild Training

Class Features



Hybrid assassins have the following class features.
Assassin's Shroud (Hybrid): You gain the assassin power assassin's shroud (Dragon #379, page 19), except that you can use it to place a shroud only immediately before using an assassin attack power or an assassin paragon path attack power.
Guild Training (Hybrid): Choose one of the Guild Training options (Dragon #379, page 17). You do not gain its benefits, but you are considered to have that option for the purpose of meeting prerequisites and using the benefits tailored for it in certain powers.

Hybrid Talent Options



If you take the Hybrid Talent feat, you can select one of the following options.
Shade Form: This class feature functions exactly as the assassin class feature (Dragon #379, page 19)
Shadow Step: This class feature functions exactly as the assassin class feature (Dragon #379, page 19)
True Guild Training: You gain the full benefits of the Guild Training option that you chose. If you had selected Night Stalker, you can avail of the bonus damage only once per round.
The Assasin hybrid for shrouds should have been very obvious - you can only invoke one on a round you attack with an Assassin power. This is both funny and sad at the same time.
Windrise ports nets anyone and everyone shadow-walk now. Neat. Does Horned Nightmare actually do anything? I thought Shadeform prevented attacks (or maybe it ends when you make one. Ah, that makes sense. Phasing for a single charge then...)
If you look past the plot and the voice acting, Metroid: Other M was an okay game. Not a great game, but an adequate one. Not using the Metroid item collect jingle though? That, was a mistake.
Dammit, is this going to be popular on CharOp now.

How could he miss it? That restriction (2 shrouds tops) simply does NOT ''restrict'' anything at all. Hybridizing Assassing will be a worthy investiment for almost all striker classes. Much easier and better to allow 4 shrouds, but restrict shroud placement to rounds in which you use assassin attack powers or no attack powers at all. That way, you can still play the ''hide and build damage up'' assassin or the ''stick it into your face'' assassin without allowing dangerous combos.

For me, the best thing in the article was the Assassin Drow feat that turns Cloud of Darkness into a Area Burst 1. Really, isn't it like this in the novels? So why a Close Burst, Wizards? WHY? And took you two years to (partially) fix it, no less!

/rant
Minotaurs are bad Assassins, but Horned Nightmare gives them at-will phasing at level 1, which is pretty slick. Locked doors are a thing of the past!
Minotaurs are bad Assassins, but Horned Nightmare gives them at-will phasing at level 1, which is pretty slick. Locked doors are a thing of the past!



How is that, I ask you? Shade form is an encounter power, and it ends when you attack. So how can it be at-will?

How is that, I ask you? Shade form is an encounter power, and it ends when you attack. So how can it be at-will?


Whoops, good point! Encounter phasing for six squares, then. Still not bad, especially out of combat.
Minotaurs are bad Assassins, but Horned Nightmare gives them at-will phasing at level 1, which is pretty slick. Locked doors are a thing of the past!



How is that, I ask you? Shade form is an encounter power, and it ends when you attack. So how can it be at-will?



I guess the point then becomes "does bullrushing count as an attack?", 'cause you can charge and bullrush all day long.

Edit: I guess bullrushing does involve an attack roll. Drat.
If you look past the plot and the voice acting, Metroid: Other M was an okay game. Not a great game, but an adequate one. Not using the Metroid item collect jingle though? That, was a mistake.
Bad design is bad.

WotC needs to fire whoever does their editing and get someone in there that actually plays the game.
I concur. I am certain that any one of us could have constructed a far more acceptable version of the hybrid assassin, particularly because how it should have been designed is highly conspicuous.
How would the new limitation on placing shrouds affect powers that place multiple shrouds on a target? Doom Foretold

Or that require more than two shrouds? Intent to Murder
I think the problem for 4 shouds only on assassin powers, is that while your building up shrouds, you can use ANOTHER striker feature (say sneak attack) during the first three rounds for another 2d6 (often 2d8) extra damage, and then lay on the hurt with the 4d6 shroud damage on round 4.  This also makes it better to be a hybrid assassin than an actual assassin. Normally with striker|striker hybrids, you get one feature or the other each round, in this case, your effectively using both, just reaping the benefit of the assassin's every 4th round.

It should be 2 shrouds tops, AND only work on assassin powers.
I'm kinda interested in this Vistani Assassin feat. But I'm not quite sure how it is supposed to work.

Does it cause the target to grant combat advantage to your allies as well as to you?

How does it interact with Persistent Eye? I feel that taking both feats should result in the target granting combat advantage and being immobilized (save ends) but it's a little unclear. I think under a strict, literal reading, the two feats wouldn't work in conjunction, but I doubt that's the intent.

Also, an assassin that has multiclassed rogue for powerswaps or what-have-you could pick up roguish killer to allow them to apply their sneak attack damage with a fullblade. Not sure it's worth spending a feat on though.
Is there a reason that 95% of all assassin feats are racial feats? I mean I love adding in a few differences in playstyle accross races but it would be nice if the assassin got some general feat support to shore up their horribly underpowered mechanics.


Also, a Dex/Int rogue|assassin/warlock with shadow walk and sickening shadows is going to be sort of fun to play.

And it would be pretty easy to build an effective assassin|monk though you'd be stuck with the assassin's pitiful HP and surges.

Yeah, unless your playing an undersupported assassin race or want to hybrid, this article is useless.

I was hoping for some new powers/general feats to support the assassin in my party. Instead, she got nothing, as there's not even a revenant or human feat here.

Most classes have gotten 2-3 class acts or essentials articles out since the Assassin was released (not counting PHBIII ones).

Is there a reason that 95% of all assassin feats are racial feats? I mean I love adding in a few differences in playstyle accross races but it would be nice if the assassin got some general feat support to shore up their horribly underpowered mechanics.


Also, a Dex/Int rogue|assassin/warlock with shadow walk and sickening shadows is going to be sort of fun to play.

And it would be pretty easy to build an effective assassin|monk though you'd be stuck with the assassin's pitiful HP and surges.

the Duelist's Prowess rogue level 1 daily would be fun in that combo also
I like the idea of an barbarian|assassin goliath who uses hungry sky shadows every turn. Imagine a 1st level character on a hit doing 1d6 + Str + 1W +Str +1d6 at will (1W +2X Str +2d6 using howling strike.) I think that character might be the new damage champion (or at least close) and you actually end up getting a decent amount of healing surges and HP since Barbarian is very high. This probably works slightly better with a ranger damage-wise, but then you have to prepare to have a really low HP and amount of surges. This way, you're essentially at the striker average with above-average damage. I really hope this changes because that character is way too powerful at that level. You can also play the char as a two-weaponer and just use a ki focus with a mundane weapon in the off-hand, as well as a high dex rageblood. You can also leave it alone and use a ki focus with a two-hander and take barbarian agility to compensate, which will make you a high dex rageblood (not unheard of as a build and not half bad either.)
Two shroud per round, huh?  Good thing two shrouds isn't the most optimal time to invoke them!

EDIT: Wait, fffffffffuuuuuuu-

ACTUAL SERIOUS EDIT:  Actually, here's my favorite part.  Murderous Hunter?  It lets you put HQ on non-Ranger attacks.

I mean, I'm not sure why you'd want to be using non-Ranger attacks, but...
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I think the problem for 4 shouds only on assassin powers, is that while your building up shrouds, you can use ANOTHER striker feature (say sneak attack) during the first three rounds for another 2d6 (often 2d8) extra damage, and then lay on the hurt with the 4d6 shroud damage on round 4.  This also makes it better to be a hybrid assassin than an actual assassin. Normally with striker|striker hybrids, you get one feature or the other each round, in this case, your effectively using both, just reaping the benefit of the assassin's every 4th round.

It should be 2 shrouds tops, AND only work on assassin powers.


Not if you can only invoke a shroud when you hit with an Assassin power. Then you can't use sneak attack or HQ in the same round. Minor action attacks circumvent this, but then again it's the same case with every hybrid striker feature.

That doesn't fix the problem.

Look at it this way, if an assassin is 4-shrouding, he is not applying striker damage for 3 rounds, then invoking it on the 4th.

If you allow hybrids to 4-shroud, but only invoke on assasin powers, a hybrid striker just uses their other striker feature for the first 3 rounds, then invokes the shrouds on round 4. Add in that ranger/assassin feat to use HQ on 2-shroud and you do get to use both in the same round too.

4 shroud is meant to make up for not using your shrouds for the 3 previous rounds, but if you hybrid, your not, cause you ust spent the 3 previous rounds using your other striker feature.

< snip > the Assassin's Shroud (Hybrid) class feature functions on all of your attacks. < /snip >

< snip > Hybrid Talent (Guild Training) applies only on assassin and assassin paragon path powers to boot. This is atrociously backwards. < /snip >

I totally disagree.

This is exactly the way it needed to be. Assassin's Shroud can be triggered once per round, and as such is a tame damage feature. Night Stalker adds to every single attack. Similarly Bleak Disciple temp hit points can also be gained from immediate attacks, opportunity attacks etc. It's a good thing these are both limited to assassin attack powers and assassin paragon path powers.

An additional 1d6 damage at heroic is good, but not automatically enough incentive to hybrid at the cost of some hit points, and loss of class features from your other class.

If the shroud could be invoked only on assassin powers, I would have a real difficulty building an assassin hybrid. The reason to pick hybrid is usually to cherry pick a nice at-will power or class feature. Assassin doesn't provide many great options for at-will powers. Being able to use a Full Blade with Dex is handy, but hardly that much better than a rogue with a bastard sword. And if you lose the shroud when using the better power you were trying to get, you've got nothing.

Night Stalker or Bleak Disciple on all attacks would have been too powerful. Assassin's Shroud on all attacks, Night Stalker or Bleak Disciple on assassin powers is just the right mix I think.

I'm not sure I wanted to see an easy entry into Shadow Walk, but Windrise Ports does provide this, and I can see some potential abuse of that. Thankfully the assassin and warlock multiclass feats aren't all that impressive when it comes to optimizing. 1 background, 2 stat requirements, and 3 feats to pick up Shadow Walk is pretty expensive.

Overall, I find the criticism here to be a bit knee jerk, and harsher than is warranted on the hybrid design front. I'm not trying to white knight for the author, but the end result for the design dilemmas faced is not that far out of line from what's to be expected.
Overall, I find the criticism here to be a bit knee jerk, and harsher than is warranted on the hybrid design front.


I find it hard to believe you expected anything else.

That doesn't fix the problem.

Look at it this way, if an assassin is 4-shrouding, he is not applying striker damage for 3 rounds, then invoking it on the 4th.



Normal Assassins do that too.



If you allow hybrids to 4-shroud, but only invoke on assasin powers, a hybrid striker just uses their other striker feature for the first 3 rounds, then invokes the shrouds on round 4. Add in that ranger/assassin feat to use HQ on 2-shroud and you do get to use both in the same round too.


Again, he cannot do this. He cannot invoke a shroud without using an Assassin power, and thus cannot use another striker feature while still invoking a shroud.


The only time this isn't true is for non standard action attacks, but that applies to all striker hybrids.



4 shroud is meant to make up for not using your shrouds for the 3 previous rounds, but if you hybrid, your not, cause you ust spent the 3 previous rounds using your other striker feature.


Again, not possible.
I find it hard to believe you expected anything else.

Okay, I expect it to be harsh, but the majority voice is usually not this far off-base when snapping at an article.
If Assassin's Shroud could be used once per round as a free action immediately before attacking with an assassin or assassin paragon path power and if Bleak Disciple and Night Stalker could apply to all of your attacks, then the hybrid assassin would be fairly balanced. Bleak Disciple is similar to Battlerager Vigor but is synergistic with few hybrid classes due to how it works off Constitution whereas assassin powers call for Dexterity, and though Night Stalker would offer Dexterity/Charisma-based characters a good source of additional damage, it would apply only on isolated enemies and would not be that much worse than the +3.5/+7.5/+9.5 characters currently gain from Assassin's Shroud (Hybrid). As you have mentioned, lower hit points and pruned class features would be a definite handicap as well.

That said, a once-per-round limitation on Bleak Disciple and Night Stalker would be reasonable for a rewritten hybrid assassin.
Overall, I find the criticism here to be a bit knee jerk, and harsher than is warranted on the hybrid design front.


I find it hard to believe you expected anything else.



Admittedly I've only returned recently to see what 4e is like, but this seems all too true.  I can't help but feel like every option printed that gives a few extra DPR is met with "OMG, wutnow, this roxxorz!!!"  Maybe that's just a problem I have with the system though...when we get all hyped up over a few points, I feel like I'm stuck in one of those infamous "low magic" campaigns.

That doesn't fix the problem.

Look at it this way, if an assassin is 4-shrouding, he is not applying striker damage for 3 rounds, then invoking it on the 4th.



Normal Assassins do that too.



If you allow hybrids to 4-shroud, but only invoke on assasin powers, a hybrid striker just uses their other striker feature for the first 3 rounds, then invokes the shrouds on round 4. Add in that ranger/assassin feat to use HQ on 2-shroud and you do get to use both in the same round too.


Again, he cannot do this. He cannot invoke a shroud without using an Assassin power, and thus cannot use another striker feature while still invoking a shroud.


The only time this isn't true is for non standard action attacks, but that applies to all striker hybrids.



4 shroud is meant to make up for not using your shrouds for the 3 previous rounds, but if you hybrid, your not, cause you ust spent the 3 previous rounds using your other striker feature.


Again, not possible.



And your still not getting my point. Let me make it simple.

Lets assume your multi-class rogue, and every power magicly does 1d10 + 5 damage.

Normal assassin:
round 1: 1d10+5 damage and you shroud the target
round 2: 1d10+5 damage and you shroud the target
round 3: 1d10+5 damage you shroud the target
round 4: 1d10+4d6+5 damage from shrouding him then invoking.


Hybrid Assassin|Rogue
round 1: 1d10+2d6+5 damage, you sneak attack the guy and shroud him, NOT invoking.
round 2: 1d10+2d6+5 damage, you sneak attack the guy and shroud him, NOT invoking.
round 3: 1d10+2d6+5 damage, you sneak attack the guy and shroud him, NOT invoking.
round 4: 1d10+4d6+5 damage from shrouding him then invoking.

The problem is using other striker features while building shrouds, NOT when you actually invoke them.

Adslahnit has explained the way it should work to avoid this.
Anyone else notice the wording on the avenger/ranger and avenger/rogue feats? Now, with the rogue it's more tricky to argue, but it sounds like the way it's worded, if you are an assassin that MC's into ranger and takes Murderous Hunter, so long as you activate your shrouds every other turn, you're getting full damage on a hit and the reduced amount + the HQ damage on a miss. First, there's nothing that states you have to have the target quarried, or even that you can use that damage. In fact, it almost seems like you'd want to miss if you go the Rogue route. Granted, with the required CA to use Rogueish Killer, that may be tough, but you'd be able to get in paragon 1d6+3 + 3d6 if you manage to miss a CA-granting foe when you pop two shrouds.
Lets assume your multi-class rogue, and every power magicly does 1d10 + 5 damage.

Normal assassin:
round 1: 1d10+5 damage and you shroud the target
round 2: 1d10+5 damage and you shroud the target
round 3: 1d10+5 damage you shroud the target
round 4: 1d10+4d6+5 damage from shrouding him then invoking.


Hybrid Assassin|Rogue
round 1: 1d10+2d6+5 damage, you sneak attack the guy and shroud him, NOT invoking.
round 2: 1d10+2d6+5 damage, you sneak attack the guy and shroud him, NOT invoking.
round 3: 1d10+2d6+5 damage, you sneak attack the guy and shroud him, NOT invoking.
round 4: 1d10+4d6+5 damage from shrouding him then invoking.

The problem is using other striker features while building shrouds, NOT when you actually invoke them.

Adslahnit has explained the way it should work to avoid this.



I don't know if they changed the article from when you all looked at it to when I just now looked at it, but the Hybrid Shroud only allows for a maximum of two shrouds on a target.  So now basically you can shroud two rounds then attack with a rogue attack to get your SA and do your 4 dice of damage.
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
Yeah, you can argue all you want about whether it's overpowered or not, but the simple fact is most any striker gets better if they hybrid Assassin.
Hybrid Assassin|Rogue
round 1: 1d10+2d6+5 damage, you sneak attack the guy and shroud him, NOT invoking.
round 2: 1d10+4d6+5 damage, you sneak attack and invoked shrouds.
round 3: 1d10+2d6+5 damage, you sneak attack the guy and shroud him, NOT invoking.
round 4: 1d10+4d6+5 damage, you sneak attack and invoked shrouds.
I feel that the following is how the Assassin's Shroud (Hybrid) class feature should work: You gain the assassin power assassin's shroud (Dragon #379, page 19), except that you can use it to place a shroud only immediately before using an assassin attack power or an assassin paragon path attack power.


I don't know if they changed the article from when you all looked at it to when I just now looked at it, but the Hybrid Shroud only allows for a maximum of two shrouds on a target.  So now basically you can shroud two rounds then attack with a rogue attack to get your SA and do your 4 dice of damage.



What I'm argueing against is people wanting it to be 4 shroud and only being able to invoke on Assassin powers.

The current version isn't right either, but neither is simply making it "You get the assassin's shroud power, but can only invoker shrouds on assassin powers."

It should be "You get the assassin's shroud power, but you can only place shrouds on the target on rounds where you hit or miss with assassin or assassin paragon path powers, and can only invoke shrouds on assassin or assassing paragon path power attacks"
Janx_14, I would bet money that there was simply a miscommunication between you and the others you were discussing the shrouds with. Specifically, when using the word "invoke", some were using it to mean applying the shroud to an enemy, whereas you meant it to mean dealing the shroud damage to an enemy.

I'm confident though that you all agree with each other on the issue once that minor miscommunication is resolved.
I feel that the following is how the Assassin's Shroud (Hybrid) class feature should work: You gain the assassin power assassin's shroud (Dragon #379, page 19), except that you can use only immediately before using an assassin attack power or an assassin paragon path attack power.

That would've been good, actually. Perhaps slightly better phrasing. Maybe replace "immediately before using" with "after declaring that you make an [blah blah blah]." More consistent with the rules lingo and less finnicky. No one can weasel out of doing the attack.

It is a shame that they chose to go this route with the assassin hybrid. But perhaps this is their way of making hybrids and assassins appeal to optimizers. Twisted, but I'm rationalizing.
I don't use emoticons, and I'm also pretty pleasant. So if I say something that's rude or insulting, it's probably a joke.
Please refer to my updated proposal above. I do not believe that "weasel[ing] out of doing the attack" shall be an issue due to how doing so would obviate the legality of placing a shroud.
a heroic assassin/warlock feat that grants you the actual, bona fide Shadow Walk class feature


     Wow, I was really hoping there were some way the Assassin could step even harder on the toes of my teleporting melee sneaklock.
(I employ zie/zie/zir as a gender-neutral counterpart to he/him/his. Just a heads-up.) Essentials definitely isn't for me as a player, and I feel that its design and implementation bear serious flaws which fill me with concern for the future of D&D, but I've come to the conclusion that it isn't going to destroy the game that I want to play. Indeed, I think that I could probably run a game for players using Essentials characters without it being much of a problem at all. Time will tell, I suppose.
I don't think it is that amazingly bad. Don't forget that you only get one spot to spend your hybrid talent feat and the hybrid assassin is missing the opportunity to do +Cha damage with all attacks and many of the strikers won't want to use the weapon that a hybrid assassin typically uses. Or at the very least, they won't have the right secondary stats of Con or Cha.

The Rogue is a great example of this - sure, an assassin/rogue might be able to churn out sneak attack on the Rogue attacks, but is likely limiting his Assassin attacks to using a Bastard Sword and spending a feat to gain sneak with a Bastard Sword. And then on top of it, losing the +Cha bonus.

The assassin example up above is likely doing something like this:
round 1: 1d12+5+4 damage and you shroud the target
round 2: 1d12+5+4 damage and you shroud the target
round 3: 1d12+5+4 damage you shroud the target
round 4: 1d12+4d6+5+4 damage from shrouding him then invoking.

4d12+4d6+36 = 76+high crit if that comes up.

Hybrid Assassin|Rogue
round 1: 1d10+2d6+5 damage, you sneak attack  the guy and shroud him,  NOT invoking.
round 2: 1d10+4d6+5 damage, you  sneak attack and invoked shrouds.
round 3:  1d10+2d6+5 damage, you sneak attack the guy and shroud him,  NOT  invoking.
round 4: 1d10+4d6+5 damage, you  sneak attack and invoked shrouds.

4d10+12d6+20 = 84 with no high crit and having spent an extra feat for the ability to use a bastard sword for sneak damage.

In the context that the Assassin, with his other powers, is likely more survivable(when did you ever think you'd hear someone claim that one...) than the hybrid Assassin|Rogue, I think those are extremely close...

You also need to take the time at which that damage is done into account as well. If you shroud a target for three turns and someone else drops him, you've got to wait another four turns (potentially the rest of the combat) to be able to hit another target for max damage.


After 3 turns, you've done 46.5 damage with the pure assassin, and 59.5 with the rogue/assassin. That's significant. You're also taking the more damaging form of the assassin to increase the damage totals, which is at least equivalent to the feat that the bastard sword wielding rogue needs.

Ultimately, I think the biggest tragedy here is that, given that this is the first major update to Assassin (the article adding a few ki focii notwithstanding), the article gives options for other classes, but very little for the poor saps (i.e., me) who have been playing Assassins with the hope that Wizards will adequately support the class we're literally paying for.

To put it more succinctly, just how many powers has Wizard gotten since Assassin came out?  Because Assassin has yet to get one.


EDIT: Out of morbid curiousity, I went to check.  Since the Assassin: Epic Tier article was released on 9/21/09, Wizard has picked up:

4 Articles completely dedicated to them (and some honorable mentions in Familiar and Feywild articles)

48 powers.

I know that Assassins got the 'more toys for Assassins' article, with a few ki focii and a few feats, so in exchange, I didn't even read up on the Familiar feats, or many of the heritage articles.

Assassins have 0 powers added since their debut article, Wizards have 48.

And don't even get me started on Revenants.
Errata thread created: Add more here. (We can still hope, can't we?)

community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...
If you look past the plot and the voice acting, Metroid: Other M was an okay game. Not a great game, but an adequate one. Not using the Metroid item collect jingle though? That, was a mistake.