Dragon 391: Essentials Assassin...

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If previous betas (and previews) are any indication, only half the powers (and poisons) availible are shown.

I do love the use of poisons and their non-combat uses because I sure as hell would rather drug someone than fight them if possible.

The Red Scales include unarmed attacks as a proficency so their throw isn't missing a prof bonus.

If I recall correctly, it is possible to swap class features so if someone wants shadowstep it's possible to get it back though I will state this is off the top of my head so don't hold me to it.
The assassin really needs a dagger based at-will power... it is the only assassin themed weapon not to get one.



Yeah definitly. A Power using a knife (poignard) to commit assassination is a must ! (SORRY FOR THE MESS)



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Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter


If I recall correctly, it is possible to swap class features so if someone wants shadowstep it's possible to get it back though I will state this is off the top of my head so don't hold me to it.



In cases like MP and MP2 builds this is true, but in those cases they explicitly state which class features get swapped.  I'd be open to such a delineation.  Shrouds in exchange for Attack Finesse, for instance (although I'm not sure that's entirely a balanced trade.)  If that's the case, Guild Executioner PP would have to change its prerequisites to Assassin's Strike power.
Something else I noticed... the garrote strangle's sustain should probably mention that it counts as an attack, and thus allows you to add the assassin's finesse bonus damage dice.
Some of the things I liked were the weapon based guild powers. However I instead of breaking it up into two guilds just mis-mash the whole lot of them together and when you choose the at-will you gain the prof. for that weapon as well. It can still be guild weapons but then your not specific to a particular guild. I like the fluff and flavor for the two presented but I wouldent restrict the list of player opens to them.

Unarmed Throw should maybe include a Slide the target to any square adjacent square then Push 1 square instead of just Push 1.  Maybe add that if the target is thrown into a solid object such as a Wall, another enemy or a table the target takes 1, 2 or 3 points of damage or something cool like that. I'd maybe also allow it to be used as a Basic Melee when making Opportunity Attacks.

I like the idea of combining some of the special weapons with different weapons as I personally think the imagry I get grom Unseen Spear is kind of dumb. I mean, I get this image of sneaking up on a guy and putting them into a full nelson with a spear or javalin (why not a quarterstaff?).  It might be cooler if you could use the power to pull a bad guy back into the shadows as part of the attack. Allowing the use of a short list of weapons with specific attacks would be nice (Garrot Strangle could include the spear/javalin as well as a dagger as you slice the guys throat as he struggles, Unseen Spearhead same weapon set, Kukri Lunge could be Daggers, Kurku, and maybe Rapier, Bolo Takedown maybe could be used with a Spear or Javalin as well but does Dex damage instead of immobilizing, Close Quarters Shot maybe could be any crossbow not just Hand Crossbows or any Crossbow or Bow, Uneering Shuriken would be nice to shift 2 before the attack or move your speed after, that way they can retrain combat advantage if they were hidden before the attack. Maybe also include that if they move their speed after the attack, they do not suffer the -5 penalty for moving more than 2)

I like the Assassin's strike but not the bonus damage to all attacks. I think their would be a better way to do this. The soul of an assassin is the single devistating strike and/or the very exotic weapon choices. Part of this is handled by the guild weapons though. I would give them their death attack at 1st level but drop it from 10 HP to 5HP then every 5 levels afterwords it increases by +5 (10 at 6th, 15 at 11th, etc...)  The Assassin's strike covers the single potent attack though I might lower the damage progression and give them an additional use per tier or give them a 'power point' like mechanic where they can expend these shroud points to deal 1D6 or D10 extra damage. they get 1-2pts at 1st level and earn additional as they go up in level (maybe 1-2 per level depending on the bonus damage) but they can spend a max of X points at once to keep it form becoming too over powering.  Then you can feat in a Bonus +1 per point spent when you strike from  combat advantage or something like that (equiv. to Leathal Hunter, Backstabber etc..)

Since the Assassin is built around the single devistating strike I'd remove the +1d6 they get with every attack and instead replace it with a Backstab encounter power like ability but in order to not step on the Rogue's toe's maybe make it a ability like the new version of Rightious Wrath of the Faithful Channel Divinity power and as they go up in level they get additional uses of that power.

Between the above two changes it really  helps embrace the idea of very few very devistating attacks but outside of these few super-sized attacks they deal solid but otherwise average damage.  In a Way you could think of it that a Warlock and Ranger will get their bonus damage 90% of the time, Rogues will sneak attack 75% of the time depending on power picks, the Assassin may only get their Striker damage 20% of the time but its gives 2-3 times the kick of a Sneak Attack with the Death Attack finishing off enemies with less than X HP allowing them to still feel valuable and strikery once their super-sized striker damage is expended.

I like the poisons but I would like to see more varities. especially ones that can be applied to weapons and ammo that have a save effect (for the Blowgun use, which the Blowgun at will is hidiously accurate given its hit effect it could be devistating).  However as some have pointed out the issue of some of the poisons being used against PC's is valid as NPC's Monsters can become elite's by templeting into a class so their is precedent. So a further side bar should either say DM's should not use these poisons on PC's or the specific effects need to be tailored so that if used against a player its not as hidious as our concerns.

Lastly, I personally liked that The Assassin's super damage output was tempered by just how much of a glass cannon they were. I like that it had Wizard HP progression. That was part of the appeal. The assassin was devistating if it could get in close enough to deliver its devistating attacks but if cornered they were brought down swiftly.  I might make Assassin's Strike limited to the Assassin Guild's weapons to prevent it from being used in conjunction with Greatbow's or Fullblades etc. In order to preserve the appeal of the special weapon groups (and to keep a little bit of control over just their super-striker attack potential).

I like the Assassin's strike but not the bonus damage to all attacks. I think their would be a better way to do this. The soul of an assassin is the single devistating strike and/or the very exotic weapon choices. Part of this is handled by the guild weapons though. I would give them their death attack at 1st level but drop it from 10 HP to 5HP then every 5 levels afterwords it increases by +5 (10 at 6th, 15 at 11th, etc...)  The Assassin's strike covers the single potent attack though I might lower the damage progression and give them an additional use per tier or give them a 'power point' like mechanic where they can expend these shroud points to deal 1D6 or D10 extra damage. they get 1-2pts at 1st level and earn additional as they go up in level (maybe 1-2 per level depending on the bonus damage) but they can spend a max of X points at once to keep it form becoming too over powering.  Then you can feat in a Bonus +1 per point spent when you strike from  combat advantage or something like that (equiv. to Leathal Hunter, Backstabber etc..)

Since the Assassin is built around the single devistating strike I'd remove the +1d6 they get with every attack and instead replace it with a Backstab encounter power like ability but in order to not step on the Rogue's toe's maybe make it a ability like the new version of Rightious Wrath of the Faithful Channel Divinity power and as they go up in level they get additional uses of that power.



Please, for the love of god, don't listen to this. Assassins already get their single very devastating strike via the assassin's strike encounter power. If you remove the finesse bonus damage you will lower the DPS of this assassin to the point where it will become worthless. We finally have an assassin class worth playing. Lets not kill it before it even has a chance to flower. In this area, the mechanics that the class currently has are great as is; we should leave those mechanics as they are.


The amount of actions required to apply your assassins poisons needs to be fixed. Right now it takes at least two minor actions to use any of your poisons. In play this is a pretty big nerf in comparison to any other classes ability to use their daily powers. The quick swap assassin ability should allow assassins to draw one of their poisons as a free action so that assassins don't have to use a minor action to draw a created poison before applying it to their weapon.
Some of the things I liked were the weapon based guild powers. However I instead of breaking it up into two guilds just mis-mash the whole lot of them together and when you choose the at-will you gain the prof. for that weapon as well. It can still be guild weapons but then your not specific to a particular guild. I like the fluff and flavor for the two presented but I wouldent restrict the list of player opens to them.

Unarmed Throw should maybe include a Slide the target to any square adjacent square then Push 1 square instead of just Push 1.  Maybe add that if the target is thrown into a solid object such as a Wall, another enemy or a table the target takes 1, 2 or 3 points of damage or something cool like that. I'd maybe also allow it to be used as a Basic Melee when making Opportunity Attacks.

I like the idea of combining some of the special weapons with different weapons as I personally think the imagry I get grom Unseen Spear is kind of dumb. I mean, I get this image of sneaking up on a guy and putting them into a full nelson with a spear or javalin (why not a quarterstaff?).  It might be cooler if you could use the power to pull a bad guy back into the shadows as part of the attack. Allowing the use of a short list of weapons with specific attacks would be nice (Garrot Strangle could include the spear/javalin as well as a dagger as you slice the guys throat as he struggles, Unseen Spearhead same weapon set, Kukri Lunge could be Daggers, Kurku, and maybe Rapier, Bolo Takedown maybe could be used with a Spear or Javalin as well but does Dex damage instead of immobilizing, Close Quarters Shot maybe could be any crossbow not just Hand Crossbows or any Crossbow or Bow, Uneering Shuriken would be nice to shift 2 before the attack or move your speed after, that way they can retrain combat advantage if they were hidden before the attack. Maybe also include that if they move their speed after the attack, they do not suffer the -5 penalty for moving more than 2)

I like the Assassin's strike but not the bonus damage to all attacks. I think their would be a better way to do this. The soul of an assassin is the single devistating strike and/or the very exotic weapon choices. Part of this is handled by the guild weapons though. I would give them their death attack at 1st level but drop it from 10 HP to 5HP then every 5 levels afterwords it increases by +5 (10 at 6th, 15 at 11th, etc...)  The Assassin's strike covers the single potent attack though I might lower the damage progression and give them an additional use per tier or give them a 'power point' like mechanic where they can expend these shroud points to deal 1D6 or D10 extra damage. they get 1-2pts at 1st level and earn additional as they go up in level (maybe 1-2 per level depending on the bonus damage) but they can spend a max of X points at once to keep it form becoming too over powering.  Then you can feat in a Bonus +1 per point spent when you strike from  combat advantage or something like that (equiv. to Leathal Hunter, Backstabber etc..)

Since the Assassin is built around the single devistating strike I'd remove the +1d6 they get with every attack and instead replace it with a Backstab encounter power like ability but in order to not step on the Rogue's toe's maybe make it a ability like the new version of Rightious Wrath of the Faithful Channel Divinity power and as they go up in level they get additional uses of that power.

Between the above two changes it really  helps embrace the idea of very few very devistating attacks but outside of these few super-sized attacks they deal solid but otherwise average damage.  In a Way you could think of it that a Warlock and Ranger will get their bonus damage 90% of the time, Rogues will sneak attack 75% of the time depending on power picks, the Assassin may only get their Striker damage 20% of the time but its gives 2-3 times the kick of a Sneak Attack with the Death Attack finishing off enemies with less than X HP allowing them to still feel valuable and strikery once their super-sized striker damage is expended.

I like the poisons but I would like to see more varities. especially ones that can be applied to weapons and ammo that have a save effect (for the Blowgun use, which the Blowgun at will is hidiously accurate given its hit effect it could be devistating).  However as some have pointed out the issue of some of the poisons being used against PC's is valid as NPC's Monsters can become elite's by templeting into a class so their is precedent. So a further side bar should either say DM's should not use these poisons on PC's or the specific effects need to be tailored so that if used against a player its not as hidious as our concerns.

Lastly, I personally liked that The Assassin's super damage output was tempered by just how much of a glass cannon they were. I like that it had Wizard HP progression. That was part of the appeal. The assassin was devistating if it could get in close enough to deliver its devistating attacks but if cornered they were brought down swiftly.  I might make Assassin's Strike limited to the Assassin Guild's weapons to prevent it from being used in conjunction with Greatbow's or Fullblades etc. In order to preserve the appeal of the special weapon groups (and to keep a little bit of control over just their super-striker attack potential).



I agree with pretty much everything he said.  I don't want "consistent", "predictable" damage for an Assassin.  As he said, that's what Rangers, Warlocks, and Rogues are for.  I like the "burstiness" of Assassin's Shroud, and I'd like to see something similar with this build.
I'm seeing a minor problem with trying to build an executioner at the moment. As stated in step 6 of the creation process you have to buy a poisoner's kit yet there is no price for this item ever listed in the article.

I agree with pretty much everything he said.  I don't want "consistent", "predictable" damage for an Assassin.  As he said, that's what Rangers, Warlocks, and Rogues are for.  I like the "burstiness" of Assassin's Shroud, and I'd like to see something similar with this build.



It is a good thing the build does get "burstiness" via assassin's strike...

Don't forget that large burst damage tends to go wasted.  You will frequently go well over the target's HP (unless they were relatively fresh to begin with).  This might mean that the nice juicy burst that you have been looking forward to might only be 40% effective.

Consistency is king.  The Rogue gets nearly unlimited sneak attacks for a respectable damage each time.  While the size of the damage might not cause anyone to soil their pants, much less of the damage is wasted.
Thats why I was suggesting a varient of the Assassin's Strike that thye get X many points that they can play (with a max of Y Points being usable to boost the damage from a single attack) and then give them their Death Attack ability at 1st level but only say 5 HP to start and going up 5 every 5 levels after.  You can call the points you can spent Shrouds if you want.

The idea is that in my oppinion an Assassin should have the potential to take down a opponent in a single round between their death attack ability and assassin's strike bonus damage once per an encounter. After that he's done his job and should resort to good solid damage but otherwise nothing awesome special.

Give the ability to do Maximum damage (similar to a Crit but w/o the bonus d# from magical weapons) on an 18 or 19 and increasing to 17 and 16 at Paragon and Epic tier.  Give them bonus damage (simialr to High Crit) when they actually do Critical.

I'm not saying Nerf their damage output at all but to make it very spikey similar to Barbarians only even better but less frequent because of how potent they are, thats all.
I prefer the new assassin mechanics as is. You get both a very high damage spike via assassin's strike, and some consistent (though slightly less potent than a rogue's) striker damage. I think they got it perfect as is. I would be very upset if they changed it myself...
I don't like the bonus 1d6 damage from Attack Finesse that with no requirements.  I think some good points have been made, but for me, it really cheapens other characters when this one can do that just cause it's deadly.  I'd prefer if the lower level of damage was tied to the favored weapons at the very least, give us some justification.
I don't like the bonus 1d6 damage from Attack Finesse that with no requirements.  I think some good points have been made, but for me, it really cheapens other characters when this one can do that just cause it's deadly.  I'd prefer if the lower level of damage was tied to the favored weapons at the very least, give us some justification.



All martial classes recieve bonuses with their weapon attacks. Slayers revieve 8+Dex, Knights 3, and Thiefs 4. Thiefs have sneak attack and backstab executioners recieve a higher bonus and one spike.

I don't like the bonus 1d6 damage from Attack Finesse that with no requirements.  I think some good points have been made, but for me, it really cheapens other characters when this one can do that just cause it's deadly.  I'd prefer if the lower level of damage was tied to the favored weapons at the very least, give us some justification.



All martial classes recieve bonuses with their weapon attacks. Slayers revieve 8+Dex, Knights 3, and Thiefs 4. Thiefs have sneak attack and backstab executioners recieve a higher bonus and one spike.



Hmmm... well that's different then.  Carry on.
Ok, so, there is something I think I have caught. I am pretty sure all of the assassin's poisons should note that they apply the key words of the consumable to any attack/power a character uses with an item under the effect of the consumable...
Ok, so, there is something I think I have caught. I am pretty sure all of the assassin's poisons should note that they apply the key words of the consumable to any attack/power a character uses with an item under the effect of the consumable...


nice catch
Despite not being interested in Essentials at all, I'd still like to make a few suggestions as well after reading the article to improve the mechanics.

Issue: Ability scores.
Problem: The executioner write up mentions Charisma as a secondary ability score, yet none of the build's abilities actually key off that ability. This resurrects the design problems from 3E where some classes could just boost a single ability to stay at peak strength while other classes were forced to increase several abilities (aka "MAD" - multiple ability dependency).
Suggestion: Make some abilities dependent on the character's Charisma as suggested in the initial description. Perhaps the assassin's poisons can incorporate Charisma as part of their numerical effect. Perhaps give the assassin an additional utility power that allows him to enforce a penalty to the first save against one of his poisons equal to his Charisma modifier. Just something that encourages buffing Charisma and not dumping it in favor of other more useful abilities.

Issue: Death Attack.
Problem: Currently the wording allows the assassin to bypass all and any triggered effects that happen when a monster is reduced to 0 hit points (because dead does not automatically mean "at or below 0 hit points" - compare e.g. final condition of Sun Sickness from the DSCS; also, "dead" is not a defined condition according to the DDI Compendium which further complicates that ability and requires many ad-hoc decisions from the DM). It seems quite silly that an assassin can actually kill Lolth without triggering her Form of the Spider Queen (and subsequently denying her to use Divine Discorporation).
Suggestion: Change wording to "... you can choose to automatically drop the target to 0 hit points".

Issue: Poisons.
Problem: The old "bypassing established mechanics to damage/kill opponent" monster from the bygone 3E days (*cough* Constitution damage/drain *cough*) rears its ugly head again. While out of combat applications are useful and flavorful, they should not allow a character to automatically overcome an opponent without any check (be it an attack roll or save). Also, the sidebar explicitly mentions using these poisons against PCs, so without any sort of check (at least a Perception check to notice that the item/food has been poisoned) these mechanics are a quite dangerous two-edged blade.
Suggestion: Add an appropriate Perception check (perhaps DC 10 + 1/2 class level + assassin's Cha modifier) to notice the poison. Also add either appropriate attack rolls or saving throws to the out of combat applications to prevent automatic win/lose situations (depending on whether the poison is used by or against the PCs). Bypassing established mechanics that define how "tough" a monster is was quite bad in 3E and we really don't need the same disaster in 4E. Level 5 wizards autodefeating level 20 dragons does not need a revival (*cough* Shivering Touch *cough*).

Issue: Death Attack.
Problem: Currently the wording allows the assassin to bypass all and any triggered effects that happen when a monster is reduced to 0 hit points (because dead does not automatically mean "at or below 0 hit points" - compare e.g. final condition of Sun Sickness from the DSCS; also, "dead" is not a defined condition according to the DDI Compendium which further complicates that ability and requires many ad-hoc decisions from the DM). It seems quite silly that an assassin can actually kill Lolth without triggering her Form of the Spider Queen (and subsequently denying her to use Divine Discorporation).
Suggestion: Change wording to "... you can choose to automatically drop the target to 0 hit points".



I believe this is intentional and should be left as is.  While I agree that it stinks if you have a bunch of "when your target hits 0 hit points" feats or whatever, I wouldn't make the change.  The big distinction imho is that this ability makes them DEAD.  So if there's a healer in the group, he can't just throw a heal and stand them back up.  If you change it to "reduce to 0" this goes away.  Speaking as a player who's DM loves mobs with heals, I wouldn't change the text for anything.  Also, Shadow Coffin wouldn't trigger without this ability, and given what I've just mentioned about healers, having Shadow Coffin trigger off of 0 hp would be a bit premature.
Just got my copy of Heroes of the Fallen Lands, and given that I have now seen the complete build for Thief, I don't see how they think Executioner is really viable at all.

While the consistent damage bonus a Thief gets is slightly lower than the average consistent damage bonus an Executioner gets, the multiple uses of Backstab along with the Rogue Tricks' for gaining combat advantage will far out distance the dps of this class.

This basically just emphasizes what I've said before, as a cool infiltrator, the Executioner is awesome.  In a party fighting like "normal", it's just too weak.

I will say though, I have faith in Wizards that they'll improve this class and bring it up to snuff, and I DO think this playtest is a good starting point.
Just got my copy of Heroes of the Fallen Lands, and given that I have now seen the complete build for Thief, I don't see how they think Executioner is really viable at all.

While the consistent damage bonus a Thief gets is slightly lower than the average consistent damage bonus an Executioner gets, the multiple uses of Backstab along with the Rogue Tricks' for gaining combat advantage will far out distance the dps of this class.

This basically just emphasizes what I've said before, as a cool infiltrator, the Executioner is awesome.  In a party fighting like "normal", it's just too weak.

I will say though, I have faith in Wizards that they'll improve this class and bring it up to snuff, and I DO think this playtest is a good starting point.



A thiefs average damage with its best damage based at-will power is 2d6+11+Dex Mod+Enhancment bonus with a +2 higher bonus to hit than the assassin. The assassin's best damage based at-will power is 3d6 (brutal 1) + Dex Mod + Enhancment bonus. That comes out to 18+Dex Mod+Enhancment bonus, with an extra +2 bonus to hit, vs. 12+Dex Mod+Enhancment bonus average damage. So, in the category of at-will damage, I agree with you. The assassin is underpowered. The first thing they need to do to fix that is make the assassin at-wills that do 2[w] damage in heroic tier do 4[w] damage in epic tier (and possibly 3[w] in paragon tier) so that they scale properly in damage. That will allow the assassin to keep up, and stay a viable choice past heroic tier. Then the average damage comparison will then be 18 + applicable mods vs. 16 + applicable mods. The rogue is still a little ahead. On a critical hit the rogue will be doing only 22 + applicable mods where the assassin will be dealing 24 + applicable mods. The rogue will also have an extra +2 to hit. I still think the advantage goes to the rogues court. But I think that with the extra damage from an assassin's poisons factored in the assassin will (maybe) even out here. I mean, with dark reaver powdered applied an assassin's average damage for the encounter jumps up to 26 + applicable modifiers, and every time the assassin hits he will daze the target until the end of his next turn.

Meanwhile, 3 uses of backstab total out to 12d6 damage, which is 42 average damage, and the assassin's one use of backstab totals out to 7d10 damage, which is 38.5 average damage. That is very comparable. It becomes even more comparable when you consider that if a thief misses with any one backstab attack its average damage drops by 14 points per backstab missed. Meanwhile, the assassin never misses with its assassin's strike. The assassin is, once again, the king of spike damage.

I do think that the assassin's effectivity needs some minor boosts. But I don't think it is as incomparable as you claim. Honestly, all I think the assassin needs is to have its 2[w] at wills boosted to 4[w] (instead of 3[w]) damage in epic tier, possibly have those at-wills do 3[w] in paragon tier, and to perhaps have the assassin's finesse grant a bonus to hit as well. Maybe a +1 bonut to hit in paragon tier, and a +2 bonus to hit in epic tier. Then again, when you factor in Death Attack, maybe that is not necessary. If a rogue hits a target and drops it to within 30 hit points of 0 hit points that taget will still need to be hit againt before it dies. Maybe even hit two more times (as the rogue will only deal something around 32 points of average damage with an at-will power, and can possibly roll less than 30 points of damage)! Meanwhile, if an assassin drops at arget to within 30 hit points of 0 hit points that target drops dead. So with the minor change to at-will powers, I think the assassin and the rogue do very comparable damage over all, with the assassin's spike damage being slightly higher than the rogues, while the rogues consistant/overall damage will be slightly higher than the assassins.
Er, quick question. Assassin's strike is not worded as extra damage. It is, in fact, its own effect damage. If I read this correctly, does that mean that an assassin's strike actually has its enhancement bonus, from a weapon, added to its damage? After all, you add an enhancement bonus to the damage roll of any weapon keyword power. Assassin's strike is a weapon keyword power. That would mean its assassin's strike damage is actually 7d10+6 in epic tier...

I actually don't see anything wrong with that. However, in terms of the calculation of my above post, it should then be noted that a thieves total damage from backstabs comes out to 42 average damage while an assassin's one use of assassin's strike comes out to 44 points of damage. Of course, backstab's +3 to hit might cause an attack that would have missed to hit. Meanwhile, while an assassin's strike will always be dealt at least once per encounter (and a backstab might loose out on some of its average damage by missing), it can't turn misses into hits (and turning a miss into a hit will increase a rogues average damage output over the course of an encounter by saving some of the potential at-will damage a rogue deals from being lost). Coupled with the rogues +2 extra bonus to hit from class features, I think everything evens out. I think assassin's strike is fine even if allows you to add enhancement bonus to its damage, but if that is the intent, and it is left as is, then I think that further adds to the argument that an assassin does not need an extra bonus to hit to be added for it to stay competitive with the rogue. All an assassin really needs in order to be considered even with the rogue is to have its 3[w] epic at-wills changed to 4[w] so that the assassin can continue to be viable in epic tier. Right now it falls behind in epic tier due to its at-wills not scaling properly once it hits epic tier...
While the consistent damage bonus a Thief gets is slightly lower than the average consistent damage bonus an Executioner gets, the multiple uses of Backstab along with the Rogue Tricks' for gaining combat advantage will far out distance the dps of this class.



Assassin damage with at-wills and encounters should be below that of thieves, to compensate the fact that they have dailies. Perhaps it would be easier to compare them with non-essentials classes, so that having dailies or not isn't a factor?
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A thiefs average damage with its best damage based at-will power is 2d6+11+Dex Mod+Enhancment bonus with a +2 higher bonus to hit than the assassin. The assassin's best damage based at-will power is 3d6 (brutal 1) + Dex Mod + Enhancment bonus.



Could you explain these numbers? A Thief's Weapon Finesse maxes out at +5, so I'm not sure where the +11 comes from.  Also, the Assassin always gets his Finesse bonus, so I don't see how it could be less than (at max level) 3d6 (brutal 1) + 3d6 unless I'm missing something.  Also, you say "with a +2 higher bonus to hit", which I don't get.  Thief Weapon Talent is only +1 (unless I missed it scaling somewhere), and if you mean combat advantage, then Sneak Attack should be included.

Could you break it down for us?  Feel free to leave out Dex mod and Enhancement bonus, since those are a wash.

A thiefs average damage with its best damage based at-will power is 2d6+11+Dex Mod+Enhancment bonus with a +2 higher bonus to hit than the assassin. The assassin's best damage based at-will power is 3d6 (brutal 1) + Dex Mod + Enhancment bonus.



Could you explain these numbers? A Thief's Weapon Finesse maxes out at +5, so I'm not sure where the +11 comes from.  Also, the Assassin always gets his Finesse bonus, so I don't see how it could be less than (at max level) 3d6 (brutal 1) + 3d6 unless I'm missing something.  Also, you say "with a +2 higher bonus to hit", which I don't get.  Thief Weapon Talent is only +1 (unless I missed it scaling somewhere), and if you mean combat advantage, then Sneak Attack should be included.

Could you break it down for us?  Feel free to leave out Dex mod and Enhancement bonus, since those are a wash.



Sure. A shortsword does 1d6 damage. An epic level basic attack does 2[w] damage. That is 2d6. A rogue's finesse grants +5 damage. Acrobat's trick grants you a +6 bonus (in epic tier) to your next attack roll. That is +11 damage total. I actually miscalculated on the higher attack bonus. It is only +1. I was counting the extra +1 from the shortsword (a kukri only has a +2 proficiency bonus to hit, a shortsword has a +3 proficiency bonus to hit), but I forgot to factor in that with kukri lunge you get an extra +1 to attack due to the fact that you are charging.

So yea, all in all, crunching the numbers, the assassin seems very well balanced against the rogue. The only problem I have found is that the 2[w] assassin at-will powers don't scale properly in epic tier. They should not become 3[w] damage, but 4[w] damage. What makes the 3[w] damage even more odd is that in the case of the sherukin power they did scale the power properly, and did give it a 4[w] damage roll in epic tier. I don't know why any of the others are listed as 3[w]. Hopfully the final version will fix that.
Actually, I think they should reword the assassin at-wills so they're not poachable via Half-Elf.  Rogues can do scary things along these lines as well. 

Sure. A shortsword does 1d6 damage. An epic level basic attack does 2[w] damage. That is 2d6. A rogue's finesse grants +5 damage. Acrobat's trick grants you a +6 bonus (in epic tier) to your next attack roll. That is +11 damage total. I actually miscalculated on the higher attack bonus. It is only +1. I was counting the extra +1 from the shortsword (a kukri only has a +2 proficiency bonus to hit, a shortsword has a +3 proficiency bonus to hit), but I forgot to factor in that with kukri lunge you get an extra +1 to attack due to the fact that you are charging.

So yea, all in all, crunching the numbers, the assassin seems very well balanced against the rogue. The only problem I have found is that the 2[w] assassin at-will powers don't scale properly in epic tier. They should not become 3[w] damage, but 4[w] damage. What makes the 3[w] damage even more odd is that in the case of the sherukin power they did scale the power properly, and did give it a 4[w] damage roll in epic tier. I don't know why any of the others are listed as 3[w]. Hopfully the final version will fix that.



Well, see, what I was actually going for was including their bonus damage.  If we assume that both of them have combat advantage (actually almost a given using Rogue Trick's, but we'll give it to the Assassin as well to rule out the to-hit bonus).  I'll also leave out Dex and Enhancement bonus, since, as I said, that's a wash.

So for the Assassin we have:
3d6 (Brutal 1) + 3d6 = average of 22.5

For the Thief we have:
2d6 + 5 + 5d6 = average of 29.5 (with a +1 better chance to hit)

Again, I know this requires the rogue to have combat advantage, but between Ambush Trick and Tactical Trick, if you can't arrange that, you need to shoot your other party members.  This is also where this being a playtest article kinda blows though.  For the Thief, realistically, you'd take Backstabber and if you go Master Thief PP, your sneak attack becomes brutal 1.  These make the Thief:

2d6 + 5 + 5d8 (brutal 1) = average of 37.

Unfortunately, we have no feat support for the Assassin yet (again, because it's a playtest), but you can say that the Master Thief seems to help the dps of a Thief more than Guild Executioner helps the dps of the Assassin.  (Yeah, I know Guild Executioner gives +2d10 to Assassin's Strike, but Master Thief gives another use of Backstab).  Possibly with a feat to boost Attack Finesse, this would balance out, but excluding feats and PP, it's still a 25% difference in dps.  While I'll yield the point that the Executioner  doesn't have to worry about CA, again, I think that's less of an issue with the Rogue Trick's than it would be for a non-Thief rogue.

I will revise my former criticism of Assassin's Strike though.  The fact that you can't miss with it does help it some.  I'd still like to see more than one use per encounter, possibly at lower damage, because I think having (essentially) one Encounter Attack Power total just seems.....blah.  I mean, I see that multiple uses of Backstab average out to about the same damage, but somehow getting to do "something interesting" on multiple rounds just seems like "more fun."  I will grant, however, that this is a play-style choice rather than a statement about the effectiveness of the class.

So, overall, I think we definitely need to see some feat support, and I agree that the changing to 4W at epic level would help narrow the gap (bringing the average from 22.5 to 26.5).


Actually, I think they should reword the assassin at-wills so they're not poachable via Half-Elf.  Rogues can do scary things along these lines as well. 



I don't think they are poachable. Dilettante needs a 1st level at-will, and these have no level.
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...stuff...



One, you keep forgetting to add in acrobat's trick bonus damage to the damage calculation.

Two, I intentionally calculated and compared only unmodified damage of the at-will's, and backstab vs. assassin's strike. That is because backstab and assassin's strike are directly allegorical; both represent their respective class's per encounter capabilities. Likewise, the at-wills are directly allegorical. Mathematically, backstab and assassin's strike are very comparable. At-will damage via kukri lunge and a rogue's basic attack coupled with acrobat's trick are also very comparable, until epic tier where kukri lunge does not scale properly (it should be noted that none of the 3[w] damage in epic tier powers scale properly; all of those powers should be upped to 4[w] in epic tier, and possibly 3[w] in paragon tier).

Since the at-wills compare to each other, and backstab and assassin's strike compare to each other, all that is left is to see how the rogue's sneak attack damage compares to the assassins bonus damage dice. There is no easy way to compare the assassin's bonus damage dice to the rogues sneak attack. The rogues sneak attack requires combat advantage. The assassin's does not. The rogue's is limited to being dealt once per turn. The assassin's is not. They are very different. But I would argue that they are about equivalent as well. I think it is fair to say that a rogue is going to have combat advantage on 2 out of every 3 attacks. Over the course of three attacks that will equal 10d6 potential extra damage (in epic tier). An assassin doesn't need combat advantage to adds its bonus damage dice. Over the course of 3 attacks that means an assassin can potentially add 9 bonus damage dice. Again, that is very comparable. The difference is made up by the assassin's poisons, and the fact that the assassin will sometimes get the chance to deal his damage dice multiple times within a single turn (this, by the way, is a good argument for them not to remove the assassin's ability to deal this bonus damage multiple times in a single turn).

All in all, I can not agree with your assessment. The executioner and the thief are very comparable. The thief is more polished, but the executioner is still a playtest article. Certain changes do need to be made. The at-will powers need to have their epic tier damage increased from 3[w] to 4[w]. The developers might want to increase those powers to 3[w] damage at paragon tier. The quick draw ability should allow a  person to draw a weapon or a poison as a free action (so that you don't need to spend two minor actions to apply a poison). The executioner really needs feat support (something along the lines of backstabber, which increase the die size of its striker damage from d6 to d8 is a must). But the discrepancy between the two of them is nowhere near as bad as you made it sound. The assassin has the foundations of a very well balanced (and fun) class. All it needs right now is a little polish, some more options, and some feat support.

And I really don't agree with your assessment that assassin's strike should have its damage reduced, but it should gain an extra use of assassin's strike, either. If you want multiple uses of a weaker ability you pick the thief and use backstab. If you want the ability to pull of a single very powerful round of nova damage you choose an assassin. And, quite frankly, that really fits the tone and theme of the assassin. I like it the way it is. I don't see the need to further homoginize assassin's strike and backstab.

P.S. +2d10 damage with an assassin's strike is very comparable to an extra use of backstab. An extra use of backstab grants you +4d6 extra damage. That is an average of 14 extra damage. +2d10 results in an average of +10 extra damage. 10 and 14 are comparable. That becomes even more true when you factor in that the assassins damage will be stacked on top of the 7d10 to further improve its nova damage capability (allowing to, very possibly, take out a single powerful mob in a single round), and that extra 2d10 damage will always be dealt. The rogues extra 14 points of average damage might turn into 0 extra damage if he rolls low on his backstab's attack roll.
Er, quick question. Assassin's strike is not worded as extra damage. It is, in fact, its own effect damage. If I read this correctly, does that mean that an assassin's strike actually has its enhancement bonus, from a weapon, added to its damage?



No because it's an extra damage. It is in addition to the initial damage and of the same type ....

Effect: The target takes 1d10 extra damage from the triggering attack.



Hence why the redundancy if the Special footnote:

Special: If the target is helpless, this power inflicts maximum damage.



For extra damage are already maxed out on a Crit.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

That's debatable, actually. For damage which would be rolled anyway, yes, Critting maxes it out automatically. Assassin's Strike is assigned after hitting, so it is at best an ambiguous situation. Based on the fact that they made that note it can probably be inferred that it is NOT intended to maximize on normal critical hits.

Assassin's Strike deals, in other words "Extra Damage" in the sense referred to by the Critical Hit rule:

"Extra Damage: Magic weapons and implements, as well as high crit weapons, can increase the damage you deal when you score a critical hit. If this extra damage is a die roll, it’s not automatically maximum damage; you add the result of the roll."



You need to hit and assign this extra damage after a hit. How is that so different than Sneak Attack or Quarry ? They need to hit and you assign their extra damage after a hit ...

Do not mix Extra damage which are in addition to original damage and of the same type unless noted otherwise,

and Critical Extra damage, which are extra damage that are only rolled when a Critical Hit is scored. Only these are rolled normally. If THIS extra damage ....refer to the one mentioned just previously. PPrecisely "Magic weapons and implements, as well as high crit weapons"

If Sneak, Quarry and Assassin Strike are normally rolled damage when a hit happen, then they will be maxed out if a Crit happen.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter



One, you keep forgetting to add in acrobat's trick bonus damage to the damage calculation.





I wasn't forgetting it.  As I said, I was assuming that the Rogue Trick would be used to gain combat advantage.  Overall, CA will result in more damage than the bonus from acrobat's trick.



Since the at-wills compare to each other, and backstab and assassin's strike compare to each other, all that is left is to see how the rogue's sneak attack damage compares to the assassins bonus damage dice. There is no easy way to compare the assassin's bonus damage dice to the rogues sneak attack. The rogues sneak attack requires combat advantage. The assassin's does not. The rogue's is limited to being dealt once per turn. The assassin's is not. They are very different. But I would argue that they are about equivalent as well. I think it is fair to say that a rogue is going to have combat advantage on 2 out of every 3 attacks. Over the course of three attacks that will equal 10d6 potential extra damage (in epic tier). An assassin doesn't need combat advantage to adds its bonus damage dice. Over the course of 3 attacks that means an assassin can potentially add 9 bonus damage dice. Again, that is very comparable. The difference is made up by the assassin's poisons, and the fact that the assassin will sometimes get the chance to deal his damage dice multiple times within a single turn (this, by the way, is a good argument for them not to remove the assassin's ability to deal this bonus damage multiple times in a single turn).




Just to clarify, because this is new, but due to the recent errata to sneak attack, rogues can deal sneak attack once per TURN instead of once per round.  While I admit that the Assassin does have any edge in that they can deal their damage multiple times per TURN, unless you go with something like Half-Elf -> Twin Strike, it's unlikely to ever come up.
Oh, just one other thing I saw someone else mention.....

Regardless of all the dps discussion.  Would it really uber-break the build to just give them Shadow Step?  It's a really "cool" ability, and I don't think it would hurt the build at all.  Also, Shade Form or some variant would give them another way to "re-hide" in combat.

Just thoughts...
Regardless of all the dps discussion.  Would it really uber-break the build to just give them Shadow Step?  It's a really "cool" ability, and I don't think it would hurt the build at all.  Also, Shade Form or some variant would give them another way to "re-hide" in combat.



I don't think it would be all that broken, in absolute terms, but it might do horrible things to the tenuous balance between Ess. Assassin and original assassin. I don't have damage numbers in front of me, but the general impression seems to be that Executioners are rather capable strikers, whereas other Assassins tend to perform poorly. However, those Assassins do have a number of awesome toys (i.e. Shadow Step and company) to justify playing them if you don't care too much for raw power. Giving those out to the Executioner could make people forget that there are other assassin builds altogether.

I do think that melee executioners need some kind of tool for movement and hiding, and perhaps it can be covered by an additional at-will. Although it is true that executioners bring an unusually high amount of at-wills already, the fact that they are ultra-specialized and include non-damaging choices leaves room for some more. Likewise, the ranged build has plenty of mobility at-wills, but I feel it's missing its Unseen Spearhead - a strong offensive move, even if it is restricted in use.

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I just thought it should be mentioned, the light shield proficiency is not only inappropriate thematically (which is subjective), but is also objectively problematic from the point of view of mechanics. Even if you manage to find pictures that convince you that the light shield is thematic (and that is a hard sell on someone like me), what about the fact that each of the assassin's at-will powers are keyed towards a specific weapon that you must be wielding, that the assassin's abilities are mechanically designed to have him/her quickly switch between different weapons, and that it takes a standard action to equip or stow a shield? What do you do when you have three at-wills that require two hands, and only one that can be used one handed (which is true of the redscale, for example)? I will tell you what you can't do... waste a standard action every time you need to switch between a kukri and another weapon. I doubt someone who wants to switch between a blowgun and another weapon will be much more appreciative.
I just thought it should be mentioned, the light shield proficiency is not only inappropriate thematically (which is subjective), but is also objectively problematic from the point of view of mechanics. Even if you manage to find pictures that convince you that the light shield is thematic (and that is a hard sell on someone like me), what about the fact that each of the assassin's at-will powers are keyed towards a specific weapon that you must be wielding, that the assassin's abilities are mechanically designed to have him/her quickly switch between different weapons, and that it takes a standard action to equip or stow a shield? What do you do when you have three at-wills that require two hands, and only one that can be used one handed (which is true of the redscale, for example)? I will tell you what you can't do... waste a standard action every time you need to switch between a kukri and another weapon. I doubt someone who wants to switch between a blowgun and another weapon will be much more appreciative.
Ok, so, the unseen spearhead attack is super flavorful. I REALLY like it. It both feels very much like the sort of move an assassin would try and pull, but it is also an unusual and unique weapon for the assassin. This both captures the theme of the assassin and adds something new to it. I love it! However, it does have one problem that needs to be fixed. The point of the power is to use every part of the spear/javelin in order to perform a deadly attack. First you sneak up and choke the target with the haft. Then, once you get a better grip, you continue to hold the target in a choke hold with one hand while you pull away the weapon with the other, and then use the weapon to stab the target in the back. But, there is no mechanical reason for anyone to ever use their javelin or spear to stab the person. The power only states that you treat the target as helpless for as long you maintain the grab. There is no reason for the assassin not to use his quick swap ability to pull out a more powerful weapon, and then perform his coup de grace with that. I would suggest that the hit line of Unseen Spearhead gets rewritten as follows:

You grab the target. If you are still grabbing the target at the start of your next turn you treat the target as helpless, with any attacks you make with the javelin or spear, for as long as you continue to grab the target

Ok,


The Red Scales “proficient” use of unarmed attacks and Unarmed Throw assassin attack power need some clarification and adjustment.


UNARMED ATTACKS
It’s confusing why unarmed attacks were called out for the Red Scales in the first place, isn’t everyone proficient with unarmed attacks according to the rules and there isn’t any proficiency bonus for them.


Using the improvised weapon chart in the Rules Compendium, a Red Scales assassin with a 18 Dex would have the following melee basic attack:


 +4 (Dex mod) vs. AC; 1d4 (Unarmed Attack) +1d6 (Attack Finesse) +4 (Dex mod) damage.


 Aside from the attack finesse damage, there is no real reason to ever use this unless you have been disarmed.


A simple dagger would be 15% more likely to hit because of its +3 proficiency bonus to the melee basic attack. Plus, you could throw it as a ranged basic attack with the same damage.


Potential fix:
I would give the executioner assassin in general a special unarmed strike like the monk, an assassin unarmed strike if you will, only it would be a 1d4 damage instead of 1d8.


Grant the Red Scales a bump in damage to 1d6 or 1d8 as part of their “special training”


UNARMED THROW
This as it stands has limited utility. I would add at the very least the assassin’s Dex mod damage. I would also allow this ability to used as a basic attack when making opportunity attacks. I would also make it clear that you could choose not to push target and or make it prone.


My two coppers,


Bryan Blumklotz

My rules may be shaky on this, but the level 1 poison Nitharit Poison has an alternate use that causes a creature to lose poison immunity until it takes an extended rest. Seeing as how the ability has the poison keyword, a creature with immunity to poison would be immune to this alternate effect.