Dragon 401 - Class Acts: Assassin: Black Flame Zealot

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Dragon 401
Class Acts: Assassin: Black Flame Zealot

by Chad Brown

Few trust known assassins, so many assassins train and study in secret, honing their abilities through techniques developed and passed on by guilds.

Talk about this article here.

While I overall enjoyed the article, requiring a feat to make shrouds work is a bit disheartening.
While I overall enjoyed the article, requiring a feat to make shrouds work is a bit disheartening.



I, for one, will be houseruling it in along with Expertise and Improved Defenses.  And would it have killed them to include some powers?  At-wills, at least?  Shrouds aren't the only reason assassins are unappealing!
The overall problem is the shrouds themselves.  Waiting more than two rounds to kill something is a bad idea.

Why would you wait to kill an enemy?
I liked the article and the concept of the Black Flame Zealots a lot. Crunch, Fluff, i mean, bravo  Pre-E Support 

The new Power Black Flame Form is nice, though it is likely to not last long. The new Feats presented are quite useful, especially Inexorable Shroud, which i liked how it let you transfer your shrouds from one dropping enemy to another, regardless if you killed it yourself or one of your allies did. Shadow Reservoir can also be taken by Executioner cool i guess.. Lethal Shroud is a little boost to the mehanic too, and the Bracer of Assassination is a neat Item when combined to the Feat Devastating Shroud

It's just missing a few new Powers and the Black Flame Zealot Background to cheerytop ! Wink

Cookie to Chad Brown for this Class Act. 
And to Peter Tikos for the cool art. I liked the masked Assassin.
I think i will echo the sentiment to make the shroud-damage-increasin feat just a free bonus feat for Assassins. Guess it's one more reason to anxiously await Houserule support in the online CB on par with the classic one.
Planes Wanderer
I think i will echo the sentiment to make the shroud-damage-increasin feat just a free bonus feat for Assassins. Guess it's one more reason to anxiously await Houserule support in the online CB on par with the classic one.



No, it's the shrouds-move-when-target-dies feat that needs to be baked-in.  Lethal Shroud is just their Backstabber/Lethal Hunter/Killing Curse.Wink
What Eisenritter said.  Don't give out Lethal Shroud: give out Inexorable Shroud.  That's the one that shoulda been baked in.

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That and the previous feat that made enemies you're hidden from unaware of your shrouds.

Overall, it's nice.  Some patch feats, with all the positives and negatives of patches, some decent crunch.  Doesn't fix the overall issues with the assassin though - primarily that waiting to apply shrouds is by default a bad idea, even if you don't lose them if the target dies early; and that the assassin's overall damage output just scales too poorly due to relatively weak attack powers in paragon and epic - those problems still remain.

What this really needs is a companion article presenting a selection of new powers, particularly paragon and epic powers, which both significantly increase the assassin's potential single target damage output and that either allow shrouds to be built up faster or provide additional bonuses for invoking three or four shrouds at a time to make the mechanic worth bothering with.
I agree that it would have been nice to get at least a couple of powers with the article, particularly fiery powers that work with the ki focus unless it was intentional for it to be most effective for multiclass and hybrid characters.

I think there are several feats that help assassins keep up with other strikers.  It seems that they made the choice to go with a feat tax rather than a class feature adjustment as part of the ongoing review.  There are now so many feats that I wonder if they will award a choice of one free shroud-related feat from a limited list when they eventually get round to tweaking the class, similar to the choice that the executioner gets.
I wouldn't say this 'helps the assassin keep up', as that implies that these feats are, in themselves, enough to solve the assassin's problems.  They aren't.  They help, certainly, but even at d8+10 per round, even with the crit bracers and a couple bonus shrouds, this isn't enough to make up for the poor damage output of assassin powers in paragon and epic levels.  They still need some powers that deal damage, whether they come in the form of new powers or revisions to existing powers.

Not that I'm complaining - well, a little bit about the feat tax, that's pretty much all of the ossassin's heroic tier options used up just to fill holes in the class or the system, and by the time you can finally start picking feats to flavor, your powers start falling behind - but apart from that, this is still a good article with good fluff and well appreciated mechanics.
Did no one notice that the Embers of Black Flame item has the enhancement bonuses reported incorrectly? +1 at level 10? +5 at level 30?
I thought it looked a bit low but assumed that it was to rebalance the new, clearly overpowered, assassin!  I use inherent bonuses anyway so the loss of a little bit of crit damage is no biggy to me.
You think that the assassin is overpowered? That's an overstatement. Actually, saying that the assassin is within normal power limits is an overstatement. Part of why I'm attempting to fix it. Oh, and mysticbelmont, the shrouds are not the problem. They just need Hidden Insight and Inexorable Shroud built in, and real striker-feature damage scaling. And since you asked that question, I guess you've never tried to coup de grace something. I would want all the damage I could get for that, considering the "outright slaying" part of a coup de grace. Assassins also need a way to set up coup de grace situations since 4e puts a taboo on instant kills. Bunch of hooey.

But yeah, like malisteen says, the powers are the real problem. 
Think the Ossassin sucks? Think again! Check out my attempt at a fix!
I think pauln6 was being sarcastic and didn't actually mean that it is an overpowered class.

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Did no one notice that the Embers of Black Flame item has the enhancement bonuses reported incorrectly? +1 at level 10? +5 at level 30?



The file has been fixed, and a new version was posted.

D&D Producer

Heh - yeah of course I was being sarcastic.  I love the assassin but it is very obvious playing one that your damage is a bit short of the mark at low paragon - which is as far as I've got.  I think granting one of the feat patches for free would help rebalance the class slightly but the powers themselves do need tweaking upwards slightly, even if that just involves bumping the dice up by one from d8 to d10.
Question - Does the timing of invoking a shroud work so that you still get the CA from Cruel Shroud?  Or do you only get CA if you leave one on the target?

Thanks.

Depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.

Question - Does the timing of invoking a shroud work so that you still get the CA from Cruel Shroud?  Or do you only get CA if you leave one on the target?

Thanks.


The shrouds are removed after you have either hit or missed the target, so yeah you have combat adavantage even when invoking shrouds.
Have a question, how am I suppose to get Black Flame Zealot for my assassin?  Trying to find how to incorporate it in to my level 13 Nightstalker, can't seem to find it.  Any info would be appreciated.
Have a question, how am I suppose to get Black Flame Zealot for my assassin?  Trying to find how to incorporate it in to my level 13 Nightstalker, can't seem to find it.  Any info would be appreciated.



Do you mean in the Character Builder?  It won't be in there until the September update.

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Ok thanks, now is it a guild, like night stalker?  Or is it a theme? Not quite sure.  And how would I like to know how I would use it for my Nightstalker.  Is it a class, guild, theme ?   thank you for the help.


Ok thanks, now is it a guild, like night stalker?  Or is it a theme? Not quite sure.  And how would I like to know how I would use it for my Nightstalker.  Is it a class, guild, theme ?   thank you for the help.




Well, the Black Flame Zealot is an organization presented in the article; its not a class, guild, or theme.  In terms of mechanics, there's an alternative class feature, black flame form, that can take the place of your standard shade form.  There's also a pair of magic items that tie into the theme.

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DDEX2-8 Foulness Beneath Mulmaster

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That helps, thanks.  Now can I take any of the feats associated with Black Flame Zealot?
That helps, thanks.  Now can I take any of the feats associated with Black Flame Zealot?



Yes, they're general assassin feats; they're not tied specifically to the Black Flame Zealots, so you can take them if you otherewise meet the prerequisites.  Actually, none of the mechanical elements are tied to the organization in a mechanical sense.

Tim Eagon My DDI Articles.

DDEX2-8 Foulness Beneath Mulmaster

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Very nice, I believe my assassin just became more of a threat now, thanks for the help.

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