By now most of us know how horribly underwhelming the assassin class was. Lets face it. It was outright depressing. In many threads I have read, many people have stated that the real problem with the assassin was its powers, and I agree. The powers are rather lackluster, and the class can't be "patched" just by adding what amounts to feat taxes. What I am proposing is more than that. Since WotC seems to have left the Ossassin in the dust, along with most of core 4th edition, it is up to the community to come to the poor assassin's rescue. So, I propose these fixes.
Role: Striker. You are the ghost in the night and the whisper on the wind. Barriers are worthless against you, and you strike your foes with sudden, precise force. You lean toward controller as a secondary role.
Power Source: Shadow. You have bound your soul to the Shadowfell and become a being of darkness.
Key Abilities: Dexterity, Charisma, Constitution, Intelligence
Armor Proficiencies: Cloth, Leather
Weapon Proficiencies: One-handed simple melee, military heavy blades, military light blades, simple ranged.
Implements: Ki focuses
Bonus to Defense: +1 Fortitude, +1 Will
HP at 1st level: 12 + Constitution score.
HP gained each level: 5
Healing Surges per day: 7 + Constitution modifier.
Trained Skills: Stealth. From the class skills list below, choose four more trained skills at 1st level.
Class Skills: Acrobatics (Dex), Arcana (Int), Athletics (Str), Bluff (Cha), Endurance (Con), Insight (Wis), Perception (Wis), Stealth (Dex), Streetwise (Cha), Thievery (Dex)
Class Features: Basic Attack, Death Attack, Guild Training, shade form, shadow step
WotC had one of their greatest SNAFUs right here. What kind of melee striker (I am not saying that it was strictly melee based, there was just no real support for ranged assassins) has the vitality of a controller? Sorry WotC, assassins aren't wizards, they didn't stay cooped up in their rooms reading books about magic. Part of their soul is in the Shadowfell, this should make them harder to kill. That argument could go both ways, so I'll leave it at that.
Ah, the part that annoyed me the most about the assassin. Not only did this have crappy scaling, but it's "increase the damage" feat was garbage. Go give the rogue brutal 1 on sneak attack instead of d8s. He'll murder you. Furthermore, the following changes shall be made to Assassin's Shroud.
- Hidden Insight included in the power itself. (If the target is unaware of you, it's unaware of your shrouds)
- If someone OTHER THAN YOU reduces the target to 0 hit points before you invoke your shrouds you may transfer your shrouds to another target in range as a free action.
- At level 11 each shroud deals 2d6 instead of 1d6 + 3.
- At level 21 each shroud deals 3d6 instead of 1d6 + 6.
I have completely nixed this, and rolled something similiar to it into Death Attack. This will require changes to feats, although most feats that deal with shrouds could just change the word shroud to whatever.
Another one of WotC's SNAFUs. I know they wanted to make the assassin feel unique, but the crappy scaling was not how they should have done it. In my opinion, the way that the shrouds could be used was unique enough, should have stopped there. I know you only lose out on 0.5 average damage per tier, but that's not the point. The point is maximum damage, especially with this crit-hunter theme I'm going for. Not to mention the ever-aggravating "Oh, your target died, too bad, you're never gonna see that damage." It gave no incentive to layer the shrouds. And, something I didn't know until just recently, Hidden Insight isn't included in Assassin's Shroud, and that just doesn't sit right with me. What's going on there? "Suddenly I feel as if an invisible shroud has settled on me!" Not likely that the goblin is gonna think that.
You have spent the better part of your life training to kill. You know exactly where to attack to kill your victims as fast as possible. Nothing escapes you alive.
Once per round, you can charge yourself with shadow magic. You can do this a maximum of four times. When you make an attack, you can release the shadow magic to deal an extra 1d6 damage for each charge. You choose whether to release the shadow magic before making the attack roll. If you miss, every charge except one deals extra damage. This extra damage increases to 2d6 at 11th level, and to 3d6 damage at 21st level.
In addition, when you release charged shadow magic, you score critical hits easier. You can score a critical hit on a roll of 19-20 with 1 charge, 18-20 with 2 charges, 17-20 with 3 charges, 16-20 with 4 charges. If you released charged shadow magic on a power with multiple attack rolls, you gain this benefit on all attack rolls involved in that power.
This power was actually good, and it got better after I realized that "creature" included allies, monsters, and NPCs, I only have one qualm with this, and propose this change. You may end the teleport adjacent to the same creature that you started it at.
If I'm stepping through the Shadowfell through their shadows, I should be able to end up by the same dang creature. End of story.
Not gonna lie, I thought this was great, up until I found out that you couldn't attack while in it. So basically this power became "Stealth Mode" and "Get Into Position." To give it more of a use than that, I propose this. If you reduce an enemy to 0 HP or less with an attack in which you invoked at least 4 shrouds, you gain one additional use of Shade Form until the end of your next short or extended rest. Also, at level 21, you gain phasing while in shade form. NOTE: I borrowed this idea shamelessly from a thread on giant in the playground. I give credit to whoever it was that came up with this idea.
Shade Form is really just a way of getting around the battlefield, since you can't attack. Therefore, you should be able to get it back so you can position yourself again. The phasing is to fit with the fluff where it says that you can move through obstacles or whatever. Many epic destinies grant at-will phasing and insubstantial, so I don't really see this as a problem.
Another sucky part of the assassin was it's crappy choice of guild training. You got to choose between a fairly conditional damage bonus or temp hp when attacking unbloodied creatures. I believe that guild training should be a little more tied in to the shroud death attack charge (as I now call it) mechanic. If you can't tell yet, I think the assassin should be, to quote another, "married" to their striker feature. Rogue's like their sneak attack, but it's not tied in to their other features for the most part. The way it works, the shrouds should have been tied in way more than they are. Also, guild training should affect fighting style more than who you target, and I also want to give a little more incentive to stack the shrouds charges instead of popping them every turn. So, I propose some new Guilds for your assassin to originate from. NOTE: All guild benefits apply only to Assassin powers and basic attacks, unless specifically noted otherwise.
- Twilight Hunter Guild: When you use a power with the teleportation keyword, you gain a bonus to damage rolls equal to your Charisma modifier until the end of your next turn.
- Needle's Poison Guild: You gain the envenom power. If you deal ongoing damage to a creature that is already taking ongoing damage of that type, increase the ongoing damage by the amount you would have dealt. For example, Bob hits the goblin and uses envenom. The goblin is now taking 5 ongoing necrotic and poison damage. Bob hits the same goblin and uses envenom again. The goblin is now taking 10 ongoing necrotic and poison damage. (I give credit for the name of this guild to my DM, who made it up for our campaign.) Envenom
Envenom Assassin Feature You lace your weapon with poison made from pure shadow. At-Will Shadow, Necrotic, Poison No Action - Personal Trigger:You hit a creature with an attack that deals damage. Target:The creature you hit Effect: The triggering attack deals 5 ongoing necrotic and poison damage (save ends). This ongoing damage is in addition to ongoing damage that the triggering attack deals, if any. Level 11:10 ongoing necrotic and poison damage. Level 21:15 ongoing necrotic and poison damage.
- Death's Whisper Guild: You gain proficiency with Military Ranged weapons. You gain a bonus to damage rolls against creatures you are hidden from equal to your Intelligence modifier. In addition, if you miss all targets of an attack using a ranged weapon while you are hidden, you remain hidden.
I kind of already said most of it. The Nightstalkers and Bleak Disciples sucked as guilds, and the guilds should deal with the shrouds charges a bit more. Obviously I reworked this. They don't deal with charges at all, and instead rely more on their secondary stat, with the exception of Needle's Poison, which is slightly more powerful to compensate for backloaded damage.
While poking around the forums, I found that most people agree that it's not the class features so much as the powers that need fixing. I don't have the time to think of powers right now, but I will try to update this as often as I can. Stay tuned and we'll see if I can't think of anything. I will say right now that I'm gonna have an at-will associated with each guild, kind of like the warlock, and a choice between at least two more.
I think that's all for now. I realize that some of these things may be overpowered, but the assassin should at least get to see the light of overpoweredness, however brief it may be.
As the pdf has become extremely out-dated, I have taken the link out until I update the pdf.