Advice for an alpha-striking assassin?

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I'm in love with the concept of a changeling assassin who uses a combination of stealth, deceit and the Shade Form power to infiltrate pretty much anywhere, anytime, and deliver a fatal blow to her target and escape before anyone has a clue about it. Practically speaking this character isn't much of a team player so it probably won't see actual play, but at the same time I have to get it out of my system!

I've considered looking at the Executioner instead as it seems to be a better fit, but that means losing the Shade Form power which would really kill the buzz on the character concept of being able to get anywhere without hindrance. Thievery could compensate, I guess, but only if it meant a substantial difference in the 'one-shot, one kill' concept.

Of course, anything that could improve the characeter's usefulness in a team would be nice as well, it's just that the burning concept in my head requires this to be a secondary consideration. If I ever played this character, it would more likely be as a solo player anyway, but it would be nice if I could play it in a regular game as well.

Anyway, any tips or tricks would be appreciated. I've gone through the Iajutsu thread and the two assassin's handbooks but keep coming up against the "gotta sacrifice this to get that which in turn ruins the concept" wall so was posting this to see how I could get around, over, under or through that  

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting up the party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant steading, angering a dragon of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, “Are you really sure?”

Beg your DM to rewrite the assassin from the ground up.

More realistically, play a rogue and call it an assassin.

Because "alpha strike" and "assassin" are a shade bit on the "mutually exclusive" side as of now.   
Beg your DM to rewrite the assassin from the ground up.

More realistically, play a rogue and call it an assassin.

Because "alpha strike" and "assassin" are a shade bit on the "mutually exclusive" side as of now.   


What about the rogue would make it better?

I know the rogue is better DPR, but it would seem that the Excutioner has the benefit of Death Attack, and the Assassin has multi-shroud (assuming the feat that lets them stack without the target knowing) capability, to give them both the edge on an alpha-strike.

Honestly, I'm not phased on how I get the concept done. If she ends up being a hybrid ranger/warlock with MC paladin and it works for the concept, I'd be happy. Just trying to make the concept work, however, is what is doing my head in. 

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting up the party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant steading, angering a dragon of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, “Are you really sure?”

A charging executioner can alpha-strike fairly well:

Items:
Vanguard (or similar) Rapier -or- Shadow Master Ki Focus (if you can reliably get hidden)
Iron Armbands of Power
Horned Helm

Feats:
Surprising Charge
Light Blade Expertise
Venom Hand Assassin
MC rogue for sneak attack 1/enc

My level 5 Human Executioner does this reliably:

Attack: +14 vs AC (assuming CA with heroic effort +4 if needed)
Damage: 5d8+3d6+2d10+9 = 53 average

(1d8 weapon + 1d8 finesse + 1d8 venom + 1d8 surprising charge + 1d8 vanguard + 1d6 helm + 2d6 sneak + 2d10 assassin's strike + 5 dex + 2 armbands + 1 enhancement + 1 LBE)

Assuming level 5 monster with 19 AC, I will hit on a 2 (heroic effort). "DPR" for the attack (not counting criticals): .95 * 53 = 50.35

Keep in mind, this advice is for mid heroic. By paragon and epic, your DPR will drop off compared to most other strikers...although your first round should be respectable.

I've had a lot of success with a revenant githzerai Executioner/Rrathmal using the Master of Shrouds option from last month's hybrid article.  Multiclass Warlock gives you access to Shadow Step for a feat, so as long as you keep moving, you can stealth around pretty much at will.  Sneak in, apply a bunch of shrouds, use Trace Chance to make your next at-will attack a crit, and unload.  In the last few LFR mods I've played since the Black Flame Zealot article made shrouds worthwhile, I've one-shotted every enemy I used the combo on except for 1 elite, and I bloodied him in the first hit then gave him a Two-Fisted Shooter hit with 3 shrouds for good measure, thanks to keeping invoked shrouds after a crit.
I can summarize what makes the Rogue trump the Assassin on the alpha-strike front in one word: multiattacks. The Rogue can attack more than once per standard and has some minor action attacks to throw in as well, the Assassin does not. Each damage instance adds a lot more punch, and that's not even counting Knockout AP Bloodbath, AKA the go-to Rogue Daily alpha-strike combo. That said, the Bracers of Assassination and other toys have seen the Assassin improve on this front, just not to the level of the Rogue, who's one of the better ones in the business at this.
I can summarize what makes the Rogue trump the Assassin on the alpha-strike front in one word: multiattacks.


Multi-attacks?

Like a ranger twin strike?

Also, what level are we talking? I should've mentioned in the first post that I'm not after a 30th-level cheese build but rather something that can perform it's schtick effectively from at least mid heroic. This is mainly because I've never been in a game that has gotten past mid-heroic and I don't like to start in games that are already paragon or epic. Even if I never get to play the character, it's still something I want in my repetoire of characters.

It'd be nice to know what to aim for in paragon paths and feats, but for the most part I just want to make a cool alpha-striking assassin that would be fun to play in a game that would allow for stealthy assassinations and infiltrations. 

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting up the party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant steading, angering a dragon of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, “Are you really sure?”

By L3 the Rogue is comfortably ahead (Low Slash), by L5 he's way ahead (Bloodbath), and by L9 it's an arse-kicking (Knockout). These come online extremely early, and yes, Twin Strike is more or less the concept you're looking for. The ability to attack more than once on your turn trumps most things as far as raw alpha-strike damage goes, really.
with this assassin

assassin
 

level 11Drow, Assassin, Soul Thief
Guild Training: Night Stalker
Assassin: Black Flame Form
Background: Auspicious Birth (Auspicious Birth Benefit)
Theme: student of evard
FINAL ABILITY SCORES Str 11, Con 14, Dex 22, Int 9, Wis 11, Cha 20.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES Str 10, Con 13, Dex 17, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 15.

AC: 26 Fort: 21 Reflex: 24 Will: 24
HP: 72 Surges: 8 Surge Value: 18

FEATS
Level 1: Killer's Insight
Level 2: Lethal Shroud
Level 4: Keeper of the Black Flame
Level 6: Cruel Shroud
Level 8: Ki Focus Expertise
Level 10: Shadow Reservoir
Level 11: sneak of shadows

POWERS
Theme: essance of death
Assassin at-will 1: Shadow Storm
Assassin at-will 1: Executioner's Noose
Lolthtouched: Darkfire
Assassin encounter 1: Gloom Thief
Assassin daily 1: Targeted for Death
Assassin utility 2: Converging Shadows
Assassin encounter 3: Inescapable Shadow
Assassin daily 5: Grave Spike
Assassin utility 6: Vanish
Assassin encounter 7: Shadow Link
Assassin daily 9: Obscuring Shadow
Assassin utility 10: Slayer's Endurance

ITEMS: Death Shroud Accurate Ki Focus +3, Greatsword, Leather Armor of Sudden Recovery +3, Iron Armbands of Power (heroic tier), Cloak of Distortion +3



you will start your turn like so

free: shroud 1
free shroud 2 (ki focus)
minor: blackflame form, shroud 3
minor: darkfire (if you hit you put a 4th shroud on the target)
standard:  inescapable shadow
No action: essence of  death

this will out the gate do...

+22 vs AC  2d12+2d10+4d8+3d6+36 this avrages out to about 47 min 88.5 avrage and 130 max damage on avrage on the hit (you take 2d6 necrotic for it as well, but who cares?)

on the 2ed turn you can put another extra shroud on the target because of darkfire, maybe more with shadow link 

the other strikers can do more with less effort because assassin dailies for the most part stink some of which are overshadowed by encounters of the other classes, the best assassin daily i can find is a level 1 daily called targeted for death allowing the use an extra shroud on the target.

so i dont think the assassin is as bad as everyone says, but the assassin still needs so much to be good at what it does and when everyone else is multiattacking and having dailies that actually do things, the assassin is left in the dust.   
By L3 the Rogue is comfortably ahead (Low Slash), by L5 he's way ahead (Bloodbath), and by L9 it's an arse-kicking (Knockout). These come online extremely early, and yes, Twin Strike is more or less the concept you're looking for. The ability to attack more than once on your turn trumps most things as far as raw alpha-strike damage goes, really.


Low slash seems cool but aren't the others more geared towards DPR?

I appreciate all the input but the concept I'm trying for is all about getting to a target past traps, locked doors, guards, etc. through deception (changeling), deceit (bluff), stealth (either a sustained shade form or regular stealth) and once at the target, killing it in one round and escaping before detection. The ultimate Hollywood ninja, really. So DPR isn't a factor (or at least not a primary factor).

Also, although I honestly appreciate the advice using builds with other races, the specific concept I'm aiming for is with a changeling, hence why I'm having such difficulty in getting it to work and why I'm asking for advice because I can't seem to figure it out myself

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting up the party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant steading, angering a dragon of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, “Are you really sure?”

Doppelgangers (I mean Changlings ) are DEX, CHA, right?

So 20 DEX 16 CHA Thief with Acrobat's trick, scoundrel training Low Slash, Light Blade Expertise (this works with retraining some other feat from level 2 to scoundrel training at level 3), Mercenary Theme, Infiltrater background for +2 Bluff.

So through combination of stealth, thievery, Athletics and bluff skill challenge you find your sleeping target. Move action Acrobat's trick, Standard action Coup de grace' with Backstab and Takedown strike, minor action Low Slash. Your Coup with a +1 vicous shortsword will be 1d12 + 33 (sneak attack/backstab/takedown strike, that should bloodied value insta kill right there for anything within a reasonable level range). Then you have what should be a hit on a 2+ minor action attack for 1d6 +7. As you level you can add Bracers of Mighty Striking, Iron Armbands of Power, Horned Helm, etc.

How does this not work for you?

Edited in LBE bonus damage to the above figures.
How does this not work for you?


Thanks.

It's not so much that it doesn't work for me it's more that I wanted to see what more knowledgeable people from this forum could advise me on to optimise the character's alpha-strike capabilities within the limitations of being a changeling and somewhere in-between 5-15th level. For instance, I didn't know about Low Slash, so that alone has upped the optimisation level for me.

Currently I'm thinking of making it an executioner because of Death Attack and the poisons. As I understand it, I could have three poisons to use at any one time by 9th-level. So Nithirat poison on an object the target would handle (like, on a pillow) and Ungol Dust on something it'd open (bedside table?), wait for that moment and strike with Bloodroot Poison. Ungol would do 3d8+5+Dex+5 ongoing acid, Bloodroot would add 6+5 (extra 5 from Nithirat) and a dazed (save ends).

Multi-class for the rogue sneak attack damage, maybe a surprising charge (still not decided on whispers or scales), plus Takedown strike and maybe Low Slash before the assassin attack (not sure which one yet) so that Death Attack kicks in after the Ungol Dust/Bloodroot/Takedown/Assassin's Strike damage.

EDIT: Blurgh, didn't realise I couldn't get rogue powers from MC 'cause the ass has no powers to swap :/ 

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting up the party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant steading, angering a dragon of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, “Are you really sure?”

If you want a single-round kill, you do not play an Assassin. It's that simple.


So... what you're saying is... I should make a hybrid assassin!

I'm just kidding.

Such a shame. Both the O-Assassin and Executioner have such pretty, sparkly, traps in them. 

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting up the party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant steading, angering a dragon of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, “Are you really sure?”

How does this not work for you?


Thanks.

It's not so much that it doesn't work for me it's more that I wanted to see what more knowledgeable people from this forum could advise me on to optimise the character's alpha-strike capabilities within the limitations of being a changeling and somewhere in-between 5-15th level. For instance, I didn't know about Low Slash, so that alone has upped the optimisation level for me.

Currently I'm thinking of making it an executioner because of Death Attack and the poisons. As I understand it, I could have three poisons to use at any one time by 9th-level. So Nithirat poison on an object the target would handle (like, on a pillow) and Ungol Dust on something it'd open (bedside table?), wait for that moment and strike with Bloodroot Poison. Ungol would do 3d8+5+Dex+5 ongoing acid, Bloodroot would add 6+5 (extra 5 from Nithirat) and a dazed (save ends).

Multi-class for the rogue sneak attack damage, maybe a surprising charge (still not decided on whispers or scales), plus Takedown strike and maybe Low Slash before the assassin attack (not sure which one yet) so that Death Attack kicks in after the Ungol Dust/Bloodroot/Takedown/Assassin's Strike damage. 



OK, I'm more fond of Executioners than the Ossassin (just putting that up front). My issue with the Executioner recently is the fact that without Venom Hand master, their poisons can be pretty unimpressive in a wide range of encounters (and they are dailies and I tend to focus on encounter consistency). That said, Guild typically doesn't matter much because your BAs are your base damage dealers, the at-wills are more for the controller effects.   MC Rogue for sneak attack,  LBE, suprising charge and the items I mentioned in my above post should all help (and you have rapier instead of shortsword without having to use a feat or background, bonus).

I don't have access to the article right now but I believe there is a way to swap assassin's strike dice for an Ossassin encounter that can be swapped out for Low Slash but that may be more feat intensive than your willing to go.
They have nice trinkets, but heavily flawed core design.


Yah. It's not so much that I feel like I can't optimise it until it's broken, it's more that I feel like I can't quite hit the mark on any concept I want that involves the class. Disappointing but oh well.

So, now I'm thinking of a Cunning Sneak rogue with MC warlock for Shadow Walk. Although, the theif has so many pretty, sparkly things in it...

EDIT: Ooh, I just realised that Sneak's Trick gives almost the same thing as Cunning Sneak. And would I be right in assuming that Masterful Action (11th-level paragon Master Thief class benefit that gives Sneak Attack damage regardless of hitting or having used it this turn, as long as CA and action point) would stack with Slaying Action? With Backstabber, that'd be pretty nasty. Three Sneak Attacks in a turn!

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting up the party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant steading, angering a dragon of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, “Are you really sure?”

So, now I'm thinking of a Cunning Sneak rogue with MC warlock for Shadow Walk.


Arrrrgh!

Now I can't do this because it requires being an assassin.

See what I mean? Every time I try and build this thing, I hit a brick wall of "close but no cigar". 

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting up the party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant steading, angering a dragon of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, “Are you really sure?”

I'm not sure about stacking slaying action and masterful action (that would be awesome if it works). How about (because I love Thieves):

Sneak's trick and Acrobat's trick (moar damage).

CA generators: Superior Reflexes, Changeling's Feint, MC Cutthroat, level 8 Cutthroat's Scrutiny (CA and 19-20 crit range).

You already know the equipment, add in Low Slash with scoundrel training, surprising charge, vanguard weapon.

hm, wish I had my books and my DDI.
I'm not sure about stacking slaying action and masterful action (that would be awesome if it works).



9d8 just from sneak attack, and 3d8 of them don't even need the attack to hit!

You already know the equipment, add in Low Slash with scoundrel training, surprising charge, vanguard weapon.


Scoundrel training?

Thief can't MC rogue... and can't swap Cutthroat powers 'cause doesn't have attack powers to swap

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting up the party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant steading, angering a dragon of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, “Are you really sure?”

Ah, allow me to educate you my friend.

Scoundrel training is the Martial crosstraining feat for Thieves that trades a use of backstab for a Rogue Encounter power (Low Slash) and can be taken at level 3 by retraining one of your earlier feats (take Low Slash). The Cutthroat Adept (I think) power trades a level 6+ Utility power for Cutthroat Scrutiny at level 8, so you can take it (I love the Art of the Kill Article).

I'll be right back, have to do my rounds at work.
Ah, allow me to educate you my friend.


See! I knew there was a reason I started this thread! :D

Thanks. 

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting up the party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant steading, angering a dragon of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, “Are you really sure?”

You're welcome.

something from my wife's OCB I threw together

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Ot, level 8
Changeling, Rogue (Thief)
Occupation - Infiltrator (+2 to Bluff)
Theme: Mercenary
 
FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 11, CON 10, DEX 22, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 18
 
STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 11, CON 10, DEX 18, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 14
 
 
AC: 24 Fort: 16 Ref: 24 Will: 21
HP: 57 Surges: 6 Surge Value: 14
 
TRAINED SKILLS
Athletics +9, Bluff +17, Insight +11, Intimidate +15, Stealth +17, Streetwise +15, Thievery +15
 
UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +10, Arcana +3, Diplomacy +8, Dungeoneering +4, Endurance +4, Heal +4, History +3, Nature +4, Perception +4, Religion +3
 
POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Mercenary Attack: Takedown Strike
Changeling Racial Power: Changeling Disguise
Changeling Racial Power: Changeling Trick
Rogue Utility: Backstab
Rogue Utility: Acrobat's Trick
Rogue Utility: Sneak's Trick
Rogue Utility: Tactical Trick
Rogue Utility: Cunning Escape
Rogue Utility: Unbalancing Trick
Feat Utility: Cutthroat's Scrutiny
Rogue Utility 2: Fleeting Ghost
Rogue Attack 3: Low Slash
 
FEATS
Level 1: Light Blade Expertise
Level 2: Cutthroat
Level 4: Scoundrel Training
Level 6: Surprising Charge
Level 8: Cutthroat Expert
 
ITEMS
Vanguard Short sword +2 x1
Bestial Leather Armor +2 x1
Elven Cloak +2 x1
Bracers of Mighty Striking (heroic tier) x1
Horned Helm (heroic tier) x1
Adventurer's Kit
Dagger x5
====== End ======


I won't claim he's optimized and I'd certainly have taken disciple of freedom at the least by this stage in one of my characters' careers but this is a general idea of what I was thinking of.
Go Human Hybrid Rogue|Assassin, Adroit Explorer (picking low slash again) with a rapier, taking mostly rogue powers. Stay hidden from your target and dump 2 shrouds on him. Then use executioner's noose to pull your target to you (invoking your assassin shrouds), low slash, low slash, and then AP with your Rogue/Assassin power of choice. That way you get to use both striker features during your nova and use low slash twice in one turn.
Without dailies or APs, a level 11 stealth-charge optimized executioner can do something like this: 

1d8 weapon
2d8 finesse
2d8 venom
1d8 surprising charge
1d6 horned helm
1d6 shadowdancer's gloves
3d6 sneak attack
5d10 assassin's strike
+6 dex
+6 shadow master ki focus
+2 enhancement
+4 bracers of mighty striking
+2 weapon focus
(did I miss anything?)

6d8+5d6+5d10+20 = average of 92 (probably 100+ on an AP due to "Executioner's Action"). Problem is part of this damage is poison and/or necrotic -- which is commonly resisted. You should be hitting 90% of the time though.

On subsequent rounds assuming you can charge while hidden, you're limited to:

4d8+2d6+20 = 45

Still respectable, but requires feat/item/party support to keep your hidden status working.

Rogue can trump this because of his powerful dailies (compared to poisons) and knockout combos...however, as the number of encounters/day increases, this difference is lessened, due to the value of dailies decreasing.
Go Human Hybrid Rogue|Assassin, Adroit Explorer (picking low slash again) with a rapier, taking mostly rogue powers. Stay hidden from your target and dump 2 shrouds on him. Then use executioner's noose to pull your target to you (invoking your assassin shrouds), low slash, low slash, and then AP with your Rogue/Assassin power of choice. That way you get to use both striker features during your nova and use low slash twice in one turn.



I'd probably hybrid executioner/warlock and take advantage of the double striker mechanic -- assuming they didn't errata it.

You can't get cunning sneak, but you can get shadow walk easily. 
And Elusive Hexer

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima

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