A Justified Assassin class

A justified assassin class

Many say you can create the assassin with just the rogue class and maybe a little wizard if you want to make it fully functioning. I agree.

But what if you really wanted to make a justified assassin class. What if you wanted to have the assassin do something and have mechanics that you wouldn't just slap on a rogue.

Let's explore it.

Here are my ideas. They hit all pillars and seem a little to much for a specialty.

Death Attack: Assassins are natural born killers. They are lethal combatants and are feared for their murderous ways. With a dagger, arrow, or spell, an assassin can end the life of an enemy or target in an instant.
Benefit: Once per round, you can make a Death Attack attempt against someone. If you successfully deal damage to an enemy that round, you make make a. Death Attack check. If the check is successful, the target must make a Constitution saving throw or die instantly. The DC for this saving throw is 11+ your Intelligence modifier. As you level, the DC may increase as well.
The base chance of Death Attack effect is 5%. As you level, your Death Attack chance increases. At no time can your death attack chance exceed 95%.

Cold Focus: Assassin have full control of themselves and an almost supernatural awareness of their bodies and the bodies of others. With this obsessive attention to detail, assassins are deadlier and harder to deal with when their eyes are on you.
Benefit: As an action, you can focus on someone not hidden from you. You have advantage on any contests opposing this individual. You can only focus only on one target at a time per assassin level. Your focus only last as long as the target is not hidden from you.

In addition, your focus increases your Death Attack chance by 10%. You can repeatedly focus on an individual, each time increasing your Death Attack chance. If you fail a Death Attack attempt or the target becomes hidden from you, your Death Attack chance resets back to the value given by your assassin levels.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

They said there is a possibility of Prestige Classes again. This is a PrC if there ever was one.
I have never really understood why they should be a class of their own.. but ok, lets suppose they were. =)

This:
Assassins are natural born killers. They are lethal combatants and are feared for their murderous ways.



Seem to apply very much, or even more so to the fighter.

And this:
: Assassin have full control of themselves and an almost supernatural awareness of their bodies and the bodies of others.



Seems to apply to the rogue.

I think, the distinguishing thing about an archetypal assassin is the 'attack from hidden' part and perhaps the use of poisons.

I would tone down their abilities to survive and do well in a face-to-face battle and focus on their ambush abilities, maybe give them bonuses to act in surprise rounds (take two rounds in the surprise round?) and make the Cold Focus thing something that they need to do without being involved in combat (hidden or at least out of the fray).

Also, as written the Cold Focus will enable an assassin to focus on a 5 monster encounter simultaneously at lvl 5..   and after that they would simply be able to focus on every monster in the encounter all the time, from a practical perspective. That should be greatly limited if the class is intended as a 'focus fire'/striker class. Maybe start with one creature, then go up to 2 at lvl 5 and 3 at lvl 10 perhaps?

Also make Cold Focus take one action where the assassin is not doing anything else, and allow only one 'charge' per creature, if they are so well trained, they should be able to locate their spot of choice on 6 seconds.

Death attack..  at 5% effectiveness it is useless (requiring many rounds to charge up according to the original Cold Focus mechanic, basically means making them unable to participate in many encounters), and even at like 55% chance, its very much a gamble, especially as the save will also decrease the chance of success greatly.

Then we have the fun factor of Death saves..   would the PC like to be ambushed by 5 assassins that have spent 10 rounds charging up Cold Focus to max? Would all PC's die? No. Would someone die, yes.
(Now maybe this was thought of as a PC only mechanic..  ok.. but I for one dont particularily like PC only mechanics...).

Making Death attack intstead do damage would make it more interesting, but then it's basically Sneak Attack. In which case this could be a Rogue option besides Thief and Thug..
if you have prestige classes i want them to be prestige.
in 3.X it was to easy to obtain a prestige class and to dip into prestige classes.

maybe more like the early bard where you have to take levels in rogue+fighter+druid before you can become a bard.

and only 1 prestige class alouwed per character.

Assassins kills people for personal interest, serving their view of a cause or their bank accounts.
Any individual from any class doing that can be an assassin.

It would make perfect sense to gain assassination techniques through feats. To specialize in poison use, to allow more situations to attempt a coup de grâce or to render the target unable to scream. 
When I think of reallife legitimate assassinations, I think of the Ranger, basically special ops.
Again this is more of a "for the sake of argument" topic. I agree that the assassin could be a specialty.

But to play the assassin's advocate, what would a true catch all assassin be that isn't another existing class.

Really a true assassin would be some sort of rogue/fighter/wizard mishmash as they'd need stealth, support spells, and lack the need for a fighter holding the guards back as they run away.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

Again this is more of a "for the sake of argument" topic. I agree that the assassin could be a specialty.

But to play the assassin's advocate, what would a true catch all assassin be that isn't another existing class.

Really a true assassin would be some sort of rogue/fighter/wizard mishmash as they'd need stealth, support spells, and lack the need for a fighter holding the guards back as they run away.

Unfortuneatly, you've only given us 2 abilities, which could easily be setup as two feats inside a speciality.

The first ability with the chance of instant death, really shouldn't be available at level 1 IMO. 
Assassins in 1E did not have magic of any sort. Why do they need magic at all? 
Instant death at level 1 isn't bad if the base is 5% and you must spent many rounds and many actions focusing to get a high chance while making Stealth checks or hoping their HP doesn't run out. And even then the target gets a save.

As for other abilities:
Crafting and refining poisons
Crafting explosives
Casting disabling spells
Crafting better disguises

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

Assassins in 1E did not have magic of any sort. Why do they need magic at all? 



I agree with you. In fact, to me, its a prime example of why Assassin should be something open to ALL classes as an add-on. The dedicated Assassin class doesn't make a lot of sense to me, historically it seems most TRUE Assassins were masters of some other craft that employed their mastery of that craft to help them in their assassinations.
Hmm, what if assassins could auto-crit if they exceed the target number by 10+? So say they are attacking a critter with AC 16. If they get a total of 26+, its a crit, regardless of what is rolled on the d20.

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@daegn
That is true. But a professional assassin would be stupid to not use magic if he constantly does solo missions.

@Mithrus
If you beat the someone's AC by 10, you probably rolled a Nat 19 or better if they are worth assassinating.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

The main problem with both that Extra Crit ability and the Death Attack is that both are dependant on a relatively low chance for some good effect to happen.

Most likely this means the Death Attack and Crit will activate only on completely random not very opportune moments and none of the abilities can be relied upon at say, an assassination attempt (you will only get one).

An assassins special "Assassinate" ability needs to be something that 'always' happen as long as some conditions are met, thus allowing the player to set the attack up in a planned manner and execute it not just with luck but with skill (as a proper assassin would).

Lucky shots dont mix well with my image of assassins..

Also.. the Rogue class would probably be better suited at assassinations than the current 'assassin', especially if using some kind of poison. (Poison btw I dont think should be a class feature...  what prevents the poison to be applied to another characters weapon, or arrow? Safe handling and manufacturing of poisons could be feats)
@daegn That is true. But a professional assassin would be stupid to not use magic if he constantly does solo missions.



Isn't that like saying that a fighter would be stupid to not use magic...

@Mithrus If you beat the someone's AC by 10, you probably rolled a Nat 19 or better if they are worth assassinating.

True, I was thinking of a way to give an expanded crit range that wasn't completely broken. Would beating it by 5+ be too strong?

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I think the problem is that the Rogue is stealing a few of the "Assassins" key traits. 

Roguish types should - in no way - be forced to "Sneak Attack" or use "Concealment" in any way.

Those should be the perview of the Assassin.

To put it into 4th Edition terminology:

- Rogue should be Martial Controller

- Assassin should be Martial Striker 
Ehn. I think the wrong way to approach designing the class is to give them an edge in combat. That's a Fighter thing. An assassin is just someone that kills select people for pay. Their death strike feature should be something that's fairly difficult to use mid-combat, but is easy enough outside of combat. Or perhaps, instead, the assassin could get something like Murder Moves as they level; they start with one or two of these, and have something like 6 by level 10. These would all have very similar requirements that prevent their constant use in combat, but out of combat would provide the assassin with an assured edge in the art of killing.

And magic-ness seems unnecessary, though it wouldn't hurt for the assassin to have a small spell list of tame spells like in 3.5.

Edit: Thinking about it, playing an assassin should feel like playing the Batman: Arkham games on the higher difficulties (where thugs have guns all the time, basically). It's about the art of stealth, and any combat techniques would actually be about getting ways to get out of combat long enough to start setting up a murder move. 
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When I talk about an assassin using magic, I am referring to 3.5 where they could cast spells on themselves. That is over the top. If you're an assassin and you want to cast spells as well, multiclass, that's why it's there. 

On the other hand, using a ring of invisibility or elven cloak to hide and be concealed is something different. It's a tool, just like a fighter's magic sword is.

As far as I'm concerned the only classes that should cast spells are the various (magic users) and various (clerics). 
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />Edit: Thinking about it, playing an assassin should feel like playing the Batman: Arkham games on the higher difficulties (where thugs have guns all the time, basically). It's about the art of stealth, and any combat techniques would actually be about getting ways to get out of combat long enough to start setting up a murder move. 



I agree, if assassins should be a class they should be all about setting up their one carefully prepared attack and regardless of that succeeds or fails, then just focus on getting out alive.
I actually agree with the sentiment that an assassin shouldn't be a dedicated class. Nor should it allow for insta-death per se. Rather, it should be a specialty, and it should do historically what assassins tend to: allow for immense damage when the target is caught unawares, and given the tools to catch an opponent unawares.

Basically, assassin should likely be a specialty or the like. I would by default have them always do max damage plus some additional damage on a cout de grace, against any helpless target, or against any target unaware of their presence. This means snipers, sneaky melee combatants that get up close, someone who slips in a poison to an unaware target, etc. 

Then, give them tools to allow them to disguise, be sneaky, stealthy, to find good sniper points on high ground, the ability to slip away once the target is hit, make poisons, rig extremely deadly traps, and so on.

A series of feats for a specialty, along with an assassin prestige class open to anyone, would be best.

I see zero reson whatsoever for an actual assassin dedicated class, for them to have any specific specialty in terms of attacks, magic, etc. A huge variety of potential attacks and skillsets can make for an incredible assassin. Thus, I'd make assassin abilities dramatically enhance the deadliness of anything, provided said assassin successfully catches their mark unawares or while helpless. 
What it sound like there shouldn't be an assassin class. Something I agree with.

But there also shouldn't be a SINGLE assassin specialty either. We'll need a poison assassin, a weapon damage assassin, a combat assassin, and a specialty for escapes and withdraws.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

As much as I love playing assassins, I'm in the "it's a Specialty" camp.

An assassin template would work great with any one of the four main classes:

Fighter: The tenacious and deadly hired killer, armed to the teeth with all kinds of nasty weapons; A true terminator.
Cleric: The religious avenger that carries out clandestine operations for their religious sect.
Rogue: The stealthy, invisible assassin that gets the job done without anyone knowing they were there.
Wizard: A member of an elite order of arcane killers...aligned with unholy forces. 
D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.

As much as I love playing assassins, I'm in the "it's a Specialty" camp.

An assassin template would work great with any one of the four main classes:

The thing is, that logic precludes the real reason for an Assassin class -- because Assassin has historically been a class in a couple editions, and there's too many mechanics tied to the concept to accomplish with a specialty or background. Lots of classes could be argued to be something other classes could do. Warlord, for a common one. I've seen someone lay claim that the Cleric could be a hybrid of Fighter and Wizard, and if the system were designed with that in mind I think it's quite plausible.

In fact, I know that there's at least one forumgoer who firmly believes that the game should be boiled down to two classes; a magic-user, and a mundane character. Every variation and archetype is distilled from those two classes.

So I think an Assassin firmly deserves to exist. Deadly murder strikes, good disguises, shadowy magical and regular stealth abilities, and the ability to make and use poisons are a bit too good and thorough for a specialty. We need a class. Or prestige class.
I don't use emoticons, and I'm also pretty pleasant. So if I say something that's rude or insulting, it's probably a joke.
the problem is assassin is not a class its a job. assassin fits in more as a background than a class.
The problem IS that the assassin is a job. And most of the other classes would fail at that job.

The fighter can't sneak, disguise, and open locks well. The rogue can't survive the escape. The cleric sucks at assassinating anything of worth without sacrificing all these resources. And the wizard must be high level to have enough spells to get in, kill, survive, and get out.

So the question is...
Can you add something to make other classes good assassins or do you need to combine all the elements into a new class?

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

If you ask me, the Assassin fits in just well as a Rogue Scheme.


Assassins have a unique set of skills they have mastered, like poison crafting/use and stealth, to name a few; Skill Mastery represents this fairly well.


Death Attack could be derived from Sneak Attack. Maybe give some extra Sneak Dice, and/or give the ability to maximize them. Given enough Sneak Dice, the latter is just as good as an insta-kill ability on most creatures presented so far. You could make it work similarly to the 4e Assassin's shrouds: use an action to focus on your target, gain an extra die against it (let's call it a Death Die for now). You can stack extra dice equal to 1 + your level. You lose all Death Dice you have accumulated if you focus on a different target. As part of an attack, you can declare the use of your Death Dice, which apply as extra damage. If you have advantage, you can use your Sneak Dice as well. If you do not move on your turn, you can maximize your Death Dice (and maybe even the Sneak Dice). This needs some refinement, but I think it's a good place to start.


I do think, however, that these abilities (or similar ones) should be available as feats/specialties to other classes. But the true Assassin would be better served as a Rogue Scheme.

Back when I was your age, assasins were their own class! Not this fancy smancy "prestige" nonsense! The only prestige we had was the.....

Ok, seriously though. I would prefer assassins as a class. This might be due to the fact I played back in 1e when they were their own class. Or it might be that I think assassins and rogues are fundamentally different, but share similarities of course. Or it may be due to the fact that it seemed like the designers were saying all classes in all PhB 1s would be in D&D Next and I really want to see that happen. That factor is probably the biggest factor, but the others listed and many not listed apply.

Poison use, disguises and assassins guilds are a huge part of assasins for me. I know we could do this with a rogue. We could do this with a prestige class. But I want it to be a class, with its own flavor and own mechanics. I want all PhB 1 classes to be it's own class too. In fact, I'm expecting to see this in the final product and if it's not there it's one of the things that would severely dissapoint me. Most other things could change without disappointing me in Next's final version.   

Do you have an opinion on what campaign settings should be printed in D&D Next? If so, please cast your votes in this poll! Poll: What campaign settings do you want to see printed in D&D Next?
@TheLyons: Oh, don't bring up "assassins guilds" - you'll have a small portion of this forum enraged that you're enforcing fluff on them.

Anway - I think the assassin is already present.

I think it's the rogue that ought to be liberated from some of its thematic mechanics like "Sneak AttacK". 
In fact, I know that there's at least one forumgoer who firmly believes that the game should be boiled down to two classes; a magic-user, and a mundane character. Every variation and archetype is distilled from those two classes.

Technically, it's three Martial/Magical/Mixed. Mixed is an amalgam of the other two, but it needs its own rules for overall balance.

As much as people complain about this "over-simplication" of classes, it does allow for the largest number of character concepts and still allow for class "balance". From these core classes, you can expand and recreate all of the previous editions' classes, although it is very likely the unbalanced nature of some classes (casters specifically) will become self-evident.

I'm futzing around with dissembling the classes into feature bundles such that there is still an overall balance achieved. I want to make the build process pillar-centric, so you can have similar characters that some variance of effectiveness between pillars. I'd rather not see it possible to build a character that is awesome at all three pillars. A fighter should be #1 in combat, but should have options for being at least functional in exploration and/or interaction. A caster may have primarily buff spells for combat, but also some charm or divination spells for interaction. In some ways, it might resemble how Shadowrun physical adepts are constructed. Something like having 6 points to allocate on the three pillars, with a minimum of 1 and a max of 4. A fighter could have combat:4, interaction:1, exploration:1; or combat:3, interaction:1, exploration:2. Have each feature in a list be given a value anywhere from .5 to 2 points depending on it's relative worth for that pillar (some strong features might have a value for multiple pillars). A character gets a new point every X levels to gain new features, and you can bank them as needed.

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I think it's the rogue that ought to be liberated from some of its thematic mechanics like "Sneak AttacK". 

From my perspective, "sneak attack" needs to be liberated from the rogue and given to the assassin, because it is exactly what the assassin needs and is not appropriate for every rogue ever.

Even if assassin is just a rogue sub-class.

And while I'm dreaming, I'll wish that assassin could be one rogue sub-class that gains sneak attack as their bonus-background-super-feature, and another sub-class could gain significant (moderate) spellcasting ability instead.

The metagame is not the game.

Warlord, for a common one.

Warlord is a perfect candidate for a Specialty or theme, as well. There was way too much class bloat in the last two editions of the game. I'm 100% in favor of sticking with the four main classes and using specialties, themes, backgrounds and skill/feats to flesh-out the exact type of character you want to play. But that is a different debate...


D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.

Class bloat or Specialty bloat?

You're not getting bonus damage, poison use, stealth bonuses, and disguise uses in one specialty.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

You're not getting bonus damage, poison use, stealth bonuses, and disguise uses in one specialty.


Make it a background.  Stealth and disguise can be two of the skills, putting them at a huge bonus over everyone else who doesn't have those skills.  Poison use can be the background ability, and scaled appropriately.  Super sneaky bonus damage can be the rogue-specific super-background-bonus-ability.

Problem solved.

The metagame is not the game.

Class bloat or Specialty bloat? You're not getting bonus damage, poison use, stealth bonuses, and disguise uses in one specialty.

Because, as we all know, Specialties will only ever have exactly two feats inside.

Class bloat or Specialty bloat? You're not getting bonus damage, poison use, stealth bonuses, and disguise uses in one specialty.

Anyone can use poison and/or disguises. And if you play a rogue assassin, you get the stealth bonuses. It wouldn't take much to offer a disguise and poison skill, as well, as part of a rogue scheme if that's the type of assassin you want to play.

The point is, a fighter or any other class that is hired to kill, is technically an assassin. I personally like the idea of a merciless warrior assassin that is an unstopable killing machine. Assassins don't always kill discreetly.

Now, I'm not talking specific merchanics here...we're talking theoretically.
D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.

Personally, I think Assassin should be a scheme. But, I think if we're going to continue this conversation, we should come up with a better name than "Death Attack". Laughing
If an assassin needs to be a class, I suggest demonstrating the fact by creating the class using this thread here.

You'll get a good idea of how much of the class is really just another class, and how much of it will actually look and feel unique while not overwhelming the balance of the other classes.
Assasin is too good like archetype to be only a rogue subclass.

Assasin shouldn´t be only a hitman. I don´t talk about Altair or Ezio but sicarii (rebels who fight a invader occupation force, like Greek klpehts or Balkans hajduk) o characters like Solid Snake (metal gear) or Sam Fisher (splinter cell saga), Travis Touchdown (no more heroes) or Crying Freeman.  

It could be a mixture of shadowcaster (Tome of Magic), rogue and swordsage (tome of battle).


The could be treasure hunters to finance the guild or collecters of special poisons from some monsters. 


They can use knifes because they uses most expensives metals like silver or special alchemy alloys.

A assasin could be a slayer of Domiel (book of exalted deeds) who kills vampires lords with frozen blessed water arrows. 

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

From my perspective, "sneak attack" needs to be liberated from the rogue and given to the assassin, because it is exactly what the assassin needs and is not appropriate for every rogue ever.



For me that does not sound like a liberation...  You would take a rather core concept such as Sneak Attack from a thematically vague and shapable class like the Rogue and imprison it inside a thematically locked class like assassin.. 

No please.. =P
Personally, I think Assassin should be a scheme. But, I think if we're going to continue this conversation, we should come up with a better name than "Death Attack". 

How about "Sudden Death" ;)

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