Building the Next Assassin

OK, all the pieces are there. The 4e Assassin had brilliant options. It's only problem was bad damage math, which is trivially fixed. The executioner, same deal.

Combine those two with this: www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/3rd-party-class...

and you've got the next assassin.

Any thoughts? Things missing that folk think the assassin needs?


Anyone with me on making the Avenger an Assassin, if we can't get it as a full class?
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
I'm with you (although wasn't the Avenger originally a Chaotic Fighter that was the opposite of the Paladin in BECMI, not an offshoot of the Holy Slayer (my favorite 2nd Ed thief Kit after the Slayer from Complete Book of Humanoids).
Don't remember. I remember the 3.5 "totally not just a non evil assassin" and the 4e avenger, that always seemed like if it had the stealth skill it was just a holy assassin. :P
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
I am of the opinion that unless a class has an entirely new mechanic, it does not need an independent class.  If one class resembles another, simply add the new class as an optional subclass.  There is already an assassin-type rogue. Unless a new assassin is highly unique, it need not be built.  If it is just going to be a multiclass rogue/wizard, then it does not need to be built.

Wizards have a Vancian spell chart.
Fighters have Maneuvers and Martial dice.
Clerics have granted powers from their deity and should have a separate spellcasting mechanic from Wizards. It should be based on probability of success or faith points awarded by their deity or something.
Rogues should have a focus on skills With a mechanism in place that is uniquely theirs.

Other classes can simply be built usings these mechanics unless an enitely new mechanic is created. If the mechanism for class improvement is the same, do not build a separate class.  

Create more maneuvers. Keep potential spell lists limited for each caster. Create new profiles for deities. Many of the classes people want could be built within the system by allowing greater customization within each class or between classes using hybrid classes and multiclassing.

4E tended to keep creating new classes with dozens of pages for each to list available powers. 3E was not that much different but conserved space a little since powers were less customizable.  5E should avoid the temptation to create a new class with every character concept.  Classes are too confining.  They limit your options and define the future of the character to an extent that is unnecessary.  Class should define the mechanic used and the progress the character has made using that mechanic (Vancian spell progression for example or maneuvers learned and martial damage dice). The exact spell list or the chosen maneuver should be free to vary widely.

A monk should just be a fighter with specific maneuvers and powers and abilities.  The mechanic for fighters and monks is not that different. Same with barbarians.  

The system can become far more customizable by simplifying itself.  If there are 20 rigid classes, we could  be better suited by 8 base mechanics with hybrid and multiclass character that are free to develop a unique and interesting character concept from a greater pool of powers and abilities.
 
I don't disagree that an assassin class would need a mechanical space all its own to justify a separate class as opposed to a rogue subclass.  I do disagree, however, that there are only 8 base mechanics or that it is impossible to make an assassin mechanically distinct from a rogue.

Here's why I think assassin does not work well within the existing classes:
Rogue: rogue's in this edition are built around skills.  Extra skills, skill mastery, skill tricks...  That doesn't fit assassins.  They need good stealth, certainly, maybe some social skills, but they are not skill monkeys, experts, or a class that relies on skills to deliver their mechanical effects (skill tricks).  I don't even think that "assassinate" makes a good mechanic for them (I hate it as a mechanic generally, but even if I liked it I wouldn't like it for assassins as I don't think assassins should be pigeon-holed into the "surprise! you're dead" style).  I much prefer the shadow assassin/avenger mechanic for them (bonuses vs. lone enemies), and that sort of mechanic really doesn't sit well with the rogue concept.   You could trade out the extra skills and skill tricks for some combat prowess or shadow magic stuff, I suppose, but then what are they sharing with the base class?  An emphasis on dexterity?
Rogue/wizard: the basic problem with making the assassin a hybrid/multiclass, is that it isn't a rogue with some wizard spells, either mechanically or fluff wise.  It's weapon prowess certainly has no business being a weighted average of rogue/wizard, nor should it have access to the full wizard spell list even with restricted slots.  Fluff wise, I for one don't see it's magical abilities as coming from wizardly studying, or necessarily even being arcane.  But most of all, multiclassing produces a character that is a wizard one round and a rogue the next.  An assassin should be an assassin every round, seemlessly blending magic and martial to do things neither rogue nor wizard should be able to do.

And that brings me to where I think it can have distinct mechanical space of its own.  An assassin is more than just a rogue who emphasizes combat from stealth and poison use.  The coolest thing about an assassin is that, even if you know he's coming, there's nothing you can do to stop him.  Nobody knows how he got passed the locked doors, how he defeated your enormous contingent of guards, or how he overcame his skilled swordsman of a target, and not knowing you have no idea how to do better next time.   The most terrifying thing about him is that you aren't dead before you know what hit you, he looks you in the eyes and you know you are doomed long before he slits your throat, you are helpless before him.  He is a supernatural force of shadow and fear.  There is plenty of space there for mechanical differentiation

Mechanical bonuses vs. lone targets: 5 fighters will outfight 5 assassins, and a fighter will outclass an assassin against a group of baddies, but one on one the assassin will defeat the fighter.  Thus, the fighter must fear the assassin, even if he is ostensibly the more skilled combatant.  The Avenger's advantage mechanic would work pretty well for this, I think.
Bonuses vs. helpless targets: Not the actual helpless condition the e-ssassin used, because that's too hard to get.  Targets that can't see you, targets that are restrained, panicked, something like that.  Leverage that "inevitability" feeling with set 'em up and knock 'em down mechanics, so that the assassin takes his time setting up the kill, and the foe can sit and squirm for a round knowing his doom is upon him.  Then, unlike the e-ssassin, give him ways of actually creating the condition that triggers his bonus.  Mundane or magical restraints (bolas, grasping shadows...) that take an action but do no damage, then double up damage against restrained targets (ending up with below average damage since they might escape, but the target wasted its action escaping so it's balanced).  A building sense of panic (maybe every time you kill something, you can make a charisma vs wisdom check to frighten your target ENT, and if the target is already frightened it becomes paralyzed, triggering your bonus).  
Supernatural powers of terror: the assassin is quite possibly the most terrifying (demi)human being in the world.    He wields that fear as a weapon to confuse, debilitate, and separate his foes so that he can go in for the kill.  These can help you get your weapon bonuses above.
Supernatural powers of travel: no panic room can keep out an assassin.  Teleportation from shadow to shadow, phasing, supernatural climbing or jumping abilities...
Supernatural powers of concealment: the rogue may be better at getting from point A to point B without being seen, but even if you know the assassin is in the room he's never quite where you expect.  Invisibility and concealment, not stealth bonuses.
Supernatural powers of tracking: you can run, for a time, but you cannot hide.  He will always find you.
Mundane powers of control: bolas, caltrops, smokescreens, flash bangs, all non-lethal methods of separating the target from his guards.
Poisons: and I don't mean just "he applies poisons to his weapons."  Anyone can do that.  He gets special poisons nobody else can get.  The shadow assassin's poison linked above is a great example, grounded in his own fluff and doing something weird and cool and terrifying (you go blind, which is naturally scary, and especially so when there's an assassin in the room, trying to kill you, and now you're helpless...).  Maybe the ability to tailor your poisons to your foe's anatomy if you have the time to prep (maybe you need to steal a tissue sample or a possession first...). 

So there's actually quite a lot of mechanical space for an assassin that is totally unused right now. 
i agree that alot of theses classes arent real classes on their own, when the complete class books came out in 2nd edition they had a good thing with kits. so you main class rogue and take an assassin kit and there you go you have an assassin
Based on my experiences the Assassin Rogue is already a pretty good Assassin. Maybe we should just have an Assassin prestige class to enhance the Assassin-specific skills further.
i dont like prestige classes i think a kit with additional powers is fine it can be taken at 1st level when you make the character. also if you take a kit since that is a class specilization you shouldnt be allowed to multi class. the boost the kit should give would make the sacrafice woth it.
I imagine assasin like a thief with shadow powers and some (exclusive) ki maneuver.

The archetype is too interesting to be only a subclass. If beguiler, spellthief and factotum were classes the assasin can be it too. Only the right design is necesary.

A open door to shadow&elements like power source should be allowed. (Shadow and elements could use the same game mechanic, like mysteries of 3.5 shadow magic.).




 

"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 

shadow powers are not what an assassin is thats a spellcaster thief hybrid
shadow powers are not what an assassin is thats a spellcaster thief hybrid



A number of editions disagree with you… 

If the assassin is purely mundane, I say simply combine it with the rogue (possibly as a subclass or subbuild).

If on the other hand the assassin is a shadow assassin with both supernatural capabilities and martial prowess, then yes it deserves a unique class. Just don't give it daily spell slots...

I say the best places to draw inspiration from are the 4e Executioner|Warlock hybrid, 4e Osssassin, 3e Swordsage (focus on setting sun and shadow hand disciplines), 3e shadowdancer Prc, and the various 3e Ninja Prcs. The class should focus on mobility and hard strike-retreat capabilities. I'm a fan of numerous means of teleportation, climbing, jumping, and turning invisible myself.
If you don't want your assassin to use shadow powers, then go ahead.  Maybe you can find enough space within the assassin class to have a non-shadow option, or maybe you should just play the rogue with the assassinate talent.  But just because you don't like shadow powers doesn't mean we should chop the class in half and then complain that there's not enough left to justify independent existence.  I think there's a space for that concept as a distinct class that could handle that archetype much, much better than multiclassing the classes we have available.  

I would love to play an assassin like the one I described.  I would not for two seconds consider playing a rogue with the assassinate talent, and if I were forced to use that chassis to create an assassin then multiclassing him into a spellcaster would likely drive him further away from the concept I want, not closer (we don't know what the MC rules will look like yet, but they will almost certainly weaken his combat prowess and will probably require at least 3 levels of useless wizard that are almost useless to me before I get access to the handful of spells I actually want, assuming reasonable approximations of the spells I want actually exist, which is unlikely given that many of them would be useless to a wizard).  Multiclassing is a way to get something that is part A, part B, not a way to get something that is all C.  Neither rogue nor wizard have the pieces that I need to cannibalize to build an assassin.   
Heh, this is a conversation I've partaken of quite a bit before, now isn't it?

I think the assassin can be its own class simply because the rogue won't do most of the assassin archetypes justice, the same way that the fighter doesn't do most of the rogue archetypes justice if played that way. There's all kinds of assassins. Some specialize in poisons, others in disguises, others still in dark magic, and some are just sneaks with a knack for deadly, singular strikes. The rogue can accomplish some of these to some effect, but it's not suited to cover them properly.

Plus, assassin has a history of being its own class (even if we're just talking about the prestige class; based on what those will become in Next, we won't see something as generic as "Assassin" as a prestige class).

There was a decent-sized topic on this from something like half a year ago where I said how I think the class ought to look, and I stand by that. 
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.
Personally, I would rather play a rogue with the assassinate power and skill tricks related to poison. BUT, I think powerroleplayer has a point. I do hope that if they do create an assassin class it will have elements of BOTH the Ossassin and the shadowdancer AND the Essassin and the 3e assassin prestige class.
Just don't give it daily spell slots...



You know what might be a cool mechanic?  A power point system where the assassin regains power points for killing its' target (you can only designate things with an XP value as your target, no bags of rats).  It's flavorful, it's associative, and it auto-scales to day/encounter length.  

What if the assassin shifts focus to the exploration and social pillars instead of the combat pillar?

What if we design him to be utterly average in combat because he's a killer, not a fighter? So we give him the cleric's attack bonus for martial and magic attacks. D6 for HP and light armor, limited weapons (shortbow crossbow, short sword, dagger, quarter staff), no shields.

Now, outside of combat (ie before initiative) he is a deadly killer. Perhaps he should get a death attack on non-combatant NPCs (those not currently engaged in combat). I envision this as a customizable attack as you level that might kill (up to a point), debilitate, poison, cripple, etc - depending how you build it.

Also, he focuses more on a series of extraordinary or perhaps even spell-like abilities that enable him to go where others can't and be where others can't.

I'm seeing an ability to climb and swim and even crawl and squeeze at full speed. Maybe some spider climbing action.

Maybe he also has more social access through disguises and even some illusions.

He may focus on luring a mark to a disadvantageous position before ambushing him. Or getting someone alone and vulnerable before putting a blade in the ribs.

But if a fight breaks out, he's not a top-line fighter. Capable, but no candle to a fighter or combat spec rogue/cleric/barbarian.
What if the assassin shifts focus to the exploration and social pillars instead of the combat pillar? What if we design him to be utterly average in combat because he's a killer, not a fighter? So we give him the cleric's attack bonus for martial and magic attacks. D6 for HP and light armor, limited weapons (shortbow crossbow, short sword, dagger, quarter staff), no shields. Now, outside of combat (ie before initiative) he is a deadly killer. Perhaps he should get a death attack on non-combatant NPCs (those not currently engaged in combat). I envision this as a customizable attack as you level that might kill (up to a point), debilitate, poison, cripple, etc - depending how you build it. Also, he focuses more on a series of extraordinary or perhaps even spell-like abilities that enable him to go where others can't and be where others can't. I'm seeing an ability to climb and swim and even crawl and squeeze at full speed. Maybe some spider climbing action. Maybe he also has more social access through disguises and even some illusions. He may focus on luring a mark to a disadvantageous position before ambushing him. Or getting someone alone and vulnerable before putting a blade in the ribs. But if a fight breaks out, he's not a top-line fighter. Capable, but no candle to a fighter or combat spec rogue/cleric/barbarian.




It seems to me that a rogue with the assassinate class feature is the type of assassin you are describing, and is still better in combat (due to the progressions you have requested) than what you are describing. It seems sort of meh to me.  Personally, I think the “spell points are regenerated for kills” idea is more interesting. Feels sort of like payment for murder on a metagame level. 

What if the assassin shifts focus to the exploration and social pillars instead of the combat pillar? What if we design him to be utterly average in combat because he's a killer, not a fighter? So we give him the cleric's attack bonus for martial and magic attacks. D6 for HP and light armor, limited weapons (shortbow crossbow, short sword, dagger, quarter staff), no shields. Now, outside of combat (ie before initiative) he is a deadly killer. Perhaps he should get a death attack on non-combatant NPCs (those not currently engaged in combat). I envision this as a customizable attack as you level that might kill (up to a point), debilitate, poison, cripple, etc - depending how you build it. Also, he focuses more on a series of extraordinary or perhaps even spell-like abilities that enable him to go where others can't and be where others can't. I'm seeing an ability to climb and swim and even crawl and squeeze at full speed. Maybe some spider climbing action. Maybe he also has more social access through disguises and even some illusions. He may focus on luring a mark to a disadvantageous position before ambushing him. Or getting someone alone and vulnerable before putting a blade in the ribs. But if a fight breaks out, he's not a top-line fighter. Capable, but no candle to a fighter or combat spec rogue/cleric/barbarian.



Too campaign style specific, he would be totally useless in half the campaigns I've played in.  Also, such a class would not play well with others (who would have nothing to do while he's off disguising and luring and alpha-striking while he has nothing to do while they're off killing monsters), and playing with others is what TTRPGs are all about.  Also, balancing across pillars is the devil (for not unrelated reasons).  
I don't see a reason why assassin as a class wouldn't be broad enough to include kill-chains, avenger type dudes, and out-of-combat lurker types.

In fact I think this is one class that's well-served by a good number of archetypes.

Each assassin ought to be able to choose some mode of operation (some will want poisons, some want kill-chain bonuses, some might just want death-attack). And they should build from there maybe.
Why make them choose?  Why shouldn't a kill-chain assassin fight better against single targets, use poisons, AND get disguise and climb powers?  Wizards get to take both illusion and evocation, fighters can have both WWA and protect, rogues can take both taunt and vanish...  I think "class that uses poisons" is a crappy concept, anyone should be able to pour poisons on their blade, just like lots of classes can effectively stealth or use magic.  It is by weaving all those pieces into a single, cohesive whole that you create an awesome class and evocative concept.  

Bonus damage vs restrained targets is useless without powers for restraining targets.
Bonus accuracy against lone targets is boring unless you also have ways of getting your target alone.
Poisons don't belong to the assassin, and so do nothing to make it a distinct class.
Wizards can wield shadow, fear, invisibility, spider climb, and teleportation.  Tweaking those spells to feel assassiny does not make a distinct class.

But put it all together: you have a class with strategy, that would lose a fair fight, but with cunning use of his mundane and supernatural tweaks can take on the toughest foe; you have a class with a distinct rhythm of play, get them vulnerable and then close in for the kill; you have a class with a coherent and distinct identity, a class who seemlessly melds magic and martial into a terrifying and effective whole, who picks a target, pronounces its doom, separates it from its friends, paralyzes it with its own fear, and executes it with inevitability and efficiency.  Each piece is contributing towards a unitary vision that would be lost if you could only play with one facet.
i disagree on the magic end, use of poison wasnt just on using them it was also making them and you can use poison in many ways not just on a blade. supernatural powers is somthing i find not needed you can hide just as well with out magic and if you want to use magic get some assassin flavor magic items
you are right about that and there are plenty of magic items that would work for rogues
shadow powers are not what an assassin is thats a spellcaster thief hybrid



A number of editions disagree with you… 





Really, I only know of one, the shadow prancing assassin of 4th Ed Ed, in 3rd Ed they were a PrC with some minor arcane spell-casting, in 1st and 2nd Ed they had no magic whatsoever.




The 3e receives magic. Its magic tends to be focused on poison, illusion, and invisibility type effects. Shadowmagic, in 4e, focuses on poison, illusion, and invisibility type effects. The Essassin of 4e looks like a full class based on the 3e version. Then there is the 4e Ossassin which bears a lot of similarities to other assassin themed PrCs of 3e, such as the ghost faced killer. All in all, that creates enough of a narrative across enough editions to justify giving the DDN assassin the option to take shadow themed magic. 

No, they do. Because 3e, for all intents and purposes, was what 4e termed a shadow using assassin.
No, they do. Because 3e, for all intents and purposes, was what 4e termed a shadow using assassin.





No, it wasn't, it was a PrC that had access to spells (that a wizard could cast).  

Your original statement was that a number of editions would disagree with an assassin that is not about shadow powers, that is incorrect (least of all as pre-4th Ed assassins never had "powers", period).



What that is all just semantics and fluff.  In every edition of D&D the assassin was a magical rogue with magic relating to shadows, poisons, illusions, and invisibility.  The 4e assassin was exactly that just with the label "shadow" instead of arcane. The 4e version also accomplished these tasks far more elegantly than their predecessors.
No, they do. Because 3e, for all intents and purposes, was what 4e termed a shadow using assassin.





No, it wasn't, it was a PrC that had access to spells (that a wizard could cast).  

Your original statement was that a number of editions would disagree with an assassin that is not about shadow powers, that is incorrect (least of all as pre-4th Ed assassins never had "powers", period).




And now you are being disingenuous and intentionally ignoring facts. “Power” has a use in the English language as well as a coding in D&D 4e. A spell is still a power, even if it is from an edition before 4e, and is not a 4e coding of a power. Wizards in 4e had a number of powers/spells which were coded as being shadowmagic. In 4e magic that results in poison like effects, illusions, and teleportation is a type of shadow magic. That is exactly what the 3e PrC gave assassins. Thus, in 3e assassins were a class that, viewed through 4e terminology, used shadow based powers. That is what people here are asking for. A class with spells that result in poison, illusion, and teleporation effects. Assassins were such a class in 3e and 4e. Sticking your fingers in your ears and going, “nah, nah, nah, nah, not true,” doesn’t change the fact that it is. 





  In every edition of D&D the assassin was a magical rogue with magic relating to shadows, poisons, illusions, and invisibility.



That is not true. It is only true as of 3e. There were a few kits which sort of made that true in 2e, but I don't think any of them was actually called an assassin explicitly. 

The 4e version also accomplished these tasks far more elegantly than their predecessors.



That is subjective.

You are now reaching (you, are, wrong), and being personally insulting; shame, later.



False. Feel free to point out ONE thing which I have said that is factually untrue. Lawolf was correct in claiming that you are using semantics to try (and fail) to defend an intellectually indefensible position. 4e assassins took the form they did because of the 3e PrC (and various other assassin themed PrCs from 3e that did not bear that name explicitly).

You are being dishonest, 3rd Edition assassins were not a shadow class, or had shadow powers (they had wizard spells), that was the Shadow Dancer's deal, the only Assassin associated with shadow in the D&D game is the 4th Ed one.



You have already claimed as much. But as I have proven, the claim is not quite true. It is a disingenuous claim as it uses facts which, on their surface, are true, but which hide very important context—specifically, the fact that the type of powers and spells that a 3e assassin is given would have been termed shadow magic within the framework of 4e.  


I am all for both kind of assassins...




So am I. Personally, the rogue already provides me with the ability to create the sort of non-magical assassin character I would want to play. As a result, I hope that the assassin class leans more towards the magical assassin. I would like some sort of crossbreed between the shadowcaster, shadowdancer, 3e assassin, Ossassin, Essassin, and shadowmancer. Players should be given the choice to choose powers that can move them more in one direction or other.

I have got other idea, do you rebember the ksirafai (=razors) from Mage: the socerer crusader?

 

Assasin from Diablo II



Other Assasin-style character, from "Dishonored"

 



I allow me say Selene, the "death dealer" from Underworld tetralogy, can be a assasin-style character. 


I think if we are going to see a player handbook 2 and PH 3, the assasin could be on of the most popular late classes.

Assasin can be spellcaster, ki or only martial only chosing the subclass. (The subclass would be a optional list of alternative class features).  

"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 

I'm really looking for an assassin base class that "feels like" the 3e assassin prestige class. Quite frankly, as some have said, the assassin archetype isn't a great fit for the current rogue schtick. But the archetype has a pretty strong pedigree, including outside of D&D. It is as deserving of a base class as ranger and paladin. I want an assassin that has more general usage than the shadow version, but it needs to use the three basic assassin powers: poison, death/assassination strikes, and minor magic.

A character concept and a class mechanic are two different things.  You might have a concept for an assassin-type character that seems different from the concept of a rogue, a fighter, a cleric, or a mage but if you can recreate your concept via the mechanics of another class, it need not be made into a separate class.  Capice?

So the concept of a shadow-walking death dealer is intriguing but maybe with the right feats or skill tricks you could still accomplish that with a rogue, a fighter, a wizard, or a multiclass character.

A unique mechanic would need to involve some system of abilities which could not be recreated using feats, Vancian magic, skill tricks, cleric abilities, maneuvers, ki powers, etc.

 
What if the assassin shifts focus to the exploration and social pillars instead of the combat pillar? What if we design him to be utterly average in combat because he's a killer, not a fighter? So we give him the cleric's attack bonus for martial and magic attacks. D6 for HP and light armor, limited weapons (shortbow crossbow, short sword, dagger, quarter staff), no shields. Now, outside of combat (ie before initiative) he is a deadly killer. Perhaps he should get a death attack on non-combatant NPCs (those not currently engaged in combat). I envision this as a customizable attack as you level that might kill (up to a point), debilitate, poison, cripple, etc - depending how you build it. Also, he focuses more on a series of extraordinary or perhaps even spell-like abilities that enable him to go where others can't and be where others can't. I'm seeing an ability to climb and swim and even crawl and squeeze at full speed. Maybe some spider climbing action. Maybe he also has more social access through disguises and even some illusions. He may focus on luring a mark to a disadvantageous position before ambushing him. Or getting someone alone and vulnerable before putting a blade in the ribs. But if a fight breaks out, he's not a top-line fighter. Capable, but no candle to a fighter or combat spec rogue/cleric/barbarian.



Spell-like abilities and skills outside of combat might be replicated with a rogue. How would you propose to differentiate an assassin mechanic from a rogue mechanic?

If a multiclass character or existing character class could conceivably replicate a character concept I see no reason to create a separate class.  A separate class should not be used to develop a concept.  It should be used to develop a system mechanic.

Concepts should be created using a mixture of feats, abilities, and flavoring.

Personally using the assassin name is a bad idea as it means a lot of deferment things based on the edition, setting, and game familiarity.

My suggestion was to make an assassin subclass for every class.

1) the Dex/Cha based fighter
2) the Assassin scheme rogue with Assassinate and Disguise/Poison/MagicItem/Stealth skill tricks
3) the Reaper Cleric
4) the Shadowmage wizard

And if the multi classing system works, you can mix and match to the setting preferences.

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!

A character concept and a class mechanic are two different things.  You might have a concept for an assassin-type character that seems different from the concept of a rogue, a fighter, a cleric, or a mage but if you can recreate your concept via the mechanics of another class, it need not be made into a separate class.  Capice?

So the concept of a shadow-walking death dealer is intriguing but maybe with the right feats or skill tricks you could still accomplish that with a rogue, a fighter, a wizard, or a multiclass character.

A unique mechanic would need to involve some system of abilities which could not be recreated using feats, Vancian magic, skill tricks, cleric abilities, maneuvers, ki powers, etc.

 
What if the assassin shifts focus to the exploration and social pillars instead of the combat pillar? What if we design him to be utterly average in combat because he's a killer, not a fighter? So we give him the cleric's attack bonus for martial and magic attacks. D6 for HP and light armor, limited weapons (shortbow crossbow, short sword, dagger, quarter staff), no shields. Now, outside of combat (ie before initiative) he is a deadly killer. Perhaps he should get a death attack on non-combatant NPCs (those not currently engaged in combat). I envision this as a customizable attack as you level that might kill (up to a point), debilitate, poison, cripple, etc - depending how you build it. Also, he focuses more on a series of extraordinary or perhaps even spell-like abilities that enable him to go where others can't and be where others can't. I'm seeing an ability to climb and swim and even crawl and squeeze at full speed. Maybe some spider climbing action. Maybe he also has more social access through disguises and even some illusions. He may focus on luring a mark to a disadvantageous position before ambushing him. Or getting someone alone and vulnerable before putting a blade in the ribs. But if a fight breaks out, he's not a top-line fighter. Capable, but no candle to a fighter or combat spec rogue/cleric/barbarian.



Spell-like abilities and skills outside of combat might be replicated with a rogue. How would you propose to differentiate an assassin mechanic from a rogue mechanic?

If a multiclass character or existing character class could conceivably replicate a character concept I see no reason to create a separate class.  A separate class should not be used to develop a concept.  It should be used to develop a system mechanic.

Concepts should be created using a mixture of feats, abilities, and flavoring.





I capice quite well, thank you.  However, the rogue does not in fact have any of the mechanics that I would want for an assassin besides CE and light armor proficiency, nor can he obtain more than a handful of almost good enough ones by multiclassing, and that only by unacceptably giving up combat proficiency (admittedly I'm assuming that Next's MC rules will cause a rogue/wizard to have less MDD/MDB than a straight rogue, but that does not seem like an unlikely assumption to me).  I gave several fairly specific mechanical features that are distinct from existing classes, not merely conceptual ones, and several reasons why the mechanics of existing classes do not fit the bill and cannot be made to do so.  The assassin I suggested would be at least as mechanically distinct from the rogue as the fighter is, probably more so.

Rogue assassin build: Pops out of hiding for a massive damage spike.  Has access to skill tricks including ones that let him frighten opponents, increase the DC of the poisons everyone else uses, and climb quickly.  Master skill monkey.

Rogue/wizard assassin build: Needs at least 3 levels of wizard to get access to any spells he'd actually want, making him unplayable until at least level 4 and then behind on CE for life (assuming 3e style MCing).  Still maintains all the rogue bits that shouldn't apply, and all the rogue assassin bits that work great for the kind of assassin I don't want to play.

My Assassin build: gets damage spikes from debilitating his foes, not from popping out of hiding.  Mechanics making him better against lone foes.  Instead of at-will skill tricks, limited resources that recharge upon killing a target, plainly supernatural abilities that tie into his bonuses for lone and debilitated opponents, including teleportation, invisibility, fear affects that not only frighten opponents but separate them or debilitate them, producing a strategic combatant with a set up and execute rhythm.  Access to his own suite of poisons that also tie into his bonuses for lone and debilitated opponents.  Not a skill monkey, his out of combat utility is substantially more focused: on accessing places, tracking, and making people wet themselves.

Now lets compare: different resource to manage, different power source (which, while fluff, opens up mechanics that are unavailable to mundane classes), different situation for his situational bonuses, different party role, different play style...  Sounds like plenty of distinct mechanical space to me.
in the kit for the assassin in 2nd editon complete thieves book they get create poison power which no other rogue kit gives, tehy also can detect poison by a few diffrent methods. they get the ability to use all weapon types which a rogue doesnt get as they train to kill people with a variety of things. i think those abilities along with what the rogue normally gets is a good match up for the flavor of an assassin
in the kit for the assassin in 2nd editon complete thieves book they get create poison power which no other rogue kit gives, tehy also can detect poison by a few diffrent methods. they get the ability to use all weapon types which a rogue doesnt get as they train to kill people with a variety of things. i think those abilities along with what the rogue normally gets is a good match up for the flavor of an assassin



The game already provides you with what you want. In fact, the rogue assassin scheme closely models the 2e rogue assassin kit. It grants you training in all weapons, an assassination ability (that works kind of like backstab), and the sort of skills you need to be an assassin, and a suggested skill trick list that grants bonuses to doing things like using poisons. It is great that that exists! It makes me very happy. What, however, does that offer someone who wants to play a 3e or 4e style assassin who uses magic to get the job done? What does that offer to someone who wants to play an assassin that looks something like what powerroleplayer described? That might not be what you want, but that doesn't mean it is not a valid desire, and that does not mean that the game should not provide a class that fills those people's needs alongside the rogue assassin scheme that fills your needs. 


My Assassin build: gets damage spikes from debilitating his foes, not from popping out of hiding.  Mechanics making him better against lone foes.  Instead of at-will skill tricks, limited resources that recharge upon killing a target, plainly supernatural abilities that tie into his bonuses for lone and debilitated opponents, including teleportation, invisibility, fear affects that not only frighten opponents but separate them or debilitate them, producing a strategic combatant with a set up and execute rhythm.  Access to his own suite of poisons that also tie into his bonuses for lone and debilitated opponents.  Not a skill monkey, his out of combat utility is substantially more focused: on accessing places, tracking, and making people wet themselves.

Now lets compare: different resource to manage, different power source (which, while fluff, opens up mechanics that are unavailable to mundane classes), different situation for his situational bonuses, different party role, different play style...  Sounds like plenty of distinct mechanical space to me.




+1. And this assassin class sounds interesting. I hope it can be built with a "shadowbolt" style at will so that someone can primarily play it as a caster assassin alongside more weapon oriented builds.


 
I want to be able to play a purely martial "assassin" (ala Agent 47, or various other exemplars) - and I can now (thanks, WotC, for listening, and actually doing that with the Rogue), but...

Until I can (easily) make Corvo (from Dishonored) I'm still very interested in seeing the archetype explored more fully.
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I don't disagree that an assassin class would need a mechanical space all its own to justify a separate class as opposed to a rogue subclass.  I do disagree, however, that there are only 8 base mechanics or that it is impossible to make an assassin mechanically distinct from a rogue.

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Here's why I think assassin does not work well within the existing classes:
Rogue: rogue's in this edition are built around skills.  Extra skills, skill mastery, skill tricks...  That doesn't fit assassins.  They need good stealth, certainly, maybe some social skills, but they are not skill monkeys, experts, or a class that relies on skills to deliver their mechanical effects (skill tricks).  I don't even think that "assassinate" makes a good mechanic for them (I hate it as a mechanic generally, but even if I liked it I wouldn't like it for assassins as I don't think assassins should be pigeon-holed into the "surprise! you're dead" style).  I much prefer the shadow assassin/avenger mechanic for them (bonuses vs. lone enemies), and that sort of mechanic really doesn't sit well with the rogue concept.   You could trade out the extra skills and skill tricks for some combat prowess or shadow magic stuff, I suppose, but then what are they sharing with the base class?  An emphasis on dexterity?
Rogue/wizard: the basic problem with making the assassin a hybrid/multiclass, is that it isn't a rogue with some wizard spells, either mechanically or fluff wise.  It's weapon prowess certainly has no business being a weighted average of rogue/wizard, nor should it have access to the full wizard spell list even with restricted slots.  Fluff wise, I for one don't see it's magical abilities as coming from wizardly studying, or necessarily even being arcane.  But most of all, multiclassing produces a character that is a wizard one round and a rogue the next.  An assassin should be an assassin every round, seemlessly blending magic and martial to do things neither rogue nor wizard should be able to do.

And that brings me to where I think it can have distinct mechanical space of its own.  An assassin is more than just a rogue who emphasizes combat from stealth and poison use.  The coolest thing about an assassin is that, even if you know he's coming, there's nothing you can do to stop him.  Nobody knows how he got passed the locked doors, how he defeated your enormous contingent of guards, or how he overcame his skilled swordsman of a target, and not knowing you have no idea how to do better next time.   The most terrifying thing about him is that you aren't dead before you know what hit you, he looks you in the eyes and you know you are doomed long before he slits your throat, you are helpless before him.  He is a supernatural force of shadow and fear.  There is plenty of space there for mechanical differentiation

Mechanical bonuses vs. lone targets: 5 fighters will outfight 5 assassins, and a fighter will outclass an assassin against a group of baddies, but one on one the assassin will defeat the fighter.  Thus, the fighter must fear the assassin, even if he is ostensibly the more skilled combatant.  The Avenger's advantage mechanic would work pretty well for this, I think.
Bonuses vs. helpless targets: Not the actual helpless condition the e-ssassin used, because that's too hard to get.  Targets that can't see you, targets that are restrained, panicked, something like that.  Leverage that "inevitability" feeling with set 'em up and knock 'em down mechanics, so that the assassin takes his time setting up the kill, and the foe can sit and squirm for a round knowing his doom is upon him.  Then, unlike the e-ssassin, give him ways of actually creating the condition that triggers his bonus.  Mundane or magical restraints (bolas, grasping shadows...) that take an action but do no damage, then double up damage against restrained targets (ending up with below average damage since they might escape, but the target wasted its action escaping so it's balanced).  A building sense of panic (maybe every time you kill something, you can make a charisma vs wisdom check to frighten your target ENT, and if the target is already frightened it becomes paralyzed, triggering your bonus).  
Supernatural powers of terror: the assassin is quite possibly the most terrifying (demi)human being in the world.    He wields that fear as a weapon to confuse, debilitate, and separate his foes so that he can go in for the kill.  These can help you get your weapon bonuses above.
Supernatural powers of travel: no panic room can keep out an assassin.  Teleportation from shadow to shadow, phasing, supernatural climbing or jumping abilities...
Supernatural powers of concealment: the rogue may be better at getting from point A to point B without being seen, but even if you know the assassin is in the room he's never quite where you expect.  Invisibility and concealment, not stealth bonuses.
Supernatural powers of tracking: you can run, for a time, but you cannot hide.  He will always find you.
Mundane powers of control: bolas, caltrops, smokescreens, flash bangs, all non-lethal methods of separating the target from his guards.
Poisons: and I don't mean just "he applies poisons to his weapons."  Anyone can do that.  He gets special poisons nobody else can get.  The shadow assassin's poison linked above is a great example, grounded in his own fluff and doing something weird and cool and terrifying (you go blind, which is naturally scary, and especially so when there's an assassin in the room, trying to kill you, and now you're helpless...).  Maybe the ability to tailor your poisons to your foe's anatomy if you have the time to prep (maybe you need to steal a tissue sample or a possession first...).


So there's actually quite a lot of mechanical space for an assassin that is totally unused right now. 



quoted for truth.

Based on my experiences the Assassin Rogue is already a pretty good Assassin. Maybe we should just have an Assassin prestige class to enhance the Assassin-specific skills further.



Really? I tried to play that as an Assassin and it was completely unsatisfactory.

If the assassin is purely mundane, I say simply combine it with the rogue (possibly as a subclass or subbuild).

If on the other hand the assassin is a shadow assassin with both supernatural capabilities and martial prowess, then yes it deserves a unique class. Just don't give it daily spell slots...

I say the best places to draw inspiration from are the 4e Executioner|Warlock hybrid, 4e Osssassin, 3e Swordsage (focus on setting sun and shadow hand disciplines), 3e shadowdancer Prc, and the various 3e Ninja Prcs. The class should focus on mobility and hard strike-retreat capabilities. I'm a fan of numerous means of teleportation, climbing, jumping, and turning invisible myself.



Combine that with fear inducing stuff, unique poisons, and 4e control type stuff. What assassin wouldn't learn to temporarily disable a group of guards in order to bypass them without a real fight, kill target, then escape before the guards get ahold of themselves? I'm not saying they should have really strong control, but some abillity to do the above.


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