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Assassin (issues and suggestions)


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew


I originally came to the forum here in search of an answer. I was looking to see if an Assassin could use a ranged weapon to perform a death attack. After reading through many posts, I began to see more and more issues with the Assassin, and began to realize that another posting should be started with regards to reworking the Assassin prestige class, as well as addressing the issue of ranged death attacks.

First, I'd like to address my initial concern - Assassins using ranged weapons for their death attack. Strictly by RAW and even RAI it would seem clear that the game designers did not want Assassins using ranged attacks to perform a death attack. It also appears that the designers didn't put much thought into the Pathfinder Assassin (but I'll go into that later).

Would using a ranged weapon for a death attack make the ability overpowered somehow? Would it upset the balance of play and make the Assassin too powerful? In every case, I believe it would not, and I also see no reason why a ranged attack shouldn't be able to be used to deliver a death attack.

Just to prove my point - an Arcane Archer at 10th level gains the ability to create an arrow of death. Granted, it takes a day to create this arrow, but it can be fired from farther away than 30' (somewhere around 1100', unless the bow has the distance enchantment, in which case it would be 2200'), plus he could then use the seeker arrow ability and/or imbue arrow to make the shot (even use true strike), and achieve the same effect. This means that once per day, the Arcane Archer can fire an arrow of death at a known target up to 2200' away, the arrow can turn corners and guide itself to the target (ignoring cover and concealment), and if the target was max distance away, the Arcane Archer would still get a +10 to hit on top of his normal attack roll, and then possibly slaying the target. This is way cooler, and much more useful, than anything the Assassin has.

The requirements for making a successful death attack are:
1) The Assassin must study his target for 3 rounds, and each round of study requires a standard action, AND the target must not detect the Assassin or recognize the Assassin as an enemy.
2) The Assassin must then successfully sneak attack the target within the next 3 rounds and do damage.
3) The target then must fail a Fortitude save (DC 10 + Assassin's level + Assassin's Int mod) or else the attack is treated as just a normal sneak attack.

There are a lot of "ifs" here, and at best the death attack could only be used once every four rounds - and that is very highly unlikely to ever happen.

Picture this: an Assassin crouches within some shadows at night, watching a guard patrol a wall the Assassin needs to get over. The Assassin studies the guard for 3 rounds, then throws his dagger/shoots his bow or crossbow/throws his shuriken (for you ninjas out there), and slays the guard in a dramatic fashion. Neat-O, death attack! That is, assuming the guard dies and doesn't turn around saying "Ouch!...Hey!...ATTACK! ALARM!"

So, does this seem in any way unfair or unbalanced? I think not. Is it possible for a character to find a way to abuse this power and make it unbalanced? More than likely, but that applies to all situations, and as such, it would need to be handled by the respective DMs, but as of right now I can't think of any way for it to be abused. The point is: the use of a ranged weapon to deliver a sneak attack, in my opinion, should be allowed. Also remember, by the rules of sneak attack, you must be within 30' of your target to use a ranged weapon for a sneak attack.

Now to get to the issues with the actual Assassin prestige class, as written in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook. Compared to the D&D 3.5 version of Assassin, this new Assassin is a horrible, emasculated, weaker prestige class in almost every aspect.

To give specific examples: The 3.5 version has slightly better saves and gains spells of up to 4th level (and it is an impressive list of spells that are very useful, including a spell that lets you use a ranged weapon for a death attack - in case your DM doesn't agree with my above points), whereas the Pathfinder Assassin gains an ability that give a bonus to concealing weapons (oooo...) and a couple abilities that modify death attack. Let's take a look at these death attack modifications.

1) True Death (Su). This ability makes someone you killed using death attack more difficult to bring back from the dead. (Wow...what a great ability...hold me back...)
2) Quiet Death (Ex). This allows the Assassin to use a Stealth check after successfully killing a target using death attack in order to avoid detection. (Not bad, at least for a couple levels.)
3) Swift Death (Ex). Once per day the Assassin can use death attack without studying his victim for 3 rounds. (Really? Once per day? I mean, my character is at least 14th level now, and I can use this ability once per day?...)
4) The culmination of all Assassin abilities; the crown jewel; that ability which you have toiled through 10 levels of this prestige class to gain: Angel of Death (Su). Once per day (sigh) you can cause a target's body that you have slain with death attack to crumble to dust, causing him to be EVEN HARDER to bring back. Of course, you must declare the use of this ability BEFORE you make your attack. (Need I even say anything about this...)

These abilities are woefully underpowered and really have no useful place within the average campaign, with the exception of Quiet Death, but even that ability becomes redundant after the Assassin gains Hide in Plain Sight. I mean, really, this class needs a serious overhaul. Let's take a look at how classes and prestige classes are built, and let's re-examine the Assassin and compare it to other Pathfinder prestige classes.

When designing any class, you have to look at it's base mechanics and weigh the value of each. What is the hit die for the class? Does the class have fast, medium, or slow progression for it's BAB and saves? How many skill points does it give each level? What are the class skills? Does the class allow for spell use? If so, does the class allow for full spellcasting (such as Wizard or Cleric) or demi-casting (such as Ranger or Paladin)? Most important is how the class' special abilities weigh in. How often are they used? How powerful are they compared to other abilities? How unique is the ability? And so on...

All of these questions need to be addressed, and the build for the class should even out. This means that a class strong in BAB, saves, or spells probably won't have too many skill points, and vice versa. If the class is strong in one area, it will most likely be weak in another.

Prestige classes, in addition to the above concerns, also need to consider a few more things such as prerequisites. Prerequisites determine how hard a prestige class is to get into and it also sets the theme for the class (at least in principle). Another aspect of prestige classes you need to consider when designing them is to determine what the minimum level a PC needs to be to enter it. This will help you determine at what power level the prestige class' abilities will start. After all, if it takes you 8 levels of prerequisites to gain access to a certain prestige class, and the abilities that you then gain are present at a lower level for another class, you'll more than likely feel cheated. Also, when designing a prestige class, one of the most common features is to have a great ability available to it at 10th level

With these considerations in mind, let's take another look at the Pathfinder Assassin. In my opinion, the Assassin is a rogue-type prestige class, so we'll compare it to not only the Rogue core class, but other rogue-type prestige classes.

1) BAB - medium progression, same as the Rogue and most rogue-type prestige classes.
2) Saves - similar to other prestige classes, but slower than the Rogue (and lower than the 3.5 Assassin), so we'll say medium.
3) Skills - medium, slower than the Rogue and some rogue-type classes.
4) Spells - no spells any more.
5) Special Abilities - number and type of abilities are gained slower than for a Rogue and have much less usefulness in play than other prestige classes. Death Attack becomes powerful at higher levels, but is still a one-shot ability with many "ifs".

Overall, the Assassin doesn't even make it to "middle-of-the-road" status. The lack of more useful special abilities and the removal of spells suggests a more physical character, yet the BAB and saves are still that of a Rogue (with worse saves than a Rogue, and not as many abilities or skills as a Rogue). Likewise, the average progression of BAB and saves coupled with the lack of spells suggests a character with strong skills and/or special abilities, but that is also not the case.

It was suggested in many posts to just make Death Attack and Poison Use Rogue talents and do away with the Assassin entirely. This is plausible, but would negate a uniqueness of character types that would normally be found.

I just now reviewed the Red Mantis Assassin found in the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting book, and WOW! Now that is what a prestige class should look like! Same BAB, much better saves, more skills, SPELLS up to 5th level!, and plenty of GREAT abilities, and also greater weapon specialization!!! I just drooled...

That being said, it is a 3.5 prestige class, but it is a great source to base a new Assassin build off of.

I will work on a new build for the Assassin prestige class and post it soon. I would love some feedback on the material presented here and some ideas on rebuilding the Assassin.


Completely remove the rounds of study for death attack and make it a times/day ability, 1/day at 1st level and +1 every three levels thereafter. Spells not even necessary if it gets the right special abilities. Give them perhaps instead of quiet death the ability to make their victim seem alive for three rounds after he is dead? Have an ability to make concocted poison require an additional save, deal extra damage, etc. If you get enough of these you could give them assassin talents.

Andoran

Interesting, i'm curious to see what you come up with. I certainly agree that Death Attack should be usable within 30 feet. Actually, I kind of thought it was - I'll obviously need to go read the ability again!

However, I absolutely agree with assasins NOT having spells. They simply do not fit the archtype. Now, giving a few more class abilities that mirror a few of the spells that were on a 3.5 assasin makes sense ...


Marc Radle wrote:
However, I absolutely agree with assasins NOT having spells. They simply do not fit the archtype. Now, giving a few more class abilities that mirror a few of the spells that were on a 3.5 assasin makes sense ...

I agree with you in regards to the fact that IF you take the Assassin spells away, you should replace them with appropriate (Su) and (Sp) abilities.

I am assuming that you want to take spells away because you see the Assassin as more of a physical character class and less of a caster class. If this were the case, wouldn't it also stand to reason that you would need to either beef up the BAB, grant more skill points and/or class skills, or especially grant more abilities? Another thing that might help balance this class out is to add in Rogue talents and have the levels of Assassin and Rogue stack for determining whether or not you could take advanced Rogue talents.

One argument for spells, though. The Assassin's spell list from 3.5 was a smaller list, similar to that of the Ranger or Paladin. I don't consider either of those classes to really fit in to the whole caster archetype (like wizard and cleric) either, but the list of spells that they have greatly enhances the feel of the class without overpowering it by making them (the spell list) all abilities (which would be an overpowering feature, if implemented). It just means that each class can choose a certain number of additional abilities (spells) from that list to use each day, and since a spell list provides you with a greater number of abilities to choose from, the character then becomes much more versatile and useful. You could even allow such demi-casters to use some of their spells without the normal spell-casting limitations (such as armor check penalties, having hands full, etc..), this might help remove some of the caster "feel" to the class(es). Perhaps the assassin, instead of memorizing a number of spells, could instead "prepare" a number of spells per day for use as spell-like abilities (Sp).


The Red Mantis Assassin is absolutely amazing. =) Had the opportunity to play one once...it was the most fun I've had as a Rogue-type.

---------------

On to business!

I too was disappointed in the Assassin PrC. It makes for...better NPCs than PCs I think is what it boils down to.

I really like the idea of an Assassin preparing certain Spell Like Abilities or Gaining a choice of certain SU, SP or EX abilities for a day.

In a similar fashion to Rogue talents, save that these are more appropriately designed for the Assassin class and operate on a day to day basis. A blending of Spells Known/Prepared and Talents.
THAT sounds potentially very exciting, and would bring something unique to the class play-style-wise.

Perhaps SU or SP abilities that could allow for more effects with Bleed Damage? (Con Bleed and the like?)
Or ... upping Sneak Attack Die from D6 to a D8? (That too dangerous?)

But I do love the thought of mixing in different options, so when a character wakes up in the morning they can give thought and prepare useful talents for the day. (E.g: today I shall be extra sneaky, versus extra stabby!) You can see the potential in that this would make the class more appealing to players.

---------------

As far as general thoughts go, I think Death Attack, while iconic is unnecessary for the Assassin class and actually in fact limits it's playability.

You as a Game Designer can't give too much opportunity to let the Death Attack ability be improved, as it's an auto-win. At the same time, it's the main class feature, so you can't just nerf it and make it useless.

So instead it's delicately balanced and... bland...So you resolve to add on things like True Death and Quiet Death. Neat abilities but ultimately not relevant in most campaigns.

In this respect the Assassin is a very tricky class to balance...I'd almost like to get rid of Death Attack all together for an alternative set of class features that still complimented an Assassin, and have potentially a wider range of use. (Talents or abilities that could potentially synergize and be built upon).
After all PrCs in Pathfinder are supposed to offer Versatility more so than Optimal abilities...so why stick with the one-trick-pony that is Death Attack?

I'd actually like to reference the Shadow Assassin here. Their Deadly Focus ability is an example of how to give something the feel of Assassin without it being an Auto-win.
(For those without the book it allows them to add some potentially substantial extra damage on to a single target.)

----

What do people think? Does the idea of the Assassin preparing a choice few SU or SP abilities per day greatly appeal to anyone else?


I have to agree with you that the Shadow Assassin is an awesome class. While my players screamed broken when I told them the abilities, even as an NPC with only one battle to fight they don't fare too well. It has some really cool class features with a few unique restrictions. The most ridiculous thing is those shadow shuriken, but I kind of like them, since they make shuriken actually usable. If you're looking for a mystical assassin, there's not a better class in print.


Madcap Storm King wrote:
I have to agree with you that the Shadow Assassin is an awesome class. While my players screamed broken when I told them the abilities, even as an NPC with only one battle to fight they don't fare too well. It has some really cool class features with a few unique restrictions. The most ridiculous thing is those shadow shuriken, but I kind of like them, since they make shuriken actually usable. If you're looking for a mystical assassin, there's not a better class in print.

I'm preparing to try out a build in an upcoming game and Greater Deadly Focus is giving me some heavy pause.

The little voice in the back of my head is just screaming 'broken!' But hey, the class is...yeah just so pretty. In your opinion was the class broken? If it's abilities were too much (Deadly Focus, and GDF in particular...) that could be very beneficial knowledge in fixing the Assassin PrC.

But back to topic...After giving it a little more thought, I do have to say I'd pretty much like to see Death Attack be removed entirely in favor of other class abilities.

For example, what if they were granted some extra effects on critical hits? (Similar perhaps too much to Fighter's Critical Feats...?)
It makes sense in fluff for Assassins, their goal is to do lethal damage. So let's build a version that rewards and specializes in hitting that 'sweet spot' without having it be an auto-win.

For the record...:
My issue with Auto-wins is they don't tend to feel very fulfilling for you or the rest of your party. At higher levels eventually most Classes have their own auto-win equivilant, and it's fine sometimes for a combat to be over before it's begun (arguably an assassin's job description). But in the interest of making this PrC fun and playable, I think we should be weary of such abilities as the main class feature.


GAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!

I just spent the last half hour creating a very well thought out and presented post, and when I hit submit, everything was lost!!!!

(sigh)

I'll try again, lol.


Okay, try number 2.

(huh-huh, huh-huh...he said number 2...huh-huh)...

I like the direction all this is going. I love the concept of a very customizable class - the option to choose from talents, abilities, and more allows for a very unique character.

Trout wrote:
I'd actually like to reference the Shadow Assassin here. Their Deadly Focus ability is an example of how to give something the feel of Assassin without it being an Auto-win.

I looked over the Shadow Assassin and I like the concept of the Deadly Focus ability, just not it's implementation. I don't mind the study mechanic of the Death Attack ability, as it allows for multiple uses per day, so I'm thinking of keeping that part. Even the Red Mantis Assassin's ability required 3 rounds of activation, so that seems like a good place to start.

Trout wrote:

As far as general thoughts go, I think Death Attack, while iconic is unnecessary for the Assassin class and actually in fact limits it's playability.

You as a Game Designer can't give too much opportunity to let the Death Attack ability be improved, as it's an auto-win. At the same time, it's the main class feature, so you can't just nerf it and make it useless.

So instead it's delicately balanced and... bland...So you resolve to add on things like True Death and Quiet Death. Neat abilities but ultimately not relevant in most campaigns.

In this respect the Assassin is a very tricky class to balance...I'd almost like to get rid of Death Attack all together for an alternative set of class features that still complimented an Assassin, and have potentially a wider range of use. (Talents or abilities that could potentially synergize and be built upon).
After all PrCs in Pathfinder are supposed to offer Versatility more so than Optimal abilities...so why stick with the one-trick-pony that is Death Attack?

Trout wrote:

But back to topic...After giving it a little more thought, I do have to say I'd pretty much like to see Death Attack be removed entirely in favor of other class abilities.

For example, what if they were granted some extra effects on critical hits? (Similar perhaps too much to Fighter's Critical Feats...?)
It makes sense in fluff for Assassins, their goal is to do lethal damage. So let's build a version that rewards and specializes in hitting that 'sweet spot' without having it be an auto-win.

As far as the instant death part, I also say yank it out. Replace it with abilities that give you certain bonuses against your studied target. In general, I believe these should add on to the Assassin's sneak attack against the target (such as bleed, cripple, blind, silence, etc..), but could also give situational bonuses or effects (bonus to hit/damage, keen effects, etc..).

Trout wrote:

I really like the idea of an Assassin preparing certain Spell Like Abilities or Gaining a choice of certain SU, SP or EX abilities for a day.

In a similar fashion to Rogue talents, save that these are more appropriately designed for the Assassin class and operate on a day to day basis. A blending of Spells Known/Prepared and Talents.
THAT sounds potentially very exciting, and would bring something unique to the class play-style-wise.

Perhaps SU or SP abilities that could allow for more effects with Bleed Damage? (Con Bleed and the like?)

I also like the idea of customizable talents. These could be Rogue talents and/or new Assassin talents. Adding Assassin talents only would ensure the character was following a specific path, but would still allow for some individuality. Since we'll also be giving abilities (see below), I think talents should be limited to mostly (Ex) abilities, maybe with the option of picking up extra (Sp) or (Su) abilities if you wanted to play a more spiritual-type assassin.

The biggest issue seems to be spells vs spell-like abilities. Many people I've talked to like the idea of converting spells to spell-like abilities, but it would be difficult to implement.

One way to do this, and still provide for versatility, would be to use a system similar to creature powers. For example, in Savage Species (page 197) the Succubus gains a couple of lists of powers that are usable as spell-like abilities a certain number of times per day. I think this is a good option, but instead of all at x number of times per day, it should be x number of powers off the list per day. You can increase the number of powers per day as well as add new lists as the Assassin levels, this would allow the abilities to be on par with spells at the same level.

The only downside with doing this option is the fact that having spell-like abilities tends to be more powerful than actual spells (no memorization, spell book, components, etc..). To balance this out, the list of spell-like abilities would need to be smaller, and that (IMO) would start to restrict the class again.

The last issue is the 10th level ability. The final level in any class (core or PrC) usually has some sort of unique ability not found anywhere else, and I think the Assassin should have one. Most of these exceptional abilities either amplify an existing power or work in conjunction with the other class abilities.

One thing to keep in mind with the rebuild of this class and in figuring out an appropriate 10th level ability I would like to see, is the concept that the Assassin should no longer be a one trick pony and should have some versatility. That said, I think the 10th level ability, if it's applied to the Assassin's target only, needs to be quite powerful, since it won't come into play as often (such as doubling sneak attack dice vs the target or something similar). If it is a general ability, able to be used more often and in more circumstances, then it doesn't need to be as powerful.


Quote:
I don't mind the study mechanic of the Death Attack ability, as it allows for multiple uses per day, so I'm thinking of keeping that part. Even the Red Mantis Assassin's ability required 3 rounds of activation, so that seems like a good place to start.

Agreed. The mechanic is a fair one both in fluff and game-play. It's my personal opinion that Assassins shouldn't be total on-par with everyone else in combat, they're killers not fighters typically.

So the 3 round studying for important abilities represents this beautifully for me.
Know thine enemy. Assassins are smart. Looking for weak points etc.

Quote:

As far as the instant death part, I also say yank it out. Replace it with abilities that give you certain bonuses against your studied target. In general, I believe these should add on to the Assassin's sneak attack against the target (such as bleed, cripple, blind, silence, etc..), but could also give situational bonuses or effects (bonus to hit/damage, keen effects, etc..).

I also like the idea of customizable talents. These could be Rogue talents and/or new Assassin talents. Adding Assassin talents only would ensure the character was following a specific path, but would still allow for some individuality. Since we'll also be giving abilities (see below), I think talents should be limited to mostly (Ex) abilities, maybe with the option of picking up extra (Sp) or (Su) abilities if you wanted to play a more spiritual-type assassin.

Alright, excellent. So just to pitch a few thoughts:

Talents that advance with time:

Weak Point(Ex): After studying for a Victim for 3 rounds an Assassin may treat the next attack as though the target were denied their Dexterity Bonus to AC. This effect lasts for one round.

(What did you think about the shadow Assassin taking talents multiple times, I.e. 'Talent trees'? If we wanted to do something similar..)

Weak Point Advanced(Ex): At level 'X' the duration/effect of an Assassin's Weak Point study increases by 1 round per point of Intelligence modifier(minimum of 1), up to his class level.

---
It's sort of like a more offensive duelist...Interesting.

I'm going to have to check and see if such an ability would be overpowered, but by the time someone Prestige's into Assassin, Wizards are able to cast things like Hold Person, Fly, and Sleet Storm.(3rd level spells).

Talents that have positives and negatives:

Committed Strike(Ex): After studying a victim for 3 rounds an Assassin may add a bonus up to his or her Intelligence modifier on all Attack rolls against the victim for the round.

In addition the Assassin also takes a penalty to AC equal to the amount of bonus given for the duration of the round.

(Perhaps have this not be limited per round, but something the Assassin can deactivate at will?...If these were an ability that could advance we cold remove the penalty.)

Talents not limited by 3 rounds of study:

Brutal Strike(Ex): When an Assassin makes an attack, as a standard action once per day they may treat their target as flat footed. And may apply one of the following conditions:

-Bloodied: The target of an Assassin's brutal Strike takes 'X' bleed damage. [Con bleed that offers a save?]

-Crippled: The target of an Assassin's brutal strike is treated as having the 'slowed' condition for a number of rounds equal to 1+ the Assassin's Intelligence modifier (minimum of one) [Fort save to halve the duration?]

-Knock out: The Assassin may opt instead to sacrifice their bonus sneak attack die, and knock out their target. The target gets a Fortitude save (DC = class level + int mod?).

-Silenced: The Assassin may opt, instead of dealing extra Sneak Attack damage to silence their victim. Fort save (DC - Class level + Int Mod?)

-Blind: "" With the blinded condition.

Things like that...I'm trying to keep in mind what other classes can do at what levels, in order to judge whether or not to offer saves for minor conditions versus big effects that offer saves.

I like having the option to do consistently helpful small things, and alternatively risking a powerful effect with a save. (Just not Death Attack level of power)

Sneak Attack Related:

Lethal Blows(Su): The Assassin's Sneak attack die are upgraded from D6's to D8's when Sneak attacking an Opponent he or she has studied for 3 rounds. (Limit how long this lasts?)

Considered Cuts(Ex): When making a sneak attack against a victim, an Assassin may sacrifice their sneak attack bonus die to apply one of the following conditions: (This would be where blinded, silenced, slowed etc would come in) An Assassin may apply one condition per attack that Sneak Attack would normally be granted in.
(I.E. if the Assassin had three attacks, all of which would have been sneak attacks, he or she could instead apply 3 conditions to the target.)
This ability should offer a save or be limited in rounds.

These are just some thoughts...not built entirely to mesh smoothly together.

Are we going in the right direction?

Quote:
...You can increase the number of powers per day as well as add new lists as the Assassin levels, this would allow the abilities to be on par with spells at the same level.

Yes I like this. That'd be the way to do it. All of the abilities I listed would not be class abilities all Assassin's would have, but talents like a Rogues you could take. OR as per Savage species you get a certain number of Talents usable per day, ad full access to the list (as appropriate for your level of Assassin) I'm a fan of either method honestly.

One's more Rogue and the other's more...Sorcerer almost.

10th level abilities...hmm...I feel that for PrC's these should be generally less impressive than the Core Classes. Because the core capstone abilities are at 20th level, and thus rarely ever going to see game time, the 10th level PrC abilities will see play around levels 14-16.

Given that I can think of two recommendations(that a player could chose from...let's look to the Witch Class here, think of these like Greater Hexes):
At 10th level an Assassin has become proficient in dealing their method of death. They may use on of the following abilities once per day.

10th Level Abilities:

Charging Death: An Assassin may make a full attack on the a charge, or after a move action.
(This seems innocent enough but all the rogues out there are frothing at the mouth.)

The Final Blow: An Assassin may deal double sneak attack damage against a single target that is denied their dexterity bonus to AC.

Death Attack: Here is a place I would actually feel Death Attack is appropriate. At this point, it isn't a game ruin-er, because if by 15th level your casters aren't already auto-killing people then your party has bigger problems than this ability.
On top of that, it could actually be useful. giving the assassin some earlier abilities to debuff Saves...(via con damage) would actually make Death Attack very appealing for me. As a...once per day... save it for a rainy day, kind of thing.

These abilities are given once per day...possibly a little more with the consideration that the Assassin need not study their victim to use them.

Those are my general thoughts...Really the key to making these balanced and useful is going to be in comparing them to what others get around the appropriate levels.

Any and all feedback is awesome. I'm no class builder--but I'll make the attempt.


Some neat ideas being tossed around here.

I do have to object to one thing: no spells. The 3.5 Assassin's spell list really, really helped in making him more effective in a world of magic and magical creatures.

Just look at the following list:

Spoiler:
1st Level: disguise self, detect poison, feather fall, ghost sound, jump, obscuring mist, sleep, true strike.

2nd Level: alter self, cat’s grace, darkness, fox’s cunning, illusory script, invisibility, pass without trace, spider climb, undetectable alignment.

3rd Level: deep slumber, deeper darkness, false life, magic circle against good, misdirection, nondetection.

4th Level: clairaudience/clairvoyance, dimension door, freedom of movement, glibness, greater invisibility, locate creature, modify memory, poison.

That's a LOT of utility being lost. Utility that can specifically help with getting to, or away from your target, and getting around in a world of magical defenses.

Undetectable Alignment. Spider Climb. Claiaudience/Clairvoyance. Dimension Door. Greater Invisibility. Modify Memory. Freedom of Movement. Misdirection.

That's a lot of spells that would let an Assassin do his job without getting discovered the second he comes across low level divination spells, or simply making him as good as a 3rd level wizard (spider climb, invisiblity, etc).

.

Now, I dislike the idea of a finger wiggling caster for an Assassin. There's gotta be a way to add some of these abilities in without this aspect though.

Perhaps adding a line of magical talents, granting spell-like and supernatural abilities that mimic some of the best spells in the list.
I remember the complaint about bonus spell-like abilities in the beta was that they were not subject to the same somatic/verbal requirements of normal spells. Or was that supernatural?
This concept would fit the Assassin... he's already getting a death attack that interacts with magic in a manner of a curse, so it's not breaking his concept that much.

Some spell-like ability choices I think would be good options:

Spoiler:

Disguise: The ability to alter your appearance and possibly even clothing. An illusion effect that grants a bonus to Disguise checks, etc.

Distraction: Things like throwing your voice, or creating sounds and minor images. A shadowy movement around a corner, grabbing a guard's attention, etc.

Trackless: A supernatural ability to not leave a physical trail. Perhaps even blocking tracking by scent as a higher powered version.

Spider: Climbing without need of hands, and possibly using a wall to break your fall, similar to the Monk ability (replacing feather fall).

Slippery Aura: A supernatural ability to slide off the radar for divination spells. Undetectable alignment, nondetection, even misdirection, etc.

Teleport: Dimension door style movement, or maybe something like the "Dimensional Steps" ability the conjuration specialist wizard has.

Reconnoiter: An ability to see or hear in an area, or locate a creature, etc.

Mind Taker: Cause a person to magically fall asleep, and the ability to modify their memory while in this specific state (magical sleep, not general unconsciousness).

Shadowcraft: Make areas of concealment from a dark mist, etc. Good for escape. Let the assassin see through it to make it a really good offensive ability.

The point is that these talents are a more powerful and more reusable than the spells, but you'd be limited in the number of choices you could have.
This means you'd have a variety of Asassins, as each one might pick a different set of talents and approach their death dealing in different ways.

An Assassin picking the Disguise, Reconnoiter, Slippery Aura and Distraction talents would probably approach his targets in a more "sidle up as a friend or non-combatant" style of killing.
While an Assassin that picks Spider, Slippery Aura, Trackless and Mind Taker, might be the kind that slips in undetected, steal/kill and modify people's memories to implicate someone else, etc.
And then another could pick Shadowcraft and Teleport specifically for combat purposes.

I think more than anything else, this would bring back some of the versatility that made the Assassin a decent class in 3.5e.


Does everyone hate this post-eating forum as much as I do ? Cause right now I'm quite hateful.

Anyway.
To sum up :

Assassins have less reasons to have spell-like or supernatural abilities than to have some arcane casting. Arcane archer gain those from their preexistent arcane abilities, shadowdancers from their link to another plane. Assassins have neither.

Though I'd be ok with one or two advanced rogue talents improving Major Magic, but I suspect the advanced player guide have those. HiPS, Death attack (based on the number of SA dice instead of the assassin level) and true death should be advanced rogue talents too.

I think the class should be split in two.

One should be full-BAB, poison-using (let's face it, 3.x poisons are awful for anything ressembling to an assassination attempt, but a fighter type could have some use for them), armor and weapon-trained assassin, with a slow sneak attack progression and a few talents. Something that fits with the artwork for the class, in pathfinder or 3.5. Maybe Intimidate-related abilities.

The other should be a skill-heavy class, using Use magic device to compensate for its lack of magic in a world where assassination targets are always magically protected. Rogue talents too, and slower SA progression. The requirement to kill someone should become to belong to an assassin guild

I imagined that second class around a Copy scroll ability, that allows to use UMD and Linguistics (forgery) to create a scroll without casting the spell as long a a model scroll is available (the rest of the creation process unchanged).
The scrolls available to copy should be low level (no more than 4, increasing with the assassin level), and maybe from a spell list. The pathfinder bard list could fit, the 3.5 core assassin list should, but I prefer the non-core 3.5 list, because most pathfinder assassin abilities duplicate those spells.
Other abilities could be access to cheap (and progressively cheaper) wands and scrolls, supplied by the guild, along with mission orders (or not after a certain level), and, if using the 3.5 no-core assassin list, the ability to use scrolls as less than a standard action when the spell normal casting time is shorter.

And the angel of death ability should not be, because the name is lame and once-per-day supernatural abilities are bad. Especially for non-supernatural beings.


I'm not going to lie, I don't like the Assassin getting spells, although I know why they did in 3.5. Something I'd do to compensate is give them Rogue Talents when they're not getting sneak attack, allow them to use Death Attack at a range of 30ft, give them a good fortitude save (I mean they kill people for a living), and up their skill points to 6+int each level. Some other things that would be nice: an ability to increase the DC of their poison (possibly going up the same amount as when they get a bonus vs poisons), slowfall, possibly constant undetectable alignment (so when they're disguised as a priest a crusader doesn't use detect alignment and shout "there he is, there he is"), and a bonus to more skills, I'm thinking Acrobatics, Climb, Stealth, and possibly Swim (I mean they have to get in and out of wherever their victim is unnoticed). Also on the 30ft Death Attack, I have rules for firearms in my game and I allow Assassins that add Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot to their prerequisites to use Death Attack at their maximum range (with a gun, bow, or crossbow) but they have to sneak attack the round after they finish studying.


Honestly, I'm far more interested in an Assassin that can foil magical attempts to locate him, that can track down his target no matter where he goes, that can take the least obvious path with ease, and can do awesome things like kill someone and modify memory to make the guards think they saw someone else do it.

It saddens me that these wonderful tactics that make the Assassin unique, versatile, and flavorful are being left aside in favor of "better death attack".

If you want to kill things better/faster, then just open up a feat for poison use and let a Fighter or Ranger kill things "really good".

A partial BAB, Rogue-based Assassin should really have more unique options than "watch your target for a few seconds and kill him really really dead".

Some of the things I speak of (spider climb, nondetection, modify memory) pretty much demand some magical source.

.

Then again, maybe it doesn't have to be.

If the Assassin PrC was more flavoured like a Monk (body and mind training), then I can see extraordinary abilities performing some of these tasks.

We are getting into the realm of Derren Brown/Mentalist stuff to get things like modify memory (that, or you could introduce it in the form of torture, but that stuff takes a while and needs the right environment/tools, not just talking and planting suggestions in a person's head).

I could see spider climb as extraordinary body control stuff. Even nondetection or undetectable alignment as a "focused mind" kind of thing.

Teleportation would be right out though. And creating shadow or concealment from nothing would be impossible without at least some kind of equipment involved. Same with clairvoyance, etc.


There are some really good points and ideas here. I really like having varied opinions on a subject, as it helps view issues from many angles.

I'm going to write down the skeletal framework for building a new Assassin prestige class below. I will be using the rules from the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, and will be building the class to reflect those same rules. The primary focus with this PrC was to build a class that fit the niche between Ranger and Rogue, and I used both classes as as an inspirational model. I will go section by section and explain why I believe it should either stay the same or change. As always, feedback is very necessary and much appreciated.

Prerequisites: I would change the requirement of evil only to any non-good, with the reason being - you don't have to be evil to kill for a cause. There are many historical as well as fictional characters that were very strictly neutral in all matters. I would also just get rid of the requirement to "kill someone for no other reason than to become an assassin." That requirement is just plain silly.

Skills: I don't think there is any doubt or conflict with this change - the assassin needs more skill points. As a skill-oriented class, the assassin simply needs to be good at what he does. I think the skill selection is fine the way it is, but skill points should increase to 6+Int. The only reason I don't think it should be raised to 8+Int is that the assassin is a focused PrC, and more skill points would take him closer into the realm of the Rogue (a generalist class), also the assassin will be gaining quite a few abilities to supplement this.

BAB: There have been some who suggested raising the assassin's BAB because they felt the assassin is highly trained in combat (and other such points). I feel the class is fine how it is. The assassin should be a good combatant, but not on par with a fighter of similar level, in my opinion. Keeping a medium BAB progression keeps the assassin as competent in combat, but also shows that the focus in assassin training is not solely combat.

Remember: if you want to make your assassin more combat-oriented, mystical, or magical, you need to take appropriate class choices before becoming an assassin. Since the requirements for assassin are 5 ranks of Stealth and 2 ranks of Disguise, this PrC can be accessed from any class. If you like the idea of a combat-oriented assassin, be sure to take fighter levels before your PrC. If you want mystical, take monk levels. And if you want magical, take wizard or sorcerer. Another interesting build would be to start out as a cleric of darkness and/or trickery.

Saves: Saves really don't define a class too much, so I could really go either way on this. Since the assassin is usually required to perform alone, a solid base of skills and abilities are needed. As the rules stand now, the assassin's only fast save progression is in Reflex, with Fortitude and Will being slow. I would prefer seeing saves similar to the monk's (with all progressing similarly), but not as rapidly. I suggest a medium rate of progression in all saves. In looking over some of the other prestige classes, I noticed many with a 5/5/3 build. We could re-work this to be a 5/4/4 build (Fort +4, Ref +5, Wil +4).

Special Abilities: Okay, here's where things get more involved. I want to keep sneak attack progression the same - assassins are supposed to be good, if not the best, at doing this. I also want to keep poison use and the increasing save vs poison - poison has long been an iconic method of assassination. I think death attack should be replaced with deadly focus. Death attack is a good ability, but an ability that could potentially kill anybody, regardless of level or hit dice, at 6th level is a little too much.

I believe that the assassin's deadly focus ability should be a more powerful ability than normal, simply because it won't come in to play that often, and when it does, it probably won't be used again soon. This will ensure that the main focus of the class stays along the lines of eliminating a specific target, but will alleviate the all-or-nothing feel that death attack had.

With that in mind, I think the base mechanic for deadly focus should be similar to death attack (3 rounds of study while remaining undetected/unthreatening) and then give the assassin a bonus to hit and damage vs the target of their deadly focus that increases with the assassin level. This would allow for better combat abilities, at least vs the target, and would also be a nice incentive to stay in class for the full 10 levels. Deadly focus can also be improved with assassin talents (see below). The bonuses gained from deadly focus should last for the encounter or until the target dies (or is incapacitated), whichever comes first.

I'm still undecided as how exactly to implement assassin talents. I think the best way would be to allow one assassin talent at each even level, and at 6th level assassin, a list of advanced talents could be introduced. I also think that assassin levels should stack with Rogue levels for determining access to advanced Rogue talents, once the character leaves the PrC. These, combined with the above abilities should make for a balanced and customizable character.

Of course, we will yank out the true death, quiet death, swift death, and angel of death abilities. Variants of these abilities will most likely be found within the list of assassin talents.

I like the inclusion of uncanny dodge. This adds to the feel that the assassin is more aware of his surroundings than the average character. Would it be too powerful to also introduce evasion? Maybe as a talent choice...

I also think that the hide in plain sight ability should become available at a lower level, say between 3rd and 5th. This would mean the character would be on average from 9th to 11th level when he gained this ability, and it would not be overpowered. Maybe we could also include it on the list of assassin talents. Of course, if we did so, we'd have to replace the ability with something else (maybe evasion).

The 10th level ability, the pinnacle of assassin training should be...I don't know yet. Perhaps this should be a death attack with normal saves (at this level the DC would be 20+Int bonus, so not too shabby), and there could also be some extra assassin talent modifications already added to this, so it might not be a bad idea. After all, the death attack ability has always been the forte of the assassin since 1st edition ad&d. The death attack will also be allowed for use with range weapons within 30', lol.

Another idea is to have an ability called "One Shot, One Kill" (or similar) that would allow the assassin the ability to either double his sneak attack dice vs his target or raise the sneak attack dice from d6 to d8, or some other form of high damage dealing involving sneak attacks vs his target. This ability could have limited uses (such as a few times per day, or even just once). I'm not a big fan of this option, but I'm just throwing it out here as another idea.

Spells: There has been quite a debate over spells for the assassin. In reviewing the pros and cons for spells, I've noticed that the all of the arguments against spells were the same - "I just don't see assassins as spell-users" or "assassins are more physical", and so on. I think that the main reason many people dislike assassins having spells stems more from the fact that they see spell-users as waggly-fingered wizard types rather than the demi-spell users that they were designed as (similar to the ranger).

The best example of a demi-spell user in action would be Aragorn in Lord of the Rings. At many points throughout the books, and even movies, Aragorn "listened to the ground" or "let his consciousness scan the horizons". In game terms, these would be spells (or at least spell-like abilities for some of them). They required concentration and some somatic gestures (pressing ear to ground for several rounds, etc..). Looking at it this way can help ease the all-or-nothing concept of spell users that I think many people have (at least the ones that think assassins shouldn't have spells).

It's hard to take a concept and make it fit into the mechanics of a game system. In this case, the game mechanics support a concept of demi-spell user, as the assassin has many useful abilities. Having these abilities represented by a spell list provides for a much broader base of abilities and thus, usefulness. If we were to replace the spell list with a list of spell-like or supernatural abilities, I think it would overpower the class a bit.

I believe that a small spell list, similar to that of the 3.5 assassin, or even better - the red mantis assassin, would be appropriate. Some assassin talents that we could introduce could change one or more of these spells to spell-like abilities (or just allow for an extra spell feat - same thing).

So, to recap:

Changes include an even progression of saves, more skill points, replacing death attack with deadly focus, adding in a custom talent list, lower the level requirement for hide in plain sight, and adding in spells again.

It might sound like more is going in than coming out, but remember, the class was woefully underpowered as it stood, with many abilities that enhanced the one-shot death attack ability and left little room for anything else. The goal of reworking this PrC was to make it level-appropriate and have a more useful range of abilities.

How does this sound so far?


Well, I have a rough draft completed and written to pdf. If anyone wants to check it out, just let me know. I'll be more than happy to email a copy for your perusal.

Here are some highlights and additional changes I've made:

Deadly Focus provides bonus to hit and damage, +1 at 1st level and progressing by +1 every two levels.

Saving throws were even across the board, starting at +1 and ending at +5.

Assassin Talents include arcane training, bleeding attack, combat trick, conceal blade, crippling strike, deadly stare, devastating strike, evasion, improved evasion, nondetection, silent strike, sniper shot, and swift strike. I'm trying to think of a few more talents, but the list as it stands is very playable.

I did add in spells. I felt it was just too important of a mechanic to toss out. They cast spells as a bard and receive no arcane penalty for wearing light armor. The spell list provided in the pdf I have is tailored specifically for the campaign my group plays in, so minor alterations will have to be made to fit different groups.

Osirion

Perhaps make it like inquisitor judgements?

Assassin’s Hex: Once a day the Assassin may target a humanoid as their chosen prey focusing their mind solely on their destruction. Any time the Assassin is able to Sneak Attack that target (that day) they deal an additional 2d6 precision damage. The first time the target is struck with the assassin’s sneak (attack that day) they must make a (dc 10+assassin level + int) fort save or be muted for 1d3 rounds +1 round / 2 assassin levels.


Solonar1 wrote:

Well, I have a rough draft completed and written to pdf. If anyone wants to check it out, just let me know. I'll be more than happy to email a copy for your perusal.

Here are some highlights and additional changes I've made:

Deadly Focus provides bonus to hit and damage, +1 at 1st level and progressing by +1 every two levels.

Saving throws were even across the board, starting at +1 and ending at +5.

Assassin Talents include arcane training, bleeding attack, combat trick, conceal blade, crippling strike, deadly stare, devastating strike, evasion, improved evasion, nondetection, silent strike, sniper shot, and swift strike. I'm trying to think of a few more talents, but the list as it stands is very playable.

I did add in spells. I felt it was just too important of a mechanic to toss out. They cast spells as a bard and receive no arcane penalty for wearing light armor. The spell list provided in the pdf I have is tailored specifically for the campaign my group plays in, so minor alterations will have to be made to fit different groups.

I would love a copy!

My email:
remnent20@hotmail.com

Cheliax

Solonar1 wrote:

Well, I have a rough draft completed and written to pdf. If anyone wants to check it out, just let me know. I'll be more than happy to email a copy for your perusal.

I'd like a copy as well.

E-mail:
gelscressor@gmail.com.


E-mail:
emdekel@gmail.com

Please send the rough draft!

Shadow Lodge

...and the forums just ATE my 45min reply and went to the Paizo Store page instead of posting...so, yeah...I'll try again later...*grumble*


ValmarTheMad wrote:
...and the forums just ATE my 45min reply and went to the Paizo Store page instead of posting...so, yeah...I'll try again later...*grumble*

Gah! And it'd be so nice to get more input on this.

*shakes fist at forums*

Shadow Lodge

This may be a slightly abbreviated (and poorer) version of my previous attempt, but here it is:

As this discussion highlights, the way you could construct an Assassin varies widely. In literature, history and within all the various PrC and Classes available, there are already numerous assassin-like characters you could play.

An “assassin” is really more of a mindset and/or an occupation than a class, per se—a Rogue is the ‘default’ for most Assassin builds, but a Ranger could easily prey upon only humanoids, taking money for their execution, and you can build a very effective Monk/Sorcerer, or Bard, or…well, pretty much any class could be a dedicated killer if built properly for that single purpose.

So, I think coming up with the definitive assassin might be missing the mark.

Instead, I went with multiple variants of ‘Assassins’ based on their power source, abilities, methods, and goals.

In my house rules, I have 9 styles of Assassin, drawn from various 3/3.5/OGL sources. Some are the combination of two PrCs, some a modified base class, or a combination of a base class and PrC, but the idea is to match each one to a specific style you have in mind.

I’m not trying to say that my versions are the “correct” versions of a base-class Assassin; I’m just saying that there can be more than one way to look at how the Assassin “should” be.

For example, here’re my archetypes, and the sources I used to create them:

1. Arcane Assassin (Arcane Trickster/Bladesinger)
2. Dagger Assassin (Monk/Rogue)
3. Deceptive Assassin (Bard/Rogue/3.5e Assassin)
4. Finesse Assassin (Rogue/Unfettered*) {*MC Arcana Base Class}
5. Mystic Assassin (Ninja of the Crescent Moon/Way of the Bow Initiate)
6. Poison-master Assassin (Alchemist/Assassin)
7. Psionic Assassin (Soulknife/Red Avenger)
8. Shadow Assassin (3.5e Assassin/Shadowdancer)
9. Sniper Assassin (Rogue/Arcane Archer)

Their actual mechanics aren’t my real point (not my thread to hijack), I’m just trying to show that you can have many variations on the same theme and that each theme does the same task, but in a unique way.
--So some use spells, some use Abilities, some are purely Skills & Feats. It's all in how you want your assassin to do the job.

Ultimately, they’re all killers, but if you don’t want an Assassin to use spells, then play the Finesse Assassin, if you think assassins should be able to infiltrate anything and sneak away unnoticed, then play the Deceptive. Like leaping from the shadows (literally) and catching your prey off guard? Shadow Assassin…etc.

I think this tread is a great exercise in building a class, I’m just saying we can come up with multiple variants since the entire concept of an “assassin” is pretty wide-open to how (in game mechanics) it does the job.


I did not like the class as well when I first played it as a NPC. By taking the spells they made it much harder to kill at any range. I gave them their spell list back and they were the great class they had always had been (Better because of all the pathfinder goodies that were added.) I still use all my 3.5 source though which has several nice spells that allow for death at range and I have found some feats that allow the use of death attack at range.


ValmarTheMad has the right idea. One assassin PrC will not fit everyone's expectations of an assassin.

I also understand that it this PrC seems to be aimed more at NPCs rather than PCs.

I am also firmly in the "No Spells" camp, at least for the general assassin class. I have no problem with additional spellcasting assassin classes, although I do have an issue with 4 level cherry picked spell progressions in general (particularly that as new spells are added to the game these lists are not always taken into consideration).

That being said, I have house ruled a few of changes to the assassin PrC:

Alignment: Any Non-Good

Skills: 6 + Int

Death Attack: Allow death attack with ranged weapons, buy the target must be within 30' even if the assassin is able to sneak attack from a longer range. (I was going to copy and modify the entire Death Attack text, but I chose to just list the change for brevity and clarity)

Poison Mastery: Beginning at 3rd level, an assassin adds 1/2 their assassin level (rounded down) to the DC of any poison they use.

These are minor changes. The focus of the class is "making things dead", which I think it does pretty well.

On a side note with regard to the forum eating posts, I recommend selecting the entire post ([Ctrl]A) and copying it ([Ctrl]C)) before hitting the preview or submit buttons. It's a habit many on these forums have adopted, Either that or writing the post in a text editor and then copy and pasting it into the forum editor.


Freesword wrote:

ValmarTheMad has the right idea. One assassin PrC will not fit everyone's expectations of an assassin.

I also understand that it this PrC seems to be aimed more at NPCs rather than PCs.

I am also firmly in the "No Spells" camp, at least for the general assassin class. I have no problem with additional spellcasting assassin classes, although I do have an issue with 4 level cherry picked spell progressions in general (particularly that as new spells are added to the game these lists are not always taken into consideration).

That being said, I have house ruled a few of changes to the assassin PrC:

Alignment: Any Non-Good

Skills: 6 + Int

Death Attack: Allow death attack with ranged weapons, buy the target must be within 30' even if the assassin is able to sneak attack from a longer range. (I was going to copy and modify the entire Death Attack text, but I chose to just list the change for brevity and clarity)

Poison Mastery: Beginning at 3rd level, an assassin adds 1/2 their assassin level (rounded down) to the DC of any poison they use.

These are minor changes. The focus of the class is "making things dead", which I think it does pretty well.

I like this a lot and may just use it. 1 thing I added to the assassin with my game being in a steampunk setting with guns and such was that they could use their death attack ability at their full range (with any ranged weapon, not just guns) but they had to make their death attack the 1st round after studying their victim for 3 rounds or they'd have to study them again.

Freesword wrote:
On a side note with regard to the forum eating posts, I recommend selecting the entire post ([Ctrl]A) and copying it ([Ctrl]C)) before hitting the preview or submit buttons. It's a habit many on these forums have adopted, Either that or writing the post in a text editor and then copy and pasting it into the forum editor.

+1, I do this whenever I post a longer post.


I have to agree, the Assassin does come over as somewhat lack-luster in regards to the other PrCs. (And yes, most groups I know of make it Alignment: Any Non-Good and Special: Must have killed 20 people with a Sneak Attack.)

Death Attack ... I would actually leave as a 'melee weapon' only attack. Now, nothing is stopping the Assassin from grabbing a Dagger, Javelin or Throwing Axe and going to town with this, and it prevents the 'auto-win' with high-powered Ranged Weapons, some of which can be brutally lethal in these situations.

I'd add a Class-Level based defense on Divination spells, starting at 1st level. Any time the Assassin is subject to a spell that would attempt to locate him, the Assassin is made aware of the effect if he makes a Will Save equal to the Caster's HD level.
At 3rd level, the Assassin can make a second Will Save (including their Assassin level as a competence bonus) equal to or greater than the 'enemy' caster's Spell DC (Example 8th level Wizard with 18 Intellect, DC would be 10+4+4 for a DC 18 Will-Save) to negate the attempt to render the Divination Spell useless, and it gives no information back to the Caster.
at 7th level, the Assassin, if he makes both Will Saves, learns the race, gender and general location of the sender of the Divination Spell. At 10th level, the Assassin knows the name and exact location of the sender of the Divination Spell.

I'd also give the Assassin the (3nd level) Virulent Poison (increases DC by 2 of all Poisons used by the Assassin) (5th level) Rapid Poison (decreases by 1/2 the number of rounds it takes for the poison's secondary effect to take place) and (8th level) Mingled Poison, allowing the Assassin to put two types of poison on a single weapon, using the higher save DC for both. Sticky Poison should be a 1st level Assassin skill, allowing the Assassin to make his poisons 'stick' to the blade for a number of rounds equal to his Assassin Class Levels.


Well, my brother is running a game where one player is going down the Assassin path, and after looking things over, he agreed that the Assassin doesn't fit too well in a world of magic.
If your job is to be a killer for hire, and you want to last long, you are either going to eventually need to invest into some heavy permanent magic item stuff, or you'll need to have access to abilities that interact with magic.

Personally, I felt there was a severe dearth of abilities when they took away the spell casting. Replacing it with "slightly better death attack" was no-where near compensating for the massive drop in utility.

As someone else noted (can't remember who), pretty much all classes have either Full BAB, 6+ skillpoints, or full spellcasting. The Monk is the notable exception, but has full saves, full BAB on flurry, and a metric buttload of other abilities.
The current Assassin has 3/4 BAB, 4 skillpoints, a single save, and no spellcasting. Abilities-wise, they are about the same as the Rogue (with less flexibility in that they have no talents).
Honestly, they need something to boost them back into validity. Non-combat death attack is simply not "that" good.

So I went with my earlier idea (in this thread), and looked over the list of spells, and thought of what an Assassin could use, and decided to make a series of Assassin talents for the class that properly replaced the loss in spellcasting.
Here's what I came up with...

First, I alternated having Assassin talents and Sneak Attack damage (starting with the first Assassin Talent at level one, and Sneak Attack +1d6 starting at 2nd level, keeping them in line with entering from Rogue levels at 6th).

Then I created a set of Assassin Talents (15 in total) to choose from.

Here's the talents:

Spoiler:

Dimensional Step (Su): The assassin is capable of instantly traveling between spaces. He may teleport to any location within line of sight as a standard action. Rules based on total movement per day, similar to the Wizard ability. Movement used is modified by your load, meaning you can take that corpse with you, but it'll use up more of your movement, etc.
I've been debating having this as a move action (or an upgrade for a move action or something). Would that be too strong?

Disguise (Su): The assassin is able to alter his body, clothing and equipment to appear differently. It's treated like the disguise self spell, only with higher levels it also changes tactile and olfactory sensations as well. The intention behind this one is that it's unlimited use. I can't decide if it should be dispellable (and thus spell-like instead of supernatural).

Distraction (Su): The assassin learns how to manifest a decoy or distraction, allowing him to create an image and sounds to distract or frighten. This is like persistant image, and limited to a number of use per day, although see "Triggered Decoy".

Mind Breaker (Sp): The assassin can cloud the minds of those he touches, and even alter their perception of past events. Touch attack sleep effect, affecting HD equal to your level. It affects sleeping targets too, because once someone is affected by this ability, you can then modify memory on them.
For that reason, this as to be spell-like, so that it can be dispelled (otherwise the modify memory is far more powerful).

Poison Use (Ex): Yeah, this was moved to a talent. This way not all assassins are poison users, but one can be if they wanted. I also added a bonus to Craft (Alchemy), and treating your crafting as gold pieces instead of silvers to accelerate poison crafting.

Reconnoiter (Su): The assassin can empower a small token in his possession to act as a sensor. Treated as having the ability to perform clairaudience/clairvoyance on the token as long as you concentrate on it. Better in duration (unlimited), but limited in that the token as to get where you want it to go (like placing it on someone with sleight of hand, while disguised, etc).
Secondary effect of being able to locate person on whoever has that token in their possession (blocked by normal methods of course). Once again, weaker than the spell because you need to place it on them first somehow.
Since the token can be anything though, you could even mail it to the person (and make it something they want to keep, like expensive jewelry or a magic item, etc).

Shadowcraft (Su): The Assassin gains darkvision (or improves existing darkvision), and has the ability to dim light sources within a certain range (lowering by one step, possibly granting him shadows).

Shadowform (Su): I've moved the Hide in Plain Sight "10' within shadows" hiding bonus into this talent, which requires having the Shadowcraft talent before choosing, so by 3rd Assassin level they can hide even when only at the edge of shadows. The wording being similar to camouflage for rangers: you look like shadow, and so can hide in it without cover and if close enough, without concealment even. Think of the Ninja Assassins movie for reference.
The Assassin still gains Hide in Plain Sight at 5th level, but it only allows making a stealth check to move to a hiding place while someone is looking without need of a distraction (ie, still need to get to cover or concealment to make that check).

Sight Unseen (Su): Basically gain the effects of the nondetection spell, as a constant effect. Must have the "Slippery Aura" talent (see below).

Slippery Aura (Ex): The assassin deadens his thoughts and is mentally stoic, developing the ability to hide his nature completely, even to magical detection. Alignment cannot be revealed, and lies cannot be magically detected (only mundane ways, like a sense motive check). Bonus to Bluff checks when lying, and UMD checks when faking an alignment.

Spider Crawl (Su): Basically the effects of the spider climb spell as a constant effect.

Spindly Form (Ex): Through body conditioning, and learning how to contort his body, the assassin moves lighter, and can access to areas typically impossible to reach or move through. Bonus to Escape Artist checks, and is treated as one size smaller for the following: squeezing rules, size based AC bonus, size based Fly/Stealth check bonus.

Tracker (Ex): Basically a bonus to tracking, and the swift tracker stuff (so a Ranger going into this class can keep/continue to improve his tracking ability).

Trackless (Su): The assassin gains the supernatural ability to no longer leave footprints or a scent trail while moving; tracking the assassin is impossible by nonmagical means.

Triggered Decoy (Su): An upgrade to the Distraction talent (and thus requiring it). It gives the option of a short duration effect that starts with a trigger. Also, distractions become unlimited use.

They tend to be a bit stronger or variable than Rogue Talents, but then you lose the trapfinding bonus and 4 skillpoints per level as a direct comparison to simply taking 5 rogue levels. A rather hefty cost in the skillpoint versatility region, so you gotta make up for it in abilities.

Since you are limited to only 5 of them by the end, it also means you'll have quite the variety of Assassin builds. For example, an Assassin that gets Disguise, Mind Breaker, Reconnoiter, Slippery Aura, and Sight Unseen would make an amazing infiltrator designed to assassinate a high ranking person and even implicate others in the event.
While an Assassin that took Poison Use, Shadowcraft, Shadow Form, Spindly Form and Dimensional Step would have a lot of combat and stealth capability.


As a side discussion (separate from the abilities thing), I had some thoughts on the Death Attack.

What kind of impact does making the death attack "resistant" to resurrection have on the gameplay?
I mean.. for a PC, 99.99% of the time, enemies aren't coming back after being killed. It's fairly plot related for the DM to bring something back to life to fight the PCs again.
Short of the Breath of Life spell anyways (which has in-combat usage... while the death attack ability is typically out-of-combat it can be used to initiate combat I guess).

For NPCs, it can mean.. what.. it's harder for the PCs to recover an ally from being killed? Or bring back an important ally? These all seem quite heavy in the roleplaying side of things, and well within the control of the DM on whether it happens or not.

Now, Raise Dead "immediately after combat/still in the dungeon" type of deal.. that could be tough to respond to. However, a CR3 Shadow can spell "unrecoverable death" from Strength damage at a pretty early stage, so it's not like the game isn't ready to handle this.

.

What I'm getting to, is if there's a mechanical balance issue with doing the following:

Allowing the "true death" ability at mid-levels to be treated as a "magical death effect". Even allow an Assassin to apply it to a coup-de-grace or even on a corpse that recently died (like within X rounds).
So instead of an awkward curse, with an easily beaten caster level check, you are looking at flat out needing True Resurrection. The flipside being that Death Ward now allows a boost to resisting this effect (ie, potential protection).

Then, as a capstone ability, a "trap the soul" effect. The Assassin should still need a gem worth 1000gp per HD of the target, but otherwise he can trap the soul of someone he just killed with his "true death", and prevent them from being resurrected by virtually any means until the gem is smashed and the soul released.

This would make a build with Slippery Aura, Sight Unseen, and Trackless, a formidable "keep someone dead for hire" assassin, as it would be extremely tough to track down this guy and release the soul.
Finally.. someone to hire to kill the King who has unlimited access to magical protection!

.

Finally, as a further aside, I've been thinking of adding the following to Quiet Death:

"Additionally, the assassin can cause a delay to the kill or paralysis effect of his deadly strike. If the victim of the deadly strike fails their save, they do not feel anything until the beginning of their turn, where they become nauseated for one round. At the beginning of their second turn, they become dazed. Finally, at the beginning of their third turn, they fall dead or become paralyzed."

You know, for those times you want to walk past the target in a busy street, "accidentally" bump into him with his body guards around ("Oops, sorry."), and he slowly keels over, coughing blood, while you are slipping back into the crowd.


I'll put my 2 cp in here,

1) The 3 round observation thing was exactly what you'd expect for an assassin as part of its flavour. And exactly why it was intended for NPC's instead of PC's.

2) Assassins should have spells IMO. I still don't get why they took the spells off the Assassin and then gave them to the Red Mantis Assassin.

3) To everyone losing posts: just press 'back' on your browser till you get back to your post; copy it; 'forward' again; add new post and paste it back in. Same applies to editing.


Tanis wrote:
1) The 3 round observation thing was exactly what you'd expect for an assassin as part of its flavour. And exactly why it was intended for NPC's instead of PC's.

Yes.

Also, compared to the 20th level capstone Rogue ability, which you can only do it once per target per day, while the 3 rounds Assassin version can be repeated as necessary.

In-combat use of death attack tends to be applicable in more situations though, so even with the "one try per day" limitation, people still consider it stronger.

Tanis wrote:
2) Assassins should have spells IMO. I still don't get why they took the spells off the Assassin and then gave them to the Red Mantis Assassin.

Currently, no other PrC in Pathfinder core rules has it's own spellcasting progression over a 10 level span. They are all "+1 existing" type.

It seems they avoided it this time around.

And I believe that the Red Mantis Assassin was built with 3.5e ruleset as well, so it came before the new version of the Assassin.
At least, the Pathfinder Campaign Setting book version is 3.5e. Is there a later version made for the new Pathfinder core rules (ie, Stealth instead of Hide and Move Silently, etc)?
The PFSRD (which has info on anything current to the new ruleset usually) doesn't have the Red Mantis Assassin there yet...

Isn't a new Pathfinder Campaign Setting book that is current to the new ruleset coming out soon? We might have to see what they do with the Red Mantis...


heh. Good point. I'm betting it won't have spells.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

hmmm - I'm sorry, but I cannot sympathize with this cause. The assassin in Pathfinder is great the way he is. If you really have a massive problem with the lack of ranged-death-attack, just convince your GM to make a feat available that allows for any sneak attack to work for the death attack.

I, for one, am very much in favor of the "non-mystical" assassin that Pathfinder uses now. If you want a weird one, play a Red Mantis assassin. A normal assassin is just somebody that is good at killing people stealthily. The last thing I want to see for such a person is the ability to cast Cat's Grace 2 times a day. Or cast Invisibility.


Maybe it's because the Assassin spells were SOOOO good, and fit in thematically with the concept. meh.

As a side note, if you want ranged death attack, check out Sniper's Shot (Spell Compendium, i think).


Marc Radle wrote:


However, I absolutely agree with assasins NOT having spells. They simply do not fit the archtype.

*face palm*

Also, it makes no sense to have Death Attack be based on Intelligence once spells are removed. The Assassin is not a skill monkey and the only reason he would have decent intelligence is to cast spells - which he no longer has. Another overlooked detail in 3.5 to PF conversion (color me unsurprised). I'd say Death Attack should be based on number of Sneak Attack dice, or half total sneak attack damage, in place of Int.

LoreKeeper wrote:


I, for one, am very much in favor of the "non-mystical" assassin that Pathfinder uses now. If you want a weird one, play a Red Mantis assassin. A normal assassin is just somebody that is good at killing people stealthily. The last thing I want to see for such a person is the ability to cast Cat's Grace 2 times a day. Or cast Invisibility.

Then let's go ahead and remove the spells from the Ranger, Bard, and Paladin. If we are going to try and make D&D fit some ridiculous idea of what should and shouldn't have spell-casting, let's be fair.

A normal assassin is some one who secretly kills some one. A D&D Assassin is a person who exists in a magical world and could benefit in his job significantly with the ability to make himself more agile or more stealthy.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Quote:

Then let's go ahead and remove the spells from the Ranger, Bard, and Paladin. If we are going to try and make D&D fit some ridiculous idea of what should and shouldn't have spell-casting, let's be fair.

A normal assassin is some one who secretly kills some one. A D&D Assassin is a person who exists in a magical world and could benefit in his job significantly with the ability to make himself more agile or more stealthy.

There is already a magical assassin (i.e. the Red Mantis) - having a "mundane" assassin is great in comparison. If you want to play a magical assassin, there's nothing preventing you from taking some wizard levels. Or just simply buying suitable equipment. Make use of the right class/tool for what you want. Pathfinder says that their mundane assassins are mundane. (And that red assassins are magical.)

Quote:
Also, it makes no sense to have Death Attack be based on Intelligence once spells are removed. The Assassin is not a skill monkey and the only reason he would have decent intelligence is to cast spells - which he no longer has. Another overlooked detail in 3.5 to PF conversion (color me unsurprised). I'd say Death Attack should be based on number of Sneak Attack dice, or half total sneak attack damage, in place of Int.

It makes plenty of sense. It takes some measure of insight and studying of the target to deliver a death attack. Flavorwise I see it making good sense. What is wrong with having an assassin splash a bit to have some Int? So he starts with 12 (or 13) base Int. And high Dex. By level 12, with items, that is comfortably 16 Int; more than enough for a decent DC. Are you troubled that you don't have that extra +2 to the DC (from having 20 Int)? Losing out on some synergy (vis a vis) spell-casting, isn't a biggie. Those things can easily be acquired with some money (and possibly some UMD).

Mechanically and in terms of flavor I can see assassins being quite intelligent. These aren't thugs or muggers that happen to kill people for a living. These are professionals that get into places without being seen, and kill people without being heard. I would expect such a person to be above averagely smart.

What other stat do assassins need? Str? Con? What for? They strike unseen and with sneak-dice. Charisma? Or Wisdom?

Andoran

Cartigan wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:


However, I absolutely agree with assasins NOT having spells. They simply do not fit the archtype.

*face palm*

Then let's go ahead and remove the spells from the Ranger, Bard, and Paladin.

First, thanks for the *face palm*. Nothing quite says condescending or "if you do not think like I do, you are stupid' quite like a well-placed *face palm*.

There actually is a ranger that does not use spells in issue 11 of Kobold Quarterly. The class does just fine without spells, I promise.


LoreKeeper wrote:
There is already a magical assassin (i.e. the Red Mantis) - having a "mundane" assassin is great in comparison.

That is not a proper comparison. The Red Mantis Assassin was 3.5e material. This means he's compared to the 3.5e Assassin, which did have spellcasting.

When the Pathfinder Campaign book comes out, it's quite possible that the Red Mantis Assassin will be modeled for comparison after the new Pathfinder core Assassin, and no longer have spells either.

.

I'm not going to argue the other points, because him having magical talent or abilities or not is totally a matter of subjective flavour.

Personally, I don't have a problem with my Assassin have some ties to magic.

He's already doing magical death attacks (either as a curse, or as a magical death attack if you like my suggestion).
He's got a supernatural ability to Hide in and around shadows.
His final ability makes the target crumble to dust (supernatural ability).

Honestly, he's already laden with magical ability. Giving him something akin to what I'm suggesting (see my spoilered talents in one of my recent posts), is not changing his flavour at all.

Giving him hand wiggling spellcasting does change things a bit towards the scholarly rogue, and some people are fine with that as well.

Honestly, it's a matter of taste, but if your taste is "purely non-magical", then it's too late, because there's magic in your Assassin already.


Marc Radle wrote:
Cartigan wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:


However, I absolutely agree with assasins NOT having spells. They simply do not fit the archtype.

*face palm*

Then let's go ahead and remove the spells from the Ranger, Bard, and Paladin.

First, thanks for the *face palm*. Nothing quite says condescending or "if you do not think like I do, you are stupid' quite like a well-placed *face palm*.

There actually is a ranger that does not use spells in issue 11 of Kobold Quarterly. The class does just fine without spells, I promise.

There's also a spell-less Ranger and Paladin in Complete Champion.


Marc Radle wrote:
Cartigan wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:


However, I absolutely agree with assasins NOT having spells. They simply do not fit the archtype.

*face palm*

Then let's go ahead and remove the spells from the Ranger, Bard, and Paladin.

First, thanks for the *face palm*. Nothing quite says condescending or "if you do not think like I do, you are stupid' quite like a well-placed *face palm*.

There actually is a ranger that does not use spells in issue 11 of Kobold Quarterly. The class does just fine without spells, I promise.

I'm sure it does but you completely miss my point. Why WOULDN'T an Assassin have spells? A limited and applicable spell list significantly increases an Assassin's ability to assassinate things.


Right. The ability to absorb a weapon into your body to use later (for assassinating, presumably) fits *so* well thematically, i was shattered when i saw they couldn't do it anymore.

Same with Sniper's Shot.

In fact, there were so many fitting spells i was just plain confused by the move.


Okay... so the Arcane Archer went from having no spellcasting bonus, to gaining 7 spellcasting levels, while the Assassin got spellcasting taken away?

I'm not sure I value the death attack modifications to that degree. It's also a severe change in backward compatibility. I have assassins in my adventure I'm running that can no longer perform as they were supposed to.

This just seems really weird to take spellcasting away from the Assassin, almost to the point that it seems like oversight.


I don't think it was an oversight.

The changes mean that it's more of an inconvenience for the PC's when they get assassinated.

It's another example of Pathfinder PC's = Good heroes.

Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but i think you should have the choice.


I think 1 of the big reasons they got rid of spells for the assassin is because so many people think of an assassin as not having spells. I'm personally a fan of a spell-less assassin but I think they need some constant spell-like abilities on them and things of that nature. I honestly really liked the assassins spells in 3.5 though, really what they should do is give Rogues Poison-Use as a Rogue talent and then a Rogue can be the spell-less assassin and then assassin prestige class can have it's spells.


hey solonar, could you send me your writeup of the assassin?

thanks :D


We squeezed it into a 5 levels format. Could work for you.


Hm, I was thinking of doing this myself, too, actually. Was contemplating actually giving them 'Talent Trees', where they could, at certain levels, take an assassin talent, with some having prerequisites (that would normally be the talents before it). With some things along the lines of death attack trees, disguise trees, and whatnot, so that people can kind of spice them up a little to their own taste.

I REALLY did like how Assassins had spells, whether or not I could picture them actually casting magic. It was a nice twist to them, letting them cast spells that make them invisible, or disguised, or better at lying, or able to death attack at range, or better able to get out of their target(s)'s home alive.

So I am contemplating changing it up a bit, maybe giving them talent trees (with assassin levels stacking with rogue levels for rogue talents), and maybe some assassin abilities, whether or not they technically count as spells. Though to make them make sense, some would end up having to be 'at will'. Anyway, just spilling open my mind here.

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