|Star Dragon Caith|
Is the Assassin Prestige class worthwhile vs just making an assassin-y rogue? It seems like you lose a little BAB, and of course rogue talents. In return you get some minor bonuses and some neat stuff that doesn't kick in until higher levels. And death attack, of course. Many of these things don't seem super useful in the course of a regular game of D&D. In this case, however, we'll be playing a City campaign, so I might have the opportunity to use a lot of these abilities. Thanks for your opinions.
Pathfinder is not really prestige class friendly.
As in, very few prestige classes turn out to be worthwhile in juxtapose to just staying pure to your original class.
They exist solely for role playing purposes, and some neat, but high level tricks that are seldom more powerful than the high level abilities of your original class.
I would imagine the Assassinate advanced slayer talent/master ninja trick would be a healthier choice to pursue.
If an assassin studies his victim for 3 rounds and then makes a sneak attack with a melee weapon that successfully deals damage, the sneak attack has the additional effect of possibly either paralyzing or killing the target (assassin’s choice). Studying the victim is a standard action. The death attack fails if the target detects the assassin or recognizes the assassin as an enemy (although the attack might still be a sneak attack if the target is denied his Dexterity bonus to his Armor Class or is flanked). If the victim of such a death attack fails a Fortitude save (DC 10 + the assassin’s class level + the assassin’s Int modifier) against the kill effect, she dies. If the saving throw fails against the paralysis effect, the victim is rendered helpless and unable to act for 1d6 rounds plus 1 round per level of the assassin. If the victim’s saving throw succeeds, the attack is just a normal sneak attack. Once the assassin has completed the 3 rounds of study, he must make the death attack within the next 3 rounds.
If a death attack is attempted and fails (the victim makes her save) or if the assassin does not launch the attack within 3 rounds of completing the study, 3 new rounds of study are required before he can attempt another death attack.
Minimum HD for gaining this is 6th level. It takes 4 rounds to pull off.
[3 standard actions to study, and one standard to attack.]
Another difference is the DC. Assassin DC=10+PCL+IntMod. Ninja DC=10+1/2CL+ChaMod. At 10th level, the DC's are the same if the Mod is the same. They also cap at the same max.
Shadowdancer HiPS is better than assassin, IMHO. But if you are going a few levels in, you might want assassin instead. Personally I don't see it as helping a rogue very much. You probably aren't going to be INT based, so the Death Attack is pretty useless (especially versus folks you want to use it on with high hit points, as they have a huge FORT save bonus in most cases). Eventually you get HiPS (8th level) so if you are going way into this, then maybe it is better. If you are just a human though, the earlier HiPS and Darkvision and Shadow jumping are a bit better IMHO. You can always take the feat to give you +1d6 Sneak attack as a shadowdancer... but up to you.
I've seen theories that shadowdancer is actually more effective for bruiser classes that do standard two-hand power attack, as you lose too much sneak attack damage for a rogue type character.
Although for just a couple levels there's no harm.
A dip in shadowdancer before assassin wouldn't be too shabby.