Advanced Class Guide Preview: Slayer

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Into every generation, a slayer is born. The slayer is a hunter, a stalker, and a killer, with enough power to fight fairly and win, but the inclination to fight unfairly and win by an even wider margin. The slayer combines the stalking and combat styles of the rogue and the ranger with none of the ranger's nature focus. Basically, the slayer is Ezio from the Assassin's Creed series, the quintessential assassin and the last person you want to see leaping out at you from the shadows.

The slayer is a full BAB class with a slower sneak attack progression than the rogue, talents at even levels, and its own prime feature, favored target (which is now called studied target). Studied target is the slayer's spin on favored enemy. Instead of hating a particular type of creature, the slayer studies any target he wants (hey, no wonder it's called studied target!), gaining bonuses against that target until he switches targets. Since this bonus also applies to Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive, and Survival (and later Disguise, Intimidate, and Stealth), clever slayers can also gain a substantial boon from this feature in a variety of non-combat situations as well by studying NPCs during social encounters too. Favored target has unlimited daily uses, and who knows—if the old lady suddenly starts attacking, then you're even ready to fight back right away!


Illustration by Ramon Puasa Jr

In the original version, there were 16 choices for slayer talents with 8 additional advanced talents available at level 10. Playtesters had trouble finding enough talents that they wanted to take for their builds, so for the second playtest, this increased to 24 talents and 10 advanced talents, including the powerful combat style talent that could be taken three times, essentially granting the ranger's combat style feats to the slayer, and allowing the slayer the potential to amass a small army of feats at his disposal. Additionally, playtests had shown that the slayer's 4+Int bonus skill points were insufficient to pick up all the sorts of skills he needed to successfully slay, so he bumped up to 6+Int skill points.

The final version of the slayer as it appears in the Advanced Class Guide is quite similar to the second playtest version, so pull up your playtest document (or download it now) for an excellent preview of the class. The most exciting change is in the action economy of studied target—at low levels (before 7th when you can study as a swift action), melee slayers were finding the move action to study a target was really cramping their ambushes. So now, starting from level 1, if you hit and deal sneak attack damage, you can apply your studied target as an immediate action, and it even applies the favored target bonus to damage for that same attack. That way, you can ambush all you like and get right to the slaying!

The slayer screams out for archetypes that capture all the different facets of the iconic image of the slayer. The slayer archetypes in this book are really nice in that they give you what you're looking for with a relatively light touch, generally switching out a few of your talents for thematic abilities and losing very little else. The bounty hunter is your Boba Fett, bringing back criminals and debtors alive with combat maneuvers and an incapacitating death attack. The cleaner is the guy you send in to make sure those darned investigators don't figure out what happened, with a special ability to force any would-be detectives to beat the cleaner's Disguise or Stealth in order to find clues. The cutthroat is even more like Ezio, losing outdoorsy skills for city-based powers and skill bonuses that will help you leap off buildings instead of out of the shadows. The grave warden goes back to my intro quote with a kickass undead slayer, gaining an at-will self-only death ward at level 7 (it does cost 4 holy waters) and the ability to death attack an undead. But I'm sure you've been wondering "Mark, when are you going to get to that glowy purply shadow guy. He looks awesome!" That, my friends, is the stygian slayer, a killer imbued with the darkest shadows. He can cast invisibility, use wands and scrolls of a few thematic spells without a Use Magic Device Check, and turn into an inky black cloud that obscures vision. And that's just 5 of the 8 slayer archetypes in the final book! But wait—people have been asking for a thrown weapon ranger combat style for a while, right? Yeah, we have that too!

So you've got the rogue. You've got the ranger. Why should you be excited about the slayer class? Because those other classes serve a few masters when it comes to their design, but the slayer unashamedly serves only one—he wants to be the best at slaying, eliminating a chosen foe or foes. And he serves his master well. Even a fighter's offense can't keep up with the slayer, so if you prefer a style that emphasizes guile, stealth, and strong offense over defense, the slayer is the class for you.

As I'm typing this last paragraph, I've noticed that the slayer has some kind of a curved dagger to my throat, and he's made a few demands, so I want you to know, completely not under duress, that the slayer is my personal hero and is the best at all things. In fact, we're going to put out an entire book dedicated only to slayer options, and—aaaaaargh.

Mark Seifter
Designer

Editor's Note: After shooing the raptors away from the scene, we found this blog on a USB drive clutched in the hand of the remains of designer Mark Seifter. After a resurrection spell, he's fine now and back at work on Pathfinder Unchained, but he's still jumpy any time anyone mentions the slayer class. He defies anyone who claims that if he was dying, he wouldn't have bothered to have typed "Aaaaargh", he'd just say it.

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Tags: Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ramon Puasa Jr Slayer
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Paizo Employee Designer

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Zark wrote:

edit:

I hope they got diplomacy as a class skill. If it did, I will love it.

Well that urban cutthroat guy seems to me like he should really have Diplomacy to make the concept work. Just saying. ;)


Mark Seifter wrote:
Zark wrote:

edit:

I hope they got diplomacy as a class skill. If it did, I will love it.
Well that urban cutthroat guy seems to me like he should really have Diplomacy to make the concept work. Just saying. ;)

I love you.

Edit

And did we just got info of a new archetype? :)


Mark Seifter wrote:
SteelDraco wrote:
Quote:
So now, starting from level 1, if you hit and deal sneak attack damage
Hm, starting at first level... sneak attack... sounds like they actually start with a die of sneak attack now. That was my biggest problem with the class, and the reason I was reluctant to write one up. Delaying sneak attack until 3rd level really hurt, I thought.

You still get sneak attack at level 3 from slayer, but you gain the ability to apply studied target immediately to a sneak attack at level 1. This turns out to be relevant if you're multiclassed.

Maybe the rules for multiclassing hybrid classes with have been changed with the final release, then? If not, since rogue/slayers are not permitted, this would only be possible for ninja/slayers, I think.

Silver Crusade

Ron Feldman wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
SteelDraco wrote:
Quote:
So now, starting from level 1, if you hit and deal sneak attack damage
Hm, starting at first level... sneak attack... sounds like they actually start with a die of sneak attack now. That was my biggest problem with the class, and the reason I was reluctant to write one up. Delaying sneak attack until 3rd level really hurt, I thought.

You still get sneak attack at level 3 from slayer, but you gain the ability to apply studied target immediately to a sneak attack at level 1. This turns out to be relevant if you're multiclassed.

Maybe the rules for multiclassing hybrid classes with have been changed with the final release, then? If not, since rogue/slayers are not permitted, this would only be possible for ninja/slayers, I think.

They mentioned in one of the early previews that they removed that restriction from all the new classes.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
And congrats to Mark on both an excellent post and a successful Resurrection. Paizo's health plan is clearly both excellent and well-funded. Let's hope it also includes funding for the Restorations necessary... ;)

There is a deductible on the restorations.

Contributor

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:)


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SLAYER!!!

sweet can't wait for the Iconic


Mark Seifter wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
And congrats to Mark on both an excellent post and a successful Resurrection. Paizo's health plan is clearly both excellent and well-funded. Let's hope it also includes funding for the Restorations necessary... ;)
There is a deductible on the restorations.

what about raise dead and resurrection, are those deductible on your health plan as well?


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Ok. The guy hit harder than a fighter, have better saves and 6+int skill points per level, and skip prereq for combat feats. I suppose the slayer is now THE martial.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
:)

Is this class one of your babies?


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
And congrats to Mark on both an excellent post and a successful Resurrection. Paizo's health plan is clearly both excellent and well-funded. Let's hope it also includes funding for the Restorations necessary... ;)
There is a deductible on the restorations.

I always knew SKR was right when he said that you only borrow from your future self.

Pay now, and when you level up next year and declare your WBL to the tax agency they adjust your WBL for it. ;)


Sounds like I'm gonna want to multiclass a Slayer and Investigator! :D

Silver Crusade

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Blog wrote:
Even a fighter's offense can't keep up with the slayer

I like the current Fighter class just fine, but this line (and the associated thoughts brought out in the discussion so far), is causing me some mild panic. :-(

But, the Slayer class looks like a lot of fun! :-)

Paizo Employee Designer

Jiggy wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
:)
Is this class one of your babies?

All of the ones I'll be previewing are.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

You do not preview the slayer... the slayer previews you..


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Mark Seifter wrote:
I'm sure you've been wondering "Mark, when are you going to get to that glowy purply shadow guy. He looks awesome!"

Seifter, you're so good at narrating what I'm thinking back to myself in your blog posts.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Dear Paizo.

In 1989 I created a fighter. His name is Chemlak. I've been using that name online since 1994. The character is kind of important to me, and I dutifully converted him up through the various editions of Dungeons & Dragons, and into Pathfinder. I still play him. For the last 25 years, Chemlak has steadfastly (not least through my own stubbornness) remained a fighter, because that has been the class that most closely meets the needs of sword-wielding non-magic-using powerhouse.

Chemlak has always struggled a bit with skills. Chemlak has always been capable, if not brilliant, at stealth. Chemlak has never worn heavy armour. Chemlak has always used two swords, burning an inordinate number of feats on doing so as well as he possibly can.

And now you present me with this... this... thing you call a slayer. Which looks like it ticks every single box I could ask for to suit Chemlak's role.

So, congratulations, Paizo, you are the first company in 25 years to produce a class that makes me think "OMG, I have to see what Chem looks like built as a slayer! Now!"


Nicos wrote:

Ok. The guy hit harder than a fighter, have better saves and 6+int skill points per level, and skip prereq for combat feats. I suppose the slayer is now THE martial.

The fighter and the slayer don’t really cover the same niches.

That said, there is a thrown weapon ranger combat style in the book so let's hope there are some stuff for the fighter in the book as well.


Nice! The Stygian Slayer looks very interesting, sounds like a good substitute for the Shadowdancer Prc.

Grand Lodge

I hadn't realized the multi-class restriction was gone. I wonder well a Rogue (Scout) / Slayer would do. Charge + sneak attack + studied target.


Zark wrote:
Nicos wrote:

Ok. The guy hit harder than a fighter, have better saves and 6+int skill points per level, and skip prereq for combat feats. I suppose the slayer is now THE martial.

The fighter and the slayer don’t really cover the same niches.

That said, there is a thrown weapon ranger combat style in the book so let's hope there are some stuff for the fighter in the book as well.

How is that? between the Brawler, the slayer, the Cavalier, and the Ranger what niche is there left for the poor fighter?


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Zark wrote:
Nicos wrote:

Ok. The guy hit harder than a fighter, have better saves and 6+int skill points per level, and skip prereq for combat feats. I suppose the slayer is now THE martial.

The fighter and the slayer don’t really cover the same niches.

feat expert Non-magical guy that Kill things with pointy sticks all day long?

Paizo Employee Designer

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Joe M. wrote:
Blog wrote:
Even a fighter's offense can't keep up with the slayer

I like the current Fighter class just fine, but this line (and the associated thoughts brought out in the discussion so far), is causing me some mild panic. :-(

But, the Slayer class looks like a lot of fun! :-)

This was also a concern for me in the playtest. The slayer is going to be fighting an uphill battle on AC, though, particular if he wants to stay mobile. Generally, if chances for sneak attack are ubiquitous in your game, as in many I've seen, the slayer is going to be ahead on damage and stay ahead compared to the fighter. If sneak attack never happens, the slayer is going to be just barely ahead in offense until level 8, when the fighter draws it to a rough tie, seesawing with each other depending on who got their most recent upgrade. If you assume the fighter picks up gloves of dueling and that the slayer has no good response for an item that powerful and just ups his weapon by +1, the fighter is consistently and noticably ahead when no sneak attacks are around.


IRONxTrueblood wrote:
I hadn't realized the multi-class restriction was gone. I wonder well a Rogue (Scout) / Slayer would do. Charge + sneak attack + studied target.

Or dip into Knifemaster to pump up your sneak attack to d8s...


Holy S$#@! This class turned out to be even more awesome than I expected! oO

Give us a Combat Maneuver-based Ranger Combat Style and this class will become my new best friend!

Liberty's Edge

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Nicos wrote:
Ok. The guy hit harder than a fighter, have better saves and 6+int skill points per level, and skip prereq for combat feats. I suppose the slayer is now THE martial.

Eh. Rangers, Barbarians, Cavaliers, Monks, Gunslingers and Paladins (as well as Bloodragers, Brawlers, and Swashbucklers) still definitively do stuff the Slayer doesn't. It's really only Fighter and Rogue who the Slayer steps on the toes of in any meaningful sense.

Zark wrote:
The fighter and the slayer don’t really cover the same niches.

In many ways they do. As of the Playtest, they can get 6 bonus Feats over the first 12 levels (one less than a Fighter)...meaning that pretty much the only thing Fighters do that Slayers don't is wear Heavy Armor. That's...a really weak niche all by itself.

Zark wrote:
That said, there is a thrown weapon ranger combat style in the book so let's hope there are some stuff for the fighter in the book as well.

That would certainly be very nice. :)


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Hmmm now that I think about it...

a 1 level dip into Knife Master as a Slayer would be very mean... Full BAB+ Studied enemy to hit and having Str+Enchancement+d8 sneak attack+Studied enemy can be mean for damage...

And if the Thrown weapon fighting style is any good, combine it with the starknife for more fun...


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Nicos wrote:
Ok. The guy hit harder than a fighter, have better saves and 6+int skill points per level, and skip prereq for combat feats. I suppose the slayer is now THE martial.

Eh. Rangers, Barbarians, Cavaliers, Monks, Gunslingers and Paladins (as well as Bloodragers, Brawlers, and Swashbucklers) still definitively do stuff the Slayer doesn't. It's really only Fighter and Rogue who the Slayer really steps on the toes of.

Ttrue. I should have said THE Non-magical martial.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Nicos wrote:
Ok. The guy hit harder than a fighter, have better saves and 6+int skill points per level, and skip prereq for combat feats. I suppose the slayer is now THE martial.
Eh. Rangers, Barbarians, Cavaliers, Monks, Gunslingers and Paladins (as well as Bloodragers, Brawlers, and Swashbucklers) still definitively do stuff the Slayer doesn't. It's really only Fighter and Rogue who the Slayer steps on the toes of in any meaningful sense.

Cavaliers, Gunslingers, Brawlers, and Swashbucklers fill more specific niches than the very generalized Slayer. The rest all use spells and/or supernatural abilities. Perhaps he isn't "the" martial, but he certainly is "the" mundane.


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The good thing is that it should be now clear for everyone that having a lot of feats and hitting things all day long is not a good justification for sucking at skills and having poor saves.

A shame they never wanted to admit that for fighters.

Silver Crusade

Mark Seifter wrote:
Joe M. wrote:
Blog wrote:
Even a fighter's offense can't keep up with the slayer

I like the current Fighter class just fine, but this line (and the associated thoughts brought out in the discussion so far), is causing me some mild panic. :-(

But, the Slayer class looks like a lot of fun! :-)

This was also a concern for me in the playtest. The slayer is going to be fighting an uphill battle on AC, though, particular if he wants to stay mobile. Generally, if chances for sneak attack are ubiquitous in your game, as in many I've seen, the slayer is going to be ahead on damage and stay ahead compared to the fighter. If sneak attack never happens, the slayer is going to be just barely ahead in offense until level 8, when the fighter draws it to a rough tie, seesawing with each other depending on who got their most recent upgrade. If you assume the fighter picks up gloves of dueling and that the slayer has no good response for an item that powerful and just ups his weapon by +1, the fighter is consistently and noticably ahead when no sneak attacks are around.

Interesting. Thanks for the thoughts. I remain concerned, but I'll have to wait to play around with the final book before seeing how I feel.


@ Deadmanwalking. Ok, you got a point. We just have to wait and see what the ACE offers to the fighter.


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K177Y C47 wrote:

Hmmm now that I think about it...

a 1 level dip into Knife Master as a Slayer would be very mean... Full BAB+ Studied enemy to hit and having Str+Enchancement+d8 sneak attack+Studied enemy can be mean for damage...

And if the Thrown weapon fighting style is any good, combine it with the starknife for more fun...

Knife Master 1/Warpriest 1/Slayer X with River Rat and Pharasma's Deific Obedience would be a pretty terrifying dagger TWF'er.

Paizo Employee Designer

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K177Y C47 wrote:
You do not preview the slayer... the slayer previews you..

:shiver:

Liberty's Edge

Arachnofiend wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Nicos wrote:
Ok. The guy hit harder than a fighter, have better saves and 6+int skill points per level, and skip prereq for combat feats. I suppose the slayer is now THE martial.
Eh. Rangers, Barbarians, Cavaliers, Monks, Gunslingers and Paladins (as well as Bloodragers, Brawlers, and Swashbucklers) still definitively do stuff the Slayer doesn't. It's really only Fighter and Rogue who the Slayer steps on the toes of in any meaningful sense.
Cavaliers, Gunslingers, Brawlers, and Swashbucklers fill more specific niches than the very generalized Slayer. The rest all use spells and/or supernatural abilities. Perhaps he isn't "the" martial, but he certainly is "the" mundane.

I was just clarifying the situation.

I'd certainly accept calling them out as the "default mundane class" or something like that. :)


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Full B&B, Favored enemy when ever he/she wants? This seems like power creep, I'm quite concerned. I did see someone state that the fighter gets more feats, but this guy seems to just over power the damage potential. With that said there will still be fighter feats this guy can never get so maybe that's a bit of balance there? Maybe?


Wrathgar_The_Warlord wrote:

Full B&B, Favored enemy when ever he/she wants? This seems like power creep, I'm quite concerned. I did see someone state that the fighter gets more feats, but this guy seems to just over power the damage potential. With that said there will still be fighter feats this guy can never get so maybe that's a bit of balance there? Maybe?

It's a smaller bonus, on par with Weapon training from a Fighter, but takes an action and limited to so many targets per use.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
K177Y C47 wrote:
You do not preview the slayer... the slayer previews you..
:shiver:

maybe you should stop wearing that female raptor in heat scented cologne?


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Wrathgar_The_Warlord wrote:
Full B&B, Favored enemy when ever he/she wants? This seems like power creep, I'm quite concerned. I did see someone state that the fighter gets more feats, but this guy seems to just over power the damage potential. With that said there will still be fighter feats this guy can never get so maybe that's a bit of balance there? Maybe?

It's not power creep if all it does is invalidate the Fighter. Nothing in the Slayer class is going to break the game, it just gives an option to those of us who want to play a mundane and be really good at it. Good enough to keep up to the people using spells or getting so angry they sprout wings.

Liberty's Edge

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Zark wrote:
@ Deadmanwalking. Ok, you got a point. We just have to wait and see what the ACE offers to the fighter.

Yep. Though personally, I'm hoping for Pathfinder Unchained to do something...

Wrathgar_The_Warlord wrote:
Full B&B, Favored enemy when ever he/she wants? This seems like power creep, I'm quite concerned. I did see someone state that the fighter gets more feats, but this guy seems to just over power the damage potential. With that said there will still be fighter feats this guy can never get so maybe that's a bit of balance there? Maybe?

They don't get full Favored Enemy. Favored Target is half that bonus (so +1 at 1st level, maxing at +5). They also lose almost all Ranger Class Features (including spells and Animal Companion) for Sneak Attack and some Rogue Talent type stuff. The general consensus is that Ranger is actually somewhat better mechanically.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

What's this about dipping Knife Master? That's an illegal combination... You can't dip Rogue as a Slayer, right?


Asumming you do not care stealth at all, how good would be the salyer taking heavy amrmor proficiency and just pretend he is a fighter?


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Lauren Tacita wrote:
What's this about dipping Knife Master? That's an illegal combination... You can't dip Rogue as a Slayer, right?

You can, they changed that.


I bet they axed either the Ranger Combat Styles or the bonus feat talents cause the playtest Slayer was already a much better fighter. If Mark claims they are now toe to toe and they improved favored target something likely had to go.


Arachnofiend wrote:
K177Y C47 wrote:

Hmmm now that I think about it...

a 1 level dip into Knife Master as a Slayer would be very mean... Full BAB+ Studied enemy to hit and having Str+Enchancement+d8 sneak attack+Studied enemy can be mean for damage...

And if the Thrown weapon fighting style is any good, combine it with the starknife for more fun...

Knife Master 1/Warpriest 1/Slayer X with River Rat and Pharasma's Deific Obedience would be a pretty terrifying dagger TWF'er.

:shudder:

now THAT is what the rogue I envision is (well the warpriest dip is kinda odd but whatever xD)

Paizo Employee Designer

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Nicos wrote:
Asumming you do not care stealth at all, how good would be the salyer taking heavy amrmor proficiency and just pretend he is a fighter?

It's not a good plan if you agree with me that the Combat Style trick is the best one. As John Compton so cleverly tricked everyone at this year's banquet trivia, Combat Style evaporates in heavy armor.

Ranger Combat Style wrote:
He loses all benefits of his combat style feats when wearing heavy armor.

Liberty's Edge

Nicos wrote:
Asumming you do not care stealth at all, how good would be the salyer taking heavy amrmor proficiency and just pretend he is a fighter?

Sadly, not workable with the Ranger Combat Style Feats (well, not without Mithral Full Plate), the duplication of which is a large part of what allows the Slayer to pull a Fighter impression. In short, it's doable...but seriously suboptimal at anything but higher levels (when you can afford the Mithral).

EDIT: Ninja'd! At least it was by someone with authority...


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Nicos wrote:
Asumming you do not care stealth at all, how good would be the salyer taking heavy amrmor proficiency and just pretend he is a fighter?

Sadly, not workable with the Ranger Fighting Style Feats (well, not without Mithral Full Plate), which are a large part of what allows the Slayer to pull a Fighter impression. In short, it's doable...but seriously suboptimal at anything but higher levels (when you can afford the Mithral).

EDIT: Ninja'd! At least it was by someone with authority...

I see.


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Tirisfal wrote:
Sounds like I'm gonna want to multiclass a Slayer and Investigator! :D

I think there's your PF Batman.

Liberty's Edge

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DungeonmasterCal wrote:
Tirisfal wrote:
Sounds like I'm gonna want to multiclass a Slayer and Investigator! :D
I think there's your PF Batman.

Eh. I think he's easily doable as a straight Investigator. Indeed, I see no reason to add in Slayer for Batman, Investigator does it all.

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