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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Earth Blessing is an excellent example.


I have one dumb question about the slayer class: is this or is this not basically a not required to be evil version of the assassin? I know, if you what non-evil assassins in a campaign than all you need is to get the GM to say, 'they don't have to be evil' but I suppose want an 'official' response.

Because if so then I might want to use these guys with those Daggermark killers, the Yenchabur.


This class is very much like an improved version of the rogue and assasin, absolutely.

There is no alignment restriction, which makes it one of the best designed classes in the book and a very welcome addition to the game.

Liberty's Edge

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Eric Hinkle wrote:

I have one dumb question about the slayer class: is this or is this not basically a not required to be evil version of the assassin? I know, if you what non-evil assassins in a campaign than all you need is to get the GM to say, 'they don't have to be evil' but I suppose want an 'official' response.

Because if so then I might want to use these guys with those Daggermark killers, the Yenchabur.

It can be used for that. It can also be used to make the actual literary Conan, and better than any other Class.

The fact that these statements are both true is a large part of what makes the Class awesome.

Paizo Glitterati Robot

Removed a post and the replies to it. Constructive criticism and feedback (even negative feedback) is totally fine, but these kinds of assertions about our staff are not going to result in anything positive.


Allow me to rephrase then.

The editing in this book is beyond poor. And that's merely a statement of fact.

Liberty's Edge

Rynjin wrote:

Allow me to rephrase then.

The editing in this book is beyond poor. And that's merely a statement of fact.

To repeat what I said almost word for word:

I blame it on the Gencon crunch...but yeah, the editing is deeply problematic.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Rynjin wrote:

Allow me to rephrase then.

The editing in this book is beyond poor. And that's merely a statement of fact.

To repeat what I said almost word for word:

I blame it on the Gencon crunch...but yeah, the editing is deeply problematic.

It's like I've been here before.... Whoa... Am I in the Matrix!?

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

I know it probably came up earlier in the thread, but this is the class that the Pathfinder Rogue should have been.


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The only thing that would have saved the rogue is really good rogue talents(THEY GOT NONE IN THE ACG) or twin archetypes that got you Favored Target and/or Studied Combat.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Rynjin wrote:

Allow me to rephrase then.

The editing in this book is beyond poor. And that's merely a statement of fact.

To repeat what I said almost word for word:

I blame it on the Gencon crunch...but yeah, the editing is deeply problematic.

And to repeat my reply to your earlier post.

This is one of those times where Paizo's stated policy where errata only comes out when a new edition of the book is going to be released is incredibly problematic.


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I have a buddy who loves Fighters, Rogues, Rangers, and Ninjas. One of his favorite ever characters is a 2E Fighter/Thief. He has played the Tenchu games. He has played the Assassins Creed games. His all time favorite Final Fantasy character is Shadow.

He recently stated that he has never been more excited to play any character than he is to play a Slayer. He described it as "the exact playstyle I have always wanted". We have taken to calling it "The Mike Class". So on behalf of my buddy Mike, thanks Paizo.


This is going to replace the rogue class along with the Investigator. Rogue is done as far as I'm concerned. Fighter probably done too. Then again no one played a rogue in our campaigns and the fighter was pretty rare as well.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Rynjin wrote:

Allow me to rephrase then.

The editing in this book is beyond poor. And that's merely a statement of fact.

To repeat what I said almost word for word:

I blame it on the Gencon crunch...but yeah, the editing is deeply problematic.

The problem is that this happens with most of Paizo's major options books at this point. Ultimate Magic, Mythic Adventures, and the Advanced Class Guide all had major editing and balancing problems. The only one in recent memory that wasn't like this was the Advaned Race Guide.

I hope that they find some way to give themselves more editing time for these things.

Paizo Employee Designer

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DeusNocturne wrote:
Also another thing of note it sounds like in the blurb here the skill bonuses from studied target are intended to increase with level but in the text it only specifically calls out base attack, damage and DCs is this a mistake or just a very unnecessary and poor change.

This is something that we had found shortly before Gencon. Stay tuned, but we expect to announce a (rare? unique?) spot erratum for this shortly (and one other element elsewhere that I'm not sure the forums have spotted yet, though I'm also not sure you haven't). I can confirm that the skill bonuses increase, but of course it's not 100% official until we say it in a more official venue than this forum post.

Liberty's Edge

Matrix Dragon wrote:

The problem is that this happens with most of Paizo's major options books at this point. Ultimate Magic, Mythic Adventures, and the Advanced Class Guide all had major editing and balancing problems. The only one in recent memory that wasn't like this was the Advaned Race Guide.

I hope that they find some way to give themselves more editing time for these things.

I strongly disagree. The APG, UM, and UC all had a few problems (as any book inevitably does), but none had what I consider truly problematic editing. The ACG is alone in that.

Liberty's Edge

Mark Seifter wrote:
DeusNocturne wrote:
Also another thing of note it sounds like in the blurb here the skill bonuses from studied target are intended to increase with level but in the text it only specifically calls out base attack, damage and DCs is this a mistake or just a very unnecessary and poor change.
This is something that we had found shortly before Gencon. Stay tuned, but we expect to announce a spot erratum for this shortly (and one other element elsewhere that I'm not sure the forums have spotted yet, though I'm also not sure you haven't). I can confirm that the skill bonuses increase, but of course it's not 100% official until we say it in a more official venue than this forum post.

Thank you, and everyone at Paizo, so much! This is wonderful news!

Paizo Employee Designer

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
DeusNocturne wrote:
Also another thing of note it sounds like in the blurb here the skill bonuses from studied target are intended to increase with level but in the text it only specifically calls out base attack, damage and DCs is this a mistake or just a very unnecessary and poor change.
This is something that we had found shortly before Gencon. Stay tuned, but we expect to announce a spot erratum for this shortly (and one other element elsewhere that I'm not sure the forums have spotted yet, though I'm also not sure you haven't). I can confirm that the skill bonuses increase, but of course it's not 100% official until we say it in a more official venue than this forum post.
Thank you, and everyone at Paizo, so much! This is wonderful news!

Honestly, if it weren't for DeusNocturne's sharp eye, we might have altered it before anyone even mentioned it. I'm impressed DN! Even after multiple readthroughs of the final pdf that I've had since signing on as a Designer, I only saw that glitch when Rob and I combed through all the classes to standardize the way we format the ACG statblocks. It's particularly subtle because, as Cthulhudrew mentioned, everyone involved in the playtest had the preconception that it was going to raise skills. Of course, after finding it, now it becomes easy to see.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Raith Shadar wrote:
This is going to replace the rogue class along with the Investigator. Rogue is done as far as I'm concerned. Fighter probably done too. Then again no one played a rogue in our campaigns and the fighter was pretty rare as well.

As noted above, some of the archetypes also obsolesced the Rogue. But, I do agree, the are going the way of the dodo.

I think that the Fighter still has a place in the game. I could be wrong though.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Lord Fyre wrote:
Raith Shadar wrote:
This is going to replace the rogue class along with the Investigator. Rogue is done as far as I'm concerned. Fighter probably done too. Then again no one played a rogue in our campaigns and the fighter was pretty rare as well.

As noted above, some of the archetypes also obsolesced the Rogue. But, I do agree, the are going the way of the dodo.

I think that the Fighter still has a place in the game. I could be wrong though.

Fighters can now be "the guys who aren't magic and can still fly."

Mutation Warrior is a neat thing.


Mark, Zadim told me he's not happy with you withholding skill bonuses from him and his brethren. He also said he'll be "paying you a visit" soon, whatever that means.


Mark Seifter wrote:
DeusNocturne wrote:
Also another thing of note it sounds like in the blurb here the skill bonuses from studied target are intended to increase with level but in the text it only specifically calls out base attack, damage and DCs is this a mistake or just a very unnecessary and poor change.
This is something that we had found shortly before Gencon. Stay tuned, but we expect to announce a (rare? unique?) spot erratum for this shortly (and one other element elsewhere that I'm not sure the forums have spotted yet, though I'm also not sure you haven't). I can confirm that the skill bonuses increase, but of course it's not 100% official until we say it in a more official venue than this forum post.

Thanks Mark, you just made my Bounty Hunter very happy.


Gambit wrote:
Mark, Zadim told me he's not happy with you withholding skill bonuses from him and his brethren. He also said he'll be "paying you a visit" soon, whatever that means.

Fortunately, without the raising skill bonuses to Studied Target, Marks bonus on Stealth is enough to never be found. It would behoove Mark to either, never increase the bonus, or offer it up as a bribe for fixing someone else's mistake an increasing Zadim's power.

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