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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2 people marked this as a favorite.

Ok.. htis is actually pretty awesome... poor fighter though...

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Stygian slayer sounds right up my ally - a sneaky guy with (potentially) a few supernatural tricks up their sleeve!


10 people marked this as a favorite.
Editor's Note wrote:

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.

Somehow I feel a sort of Monte Python reference somewhere...

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Interesting. Looks like a good class and the archetypes sound very flavorful. May have to give this one a try.

Unfortunately this class also looks like the death blow for a few base classes (or at least a few of their archetypes). Only time will tell...


3 people marked this as a favorite.

This is exactly what I wanted to see in this preview. You barely changed anything, but the one change you did make was awesome. This continues to be the ACG class I am most excited about.


All in all though... somehow this is not getting me as excited as the Brawler, Skald, or Arcanist previews xD.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
sowhereaminow wrote:

Interesting. Looks like a good class and the archetypes sound very flavorful. May have to give this one a try.

Unfortunately this class also looks like the death blow for a few base classes (or at least a few of their archetypes). Only time will tell...

more maybe it was... *puts sunglasses on* a death attack... YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Alright, I was already interested in this class and now I am really looking forward to playing it with these changes. Really happy about the stygian slayer too: I like the fact that not all magically stealthy characters have to be ninjas now.

Just curious though, the slayer (in the playtest at least) doesn't gain sneak attack until level 3. Does he still gain auto-study when flanking and such at level 1 and 2 even though he doesn't have sneak attack?

Shadow Lodge

5 people marked this as a favorite.

(shakes fist at Paizo)

You're running the Shaman last aren't you?

;)

Paizo Employee Designer

9 people marked this as a favorite.

:pokes head in to look around:

Is he gone?

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Why "poor fighter"? Fighters are excellent at both attack and defense... this guy focuses PURELY on attack. I think it should be fine.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:

:pokes head in to look around:

Is he gone?

I don't know, I think we might be seeing him again at the Iconic reveal on Thursday so you might want to be ready.


The Advanced Class Guide classes are proving popular at my table, right now we have a bloodrager, investigator, shaman, and swashbuckler. No one has played a slayer yet, but one person is thinking of doing so now, so I may get to see them in action.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Looks excellent. Well done.

Now to make my Stygian Slayer/Red Mantis Assassin super murder machine


Mark Seifter wrote:
But wait—people have been asking for a thrown weapon ranger combat style for a while, right? Yeah, we have that too!

<3

I have had a painted knife-thrower miniature now for close to a year...without a build that I really have wanted to play it with

save us, slayer
you are our only hope


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I like the Cleaner providing a counter to the Investigator. Handy for evil parties! But yeah, Stygian Slayer seems like a great option, since Ninja and Vivisectionist both have invisibility options.

Liberty's Edge

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I'm officially extraordinarily pleased with the one noted change from the playtest being a slight boost.

The Slayer finally allows one to properly build Robert E. Howard's Conan, and has won my love from that alone, with the additional ability to effectively replace the Rogue and Fighter for those who feel the Fighter is worthless out-of-combat or the Rogue is ineffective in-combat being icing on the cake.

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... ;)


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cartmanbeck wrote:
Why "poor fighter"? Fighters are excellent at both attack and defense... this guy focuses PURELY on attack. I think it should be fine.

Because between the Ranger, the Barb, the Cavalier, the Brawler, and now the Slayer, the Fighter barely has any justification over any of hte aforementioned classes...


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.

Silver Crusade

K177Y C47 wrote:
sowhereaminow wrote:

Interesting. Looks like a good class and the archetypes sound very flavorful. May have to give this one a try.

Unfortunately this class also looks like the death blow for a few base classes (or at least a few of their archetypes). Only time will tell...

more maybe it was... *puts sunglasses on* a death attack... YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Who are you? Who, who, who, who?...

Next on CSI: Golarion. ..


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Remember, the fighter's thing has always been feats... but the ranger and now the brawler AND the slayer can just about match him tit for tat... if not be better than him at it (skipping pre-reqs).. kinda hurts the poor fighter a lot... seeing as he really doesn't have much else (Weapon trainign is ok... armor training is alright... bravery is a joke...)


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

While they do get a slower sneak attack development, the full BaB makes up for it. :)


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cartmanbeck wrote:
Why "poor fighter"? Fighters are excellent at both attack and defense... this guy focuses PURELY on attack. I think it should be fine.

Uhh... The Slayer has two good saves. I'd rather have that than the minor AC bonus from Armor Training. Slayer is getting nearly as many bonus feats as the Fighter too and gets to skip prereqs on many of them so the Fighter has no niche there either.

Paizo Employee Designer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
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.

zergtitan wrote:
I don't know, I think we might be seeing him again at the Iconic reveal on Thursday so you might want to be ready.

:starts setting up a crossbow trap at his office door:


6 people marked this as a favorite.
zergtitan wrote:
While they do get a slower sneak attack development, the full BaB makes up for it. :)

Funny thing is, between studied target and a full BAB, he would actually end up doing MORE sneak attack damage than a rogue.. since he would hit more often, getting more sneak in.


Curious to see the modifiers on the Bounty Hunter archetype. Will it be enough to obsolete the one Fighter archetype that's genuinely worth using (Lore Warden)?


I. Want. This. Now.

I have a bounty hunter I created waaaaay back in 1985 using the NPC class offered in a Dragon Magazine. I was looking at the playtest slayer just this morning and was wondering if I could recreate him Paizo style. Now I think I can with the bounty hunter archetype, just from what you mentioned here. But I need this now!! I was going to use him as an NPC antagonist in some upcoming games (he's gonna teach those murdering hobos a lesson).

sigh.....


Mark Seifter wrote:
SteelDraco wrote:
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.

Ah, gotcha. That makes sense, and I like that the mechanics are written to support multiclassing like that (which wouldn't have made sense in the preview version, since you couldn't multiclass with the only other classes that grant sneak attack).

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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WAAAANNNNT.


SteelDraco wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
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.
Ah, gotcha. That makes sense, and I like that the mechanics are written to support multiclassing like that (which wouldn't have made sense in the preview version, since you couldn't multiclass with the only other classes that grant sneak attack).

Alchemists (vivisectionist)

Magus (Greensting)

Assassin PrC

Paizo Employee Designer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
DungeonmasterCal wrote:

I. Want. This. Now.

I have a bounty hunter I created waaaaay back in 1985 using the NPC class offered in a Dragon Magazine. I was looking at the playtest slayer just this morning and was wondering if I could recreate him Paizo style. Now I think I can with the bounty hunter archetype, just from what you mentioned here. But I need this now!! I was going to use him as an NPC antagonist in some upcoming games (he's gonna teach those murdering hobos a lesson).

sigh.....

Just give him some bounty hunterish weapons, make up a couple of combat maneuvery abilities, and then if this guy survives to become a recurring NPC, update him to the ACG version in August!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Thrown Weapon Style! Hooray!


Hoho! Looks mighty fine. Any word or teasers on anti-magic talents/archetypes for the slayer?


^^^ True.... as it stands right now, the Barb and the Inquisitor are the only not full casters than can stand up to a caster...


4 people marked this as a favorite.
cartmanbeck wrote:
Why "poor fighter"? Fighters are excellent at both attack and defense... this guy focuses PURELY on attack. I think it should be fine.

1. Offense is the best defense

2. Fighter's "excellent defense" is... d10HD, 1 good save, heavy armor prof, and armor training. That's a pretty low bar for excellent.


Mark Seifter wrote:
DungeonmasterCal wrote:

I. Want. This. Now.

I have a bounty hunter I created waaaaay back in 1985 using the NPC class offered in a Dragon Magazine. I was looking at the playtest slayer just this morning and was wondering if I could recreate him Paizo style. Now I think I can with the bounty hunter archetype, just from what you mentioned here. But I need this now!! I was going to use him as an NPC antagonist in some upcoming games (he's gonna teach those murdering hobos a lesson).

sigh.....

Just give him some bounty hunterish weapons, make up a couple of combat maneuvery abilities, and then if this guy survives to become a recurring NPC, update him to the ACG version in August!

Already workin' on it... LOL.. To fully round him out and make him as close to the original as I can, I'm going to add one level of the psionic Wilder class to him and give him a couple of the Martial Maneuver feats from Dreamscarred's "Path of War" book. This'll teach those meddling kids a lesson.

Silver Crusade

K177Y C47 wrote:
^^^ True.... as it stands right now, the Barb and the Inquisitor are the only not full casters than can stand up to a caster...

The paladin can too - if the caster is evil. :-)


Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

The Buffy version of the slayer would be a brawler archetype. Though I like the sound of the deathward effect.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Very excited about the slayer, one of my favorite new classes!


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Riddick?

Improvise item fighter, that kills with coffe cups, sardine can keys, etc.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

This!
Is!
AWESOME!

That small tweak to Studied Target is fantastic. Can't wait to see the final product. :)


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I did not read any other post in this, I just want to comment now on how absolutely friggin awesome I think this class is!
DAMMIT I WANNA SHOUT! I didn't even play the Slayer, so I am legitimately pumped for this class man!


Nice. :)


I was totally expecting that pictured slayer to be aligned with Norgorber, although "Stygia" is the domain of Geryon and the realm of lies and secrets. ;)


Sammy T wrote:

(shakes fist at Paizo)

You're running the Shaman last aren't you?

;)

They would more than likely do the best and most fun class last...that woupd be the Hunter, not the Shaman ;) ;)


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Hmmmmm, I get the sneaking suspicion I won't be seeing any more rangers or rogues in my games anymore..


I must admit that I wasn’t too impressed by the Slayer at first, not as a concept, nor as a class. It just felt as a ranger hit by a nerf bat that got some rogue talents and some sneak attack. I would rather play a ranger and call it a slayer. Just pick the Guide archetype or the Urban ranger archetype and call it a Slayer.

However the class slowly grew on me and by the end of the second playtest I felt that if Paizo got this class right it could end up being one really cool class.

I’m not overly excited by the inclusion of sneak attack; however I just see that as a bonus. I was convinced that the Swashbuckler was my new favorite mundane class, but now I’m not sure anymore.

The archetypes also sound real cool.

Also, thrown weapon ranger combat style? Awesome!

Cool class and an excellent post Mark!

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


Uncommoner wrote:
Hmmmmm, I get the sneaking suspicion I won't be seeing any more rangers or rogues in my games anymore..

well rangers still have uses. Some people liek the AC, and other people like the woodland feel. Also, spellcasting...

Rogues though... yeah....


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Uncommoner wrote:
Hmmmmm, I get the sneaking suspicion I won't be seeing any more rangers or rogues in my games anymore..

I imagine Rangers will still turn up as frequently as they did before, especially with whatever new archetypes they get in the ACG.

Rogues... between the slayer and the investigator, rogues are pretty much just NPCs now, I would think. At least until we get a better idea of how rogue 2.0 shakes out in Unchained late next year.

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