assassins are not useless


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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If a GM wants to make Assassins viable, instead of building encounters for them, he should do what BigP4nda is working on in another thread, a rewrite of the class to be made available as a House Rule.


Fair enough.

Interesting question: what kind of weapon would you use as an Assassin? My initial thought was the bog-standard TWF route (probably doing Swash 1/Ninja-Scout 4) for Sneak Attack shenanigans. But I'd also want Dex to Damage so that's a lot of feats (EWP, Weapon Focus, Slashing Grace, TWF itself, everything pointed at Slashing Grace of course. Swashbuckler provides the Weapon Finesse).

One could bank on items instead, of course. Paired Longswords with Slashing Grace and Effortless Lace on one of them, or paired wakizashis with the Agile enhancement. But I dislike doing that.

Honestly it's half looking like Swashbuckler 1/Warpriest 1/Ninja 2/either Ninja 3 or Fighter 1 would work best. Swashbuckler provides the Finesse, Warpriest provides some minor self-buffing (Divine Favor, probably paired with Fate's Favored and good ol' Half-Orc) along with the EWP and Weapon Focus, Ninja grants Vanishing Trick. Third level of Ninja lets the Trick stay active longer and grants another Sneak Attack die, but Fighter can be Mutation Warrior for the Mutagen and ease feats further-- though at this point that shouldn't be needed.

Downside is that all of this means no Scout archetype.

Second option would be to do sword-and-board, which cuts your feats down and ups your AC. Less effective on the whole, but just as good at the Death Attack, so there's that.

Third option would be two-handing but... I can't say I like that idea in the least. Too many stats required here for too little gain.

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Removed some posts and replies to them and locking until Monday. Read the Community Guidelines and adhere to them before posting.

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Cleaned up some leftover posts/replies and unlocked.


Well, you guys are all looking at the Assassin in relation to all the classes, Back when the Core Rulebook was the only thing for players, it was a decent class. But when they added the new classes, such as Slayer and Ninja. It rapidly fell behind.

The one way that I can see it being decent, is if you are playing a Core Rulebook only game, which some DMs do.

Scarab Sages

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Ian Wilson 67 wrote:

Well, you guys are all looking at the Assassin in relation to all the classes, Back when the Core Rulebook was the only thing for players, it was a decent class. But when they added the new classes, such as Slayer and Ninja. It rapidly fell behind.

The one way that I can see it being decent, is if you are playing a Core Rulebook only game, which some DMs do.

It's still not good even if Core Only. The death attack mechanics and slowed BAB/Saves make it worse than a pure rogue.


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Ian Wilson 67 wrote:

Well, you guys are all looking at the Assassin in relation to all the classes, Back when the Core Rulebook was the only thing for players, it was a decent class. But when they added the new classes, such as Slayer and Ninja. It rapidly fell behind.

The one way that I can see it being decent, is if you are playing a Core Rulebook only game, which some DMs do.

Except that this isn't true.

Rogue are better when not selecting Assassin than when taking Assassin levels.

Be it with or without books outside CRB.


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Ian Wilson 67 wrote:

Well, you guys are all looking at the Assassin in relation to all the classes, Back when the Core Rulebook was the only thing for players, it was a decent class. But when they added the new classes, such as Slayer and Ninja. It rapidly fell behind.

The one way that I can see it being decent, is if you are playing a Core Rulebook only game, which some DMs do.

A bad option will look passable when it is the ONLY option. That doesn't make it a good option.

The fact that the Slayer and Ninja were able to more effectively realize the usage of a death attack is simply the designers realizing that it's generally not worth if for a rogue to sacrifice 4 skill ranks a level, be evil, and slow their already poor BAB and save progression JUST to get a death attack. There's no other reason to take levels in Assassin that I can see, and as we've discussed, the Death Attack is such an impractical option in many situations that even in Core-only campaigns you're probably better off just accepting that being a pure rogue and attacking the enemy three times is more likely to make them dead than the Death Attack was in the first place.


The BAB thing has been brought up a few times, and sort of makes me wonder. Would people find the Assassin more palatable if it was available at level 5 instead of 6? That would keep the BAB tracking the same. There's no easy way to save the saves that I can figure beyond fractional accounting, sadly.


In most games I play in the combats list 5-10 rounds at most which means the assassin spends a good chuck of the combat eyeballing dudes from the shadows...creepy

GM: What do you do this round Mr. Assassin?
Mr Assassin: I eyeball the guy, really really hard


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Geflin Graysoul wrote:

In most games I play in the combats list 5-10 rounds at most which means the assassin spends a good chuck of the combat eyeballing dudes from the shadows...creepy

GM: What do you do this round Mr. Assassin?
Mr Assassin: I eyeball the guy, really really hard

5-10 rounds!?

How much damage do your martials deal? And at what level? That seems pretty high since most combats are over in 3-4 rounds in all the games I've ever played.


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Geflin Graysoul wrote:

In most games I play in the combats list 5-10 rounds at most which means the assassin spends a good chuck of the combat eyeballing dudes from the shadows...creepy

GM: What do you do this round Mr. Assassin?
Mr Assassin: I eyeball the guy, really really hard

Maybe if you had a useful party member instead of a guy "eyeballing somebody really really hard" for 3 rounds, your combats wouldn't be so absurdly long.


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kestral287 wrote:
The BAB thing has been brought up a few times, and sort of makes me wonder. Would people find the Assassin more palatable if it was available at level 5 instead of 6? That would keep the BAB tracking the same. There's no easy way to save the saves that I can figure beyond fractional accounting, sadly.

Honestly, I think the Assassin would have a lot more going for it as a PRC if it were full BAB. It would certainly make sense thematically, since the class's main focus is killing. Plus that would help make the PRC a bit more attractive, since it would give a nice attack boost to rogues.


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The fact that you also have to not be recognized as an enemy is a pain in the butt too -- if your target knows you are an enemy then you can't death attack them.


Seems to me like they were trying to mix the two separate persona of an assassin. The Shadow Blade, and The Crowd Surfer.
They attempted to make a prestige class that filled both roles, but did a poor job of it.
The way death attack is stated is perfect for public assassins. (Such as Ezio) or characters that use their charismatic personality to befriend their targets and get close enough to strike them when they least expect it.
But a lot of the other class features favor the stealthy, shadow jumping, assassin. Such as angel of death...

What would Ezio do if the guy he stabbed in the back burst into ashes.
xD I'd pay good money to see that.

Now an interesting fix would be to change the DC of the death attack to 10 + # of SA dice + Int or Cha (idk which would fit better)
So that a Rogue could have to option to dip into it for death attack, and become, well Ezio essentially.


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The good thing about assassin: "I can go up to a guy, pretend to be a friend, have a conversation, and totally eliminate him! Or sneak up quietly and eliminate him; maybe while he's asleep!"

The bad thing about assassin: "I have to stare at him awkwardly for three rounds (because bluffing also takes a standard action); or I have to sneak up to him in bright light (because it doesn't work when I can't clearly see) and kind of hope he blows and easy DC with his (probably) strongest save (unless he's a fey - wait, what?)."

BigP4nda is correct - they just mixed two different forms of assassin and the *ahem* execution didn't quite turn out the way you'd hope.

(Also, I've always found the Angel of Death ability to be one of those "THIS IS SO COOL!" ideas that... wasn't really necessary, and, by being limited in X/day, made it weaker than it otherwise would have been.)


The 3 rounds is not as bad as you all make it out to be. It is only 18 seconds. less time than it'll take for you to read this :P (Don't you dare reread it super fast and post "I READ IT IN 10 SECONDS NYAH!")
It is yet another factor that I stated before that fits the "befriending" type of assassin. having a conversation with the guy before killing him, bam already studied for like 20 minutes. You can study someone standing against a building for 20+ seconds as you walk by.
You do not have to "just sit there awkwardly eyeing the guy" you are an assassin/rogue/ninja thingy-whatever you know how to play it off naturally.


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Tacticslion wrote:
BigP4nda is correct - they just mixed two different forms of assassin and the *ahem* execution didn't quite turn out the way you'd hope.

We see what you did there and have recorded it in the International Registry of Puns (TM).


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Death Attack (Ex) wrote:

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.

And

Bluff, Actions Used wrote:

Convey Secret Message: Delivering a secret message generally takes twice as long as the message would otherwise take to relay.
Deceive or Lie: Attempting to deceive someone takes at least 1 round, but can possibly take longer if the lie is elaborate (as determined by the GM on a case-by-case basis).
Feign Harmlessness: Attempting to appear harmless is at least a full-round action, possibly more.
Feint in Combat: Feinting in combat is a standard action.
Suggest Course of Action: at least 1 minute of continuous interaction.

And

Diplomacy, Action wrote:

Action Summary

Gather Information: Using Diplomacy to gather information takes 1d4 hours of work, searching for rumors and informants.
Influence Attitude: Using Diplomacy to influence a creature’s attitude takes 1 minute of continuous interaction.

So, I've got to spend one minute schmoozing, one round lying, and three rounds doing nothing but staring at the guy (though I can be moving around if I like, I suppose).

Yeah, that's pretty awkward.

Assassin (the source of death attack)
Bluff
Diplomacy

The problem is that those eighteen seconds are extremely important.

Even if you rule (as I would) that you bluff while studying the target (which I've seen understandable arguments against), you must make three bluff checks, per RAW (as they get a Sense Motive, and each round you are, in fact, taking a hostile action each round).

Alternatively, you could try stealthing... except, since you have to be able to clearly see the target, you either have to be a creature with darkvision (limiting you to a dwarf or half-orc in Core) or it has to be normal lighting, which is really hard to get to work correctly (see numerous threads on these boards, as well as the Stealth Playtest for how they wanted to revise it).

Of course, you could sneak up on the creature while they sleep. But then you're left staring at the guy for 18 seconds, in bright (well, normal) light, like a really weird creeper from a bad stalker movie.

EDIT: fixed quote for diplomacy


BigP4nda wrote:

The 3 rounds is not as bad as you all make it out to be. It is only 18 seconds. less time than it'll take for you to read this :P (Don't you dare reread it super fast and post "I READ IT IN 10 SECONDS NYAH!")

It is yet another factor that I stated before that fits the "befriending" type of assassin. having a conversation with the guy before killing him, bam already studied for like 20 minutes. You can study someone standing against a building for 20+ seconds as you walk by.
You do not have to "just sit there awkwardly eyeing the guy" you are an assassin/rogue/ninja thingy-whatever you know how to play it off naturally.

...Do people really read that slowly?


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I guess the most polite would be to say Assassins aren't useless, they're just less useful than every other stealth-guy option and, most of the time, much less useful than non-stealthy-guy options.


When it gets down to it, tracking rounds out of combat is unnecessary.
I didn't know about having to make the death attack within 3 rounds. But you can keep re-studying them, i guess you could call it that. I may be understanding your wording wrong, but it seems like most people here are expecting to have to silently stare down their foe, watching for the most minute details with absolute focus and can't have anything distract them for an entire 18 seconds.
Anybody who requires this kind of set up to pull off an assassination should never call themselves an assassin.
Also, you are not an enemy until you show hostility. Everybody eyes each other when they first meet (even more so if they are opposite genders) I would rule (as I would assume most all GMs would) that you don't need to bluff to keep them from raising suspicion about you.
(This is assuming you can pull of a sneak attack within the surprise round via quickdraw).

Tacticslion wrote:
Of course, you could sneak up on the creature while they sleep. But then you're left staring at the guy for 18 seconds, in bright (well, normal) light, like a really weird creeper from a bad stalker movie.

Ha. reminds me of skyrim...


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Still, three rounds...you'd best hope you've stealthed so that the target doesn't notice you, period. People in real life do get suspicious if they notice you staring at them for more than a few seconds. Not looking away when they notice you looking at them in particular is seriously going to stand out if you want to take them by surprise.

For assassinating, I think I'd still stick with the slayer. He's just got a lot less futzing around involved in his killing strike, and I imagine the slayer gets into less of the hilariously anticlimactic situations where he stealths up to his target, studies him for 18 seconds, and then goes for his mighty killing strike...

And completely misses his target or harmlessly strikes his armor because Assassins are not that good at this whole accuracy thing and both of them stand there awkwardly for a second before the would-be assassin probably ends up running away or gargling his own teeth.


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Quote:
Of course, you could sneak up on the creature while they sleep. But then you're left staring at the guy for 18 seconds, in bright (well, normal) light, like a really weird creeper from a bad stalker movie.

Or use a coup de grace attack, that doesn't need Assassin levels and have way more chance to kill its target.


BigP4nda wrote:
When it gets down to it, tracking rounds out of combat is unnecessary.

Except when you've got an ability that explicity states it takes "x amount of time" to use.

Otherwise you're actively ignoring the rules to make something work. Totally admirable for a GM to do for the sake of a player, but by that point, I'd rather rewrite the ability to make it more useful in a group context, and by that point, I'd rather it have been more useful to begin with.

BigP4nda wrote:
I didn't know about having to make the death attack within 3 rounds. But you can keep re-studying them, i guess you could call it that. I may be understanding your wording wrong, but it seems like most people here are expecting to have to silently stare down their foe, watching for the most minute details with absolute focus and can't have anything distract them for an entire 18 seconds.

That's literally what it says you have to do. "Study" is, by definition, "attentive examination or analysis" (there are other definitions, however you can't "read" a target - and if you could, that would be staring at them -, "observation" is another word for the above definition, and "research" involves looking information up on them, which, according to diplomacy, requires 1d4 hours - way too long to assassinate) which fits in with it requires three standard actions before the attack to pull off.

BigP4nda wrote:
Anybody who requires this kind of set up to pull off an assassination should never call themselves an assassin.

... hence everyone's problem with the class.

BigP4nda wrote:

Also, you are not an enemy until you show hostility. Everybody eyes each other when they first meet (even more so if they are opposite genders) I would rule (as I would assume most all GMs would) that you don't need to bluff to keep them from raising suspicion about you.

(This is assuming you can pull of a sneak attack within the surprise round via quickdraw).

So I'm guessing you don't enforce Perception/Slight of Hand checks for Hidden Weapons either? If not, why the difference?

I mean, an assassin trying not to look like an assassin is actively working at deceiving whoever they're trying to fool. This is bluff. Each round they're studying a target they are engaging in a hostile action - intent to kill. But if the target recognizes them as a threat, they lose the ability to death attack. This is the textbook definition of using Bluff. I mean that: look at the skill description, and look at the Death Attack entry. That's exactly what Bluff does (which, incidentally, is a class skill for Assassins).

If you're going by the rules (depending on your reading), either you have three rounds of taking hostile actions in which you're convincing the target that you're not taking hostile actions which invites three opposed checks, or you make a single bluff check which pushes your total "wait to kill" time back further and introduces ever more chances for failure.

The problem with pushing your "wait to kill" time back further, is that it pushes everyone's ability to act back further.

The problem the other way is three potential failed bluffs.

OR, as you're suggesting, you could ignore the rules and House Rule that taking offensive actions doesn't require a Bluff check (making the Bluff skill not terribly useful as it's no longer needed to do exactly what it does), but, again, you're changing the rules.

I mean, look, if I used an assassin, I'd totally House Rule things to make them work more smoothly. But by the rules, it really sucks at doing what it tries to do.


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Eliminating the arcane spellcasting was a mistake in the translation of assassin over to Pathfinder. However there are two fixes I can think of to make the death attack worthwhile.

1. Allow it to be used at range and don't tie it to sneak attack. Forcing the assassin to rely on a sneak attack in melee to trigger the death attack eliminates any use of sniping to kill a foe without rapid fire. I'm sure you can shell out 20,000 for goggles of the sniper or a sight of extend sneak attack (I forget the item for gunslinger, but same differences) if you really wanted to equip an assassin, but then you can play any class with a sneak attack and do the same thing.

2. Boost the DC on the death attack equal to +1 per every die of sneak attack damage the assassin has. Then it makes the Fort save harder and rewards rogues, ninjas, vivisectionist alchemists and slayers who decide to take the prestige class.

For a better fix, do both of these and then give the assassin back its arcane spellcasting. Then the assassin can use magic to aid him or her in assassinations (not counting things like potions, poison and what not).

Another idea is to Pathfinderize this supplement from Green Ronin. The Assassin's Handbook by Wolfgang Baur. It's 3.0, but it should be easy to drop in. It turns the assassin into a 20 level class and makes it pretty well setup, including feats that duplicate spell effects on poison, as well as historical examinations on assassination over the years. The assassin has its own custom spell list like the original one did, along with a variety of prestige classes built around assassins like the hashashin from Alamut or guild assassins.

This might help if you go poisoner archetype with rogue and then use this for your poison builds. http://www.pathfindercommunity.net/classes/prestige-classes/daggermark-pois oner


I don't know what's wrong with the assassin, doesn't it get to pick spells from the sorc/wiz list from illusion and transmutation? That sounds like a great way to make an assassin. Oh wait, you meant the completely mundane assassin. Yeah, they suck. At level 9 you don't have to stare at a dude really hard to kill him! Once a day. At level 10 you can kill someone so hard they need true resurrection! Also once a day, you have to declare it beforehand (so a miss or a successful save negates it), and you're at minimum level 15 (so same level opponents can make the check to use a scroll of true resurrection 90% of the time). I think it was designed by the same person that makes rogue talents.


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I think that OP is long gone but:

If someone is going to come here and go against the grain on the forums they need to do some research, and realize "because I said so" does not amount to proof. The research will also let them know what counterpoints they will come up against.

They also need to realize that how they play the game is not proof of anything, while at the same time looking at it from an objective point of view, instead of angrily trying to prove a point. "It happened is my games" does not equate to "this is likely to happen", which is what needs to be shown in most debates.


Oly wrote:
BigP4nda wrote:
Found out something after rereading the death attack ability. Assassin has the wonderful gift of reusing his death attack. Where as slayer and ninja require 24 hours if they fail. Besides the DC for all of them is essentially the same since the others use half their level. They all cap at 10+10+ability. The assassin's actually progresses faster.

Slayers are stronger in a lot of ways, but not so roguelike in flavor. I understand wanting that flavor.

Ninjas have that flavor, only have to study for one round, can use ki to turn invisible to help remain undetected while studying their potential victim, and have no alignment restrictions.

What flavor do assassins have that slayers lack?

Scarab Sages

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Ventnor wrote:
Oly wrote:
BigP4nda wrote:
Found out something after rereading the death attack ability. Assassin has the wonderful gift of reusing his death attack. Where as slayer and ninja require 24 hours if they fail. Besides the DC for all of them is essentially the same since the others use half their level. They all cap at 10+10+ability. The assassin's actually progresses faster.

Slayers are stronger in a lot of ways, but not so roguelike in flavor. I understand wanting that flavor.

Ninjas have that flavor, only have to study for one round, can use ki to turn invisible to help remain undetected while studying their potential victim, and have no alignment restrictions.

What flavor do assassins have that slayers lack?

Weaksauce.


Ventnor wrote:
Oly wrote:
BigP4nda wrote:
Found out something after rereading the death attack ability. Assassin has the wonderful gift of reusing his death attack. Where as slayer and ninja require 24 hours if they fail. Besides the DC for all of them is essentially the same since the others use half their level. They all cap at 10+10+ability. The assassin's actually progresses faster.

Slayers are stronger in a lot of ways, but not so roguelike in flavor. I understand wanting that flavor.

Ninjas have that flavor, only have to study for one round, can use ki to turn invisible to help remain undetected while studying their potential victim, and have no alignment restrictions.

What flavor do assassins have that slayers lack?

It's a relatively small difference, but slayers do lack diplomacy, and don't get access to a bunch of the "party face" rogue talents, so there's at last that one character concept that a rogue->assassin can fill better than a slayer.


Traits can entirely cover the skill. The rogue talents are admitted, but a straight forward full-on sneak attack is often faster and more likely to succeed in killing a single target than a death attack, weirdly enough. True, it couldn't paralyze an opponent. Shame they don't have minor spellcasting for things like hold person or something (or a better DC/faster access to Death Attack).

Scarab Sages

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It's really sad that Monks are better assassins than an assassin. Quivering Palm is superior in every way to death attack/angel of death.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Tacticslion wrote:
I mean, an assassin trying not to look like an assassin is actively working at deceiving whoever they're trying to fool. This is bluff. Each round they're studying a target they are engaging in a hostile action - intent to kill. But if the target recognizes them as a threat, they lose the ability to death attack. This is the textbook definition of using Bluff. I mean that: look at the skill description, and look at the Death Attack entry. That's exactly what Bluff does (which, incidentally, is a class skill for Assassins).

This doesn't make sense because of your first sentence. What does an "assassin" look like? It's not like characters walk around with their classes displayed over their heads, so why would the assassin stand out among anyone else? Requiring a bunch of Bluff checks (especially since nothing in Death Attack requires the assassin to make any successful skill check) as a default requisite to using Death Attack is illogical.


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Xexyz wrote:
Tacticslion wrote:
I mean, an assassin trying not to look like an assassin is actively working at deceiving whoever they're trying to fool. This is bluff. Each round they're studying a target they are engaging in a hostile action - intent to kill. But if the target recognizes them as a threat, they lose the ability to death attack. This is the textbook definition of using Bluff. I mean that: look at the skill description, and look at the Death Attack entry. That's exactly what Bluff does (which, incidentally, is a class skill for Assassins).
This doesn't make sense because of your first sentence. What does an "assassin" look like? It's not like characters walk around with their classes displayed over their heads, so why would the assassin stand out among anyone else? Requiring a bunch of Bluff checks (especially since nothing in Death Attack requires the assassin to make any successful skill check) as a default requisite to using Death Attack is illogical.

Because there's no such thing as facing in Pathfinder, therefore everyone is looking in all directions at everyone all the time. If they're not that's represented by a penalty to perception checks, not a complete inability to see the person. If you openly stare at someone for 18 seconds they will notice you (mostly because you're making them uncomfortable). Especially if you're wearing a weapon. If you're hiding a weapon then you get to spend your surprise round drawing a weapon and may lose initiative to the person you're trying to death attack (plus you'll never get to use Quiet Death). Bluff to hide that you're staring at someone makes sense. Stealth to hide so the person can't see you is another option, Sleight of Hand to hide your weapon is already an explicit option. If you blow one of those checks then either the person notices you staring at them, the person notices you staring at them, or the person notices you're armed. The first two should stop death attack, the third would just ruin it if you didn't bother hiding you were staring at them.

Pathfinder is not the modern world. Pathfinder is a danger cupcake with murder icing (couldn't resist). You can run this experiment if you like. Go to your local mall, find the mall cop, stand 30 feet away and stare at them. Just hardcore stare. See how long it takes them to notice. Now replace "mall cop" with "soldier in Iraq", "cop in Ferguson", or similar and openly wear a gun and I think you can see where this is going.

No, the assassin doesn't wear their class over their head. They do either wear a weapon or hide it (which would require a skill check for death atttack, Sleight of Hand) and that should be more than enough for someone to consider them a possible threat.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Bob Bob Bob wrote:
Because there's no such thing as facing in Pathfinder, therefore everyone is looking in all directions at everyone all the time. If they're not that's represented by a penalty to perception checks, not a complete inability to see the person. If you openly stare at someone for 18 seconds they will notice you (mostly because you're making them uncomfortable). Especially if you're wearing a weapon. If you're hiding a weapon then you get to spend your surprise round drawing a weapon and may lose initiative to the person you're trying to death attack (plus you'll never get to use Quiet Death). Bluff to hide that you're staring at someone makes sense. Stealth to hide so the person can't see you is another option, Sleight of Hand to hide your weapon is already an explicit option. If you blow one of those checks then either the person notices you staring at them, the person notices you staring at them, or the person notices you're armed. The first two should stop death attack, the third would just ruin it if you didn't...

Oh really? If that's your line of reasoning, are PCs in your games required to make diplomacy checks every time they talk to an NPC for any reason in order to convince the NPCs they're not threats? After all, PCs pretty much have their weapons on them all the time, and to add to that threat they're almost always in a group to boot.

In the assassin's case, I don't necessarily have a problem with requiring the assassin to make some check in order to deceive someone as circumstances demand. I do have a problem with a failed check automatically revealing the assassin's true intentions. In your example, if the target's Sense Motive check was higher than the assassin's Bluff check, why would the target automatically assume "OMG he's planning to assassinate me!" instead of something like, "Wow that guy's rude; what's his problem?"

The bottom line is RAW, Death Attack does not require any skill checks to be made in order to fulfill the conditions required for it to work. Requiring extra checks is purely GM fiat, and as such isn't something for which you can universally define the parameters.


Xexyz wrote:


Oh really? If that's your line of reasoning, are PCs in your games required to make diplomacy checks every time they talk to an NPC for any reason in order to convince the NPCs they're not threats? After all, PCs pretty much have their weapons on them all the time, and to add to that threat they're almost always in a group to boot.

But you know what smart PCs DON'T do?

Appraise everyone they come across like they're picking out the choice cuts on a slab of beef. Which is essentially what the Assassin is doing.

"There...there's the tender bits..."

People, even normal people have more instincts than you think. People can feel a stare boring into them from behind in many cases, someone doing it to their face? Is at least going to warrant a "What's that guy's deal? He's creepy." and trying to keep their distance from them unless they have pressing business. And then, the guy would still be wary at this point since you've been staring at him.

SOmeone staring at you is one of the HUGE subconscious warning signs that it's someone you don't want to associate with. It's disturbing in a very visceral way.


It's even worse when you're trying to assassinate a non-humanoid target.

Have you ever tried disguising "what's the part that kills it if I shank it? Are those the soft bits? Maybe that wobbly doohickey is the sweet spot," from registering on your face without a Bluff check? It's hard.


I feel like a lot of the finesse of Assassins (and Rogues and Ninjas for that matter) are lost in the 'rocket tag' world of modern gaming which, for so many, is basically a tabletop MMO. And that loss is ours in my opinion.

I've begun putting together a nemesis party for my group even though its introduction is a bit down the road, and one of its members is a 3rd level Fighter/1st level Rogue/1st level Assassin/4th level Red Mantis Assassin. Considering the ideas I have for the group, her finesse and versatility is going to make her by far the most fun of them to play and plan for. Honestly, its her death attack that has me most concerned because I'm not a fan of 'save or die' effects and its the main reason I didn't level her up higher as an Assassin. Her sneak attack, TWF, creature summoning and poison use should be more than enough in combat while her skills and creative use of spells should make her a nightmare outside of it as well.


Wiggz wrote:

I feel like a lot of the finesse of Assassins (and Rogues and Ninjas for that matter) are lost in the 'rocket tag' world of modern gaming which, for so many, is basically a tabletop MMO. And that loss is ours in my opinion.

I've begun putting together a nemesis party for my group even though its introduction is a bit down the road, and one of its members is a 3rd level Fighter/1st level Rogue/1st level Assassin/4th level Red Mantis Assassin. Considering the ideas I have for the group, her finesse and versatility is going to make her by far the most fun of them to play and plan for. Honestly, its her death attack that has me most concerned because I'm not a fan of 'save or die' effects and its the main reason I didn't level her up higher as an Assassin. Her sneak attack, TWF, creature summoning and poison use should be more than enough in combat while her skills and creative use of spells should make her a nightmare outside of it as well.

Well, that's the thing. Assassins are fine as an NPC class, because the GM can fiat up situations in which Death Attack is a thing that might actually happen practically. GMs love classes like the rogue that can stealth up vs passive perception checks and shank a PC right in the gonads, and with a party entirely controlled by the GM, you're able to arrange things so that the assassin going off on her own to sit her butt down in the shadows and stare at someone for three rounds to MAYBE have a chance at killing them isn't a poor tactic. A PC that tries the same thing is probably going to get themselves in a world of hurt the very second something goes wrong and they're caught with their crappy BAB in a fair fight without their comrades to back them up.

Ninjas and Slayers can assassinate quite well, because it 1.) Doesn't require a poorly-thought-out multi-class into a new class that has poor BAB AND Saves and has to be evil JUST to get a frigging Death Attack, and 2.) THEIR Death attack doesn't require you to sit on your butt for three rounds staring at something before it comes online and hoping nobody notices or distracts you in that space of time. And generally speaking, Death Attack might sound flashy, but you're probably getting equally good results most of the time just spending those four or so rounds you were setting it up just fighting the guy with your party.


what if Death Attack was 3 rounds at 1st, dropping to 2 rounds at 3rd, and dropping to 1 round at 5th?

(homebrew solution)


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Rynjin wrote:

But you know what smart PCs DON'T do?

Appraise everyone they come across like they're picking out the choice cuts on a slab of beef. Which is essentially what the Assassin is doing.

"There...there's the tender bits..."

People, even normal people have more instincts than you think. People can feel a stare boring into them from behind in many cases, someone doing it to their face? Is at least going to warrant a "What's that guy's deal? He's creepy." and trying to keep their distance from them unless they have pressing business. And then, the guy would still be wary at this point since you've been staring at him.

SOmeone staring at you is one of the HUGE subconscious warning signs that it's someone you don't want to associate with. It's disturbing in a very visceral way.

PRD wrote:

Death Attack (Ex): 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.

Please tell me where in this description "Study" = "Appraise everyone they come across like they're picking out the choice cuts on a slab of beef."

Again, if "Study" implied something so intense as to require a skill check in order to use, it would say so in the power's description. Lacking that, your extrapolations are just that: GM fiats. Which is fine; I'm a GM and make all sorts of judgement calls. Just don't imply that it's necessary to succeed at skill checks as universal prerequisite to using the power when it's not written that way.


rainzax wrote:

what if Death Attack was 3 rounds at 1st, dropping to 2 rounds at 3rd, and dropping to 1 round at 5th?

(homebrew solution)

My main gripe, the SAVE DC is still going to stink. There needs to be something to boost that for Assassins, or their main dynamic simply isn't that good.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
GreyWolfLord wrote:
rainzax wrote:

what if Death Attack was 3 rounds at 1st, dropping to 2 rounds at 3rd, and dropping to 1 round at 5th?

(homebrew solution)

My main gripe, the SAVE DC is still going to stink. There needs to be something to boost that for Assassins, or their main dynamic simply isn't that good.

Could always just houserule to make the victim save as if they were coup de graced...


Iv already homebrewed a draft of an improved assassin prc here


Xexyz wrote:
Rynjin wrote:

But you know what smart PCs DON'T do?

Appraise everyone they come across like they're picking out the choice cuts on a slab of beef. Which is essentially what the Assassin is doing.

"There...there's the tender bits..."

People, even normal people have more instincts than you think. People can feel a stare boring into them from behind in many cases, someone doing it to their face? Is at least going to warrant a "What's that guy's deal? He's creepy." and trying to keep their distance from them unless they have pressing business. And then, the guy would still be wary at this point since you've been staring at him.

SOmeone staring at you is one of the HUGE subconscious warning signs that it's someone you don't want to associate with. It's disturbing in a very visceral way.

Please tell me where in this description "Study" = "Appraise everyone they come across like they're picking out the choice cuts on a slab of beef."

Again, if "Study" implied something so intense as to require a skill check in order to use, it would say so in the power's description. Lacking that, your extrapolations are just that: GM fiats. Which is fine; I'm a GM and make all sorts of judgement calls. Just don't imply that it's necessary to succeed at skill checks as universal prerequisite to using the power when it's not written that way.

I'm not really saying it requires a skill check to use, but it certainly either requires one, or a big heaping helping of stupid on the part of the vctim to use it as you're describing (study someone as you're carrying on a conversaton with them instead of, say, studying them from the middle of a crowd before walking up to start said conversation).

But study by its very nature is "intense".

The only definitions relevant here are:

"a detailed investigation and analysis of a subject or situation."

"look at closely in order to observe or read."

Studying is conspicuous, that's all there really is to it. To say the assassin can use it as you say in a social setting doesn't make any sense. Your job as a GM is to play people as, well, people.

A person that is being "studied" is going to be creeped out.

Granted, you can play it off in various ways ("Oh, I'm a doctor. I'm just fascinated with the human form and you're an interesting specimen"), but studying someone with no explanation is going to raise some hackles unless that person is completely oblivious.

The average person may not realize until it's too late, but I'd be hard pressed to justify a guard or something not going "The f%!% you lookin' at?" and mentally classifying the Assassin as an enemy until he backs off.

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