Does the assassin PrC suck as much as it looks like it does?


The current campaign I'm running is gonna wrap up soon, so I've started planning for the next one. One of my players has said that he wants to be an assassin.
Now, I've used assassins quite effectively as NPCs, but NPCs generally only need to be good for one or two encounters, so they've always been useful that way, but as I'm looking at the class as a playable PrC . . .
Yeah, it doesn't look very useful. It's primary gain is the death attack, but the DC for it is going to be significantly lower than the fortitude saves of many level appropriate monsters and needing to watch an opponent for 3 rounds beforehand takes you out of the fight for a long time unless you're sneaking up on a solo enemy outside of combat. Add to this, you give up a lot of extremely useful rogue abilities in exchange for that death attack, especially if you go by the unchained rules (which I do, because why wouldn't I?).
Am I reading this right? Also, if I am, what would people suggest as viable alternatives?

it's not unusable, but it's very hard to make it work and it's never going to be very efficient.

You should recommend the Slayer class, which has the Assassinate as a Advanced Slayer Talent -- DC is similar [half level + INT], but the Studied Target feature increases the DC significantly.

The slayer's assassinate ability also doesn't require that you observe the target for 3 rounds. You can make the assassins assassinate slightly better by continuing on with master spy after assassin in order to keep getting your full +level to DC, but you only break even with slayer.

The only worse death attack is the serial killer vigilante's version since the DC is worse and it has all the assassin's limitations.

The INT stat mod for DC is pretty much the nail that keeps it from being on par with save or die from a caster.

Ninja is another possibility. But my first choice is slayer, likely with the stygian archetype.

RJ Dalton 89 wrote:
Does the assassin PrC suck as much as it looks like it does?


RJ Dalton 89 wrote:
One of my players has said that he wants to be an assassin.

Did he say he wants to be an "assassin", or an "Assassin"? Did he explicitly talk about the prestige class, or does he merely want to play such a style of character?

Ask the player to say what he actually wants without using class names. That's the first step to evaluating the most fitting class/archetype for a player in every case, by the way. Because class names are just, well, names - "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet", and all.

Rogue is not the best class to play a Rogue style character, Ninja is not the best class to play a ninja style character, and Assassin is not the best class to play an assassin style character. Indeed, literally any class in Pathfinder can be used to play an assassin (Paladin only with select deities or archetypes), as the ability to suddenly kill someone is all it takes to be able to assassinate, and every single class can do that. You can play a Barbarian as an assassin. You can play a Wizard as an assassin (extremely well, actually). In the campaign I'm currently GMing, I'm deliberately setting up an assassination by a Shaman (he's expressed interest to use Curse of Burning Sleep).

Derklord hit the nail on the head so to speak. With all the archetypes and classes available in 1st edition Pathfinder just about any class can substitute for almost any other class.

That being said there is one thing to consider about playing an assassin type character. Most of the time when an assassin kills someone it is because of careful planning not because the assassin is powerful. Setting up a successful assassination is more than just studying the target for x amount of rounds. It is finding and exploiting weaknesses in the target. Most of the time this requires the assassin invest a significant amount of time and effort researching and planning his moves. This is something that is going to be hard to do in a typical game. The rest of the party is not going to want to sit around doing nothing while the assassin character does his thing. The opportunity for the assassin to actually be an assassin will probably not happen that often for a PC. If the player is aware of this and is ok with it they will be fine. If they are looking to actually be an assassin it may create conflict with the party. The assassin does bring some useful skills that the party will find useful so the player will not be total cut off from what he wants, but may become frustrated that he is not doing what he wants to do.

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