Can the slayers advanced talent Assassinate (Ex) be used in combat?


Rules Questions


Well met,
we are trying to figure out if the slayers advanced talent Assassinate (Ex) can be used in combat?

https://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/hybrid-classes/slayer/slayer-talents/paizo -slayer-talents-advanced/assassinate

"the slayer makes a sneak attack against the target and that target is denied its Dexterity bonus to AC, the sneak attack has the additional effect of possibly killing the target"

So possible common situations can be:
- win the initiative (target has condition Flat-Footed)
- being invisible (slayer has condition Invisible)
- something else maybe

But there is an other requirement for the slayer:
"This attempt automatically fails if the target recognizes the slayer as an enemy."

So our thoughts are (all must apply):
- slayer must not be expected (maybe a knowledge local check for the target, if they know the party)
- slayer must not have taken part in the combar so far
- slayer must be previously undetected or unrecognized (opposed perception check for the target against stealth - possibly under rare circumstances against disguise)

So beeing hidden with stealth or better with invisiblity could make this happen?

Stealth says: "Creatures that fail to beat your Stealth check are not aware of you and treat you as if you had total concealment"
Invisible says: "Invisible creatures are visually undetectable. An invisible creature gains a +2 bonus on attack rolls against sighted opponents, and ignores its opponents’ Dexterity bonuses to AC (if any)."

And stealth says also: "Your Stealth immediately ends after you make an attack roll, whether or not the attack is successful (except when sniping as noted below)."

After the first attack of a slayer every opponent should be aware to slayer as an enemy. So the Assassinate advanced talent might be work once in a combat?

Another indicator of usability in combat is that the talent is a 2 turn action (study + sneak attack).

Encounters must be setup proberly to make this happen, like:
- slayer hides behind a door and opponents are lured into this ambush
- slayer goes invisible into a battle and sneaks to a target undetected
- ...

There is still the chances of being detected and some one calls out a warning to make the assasination fail.

What do you think?
Or is there any standard rule which makes this impossible?

Regards
Ralf


Assassinate (Ex): A slayer with this advanced talent can kill foes that are unable to defend themselves. To attempt to assassinate a target, the slayer must first study his target for 1 round as a standard action. On the following round, if the slayer makes a sneak attack against the target and that target is denied its Dexterity bonus to AC, the sneak attack has the additional effect of possibly killing the target. This attempt automatically fails if the target recognizes the slayer as an enemy. If the sneak attack is successful, the target must attempt a Fortitude saving throw with a DC equal to 10 + 1/2 the slayer's level + the slayer's Intelligence modifier. If the target fails this save, it dies; otherwise, the target takes the sneak attack damage as normal and is then immune to that slayer's assassinate ability for 24 hours.

Assassinate has 3 conditions. 1 the slayer has to study their target for 1 round. 2 They make a sneak attack on the next round. 3 The target does not recognize the slayer as an enemy. The first two are fairly straight forward and should not cause any questions. The third one is more complicated, but not nearly as much as you are making it out to be.

As long as the target of the assassination does not consider the slayer an enemy before the attack he can use assassinate on the target. There is no requirement for the slayer not to be in or have been in combat. If the target cannot perceive the slayer obviously, he does not consider him an enemy, so things like invisibility will cover this requirement. If the target perceives the slayer but considers him an ally or at least a neutral party that also covers the requirement. Using disguise or magic to make the target think the slayer is an ally will work.

Determining if a target considers the assassin a neutral party is probably where most of the ambiguity lies. The way I would handle it is if the character would attack the slayer given the opportunity. For example, if the slayer were to move out of a threatened square would the target make an AoO on the slayer? If the target would take the AoO on the slayer they would be considered an enemy.

A slayer can use assassinate in combat fairly often. If the slayer is pretending to be part of the party this is quite easy to accomplish. You are right about one thing and that once they attempt to assassinate the target it usually means further attempts are difficult to achieve. Greater Invisibility would work but anything else is likely to fail.


Dear Mysterious Stranger,
thx alot for your reply.

Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Assassinate has 3 conditions. 1 the slayer has to study their target for 1 round. 2 They make a sneak attack on the next round. 3 The target does not recognize the slayer as an enemy. The first two are fairly straight forward and should not cause any questions. The third one is more complicated, but not nearly as much as you are making it out to be.

I think the "target is denied its Dexterity bonus to AC" is a fourth condition. So flanking as an option for sneak attacks cannot fullfil the conditions.

Mysterious Stranger wrote:
As long as the target of the assassination does not consider the slayer an enemy before the attack he can use assassinate on the target. There is no requirement for the slayer not to be in or have been in combat. If the target cannot perceive the slayer obviously, he does not consider him an enemy, so things like invisibility will cover this requirement. If the target perceives the slayer but considers him an ally or at least a neutral party that also covers the requirement. Using disguise or magic to make the target think the slayer is an ally will work.

Magical ways, like the Charm person, are an interesting prospect. Perhaps not directly at hand for a slayer, but a possibility.

Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Determining if a target considers the assassin a neutral party is probably where most of the ambiguity lies. The way I would handle it is if the character would attack the slayer given the opportunity. For example, if the slayer were to move out of a threatened square would the target make an AoO on the slayer? If the target would take the AoO on the slayer they would be considered an enemy.

The AoO view as inversion is a very good idea and a pratical, too. Total concealment prevents AoOs.

Mysterious Stranger wrote:
A slayer can use assassinate in combat fairly often. If the slayer is pretending to be part of the party this is quite easy to accomplish. You are right about one thing and that once they attempt to assassinate the target it usually means further attempts are difficult to achieve. Greater Invisibility would work but anything else is likely to fail.

Shouldn't an invisible attacker always be considered an enemy when he or she attacks a target? Opponents may not be able to locate or recognize the person, but they know it is an unfriendly attitude, or?

Regards
Ralf


The sneak attack condition I highlighted includes the denied DEX bonus. I consider that to be part of the same requirement.

The last thing that causes the assassination to fail is when the target recognizes the slayer as an enemy. That means he has to be able to perceive the slayer and treat him as a hostile creature. Both conditions have to be satisfied for the condition to cause the assassination attempt to fail. If the target cannot perceive the target, he cannot recognize him. That is why the greater invisibility allows multiple assassination attempts in a round.

The AoO is more about would the target attack the slayer than can he. Something that prevents an AoO will not necessarily prevent the assassination attempt. Another way to answer it is ask if you get a free attack on the slayer will you take it? If the answer is yes that slayer is a hostile creature. If the target considers the slayer hostile and can perceive the slayer the assassination does not happen.


I'd expect table variation on multiple attempts per round. After the first attack, the enemy recognizes the slayer as the enemy in that square. While I'm not crazy about this kind of logic, it's exactly the kind of thing the design team would decide if they weighed in on this question.


I am inclined to rule (ie. this isn't technically 'the Rules'), that an invisible slayer attacking probably isn't considered recognized for purposes of an enemy in future rounds. Since they'd have to spend a standard action restudying after every attack.
Note that I am considering assassinate's study to be a separate thing from a slayer's studied target ability, since that is a move action and then an immediate if they deal a sneak attack. Assassinate seems like it has a separate requirement.

However, I also lean towards the multiple attacks per round thoughts like Melkiador, where once you're attacked by an invisible attacker, you recognize that as a threat, meaning the slayer could only assassinate on the first of the attacks (unless they entirely failed to perceive that attack at all somehow), requiring them to back off (or at least leave the square where the 'recognizable danger' was standing and attacking from) and restudy and possibly attack from a different angle, which could conceivably be a completely different invisible attacker or creature to the target's mind. But that's just my opinion and could be swayed with other arguments.


For what it's worth, similar abilities like this that are meant to turn off after a first attack (like the vigilante's version of sneak attack), use the terminology "aware of" instead of "recognizes".

Vigilante Stalker wrote:
A stalker gains an ability called hidden strike, which allows him to deal an extra 1d8 points of precision damage on melee attacks (or ranged attacks from within 30 feet) against foes who are unaware of his presence, who consider him an ally, or who are made flat-footed by startling appearance. This extra damage increases by 1d8 at 3rd level and every 2 vigilante levels thereafter. A stalker vigilante can also deal hidden strike damage to a target that he is flanking or that is denied its Dexterity bonus to AC, but in these cases, the damage dice are reduced to d4s. A stalker can deal hidden strike damage against targets with concealment (but not total concealment).

Even if you are aware of the assassin, you might not recognize what it is or notice the attack coming. That said, even if someone is invisible, that doesn't meant they can't be detected and therefore recognized. I would generalize to perhaps still within some sort of stealth relative to the target of the assassinate.


Ralf Praschak wrote:
we are trying to figure out if the slayers advanced talent Assassinate (Ex) can be used in combat?

The second you use the ability, you're in combat, if you weren't before.

Most options to make it work have been mentioned, but there is one morwe: The advanced benefit of the Divine Fighting Technique Norgorber’s Silent Shiv lets you "treat [a creature] as being completely unaware of your presence for the purposes of all class features and feats you have".

Mysterious Stranger wrote:
That is why the greater invisibility allows multiple assassination attempts in a round.

How? The target of the first attempt is either dead or immune for 24 hours, and any other targets would require having being studied as a standard action the previous round.


Thx a alot for all your answers and explanations.

Maybe the question "be used in combat?" must be more precise, like "can be used anytime in combat, if the requirements are fullfilled?"

For example the slayer is hidden, approaches his target, studies it and executes the sneak attack for an assassination attempt.

Technically the slayer has an initiative and act with actions in the running combart, like moving, using stealth e.g.

We read some posts and questions before this posting here which said "can only be used outside combat" because nobody is flatfooded anymore e.g.


Derklord wrote:
How? The target of the first attempt is either dead or immune for 24 hours, and any other targets would require having being studied as a standard action the previous round.

You know, I completely missed that last part about becoming immune for 24 hours.

The Exchange

I'm going to have to go with "no, you can't always use it." Because otherwise you can easily come up with a rotation to assassinate one target every other round.

R1 Standard: Study Target 1
R1 Move: Stealth
R2 Standard: Assassinate Target 1
R2 Move: Whatever
R3 Standard: Study Target 2
R3 Move: Stealth
R4 Standard: Assassinate Target 2
R4 Move: Whatever

The clause "This attempt automatically fails if the target recognizes the slayer as an enemy" seems to be a shorter way of writing "you may only use this ability if the target is unaware of the presence of the slayer or believes him to be an ally or non-combatant."


classically as soon as the GM starts initiative, you're in "combat". Certainly once you start a sneak attack you are in combat. So I think that's just common usage of the term versus the gaming jargon technical meaning.
Theoretically as an ability you could use it every round starting and meeting the criteria over two rounds. Reading the criteria makes it clear that practically it is going to be used at the start of combat and then that's it, so once an encounter. If you have a great setup and get very lucky you might be able to attack two targets within a few rounds in the same encounter.

the key is, This attempt automatically fails if the target recognizes the slayer as an enemy..
I'd agree that after the first assassination attempt all parties within perception range are going to became wary / alert & expect danger so the last condition is going to become harder to meet. It's a tricky criteria and different GMs are going to set different standards.
Improved Invisibility would help but once an invisible attacker strikes all of the local targets are on guard. Most GMs will consider a known invisible attacker as an enemy. I'd consider this a Once an Encounter ability. It is going to start combat if nothing else...


remember too that "Sneak Attack" and precision damage are linked. Some creatures are immune to precision damage (sometimes via simple spells) or sneak attacks. I'm somewhat surprised by the lack of verbiage saying it is a Death Effect, thus it does not have the [death] descriptor.

The opening line of the ability is pretty open to interpretation. I'd consider it "flavor text" as it is the first line but some GMs will give it Rule meaning.


Pizza Lord wrote:
Derklord wrote:
How? The target of the first attempt is either dead or immune for 24 hours, and any other targets would require having being studied as a standard action the previous round.
You know, I completely missed that last part about becoming immune for 24 hours.

I assumed it was more a question of the attack missing, and thus the assassinate never actually being triggered.


Many thanks again,

so far we have no voice that would deny this ability in battle. Regardless of whether it is started with it or the Slayer joins later, as long as all conditions are met.

Multiple use in combat is controversial due to its recognizability as an enemy. I personally support the assumption that it can only be used once.


Multiple uses in combat is going to be difficult to achieve, but not impossible. It would require the slayer to spend another round studying his new target before making the second assassination. Outside of greater invisibility or the first attack being out of sight of the other combatants it will be hard.

A slayer under greater invisibility could move through a long combat taking out targets every other round. The slayer could use the first round to study a target and assassinate them on the second. Then on the third round move to a new target and studying it. On the fourth round he could assassinate a second target. As long as the invisibility holds out and the targets cannot perceive him, he can continue assassinating every other round. You can move and still take the standard action to study the target.

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