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Old Screeds


Improved Assassin Redux [13 July 2014] Revisiting an old variant for D&D3.5

I wanted to make a few NPC assassins using a variant I created in 2006. But when I went to my old screed to do so, I realized that the rules were poorly written for actual use. So I resolved to rewrite them in actual usable form. Here are the original D&D3.5 Assassin Prestige Class rules. Here, rewritten by me, are those rules written for Pathfinder. Here they are, again rewritten by me, for D&D 3.5:

The Improved Assassin

The unseen approach, the innocent look, the perfect disguise, the knife in the dark -- these are the tools of those who have perfected the art of murder. Some are mercenaries, who value wealth over life. Some are devoted to a cause, fighting tyrants, theocrats, and terrorists as a guerrilla, a rebel, or an infiltrator. But no one devoted to dealing death can be an innocent, or good at heart.

Those who delight in dealing death, those for whom killing is a career, and those who kill for a cause -- such people come from all walks of life. Fighters and mages, clerics and rogues, all can be assassins -- although characters with a natural inclination toward stealth are more natural murderers than others.

Some lawful NPCs with this prestige class may be associated with a thieves guild, or with their own association of assassins, or with another group -- the secret police, a resistance movement, a guerrilla band. Some chaotic freelance assassins work on a contract basis for the highest bidder; others pursue solitary vendettas against those who have wronged them.

Hit die: d6

Requirements

  • Alignment: Any neutral or evil (non-good).
  • Skills: Disguise 4 ranks, Hide 8 ranks, Move Silently 8 ranks.
  • Special: Must seek out and kill a specific person to prove your willingness to kill.

Table: The Improved D&D3.5 Assassin

Lvl...Att....Fort...Refx...Will...Class Abilities
.1....+0......+0.....+2.....+0.....Paralyzing Stab, Sneak Attack +1d6
.2....+1......+0.....+3.....+0.....Poison Use, +1 Save vs Poison
.3....+2......+1.....+3.....+1.....Uncanny Dodge, Sneak Attack +2d6
.4....+3......+1.....+4.....+1.....Death Stab, +2 Save vs Poison
.5....+3......+1.....+4.....+1.....Sneak Attack +3d6
.6....+4......+2.....+5.....+2.....Improved Uncanny Dodge, +3 Save vs Poison
.7....+5......+2.....+5.....+2.....Ranged Stab, Sneak Attack +4d6
.8....+6......+2.....+6.....+2.....Hide in Plain Sight, +4 Save vs Poison
.9....+6......+3.....+6.....+3.....Sneak Attack +5d6
10....+7......+3.....+7.....+3.....Quick Stab, +5 Save vs Poison

Class Features

Class Skills: Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Int), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Forgery (Int), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Open Lock (Dex), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), Use Magic Device (Cha), and Use Rope (Dex).

Skill Points per level: 2 + Int modifier

Weapon & Armor Proficiencies: Assassins are proficient with the crossbow (hand, light, or heavy), dagger (any type), dart, rapier, sap, shortbow (normal and composite), and short sword. Assassins are proficient with light armor but not with shields.

Spells: Beginning at 1st level, an assassin gains the ability to cast a number of arcane spells. To cast a spell, an assassin must have an Intelligence score of at least 10 + the spellís level, so an assassin with an Intelligence of 10 or lower cannot cast these spells. Assassin bonus spells are based on Intelligence, and saving throws against these spells have a DC of 10 + spell level + the assassinís Intelligence bonus. When the assassin gets 0 spells per day of a given spell level he gains only the bonus spells he would be entitled to based on his Intelligence score for that spell level. When the assassin gets 0 spells per day of a given spell level he gains only the bonus spells he would be entitled to based on his Intelligence score for that spell level. The assassinís spell list appears below. An assassin casts spells spontaneously just as a sorcerer does.

Class Abilities

Paralyzing Stab (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 paralyzing the target. While studying the victim, the assassin can undertake other actions so long as his attention stays focused on the target and the target does not detect the assassin or recognize the assassin as an enemy. If the victim of such an attack fails a Fortitude save (DC 10 + the assassinís class level + the assassinís Int modifier) against the paralyzing effect, she is rendered helpless and unable to act for 1d6 rounds plus 1 round per level of the assassin. If the victimís 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 paralyzing stab within the next 3 rounds. If a stab 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 paralyzing stab.

Sneak Attack This is exactly like the rogue ability of the same name. The extra damage dealt increases by +1d6 every other level (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th). If an assassin gets a sneak attack bonus from another source the bonuses on damage stack.

Poison Use Assassins are trained in the use of poison and never risk accidentally poisoning themselves when applying poison to a blade.

Save Bonus against Poison The assassin gains a natural saving throw bonus to all poisons gained at 2nd level that increases by +1 for every two additional levels the assassin gains.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex) Starting at 3rd level, an assassin retains his Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) regardless of being caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. (He still loses any Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized.) If a character gains uncanny dodge from a second class the character automatically gains improved uncanny dodge (see below).

Death Stab As paralyzing stab, but the assassin can choose to kill his target.

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex) At 6th level, an assassin can no longer be flanked, since he can react to opponents on opposite sides of him as easily as he can react to a single attacker. This defense denies rogues the ability to use flank attacks to sneak attack the assassin. The exception to this defense is that a rogue at least four levels higher than the assassin can flank him (and thus sneak attack him). If a character gains uncanny dodge (see above) from a second class the character automatically gains improved uncanny dodge, and the levels from those classes stack to determine the minimum rogue level required to flank the character.

Ranged Stab As paralyzing stab and death stab, but the assassin can use a ranged weapon. The attack must still be a sneak attack, however.

Hide in Plain Sight (Su) At 8th level, an assassin can use the Hide skill even while being observed. As long as he is within 10 feet of some sort of shadow, an assassin can hide himself from view in the open without having anything to actually hide behind. He cannot, however, hide in his own shadow.

Quick Stab As paralyzing stab and death stab, but the time of study required is 2 rounds, not 3 rounds.

Spells Known, Spells Per Day, and Spell List

Table: Improved D&D3.5 Assassin Spells Known and Spells Per Day

Spells Known
Lv....1st...2nd...3rd...4th...5th
.1.....2.....-.....-.....-.....-
.2.....3.....-.....-.....-.....-
.3.....3.....2.....-.....-.....-
.4.....4.....3.....-.....-.....-
.5.....4.....3.....2.....-.....-
.6.....4.....4.....3.....-.....-
.7.....4.....4.....3.....2.....-
.8.....4.....4.....4.....3.....-
.9.....4.....4.....4.....3.....2
10.....4.....4.....4.....4.....3
Spells Per Day
Lv....1st...2nd...3rd...4th...5th
.1.....0.....-.....-.....-.....-
.2.....1.....-.....-.....-.....-
.3.....1.....0.....-.....-.....-
.4.....2.....1.....-.....-.....-
.5.....2.....1.....0.....-.....-
.6.....3.....2.....1.....-.....-
.7.....3.....2.....1.....0.....-
.8.....3.....3.....2.....1.....-
.9.....4.....3.....2.....1.....0
10.....4.....3.....3.....2.....1

1st Level

chill touch, disguise self, detect poison, feather fall, ghost sound, jump, mage hand, obscuring mist, sleep, true strike.

2nd Level

alter self, catís grace, darkness, foxís cunning, illusory script, invisibility, pass without trace, spider climb, undetectable alignment.

3rd Level

blink, clairaudience/clairvoyance, deep slumber, deeper darkness, false life, magic circle against good, misdirection, nondetection.

4th Level

dimension door, freedom of movement, glibness, greater invisibility, locate creature, modify memory, poison.

5th Level

polymorph, prying eyes, scrying, secret chest, teleport, veil.


Design Notes -- "Improved" does not mean more powerful! This suggestion for an improved assassin does add several new powers -- notably improved death attack and 5th level spells -- but the delay in gaining formerly low-level several stock abilities and the decrease in skill ranks gained per level balance those out. I've also allowed neutral alignments in order to expand the range of characters possible. Note that the original Assassin spell list has 8 first level spells, 9 second, 6 third, and 8 4th. That seems inelegant. I prefer 10 - 9 - 8 - 7 - 6.


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