The Assassin is a character class that specializes in killing. Similar to a thief, but more specialized in ambushing, the assassin learns many specialized tactics for accomplishing their goals. Mixing combat & stealth as their tools to assassinate their targets.
RequirementsEditAssassins, when they have had entry requirements, tend to require high Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence. They also often have alignment restrictions (forbidding Good characters, commonly), and race restrictions (forbidding halflings). Half-orcs are considered especially sympathetic to the assassin class, and can combine the class effectively with clerics and fighters.
Assassins are a deadly class and specialize in sneak attacks more powerful than regular thieves. They have an improved weapon selection, as well, being able to make use of nearly any weapon.
Assassins interact in many ways with their guild. While not required to be a member of one, such guilds are very present, and NPC assassins usually are. Reaching the upper echelons of the guild usually requires assassinating those who already hold the position.
Assassins from the League of Whispers prefer taking out their targets with ranged attacks from poisoned darts and crossbow bolts, and employ bolas to stop enemies from fleeing. The Red Scales, however, prefer melee maneuvers with daggers and garrottes. The Ninja combine these methods, employing swords, shurikens, and an exotic flail called the kusari-gama. The Bleak Disciples are a group of githyanki who have learned to forge solid objects out of shadowstuff. The Executioners blend shadow magic with raw physical force. The Night Stalkers are Drow assassins who focus on using shadow magic to inspire fear and decieve their prey,
Assassins can be sent on missions to assassinate, spy, or steal. Generally, the guild handles the assignment of these tasks.
Assassins speak additional languages, if they are intelligent enough. They learn more languages as they go up in level.
An assassin can use the same skillset as a thief, but usually does so at a penalty. They gain a particular skill with stealth that allows them to hide even while being directly observed. Their skill with climbing allows them to drop far silently, without taking damage.
Assassins are capable of creating a convincing disguise, concealing their individuality, their gender, and even their race. This helps them get close to their intended targets.
Assassins can follow a target through a crowd unseen.
Assassins are proficient users of poisons -- ingested, contact, and weaponized. These poisons are often illegal, and if observed using poison, the assassin might be targeted by the law, or by the witness themselves. Familiarity with poisons also enables them to analyze a poison, to determine what it is, and to protect themselves from it.
Assassins are capable of killing an individual with a single strike, though there is a significant chance of failure on this attack. They must attack with surprise to do this.
An assassin may strike after studying an enemy for 3 rounds, either killing or palayzing the victim
Assassins don't deal extra damage with a surprise attack from behind, but do still gain a bonus to attack rolls by doing this -- ensuring the accuracy of their assassination.
Alternately, they may do less damage, though more reliably, through sneak attacks whenever they catch an enemy exposed, or when they can flank.
Assassins learn some alteration, illusion, and divination abilities to help them find their targets and decieve observers. They may learn these abilities from a spellbook, or they may be empowered to cast them spontaneously.
Some assasins blend their physical abilities with a mastery over shadow magic, enabling them to take on the form of a shadow, leap through shadows, and to shroud their enemies in deadly shadow.
Assassins debuted in the OD&D Blackmoor supplement, already bristling with many of their iconic traits -- assassination attempts, poison use, and disguise abilites intact. The 1e Player's Handbook further codified the class, but didn't change many of its basic assumptions. It did, however, associate the class with half-orcs for the first time. In 2e, the assassin wasn't a distinct class -- it was released as a kit in The Complete Thief's Handbook, and there it developed an affinity for exotic weaponry.
In 3e, it was something any class could become: a prestige class, acquired later in character development. There, it gained spells for the first time, and gained a host of rogue-like powers such as Uncanny Dodge and Hide In Plain Sight that enhanced its use of surprise and skills. There, its assassination-during-a-surprise-round mechanic changed to the more combat-useful Death Attack.
In 4e, the assassin appeared first on D&D Insider as a class defined by shadow magic, inclduing a shroud ability that functioned similar to death attack, but with extra damage instead of death. It became more strongly associated with guilds, and gained a host of combat powers dealing with shadow and stealth. 4e also saw the release of the Executioner assassin, an assassin more similar to the physical assassin of OD&D and 1e, with the possibility of going without magical tricks.
Blackmoor (1975), the Assassin class
1e Player's Handbook (1978), the Assassin class
2e Complete Thief's Handbook (1989), the Assassin kit.
3.5e Dungeon Master's Guide (2003), the Assassin prestige class.
4e Compendium, the Assassin and Executioner classes.