log in or register to remove this ad

 

5E [GUIDE] Dealing Death: Handbook of the True Assassin

SubDude

Explorer
Any chance for an update on the material in Xanathar's?

I was wondering how you think Rogue 7/Ranger:Gloomstalker 11/Fighter 2 (with one more level somewhere for a ASI or Fighter archetype - Brute would be solid if you use UA) would compare with Fighter 11/Rogue 8 or another of your builds....

Gloomstalker gets you an extra attack in that first round of combat the earliest and the bonus to initiative is nice too, but it is a little MAD. Plus Darkvision (v. nice if you're human for the level 1 feat) and basically improved invisibility in darkness. I mean, that's pretty sweet too. Ranger also gives some spell-casting which can be useful.

My next character was going to be a Fighter (EK) 11/Rogue 9 Assassin... but now I'm thinking more like Rogue (A) 7/Ranger (GS) 11/Fighter 3 (Brute) though that does give fewer ASI....

I dunno. What're everyone else's thoughts?


I wouldn't consider anything from Unearthed Arcana, but now that Xanathar has formalized all of those except the brute....

I'm imagining Fighter 2 / Rogue 3 / HexBlade 1 / Gloom Stalker 3 / Paladin 11 elf with Elven Accuracy....
- Two base attacks, plus the bonus off hand attack
- Bonus to initiative +5 from dex, +2 from wis
- Critical hits on 19-20 and +6 damage per hit from hexblade
- Plenty of Smites available...
- Extra attack die on advantage
- Extra attack on first turn
- That is a first turn of three attacks plus the bonus attack. Throw in Action Surge for two more attacks makes 6. Even without surprise, the Elven Accurate / Hexblade's Curse combine to give you a 27% chance to roll a critical hit as long as you have advantage.....

Let's see...
Rapier = d8 / Dagger = d4
Hex or Hunter's mark = d6
Improved Smite = d8
3rd level Devine Smites (3 available) = 4d8 / 2nd level (3 available) = 3d8
Sneak attack (1 time) = 2d6
Dex mod +5
Proficiency bonus +6

First attack critical is 12d8+6d6+5+6 (86 average)
Second and third attack criticals (no sneak) is 12d8+2d6+5+6 (72 average - twice)
Bonus Action attack critical (dagger in off hand, 2nd level smites) is 8d8+2d6+2d4+5+6 (59 average)
Action Surge
Fourth and fifth main-hand attacks critical (2nd level smites) is 10d8+2d6+5+6 (63 average - twice).

Total average here for all five critical hits is 86+72+72+59+63+63 = 415.

Again, even without surprise, the combination above would give you about one critical hit out of every four regular attacks anyway. This would be a fun, if tricky and MAD class to play.


(This analysis was done quickly, so may be missing something.)
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

DocSharpe

First Post
Welcome to the forums, have some XP.
The more salient thing is that the sneak attack damage is once per turn. Using your action surge to get another attack adds only the same as your bonus action attack, or 66.

What he is likely getting at is the idea that sneak attack damage van be applied "once per turn", not once per round. How people use this is to find a way to attack outside of their turn, either by readying an attack with your Action Surge action or being granted one by someone else's ability (having a battlemaster buddy with you, for example).
 

SubDude

Explorer
What he is likely getting at is the idea that sneak attack damage van be applied "once per turn", not once per round. How people use this is to find a way to attack outside of their turn, either by readying an attack with your Action Surge action or being granted one by someone else's ability (having a battlemaster buddy with you, for example).

I never thought of using action surge that way. Thanks!
 

UnknownRogue

First Post
Replying to Subdude -

I use the term ‘surprise round’ to refer to the first round of combat when the dm has determined that characters are ‘surprised’ and thus not able to take any movement action or reaction on their first turn. But you are right, technically this is just the first round of combat. While action surge doesn’t require a target to be surprised, exploiting it to deal a second auto-crit sneak attack with death strike does.

When you ‘hold an action’ you take that action as soon as the trigger you determine uccurs. This is mechanically defined as using your ‘reaction’ when it triggers, and uccurs during another character’s TURN, often within the same ROUND. A battle master /rogue can use riposte as a reaction for example and get another sneak attack in addition to the one they are allowed on their turn. This is what I’m referring to when I say your Action Surge reaction attack. Maybe there’s a better term for it?

I have a problem with how the OP does averages as it’s too specific to an arbitrary context so I go with max potential. If you think your build does better maybe show the math otherwise it’s just pulling numbers out of the air.

And I agree that the damage per round is valuable to consider in general but this thread focuses on nova damage and the ‘1 turn kill’ Assassination potential of different builds. FYI with martial adept feat and exploiting riposte for 2 sneak attacks/ROUND, this build can continue doing insane damage into the early rounds. But that’s another post...
 


dleto1

First Post
So assuming you can use UA an elven 4 assassin 16 brute does pretty good damage.
I will do the math sans magic items or haste to start with I will include sharpshooter and crossbow expert with a 20 dexterity I am also assuming elven accuracy to take the most advantage of our free advantage.

So we're going to be making 7 attacks during a nova round 3 from fighter 3 from action surge and 1 bonus
so we are obviously using a hand crossbow

14d6 (avg 49) from 8 auto crit hand crossbow attacks
4d6 (avg 14) from sneak attack auto crit
14d8 (avg 63) from 8 auto crit brute dice
70 sharpshooter damage
112 devastating critical 16 dmg per crit
35 dmg from 5 dexterity across 7 attacks

So our avg damage not factoring accuracy is 343 during a surprise nova round using extra attack and no other resources.

If we assume pretty standard lvl magical equipment a +3 hand crossbow, and a manual of quickness of action we add
7 extra damage from 1 extra point of dexterity modifier across 7 attacks
21 extra damage from the +3 crossbow across 7 attacks

So now our average damage is 371

If we further add in a haste action from our friendly neighborhood wizard
2d6 hand crossbow
2d8 brute force dice
10 sharpshooter damage
16 devastating critical
3 dmg from +3 hand crossbow
6 dmg from 6 dexterity
we add another 51 average damage

So our total average damage during a surprise round with 8 attacks 22 dexterity and a +3 hand crossbow is 422 and we still haven't used any class resources other than action surge.
 

SubDude

Explorer
So assuming you can use UA an elven 4 assassin 16 brute does pretty good damage.
I will do the math sans magic items or haste to start with I will include sharpshooter and crossbow expert with a 20 dexterity I am also assuming elven accuracy to take the most advantage of our free advantage.

So we're going to be making 7 attacks during a nova round 3 from fighter 3 from action surge and 1 bonus
so we are obviously using a hand crossbow

14d6 (avg 49) from 8 auto crit hand crossbow attacks
4d6 (avg 14) from sneak attack auto crit
14d8 (avg 63) from 8 auto crit brute dice
70 sharpshooter damage
112 devastating critical 16 dmg per crit
35 dmg from 5 dexterity across 7 attacks

So our avg damage not factoring accuracy is 343 during a surprise nova round using extra attack and no other resources.

If we assume pretty standard lvl magical equipment a +3 hand crossbow, and a manual of quickness of action we add
7 extra damage from 1 extra point of dexterity modifier across 7 attacks
21 extra damage from the +3 crossbow across 7 attacks

So now our average damage is 371

If we further add in a haste action from our friendly neighborhood wizard
2d6 hand crossbow
2d8 brute force dice
10 sharpshooter damage
16 devastating critical
3 dmg from +3 hand crossbow
6 dmg from 6 dexterity
we add another 51 average damage

So our total average damage during a surprise round with 8 attacks 22 dexterity and a +3 hand crossbow is 422 and we still haven't used any class resources other than action surge.

As none of the other builds include any magic weapons or buff spells, you shouldn't include yours here either. It just makes the comparisons faulty. Still, 343 is an exceptional surprise round nova.

Looking at the Brute in the UA, I (as DM) would never allow "brute force" to be used on a ranged weapon that didn't have the "thrown" property, and I suspect that if it is ever published it will only apply to melee weapons. At any rate, if your DM allows it, you've got yourself a pretty fantastic assassin build.
 

WixOnWixOff

First Post
Not sure if I'm missing common knowledge here, but can someone explain the breakdown of the math? Here is an example from the first stat block for Fighter 17/Rogue3:

6*(.84*23) + (.84*12) + (1-.16^7)*14
= 140

I know the 23 comes from the combination of the auto-crit weapon and superiority dice with the dex modifier on top. What is the .84 referring to? And the 1-.16^7? And the 12 and the 14? I'm guessing it's an attempt to factor in chance to hit normalization with advantage or something, but it would be nice to see how these numbers are being generated. Any insight is appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
 

WixOnWixOff

First Post
Also, how are we feeling in general about the Brute subclass feature that unlocks at Fighter 15:

Devastating Critical
Starting at 15th level, when you score a critical hit with a weapon attack, you gain a bonus to that weapon’s damage roll equal to your level in this class.

Combine that with the auto-crit functionality of Rogue's Assasinate:

Assassinate
Starting at 3rd level, you are at your deadliest when you get the drop on your enemies. You have advantage on attack rolls against any creature that hasn’t taken a turn in the combat yet. In addition, any hit you score against a creature that is surprised is a critical hit.

Do we think that Devastating Critical would trigger on EVERY hit made against a surprised enemy with Assassinate in effect?

If it does, the 7 attacks in one round that the OP focuses on (Attack Action + 2 extra attacks, Action Surge + 2 extra attacks, and second weapon bonus attack) gives us 105 extra damage at Fighter level 15. Plug that into the formula to account for hit %, and that's still an insane amount of modifier damage.

Thoughts?
 


MooreVol

Villager
So how dependent is this build upon your DM? I mean, seems like if the DM doesn't put you in a lot of situations where you're able to surprise the enemy then you could lose that surprise round crit damage.... how effective will this character be in combat with the nova damage?

I think you'll still get advantage the first round as long as you roll well on initiative (and there are enemies who didn't roll as well... but not the automatic crits...

I can easily imagine my DM cutting down/out opportunities for ambushing enemies (i.e. surprise rounds) just like he would if our party kept using any other tactic so effectively.

Along the same lines, how much would your party composition matter? I'm a relatively inexperienced player, but seems like if one's party had maybe a paladin or other PC that wasn't much for sneaking that might do the same. I picture this assassin as often being a scout and out in front of the party, but then is he attacking alone during the surprise round? I guess that's still all bonus though....

Just curious what everyone's thoughts are....
 

Eltab

Hero
So how dependent is this build upon your DM?
Were I DM'ing for a player with one of these builds, I would sit down with him away-from-table to let him know that as his group gains fame / notoriety, the long-term villains in the campaign will come to learn of his favorite tactic, and instruct his henchmen to take appropriate precautions. Outlanders, visitors, foe-du-jour types may or may not know what to expect, so he could 'get the drop' on them.
This means he can get to do his shtick from time to time (I won't make it 'vanishingly rare') but he cannot expect just EVERY FIGHT to turn into "Ambush Alley". He will get a better chance to shine when they go on the offensive against BBEG / a lieutenant than if the group always waits for trouble to come to them.

I also would tell him that I'm going to watch all the James Bond films, to come up with ideas to bring into the game. Fair Warning and all that.
 

nickabbey1979

First Post
I'm using this guide as a start point for building a rogue assassin dex based twf with fighter dip for superiority dice and extra attacks. I'm very interested in building a true assassin, but there are a couple of design decisions I don't comprehend. I'm going for a stealthy scout that can be effective in the first round vs surprised opponents while still functioning primarily as a rogue in terms of spotting and disabling traps. If I don't get spread too thin in terms of MAD, I will also go for the ability to investigate traps. I want to be able to approach a group of enemies, spot, investigate and disarm their traps (or repurpose them to be used in my favor) and then get the drop on them for the first round to eliminate as many as possible while being able to hold my own in remaining rounds.

Some of the design choices from this guide seem to be a bit at odds with my character concept, and I want to understand them better before dismissing them out of hand. I apologize if these seem like silly questions, but I'm wondering if perhaps I've missed some reasoning behind key choices for this build. Perhaps this is because I still see the role of the character I'm looking to build as a stealth based scout for spotting and disabling traps.

1) Why take fighter at first level? The rationale explained in the OP doesn't seem to hold water for me.
Con saves are great, but a proficiency in strength saves is completely useless for almost every version of this build except the fighter/rogue/pally version. Additionally, strength based saves aren't super important or common in most situations. Going with rogue to level 3 for archetype selection as early as possible seems to make more sense as it gets you the ability to autocrit unaware enemies for surprise round nova at level 3. Going rogue to level 4 before dipping fighter would let you choose a feat. Alert will make your surprise round more productive by ensuring you go first, but you could also take the resilient feat and to get a +1 in con and proficiency on con saves. For the build I'm trying to create, dex saves are going to be more frequent and important than con saves for levels 4-6. At either level 4 or 8, the resilient (con) feat will get you the con save proficiency at a point where it starts to matter more during gameplay. The whole point here is that I want to understand if fighter really is the best option at level one for my build concept. Even though I'd need to take a feat to get it, by level 8 I will have proficiency in all of the saves that are most relevant to the build (except wisdom).

2) Why all the love for charisma and deception?
Is there some game mechanic that I am missing which provides a good reason for this? Deception in combat isn't addressed in the PHB, so it's not like you can feint in battle to get advantage by RAW that I know of. By RAW, the feint combat maneuver of a battle master is keyed off of dex (or str, but that wouldn't make sense in this build) so cha is no real benefit there. Perhaps the DMG or other sources mention something I'm not aware of? Outside of combat, I could see how it could lead to catching more opponents unaware during the first round of combat by approaching as if you were going to parley and then just attacking. However, initiating combat from stealth nets the same effect without the need for pumping charisma or the chance that intelligent foes who have heard of your deceptive tactics will get advantage to oppose your deception rolls because you have become notorious for this behavior. For the build I'm after, it seems like I could either dump cha to 8, or leave it at 10 and put the other points in to wis and int. This would get me better passive and active perception, insight and investigation.
 
Last edited:

Gavin O.

First Post
Another option you could run is something like Rogue(3)/Fighter(2)/Warlock(2)/Sorcerer(X) and use Empowered Eldritch blast.

Once you hit level 17, Eldritch blast attacks 4 times, with action surge and quicken spell you can cast it 3 times in one round, dealing 24d10+60 damage, not counting the 15 dice you can reroll with Empowered Spell

The earliest you could get this version working is level 11 for Rogue(3)/Fighter(2)/Warlock(2)/Sorcerer(4), when you get your third attack with Eldritch Blast.
 
Last edited:

Rub

First Post
While I haven't done the math (if someone would like to do it for me, it would be much appreciated!), I would think Fighter 2, Rogue 3 (Assassin), Hexblade Warlock 15 would be a pretty good build. It may not do the maximum nova surprise round damage compared others mentioned (though should still do plenty) but would have the added benefit of more spellcasting ability than other builds mentioned.
 

Istbor

Dances with Gnolls
1) Why take fighter at first level? The rationale explained in the OP doesn't seem to hold water for me.
Con saves are great, but a proficiency in strength saves is completely useless for almost every version of this build except the fighter/rogue/pally version. Additionally, strength based saves aren't super important or common in most situations. Going with rogue to level 3 for archetype selection as early as possible seems to make more sense as it gets you the ability to autocrit unaware enemies for surprise round nova at level 3. Going rogue to level 4 before dipping fighter would let you choose a feat. Alert will make your surprise round more productive by ensuring you go first, but you could also take the resilient feat and to get a +1 in con and proficiency on con saves. For the build I'm trying to create, dex saves are going to be more frequent and important than con saves for levels 4-6. At either level 4 or 8, the resilient (con) feat will get you the con save proficiency at a point where it starts to matter more during gameplay. The whole point here is that I want to understand if fighter really is the best option at level one for my build concept. Even though I'd need to take a feat to get it, by level 8 I will have proficiency in all of the saves that are most relevant to the build (except wisdom).

2) Why all the love for charisma and deception?
Is there some game mechanic that I am missing which provides a good reason for this? Deception in combat isn't addressed in the PHB, so it's not like you can feint in battle to get advantage by RAW that I know of. By RAW, the feint combat maneuver of a battle master is keyed off of dex (or str, but that wouldn't make sense in this build) so cha is no real benefit there. Perhaps the DMG or other sources mention something I'm not aware of? Outside of combat, I could see how it could lead to catching more opponents unaware during the first round of combat by approaching as if you were going to parley and then just attacking. However, initiating combat from stealth nets the same effect without the need for pumping charisma or the chance that intelligent foes who have heard of your deceptive tactics will get advantage to oppose your deception rolls because you have become notorious for this behavior. For the build I'm after, it seems like I could either dump cha to 8, or leave it at 10 and put the other points in to wis and int. This would get me better passive and active perception, insight and investigation.


1. Bare in mind this is just a guide to help others get their feet under them, and not necessarily the end-all be-all of Rogue Assassin builds. I think it is great that you have a specific build and feel in mind for yours, and even greater that you feel it should differ in some aspects from the presented build.

This guide is set up to present Assassin's with the highest survivability and maximum Assassinate nova.
I believe as well, reading through the guide, the premise is to set up the higher HP and sought after Con proficiency first. Get the Assassin sub-class of the build's namesake, and then finish off towards that extra attack. As the build states, that is around lvl 8 if the guide is followed.

The strength based saves are not a highly sought object in the build. It assumes that you are building Dex, to still have an okay save, while ensuring the Con save, which generally guards against nasty effects, instead of pure damage is built up as well. (The higher HD and assumed high dex score is meant to mitigate the typical damage centric Dex checks)

The build specifically points out Alert as a choice feat. Which is something that one can pick up if using feats and the variant Human racials also suggested in the guide.

Your final question in this segment is really up to you. Do YOU think that going fighter is the best option for your concept. This is what the OP's opinion is from according to his/her stated objectives. Only you can answer whether it works for you or not.

2. The mechanic in question isn't so much a matter of crunch but role play and being able to walk up to an intended assassination target and surprise them. Deceptions and disguise is how that is accomplished. Typically. Perhaps your table does things differently. The thought is that not all assassinations occur from an ambush on a forested road or isolated room. They can be equally in well guarded areas or crowded city plazas. This is more where being able to get close to your target undetected where purely being unseen is not possible. What's more, they can be useful stills for information gathering on the target so that you can learn when she likes to use the out of the way privy or where he enjoys long horse rides, with a minimal contingent of guards.

Otherwise... just being an in-combat assassin feels... less. Not making judgement on those that prefer that play style. I just understand and appreciate the ability of a good assassin to be able to smile and chat with their target and then the next day stab them in the gut at their weakest.

If you feel your build isn't served in this manner, forget it, and reallocate your ability scores accordingly. That is a matter of vision and play style, not the right or wrong way to build an assassin.
 

djtigon1

First Post
Apologies for thread necro, but looking for sime advice

#RAW #SageAdvice - Tabaxi Shadow Monk Assassin

Sorry in advance for how this is laid out/formatted, wasnt sure how to organize this

Here are the conditions that need to be met for table rulings or thematic purposes (Non-negotiable).

Shadow Ninja Assassin Cat the goal being max potential 1st round, single target melee damage (though I understand it is possible to get Assassinate to proc on more than one creature in the first round provided conditions are met) but not being essentially useless after that first round.

• Must be #RAW / #SageAdvice compliant. No UA content.
• Race must be Tabaxi (character/thematic reasons)
• Highest Initiative possible, to proc Assassinate
• Minimum 3 levels of Rogue/Assassin for Assassinate
• Minimum 6 levels of Way of the Shadow Monk for Shadow Step
• Retain/build on the core stealthy/shadowy thematic mechanics
• Expertise in Stealth and Acrobatics (cause of my thematic style of combat)
• In regards to damage calculation use median weapon damage of 1d6 (dagger = d4, shortsword=d6, rapier=d8. Median=d6)
• Assume every attack hits as we are looking for max damage POTENTIAL
• No Magical Items that are not Common may be considered in terms of damage (though feel free to suggest things i should be on the look out for. Unknown if DM will allow them to be found)

I'm currently leaning towards:

11 Way of the Shadow Monk
Flurry of blows
Unarmored Defense
Martial Arts: 1d8 ki-empowered unarmed strikes
Unarmored Movement
Deflect Missles
Slow Fall
Extra Attack
Stunning Strike
Evasion
Stillness of Mind
Unarmored Movement Improvement (along walls/over water)
Purity of Body (immune to poison/disease)
Shadow Arts: Darkness, Pass without Trace, Silence, Minor Illusion
Shadow Step
Cloak of Shadows

Assassin 3
2d6 Sneak Attack
Cunning Action
Poisoner's Kit
Assassinate (if target = surprised & lower initiative, Adv + auto crit)

Gloomstalker Ranger 3
Hunters Mark (+1d6 per hit)
Dread Ambusher: Wisdom mod added to initative bonus, move speed, Additional Attack for 1 round + 1d8 damage
Umbral Sight: Increased Darkvision, when in darkness: invisibilty to creatures relying on darkvision

Alert feat for that ever imporant iniative (but im not sure which level to take this at)

This gets me to level 17

Im currently considering either:

3 levels of Fighter/Battle Master for Action Surge, Second Wind and d8 Battle Master maneuvers to enhance damage

OR

3 of Warlock for 4d10 Eldritch Blast (since Cantrips scale based on character level and not class level,) Devils Sight (see in my Shadow Monk's magical darkness) but I'm not sure what the 2nd Invocation should be (likely a Eldritch Blast buff), nor which Patron or Pact this should be though Chain is tempting with an invisible imp (though that doesnt help the nova damage). I understand Warlock is likely less 1st round single target damage, but would give me a reliable 4d10 damage to rely on from hidden range during subsequent rounds of combat.

I may also be convinced to take less levels in shadow monk if someone can make a convincing argument to give up Cloak of Shadows, Purity of Body, and the ability to run across water and along walls, but going below 8 levels in this class is rough as its the only place im able to get ASIs/Feats, and this build (currently) only gets 2.

Open to feat suggestions as well.
 
Last edited:

SubDude

Explorer
Apologies for thread necro, but looking for sime advice

#RAW #SageAdvice - Tabaxi Shadow Monk Assassin

I'm currently leaning towards:

11 Way of the Shadow Monk
Flurry of blows
Unarmored Defense
Martial Arts: 1d8 ki-empowered unarmed strikes
Unarmored Movement
Deflect Missles
Slow Fall
Extra Attack
Stunning Strike
Evasion
Stillness of Mind
Unarmored Movement Improvement (along walls/over water)
Purity of Body (immune to poison/disease)
Shadow Arts: Darkness, Pass without Trace, Silence, Minor Illusion
Shadow Step
Cloak of Shadows

Assassin 3
2d6 Sneak Attack
Cunning Action
Poisoner's Kit
Assassinate (if target = surprised & lower initiative, Adv + auto crit)

Gloomstalker Ranger 3
Hunters Mark (+1d6 per hit)
Dread Ambusher: Wisdom mod added to initative bonus, move speed, Additional Attack for 1 round + 1d8 damage
Umbral Sight: Increased Darkvision, when in darkness: invisibilty to creatures relying on darkvision

Alert feat for that ever imporant iniative (but im not sure which level to take this at)

This gets me to level 13.

Monk 11 + Assassin 3 + Ranger 3 = 17 levels, so not sure if I missed something that kept you at level 13.

Two levels of Bard could eventually net you +3 more on initiative, FWIW, better than the Gloomstalker unless your wisdom is 16. (Not to discount the other assassin-gloomstalker synergies.)
 
Last edited:

djtigon1

First Post
Sorry i ment 17 (edited my first post and fixed that)

And yes my wisdom is high due to monk giving me bonus AC from it due to Unarmored Defense

So yeah I'm looking for advice on my last 3 levels (or more if someone can provide a good argument for not going all the way to 11 monk)
 

Andre Situation

First Post
Why nobody here has mentioned the "Oath of Treachery" Paladin? It's thematically related to a roguish character, and her synergies are awesome for a true assassin, both archetype features and bonus spells are extremely useful...
 

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top