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4E Look Very Carefully: The Shroud Assassin's Handbook (by erachima)


First Post
Originally posted by erachima:

Look Very Carefully: The Shroud Assassin's Handbook

This is the law of life and death: Nothing is permanent but impermanence. When even life and death have passed away, nirvana will be bliss. —Samurai Executioner

To become an Assassin, you must first learn to see. You must strip away preconceptions, reputations, orthodoxy, and see all things for exactly what they are: Mortal. To play an Assassin, you'll need to walk a similar path. Contrary to all you've been taught, this class has power, if you've just got the eyes to see it.​
A Hard Look Within: Do You Want To Be An Assassin?
Many guides begin by singing the praises of their class. This guide will not. If you're looking at the class because you think the word "assassin" would look badass on your character sheet, I'd heavily suggest you refluff an avenger, ranger, or rogue. If you've been reading the class descriptions from Dragon, forget them. The Assassin is simply horrendously written, and what potential it has is, if we were honest, probably put there by mistake. But whoever heard of an honest Assassin? The class was written the way it was written, and if you're committed to playing it, then I will wring every drop of strength from it for you that I can.
This isn't to imply the class is without its strengths, however, it just means it's not easy mode. The shroud Assassin has many of the most unique character mechanics in the game, and if played correctly, it offers a solid damage baseline combined with very flavorful utilities and style.
Still with me? Then take a sip of nightshade, and let's begin your initiation into the secrets of the Assassins.

This handbook will use the standard system for ratings:
[sblock]Red - Garbage, or completely overshadowed by another option.
Purple - Situationally useful, but overall pretty meh.
Black - OK. You could do worse than pick this.
Blue - Good stuff. You probably want this.
Sky Blue - You want this. Period.
Gold - Why haven't you taken this yet? A defining choice for a build, or even the whole class.
Green - Non-mechanical option. There is no way to tell if you want this.

This handbook will also use the standard abbreviations for rule sources:
[sblock]AP - Arcane Power
AV - Adventurer's Vault
AV2 - Adventurer's Vault 2
BoVD - The Book of Vile Darkness
DXXX - Dragon Magazine, issue XXX
DMA 2009 - Dragon Magazine Annual 2009
DP - Divine Power
DSCS - Dark Sun Campaign Setting
DSH - Into the Darkness: The Dungeon Survival Handbook
FRPG - Forgotten Realms Player's Guide
HoS - Heroes of Shadow
HotEC - Heroes of the Elemental Chaos
HotFK - Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms
HotFL - Heroes of the Fallen Lands
HotFW - Heroes of the Feywild
MotP - Manual of the Planes
MP - Martial Power
MP2 - Martial Power 2
NWCS - Neverwinter Campaign Setting
PHB1 - Player's Handbook
PHB2 - Player's Handbook 2
PHB3 - Player's Handbook 3
PHDB - Player's Handbook Races: Dragonborn
PHTF - Player's Handbook Races: Tieflings
PriPow - Primal Power
PsiPow - Psionic Power
RotG - Revenge of the Giants

The First Glance: General Capabilities of the Assassin
The Assassin can have an AoE encounter power if it wants, and some of its powers throw out reasonably obnoxious status effects. It comes nowhere near the level of the Bard or Cleric in this respect, however, much less the actual controllers. What really does in this rating, though, is that most of the Assassin's best control options throw down giant zones of darkness that stop its allies from being able to hit things.
Damage Per Round: Assassin DPR starts solid, or even good if you take the right guild. You'll be jumping through some impressive hoops to keep it up in the higher tiers, however.
Durability: The Assassin has Rogue defenses and Wizard HP, which would normally land it a red in this category. However, the Black Flame Form power gives you effectively permanent scaling damage resistance, and if you're using Shade Form instead you're probably spending all your time stealthed, so the Assassin's real durability is actually pretty good. God help the hybrids though.
Leadership: The Assassin does not play well with others. It has no real native enabling capability and some of its powers even make it harder for its allies to hurt its targets. Certain feat and paragon path options can raise this a bit.
Mobility: It's hard to keep an Assassin pinned down, locked in, or locked out. At-will teleportation is a core class feature, and you get plenty of attack and utility options that enhance your mobility as well. Your only real competitors in mobility are the Scout and teleport-optimized Warlocks.
Nova damage: The Assassin unfortunately does not really live up to its name in this respect, but it's not entirely slouching either. The class's nova capability starts out existing only if you manage to shroud pre-combat, but gets better by tiers, and its paragon pair of multi-damage roll single-hit damage powers are among the closest things to "one hit, one kill" powers that exists in the system.
Skills: The Assassin masters five skills (one of which must be stealth) and has a broad set of potential talents to choose from. Not quite up to the Rogue's level, but you'll be rolling a lot more often than the Fighter, to say the least, and can effectively fit in as fetcher, filcher, and face. This category earns a bump from the unique utility powers the Assassin receives, which are useful for skill-like functionality both in and out of combat. Note that if you do not choose Charisma as your secondary stat, you will be notably less good at skills.
A Look Behind The Scenes: Acknowledgements
LordDuskBlade invented this handbook format, so he gets his royalty applause here as always.
Alcestis and Alraune's bitter squabbling over the extra damage rules inspired the second look at the Assassin's Shroud power that made this guide worth writing.
##4eCO acted as a sounding board as I mused over the Assassin's content.
Doobledigoop archived this handbook during the forum transfer so I didn't have to completely rewrite the thing.

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First Post
Originally posted by erachima:

Visualize the Kill: The Underpinnings of Assassination
The Assassin class has four class features, three of which can be switched out for alternate versions and none of which are even remotely internally balanced. In keeping with its title, this guide will ignore the ability to trade Assassin's Shroud for Attack Finesse.

Short Version: select Assassin's Shroud, Night Stalker, and Black Flame Form.
Assassin's Shroud
Assassin's Shroud represents the Assassin's mystical ability to analyze the best way to attack a target. They are the Assassin's core damage feature, and the biggest thing which people have cried endlessly to fix about the class. Understanding exactly how this unique and oddly worded feature functions is necessary if you intend to build an Assassin that won't disappoint you.
"If you invoke your shrouds, the attack deals 1d6 damage per shroud, minus one shroud if the attack misses, and all your shrouds then vanish from the target. This damage roll never benefits from bonuses to damage rolls, and is in addition to the attack’s damage, if any."
There are five things to note in these two sentences.
  • "the attack deals 1d6 damage". The attack, not the shrouds, deal the damage. This is important for two reasons. First, modifications to the attack will affect the shrouds. Second, it proves that Assassin's Shroud is not itself an attack power according to the definition in the rules compendium, which would get in the way of any other free action attacks you picked up.
  • "and all your shrouds then vanish from the target". The shrouds do not vanish from the target until after the damage is dealt. This is important for certain timing interactions.
  • "This damage roll". Shrouds are explicitly their own damage rolls, and therefore their own instance of dealing damage.
  • "never benefits from bonuses to damage rolls". Alright, that means we can't add anything to our shroud damage, right? Wrong. It means we cannot add "bonuses to damage rolls" to it. This is huge, because it means shrouds are free to be increased by extra damage, vulnerabilities, critical hit damage bonuses, and all the miscellaneous dregs of the system that are not "bonuses to damage rolls". In short, if a source of damage benefits brutal barrage, it generally benefits a shroud roll.
  • It is clear that you recieve at least one additional damage instance. It is unclear whether each shroud is its own damage roll or if the shrouds together are a damage roll. Expect table variation on this. (My personal advice to DMs? Let it be per shroud, because otherwise you're removing all incentive to stack them and essentially castrating your poor stealth Assassin who took Hidden Insight and persuaded the entire party to hold back for three rounds so he could build up. The occasional one-shotted monster with preptime from a character named "Assassin" is a good thing.)
This realization will form the core of the Assassin's DPR optimization. If your DM rules that each shroud is a roll, it with also make you an excellent critfisher and nova character, but I won't aim my general advice towards that idea.
Shadow Step
Shadow Step allows the Assassin to walk unseen paths from one place to the next, teleporting at-will as a move action. It's quite tactically useful and opens a couple of damage options at higher levels. They haven't invented a thing to screw yourself over by trading it for yet, so that's all I need to say here.
Guild Training
There are three guilds that teach the way of the Assassin, each of whose insights will grant you a benefit. Unfortunately, only one of the three guilds is competent.
The Night Stalker Guild teaches Assassins that fear and deception are key tools in the Assassin's arsenal, but more importantly, that dealing damage is a good thing. This guild gives a +CHA bonus to damage rolls against isolated foes, and should be the choice of all standard Assassin builds, due to giving a large and continuously valuable benefit from chargen to retirement.
The Bleak Disciple Guild teaches Assassins that the key to successful assassinations is gaining small amounts of THP each round. This goes about as well as one would expect. While worthless in heroic, this guild is black rather than red overall because there are feat, item, and paragon path options that can allow the Assassin to deal +CON damage all the time, at which point you've achieved close parity to Night Stalker, and the guild rider effect simply becomes a minor freebie to help offset your lousy HP.
The Executioner's Guild teaches Assassins to channel all their energy into a single devastating strike in each battle, rather than learning more varied shadow magic. This build has the opposite progression of the Bleak Disciples, being reasonably powerful in heroic tier due to the fact that Assassins Strike's extra damage is doubled by application to the shroud roll, but becomes a complete trap option at level 13, when you gain a single encounter power that does more damage than Assassin's Strike all by itself.
Assassin's Forms
The last, and flashiest, of the Assassin's class features is the ability to manifest an otherworldly form once per encounter. As with the guilds, there is a clear default option.
Assuming the Black Flame Form enshrouds the Assassin in the black flames of death, blunting attacks directed at them and harming all who attempt to touch them. This form would already have the edge on a striker due to granting a free use of Assassin's Shroud as a minor action, but there's a trick to it: the sustain line's wording, "The form persists until the end of your next turn." is phrased such that it overrides the form's ending clause, meaning that for an Assassin with the patience to not attack between triggering the form and their next turn, the Black Flame Form can be maintained indefinitely at the cost of a minor action each round.
Assuming the Shade Form allows an Assassin to "step back" from the material plane, becoming difficult to harm or notice. It has strong utility for characters who wish to be stealthy, and gives the otherwise unattainable ability to hide in the shadow of another creature, but it cannot match the incredible power of the black flame.


First Post
Originally posted by erachima:

Examination of the Self: Your Aptitude for Assassination
Before you can see how others must die, you must see if you are fit to kill them. The Assassin's skillset is both elitist and egalitarian: there are few born able to achieve the true potential of the Assassin, but anyone willing to face the great equalizer of death can unlock its power.

Short version: select Revenant, 20 Dexterity and 16 Charisma.
Ability Scores
  • Strength: Strength is not especially useful for the standard Assassin, but can be important for certain feat qualifications so it should not be dumped entirely. Strength is also a potential secondary for niche builds, which will desire it at 16-18 postracial.
  • Constitution:
    Thanks to the Assassin's natural survivability and the terrible Bleak Guild, Constitution can be almost ignored in the heroic tier. For a paragon-tier Assassin, however, Constitution deserves serious consideration as a secondary stat. This one's pretty binary, you either want 16 postracial or to ignore it, depending on build.
  • Dexterity: Every Assassin needs Dexterity, as it drives their attacks, AC, and key skills. It will be a very niche build that starts this below 19-20 postracial.
  • Intelligence: The designated Assassin dumpstat. Some Assassins may need to start with 11 Intelligence so that they have a +1 modifier in Paragon.
  • Wisdom: As with Intelligence, multiclass options are the only reason to pay attention to Wisdom. It can be safely ignored, in general, but some builds will desire a starting 12 to reach 13 in paragon, and there are a handful of PPs that can justify making a true secondary out of it.
  • Charisma: The designated secondary stat of the Nightstalker Guild and the basis for all of the Assassin's "face" skills, this stat is pegged at postracial 16 for the default Assassin. For Assassins who've created themselves a different secondary, this is a dumpstat, while some chargers who've snagged a CHA-based MBA may desire a postracial 18 instead.
Due to their survivability, ideal stat match, thematic perfection, and ability to access the feat support of whatever other race they want, the Revenant race dominates the field of Assassin races to a frankly unfair degree. I'll fill in the remainder at a later date, but in the mean time, just know that the only races to have fielded an effective argument for not being better off dead are Draconian, Goliath, and Pixie.
Meditation on the Past: Histories and Dayjobs for Assassins
The Assassin's path is not taken up for nothing, and few Assassins can identify themselves as such openly. What events in your life have pushed you to become a killer, and what is your public place in society?
Short version: select Sohei and Born Under A Bad Sign.
Background Benefits
You're a low-HP class with a single key attribute. Take Born Under A Bad Sign (DEX-based starting hitpoints) unless you're CON-secondary, in which case you should take Crusading Zealot (+1 untyped to saves) or Trained From Birth For A Specific Prophecy (reroll initiative once per day). If none of that appeals to you, any of the many, many backgrounds that grant +2 Stealth or Thievery could be a good investment.
Theme selection is much more competitive than many of other choices the Assassin must make. Sarifel Feywarden, Sohei, and Werewolf, however, lead the pack.

Character themes
  • Alchemist (D399) - Free alchemical items. Not an awesome choice, but Inferno Oil does give you an action-economy-friendly way to increase your offensive power and there are a handful of others that can be made and used between encounters as well.
  • Chaosmade (D408) - At the cost of your path and a U6, you get to grant yourself or an ally a basic attack on an Action Point. Mainly for Bleakers, at least until the Ring of Tenacious Will shows up in epic, since you're gonna be burning surges to fuel the U6.
  • Elemental Initiate (HotEC) - Less good for you than some others, since you already have ki focus proficiency, but the starting feature grants an IR attack on a miss, and there's a +1 bonus to will which you can certainly make use of.
  • Escaped Slave (D390) - A free skill training, a free action invisibility utility, and several decent powerswaps. Good in heroic, but most notable for its synergy with the Arena Champion PP.
  • Guardian (D399) - This theme's starting feature is an off-action IA basic attack. What's that you say? You're not a tank? Well, the Black Flame Form disagrees. Note that the Guardian's Counter power can give you an ranged basic attack, not just a melee one, so no need to worry about whether you have a working melee basic or not.
  • Iron Wolf Warrior (D400) - This theme gives an encounter power that gives an extra damage boost to a charge, which you can double up on via shrouds, and access to a set of unusual but striker-friendly powerswaps. Not bad, but you can generally do better.
  • Ironwrought (HotEC) - An encounter reroll/power attack effect and +1 to attack most of the time. Lower-rated for the Assassin than many characters because the Assassin already has better DR.
  • Sarifel Feywarden (Any Fey race but Drow, D405) - Note that Revenants of Fey races (that aren't Drow) can still take this theme despite lacking the Fey keyword themselves. The draw of this theme is all in its starting power: a minor action aura of vulnerable 5/10/15 to one of a large variety of damage types, which you can double-kick with your shrouds. A glorious and cheap nova enabler. The rest of the features are an afterthought, though the level 10 utility slot opens up a couple of nice choices as well.
  • Sohei (D404) - A class-free minor action attack, a bonus to saves against the worst status effects, and encounter attacks you will appreciate. One of the strongest picks available.
  • Werebear (D410) - Prior to level 10, pretty much worthless. Once you hit 10, however, this lets you apply the Druid hand slot item Claw Gloves to add 1d10 to your damage, which gets doubled up by your shrouds and multitaps. Also partially patches your MBA deficiency, assuming you're not relying on them as a primary attack form.
  • Wererat (D410) - As Werebear, but better by an irrelevant amount due to its stealth boosts and the ability to turn tiny if you want. Prior to level 10, again, pretty much worthless. Once you hit 10, however, this lets you apply the Druid hand slot item Claw Gloves to add 1d10 to your damage, which gets doubled up by your shrouds and multitaps. Also partially patches your MBA deficiency, assuming you're not relying on them as a primary attack form.
  • Werewolf (D410) - As the previous two, but with a slightly more offensive bent thanks to boosting initiative. Prior to level 10, pretty much worthless. Once you hit 10, however, this lets you apply the Druid hand slot item Claw Gloves to add 1d10 to your damage, which gets doubled up on by your shrouds and multitaps. Also partially patches your MBA deficiency, assuming you're not relying on them as a primary attack form.
  • Yakuza (D404) - For Night Stalkers only, relies on CHA. The base feature, U2, and level 5 feature of this path are all strong. The base feature gives a defense boost and can also drop half a monster per encounter via forced surrender (assuming your DM doesn't flat-out veto the surrender rules), the U2 is possibly the best encounter reroll in the game, and the F5 is a defender-esque feature that gives a bonus to OAs. Kept from light blue by the fact that you don't quite have enough offensive juice to make its boosts work out. If you take this theme, ignore the advice above and take the Wandering Duelist background benefit, it gives you +3 untyped to intimidate checks.



First Post
Originally posted by erachima:

Visions of Weakness: Heroic Tier Assassination Techniques

You can see death, or at least the path towards it, but you still have a great deal to learn. The heroic tier Asassin does have some attack powers worth using, but they're mostly situational and mediocre. The utility list will likely excite you more. Note that your most damaging at-will option will be charging, even with the loss of damage due to melee training, due to it allowing you to apply extra damage sources such as the horned helm and vanguard weapon repeatedly.
Short version: select Shadow Storm, Targeted For Death, Wall of Shadow, and Ghost of the Rooftops.
Shadow Storm is the best of a bad lot here, your other pick doesn't really matter as long as it's not Leaping Shade.

Level 1 Assassin At-will Powers
Executioner's Noose (D379) - This power does low damage, but it's ranged, and it pulls and slows. It'll do.
Inescapable Blade (D379) - You lose your primary stat to damage in exchange for gaining two range and ignoring cover. Occasionally more accurate than Shadow Storm, but the damage tradeoff won't typically be worth it. Take this if you really hate the idea of making ranged/implement attacks, so Executioner's Noose is off your list for some reason.
Leaping Shade (D379) - One of the worst-written powers in the game. Deals a tiny amount of extra damage for not using your striker feature. Do not take this power.
Shadow Storm (D379) - Well look here, it's our first non-"bonus to damage rolls" damage booster. This power's rider effect deals "plus 1 damage for each creature adjacent to the target", which should add on to shroud for a not-entirely trivial bonus, especially if you play flanking buddy with your defender. It's not great, but you'll be using it a lot in heroic, so get used to it.
Encounter 1
As your first encounter attack, it's hard to go wrong with Shadow Darts, but this is a remarkable level where every power has at least some reason to take it: Stalkers want Nightmare Shades, Bleakers can go for Smothering Shadow, and stealth fans take Gloom Thief.

Level 1 Assassin Encounter Powers
Gloom Thief (D379) - 2[W] and invisibility for a round. You could do worse, but this really isn't much.
Nightmare Shades (D379) - Combat advantage is super-easy to get, and weapon attacks are generally preferable to implement ones. If you're a Night Stalker though, and you should be, then this is a power you take and sit on, as +CHA to damage rolls for a round is the best nova enabler you're going to have access to for a loooong time.
Shadow Darts (D379) - While this power is nothing in comparison to the improved versions at E13 and E17, Shadow Darts is extremely accurate and has a high crit chance, since any of the three rolls critting will max the whole power. Building up a few shrouds and letting loose with this is a good way to try to take out a big target at low levels.
Smothering Shadow (D379) - Deadweight, directly worse than Gloom Thief. If you're a Bleaker with a bunch of CON, it does improve, so they might want this for a couple levels in paragon.
Assassin's Strike (HoS) - Not technically level 1, but that's where you'll get it if you make the trade. Assassin's Strike will hold its own through heroic, if you are allowed to count the extra damage per shroud rather than only twice is a better choice, but as mentioned, should never be taken if you're going to reach paragon.
Daily 1
You almost certainly want Targeted For Death at this level. A whole mess of poisons show up here as well, you won't have any of them yet since you're caught up in a tier of feat taxes, but the one of note is Carrion Crawler Brain Juice.

Level 1 Assassin Daily Powers
Grave Spike (D379) - The +2 power bonus to attack for the encounter isn't nothing, though the ongoing is pretty worthless since any target you might want to use it on will shake the ongoing damage almost immediately.
Strangling Shadow (D379) - Reasonably accurate at Weapon vs. Fort, but bad single-target control is not something the Assassin has space to mess around with.
Targeted For Death (D379) - Targeted For Death doubles your shrouding of a single target for the entire encounter. The obvious best choice at L1, and sadly one of the better dailies you'll ever get.
Terrifying Visage (D379) - Let's not mince words: this power is awful. It doesn't help you deal damage and it doesn't even get you any meaningful control, since you're forced to immobilize the guy right next to you. Ignore it.
Utility 2
The standard choice here is Smoke Bomb, but Distracting Illusion is an interesting power as well.

Level 2 Assassin Utility Powers
Cat's Trickery (D379) -This power is great for ambushing people by yourself in an alley someplace, or scouting. Which is the nice way of saying it's actively harmful in party-based combat, because blinding your allies is a bad thing, and you should only take it if you have a cooperative DM for going on actual assassination missions.
Cloak of Shades (D379) - Defense bonus that can maintain or enable hiding as a minor action. Not a bad pick.
Converging Shadows (D388) - On the plus side, this is an interrupt and being able to hide midway through an opponent's attack sequence can be great. On the down side, this is an interrupt to targeting, so you have to use it before knowing what the enemy rolled, and Assassins tend to have concealment at all times.
Distracting Illusion (HoS) - In rules terms, this power does basically nothing at all. However, it's a very open-ended effect, very easy to use, and you can crank your bluff up high enough that it will continue to fool people for a good bit. Basically, this power is like stunt rolls: as useful as you can convince your DM to let it be.
Lurking Shadow (D379) - Mostly useful outside of combat, but has its niche for scouting there. Do be aware that the longest this (or any) power can be sustained is five minutes.
Shadowed Legion (D379) - This stance lets all your allies use your stealth modifier for an encounter. Like Lurking Shadow, it's mostly useful out of combat, but it's notable for being one of the few bits of enabling the Assassin can do and for making certain skill challenges a piece of cake. This is another one that'll be situational by campaign type, but may be a good call in certain LFR adventures, for instance, or any intrigue-heavy campaign where someone decided to play Clanko the Dwarf Fighter.
Silent Stalker (HoS) - This power lets you move out into plain sight while remaining hidden. Waste of a slot for the generic Assassin, but those who've optimized around stealth will find it more useful.
Smoke Bomb (D404) - The classic ninja escape trick, Smoke Bomb allows you to react to an approaching foe by shifting your speed away. I would consider this the default pick.
Summon the Mists (HoS) - You create a massive encounter-long zone of concealment... making your enemies harder to hit for you and your allies.
Level 2 Racial Utility Powers
[sblock]Extra Effort (Human, D402) - Encounter save reroll, get a bonus now for a drawback later.

Level 2 Theme Utility Powers
[sblock]Life's Losing Hand (Yakuza, D404) - An encounter reroll for an attack or skill check at +CHA. Can only be triggered on low rolls, even without the +CHA rider this would be a solid choice, but it's an incredible one for Night Stalkers, who are the only ones who should be taking this theme.
Wolf's Vitality (Werewolf, D410) - Triggerable only when bloodied, but an encounter power for +1 speed and regeneration for the rest of the encounter.

Encounter 3
Night Stalkers can take Army of the Night here, but one of the level 1 powers or a theme swap is probably more to your liking.

Level 3 Assassin Encounter Powers
Army of the Night (D379) - On the one hand, this power does low base damage and is really situational. On the other hand, in cramped quarters having the elite get a bonus attack against all its allies is a really nice effect. I'd consider it mostly in a party with a controller who can mass-immobilize to force the trigger.
Cloaking Mist (D379) - One of the Assassin's rare AoE powers. Helps people who like hiding, and thanks to the fact that your shroud damage applies to every target of an AoE attack rather than just the one you've been shrouding, the damage may not be totally negligible.
Inescapable Shadow (D379) - You get to teleport 5 as part of this power making it decent for approach, but as with everything at level 3 you should really be taking whichever of Shadow Darts or Nightmare Shades you didn't get last time.
Nightshade's Kiss (D379) - This power's accurate and combos great with level 9 daily Wall of Shadows or a similar damage-on-entry effect. It's basically deadweight the rest of the time, however.
Level 3 Multiclass Encounter Powers
[sblock]Fury's Advance (Avenger, DP) - A minor action attack that with party coordination is also a double-tap. For WIS Morninglords, this is your third encounter power until epic, and maybe then too.
Inner Eye Opened (Monk, PsiPow) - An unusual double-tap which does both an untyped and a psychic damage roll. Also blinds you, but grants blindsight 5 for the same duration. The movement technique is basically irrelevant. If you're pursuing the Soaring Blade route, this is your powerswap of choice until epic comes around.

Level 3 Theme Encounter Powers
[sblock]Repel the Siege (Escaped Slave, D390) - An immediate reaction AoE triggered by enemies entering flank around you. Not the most reliable of triggers, but an upgrade on your native stuff.
Sohei Advance (Sohei, D404) - This isn't technically a multiattack, but it's a charge power and chainable to the Sohei Flurry minor action. A strong substitute.

Daily 5
At 5th level, you either take Twilight Assassin, or Grave Spike from level 1.

Level 5 Assassin Daily Powers
Heart of Dust (D379) - This power's actually bad enough to be better on a miss.
Shadow Soul (D379) - This power would be great if you were for some reason fighting another Assassin one-on-one, and he were trying to run away. That will never happen though, so it's useless.
Treacherous Shades (D379) - A lousy AoE attack whose only rider effect is combat advantage. Skip.
Twilight Assassin (D379) - The only Assassin D5 with anything whatsoever to recommend it, this power eats your minor action each round for a flat 6 damage when you hit with it. You should probably take Grave Spike from level 1 instead, or heavily consider swapping for a poison if you've got a feat slot to spend.
Level 5 Theme Daily Powers
[sblock]Turn the Tables (Escaped Slave, D390) - An immediate interrupt counterattack, which prones the enemy for a penalty and also gives you a defense bonus. A good swap.

Utility 6
On the defensive front, you've got Vanish, while Ghost of the Rooftops offers amazing mobility, and some of the others are decent as well.

Level 6 Assassin Utility Powers
Darkness (HoS) - On the plus side, this is a large sustainable LoS-blocking zone of darkness. On the down side, this is a large sustainable LoS-blocking zone of darkness. While there are cases this is helpful you'll find your melee allies hating you for using it quite a lot, which knocks its rating down a bit. If you do take this power, do have the courtesy to stop sustaining it once your allies run in.
Darting Shadow (D379) - It's Silent Stalker, but worse and 4 levels later.
Feathery Tread (D404) - Want to walk across water? Ignore difficult terrain? Avoid traps? Jump one inch higher? This is the power for you. Note that this effect lasts only until the start of your next turn for some reason, so if you're still standing over water when your next turn begins, you're going in the drink.
Ghost of the Rooftops (HoS) - You climb or jump your speed without making a check. Highly useful both in and out of combat, and one of the reasons the Assassin is one of the most mobile classes in the game. The default choice for the level.
Shadow Adept (D386) - This power would be a staple for stealth builds, except that it's an immediate interrupt and you break hidden on your own turn, so it's useless instead.
Sheltering Dark (D379) - Creates a zone that conceals you and offers you invisibility until the end of your turn when you leave it. You have worse options, but this isn't a good one.
Slayer's Escape (D379) - There is a power named Vanish two lines down. It is better in all ways.
Slithering Shadow (D379) - Shift 1 as a minor action for the encounter. Given that you want your minors for Black Flame Form, this isn't actually an improvement in action economy, but even if you don't run BFF it's really not worthwhile vs. one of the encounter powers.
Vanish (HoS) - Another escape power. That you have to be hit to trigger it isn't the best, but it lets you turn invisible and then teleport your speed, which means it's automatically a trigger for a stealth check as well. Solid.
Level 6 Racial Utility Powers
[sblock]Vanish From View (Drow, D405) - A defensive interrupt which only works while you have cover or concealment, but that can easily be always, which lets you make a stealth check to dodge their attack. Thanks to skill scaling being silly good, this is trivially accomplished.

Encounter 7
A weak level. If you don't have a theme or MC swap by now, take one of the also-rans from 1 or 3.

Level 7 Assassin Encounter Powers
Blinding Menace (DSH) - Everyone but the target can't see you for a round, even with blindsight or tremor sense, but only if you don't attack. In other words, basically always worse than L1's Gloom Thief.
Captured Shadow (D379) - You get to teleport the target to a square adjacent to you of your choice, but not hindering terrain. It's hard to come up with cases where this is an appreciable benefit, but depending on what powers your allies have, you may be able to make a case for taking it.
Echoing Threat (D379) - It's easy to trigger this power's rider effect, but the rider unfortunately isn't very good since it's just static damage.
Shadow Jack (D379) - A perfect example of why designing attacks for flavor rather than actually doing anything useful is a terrible idea. This attack merges you to your opponent's shadow and gives them control of your movement, meaning they can jump off a cliff/into the acid vat/etc. with you, while giving zero actual benefit.
Shadow Link (D379) - Lets you use your shroud against the target whenever you're hit for the next round. You might be able to milk a bit of value out of this by provoking a bunch in Black Flame Form, but it's not exactly a quality power
Level 7 Theme Encounter Powers
[sblock]Wolf's Bound (Iron Wolf Warrior, D400) - A no action attack with some added mobility, but one you're forced to use on a non-focus-fire target. Worth consideration for the sake of simple action economy.

Daily 9
You take Wall of Shadows here and that's basically that.

Level 9 Assassin Daily Powers
Black Garrote (D379) - Does no damage on a hit, but grabs the target and lets you sustain the grab for some automatic damage. Did I mention it does no damage on a hit?
Bound By Shadow (D379) - Until the end of the encounter, the target takes 5 damage whenever you take damage. Feel like running around provoking on purpose? This might be the power for you. Otherwise, ignore it.
Obscuring Shadows (D379) - The only good part about this power is that's it's Weapon vs. Will and therefore quite accurate. The rider effect, the target "cannot see you (save ends)" is going to be useful compared to normal stealth maybe once in your career.
Wall of Shadows (D379) - Finally, a power to not be ashamed of! Wall of Shadow may be unfriendly, even to yourself, but it has a genuinely useful effect and can rack up some very nice quantities of bonus damage if you or your allies possess forced movement abilities. Please take this one.
Level 9 Theme Daily Powers
[sblock]Who is Master Now? (Escaped Slave, D390) - A weapon attack which save-ends dominates on a hit. Yet another good swap from the Escaped Slave theme.

Utility 10
Another decent level. Walk Through Shadow is the standard pick here, Eyes Unseen can be good in or out of combat, and of course there are whichever powers you didn't take at 2 and 6.

Level 10 Assassin Utility Powers
Darkening Veil (D388) - Sets up a sustainable zone of concealment which you can retreat to whenever you're damaged. I honestly have no idea why anyone would write this power, but it does exist.
Death Mark (HoS) - For the rest of the day, you know which way and how far off a creature that was previously within 25' of you is now. Another in the set of Assassin powers that are only useful if your campaign says they are, though it seems to me you should have just killed the guy when you were within 25'.
Eyes Unseen (HoS) - Until the end of your next turn, you can see and hear as if you were in a square on the other side of a wall. Mostly an out of combat and highly DM-dependent power, especially given that a round has no defined length out of combat, though it'll also let you avoid zones of darkness, etc. so it's not entirely green.
Mist Walk (D379) - Daily shift 6 with phasing. Thoroughly mediocre, though phasing can break certain encounters.
Promise of Retribution (D379) - IR teleport that also lets you set up an AP nova against the target at +2/+5. Not bad, actually, especially when Flurry of Talons shows up in three levels, just don't look up Armathor's Step or you'll probably get angry.
Seeker of Shadow (D379) - This great encounter power was unfortunately printed as a weak daily instead. It only gives you +4 to your first damage roll, or it could still be worthwhile, but as is it's mostly just a waste of a nice mechanical concept.
Slayer's Endurance (D379) - This power gives you some non-scaling temporary hitpoints for invoking your shrouds. 20 THP is actually pretty decent when you first get access to this power (probably exceeding your surge value), just be ready to retrain it in a few levels.
Vaporous Step (D386) - This oddball power is actually a leader one, and essentially lets you get a miniature Reorient The Axis every round for an encounter. Another power where I have no clue why it was printed, but it's not a bad effect.
Veil of a Thousand Faces (D404) - This power requires a class feature you don't have, so you can't actually use it.
Walk Through Shadow (HoS) - Five square teleport without the need for LoS. With its combination of out of combat and combat utility, this is your default choice for the level.
Level 10 Racial Utility Powers
[sblock]Lockstep (Half-Elf, D402) - As a squishy striker, you like being near your allies. As a DEX character, you win initiative a lot. This power lets you leverage that with a free shift for you and an ally.

Level 10 Theme Utility Powers
[sblock]Blur (Sarifel Feywarden, PHB1) - A daily defense boost, and basically free reign to make hide checks for an encounter if you can stay out of melee. Gravy on a theme you wanted anyway.
Spirits of the Shadowed Moon (Sarifel Feywarden, PHB2) - Another daily that gives free reign to make hide checks, as well as total concealment, this time as a zone effect. This one applies to allies as well, but it's a rare party that's artillery-heavy enough for that to count for much.



First Post
Originally posted by erachima:

Scouring the World's Secrets: Paragon Path Options for Assassins
As an Assassin enters the paragon tier, they're faced with a conundrum: what to MC? The Assassin's in-class PPs are miserable, so it's nigh-obligatory to look outside the class for more damage here. I'll be arranging paths by the secondary stat they require, if any, and listing the requirements and source.
Assassin Paragon Paths

Covenant Agent (Avenger, D386)
[sblock]The idea behind the Covenant Agent paragon path appears to have been letting the hybrid Avenger|Assassin have a power that it could use both shrouds and oath on simultaneously. Unfortunately, that was a terrible idea. The only element on this path that beats red for the Assassin is the U12, of all things. And that's just black.[/sblock] 

Gloaming Dancer (D388)
[sblock]The Gloaming Dancer paragon path is focused on shadow step and teleportation augmentation, and comes from the same article as the utterly baffling Gloaming Call and Darkening Veil. None of the powers or features do anything helpful for you, and amusingly enough, the F16 is much much worse than a heroic feat.[/sblock] 

Obsidian Stalker (D379)
[sblock]Obsidian Stalker has style! It has focus! It has a complete lack of any feature that will improve your damage! Sorry guys, but the ability to move through enemy squares does not make up for that.[/sblock] 

Shadowblade (D379)
[sblock]All Shadowblade has to offer is combat advantage, which you already have in perpetuum, darkvision, which you can get for a feat if you really want it so much, and the ability to create mundane throwing swords from thin air, which locks you to ki focus enchants which aren't very good. In other words, possibly worse than not taking a paragon path.[/sblock] 

Soul Thief (D379)
[sblock]With a good half of its features actually dedicated to doing more damage, I'm almost tempted to give this one a purple for effort. Unfortunately, the mechanic this path tries to use requires you personally kill things and the damage bonuses it gives aren't large enough to actually enable you to do so. Not only is it still red, but it's a trap option because it looks OK at first glance.[/sblock] 

Venomed Soul (D379)
[sblock]Another path that's at least trying. However, poison damage is terrible, and the bonuses this path gives out as a once per encounter spike are available constantly on other paths. So, again, Venomed Soul is still red.[/sblock]Strength-Secondary Paragon Paths
Paragon Multiclass Ranger (Ranger, PHB1)
Shock Trooper (Fighter, MP1)
Constitution-Secondary Paragon Paths

First Hunter (Warden, PriPow)
[sblock]Feel like making ranged basic attacks every turn? No? You do now. First Hunter's F11 lets you throw one-handed weapons (which probably means the rapier here), gives you a +2 to attack when you make RBAs against creatures adjacent to your allies, and has you deal +CON extra damage with those RBAs. The F16 is a leader feature that gives a ranged ally +CON to damage once per round. The path and Warden powers are basically chaff, which limits this path's rating, but this is a strong and frontloaded choice nonetheless.[/sblock] 

Lyrandar Windrider (Mark of Storm, EPG)
[sblock]+1 attack and +CON to all damage from your lightning and thunder powers, including the shrouds since it's not a "bonus to damage rolls", and gets its big kick at 11. The powers even offer some decent effects and are on a stat you can attack with. The only downsides to Lyrandar Windrider are that you're locked in to a lightning weapon to use it and that Mark of Storm may be a hard sell to your DM. A prime choice.[/sblock] 

Soaring Blade (Monk with Acrobatics training, PsiPow)
[sblock]Multi-instance attacks, favors heavy blades, adds typed damage without eating your enchantment, provides bonuses to mobility... put simply, every single feature of Soaring Blade appears to be tailor-made for Assassins, and it's verging on gold for the CON build. The sole downside to it is that you do have to wait until 16 for the CON extra damage to kick in.[/sblock]No-Secondary Paragon Paths
Academy Master (Any Arcane and functionally Half-Elf, D374)
Adroit Explorer (Human, PHB2)

Coiled Serpent (Druid, PriPow)
Coiled Serpent gives a bonus 2d6 poison damage for werewolves, but it's at 16, poison damage means you have to invest into the Venom Hand feat line, and the Druid powerlist is frankly terrible for strikers. I'd avoid it, especially since werewolves can use claw gloves regardless of their multiclass.[/sblock] 
Dread Fang (Drow Rogue, MP1)

Jack of All Trades (Rogue, MP2)
[sblock]Wanna be insanely good at skills? Well, Jack of All Trades does that. The other draw is the D20, which is a quad-hit. Pair it with the theme Sensate if you really want to min-max your checks.[/sblock] 

Morninglord (Any Divine, FRPG)
[sblock]Say, want to be a warrior of Pelor and run around hitting people with a shining holy blade? No? What if I gave you 20+ DPR for doing it? Morninglord is largely chaff, except that the F16 gives your enemies vulnerable 10 to radiant on a hit, which will kick at least twice on your shroud attacks, and at least 4(!!!) times on Shadow Fire and Flurry of Talons. Note that this is technically not a no-secondary path, but rather a multi-secondary path: CHA-secondaries can use its E11 and eventually even its F11, while CON-secondaries get more damage out of it due to the existence of Pelor's Boon, which stacks with this path to the tune of +CON to everything you ever do, and WIS-secondaries can use the E11 and Pelor's Boon. Overall, an antithematic but supremely powerful choice.[/sblock] 
Mercurial Assassin (Dragonborn, D385)
Mithral Arm (Dragonborn, D385)
Thuranni Shadow-Killer (Mark of Shadow, EPG)

Traveler's Harlequin (Any MC and worship The Traveler or another God of Chaos and Freedom, D382)
[sblock] The features and powers on this path are unreliable and flavor-oriented, but the path has two major draws. First, you can MC all the classes you want, which can be quite nice. Second, you can take ANY D19 or D20 as this path's D20. Which probably means the one from Jack of All Trades above.[/sblock] 
Rrathmal (Githzerai, PHB3)
Wisdom-Secondary Paragon Paths
Blade Banshee (Eladrin Ranger, MP1)
Darkstrider (Ranger, MP2)
Moonstalker (Shifter, PHB2)
Charisma-Secondary Paragon Paths

Arena Champion (Any Martial and an arena fighting feat, Dragon Annual)
[sblock]Arena Champion can get you 4ish free action basic attacks per encounter when you hit 16, though you'll have to build towards it. There's a whole miniguide explaining why this path is good, so I'll just link to that(x).[/sblock] 

Dusk Oracle (Religion and Perception Training, HoS)
[sblock]Dusk Oracle has awful skill training requirements and the features are pretty worthless for combat. However, it does give you the ability to ask any corpse 1 question which it must answer truthfully, which some people are probably willing to ditch a lot of combat effectiveness for, so I'll mention it here anyway. On the combat side, the AP feature is good on your triple-rolls, and the E11 is just passable thanks to adding extra damage. The utility power is quite good out of combat. So while this is a genuinely bad option as far as killing things goes, I'm sure some of you will want it anyway. Just make sure that if you take this, you also convince everyone in the party to take Lasting Frost so things don't drag too much.[/sblock] 
Evermeet Warlock (Warlock, FRPG)

Long Night Scion (Fey Warlock, D374)
[sblock]Long Night Scion is the default pick for the standard Assassin for two reasons. First, the F16's ability to ping cold vulnerability and slow with Shadow Step is quite useful. Second, the AP feature is incredible: "When you spend an action point, make an attack that has the cold keyword" gives you an extra attack in addition to the one you'll get by using the action the AP granted, letting you throw out three standard action attacks in a turn. (Presumably Nightmare Shades followed by Flurry of Talons and Shadow Fire.)[/sblock] 

Voice of Thunder (Bard, PHB2)
[sblock]The pipedream PP is +1 attack per round at-will, so much so that Kulkor Arms Master was nearly gold for everyone back when that worked. Voice of Thunder's miraculously bad writing gives you exactly that benefit, and straight from level 11, though in a kinda weird way: the E11, Rolling Echo, says that if you hit, you repeat the attack at the start of your next turn as a free action. Since this is on the hit line, the RAW is indisputably that if you hit the next turn, you get to repeat it on the turn after as a free action as well! Add in that the power is friendly, that thunder damage has nice support for accuracy and size boosting, that it's on a stat you like anyway, and that your shrouds will apply to the whole thing (assuming you shroud at the end of each turn), and the only things not to like about this PP are that it's kind of ridiculously antithematic to be a constantly shouting Assassin and that a Sorcerer would do it better.[/sblock] 

Zephyr Blade (Battlemind, PHB3)
[sblock]Zephyr Blade's on a weird MC and will require a cooperative controller to tag enemies with status effects for you to attack, but it is +CHA extra damage at 11, so it makes the list.[/sblock]


First Post
Originally posted by erachima:

Visions of Death: Paragon-Tier Assassination Techniques
It's taken patience and hardship to make it this far, but the efforts have finally payed off: you truly see death. At paragon tier, the Assassin gets dramatically better at damage dealing, thanks to two key encounter powers and the ability to start applying vulnerabilities multiple times per round.
Short version: select Flurry of Talons and Shadow Fire.
Encounter 13
This level is simply dominated by one power: Flurry of Talons. Everything else available here is irrelevant.

Level 13 Assassin Encounter Powers
Dark Step Ambush (D379) - An upgraded version of Inescapable Shadow that also turns you invisible. There's no reason to take this.
Flurry of Talons (D379) - And here we are, the first real striker power that the Assassin gets, and it's a nasty one. Remember Shadow Darts, which was three rolls and dealt one of 1d8, 2d8, or 3d8 depending on how many times you hit? Well, this one deals 1d8, 2d8, and 3d8 depending on how many times you hit. In other words, it's Storm of Blows, but with the ability to make all three hits crit at the same time if you're lucky and it lets you fly 5 squares beforehand.
Slayer in the Dark (D379) - Upgraded version of Army of the Night with a slightly different trigger. No reason to take this power.
Spectral Assailants (D388) - One of the game's few double-red powers, in that this power would be red thanks to being straight worse than Well of Shades even if Flurry of Talons didn't exist. There is truly no reason to take this power.
Well of Shades (D379) - Yes, you read that right. It's Come And Get It, but on the Assassin. It can be good setup for your allies, but ignore this for now and take another look at it when you hit 23. Technically there might be a hybrid defender build someplace that wants this at 13?
Daily 15
A weak level. Either take Sundered Shadow while grumbling about it, shell out the feat for the Black Lotus Extract poison, or don't bother upgrading.

Level 15 Assassin Daily Powers
Bleak Gallows (D379) - Technically, you can use this power to attempt to drop the target from the sky or into a trap of some sort each round, if height and terrain permit, but it's pretty well worthless otherwise.
Blood Shadows (D388) - This gem of a power conjures you some shadowy spectators to sit around and do nothing of interest. Don't take it.
Death's Doorstep (D379) - This power gives you a minor consolation prize for missing until the end of the encounter. Unfortunately for it, missing is neither something you want to nor will be doing much, making it a waste of print.
Shade Venom (D379) - This power's ability to force the target to attack itself once per round (save ends) is delayed, situational, and pretty useless against the targets you want that sort of effect on the most, but it's still sort of a double-hitter, so it's not quite red.
Sundered Shadow (D379) - An upgraded version of Grave Spike, though unlike Grave Spike, you'll have to hit the target to get the bonus to attack. The ability to make melee attacks against the guy without him being adjacent is interesting but won't come up often, if you can persuade your DM to apply it to Opportunity Attack (Range: Melee 1) to have threatening reach against the target, then this power gets better.
Level 15 Assassin Poisons
[sblock]Black Lotus Extract (HoS) - 8 extra poison damage on hits with weapon attacks until end of encounter. Note that this boost will not apply to Flurry of Talons. Out of combat use is a laughable amount of damage.
Insanity Mist (HoS) - An awful ongoing damage effect. Out of combat use is identical to in-combat use.
Lich Dust (HoS) - 10 extra poison damage and save-ends weakened tagged to a weapon attack. Out of combat use weakens the target for a day if they consume the poison.

Utility 16
A surpisingly lackluster level compared to most Assassin utility picks. Thief of Names might interest you, and if not, look at the heroic lists again or snag a skill power.

Level 16 Assassin Utility Powers
Assassin's Defense (D379) - Essentially an upgrade of Converging Shadows, this power has a better trigger, gives a defense bonus rather than concealment, and turns you invisible EoNT. Only +2 to defenses though, and only works if your shroud target attacks you, so it's not really worthy of U16.
Gloaming Call (D388) - This is basically an upgrade to Darkening Veil, letting you have a similar effect in every encounter but costing an IR rather than a free action. Why would would want, or anyone would write, this type of effect still baffles me.
Liquid Shadow (D379) - Another on-hit interrupt, this one makes you take half damage. The rider effect is just odd, letting you teleport adjacent to the person who hit you at the end of their turn. Good when ambushed and against artillery though.
Shadow Meld (D379) - You shift two squares and no enemy can attack, see, or effect you until the start of your next turn. One of the best effects for bailing yourself out that exists, but you have to use it on your own turn, which is usually not the time that you discover that you need to be getting the hell out of dodge, so its actual power is pretty low relative to its nominal effects.
Thief of Names (D379) - There is a combat aspect to this power, and it's decent, but the main strength of this power is out of combat utility. Is the ability to impersonate a specific individual useful to you? Then this power is awesome. If you're in a dungeon crawl, it's pretty worthless.
Untraceable Step (HoS) - Turn invisible, move your speed, stay invisible EoNT. Pretty lackluster for all but the stealth junkies, considering the amount of teleportation you already should have by this level.
Level 16 Racial Utility Powers
[sblock]Spiral Dance Assault (Eladrin, D405) - A free action teleport on a melee hit, even once per round, means at least +6 DPR to a Long Night Scion. For that build, it's an autopick. For everyone else, pointless.

Encounter 17
As with level 13, you are taking one power here, and one power only: Shadow Fire. Everything else, leave on the burner until E23.

Level 17 Assassin Encounter Powers
Mob of Shadows (D379) - A vanilla attack with a weird static damage zone effect attached. Ignore it.
Shadow Fire (D379) - It's Flurry of Talons, but weapon rather than implement and you turn invisible rather than flying beforehand. Another crucial autopick.
Shadow Knives (D388) - This is a rather odd power, in that it doesn't do anything the turn you use it but is essentially a delayed AoE effect, letting you attack all your enemies in the zone as they start their turns. If you take this at 17, you're severely doing it wrong, but it deserves a hard look at 23, because mass dazed+slowed+blinded is some very nice control.
Shadowed Deception (D379) - The rider effect on this power is "the target cannot attack you until the end of your next turn". You know who else can't attack you? People who are dead because you used Shadow Fire on them. Worthless.
Traitorous Shadow (D379) - Don't take this power. It doesn't do anything useful. It's not even weapon vs. NAD like most of the other really terrible Assassin powers have the grace to be.
Level 17 Multiclass Encounter Powers
[sblock]A Feather's Weight (Monk, PsiPow) - The Soaring Blade build's E23 pick. The move action of this technique lets you use the attack in the same action, which means that you can daze, slide, prone via Firewind Blade damage, and then get away all as a move action.
Soulforge Hammering (Avenger, D385) - A weird power, but a worthy powerswap consideration on the Morninglord build: a standard action attack which lets you make minors for more than one turn, perhaps more importantly, adds +DEX extra typed damage to melee attacks. Gets knocked a rank for its initial action's failure to be a multiattack.
Tumbling Strike (Rogue, D381) - A minor action 3[W] attack that also lets you shift your speed even through enemies, while ignoring difficult terrain. Doesn't require light blades either. Getting this power is a trick on the typical paragon path MCs, but for Assassins with an ED that grants out-of-class powers, a prime choice.

Daily 19
There are two real options here: Guild of Shadows and Murderous Shadow. Take whichever you please.

Level 19 Assassin Daily Powers
Consign to Shadow (D379) - You pick a priority target and make your allies useless against it by giving it encounter-long insubstantial. Yeah.
Executioner's Blade (D379) - The rider effect on this one, maximized shroud damage, may look nice, but it's only worth 3-4 damage per shroud since only a small piece of each shroud's damage is actually rolled. Pretty much worthless.
Guild of Shadows (D379) - You conjure three minions that all attack different targets each round and damage anyone who starts its turn adjacent to them. A strong choice in large battles.
Murderous Shadow (D388) - Minor action summon with an instinctive attack that isolates the target. Another strong choice.
Phantom Assault (D379) - Encounter-long invisibility if you keep hitting, but only to a single creature. Not entirely worthless, but won't help you do damage either.
Daily 20
Thanks to the wording of the Shadow Poisoner feat, a 20th-or-higher-level Assassin can in fact learn the level 20 poison Wyvern Venom that the Executioner has as its Paragon Path capstone, and for Assassins whose paragon path has a bad D20, they could make worse decisions.

Level 20 Assassin Poisons
[sblock]Wyvern Venom (HoS) - 25 extra necrotic+poison damage tagged to a weapon attack hit, by which we mean apply it to Shadow Fire for +100 damage. Out of combat use does a flat 25% HP of damage and prevents healing by whoever handles or ingests it. Feed it to the Tarrasque!



First Post
Originally posted by erachima:

Visions of Oblivion: Epic-Tier Assassination Techniques
As an epic-tier Assassin, your insight has grown beyond mortal concepts of "life" and "death", you can now see how to end the existence of angels, demons, gods and stars. Compared to paragon, the Assassin's epic power selection is actually rather weak. However, it's not as if the powers from previous levels are getting any weaker.
Short version: select Claim the Dead.
Utility 22
There are two good choices here, but Claim the Dead works every encounter and raises both your offense and defense, so you should probably take that one.

Level 22 Assassin Utilities
Assassin's Eye (D379) - You get to ignore debuffs to attack and damage, as well as resistances, for a round. While you could do worse, this is really the sort of effect that should come as a daily power with better condition avoidance.
Claim the Dead (D379) - Self-heal, some THP, and a bonus move action for either this turn or next when you kill your shroud target. Best on those Assassins who have picked up a minor or move action attack someplace, but nobody's complaining about this one. The default pick for the level.
Fortress of Shadow (D379) - Well, sustainable invisibilty isn't bad, but aren't you invisible 2-3 rounds per encounter anyway? Probably not a worthy selection for U22.
Gloaming Dance (D388) - Invisibility as a consolation prize for missing, and 2 more squares of shadow step distance EoE. Junk.
Ignore Barriers (HoS) - You know what just might make the DM cry? Encounter-long phasing. It can also be totally useless if there's nothing around where walking through it will screw up the DM's plans, of course.
Soul of Death (D379) - Spend a surge as an interrupt to hitting 0, and then refill your shrouds. A decent bounce-back effect.
Encounter 23
An extremely weak level. Take one of the also-rans from paragon, or better still, swap for a theme or MC attack.

Level 23 Assassin Encounter Attacks
Cruel Shadows (D379) - It's an epic tier power with a combat advantage rider. Worthless.
Obsidian Spiders (D379) - Another AoE power, but significantly worse than Well of Shades. Worthless.
Shadow Swap (D379) - This utter "gem" of a power apparently wants one of your allies to throw a save-ends stun on you? Point is, it's worthless.
Wraith's Assault (D379) - This power lets you fly your speed+4 and makes you phasing during the movement. The attack side's basically an afterthought, unfortunately, but it would've made a nice utility power.
Level 23 Theme Encounter Powers
[sblock]Sohei Supremacy (Sohei, D404) - This still isn't technically a multiattack, but it's a charge power, chainable to the Sohei Flurry minor action, and adds a two-target option over the heroic pick. A solid upgrade.

Daily 25
All of these powers are awful. Take whichever of the good D19s you didn't take last time, or shell out the feat for the Dark Reaver Powder poison.

Level 25 Assassin Daily Attacks
Assassin's Scalpel (D379) - Expanded crit range: good. Lack of any meaningful rider effect: Bad. Not worth taking.
Folded Shadow (D379) - It's suicidal E7 Shadow Jack again, but as a sustainable daily. Ignore it.
Reaper's Touch (D379) - Say, do you know how much damage ongoing 25 is at epic? Basically none.
Wall of Death (D379) - This intended upgrade of Wall of Shadows is actually weaker, thanks to giving a non-rolled damage instance and not being triggerable by forced movement. The main effect of this power will be that your allies can't see your enemies. Skip!
Level 25 Assassin Poisons
[sblock]Dark Reaver Powder (HoS) - 10 extra poison damage and end of next turn daze on hits with weapon attacks until end of encounter. Will still not apply to Flurry of Talons, but damn nice. Out of combat use renders the target unconscious for a day when ingested.
Dragon Bile (HoS) - Prone+EonT stunned tagged to a weapon attack hit. A tad weak for level 25. Out of combat use kills a target on extended contact, but only if they're a sub-level threat.
Eye of Basilisk Powder (HoS) - Petrifies the target, but only if they fail multiple saving throws which they won't. Out of combat use is identical to in-combat use.

[/sblock]Encounter 27
The only real option here is Shadows of Doom, but by now you've almost certainly found a superior out-of-class attack, so you should probably keep that one.

Level 27 Assassin Encounter Attacks
Ambush From Thin Air (D379) - Teleport without LoS up to 20 squares, but only adjacent to your Shroud target. Another in the odd set of Assassin powers that assumes your enemies run. Not helpful.
Last Word (D379) - An otherwise bland attack with the rider that your shrouds do 1d12 damage instead of 1d6. In other words, +2 damage (assuming you have Lethal Shroud) to each shroud. Totally ignorable.
Reaper in Black (D379) - Mediocre damage and completely negligible forced movement on nearby foes. Nobody fears this reaper.
Shadows of Doom (D379) - Finally alleviating this quartet of epic suckiness, we get a power that does a tiny amount of static damage each time your enemy takes an action. Sounds bad, but assuming you've properly tweaked your extra damage and vulnerability triggers, this will add up. Excellent for Morninglords.
Daily 29
For your final power upgrade, you could take Shadow Puppet, or just hold on to the D19 summons and Wall of Shadow. Either works.

Level 29 Assassin Daily Attacks
Doom Foretold (D379) - Placing four shrouds allows for a good spike, though by level 29 you're quite close to your ED capstone, at which point your shrouds may stay maxed out constantly anyway. Decent, but not my pick for your final piece of improvement.
Intent to Murder (D379) - "Your" bloody value, not "the target's" bloody value. If you've at all succeeded in optimizing your damage, your standard attacks do more than that.
Shadow Puppet (D379) - Dominate's dominate, and dominate's good. Now, granted, this is available 20 levels earlier on some other classes, but it's still good.
Three Shadow Venoms (D379) - Dazed, weakened, and taking ongoing damage. Decent, but not capstone-worthy.


First Post
Originally posted by erachima:

Assassin Class Feats

Heroic Tier Assassin Feats
  • Assassin's Challenge (D385) - Requires Paladin. The first part of this feat does literally nothing, since MCing or Hybridizing Paladin already lets you use Holy Symbols freely, and the second part is +1 damage to divine challege per shroud, which is worthlessly low.
  • Assassin's Cloak (D379) - Roll to hide whenever you turn invisible, which will generally happen several times per encounter. A staple feat if you're focused on stealth or invisibility, though that's not the playstyle I personally recommend.
  • Assassin's Escape (D379) - Lets you use Shade Form as an II against damage. If you're following this guide, you don't have Shade Form anyway, but if you do this isn't a good use of it.
  • Avernian Emissary Wrath (Tiefling, D379) - A consolation prize for missing, yes, but one that lets you reuse your racial power, which can be worthwhile if you've taken some of the Tiefling's other support.
  • Betrayal of Zerthimon (D385) - Githzerai-specific feat. This feat is a situational version of a benefit Cruel Shadow gives permanently.
  • Blood Devourer Shifting (Shifter, D379) - An extra static damage instance per encounter can be a good nova booster if you've tweaked your extra damage high enough, but you should really have better feats to take than this.
  • Brutal Shroud (D379) - Brutal 1 for your shroud dice. Nearly, but not quite, negligible.
  • Close to Death (Revenant, D387) - If you are bloodied, you can use Shadow Step without meeting the normal requirements. Better for sub-zero fighting builds, where this effectively becomes an at-will ability.
  • Concealing Shades (Revenant, D387) - Gives you and your allies within 5 concealment when you trigger Dark Reaping.
  • Crimson Eye Action (Human, D379) - Place a shroud when you spend an AP. Less than once per encounter, in other words. Don't waste your time.
  • Cruel Shadow (D401) - Essentially permanent CA. Not quite a tax feat, since you'll have CA a bunch anyway due to flanking, invisibility, etc. but you should probably pick this up eventually.
  • Cursed Shadow (D385) - Requires Warlock. This feat gives you the Shadow Walk class feature, which is both useful in itself as a concealment source and opens up feat and item support.
  • Darkness's Wings (D385) - Shadar-kai specific feat. Recharge shadow jaunt by expending shade form. Viable in conjunction with other shadow jaunt optimizing choices.
  • Darting Shade (D388) - Run away as a free action with shadow step after you take damage while in shade form. If you're using Shade Form, you might want this one to replicate the effect of Vanish and free up a utility slot.
  • Dawn Hunter Training (Elf, D379) - You can spend a feat in order to waste your Elven Accuracy power rerolling damage. Yeah.
  • Death Sight (D386) - Bloodied enemies don't get cover/concealment against you.
  • Death Walk (Revenant, D387) - Use shadow step as a free action when you trigger Dark Reaping.
  • Death Wastes Nothing (Revenant, D387) - Completely redundant to Inexorable Shroud.
  • Deific Instrument (D386) - Requires Avenger. This feat does literally nothing, thanks to a rule change stating that multiclassing Avenger already gives you holy symbol implement proficiency.
  • Devastating Shroud (D401) - Whenever you score a crit with a shadow power, your shrouds don't vanish. Considering all your best encounter powers involve critfishing, this feat's a great way to keep the nova rolling. Note that this feat is not very high priority in heroic, but if you're MC Avenger you definitely want it in mid-paragon.
  • Disciplined Killer (D385) - Requires Monk. Deal 1 extra damage per shroud on FoB against your shroud target. Another chaff feat.
  • Eilserv's Treachery (D385) - Drow-specific feat. Recharge Shade Form by wasting Cloud of Darkness.
  • Emerald Scale Concealment (Dragonborn, D379) - Invisibility on dragon breath wouldn't be a bad rider, but it's only against targets you hit and it only lasts until the end of your current turn, not your next one. Worthless.
  • Eternal Void Memories (Deva, D379) - This would be the same as Blood Devourer Shifting in the marginal category, but in order to use it as a Revenant you'd have to buy Memory of a Thousand Lifetimes, which is totally not worth it.
  • Eye of Death and Despair (Vistani Heritage, D385) - This feat actually downgrades the effect of Evil Eye of the Vistani from "cannot move closer" to "immobilized". Huh?
  • Far Shadow (Drow, D385) - Use cloud of darkness as an area burst rather than a close burst. This is a marginal Assassin selection, though popular for Seeker|Executioners.
  • Flickering Fortunes (D385) - Githzerai-specific feat. Use shade form as a free action when you second wind.
  • Ghostly Voyage (Wilden, D385) - Turn insubstantial when you use Voyage of the Ancients.
  • Grave Dust Advantage (Revenant, D379) - Get an extra shroud when you use your racial power. Not useful by itself, but there may be some potential in combining it with the next feat on the list and the Psion Dark Reaping recharge feat Mind Rot.
  • Grave Dust Assassin (Revenant, D379) - Thanks to the timing on Assassin's shroud, you can both invoke your shrouds and deal damage "as if" you had invoked your shrouds, doubling your shroud damage. Very nice, and one of the many reasons Revenants own this class.
  • Hidden Insight (D379) - This feat makes enemies you're hidden from unaware that you've shrouded them. Not very useful in practice, since even if your DM does have creatures act aware of your shrouds when you're hidden from them, they'd have to find you or run off to do anything about it.
  • Horned Nightmare (Minotaur, D385) - Gives phasing if you charge while in Shade Form.
  • Horns of the Shadow Reaper (D385) - Minotaur-specific feat. Gives an attack bonus and a shift when using Goring Charge on your Shroud target, which actually may be useful in conjunction with Opportunity Gore to reuse your racial.
  • Hungry Sky Shadows (Goliath, D379) - Gives +STR extra damage on a hit on which you invoked your shrouds.  This is the feat that makes the STR-secondary Assassin possible, enabling some very unusual builds. Probably most valuable on some sort of Assassin|Fighter or Assassin|Warden Hybrid?
  • Hunter in the Gloom (Shadar-kai, D382) - While you're insubstantial due to your racial power, your attacks against AC are instead against reflex.
  • Hunting Shadow (D385) - Wilden-specific feat. Say, you know that at-will power Leaping Shadow, the one I told you to by no means take? This is that, but in feat form.
  • Inexorable Shroud (D401) - This feat makes up to two of your shrouds transfer from foe to foe, both when your allies kill them and when you do. (Thanks to timing, this is true even if you invoked on the killing blow.) An essential pick for every Assassin.
  • Initiate of Three Masks (Changeling, D382) - Changeling-specific feat. Use Stealth instead of Bluff for your racial power.
  • Insidious Shroud (D385) - Changling-specific feat. Place a shroud when you succeed on your Changling Trick bluff check.
  • Keeper of the Black Flame (Drow, D382) - Place an extra shroud when you hit with Darkfire.
  • Killer's Insight (D379) - It's that same "bonus shroud once per encounter feat", but this time it's not tied to a racial power.
  • Leaping Shadows (D379) - Use shadow step whenever you drop an enemy. Good for mobility, essentially the same benefit as the Fey pact boon.
  • Lethal Shroud (D401) - Increase your shroud dice from 1d6/+3/+6 to 1d8/+5/+10. Another essential Assassin tax feat as you rise in levels, as it's giving you +3 damage per shroud (and +5 in epic) and you should generally be invoking more than one shroud per attack.
  • Lolth's Embrace (D385) - Drow-specific feat. Place a shroud when you hit with Darkfire.
  • Maw of the Hungry Killer
  • Menacing Sorcery (D385) - Requires Sorcerer. Your ranged Sorcerer attacks don't provoke from your shroud target.
  • Merciless Nature (D385) - Wilden-specific feat. Redundant to Cruel Shadow.
  • Mind of Flawless Sight (Kalashtar, D382) - Ignore concealment and cover against targets subject to your shrouds.
  • Mist Walker Illusion (Gnome, D379) - Lets you use Fade Away as a free action triggered on a hit. Gnomes aren't a great race for Assassins, but this does have some optimization potential in conjunction with other Gnome support.
  • Murderous Hunter (D385) - Requires Ranger. You can use your Hunter's Quarry damage on a miss with two or more shrouds. There's unfortunately no real use for this, even for purposeful miss-whoring.
  • Nightmare Killer (D379) - +2/3/4 feat bonus to damage with fear powers. Totally redundant to a number of other feats you get access to, such as Shadow Reservoir.
  • Nightmare Step (D379) - Consolation prize feat, lets you slide creatures a square on a miss with fear powers.
  • Oathbound Stalker (Avenger, D385) - Bonus to teleport distance, but only when teleporting adjacent to your Oath of Emnity target, so only useful once per encounter at absolute most.
  • Obsidian Cave Recovery (Dwarf, D379) - Lets you recycle Shade Form when you use Dwarven Resilience. If you're a Dwarf Assassin with shade form, it was probably because you saw this feat.
  • Phantom Blade Evasion (Halfling, D379) - Do Useless Thing With Racial Power, Halfling version.
  • Quick and Dead (Revenant, D387) - When you use dark reaping, your Shadow Step gets one longer for the remainder of the encounter. Low priority, but potentially useful.
  • Raven Queen's Disciple (Revenant, D387) - Gain one extra THP from your Bleak Disciple feature.
  • Raven Queen's Sanction (Revenant, D387) - Occasionally don't subtract one shroud for missing. Worthless.
  • Reaping Ki (Revenant, D387) - Minor, once per encounter consolation prize for missing with four conditions to meet.
  • Resolve of the Iron Terminator (Warforged, D382) - You have resistance against attacks by creatures subject to your shrouds equal to the number of shrouds. Non-scaling. Probably the worst disconnect between awesome name and worthless effect in the game.
  • Roguish Killer (Rogue, D385) - You can use your Sneak Attack damage on a miss with two or more shrouds. There's unfortunately no real use for this, even for purposeful miss-whoring.
  • Scions of Zarak Initiate (Half-Orc, D379) - Consolation prize for missing on an attack with which you invoked your shrouds.
  • Seeker of the Devouring Dark (Drow, D382) - When your shroud target leaves your Cloud of Darkness, it takes the damage from the shrouds and then the shrouds vanish. Another feat that might be worthwhile if it were for the line making them vanish.
  • Shadowcreeper (Goblin, DSH) - Goblin Tactics is now a shift 2 and grants you partial concealment.
  • Shadow Poisoner (D400) - This feat teaches you an Executioner poison, and lets you "spellbook" a poison for one of your dailies. Considering that a number of the Executioner poisons are better than your own dailies, that you can use retraining to pick up all the good poison recipes, and that the poisons have interesting out of combat effects, this deserves a strong look. Note that this feat is the only known way to "reserve manuever" a paragon path daily.
  • Shadow Reservoir (D401) - While a +2/3/4 damage feat is nice, this one doesn't apply to basics and requires a ki focus, and most Assassins favor attacking with weapons. You can wait until the elemental boosters come online in paragon.
  • Shadow Veil Assassin (D379) - Shift 1 square as a reward for satisfying FIVE conditions. Who writes these?
  • Shadow Veil Disappearance (D379) -This feat could be great, if the Assassin had an at-will melee illusion power. It does not. The Ardent has one at level 13 though.
  • Shadowforged Killer (Warforged, D379) - You can expend your racial and regain shade form instead of the normal benefit. Not as good as Obsidian Cave Recovery, but still potentially useful.
  • Spirited Shadows (Drow, D385) - Increase the distance of Shadow Step to DEX mod, but only while within your cloud of darkness.
  • Swallowed by Shadow (Revenant, D387) - Turn invisible EoNT when you use dark reaping. Note that this has timing issues if you trigger Dark Reaping on anything but your own turn.
  • Twilight Phantom Step (Eladrin, D379) - Makes Fey Step 5 longer if you end adjacent to your shroud target. Misses a red rating because, between Eladrin Swordmage Advance and the ways to recharge Fey Step, one might conceivably take this.
  • Uncovered Hatred (Kalashtar, D385) - The triggering enemy takes a tiny amount of damage when you use Bastion of Mental Clarity.
  • Velvet Blade Trick (Half-Elf, D379) - Apply a shroud once per encounter when you use dilettante.
  • Vengeful Shade (Any Divine, D386) - This feat turns your shrouds radiant, which would be useful, but only when using Divine attack powers, which kills it.
  • Venom Hand Assassin (D379) - Deal 1d8/tier extra damage on your first attack of each encounter. Since it's extra damage and therefore applicable repeatedly, this gives an appreciable damage spike.
  • Venom Hand Killer (D379) - +2/3/4 feat bonus to damage, but only to poison damage rolls. You don't want to use poison damage, generally speaking.
  • Venom Hand Master (D379) - Ignore poison resistance and immunity. This feat is essential if you are using poison, but there are very few reasons to do so over other damage types.
  • Venom Handler (D379) - 5/10/15 poison resistance. There are a lot of poison-dealing enemies in the game, though on this class it's quite low priority vs. options that help you deal damage. If you're using Black Flame Form, you should already have DR all, rendering this totally redundant.
  • Word of Shadow (D385) - Requires Bard. Your Majestic Word grants concealment. Useless to the Assassin, though the Bard who for some reason MCs Assassin might want it.


Paragon Tier Assassin Feats
  • Death Shroud (Revenant, D387) - You become invisible to shadow and undead creatures while in Shade Form. This one's pushed from "campaign-dependent" to flat red because it's totally redundant to Killer in the Crowd below: while you're in cover in Shade Form you can be hidden, which is better than merely invisible, and KitC does something all the time rather than just in a niche case.
  • Death's Pall (D388) - While adjacent to your shroud target, you have concealment from everyone else, or total concealment if they're subject to three shrouds. Decent enough if you've got space for a defensive feat.
  • Drawn Shadows (D388) - You have concealment while within 10' of dim light or darkness. A decent concealment source for those who don't want one of the other ones, and a totally reliable one with an Enshrouding Candle.
  • Fade Into Shadow (D382) - When you're bloodied, you can use Shadow Step as an IR.
  • Grave Step (D382) - Shadow Step as a minor without meeting the normal requirements on a turn where you've dropped an enemy. In general, this is a directly worse version of Leaping Shadows from a tier earlier.
  • Killer in the Crowd (D382) - Permanent cover against your enemies! Forever! No questions asked! Also, you can shoot through enemy squares without taking penalties for cover. You should really take this one at some point.
  • Minion of the Dark (D379) - Darkvision for a feat. Seeing in the dark rarely plays out due to the fact that anything that doesn't need light to see can already see you in the dark, and anything that can't see you in the dark needs light to see by. So it's sadly not actually very helpful in play.
  • Nightmare Master (D379) - I know what you're thinking: "Daze the target whenever you hit them with a fear power? That's amazing!" Not so fast though: since you only daze them until the start of their turn, not the end, this feat mostly just stops them from taking OAs and IAs. Add in that the Assassin's fear powers aren't the good ones, and this is a very niche feat.
  • Shadow's Inexorable Grasp (D382) - This'd be a great feat, except for that pesky specification that the shrouds vanish. You'd be better off taking a feat that makes you less likely to fall over in the first place.
  • Specter of Death (Revenant, D387) - While unconscious, you are insubstantial? First off, why is a revenant unconscious? And secondly, there was a belt for this 5 levels back.


Epic Tier Assassin Feats
  • Soul in Shadow (D382) - Concealment against enemies 5+ squares away means concealment against enemies outside of your normal attack range. Add in that it's quite possible you gained concealment all the time against everyone 10 levels ago, and it's hard to argue for this feat.
  • Walker Through Shadows (D382) - While insubstantial, you are also phasing. You generally won't have enough insubstantial triggers to use this, though Assassins who took Shade Form rather than Black Flame Form or Revenants designed for subzero fighting may look on it more favorably.
  • Vanish Into Shadow (Revenant, D387) - Race-specific, which isn't much of a drawback on this class, but this is just another redundant concealment source, and not even one that functions passively like Soul in Shadow was.
  • Untouchable Shade (D388) - You take half damage from your shroud targets for a round whenever you use Shadow Step. Not bad, but has some timing issues. For Revenants, this effect will stack with your subzero insubstantiality (and weakening, if you've got it) for some truly ridiculous survivability.

General Feats

Heroic Tier General Feats
  • Superior Will (HotFL) - +2/3/4 feat bonus to will is cool, but you know what's cooler? Not losing turns due to stun/daze. Night Stalker Assassins meet this feat's 15 CHA requirement automatically, Bleakers should plan around having 15 CHA or WIS based on the 11th level bump so that they can take it early in Paragon, when monster status effect infliction kicks up a notch.
  • Versatile Expertise (PHB3) - +1/2/3 feat bonus to weapon and implement attacks. Since you almost certainly use both types of attack, you're mostly stuck with this one even though it doesn't offer the side benefits of the newer expertise feats.


Paragon Tier General Feats
  • Lasting Frost (PHB1) - The oldest damage trick in the game, and still a very solid one: pseudo-conditional infliction of vulnerable 5 to cold damage. Setting up the vulnerability to apply on your nova can be something of a pain without party assistance, but once you do, you're getting even more payoff from it than anyone else.
  • Nimble Blade (PHB1) - +1 to attack with light blades with CA. This is another of the sparse abilities that grants you attack bonuses to both weapon and implement attacks, and since you can trivially have CA all the time, it's very reliable.
  • Reserve Manuever (PHB1) - Normally a staple of paragon-tier characters, this feat to effectively trade out your paragon path encounter attack for a better one suffers from the fact that Assassins have no heroic-tier encounter attack powers worth keeping. If you can convince your DM that you're allowed to take a theme or multiclassed power as your reserve ability, you're back in business.


Epic Tier General Feats
  • Epic Resurgence (PHB1) - Once per encounter, on a crit you regain an encounter power. Seeing as you want to recycle Flurry of Talons or Shadow Fire, and seeing as Shadow does not have a regain-on-AP feat, this is basically the only way to do so barring ED capstones or daily recharge powers.

[/sblock]Multiclass Feats

Heroic Tier Multiclass Feats
  • Disciple of Divine Wrath (Avenger, PHB2) - The first of the big three MC feat options for Assassins. Lets you use Oath of Enmity for a round every encounter. Combo this with your triple-roll powers and you've got the potential for some seriously good critfishing odds. Also opens Morninglord and so-so powerswap support.
  • Divine Healer (Cleric, DP) - Despite the ironic name, this can be viable thanks to the ability to swap for Battle Cleric's Lore (+2 shield bonus to AC) and still getting you into Morninglord. A marginal option.
  • Manticore's Fury (Ranger, MP2) - a +2/4/6 bonus to damage for alternating melee and ranged attacks. A bow-wielding Assassin who MCs Ranger and then takes ranged powerswaps is likely the only character in the game who actually has the proper combination of traits to use this thing, so have fun.
  • Monastic Disciple (Monk, PHB3) - Another of the big three multiclass options for Assassins, Monastic Disciple grants you a flurry of blows once per encounter, which can be nice for either utility or a mild damage spike, and access to good powerswaps and the incredible Soaring Blade PP and Master of Moments ED.
  • Novice Power (Any Multiclass, PHB1) - Let's be blunt here: the Assassin attack power list is terrible. It can sit on the back burner for a while, but trading out your third power for a good one is eventually obligatory for any Assassin who isn't getting a good swap out of their theme.
  • Pact Initiate (Warlock, PHB1) - Rounding out the big three MC feat options, Pact Initiate (Fey) gets you Eyebite once per encounter, lets you take Long Night Scion, and qualifies you for miscellaneous arcane support.
  • Radiant Hunter (Any Divine, PHB1) - Not relevant until upper Paragon, and even then in close competition with just using a Radiant Weapon, but if you're an Assassin who parties up with a Morninglord but prefers doing a different damage type (cold or fire) yourself, this feat lets you get in on the Morninglord's sweet vulnerabilities without needing to sacrifice your weapon enchantment.


Paragon Tier Multiclass Feats
  • Called Shot (Prime Shot class feature, D386) - If you're PMC Ranger, then Called Shot isn't useful to you alone, but with this feat that grants you 5 extra damage on hits where Prime Shot applies and...
  • Courageous Shooter (PMC Ranger, MP1) - ...this feat that gives you Prime Shot and...
  • Prime Punisher (PMC Ranger, MP1) - ...this feat that lets you use Prime Shot in melee, you'll get a nice shroud-stackable +5! Too bad the combo's so feat-intensive you won't be seeing it until you're decently into epic. A ranged PMC Ranger could, of course, take the first two in paragon and not lose out too horrifically while they waited for the room.


Epic Tier Multiclass Feats
  • Divine Mastery (Any Divine, DP) - Recover a divine encounter attack power when you action point. Divine powerswaps have less juice than most, so this basically means Sohei Flurry a second time.
  • Form Mastery (Monk, PsiPow) - Recover a full discipline encounter power when you action point. You did swap for one of the move-action Monk powers by now, right?
  • Martial Mastery (Any Martial, MP1) - Recover a martial encounter attack power when you action point. You did remember to swap for an off-action power by now, right?
  • Quick Beast Command (Ranger, MP1) - Or, as an alternative to those three feats from paragon, an epic PMC Ranger could take Courageous Shooter, trade Prime Shot for Beastmaster, and then add this to have a Wolf (with an epic Sigil of Companionship) that can make minor action MBAs while flanking for not-quite-horrible damage. Not a path I recommend, but it's out there.
  • Quickened Spellcasting (Any Arcane, AP) - Say, remember that Eyebite you got from Pact Initiate? Or maybe you're a Half-Elf with Eldritch Strike, or just happen to have been blessed by Corellon? Well, now you can cast that at-will as a minor action attack once per encounter, which can nicely pad out your nova. There are no DEX-based arcane attacks, of course, but your CHA or CON should be close enough behind to be worth it.

[/sblock]Racial Feats

Heroic Tier Racial Feats
  • Extra
    (Genasi, FRPG) - Worthless --and literally nonfunctional for Revenants-- until paragon (with Elemental Tempest) or epic (with Double Manifestation), but with either of those plus Shocking Flame, enables an amazing damage add.
  • Hellfire Blood (Tiefling, PHB1) - Reason the first to be a Revenant Tiefling: +1 untyped bonus to fire attacks that'll work on both weapon and implement powers. Actually getting fire on all your attacks is a bit trickier and will likely have to wait into paragon, but it's well worth the effort. It also adds a +1 bonus to damage. Ask your DM to fix the damage scaling to +1/2/3 if you can. If not, oh well.


Paragon Tier Racial Feats
  • Secrets of Belial (Tiefling, PHTF) - The third of the primary reasons to play a Revenant Tiefling, this feat lets you swap for any class utility power. Borrowed Confidence, Battle Fury Stance, Hands of the Titan... if there's not an encounter utility power somewhere out there that makes you leap or weep for joy, you're not looking hard enough.
  • Shocking
    (Genasi, FRPG) - As with Extra Manifestation, worthless for Revenants without Elemental Tempest or Double Manifestation, but enables an amazing multityped damage add. If you're playing a Genasi Assassin, this feat is basically why.
  • Versatile Master (Half-Elf, PHB2) - "Rules-lawyering in multiattacks to the base class is cool, but I actually just felt like spamming Twin/Eldritch Strike every round." Oh? Well, it's not my place to judge, so if you want to do that, this feat lets you. Have fun? Note that the secondary effect of this feat is hugely overlooked, but turns Paragon Multiclassing into a junior version of the Eternal Seeker epic destiny. That can enable some unique and off-the-wall builds, though the feat cost is gonna make you cry.


Epic Tier Racial Feats
  • Dual Manifestation (Genasi, FRPG) - For Revenant and the odd non-Revenant Genasi Assassin, this feat takes some setup to make use of, but is incredible. For the price of four feats (three if natively Genasi) you deal 8 extra damage with melee attacks (which means +16 on shroud attacks), and better still it's typed which opens up all sorts of other glorious damage boosting potential. Plus, if you were a Revenant, you can now manifest, which means full access to Promise of Storm (as well as the less impressive Firepulse) and the other sundry goodies like racial defense bonuses that come from the Genasi manifestation rules. This is a build-making feat.



First Post
Originally posted by erachima:

Trappings of Death: Weapons and Gear for Assassins

Weapons and Implements

Holy Symbols
  • Symbol of Victory (9+, PHB1) - Free action point on a crit, for you or an ally, and you're a damn good critfisher once you're going. When it comes to holy symbols, this is basically the only game in town. If you MC Divine, you're gonna take one of these as soon as it's cheap, possibly before. If you're a Long Night Scion rather than a Morninglord, you should ask the party's resident holy man to snag one of these on your behalf.

Ki Focuses
  • Magic Ki Focus (x)(1+, D382) - If you're level 1, well, +1 attack and damage is +1 attack and damage. If you're not, find something better.
  • Ghost Strike Ki Focus (2+, PHB3)
  • Cobra Strike Ki Focus (2+, PHB3)
  • Emerald Flame Ki Focus(x) (2+, D382) - One of the vast array of items granting a terrible daily power and nothing else. Avoid.
  • Envenomed Ki Focus (2+, D398)
  • Hunting Panther Ki Focus (2+, PsiPow)
  • Scavenger Bird Ki Focus (2+, D387)
  • Blazing Arc Ki Focus (3+, PHB3)
  • Death Strike Ki Focus (3+, PHB3)
  • Cascading Strikes Ki Focus (3+, PsiPow)
  • Certainty of Death Ki Focus (3+, D387)
  • Cup of Death Ki Focus (3+, D387)
  • Dark Hunger Ki Focus (3+, D416)
  • Enduring Hatred Ki Focus (3+, HotEC)
  • Final Sleep Ki Focus (3+, D382) - Shift a square on a kill. Does not require the kill be with this ki focus. A solid mobility booster.
  • Four Winds Ki Focus (3+, PsiPow)
  • Impeding Ki Focus (3+, PHB3)
  • Manual of Ninjutsu (3+, D404)
  • Rain of Hammers (x)(3+, D382) - A cleave-like effect on a kill, again not requiring the kill be with the focus, and a daily power that lets you use an at-will as a minor action. A top-shelf option for ki focuses, and not even that expensive.
  • Shadow Master Ki Focus (3+, D398)
  • Soul Siphon Ki Focus (3+, D416)
  • Windsoul Ki Focus (3+, PHB3)
  • Abduction Ki Focus (4+, PHB3)
  • Bloodthirsty Ki Focus (4+, D398)
  • Body of Fire Ki Focus (4+, MME)
  • Cold Fury Ki Focus (4+, HotEC)
  • Crimson Wick Ki Focus (4+, D416)
  • Death Shroud Ki Focus (4+, D387)
  • Elusive Action Ki Focus (4+, PHB3)
  • Ghost Mask Ki Focus (4+, D387)
  • Hawk's Talon Ki Focus(x) (4+, D382) - Were you the Ranger, the daily power on here wouldn't be bad, but you aren't. Also, if you're the sort who wants to make jump checks, you can be a Soaring Blade and use acrobatics instead of the athletics bonus it adds here.
  • Hurricane Strike Ki Focus (4+, PsiPow)
  • Mighty Strike Ki Focus (4+, PHB3)
  • Quick Strike Ki Focus (4+, PHB3)
  • Thunderstrike Ki Focus (4+, PsiPow)
  • Blurred Strike Ki Focus (5+, PHB3)
  • Devastating Ki Focus (5+, D398)
  • Fireblood Ki Focus (5+, HotEC)
  • Iron Body Ki Focus(x) (5+, D382) - A source of at-will damage resist is cool, but less than and non-stacking with the Black Flame Form.
  • Crashing Tide Ki Focus (8+, PsiPow)
  • Hailstorm Ki Focus (8+, D408)
  • Tidal Wave Ki Focus (8+, MME)
  • Steadfast Stone Ki Focus (9+, MME)
  • Forked Lightning Ki Focus (9+, PsiPow)
  • Mountainfall Ki Focus (9+, PsiPow)
  • Embers of Black Flame (10+, D401)
  • Controller's Ki Focus (13+, RotG)
  • The Ineffable Secret of Death (D404)
  • Seeing Stone of Yandere (15+, The Shadowfell)
  • Haunting Presence Ki Focus (17+, PsiPow)



First Post
Originally posted by erachima:

Reserved for sample builds.
Camelot Driveby: Goliath Charger Assassin
Note: This is an extremely boring High Score build. I wouldn't suggest playing it outside of a oneshot, and that as something of a joke.

Build Premise
[sblock]Race: Goliath
Guild: Night Stalker
Theme: Ironwrought
Multiclass: N/A
Paragon Path: N/A
Weapon: Vanguard Lance
Gimmick: The feat Hungry Sky Shadows allows a Goliath Assassin to add STR extra damage to their shroud-invoking hits. The charge kit adds extra dice of damage all over the place. Let's add them to the shroud roll and watch things explode while completely ignoring our Assassin powers, subtlety, and the need to wear armor.

Level 1 Snapshot
Goliath, Assassin
Build: Night Stalker Assassin
Guild Training: Night StalkerAssassin's Form: Black Flame Form
Theme: Ironwrought
Gritty Sergeant Benefit: Lance
Background: Gritty Sergeant (Gritty Sergeant Benefit)
Str 20, Con 12, Dex 11, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 14.
Str 18, Con 10, Dex 11, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 14.
AC: 10 Fort: 16 Reflex: 10 Will: 14
HP: 22 Surges: 7 Surge Value: 5
Level 1: Hungry Sky Shadows
Melee Basic Attack
Inevitable Strike
Riding Horse, Lance

Level 1 DPR Kings breakdown (1.07 KPR)
[sblock]Melee Basic Attack Accuracy: +5 STR, +2 Proficiency, +1 Charging = LVL+7 = 30% Miss, 65% Hit, 5% Crit
Melee Basic Attack Damage: 1d10+5 STR+1 Versatile+2 Night Stalker+1d10 Mounted+5 Hungry Sky Shadows  and 1d6+1d10 Mounted+5 Hungry Sky Shadows = 3d10+1d6+18 = 38 Hit, 54 Crit
Melee Basic Attack Average Damage: .65*38+.05*54 = 27.4
Damage = 85.63% SMHP
Inevitable Strike MBA Accuracy: 9% Miss/Miss, 39% Hit/Miss, 56.75% Hit/Hit, 3% Crit/Miss, 6.5% Crit/Hit, .25% Crit/Crit
Inevitable Strike MBA Damage: 10 Miss/Miss, 41.5 Hit/Miss, 50.5 Hit/Hit, 60 Crit/Miss, 76 Crit/Hit, 76 Crit/Crit
Inevitable Strike MBA Average Damage: .09*10+.39*41.5+.5675*50.5+.03*60+.065*76+.0025*76 = 52.67 Damage = 164.61% SMHP
KP2R: 52.67+27.4 = 80.07 Damage = 2.50 Kills in Two Rounds
KP5R: 52.67+27.4*4 = 162.27 Damage = 5.07 Kills in Five Rounds
KP10R: 52.67+27.4*9 = 299.27 Damage = 9.35 Kills in Ten Rounds
Normalized KPR: (2.5/2+5.07/5+9.35/10)/3 = 1.07 Arbitrary High Score Units


Level 6 Snapshot
Goliath, Assassin
Build: Night Stalker Assassin
Guild Training: Night StalkerAssassin's Form: Black Flame Form
Theme: Ironwrought
Gritty Sergeant Benefit: Lance
Background: Gritty Sergeant (Gritty Sergeant Benefit)
Str 20, Con 12, Dex 11, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 14.
Str 18, Con 10, Dex 11, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 14.
AC: 17 Fort: 20 Reflex: 15 Will: 19
HP: 42 Surges: 7 Surge Value: 10
Level 1: Hungry Sky Shadows
Level 2: Spear Expertise
Level 4: Cruel Shadow
Level 6: Disciple of Destruction
Melee Basic Attack
Inevitable Strike
+1 Magic Leather Armor (Level 1), +1 Amulet of Protection (Level 1), Bracers of Mighty Striking (Level 2), Death Shroud Ki Focus (Level 4), Obsidian Steed (Level 5), Horned Helm (Level 6), +2 Vanguard Lance (Level 8)

[/sblock]As Cold as Death: Long Night Scion Assassin
Race: Revenant Eladrin
Guild: Night Stalker
Theme: Sarifel Feywarden
Multiclass: Warlock
Paragon Path: Long Night Scion
Weapon: Frost Rapier (or Frost Blade of Winter's Mourning, if available)
By God's Command: Morninglord Assassin
Race: Wood Elf
Guild: Night Stalker
Theme: Sohei
Multiclass: Avenger
Paragon Path: Morninglord
Weapon: Radiant Quarterstaff
Claw Down the Sky: Soaring Blade Assassin
Race: Revenant Tiefling
Guild: Bleak Disciple
Theme: Werewolf
Multiclass: Monk
Paragon Path: Soaring Blade
Weapon: Firewind Longsword (or Firewind Starshadow Blade, if available)


First Post
Shroud isn't a separate instance of damage. The description in the power itself says:
"...and is in addition to the attack’s damage,...", which is a literal description of extra damage.
Probably, the reason why it doesn't say "extra damage" because you need to hit target to do extra damage, in this case your shrouds can do damage even on a miss.

And i found another post in this forum where it says that Mike Mearls himself clarified that assassin's shroud works as an extra damage.
Any thoughts on this?


Shroud isn't a separate instance of damage. The description in the power itself says:
"...and is in addition to the attack’s damage,...", which is a literal description of extra damage.
Probably, the reason why it doesn't say "extra damage" because you need to hit target to do extra damage, in this case your shrouds can do damage even on a miss.

Basically, if an article in 4e says it was done by Mearls when 5e was in the works, he didn't spend enough time on it...there are a number of straightforward ways to make the Assassin by using common 4e references, such as Extra Damage. He chose not to do so...

This whole Assassin's handbook assumes that you're going to be literal about the Assassin. Because basically, if you don't, it really isn't a worthwhile class.


First Post
Hey, guys. Tinkering around with the Assassin (trying to make him great again, haha), and was wondering if a combination of Darting Shadow + Enshrouding Candle + Drawn Shadows would effectively make moving while Hidden essentially permanent, excluding attacks, of course?


Nemesis Destiny

Is there a guide for the Executioner somewhere? Is it more or even less worthwhile than this one? I didn't turn up any results via googling, and I have a player deadset on "assassin" being on the sheet (coming from 3.5, so unused to the idea of rampant refluffing).


Basically, if an article in 4e says it was done by Mearls when 5e was in the works, he didn't spend enough time on it...there are a number of straightforward ways to make the Assassin by using common 4e references, such as Extra Damage. He chose not to do so...

This whole Assassin's handbook assumes that you're going to be literal about the Assassin. Because basically, if you don't, it really isn't a worthwhile class.

I'll add the meta-RAI argument that the author of the Assassin says they intended to write a class that was a Striker and could kill enemies effectively, therefore the ruling that makes the class able to do that must be the intended one.

Is there a guide for the Executioner somewhere? Is it more or even less worthwhile than this one? I didn't turn up any results via googling, and I have a player deadset on "assassin" being on the sheet (coming from 3.5, so unused to the idea of rampant refluffing).

Even less, unfortunately. The simplification of the class meant there were fewer opportunities for them to write things that were good-by-accident, and they didn't crunch out the math past heroic tier.

The standard CharOp Executioner build was to Hybrid Warlock, take Eldritch Strike, combine the Executioner's hybrid damage feature, which still works on non-Assassin powers if they're MBAs, with the Warlock's Curse support to make a character that throws a whole handful of dice on their charges.

The plain Executioner has very few choices to make, and is basically nonfunctional at high levels because its sole encounter power does not scale up to an appropriate level of nova damage past heroic. (If it did, it would have to do something like 30[W] and you'd only get to play it with virtual dice.)

Nemesis Destiny

Even less, unfortunately. The simplification of the class meant there were fewer opportunities for them to write things that were good-by-accident, and they didn't crunch out the math past heroic tier.
That's what I expected.

The standard CharOp Executioner build was to Hybrid Warlock, take Eldritch Strike, combine the Executioner's hybrid damage feature, which still works on non-Assassin powers if they're MBAs, with the Warlock's Curse support to make a character that throws a whole handful of dice on their charges.
Yeah, I figured that one out while I was browsing through the rules looking for ways to make it good. ;)

The plain Executioner has very few choices to make, and is basically nonfunctional at high levels because its sole encounter power does not scale up to an appropriate level of nova damage past heroic. (If it did, it would have to do something like 30[W] and you'd only get to play it with virtual dice.)
Yeah, I mean it works well enough in high heroic to low paragon, but I've never been further than that, either as player or DM, so I can't comment with any veracity. Good to know though.


Yeah, I mean it works well enough in high heroic to low paragon, but I've never been further than that, either as player or DM, so I can't comment with any veracity. Good to know though.

It depends on the game and the school. Ninja has a low-tier twin strike+a triple target attack option. Both of those are kind of interesting when you're stacking the higher level poisons on them+a paragon path with an actual good E11 for a nova. Especially if there's a basic attack granter in the group.


I'll add the meta-RAI argument that the author of the Assassin says they intended to write a class that was a Striker and could kill enemies effectively, therefore the ruling that makes the class able to do that must be the intended one.

Mearls was the author. He found out just a couple of years ago that 4e heavily used soccer in design and terminology. And he was totally into FIFA video gaming and knew the lead designer loved playing soccer.

(Defender, Striker, Marking, etc...)

Which is to say, claiming Mearls intended anything and wanted it to be in line with typical 4e capabilities implies he understood 4e.

Nemesis Destiny

Mearls was the author. He found out just a couple of years ago that 4e heavily used soccer in design and terminology. And he was totally into FIFA video gaming and knew the lead designer loved playing soccer.

(Defender, Striker, Marking, etc...)

Which is to say, claiming Mearls intended anything and wanted it to be in line with typical 4e capabilities implies he understood 4e.
Mearls may not have "ruined D&D" as the meme goes, since what he's done has clearly been good for the brand, but I used to defend him, at least until the "yelling arms back on" type stuff began to emerge. I've come to recognize, however, that he ruined my D&D.

I wish that they'd brought more 4e stuff forward, and I now see that wasn't the intent from the start, nor will it ever be, despite talking up adding a "4e-style tactical module" at some point, since 5e is such a runaway success as-is.

I wanted to see more of a 4.5, that may have included some of their ideas, like streamlined feats, further refined math, and powers reorganized by power source, rather than class. Alas, that's not the timeline I live in. :/