Should Assassin be theme or class?


First Post
I want it as it own class. I do not want it to be about "Shadowy, mystic powers".The 1E Assasin was the guy that could kill anybody.
The guy that could use any weapon, that could pretend to be other people, and do Thief like things ( though not as well as the Thief).

I always imagined a Mafia hitman, he'd kill the king with an ice pick...which is no surprise given the 1E class was inspired by the historical/mythological organization....that supposedly scared monarchs by leaving daggers on their pillows.

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First Post
I want it as a class. I want lots of classes.

4 classes with 30 themes is 120 possible combinations.

14 classes with 20 themes is 280 possible combinations. I want lots of combinations.


First Post
Not that I am aware of, no. Did you get a different version of the playtest rules, perhaps?

No, I'm pretty sure I got the same deal as you (save the patronising action, please); the mystical shadow assassin already exists in 4th Ed (lots of gold in 4th Ed to be mined), that is what I was illustrating.

Viktyr Gehrig

First Post
No, I'm pretty sure I got the same deal as you (save the patronising action, please); the mystical shadow assassin already exists in 4th Ed (lots of gold in 4th Ed to be mined), that is what I was illustrating.

Apologies. There's been a lot of snark lately. I am losing my capacity to recognize it.

What I am trying to say is actually that what the 4e Assassin is-- plus a taste of the AD&D Assassin and Ninja classes-- is what I want in Next.

Gold Roger

First Post
I'm all for the "every class that was in a phb" (well, phb1) mantra, so off course I say class.

Of course you don't need a assassin class, to have in game people who professionally assassinate others. Every class can do that (though the "getting away with it too" part will be hard for some).

Now, this will sound incredibly odd, especially in D&D, with the semi official slogan "kill things and take their stuff".

I consider the primary difference between an assassin class and others, that it has a real focus on killing things.

Yep, that's a defining feature for me. Think about it, every class can kill, but none represents a person, who faced by opposition, how do I kill it quick.

Yes, the rogue can hit a vital point after setting up a favorable situation. But he does it because he's unable to fight in a more straight up manner and he can't do it reliably. But an assassin should be able to dish out terrible damage face to face and get even worse striking from ambush. The rogue kills one sentry from hiding and the fighter takes on three but does it loudly, the assassin calmly walks up to two sentries and with a smile killed the second before the first hit the ground.

Yes, fighters kill a lot of people, often a good answer to the tactical situation is "kill it, kill it quick". But that's the thing, the fighter sees the tactical situation in group battles, because that's his training. He fights duels, small group battles and full blown wars. The assassin eleminates individuals. He doesn't do so blindly, but very fokused.

Of course, there must be other qualities to an assassin.

I've also mentioned, an assassin needs to get away with it, too. This doesn't mean he's got an untouchable ac, because he's like a totally cool ninja. But he needs to have abilities that allow him to reach his target and get away, both when the target is and isn't aware of him.

But those are all abilities rogues have too, right? Yes and no. Yes, rogues have abilities that let them get in and out of places. But no, those aren't necessarily the same abilities assassins use. Assassins should get a choice from a huge choice of such abilities. Some are the classics, hiding, disguise, climb, open lock skills. But then let's add some (optional, of course) monk like wuxia movement mojo, so even revealed the assassin can cartweel across the banquet hall, put a fork through the chancellors juggular and the jump out that third story window to a soft landing. Lets also give the option for the assassin to pick up some mystic shadow power. You're killing people for a living, so why not make some deals with fiends too. And I bet assassins sometimes use bombs to, alchemy gives some great shennanigans for escapes and arrivals.

Another is that assassins know a thousand ways to kill you. The assassin doesn't just do a lot of damage, he knows many ways to do it. He can stick you with a knive in the back from hiding, or the belly from disguise or in the eye in a straight fight. He can poison you through your food, a hidden needle or a kiss. He can blow up your carriage, turn your bath into acid or electrecute you with your throne. If all the fails he smuggles flying piranas into your bathrobe. Mechanicaly, the assassin can just pick up a lot of different attacks, many of which I'd place in the realm of fantasy alchemy, as assassins would already be assumed to be an expert poiseners.

Opposite to the many ways an assassin can kill you, he is otherwhise not versatile. This sets my idea of an assassin really appart from the rogue, monk or ranger (the three classes I see him closest to). The assassin class has pretty much no ability outside of killing and getting away with it. Unless he really invests in backgrounds and themes, the has no idea how to defend someone, travel the wild, get on the good side of people, what monster does what and how to comprehend that feeling called love.

If we put that together we have a character with enourmous offensive power, but little resilience, and great mobility. He can have all kinds of mystic mojo through his class but doesn't have to. He's deadlier than a rogue or ranger, but lacks their mastery of skills.

Why not both?

The D&D assassin archetype probably can't be fully realized without its own class since it requires multiple unique class features.

I don't think that prevents the game from also having an assassin theme that fighters, rangers, rogues, or other classes could take to give them some assassin flavor without going the full-class route.

Come to think of it ... themes may be a way of accomplishing so limited forms of multi-classing.


This is the debate I've been having in the various paladin/ranger threads around. What makes a class a class? Since WotC is drawing a line between what is a class and what is simply a theme (as they've stated the avenger will be), where should that line be?

My opinion is that a class should be versatile enough to allow for multiple different build types that still "feel" like the original archetype of the class. It should also be unique enough from other classes that there is a reason for it to exist separately.

So let's examine those questions. Assassin meets the first requirement without a doubt. You have many different types of assassins in fiction. You have the archetypical assassin, hiding in the shadows and looking for the right moment to strike, pouncing out to do the most amount of damage possible and kill as quickly as possible to avoid any chance of a return strike. Then you have the hitman, someone tough who kills for money, using stealth and guile to gain advantages over opponents but not shying away from fighting a target toe-to-toe when needed. And you've got the mystical assassin/ninja who uses small magic tricks, spells, and supernatural abilities to gain an edge in combat to kill quickly and silently.

The second question though? I really don't think so. There's not enough unique about the assassin that requires it to be a class. Putting a fighter-based theme like slayer on the rogue class would give you the first type of assassin. Putting a rogue-based theme on the fighter like thief on the fighter and you have the hitman. Giving the rogue the arcane dabbler theme will possibly give them enough tricks to be the mystic ninja (depending on how the theme works at higher levels and if not, make one that does).

The assassin is thus not unique enough to be a class. Adding it as a class would just add complexity to the game for the sake of appeasing fans of the class (like me). It's not good game design, it's a marketing stunt aimed at grognards. If the class can't stand on its own and meet those requirements, it should not be a class.

And again, I love the assassin class. I think there's a lot of roleplaying fun to be had with them and though the mechanics have varied from decent to complete crap over the editions, I've still loved playing the class. But if I can't hold the classes I love (assassin, avenger) to the same standard I hold the classes I don't like as much (ranger, paladin) or outright loathe (druid), then I'm no better than any other grognard insisting that their opinion is the most important using emotional reasoning rather than rational arguments.

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