Assassins are murderers for hire, stealthy, sneaky, and deceitful. They can be bought to spy, to steal, and, ultimately, to kill a given target, with no thought given to their own desires. Some practice magic, others have reportedly sacrificed their very soul, but many simply know where best to plant a sword to bring a swift, decisive end to an opponent.
There are a few central qualities of the assassin.
- Assassins can use an array of often-exotic weapons. While they aren't as accurate as a fighter with the same tool, they learn to use many powerful instruments of death.
- Assassins are not very tough. Their endurance is roughly that of a thief or rogue.
- Assassins use poisons in their attacks. Poison may be debilitating or deadly in a variety of ways.
- Assassins can backstab if they catch an enemy off guard. Backstabbing is more accurate, and deals significant damage.
- Assassins can assassinate an enemy if they gain surprise. Assassination has a chance of killing the target outright.
- Assassins may speak a supernatural language, akin to the tongues of devils or angels.
- Assassins are skilled at disguises — they may alter their appearance or even adopt the appearance of another.
- Assassins have many thief skills — they can pick pockets, disable traps, open locks, move with agility and stealth, spy on others, and decipher languages. They are not as skilled as a comparable thief, but they are broadly able.
- Assassins may learn magic related to stealth, spying, and death.
Iconic Assassin Abilities
Assassin poisons may be the one-hit-and-you're dead kind, or more refined poisons, such as those that simply cause damage, or those that debilitate an opponent, or put them to sleep. Assassins may deliver this poison through an attack (even a weak one), but may also lay the poison as a trap to be triggered when the target ingests or touches it. They are also experts at identifying toxic substances.
Assassins are capable of killing creatures outright, if they catch them by surprise. Even if the assassin doesn't manage to murder a target with a single attack, they deal tremendous damage with surprise, enabling them to start combat having already unleashed their big attacks. Unfortunately, after this attack, they don't always have much staying power.
Assassins are adept at adopting disguises, concealing themselves under pseudonyms and using makeup, bravado, and prosthesis to seem like just another face in the crowd. This helps them evade suspicion, and also helps them get close to new targets.
Skills & Spells
Assassins have an array of magical and mundane ways to foil detection, blend into shadows, and produce poisons and toxins. Some assassins master shadow magic or unholy spells, while others learn alchemy and practice purely mundane stealth. Assassins may also occasionally practice social skills or skills related to agility and tumbling instead, depending upon their preferred method of murder. Certain assassins even cultivate their body and mind not unlike a monk, learning supernatural feats of ki power.
Assassin Play Experience
The Assassin in combat is something of a glass cannon: fast, and deadly, but after the first few rounds her damage drops significantly and her weaknesses (low AC and low HP) start becoming exploited. An assassin surprises and assassinates, and makes a quick getaway.
The Assassin is a decent explorer. While they don't quite match a true thief, they have similar abilities, and are broadly capable of blazing a trail and of remaining unseen while uncovering new ground.
The Assassin is only good with interaction in a disguise. Without that, when seen for what they are, they are mistrusted, feared, and disliked. Often evil, and frequently part of a nefarious organization, an Assassin does not get much agreeable assistance from other NPC's.
Assassins may or may not belong to guilds of assassins. Assassins make an income — a pretty hefty one — by murdering specific powerful individuals, often through subterfuge and trickery (and, of course, poison). Illegal in most areas, but infamous throughout the world, the various guilds occupy a black-market status that keeps them quiet and underground in most places.
An assassin PC may be a member of a guild and, as they gain levels, they may rise through the guild or found a rival guild of their own. This makes them many powerful enemies — rival assassins — either way.
The Bleak Disciples originated with the githyanki. Adherents to this guild learn to shape shadows into physical tools that they can use to bring in their target. They keep a white cloth to dab in the blood of their victims once they've been killed, and keep it as a memento of their murder. Bleak disciples tend to be very physically tough.
The Night Stalkers originated with the drow. Adherents to this guild master spells of terror, fear, and manipulation that they use to isolate and position their target.
The Executioners focus on abrupt surprise attacks, hitting hard and then leaving, without mucking about with much in the way of elaborate trickery or magic.
The League of Whispers
The League of Whispers specializes in ranged attacks, taking down their enemies without ever having to get close. As such, their members are naturally hard to pick out of a crowd.
The Red Scales
This guild of assassins claims to have a greater purpose in mind, a "balancing" of society. Rumor has it that their Grandfather has been touched by some planar entity, and that they pursue his goals above all. They are great at close-quarters combat, getting up close and personal with their victims.
The Way of the Ninja
This guild of assassins is largely concerned with secrets and spying, using the hidden knowledge they gain to murder those their familial clans nominate. This guild is largely a family business, with few outsiders learning its ways. They are flexible combatants with a mastery of range, melee, and reach abilities. They're also capable of supernatural abilities such as walking on water, turning invisible, and passing through walls.
The Stonedeath guild is a group of goblinoids who focus on hunting dwarves. They gain an array of abilities useful in an underground environment, such as melding into stone, hide easily on stone, weaken and corrupt objects made of stone, and have a death attack particularly useful against dwarves and gnomes.
Ninjas of the Crescent Moon
This group of assassins is quite trustworthy, though also highly inscrutable. It is said to be made up of ninjas in peak physical condition, who gain mystical abilities such as hypnotic hand gestures, turn invisible, transform into gas, see in the dark, and even cross the boundaries of the planes. They're also quite adept at silencing an opponent, briefly, with a strike to the neck (the better to prevent an alarm from being sounded).
Shadow Sun Ninjas
This guild is a study in contradictions, a group of loners that is trying to find harmony between their profession as assassins and the higher cause of life. They are good, but they dabble in shadow darkness all the same. They steal health from their enemies, reward it to their allies. They can absorb cold and launch fire. They can hide in shadows, and emerge in a blinding corona of light. They can go blind to see their opponent clearly. They can absorb blows and release an aura of pain. They can strobe light and darkness from their bodies. They can even risk their very souls to destroy their enemies.
These rogues gain supernatural ki abilties of ninjas as they hone their bodies and minds. Their ability set resembles the Ninjas of the Crescent Moon.