Posted by : David Guyll September 10, 2009

I write this as I gradually recover from the rigors of swine flu. I had intended to do separate reviews for each tier, but at this point might as well mash them together. First, the heroic article has powers up to level 10 utilities, a bunch of heroic feats, and a pair of paragon-tier feats. The paragon tier article goes from level 13 to 19 and includes four paragon paths. There are no additional feats or magic items to be found /le sigh.

Like rogues, assassins are Dex-based strikers, but use the shadow power source which means that they trade/binda-bit-of their soul to the Shadowfell and gain, well, "shadow power". This lets them do stuff like manipulate shadows, teleport through them, or just kill you with your own shadow. By the time I'm done here I suspect I'll have said shadow so many times that the word will have lost all meaning. Anywho, depending on your guild training you get additional benefits from either Constitution or Charisma: bleak disciples get temp hp when striking unbloodied baddies, while night stalkers get bonus damage when attacking isolated targets.

Normally when I think of assassin, I think of something a tad more mundane. Like, you know, a rogue or anyone that can hide from people and kill them hellaciously fast. What this means is that I'm very glad that the assassin differs from martial characters in a lot of ways (otherwise whats the fucking point?). Starting out, the only thing about them that screams martial is that they use weapons and wear armor.

Their powers are called hexes, which draw from your own "shadowed soul" as a fuel source. Their striker mechanic is handled with shrouds, which are invisible...things, that reveal weak spots to you. Kind of like when you use heat-seeking weapons in games with a nifty HUD.
You invoke them before you make an attack to deal bonus damage (Mearls has confirmed this) depending on the number you've placed on them thus far (cap of four).
At higher levels they get static damage bonuses, and from the wording seems to deal some damage even if you miss with an attack. Their other class features include a sustained insubstantial encounter hex, and invisible teleporting at-will that only works if you start and stop next to a creature (which I endorse completely).

There are four at-wills, with one being a ranged 5 attack that deals force damage, slows, and pulls. Another one that I really like increases your melee range by 2, but doesnt deal ability modifier damage (boo). The other two deal standard damage, with a bonus that depends on either the number of shrouds you have piled on top, or how many creatures are next to it.
Some interesting variety, but I suspect inescapable blade will be pretty damned popular since having a base reach of 3 can be pretty handy for a class that can deal a lot of bonus damage regardless as to where the rest of the party is.

Assassins are also one-part controller, so many of their attacks impose various conditions. Nightmare shades causes a creature to grant combat advantage, while smothering shadow slows them. Many of the powers fuck with yours-or-a-target's shadow in some way.

One thing I will gripe about is the lack of ki focus magic items, and assassin-themed magic items in general. This is one of the reasons I dont like playing monks or psions: there isnt enough thematic loot out there without me having to invent it on my own, which is fine if your DM is up for that sort of thing. Hopefully the epic-tier assassin article will add some more specifics, since as of this writing I know that the paragon-tier one did not.

Otherwise its shaping up to be a class that, like rangers and rogues, fulfills an indentical role but maintains its own theme and style.

{ 2 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. I liked the look and feel of the assassin in general. I was concerned that it was going to be a power creep filled version of the rogue, but they did a very good job of making sure both classes are very distinct from the other.

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  2. KI-focus seems to be an internal enchantment similar to that of the omonks unarmed weapon. Mike Mearls has indicated that you can use any "Any Weapon" enchantment on it.

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