Daily Monster #58: Assassin

Can we just make a truce to never again make edgy characters? If my image search for this article clued me into anything it’s definitely the fact that there’s enough assassin rogues out there.

Okay, look, I know everyone out there has had an edgelord character at one point or another, but hear me out: I just had to sift through hundreds of pictures for what looked to be the exact same hooded character over and over again. To be honest, I have no idea how artists sit through their 5th dark and broody character commissions. For the love of god, at least try to have some variation! And those of you out there planning on commissioning similar portraits, I hope you tip your artist reeeeaal good.


The basics

All things considered, assassins have pretty average stat blocks; we’re looking at matching +0 STR, WIS, and CHA, with their INT only being slightly better at a +1. Their best two stats are their +2 CON and +3 DEX. All in numbers that we could even expect from low level player characters.

These trained killers have proficiency in DEX (+6) and INT (+4) saving throws as well as Acrobatics (+6), Deception (+3), Perception (+3) and most notably Stealth (+9).

In terms of durability and resistance, today’s monster is resistant to poison, has an AC of 15 thanks to their studded leather armor, and a decently hefty hit point pool of 12d8+24.

To finish things off, assassins come in all races and colors (though technically limited to medium humanoids) and can benefit from their own particular racial features. They also have a passive perception of 13, and are able to speak two languages on top of their unique Thieves’ Cant.

Today’s monster also shares quite a few features with the playable rogue subclass of the same name. For starters, the Assassinate feature automatically give out monster advantage on rolls against creatures who haven’t acted yet and makes it so that any hit scored this way is also a critical. When running this creature we also get access to Evasion and Sneak Attack, both of which also work exactly as they do for Assassin Rogues.

For actions, we get the Multiattack feature that allows for two shortsword strikes, but also have the option to use a light crossbow attack instead. What sets these attacks apart from the usual is that on top of doing the regular piercing or slashing damage, there is also the possibility for a hefty amount of poison damage on a failed save DC15 CON save.

The lore

Well this one is easy… I don’t really think I have to explain what an assassin is to anyone; they’ve been an integral part of the game (and all media for that matter) for the longest of times.

You can find assassins pretty much everywhere in the world, from the most esteemed circles or royalty to the gutter streets of massive cities. Their specific skill set allows them to infiltrate any and all places required for them to take out their marks.

Whether hired by the wealthy or working undercover for any of the many assassin’s guilds, once they strike it’s unlikely that they will leave any trace or witness to their crime.

In terms of specific lore, we can find some examples of assassin guilds throughout most of the official settings; from the notorious Zhentarim, and the Fire Knives, to the Jaezred Chaulssinin the Underdark.

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The execution

The beauty about assassins everywhere is that it’s incredibly easy to set up an encounter with these guys as the baddies. Not only that, but they’re also ridiculously easy to run in combat while still packing quite a punch and have just the right proficiencies to get us to that anticipated “roll for initiative” call. Here are couple of ways in which you could set up your encounter:

-Justice…kinda: Do you have an unruly party of so called “chaotic-neutral” adventurers that keep breaking the law and doing as they please throughout the land? Probably pissed quite a few powerful individuals off too. Assassin, bounty hunter…you say tomato and I say tomato, really.

-Bodyguard duty: Are you a wealthy noble or magnate? Do you have vast amounts of cash and people who hate you for it who are now making plans to go after you? Why not hire a group of adventurers to guard tor most valuable asset (hint hint, it’s you!) and possibly unveil the people behind this nefarious plot?

-You done did it now: Let’s face it, our BBEG has better things to do than personally deal with these fools who keep ruining his plans, but he can’t exactly just let them keep doing that. Why not have them hire someone to take care of it?

In terms of how to play this out, it’s very important to keep in mind that, these are trained and proved professionals! Assassins know exactly what they’re doing and, more likely than not, have a ton of information on their marks. This is very important if their assignment turns out to be the party itself. Do keep in mind as well that, unless they’re part of some zealous movement and that is their reason for attacking, it’s unlikely for these guys to stick around much longer after things turn south for them; whatever payment they were offered is probably not worth their lives, after all.

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