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CountD
2008-10-30, 05:38 PM
Alright, so I'm about to start in a low level campaign this weekend. My character will be a rogue, starting at level two, but I'm planning on placing some levels into a prestige class down the line, either the duelist or the assassin.

The duelist looks like a fun concept, but from what I've heard it's not as strong as my other choice. As much as this campaign is going to be about having fun, the DM has dropped a copious amount of hints suggesting that it'll be rough riding, so to speak. The last time I was involved in a game he DM'ed he fielded an army of watered-down Tucker's Kobolds. Even though I was only advising him, I felt bad for the characters, of which only two of the original eight survived the entire campaign. That said, survivability is a crucial factor in my choice of class.

The Assassin class, from what I understand, is a strong class until the higher levels, but since I don't expect the campaign to bring us any farther than level 8 or 9 that's not a big problem for me. Since this campaign will have a lot of politics and political intrigue in it, it's a fairly good choice for the setting, abilities aside.

Any advice on this will be great, but please refrain from suggesting other classes, as I'd like to give one of these a spin this time around.

Thanks in advance!

insecure
2008-10-30, 05:50 PM
I'll go with the duelist. They actually have a higher chance of surviving (due to elaborate parry and such), but also because of the assassin's death attack, which is very easy to survive, and you need to study for three rounds, thus losing four rounds damage, which could have been used attacking normally.

Keld Denar
2008-10-30, 05:51 PM
Both are bad. If you are intrigued by the idea of a stealthy skills character, consider playing a Beguiler (level 1-20) from PHBII or some type of Arcane Rogue blend (using Unseen Seer and/or Arcane Trickster). Those are gonna give you a stronger character than either Duelist or Assassin. In game, you can RP as a sneaky assassin all you want, but as a class focused on killing people, the execution is really poor (pun intended).

Copacetic
2008-10-30, 05:57 PM
Both are bad. If you are intrigued by the idea of a stealthy skills character, consider playing a Beguiler (level 1-20) from PHBII or some type of Arcane Rogue blend (using Unseen Seer and/or Arcane Trickster). Those are gonna give you a stronger character than either Duelist or Assassin. In game, you can RP as a sneaky assassin all you want, but as a class focused on killing people, the execution is really poor (pun intended).

My my, someone doesn't like reading the OP.


Any advice on this will be great, but please refrain from suggesting other classes, as I'd like to give one of these a spin this time around.

But yeah. I'd go with Duelist. Precise Strike looks really helpful, as it can help give you a boost when fighting in Melee, or help take down pesky opponents with a Precise Strike/Sneak Attack combo.

Keld Denar
2008-10-30, 06:16 PM
Bah, stupid OP with its restrictions that I should probably read before posting...

I gotta say, I REALLY REALLY don't like Duelist. Mechanically, its so counterintuitive to the whole rogue philosophy of increasing number of attacks to increase SA damage geometrically. And your AC really is CRAP, compared to someone using armor with enchantments (and MV) on it. Its kind of like Spring Attack. Great concept, poor execution. Assassin is just as bad though, because your DC is based on a crappy method of determination. So at level 6 when you can take your first level of Assassin, your Death Attack DC is 11+4 tops, or DC15. Thats about a 50% make rate for CR2 orge, or a bout a 30% chance for any even leveled straight classed Fighter, Barbarian, Cleric, or any of the other strong fort based PC classes. And that's the best chance you'll have in your career, without expending some serious cash on +int books, +int items, Ability Focus, and the couple other things you need to up the DC. And then you STILL need 3 rounds of study, which makes it not so good in combat with outer PCs, since you should probably just be attacking at that point anyway.

Honestly, I'd stay straight rogue. More skill points to invest. At level10, you can get Crippling Strike for big str damage, which is always a good thing!

AslanCross
2008-10-30, 06:25 PM
The duelist doesn't get Elaborate Parry until Lv 7, though, so you likely won't get it. Its lower level class features are rather underwhelming and won't help much. Even worse, it requires a BAB of at least +6, which you don't get early with the Rogue.

Assassin at least gets spellcasting and Sneak Attack progression, so I'd go for that instead. Don't rely too much on Death Attack, though, because it's not that good. It's easier to get into since its requirements are partly RP-related instead of actual build choices.

I'd recommend either Assassin or just going straight Rogue.

Oslecamo
2008-10-30, 06:57 PM
I gotta say, I REALLY REALLY don't like Duelist. Mechanically, its so counterintuitive to the whole rogue philosophy of increasing number of attacks to increase SA damage geometrically. And your AC really is CRAP, compared to someone using armor with enchantments (and MV) on it. Its kind of like Spring Attack. Great concept, poor execution. Assassin is just as bad though, because your DC is based on a crappy method of determination. So at level 6 when you can take your first level of Assassin, your Death Attack DC is 11+4 tops, or DC15. Thats about a 50% make rate for CR2 orge, or a bout a 30% chance for any even leveled straight classed Fighter, Barbarian, Cleric, or any of the other strong fort based PC classes. And that's the best chance you'll have in your career, without expending some serious cash on +int books, +int items, Ability Focus, and the couple other things you need to up the DC.


Perhaps...Attacking the guys with low fortitude save instead of the big nasty enemy tanks? What, you wanted your sneaky killer character to easily take down in one blow the enemy toughest soldiers?

EDIT:Actually, it will be at least 16+int, wich is quite good at such low levels. It says class level, not assassin level, so rogue levels stack for the ability.



And then you STILL need 3 rounds of study, which makes it not so good in combat with outer PCs, since you should probably just be attacking at that point anyway.


Perhaps...Scouting ahead, hiding and opening the combat with a death strike on one of the squishy enemies when the party arrives kick in the door style?

Yes, I'm an assassin fan. It's actually pretty decent, if you don't play him like he's a barbarian charging head on against the enemy.

My favorite points:

1-Sneak attack progression
2-Poison resistance isn't too shabby.
3-Spells, wich are much more usefull than they would look at first glance.
4-It's always fun seting up situations to use death attack. Altough it isn't a always kill ability, it is at will, and will kill it's fair rate if you pick your targets wisely. And heck, if they resist it, you pull out your daggers and shred them to ribbons with your full sneack attack dices. :smallbiggrin:

Heliomance
2008-10-30, 07:21 PM
Class level means levels in the class that contains the ability. Character level means all levels combined. This means that no, Rogue levels do not stack for the purposes of death attack DC.

Starbuck_II
2008-10-30, 07:22 PM
The Assassin class, from what I understand, is a strong class until the higher levels, but since I don't expect the campaign to bring us any farther than level 8 or 9 that's not a big problem for me. Since this campaign will have a lot of politics and political intrigue in it, it's a fairly good choice for the setting, abilities aside.

Any advice on this will be great, but please refrain from suggesting other classes, as I'd like to give one of these a spin this time around.

Thanks in advance!

Assassin and be liberal with poison. It won't work often, but it helps alot (plus kinda cheap). Uses ravages as well (from BoED). Just like poisons but only vs evil.

They have awesome spells. Look in Spell compendruim.
You just need 1 level in Assassin to cast spells from scrolls, wandsm, etc without error.

Buy scrolls:
1) Blade of Pain and fear: rd/level, touch attack deals damage + save or frightened.
2) Fell the greatest foe (you will likely fight taller creatures like Dragons or giants)
3) Extended Wraithstrike (extended so lasts 2 rounds) Depending on DM a swift scrolls are swift actions or standard. (rules compendruim says swift but still debated by some)

4) Find the gap: No Natural armor added to AC of foes each time you attack for rd/level.
5) Fangs of the Vamp King: Gain bite attack +Your bite attack deals 1d6 + Str+ 1 con damage. Con adds up fast.
6) Heart Ripper (from Complete Arcane but better now)
7) Cursed Blade: Anyone hit can't heal your damage unless target gets a remove curse first.

Eldaran
2008-10-30, 07:25 PM
EDIT:Actually, it will be at least 16+int, wich is quite good at such low levels. It says class level, not assassin level, so rogue levels stack for the ability.




Fortitude save (DC 10 + the assassinís class level + the assassinís Int modifier)


Uh...what? That clearly indicates it's the level of the class, otherwise it would say character level.

Skjaldbakka
2008-10-30, 08:01 PM
Assassin is a fine class. It isn't a one trick pony. Minor spellcasting, advanced sneak attack progression, and occasionally you get to pre-empt an encounter when you are scouting with death attack. As far as DMG PrCs go, it is one of the best.

Barring PrCs that give full casting progression, but that is because spellcasting is unbalanced. The Assassin class is pretty solid.

Also, as was pointed out, Assassin is possibly the only PrC that got spell support in expanded material. Not sure about that though.

ocato
2008-10-30, 08:17 PM
I have to agree that Assassin is the choice. Imagine being a rogue who can cast spells that guarantee sneak attack instead of hoping the wizard decides he wants to pretend to be a team player. Sneaking through a castle? Invisibility, Iron silence, some disguise self or ventriloquism if you desperately need it for some reason. Easy, fun, and self reliant. Sounds good to me.

Draken
2008-10-30, 08:18 PM
Blackguard gets some support as well.

Anyway. I say go for Assassin. If only because of the spellcasting it grants. The list is quite interesting.

And again, use Death attack only if you have (a few) surprise rounds. Otherwise, get to sneak attackin'.

Emperor Tippy
2008-10-30, 09:24 PM
Between the two options you gave go Assassin, it's better in pretty much every conceivable situation.

That isn't to say that it's a good PrC for a rogue though.

Factotum 5/ Assassin X will make a better Assassin that using a rogue base.

Better yet Factotum 4/ Swordsage 1/ Assassin 10/ Swordsage 5. Go human and take Able Learner for what is effectively all skills as class skills.

That gets you the same sneak attack that a rogue 10/Assassin 10 would get you, effectively more skills, and gives you a lot more options all around. Take Font of Inspiration 4 times (2 flaws, 2 feats) and you have 13 Inspiration Points. Which means a +20d6 Sneak Attack. Trading a single Swordsage or Assassin level for Lion Totem Barbarian could also be viable (gain pounce)

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2008-10-30, 09:36 PM
Duelist is only good for making an AC-focused unarmored character who fights defensively, and that's only good at character level 13+.

Assassin isn't good at anything it was intended to be good at. It is one of the worst classes in the game.

That being said, if you're dead-set on one of those classes, go Rogue 4/ Warlock 1/ Assassin 5/ Arcane Trickster 10, applying AT spellcasting to Warlock. Use either Whisper Gnome (RoS) for the racial spell-like Mage Hand or the feat Spell Hand (CA) to meet the spell prerequisite for AT. At level 20 you'll have 10d6 sneak attack and a 6d6 Eldritch Blast, hopefully +2d6 for a Greater Chasuble of Fell Power. Combine that with Greater Invisitiblity and Eldritch Chain and you're dealing 18d6 touch attack no-save damage to a whole encounter every round. Pick invocations for buffs and utility, with Vitriolic Blast to avoid SR, don't worry about Cha or your save DCs. Don't worry about Death Attack, it's not even worth using in any build at all. I'd probably start out Rogue 1/ Warlock 1, just to keep your skills up leading up to Assassin.

Oslecamo
2008-10-31, 05:30 AM
Assassin isn't good at anything it was intended to be good at. It is one of the worst classes in the game.


Why do you say that? It's actuallly a very balanced prestige class, in the same power level of the rogue, slightly higher in my opinion.

It can dish out really good damage with full sneack attack progression, progresses uncanny dodge, and more than makes up for the fewer skill points with the spellcasting ability. Poision resistance is much nicer than it sounds, since your fortitude save will probably suck.

Sure, death attack isn't the OMGPWNEDLOL, but you must consider it an extra free ability, not the whole focus of the class like the barbarian's rage. You already have skill points, sneack attack, and spells. Having an uber at will one hit kill technique would make the class unbalanced.


There are MUCH worst choices out there. Arcane archer for example.

Sstoopidtallkid
2008-10-31, 05:49 AM
assassin is weak. Rogue is a bit underpowered anyways(too many things immune to SA), but Assassin loses 4 skill points/level, a few class skills, and 3 special abilities that are normally pretty useful. In exchange they gain Poison Use(useless, poison in 3.x sucks), Ranger-level spellcasting(very good, probably on the level of a couple of the special abilities), Death Attack(useless, 3 rounds of not attacking for one really good attack isn't worth it, especially when it's just a SoD with a low save) and HiPS(very good, but by the time you have it, everyone and their mother has Darkvision up 24/7 and can see through shadow).

Curmudgeon
2008-10-31, 07:07 AM
You won't get enough class levels in Duelist to really make a difference regarding AC boost. Assassin could work if you have a high enough INT to get more spells. A minimum of 12 INT when you start the class (level 6) gives you 1 bonus 1st level spell, but that's pretty meager. If you could get your INT to 20 at level 8 you'll get 2 bonus 1st level spells and 1 bonus 2nd level spell.

Beyond spells, your best bet is copious use of poison. Death attack is really only suited for ambushes, when you're not in combat while studying your victim. Take Craven, of course. Get yourself a keen rapier and add the best poison you can get your hands on.

Look for other ways to surprise opponents, too. You could go for mobility (the real thing, not the weak Mobility feat) with the Quick (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/buildingCharacters/characterTraits.htm#quick) trait and Boots of Striding and Springing (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/wondrousItems.htm#bootsofStridingandSpringing). Add the Extreme Leap skill trick and you may be moving twice as fast as your enemies expect. Or you could aim for constant concealment with Deeper Darkness cast on your blade and Ebon Eyes (from a wand, probably) so that it doesn't impair your ability to sneak attack. Add Shadow or Improved Shadow to your light armor and you'll be able to Hide reliably anywhere. Foes will be expecting Invisibility; this is sneakier. Alternatively you could concentrate on magical boosts from wands. Since Magic Item Compendium ruled that triggering a swift action spell is a swift (not standard) action, you can make use of boosts like Sniper's Shot to make full attacks with a bow and add sneak attack damage regardless of distance. Or Distract Assailant to make a foe flat-footed, or Wraithstrike if you're having trouble with high AC. Get a Wand Bracelet and you can load up on the boosts you'll need.

Saph
2008-10-31, 08:45 AM
I don't understand why people complain so much about the assassin. The Assassin PrC is basically a Rogue, with 4 less skill points per level and spells, Death Attack, and Hide in Plain Sight to make up for it. It's not brokenly powerful, but being brokenly powerful is a bad thing, not a good thing.

Anyway, as several people have said, Assassin is the way to go, because Duelist only gets good once you have Elaborate Parry, which you won't reach by your estimated end of campaign. Only playing until Level 8-9 does mean you won't get the best of Assassin spellcasting, and your Death Attack won't get to a very high DC, but it'll still be a perfectly playable character.

- Saph

Eldariel
2008-10-31, 09:11 AM
The primary problem with Assassin is that the thing a Rogue is good at is skill monkeying. Assassin is a Rogue that isn't. In exchange, you get few lowlevel spells (handy, but just going into Arcane Trickster with Wizard-base would be a better plan all along) and different class features.

Poison Use would be awesome if the poison system wasn't broken bad. Death Attack would be awesome if you could use Int for To Hit somehow. Hide in Plain Sight is great if you get Darkstalker from Lords of Madness. The entire class lacks against a large number of opponents (anything immune to crits - undead, elementals, plants, oozes, golems, any character with Heavy Fortifications-armor, etc.), and while you can get some assistance for that from Rogue Alternative Class Features (do pick up Penetrating Strike from Dungeonscape!), a straight Rogue tends to kick an Assassin's keister simply because you can get most desirable spell effects from Wands and because Death Attack tends to be plain less effective than Full Attack TWF Sneak Attack (not to mention, much less reliable - gotta hit with that one attack or you just wasted 3 turns).

So yea, Assassin's problems:
-One of their primary class features, Poisons, tend to be way too expensive to use efficiently.
-They only get little money off by having few spells as castables instead of completeables.
-4+Int skills makes monkeys cry.
-Bonus to saves against poison? Now, really?
-Death Attack sucks unless you focus on Int when you end up not hitting so it keeps on sucking. Also, unlike SA, it can't penetrate the immunities with ACFs.
-Hide in Plain Sight comes on level 8 :(

It's a decent class, but not as good as a Rogue.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-10-31, 09:45 AM
Neither Assassin nor Duelist are strong, but they can both be fairly fun. If you go Duelist, get into Swashbuckler, pick up Insightful Strike (Int synergy with the Duelist defense), take Fighter 2 for feats (you need a ton). You'll want something like Rogue 4/Swashbuckler 2/Fighter 2/Duelist 10. It's not optimal (Swashbuckler/Fighter/Scout/Duelist is), but it's not bad.

Consider picking Greater Two-Weapon Defense (CWar) and the prereqs; you don't want to on two-weapon fighting, but that +6 AC when fighting defensively - which will be all the time - is nice). You'll want a defending dagger in your off-hand in any case - it doesn't interfere with any Duelist abilities if you don't use it to attack.

Your AC - including touch and flat-footed - will be tweaked out. Invest heavily in all possible AC items, and make sure you have Int 30 (including enhancement and inherent bonuses) by Duelist 10, then pump Dex.

You'll definitely want Elusive Target (CWar), and if you do max out AC, you want Robilar's Gambit (PHB2) - you'll get to AoO every opponent attacking you (with Combat Reflexes and maxed-out Dex, you'll have 10+ AoOs per round) every time, pretty much, and they can't hit you.

The weakness of this build is that you're not a damage dealer, although I prefer to pick up Power Attack - you're using a rapier, after all, and can PA with it. Without PA, your average damage at 20th level will only be around 40.

Saph
2008-10-31, 10:50 AM
The primary problem with Assassin is that the thing a Rogue is good at is skill monkeying. Assassin is a Rogue that isn't. In exchange, you get few lowlevel spells (handy, but just going into Arcane Trickster with Wizard-base would be a better plan all along) and different class features.

Arcane Trickster definitely wouldn't be a better plan here; he's starting at low level and going to level 8-9. Arcane Trickster requires 3rd-level spells and +2d6 SA, hence trying to play one would make you a terribly weak multiclass character who wouldn't qualify for the PrC until the campaign was basically over.

You're selling the Assassin's spellcasting short, IMO - their spell list is quite nice, and you get Int-based casting without the ridiculous amounts of bookkeeping that playing a Wizard involves. For a skillmonkey, a few spontaneous low-level spells without the hassle of UMD can be very helpful.

- Saph

Tsotha-lanti
2008-10-31, 11:01 AM
You're selling the Assassin's spellcasting short, IMO - their spell list is quite nice, and you get Int-based casting without the ridiculous amounts of bookkeeping that playing a Wizard involves. For a skillmonkey, a few spontaneous low-level spells without the hassle of UMD can be very helpful.

Absolutely. They also get spells to specifically make up for their fewer skill points. Disguise? You have disguise self and alter self. Hide? Invisibility. Climb? Spider climb. Bluff? Glibness. Escape Artist? Freedom of movement.

Their spells are excellent utilities, usually not that hung up on caster level.

Person_Man
2008-10-31, 12:06 PM
If you go with Duelist, your entry should include 3 levels of Paladin. The Golden Cup substitution level from Champions of Valor allows you to share the AC bonus from Combat Expertise, fighting defensively, or total defense to an adjacent ally. This synergies perfectly with Elaborate Parry.

If you go with Assassin, I suggest you optimize your ability to debuff (http://forums.gleemax.com/wotc_archive/index.php/t-1002247). For example:
Hexblade 4: PHBII Dark Companion: -2 No Save
Hexblade Curse (limited uses): -2 or more
Paladin of Tyranny 3 or Blackguard 3: SRD: -2 No Save
Netherese Battle Curse feat: Lost Empires of Faerun (burns spells): -2
Brutal Strike: PHBII: -2
Daunting Presence: Libris Mortis: -2
Fearsome armor: Drow of the Underdark: Demoralize as a Move action. You can get extra Move actions with a Crown of the Evader (srd).
Spell Storing Weapon: SRD: TONS of debuff spells out there.

This should consistently impose a -4 to -20 on your enemy before you Death Attack them. I also highly suggest you mine the splat books for Assassin spells - there are some real gems out there. I'd take Obtain Familiar feat as well, since your Familiar can hold the charge of a spell and attack on your turn, giving you another debuff. And remember, a single level of a class lets you use the wands for all spells on that classes list.

zaei
2008-10-31, 11:44 PM
...and HiPS(very good, but by the time you have it, everyone and their mother has Darkvision up 24/7 and can see through shadow).
The shadow merely needs to exist. Just because someone can see into doesn't mean the Assassin can't hide in it.

RAW HiPS allows you to hide pretty much anywhere, as it allows you to hide in things like the shadow of a blade of grass, or of an ant, for instance.

BardicDuelist
2008-11-01, 12:10 AM
I've found that what you want with a duelist is best accomplished with a factotum. Since you don't want other classes suggested, I'd go with the assassin.

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2008-11-01, 01:45 AM
First and foremost, Assassin spellcasting completely defeats the purpose of being a stealth-based class because every single spell they cast must have an audible verbal component, because they cast spells as a Bard. It works completely against everything the class is meant to do.

Go Rogue 4/ Psion 1/ Psychic Assassin (http://wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/psm/20040723d), using your bonus Psion feat to get Practiced Manifester. If you hit level 10 pick up Mind Cripple, with TWF you'll be able to disable most big bruiser-type opponents in only a few rounds regardless of their HP. The class is much better overall than the DMG Assassin, especially with Mind Cripple.

Curmudgeon
2008-11-01, 07:48 AM
First and foremost, Assassin spellcasting completely defeats the purpose of being a stealth-based class because every single spell they cast must have an audible verbal component, because they cast spells as a Bard. It works completely against everything the class is meant to do. That just means you have to overcome this problem. See Races of Stone on page 133. You can use a Sleight of Hand check to disguise both verbal and somatic components of spellcasting, and SoH is a class skill.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-11-01, 08:30 AM
Actually, I would say that the verbal component is a feature of bard spells, not bard casting, and therefore does not apply to assassins. It certainly seems unlikely that it was intended that assassin spells (which are distinct from "bard spells") all have verbal components.

Eldariel
2008-11-01, 10:12 AM
Absolutely. They also get spells to specifically make up for their fewer skill points. Disguise? You have disguise self and alter self. Hide? Invisibility. Climb? Spider climb. Bluff? Glibness. Escape Artist? Freedom of movement.

Their spells are excellent utilities, usually not that hung up on caster level.

Those are mostly Wands you should have access to anyways though.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-11-01, 11:29 AM
Those are mostly Wands you should have access to anyways though.

Wands are expensive, especially for utility spells you may want to employ daily. In my experience, most PCs don't have infinite cash to blow on expendable items.

Random NPC
2008-11-01, 12:32 PM
Neither Assassin nor Duelist are strong, but they can both be fairly fun. If you go Duelist, get into Swashbuckler, pick up Insightful Strike (Int synergy with the Duelist defense), take Fighter 2 for feats (you need a ton). You'll want something like Rogue 4/Swashbuckler 2/Fighter 2/Duelist 10. It's not optimal (Swashbuckler/Fighter/Scout/Duelist is), but it's not bad.

Consider picking Greater Two-Weapon Defense (CWar) and the prereqs; you don't want to on two-weapon fighting, but that +6 AC when fighting defensively - which will be all the time - is nice). You'll want a defending dagger in your off-hand in any case - it doesn't interfere with any Duelist abilities if you don't use it to attack.

Your AC - including touch and flat-footed - will be tweaked out. Invest heavily in all possible AC items, and make sure you have Int 30 (including enhancement and inherent bonuses) by Duelist 10, then pump Dex.

You'll definitely want Elusive Target (CWar), and if you do max out AC, you want Robilar's Gambit (PHB2) - you'll get to AoO every opponent attacking you (with Combat Reflexes and maxed-out Dex, you'll have 10+ AoOs per round) every time, pretty much, and they can't hit you.

The weakness of this build is that you're not a damage dealer, although I prefer to pick up Power Attack - you're using a rapier, after all, and can PA with it. Without PA, your average damage at 20th level will only be around 40.
This is good. You can also start as a human or grey elf scout. Scout 2/Swashbuckler 3/Fighter2/Duelist X