Villain Class: Swift Assassin

The swift assassin villain class can be used to represent a human(oid) opponent that relies on speed, stealth and finesse. This includes (stereotypical) assassins, ninjas, and even swashbuckler types. A variant of the swift assassin is the shadow marksman, who specialises in ranged combat.

The swift assassin's CR is equal to his class level/HD. A class progression to 25th level is given below, to allow creation of powerful opponents for high-level parties. A swift assassin gains a feat at 1st level, 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, just like any other humanoid creature.

Class Statistics

Hit die: d8

Skills: The swift assassin has ranks equal to his level +5 in Concentration, Balance, Climb, Jump, Tumble, Hide, Move Silently, Listen, Bluff, Sleight of Hand, Disguise, Martial Lore. His skill ranks are not affected by his Intelligence score, nor does he benefit from synergy bonuses.

Level BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Maneuvers Stances Special Str Dex Con Int Wis Cha
1 +0 +0 +2 +0 6 1 Sudden strike +1d6, special abilities 10 16 14 12 12 10
2 +1 +0 +3 +0 6 1   10 16 14 12 12 10
3 +2 +1 +3 +1 6 1 Sudden strike +2d6 10 16 14 12 12 10
4 +3 +1 +4 +1 6 1 Bonus feat 10 18 14 12 12 10
5 +3 +1 +4 +1 6 1 Sudden strike +3d6 10 18 16 12 12 10
6 +4 +2 +5 +2 7 1   10 18 16 12 14 10
7 +5 +2 +5 +2 7 1 Sudden strike +4d6 12 18 16 14 14 12
8 +6 +2 +6 +2 7 1 Martial evasion 12 20 16 14 14 12
9 +6 +3 +6 +3 7 1 Sudden strike +5d6 12 20 16 14 14 12
10 +7 +3 +7 +3 7 1   12 20 18 14 14 12
11 +8 +3 +7 +3 8 2 Sudden strike +6d6 12 20 18 14 16 12
12 +9 +4 +8 +4 8 2 Bonus feat 12 22 18 14 16 12
13 +9 +4 +8 +4 8 2 Sudden strike +7d6 12 22 18 14 16 12
14 +10 +4 +9 +4 8 2   12 22 18 14 16 12
15 +11 +5 +9 +5 8 2 Sudden strike +8d6 12 22 20 14 16 12
16 +12 +5 +10 +5 9 2 Improved martial evasion 12 24 20 14 18 12
17 +12 +5 +10 +5 9 2 Sudden strike +9d6 14 24 20 16 18 14
18 +13 +6 +11 +6 9 2   14 24 20 16 18 14
19 +14 +6 +11 +6 9 2 Sudden strike +10d6 14 24 20 16 18 14
20 +15 +6 +12 +6 9 2 Bonus feat 14 26 22 16 18 14
21 +15 +7 +12 +7 10 3 Sudden strike +11d6 14 26 22 16 20 14
22 +16 +7 +13 +7 10 3   14 26 22 16 20 14
23 +17 +7 +13 +7 10 3 Sudden strike +12d6 14 26 22 16 20 14
24 +18 +8 +14 +8 10 3 Bonus feat 14 28 22 16 20 14
25 +18 +8 +14 +8 10 3 Sudden strike +13d6 14 28 24 16 20 14

Class Abilities

The following are the class abilities of the swift assassin. All are extraordinary abilities unless otherwise noted.

Weapon and armour proficiency: The swift assassin is proficient with all simple weapons, and all associated weapons of the Shadow Hand, Desert Wind, Diamond Mind and Setting Sun schools (scimitar, light mace, light pick, falchion, spear, rapier, shortspear, bastard sword, trident, quarterstaff, nunchaku, unarmed strike, dagger shortsword, sai, siangham, spiked chain). He is proficient with light armour, but not with shields.

Martial Finesse: The swift assassin can use his Dexterity bonus instead of his Strength bonus on melee attack rolls with all weapons that he is proficient with.

Martial Insight: The swift assassin gains his Wisdom bonus to AC and weapon damage rolls, including unarmed strikes, when wearing light or no armour.

Combat Mobility: The swift assassin gains a dodge bonus to AC equal to half his level, rounded down.

Dark-Hardened Spirit: The swift assassin gains a resistance bonus to saves equal to half his level, rounded down.

Celerity: The swift assassin gains an insight bonus to initiative rolls equal to one-quarter his level, rounded down.

Sudden Strike: When attacking an opponent who is denied his Dexterity bonus to AC, the swift assassin deals the extra damage indicated. His sudden strike dice count as sneak attack dice for the purpose of feat prerequisites.

Bonus Feats: The swift assassin gains a bonus feat at 4th, 12th, 20th and 24th level. He must meet the prerequisites for these feats.

Martial Evasion: The swift assassin gains the martial evasion ability at 8th level. If he succeeds on a Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, he can expend a maneuver slot (see below) as an immediate action to take no damage.

At 16th level, the swift assassin gains improved martial evasion. If he fails on the Reflex saving throw, he can expend a maneuver slot as an immediate action to take half damage instead of full damage.

The swift assassin can decide whether to use martial evasion and improved martial evasion after finding out the result of the saving throw.

Stances and maneuvers

The swift assassin gains the listed number of stances and maneuvers per encounter. He can choose from any stance and maneuver from the Shadow Hand school, plus one of the Desert Wind, Diamond Mind or Setting Sun schools (this school must be selected beforehand). He can use any given maneuver only once per encounter, and he cannot recover spent maneuver slots (even with feats). If the swift assassin knows more than one stance, he can switch between them as normal, but he cannot use more than his maximum number of stances per encounter.

The swift assassin does not have to meet the usual prerequisites for choosing stances and maneuvers, nor does he have to select his stances and maneuvers known beforehand. Instead, he can use any stance or maneuver whose level is up to half his initiator level (rounded up). The swift assassin's IL is equal to his class level. Thus, for example, a 9th level swift assassin has 7 maneuver slots per encounter, and he can use any maneuver up to 5th level. See The Book of Nine Swords for more information on stances and maneuvers.

It's possible for a swift assassin to use different stances and maneuvers in subsequent encounters, if the PCs meet him more than once.

Viper's Nest Stance: A swift assassin is trained in the deadly benefit of teamwork. While in a martial stance, as a swift action he can give up its normal benefits to gain the effect of viper's nest stance. This ability allows him to deal sudden strike damage when flanking a target. (Effectively, this turns the sudden strike ability into sneak attack.) This is considered to be a 2nd level stance.

In addition to using maneuvers, the swift assassin can also expend a maneuver slot to power one of the abilities listed below. Unlike actual maneuvers, the swift assassin can use these abilities more than once per encounter, but each use consumes another slot.

Hidden Sting: As a move action, the swift assassin can make a skill check to deny an opponent his Dexterity bonus to AC against the next attack made against him. His opponent rolls a base attack check (BAB + higher of Str and Dex modifier); if this is equal to or higher than the swift assassin's roll, the result is avoided. This attack can be made by anyone, not just the swift assassin himself, but it must come before the end of the swift assassin's next turn. The swift assassin can only use this skill against an opponent with whom he is in melee.

At a minimum, the swift assassin can use this ability with the Jump, Tumble, Bluff and Sleight of Hand skills. If the Bluff skill is used, the opponent may choose to roll a Sense Motive check instead of a base attack check; similarly if the Sleight of Hand skill is used, the opponent may roll a Spot check. Other skills may also be used, subject to the DM's discretion (it's recommended to have a plausible in-game description of what the swift assassin is doing).

If the swift assassin takes a -5 penalty to the roll, he can use this ability as a swift action. If he takes a -10 penalty, he can use it as a free action.

(This is taken from the negate defense skill challenge.)

Soul of Fire: As an immediate action, the swift assassin gains SR equal to 10 + his level against one spell or spell-like ability that would affect him. This is a supernatural ability.

Deadly Strike: As a standard action, the swift assassin makes an attack against a target, dealing double the normal number of sudden strike dice. The usual conditions for making a sudden strike must still be met. This only applies to sudden strike damage dice gained from the swift assassin's class levels.

Fade into Night: As a swift action, the swift assassin gains the hide in plain sight ability. If he makes a Hide check before the end of his turn, he can hide even when under direct observation as long as he is within 10 ft of some sort of shadow. The Hide check is separate to the swift action to activate this ability. Once hidden, the swift assassin remains concealed until spotted, as per the normal rules for detecting hidden creatures.

Elude the Blade: As an immediate action, the swift assassin gains a 50% concealment miss chance against one attack. He must decide whether to use this ability before the attack roll is made. This is a supernatural ability.


Possessions

The swift assassin is equipped with gear appropriate to a lightly-armoured combatant who specialises in stealth and quickness. The following magic items are those commonly found on swift assassins; others may be substituted at your discretion. You should be careful about giving the swift assassin items that change his stats compared to the defaults; the class CR assumes the items below. The total value of the items should not vary significantly from the DMG guidelines for NPC equipment by level.

The swift assassin wears a masterwork chain shirt initially, a mithral chain shirt from 6th level, and bracers of armor from 16th level. From 4th level, he has +1 armour and a +1 weapon; these bonuses increase to +2 at 8th level, +3 at 12th, +4 at 16th, +5 at 20th and +6 at 24th. The weapon can be any weapon that he is proficient with.

From 6th level, he has gloves of Dexterity +2, which improve to +4 at 12th level, +6 at 18th and +8 at 24th. He has a periapt of Wisdom +2 from 7th level, which improves to +4 at 13th level, +6 at 19th and +8 at 25th.


Variants

Shadow Marksman

Make the following changes:

Shadow Marksman Stance: While the shadow marksman is in a martial stance, as a swift action he can give up its normal benefits to gain the effect of shadow marksman stance. He gains a +4 bonus to ranged attacks. In addition, the first ranged attack he makes each round can deal sudden strike damage out to his weapon's first range increment, instead of being limited to a range of 30 feet. He must still meet the other conditions for sudden strike.


Complete Tables

For convenience, the following tables give precomputed baseline statistics for swift assassins from 1st to 25th level. All static bonuses from class abilities and the default magic items have been added in. Bonuses from feats and other customised effects are not included, however.

Table 1: Stats and attributes by level

Level Init AC (t, ff)

hp

Fort Ref Will BAB Grap Mel atk Rng atk Str Dex Con Int Wis Cha Manvrs Stances
1 +3 18 (14, 15) 10 +2 +5 +1 +0 +0 +3 +3 10 16 14 12 12 10 6 1
2 +3 19 (15, 15) 16 +3 +7 +2 +1 +1 +4 +4 10 16 14 12 12 10 6 1
3 +3 19 (15, 15) 23 +4 +7 +3 +2 +2 +5 +5 10 16 14 12 12 10 6 1
4 +5 22 (17, 16) 29 +5 +10 +4 +3 +3 +8 +8 10 18 14 12 12 10 6 1
5 +5 22 (17, 16) 41 +6 +10 +4 +3 +3 +8 +8 10 18 16 12 12 10 6 1
6 +6 25 (20, 17) 48 +8 +13 +7 +4 +4 +10 +10 10 20 16 12 14 10 7 1
7 +6 26 (21, 18) 56 +8 +13 +8 +5 +6 +11 +11 12 20 16 14 16 12 7 1
8 +8 29 (23, 19) 63 +9 +16 +9 +6 +7 +14 +14 12 22 16 14 16 12 7 1
9 +8 29 (23, 19) 71 +10 +16 +10 +6 +7 +14 +14 12 22 16 14 16 12 7 1
10 +8 30 (24, 19) 88 +12 +18 +11 +7 +8 +15 +15 12 22 18 14 16 12 7 1
11 +8 31 (25, 20) 97 +12 +18 +12 +8 +9 +16 +16 12 22 18 14 18 12 8 2
12 +11 33 (26, 21) 105 +14 +22 +14 +9 +10 +20 +20 12 26 18 14 18 12 8 2
13 +11 34 (27, 22) 114 +14 +22 +15 +9 +10 +20 +20 12 26 18 14 20 12 8 2
14 +11 35 (28, 22) 122 +15 +24 +16 +10 +11 +21 +21 12 26 18 14 20 12 8 2
15 +11 35 (28, 22) 146 +17 +24 +17 +11 +12 +22 +22 12 26 20 14 20 12 8 2
16 +13 37 (33, 20) 155 +18 +27 +19 +12 +13 +25 +25 12 28 20 14 22 12 9 2
17 +13 37 (33, 20) 165 +18 +27 +19 +12 +14 +25 +25 14 28 20 16 22 14 9 2
18 +14 39 (35, 20) 174 +20 +30 +21 +13 +15 +27 +27 14 30 20 16 22 14 9 2
19 +14 40 (36, 21) 184 +20 +30 +22 +14 +16 +28 +28 14 30 20 16 24 14 9 2
20 +16 43 (38, 22) 213 +22 +33 +23 +15 +17 +31 +31 14 32 22 16 24 14 9 2
21 +16 44 (39, 23) 224 +23 +33 +25 +15 +17 +31 +31 14 32 22 16 26 14 10 3
22 +16 45 (40, 23) 234 +24 +35 +26 +16 +18 +32 +32 14 32 22 16 26 14 10 3
23 +16 45 (40, 23) 245 +24 +35 +26 +17 +19 +33 +33 14 32 22 16 26 14 10 3
24 +19 49 (43, 24) 255 +26 +39 +28 +18 +20 +37 +37 14 36 22 16 26 14 10 3
25 +19 50 (44, 25) 291 +27 +39 +29 +18 +20 +37 +37 14 36 24 16 28 14 10 3

Table 2: Skill bonuses by level

Level Intim Conc Balance Climb Jump Tumble Hide Move Sil Listen Bluff SoH Disg MartL
1 +6 +8 +8 +5 +5 +8 +8 +8 +7 +6 +8 +6 +7
2 +7 +9 +9 +6 +6 +9 +9 +9 +8 +7 +9 +7 +8
3 +8 +10 +10 +7 +7 +10 +10 +10 +9 +8 +10 +8 +9
4 +9 +11 +12 +8 +8 +12 +12 +12 +10 +9 +12 +9 +10
5 +10 +13 +13 +9 +9 +13 +13 +13 +11 +10 +13 +10 +11
6 +11 +14 +16 +11 +11 +16 +16 +16 +13 +11 +16 +11 +12
7 +13 +15 +17 +13 +13 +17 +17 +17 +15 +13 +17 +13 +14
8 +14 +16 +19 +14 +14 +19 +19 +19 +16 +14 +19 +14 +15
9 +15 +17 +20 +15 +15 +20 +20 +20 +17 +15 +20 +15 +16
10 +16 +19 +21 +16 +16 +21 +21 +21 +18 +16 +21 +16 +17
11 +17 +20 +22 +17 +17 +22 +22 +22 +20 +17 +22 +17 +18
12 +18 +21 +25 +18 +18 +25 +25 +25 +21 +18 +25 +18 +19
13 +19 +22 +26 +19 +19 +26 +26 +26 +23 +19 +26 +19 +20
14 +20 +23 +27 +20 +20 +27 +27 +27 +24 +20 +27 +20 +21
15 +21 +25 +28 +21 +21 +28 +28 +28 +25 +21 +28 +21 +22
16 +22 +26 +30 +22 +22 +30 +30 +30 +27 +22 +30 +22 +23
17 +24 +27 +31 +24 +24 +31 +31 +31 +28 +24 +31 +24 +25
18 +25 +28 +33 +25 +25 +33 +33 +33 +29 +25 +33 +25 +26
19 +26 +29 +34 +26 +26 +34 +34 +34 +31 +26 +34 +26 +27
20 +27 +31 +36 +27 +27 +36 +36 +36 +32 +27 +36 +27 +28
21 +28 +32 +37 +28 +28 +37 +37 +37 +34 +28 +37 +28 +29
22 +29 +33 +38 +29 +29 +38 +38 +38 +35 +29 +38 +29 +30
23 +30 +34 +39 +30 +30 +39 +39 +39 +36 +30 +39 +30 +31
24 +31 +35 +42 +31 +31 +42 +42 +42 +37 +31 +42 +31 +32
25 +32 +37 +43 +32 +32 +43 +43 +43 +39 +32 +43 +32 +33

Sample Swift Assassins

5th level

Human swift assassin 5: CR 5; Medium humanoid (human); HD 5d8+15 (41 hp); Init +5; Spd 30 ft; AC 22 (touch 17, flat-footed 16); BAB +3; Grap +3; Atk +9 melee (2d4+2/18-20, +1 falchion) or +8 ranged (1d8+1/19-20, masterwork crossbow); S/R 5 ft/5 ft; SA Sudden strike +3d6; SQ Swift assassin abilities; AL NE; SV Fort +6, Ref +10, Will +6; Str 10, Dex 18, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 10.

Skills: Intimidate +10, Concentration +13, Balance +13, Climb +9, Jump +9, Tumble +13, Hide +13, Move Silently +13, Listen +11, Bluff +10, Sleight of Hand +13, Disguise +10, Martial Lore +11.

Feats: Dodge, Mobility, Weapon Focus (falchion), Iron Will.

Maneuvers: 6/encounter, max 3rd level from Shadow Hand, Desert Wind.

Stances: 1/encounter, max 3rd level from viper's nest stance, Shadow Hand, Setting Sun.

Hidden Sting: As move action, convert a maneuver to make skill check to deny opponent Dex bonus to AC (or swift action at -5 penalty, free action at -10 penalty).

Soul of Fire: As immediate action, convert a maneuver to gain SR 15 against one spell.

Deadly Strike: As standard action, convert a maneuver to make attack with +6d6 sudden strike.

Fade into Night: As swift action, convert a maneuver to gain hide in plain sight on next Hide check.

Elude the Blade: As immediate action, convert a maneuver to gain 50% concealment miss chance against one attack.

Possessions: +1 bastard sword, masterwork crossbow, +1 chain shirt, 20 bolts.

10th level

Human swift assassin 10: CR 10; Medium humanoid (human); HD 10d8+40 (88 hp); Init +8; Spd 30 ft; AC 31 (touch 25, flat-footed 20); BAB +7; Grap +8; Atk +14/+9 and +14/+9 melee (1d6+6/19-20 and 1d6+5/19-20, +2 shortswords); S/R 5 ft/5 ft; SA Sudden strike +5d6; SQ Evasion, swift assassin abilities; AL NE; SV Fort +12, Ref +18, Will +13; Str 12, Dex 22, Con 18, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 12.

Skills: Intimidate +16, Concentration +19, Balance +21, Climb +16, Jump +16, Tumble +24, Hide +21, Move Silently +21, Listen +18, Bluff +16, Sleight of Hand +21, Disguise +16, Martial Lore +17.

Feats: Two-Weapon Fighting, Two-Weapon Defense, Weapon Focus (shortsword), Iron Will, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Skill Focus (Tumble).

Maneuvers: 7/encounter, max 5th level from Shadow Hand, Setting Sun.

Stances: 1/encounter, max 5th level from viper's nest stance, Shadow Hand, Setting Sun.

Martial Evasion: As immediate action, convert a maneuver to gain evasion on successful Reflex save.

Hidden Sting: As move action, convert a maneuver to make skill check to deny opponent Dex bonus to AC (or swift action at -5 penalty, free action at -10 penalty).

Soul of Fire: As immediate action, convert a maneuver to gain SR 20 against one spell.

Deadly Strike: As standard action, convert a maneuver to make attack with +10d6 sudden strike.

Fade into Night: As swift action, convert a maneuver to gain hide in plain sight on next Hide check.

Elude the Blade: As immediate action, convert a maneuver to gain 50% concealment miss chance against one attack.

Possessions: +2 shortsword (x2), +2 mithral chain shirt, gloves of Dexterity +2, periapt of Wisdom +2.

15th level

Human swift assassin 15: CR 15; Medium humanoid (human); HD 15d8+75 (146 hp); Init +11; Spd 30 ft; AC 35 (touch 28, flat-footed 22); BAB +11; Grap +12; Atk +23/+18/+13 melee (2d4+9, +3 spiked chain) or +22 ranged (1d8+8/19-20, +3 light crossbow); S/R 5 ft/10 ft; SA Sudden strike +8d6; SQ Evasion, swift assassin abilities; AL NE; SV Fort +19, Ref +24, Will +19; Str 12, Dex 26, Con 20, Int 14, Wis 20, Cha 12.

Skills: Intimidate +21, Concentration +25, Balance +28, Climb +21, Jump +21, Tumble +28, Hide +28, Move Silently +28, Listen +25, Bluff +21, Sleight of Hand +28, Disguise +21, Martial lore +22.

Feats: Iron Will, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Focus (spiked chain), Combat Reflexes, Combat Expertise, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Great Fortitude.

Maneuvers: 8/encounter, max 8th level from Shadow Hand, Setting Sun.

Stances: 2/encounter, max 8th level from viper's nest stance, Shadow Hand, Setting Sun.

Martial Evasion: As immediate action, convert a maneuver to gain evasion on successful Reflex save.

Hidden Sting: As move action, convert a maneuver to make skill check to deny opponent Dex bonus to AC (or swift action at -5 penalty, free action at -10 penalty).

Soul of Fire: As immediate action, convert a maneuver to gain SR 25 against one spell.

Deadly Strike: As standard action, convert a maneuver to make attack with +16d6 sudden strike.

Fade into Night: As swift action, convert a maneuver to gain hide in plain sight on next Hide check.

Elude the Blade: As immediate action, convert a maneuver to gain 50% concealment miss chance against one attack.

Possessions: +3 spiked chain, +3 light crossbow, +3 bracers of armor, gloves of Dexterity +4, periapt of Wisdom +4, 20 bolts.

20th level

Human swift assassin 20: CR 20; Medium humanoid (human); HD 20d8+120 (213 hp); Init +16; Spd 30 ft; AC 43 (touch 38, flat-footed 22); BAB +15; Grap +17; Atk +32/+27/+22 melee (1d10+16/19-20, +5 bastard sword); S/R 5 ft/5 ft; SA Sudden strike +10d6; SQ Improved evasion, swift assassin abilities; AL NE; SV Fort +24, Ref +33, Will +25; Str 14, Dex 32, Con 22, Int 16, Wis 24, Cha 14.

Skills: Intimidate +27, Concentration +34, Balance +36, Climb +27, Jump +27, Tumble +36, Hide +36, Move Silently +36, Listen +32, Bluff +27, Sleight of Hand +36, Disguise +27, Martial Lore +28.

Feats: Dodge, Mobility, Weapon Focus (bastard sword), Iron Will, Spring Attack, Combat Expertise, Quick Draw, Skill Focus (Concentration), Great Fortitude, Power Attack, Cleave.

Maneuvers: 9/encounter, max 9th level from Shadow Hand, Diamond Mind.

Stances: 2/encounter, max 9th level from viper's nest stance, Shadow Hand, Diamond Mind.

Improved Martial Evasion: As immediate action, convert a maneuver to gain improved evasion on Reflex save.

Hidden Sting: As move action, convert a maneuver to make skill check to deny opponent Dex bonus to AC (or swift action at -5 penalty, free action at -10 penalty).

Soul of Fire: As immediate action, convert a maneuver to gain SR 30 against one spell.

Deadly Strike: As standard action, convert a maneuver to make attack with +20d6 sudden strike.

Fade into Night: As swift action, convert a maneuver to gain hide in plain sight on next Hide check.

Elude the Blade: As immediate action, convert a maneuver to gain 50% concealment miss chance against one attack.

Possessions: +5 bastard sword, +5 bracers of armor, gloves of Dexterity +6, periapt of Wisdom +6.


Last modified: 5 June 2007

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