Adventuring assassins are often fugitives or the last survivor of an order lost to the war of assassins. On the run from both the law and other killers, they might be able to earn a place with a larger order of assassins or start their own order in time. Other adventuring assassins are on a long-lasting mission from their order, often ripe with secret objectives and last-minute instructions.

Role: In an adventuring party, the assassin is almost always the point-man and scout, sometimes used as a living trap finder, bait, or canary. Few groups trust assassins fully and many try to keep the assassin in check by threatening to disclose his identity. It is generally impossible for an assassin in a tight and lasting adventuring team to keep his class secret, most assassins reveal their nature to their closest allies. An assassin can pretend to be a rogue, which may make compatriots guard their valuables rather than their lives, but when such a deception is revealed the assassin can be in grave danger from his erstwhile allies.

Hit Die: d8.
Starting Gold: 140 gp.

Class Skills
The assassin’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Acrobatics (Dex), Athletics (Str), Disable Device (Int), Deception (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (local) (Int), Perception (Wis), Profession (Wis), Sap (Str), Scrutiny (Int/Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), and Stealth (Dex). Assassins gain a number of additional class skills depending on their secret.
Skill Ranks at Each Level: 8 + Int modifier.

Table: Assassin
Level BAB Fort Ref Will Special Spells per Day (Spell secrets only)
0 1 2 3 4
1st +0 +0 +2 +0 Secret training, sneak attack +1d6 2
2nd +1 +0 +3 +0 Poison use, quiet death 3
3rd +2 +1 +3 +1 Sneak attack +2d6, poison use +1 3
4th +3 +1 +4 +1 Death attack, uncanny dodge 3 0
5th +3 +1 +4 +1 Sneak attack +3d6 3 1
6th +4 +2 +5 +2 First secret, poison use +2 4 1
7th +5 +2 +5 +2 Sneak attack +4d6 4 1 0
8th +6 +2 +6 +2 Improved uncanny dodge, lingering death 4 1 1
9th +6 +3 +6 +3 Sneak attack +5d6, poison use +3 4 2 1
10th +7 +3 +7 +3 Second secret 4 2 1 0
11th +8 +3 +7 +3 Sneak attack +6d6 4 2 1 1
12th +9 +4 +8 +4 Poison use +4, swift death 4 2 2 1
13th +9 +4 +8 +4 Sneak attack +7d6 4 3 2 1 0
14th +10 +4 +9 +4 Third secret 4 3 2 1 1
15th +11 +5 +9 +5 Sneak attack +8d6, poison use +5 4 3 2 2 1
16th +12 +5 +10 +5 Poison mastery 4 3 3 2 1
17th +12 +5 +10 +5 Sneak attack +9d6 4 4 3 2 1
18th +13 +6 +11 +6 Fourth secret, poison use +6 4 4 3 2 2
19th +14 +6 +11 +6 Sneak attack +10d6 4 4 3 3 2
20th +15 +6 +12 +6 Instant death, ultimate fear 4 4 4 3 3

Class Features
These are all the class features of the assassin.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Assassins are proficient with weapons (unarmed, simple, hand crossbow, rapier, sap, shortbows, short sword) and light armor.

Secret Training (Ex): At 1st level, an assassin must select a secret in which he is being trained. Each secret has a number of class skills, a skill bonus, and often adds to the utility of a skill. At higher levels, secrets also confer special class features on their members, (see the assassin’s secrets class feature).

Sneak Attack (Ex, precision damage): If a assassin can catch an opponent who is unable to defend himself effectively from his attack, he can strike a vital spot for extra damage.

The assassin’s attack deals extra damage anytime his target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the assassin flanks his target. This extra damage is 1d6 at 1st level, and increases by 1d6 every two assassin levels thereafter. Should the assassin score a critical hit with a sneak attack, this extra damage is not multiplied. Ranged attacks can count as sneak attacks only if the target is within 30 feet.

With a weapon that deals nonlethal damage (like a sap, whip, or an unarmed strike), an assassin can make a sneak attack that deals nonlethal damage instead of lethal damage. He cannot use a weapon that deals lethal damage to deal nonlethal damage in a sneak attack, not even with the usual –4 penalty.

The assassin must be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot and must be able to reach such a spot. A assassin cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with total concealment.

Poison Use (Ex): At 2nd level, assassins are trained in the use of poison and cannot accidentally poison themselves when applying poison to a blade. At 3rd level, the assassin gains a +1 bonus on saving throws against poisons and on Heal checks dealing with poisons. This bonus increases by +1 every three levels.

Quiet Death (Ex): At 2nd level, whenever an assassin kills a creature during a surprise round, he can also make a Stealth check, opposed by the Perception checks of those in the vicinity to prevent them from noticing the attack or identifying him as the assailant. If successful, and the corpse is not immediately obvious, those nearby might not even notice that the target is dead.

Death Attack (Ex, Int, death): If an assassin of 4th level or higher studies his victim for 3 rounds and then makes a sneak attack with a melee weapon that successfully deals damage, the sneak attack has the additional effect of possibly either paralyzing or killing the target (assassin’s choice). Studying the victim is a standard action. Once the assassin has completed the 3 rounds of study, he must make the death attack within the next 3 rounds. The death attack fails if the target detects the assassin or recognizes the assassin as an enemy (although the attack might still be a sneak attack if the target is denied his Dexterity bonus to his Armor Class or is flanked). If the victim of such a death attack fails a Fortitude save against the kill effect, he dies. If the saving throw fails against the paralysis effect, the victim is rendered helpless and unable to act for 2d6 minutes. If the victim’s saving throw succeeds, the attack is just a normal sneak attack.

If a death attack is attempted and fails or if the assassin does not launch the attack within 3 rounds of completing the study, 3 new rounds of study are required before he can attempt another death attack.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Starting at 4th level, a assassin can react to danger before his senses would normally allow him to do so. He cannot be caught flat-footed, nor does he lose his Dex bonus to AC if the attacker is invisible. He still loses his Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized. An assassin with this ability can still lose his Dexterity bonus to AC if an opponent successfully uses the feint action (see Deception in Skills) against him.

If a assassin also has uncanny dodge from a different class, he automatically gains improved uncanny dodge (see below).

Assassin Secrets: At 6th level, and every 4 levels thereafter, the assassin gains an ability from the secret training he picked at first level. Each secret has a specific list of abilities taught at each level. Certain secrets give spellcasting abilities instead, as detailed in their description. The spells per day section of Table: Assassin only applies to assassins with secrets that give spells. Most assassins are not spellcasters and have no spells per day, caster level, or spell list.

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex): A assassin of 8th level or higher can no longer be flanked. This defense denies other creatures the ability to sneak attack the assassin by flanking his, unless the attacker has at least four more levels in classes that grant sneak attack than the target does in classes that give uncanny dodge.

Lingering Death (Ex, Dex, death): At 8th level, the assassin learns how to leave a sliver lodged in the victim’s vital organs, a sliver that kills again when someone tries to raise or resurrect the victim. This is a free action when the assassin slays an enemy. The assassin can also use lingering death on a corpse as a full-round action. This can be done surreptitiously with Sleight of Hand opposed by Perception.

If a victim of lingering death is resurrected, it must pass a Fortitude saving throw or die again after 1 minute. A heal spell cast after resurrection and before death occurs removes lingering death.

A 15-minute close inspection of the corpse can find and remove lingering death with a Heal check (DC equal to twice the save DC). It is possible to take 20 on this Heal check with a 5-hour operation. Burning or otherwise destroying the corpse also negates lingering death, but the dead creature then requires resurrection or more powerful magic to be revived.

Lingering death also gives the assassin the ability to use death attack to paralyze (but not slay) creatures that are normally immune to the effects of Fortitude saving throws, primarily constructs and undead. Such a creature that fails its Fortitude save against a death attack is paralyzed until the creature recovers at least one hit point.

Swift Death (Ex): At 12th level, an assassin can make a death attack against a foe after only one round of study.

Poison Mastery (Ex): At 16th level, the assassin can apply poison to a weapon as a free action. A victim poisoned by the assassin must make two Fortitude saving throws against the initial poisoning and take the lowest result. Subsequent saving throws against the poison are made normally.

Instant Death (Ex, death): At 20th level, each sneak attack the assassin inflicts counts as a death attack, with no study required and regardless of the target’s suspicions. The assassin still needs to inflict damage for this to be effective. A victim need only save against this ability once per round.

Ultimate Fear (Ex, fear, mind): At 20th level, a victim slain by the assassin’s death attack can be raised from the dead only with great difficulty. The murder was so horrible that the soul of the victim instinctively recoils and refuses to be restored to life unless it makes a Will save with a DC of 20 + the assassin’s Charisma modifier. If the soul fail this saving throw, it cannot be resurrected unless a planar quest is made to locate and convince the soul to come back. It is the soul that makes this saving throw, and it does so before it is resurrected; it gains no benefit from any spell or effect on the body, but keeps the saving throw modifier it had when alive and benefits from any inherent resistances. Note that a victim that overcomes ultimate fear can still be killed by lingering death, above.

Starting Equipment
Below is a starting equipment packs for the assassin.

1. Five daggers, a shortbow with 20 arrows, two flasks of acid, a suit of leather armor, traveler's outfit, a bedroll, a belt pouch, a set of caltrops, 10 pieces of chalk, a flint and steel, a grappling hook, an iron pot, a mess kit, a mirror, 10 pitons, 50 feet of hemp rope, a bar of soap, a set of thieves’ tools, five sunrods, seven days of trail rations, and two waterskins. 4gp, 2 sp, 9cp/82½ lbs.

2. A shortsword, a shortbow with 20 arrows, three flasks of acid, a suit of leather armor, scholar's outfit, a backpack, a bedroll, a belt pouch, a set of caltrops, 10 pieces of chalk, a flint and steel, a grappling hook, an iron pot, a mess kit, a mirror, 10 pitons, 50 feet of hemp rope, a bar of soap, a set of thieves’ tools, seven days of trail rations, and two waterskins. 4gp, 2sp, 9cp/75½ lbs.

OPEN GAME LICENSE Version 1.0a - All text is Open Game Content.