GenCon 4e Preview: The Assassin

A sort of stealth promotion is going here at GenCon from WotC, where if you sign up for D&D Insider (or re-up your subscription) you receive a bound book that contains an 11th level Halfling Assassin (with the Obsidian Stalker paragon path). It also contains an adventure you can use him in, Crown of the Troll King (something of a cross between Crown of the Kobold King and King of Trollhaunt Warrens, I suppose).

The Assassin is a Shadow Striker. His Striker extra damage come from the “Assassin’s Shroud” at-will power that lets the Assassin, as a free action, subject a target in close burst 10 to his shroud, and if he’s already a target of your shroud, add an additional shroud to it, to a maximum of 4. When you attack that target, you can either expend all your shrouds or it or none, and if you do, you deal 1d6 damage per shroud if you hit, and 1d6 per shroud minus one shroud if you miss. So basically, they can build up on one enemy, and can either keep building up to do one big hit of damage. If you use your shrouds against another target, all other shrouds vanish.

It also appears as though they receive an at-will teleport as a class feature called Shadow Step that requires you to be adjacent to a creature and let you teleport adjacent to a different creature. All their powers are tied to shadows, with a strong preference towards teleporting and insubstantial-causing powers. Their powers sound pretty ugly but what you’d expect for an assassin: the daily power Black Garrote let’s you grab and choke a creature using shadow stuff.

I’ve attached pictures of each of the pages should you wish to take a look for yourself.

“Crown of the Troll King” is a pretty straightforward delve using the new Caves dungeon tile set, and a boat-load of trolls. The final encounter against the Troll King and the ghosts of the adventurers he has killed is pretty cool too. While I think it’s cool that there’s an adventure along with the character, most people are going to be picking up for the Assassin preview. The Assassin looks like a pretty cool class, and honestly, what I expected. It shares some conceptual ground with the Rogue (and the Avenger) with a focus on shadowy stuff and some brutal sounding powers (while the Rogue may slash your legs, the Assassin drowns you in shadow). Looking forward to the full class, especially as I already have a player interested in it.

Click on the image to enlarge:

About Dave

Dave "The Game" Chalker is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Critical Hits. Since 2005, he has been bringing readers game news and advice, as well as editing nearly everything published here. He is the designer of the Origins Award-winning Get Bit!, a freelance designer and developer, son of a science fiction author, and a Master of Arts. He lives in MD with e, the Geek's Dream Girl.


  1. Wow….now I really wish I was there so I can pick this up as well. So there is not change of getting a hold of this if I am not at the con I take it? But I am really surprised that they created an 11th level character with NO magic items..whats up with that?

  2. I don’t know if they’ll release this elsewhere or not, I can ask! But the full class is coming next month.

    Good catch about the magic items! Though they can use their Ki powers instead of a weapon, so at least they’re covered there :)

  3. Peraion Graufalke says:

    Looks like they included magic items without marking them as such. If my math is correct, that character wields a +3 bastard sword and a +3 dagger (thrown).
    EDIT: Or it’s because of the Ki focus. Either way, he has a +3 enhancement bonus.

  4. Yeah, does it say anything else about Ki focuses?

    Also, with Killer Instinct you can be doing Sneak Attack each round at will, without needing Combat Advantage. And can use a big sword to do it. Rogue is sad?

  5. Very interesting! Since they’ve got the Monk coming up in PHB3 it makes sense that they’d have other classes that make use of any new mechanics they’re introducing for it — in this case, Ki focus. Conceptually, the assassin will work nicely with the revamp of Dark Sun as well. :)
    .-= Jim Ryan´s last blog ..Episode XXI – Who’s In Charge Here? =-.

  6. Keith Sutherland says:

    I’m going to guess that these ki powers are similar to what we will see for the fighter powers hinted at in the Dark Sun interview. If so, I’m impressed.

  7. Sorry, I think you’ve misread. The striker feature is NOT the shroud, whose damage(14 on a hit, 10.5 on a miss) is rather weak in comparison to real striker features, and takes 4 rounds to set up. If that were the striker feature, Assassins would be terrible strikers. The striker feature is the Night Stalker class feature: +Cha to damage against isolated foes.

  8. @Sithobi1 I’m sorry, but I think you’re wrong.

    The shroud lets, as a base the Assassin add +1d6 to damage to one damage roll each round. This is the same as the Ranger or Warlock’s “striker bonus” (in part). He can also take a feat that makes it +2d6 to one damage roll each round. This is the same as Sneak Attack, except you don’t need CA. And it even does damage on a miss (which I hadn’t noticed before!), which puts it a bit above Quarry (to make up for the lack of multi-attacks), and helps to offset the Rogue’s accuracy (I guess, still seems better than Sneak Attack to me). So yes, I’m sure that is the striker bonus. I don’t see how it’s weak–it can either be equivalent to other striker bonus damage sources, or you can stack it up to give a single enemy a big hit (effectively, not applying your Quarry to a minion one round in order to add it twice to the solo the next).

    If you look at the sheet of Feats, you’ll see that “Night Stalker” is a guild training ability (sounds like a guild feat, or may be a new set feat he took. It may be an assassin class feature (their build choice), in which case they have two sources of extra “striker” damage (basically an extra tagger if they can get special circumstances). That ability by itself is pretty weak, as it’s situational and harder to get/control than CA. [though an assassin and an Avenger seem like they could work nicely together...] The shroud is much better than the Night Stalker ability, and would be an assassin’s primary source of extra damage.

  9. Mordralis says:


    It should be noted that the Killer’s Insight feat (please correct me if this is not the feat to which you were referring) allows you to only add an additional, second shroud to your target once per encounter. The assassin can use the feat to get two shroud charges at once for +2d6 damage, but it can only be done once per encounter and provides no further benefit once the charges have been used. If the assassin was to build only one shroud charge per round and spend it immediately, it would be a +1d6 bonus to damage, which is comparable to Ranger, Warlock, and to a lesser extent Barbarian. Only in one round per encounter can it reach the Rogue’s +2d6 output.

    I agree with you that Assassin’s Shroud is most assuredly the primary striker damage source for the class, with Night Stalker as a build choice for a little bonus. However, it would appear to be balanced against the other strikers without threatening the Rogue due to the removal of shroud charges after use.

  10. @Mordralis: Ah, I somehow missed the 1/encounter (even as I read the feat over and over again). That’s good to see. :)

  11. The ki focus mechanic is interesting to me, in how similar it is to the Monk’s ability to have unarmed strike enchantments. It’s really both a more elegant name and description of what’s involved there. I have to wonder if it’ll be incorporated in the final published copy of the Monk. Even if it’s not, I imagine that a lot of players will conceive of it that way.
    .-= Alexandra Erin´s last blog ..What’s in a name? =-.

  12. Anyideal on what book this will be released in

  13. Peraion Graufalke says:

    The assassin will be DDI only like the revenant, so no print release.

  14. Could someone email me the class set up. Or if I sign up now do you think I would be able to DL a copy of the insider with it in it

  15. Willie: The class write-up will be out in September and will be available to Insider members if you sign up now (or then) but as far as I know the booklet I posted is the only info we have on it.

  16. It’ll be interesting to see if the class actually stays true to the more base roots of assassins instead of going off on a tangent again like I’ve seen quite a few other games go. It will also be interesting to see how they’re going to make it different from the rogue without losing some of the coolness in design that assassins are capable of.
    .-= Zyferiax´s last blog ..And now we open and roll… =-.

  17. The shadow power source raises some interesting possibilities. I’m hoping for a necromancer class to fall under that banner.
    .-= Nicholas´s last blog ..The 10 Freakiest Facts You Never Knew about Gelatinous Cubes =-.


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  4. [...] If you signed up for DDI (or renewed your subscription), you got a packet of sneak preview of the new character class, The Assassin.  (My fuzzy cell phone pic wasn’t meant to be read, but people tried..)  If you want the hi-res photos taken with a real camera, go check out the post on Critical-Hits. [...]