While anyone can kill for money, that does not make them an Assassin. In fact, few would be so bold as to self proclaim that name upon themselves, for in the Realm of Strife Assassins are a truly exceptional class of individuals who tightly guard their secrets. Operating in secrecy, Assassins are highly skilled at striking their prey from hiding, leaving them debilitated or dead, without even knowing whom or what has brought about their demise. That is unless they are being paid to send a clear message, in which case their victims will die knowing all too well whom they have wronged. Regardless of task at hand, a true assassin does not become personally involved with their marks, generally taking a cold and detached approach to the business of death.
In plying their trade, Assassins will use any and all tools at their disposal to ensure the job is completed in a professional and timely manner. Further setting them apart from your average street enforcer is their ability to supplement their impressive array of skills with magic. Viewing the Spiritual powers as an effective tool for completing a contract, their approach is a utilitarian one. Assassins most often use Spirit powers to mask their presence, assist in infiltration, or to disable those that stand between them and their mark. Only rarely will an Assassin resort to using flashy Spirit powers in an offensive nature, preferring for their work to be discreet and unnoticed above all else, until it is too late.
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Default Stats: During Character Creation you may choose to use the default stat line shown below, before racial modifiers. This can be instead of rolling for stats, or if after rolling ten sets of stats you don’t like the results.
Default Stat Assassin STRENGTH
Natural Armor Proficiency: Cloth
Trainable Armor Proficiency: Leather
Natural Weapon Proficiency: Knives, Bows
Trainable Weapon Proficiency: Swords, Hand Weapons, Crossbows, Firearms
See Equipment section for details. When using a weapon that your class is not proficient with, see Combat Penalties. There is no level or title prerequisite to train in a new proficiency, however you must receive the appropriate Training.
Class Passive Skill: Utility Caster
Class Secondary Skill: (choose one) Bounty Hunter, Acrobat, or Weapon Specialist (of Assassins’s choice)
note: If wishing to specialize in a weapon type that the Assassin does not have as a starting proficiency, you may save the point to be spend at a later date
For the individual Assassin, following the Laws of Magic is of far less importance than following Guild Law. It is typically the Assassin’s Guild which dictates an adherence to the Laws of Magic, and by extension enforces this adherence within its own members. Due to the secretive and clandestine nature of Assassin’s Guilds, it is not unknown for a Guild to secretly possess knowledge of more than one School of Magic, however this would be a closely guarded secret (perhaps even guarded from its own lower ranking members). If the Mage Warden’s were to learn of Guild that took a relaxed approach to the Laws of Magic, they would not hesitate to bring their full force to bear against them. It could be debated who would win such a conflict, but ultimately it would draw unwanted attention to the Guild and as such, most Guilds do not deviate from the Laws of Magic.
From a practical standpoint, assume that Guild Law dictates that for all Tiers, an Assassin must only learn powers from a single School of Magic.
Preparation or Failure
Regardless if they claim their motives are nefarious or noble, all Assassin’s Guilds share one thing in common: their business is death. Their approach to the spiritual arts is a pragmatic one; magic is simply one of many tools available to complete a contract. As such, they approach learning new spirit powers as preparation before entering the field to pursue a mark. While similar in many ways to the academic approach of Mages, Battlemages, and Wizards who study magic for its own ends, the Assassin studies their mark. By identifying the challenges they will face in pursuing their mark, they can then prepare by learning the powers they feel will be most useful to complete the task at hand. Some powers of course are almost universally useful as an Assassin.
Once in the field however, it is forbidden by Guild Law for Assassins to revise or modify the powers at their disposal. This would be an indication that they were ill prepared for their task, and thus not worthy to be called an Assassin. No self respecting Assassin would ever carry tomes of magic or books on spiritual knowledge into the field, and once back with their Guild, they would have no need for them as the Guilds resources would invariably be more robust.
Every Assassin’s Guild maintains a fully stocked library containing the resources to master and memorize any spirit power from the School of Magic they adhere to. This is a communal resource for members in good-standing and thus when an Assassin does decide to learn a power, they would do so at their Guild Library. Once an Assassin has determined that a particular power would be of use, they would go to their Guild Library to obtain a source of knowledge for that power. The source would typically be either a scroll containing a single spirit power or a tome containing many powers (often entire Tiers or disciplines).
Obtaining sources would almost always be done with the Guild’s permission. Any attempt to learn the power would typically be made in a controlled environment and under the supervision of a more senior member of the guild. Any Guild Member caught side stepping these rules, would be severely punished, expelled from the guild, or perhaps executed.
To learn a power (thus becoming “known” to the Assassin) the Assassin would obtain the source from the Guild Library, and spend at least a half-rest memorizing the prescribed incantations and practicing the gestures required for that power. Once prepared they would then attempt to cast that power, expending the necessary amount of Spirit and requiring them to pass an Intellect test at -1 Intellect per Tier of the power.
- If failing: They would not learn the power and the source would be destroyed, with any damage and/or negative effects inflicted upon the caster or a nearby (unintended) target
- If succeeding: The power works as intended and is now available in the memory of the caster, and can now be used at will while it remains in the caster’s memory
- Alternately: If supervised by a more senior member or guild trainer, a failed stat test may be re-rolled and any failure would be contained without destroying the source
There is a limit to the number of powers that can be known to a Assassin, depending on their level (see Level Ups table below). If that limit has been reached, learning another power would force a previous one out of the casters memory, effectively over-writing it.
While casting methods for the Spiritual Arts universally require both audible incantations of some kind, paired with physical moves or gestures, this is problematic for Assassins. Grand gestures, flashy spell effects, and forceful words do not serve their purposes. Their craft requires silence and subtlety, lest they draw attention to themselves or give away their position. To address this, Assassin’s practice long and hard to master the art of subtle incantations.
This method does not remove the need for for vocalization, but instead reduces it to a barely audible whisper, sometimes referred to as the Silent Tongue. Likewise, casting gestures are made with minimal movement and typically utilize less noticeable parts of the body (i.e. a minute flick of finger instead of a sweeping gesture of an arm). A well practiced Assassin’s subtle incantations and gestures will likely go unnoticed by anyone not trained to look for them.
On of the Assassin’s greatest tools is the art of Stealth, allowing them to strike unseen, with little evidence of having ever been there. Except of course for the mark lying dead on the floor. Assassin’s follow the standard rules for Stealth classes and Learning New Stealth Skills.
Stealth Costs for Assassin’s are as follows:
- All offensive or aggressive Stealth actions reduce Stealth by 2 prior to taking a Stealth Test
- All offensive or aggressive Stealth instants reduce Stealth by 1 prior to taking a Stealth Test
- Increase the Stealth cost by 1 if the offensive or aggressive instant or action is NOT a Stealth skill (i.e. a regular attack action)
- All regular movement reduces Stealth by 1 per tabletop inch moved prior to taking a Stealth Test
Assassin’s have the following restrictions for Stealth Disciplines:
- Primary Discipline: Assassination
- Available Disciplines: Thievery, Dirty Fighting, Suppression, Subterfuge
- Forbidden Disciplines: Sabotage, Survival
Upon character creation, Assassins’s automatically gain the following Stealth skills (prior to applying level ups):
- Study Prey (Rank I)
- Apply Poison (Rank I)
To learn new stealth skills require training unless they are upgrades (i.e. Rank1 Stealth Shot -> Rank2 Stealth Shot). Training is typically facilitated in secret, through an Assassin’s Guild.
Assassins use the following chart for levelling up:
- When rolling for Spirit don’t forget to add bonus spirit gain from intellect modifiers if applicable
- Max Spirit Powers Known does not include Tier 0 powers
- Re-calculate Base Stealth each level
Specializations are recommended for advanced players only, and are accomplished through the Secondary Skill system (see Specialist Skills). Assassins may choose to specialize their skills in up to one weapon use, one combat style, one spirit study and/or one stealth path, but can not have more than two specializations in total.
- Max one Weapon Specialist skill (choose from: Knives, Bows, Swords, Hand Weapons, Crossbows)
- Max one Combat Specialist skill (choose from: Freehand, Paired Weapon, Freestyle, Sharp Shooter, Skirmisher, Peltast)
- Max one Spirit Specialist skill (choose from: Devastation, Destruction, Conjuration, Alteration, Fortification)
- Max one Stealth Specialist skill (choose from: Thievery, Dirty Fighting, Assassination, Avoidance, Subterfuge)
Assassins gain titles based on their rank and standing within an organization of other Assassins. This system of gaining titles is referred to as Guilds.
Assassin Guilds typically operate in the shadows, their very existence little more than rumor among the common folk. This is preferred, as it allows Assassin guilds to ply their trade of death without drawing unwanted attention. In criminal underworld and black market circles, they are perhaps more well known, but ultimately their secrets are closely guarded. Once becoming a member of a particular Assassins guild it is inadvisable to break from them, as it a guaranteed method of gaining a mark on your head. In order to safeguard the secrets of their guild those who you once called allies and associates, will now tirelessly pursue you. To join an Assassin’s Guild is a lifelong decision.
While any guild is a valuable source of resources, Assassin Guilds are unique, in that they maintain a library of Guild Spirit Books. It is forbidden to remove these texts from their libraries, as it is forbidden for an Assassins to carry their own personal Spirit Book. As such one of the primary function of an Assassins guild it to allow access to these libraries to learn the spirit powers appropriate to the mission at hand. This emphasizes efficient planning and forethought into any task. While Assassin guilds are very secretive by nature, if anyone from the outside could be said to understand their goings on, it would be the Mage Wardens, for they have a vested interest in maintaining the Laws of Spirit Powers, even among these most secretive practitioners. Conversely, many Assassins Guilds work hard to remain on good terms with the Mage Wardens, for they can be an excellent source of work. It is not unknown for the Mage Wardens to take out contracts on Renegade spell casters that are beyond their reach, or that must be dealt with quietly.
Most Assassin Guilds do not wish to draw undue attention to themselves and as such, respect the Laws of Magic, if not the laws of man. These means Assassins guilds are typically dedicated to a single School of Spirit powers. However it is rumored that some Guilds shirk the authority of the Mage Colleges and maintain forbidden texts in their libraries. If this were indeed true, it would be a close guarded secret.
The titles awarded by an Assassin’s Guild are as follows:
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A Spell Thief is an Assassin that takes on work outside of a guild. This could be because they’ve never had the opportunity to join one, out of ignorance of their existence or perhaps simply because there is no Assassin’s Guild operating in their vicinity (often the case in more remote areas). More significant would be an Assassin refusing to join a Guild, an unwise choice, particularly early in an Assassin’s career.
In other cases a Spell Thief may have once belonged to a Guild, but chose to leave them or was forced out. Reasons for leaving or being kicked out of a Guild can vary considerably, from irreconcilably disagreeing with some aspect of their governance, severe guild misconduct, or taking on freelance work or failing to pay full Guild cut on a contract. In most cases Guilds with simply order a contract on your life rather than deal with the unpleasant business of informing you that you are no longer welcome in the Guild. As such Spell Thieves that have broken away from an existing Guild are very rare and most will simply be Assassins that have never joined a guild.
The life of a Spell Thief can be a very difficult one, as there will almost always be a price on their head by Guilds that want to make an example of those who would shirk their authority. Worse yet, if a Spell Thief is found to be breaking the laws of Spiritual Powers (by mixing Spirit powers) they may be further be labelled as a Renegade Spell Thief, earning the ire of both the Mage Wardens and the Assassin Guilds, who will now be competing for your head.
Luckily it can be difficult to prove that a Spell Thief is breaking the laws of Spirit Powers because they do not keep a spirit book and rely solely on their memory to store spells for later use. Therefore there is no evidence to prove they are a Renegade unless they are caught in the act of using powers from multiple Schools.
Spell Thieves do not have access to a Guild Library therefore cannot learn new powers in the same way as Assassins you belong to a guild. As such they must steal the knowledge by observing other casters. This is an entirely different technique all its own and replaces the Tier 0 power “Memorize Power” with a new Tier 0 power called “Steal Power”.
- take on work outside of the authority of a Guild, either because of not belonging to one, having been kicked out, or caught secretly attempting to avoid guild cut/dues
Rewards & Consequences
- Gain Tiers at the minimum level requirement for non-outlawed titles
- with the exception of guild resources, retain any other title rewards gained prior to becoming a Spell Thief)
- No access to Guild Spirit Books, therefore cannot learn new powers in the same way as other Assassins
- Instead gain Steal Power (Tier0 Spirit Power) which replaces Memorize Power
- Mage Wardens and Assassins may be competing for your head
Silus the Halfing (aka the Herald of the Void)
more coming soon…
Sahar the Viper