View Full Version : D&D Ask Wizards: 09/20/2007 (DISCUSSION)

PnP News Bot
09-19-2007, 11:44 PM

Check out this new article Wizards of the Coast posted recently:

Ask Wizards: 09/20/2007 (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/4ask/20070920a)

What happens when an assassin becomes non-evil?

09-20-2007, 10:00 AM
This question and the subsequent answer sort of brings up a few questions in my mind. I could understand a Paladin losing his special abilities due to not meeting the class requirements, but what god regulates assassin talents? I'm not familiar with specific assassin traits, but for example; why would someone lose a 20d6 sneak attack because he stopped being evil?

Digital Arcanist
09-20-2007, 10:17 AM
Well it depends on the setting I guess. In FR there is Mask and another god who govern thieves and assassins. If the spellcasting granted by the class is divine in nature then it would act just like a fallen paladin. I don't remember there being a specific Dragonlance deity for assassins but like in the generic setting the god of death is often the patron deity of assassins.

As for the use of poisons and sneak-attack, and the death attack, those are all techniques employed by an assassin and therefore any repentant assassin would no longer employ those because of their terrible nature. However, any sneak-attack dice and feats gained as a rogue would be retained because a rogue can be non-evil. Instead of losing 20d6, the character would lose maybe half that.

If the spellcasting is arcane in nature, then the loss of the spells would fall under the same reasons as the loss of abilities. A repentant assassin would not use such spells because of their dark nature to him. Once again, any spells granted as part of the base class would not be affected by the loss of the prestige class.

09-20-2007, 11:18 AM
So your repentant assassin would lose his sneak attack, death attack, poison use, save bonus against poison, uncanny dodge, improved uncanny dodge, and hide in plain sight class features, as well as his assassin spellcasting and any weapon and armor proficiencies gained from the class. He’d keep the skill ranks he bought with his assassin levels, as well as the hit points, base attack, and base save bonuses gained from those class levels. He also couldn’t gain any more assassin levels until his alignment returned to evil (at which point he’d also regain the various features he lost when his alignment changed to non-evil).

My thoughts are right in line with DAs. To be truly accurate, I think you'd have to take it on a case by case basis and not just say that if the character no longer qualifies for the class because of something like alignment. My ruling would have been that he retain his sneak attack, because using sneaky techniques in combat is not an evil act. He should also retain his save against poisons because of his past familiarity with them. Similarly, he should retain uncanny dodge, improved uncanny dodge and hide in plain sight. I agree that he should probably loose the assassin spells. But, I completely disagree that he should loose weapon and armor proficiencies, because once again, why would he suddenly forget how to use a weapon he's familiar with or no longer wear certain armor -- that makes NO sense whatsoever.

09-20-2007, 02:06 PM
I've come up against this question before. I allowed the assassin to keep all of his abilities but he could no longer advance as an assassin. I did however point out that using poison, certain spells, and his death attack are all still evil acts and his alignment would suffer appropriately.

09-20-2007, 02:12 PM
That seems far more appropriate to me, yeah.

Digital Arcanist
09-20-2007, 06:10 PM
I do not see death attack as evil nor do I see an assassin as having to be an evil character.

I agree with Farcaster that proficiencies can't be unlearned, not without the help of magic or a good blow to the head, at least. I would justify removing the poison ability and spells by saying that any assassin not in a guild will be hunted down and using these abilities will invoke a DM roll to see if a guilds man is alerted. To justify the alignment issue only evil characters can join an assassin's guild.

Any character of Lawful Good alignment can't gain sneak-attack, poison use, or death attack because they go against the spirit of the alignment in my opinion. As long as the player wasn't trying to move to that alignment I see no reason not to allow some, if not all, of these abilities to be retained. Only the divine spell casting would be lost if the assassin gained the use of the spells at the deity's whim.

09-20-2007, 06:19 PM
Any character of Lawful Good alignment can't gain sneak-attack, poison use, or death attack because they go against the spirit of the alignment in my opinion.

If a rogue can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from her attack, she can strike a vital spot for extra damage.

I wouldn't agree that a Lawful Good character wouldn't use sneak-attack. A sneak-attack is simply targeting a vital spot. If I'm already sticking a sword in my opponent, why would it be less honorable for me to go for a kidney shot or one right through the old ticker?

Digital Arcanist
09-20-2007, 06:27 PM
The extra damage is explained away as coming from a vital spot but the circumstances needed to use a sneak-attack don't really match up with the spirit of a Lawful Good character.

09-20-2007, 06:29 PM
DA, so should a Lawful Good character also not take advantage of or participate in flanking an opponent? That's just as underhanded, wouldn't you say?

Digital Arcanist
09-20-2007, 06:38 PM
Definitely, I feel the spirit of the alignment prevents anyone from meeting an opponent in battle in any other way than head-on. This gets a little sticky when you use ranged combat, but if you are facing an opponent and they are facing you then that would be fine.

I don't see LG as just not breaking the law or doing bad things. I see it as the zenith of honor and chivalry. It makes sense if you look at the requirements for Knights and Paladins. The biggest complaint players have about these classes is that they are sticks in the mud and wet blankets. They hold themselves to the highest moral standards and see the world in black and white.

09-20-2007, 07:05 PM
I wouldn't agree that a Lawful Good character wouldn't use sneak-attack. A sneak-attack is simply targeting a vital spot. If I'm already sticking a sword in my opponent, why would it be less honorable for me to go for a kidney shot or one right through the old ticker?

That's a very old discussion. Isn't slaying someone quickly more merciful? Makes Finger of Death or Slay Living seem nice compared to cutting someone to death or pounding them with fireballs. I don't have an answer for this other than directly snuffing out someone's life seems wrong. There's no chance for surrender or repentance. But that seems thin somehow. So I just don't know.

Digital Arcanist
09-20-2007, 08:03 PM
When you bring in magic to the equation, then my feeling is that any offensive magic doesn't fit in with the spirit of the alignment. Its not that you are killing someone quickly or slowly but that you meet them openly and honestly in combat.

The alignment system needs an overhaul. Most DM's just ignore it and most PC's exploit it. Anytime I sit down in a game, in any capacity, I make sure everyone is clear on how strict we will be at following the system. For the most part, I think it should be up to the DM's discretion as to how true to a character's beliefs an action is.

09-21-2007, 09:36 AM
Thanks guys, I really got a lot out of this discussion - and totally understand it more. I like the compromise between losing some stuff (death attack) and keeping others (armor/weapon proficiencies). Albeit it's just another chapter that will have to be handled in my house rules, but hey, what's an additional 5 pages when I already have 67?

Digital Arcanist
09-21-2007, 11:52 AM
5 pages for just that? Do you write really big?

09-21-2007, 01:27 PM
Yeah, you can see a few pages on my blog of this place. I try to cover all the bases when dealing with house rules and "Sam's".

09-21-2007, 03:32 PM
I don't think the word Lawful from LG should be in the same sentence as Sneak as in Sneak Attack...is it Lawful to Sneak? Or Good to use it against someone unless it's a life or death situation...I can't see a Lawful Good person hiding in the shadows in wait to use a sneak attack to coldly kill someone.

But on the other hand, I don't see it as a necessity to be evil to be an assassin either....Nuetral's, Chaotic Neutral's, and Lawful Nuetral's should be able too...CN's are basically insane anyway (1st Ed. books compared CN to that of a monkey or cat and they will wait fer yer butt in the shadows ta kill ya) and a LN could easily be a super-hero of our day like The Punisher...he doesn't kill for money...he kills for justice.

Digital Arcanist
09-21-2007, 04:32 PM
The Punisher kills for his self-gratification....he's a maniac.

There are some classes like Blackguard or the new Paladin variants that really require you be evilly aligned, especially since one of the abilities is an aura of evil. The rest of the classes still work properly with any alignment, with the exception of the rogue perhaps. It really should be determined on an action-by-action basis.

10-14-2007, 09:47 PM
I've always had a problem with the alignment requirements for most classes. Now, the only ones I require to adhere very close are Clerics and Paladins, and that is about to change.

Every deity has their... other sides that they don't usually admit. This will allow me to have the LG adherents to the LG deity, the CG fanatics, and even the LE cultists that nobody wants to mention in polite company.

This is all from an old adventure with a half-orc fighter that worshipped Ilneval, the Orcish deity of battle and strength. The player wanted to be CG, and I allowed him to do so. He was more devout than many cleric PCs I have seen!! He dedicated each battle to Ilneval before the first blow was struck, and then thanked Ilneval after the battle for allowing him the chance to prove himself. He tithed over 50% of his treasure (pre-tax and equipment monies!!) to Ilneval as well. By the time he was 6th level, Ilneval was
paying personal attention.

Eventually, the player wanted to have a special sword made that was dedicated to Ilneval. In two days of almost constant gaming, he got it - and it did nearly nothing. it was the equivalent of a +6 sword (2nd edition!!), but offered no bonus to hit or damage. All it did was allow him to HIT everything. To KILL it, it was still on his skill and die rolls. The player loved it - and didn't complain at all when we discussed changing his alignment to match his actual outlook - Lawful Neutral (with a tendency towards LG).

10-23-2007, 09:01 AM
I've always felt that the lawful chaotic spectrum was more about an individuals need for order in their own lives. Lawful individuals have a strict code of behavior and will not abandon those principles except in the most extreme circumstances. If they feel strongly enough about the situation not even giving them up if it means their death. This doesn't mean they can't be sneaky. I've played any number of LG rouges and thieves over the years. Basically I won't take anything from it's rightful owner. If it was taken by force or treachery I may use my skills to recover it. I will also use those skills to disarm the professed forces of evil. Much like a modern sniper I see little wrong with attacking a foe from concealment but only when in a me or him situation. I would rather avoid conflict or subdue an enemy so he has a chance to repent. Also I tend towards practicality, just because I am LG doesn't mean I need to abandon advantages like flanking. They should only be used on foes that are strong enough to need that type of advantage though.