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Thread: Ask Wizards: 09/20/2007 (DISCUSSION)

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    Post [AD&D] Ask Wizards: 09/20/2007 (DISCUSSION)

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

    Ask Wizards: 09/20/2007

    What happens when an assassin becomes non-evil?

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    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?
    Last edited by Moritz; 09-20-2007 at 10:04 AM.

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    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.

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    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.
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    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.

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    That seems far more appropriate to me, yeah.
    Robert A. Howard
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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Arcanist View Post
    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by d20SRD.org
    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?
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    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.

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    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?
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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    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.

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    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.

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    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?

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    5 pages for just that? Do you write really big?

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