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Assassins are a rare sub-class of Thieves; they are trained killers, members of secret guilds and societies of their kind. As an Assassin, you begin the game as a very minor member of the nearest Assassins’ Guild, a secret organization to which you and your fellow Assassins have given dire oaths and pledges of loyalty. The first rule of the Assassins’ Guild, one might say, is that no one talks about the Assassins’ Guild. You are not an indiscriminate killer for hire, for the guild strictly regulates the actual assassination missions its members are permitted to undertake. As an Assassin-adventurer, you provide your allies with a mixture of thieving skills and combat capabilities, although you are not as proficient with thieving skills as a true Thief, nor are you truly a front-line fighter. However, your ability to disguise yourself can be of great advantage in certain situations, and your ability to use poisons and poisoned weapons can often turn the tide in a desperate combat.

Prime Attribute: Dexterity, Strength, and Intelligence all 13+ (an assassin character gains a +5% experience bonus only if ALL of their Prime Attributes are 13 or higher.)
Hit Dice: 1d6/level (an Assassin gains just 1 hp/level after 13th.)
Armor/Shield Permitted: Leather armor and any shields.
Weapons Permitted: Assassins are able to use any weapon effectively.
Race: Only humans may become Assassins.

Table: Assassin Advancement
Level* Experience Points Required for Level Hit Dice (d6)** Saving Throw
1 0 1 15
2 1,500 2 14
3 3,000 3 13
4 6,000 4 12
5 12,000 5 11
6 24,000 6 10
7 48,000 7 9
8 96,000 8 8
9 192,000 9 7
10 275,000 10 6
11 400,000 11 5
12 550,000 12 5
13 700,000 13 5
14 850,000 (Guildmaster) 13+1 hp 5
15 1,000,000 13+2 hp 5
16 1,150,000 13+3 hp 5
17 1,300,000 13+4 hp 5
18 1,450,000 13+5 hp 5
19 1,600,000 13+6 hp 5
20 1,750,000 13+7 hp 5
21+ +150,000 per level +1 hp/level 5

* Assassins were capped at 13 levels of ability in the Original Game.

** Hit points shown for levels after the character no longer gains full hit dice are the total combined number. A 15th level Assassin has 13 HD plus 2 hit points total, not 13 HD plus one hit point gained at 14th level and another 2 hit points gained at 15th.

The Original Rules did not provide any “automatic kill” ability for Assassins, other than for hired Assassins, as a way of determining success or failure on a mission. The Referee might choose to allow Assassin characters to add the Assassin’s level of experience to damage inflicted by a backstabbing attack.

Requirements and Limitations

Must be Neutral or Chaotic

Assassins must be of Neutral or Chaotic alignment. In the Original Game, Assassins could only be Neutrally aligned, presumably since their allegiance to a guild is similar to the Druidic allegiance to the powers of nature, and they are not indiscriminate in their actions. However, for purposes of Swords & Wizardry, the Referee has the flexibility to allow Chaotic alignments even for player-character Assassins. A Chaotic alignment, however, means that a creature is utterly bad, down to the very bones (see Alignment.)

Class Abilities

Disguise Self

Assassins can disguise themselves with great skill, allowing them to blend into other groups without causing suspicion. A person of average intelligence and wisdom (both scores averaging about 10) has only a 5% chance to see through such a disguise, unless it involves considerable fakery such as posing as a member of the opposite sex. In these cases the base chance to detect the disguise is 10%. These chances will be modified by the Referee to take the observer’s intelligence into account. As a rough guideline, if the observer had the brutish intelligence of an orc or a particularly foolish human, the chance to detect the disguise might drop by 1% or 2%. If the observer were a captain of guards, a Cleric, a Magic-User, or were otherwise of greater than average mental capacity, the chance to detect such a disguise would increase by 1% to 3%. The Assassin’s disguise is more than just a matter of costume; it encompasses mimicry of speech and behavior as well. However, if the character is impersonating a specific individual, the disguise can only make the Assassin look vaguely similar – anyone at all familiar with the original would spot the imposture immediately. Disguises are more about blending in, mimicking a different social class, and – especially – not being recognized afterwards.

Can Use Thief Magic Items

Assassins can use any magic items usable by Thieves, plus any magic weapons, armor (leather only), and shields.

Poison Use

Assassins are able to use poison on their weapons without the risk of making basic errors. Fighters who coat their swords with poison might – just might – make the mistake of absentmindedly rubbing their eyes before remembering to wash the deadly toxin from their hands; Assassins are trained not to fall prey to such basic errors when using poison. Assassins are not, however, trained at concocting poisons; most guilds employ an alchemist for such purposes.

Thieving Skills

Assassins have skills similar to those of Thieves, but comparable to a Thief two levels lower than the Assassin character.

Table: Thieving Skills for Assassins
Level Climb Walls Delicate Tasks Hear Sounds (d6) Hide in Shadows Move Silently Open Locks
3 85% 15% 3 in 6 10% 20% 10%
4 86% 20% 3 in 6 15% 25% 15%
5 87% 25% 4 in 6 20% 30% 20%
6 88% 30% 4 in 6 25% 35% 25%
7 89% 35% 4 in 6 30% 40% 30%
8 90% 40% 4 in 6 35% 45% 35%
9 91% 45% 5 in 6 40% 50% 40%
10 92% 50% 5 in 6 55% 60% 55%
11 93% 60% 5 in 6 65% 70% 65%
12 94% 70% 5 in 6 75% 80% 75%
13 95% 80% 6 in 6 85% 90% 85%
14+ Remains at 95% Remains at 80% Remains at 6 in 6 Remains at 85% Remains at 90% Remains at 85%
  1. Climbing Walls or Cliffs The percentage chance is what the assassin needs to climb a wall that others cannot climb. If the wall is more difficult than normal (very slippery, for example), the referee may lower a assassin’s chances of success. In general, if a normal person has a chance to climb a wall, an assassin can most likely do it automatically.
  2. Delicate Tasks This percentage chance is used for disabling small mechanical traps like poisoned needles, and is also used for picking pockets. The skill is also used to detect whether a mechanism, keyhole, or other small location contains a trap that can be removed.
  3. Hearing Sounds An assassin can hear well when concentrating; this mainly includes listening at doors.
  4. Hiding in Shadows Assassins can make themselves very hard to see when lurking in the shadows. Anyone can hide, of course, but assassins are virtually invisible and can move around while hiding.
  5. Moving Silently Assassins can move quietly, without being heard.
  6. Opening Locks Assassins can pick locks; some locks might be unusually difficult, in which case the Referee might reduce the percentage chance as appropriate.

Assassins may attack from behind with a to-hit bonus of +4, and inflict double damage. At levels 5-8, damage is tripled, and above level 8 such an attack inflicts quadruple damage.

Establish Assassins Guild (14th)

At 14th level, the Assassin may establish (or take over) a guild of Assassins. The guild need not be located in a large city, and can even be established as a barony in the wilderness. However, if the new guild is within the territory of an existing guild, there will unquestionably be a battle to the death between them. Assassins’ Guilds do not – ever – share their territory. An existing guild of Assassins will generally not accept the leadership of a new Guildmaster who does not claim that rank by killing the former Guildmaster.