The heroic tier of the assassin made its appearance in Dragon yesterday. As exclusive content it is only available to D&D Insider subscribers and those who use BitTorrent.
(As an aside, I wonder if any exclusive content will find its way into a future Dragon Magazine Annual? It would definitely be a way to boost sales on that kind of book!)
Back to the topic at hand. The assassin is the first class using the new shadow power source. An assassin has traded part of his soul to the Raven Queen for power. The goddess infuses the missing portion of the assassin’s soul with a dark reflection of the assassin’s true self.
The assassin can manifest this reflection as part of their shade form power, which allows them to become insubstantial for short periods. The assassin also gains a shadow step power which gives them a short range teleport by stepping through the shadow of one creature and into another. Together, these two abilities mean that the assassin is a highly mobile striker who is able to reach hard to get to targets.
Assassins also have an assassin’s shroud ability which allows them to do more damage. Placing a shroud on a creature allows the assassin to more clearly see the creatures weak points. Multiple shrouds can be placed on a single creature, but the assassin can only target one creature this way at any given time.
When the assassin chooses to invoke one or more of these shrouds, he will gain extra damage per shroud expended. This means that the assassin can do a lot of damage in a single round, but it may take a longer time for the assassin to build up to it than most strikers. I should note that certain assassin powers will interact with a shrouded target without expending the shroud though.
Speaking of the assassins powers, not surprisingly they are strongly shadow themed. They focus on stealth, teleportation, and bypassing defenses. An assassin is probably more mobile than any striker except the monk. With the ability to sneak past minions and other defenses to deliver a massive amount of damage, assassins have “boss killer” written all over them.
Of all of the strikers, they are probably most similar to avengers since their assassin’s shroud ability will encourage them to focus on a single target. Assassins do have a sneakiness which avengers lack, even though avengers are probably the sneakiest class of the divine power source.
So what do I think? Well, a more appropriate name for them might have been “Shadowdancers done right!” This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, as I always felt shadowdancers were and interesting concept which just wasn’t executed well.
Honestly, I just wish the assassin was debut content rather than exclusive. After all, my opinions on exclusive content are well known.