More than just killers, shadow assassins are masters of secret combat techniques focused on light and exotic weapons, tactics designed to single out and slay a single foe in direct confrontation, and of course a mystic connection to and manipulation of shadow. Traditionally trained in clans with histories going back centuries, shadow assassins may try to conceal their existence from the common population, or may be legendary enforces of specific religions or rulers. Shadow assassins must train for years in the same kinds of conditions monks and wizards do, and for most their path is a lifelong dedication to mastering the darkness and overcoming any lone target.
Role: Shadow assassins are masters of stealth, moving about the battlefield unseen and unsuspected. They are not the masters of traps that rogues are, nor as adept at combat as monks, but like both those classes they serve as useful support from an unexpected quarter. Their combat style is focused on selecting a specific foe and taking it down as quickly as possible, even if that requires a (brief) head-on confrontation. Shadow assassins are particularly adept at manipulating shadowy terrain to serve their needs, though their skills are not without uses elsewhere as well.
It is worth noting that the shadow assassin’s primary focuses are mystically using shadow for utility and concealment rather than movement, and killing targets through weapon skill and mystic concentrate rather than poison or careful study of a foe’s weaknesses. A shadow assassin wishing to explore other related areas of study is well served to take levels in the assassin and/or shadowdancer prestige classes, which augment the shadow assassin class without overlapping its base powers.
Alignment: Shadow assassins may be of any alignment.
Hit Die: d8.
Starting Wealth: At 1st level a shadow assassin begins play with 3d6 x 10 gp.
The shadow assassin’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Disable Device (Dex), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (local), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (the planes) (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Stealth (Dex), and Swim (Str).
Skill Ranks per Level: 6 + Int modifier.
All of the following are class features of the shadow assassin.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A shadow assassin is proficient in all simple weapons, all light weapons, as well as bolas, net, repeating crossbow (light only), shuriken, spiked chain, and whip. The shadow assassin is proficient with light armor and small shields, but not heavy shields or tower shields.
Once per day a shadow assassin can call on his mystic training to focus all his power, agility, determination and training with light weapons on the effort to kill a single target. As a swift action, the shadow assassin chooses one target within sight to be the target of his deadly focus. When attacking with a light weapon, bolas or shuriken the shadow assassin adds a bonus to his attack and damage rolls made against the target of his deadly focus. This bonus is equal to the shadow assassin’s Wisdom bonus (if any), to a maximum of his class level. The deadly focus effect remains until the target of the deadly focus is dead or the next time the shadow assassin rests and regains the uses of his daily abilities.
If the target of a shadow assassin’s deadly focus dies, the shadow assassin may clear his mind and regain the use of his deadly focus. Such focus requires fifteen minutes of rest and quiet contemplation.
Refocusing ends his deadly focus bonus against any previous target, even if that target should somehow be restored to life and attack on the same day. If the target of a shadow assassin’s deadly focus does not die, the shadow assassin cannot regain the use of this ability until he rests and regains all his daily abilities.
A shadow assassin is trained to be one with the shadows, wrapping himself in mystic cloaks of darkness. The effects of shadowmeld work only in areas of dim or less light. Even a single square of dim light is enough, as long as the shadow assassin is in it, as is an area concealed by dust or smoke. Occasional shadows scattered around areas considered normally or brightly lit does not qualify. As the shadow assassin gains levels, his shadowmeld grants the powers listed below.
At second level and above a shadow assassin adds his class level to all Stealth checks made in conditions of dim or darker lighting. This bonus does not stack with any bonus to stealth gained from invisibility effects, and works even against targets with darkvision, scent, or similar senses.
At 4th level and above the shadow assassin’s comfort within and mastery of shadows allows him to add half his class level to any Acrobatics, Bluff, Climb, Escape Artist or Sleight of Hand check made in conditions of dim or darker lighting.
At 8th level and above the shadow assassin can physically wrap himself in the shadow from dim or less light, using it as camouflage and making him more difficult to see even for targets with darkvision. The shadow assassin gains 20% concealment in dim or less lighting, even from creatures with darkvision or non-visual senses. (Normally dim light provides 20% concealment only against targets with normal vision).
At 12th level and above, the shadow assassin can carry shadow with him, and produce it when areas of dim light are needed. This functions as the spell darkness, except it drops all light conditions to dim light (and has no effect in dim light or darkness). Produced shadows negate any light spell of a level equal to or less than half the shadow assassin’s class level, and are themselves only negated by a light spell of higher level than half the shadow assassin’s class level. The shadow assassin can produce shadows for a number of rounds equal to his class level plus Wisdom modifier each day. The duration need not be used consecutively. The shadow assassin may produce shadows numerous times a day, as long as the total rounds used does not exceed his maximum. A shadow assassin may only have one shadow produced at a time, however. If a new shadow is produced, any older shadow dissipates.
At 16th level and above, the shadow assassin can become a living shadow. This functions as the gaseous form spell, except the shadow assassin can still make attacks with light weapons, bolas, and shuriken (though such attacks deal only half damage), and the shadow assassin can attack insubstantial targets without any miss chance or reduction in damage done. The shadow assassin must be in an area of dim or less lighting to become a living shadow, but may then travel freely into bright light while maintaining the form. The shadow assassin can maintain the living shadow form for a number of rounds equal to his class level plus Wisdom modifier each day. The duration need not be used consecutively. The shadow assassin may assume this form numerous times a day, as long as the total rounds used does not exceed his maximum. Living shadow requires a standard action to activate and a free action to dismiss.
At 20th level the shadow assassin can become a death shadow. This functions as the ethereal jaunt spell, except the shadow assassin can still make attacks with light weapons, bolas, and shuriken against targets in the material plane if those targets are in an area of dim or less lighting. The shadow assassin must be in an area of dim or less light to become a death shadow, but may then travel freely into bright light while maintaining the form. The shadow assassin can maintain the death shadow form for a number of rounds equal to his class level plus Wisdom modifier each day. The duration need not be used consecutively. The shadow assassin may assume this form numerous times a day, as long as the total rounds used does not exceed his maximum. Death shadow requires a standard action to activate and a free action to dismiss.
Though all shadow assassins focus on concealment, special weapon training and a mystic connection to the power of shadow, there are numerous specific paths that training can take. At 2nd level every shadow assassin selects one shadow style from the list below, to represent the direction his particular training takes them. At 6th, 11th, 15th and 19th level the shadow assassin may select additional shadow styles, which may continue his existing training (selecting the same style a second or in some cases a third time) or he may choose a new style.
In many lands each clan of shadow assassin has a specific style it trains all its members in, and the secrets of those styles are closely guarded secrets the clan kills to protect.
Exotic Weapon Style (Ex): Any shadow assassin ability the character has that is normally limited to light weapons may also be used with any exotic weapon the character is proficient with. This ability does not grant proficiency with any additional exotic weapon, it just allows such weapons the character is proficient with to count as light weapons for class abilities. The shadow assassin may also gain the benefits of the Combat Expertise feat with any exotic weapon with which he is proficient.
At 6th level, the complex and confusing movements of the shadow assassin’s exotic weapon also grant him a +2 bonus to his CMD whenever he is wielding an exotic weapon he is proficient with. At 10th level this increases to a +4 bonus to his CMD.
If this shadow style is selected a second time, the shadow assassin treats any exotic weapon he is proficient with that has a x2 critical multiplier as if it had a x3 multiplier.
Shadowblade (Su): As a swift action the shadow assassin can create a weapon made of solid shadows (this can be any light weapon with which he is proficient). This weapon is treated as magic for purpose of bypassing DR, and has an enhancement bonus to attack and damage equal to +1 for every three full levels of the shadow assassin class. It has the same hardness and hit points as a normal magic weapon of its type, and dissipates at the end of any round it is not held in the shadow assassin’s hand. A shadow assassin may dissipate the weapon at will.
If this shadow style is selected a second time, the weapon counts as a force effect. If selected a third time, the shadow assassin can form a shadow weapon as a free action.
Shadowglide (Su): A shadow assassin with this style never treats any terrain in dim or worse lighting conditions as difficult terrain. At 6th level he may, when in dim or less lighting, move 10 feet whenever taking the “5-foot step” action. At 12th level, the shadow assassin gains a 30 foot fly rate that only functions in dim or darker lighting conditions.
If selected a second time, the shadow assassin is able to master his own shadow to allow him to move more quickly, granting a +10 foot bonus to his speed (even in normal or bright lighting).
Shadow Poison (Su): The shadow assassin can create umbral venom, a poison distilled from the shadows themselves. One dose of the poison can be create and added to a weapon as a swift action, and lasts until the weapon successfully strikes a target or the beginning of the next round, whichever comes first. Umbral venom is an injury poison with no onset time, a frequency of 1/round for 6 rounds, and a Fortitude save of (10 + ½ shadow assassin level + Wisdom modifier).
On the first failed saving throw, the poison victim’s sight dims so that it suffers a 10% miss change on all attack rolls (unless it has a nonvisual sense that can compensate, such as tremorsense). On a second failed save, all creatures have concealment against the poison victim’s sight (normally resulting in a 20% miss chance). On a third failed save, the poison victim is blinded. The effects of umbral venom last until the next dawn, or until the victim has a light or daylight spell cast upon it.
A shadow assassin must have the poison use talent and be at least 11th level to select this shadow style.
Shadow Sensor (Su): When in conditions of dim or less light, the shadow assassin adds half his class level to Perception skill checks made to locate traps and to Disable Device skill checks (minimum +1). Also, a shadow assassin can use Disable Device to disarm magic traps in dim or worse lighting.
If selected a second time, whenever the shadow assassin in dim or worse lighting comes within 10 feet of a trap, he receives an immediate Perception skill check to notice the trap. (This check should be made in secret by the GM.) If selected a third time, it takes the shadow assassin half the normal amount of time to disable a trap in dim or worse lighting using the Disable Device skill (minimum 1 round).
Shuriken Style (Su): A favored weapon of many shadow assassins, shuriken are not particularly effective as ranged weapons unless they are used to deliver poison. This shadow style instead imbues each shuriken thrown with a bit of solid shadow, increasing the amount of damage done by any shuriken the shadow assassin throws by +1d6. This increases to +2d6 at 6th level, and to +3d6 at 10th level. The additional damage is treated as being normal piercing weapon damage. Thus a 2nd level human shadow assassin deals 1d2+1d6 damage with a shuriken attack.
If selected a second time, the shadow assassin increases the enhancement bonus to attack and damage of any shuriken he throws by +1 for every six full class levels. If selected a third time, the shadow assassin may forgo granting part or all of the additional enhancement bonus to instead give his thrown shurikens the following magic abilities for the listed cost: distance (+1 enhancement), frost (+1 bonus), seeking (+1 bonus), speed (+3 bonus).
Spell Style (Sp): A shadow assassin with this style learns a very small number of arcane spells from the necromancy or illusion schools of the sorcerer/wizard spell list. He gains the ability to learn and prepare two 0-level spells (which he may then cast as often as desired, as a wizard does with cantrips). At 6th level the shadow assassin may select a third 0-level spell, and learns a single 1st level spell he may cast twice a day. At 12th level, the shadow assassin learns a second 1st level spell he may cast twice a day, and a single 2nd level spell he may cast twice per day.
A shadow assassin’s caster level is equal to his class level once he has taken this style. The save of any shadow assassin spell he casts is equal to 10 + spell level + his Wisdom modifier. The shadow assassin may cast these spells in light armor without penalty, but if wearing medium or heavy armor suffers normal arcane spell failure for any spell with somatic components.
If this style is selected a second time, the shadow assassin gains a +4 bonus to any concentration check he makes regarding these spells. If selected a third time, he increases the save DC of any shadow assassin spell he casts by +4.
Two-Weapon Style (Ex): If the shadow assassin is fighting with two light weapons he can cause ribbons of shadow to flow from his off-hand weapon, concealing his movements and forming complex, confusing patterns. This both makes it more difficult to strike the shadow assassin, and aids him in efforts to perform combat maneuvers. The shadow assassin gains a +1 dodge bonus to AC and a +2 insight bonus to his CMB whenever he is wielding two light melee weapons. This bonuses increase to +2 dodge bonus to AC and a +4 insight bonus to his CMB at 6th level, and +3 dodge bonus to AC and a +6 insight bonus to his CMB at 10th level.
As a shadow assassin gains experience, he learns a number of talents that aid him and confound his foes. Starting at 3rd level, a shadow assassin gains one shadow talent. He gains an additional shadow talent for every 4 levels of shadow assassin attained after 3rd level. A shadow assassin cannot select an individual talent more than once.
Talents marked with an asterisk add effects to targets of a shadow assassin’s deadly focus. Only one of these talents can be applied to an individual attack and the decision must be made before the attack roll is made.
Bleeding Attack* (Ex): A shadow assassin with this ability can cause living targets of his deadly focus to bleed by successfully hitting them with an attack. This attack causes the target to take 1 additional point of damage each round for each die of damage dealt by the shadow assassin’s attack. (Thus if the shadow assassin hits a target of his deadly focus with a flaming dagger, dealing 1d4 + 1d6 fire damage, the target suffers 2 points of bleed). Bleeding creatures take that amount of damage every round at the start of each of their turns. The bleeding can be stopped by a DC 15 Heal check or the application of any effect that heals hit point damage. Bleeding damage from this ability does not stack with itself. Bleeding damage bypasses any damage reduction the creature might possess.
Darkvision (Ex): A shadow assassin with this talent gains darkvision with a range of 60 feet. If the shadow assassin already has darkvision, he instead increases the range of his darkvision by +30 feet.
Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex): A shadow assassin with this talent can no longer be flanked. This defense denies a rogue the ability to sneak attack the character by flanking him, unless the attacker has at least four more levels in a class that grants sneak attack than the shadow assassin’s class level.
If a character already has uncanny dodge from another class, the levels from the classes that grant uncanny dodge stack to determine the minimum level in a class that grants sneak attack required to flank the character.
A shadow assassin must already have uncanny dodge from some source before selecting this talent.
Ledge Walker (Ex): This ability allows a shadow assassin to move along narrow surfaces at full speed using the Acrobatics skill without penalty. In addition, a shadow assassin with this talent is not flat footed when using Acrobatics to move along narrow surfaces.
Low-Light Vision (Ex): The shadow assassin gains low-light vision.
Silence* (Su): A shadow assassin with this talent can silence targets of his deadly focus. Each time the shadow assassin hits the target of his deadly focus with a melee attack from a light weapon, the target must make a Fortitude save. The DC of this save is 10 + half the shadow assassin’s class level + the shadow assassin’s Wisdom modifier. This functions like the silence spell and only affects the target.
Skill Mastery: The shadow assassin becomes so confident in the use of certain skills that he can use them reliably even under adverse conditions.
Upon gaining this ability, he selects a number of skills equal to 3 + his Intelligence modifier. When making a skill check with one of these skills, he may take 10 even if stress and distractions would normally prevent him from doing so. A shadow assassin may gain this special ability multiple times, selecting additional skills for skill mastery to apply to each time.
A shadow assassin must be at least 10th level to select this talent.
Style Mastery: This talent allows a shadow assassin to make an additional shadow style selection. The shadow assassin must meet any prerequisites of the style, and this talent may only be selected once.
Swarm of Blades* (Ex): A shadow assassin can only use this talent when wielding a reach weapon, spiked chain, repeating crossbow, shurikens, or two light weapons. When the shadow assassin successfully hits the target of his deadly focus with a single attack as a standard action, he may activate the swarm of blades as a swift action. All foes within 20 feet of the target must make Reflex saves (DC 10 + ½ shadow assassin’s class level + shadow assassin’s Dexterity modifier) or take 1d6 damage. If the shadow assassin is 9th level the damage increases to 2d6, if 15th increase to 3d6, and if 20th increase to 4d6. If the shadow assassin uses a repeating crossbow or shuriken for this attack, he must expend ammunition for each target damaged.
A shadow assassin can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + his Wisdom modifier (minimum 1/day).
Uncanny Dodge (Ex): A shadow assassin with this talent can react to danger before his senses would normally allow him to do so. He cannot be caught flat footed, even if the attacker is invisible. He still loses his Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized. A shadow assassin with this ability can still lose his Dexterity bonus to AC if an opponent successfully uses the feint action against him.
At 4th level and higher, a shadow assassin can avoid even magical and unusual attacks with great agility. If he makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, he instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if the shadow assassin is wearing light armor, medium armor, or no armor. A helpless shadow assassin does not gain the benefit of evasion.
A shadow assassin prefers weapons that are small, fast and easily concealed. At 5th level his extensive special training with weapons of this kind grants the shadow assassin a +1 bonus to all attack and damage rolls made with light weapons he is proficient with, as well as bolas and shuriken. This bonus increases to +2 at 9th, +3 at 13th, and +4 at 17th level.
Additionally, a shadow assassin with daggermaster may treat his class level as levels of fighter for purpose of qualifying for feats. However, any feat the shadow assassin takes that has levels in the fighter class as a prerequisite can only be used with light melee weapons, bola, and shuriken.
Beginning at 6th level, a shadow assassin can call upon an even greater focus when attempting to slay a target. This acts as a deadly focus, except the shadow assassin adds double his class level to all damage dealt to the target with light weapons, bolas, and shuriken. This bonus damage replaces the Wisdom modifier bonus to damage granted by a deadly focus. Any ability that works with deadly focus also works with greater deadly focus, and choosing a target of a greater deadly focus ends any bonuses against a previous target of deadly focus (and vice-versa).
The daily use of greater deadly focus is separate from the daily use of the standard deadly focus. Even if a shadow assassin has lost his deadly focus for the day, he is still free to activate his greater deadly focus. Initially, the discipline required for a greater deadly focus is too much for a shadow assassin to regain in the same day it is used even if the target of his focus is slain (he cannot meditate to regain the use of greater deadly focus).
As the shadow assassin gains levels, he eventually earns the ability to call on his greater deadly focus multiple times per day. At 14th level a shadow assassin may use greater deadly focus twice per day, and three times per day at 18th level. While doing so does not require him to take time to clear his mind (as regaining deadly focus does), he cannot simultaneously have more than one target. Choosing a new target ends all bonuses granted against any previous targets of either deadly focus or greater deadly focus.
This works like evasion, except that while the shadow assassin still takes no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks, he henceforth takes only half damage on a failed save. A helpless shadow assassin does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.
Beginning at 10th level, any attacks a shadow assassin makes with a light weapon, bolas, or shuriken against the target of a deadly focus or greater deadly focus (see below) automatically bypass any DR the creature might possess.
Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever they gain a level in a Favored Class, some races have the option of choosing from a number of other bonuses, depending upon their Favored Classes. The following options are available to the listed race who have barbarians as their Favored Class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the listed Favored Class reward.
When a character selects a class, he must choose to use the standard class features found or those listed in one of the archetypes presented here. Each alternate class feature replaces a specific class feature from its parent class. For example, the elemental fist class feature of the monk of the four winds replaces the stunning fist class feature of the monk. When an archetype includes multiple class features, a character must take all of them—often blocking the character from ever gaining certain familiar class features, but replacing them with equally powerful options. All of the other class features found in the core class and not mentioned among the alternate class features remain unchanged and are acquired normally when the character reaches the appropriate level (unless noted otherwise). A character who takes an alternate class feature does not count as having the class feature that was replaced when meeting any requirements or prerequisites.
A character can take more than one archetype and garner additional alternate class features, but none of the alternate class features can replace or alter the same class feature from the core class as another alternate class feature. For example, a paladin could not be both a hospitaler and an undead scourge since they both modify the smite evil class feature and both replace the aura of justice class feature. A paladin could, however, be both an undead scourge and a warrior of the holy light, since none of their new class features replace the same core class feature.
Archetypes are a quick and easy way to specialize characters of a given class, adding fun and flavorful new abilities to already established adventurers. Characters may take more than one archetype if they meet the requirements.