Zen Assassin (3.5e Class)
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Zen Assassins exhibit a strong sense of survival and self-interest. While on the surface they are seen as callous, cynical and sarcastic, with loyalty only to themself, a Zen Assassin does seem to have deeper feelings for a few of their contacts and in extreme cases this seems to extend to even past associates or job targets, although that may be a result of their own self-interest.
Zen Assassins also exhibit a strong sense of professional pride as a thief: they usually refuse to kill while on the job, living by the motto "Never slay without due cause, for man cannot live on blood alone", preferring smuggling jobs over being a hired killer. Though this does not mean they are above killing targets, especially deserving or challenging targets with a high enough price. Most Zen Assassins follow the moral principle to never steal from their allies or the poor, as Zen Assassins see themselves as the middleman bringing balance both economically and politically through unconventional means.
"If there's one thing this city's taught me, you can put a price on anything. Secrets, reputations ... a life. And trust? If you have to ask, you can't afford it . But then I suppose none of that matters when you're me. After all ... when did I ever pay for anything?" - Garrett, Thief (2014 Video Game)
Making a Zen Assassin
Zen Assassins have the following game statistics:
Abilities: Wisdom empowers the Zen Assassin's imbued strikes, boosts their overall Armor Class and influences skills and abilities aligned with the art of ninjutsu. Dexterity increases the Zen Assassin's defense, also influencing skills and abilities, but moreso based on acrobatic combat styles and dexterous tactics. Charisma is the Zen Assassin's vital intel-gathering ability of influence that affects how well they can camouflage amongst civilians, gather information, and diffuse situations to their favor.
Starting Gold: 4d6 × 10 gp (240 gp).
|1st||+1||+2||+2||+0||AC Bonus +1, Ninjutsu, Flurry of Blades, Zen Stealth,|
|3rd||+3||+ 3||+3||+1||AC Bonus +2, Focus, Focus Style|
|5th||+5||+4||+4||+1||AC Bonus +3, Focus Style, Wall Jump|
|6th||+6/+1||+5||+5||+2||Master of Disguise|
|7th||+7/+2||+5||+5||+2||AC Bonus +4, Focus Style, Master of Escape|
|9th||+9/+4||+6||+6||+3||AC Bonus +5, Focus Style, Covert Insight|
|11th||+11/+6/+1||+7||+7||+3||AC Bonus +6, Focus Style, Specialized Poison Immunity|
|13th||+13/+8/+3||+8||+8||+4||AC Bonus +7, Focus Style, Trapmaking|
|15th||+15/+10/+5||+9||+9||+5||AC Bonus +8, Focus Style, Animal Companion|
|17th||+17/+12/+7/+2||+10||+10||+5||AC Bonus +9|
|19th||+19/+14/+9/+4||+11||+11||+6||AC Bonus +10|
Class Skills (6 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
All of the following are class features of the Zen Assassin.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: For the purposes of this class, all of the following weapons are considered to be "daggers", as this is the weapon of choice Zen Assassin's are proficient with: Dagger, Dagger of Venom, Masterwork Silver Dagger, Punching Dagger, Chain and Dagger, Dagger Cane, Greater Dagger of Venom, Parrying Dagger, Swordbreaker, Throwing Dagger, Triple Dagger, Kama, Kukri, Sai, Shuriken, and Siangham. Zen Assassin is proficient in wearing light armor, but cannot wield shields.
Specialized Starting Gear: A Zen Assassin that has a background with ties to a Thieves or Assassin Guild, or even a Mercenary group, start their adventure with the following equipment: The Claw, Thief's Compound Bow, and Shadoweave Armor
AC Bonus (Ex): When in light armor and/or unencumbered, the Zen Assassin adds 1/2 their Wisdom bonus (if any) to their AC. In addition, a A Zen Assassin gains a +1 bonus to AC starting at 1st level, and increases by 1 for every odd Zen Assassin level thereafter (+2 at 3rd, +3 at 5th, and +4 at 7th level). These bonuses to AC apply even against touch attacks or when the Zen Assassin is flat-footed, but loses these bonuses when they are immobilized or helpless, wearing medium or heavy armor, when carrying a shield, or when carrying a medium or heavy load.
Ninjutsu: A Zen Assassin that catches an opponent unable to defend themself effectively from their attack can strike a vital spot for extra damage. Anytime a Zen Assassin's target would be denied their Dexterity bonus to AC, the Zen Assassin's attack deals an extra 1d6 points of damage. This extra damage increases by +1d6 per amount of Zen Assassin's Wisdom Modifier (Max +10d6), though whenever a Zen Assassin scores a critical hit with a sneak attack, this extra damage is not multiplied.
A Zen Assassin can only sneak attack living creatures with discernible anatomies - undead, constructs, oozes, plants, and incorporeal creatures lack vital areas to attack. Additionally, any creature immune to critical hits is similarly immune to sneak attacks. The Zen Assassin must also be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot and must be able to reach a vital spot. The Zen Assassin cannot sneak attack while striking at a creature with concealment or by striking the limbs of a creature whose vitals are beyond reach.
Flurry of Blades: A Zen Assassin, like the Monk's Flurry of Blows, allows one extra attack in a round at his/her highest base attack bonus (must be made with a weapon of proficiency), but this attack takes a –2 penalty and doesn't lessen over time in level progression, as does each other attack made that round. Unlike the normal stipulations for Flurry of Blows, Flurry of Blades allows for the Zen Assassin to move an additional 5-10 feet per successful strike, but all attacks will end for the round if a single strike misses while performing Flurry of Blades. The penalty when using Flurry of Blades doesn't apply during Attacks of Opportunity except when attempting to use a weapon or weaponized object outside of the Zen Assassin's proficiency, which will then increase the penalty to a -4. Flurry of Blades can be used, if the character has elected to hold their turn, as a Counterstrike (must have taken the feat and met all its prerequisites) to retaliate against attacking enemies within their space.
Zen Stealth: The Zen Assassin strikes from the shadows with silent intuition and timing, understanding intimately the geography of their surroundings, its culture and people, the home and affairs of their target, and that all things have a weakness-theirs soon to be met at the end of your articulated blade. At 1st Level, whenever the Zen Assassin is stealthing successful after a Move Silently and Hide check (DM must let them know accordingly), they apply their Wisdom Modifier to all attack and damage rolls, gaining a +4 bonus to Climb, Jump, Balance, and Gather Information, Sleight of Hand, Handle Animal, Tumble, Spot, Listen, Search, Swim and Use Rope checks. So long as the Zen Assassin is wearing light or no armor, the benefits remain and will gain reputation per each successfully stealthed encounter.
Wounding Strike: At 2nd level, Zen Assassins can declare whether attacks made are lethal or nonlethal prior to the combat phase, in which all attacks declared lethal cause bleeding. A bleeding character loses 2d6 hitpoints per turn, requiring a Heal check (DC 20 + Wisdom Modifier) in order to temporarily stop the bleeding, as another successful strike to the target will reopen the wounds. Healing with a "Cure" spell or similar effect will remove this affliction, as the Zen Assassin pours their chakra energy into the attacks, treating the damage as a supernatural ability. The damage from Wounding Strike doesn't stack, including with the Flurry of Blades ability.
Focus: At 3rd level, a Zen Assassin gains the supernatural ability "Focus" that both alters the Zen Assassin's vision, and improves their already impressive espionage-like talents (gaining a +4 bonus to Hide and Move Silently, Lockpicking, Sleight of Hand, and Disable Device checks), along with their combat skills (gaining a +4 bonus to Tumble, Bluff, and Escape Artist checks). When Focus is active, the Zen Assassin's perception of the world "zooms in" (acting as Greater Scrying) and gains a bright, hazy blue "filter" that reveals their target clearly while distorting the environment around them, creating a somewhat distorted version of the world. Unfortunately, Focus does not last indefinitely, as it's time lasts a total of the Zen Assassin's Wisdom modifier plus 1d4 turns; when the Focus ability has ended, the character will suffer from a severe headache that will cause them a -4 penalty to all Wisdom-based rolls and checks for 1d6 turns or until character has taken a full 8-hour rest.
A Zen Assassin at 3rd level chooses a "Focus Style" (much like Combat Style for Ranger), and will choose an additional Focus Style at every odd level thereafter:
Focus Style: Intuition
Level 3: Highlights various elements in the surrounding environment. When Focus is not active, certain interactive objects (such as grates, hidden switches, lanterns, ropes, etc.) are automatically highlighted by a bright bluish-white glow; when Focus is active,
Level 5: Grants Zen Assassin the ability to know where unique loot and collection items are hidden.
Focus Style: Dexterity
Level 7: Enables Zen Assassin to quickly (and simultaneously) pickpocket multiple items from a single unsuspecting person.
Level 9: Increases the speed at which Zen Assassin can pick locks (making it a free action), by granting him the ability to visualize the inner workings of the lock mechanisms.
Focus Style: Marksman
Level 7: Improves Zen Assassin's visual range when zoomed in. (Focus is not required to be active in order to use this ability) acts as True Sight
Level 9: Greatly increases Zen Assassin's speed and accuracy with their blades, granting +4 bonus to hit while adding additional 10ft to Flurry of Blades.
Focus Style: Sense
Level 11: Grants Zen Assassin the ability to visually detect noises from his enemies; within a short distance, 30ft.
Level 13: Greatly increases the range that Zen Assassin can visually detect noises from; within a large distance, 90ft.
Focus Style: Combat
Level 11: Grants Zen Assassin the ability to stun an opponent with a single blow. (When Focus is active, the enemy's chest must be targeted before the attack is executed.) This ability still applies the penalties for a called shot, with a Fortitude Saving roll granted to the target (DC 25). and targets being able to respond if Zen Assassin has failed their attack check.
Level 13: Grants Zen Assassin the ability to knock out an opponent with a single blow. (When Focus is active, the enemy's head must be targeted before the attack is executed.) This ability still applies the penalties for a called shot, with a Fortitude Saving roll granted to the target (DC 25). and targets being able to respond if Zen Assassin has failed their attack check.
Focus Style: Speed
Level 15: Slows down Zen Assassin's perception of time in order to increase the speed at which they picks locks, uses concealed actions and attacks their enemies; makes all initial actions a move action.
Level 18: Greatly slows down Zen Assassin's perception of time; makes all initial actions a swift action.
Focus Style: Stealth
Level 15: Enables Zen Assassin to move more silently when Focus is active (+4 bonus to Hide and Move Silently checks); also, the range of the noise that Zen Assassin produces on noisy surfaces (such as broken glass and water) is reduced to silent.
Level 18: Enables Zen Assassin to remain concealed when Focus is active; even if Zen Assassin enters an illuminated area, they will briefly remain "hidden" in the shadows (must beat a DC 25 to remain undetected).
The Trickster (Ex): At 4th level, the Zen Assassin gains Evasion and Improved Evasion; a Zen Assassin takes no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks, and henceforth takes only half damage on a failed save. A helpless character does not gain the benefit of Improved Evasion, and only be used if a Zen Assassin is wearing light armor or no armor.
Wall Jump (Ex): At 5th level Zen Assassins can now use walls to propel themselves, suffering no falling damage when next to a wall (so long as the height doesn't exceed 50ft), and can add their Wisdom Modifier as a bonus to Balance, Climb, Jump, and Tumble checks involving the use of said walls. Zen Assassins may also double their jumping height and distance when starting off next to a wall, and if between two walls, gains a Climb speed equal to his land speed.
Master of Disguise (Su): At 6th level, with a DC 15 Disguise check, a Zen Assassin can effectively cast disguise self. With a DC 20 check, he can effectively cast alter self.
Master of Escape (Ex): At 7th level, a Zen Assassin requires a Grapple Check DC 25 + Wisdom Modifier in order to be pinned down, and all Incorporeal/Ethereal creatures are required to make a Hide and Move Silently check (DC 25 + Wisdom Modifier) in order gain any Attack of Opportunity on a Zen Assassin. All Escape Artist checks do not provoke Attacks of Opportunity and can be done as a move action, gaining a +4 bonus to escape a grapple. None of this applies when wearing heavy armour or when heavily encumbered.
Seduction: At 8th level a Zen Assassin gains the ability to use seduction with a Wisdom Modifier bonus to exploit targets. Gathering information that way allows Zen Assassins to analyse the weaknesses of their target and exploit them, being able to make a death attack (as the assassin class feature) against any creatures they have been successfully lured into a Helpless status. Luring targets into a Helpless state requires a performance check following the rules of Seduction till the mood of the target has turned favorable towards the Zen Assassin.
Covert Insight: At 9th level, a Zen Assassin gains a special form of bardic knowledge, it behaves exactly like bardic knowledge except it is used to see whether the Zen Assassin knows some relevant information about secret codes-such as Pig Latin, Mirror Writing, Invisible Ink, or Letters for Numbers-court intrigues, nobles and their bloodlines, notable locals, various herbs and items of importance.
Infiltration Expertise: Starting at 10th level, Zen Assassins can unfailingly create false identities of themselves. A Zen Assassin must spend seven days and 25 gp to establish the history, profession, and affiliations for an identity. Zen Assassins can't establish an identity that belongs to someone else. For example, the character might acquire appropriate clothing, letters of introduction, and official-looking certification to establish themself as a member of a trading house from a remote city so they can insinuate themself into the company of other wealthy merchants.
Thereafter, if the Zen Assassin adopts the new identity as a disguise, other creatures believe the character to be that person until given an obvious reason not to.
Specialized Poison Immunity (Ex): At 11th level choose four poisons, a Zen Assassin is immune to all four of those poisons, even if they are made available in a stronger strength. At level 14, a Zen Assassin becomes immune to all poisons except for magical.
Trapfinding (Ex): At 12th level, Zen Assassins can use the Search skill to locate traps when the task has a Difficulty Class higher than 20. Finding a non-magical trap has a DC of at least 20, or higher if it is well hidden. Finding a magic trap has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it. Zen Assassins can use the Disable Device skill to disarm magic traps. A magic trap generally has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it. A Zen Assassin who beats a trap’s DC by 10 or more with a Disable Device check can study a trap, figure out how it works, and bypass it (with their party) without disarming it.
Trapmaking (Ex): At 13th level, the Zen Assassin learns to build simple mechanical traps in out of common materials. As long as the Zen Assassin has access to ropes, flexible material like green wood, and weapon-grade materials like sharpened wooden sticks or steel weapons, he can build an improvised trap in 10 minutes. He can build any non-magical trap on the “CR 1” trap list that doesn’t involve a pit. These traps have a Search DC equal to 20 + the Zen Assassin’s level, have a BAB equal to their own, and are always single-use traps. The Zen Assassin may add poison to these traps, if they has access to it, but it will dry out in an hour.
Dagger Mastery: At 14th level, a Zen Assassin gains an additional standard single extra attack with an off-hand weapon and a secondary attack with a –5 penalty. The Zen Assassin gains a +4 bonus on all attack rolls made with daggers, and the critical threat range of all daggers wielded increases by 2. In addition, Zen Assassins may use his sneak attacks and critical attacks to deal nonlethal damage at no penalty (effects other than damage do not apply to these attacks, however). A Zen Assassin with this ability gains the Weapon Specialization feat with all daggers even if he does not meet the prerequisites.
Animal Companion (Ex): At 15th level, a Zen Assassin gains an animal companion that will bond with them on a soul-linked level; either side can possess one another's body in times of need, being able to control their actions. This is very useful for scouting around, opening doors, and setting off traps (sick, but sometimes necessary), requiring a Will Save DC of 30 otherwise will be forced back into their own body and cannot reattempt for 24 hours. The Animal Companion knows telepathy (limited to character) and Druidic, being obtained through Animal Companion Listing similar to a Druid. At the DM's discretion, the Zen Assassin is able to choose an Animal Companion of any type, but will have the companion scaled to their level as needed.
Greater Ninjutsu: At 16 level, in addition to the previous Ninjutsu' benefits, Greater Ninjutsu allows for the Zen Assassin to create 1d4 + Wisdom Modifier of illusionary duplicates that act as the Silent Image spell; the duplicates move as instructed and mimic the actions of the original, being able to interact with the environment around them though not being able to attack.
Zen Assassin Starting Package
Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 4 + Int modifier.
Bonus Feats: .
Playing a Zen Assassin
Other Classes: .
Zen Assassins in the World
Daily Life: .
NPC Reactions: .
Zen Assassin Lore
Characters with ranks in can research to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
Zen Assassins in the Game
Sample Encounter: .
EL : .