The Assassin: The Fabrication Cold Technique Tree
This expansion for the frickin‘ amazing assassin class by Interjection Games (srsly – check it out, if you haven’t!) clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Soooo…what of an assassin deprived of the tools of their trade? Well, with “Killer Engineering”, that is no longer an issue. Each morning when refreshing the technique pool, you get to build custom gadgets. You get one of them, plus an additional one at 3, 7 and 15 fabrication techniques – this means you can get up to 5 per day. Each gadget consists of two different components: You first select the base tool, then add up to two addons to it, paying the fabrication cost. Upon first gaining killer engineering, you choose one base tool and ALL associated addons, and upon gaining the next fabrication technique, you get the tool and all associated addons.
When building gadgets with this ability, you have a total of class level fabrication points. These don’t need to be spent, but also do not carry over to subsequent days. You can’t hoard gadgets. Building new ones cannibalizes the previous ones, and they may not be sold.
The first base tool presented within would be the hidden blade, which may be attached to pretty much anything like gloves, boots, etc. A maximum of one such blade may be applied to a given item. Hidden blades that are deployed cause 1d4 piercing damage with a 19-20 threat range. Attacks with a wrist-mounted blade while the hand is full are possible, but penalized by -4. Toe-mounted hidden blades may only be used to execute one attack per round. Multiattack or Improved Unarmed Strike negate these penalties and restrictions. The hidden blade is Weapon Finesse compatible. It is treated as a weapon for spells and effects, and I assume that the assassin is proficient with it. Whether or not that needed to be clearly spelled out depends on your reading – I read this as a class feature, and as such, think that it does not need this. This also, however, disqualifies the hidden blade for feats enhancing a specific weapon. A scaling DC to notice the blade is provided, with class level and Intelligence modifier determining the Perception DC. Retracting or deploying the blade is a swift action, and the pdf properly codifies Sleight of Hand et al. to do so unnoticed.
As for addons, 2 are provided: Enhanced blade lets you spend fabrication points to render the weapon magical via enhancement bonuses, with 0 points expended making the hidden blade masterwork. The second addon significantly enhances the capability of concealing the blade from onlookers.
The second tool contained within would be the smoke bomb, which is codified as a thrown splash weapon that may be employed as part of a full-attack action or as an attack action, but for full attacks, using a smoke bomb prevents you from making off-hand attacks. Smoke bombs have a range increment of 20 ft. and don’t generally inflict splash damage. There are three base types of smoke bomb that you can make: You can make 3 classic smoke bombs, 2 incendiary smoke bombs, or 1 smoke bomb laced with inhaled poison. Regular smoke bombs create an obscuring mist analogue with a 10-ft.-spread. Incendiary smokebombs get scaling fire damage, but sport a rules-terminology snafu. The rules language erroneously refers to a Dexterity saving throw, when it should refer to reflex saves instead. The save DC to negate is not explicitly noted, requiring defaulting to the standard, which may be considered to be slightly inconvenient. Poison bombs do require the additional cost of poisons. The tool also gets 3 addons: 1d3 acid splash damage, increased reach by 10 ft. (o point cost), and also at 0 fabrication point cost nets an additional smoke bomb if you create 3 or more smoke bombs of one style, with the same formulation.
The third tool presented within would be the springknife, which may be installed into a willing target. When the creature makes an attack against an enemy it’s flanking or when it’s subject to an attack of a flanking enemy, the springknife activates, making an attack versus the flanked or flanking target. It has a reach of 5 ft. and only activates if the noted target is within that reach. The attack is executed at a BAB equal to class level + Intelligence modifier of the installing assassin + the enhancement bonus of the installed blade, if any. The creating assassin’s Intelligence modifier is also added to damage on a successful hit, and after this attack, the remnants of the springknife fall off. The dagger installed into a springblade may be retrieved as a standard action. I adore this from a design-perspective, though personally, I would have made the blade get a limited number of uses before falling apart….which brings me to the first addon, the double tap, which does, bingo, exactly that. For 2 fabrication points, it nets you a springblade that may be triggered twice before falling apart. This also ties in with a great optional component, but more on that later. At 0 fabrication points, we get sneak attack synergy, and at 1 fabrication point, we get an increased reach, with attacks versus closer targets getting a bonus to atk.
Now, here’s the thing: All of the above? That’s the base killer engineering ability. This ability is NOT a technique per se, which explains the rather subdued power-level of these options. Instead, all of the above represents, ultimately, an extension – something that you get upon taking a technique in the fabrication category! Yep, we’re only done with the prologue, if you will!
All righty, so what do the actual fabrication techniques do? Well, without a prerequisite, we have creator’s confidence, which nets you temporary hit points equal to the number of gadgets installed on your body, lasting for 1 round – basically a kind of replenishing shield. If you have at least 2 fabrication techniques and have a springknife installed and it targets a being with 0 presence, you get one presence versus the target. Full-round gadget installations and getting two springknives as a capacity to hold may also be found. Specialized springknives has three addon options: At 1 fabrication point, you can install an alchemical springknife – i.e. the option to instead install alchemical items and use them in conjunction with springknives, with 9th and 17th level allowing you to install additional flasks/substances into the springknife instead. At these higher levels, the fabrication pool cost is also sensibly reduced. Secondly, also at 1 fabrication point, we have the option to integrate blinding powder – this is incompatible with other alchemical springknife substitutions or the default daggers, but has obvious benefit. In spite of not dealing damage, it explicitly provides synergy with abilities that hinge on targets being damaged. The third one has tanglefoot bag synergy.
Defensive construction (available at 2nd level) provides, like elemental construction (available at 4th level), a total of 3 (!!) new addons. In the former instance, this includes temporary hit points for 1 round after gadget use, scaling AC bonuses (and minor DR), and minor AC boosts that also are applied as a penalty versus targets damaged by the gadget. In the case of the latter, we have minor elemental damage added (scaling) to those that attempt to damage the wearer in melee, while another addon adds energy damage or added energy damage of all available types – in the case of this technique, that’s cold, fire and electricity. Thus, the latter is a pretty nice way to get to know the resistances or lack thereof of a target.
For hidden blades, 6th level unlocks the exotic blade technique for the taking, which allows you to create an autopoisoning hidden blade, natural attack synergy and feinting with it. Field manufacture allows you to spend 3 technique points to produce one unit of an expended gadget you know, with springknife savant reducing this further, though gadgets with 0 fabrication cost do get their cost increased to 1. The 10th level technique mass produce allows you to optionally make more gadgets, but also has your assassin level for numerical purposes reduced by 10 for the purpose of their effects. If you’d rather have a regular, but less pronounced upgrade of gadget uses, under the table, available at 6th level, has you covered.
Liquid smoke unlocks both tar and grease bombs, the former entangling, while the latter duplicate the slickness of the spell of the same name. Minor bummer: There are two techniques that reference a “spare parts technique”, which, from context, seems to allow you to retain technique points. However, I could not find this spare parts technique in the pdf, nor in my other assassin files. This makes these two techniques basically nonfunctional.
On the brighter side, if you ever wanted the classic Batman utility belt…this pdf has it. The technique of the same name unlocks the new utility belt tool, which comes with, obviously, beast repellent, buffered padding versus energy types, extradimensional storage, and indeed, means to quickly activate utility belt tricks 1/round. A peashooter, a rebreather and the like, a Diazepam like sniping enhancer and stimpacks can also be found here. This one had me, once more, smile from ear to ear. And yes, that were all components of the tool’s base functionality. There also are 3 addons provided!
The pdf also contains 5 feats: Bauble Hoarder lets you 1/day pull a reserve smoke bomb out of your behind, which does not count towards your maximum. Killer Engineer increases the fabrication points available by +2. Mundane Munitions Wrangler nets you one additional extra gadget chosen from the classic three – this doesn’t count towards the maximum, but also may not possess addons, which limits the usefulness here rather starkly. Utility in Utility allows you to remote-trigger components of your utility belt, even if someone else is wearing it. Cool! Optimized Process, finally, unlocks a new addon that provides numerical improvements, and it allows you to combine utility belt components with non-utility belt gadgets, though only in a limited capacity.
Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal level. On a rules-language level, the absence of spare parts and the Dex-save snafu represent two uncommon guffaws for the otherwise excellent wrangling of complex concepts within. Layout adheres to the classic 2-column b/w-standard of the Interjection games-supplements, and the pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t necessarily need them at this length. They’d be nice to have, though.
I absolutely adore Bradley Crouch’s assassin class, and getting more material for it is amazing. Getting a whole new technique tree in particular is something that has me rather excited. The fabrication angle shows here is intriguing indeed: We have many things here that had me smile – from obvious Batman inspirations to Assassin’s Creed/Dishonored-like tricks, there is quite a lot to enjoy here. The power-level of the choices herein makes the fabrication tree suitable even for no-magic campaigns, which is a pretty neat plus. The focus on supplemental utility this one has ultimately means that it’s a supplemental trick array, and in this aspect, it succeeds triumphantly. However, it also has a few rough edges that make it impossible for me to rate this the full 5 stars. Instead, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down. Don’t let these minor blemishes deter you, though – the options within are pretty damn cool and worth the low and fair asking price.
You can get this complex and interesting expansion for the assassin-class here on OBS!
Missed Interjection Games’ unique and exciting momentum-based assassin? You can find it here on OBS!