I'm making my second-ever character in D&D 4e and I want him to be a not-so-good guy (my first character being a Dragonborn Fighter who worships Bahamut) that can do a ton of single-target damage. The options I'm considering are Rogue and Assassin, but I don't know enough yet to choose between them. I want to make an awesome killer who lies, steals, and – being an awesome killer – does a lot of damage! Am I better off with a Rogue or an Assassin?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you clarify what you want using 4th edition terms? It sounds like you are looking for a character who excels in Bluff, Thievery, and damage. Which of the three is most important? Also, what constraints do you have (level, race, magic items, etc)? \$\endgroup\$
    – dpatchery
    Sep 17 '12 at 20:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ "DPS"? Is that applicable? "DPR" reads more apropos: Damage Per Round. Though I guess if you want to compute it for a standard round being six (6) seconds (or some I'm told by Google). Being pedantic. \$\endgroup\$
    – javafueled
    Sep 17 '12 at 21:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @java Sorry, that was my edit. I've seen "DPS" used for 4e more than "DPR", so I used that. (People seem to be reanalysing "DPS" as an indivisible noun rather than the acronym it originated as.) Someone more familiar with 4e community jargon is welcome to fix it if "DPR" is the more common term. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 17 '12 at 22:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie as I said, it's me being a pedant. :) I don't really have an opinion either way, but I did immediately relate it to jargon found more in real-time attack commands found in MMORPGs and not in pen-and-paper. \$\endgroup\$
    – javafueled
    Sep 18 '12 at 0:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you looking for starting DPR? because this could vary significantly as you level etc. \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Sep 18 '12 at 2:31

Let's look at all 4 classes here at L1.

There are a number of different combos here, but let's do the basics:

  • Dagger rogue
  • Charger Rapier Thief
  • Assassin with Rapier
  • Executioner Assassin with Rapier

First we're going to go with a dex of 20 for all of them, just to keep things nice and even. We will assume rogues/thieves takes the L1 Feat Light Blade Expertise. And assassins take Ki Focus Expertise for their L1

Dagger Rogue 8.47 DPR

At Wills: Sly Flourish (take Cha 16).

If we can assume Combat Advantage (CA) (not a given) here your attacking at +12 with a damage of 1d4+9+2d6 for 16.05 DPR. CA cannot really be assumed this early, so typically you're going to be attacking at +10 vs AC with damage at 1d4+8 so 8.47. The plus here is that this works at both melee and range, where other options are melee only.

Charger Thief 17.08 DPR

With the charger thief we can take a background to get a rapier at L1 and still have the feat slot open for LBE. After that we take a normal charger thief build (tactical trick and ambush trick combine for continuous CA on your turn as long as your aren't action limited). This gives you a +12 to attack with CA, with damage of 1d8+7+2d6 for 17.08 DPR. Advantage: is Melee basic attack driven so it operates nicely with a warlord, bard or artificer, with the caveat being he needs CA some other way when it's not his turn.

Normal Assassin 9.4 DPR

We'll use Shadow Storm (gosh those at wills are...underwhelming IMO), and assume we invoke one shroud/turn so we get +9 to hit with damage at 1d8+5+1d6. So DPR is 9.4.

Exe Assassin 11.55 DPR

There are several schools here, but for this none of the matter, we're building a charger with a rapier. Charging we get a +10 to hit, and damage of 1d8 + 5 + 1d8 for a DPR of 11.55. This build has the advantage of providing the most reliable basic attack driven DPR (the extra damage is no dependent on CA or it being your turn.) The only catch here is that there aren't many options to charge out of turn so your DPR will be a touch lower.

Which one of these you pick is largely situational. The clear loser is the straight up assassin, but I can safely recommend either of the other three options with the caveat that for a starting player the Thief and Executioner are much easier to build and play well than the Scoundrel Rogue is.

  • \$\begingroup\$ And these numbers are without actually trying too hard :) If you want to get silly about it, the rogues keep getting stupider and stupider. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 18 '12 at 4:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can i please get a link to a Charger thief build? Tried googling it ofcourse but i found some modifications and im not sure thats what im looking for. I used this guide community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/29060077/… but havent found much about charger rogues there \$\endgroup\$ Sep 18 '12 at 7:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GuardNo.67 basically all the info you need is there. You start with any race with a dex bonus, take Dex 20, Gritty Sergeant for a background (provides access to rapier). Take Tactical trick and Ambush Trick as your at will utilities. Pretty much that's all the decision making you need to do. If you don't have character builder/DDI access the class is defined in Heroes of the Fallen Land p 168. \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Sep 18 '12 at 12:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GuardNo.67 try community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/27050849/… instead for the thief. Remember that for both the assassin and the rogue there are the main classes published in PHB 1 and PHB 3 respectively and there are the essentials classes that were published in HOTFL and Heroes of Shadow respectively. I highly recommend new players use the essentials classes. \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Sep 18 '12 at 12:26

The difference is:

Do you want to stealth in, assassinate someone, and stealth out? Or do you want to function in the traditional dungeon environment?

The assassin, especially the executioner (my taste is for the ninja subclass...) is slightly better at the first case, but less generally adapted to the dungeon crawling environment than the thief. If you want to be a lying, cheating, killer, my recommendation would be for Changeling Thief, simply because the face-changing provides a very novel mode of social interaction that really does synergize well with bluffing.

In terms of damage, the charging thief is very hard to beat, with a correctly built unseelie agent thief killing, on average, .86 standard monsters per round. (contrast with the fighter who aims to kill .25 standard monsters per round as a high standard of excellence).


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