I've seen something in some Oriental Samurai-ish supplementary book. @Edit: It was a Musashi's L5A adaptation from sword & sorcery I think, where I saw it. Something like dead eyes.

My idea is to fulfill the focus and unsettling cold fury of battle loving assassin, the kind you can see on Ruroni Kenshin, or in Drizzt when they let loose their anger.

It's like a "kill-loving machine" more than a shouting angry big dude.

Is there (anywhere official or third party) any alternate class feature (ACF) that can make this feel more like it?

I can always just role-play this with a character, but I'm looking for rules vouching my idea... I'm sure there's something out there that could help.


3 Answers 3


I often point out that Rage itself could easily be refluffed as “zen focus” or “bullet time,” since all it really does it make you tougher and hit more and harder. There is the thing about not being able to use Concentration, Combat Expertise, or anything that requires patience, but for most warriors those things don’t come into play in the first place, so you can just quietly not do those things while roleplaying as if you could, you’re just not because you’re focused on killing your target.

But if you want something that is explicitly, in the books, more related to such “cold” rage, I’m not aware of anything specifically like Rage, as in a state you enter into.

However, there are lots of various moves and feats that capture that concept pretty well, in my opinion. For examples:

Unnerving Calm from Tome of Battle allows you to use Concentration instead of Intimidate for the Duel of Wills mechanic used in that book. The duel of wills is an optional maneuver you make when rolling initiative, and is a pretty neat effect: you can get some minor, but nice, temporary bonuses for winning or for your opponent forfeiting the duel.

Unnerving Calm is a bonus feat for the warblade, also Tome of Battle, who gets the Diamond Mind and Iron Heart disciplines. Diamond Mind uses Concentration checks for all kinds of things: Concentration check to make a target flat-footed, make a Concentration check as a damage roll, make a Concentration check instead of a saving throw. Meanwhile, Iron Heart is all about the brutal, perfect blow, shrugging off all attempts to stop your onslaught.

Meanwhile, the swordsage class, from Tome of Battle again, gets Diamond Mind and Shadow Hand. That is extremely fitting for an assassin: the Shadow Hand discipline offers shadowy teleports, brief spurts of invisibility, the ability to walk on walls, Sneak Attack damage, and all kinds of nasty effects on attacks. The swordsage gets Wis-to-AC while wearing light armor, all kinds of appropriate assassin-y weapons, and a sweet 6+Int skill points with the skills you want.

In Pathfinder, Dreamscarred Press’s Path of War is inspired by Tome of Battle, so that may also be worth looking at.


In Pathfinder, just pick up rage powers you find appropriate and describe them however you want. There's also the Urban Barbarian, if you want to be a little more tactical.


Some Pathfinder options:

Urban Barbarian

The Urban Barbarian has an option to enter a "Controlled Rage" instead of the standard Rage:

When an urban barbarian rages, instead of making a normal rage she may apply a +4 morale bonus to her Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution. This bonus increases to +6 when she gains greater rage and +8 when she gains mighty rage. She may apply the full bonus to one ability score or may split the bonus between several scores in increments of +2. When using a controlled rage, an urban barbarian gains no bonus on Will saves, takes no penalties to AC, and can still use Intelligence-, Dexterity-, and Charisma-based skills. This ability otherwise follows the normal rules for rage.

So, you can take this ACF, forgo normal Rage and you've got a focused killer, without the recklessness (AC penalty) or hotheadedness (will save bonus), and with the ability to use mental skills.

Serene Barbarian (3rd party publisher content)

the Serene Barbarian (3rd party content published by 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming) has a class feature called Serenity which replaces Rage, the fluff goes:

When most barbarians rage, they draw upon nature’s ferocity, relying on the instincts of a mother bear protecting her cubs or a hungry lion on the hunt. Nature, however, is not always so blunt. Like snakes waiting patiently, then striking suddenly, some barbarians lose themselves to a state of absolute calm.

and the gist of the mechanical benefits are:

While in a state of serenity, a barbarian gains a +4 morale bonus to his Dexterity and Wisdom, as well as a +2 morale bonus on all saves. While in a state of serenity, a barbarian cannot cast spells, use Intelligence-based skills, or communicate.

This might fit the bill for a character entering "auto-pilot killer mode" - losing itself in the fight...

Sword-Saint Samurai

Not a barbarian, but this one seems to be inspired by what you've described - The Sword Saint is a samurai, with an ability to perform a powerful strike against a foe he challenged, by not drawing his weapon up until the very moment he strikes, this attack can strike fear in on-lookers on higher levels. Might be relevant...

  • \$\begingroup\$ There are also some relevant feats, I might edit to add them if I find the time in the coming days... \$\endgroup\$
    – G0BLiN
    Jul 5, 2014 at 22:25

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