I'm in the process of building a character who works as a hired assassin of the ranged flavor.

My idea of the perfect assassin is one that can be undetected and unload a massive amount of damage before the enemy has a chance to react.

I'm locked into being a Drow and starting at level 14, but everything else is up for grabs. I went with rogue since it seemed to fit my concept of an assassin best. Below is my current build.

Level 14 Drow Rogue
Build: Cunning Sneak
Background: Hired Killer (+2 stealth)
PP: Cloaked Sniper

Ability Scores: STR 11, CON 11, DEX 24, INT 18, WIS 9, CHA 14

Feats: Weapon Proficiency (Superior Crossbow), Crossbow Expertise, Weapon Focus (Crossbow), Skill Focus (Stealth), Bravo [Multiclass Bravo], Backstabber, Unerring Ambush, Merciless Killer, Slaying Action

Stealth: +30    

At-Will Powers: Gloaming Cut, Sly Flourish, Chameleon
Encounter non-attack Powers: Darkfire, Deadly Knowledge, Bravo's Prey, Spot Weakness
Encounter attack Powers: Fitting Demise, Fleeting Spirit Strike, Snap Shot, Sudden Bolt
Daily Powers: Bewildering Assault, Blinding Barrage, Staggering Assault

Items: Learning Superior Crossbow +3, Dynamic Belt, Shadowdancer's Mask, Shadowdancer's Gloves, Skull Bracers, Leather Armor of Dark Deeds +3, Boots of Stealth (Paragon Tier), Periapt of Cascading Health +2

Here's a summary of what this build allows me to do:


  • No penalty to stealth for moving more than two squares. (Cunning Sneak)
  • Only -5 penalty for running while stealthed. (Cunning Sneak)
  • If I end movement at least 3 squares from my starting position, I can make a stealth check if I have concealment or cover. (Cunning Sneak)
  • When hidden and I miss every target on an attack, I remain hidden and can shift 1 square. (Cloaked Sniper - Unseen Shot)
  • When hidden and I lose cover or concealment, make a stealth check vs. passive perception to remain hidden without cover or concealment until the end of my next turn. (Chameleon)
  • +1d6 damage to attacks while hidden (Shadowdancer's Gloves)
  • When I attack an enemy with combat advantage, I gain concealment until the end of my next turn. (Armor of Dark Deeds)
  • Daily reroll stealth with +3 bonus (Shadowdancer's Mask)

First Round Stuff

  • Combat Advantage against foes who haven't acted yet on first round (First Strike)
  • Roll twice and use either result on first round attacks (Unerring Ambush)


  • While hidden, use Spot Weakness (+4 dmg to next hit), Bravo's Prey (+2 attack and damage until end of encounter), and Skull Bracers (+1d10 damage on next hit).
  • Surprise round to use Bewildering Assault for 3d10+1d6+3d8+181.
  • On second round, use Fleeting Spirit Strike for 2d10+1d6+3d8+232, Action Point Fitting Demise for 3d10+1d6+3d8+273, Snap Shot for 1d10+234, Sudden Bolt for 2d10+235.
  • If bloodied, add 4 damage for Deadly Knowledge and 5 per hit while bloodied (Merciless Killer)

Total Damage: 11d10 + 2d6 + 9d8 + 114 = Average 222 damage + any bloodied damage

1: 2[W] + 1d10 (skull bracers) + 1d6 (shadowdancer's gloves) + 3d8 (sneak attack) + 12 (base) + 2 (bravo's prey) + 4 (spot weakness)
2: 2[W]                        + 1d6 (shadowdancer's gloves) + 3d8 (sneak attack) + 12 (base) + 2 (bravo's prey)                     + 5 (vulnerable) + 4 (Learning weapon)
3: 3[W]                        + 1d6 (shadowdancer's gloves) + 3d8 (sneak attack) + 16 (base) + 2 (bravo's prey)                     + 5 (vulnerable) + 4 (learning weapon)
4: 1[W]                                                                           + 12 (base) + 2 (bravo's prey)                     + 5 (vulnerable) + 4 (learning weapon)
5: 2[W]                                                                           + 12 (base) + 2 (bravo's prey)                     + 5 (vulnerable) + 4 (learning weapon)

Are there any ways to increase my stealth or damage? Is there anything illegal about this build?

  • \$\begingroup\$ have you looked into darkstalker? are themes allowed? What other books are allowed? What are the other people in your party playing (a surprisingly important aspect) What's more important, stealth or damage? Is anyone willing to cooperate with you on feats? \$\endgroup\$ May 14, 2011 at 10:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Darkstalker looks nice but the Cloaked Sniper class features save me from using up a bunch of feats. Anything that the CB lets you do is allowed. My party is a warden, shaman, warlock, two-weapon ranger, wizard and fighter. No feat cooperation at this time. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpatchery
    May 16, 2011 at 11:44

3 Answers 3


Assuming you can't get a theme, here's my suggestion for a damage-focused crossbow sniper:

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
level 14
Drow, Thief, Dread Fang
Background: Occupation - Criminal (+2 to Stealth)

Str 9, Con 12, Dex 24, Int 11, Wis 20, Cha 11.

Str 8, Con 11, Dex 18, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 10.

AC: 29 Fort: 21 Reflex: 30 Will: 25
HP: 89 Surges: 7 Surge Value: 22

Stealth +23, Thievery +19, Streetwise +12, Dungeoneering +17, Athletics +11, Acrobatics +19, Nature +17, Perception +17

Arcana +7, Bluff +7, Diplomacy +7, Endurance +8, Heal +12, History +7, Insight +12, Intimidate +9, Religion +7

Level 1: Ruthless Hunter
Level 2: Primal Sharpshooter
Level 4: Two-Fisted Shooter
Level 6: Backstabber
Level 8: Crossbow Expertise
Level 10: Weapon Focus (Crossbow) (retrained to Lasting Frost at Level 11)
Level 11: Primal Eye
Level 12: Wintertouched
Level 14: Silvery Glow

Lolthtouched: Cloud of Darkness
Primal Sharpshooter: Grappling Spirits
Thief utility 1: Tactical Trick
Thief utility 1: Escape Artist's Trick
Thief utility 2: Fleeting Ghost
Thief utility 4: Sneak's Trick
Thief utility 6: Chameleon
Thief utility 7: Ambush Trick
Thief utility 10: Counter-Step

Frost Hand Crossbow +3, Feytouched Drowmesh +3, Bracers of the Perfect Shot (paragon tier), Assassin's Cloak +3, Eagle Eye Goggles (heroic tier), Frost Hand Crossbow +2, Potion of Healing (heroic tier)
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======

I calculate DPR with to-hit chances, so my numbers will be much lower than yours.

Ranged basic attack: +23 v. AC, 1d8+26 cold damage Combat advantage from 2 sources: wintertouched/lasting frost with a 1-(28-23)/20=75% chance and hiding based on invisibility or sneak's trick (any source of concealment will do) When you start your turn hidden (for extra juice there, take persistent tail as your level 10 utility), you deal 4d8 as your sneak attack damage.

Tohit: (1-(28-(23+2))/20) = 85% hit rate, with backstabber means you generally won't miss. DPR: .8*(4.5+26+4.5*4+5)+.05*(8+26+8*4+5+3.5*3+.85*(4.5+26+4.5*4+5)=49.14 DPR, all encounter long every encounter. Backstab to be used to turn misses into hits and you're a walking damage machine. AP of course gets you a second verse same as the first, so that's 100 damage on the first round. at 136 average HP for level 14, the slowed enemy (grappling spirits) gets a round to croak for help before you finish them in the second round. No dailies in the class which makes for an incredibly long-enduring character.

Free reroll on stealth checks from your neckslot with a standard action invis from your armor gives you all the stealth you really need. Especially with sneak's trick allowing remarkable stealth in places that would not otherwise be considered venues for sneaking. Average non-trained perception is +10 at 14, so a +23 with a reroll and an II to become re-hidden should provide for sufficient stealth.

For a nova-based assassin... I'll look at the executioner with big, sad, eyes... and go to the Ranger. Their damage simply cannot be beat. I'd personally choose a wind-rider, but that's because I find pure-damage frostcheese excruciatingly boring. The darkstrider gets you your hidden damage boost. Spending feats on skills is usually contraindicated. See here for a goodenough archer that just spams the damage.

If you choose to not go with thief (cunning sneak is slightly less good than sneak's trick, depending) or ranger, then executioner isn't a bad choice. You're trading damage for flavour, but it's very nice flavour. If you MC warlock and take shadow dancer then it's very nice, very very very very mobile flavour. Warlocks also make good assassins MC into assassin :)

Cunning sneak is just not that worth it in actual play. While it helps in theoretical "solo stealth" missions, it's hard being a meat&potatoes assassin. Bravo's a trap. If you're going PH1 rogue/ranger, focus on minor action attacks, multi-attacks, and frostcheese. They'll get you the most damage with the least tradeoffs. Darkstrider becomes better there, because 3+wis damage on multi-attacks very very quickly becomes stupid.

Don't forget to calculate to-hit in your damage potential.

Good luck. Feedback will be incorporated to refine requirements and my suggestions.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Excellent ideas here! I think I'm going with a Two-Fisted Shooter Darkstrider Rogue. It's about 1 less DPR but a heck of a lot more interesting than frostcheese (as you put it). One thing though - since getting CA is relatively easy, I'd drop Wintertouched for Merciless killer for an extra ~2.5 DPR. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpatchery
    May 16, 2011 at 17:52

Have you looked at the char-op forums on wizards.com

The Rogue handbook, http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/22953353/Dirty_Deeds..._Done_Dirt_Cheap:_The_Rogues_Handbook and the handbook for sniper rogues http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/23206785/The_Silent_Death:_A_Handbook_to_Sniper_Rogues look like good places to start.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Very neat resource, I hadn't seen that before. Looks like I'm pretty much optimized for my level, though the hand crossbow route will be better in late paragon. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpatchery
    May 14, 2011 at 2:58
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Our own question/answer on snipers is slightly better than the sniper rogue handbook. It's aged poorly. \$\endgroup\$ May 14, 2011 at 10:00

The new Executioner/AssassinDDI class from Heroes of Shadow may be right up your alley:


Role: Striker. Your sense of timing, skill with weapons, and ability to use the shadows as a weapon allow you to strike with lethal effect against an unsuspecting foe. You even mix in some shadow magic when appropriate.
Power Source: Martial and Shadow.
Key Abilities: Dexterity, Charisma

Armor Proficiencies: Cloth, leather.
Weapon Proficiencies: Simple one-handed melee, military one-handed melee, simple ranged, blowgun, bola, garrote, shortbow.
Implement: Ki focuses
Bonus to Defense: +1 Fortitude, +1 Will.

Hit Points at 1st Level: 12+ Constitution Score.
Hit Points per Level Gained: 5
Healing Surges per Day: 7+ Constitution Modifier.

Trained Skills: Stealth. From the class skills list below, choose 4 more trained skills at 1st level.
Class Skills: Acrobatics (Dex), Arcana (Int), Athletics (Str), Bluff (Cha), Endurance (Con), Insight (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Perception (Wis), Stealth (Dex), Streetwise (Cha), Thievery (Dex).

Class features: Assassin's Strike, Attack Finesse (Executioner), Guild Attacks, Poison Use, Quick Swap (Executioner), Versatile Defense.

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