The assassin. The killer in the night. The cold- blooded slayer who sees death and bloodletting as an art. These are executioners, warriors who rely on their knowledge of anatomy and precise, vicious cuts to overcome their enemies. Executioners work best when they surprise opponents or when their allies distract them. These precise, deadly attacks require careful planning and exact aim to complete successfully.
Dexterity and Wisdom prove critical to executioners. Dexterity improves their ability to hide from foes, and they need it to land a killing blow. Wisdom gives them the insight and perception to locate the exact point of an enemy’s weakness.
Executioners gain access to the Athletics, Perception, and Stealth skill groups. Their training focuses on using skills to enter an opponent’s lair from an unexpected direction while evading detection. The Perception group is critical, as executioners must be able to read their foes for clues to their vulnerabilities. Most executioners also delve into a variety of other areas, particularly skills such as Bluff and Diplomacy that let them talk their way past enemies.
Skill Points at 1st Level: (6 + Intelligence modifier) × 4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Intelligence modifier
Hit Die: 1d4+4/level + Constitution
Executioners learn a variety of tricks and tactics with their weapons. They see swords, axes, and bows as the tools of their chosen form of artistry. Thus, they tend to gain comparatively high levels of mastery in fighting forms.
Executioners enjoy a special feat-related ability: They are the only class able to ignore the power weapon restriction on Power feats. They can use normal or finesse weapons to gain the benefits of Power feats. This rule reflects the executioner’s focus on precision to deal tremendous damage with light, agile weapons. You gain this benefit only with Power feats that have a mastery rating at or below the mastery granted by your executioner class levels, not by your combined mastery from more than one class.
Executioners also have a knack for Lore feats, as they must study anatomy to learn the best killing techniques. Many of them also create poisons, useful for quickly overcoming powerful targets.
Executioners rely on stealth and their precise, deadly attacks. Their class abilities grant them the options they need to move into position for an attack.
Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: Though they focus on light, fast ones, executioners train with a variety of weapons. They are proficient with all simple and martial weapons and light armor.
Execution Pool: Executioners excel at gauging an enemy, picking out a weak spot, and delivering a deadly stroke that leaves the foe incapacitated. To represent these capabilities, members of the executioner class build up tokens they can spend to gain benefits to an attack or action.
As an executioner, you gain access to the execution token pool. Drawing on the lore you have already learned is the first way you earn these tokens. At the start of an encounter, you
automatically gain a number of execution tokens based on your level. These tokens represent your accumulated knowledge of killing. An inexperienced executioner has little to draw upon, while a veteran can combine her practical knowledge with her understanding of anatomy and human tendencies—after a quick glance at the combatants in an encounter, she sees how they may fight or defend themselves.
|Executioner Level||Starting Tokens|
You can use tokens earned in this manner against any opponent. However, not all creatures are vulnerable to the executioner’s token-driven attacks.
To use execution tokens, you must spend them before resolving an attack. If your attack hits, you gain additional benefits on top of the normal damage you inflict (as described for the specific class abilities below). To resist these extra effects, your opponent usually has to make a Fortitude save with a Difficulty Class based in part on the number of tokens you spent on the attack.
You can benefit from only one token-driven class ability on a given strike; you cannot combine them in a single attack.
Sneak Attack: Executioners study anatomy and learn to hit opponents where it hurts. You gain the ability to inflict additional damage when you hit an opponent you flank or one who has lost his active bonus to defense. This bonus damage appears on the Executioner Class Features and Mastery table. You inflict +1d6 points of damage at 1st level and an additional 1d6 points at every odd executioner level after that.
Ranged attacks can count as sneak attacks only for targets within 30 feet of you. You do not multiply sneak attack damage on a critical hit.
You can deal nonlethal instead of lethal damage with a sneak attack if your weapon inflicts nonlethal damage, such as a sap or an unarmed strike. You cannot use a weapon that deals lethal damage to inflict nonlethal damage in a sneak attack—not even with the usual –4 penalty.
A creature immune to critical hits is not vulnerable to sneak attacks. You cannot sneak attack while striking a creature who has concealment or while hitting the limbs of a creature whose vitals are beyond reach.
Executioner’s Eye: In addition to earning tokens as described above, you can earn them by studying a foe, gauging his combat strategies through observation. To do so, make a Sense Motive check as a free, move, standard, or full- round action—your check gains modifiers based on how long you spend on it. The target opposes your check with a base attack check or, if he knows you are studying him, a Bluff check if he so chooses. On a successful check, you gain 2 execution tokens against him.
|Action Spent||Sense Motive Modifier|
You can accumulate tokens in this manner against only one opponent at a time. You must use the tokens you earn against the target of your Sense Motive check. Should you try to acquire tokens against a new target, you lose the ones you earned for the previous target.
Hindering Cut: You slice at an opponent’s arms or legs, leaving him with an injury that makes it hard for him to attack or defend himself. Before you attack, you must spend at least 1 execution token and announce that you are using this ability. If your attack hits, your foe must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + half your executioner level + your Wisdom modifier + number of tokens spent + any sneak attack dice of damage). Those who fail suffer a –1 penalty to attacks and defense or a –1 square (5-foot) penalty to speed. These penalties last for one minute and stack if a victim suffers multiple hindering cuts.
Armor-Piercing Strike: Starting at 3rd level, an executioner’s ability to study opponents and find their weak points allows her to discover flaws in a target’s armor.
Before you make an attack of any sort, including one tied to a class ability, you can spend execution tokens to reduce the target’s damage reduction.
Activating this ability, which applies only to your next attack, requires the expenditure of 2 tokens. The target’s damage reduction penalty depends on your class level:
|Executioner Level||DR Penalty|
Create Distraction: Beginning at 5th level, you can make a flurry of attacks that distract your opponent, allowing you to slip into hiding. For instance, you slash at his eyes, deliver a dozen quick strikes to confuse his defenses, or stun him briefly with a blow to the head.
When you make a melee attack, you may spend 2 execution tokens to activate this ability. Resolve your attack as normal. If you hit, your opponent must make a Spot check (DC 10 + half your executioner level + your Wisdom modifier + number of tokens spent) or he loses track of you until his next action. You gain this benefit in addition to damage from the successful attack. You do not need to declare additional tokens spent until after you have made your attack roll.
Until his next action, the foe does not threaten you. If you move at least three squares (15 feet) after attacking, you can make a Hide check to evade his notice as if you were unobserved by him.
When you spend tokens on an executioner class ability attack, extra benefits may come into play if you inflict sneak attack damage along with the strike.
Bleeding Cut: Starting at 7th level, a careful twist of your weapon allows you to leave a wound that bleeds freely and saps your foe’s strength. Before you attack, spend at least 2 execution tokens and announce that you are using this ability. If your attack hits, the target must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + half your executioner level + your Wisdom modifier + number of tokens spent + any sneak attack dice of damage). On a failed save, the target suffers 1d6 points of damage at the start of his action for 3 rounds. Hitting an opponent with this attack more than once increases the extra damage he suffers.
Targets immune to sneak attack damage are also immune to bleeding cuts.
Improved Hindering Cut: From 9th level forward, you inflict a greater penalty with a hindering cut attack. When you make an attack, you can spend additional tokens to improve the target’s penalty to attacks and defense. For every 2 tokens spent beyond the first, increase the penalty by 1 point. You cannot improve the penalty to speed. Otherwise, this ability functions just like hindering cut.
Tokens spent to improve the penalty you inflict do not increase this ability’s save Difficulty Class.
Crippling Strike: Starting at 11th level, you can drive your weapon into an opponent’s joint, slice one of his muscles to shreds, or deliver a grievous wound that saps his vitality. Before you attack, spend at least 4 execution tokens and announce that you are using this ability. If your attack hits, the target must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + half your executioner level + your Wisdom modifier + number of tokens spent + any sneak attack dice of damage). If he fails, he suffers 2 points of temporary ability damage to Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution (your choice).
Against a single target in a given encounter you can inflict up to your class level in damage to one ability score. For example, a 12th-level executioner could use crippling strike to damage a target’s Strength six times, for a total of 12 points of temporary Strength damage. She could then begin to target the foe’s Dexterity. As an executioner gains levels, she learns more ways to cripple an opponent.
Targets immune to sneak attack damage are also immune to this ability.
Death Stroke: Upon reaching 13th level, you can draw upon your executioner training to deliver a blow far deadlier than normal when you strike with a sneak attack. Before you make an attack that gains sneak attack damage, you can increase your sneak attack by 1d6 points for every 2 execution tokens you spend in the attempt. You cannot exceed your normal sneak attack damage value in bonus dice. For instance, an executioner with an 8d6 sneak attack could add up to 8d6 more dice of damage by spending 16 tokens. Your target gains no save against this ability, though it must be vulnerable to sneak attack damage for the Death Stroke to have an effect.
Improved Bleeding Cut: Starting at 15th level, when you slice into an artery or other major blood vessel, you can leave an injury that bleeds even worse than usual. With a twist of your blade, you make an elegant incision that causes massive hemorrhaging. For every 2 additional token you spend on this ability, you increase the bleeding damage by 1 point. You can inflict, at most, bleeding damage equal to half your executioner level.
Tokens spent to improve bleeding damage do not increase this ability’s save Difficulty Class.
Hamstring: Beginning at 17th level, you slash at an opponent’s legs, wings, or similar limbs, leaving him unable to move and possibly rendering him vulnerable to additional attacks. When making a melee attack, announce that you are using this ability and spend 6 execution tokens. If your attack hits, the target must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + half your executioner level + your Wisdom modifier + number of okens spent). Should this save fail, you connect in a painful strike to the target’s limbs that reduces his speed to zero for a number of rounds equal to 1 + your Wisdom modifier.
Improved Crippling Strike: From 19th level forward, your attacks to critical areas wreak more damage than normal. You increase the temporary ability score damage you inflict with crippling strike by 1 point for every 4 additional tokens you spend on this attack. You can cause a maximum amount of ability damage equal to your executioner level, with no cap on the ability damage inflicted per ability or per target.
Tokens spent to improve the ability damage you inflict do not increase the strike’s save Difficulty Class.
Execution Blow: A 20th-level executioner can slash across a foe’s neck, plant her weapon through his eye socket, or otherwise deliver a single deadly strike that kills an enemy with a single attack.
Using this ability requires you to spend 15 execution tokens and make an attack that allows you to gain sneak attack damage. If you hit, your target must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 10 + half your executioner level + your Wisdom modifier + additional tokens spent + any sneak attack dice of damage) or die instantly. The target drops to –10 hit points and is dead as if he failed his Fortitude save.
PLAYING AN EXECUTIONER
The executioner almost compels a reaction from the commoners she meets. A trained assassin and murderer, she wields deadly arts that are outlawed in many lands. The executioner might pose as a simple warrior to avoid drawing suspicion. Only in the presence of trusted comrades or in a dangerous situation does she allow her true skills to shine through.
Most executioners belong to a cult, organization, or guild of hired killers. Their talents are too esoteric for them to develop spontaneously. Rather, they require intensive study and training. Hidden, isolated dojos accept only the most promising students, and their combat training could include as much religious and mystical study as physical exercise. Of all the classes, the executioner is the most likely to be tied to a specific organization.
The executioner’s training might color how she dresses, her outlook on life, and her attitude toward others. Some assassin cults place a tremendous weight on personal honor. This group’s members must show the utmost obedience to tradition and to their superiors. When ordered to eliminate a target, they must set aside all else. Other executioner guilds might embrace a more freewheeling attitude, but this is unlikely unless the class is common in your game. In such a situation, the executioner’s abilities might spread far and wide without strict control by the elder guild members.
The executioner’s primary strength lies in the tokens she earns. Unlike other classes, you start each encounter with a supply that you can use to hinder your enemies. You work best when you team up with another warrior to flank an opponent. Since you lose your tokens without benefit if your attacks miss, you should try to hold off on spending them until you can flank an enemy. At that point, open up with your attacks.
Your key weakness lies in defense: You have an average progression, light armor, and few defensive abilities. Yet, you normally must move to flank an opponent to make the most of your abilities. On top of that, you can’t select Defense feats until 5th level. Your best bet is to judge carefully when you can move ahead to attack.
Armigers are your best friends, since they can wade into the midst of the enemy and create flanking opportunities while you remain on the edge of the fray.
Your best bet is to focus on a single, powerful figure and use your talents to wear down his fighting ability. You don’t fight well against large groups of monsters or enemies roughly equal in power, since your special abilities hinder only one creature. Think of it this way: The longer an opponent lasts during an encounter, the more benefit you gain from the penalties you place upon him. A goblin likely falls to a single blow, but a stone giant can pound on the party round after round. Thus, focus on the big, tough targets.
Against such foes, your winning strategy is to sneak up on them, launch a devastating attack, then move away using your create distraction ability to prepare another ambush.