Feedback on LP for a sanctioned assassin culture role

The setting we’ve burned up is a city-state, ruled over by a god-ruler, who delegates areas of responsibility to sprawling, many-branched Great Families.

We learned that there is a formal, recognised tradition of the Families raising a few of their own (largely from lesser branches) as their official assassins. They’re still part of the Family, so they’re not hired killers, but they’re raised from an early age, so they’re also set apart from typical nobility. There’s some code of professional regard between them, and for practical and political reasons assassins don’t kill other assassins. They’re not associated across Families — loyalties are first to the Family — but there’s professional regard in a “game recognises game” sense.

Anyway, that’s concept. The LP itself is fairly simple:

(Noble Court subsetting)
Family Assassin
6yrs, 20 rps, +1 M
Leads to City, Noble, Soldier, Outcast

Skills: 7 pts: Observation, Poisons, Inconspicuous, Stealthy, Knives, Assassination-wise, Target-wise

Traits: 2 pts: Duty Bound, Reserved, Arrogant, Joyless, Neat and Tidy, Nose for Trouble, Light Sleeper

(The required trait Duty Bound is a new Die Trait that just adds a fourth Belief slot to write “about your duty to serve your Family before yourself”.)

I think I’ve been fairly conservative, but I’m looking for feedback. The rps aren’t low but not generous either, as they’d be making connections, “working for a living”, and they’re still within the privileges and perqs of a member of a Great Family.

We picked Observation as the required skill because that’s the first and most important skill they teach: if you’re competent at nothing else, be competent at observing your target and their context, so even an assassination attempt by an assassin with poor other skills has the space, timing, and location to stack the deck for success. I figure discretion is a big part of the job too, and knowing the lay of a situation, crowd, when to abort mission, etc. is key to that.

Because just having Observation already adds a significant amount of competence over those with only Per to use, the points are 7, instead of 8 for the MonBu suggestion of +1 point if one skill is considered critical to the LP. The skill list is pretty on-point for (nearly) everything a competent assassin needs, too, so being conservative with the skill points feels like it adds some balance.

The Trait points are 2 because this LP changes you deeply. The Dt that adds a fourth Belief is because a Family assassin is heavily invested in the good of the Family.

I sketched this out yesterday before going in search of assassin LPs others have made. After looking, it’s pretty close to the Professional Assassin that used to be on the wiki.

Anyway, thoughts are welcome, especially reasoned-out tweaks that would make it tighter, or observations about ways this is too generous!

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Two things leap out at me tied to the same theme: no one likes assassins, not even their own people. And no one trusts assassins, no matter what they swear. So I would say that there’s way (way) too many RPs. I would say 3 or 5 max. And the first trait is too light. They should have an infamous reputation or a penalty to persuade people who know their identity.

Assassins typically are soldiers of convenience. People who have the will or nerve to kill who happen to be in the right place at the right time. People who have training to kill are soldiers or sword nobles. But even soldiers tend to be treated like cast-offs in most cultures.

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I was thinking the same thing as I read the description. The first trait should definitely be something that grants an Infamous Reputation.

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Skill list is a bit overfull, too. What are the requirements for the LP?

I would suggest to replace the order of skills, the Poison with Stealthy (or at least with Inconspicuous). Why? Poison is just another tool of killing discretly, the crucial part of being assassin is to not being recognized or detected. it’s important, if somebody picks that lifepath second time (it doesn’t sound that stupid after all…)

I think that 20 rps are too much considering that for example, Bailif from Noble Court (a proffession that has some access to money, althought not his!) has only 15 rps. I would keep it maybe between 6 and 10, no more than 12 rps.

Ooh, an Infamous Reputation or Persuasion penalty is perfect! That’s exactly the sorts of oversight I was hoping to catch. Tying it to the first Trait is just right. I’ll have to think about which is better for the concept. Both have their appeals.

The RPs I’ll have to think about. The setting changes that equation some: they’re still members of high society and move in those noble circles, have their own political influence, and so on: being a major political player is a social asset that they wield. They’re also not a threat within a Family (except insofar as any fellow Family member already is), since they’re strictly sent against external rivals. There’s a lot of social code around them that I’m looking forward to seeing during play, and the breaking of which would/will be Significant. (For a literary example, they’re not dissimilar in social station and familial relationships to Brandon Sanderson’s mistborn nobles). I’m hesitant to cut it so far as I would for a soldier of convenience; for that kind of concept we’d just use Desperate Killer anyway.

But, much of that influence will be reflected in their other LPs, so dropping the RPs significantly makes sense — what they do beyond their indoctrination/training is a more significant contribution to their wealth and connections. Maybe not as far as 3 or 5 — they’re not soldiers or hired knives, more like trained champions — but I can see by half. A noble allowance and connections, but impaired by the demands of their training and being set apart as “other.” That’ll keep them more tied into and dependent on their Family too: if you don’t have as much Resources directly, you have to rely on your Family for your needs as “kept” men and women.

The skill list does feel pretty full. I can’t see any of these not being integral though. Initially it was minus Observation, but that’s such a key skill to represent the style of these people that when I thought of it, it clicked right away. I might tweak the points downward instead: 6 points to make you have to choose your aptitudes a bit more.

The requirements aren’t defined; for this campaign, everyone already needs to be raised as part of the same Family and be invested in it, and there’s no concern that this LP will get taken too much. It’s mostly to suit a concept for one player; we kept going in circles trying to find four LPs that fit her Family assassin-noble concept, got Read, Write, Stealthy, Knives, and a relevant Wise without all opening with a single general point each… and realised that this setting role might be best reflected in a custom LP.

If I were to formalise the setting, it would require Born Noble, be the second or third LP, and either Page, Student, or Young Lady before or after (to reflect their other training to move in high society).

Conceptually, a 4 LP character taking Family Assassin is going to have to choose where to put their points: are they balanced between Society skills and killing, better at killing but inept at court, or apt at court but one of the weaker political knives the Family holds (and therefore less valuable)?

Skill selection is rarely about getting everything you want and need. There has to be some deficiency. Requirements also determine skill trees. If a player can go BN, Page, Squire, Knight, Family Assassin, you have a magnificently OP character to start the game.

But even a 4LP BN, Page, Squire, Assassin is dangerous. Heaven forfend the BN, Student, Young Lady, Family Assassin. That is the end times right there.

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Hmmm, I see the danger.

So, concept, concept, concept: what’s essential and what’s expendable here? I can see dropping Poisons and Inconspicuous. An assassin that wants to pursue that style can grab Poisoner.

I have a hard time thinking of how else to trim down the list. Maybe instead remove weapons entirely: go learn those methods elsewhere (or with General points), and focus the LP on the casing the target and infiltration: Observation, Inconspicuous, Stealthy, Assassination-wise, Target-wise.

I do like the wises a lot. I’m looking forward to the player telling me their target’s habits and routines, and details about how good assassinations are set up and what traditions or old scandals surround them. And of course, when it comes to rolling the dice, those will often make even a B3 Knives much more efficient.

Family Secrets-wise is a must, then!

I did consider that! Chatting with the player of the potential character, we threw around some ideas for wises about politics and society that fit the concept, but none of the specific scopes of the wises we considered jazzed her. I was tempted to put Family Secrets-wise in there, but it already felt overfull so I just hadn’t got around to that tweak.

I think it’s for the best though: we have another PC shaping up to be a Bastard sent away to here from a distant branch of the Family from another city, and I wouldn’t have wanted to take that niche from him. I’m looking forward to all the secrets that get made. :smiley:

Anyway: we did more burning yesterday and the assassin’s player was a) concerned at the length of her skill list and b) unhappy at being spread so thin with the skill points. It’ll be an interesting acid test to see how the character shapes up. I think a group review before final approval of the character will give more insights into how the LP handles.

After a day of letting it percolate, and a conversation with the player about how she felt about the skill list on the worksheet (“too many options!”), we did decide to pare the skill list down:

Family Assassin LP (Court subsetting)
6 yrs, 10, +1 M, City Dweller, Noble, Soldier, Outcast

Skills: 6 pts: Observation, Inconspicuous, Stealthy, Assassination-wise, Target-wise
Traits: 2 pts: Duty Bound, Reserved, Arrogant, Joyless, Neat and Tidy, Nose for Trouble, Light Sleeper

It feels more distilled to the concept now. It represents the role, but it’s more flexible. It can be paired with other LPs for the individual assassin’s method — poison, blade, arrow, politicking someone into a legal duel they’ve no chance of winning, kidnapping, hired thugs, whatever — and just focuses on the tasks of setting up the opportunity advantageously. (I think that’s the most interesting part of an assassination in-game, anyway.)

Probably a few too many RPs, but we’ll see how it plays out now. I’ve heard someone say that really good LPs take years of play and tweaking.
:slight_smile:

Thanks everyone for the ideas and for raking it over the coals! It’s much better for the critical audience.