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DnD Assassins are about to get better in every single way

The brand new One DnD player's handbook tunes up Dungeons and Dragons' Assassin subclass across the board, making your Rogue even deadlier.

DnD Assassin subclass buffs in One DnD - Wizards of the Coast artwork showing an Assassin Rogue, overlaid on DnD art showing a battle

As Wizards of the Coast reveals more and more of its rules changes to DnD mainstays, we’ve just seen updates to the iconic Assassin Rogue subclass that’ll power it up across every area of gameplay, cementing its role as one of the stabbiest damage dealers in Dungeons and Dragons.

Shown off by D&D’s lead game designer Jeremy Crawford in an explainer video published on Monday (watch it below), the news comes alongside welcome buffs to other DnD Rogue variants – we’ve also reported today about the Soulknife getting more range and power.

But the changes to the Assassin, most murderous of all the DnD Rogue subclasses, are particularly sweeping. The Assassinate and Death Strike skills have been made easier to trigger, but the damage has been reduced. Assassins also become more adept at poisoning and impersonating others – and, in a rather spicy, fluffy change, they can now move after using Steady Aim, supporting more hit-and-run builds. But that’s just the start, we haven’t even got to the juicy bit yet.

Wizards says this makeover was necessary to make DnD Assassin characters more reliable in combat. That’s because, although the archetype has long been popular for Rogue players, it’s always struggled to make its mark due to the core class’s focus on surprise attacks, and was thus often overshadowed by more vanilla sneak-thieves and other, weirder variants like the Arcane Trickster.

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Getting that all-important sneak attack in was often tough for Assassins – but, with the DnD surprise rules overhauled for the new One DnD core books, Wizards is hoping these stalking killers will finally have their time to shine.

And boy, has it given them the tools for the job. Assassins’ trademark boon of getting extra damage in the first round of combat will no longer rely on the enemy being surprised – you’ll get the bonus as long as the enemy hasn’t yet entered combat, so you’ll benefit hugely from doing well in your DnD initiative roll.

Which is convenient, because – deep breath, now – Assassins now get advantage on their initiative roll, giving them a far better chance of acting early and digging the knife in for that sweet, high-damage first hit on a high value target. We can already think of powerful synergies here – perhaps with the much maligned new College of Dance Bard, who can boost everyone’s initiative scores with their Tandem Footwork ability.

And the additions just keep coming. Infiltration expertise has been completely redesigned. Imposter has been replaced with Envenom Weapons, and your fearsome capstone ability, Death Strike, also no longer relies on surprise. As a small quality-of-life tweak, the Assassin’s Tools subclass feature now not only gives players the tool proficiency, but also the tools themselves, which makes a lot of practical sense.

All in all, these changes add up to making the Assassin massively more viable in a scrap. Their iconic abilities are easier to trigger, with a greater focus placed on poisoning and impersonations, to give you a more distinctive role both in and out of combat. We cannot wait to try it all out when the new 2024 Player’s Handbook comes out on September 17.

For more Dungeons and Dragons analysis, check out our complete guides to the DnD classes and all the various DnD races you can play in the game. We’ve also recently updated our list of the best D&D games on PC, if you’re after a digital adventure.

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