[pnpgm] Assassin/Executioner skills

Murtha, Mark Mark.Murtha at dishnetwork.com
Mon Aug 1 15:59:35 CEST 2011

Assassin - a point that was hinted at, but never actually addressed - poisons, complex plans, and other less combat oriented ways where the assassination cannot be detected.  The way I see it, the skilled assassin can do things up to and including:

Plan the entire "night" or "time before" the actual assassination.  Target is A.  Friends are B and C.  Eliminating B and C pays a bonus.  Skilled assassin then decides the best place & time is at the big party that A B C attend.  Planning includes splitting the targets, poisoning B first with something in drink, something that makes B appear sick.  So now B and C go to a room to help B.  Then the poison kills B.  C is distraught.  Assassin uses the distraction to blow dart C.
   Now B and C are dead, leaving A.

A is still in the big party, looking for B & C.   Assassin pays someone, G, at party to tell A where B & C went plus freshen A's drink.  Unbeknownst to G, the drink also contains the same poison used on B.  A drinks drink while going to find B & C.  A gets sick.  Then goes into the room where B & C are dead.  A gets upset, crying like a little girl.  The assassin then locks the door w/ A in there, and waits for the poison to finish the job.  If A is too strong for the poison, there is always alternate 1 - gently suffocating A.  Or alternate 2, the extreme backup - dagger.

At the end, when they're found, A and B died of the same sickness.  C had a massive heart attack.  The assassin on the way out laces the rest of the punchbowl with a milder form of poison so many others at the party get sick, and most don't die.  This way, the sickness isn't confined to the targets.  Now A B C are all gone, assassin completed job, and it looks as if some kind of punch-born disease/food poisoning hit the entire party.

Good Job!  Well, kinda...

That is part of what Assassin skill gives.  Probably the "truer" form of the skill than just increasing ambush chances.    BUT, can a non-assassin plan and do this? Sure - but odds go down, non-skilled assassin cannot improvise when things change, etc.

  Killing -  The bound and/or helpless are the key.  Ability to dispatch, in a single blow, the bound/helpless victim.  Does free elbows make the target not-helpless?

If target is tied up, laying down, unable to squirm/move, target is helpless.
If target is dazed, standing up and wandering around aimlessly, with hands bound behind back, target may be helpless.  Likely not, but maybe.  It depends on the target, etc.

Torture - that seems pretty straight forward.  Not something generally done without a known and stated purpose.  Although a variety of methods exist, I won't go there.


From: pnpgm-bounces at abroere.xs4all.nl [mailto:pnpgm-bounces at abroere.xs4all.nl] On Behalf Of dasandersx at comcast.net
Sent: Saturday, July 30, 2011 6:55 PM
To: pnpgm at abroere.xs4all.nl
Subject: Re: [pnpgm] Assassin/Executioner skills

Perhaps the availability of the axe, or noose, plus weakened or drugged prisoners, plus assistants/guards...etc...would make the task 'easy'...but being in the field, with the superior strength of the prisoner, the size of the creature or humanoid, or the experience the executioner has with the species, etc, might make the difficulty much greater.

Yes, you can kill a person that's not bound, but that's not the skill.  The skill is only bound or helpless.  An unbound, aware person is going to do/see something...the executioner isn't an assassin, after all.  He's not skilled in stealth...just talking your ear off...figuratively and really...(eewww...gross)

There doesn't seem to be a reason to make two sub-groups of executioners, either.  Why can't one person be both?  When he has the tools and environment, he kills easily (or at least succeeds in his skill roll) and in the field, under less than perfect conditions, his chance of success, and gaing expertise points, falls.

It's all a matter of defining the difficulty of the situation.  Which has to be done for ALL non-combat skills.

As for the assassin...the same applies.  Does the character set up or have the situation to make the assassination easier or is it near impossible because of the guards and traps and awareness of the target?

As for the 'well, anybody could do that' arguments...yes, they can...but the assassins (and executioners!) are TRAINED to do it, and do it well.  Anybody can grab a sword and kill someone with it...but a TRAINED swordsman is FAR better at it.

dave S


From: "Scott Adams" <longshotgm at netzero.com>
To: "PBEM List" <pnpgm at abroere.xs4all.nl>
Sent: Friday, July 29, 2011 9:14:47 PM
Subject: [pnpgm] Assassin/Executioner skills

    Powers and Perils is a deadly system and experience can be fast
    and furious.  There has always been two skills that I find to be
    a bit hard to award just blanket experience.  The following outline
    both of those skills.

    1) Assassin

       We know this is the largest skill to buy and is worth it since
       we know it can give great benefits.  The core items of this skill

       A) Ambush: Skill use is in the ability to ambush another person.
       Not everyone deals in perfect ambushes.  Most tend to think
       ambush is simply come behind a person and stabbing them in the
       back. But to me the aspect of ambush is in the skill of the mind.
       Anyone can come around a corner and grab a guy to kill him.  But
       the more elaborate assassin's use the skills they learned to
       their advantage.  Place a carpet over a hole in a house picked
       with spikes and have the target over it and fall in to his doom
       is more exciting and use of the skill.  It also builds reputation.
       Anyone can jump off a boulder to thrash a man.  That doesn't take
       so much skill there. Any hired goon can do that.  But the artist
       could rig up a tree trap to trigger blades to pierce targets then
       another tree to propel a net to capture the victim.  That would
       be a more elaborate ambush and worth the experience.

       The problem is what qualifies as a ambush from a simple attack?  To
       me I take it all on a case by case basis.  An ambush can be an
       attack without melee.  Fire a bow to a target and kill him without
       touching him.  Is that use of Bow or Assassin skill?  Under the
       rules it could be both.  But at what point do you decide the
       skill used or the assassin skill?  If one simply awarded expertise
       for every attack then the assassin would be maxed up in short order.

       When one thinks of Assassins one thinks of dark shadows and doing
       it from behind.  But that isn't the case all the time.  It is
       possible to ambush a person standing a foot away who has seen
       you for minutes.  It is all in the method used.  I do think this
       skill adds too much benefits at times.  This is why some balance
       has to be used in the reason of experience.

       So to me the best ambush is those well thought out and with
       good role playing.  This doesn't have to happen all the time.
       Simply walking up to a guy to backstab him is fine.  Just keep
       in mind the more elaborate the more experience one might get.

       B) Expertise: Does expertise get earned from the ambush itself
       or from all attacks? To me this is a bit unclear.  While a
       assassin is skilled in the deadly arts this seems to be a easy
       task so should he earn more "normal" experience?  A butcher
       who works on meat for 20 years finds some strange new animal
       to butcher should he earn higher experience or just assume
       its so "standard" that experience is low.  Sometimes experience
       can only go so far.  So should a deadly killer get more experience
       than a simple infantry guy because he is in a guild?  Maybe
       not for everything.  But the assassin would have possibly more
       from methods like poison but then again one could argue it
       should be poison skill not assassin.

       A person in my world can still react to a ambush.  A person
       who is about to be jumped from a tall tree could react in
       a second or two.  Their senses might detect the ambush EVEN
       though the ambush by the rules is good.  So in that split second
       a assassin backstabs a person the target can still sense it.
       Though he is very likely not about to react time.

       With that said I award Assassin expertise based on the style
       of ambush and the overall possible reaction. It is taken on
       a case by case basis.

       Expertise is gained by the ambush effect but not for all
       attacks or bonuses that the Assassin skill awards.  Does the
       assassin benefit from the full combat effects all the time?
       Yes.  Those effects are always on like OCV or weapon bonuses.
       Frankly I've always though Assassin should learn Healer so they
       learn the anatomy of the body for the most efficient way to
       kill.  But that is a side issue.

       C) HPV bonus: Frankly I do tend to forget the HPV bonus for the
       expertise gained.  I always catered to that being for actual
       targets rather than just random spur of the moment attack.  But
       going forward I'll include the hpv bonus in the expertise.

       D) How best to earn assassin expertise: Anyone can get behind
       a person and stab a knife in their back.  The true aspect of this
       skill is the exceptional use.  Even with a perfect ambush by the
       numbers there is still a chance the target will react a split
       second before.  A half second before the knife digs deep the
       person's sixth sense will alert him. So in that slight chance
       the expertise might be less or none depending on the level of
       awareness.  Again, I take it a case by case basis.

    2) Executioner

       To me there are two forms of executioners in pnp.  Those who are
       paid as a living to kill or torture.  Then the common man who has
       had some skill or training in some way to do it privately but not
       in some official capacity.

       A) Private to public: Clearly public executioners are the common
       hang-men or axers that chop off folk's heads or the secret prison
       torture guy.  Those guys get the most immediate experience based
       on the fast tasks they perform.

       Where the issue of experience tends to come in is private folks.
       Anyone can kill a person that is helpless.  The line comes in that
       area that gives the basic experience for a death blow or killing
       a person using the execution skill.

       B) What defines helpless?  The obvious would be ropes or being
       knocked out.  But a target can be helpless if he is standing
       right in front of you and can't defend himself.  The problem is
       where does the gray line divide from basic combat kill, execution
       kills or assassin/ambush kills? One can argue that if the person
       can defend themself or not helpless the skill is wasted.  In some
       cases I find that the skill can still be used in those situations.
       But it is a case by case basis.  For example a man who is bound
       but has elbows free is bound but not helpless.  He could still
       elbow a person to fight back.  Would that cancel the executioner
       skill?  The problem is the fine line for these points.

       C) Torture: The nice aspect of this skill is the torture.  It
       clearly will earn experience without question.  You either get
       answers or you don't.  The problem is the other side of the skill
       on killing.

       D) Difficulty level: Which level does the GM assign for the
       task?  IT depends on the situation.  A bound guy on the floor
       will be a easy Easy task.  If that person is squirming then
       maybe a one grade higher.  But what about the barbarian who
       is helpless running away from the knight on his horse?  The
       knight may be expert rider but doing a quick executioner skill
       to kill the guy in one blow is hard thus would be a Impossible
       or such level of difficulty.  This is how I judge the factors.
       By far the most common would be easy to moderate level for
       the most common things.

       E) Other restrictions: Little is added to the final result
       for the executioner skill.  But there is no black and white
       answer to the situation.  While the majority of cases no
       other restrictions will apply there may be one or two.  For
       example, a person who has to execute his friend in order to
       save a town.  That person who normally would not shake his
       hands might and thus slip.  So it will be a case by case thing.

       F) Non-skill use: The problem is where is simple common
       killing or executioner death needed?    The easy answer one
       must declare the skill being used or common skills will be used.
       The more complex answer is that not every execution might be
       deemed a execution.  It is beyond the scope of this document
       to cover every situation.  For example leaving a bottle of poison
       for a prisoner to drink in a cell isn't a normal execution.
       But if the prisoner is thirsty enough he'll be desperate to
       do it.  While its not a direct execution it might qualify
       as experience.  But leave that same prisoner in a cave which
       may or may not collapse is likely not a execution.  There
       is no control over that situation so it is not a direct
       result of your execution skill, so no experience.

       G) Non weapons: The common weapon is the axe for a executioner.
       But that isn't needed all the time.  He will be able to use
       any weapon of their choice.  Even if he isn't skilled in that
       weapon he could use it though at a reduced EL.  So any weapon
       is allowed.  in fact non traditional methods are allowed as
       well.  Martial arts or some could even use magic to kill without
       using a normal weopon.

       H) Executioner bonus: The execution benefits are not always on
       unlike the Assassin benefits.  I only invoke those benefits
       when the skill is declared in use.  Otherwise the person would
       be trying to kill everyone in one blow rather than knocking them
       out or taking prisoner.  So the benefits are turned off when the
       skill isn't used.

       I) How to earn experience: As outlined before the torture end is
       straight forward.  But the other side killing is not so easy.
       First a person must declare the skill is being used.  The problem
       is that anyone can kill a person.  The intent needs to be defined
       for the death.  If one is to kill to quicken the death due to
       pain then experience would be awarded in that the best death blow
       is the fastest and most efficient.  But if the intent is to kill
       a person with pain and leave them bleeding from the stomach then
       maybe the experience will be little to none.  This is because the
       goal of the skill is to kill not prolong life.  Torture does
       prolong the life of the victim but the other side of the skill
       does not.  This is where the fine line is drawn.


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