[pnpgm] Assassin/Executioner skills

dasandersx at comcast.net dasandersx at comcast.net
Sun Jul 31 02:55:28 CEST 2011

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 

----- Original Message -----

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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