View Full Version : New DM, player wants to be an assasin. Pointers please? =)

2008-03-10, 06:59 AM
Hello all!

I am about to start my very first campaign, not in DnD but in a swedish system called eon. Im really looking forward to it, but am terribly nervous as well, being the first time and all.

I have the basic outline of the campaign ready in my head, and have planned the first session more thoroughly. It will be an easy search and rescue mission, just to see how my DMing works. =)

Thing is, one of my player wants to play an assasin, without the rest of the players knowing about it. He will pose as a wise man, with lots and lots of knowledge skills, and not show his true identity to them.

I think this is a nice idea, and might work quite well. I am planning on letting them now the truth at the end of the campaign though.

Thing is, how do I pull it off without giving him to much spotlight? What cool things should I give the other players to balance it out? Should I give them all hidden talents and dark secrets? Or is there any other way?

What do you think?

Any general tips to a new DM is also welcome. =)

2008-03-10, 07:04 AM
A quick question to clarify: Is "assassin" here a character class that implies mechanical benefits, or merely the player saying "This character is a <insert class here> that is also a person who kills people for money"?

If its the first, then yes, you need to examine whether or not the mechanical advantages of the class are large enough that other players might become upset about it, and if so, balance those concerns. If its the second, well, that's background information, and you would never need to do much to balance that. Someone else may well include in their background that they are the bastard son of the king, or the long lost twin brother of the duke, or the daughter of a prophet... etc, etc, etc. Its all fluff and has no impact (MECHANICALLY) upon the game, so isn't really neccessary to balance.

That said, in my games backgrounds are pretty damned important, as they form the basis for a lot of plot hooks and adventures.

2008-03-10, 07:07 AM
If the player wants to do something like that, let him. You might want to consider flat XP give aways per session, instead of encounter/RP based gives to account for that. If having him do missions on the side without the other players bothers you, you might want to talk to the other players about having something that they do on the side as well.

Another interesting thing you can do is make the assassin part of what moves the party along. How convenient is it that his next mark happens to be hiding out at an inn halfway there taking a "long forgotten" shortcut through the mountains. Things like that.

Always count on the players destroying your carefully laid out campaign plans, and make two or three pages of notes for what you think they might do. Don't dedicate all of them to one path, either. If they go left when you wanted them to go right, have something prepared for left, right, backwards, and the five foot step. Believe me, as nasty as them going right can be, there's nothing like the players taking that five foot step.

2008-03-10, 07:16 AM
Oh yeah, on the general tips note... like Farmer said, plan for flexibility. If your players appear to have three options, they will come up with one you didn't think of.

EX: You can get to the town you need to be at by:
1) going over the mountains; (which you plan for, and lay out maps and encounters including a roc and some trolls)
2) taking a ship around the island; (which you plan some great social encounters for, as well as an attack by Kraken and another by saugian)
3) go through the mountain in the old abandonded mine. (full of orcs and undead of course!)

The players will invariably come up with a fourth way that you never thought of, and certainly didn't plan for.

As a general rule, I fly by the seat of my pants on the actual adventure. The overall goal is planned out, and I design a bunch of non-locale specific encounters, and then turn them loose. Invariably, they mess up any plans I make, and we all have a great time doing it. But its not the end of the world when they don't do what you are "planning" for them. That tower full of redcaps that you thought they would explore, which they just completely avoided? Its a village full of redcaps on the path they did take. Easy peasy.

And know the rules. Nothing is worse than having to stop the entire game to look up a rule. In fact, I usually make an ad hoc ruling when rules come up that are unclear, as I'd rather guess and be wrong while moving the game along, than bog it down for ten to fifteen minutes while I pour through a book.

Most importantly, have fun. Its a lot of work to DM a game, and you need to remember that you are supposed to have fun too. Go with it!

2008-03-10, 07:19 AM
or have the target know he's going to get assasinated, so he hires bodyguards - the party. having the player try and do the target with the other players stopping him is sometimes funny.

2008-03-10, 07:32 AM
Tyger, mechanically there is no advantage. It is just a class like anyone else.
The fact that he has to take extra skills to hide will probably give him a few drawbacks as well. So that is not the problem. =)

What I fear might be a problem is the spotlight. Background is quite important in my campaigns as well. Lots of the plot will be centered on the assasin, and he will have other motives then the rest of the group.

Should I perhaps tone it down a little? But the others could, if they wanted make equally elaborate backgrounds if they wanted to.

2008-03-10, 07:36 AM
Well, my players (we play with a pretty small group of 6 people, all of whom have played together for a few years now) all know the importance of backgrounds. So they plan accordingly.

That said, "spotlight" is only as much of an issue as the DM (and that's you) allows it to be. Just because the character is an assassin doesn't mean that the story is going to revolve around that character. COuld be completely irrelevant to the story.

If you are planning on making it pivotal... I wouldn't. That sort of thing, unless handled really carefully is dangerous to party politics OOC. As you noted you are a first time DM, that is just a complication you don't need. Some parties would handle it just fine, others would be completely PO'd at it. Its a headache you don't need and can easily avoid. Its eminently possible to have it come up from time to time without making it the main focus of the party though.

2008-03-10, 08:26 AM
All really good advice. I think Im gonna tone it down a little, at least. It will still come up now and then, but not as much as I first planned.

I am a player myself, so I am well aware of how much players can mess up the campaign. =) Thats why I dont plan every detail.

And as far as tedius rules-searching, this is the reason Im trying out DMing. I am tired of the always occuring squabble over rules in our current campaign. So, any rules we dont imideatly agree on. I will rule. No looking up rules in books. =)

Any thoughts on little things I could give the other players so they dont feel left out? Only three players, we are a small group.

2008-03-10, 08:58 AM
Let him. You might want to consider running assassination scenes outside of normal game time if he's doing them in secret, just so the other players don't get bored when he's assassinating.

2008-03-10, 11:04 AM
I'd suggest this: Instead of him playing a "Wise Man" and having a bunch of knowledge skills, suggest to the player to max his Bluff Skills. Instead of actually knowing stuff that an Assassin wouldn't really now, he can make it up with good enough rolls. That gives the other players a chance to find him out, if he botches a roll really badly. Give him a spot light, but it's also fun to put him on the spot.
Also, maybe there is an Assassin's Guild, who are constantly fighting each other for hits, and rank in the guild. Your player may be a high-ish ranking assassin, and therefore has other assassins wanting him dead. Or, maybe he's a rogue assassin (rogue as in not part of the guild, not rogue like the class). Then, assassins will be after him to keep him from taking their jobs. It'd be a rarity that the player would want to go off on his own, because of the people trying to off him at the same time. It'd keep the party involved, right up until: "Excuse me, <Rest of Party>. But, I must go kill this guy use the restroom."

I say: If a player wants to do things without the rest of the party, make 'em sweat for it. Just because they ask for it, doesn't mean they should get it on a silver platter.

2008-03-10, 12:01 PM

2008-03-10, 12:24 PM

What the deuce? I think Weenie has finger diarrhea...

2008-03-10, 05:10 PM
What the deuce? I think Weenie has finger diarrhea...

Segmentation Fault.
Core Dumped.

2008-03-10, 05:44 PM
What the deuce? I think Weenie has finger diarrhea...


2008-03-10, 09:03 PM
I have been a player in a game where another PC had his own secret plot lines. If you don't give the other players something comparable, They will possibly feel betrayed and angry when they find out that the "Assassin" has been having adventures and possibly causing trouble for them without their knowledge.

I say give all the players the option of having ulterior motives. Think, Paranoia

2008-03-10, 09:19 PM
As far as preparation goes, I actually make a point of making up the next encounter/line of dialogue as I go along. I DM PbP, though, so I have an hour if I need it. I have half an overarching plot planned out. Not much else, though.