Play Your Next 5E D&D Game as a Spell Assassin
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted take precise aim at a fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons character who puts a sneaky spin on their magical attacks. The Spell Assassin leans into their rogue training to get the drop on adversaries with the Assassinate feature and take them out through a deadly spell salvo. Dabbling in a few disciplines compiles a very particular set of skills for this 5E D&D character over the course of their adventuring career. So let’s get into it.
Behind the CBG — Spell Assassin
Every CBG we create considers the journey as much as the final outcome. We aim to present a guide suitable for any level of 5E D&D play whether you’re pursuing an epic campaign from start to finish, starting beyond 1st level or choosing a character for a one shot. Then we take those concepts and develop an NPC or creature version of the character build for DMs to incorporate into their games. All of this gets packaged up and laid out in a PDF you can find over at Dungeon Master’s Guild. We’ve got dozens of pay what you want products at DMG, many of them best sellers so if you want to check those out start with the Spell Assassin here.
All about the character story
Each CBG starts with a character concept sticking to a particular schtick, from the Mind Breaker’s psyche crushing smites to the Spell Assassin’s arcane ambushes. Sometimes puns and pop culture references instigate the creation of a CBG too. This one came about after a Nerdarchy Live guest mentioned how the rogue Assassinate feature doesn’t require a weapon attack but simply an attack.
“You have advantage on attack rolls against any creature that hasn’t taken a turn in the combat yet. In addition, any hit you score against a creature that is surprised is a critical hit.”
The goal was creating a character who exploits this mechanic using spell attacks, which guides their decisions and choices from 1st to 20th level. Multiclass combinations arise from this by default and as DM’s Guild Brand Manager and longtime Nerdarchy friend Lysa Penrose puts it they’re each like their own unique class for 5E D&D.
As always we find a narrative thread to follow through the level progression and while developing the Spell Assassin the race and background choices we settled on informed most of the decisions as they leveled up. For us it’s important to consider who these characters are as individuals and why they follow these particular paths. One special thing to note with this CBG is while we always aim to make the journey to 20th level as practical as possible — none of these characters “come online” after an awkward slog through many levels — the Spell Assassin hits their stride at 6th level with the tools of their trade.
Gray One NPC for 5E D&D
Full disclosure — the NPCs and creatures we make in CBGs are some of my favorite bits of 5E D&D content to create. We step back and look at the character build to find the standout features that feel like signature abilities. The juice! From there we consider what sort of person or people would possess or gain these abilities and build a stat block around them. More often than not the section of a CBG For Dungeon Masters presents a generic creature. In the case of the gray ones there’s a double meaning. Deep gnomes typically have gray skin pigmentation on the one hand. On the other they’ve got natural talent for remaining undetected and for an assassin we thought this plays into the gray man theory is a way of disappearing into the crowd.
Who Done It? A gray one makes an unmatched eliminator. Unable to be detected, a master of magical subtrefuge and an assassin whose weapon of choice if pure arcane energy a gray one can follow a target, take them out and slip away leaving no trace of evidence.
“Spell Strike. Melee or Ranged Spell Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 60 ft., one target. Hit: 18 (4d8) acid, cold, fire, force, lightning, necrotic, poison, psychic or radiant damage (gray one’s choice).”
If your next 5E D&D game needs a character with who gets the drop on adversaries using magic with deadly precision — whether you’re the DM or a player — check out the Spell Assassin here.