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Man; Headsman/Thug

by Jamie Baty

RC 184
5th/2nd Level Human Rogue/Assassin
Medium-size Humanoid (Human)
Hit Dice: 7d6+7 (31 hp)
Initiative: +3 (+3 Dex)
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares)
Armour Class: 16 (+3 Dex, +3 masterwork studded leather armour), touch 13, flat-footed 16
Base Attack/Grapple: +4/+5
Attack: +1 keen short sword +8 melee (1d6 +2, 17-19/x2)
Full Attack: +1 keen short sword +8 melee (1d6 +2, 17-19/x2)
Space/Reach: 5 ft. /5 ft.
Special Attacks: Death Attack, Sneak Attack(+4d6), Spells
Special Qualities: Evasion, Human Traits, Improved Uncanny Dodge, Poison Resistance, Poison Use, Trap Sense, Uncanny Dodge
Saves: Fort +2, Ref +10, Will +0
Abilities: Str 12, Dex 16, Con 13, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 10
Skills: Balance +11, Bluff +5, Disable Device +9, Disguise +9, Escape Artist +12, Gather Information +4, Hide +15, Intimidate +5, Jump +8, Listen +6, Move Silently +11, Open Lock +7, Search +8, Sleight of Hand +8, Spot +8, Tumble +11, Use Rope +6
Feats: Alertness, Dodge, Stealthy, Weapon Finesse
Environment: Any
Organisation: Solitary, Team (2-5), or Death Squad (5-20)
Challenge Rating: 7
Treasure: Half Standard
Alignment: Often neutral evil
Advancement: by character class
Level Adjustment: -

Headsmen (also called "executioners") are NPC's commonly employed by dominion rulers. They are trained in the business of killing criminals who have received the death penalty. Most headsmen are skilled in the proper use of bladed weapons, ropes, and poisons and are able to execute criminals quickly and neatly.
All professional headsmen belong to their own guild, which is associated with the Thieves' Guild. Headsmen keep their true identities completely secret, wearing hoods or disguises when engaged in professional activities. Many own ordinary shops, and can seem to be perfectly ordinary townsfolk.
A secret Organisation exists within the Guild of Headsmen. These evil headsmen enjoy their work too much, and offer their services for open hire. Others call them Assassins or Thugs; they call themselves Pragmati ("the practical people").
Unlike the Thieves' Guild, the Pragmati are not supported by adventurers or rulers. They are sometimes hired by other NPCs, especially evil ones. However, PCs do not normally contact these headsmen for any reason; their Organisation is dangerous as either as enemy or as an ally. Thugs are treacherous and self-serving, known to extort money from their previous "clients" with threats of exposure, kidnapping, or even murder.
Thugs rarely are willing to attack adventurers by themselves, knowing that adventurers are well equipped and often have magic. However a group of thugs may try to ambush a party if the chance for success is good, especially if the party has recently been wounded. Sometimes thugs may be hired as guards, if assured of high level clerical assistance when injured or slain. They may rarely be found working with bandits or other renegade groups, often unbeknownst to the bandits themselves.
The thug presented above has base stats of Str 12, Dex 15, Con 13, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 10 and added its bonus ability point to Dex.

Thugs are masters of stealth, treachery, traps and ambushes. They will do whatever is necessary to avoid a fair fight, including the use of magic and poison. They often use magical devices when attacking powerful opponents; potions, rings and other small, easily used items are preferred. Thugs rarely use expensive magic weapons and armour, preferring cheap but effective tools that could easily be left behind. They never use spells to attack their targets, though they may prep themselves with spells before the attack. If they cannot achieve a first strike kill, they will retreat and bide their time before striking again.
Thugs are proficient in light armour. They are proficient with all simple weapons, and with Hand Crossbow, Rapier, Sap, Shortbow, Composite Shortbow, and Short Sword. They usually try to look as non-descript as possible, and use as much mundane-looking equipment as possible to avoid attracting attention and facilitate easy disposal of equipment.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex): A thug retains his Dexterity bonus to AC even if flatfooted or struck by an invisible attacker.

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex): A thug cannot be flanked, except by an 11th level or higher rogue.

Trap Sense (Ex): A thug has a +1 to Reflex saves and AC against traps.

Evasion (Ex): On a successful Reflex save against a magical attack, a thug takes no damage.

Sneak Attack: Any time the thug attacks someone who is denied their Dexterity bonus to AC, or he is flanking, he inflicts an extra 4d6 damage. Ranged attacks must be within 30 feet to gain this, and this extra damage is not increased on a critical hit. Creatures that are immune to critical hits ignore this damage, as do creatures with concealment

Trapfinding (Ex): Thugs can use the Search skill to locate traps when the task has a DC higher than 20. Thugs can use the Disable Device skill to disarm magic traps.

Death Attack: If the thug studies his victim for 3 rounds, attacks that target within another 3 rounds, then makes a sneak attack with a melee weapon that successfully deals damage, he can paralyse or kill the target if they fail a Fortitude save (DC 14, DC 10 + the assassin's class level + the assassin's Int modifier).

Poison Use: Thugs do not risk accidentally poisoning themselves when applying poison to a blade.

Poison Resistance: Thugs have a +1 to all saving throws against poison.

Spells: Due to levels in assassin, thugs can cast arcane spells as bard from the assassin spell list. Saving throws against these spells have a DC of 10 + spell level + the assassin's Intelligence bonus.
The above thug can cast 4 first level spells per day form the following list:
1st Level: disguise self, detect poison, feather fall, ghost sound, jump, obscuring mist, sleep, true strike

Most members of the Guild of Headsmen are low to mid-level rogues (there are even 1st level apprentices), some of whom may have some levels of fighter. The limited use of their professional skills, by default, prevents them from ever achieving higher levels. Their equipment will be very simple, and they may be armed with a special weapon to guarantee an execution goes smoothly.
Thugs tend to be higher in level than regular headsmen. They usually are a minimum of 6th level, and thugs of up to 12th level are relatively common. Higher level thugs are very dangerous, and fortunately, very rare. Most thugs are a combination of rogue and assassin. More rarely, thugs with levels in fighter and ranger can be found. High-level thugs often forego armour in favour of magic items and clothes that provide AC bonuses (and other special protections) - these help them look non-descript and also do not hinder their mobility.