Assassins – a favoured class

15 10 2009

I saw a great film the other day. It was one where I picked up a copy cheap at the sales desk and put in my cupboard where it gathered dust for over a year.

Why did I buy it? I do remember it having a good review but whenever I went into my DVD cupboard for something to watch, I never pulled it out. I must have over 400 hours of unwatched DVDs – but that’s another story.

In fact, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with role-playing – or even favourite classes. Please be a little more patient, I’m getting there.

GPBThe film in question was Grosse Pointe Blank – and I really enjoyed it. I loved the humour (rather black) and the plot was cool too. Then yesterday I was in a DVD store and I saw the cover of Wanted.

This was a film I bought a little while ago and, against critic’s expectations, I really enjoyed. And if you’ve read my blogs before, you’ll know that a recent trilogy I really liked was Night Angel by Brent Weeks.

The observant amongst you will have noted a trend by now – assassins. When I was a very young role-player, I loved being a mage of any description. In my second role-playing career, I loved being a mage. In my first proper game back, I rolled…a mage.

And I didn’t enjoy it.

Initially I put it down to the fact that there was another mage in the party but then, as time wore on, I realised the truth. My preferred class is now an assassin. When I rolled a Dark Heresy character for the game that never was – it was an assassin. When I first saw the Pathfinder rule-book my first prestige class that I looked at was…well I think you know.

I have no real understanding as to why my allegiance has changed. Did these films/books change my mind or did my liking for assassins dictate my choice of media? I do believe the former, as the character in the Night Angel Trilogy felt off-the-wall when I started but quickly became a hero I could identify with.

Am I alone in changing so fundamentally my preferred character class?

I know that I’m keen to try different characters now – in a way I avoided all those years ago. I don’t know why – perhaps I never will?

Before I finish on my love affair with the assassin, it’s worth mentioning one gripe. Most role-playing games list them as evil characters. For Pathfinder, it’s a pre-requisite to take the class. My assassins, and the assassins in the films and books I mention (clever how I tied it all together in the end, huh?) are not evil.

Kylar Stern in the Night Angel books is doing what he does to save a kingdom. His mentor picks and chooses jobs based upon what he thinks is ‘right’ – even refusing to kill a ‘deader’ just prior to the kill.

James McEvoy isn’t evil in Wanted – and the ending (I won’t spoil it) shows what honour the assassins possess.

And John Cusack certainly isn’t evil. He started killing for the government and always suggests that his targets, ‘must have done something to bring him to their door.’

So why the preoccupation with evil assassins? Why is an assassin evil but a fighter not. They are both trained to kill people. For me assassins are typically neutral. They don’t see good or bad. I would imagine that government assassins (only the naive would suggest they don’t exist) aren’t recruited because they are evil – that would be too dangerous.

No, I would suggest they are typically neutral (if you had to pin an alignment on them). Why does this matter to me? I’m not planning to start a protest movement defending the morality of assassins.

No, I’m just someone who doesn’t want to have to be evil in order to play one in a role-playing game.

And before I finish on the subject – as much as I love Pathfinder, their iconic image of the assassin doesn’t fit my stereotype. The half-orc in question is hardly silent and stealthy – but that’s another story.




2 responses

15 10 2009

I can’t say my favorite class has really changed, though to be fair I do have 2: Mages and Paladins.

Also, you should check out the comic that the movie Wanted is “based on”. You’ll find it’s a very different creature, and probably why I didn’t care for the movie so much.

Grosse Point Blank on the other hand is a fantastic film!!

23 11 2009

I rarely ever read an article and think “Yeah, I agree!” all along.
I read the Night Angel Trilogy some month ago as well, and i picked it for just one simple reason: It’s about an assassin.
My favourite class in Roleplaying has always been Rogues/Assassins, and most of them I played weren’t necessarily evil.
I always used to hate the fact that in order to play an Assassin in D&D you have to be of evil alignment.
But then there is two kinds of Assassins. Those that kill for others and those that kill for themselves. The first one is probably more likely to be evil, just because of the fact that he is killing for money. Those who kill for themselves are driven by something, so it’s up to the player what this is – so why not be an Assassin for a good cause?

I guess the fact why Assassins are percieved evil by so many people is that they don’t see them as people with the set of “Assassin-abilities” of killing but as hired killers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: