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“As always, the Empire is one dagger thrust from anarchy.”
—Unidentified Assassin.[1b]
AssassinProfile

Killing for money is not unusual in the Old World. Soldiers and Mercenaries do it every day. Few sell swords achieve the Assassin’s level of lethality, however.

Overview

Assassins are hired killers expertly trained and deadly with a variety of weapons. Many also master the poisoner's art. The best Assassins can dispatch their targets in a matter of seconds, leaving behind no evidence of their presence. Their services are much sought after by political and even religious bodies. Few Assassins care where the commissions come from. They only want a challenging mission and a fat purse for their fee. While most Assassins are loners, a rare few have organised into guilds.[1a]

A Day in the Life

“You have but to whisper the name and pay the gold. He will be dead by week’s end.”
—Anonymous Assassin.[2a]

The first thing an Assassin does once he accepts a job is study the target. He wakes early and sets himself in a vantage point near the target's home, finding a place where he can watch without drawing attention to himself. Many Assassins have enough skills in a craft, so they can pretend to be cobblers, tinkers, or street-sweepers and work at such tasks as a cover. The Assassin watches everything as he works, taking note of the people passing by, the entrances and exits from the target's residence, and possible weak points in the target's potential defence.[2a]

Once the target emerges, the Assassin shadows him, staying close enough to watch but far enough away that he won't be noticed. He watches the target throughout the day, noting everywhere he goes and everyone he meets. Every activity is evaluated with an eye toward the job. Does the target lunch at a particular pub where his food could be poisoned? Does he take a shortcut through a dark alley where he could be stabbed unnoticed? Is he fond of touring the docks or the warehouses, where a carefully engineered "accident" might cause his demise?[2a]

Whenever the target settles into a location, the Assassin takes the opportunity to widen his scrutiny, examining every detail of the locale. He works out strategies to approach and exit each place unseen and unobstructed. A good Assassin will study a subject for days, possibly weeks, before finally making his move.[2a]

Affiliations

“Can you help me find a certain councillor named van Grolsch? He appears to have given up the tax-collection business, and taken to hiding from his electorate instead. Us commoners are a pesky bunch, aren’t we? I’ll give you three crowns for your trouble... your roof looks to be in need of repair.”
—Assassin Ludmilla Freiborg.[7a]

Most Assassins prefer to work alone – it is easier to kill alone than coordinate with others, and a solo Assassin does not have to split his fee. That does not mean Assassins work completely independently, however. In fact, most successful Assassins have a wide support network.[2a]

First, and most important, are their contacts. A good Assassin is one whose true name and face are never known by the client, or by people in general. Assassins often create colourful working names to disguise their true identity, but someone still has to know who they really are (or at least how to reach them). A good, reliable contact can make an assassin's life far easier, making first contact with potential clients and possibly handling the meetings altogether. Contacts get a share of each commission, so it is in their own best interest to get the assassin frequent work and substantial payments.[2a]

Assassins rely heavily on their equipment, and for many that means they need someone to create or care for such tools. Since different Assassins prefer different methods, this can mean an Apothecary for poisons, a blacksmith for bladed weapons, a gunsmith for blackpowder weapons, or several other skilled Craftsmen. The ideal equipper is not only talented but discreet.[2a]

Some Assassins work in a guild, though this is usually only in the largest cities. The guild's three principle functions are as a contact point, an equipping station, and a staging area. The third is crucial – Assassins report each job they accept and a guild officer makes sure there are no overlaps or complications. This allows the Assassin to work more freely, knowing he will not have direct competition once a job has been assigned. He also knows he has a place he can go to if he needs additional resources, more information, or a safe place to hide.[2a]

Eshin Assassins

“They doubtless sell their services to anyone willing to pay their horrible price. Their cursed skills were perfected in the Far East, which is why they seem alien to our own civilized sensibilities. Yet, these methods are quite effective. Even the bare hands of these bestial assassins are as effective as swords, and they strike like snakes from the darkness. To be marked by them is to be consigned to Morr’s kingdom, for naught can save you once such a thing has come to pass.”
—Steffan Paulus Adelhof, Scholar of Wolfenburg.[3a]
Eshin Assassin

The Skaven of Clan Eshin are masters of stealth, duplicity, and assassination. They are rightly feared by other Skaven clans. Night Runners are the most common members of Clan Eshin, essentially assassins-in-training. Few of their number survive to advance in the clan’s hierarchy.[4a]

Only those Gutter Runners who excel in their trade can ever hope to be indoctrinated into the highest secrets of the Cathay fighting arts. While still burdened by the typical Skaven outlook, Master Assassins are more patient, centered, and ruthless than their brethren. They can kill with a touch, are masters of countless weapons, and can slip in and out of some of the most heavily guarded strongholds unseen.[3c]

The Assassins of Clan Eshin represent the culmination of years of training and countless examples of murder most vile. Some of the most feared Skaven to creep through the Under-Empire belong to this elite group. Masters of poison, exceptionally skilled in the arts of hand-to-hand combat, and versed in the ways of stealth and conspiracy, these killers sell their services to any Skaven Warlord who can meet their exorbitant fees. They even offer their services to Humans who ask the right people and who offer the proper compensation.[3a]

The Council of Thirteen often employs Eshin’s Assassins in their day to day affairs. Maintaining the status quo requires precision that only an Assassin can provide. In effect, the Assassins have been relegated to the status of a secret police force at the beck and call of the Lords of Decay. Clan Eshin is aware of this, and is perhaps a bit too smug within its position of power. So long as they remain useful to the Council, however, the assassins of Clan Eshin are beyond reproach.[3a]

Clan Eshin Assassins use blowguns – simple lacquered tubes – to fire poisoned darts. Usually about a foot to three feet in length, one end is fitted with a flexible cup crafted from leather that fits over the mouth of the firer. While the damage inflicted by blowgun darts is negligible, the tips are often coated with virulent poisons. When not using them as weapons, the Assassins have been known to use their blowguns as snorkels as they hide beneath the placid surface of a pond, lake, or stream.[3b]

Khainite Assassins

“As swift as the wind, dark as the shadows, deadly as a thousand blades.”
—Description of the Khainite Assassin.[13]
Warhammer Khainite Assassin

While young Dark Elf girls taken by Khaine become Witch Elves, male children raised in the temples of Khaine are destined to be Assassins. These are the most deadly and evil Dark Elves of all, masters of subtle and murderous magic. The neophytes are raised in the blood fields of the temples, learning the arts of war and death. The merciless and deadly few that survive the first ten years of this training, killing their fellow adepts in face-to-face fighting or by more devious means, go to the great temples of Naggarond and Har Ganeth, where they learn the deepest Cult of Khaine|mysteries of Khaine. None outside the cult know all of the secrets of the temples, save perhaps Hellebron and Shadowblade, and each Assassin will team the particular skills and techniques of his master.[10a]

The Cult of Khaine hires out the services of its Assassins to Malekith and the other rulers of Naggarond, in exchange for sacrifices, wealth and political favor. Though the price is high, such is the skill of these killers that there is a constant demand for their services. Many Assassins ply their deadly trade in the cities of the Dark Elves, eliminating their employer's competitors and aiding in coups against the ruling families. Some Assassins are hired by Black Ark commanders, to train their Corsairs in war and to sow terror amongst the populace of their raid's target.[10a]

Assassins are also employed to keep discipline and loyalty amongst the troops of an army captain. The skill and guile of these deadly warriors is such that the troops they accompany usually do not know that there is an Assassin within their ranks. The fear and uncertainty this causes helps to keep seditious talk and rebellion to a minimum, for no Dark Elf can be absolutely certain with whom he is conspiring.[10a]

Assassins are masters of using poison and coat their weapons with a variety of venoms — some of which are deadly, others which paralyze or stupefy their victim so that they can be captured and tortured for information or pleasure. One scratch from some of these poisons is enough to send as man into agonizing paroxysms as his nerves burn, his heart explodes or his bones crack and shatter. The Assassins take great pleasure in the awful demises of their victims, and are adept at keeping prisoners alive for many days. Often they can extract confessions and information from captives much more quickly than the crude tortures used by other Naggarothi interrogators.[10a]

Notable Assassins

  • Farouk, Assassin Priest of Corpus Aeternum – Farouk is a senior member of the Nagash blood cult Corpus Aeternum. Four years ago, the Wurtbad chapter was destroyed by a band of witch hunters, and Farouk and his two disciples were the only survivors. Since that day, Farouk and his followers have been on the run. Farouk believes that the cult was undone by a traitor (possibly an Agent of the Shroud) who infiltrated their ranks. Now he spends every moment looking over his shoulder, not even sure how loyal his own disciples are.[6a]
  • Johann the Knife – Of the many cutthroats and assassins for hire that infest the settlements around Mordheim, Johann the Knife is the most famous. He exhibits his vocation as hired knife-fighter and assassin extraordinaire by the various lethal-looking daggers hanging from his belt, and the mean glint of his eyes. Johann wears dark leather gear, slightly out of fashion, which has never been washed (or so the barmaids say). His long face bears the scars of many a fight, and his unkempt hair is lank and greasy.[11a]
  • Jonas Becker – Though family-owned, the Pig's Ear Tavern at Earthwerks has not always been the property of the same family or clan. Most recently, the Ear was purchased at an exorbitant sum by a mysterious out-of-towner named Viggo Schultz, who is none other than Jonas Becker, the infamous Murderer of the Midden Moors. A successful assassin and murderer, Jonas has finally decided to put his life of blood behind him, at least for the time being.[5a]
  • Rufus Grunenwald – Years ago, Rufus's brother was found out to be a Mutant, and though he did his best to discretely hide this fact, ultimately the Witch Hunters located the afflicted man and burned him at the stake, as all Mutants deserve. Broken and devastated, Rufus tried to bury his brother’s remains on holy ground, but the High Priest refused to say the rites over those touched by Chaos. From then on, Rufus swore revenge, honing his skills to become a competent killer.[8a]

Notable Eshin Assassins

  • Deathmaster Snikch – Shrouded in legend, Deathmaster Snikch is a figure of dread speculation, a rumor of sudden death. The mere thought of Clan Eshin's most deadly killer causes Warlords to squint at shadows. Speculation of Snikch's deeds or whereabouts runs up and down the Under-way. This suits Lord Sneek, the Grand Nightlord of Clan Eshin and member of the Lords of Decay. As long as no one knows Snikch's real location, then no clan can feel safe. The ramifications of such mystique are always considered by Clan Eshin and the Council of Thirteen. Once deployed, Deathmaster Snikch does not fail, but the list of targets grows more quickly than even this perfect killer can eliminate them.[10a]
  • Veskit, High Executioner of Clan Eshin – Veskit was already a talented clan Eshin Assassin when he was entrusted with his most difficult mission. He was hired by Clan Skryre to free one of their oldest and most experienced Warlocks who was being held hostage by a rival clan. Veskit managed to take the prisoner back, fighting his way through the guards, but at a very high cost. He suffered terrible wounds and would have certainly died, but the Nightmaster of Clan Eshin made a pact with the Warlock Engineers. The Skaven scientist-sorcerers replaced various parts of Veskit’s body with their part technological, part magical implants and made him into a walking arsenal of deadly weapons. Veskit is now more a machine than a living thing, and his thirst for killing has become almost uncontrollable.[11b]

Notable Khainite Assassins

  • Jahama – A cunning Khainite Assassin who was counted among Hellebron's greatest killers.[12]
  • Shadowblade – Shadowblade is still young, being a mere 150 years old. His reputation, however, is already legendary. Stories of his grisly adventures are used as stories to scare Dark Elf children. Shadowblade reports directly to Hellebron, and it is rumored that she has used him to eliminate her Dark Elf political opponents. Such stories are difficult to substantiate, however, because no one has seen Shadowblade's face and lived – he slew his master when he had learnt all that he could – and not even Hellebron knows what he looks like. What's more, those that start spreading such stories tend to come to a mysterious and untimely end...[10b]

Sources

  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Core Rulebook (2nd Edition)
    • 1a: pg. 62
    • 1b: pg. 213
  • 2: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Career Compendium (2nd Edition)
    • 2a: pg. 20
  • 3: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Children of the Horned Rat (2nd Edition)
    • 3a: pg. 68
    • 3b: pg. 72
    • 3c: pg. 100
  • 4: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Old World Bestiary (2nd Edition)
    • 4a: pg. 106
  • 5: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Terror in Talabheim (2nd Edition)
    • 5a: pg. 27
  • 6: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Thousand Thrones (2nd Edition)
    • 6a: pg. 165
  • 7: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The WFRP Companion (2nd Edition)
    • 7a: pg. 63
  • 8: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Karak Azgal (2nd Edition)
    • 8a: pg. 31
    • 8b: pg. 59
  • 9: Warhammer Armies: Skaven (7th Edition)
    • 9a: pg. 75
  • 10: Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (7th Edition)
  • 11: Mordheim Rulebook
  • 12: Jahama's Lesson (Short Story)
  • 13: Total War: WARHAMMER II

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