Way of the Faceless Men - A Monk Subclass
*The article below contains spoilers for GoT seasons 1-8.
Game of Thrones may be over, but it will live on in the minds and hearts of its legions of fans. It can also live on in D&D with the Faceless Man subclass. The season 5 plot involving the Faceless Men and Arya was my favorite part of GoT. Then I got a request to make a subclass from one of our Patrons (Thanks Stonie) and I was excited to give it a whirl.
To start, I had to decide what class to begin with. Rogue was the easy choice, but as I thought more about it, I didn’t want to remake the Assassin. The assassin’s disguise abilities wouldn’t do justice to the Faceless Men. The Bard’s Mantle of Whispers comes close, but the flavor of it came up short. Sure, I take quite a great deal from the Mantle, but there are a few subtle changes that, to me, make all the difference.
I landed on Monk, and the choice was met with cheers and jeers. I thought that many of the of the abilities that a Monk gets fit for the Faceless Men. Slow Fall - yep, seems like something they could do. Extra Attack - of course. Evasion, Stillness of Mind, Purity of Body - check, check, and check. Plus, we’ve all seen Arya do some pretty cool shit through the final seasons. Who couldn’t envision her doing what a Monk does.
The biggest question was how Ki fit into the Faceless Men subclass. My justification is that the Faceless Men have abilities that transcend what a normal assassin could do, but I didn’t want to use magic. In the books, the ability to steal someone face is done through a combination of blood magic and alchemy. I didn’t want to get into the whole blood magic thing, as that opened a rabbit hole I didn’t want to go down. So Ki was my replacement for magic.
The Faceless Men killing has meaning, as they serve the God of Many Faces and the kills are basically a tribute to him. Assassins take contracts for money and have been known to kill indiscriminately. In the novels, the Faceless Men also are a league of assassins, but their abilities go beyond that of a normal assassin. What finally convinced me that Monk was the way to go was after reading through the Training and Asceticism section of the Monk (PHB, pgs. 76-77). Read through it again. I hope you’ll understand why I went this route.
For those that don’t want my thought process behind the Faceless Men:
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Being that the Faceless Men are a league of assassins, one would want to give them something akin to rogue sneak attack… but I was discouraged from doing so and the argument presented made total sense. I replaced a monkish sneak attack with something Stephen came up with which we call the Assassin’s Blow. Starting at 3rd level, when you hit a creature with an unarmed strike, you can expend a number of ki points to directly attack your target's weak spot and deal additional damage. The extra damage uses your Martial Arts die and for every ki point you expend, you roll that number of dice, to a maximum of 3 ki points. That’s a good amount of extra damage at lower levels. It scales well, as the maximum number of Ki points you can expend increases at 11th level to 4 ki points and at 17th level to 5 ki points.
It may not be as powerful as the Rogue’s sneak attack, but it does provide the subclass to inflict extra damage right off the bat. The part we both agreed upon was that it only applies to your unarmed strikes. Arya may have always used a dagger or her rapier, but I am sure that Jaqen H’ghar used his hands on more than one occasion to kill his enemy.
Tools of the Trade
I added the ability to use a scimitar and rapier based solely on my love for Arya, who uses a rapier throughout the series. A scimitar also seemed like a good fit.
Wearing Another’s Face
Wearing Another's Face is the core of the Faceless Men. While it’s an incredibly powerful skill, it made no sense to have to wait to level 11th to gain it. I mean, this is why you took the subclass in the first place! There was no way you get the ability off the bat either. So at 6th level, you gain the ability to wear another’s face. Per the description:
The Faceless Men's greatest ability is not only to be able to imitate another, but to steal their entire persona. At 6th level, you can take 10 minutes and expend 3 ki points to channel your ki, along with alchemical substances, to take on the persona of someone that you have killed. This ability may only be used to impersonate humanoids that are the same size as you.
You gain not only their face that your may now "wear" but also that person's height and weight, voice and all their memories, though none of their secrets. A person that is actively examining you may make a Wisdom (Insight) check contested by your Charisma (Deception) check. You gain a +5 bonus to your check. This ability lasts until your take a long rest or you end this ability early, furthermore you can only use the same 'face' once every seven days.
Control Your Senses
Remember when Arya is inflicted with blindness and has to learn how to fight without sight? It took her a while, but she was able to hone her other senses so that she no longer needed to see and still fight effectively. The scene where Arya extinguished the candle with her rapier and killed the waif in the pitch black was freaking awesome. That little bitch deserved it too.
At 11th level, you gain Blindsight. Darkvision isn’t a powerful enough skill to justify what the Faceless Men can do and Truesight was just too much. So blindsight it is!
Stephen and I have had many an argument over how Arya managed to kill the Night King. I claimed the she had mastered the ability to move silently and quickly and was able to zip by the White Walkers and attack the Night King. I loved the entire action sequence, and thought it was a fitting end to the Night King.
Stephen was annoyed with the whole scene. He wanted to know when Arya got the ability to teleport and that it was ridiculous how she could get past the army of White Walkers. So, this one if for you Stephen. Once you reach 17th level, you have the ability to Vanish. You may expend 5 ki points to teleport up to 30 feet and make an attack with advantage on an unsuspecting creature. When you land that awesome blow, you also get an additional 2d8 necrotic damage as you begin damaging their essence. The Faceless Men weren’t the best assassins in the land cause they could just stab people in the back!
There it is, the Faceless Men Monk Subclass. Please feel free to comment below, and if you have any ideas for a pop culture class/subclass you’d like to see, drop me line.
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