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    Default Sneak attack question

    I have a question regarding sneak attack and spells. In the Player's Handbook it says that you can score a critical hit with any damaging spell with which you actually have to make an attack roll. (Thus, you can crit with scorching ray, but not with magic missile or fireball) So, my question is, if you have levels as a rogue and all the conditions are right to allow you a ranged sneak attack, can you also add sneak attack damage to such a spell?

    I've been assuming so, since a sneak attack is basically a planned strike to a critical area; thus making it a sort of critical hit. I just wanted to get other people's opinions on this.

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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Yes, you can.
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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    You can make a sneak attack on any weaponlike spell, if you can deny your target its Dex to AC. Later publications also state you can only get one sneak attack per spell, rather than attack roll.

    Personally, this is quite silly. If you can Greater Manyshot 4 targets and get four SAs (which you can), there is no good reason why you shouldn't be able to Scorching Ray multiple SAs. Nevermind the fact that taking rogue levels makes you less effective as a caster, and even letting SAs on every attack roll doesn't make them more potent than a pure caster's better spell progression.

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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by Clementx View Post
    If you can Greater Manyshot 4 targets and get four SAs (which you can), there is no good reason why you shouldn't be able to Scorching Ray multiple SAs.
    It gets somewhat cheesy with (1) split rays, (2) spells that increase sneak attacks, and (3) gestalt.

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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    You can make a Sneak Attack on anything that has an attack roll, as long as all the other pre-conditions for Sneak Attack are met (i.e., denied Dex or Flanked, not immune to Precision damage), with one restriction:

    Sometimes, you make multiple attacks with the same attack roll, such as when you use the Manyshot feat, or you make multiple attack rolls as part of the same attack, such as with the scorching ray spell. When you do so, only the first attack in the volley can be a sneak attack.
    You can get out of this restriction when you use arrows if you have Greater Manyshot. However there is no way that I'm aware of that let's you get out of it with spells.

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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Thanks for the quick reply. :-) I'm glad to see that it does indeed add up, and the added bonus of clarifying the rules on scorching ray helps as well; though i'd already assumed it only added onto one ray.

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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    It gets somewhat cheesy with (1) split rays, (2) spells that increase sneak attacks, and (3) gestalt.
    I thought cheese was the point of gestalt. I don't think they balance with gestalt in mind.

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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    The rules for it are in Complete Arcane. I don't have the page number off the top of my head, but look in the index for "weaponlike spells"

    It gives all the skinny one the subject.
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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Yep. I remember a fight wherein a really, really obnoxious invisible wizard kept dropping fireballs and the like on our poor party (while a couple of meat shields distracted us). We were without any sort of See Invisibility.

    When he ran out of everything else, he started hitting us with piddling little Ray of Frost spells. For 1d3 damage... plus 12d6 sneak attack.

    Ugh.

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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by Raolin_Fenix View Post
    Yep. I remember a fight wherein a really, really obnoxious invisible wizard kept dropping fireballs and the like on our poor party (while a couple of meat shields distracted us). We were without any sort of See Invisibility.

    When he ran out of everything else, he started hitting us with piddling little Ray of Frost spells. For 1d3 damage... plus 12d6 sneak attack.

    Ugh.
    Unless he has Greater Invisibility, the Wizard should have become visible after his first attack.

    Even if he has Greater Invisibility, you can still make a Listen check to figure out where the enemy is, and then target him with area of effect spells. If someone has enough ranks in Listen or Spot and has a lucky roll, you can even pinpoint his exact location - then all you have to worry about it the 50% concealment.

    It's difficult, but he certainly shouldn't take more then 3-4 rounds to kill.

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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by Person_Man View Post
    Unless he has Greater Invisibility, the Wizard should have become visible after his first attack.

    Even if he has Greater Invisibility, you can still make a Listen check to figure out where the enemy is, and then target him with area of effect spells. If someone has enough ranks in Listen or Spot and has a lucky roll, you can even pinpoint his exact location - then all you have to worry about it the 50% concealment.

    It's difficult, but he certainly shouldn't take more then 3-4 rounds to kill.
    He did have Greater Invis, and eventually, that's what happened. (That's why we lived through the campaign.) But at that immediate moment -- well, the first thing he cast was Disintegrate, which one-shotted our own caster between a failed save and sneak-attack, in the surprise round (since he started the fight invisible). Second thing he cast (after winning initiative) was Slow, and we all managed to fail our saves, so our options were limited. We couldn't afford to take an entire round Listening for him, lest we be chopped by his meat-shields. Eventually the party bard managed to take him out... though I can't remember with what.

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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by Person_Man View Post
    You can make a Sneak Attack on anything that has an attack roll, as long as all the other pre-conditions for Sneak Attack are met (i.e., denied Dex or Flanked, not immune to Precision damage),
    One addendum to this statement...

    You can make a sneak attack on anything that has an attack roll and deals damage, as long as all the other pre-conditions for sneak attack are met.

    For example, ray of enfeeblement requires an attack roll, but you can't deal sneak attack with it.
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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Ray of stuidity on the other hand...
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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    This reminds me of my friend who asked our old DM if he could homebrew a feat that stacked warlock and rogue levels for eldritch blast and sneak attack.

    "They do it all the time, look at swift ambusher and ascetic rogue."
    "None of those feats require more d6s than we currently own."
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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by Raolin_Fenix View Post
    We couldn't afford to take an entire round Listening for him, lest we be chopped by his meat-shields. Eventually the party bard managed to take him out... though I can't remember with what.
    FYI, Listening for something that is Invisible is a free action. That might make your combats against Invisible enemies much easier in the future.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zherog View Post
    One addendum to this statement...

    You can make a sneak attack on anything that has an attack roll and deals damage, as long as all the other pre-conditions for sneak attack are met.

    For example, ray of enfeeblement requires an attack roll, but you can't deal sneak attack with it.
    Correct. I should have remembered that detail. Thanks Zherog.


    Quote Originally Posted by ocato View Post
    This reminds me of my friend who asked our old DM if he could homebrew a feat that stacked warlock and rogue levels for eldritch blast and sneak attack.

    "They do it all the time, look at swift ambusher and ascetic rogue."
    "None of those feats require more d6s than we currently own."
    I think what you're looking for is a Scout/Rogue with Swift Ambusher, Improved Skirmish, Assassin's Stance, and Telling Blow. 19d6 damage at 20th level. 28d6 if you roll a crit.

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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by Person_Man View Post
    I think what you're looking for is a Scout/Rogue with Swift Ambusher, Improved Skirmish, Assassin's Stance, and Telling Blow. 19d6 damage at 20th level. 28d6 if you roll a crit.
    What book is Assassin's stance in? It's the one that adds some sneak attack I think, but I'd like to know more.

    And does Telling Blow make sneak/skirmish double on crit? I've heard arguements on both sides.
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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by ocato View Post
    What book is Assassin's stance in? It's the one that adds some sneak attack I think, but I'd like to know more.

    And does Telling Blow make sneak/skirmish double on crit? I've heard arguements on both sides.
    Assassin's Stance is a Swordsage stance, and is accessible with the Martial Stance feat.

    Telling Blow says that you "add your precision damage on a successful critical hit." If it's a critical sneak attack, then you qualify twice.

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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax_Celestis View Post
    Assassin's Stance is a Swordsage stance, and is accessible with the Martial Stance feat.

    Telling Blow says that you "add your precision damage on a successful critical hit." If it's a critical sneak attack, then you qualify twice.
    If person man suggests it and fax agrees, that's all I need to hear to believe it.


    Quote Originally Posted by wizards
    Prerequesites: One Martial Manuever
    So how do you get that as a rogue/scout?
    Last edited by ocato; 2007-09-25 at 07:42 PM.
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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by ocato View Post
    If person man suggests it and fax agrees, that's all I need to hear to believe it.

    So how do you get that as a rogue/scout?
    You can take a single ToB manuever that you otherwise qualify for if you take the Martial Study feat. You can take a single ToB stance that you otherwise qualify for if you take the Martial Stance feat (which requires a martial maneuver as a pre-req). The Tome of Battle opens up tons of different options to players, even ones who never take a level of a ToB class.

    However, Scout 3/Rogue 17 with those feats is actually a very bad idea. It puts all of your eggs into one basket, and its not a particularly great basket. Sure, if you move 20 feet, Sneak Attack your enemy, and get a critical hit (which happens less then 30% of the time, even under the best of circumstances) then you deal an average of 98 points of damage on one hit. That's not very impressive damage at ECL 20. And if your enemy is immune to Precision damage, you're boned.

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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax_Celestis View Post
    Telling Blow says that you "add your precision damage on a successful critical hit." If it's a critical sneak attack, then you qualify twice.
    Just to be clear: you do not get double damage.

    Quote Originally Posted by FAQ (July 13, 2007 version), page 22)
    When a rogue with the Telling Blow feat (PHB II, pg. 83) deals a critical hit against a flat-footed enemy, does sheadd her sneak attack damage twice?

    No. The feat simply adds another criteria that “activates” your sneak attack or skirmish damage; it doesn’t allow either of those values to be added twice.
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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by Zherog View Post
    Just to be clear: you do not get double damage.
    This is one of those instances where I totally disagree with what the FAQ has to say.

    Let's put it in a similar light, where I know htey've answered in favor of my interpretation. The spell wracking touch allows you to touch an opponent (as a touch attack, it is a a valid target for sneak attack damage) and acquire your sneak attack dice. Since this is the spell that is giving you your sneak attack dice, it is actually just extra sneak attack dice. Furthermore, should you sneak attack this touch attack, you can deal the extra dice of damage off of that as well--thereby acquiring your SA dice twice in one attack.

    Telling Blow is the same way: the feat is adding SA dice, not creating a new qualifier for your SA dice to function under.

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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax_Celestis View Post
    This is one of those instances where I totally disagree with what the FAQ has to say.

    Let's put it in a similar light, where I know htey've answered in favor of my interpretation. The spell wracking touch allows you to touch an opponent (as a touch attack, it is a a valid target for sneak attack damage) and acquire your sneak attack dice. Since this is the spell that is giving you your sneak attack dice, it is actually just extra sneak attack dice. Furthermore, should you sneak attack this touch attack, you can deal the extra dice of damage off of that as well--thereby acquiring your SA dice twice in one attack.

    Telling Blow is the same way: the feat is adding SA dice, not creating a new qualifier for your SA dice to function under.
    I would question that interpretation of Wracking Touch, also; that spell simply automatically qualifies for sneak attack. I see no indication it would let you deal it twice.
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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Is this right?

    A ray of stupidity, because it deals ability DAMAGE and not a DRAIN, allows sneak attack dice to ride along with it. However, because there is ABILITY damage instead of regular damage, the sneak attack dice are considered "negative energy damage"?

    Is that the correct idea?

    If so...does negative energy damage do anything special, or is it simply another form of damage, like acid or cold?

    Furthermore, by this reasoning, couldn't you heal undead by sneak attacking them with an ability damaging spell?

    I realize that undead are immune to sneak attacks but other than that, wouldn't the negative energy heal the undead?
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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Well, I like Two Weapon Pounce. Yeah, you are putting most of your character into precision damage, but that's pretty much all rogues. So at L20 you're doing 7d6 skirmish if you move 20ft and apparently 11d6 sneak with this stance. Per weapon. Two Weapon Pounce is each attack with your full bonus (no minus, no plus), and that's like, 36d6 total. And yeah, that's not gonna be every attack all day, but it's about getting the sneaks/skirmishes you can. A rogue does 10d6 per sneak at L20 by himself, I don't see why a few feats for up to 18d6 is some sort of terrible. Do I wish skirmish scaled better? Of course, but it could be worse. Wands help with sneak/skirmish too, so it'll happen. With doubles on crits, you can do some fierce stuff, and no one says you can't enjoy poisons, skills, and other roguey stuff on the side.
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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by enderrocksonall View Post
    Is this right?

    A ray of stupidity, because it deals ability DAMAGE and not a DRAIN, allows sneak attack dice to ride along with it. However, because there is ABILITY damage instead of regular damage, the sneak attack dice are considered "negative energy damage"?

    Is that the correct idea?

    If so...does negative energy damage do anything special, or is it simply another form of damage, like acid or cold?

    Furthermore, by this reasoning, couldn't you heal undead by sneak attacking them with an ability damaging spell?

    I realize that undead are immune to sneak attacks but other than that, wouldn't the negative energy heal the undead?
    I do not believe this is the case for Ray of Stupidity -- ability damage is not lethal damage. In order to deal sneak attack damage, the spell you're using must deal lethal damage.

    Stylistically speaking, sneak-attack essentially signifies that you're hitting them in a tender spot or a vital organ, thus hurting them more than normal. If you hit them with a Ray of Stupidity, well, you can't really hit them in a particularly tender spot of their brain, so Sneak Attack doesn't really qualify. With Ray of Frost, on the other hand, you freeze them for cold damage, and that cold damage is applied to their pancreas, which deals more damage.

    Negative energy always heals the Undead, I believe (or else it has no effect on them at all). But you can't compound that healing/damage with Sneak Attack. If you bolster a zombie with, say, Energy Drain, you're fueling it with more raw energy to power itself. Giving all of that energy to the zombie's decomposing pancreas won't help it any more than usual.

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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax_Celestis View Post
    This is one of those instances where I totally disagree with what the FAQ has to say.

    Let's put it in a similar light, where I know htey've answered in favor of my interpretation. The spell wracking touch allows you to touch an opponent (as a touch attack, it is a a valid target for sneak attack damage) and acquire your sneak attack dice. Since this is the spell that is giving you your sneak attack dice, it is actually just extra sneak attack dice. Furthermore, should you sneak attack this touch attack, you can deal the extra dice of damage off of that as well--thereby acquiring your SA dice twice in one attack.

    Telling Blow is the same way: the feat is adding SA dice, not creating a new qualifier for your SA dice to function under.
    Have I mentioned recently that I hate how a great deal of the feats in PHBII are worded?

    On one hand, they say you add your sneak attack (or skirmish damage), which would suggest that you don't get it again if it's already added. But then, it says that you get that in addition to your critical hit damage, which would include your sneak attack damage if your critical hit also qualified for sneak attack. So you'd have to add it again.

    Basically, RAW is that you'd add it twice, but that might not be what they were intending.



    Quote Originally Posted by Raolin_Fenix View Post
    I do not believe this is the case for Ray of Stupidity -- ability damage is not lethal damage. In order to deal sneak attack damage, the spell you're using must deal lethal damage.
    Complete Arcane specifically states that spells dealing ability damage (or energy drain) get sneak attack as negative energy, instead of as extra ability damage (or negative levels). Otherwise, a spell has to deal hit point damage (or nonlethal damage) to qualify for sneak attack.
    Last edited by Jasdoif; 2007-09-25 at 09:42 PM.
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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasdoif
    Complete Arcane specifically states that spells dealing ability damage (or energy drain) get sneak attack as negative energy, instead of as extra ability damage (or negative levels). Otherwise, a spell has to deal hit point damage (or nonlethal damage) to qualify for sneak attack.
    Wow. Color me wrong, then. Still strikes me as a thematically silly rule, but ah well.

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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by Raolin_Fenix View Post
    Wow. Color me wrong, then. Still strikes me as a thematically silly rule, but ah well.
    If you want something silly, consider that ability drain doesn't qualify a spell for sneak attack, even though ability damage does.
    Last edited by Jasdoif; 2007-09-25 at 09:59 PM.
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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax_Celestis View Post
    This is one of those instances where I totally disagree with what the FAQ has to say.
    *shrug*

    I've always read Telling Blow as doing exactly what the FAQ says it does - granting another way to gain sneak attack, not a way to gain double.
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    Default Re: Sneak attack question

    Quote Originally Posted by Zherog View Post
    *shrug*

    I've always read Telling Blow as doing exactly what the FAQ says it does - granting another way to gain sneak attack, not a way to gain double.
    Zherog, having read the FAQ page that you helpfully quoted, I agree that your reading of Telling Blow is correct under RAW. Thanks for posting it.

    But in my group, I think we'll continue to allow Telling Blow to add Sneak Attack damage when you confirm a critical hit. If you also qualify for Sneak Attack damage normally (ie, your opponent is denied their Dex bonus or flanked) and you confirm a critical hit, then we'll add it twice.

    My reasoning is pretty simple. A low level Rogue won't have a Keen weapon, and a mid to high level Rogue almost always qualifies for Sneak Attack every round (usually via flanking, a Ring of Blinking, or a friend's Greater Invisibility spell). Thus, there's almost no reason to take Telling Blow unless it adds Sneak Attack damage, rather then just letting you qualify for it.

    Furthermore, Telling Blow isn't that effective. Using a class that provides full Sneak Attack progression, you gain an average of +1.75 damage per level per attack that qualifies. A Keen weapon with a high threat range confirms a critical less then 30% of the time under the most ideal of situations. So on average, Telling Blow adds less than .525 damage per level per attack under. That's an average of less than +10.5 damage per attack at 20th level. That's a helpful bonus. But it drops dramatically if your enemy has a high AC (and is thus less likely to be hit with and get a crit confirmed against them). And unlike Power Attack et al, it can't be multiplied (by crits, Spirited Charge, Headlong Rush, Battle Jump, etc). And enemies that are immune to crits/Sneak Attack are still unaffected.

    So, you're right, I'm wrong. But I'm happy wallowing in my wrongness.

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