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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    PirateGuy

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    Default sneaking up behind someone...

    One of the guys who was playing a ninja decided to go invisible and simply slit the enemy's throat. At the time I merely thought to just have him do a sleight of hands check vs. the enemy's spot check, but I'm unsure if that's the best idea or if I should continue to allow that type of manuever in the first place. (It can be become pretty powerful in later levels and render the Assassin's Death Attack pointless)

    Ninja'd grammar
    Last edited by hawkboy772042; 2008-02-20 at 05:11 PM. Reason: grammar

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    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    Slitting someone's throat is a coup de grace. Simply being invisible does not allow you to perform a coup de grace (the target must be helpless).

    The ninja's ghost step ability is primarily used to facilitate the application of extra damage from Sudden Strike.
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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    D&D doesn't allow for "called shots" (slit the throat, aim for the head, shoot his kneecaps, etc.), so it doesn't work by the rules. Technically, if he was invisible he gets some bonuses (including the enemy being denied his Dex bonus to AC) and the ninja can use his Sudden Strike. Otherwise, there's no extra damage or "instant kill." But that's about it.

    If you allow it, it's going to be ridiculously overpowered at higher levels, especially if someone discovers the spell greater invisibility.

    EDIT: Also, what ^he said. A Coup de Grac requires someone to be helpless, which is much harder to accomplish than simply going invisible.
    Last edited by RTGoodman; 2008-02-20 at 05:20 PM.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    Quote Originally Posted by hawkboy772042 View Post
    One of the guys who was playing a ninja decided to go invisible and simply slit the enemy's throat. At the time I merely thought to just have him do a sleight of hands check vs. the enemy's spot check, but I'm unsure if that's the best idea or if I should continue to allow that type of manuever in the first place. (It can be become pretty powerful in later levels and render the Assassin's Death Attack pointless)

    Ninja'd grammar
    While that's nice and dramatic, that's what we call sneak attack(or similar) damage. It doesn't work. Remind him that you can't make called shots, and that after the first few levels people are superhuman and can survive a critical hit from a sword - slitting a throat won't kill someone after those first few levels.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    Yeah, your player played you.

    In terms of rules (I assume you're playing 3.x D&D) "slitting someone's throat" is a "coup de grace" and can only be done to a helpless enemy. An enemy who is merely unaware of the attacker is considered flat-footed and surprised, but not helpless. So your ninja should've gotten an easier target and his sudden strike dice added to damage, but not an insta-kill.

    It would be too game-breaking to let this continue, (unless you WANT a game where insta-death is easy, that's you're prerogative, but it will destroy the CR system and other built-in balancing factors) so just let the player know that trick won't work any more.

    EDIT: Whoa, triple-ninja'ed. appropriately enough, given the subject matter.
    Last edited by Greenfaun; 2008-02-20 at 05:23 PM.

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    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    Quote Originally Posted by KillianHawkeye View Post
    Slitting someone's throat is a coup de grace. Simply being invisible does not allow you to perform a coup de grace (the target must be helpless).

    The ninja's ghost step ability is primarily used to facilitate the application of extra damage from Sudden Strike.
    Perhaps I should have put this under the Homebrew section since it is more realistic to be able to slit someone's throat from behind if they are unaware/flatfooted and thus would become a house rule since you have pointed out that it isn't in the RAW.

    Ninja'd
    On second thought, it would be very unbalancing to allow this to continue unless I can figure out a better house rule, which I don't think I can since the only thing similar is the Assassin's Death Attack.
    Last edited by hawkboy772042; 2008-02-20 at 05:25 PM. Reason: did not see the above post

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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    The extra damage he's looking for is what he gets from his Sudden Strike ability. In fact, the way Sudden Strike is written kind of forces the ninja to keep using his Ghost Step ability, because it's the only way to consistently get Sudden Strike damage. As has been mentioned, slitting someone's throat is a coup-de-grace, and it's fairly difficult to get into a situation where one can coup-de-grace an opponent. It's quite unbalancing if you make flat-footed=helpless for the sake of realism.

    Keep in mind that if you give a Ghost Stepping ninja the ability to instant-kill an opponent, you're going to have to apply that same rule to everyone who has Invisibility cast on them, since you're saying "Unaware/flat-footed = dead." Not a very good idea, IMO.


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    PirateWench

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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    It seems pretty simple to me. If the player asks to do this Just have them do their sudden strike attack as normal. If the damage inflicted is enough to kill the target outright (which since many guards are low level may be reasonable) Then tel the character he has successfully slit the targets throat. If it is not enough to kill them outright then the target moved and got hit in in the shoulder and cries out.

    Most people really covered this already though along with the references to coub de grace not being possible just because soones invisible.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    It seems pretty simple to me. If the player asks to do this Just have them do their sudden strike attack as normal. If the damage inflicted is enough to kill the target outright (which since many guards are low level may be reasonable) Then tel the character he has successfully slit the targets throat. If it is not enough to kill them outright then the target moved and got hit in in the shoulder and cries out.
    In fact, this is exactly what things like Sneak Attack and Sudden Strike are supposed to represent. If I were in a game and a character said "I slit the guard's throat", I wouldn't even assume he was trying for an insta-kill special attack in the first place. I would just assume that he was adding a little in-character flavor to an otherwise perfectly normal Sneak Attack.
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    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
    In fact ...
    I'm sorry, but that is NOT a fact.

    You are certainly free to visualize Sneak Attack in that manner if you so choose, but I am just as free not to. Regardless of the visualization involved, an attack which kills an opponent outright is a coup de grace unless you have some other ability (such as an Assassin's death attack) that has the same outcome.

    Also, description of combat outcomes is the job of the DM. The player should decide what actions he's going to take, and if the guy dies and the DM wants to describe it as slitting his throat, that the DM's decision.
    Last edited by KillianHawkeye; 2008-02-21 at 12:28 AM.
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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    If he had haste, a spell storing weapon with hold person/monster in it, and that feat that lets you coup de grace as a standard action, would that work?

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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ganurath View Post
    If he had haste, a spell storing weapon with hold person/monster in it, and that feat that lets you coup de grace as a standard action, would that work?
    I don't think so. Haste gives you one extra full attack when you make a full attack action, right? A coup de grace is normally it's own full-round action (so that doesn't work), and even with the feat it's a separate action (i.e., a standard action) instead of an attack action. Unless that feat (whose name escapes me at the moment) says you can perform a coup de grace as an attack action or something to that effect. And even in that case, you might not be able to.


    Of course, I'm not 100% sure about it. But, ya know, this is the kind of questions Lord Silvanos and the others love to answer over on the Simple Q&A by RAW thread.
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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ganurath View Post
    If he had haste, a spell storing weapon with hold person/monster in it, and that feat that lets you coup de grace as a standard action, would that work?
    No, Haste does not give you extra actions.
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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rad View Post
    No, Haste does not give you extra actions.
    The one exception to this is the swiftblade PrC.
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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    Quote Originally Posted by hawkboy772042 View Post
    Perhaps I should have put this under the Homebrew section since it is more realistic to be able to slit someone's throat from behind if they are unaware/flatfooted and thus would become a house rule since you have pointed out that it isn't in the RAW.

    Ninja'd
    On second thought, it would be very unbalancing to allow this to continue unless I can figure out a better house rule, which I don't think I can since the only thing similar is the Assassin's Death Attack.
    Try thinking of it this way. A Ninja who attacks an enemy and kills him outright on the first attack can be described as slitting the enemy's throat. But some enemies will have enough hit points that the Ninja can't kill them in one attack. So you can describe it as trying to slit the enemy's throat, but failing. He deals a lot of damage, but its not an instant kill.

    My party dealt with this same exact issue a long time ago with Stunning Fist. A Stunned enemy is not Helpless. They're Stunned. You cannot Coup de Grace them. They still get an opposed check if you want to Trip or Grapple them. Don't let the fluff interfere with game balance. Just change how you describe the fluff.

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    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    If you want to make this sort of attack plausible, I'd recommend setting it up like this.

    Create a special "assassin's" knife with the following nonmagical properties.

    Damage: 1d2
    Critical: 17-20/ x3 (maybe even x4)
    Special Property: Sneak Attack Damage is multiplied on a successful critical (I think there might already be an enchantment for this. I'm pretty sure there is a feat).

    Now, when they sneak up, they announce their attempt to slit the guy's throat. They make an attack roll.
    -If the attack roll misses by more than 4, they fumble, go visible, and roll initiative.
    -If the attack roll misses by 4 or less, the enemy gets a free listen check to discover the attacker
    -If the attack roll is sufficient to hit, but not critical, or they fail to confirm the critical, nothing happens this round, and the attacker automatically continues to wait for the right opportunity.
    -If the attack roll is a critical, deal (1d2 + Str + Sneak Attack) x 3. I would not count this as a coup de grace, because that would still be too powerful. However, you could have a caveat that "If the target has less than the player's hit dice minus 5, this counts as a coup-de-grace. However, the sneak attack damage is not multiplied by the critical"

    I think these ad hoc rules are fairly good. The idea is, you're waiting for the opportunity to strike. You have to wait for the target to present its weak spot. But for every round you wait, you're risking discovery.

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    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    I have similar questions. What would you all set the DC to quietly kill the guard if the SA damage is enough to kill him? Would you base it off of Move Silently or something else? I'm not sure if there are set rules for this.

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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    Also, description of combat outcomes is the job of the DM. The player should decide what actions he's going to take, and if the guy dies and the DM wants to describe it as slitting his throat, that the DM's decision.
    Of course description of outcomes is up to the DM, but it's the players' role to describe what they're trying to do. In this example, the DM is perfectly free to say "You attempt to slit the guard's throat, but your grip on your knife isn't very good, and you miss" (if the attack roll wasn't good enough), or "You attempt to slit the guard's throat, but he shifts position as you're striking, and youinstead just give him a nasty gash on his shoulder (if the damage wasn't enough to kill). But the DM isn't free to say "Instead of slitting the guard's throat, you quick-draw your club and bash him over the head", even if that has the exact same effect.
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    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sofaking View Post
    I have similar questions. What would you all set the DC to quietly kill the guard if the SA damage is enough to kill him? Would you base it off of Move Silently or something else? I'm not sure if there are set rules for this.
    I think it would be fair to make a move silently roll with a -5 penalty, and a reflex save of 5 + (weight of the guard / 20) to catch the guard and keep him from falling to the ground.

    If you fail the reflex save, the guard falls to the ground and makes an audible thud, with metal sounds if he's wearing armor.

    If you make the reflex save, then roll a move silently roll with a -5. You hit him in a vital spot, so it shouldn't make a lot of noise.

    An interesting caveat to add is, make an opposed grapple roll, as if you were already grappling and going for a pin. If you succeed, then you are able to cover the target's mouth and prevent him from making noise before stabbing him. If you fail, make an opposed initiative roll to see if is able to scream before dying.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    I think it all boils down to this: If one-hit kills were so easy, Vorpal blades wouldn't be the strongest weapons in the game (according to the chart). If Instant Death was as easy as an opposed skill-roll, Vorpal would kick in on any crit, not just Nat 20...
    Even the Coup'de Grace isn't a surefire death. The opponent gets a Fortitude save.
    Now, if you wanted to let your character do that, I'd say (since he IS a ninja) sleeping poison with a tiny dart. Then, sneak over and coup de crace, adding the sudden strike. It's so simple that it just might work. Well, not simple, but it'd DEFINITALY work.
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    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    Quote Originally Posted by Burley Warlock View Post
    I think it all boils down to this: If one-hit kills were so easy, Vorpal blades wouldn't be the strongest weapons in the game (according to the chart). If Instant Death was as easy as an opposed skill-roll, Vorpal would kick in on any crit, not just Nat 20...
    Even the Coup'de Grace isn't a surefire death. The opponent gets a Fortitude save.
    Now, if you wanted to let your character do that, I'd say (since he IS a ninja) sleeping poison with a tiny dart. Then, sneak over and coup de crace, adding the sudden strike. It's so simple that it just might work. Well, not simple, but it'd DEFINITALY work.
    I think that one-hit kills against sufficiently weaker characters should be possible.

    Let's say you're a level 10 character. You're trying to sneak into the BBEG's lair. He's got a bunch of level 1-4 mooks guarding the place. You should be able to relatively confidently sneak up on them and take them out quietly with the right set of skills.

    I don't think you should be able to do that against character of comparable levels. But against characters of sufficiently lower levels, there should be a mechanic for it.

    On the other hand, characters of sufficiently low levels will probably die to normal sneak attacks fairly reliably, so maybe it's a non-issue.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig1f View Post
    I think that one-hit kills against sufficiently weaker characters should be possible.

    Let's say you're a level 10 character. You're trying to sneak into the BBEG's lair. He's got a bunch of level 1-4 mooks guarding the place. You should be able to relatively confidently sneak up on them and take them out quietly with the right set of skills.

    I don't think you should be able to do that against character of comparable levels. But against characters of sufficiently lower levels, there should be a mechanic for it.

    On the other hand, characters of sufficiently low levels will probably die to normal sneak attacks fairly reliably, so maybe it's a non-issue.
    Yeah, dude. I don't think I've ever seen a 10th level ANYTHING not kill a 4th level ANYTHING with a normal surprise hit. Maybe a 10th Wizard wouldn't be able to take out a 4th Barbarian with this Lumpin' Stick...but, he's got scorching ray and magic missle, so, he wins anyways.
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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Person_Man's Avatar

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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sofaking View Post
    I have similar questions. What would you all set the DC to quietly kill the guard if the SA damage is enough to kill him? Would you base it off of Move Silently or something else? I'm not sure if there are set rules for this.
    Well, if he can deal 50 points or more, then the enemy has to make a Fort Save vs. Massive Damage. Usually its DC 15, but there are a variety of variants for that rule.

    Also, if he's really that interested in sneaking up behind enemies and making death attacks, he should just take one of the PrC that offers Death Attack as a class feature. In most cases it's a pretty weak feature anyway, because its a poorly scaled Fort Save. Many enemies are immune to Fort Saves, and high Fort Saves are very common, and it can essentially only be used the first round of combat under certain preconditions.

    That's not a criticism, btw. I agree with others that instant kill tactics are supposed to be difficult.

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    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sofaking View Post
    I have similar questions. What would you all set the DC to quietly kill the guard if the SA damage is enough to kill him? Would you base it off of Move Silently or something else? I'm not sure if there are set rules for this.
    Right now I'm building a Barbarian with Pounce, who will soon be getting Improved Grapple.

    This will allow me to charge, grapple, and pin with my iterative attack. Since he's pinned, I am allowed to prevent him from speaking. Then my buddies run in and wail on him while I ready an action to pin him again if he escapes my pin.

    I haven't used this yet, but it seems like a reasonable plan.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sofaking View Post
    I have similar questions. What would you all set the DC to quietly kill the guard if the SA damage is enough to kill him? Would you base it off of Move Silently or something else? I'm not sure if there are set rules for this.
    I'd just say "on his initiative, the Guard raises the alarm as a free action" and rely on common sense for whether anybody notices the fight.

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    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default Re: sneaking up behind someone...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan_Hemmens View Post
    I'd just say "on his initiative, the Guard raises the alarm as a free action" and rely on common sense for whether anybody notices the fight.
    Yeah but people do make noise when they get stabbed or when they hit the ground. I like the reflex vs target weight idea as that make pretty good sense. The point is that it is not a "fight" it is a quick and quiet kill which you are deliberately not trying to make any noise.

    Should there be some sort of penalty for attacking in this sort of way? -4 to roll

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