Tuesday Tweak: Sneak Attack

Sneak Attack: can only be used in melee with light weapons, or weapons that can have the Weapon Finesse feat applied to them (such as a rapier). At range, you cannot sneak attack with bows.

This tweak is very simple, but very key. Let the rogues and ninjas rage! For everyone who’s never had a rogue in the party, there’s nothing preventing them from taking one feat so they can sneak attack with a greatsword. Or a greataxe. Or a spiked chain, for that matter. To all those who might argue that they’d rather spend their feat elsewhere, I ask you: as a character who uses weapons, would you take a feat that increases your damage from a d6 to a d12? Of course you would.

This tweak is meant to preserve not only balance, but a style as well. While you might argue that the rules should be permissive enough to allow a player to do what they wish, certain character elements can come out only through limitation. If anyone can do anything–if fighters could cast spells and rogues can use a greatsword–then your choices are lacking in interest, and you cannot play to or against an iconic style. To preserve the style of the lightly-armed rogue who sneaks in serious damage, I beg you to adopt this tweak.


-Max Porter Zasada


2 responses to “Tuesday Tweak: Sneak Attack

  1. Well, there are two ways to build a rogue. You could go the dexterity focused route which is what this tweak suggests. Or you could go the strength route. I don’t like that you are cutting off an entire branch of character options to fit an archetype you have in your head. Some rogues are brutish and sneak up to someone only to grab their head and smash it into the wall as hard as they can [yes, I’m looking at you Batman].

    ” I ask you: as a character who uses weapons, would you take a feat that increases your damage from a d6 to a d12, and gives you access to a myriad of other options? Of course you would.” No, of course you wouldn’t. If you were really going to be smart about it, you would multiclass but that is beside the point. To a dexterity based rogue using say, a short sword which does 1d6 damage and a strength score of 12 – you are cutting someone for 1d6+1 +1d6 SA. At level one, jumping to 2d6+1 is a big deal. At level 5, you are doing 1d6+1 +3d6 SA. Jumping to 2d6+1 is less impressive. The further the game goes on, the less it really matters what weapon you use since the bulk of your damage is from sneak attack. Using that great sword is only really giving you 1 more d6 per hit so its like an extra sneak attack die.

    With regard to weapon flexibility, a dexterity based rogue isn’t interested in weapons that cannot be finessed – they also probably aren’t that interested in combat maneuvers because that is BAB + strength. If a strength based rogue wants to use a feat to get a trip weapon or a disarming weapon, whats the harm? Strength based rogues are already sacrificing a higher initiative score & reflex save for more damage with strength. Let them play up their options.

    • After thinking about it for a long time, I’ve come to the conclusion that you’re right and I was wrong. Your argument hits three points–Stylistic flexibility, the smoothing out of the problem over time, and the tradeoff–all of which are one hundred percent valid. I usually fight and argue my point of view, but you have me convinced that I was being wrongly prejudiced.

      To add a note–you can make combat maneuvers Dex-based by taking Agile Manuevers as a feat. A nice bump for the Dex-based rogue with class. However, that should in no way subtract from the viability of the bruiser rogue, the tough enforcer of the thieves’ guild.

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