Topic: Sneak Attack, Attacking from behind, Surprise AC

1. Sneak Attack

This is how I interpret the Sneak Attack rules from the Rules & Magic book:

a) A characters rolls 1d6 and he needs to get a result equal to his Sneak Attack value or less to have a chance to perform the attack proper. This is a standard skill roll.

b) If he was successful, he then makes an Attack roll (if the characters is a Specialist with 2 or more levels in Sneak Attack, he gets a +2 bonus). The Attack roll is made vs Surprised AC, so the enemy uses his Base Armor AC -2 instead of his Mêlée AC.

All classes can make a Sneak Attack (and, if successful, one Attack roll vs Surprised AC), but only the Specialist can make a Sneak Attack with a +2 bonus and multiplied damage, beggining with two points in the skill.

Surprised AC is, according to p. 167, item U, "Mêlée without shield or Dexterity modifers, with a further 2-point penalty."

b2) But if the characters fails the Sneak Attack roll, his opponent is aware of the attack, so he uses his Mêlée AC to defend (and the attack roll doesn't get the +2 bonus). It is a normal attack, then.

In this sense, Sneak Attack is an offensive version of Stealth, which should be used to hide and escape.

c) If both the Sneak Attack and Attack rolls succeed, the characters rolls damage. If it is a Specialist, the damage is multiplied by 2 if he has two points in Sneak Attack, by 3 if he has three points, by 4 if he has four points, up to by 6 with six points in Sneak Attack.

Is this interpretation of the rules right?

2. Attacking from behind or Surprised AC

On p. 58, it describes a character attacked from behind this way: "he loses all Dexterity and shield modifers to AC and the enemy receives a further +2 bonus to hit."

Is a Sneak Attack, then, only an Attack from behind? This would mean the Specialist make the attack at +4 with multiplied damage (granted he has 2 or more levels of Sneak Attack), and all other classes, at +2.

What is the difference between Attacking from behind and Surprised AC, narratively? Mechanically, it is that extra -2 penalty, but, how can I tell which is which during the adventure?

An example: A bandit is standing on a road, by a tree, pissing. You run into him and you can attack him from behind, he loses Dextery and Shield AC and you get a +2 bonus to your attack. He is not aware you are there, but you are not sneaking. Does that make sense? Maybe you make noise but he can't react on time. You kill him dead.

The next day, you run into the same bandit, who is pissing again by the same tree. You want to kill him again, but this time, you make a Sneak Attack: you move silently, roll Sneak Attack and succeed. You are a Specialist, so you get +2 to the attack, and since the bandit is not aware you are there, you get an additional +2 to your attack vs his AC minus Dextery and Shield.

Yeah, that makes sense to me. But, if that is the case, that means that can you make a Sneak Attack that is not as well an Attack from behind, and that doesn't make sense at all, right?

My guess is, Attacking from behind should be ignored, because it is redundant, and all succesful Sneak Attacks grant you an attack vs Surprised AC, which is the same with a further -2 penalty to AC.

Re: Sneak Attack, Attacking from behind, Surprise AC

Not my interpretation at all.
No Sneak Attack roll is needed. You just need to achieve surprise. Either with a Stealth roll, Or failing that, through a surprise roll.

Once surprise is achieved, you roll to hit at +2, the victim uses Surprised AC. If you hit, you do damage x your Sneak attack pips.

A house rule I add is that if the Sneak attack involves actually Stabbing a Back (and not just shooting from cover) then the attack is made at +4.

Re: Sneak Attack, Attacking from behind, Surprise AC

I agree with Andomedanaea. If all PCs start with a "1" in each skill, then you can think of Sneak Attack as always being the modifier anybody multiplies times damage when attacking with surprise. For most PCs, it will be: 1 X damage roll. For Specialists, if they decide to put points into it, then they can increase this multiplier.

The trick here is that Sneak Attack works differently than all other skills.