Topic: Sneak Attack Clarification

Hi there all,

Looking over my 4th ed. Rules & Magic.  The list for skill defaults (pg.17 - specialists) does not have the standard 1 in 6 chance starting value listed beside the sneak attack skill.  However, the character sheet explanation section (pg. 167) notes in point H. "all characters begin with 1 in 6 sneak attack skill."  Everybody starts with a 1 in 6 in this skill....but am I missing something for why that has been omitted from the default list on pg. 17?  I'm not losing sleep over this - mostly curious.


Last edited by Cheesepaws (2017-06-17 15:49:23)

Re: Sneak Attack Clarification

Well, there is only the (1 in 6) missing (at least in my book: first edition revised, 4th printing)), and that may have something to do with how Sneak attack works: there is "in 6", but just a multiplication of the damage of the successful attack.

With kind regards
My blog

Re: Sneak Attack Clarification

Basically, 1 in 6 sneak attack is useless, and it's merely a mechanical artifact so that when a Specialist puts a point in it, they now have a 2 in 6, which now doubles their damage.

Or, to put it another way, all characters start off being able to multiply their sneak attack damage by 1. Specialists can put more points (they get the free 1 just like all other characters) to double, triple, quadruple, etc., their damage.

Re: Sneak Attack Clarification

Yes, yes - this all confirms my gut on how starting values for sneak attacks work (for specialists and everyone) but it still doesn't really address the logic for omitting the (1 in 6) for everybody on pg. 17.  I was thinking I must have missed some reason why it was left off that list that was specific to the specialist (since it appears in that section) - but seeing that the specialist also gets the default (1 in 6) to start with that skill, I guess it might just be a typo (?). 

I guess what really threw me (well, to be honest, still throws me a hair) is the suggestion later on that the specialist might not get that default (1 in 6).  If you keep reading through the sneak attack section it continues, "If a specialist has ANY points in sneak attack, then he also gets a +2 bonus to hit above any other bonuses..."  Sooooo, if they already get the automatic (1 in 6) starting value - then don't they automatically start with that +2 bonus to hit automatically?  Why spell it out...unless it is meant to imply either A) specialist don't start automatically with the (1 in 6) in sneak attack but must invest in it (which doesn't make sense) or B) that this notation is meant to imply that the +2 to hit bonus stacks per point invested.

Again, I'm not losing (much) sleep over this.  I've interpreted it all this way:  everybody gets that initial 1 in 6 for sneak attack.   Specialists get the +2 sneak attack to hit bonus AFTER they have invested at least one additional point into the skill.  The +2 to hit bonus is non-stacking, while the damage bonus stacks.

I guess others do it differently maybe...

Thanks for all the input.  Good stuff. 


Re: Sneak Attack Clarification

Okay, now that I'm looking at the pages in question, there definitely is a typo, or inconsistency.

Either, 1) nobody has any points in sneak attack, so...
-If Specialist puts 1 point in it, they get a +2 to sneak attack.
-If Specialist puts more than 1 point in it, they now get the damage multiplier in addition to the +2.

Or, 2) everybody has a 1 "starting value" (ie, no "points" put in it) in Sneak Attack, so...
-If Specialist puts 1 point in it, they now have a value of 2 Sneak Attack, which gives them the +2 bonus to attack (because they put at least one point in it) and a x2 multiplier to damage (because that's their sneak attack value).

I guess play it the way you want?

Re: Sneak Attack Clarification

It almost certainly has to be the second option and the list in the Specialist class description is just confusing. Unlike other skills, Sneak Attack does not take a roll so it doesn’t read 1 in 6 chance of success. The pips for Sneak Attack simply keep track of how much better you are at attacking an enemy who is unaware of you.

If option one was correct, if would mean that 0 pips equal x1 to damage (which has no effect). One pip would then mean a x2 bonus, two pips would be x3... ultimately 6 pips equaling x7. This inelegance goes against the rest of the design of the game. It seems much more logical if number of pips equals the multiplying factor 1 to 1.

Last edited by jameswillaman (2019-04-21 18:54:55)

Re: Sneak Attack Clarification

Here a doc about that : … s_written/