Topic: Surprise Attack vs. Attack from Behind

Are they the same thing?  Are they different?  Do they stack?

Surprise (pg. 56): No mention of modifiers to attacks, just says "The foes of surprised characters can take a free action before Initiative is rolled".

Attacking from Behind (pg.58): "If a character is attacked from behind by an enemy he is not aware of, he loses all Dexterity and shield modifiers to AC and the enemy receives a further +2 bonus to hit."

The Character Sheet U. (pg.167): "Surprised AC is Melee without shield of Dexterity modifiers, with a further 2-point penalty".

Does these mean that a Surprise Attack from Behind is effectively a +4 attack (-2 to AC, +2 to attack), with loss of shield and Dex mods (+6 if you're a Specialist Sneak Attacking)?

For that matter, does Surprise/Attacking from Behind also remove negative Dex modifiers to AC?

Re: Surprise Attack vs. Attack from Behind

They are different, but they can interact.

Surprise is determined at the start of combat and can involve anything (not just an attack). It's simply getting to act for free before any surprised opponents.

Attacking from behind is kind of like a surprise, but not mechanically the same as the "surprise" mechanic described in the rules (hence your confusion). Attacking from behind could happen if you also had surprise on an opponent at the beginning of combat, it could happen if the Specialist was hiding and waited for the right time to attack after combat had already started (likely by the rest of the PCs). It could even happen outside of combat if they made a successful sneak roll to sneak up on somebody and stab them in the back.

I would say that the character sheet is just a reminder that your opponent is getting a +2 against you for attacking you from behind (ie, I don't think there's a -2 for you and a +2 for them, I think it's redundant). I think it might be an error to call it "surprise" but I could be wrong about that.

I would rule that all dex modifiers are ignored, including negative ones.