Is Sneak Attack really sneaky?

Does anyone else find the rules for sneak attack confusing? 

Well, maybe it's not the rule, it's the name. Why call this sneak attack at all:

"When you make an attack and have advantage, but not disadvantage, you can give up the advantage to double the results of  any martial damage dice you roll to add to the attack’s damage."
 
What is so sneaky about the attack? Seems like this should only apply in situations where the Rogue is hidden and can actually sneak up on his victim, no?

A player and I are at odds on the applicability of this rule. I think it should be limited to situations where he is hidden -- or otherwise unknown to the recipient of the attack. And possibly it replaces the overpowered backstab found in 2e.

Thoughts? 
when has  yelling "Sneak Attack!" while attacking ever been sneaky?

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I think the hiden unaware rule you want to emulate is covered by assasinate. Sneak attack is dirty sneaky fighting exploiting oppertunities rather than sudden strikes from hiding. I am with your player onn this one.
Keendk, I see your point, I am just really thrown by the term "Sneak Attack." Semantics? Possibly.



It's nothing new. In 3.5 you could sneak attack anytime your opponent was denied their Dex bonus to AC, meaning you could feint and then sneak attack, knock prone and sneak attack, hold person and sneak attack. Maybe it's not the best term, but there is precedent for it.
Sure, but I've never played 3.5 or 4e. The last edition I played as 2e and it seems like sneak attack had a very different meaning back then. But I don't have my rulebook so I may just be misremembering.
Sure, but I've never played 3.5 or 4e. The last edition I played as 2e and it seems like sneak attack had a very different meaning back then. But I don't have my rulebook so I may just be misremembering.

In 2E, the thief's equivalent ability was called Backstab, and it functioned much like Assassinate does in the current playtest.

Danny

I believe the proper term would be Underhanded Stab

but that is a mouth full
Maybe rename Sneak Attack as Dirty Fighting.  And create another skill for backstab done under the cover of stealth.
As it is right now sneak attack is really lame. Advantage is such a strong mechanic, that giving it up for double MMD doesn't give benefits in most situations. The pre-gen rogue in the packet won't se an increase in DPR (damage per round) unless it's attacking something with 9 AC or lower. By the time he gets to level 3 he only gets an advantage on things with 10 AC or lower and level 4 he gets an increase in accuracy so 11 AC or lower see's benefits. Even at level 11 onward, anything with more than 12 AC nets no increase in DPR.

It's pretty lame when a mechanic that has been with the game for quite a while, and even featured on the pre-gen character, become an effect that actually penalizes the user for using it.

Rougue's are pretty lame right now, but everything is pretty lame compared to a dual wielding barbarian.
As it is right now sneak attack is really lame. Advantage is such a strong mechanic, that giving it up for double MMD doesn't give benefits in most situations. The pre-gen rogue in the packet won't se an increase in DPR (damage per round) unless it's attacking something with 9 AC or lower. By the time he gets to level 3 he only gets an advantage on things with 10 AC or lower and level 4 he gets an increase in accuracy so 11 AC or lower see's benefits. Even at level 11 onward, anything with more than 12 AC nets no increase in DPR.

It's pretty lame when a mechanic that has been with the game for quite a while, and even featured on the pre-gen character, become an effect that actually penalizes the user for using it.

Rougue's are pretty lame right now, but everything is pretty lame compared to a dual wielding barbarian.


Just saying
Your math is wrong and Sneak Attack does OP levels of DPR even when you give up Advantage
Mainly because your accuracy is high enough with TWF that you really dont need Advantage
Level 1 Halfling Rougue w/17 Dex

Enemy w/10 AC Lose Advantage
60% Chance of Normal Hit
5% Chance of Critical Hit
87.7% Chance of Using MDD w/Sneak Attack

Enemy w/10 AC Keep Advantage
77.7% Chance of Normal Hit
10% Chance of Critical Hit
98.5% Chance of Using MMD

Shortsword x2 w/Advantage
1d8+3 (1d8+11 crit.) (.777*7.5)+(.1*15.5)=7.377
1d8+0 (1d8+8 crit.) (.777*4.5)+(.1*12.5)=4.316
MDD no/Sneak Attack (.985*3.5)+(.1*6)=4.048

Total: 15.741

Shortsword x2 w/Sneak Attack
1d8+3 (1d8+11 crit.) (.6*7.5)+(.05*15.5)=5.275
1d8+0 (1d8+8 crit.) (.6*4.5)+(.05*12.5)=3.325
MDD w/Sneak Attack (.877*7)+(.05*12)=6.139

Total: 14.739

The added accuracy and increased chance for criticals edges sneak attack out.
You are raging against a mechanic that is known to be changed, its pretty pointles. Beside OP was asking about the flavour of sneak attack not its damage validity
Enemy w/60% chance to hit without Advantage and Sneak Attack
60% Chance of Normal Hit
5% Chance of Critical Hit
84% Chance of Normal MDD w/Sneak Attack
9.75% Chance of Crit MDD

Enemy w/60% chance to hit with Advantage
84% Chance of Normal Hit
9.75% Chance of Critical Hit
97.4% Chance of Normal MMD
18.5% Chance of Crit MMD


Shortsword x2 w/Advantage Level 1
1d8+3 (11 crit.) (.84*7.5)+(.0975*11)=6.3+1.07=7.37
1d8+0 (8 crit.) (.84*4.5)+(.0975*8)=3.78+0.78=4.56
MDD no/Sneak Attack (.985*3.5)+(.185*6)=3.4+1.11=4.51

Total: 16.44

Shortsword x2 w/Sneak Attack Level 1
1d8+3 (11 crit.) (.6*7.5)+(.05*11)=4.5+0.55=5.05
1d8+0 (8 crit.) (.6*4.5)+(.05*8)=2.7+0.4=3.1
MDD w/Sneak Attack (.84*7)+(.0975*12)=5.88+1.17=7.05

Total: 15.2

Shortsword x2 w/Advantage Level 3
1d8+3 (11 crit.) (.84*7.5)+(.0975*11)=6.3+1.07=7.37
1d8+0 (8 crit.) (.84*4.5)+(.0975*8)=3.78+0.78=4.56
MDD no/Sneak Attack (.985*7)+(.185*12)=6.9+2.22=9.12

Total: 21.05

Shortsword x2 w/Sneak Attack Level 3
1d8+3 (11 crit.) (.6*7.5)+(.05*11)=4.5+0.55=5.05
1d8+0 (8 crit.) (.6*4.5)+(.05*8)=2.7+0.4=3.1
MDD w/Sneak Attack (.84*14)+(.0975*24)=11.76+2.34=14.1

Total: 22.25

Shortsword x2 w/Advantage Level 5
1d8+3 (11 crit.) (.84*7.5)+(.0975*11)=6.3+1.07=7.37
1d8+0 (8 crit.) (.84*4.5)+(.0975*8)=3.78+0.78=4.56
MDD no/Sneak Attack (.985*10.5)+(.185*18)=10.34+3.33=13.67

Total: 25.6

Shortsword x2 w/Sneak Attack Level 5
1d8+3 (11 crit.) (.6*7.5)+(.05*11)=4.5+0.55=5.05
1d8+0 (8 crit.) (.6*4.5)+(.05*8)=2.7+0.4=3.1
MDD w/Sneak Attack (.84*21)+(.0975*36)=17.64+3.51=21.15

Total: 29.3

Recap
Level 1 - Sneak Attack is bad
Total: 16.44
Total: 15.2

Level 3 - Sneak Attack is slightly better even despite the lower accuracy
Total: 21.05
Total: 22.25

Level 5 - Sneak Attack is much stronger
Total: 25.6
Total: 29.3

Maybe rename Sneak Attack as Dirty Fighting.  And create another skill for backstab done under the cover of stealth.

Doesn't assassinate cover backstabbing from a stealthy position?
Maybe rename Sneak Attack as Dirty Fighting.  And create another skill for backstab done under the cover of stealth.

Doesn't assassinate cover backstabbing from a stealthy position?



Yes. And assassinate is a better name for it, since it can be done at range.