Backstab vs Sneak attack (and Assassins)


The whole concept of backstab and sneak attack doesn't make sense. They really should be either synonymous with each other or at switched in usage. A sneak attack, by direct definition of the word, is just an attack done in a sneaky way. It doesn't neccessitate extra damage, just an attack done sneakily. Hence, it's just an attack with higher likelihood of connecting. A sneak tackle is a sneak attack and is more likely to hit, but not more likely to deal damage.

I know this is all covered easily alreay by giving all attacks, while hidden, advantage. So why not just replace/rename sneak attack as backstab. Then to fix the loss of sneak attack as a skill, give all rogues an ability to gain advantage on all distracted opponents (new sneak attack). Distracted opponents include opponents engaged in fighting other targets, or hostile opponents that targeted things that didn't target the rogue last turn. This should replace the Lv 1 Attack Bonus that all rogues get.

Backstab should then replace the current sneak attack. It would be the same exact thing as sneak attack, but renamed. However, I also think that the damage is quite a bit too much. IMO it should be dropped one die type per roll. ie in lvl 1, it should be 1d4 instead of 1d6.

This helps balance it on assassins which can now have 'advanced backstab' as a skill which just upgrades the dice one type higher (back to original sneak attack levels). I just don't see why Assassins, who specialize in killing one target at a time don't have increased damage compared to base thieves. It's not very 'assassiny'

Or maybe you can at least add poison mechanic for assassins as a free skill. They spend money to make poisons that deal 1d4 dmg per turn unless the target makes a fortitude save. This poison costs 10gp of materials to make and can be upgraded to the same number of dice they use to backstab by spending an extra 10gp. IE by making a poison costing 30gp, the poison does 3d4 points of damage per turn.



So the changes in short are:
1) Sneak Attack renamed to backstab
2) Backstab is now reduced by 1 die type. From d6 to d4 on first level, etc
3) New 'Sneak Attack' is now a class benefit replacing the Lv 1 attack bonus that all rogues get

(Optional to 'fix' assassins):
1) Assassins can make poisons that deal 1d4 per 10gp spent on manufacture
2) Assassins gain a new skill, 'advanced backstab'. This increases 'backstab' (formerly sneak attack) by one die type (as it is in current version of sneak attack)

It´s a grat idea, that you say now no there are diference between a thief or an assassin, that you say make a backstab that was the sneak attack and be an advanced backstab for the assassin.  One idea that i will use in playtesting is diferencied into this two manouvres, backstab to scale every 3 levels and only makes 1D6 every level and advanced backstab scale every 2 levels that now and a level 11 changes to D8, So difencied a one is trained to kill to another that no.
I wrote my original post on a phone. Retyped it for coherency's sake. sorry.
"Sneak attack" is broad. "Backstab" is narrow. Backstab is the method by which the sneak attack is delivered. A sneak attack can also be delivered by a tumbling strike or isolated strike.

One rogue maneuvers behind the foe to deliver his bonus damage (backstab), while another tumbles unpredictably into the fray (tumbling strike), and another capitalizes on the mano-a-mano nature of a duel (isolated strike). Though the delivery methods are different, each method results in surprise bursts of damage.

If the names were changed, then a duelist (using isolated strike) would have to go one-on-one with his opponent to deliver a backstab. That is too narrow a definition and makes me imagine a duel where one guy is constantly trying to poke the other guy's back. The names are fine, as they are.
My understanding was that Sneak attack isn't a modifier for other attacks. It is an attack. Equal to isolated strike, backstab and tumbling strike. The wording is vague. That changes things. Lol. Gotta test it
Since Backstab gives you advantage, and Sneak Attack gives you disadvantage, can you do both at once, canceling out the dis/advantage but still getting the bonus damage (but only when your target has another enemy in melee range)?
"Therefore, you are the crapper, I'm merely the vessel through which you crap." -- akaddk
Yeah, that seems like the intention. Sneak attack damage imposes disadvantage, but the class grants an easy way to get advantage.
This basically means as is the rougue should be doing an extra d6 every attack, provided they have everything properly setup, right?
once you break stealth, it's broken, so you have to go back into stealth before doing sneak attack again, so not extra damage every turn. Maybe every other, or every 3 or so. If you were expecting to attack every round, then no. If you wait for setup, then yes.
once you break stealth, it's broken, so you have to go back into stealth before doing sneak attack again, so not extra damage every turn. Maybe every other, or every 3 or so. If you were expecting to attack every round, then no. If you wait for setup, then yes.



But sneak attack doesn't require that you are hidden. Lets say im the rake. Provided I am the only adjacent creature, using either isolated strike on its own or in combonation with sneak attack, every round I could either get advantage or do an extra d6 dmg. That sounds pretty sweet actually. 
you are right, of couse. And yet another reason it shouldn't be called sneak attack
Yeah, the naming caused a bit of confusion for me.
with the two manouvres, Backstab and isolated attack broken hidden, feats that ambush. Previously the rogue work hard to take advantatge, withh this now mechanics no. Becasu i hidden o use ambush if i get advantatge yes o yes?.
with the two manouvres, Backstab and isolated attack broken hidden, feats that ambush. Previously the rogue work hard to take advantatge, withh this now mechanics no. Becasu i hidden o use ambush if i get advantatge yes o yes?.



Could somebody translate this into Common for me?
"Therefore, you are the crapper, I'm merely the vessel through which you crap." -- akaddk
I think it goes:

With two maneuvers, backstab, and hidden strike, the hiding mechanics and feats are useless. Previously, rogues had to work hard to get advantage because you had to be hidden to get advantage.
Actually, what I would like to see is the ability currently called 'Backstab' to be renamed 'Flanking' as it's much more similar to that mechanic.  With someone else threatening your target his attention is split making it easier to hit him.

A more appropriate ability called 'Backstab' should require you to be hidden from the target to take advantage.  That would be more assassiny.

Isolated Strike stays as it is, but I'd like a better name (that's just me nitpicking)

Sneak Attack could have the name changed to 'Precise Attack' or just leave it what it's called, I'm not that concerned.  Now it can be used on it's own with disadvantage, representing the difficulty of stiking the vital area, combined with the new Backstab representing the sneak up and stab version, with the new Flanking, representing using the opportunistic attack while the opponent is distracted, or with Isolated Strike representing a sneaky little feint or disengage to sneak your blade into that vulnerable opening.

I think that would cover a few different roguey styles of sneak attack.

Edit:  I'd also rescale the Sneak Attack damage.  The first three levels I'd make it d4s.  Then at level 5, instead of increasing how many dice, I'd up the die, making it 2d6, then again at level 13 I'd up the die, not the number, making it 5d8 (instead of 7) and then it would max out at 8d8 rather than 10.
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