The Problem With Sneak Attack

I'm bothered by how sneak attack works in the latest packet. It requires you to not have disadvantage, but then you have to make yourself have disadvantage on the roll in order to get the bonus damage. So in order to benefit from sneak attack, you have to make yourself alot less likely to hit on your attack. Not only is this terrible from a gameplay perspective, it doesn't really even make sense. Sneak attacking is about ambushing people or otherwise attacking them when a prime opportunity presents itself (i.e. you're invisible, or they're distracted because they're being flanked, etc.) It's about fighting dirty and taking advantage of circumstances to kill your foe as quickly and efficiently as possible. The idea that sneak attacking someone makes you less likely to hit seems ridiculous to me.

In older packets, sneak attack simply added the bonus damage whenever the rogue had advantage on his attack. What was wrong with that? It's simple. It makes sense. It doesn't make rogues have to choose between hitting their foes and using one of their primary class features.  Was this overpowered? I'm just struggling to understand why they changed sneak attack the way they did.

Sneak attacking is about ambushing people or otherwise attacking them when a prime opportunity presents itself (i.e. you're invisible, or they're distracted because they're being flanked, etc.) It's about fighting dirty and taking advantage of circumstances to kill your foe as quickly and efficiently as possible. The idea that sneak attacking someone makes you less likely to hit seems ridiculous to me.



in this edition sneak attack seems to be hitting a targets weak points and this is hard to do if the target is fully aware of you and able to defend against you, this is what gives you disadvantage.
If you suprise the target like in your example of being invisible this grants advantage canceling out the disadvantage theat sneak attack normaly has
Making you as likely to hit as you would on a normal attack.


Sneak attacking is about ambushing people or otherwise attacking them when a prime opportunity presents itself (i.e. you're invisible, or they're distracted because they're being flanked, etc.) It's about fighting dirty and taking advantage of circumstances to kill your foe as quickly and efficiently as possible. The idea that sneak attacking someone makes you less likely to hit seems ridiculous to me.



in this edition sneak attack seems to be hitting a targets weak points and this is hard to do if the target is fully aware of you and able to defend against you, this is what gives you disadvantage.
If you suprise the target like in your example of being invisible this grants advantage canceling out the disadvantage theat sneak attack normaly has
Making you as likely to hit as you would on a normal attack.




Also if you already have one or more sources of disadvantage anyway, you may as well sneak attack.

-Polaris





Also if you already have one or more sources of disadvantage anyway, you may as well sneak attack.

-Polaris



Once per turn, if you do not have disadvantage when making an attack, you can attempt a Sneak Attack


so if you already had disadvantage from another source your not alouwed to make a sneak attack.



Also if you already have one or more sources of disadvantage anyway, you may as well sneak attack.

-Polaris




Once per turn, if you do not have disadvantage when making an attack, you can attempt a Sneak Attack


so if you already had disadvantage from another source your not alouwed to make a sneak attack.



My bad.  Thanks for the correction.  That bolded part is a good rule.

-Polaris
I think there is a difference between what I would have traditionally thought of as a backstab and an attack made under advantageous circumstances.

For me a true backstab has to meet these requirements.
1.  The target can't know they are in combat
2.  The attacker must be unseen until they deliver the blow
3.  The attack would come with a bonus to hit and do very devastating damage.

An attack under advantageous circumstances is more what the modern sneak attack is about.
1.  4e's version of combat advantage for example is the type of advantage I'm talking about.
2.  The target knows he is in a fight and is defending.


Here is how I'd modify the rogues sneak attack.  (I would also add backstab/cutthroat as another ability) 
1.  It would require surprise, or the target having more than one attacker on him.
2.  The rogue would roll a normal attack.  If he hit he will do normal damage no matter what.
3.  The rogue then rolls a second attack.  If he hits again he does sneak attack damage as well.

I find it pretty crazy that a precision attack makes you less likely to do any damage.  No.  If you miss your precision attack you are likely to just do normal damage and not miss outright.   Also this eliminates the disadvantage issue.   If you have disadvantage you just roll both rolls with disadvantage.  That makes your chances a lot less likely to succeed (as appropriate I think) but still possible.

 

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You are forgetting the part where a Rogue automatically gains Advantage under certain conditions (i.e. backstab, isolated strike). That cancels the Disadvantage. Rogues will attempt to be in the Advantage situation when attempting Sneak Attack but have the option of trying it anytime. I think that is why the current wording works so well. You don't HAVE to have Advantage to attempt.

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I don't have my packet handy, do instances of advantage and disadvantage create a pool where they cancel each other off one for one, or are any beyound one each just discarded?


Also, I agree with Emerikol on seperating Backstab/Assassinate (a careful targetting of vital organs, likely ending the foe, and very rarely available as an in battle option, but possibly the opener to a battle) from Sneak Attack/Surprise Attack/Advantageous Attack (an exploitation of a glaring opening weakness).
To grow on his idea for the latter, and how do you feel about this option Emerikol? 
Rather than rolling a second attack,  if both of the dice rolled for the attack (as it was made with advantage adn thus two dice are rolled anyway) would have hit, it counts for the higher hp effect?
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
Any Disadvantage cancels all Advantage. You could have Advantage 12 different ways and one Disadvantage cancels them all.

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of any failed saving throw, including but not limited to petrification, poison, death magic, dragon breath, spells, or vorpal sword-related decapitations.

Current sneak attack is more a Called Shot that a Sneak attack.
The rogue is aiming for a harder to hit area for a higher chance of killing the foe (AKA mo' damage).

The Rogue is quite litterally trying to stab the orc in the collar or neck instead of slashing at his big o' chest. Harder to do without an advantage but higher chance of killing.

Switching the names is more accurate.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

Any Disadvantage cancels all Advantage. You could have Advantage 12 different ways and one Disadvantage cancels them all.



that will be the downfall of otherwise great mechanic.
Any Disadvantage cancels all Advantage. You could have Advantage 12 different ways and one Disadvantage cancels them all.



that will be the downfall of otherwise great mechanic.



fom the playtest packet :


If you have advantage and disadvantage on the same roll, the advantage and the disadvantage cancel each other out.
This rule applies even when you have advantage or disadvantage from multiple sources.
For example, if two effects give you advantage on a roll and one effect gives you disadvantage, you have neither of them for that roll.

Any Disadvantage cancels all Advantage. You could have Advantage 12 different ways and one Disadvantage cancels them all.



that will be the downfall of otherwise great mechanic.

For better or worse that is how it is written...

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of any failed saving throw, including but not limited to petrification, poison, death magic, dragon breath, spells, or vorpal sword-related decapitations.

It seems to me like Rogues should be nova strikers... usually they have subpar damage compared to Fighters (like the suggestion in a different thread about increasing their minimum damage), Barbarians, Rangers, etc. but when they do get their big shot in it should make the barbarian jealous.

So I was thinking what if we call sneak attack "Critical Strike" and give Rogues more ways to get crits and increasing what they can do with those crits: extra damage, imposing conditions, etc.

Hit both times with advantage = crit, enemy misses with an attack and you hit them on your next turn = crit, general crit range expansion, hitting 5+ above AC (good minion slayer if they can get a cleave like option), ambushing, etc. They could all be options you can select from helping to differentiate different types of Rogues even more.
Current sneak attack is more a Called Shot that a Sneak attack.
The rogue is aiming for a harder to hit area for a higher chance of killing the foe (AKA mo' damage).

The Rogue is quite litterally trying to stab the orc in the collar or neck instead of slashing at his big o' chest. Harder to do without an advantage but higher chance of killing.

Switching the names is more accurate.


Come to think of it, the current sneak attack rules would make great called shot rules. Remove or decreade the extra damage and allow anyone to attempt it. Then give the rogue a pile of extra damage dice he can apply in certain situations (called shot, critical hit, unaware target, etc).
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