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When can you sneak attack?


Rules Questions

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Alright, got a bit of a question. Sneak attack happens when your opponent is denied their dex bonus to ac. Tremorsense, blindsense, and scent all say you can pinpoint the location of stuff, but i've asked about it here on the board, and that would just pinpoint the square they're in, and there would still be 50% miss for full concealment. can you still sneak attack something using those abilities? are they denied dex to ac? what about monsters that ONLY see through tremorsense, like purple worms? I'm a little unclear here.


Blindsight and Blindsense

It specifically calls otu Blindsense here as still being deniet it's Dex to AC bonus, so you can sneak attack those.
Blindsight is a bit more iffy, but since it says that invisibility for example is irrelevant to a creature like that, I'd say they don't lose Dex to AC just for not being able to see. Therefor just that alone would not grant you sneak attack

Tremorsense just lets you pinpoint the square, nothing more. Basicly you just "sense" where his feet touch the ground, but what his arms do etc you don't feel. So still blind, still denied dex bonus.

Scent is the same, just allows you to pinpoint the sqare. If blind, then yes, still denied dex bonus.

Purple Worms do have Darkvision too. So they can see, and if you manage to blind them, same as above.


Quatar wrote:

Blindsight and Blindsense

It specifically calls otu Blindsense here as still being deniet it's Dex to AC bonus, so you can sneak attack those.
Blindsight is a bit more iffy, but since it says that invisibility for example is irrelevant to a creature like that, I'd say they don't lose Dex to AC just for not being able to see. Therefor just that alone would not grant you sneak attack

Tremorsense just lets you pinpoint the square, nothing more. Basicly you just "sense" where his feet touch the ground, but what his arms do etc you don't feel. So still blind, still denied dex bonus.

Scent is the same, just allows you to pinpoint the sqare. If blind, then yes, still denied dex bonus.

Purple Worms do have Darkvision too. So they can see, and if you manage to blind them, same as above.

Scent actually says "pinpoints the source's location" which IMO would allow for dex bonus as well as negate the miss chance from concealment.

Probably a DM call though


As a GM I would not allow it. I dont know what the rule says, but my gut tells me that sneak attack is a specialized skill and that, like an assassin's death ability, you kind of need to be able to study your target and find a weakness. (IIRC, you need to be able to see your opponent to do a sneak attack.)

So yeah, while you still have the advantage of them being denied their DEX bonus, you don't get the extra advantage on top of that of extra damage. That is, in cases where they're not aware of you and so can't consciously avoid you.


Pinpoint only means you know which square they are in. Only blindsight gives allows you to keep your dex to AC if blinded.

You can sneak attack using blindsight alone, but not with the others if you can't see them.

Purple Worms also don't rely on tremor sense alone. They are not blind. They have regular sight and tremorsense.

If you are asking about what happens if the defender/victim has those abilities then only the one with blindsight gets to avoid sneak attack if his vision is impaired.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

that's what i meant. if the thing you're attacking has tremorsense or something, and cant see otherwise, you get sneak attack

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
PRD wrote:
Blindsense (Ex) Using nonvisual senses, such as acute smell or hearing, a creature with blindsense notices things it cannot see. The creature usually does not need to make Perception checks to pinpoint the location of a creature within range of its blindsense ability, provided that it has line of effect to that creature. Any opponent the creature cannot see still has total concealment against the creature with blindsense, and the creature still has the normal miss chance when attacking foes that have concealment. Visibility still affects the movement of a creature with blindsense. A creature with blindsense is still denied its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class against attacks from creatures it cannot see.

Opponent with Blindsense can still be Sneak Attacked.

PRD wrote:
Blindsight (Ex) This ability is similar to blindsense, but is far more discerning. Using nonvisual senses, such as sensitivity to vibrations, keen smell, acute hearing, or echolocation, a creature with blindsight maneuvers and fights as well as a sighted creature. Invisibility, darkness, and most kinds of concealment are irrelevant, though the creature must have line of effect to a creature or object to discern that creature or object. The ability's range is specified in the creature's descriptive text. The creature usually does not need to make Perception checks to notice creatures within range of its blindsight ability...

Opponents with Blindsight CANNOT be Sneak Attacked, though they can still be flanked and caught flat-footed.

PRD wrote:

Scent (Ex) This special quality allows a creature to detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell. Creatures with the scent ability can identify familiar odors just as humans do familiar sights.

The creature can detect opponents within 30 feet by sense of smell. If the opponent is upwind, the range increases to 60 feet; if downwind, it drops to 15 feet. Strong scents, such as smoke or rotting garbage, can be detected at twice the ranges noted above. Overpowering scents, such as skunk musk or troglodyte stench, can be detected at triple normal range.

When a creature detects a scent, the exact location of the source is not revealed—only its presence somewhere within range. The creature can take a move action to note the direction of the scent. When the creature is within 5 feet of the source, it pinpoints the source's location.

Not quite as cut and dry, but I'd say that without a reach weapon or a ranged weapon withing 30', a creature that has to get within 5' of an opponent w/ Scent is automatically detected, and therefore can't Sneak Attack. Here's where you get into vagaries, though, because I'd say being unseen isn't enough to provide Concealment vs. a creature with Scent; you'd need some way to conceal your smell or use Bluff to create a distraction or maybe use Hide in Plain Sight.

PRD wrote:
Tremorsense (Ex) A creature with tremorsense is sensitive to vibrations in the ground and can automatically pinpoint the location of anything that is in contact with the ground. Aquatic creatures with tremorsense can also sense the location of creatures moving through water...

"Pinpoint" is enough for me to say no Sneak Attack, just like in Scent above, only this one isn't limited to 5' away, so reach weapons are out too, though ranged weapons might work, depending on the range of the Tremorsense. Remember that you don't have to know exactly what the attacker is doing to foil a Sneak Attack, you just have to know he's there. I don't see why Bluff wouldn't work though. And wasn't there a feat once (3.5?) that allowed you to hide against creatures with Tremorsense?

Anyway, I'm no rules expert, but that's my take. Blindsense = yes, Blindsight = no, Scent and Tremorsense = maybe but probably not.


Pinpoint only lets you know the square. Pinpointing the location is just saying they are in a particular square. That is not the same as knowing how or where they are moving. If you know I am in a square that does not mean you know I am trying to stab you, and therefore you can't move out of the way.

Quote:

Invisibility

The ability to move about unseen is not foolproof. While they can't be seen, invisible creatures can be heard, smelled, or felt.

Invisibility makes a creature undetectable by vision, including darkvision.

Invisibility does not, by itself, make a creature immune to critical hits, but it does make the creature immune to extra damage from being a ranger's favored enemy and from sneak attacks.

A creature can generally notice the presence of an active invisible creature within 30 feet with a DC 20 Perception check. The observer gains a hunch that “something's there” but can't see it or target it accurately with an attack. It's practically impossible (+20 DC) to pinpoint an invisible creature's location with a Perception check. Even once a character has pinpointed the square that contains an invisible creature, the creature still benefits from total concealment (50% miss chance). There are a number of modifiers that can be applied to this DC if the invisible creature is moving or engaged in a noisy activity.

There you have it. Pinpointing does not negate miss chances. Unless the victim has blindsight they are still subject to sneak attack.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

From the Invisibility entry in the Glossary:

prd wrote:

A creature with the scent ability can detect an invisible creature as it would a visible one.

A creature with the Blind-Fight feat has a better chance to hit an invisible creature. Roll the miss chance twice, and he misses only if both rolls indicate a miss. (Alternatively, make one 25% miss chance roll rather than two 50% miss chance rolls.)

A creature with blindsight can attack (and otherwise interact with) creatures regardless of invisibility.

If an creature with Scent can detect an invisible foe as if it were visible, the pinpointing you can do with Scent seems better than regular pinpointing through Perception checks. There is no mention of Concealment when Scent specifically interacts with Invisibility.

The problem is an inconsistent use of the term "pinpointing." I'm totally willing to grant that a Perception check to find an invisible guy still comes with a 50% miss-chance - he's still invisible after all. But both Scent and Invisibility say that Scent works like sight, and if you're smelt, you're "seen." Perception seems to pinpoint a square, and thus continues to grant Concealment, but Scent and Tremorsense seem to pinpoint an exact location, which does not seem to grant Concealment. And no Concealment, no Sneak Attack.

Some of this started getting worked out with the Stealth re-write that never quite happened, which introduced the Hidden condition. Too bad that languishes in Limbo.

Star Voter 2014

Basically, if it says "blah blah - sense" its a powerful secondary sense that lets it have a general idea of whats going on, but is by no means as accurate as a 20/20 vision equivalent.

If it says "blah blah -sight" then it is as accurate as a 20/20 vision equivalent.

Unless of course the ability specifically calls out a different interpretation.... rendering my explanation horribly flawed... dag nabbit Lifesense....

+1 on Pinpointing simply being knowledge of what square they occupy, not their exact position within it.


Mosaic wrote:

From the Invisibility entry in the Glossary:

prd wrote:

A creature with the scent ability can detect an invisible creature as it would a visible one.

A creature with the Blind-Fight feat has a better chance to hit an invisible creature. Roll the miss chance twice, and he misses only if both rolls indicate a miss. (Alternatively, make one 25% miss chance roll rather than two 50% miss chance rolls.)

A creature with blindsight can attack (and otherwise interact with) creatures regardless of invisibility.

If an creature with Scent can detect an invisible foe as if it were visible, the pinpointing you can do with Scent seems better than regular pinpointing through Perception checks. There is no mention of Concealment when Scent specifically interacts with Invisibility.

The problem is an inconsistent use of the term "pinpointing." I'm totally willing to grant that a Perception check to find an invisible guy still comes with a 50% miss-chance - he's still invisible after all. But both Scent and Invisibility say that Scent works like sight, and if you're smelt, you're "seen." Perception seems to pinpoint a square, and thus continues to grant Concealment, but Scent and Tremorsense seem to pinpoint an exact location, which does not seem to grant Concealment. And no Concealment, no Sneak Attack.

Some of this started getting worked out with the Stealth re-write that never quite happened, which introduced the Hidden condition. Too bad that languishes in Limbo.

Scent allows you to detect invisible and visible foes the same. -->It leads you to their square. Detecting(knowing it is there) does not mean you can react to it as though it were visible.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hmm. I read "detect in invisible as if it were visible" to mean it can see you unless you're hidden/stealthed. Only it's seeing with its nose or through vibrations. I believe you can hide/stealth from Scent and Tremorsense, but you've got to actively do it, otherwise they just notice you once you're withing range. And if it can "see" you, why would you have Concealment?

It certainly would be easier if they were all consistent, but I dont see anything saying the quality of perception is inferior via Scent or Tremorsense than via visual. To me at least, the text suggests they are equal. Notice how Blindsense specifically calls out that Concealment is still granted and you're denied Dex bonus to AC. Scent and Tremorsense don't make that specific call out. What I'm reading is that within 5', Scent = sight and within its specified range, Tremorsense = sight.

I'm not trying to be obstinate and will be willing to change my opinion if someone can help me connect the dot, but I'm not seeing it yet.

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