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Can I sneak attack with an attack that does no damage?


Rules Questions

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

As title. In particular, was thinking about the Knowledge Domain's Lore Keeper (Sp). Can I combine a touch attack that deals no damage with Sneak attack?


No, sneak attack is "extra damage" that is added to the damage of an attack. It amplifies existing damage similar to critical hits, it doesn't apply to an attack that doesn't do damage.


Yeah, that's a sticky wicket. I have an idea that per RAW, you should score SAD even if your attack does no damage,

Rogue, Sneak Attack wrote:
The rogue’s attack deals extra damage anytime her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the rogue flanks her target.

and 0 + 1d6 = 1d6, not 0.

but I have never, ever heard anybody try to defend that point or play it that way.

I wouldn't.


In 3.5 that would be a firm No, but have not been able to find the relevant rule in Pathfinder.


Scott Wilhelm wrote:

Yeah, that's a sticky wicket. I have an idea that per RAW, you should score SAD even if your attack does no damage,

Rogue, Sneak Attack wrote:
The rogue’s attack deals extra damage anytime her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the rogue flanks her target.

and 0 + 1d6 = 1d6, not 0.

but I have never, ever heard anybody try to defend that point or play it that way.

I wouldn't.

I don't think it would be allowed RAW as there is no damage type to do extra damage with. A sneak attack's damage type is the same as the attack's damage type. If you sneak attack with shocking grasp than your sneak attack does electricity damage, if you sneak attack with a rapier than your sneak attack does piercing damage, etc.

An attack that does no damage has no damage type with which to do sneak attack.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Here's a quote from Jason Bulmahn. In it, he's referring to whether or not an attack with sneak attack can overcome DR if the base attack damage doesn't overcome the DR. So like a dagger dealing 1d4 piercing damage plus 3d6 sneak attack is considered one effect for overcoming DR/5 bludgeoning. There was a thought at one time that since the 1d4 can't get through DR, not sneak attack damage was dealt. Possibly a throwback to 3.5? Anyway:

Jason Bulmahn wrote:

DR does not negate sneak attack damage. The sneak attack damage is not a special effect that accompanies the attack, it is part of the damage roll.

Hope that clears it up.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

So it is part of the damage roll. To me that supports the idea that if there is no damage roll, there is no sneak attack.

For full citation, the post was from 2010 before the FAQ system was up and running. Bulmahn even calls this post out in a second post as something that would be perfect for the FAQ system. But then it never made it in (I don't think it did, anyway).


sneak attack is precision damage not the type of the weapon.


vhok wrote:
sneak attack is precision damage not the type of the weapon.

So if my Rogue attacks something that has DR5/piercing with a shortsword and also gets 1d6 sneak attack damage and I roll a 1 on the shortsword dice and a 4 on the sneak attack dice, how much damage do I do?

If the answer isn't 5, then
What if I had rolled a 6 on the sneak attack dice instead?
What about if I roll a 5 on both dice?

Scarab Sages

So overwhelming consensus that the answer is "no," but no one has any clue where this is found in the rules? Lol.

Sounds like a good enough answer, I'd much rather have a rules quote, but that'll have to do. Thanks for the help.

Silver Crusade

You cant do sneak attack with an attack does no damage (like an Arcane Mark touch attack from the spell).

If you sneak attack with a sword and enemy is DR5. You will roll the damage (weapon+sneak+str+magic+feat+etc) and later reduce it from total.

Silver Crusade

In the rules sneak attack is "extra damage" like flaming weapon or others.

Add sneak if you will add flaming weapon. But when sneak explicity cant. (By rules for concealment, no anatomy, etc)

No put extra limits to sneak attack


Murdock Mudeater wrote:

So overwhelming consensus that the answer is "no," but no one has any clue where this is found in the rules? Lol.

Sounds like a good enough answer, I'd much rather have a rules quote, but that'll have to do. Thanks for the help.

From prior threads it seems to revolve around the wording of sneak attack doing "extra" damage, and you having to have some amount of something before you can have extra. It's not the best justification to my mind, but it does well enough given that I think most people have an aversion to the alternative, which is "I touched you so lightly that ordinarily you would suffer no ill effects whatsoever, but I'm a Rogue, so have some crippling organ failure and a wound that wont stop bleeding instead"


vagabond_666 wrote:
Murdock Mudeater wrote:

So overwhelming consensus that the answer is "no," but no one has any clue where this is found in the rules? Lol.

Sounds like a good enough answer, I'd much rather have a rules quote, but that'll have to do. Thanks for the help.

From prior threads it seems to revolve around the wording of sneak attack doing "extra" damage, and you having to have some amount of something before you can have extra. It's not the best justification to my mind, but it does well enough given that I think most people have an aversion to the alternative, which is "I touched you so lightly that ordinarily you would suffer no ill effects whatsoever, but I'm a Rogue, so have some crippling organ failure and a wound that wont stop bleeding instead"

I actually really like that image, it's all vulcan-nerve-pinch and five-finger-death-touch...

It requires a slightly different flavour for sneak attack though, rather than I stab you extra good, it becomes "I applied just enough pressure to a pressure point that I disabled your heart."


J4RH34D wrote:
vagabond_666 wrote:
Murdock Mudeater wrote:

So overwhelming consensus that the answer is "no," but no one has any clue where this is found in the rules? Lol.

Sounds like a good enough answer, I'd much rather have a rules quote, but that'll have to do. Thanks for the help.

From prior threads it seems to revolve around the wording of sneak attack doing "extra" damage, and you having to have some amount of something before you can have extra. It's not the best justification to my mind, but it does well enough given that I think most people have an aversion to the alternative, which is "I touched you so lightly that ordinarily you would suffer no ill effects whatsoever, but I'm a Rogue, so have some crippling organ failure and a wound that wont stop bleeding instead"

I actually really like that image, it's all vulcan-nerve-pinch and five-finger-death-touch...

It requires a slightly different flavour for sneak attack though, rather than I stab you extra good, it becomes "I applied just enough pressure to a pressure point that I disabled your heart."

That is how the monk death touch thing is suppose to work.


vagabond_666 wrote:
vhok wrote:
sneak attack is precision damage not the type of the weapon.

So if my Rogue attacks something that has DR5/piercing with a shortsword and also gets 1d6 sneak attack damage and I roll a 1 on the shortsword dice and a 4 on the sneak attack dice, how much damage do I do?

If the answer isn't 5, then
What if I had rolled a 6 on the sneak attack dice instead?
What about if I roll a 5 on both dice?

vs dr 5 piercing you would do 1 damage with a 1 on the sword and a 4 on the dice as the sword is piercing damage but the sneak is precision, same thing if you have a flaming short sword and attack a guy that has resist fire 5 your flaming would have to overcome the resist before hitting him but the weapon itself would not as it is not fire but piercing.

if its a 5 on both dice you would do 5 damage, the short swords damage gets to ignore the DR/5 piercing, but your sneak would still have to get through it as it is precision damage.

Silver Crusade

Sneak attack is SAME type of attack from its come (fire if searing ray, piercing from shortsword, etc) and is added to the damage before the resistances or reduction.

"Presicion" just nerf the bonus, cant multiply on crit anx cant afect some beings


show me in sneak where it says sneak is slashing piercing or bludgeoning based on your weapons. that is not how it works


vhok wrote:
sneak attack is precision damage not the type of the weapon.

Precision is a damage modifier, not a damage type. The damage type is the same as the attack that is being modified.


Might I ask what type of damage sneak attack does then?


Vidmaster7 wrote:
Might I ask what type of damage sneak attack does then?
Volkard Abendroth wrote:
Precision is a damage modifier, not a damage type. The damage type is the same as the attack that is being modified.


Volkard Abendroth wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Might I ask what type of damage sneak attack does then?
Volkard Abendroth wrote:
Precision is a damage modifier, not a damage type. The damage type is the same as the attack that is being modified.

I know I actually was being sarcastic sorry that wasn't apparent and it was to the comment above yours.

Scarab Sages

vhok wrote:
vagabond_666 wrote:
vhok wrote:
sneak attack is precision damage not the type of the weapon.

So if my Rogue attacks something that has DR5/piercing with a shortsword and also gets 1d6 sneak attack damage and I roll a 1 on the shortsword dice and a 4 on the sneak attack dice, how much damage do I do?

If the answer isn't 5, then
What if I had rolled a 6 on the sneak attack dice instead?
What about if I roll a 5 on both dice?

vs dr 5 piercing you would do 1 damage with a 1 on the sword and a 4 on the dice as the sword is piercing damage but the sneak is precision, same thing if you have a flaming short sword and attack a guy that has resist fire 5 your flaming would have to overcome the resist before hitting him but the weapon itself would not as it is not fire but piercing.

if its a 5 on both dice you would do 5 damage, the short swords damage gets to ignore the DR/5 piercing, but your sneak would still have to get through it as it is precision damage.

So directly above your first post in the thread, I quoted Jason Bulmahn (the lead designer for the game) saying that this is not how it works. You add the sneak attack damage before taking out DR.

You would deal full damage in all of those scenarios, because the attack is piercing. Sneak attack is not a separate effect. Here is the quote again.

Jason Bulmahn wrote:

DR does not negate sneak attack damage. The sneak attack damage is not a special effect that accompanies the attack, it is part of the damage roll.

Hope that clears it up.
Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

EDIT: LINK so that you can see his post in context.


vhok wrote:
show me in sneak where it says sneak is slashing piercing or bludgeoning based on your weapons.

It doesn't say that in the rules, but developer commentary tells us that's what it's supposed to be. Does it say in the rules that the damage bonus from Strength is slashing/piercing/bludgeoning?

If you stab someone with a rapier, and do extra precision damage, then as long as your target isn't immune to precision damage, it's just added on to the damage of your attack, same as any other damage bonus. Which means you take piercing damage from being sneak-attacked with a rapier, which makes sense, because what else would it be?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Have to agree with Sneak being the same type of damage as the source. Precision Damage can be adjusted or negated, regardless of the type of damage, by magic items or simply being a creature immune to critical hits.

Two sneakers gang up flanking a foe with DR 5/Bludgeoning. One has a war hammer, one has a rapier, the both roll 3 on the weapon attack and 5 on the sneak. The hammer does 8, the rapier does 3.

If the foe was also immune to critical hits, or had an ability or item that has a chance to negate precision damage and succeeded against both attacks, the hammer does 3 and the rapier does nothing.


The Director of Game Design sounds fairly definitive on the matter. Thanks, Ferious Thune.


Definitely not being sarcastic wrote:


I know I actually was being sarcastic

Or where you?


toastedamphibian wrote:
Definitely not being sarcastic wrote:


I know I actually was being sarcastic
Or where you?

I mean I did use my I'm being sarcastic alias!

The one I made to make it obvious that I'm being sarcastic!


But you also used your Definetly not being sarcastic alias to claim that you were being sarcastic. Like saying everything you say is a lie. Sarcastically saying that you're being sarcastic is self defeating.


So this is like a double negative thing? basically should not of used same alias for the clarification post.


skipped most of the posts to just poit out..
if you're tryign to get a touch attack.. there is that ice rod that gives you a melee touch attack doign Ice. good for the DR guy.
Though then you hit the issue of "standard action to use it with a free touch attack. Or does it simply give you an option to use it" WIth me being in the latter camp (that it is like any weapon, no activation with a free attack-as it doesn't state that.. so I feel like it just gives you the option as if it was a normal attack) MMV


You use the rod to make the touch attack, so it wouldn't apply to other touch attacks (unless you have spellstrike or other ability to channel touch attacks through a weapon).


Quote:

The numerical part of a creature’s damage reduction (or DR) is the amount of damage the creature ignores from normal attacks. Usually, a certain type of weapon can overcome this reduction (see Overcoming DR). This information is separated from the damage reduction number by a slash. For example, DR 5/magic means that a creature takes 5 less points of damage from all weapons that are not magic. If a dash follows the slash, then the damage reduction is effective against any attack that does not ignore damage reduction.

Whenever damage reduction completely negates the damage from an attack, it also negates most special effects that accompany the attack, such as injury poison, a monk’s stunning, and injury-based disease. Damage Reduction does not negate touch attacks, energy damage dealt along with an attack, or energy drains. Nor does it affect poisons or diseases delivered by inhalation, ingestion, or contact.

Attacks that deal no damage because of the target’s damage reduction do not disrupt spells.

Spells, spell-like abilities, and energy attacks (even non-magical fire) ignore damage reduction.

damage reduction represents instant healing. Sometimes it represents the creature’s tough hide or body. In either case, other characters can see that conventional attacks won’t work.

If a creature has damage reduction from more than one source, the two forms of damage reduction do not stack. Instead, the creature gets the benefit of the best damage reduction in a given situation

I have included the relevant rules to go along with the developer comments provided above. Extra damage is not in the list of things Dr stops, energy damage, a form of extra damage ,is not stopped and some Dr represent healing not not taking damage in the first place.

The only thing I see that could even support the other side of the argument is "such as" but that seems like a weaker argument compared to what I have illustrated.


Grandlounge wrote:
Quote:

The numerical part of a creature’s damage reduction (or DR) is the amount of damage the creature ignores from normal attacks. Usually, a certain type of weapon can overcome this reduction (see Overcoming DR). This information is separated from the damage reduction number by a slash. For example, DR 5/magic means that a creature takes 5 less points of damage from all weapons that are not magic. If a dash follows the slash, then the damage reduction is effective against any attack that does not ignore damage reduction.

Whenever damage reduction completely negates the damage from an attack, it also negates most special effects that accompany the attack, such as injury poison, a monk’s stunning, and injury-based disease. Damage Reduction does not negate touch attacks, energy damage dealt along with an attack, or energy drains. Nor does it affect poisons or diseases delivered by inhalation, ingestion, or contact.

Attacks that deal no damage because of the target’s damage reduction do not disrupt spells.

Spells, spell-like abilities, and energy attacks (even non-magical fire) ignore damage reduction.

damage reduction represents instant healing. Sometimes it represents the creature’s tough hide or body. In either case, other characters can see that conventional attacks won’t work.

If a creature has damage reduction from more than one source, the two forms of damage reduction do not stack. Instead, the creature gets the benefit of the best damage reduction in a given situation

I have included the relevant rules to go along with the developer comments provided above. Extra damage is not in the list of things Dr stops, energy damage, a form of extra damage ,is not stopped and some Dr represent healing not not taking damage in the first place.

The only thing I see that could even support the other side of the argument is "such as" but that seems like a weaker argument compared to what I have illustrated.

Extra damage is not listed becsause "extra damage" is not a damage type. It is a modifier to existing damage.

Energy Damage is not "Extra Damage". Energy damage is broken down into distinct damage types and is frequently the base damage type inflicted by an attack. E.g. the fire damage (specific type) dealt by a Fireball is not "extra".

Energy damage that is attached to another attack, e.g. the flaming property, is not affected by DR, but is reduced by fire resistance. (Per general rules on DR and resistance.)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
toastedamphibian wrote:
In 3.5 that would be a firm No, but have not been able to find the relevant rule in Pathfinder.

Core 3.5 maybe, but they did rule that sneak attack added damage to certain things later on, such as an enervation spell getting sneak attack dice as extra negative energy damage. I'll have to see if I can find a citation.

Edit: Citation is Complete Arcane pg86.


Vidmaster7 wrote:
toastedamphibian wrote:
Definitely not being sarcastic wrote:


I know I actually was being sarcastic
Or where you?

I mean I did use my I'm being sarcastic alias!

The one I made to make it obvious that I'm being sarcastic!

Multiple sarcasms... lucky, lucky guy...


Volkard Abendroth wrote:

Extra damage is not listed becsause "extra damage" is not a damage type. It is a modifier to existing damage.

Energy Damage is not "Extra Damage". Energy damage is broken down into distinct damage types and is frequently the base damage type inflicted by an attack. E.g. the fire damage (specific type) dealt by a Fireball is not "extra".
Energy damage that is attached to another attack, e.g. the flaming property, is not affected by DR, but is reduced by fire resistance. (Per general rules on DR and resistance.)

The rules state there are some effects that have no effect when weapon damage goes to zero as a result of dr. This has nothing to do with damage type. A monks class ability is a special effect that does not work when you do no damage. The rogues class ability, sneak attack, is not on this list. Similarly, something like flaming (extra damage) is a special effect not listed as being excluded by doing zero damage from Dr but even if the sword it is on does nothing it is still not exclude from having an effect by the Dr rules.

Obviously, the damage is not reduced by Dr. Bold in it with out further explanation was confusing and unclear sorry about that. Thinking about it it was silly to bold it at all.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Murdock Mudeater wrote:
As title. In particular, was thinking about the Knowledge Domain's Lore Keeper (Sp). Can I combine a touch attack that deals no damage with Sneak attack?

No. Sneak attack increases the damage of an attack. If there's nothing to increase, there's no sneak attack.


The original attack has to be able to do damage. As an example you could not add sneak attack damage to bestow curse because bestow curse does not do damage on it's own.


TriOmegaZero wrote:

Core 3.5 maybe, but they did rule that sneak attack added damage to certain things later on, such as an enervation spell getting

Ability Damage, Ability Drain, and Negative Levels (I think) where technically damage in 3.5. The rule you mention was intended to stop a "1d3 strength damage" attack from becoming a "1d3+5d6+5 strength damage" attack.

In such instances the extra damage was negative energy hp damage, not extra ability damage.

The attack still had to be one that dealt "damage".

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

That is what I said, yes.


Not quite. The question was about spells that do not deal damage getting sneak attack. You responded to clarify the type of damafe dealt by some spells, but the spells you are talking about are not spells that "do not deal damage".

You attempted to correct my statement, my statement was already correct.

You also implied that there where rules in 3.5 for non damaging spells to deal sneak attack damage. There are not.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Typically when people say "damage" they mean hit point damage. He acknowledged that, and then went on to explain the later rule that also let other damage that was not hit point damage also count. He just didnt spell it out. He also thought you meant "hit point damage" only because, as mentioned, if you search these boards and you see the word "damage" they are talking about hit point damage 99% of the time. Many don't even count ability damage as damage. You have to specifically say "ability point damage" or the idea will default to "hit point" damage.


Ah. A good reason to clarify then.


Gallant Armor wrote:
You use the rod to make the touch attack, so it wouldn't apply to other touch attacks (unless you have spellstrike or other ability to channel touch attacks through a weapon).

neither here nor there for this thread. but I meant using it as a touch attack for all your bab attacks. Not having that rod's daamge buff anything else. (depends on the folks reading it as standard to activate the melee touch attack. or if it is an always active item without an activation, and is used to make melee touch attacks as per normal attacks)

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