Conditions that allow Sneak Attacks


Rules Questions


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I was just going through Sneak Attack rules and got into a bit of a tussle over the wording.
RAW is "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."

Now I've always taken that to mean a condition that reduces a target's Dex bonus to AC for example Entangled gives a -4 to Dex.
In discussion I find that most people take it to mean that the sentence should be read "would be denied its Dexterity bonus etc"

So I had a look through conditions and made the following list

Blinded
Cowering

Entangled?
Exhausted?
Fatigued?
Grappled?
Helpless
Invisible
(Attacker not target)
Paralyzed (Helpless)
Pinned
Stunned
Unconscious
(Helpless)

And of course Flatfooted from Surprise.

Bold are where the formula loses/denied its Dex bonus to AC is used, except Helpless where it is explicitly stated that Sneak Attack can be used.
The others all include penalties to Dex (up to -6) but don't use that formula or mention Sneak.

Assuming my original premise was incorrect does anyone know of any more conditions that use the correct formula/mention Sneak Attack/render you Flatfooted?


This might be summed up under the condition of flatfooted, but I believe when a character is using the acrobatics skill to maneuver over a difficult surface (such as a narrow plank) the character loses its dexterity bonus to AC. This is potentially meaningful because the grease spell creates a slippery surface which requires acrobatics checks to move across at a certain speed. So depending on how you read it, I believe the grease spell can create a situation where a creature loses its dex to AC.

Using the Run action also loses dex to AC, but if something is running (unless it triggers an AOO in the process) it's probably too far away for the rogue to capitalize on such a condition.


Nice! The Grease one follows logically, especially as the description contains a proviso of not being Flatfooted if you don't try to move.

You might get a ranged Sneak in on the runner with a held initiative


PRD, definition of AC bonus wrote:
If you can't react to a blow, you can't use your Dexterity bonus to AC.

Paizo specifies in condition definitions that Dex bonus is denied vs a modified Dex bonus. Even if your Dex is -4 due to entanglement, you can still move and thus react to a blow. Fatigued is similar. Give the benefit of the doubt to the person who would be on the receiving end of the sneak attack, because SA can be devastating.

As you noted, running, greased+moving, and tumbling characters are perfectly elegible for sneak damage.

Also, climbing: "While climbing, you can't move to avoid a blow, so you lose your Dexterity bonus to AC (if any)." But not flying: "You are not considered flat-footed while flying."

You know, I've read that sneak attack description a thousand times and never noticed the wording or that it might be confusing. What fun! Since I'm building a rogue PC for the first time since Pathfinder came out!, it's very handy to have this little reference. I hope other people find more such conditions. LOTS more!

EDIT: If you really want to have some fun, figure out who is denied Reflex saves.


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Helpless Defenders section in Combat states that a Helpless foe is also Flat-footed.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I had tried to bring out a hidden weapon to sneak with while grappled. Not sure why my Archtype would have such a loaded skill to allow this and not be able to sneak with it, but that is what my GM said at the table. I do need quick draw to do it in the same turn, but otherwise I am confused as to why this wouldn't work.


Treppa wrote:
PRD, definition of AC bonus wrote:
If you can't react to a blow, you can't use your Dexterity bonus to AC.

Paizo specifies in condition definitions that Dex bonus is denied vs a modified Dex bonus. Even if your Dex is -4 due to entanglement, you can still move and thus react to a blow. Fatigued is similar. Give the benefit of the doubt to the person who would be on the receiving end of the sneak attack, because SA can be devastating.

As you noted, running, greased+moving, and tumbling characters are perfectly elegible for sneak damage.

Also, climbing: "While climbing, you can't move to avoid a blow, so you lose your Dexterity bonus to AC (if any)." But not flying: "You are not considered flat-footed while flying."

You know, I've read that sneak attack description a thousand times and never noticed the wording or that it might be confusing. What fun! Since I'm building a rogue PC for the first time since Pathfinder came out!, it's very handy to have this little reference. I hope other people find more such conditions. LOTS more!

EDIT: If you really want to have some fun, figure out who is denied Reflex saves.

I agree that I was incorrect and your explanation of why is excellent.

Why when tumbling? In addition, you can move through a threatened square without provoking an attack of opportunity from an enemy by using Acrobatics. When moving in this way, you move at half speed. You can move at full speed by increasing the DC of the check by 10. You cannot use Acrobatics to move past foes if your speed is reduced due to carrying a medium or heavy load or wearing medium or heavy armor. If an ability allows you to move at full speed under such conditions, you can use Acrobatics to move past foes. You can use Acrobatics in this way while prone, but doing so requires a full-round action to move 5 feet, and the DC is increased by 5. If you attempt to move though an enemy's space and fail the check, you lose the move action and provoke an attack of opportunity.
No mention of being flat-footed in the description?


thaX wrote:
I had tried to bring out a hidden weapon to sneak with while grappled. Not sure why my Archtype would have such a loaded skill to allow this and not be able to sneak with it, but that is what my GM said at the table. I do need quick draw to do it in the same turn, but otherwise I am confused as to why this wouldn't work.

What was the Archetype?


CountofUndolpho wrote:


Why when tumbling?

You're right; the only mention in Acrobatics is when you're traversing a narrow ledge, and it's specific to 'when you use Acrobatics in this way'. I need to read more carefully.


CountofUndolpho wrote:
Treppa wrote:
PRD, definition of AC bonus wrote:
If you can't react to a blow, you can't use your Dexterity bonus to AC.

Paizo specifies in condition definitions that Dex bonus is denied vs a modified Dex bonus. Even if your Dex is -4 due to entanglement, you can still move and thus react to a blow. Fatigued is similar. Give the benefit of the doubt to the person who would be on the receiving end of the sneak attack, because SA can be devastating.

As you noted, running, greased+moving, and tumbling characters are perfectly elegible for sneak damage.

Also, climbing: "While climbing, you can't move to avoid a blow, so you lose your Dexterity bonus to AC (if any)." But not flying: "You are not considered flat-footed while flying."

You know, I've read that sneak attack description a thousand times and never noticed the wording or that it might be confusing. What fun! Since I'm building a rogue PC for the first time since Pathfinder came out!, it's very handy to have this little reference. I hope other people find more such conditions. LOTS more!

EDIT: If you really want to have some fun, figure out who is denied Reflex saves.

I agree that I was incorrect and your explanation of why is excellent.

Why when tumbling? In addition, you can move through a threatened square without provoking an attack of opportunity from an enemy by using Acrobatics. When moving in this way, you move at half speed. You can move at full speed by increasing the DC of the check by 10. You cannot use Acrobatics to move past foes if your speed is reduced due to carrying a medium or heavy load or wearing medium or heavy armor. If an ability allows you to move at full speed under such conditions, you can use Acrobatics to move past foes. You can use Acrobatics in this way while prone, but doing so requires a full-round action to move 5 feet, and the DC is increased by 5. If you attempt to move though an...

The tumbling use of acrobatics does not make someone lose dex to AC. The use of the skill to balance yourself does.


thaX wrote:
I had tried to bring out a hidden weapon to sneak with while grappled. Not sure why my Archtype would have such a loaded skill to allow this and not be able to sneak with it, but that is what my GM said at the table. I do need quick draw to do it in the same turn, but otherwise I am confused as to why this wouldn't work.

You may have been out of actions. That is the only reason I can think of.

How did your turn go from beginning to end?

Was the opponent grappled before you started that turn?


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Another one Squeezing through a space that is less than half the size of your usual space.
"To squeeze through or into a space less than half your space's width, you must use the Escape Artist skill. You can't attack while using Escape Artist to squeeze through or into a narrow space, you take a –4 penalty to AC, and you lose any Dexterity bonus to AC."


PRD wrote:
1 Creatures flailing about in the water (usually because they failed their Swim checks) have a hard time fighting effectively. An off-balance creature loses its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class, and opponents gain a +2 bonus on attacks against it.


Oh, of course, feinting:

PRD wrote:

Greater Feint (Combat)

You are skilled at making foes overreact to your attacks.
Prerequisites: Combat Expertise, Improved Feint, base attack bonus +6, Int 13.
Benefit: Whenever you use feint to cause an opponent to lose his Dexterity bonus, he loses that bonus until the beginning of your next turn, in addition to losing his Dexterity bonus against your next attack.


Treppa wrote:
PRD, definition of AC bonus wrote:
If you can't react to a blow, you can't use your Dexterity bonus to AC.
Paizo specifies in condition definitions that Dex bonus is denied vs a modified Dex bonus. Even if your Dex is -4 due to entanglement, you can still move and thus react to a blow.

Even when that Dex Mod gets reduced to 0 or less. Reducing someone's Dex Mod to 0 is not the same thing as denying them their dex bonus. I was annoyed when I found that out.


The rules use two terms for receives no Dex bonus to AC.

c.f. Tables: Attack Roll Modifiers & Armor Class Modifiers

"2 (or 1) The defender loses any Dexterity bonus to AC."
and "3 The defender is denied his Dexterity bonus to his Armor Class."

Which if we were working from those tables and the wording of Sneak Attack would mean that Flat-footed doesn't allow Sneak as it is "loses" not "denied".

In fact the only circumstances where the term denied is used are Pinned and Helpless.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

It is the Archtype that turns Dagger sneaks into D8's. I also have a trait that adds to it.

I was grappled and had the small Karimbit in my Adventurer's Sash.


CountofUndolpho wrote:
Which if we were working from those tables and the wording of Sneak Attack would mean that Flat-footed doesn't allow Sneak as it is "loses" not "denied".

This is fairly pedantic, as we have numerous instances of FF being called out as vulnerable to SA

Scout(Rogue archetype) wrote:

Scout's Charge (Ex): At 4th level, whenever a scout makes a charge, her attack deals sneak attack damage as if the target were flat-footed. Foes with uncanny dodge are immune to this ability. This ability replaces uncanny dodge.

Skirmisher (Ex): At 8th level, whenever a scout moves more than 10 feet in a round and makes an attack action, the attack deals sneak attack damage as if the target was flat-footed. If the scout makes more than one attack this turn, this ability only applies to the first attack. Foes with uncanny dodge are immune to this ability. This ability replaces improved uncanny dodge.

To add to your list:

Climb wrote:
You need both hands free to climb, but you may cling to a wall with one hand while you cast a spell or take some other action that requires only one hand. While climbing, you can't move to avoid a blow, so you lose your Dexterity bonus to AC (if any). You also can't use a shield while climbing. Anytime you take damage while climbing, make a Climb check against the DC of the slope or wall. Failure means you fall from your current height and sustain the appropriate falling damage.


Archaeik wrote:
CountofUndolpho wrote:
Which if we were working from those tables and the wording of Sneak Attack would mean that Flat-footed doesn't allow Sneak as it is "loses" not "denied".

This is fairly pedantic, as we have numerous instances of FF being called out as vulnerable to SA

Yes it is pedantic but that was the point. RAW according to those tables as opposed to RAI as is played.

We got climbing but not the Scout.


thaX wrote:

It is the Archetype that turns Dagger sneaks into D8's. I also have a trait that adds to it.

I was grappled and had the small Karambit in my Adventurer's Sash.

Ah it wouldn't work because grappled doesn't deny you Dex to AC just reduces Dex itself. Nothing in that Archetype to sidestep that I'm afraid.


CountofUndolpho wrote:
thaX wrote:

It is the Archetype that turns Dagger sneaks into D8's. I also have a trait that adds to it.

I was grappled and had the small Karambit in my Adventurer's Sash.

Ah it wouldn't work because grappled doesn't deny you Dex to AC just reduces Dex itself. Nothing in that Archetype to sidestep that I'm afraid.

I think he's under the impression that attacking with a weapon your opponent doesn't know about causes them to be denied dex; but this is not the case.

I'm very curious how he starts a round grappled but not in combat? (which is what I suspect it would take to employ Underhanded in this situation)


I didn't see this listed yet (from UC)

Strangler (Combat) wrote:

Throttling the life out of enemies is second nature to you.

Prerequisites: Dex 13, sneak attack +1d6, Improved Grapple, Improved Unarmed Strike.

Benefit: Whenever you successfully maintain a grapple and choose to deal damage, you can spend a swift action to deal your sneak attack damage to the creature you are grappling.


Updated list of conditions that allow for Sneak Attacks

Blinded 
Cowering 
Helpless 
Invisible (Attacker not target) 
Paralyzed (Helpless) 
Pinned 
Stunned 
Unconscious (Helpless)
Flat-footed
Acrobatics move on narrow ledge/slippery surface
Climbing
Running
Squeezing using Escape Artist
Feint if successful
Swim (failed result)
Scout Archetype - Scout's Charge & Skirmisher allow sneak

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Using Slight of Hand, though the GM said that doesn't give me sneak. It is murky waters as to the intent of the skill in relation to getting out the weapon previously unknown about. If it doesn't provide sneak, what is the point?


It could provide Surprise, in the right circumstances, and therefore render the enemy Flat-footed. As you are being Grappled I doubt it would cause surprise - he knows you are there and that you will be trying to respond.

Grand Lodge

I would vote that pulling a knife in the middle of a grapple would be a surprise. You are expecting a fist but find a knife instead. or even slight of hand with your fist, its like making the opponent look somewhere else then hit them with an upper cut they were expecting to be a round house.


In this case, surprise has a game definition and is not used colloquially.

Grand Lodge

Surprise
When a combat starts, if you are not aware of your opponents and they are aware of you, you're surprised.

Sometimes all the combatants on a side are aware of their opponents, sometimes none are, and sometimes only some of them are. Sometimes a few combatants on each side are aware and the other combatants on each side are unaware.

Determining awareness may call for Perception checks or other checks.

The Surprise Round: If some but not all of the combatants are aware of their opponents, a surprise round happens before regular rounds begin. In initiative order (highest to lowest), combatants who started the battle aware of their opponents each take a standard or move action during the surprise round. You can also take free actions during the surprise round. If no one or everyone is surprised, no surprise round occurs.

Unaware Combatants: Combatants who are unaware at the start of battle don't get to act in the surprise round. Unaware combatants are flat-footed because they have not acted yet, so they lose any Dexterity bonus to AC.

Those are the rules for Surprise. I do not think that using Slight of Hand will suddenly make an opponent unaware that you are there. While the opponent might be alarmed, or shocked, that you would pull a weapon he was not expecting, he is still on his guard and in a defensive position against you.


Initiative and therefore Surprise only occurs as combat starts. For me if the beginning of Combat was the pulling of a concealed weapon that's what the awareness test would be on. If someone was on his guard and in a defensive position I would give them a circumstance bonus. Not RAW I know but RAI in my games.

If I was waiting at a door with the intention of attacking the next person who entered. I would still do Initiative and then Awareness to determine surprise, with a circumstance bonus, same sort of thing really.


Treppa wrote:
If you really want to have some fun, figure out who is denied Reflex saves.

No-one is ever denied a Reflex save. Sleeping/immobile/helpless targets effectively have a Dex of 0, which gives a -5 modifier. This is added to the class bonus and other bonuses (Resistance, etc.). A natural 20 is always successful.


CountofUndolpho wrote:

Initiative and therefore Surprise only occurs as combat starts. For me if the beginning of Combat was the pulling of a concealed weapon that's what the awareness test would be on. If someone was on his guard and in a defensive position I would give them a circumstance bonus. Not RAW I know but RAI in my games.

If I was waiting at a door with the intention of attacking the next person who entered. I would still do Initiative and then Awareness to determine surprise, with a circumstance bonus, same sort of thing really.

However, your grappler had already acted, and thus is no longer flat footed. Unless the ability specifically calls out as granting sneak attack as part of its ability, you do get it. Since no one has provided a link, I would assume the ability lets you get a weapon in hand without the opponent knowing it. Since you could have struck unarmed, the appearance of a weapon does not change their ability to defend.

Providing class feature names, feat names, and trait names will help everyone know what exactly you have. Links are even better.

/cevah

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