Total Concealment Sneak Attack?

Rules Questions

Silver Crusade

If I have total concealment as a rogue, such as being in a fog cloud spell with a Goz mask on, does that allow for sneak attacks?

I know there have been many discussions over in the Rules questions over it, but I didn't know how PFS feels about it

PFS feels the same way about it as the regular rules. This is pretty cut and dry yes

Silver Crusade

Can you point out where it is cut and dry?

My understanding is that sneak attack requires denied dexterity, or flanking
Sneak Attack: If a rogue can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from her attack, she can strike a vital spot for extra damage.

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. This extra damage is 1d6 at 1st level, and increases by 1d6 every two rogue levels thereafter. Should the rogue score a critical hit with a sneak attack, this extra damage is not multiplied. Ranged attacks can count as sneak attacks only if the target is within 30 feet.

With a weapon that deals nonlethal damage (like a sap, whip, or an unarmed strike), a rogue can make a sneak attack that deals nonlethal damage instead of lethal damage. She cannot use a weapon that deals lethal damage to deal nonlethal damage in a sneak attack, not even with the usual –4 penalty.

The rogue must be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot and must be able to reach such a spot. A rogue cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with concealment.

Total concealment does not deny dexterity
Total Concealment: If you have line of effect to a target but not line of sight, he is considered to have total concealment from you. You can't attack an opponent that has total concealment, though you can attack into a square that you think he occupies. A successful attack into a square occupied by an enemy with total concealment has a 50% miss chance (instead of the normal 20% miss chance for an opponent with concealment).

You can't execute an attack of opportunity against an opponent with total concealment, even if you know what square or squares the opponent occupies.

Silver Crusade

From the SRD: "The fog obscures all sight, including darkvision, beyond 5 feet. A creature within 5 feet has concealment (attacks have a 20% miss chance). Creatures farther away have total concealment (50% miss chance, and the attacker can't use sight to locate the target)"

"Can't use sight to locate the target" is pretty much the definition of Invisible. Therefore, if you have some way to see through the mist/fog (Goz mask FTW; also a first level revelation from the Waves mystery will do it), then you may sneak attack anyone more than five feet away.

Silver Crusade

I guess my concern is that PFS has a definitive reading of RAW, which can lead to silly mechanics sometimes. The part that scares me about your explanation is the "pretty much" part. I can't find anything that explicitely states it acts like invisibility or denies dex bonus, so by pure RAW I am not sure it works.

Scarab Sages

Velxir wrote:

If I have total concealment as a rogue, such as being in a fog cloud spell with a Goz mask on, does that allow for sneak attacks?

I know there have been many discussions over in the Rules questions over it, but I didn't know how PFS feels about it

Look at the feat Blind Fighting - it pretty much states the case - however I have had GMs tell me (with straight face) that being blind and not being able see a target are two different things.

"An invisible attacker gets no advantages related to hitting you in melee. That is, you don't lose your Dexterity bonus to Armor Class, and the attacker doesn't get the usual +2 bonus for being invisible. The invisible attacker's bonuses do still apply for ranged attacks, however.
Normal: Regular attack roll modifiers for invisible attackers trying to hit you apply, and you lose your Dexterity bonus to AC. The speed reduction for darkness and poor visibility also applies."

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The only real answer here is that this is a murky area by strict RAW and you may experience table variance in PFS.

Disclaimer 1: Common sense has no place in a debate about RAW, and please remember Pathfinder (particularly combat) is a rules heavy game, not a simulation. My chess knight can't move in straight lines just because a real knight can.

Disclaimer 2: I have searched high and low for any official (JB, SKR, Mike in the case of PFS) stance on this but can't find one. If anyone can post such a thing please do.

The crux of the matter is whether "invisible" is a specific condition or whether can't be seen by an opponent == invisible. This is important because there is no entry that states that the attacker having Total Concealment or being Stealthed/"hidden" causes the defender to lose dexterity bonus to AC, only that the attacker being invisible does.

Invisible: Invisible creatures are visually undetectable. An invisible creature gains a +2 bonus on attack rolls against sighted opponents, and ignores its opponents' Dexterity bonuses to AC (if any). See Invisibility, under Special Abilities.

To me, that sounds like a specific condition, especially given the last sentence. Please note it says "Invisible creatures are visually undetectable" and not "visually undetectable creatures are invisible". "All Kings are male" does not imply "All males are kings".

The table in the Combat Modifiers table in the CRB specifically uses the term invisible again.

I do not have the power to become invisible. Just because you can't see me at the moment (due to being in a different place) does not make me invisible. I am simply not visible to you.

If "opponent not able to see me" != "I am invisible", then neither Stealth nor Total Concealment allow sneak attacks.

That said, I would generally house rule the other way, but I personally believe that that <i>is</i> a house rule.

The Blind Fight example above does nothing to counter this. It means exactly what it says against opponents with the invisible condition, which can only be obtained through magic or a special ability that grants it.

However, there is one piece evidence that comes up for the "you can't see me = I'm invisible" camp:

"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."

The last line, particularly the "still" could very reasonably be interpreted as meaning that the general rule is that creatures lose their dexterity bonus to AC whenever they can't see the attacker.

As said, murky.

Now, the interpretation that Total Concealment != invisible can lead to some odd situations. The classic example being that a defender with no means of seeing in darkness attacked in a dark room by two opponents with dark vision. If one of the attackers has greater invisibility, he will get to sneak attack and the other one won't. Yes, this is a bit silly. Does the fact that silly situations can arise from a rule mean it is no longer the rule? No. Does it mean the rule should be changed? Maybe.

There is also the argument that if Stealth doesn't allow sneak attack (the only way it can be argued that it does is by going back through the "invisible" rule), then Stealth does nothing and this proves that "opponent can't see me == I'm invisible". This is clearly not true. Stealth let's you sneak past opponents out of combat and hide/reposition in combat. It also lets you gain a surprise round at the start of combat during which you DO get to sneak attack. That's a considerably more powerful skill than, say, Appraise. Most skills don't have a major combat application.

I think an errata is badly needed one way or the other as this is a question that seems to generate some quite heated and repetitive arguments amongst the player base. I really don't care which way the decision comes down, it just needs to be made. In 3.5 an official errata was made that Total Concealment does allow sneak attack. I would be fine with the same thing in Pathfinder, but it hasn't happened.

I doubt, however, we will get an errata. There was the abortive play test of revised stealth rules a couple years back (showing the devs are aware of the issue), but other than that the devs seem to have refused to touch the issue with a ten foot pole. I can't say I blame them as some people are going to be annoyed whichever way they decide, but I would be really pleased if they would just call it.

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I looked harder, and half of this issue has finally been errata'd:

" Jason Bulmahn Lead Designer May 31, 2013, 07:22 PM | Flag |
| FAQ | Reply
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Jason Bulmahn

Couple of notes I want to add here...

1. For simplicities sake, it should be assumed that those making Perception checks get to do so at the most favorable point during the movement of a character using Stealth, to avoid making checks every time the condition changes. Technically, I think you would get a check whenever the conditions change, but that might make things overly complicated during play.

2. Creatures are denied their Dexterity bonus to AC "if they cannot react to a blow" (CR pg 179 under AC). It was our intent that if you are unaware of a threat, you cannot react to a blow. I think we probably should have spelled this out a wee bit clearer, but space in the Stealth description was extraordinarily tight and ever word was at a premium. That said, I think these changes clear up the situation immensely (compared to where they were.. which was nebulous at best).

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer"

So yes, you can now sneak attack from stealth.

Sneak attacking from TC without stealth is still debatable as per my above post, so I think you will still find table variance if you want to have sneak attack apply on all yor attacks in a full attack from inside your fog cloud. I still think RAW says no, but others disagree.

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