Does Rage prevent Sneak Attacking?


Rules Questions


Barbarian Rage wrote:
While in rage, a barbarian cannot use any Charisma-, Dexterity-, or Intelligence-based skills (except Acrobatics, Fly, Intimidate, and Ride) or any ability that requires patience or concentration.
Rogue Sneak Attack wrote:
... 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.

So, yeah. Had a session end with everyone gaining a level and my Barbarian player decided to pick up a level of Rogue. As the DM I was okay with it, the Barbarian has become good friends with the group Rogue and they have been performing a lot of excellent teamwork. Another player however, who also DMs, spoke up and began the argument over sneak attack while raging. He believes it shouldn't be allowed due to the descriptions of the abilities.

By the end of the night my group was completely polarized, with half agreeing with me and half with him. Luckily no tempers were involved, but we both agreed that we view Rage differently. He sees it as that furiously uncontrollable berserker rage that prevents anything but attacking the closest enemy head on, whereas I see it as more of an adrenaline rush where the fight or flight instinct kicks in and you fight until you have nothing left to give.

Either way, he did point out an odd interpretation I had never considered before. Thoughts?


The investigator class has a "sneak attack" in the form of "studied strike", which is clearly linked to a cerebral effort. I'd definitely rule against using rage and studied strike together.

However, "sneak attack" is not specifically linked with patience or concentration. Rogue's expend no special effort - they simply choose to attack specific body parts rather than trying to just plain hit an enemy. Such a skill can be understood to be second nature, ingrained in the training (and the reason why the class is at 3/4 BAB; in essence the reduced BAB is the payment for sneak attack).

You could take your friend's argument, and argue that favored enemy doesn't apply while raging. On the grounds that a blind fury in battle simply doesn't allow for acting on the special skills required to attack undead (or whatever) more effectively. But of course you could also argue that seeing your favored enemy just makes the rage stronger.

Both you and your friend are correct in your interpretations of rage. That is to say, "rage" is not a specific state of rage but can be different for different characters. In the same way that a fighter is not just a fighter, but maybe a bodyguard, a bounty hunter, etc - however different interpretations of the flavor of rage should not be used as guideline for what does-or-does-not apply when raging.

The bottom line:

Rage: cannot use patience or concentration.
Sneak attack: must be able to see and reach.

Those two are not mutually exclusive statements.


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I am also not seeing the conflict. Why would I be less inclined to hit someone where it really hurts just because I think they really deserve it and am angry at them?

EDIT: From a mechanics standpoint it works the same as flanking: Do I lose the flanking bonus just because I'm angry? No. Because the other guy is distracted from facing two people on either side of him, and cannot defend himself as adequately as usual (unless he has special training). It's not dependent upon the barbarian's state of being, it's dependent upon the opponent's(s').

From a role-playing perspective is the raging barbarian likely to be sneaky and thus get the added damage when alone? No, but that's up to the player and the situation.


As a GM I would allow it, but I do see where the other guy is coming from. Sneak Attack is more about knowing where to attack them, its having the state of mind to make such a choice. Making a choice to "Swing axe hard and hit enemy and make him breath no more", is quite a bit different from, "Precisely strike him right there because that's where it will hurt the most" one requires as much pinpointing and thinking as most animals are capable of, while the other is a studied and conscious choice. This is a good question, and if someone cannot find a solid answer for this, I think its a good candidate for FAQ.


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We need a FAQ that looks like this.

Does Rage prevent a Barbarian from-

No.


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Given that the interpretations all seem to come off "concentration". I think I should look more like;

"Ask yourself a question, does the ability require concentration checks under any conditions? There's your answer."

Not joining in with some slight ire here; I maintain the point is valid. After all, nothing in the rules dictates such that it would be impossible. More pertinently; show me where either interpretation of rage is part of the rules (and hence a baseline assumption) for how the rage ability functions.
Both sides are valid in how they assume rage works, the problem is that this makes neither invalid. I could play a Barbarian who undergoes TF2's Pyro's hallucinations as my rage, fluff wise. Nothing pertains that is right or wrong.
Thus, to the original point, the only arguing premise for this is that which the rules explicitly state. The rules do not state that sneak attack requires concentration (i.e. The mechanics term) when raging (again, a mechanics term) thus they can act mutually. One can argue since sneak attack only requires you to be able to see a vital spot - it's entirely intuitive a maneuver.


I think the GM is a bit harsh in his judgement. Look at rage powers, a few of them have nothing to do with going all hulk on your environment, let alone always attacking the nearest enemy adjacent to you. The Moment of Clarity rage power exists for a reason, but saying that Sneak Attack falls under the same category is a bit excessive.

LoreKeeper is right I think - maybe show your GM the Investigator's ability so he can see the difference?


Antariuk wrote:

I think the GM is a bit harsh in his judgement. Look at rage powers, a few of them have nothing to do with going all hulk on your environment, let alone always attacking the nearest enemy adjacent to you. The Moment of Clarity rage power exists for a reason, but saying that Sneak Attack falls under the same category is a bit excessive.

LoreKeeper is right I think - maybe show your GM the Investigator's ability so he can see the difference?

This guy is the GM, but some of his players are arguing that it wouldn't work.

I'd say you can sneak attack while raging, because nothing in the language indicates to me that you can't.


I take it they are the ones about to be hit with the sneak attack?


Nope.


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Rage does not prevent sneak attack. I think the players arguing that it does think you are just mindlessly attacking, but you still you are not making wild uncalculated swings and fighting like you have lost your mind. If that were so you would likely loose your dex bonus to AC if you were that "out of it", because you would not be trying to dodge any attacks. If you have enough sense to dodge incoming blows, then you have enough sense to strike at vital areas.


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If you have training in stealth and hitting vital points like a rogue, I think you wouldn't have to even think about doing it when you're an expert at it. Ie, the barbarian rogue would just fluidly sneak about stabbing people up without concentration. And even if a DM doesn't allow you to sneak around, you can still smack up flanked enemies anyways. Conan the barbarian beheaded a lot of dudes in the movies. (At least from what I remember.) That's definitely striking a vital part of the body and he didn't even have to think about it.


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wraithstrike wrote:
Rage does not prevent sneak attack. I think the players arguing that it does think you are just mindlessly attacking, but you still you are not making wild uncalculated swings and fighting like you have lost your mind. If that were so you would likely loose your dex bonus to AC if you were that "out of it", because you would not be trying to dodge any attacks. If you have enough sense to dodge incoming blows, then you have enough sense to strike at vital areas.

Plus when you rage you technically get more accurate.


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There are several Rage Powers that make you even more accurate as well, like Reckless Abandon, which is basically "F&+& defense, I'm aiming at this f!~~er!"

Shadow Lodge

Rynjin wrote:

We need a FAQ that looks like this.

Does Rage prevent a Barbarian from-

No.

[ruleslawyer]You mean, my Barbarian can - while raging? Does that include -, _, /, and |, or is it exclusive to -?[/ruleslawyer]


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Do you ever have to make concentration effects to use sneak attack?

No.

Is it an ability that specifies you have to concentrate in order to use it?

No.

Do you need patience to do something up to 7 times in 6 seconds? (TWF rogue can get up to 7 attacks in 6 seconds. None are limited against sneak attack)

No.

Sneak attack is not a skill. Sneak attack does not require patience. Sneak attack does not require concentration. And your IQ does not drop by 40 points by entering rage.


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EvilPaladin wrote:
Rynjin wrote:

We need a FAQ that looks like this.

Does Rage prevent a Barbarian from-

No.

[ruleslawyer]You mean, my Barbarian can - while raging? Does that include -, _, /, and |, or is it exclusive to -?

¬¬

Should answer your question.

Knight, Knave, I'm the guy with the logic.


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FrozenLaughs wrote:
He sees it as that furiously uncontrollable berserker rage that prevents anything but attacking the closest enemy head on,

It says absolutely nothing of the sort. It expressly states what you can or cannot do.

You can delay actions.
You can retreat.
You can ready actions.
You can go Full Defense.
You can drink a potion.
You can maneuver into flanking position.
You can ignore this guy to get to the guy behind him.
You can communicate intelligibly.

Compare/contrast standard barbarian rage to the Wild Rager archetype's text.


Zhayne wrote:
FrozenLaughs wrote:
He sees it as that furiously uncontrollable berserker rage that prevents anything but attacking the closest enemy head on,

It says absolutely nothing of the sort. It expressly states what you can or cannot do.

You can delay actions.
You can retreat.
You can ready actions.
You can go Full Defense.
You can drink a potion.
You can maneuver into flanking position.
You can ignore this guy to get to the guy behind him.
You can communicate intelligibly.

Compare/contrast standard barbarian rage to the Wild Rager archetype's text.

This.

I see Haldir, from the Two towers, during the battle of helms deep as an example of an elven rager.

Intensely focused, taking on multiple combatants, attacking in lieu of a more controlled defense.

Not every "barbarian" has to say AAAAAAARRRRGH and froth at the mouth to get temporary combat bonuses.

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