Does Sneak Attack apply to ranged attacks when you are flanking?


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Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber

Thanks James


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It's also worth noting that per PDT policy, since Mark was not expressing a personal opinion, he was stating PDT's rule decision.

The only ways it can be changed are: Mark retracts his statement and clarifies it as an opinion. Jason Bulmahn posts a differing answer. PDT posts a differing answer as an FAQ.


Bandw2 wrote:
master_marshmallow wrote:
MadMage wrote:
master_marshmallow wrote:
Your ranged attack cannot threaten, therefore it cannot flank. Any flanking condition or bonus you gain comes from and only applies to the melee attack that you threaten with.

Where does the rulebook say that the attack I make must threaten?

The only stated criteria is that the target is threatened (which requires a melee weapon), not that the attack itself be 'threatening'.

You are making up a rule, there is also nothing that says that the attack can be ranged, and there are things that say the attack cannot be ranged.

You are not threatening with the ranged weapon, therefore the ranged weapon cannot be used to flank.
how are we making up a rule?, you're the one claiming we stop threatening with our dagger when there is no rule of such kind.

I never said you stopped threatening with the dagger, I said you don't threaten with the ranged attack and cannot flank with it.

Don't put words in my mouth.

Grand Lodge

master_marshmallow wrote:

I never said you stopped threatening with the dagger, I said you don't threaten with the ranged attack and cannot flank with it.

Don't put words in my mouth.

The issue, as previously stated, is that Sneak Attack does not care if the attack flanks, but if the rogue does. If the rogue does not stop threatening, then does it ever stop flanking?


Chemlak wrote:

It's also worth noting that per PDT policy, since Mark was not expressing a personal opinion, he was stating PDT's rule decision.

The only ways it can be changed are: Mark retracts his statement and clarifies it as an opinion. Jason Bulmahn posts a differing answer. PDT posts a differing answer as an FAQ.

well... technically, Mark only gave his opinion.

he said he was going to stay silent on the matter - but people kept stating assumptions of his particular opinion.

he prefaced his opinion with "...but if you're appealing to me here particularly..."

As in - this is not a PDT answer this is a Mark as an individual answer.

just sayin...

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Aydin D'Ampfer wrote:
If the rogue does not stop threatening, then does it ever stop flanking?

The rogue does not stop threatening, but if the rogue doesn't make a melee attack then the ranged attack while threatening doesn't grant Sneak Attack damage due to flanking because it is a ranged attack and flanking is in the context of melee attacks.

This is confirmed by the Gang Up FAQ, by Mark, by the RAW, and by history of 3e+.

Grand Lodge

James Risner wrote:
Aydin D'Ampfer wrote:
a Grapple attempt is not an attack
All Combat Maneuver Checks are attacks. To make a grapple you must be adjacent. If you succeed with reach, the target is pulled adjacent.

Sorry, I should have been more clear. I meant melee attack, not just generic attack.

This is the issue with Grapple and Bull Rush. They are attack-action/standard action abilities, but are never called out as melee attacks, nor do they 'normally' get the benefits of melee attacks, like an amulet of mighty fists, etc.

Flanking specifically calls out melee attacks to gain the flanking bonus to hit. Do you get the flanking bonus on a grapple? Unclear. And per this thread, it seems that the flanking bonus is critical to Sneak Attack, barring Strangler.

Then there is the whole 'Can you threaten while in a grapple' question, which is also up in the air.

o/ Raise of hands for a CRB v2?

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Oddman80 wrote:
well... technically, Mark only gave his opinion.

Mark was being realistic. The Gang Up FAQ puts this question in the answered column, yet people disagree. Mark went on to say it didn't matter what he or the dev team said, people would continue to read the rules in an alternative interpretation.

It seems we need to have a FAQ on every single detail, because an FAQ written broadly to hopefully answer other similar questions will be viewed so narrowly as to only apply to that one feat instead of all similar instances.


Aydin D'Ampfer wrote:
master_marshmallow wrote:

I never said you stopped threatening with the dagger, I said you don't threaten with the ranged attack and cannot flank with it.

Don't put words in my mouth.
The issue, as previously stated, is that Sneak Attack does not care if the attack flanks, but if the rogue does. If the rogue does not stop threatening, then does it ever stop flanking?

This is actually false, as the mention of the 'rogue' in that particular context is in passive voice, where the active subject of the first sentence and subsequent clauses in reference to how to determine if sneak attack is valid refers specifically to the rogue's attack.

sneak attack wrote:

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.

Emphasis mine.

Not that it would matter because such a tight reading of the rules is not how the game is to be interpreted as we have been told by the devs multiple times.
Certain games have very strict rules as to how things must be worded, Pathfinder has some wiggle room to allow for linguistic variation.
sneak attack wrote:

At 3rd level, if a slayer catches an opponent unable to defend itself effectively from his attack, he can strike a vital spot for extra damage. The slayer's attack deals extra damage anytime his target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the slayer flanks his target. This additional damage is 1d6 at 3rd level, and increases by 1d6 every 3 levels thereafter. Should the slayer score a critical hit with a sneak attack, this additional 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 unarmed strike), a slayer can make a sneak attack that deals nonlethal damage instead of lethal damage. He cannot use a weapon that deals lethal damage to deal nonlethal damage in a sneak attack, not even with the usual –4 penalty.

The slayer 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 slayer cannot use sneak attack while striking a creature with concealment.

Since the slayer has the most recent wording of the sneak attack ability I thought it a good idea to double check it, and to no surprise it has the same wording.

Sneak attack is determined by the attack, each individual attack must qualify, this is clear in the rules. It is not a condition that applies to all of your attacks for the round (the ability to add sneak attack dice is what I'm referring to if anyone is lost).

To determine whether or not you threaten, you must be able to make a melee attack.

threatened squares wrote:
You threaten all squares into which you can make a melee attack, even when it is not your turn. Generally, that means everything in all squares adjacent to your space (including diagonally). An enemy that takes certain actions while in a threatened square provokes an attack of opportunity from you. If you're unarmed, you don't normally threaten any squares and thus can't make attacks of opportunity.

A ranged attack cannot threaten, therefore it cannot flank. Sneak attack is determined when you make the attack, if the attack doesn't qualify then it doesn't add sneak attack dice.


i'm not saying he wasn't... but to say that in that moment he was speaking for the PDT is disingenuous.

I have said before - i think printing an errata to the CRB for Flanking is warranted. The way it is written... is just bad. The formatting is bad, the consistency of language is poor... It is just, generally, unclear.

And sure - while a FAQ here, and a Dev comment there may make it clear what the RAI is - this doesn't help the players that are not spending their free time scouring these message boards... it doesn't help the players who buy a copy of the CRB and read the rule, and don't see it written - clear as day that "Unless stated as otherwise, flanking, and all of its benefits can only be achieved by way of a melee attack."

The fact that Cveh is the only one still arguing the counterpoint does not mean he is the only who believes that by RAW, his position is supported... it just means the discussion ran its course on page 3, and there is nothing new to say on the matter until errata, FAQs or some other official PDT supported statements are made.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Oddman80 wrote:
Cveh ... does not mean he is the only who believes that by RAW, his position is supported.

Trust me, I believe he and others feel RAW says it works. I'm fine with people believing RAW says it does. I'm not fine when they say "it only says this and doesn't say that" (when that is you can't get Sneak Attack on ranged attacks from the flanking clause.)

I think this is basically Theoretical Optimization. I can't recall a single game or player in real life that tried to get Sneak Attack dice off a ranged attack when he wasn't Sniping, Invisible, or otherwise qualifying from the Denied Dex clause. Can anyone honestly say they have sat down at a table and asked the GM if they get Sneak Attack dice with their ranged attack due to flanking the target adjacent?


Oddman80 wrote:
Chemlak wrote:

It's also worth noting that per PDT policy, since Mark was not expressing a personal opinion, he was stating PDT's rule decision.

The only ways it can be changed are: Mark retracts his statement and clarifies it as an opinion. Jason Bulmahn posts a differing answer. PDT posts a differing answer as an FAQ.

well... technically, Mark only gave his opinion.

he said he was going to stay silent on the matter - but people kept stating assumptions of his particular opinion.

he prefaced his opinion with "...but if you're appealing to me here particularly..."

As in - this is not a PDT answer this is a Mark as an individual answer.

just sayin...

Mark's response shouldn't be viewed as an official answer. It likely gives us insight into how the Developers see the issue, but since it isn't a FAQ or something similar, it isn't official.


master_marshmallow wrote:
A ranged attack cannot threaten, therefore it cannot flank. Sneak attack is determined when you make the attack, if the attack doesn't qualify then it doesn't add sneak attack dice.

Except of course for feats that let you threaten with a ranged attack.


Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

It has been said on this thread more than once that if two ranged characters are on opposite sides of an enemy, they ARE flanking, but don't get the flanking bonus (they state that it is a separate thing). They use the second paragraph starting with "When in doubt" to prove that they are flanking, but since the first paragraph states the bonus is only with melee attacks, they just don't get a +2 when making their attack. These same individuals have not mentioned, however, how they run encounters with high level rogue or barbarian opponents. Since these characters have Improved Uncanny Dodge and "cannot be flanked" (no mention of bonus, just "flanked") then that would logically mean that no one could occupy a square opposite an ally. This makes the battle map very difficult to navigate, especially for any ranged character that would have to draw a line from the center of their square to the center of every ally's square and if the line passed through two opposite sides of any rogue or barbarian or elemental or swarm, etc. they would have to move (so they wouldn't be "flanking" anymore).

Heck, that would also mean that if you had Gang Up, you wouldn't be able to even attack a character with Improved Uncanny Dodge if two of your allies were attacking them already, since you would be considered flanking, but they can't be flanked and "flanked" apparently has nothing to do with bonus...


Reading the flanking rules it looks clear that you don't need to threaten an opponent to gain a flanking bonus, you just need to make a melee attack and have an ally in position who threatens it.

You can make melee attacks that do not threaten. In the CRB a whip is a melee weapon that does not threaten. Melee attacks with a whip that have an appropriate flanking partner get a flanking bonus. The partner does not get a flanking bonus based on the whip wielder being in position because the wielder does not threaten.


Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Voadam wrote:

Reading the flanking rules it looks clear that you don't need to threaten an opponent to gain a flanking bonus, you just need to make a melee attack and have an ally in position who threatens it.

You can make melee attacks that do not threaten. In the CRB a whip is a melee weapon that does not threaten. Melee attacks with a whip that have an appropriate flanking partner get a flanking bonus. The partner does not get a flanking bonus based on the whip wielder being in position because the wielder does not threaten.

Which would mean you can "flank" with a whip (gain the bonus) and do Sneak Attack damage (as long as the target doesn't have +1 armor bonus or +3 Natural Armor bonus in which case it deals no damage) because it is a melee attack. Your ally (let's say he has a sword) would not be able to "flank" when it was his turn because the qualifications are not met (ally threatening and opposite) even though he is in a position to flank. Thus the ally with the sword is not "flanking" regardless of his position.

Two unarmed people that do not have Improved Unarmed Strike may be on opposite sides of an opponent, but neither of them flank. They cannot apply sneak attack damage, or gain any other benefits of "flanking" even though they are in a position to do so (they do not meet the threatening requirement).

Two people with swords facing an 8th level Rogue may be on opposite sides, but they do not "flank" because of Improved Uncanny Dodge.

So "flanking" is NOT positional only, it is only applied when the bonus (melee only) is applied.


Canthin wrote:
Voadam wrote:

Reading the flanking rules it looks clear that you don't need to threaten an opponent to gain a flanking bonus, you just need to make a melee attack and have an ally in position who threatens it.

You can make melee attacks that do not threaten. In the CRB a whip is a melee weapon that does not threaten. Melee attacks with a whip that have an appropriate flanking partner get a flanking bonus. The partner does not get a flanking bonus based on the whip wielder being in position because the wielder does not threaten.

Which would mean you can "flank" with a whip (gain the bonus) and do Sneak Attack damage (as long as the target doesn't have +1 armor bonus or +3 Natural Armor bonus in which case it deals no damage) because it is a melee attack. Your ally (let's say he has a sword) would not be able to "flank" when it was his turn because the qualifications are not met (ally threatening and opposite) even though he is in a position to flank. Thus the ally with the sword is not "flanking" regardless of his position.

Two people that do not have Improved Unarmed Strike may be on opposite sides of an opponent, but neither of them flank. They cannot apply sneak attack damage, or gain any other benefits of "flanking" even though they are in a position to do so (they do not meet the threatening requirement).

Two people with swords facing an 8th level Rogue may be on opposite sides, but they do not "flank" because of Improved Uncanny Dodge.

So "flanking" is NOT positional only, it is only applied when the bonus (melee only) is applied.

Correct.


Canthin wrote:
Voadam wrote:

Reading the flanking rules it looks clear that you don't need to threaten an opponent to gain a flanking bonus, you just need to make a melee attack and have an ally in position who threatens it.

You can make melee attacks that do not threaten. In the CRB a whip is a melee weapon that does not threaten. Melee attacks with a whip that have an appropriate flanking partner get a flanking bonus. The partner does not get a flanking bonus based on the whip wielder being in position because the wielder does not threaten.

Which would mean you can "flank" with a whip (gain the bonus) and do Sneak Attack damage (as long as the target doesn't have +1 armor bonus or +3 Natural Armor bonus in which case it deals no damage) because it is a melee attack. Your ally (let's say he has a sword) would not be able to "flank" when it was his turn because the qualifications are not met (ally threatening and opposite) even though he is in a position to flank. Thus the ally with the sword is not "flanking" regardless of his position.

That is the point of contention. He clearly does not get the flanking bonus. Whether he flanks his opponent is in dispute.

If flanking is a condition triggered by position then both whip and ally have been flanking and continue to do so but only whip gets the flanking bonus. If ally is a rogue and flanks the target he gets his sneak attack bonus damage dice even though he does not get the flanking bonus to attack.

If flanking is only the flanking bonus during a specific melee attack then rogue ally can not sneak attack as he does not qualify for the bonus and neither can arcane trickster with threatening dagger and ray spell.


Tsk tsk, I'm gone for two whole days and we haven't even hit 1000 posts yet?


Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Voadam wrote:

That is the point of contention. He clearly does not get the flanking bonus. Whether he flanks his opponent is in dispute.

If flanking is a condition triggered by position then both whip and ally have been flanking and continue to do so but only whip gets the flanking bonus. If ally is a rogue and flanks the target he gets his sneak attack bonus damage dice even though he does not get the flanking bonus to attack.

But flanking can't be a condition based on position because some opponents "cannot be flanked". Period. Stop. Full sentence. If they cannot be flanked, and flanking was only based on position, then they "could not have opponents on either side of them" which is ridiculous.

Voadam wrote:
If flanking is only the flanking bonus during a specific melee attack then rogue ally can not sneak attack as he does not qualify for the bonus and neither can arcane trickster with threatening dagger and ray spell.

Correct. But it does make it possible to be on opposite sides of an enemy that "cannot be flanked" (you just don't get the bonus - and all riders like Sneak Attack)


Canthin wrote:
But flanking can't be a condition based on position because some opponents "cannot be flanked". Period. Stop. Full sentence. If they cannot be flanked, and flanking was only based on position, then they "could not have opponents on either side of them" which is ridiculous.

You're right, it is ridiculous, because what you are saying makes no sense. The rogue gets Uncanny Dodge, which means he can't be flat-footed. Flat-footed is a condition which occurs because you haven't yet acted in the initiative order. So does that mean having Uncanny Dodge means he always goes to the top of the initiative order? No, it just means he is not treated as having the condition when he normally would have it. Immunity to the effects of a condition is not immunity to the causes of that condition.

Similarly, the elemental does not have the "flanked" designation when he would normally have it. It doesn't mean he can't be in a flanked position, just that when he would normally be flanked, he is not treated as such.


Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
RumpinRufus wrote:
Canthin wrote:
But flanking can't be a condition based on position because some opponents "cannot be flanked". Period. Stop. Full sentence. If they cannot be flanked, and flanking was only based on position, then they "could not have opponents on either side of them" which is ridiculous.

You're right, it is ridiculous, because what you are saying makes no sense. The rogue gets Uncanny Dodge, which means he can't be flat-footed. Flat-footed is a condition which occurs because you haven't yet acted in the initiative order. So does that mean having Uncanny Dodge means he always goes to the top of the initiative order? No, it just means he is not treated as having the condition when he normally would have it.

Similarly, the elemental does not have the "flanked" designation when he would normally have it. It doesn't mean he can't be in a flanked position, just that when he would normally be flanked, he is not treated as such.

Improved Uncanny Dodge says "A rogue of 8th level or higher can no longer be flanked." It is regular Uncanny Dodge that has to do with Flat Footed.

"Cannot be flanked" just like an Elemental.


Flanking is not a well defined Pathfinder term, it means different things in different contexts. It is not directly equivalent to the +2 flanking bonus, since it is used with a different meaning in many, many other contexts. Nor does it just mean the physical positioning of adversaries.

The best definition I've come up with is that flanking is typically a condition whereby a creature is at a tactical disadvantage when opponents are threatening from adjacent sides.

To say that a creature 'can't be flanked' is not to say that people can't be on opposite sides, but that the creature gains no tactical disadvantage from this situation.

The attack bonus derived from this tactical disadvantage can only be applied to melee attacks. That much is clear. The other stuff? I don't think it's clear at all.


master_marshmallow wrote:

You are making up a rule, there is also nothing that says that the attack can be ranged, and there are things that say the attack cannot be ranged.

You are not threatening with the ranged weapon, therefore the ranged weapon cannot be used to flank.

I'm not the one making up rules, you are. The only requirement for flanking is that the target is threatened BY ANOTHER CHARACTER with a melee weapon.

The rule does NOT specify that both characters have to threaten, that the flanking attack itself has to threaten or that only melee attacks can flank (though only melee attacks receive a bonus just for flanking).

What you're doing is adding criteria not specifically stated in the book and insisting that I am the one making things up when the fact of the matter is you're adding or assuming criteria not specifically stated.

Allow me to break it down:

1. Flanking is a state of attacking an enemy on both sides.

2 The CRB in no way redefines Flanking, but adds:

A. A bonus for melee attacking in such a situation and

B. That the target must be threatened with a melee weapon to receive this bonus.

3. Sneak Attacks state the target must be flat-footed or flanked; also noted is that ranged attacks must be made within 30'.

Now, I want HARD EVIDENCE in the CRB that counters this PERMISSIVE collection of rules - otherwise you're just blowing smoke in the hopes that it'll fog the issue in your favor.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
James Risner wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:
in other words if you can get sneak attack on your dagger attack(or any attack for that matter), you can get it on your ray of frost since sneak attack does not care for the source.

You don't have any line to back that interpretation up other than the lack of a line saying flanking is explicitly only in the context of melee attacks. I read the rules that it is only for melee, the developers read it that way, and the FAQ on Gang Up make it clear that reading it any other way isn't the rules.

generally you need a rule to say you lose something, so, i would like to know where once again you lose the flanking condition. you have yet to provide that rule, so i still don't see how RAW you do not qualify for a sneak attack.


RumpinRufus wrote:
Canthin wrote:
But flanking can't be a condition based on position because some opponents "cannot be flanked". Period. Stop. Full sentence. If they cannot be flanked, and flanking was only based on position, then they "could not have opponents on either side of them" which is ridiculous.

You're right, it is ridiculous, because what you are saying makes no sense. The rogue gets Uncanny Dodge, which means he can't be flat-footed. Flat-footed is a condition which occurs because you haven't yet acted in the initiative order. So does that mean having Uncanny Dodge means he always goes to the top of the initiative order? No, it just means he is not treated as having the condition when he normally would have it. Immunity to the effects of a condition is not immunity to the causes of that condition.

Similarly, the elemental does not have the "flanked" designation when he would normally have it. It doesn't mean he can't be in a flanked position, just that when he would normally be flanked, he is not treated as such.

Curiously, your explanation of how this 'cannot be flanked' is handled is exactly how I would counter this so-called 'evidence' that flanking is not a position-based state.

Look, the bottom line is that the CRB (nor any other book) actually re-defines the term 'flanking', thus the actual real-world dictionary is the source you would use.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
master_marshmallow wrote:

This is actually false, as the mention of the 'rogue' in that particular context is in passive voice, where the active subject of the first sentence and subsequent clauses in reference to how to determine if sneak attack is valid refers specifically to the rogue's attack.

sneak attack wrote:

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.

both of them are prefaced with the rogue herself not the attack, the attack is what gains the extra damage, the next 2 parts are separate thoughts and phrases.

just saying, this was not factually accurate from a grammar standpoint.

or basically
subject: The rogue's attack
Verb: deals extra
Object: damage
Transition: anytime
Subject: her target
Verb: would be
Object: denied a Dexterity bonus to AC
Transition: or when ("when" is technically part of the verb)
Subject: the rogue
Verb: flanks
Object: her target.

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

You know s@$! is about to get real when people start to do sentence diagrams.


Oh, s%!& has been real for a long, long time now.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
HangarFlying wrote:
You know s%%* is about to get real when people start to do sentence diagrams.

bro, you don't even know. you don't even.


I'm just curious why it's being argued against so vehemently; the spirit of sneak attacking isn't violated by allowing ranged attacks to benefit from them and the exclusion all but invalidates the possibility of a rogue focused on ranged combat.

Even if we took a RAI approach, it would seem far-fetched to deny a sneak attack to a rogue who took the time to get behind an engaged opponent just because she was using a ranged weapon.

Now, that being said, I have seen some talk of ranged magical attacks - I'm pretty sure the sneak attack rule doesn't grant permission there, so that I would deny (unless you're a level 10 Arcane Trickster).


Rules Forum


Durngrun Stonebreaker wrote:
Rules Forum

You want to see a rules forum, go look up a Warhammer 40,000 board.

You think you have rules lawyers in Pathfinder? Warhammer's rules get picked to the bone so often that playing it for a few years should be an alternative to a BAR exam.


MadMage wrote:
Now, that being said, I have seen some talk of ranged magical attacks - I'm pretty sure the sneak attack rule doesn't grant permission there, so that I would deny (unless you're a level 10 Arcane Trickster).

You can definitely get sneak attack on spell attacks.

The advantage of the Arcane Trickster capstone is you can get Sneak Attack on spells that don't require attack rolls, like Fireball or Magic Missile. Or Storm of Vengeance. (I REALLY want to get Sneak Attack damage on everyone in a 360 ft. radius one day.)

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Bandw2 wrote:

generally you need a rule to say you lose something

so i still don't see how RAW you do not qualify for a sneak attack.

The rules are written to be easy to read. They are not written in legalese and they shouldn't be.

So your concept of RAW isn't the best way to view RAW. It is more like "Rules as Wiggled into awkward interpretations".


Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Rules question to the "can flank without getting the bonus" camp: In an example of play, when do you check/define "flanking" as a GM?

Player: I move 25' up behind the enemy that Bork the Barbarian is attacking. I still have a Standard action left, so I attack the badass looking dude between us. Am I flanking?
GM: *looking at their positions* Yes you are flanking
Player: *rolling a d20* (11) + 9 = 20, does that hit?
GM: Yes, just barely
Player: *rolling dagger and sneak attack damage*
GM: Why are you rolling so many dice?
Player: Sneak attack!
GM: You don't get sneak attack because badass looking dude has Improved Uncanny Dodge and can't be flanked.
Player: But you just said I was flanking?!
GM: You are flanking, but you don't get any bonuses because he isn't considered to be flanked.
Player: Uh, ok then. I only got an 18 then because I calculated the +2 for flanking because you said I was flanking.
GM: You are flanking. And also you miss with an 18...

Or is it:

Player: I move 25'up behind the enemy that Bork the Barbarian is attacking. I still have a Standard action left, so I attack the badass looking dude between us. Am I flanking?
GM: Nope, Improved Uncanny Dodge.
Player: Ok, *rolling a d20* (11) + 7 = 18, does that hit?
GM: Almost!


RumpinRufus wrote:
MadMage wrote:
Now, that being said, I have seen some talk of ranged magical attacks - I'm pretty sure the sneak attack rule doesn't grant permission there, so that I would deny (unless you're a level 10 Arcane Trickster).

You can definitely get sneak attack on spell attacks.

The advantage of the Arcane Trickster capstone is you can get Sneak Attack on spells that don't require attack rolls, like Fireball or Magic Missile. Or Storm of Vengeance. (I REALLY want to get Sneak Attack damage on everyone in a 360 ft. radius one day.)

Not that I want to argue two things at once, but you seem to be arguing two different directions here. The rules don't actually give permission to sneak attack with spells, unless you're counting spells which require a 'ranged touch attack' as a literal ranged attack. I'm on the fence with that interpretation, I'll admit. I'll have to read into it more.

What I am absolutely certain of is that flanking is not really defined (re-defined, as it were) in the rules. This leads to one of two possibilities:

1. You use the standard English definition of the word.

or

2. You assume an excerpt from the section titled 'flanking' pertaining to a bonus referred to specifically as a 'flanking bonus' (and not just 'flanking') is the game's definition of the term.

Option 2 opens the door to a whole lot more problems than option 1 does, trust me. I can break the game if you give me permission to assume terminology is defined by sectional excerpts; I've already demonstrated how using option 2 creates logic-breaking loops akin to putting one bag of holding into another.


Canthin wrote:

Rules question to the "can flank without getting the bonus" camp: In an example of play, when do you check/define "flanking" as a GM?

Player: I move 25' up behind the enemy that Bork the Barbarian is attacking. I still have a Standard action left, so I attack the badass looking dude between us. Am I flanking?
GM: *looking at their positions* Yes you are flanking
Player: *rolling a d20* (11) + 9 = 20, does that hit?
GM: Yes, just barely
Player: *rolling dagger and sneak attack damage*
GM: Why are you rolling so many dice?
Player: Sneak attack!
GM: You don't get sneak attack because badass looking dude has Improved Uncanny Dodge and can't be flanked.
Player: But you just said I was flanking?!
GM: You are flanking, but you don't get any bonuses because he isn't considered to be flanked.
Player: Uh, ok then. I only got an 18 then because I calculated the +2 for flanking because you said I was flanking.
GM: You are flanking. And also you miss with an 18...

Or is it:

Player: I move 25'up behind the enemy that Bork the Barbarian is attacking. I still have a Standard action left, so I attack the badass looking dude between us. Am I flanking?
GM: Nope, Improved Uncanny Dodge.
Player: Ok, *rolling a d20* (11) + 7 = 18, does that hit?
GM: Almost!

I'm not sure the 'when' is relevant. You either are or aren't; how you handle this as a GM is up to you, really - you could be up front about this guy being essentially immune to flanking effects or you could keep quiet, let your players roll their dice and tell you only what the die result was, do the math yourself and then tell them what happens.

Either way doesn't really change the rules on flanking just because a creature being immune to it creates odd situations.


I love this 'immunity to flanking' angle, though. Let's take that another step, eh?

If immunity to flanking means that flanking just can't happen (as in, you can't be on opposite sides of said creature), then what does immunity to cold do? Cold can't exist around me? Do cold spells just fail around me? How about snow? Does snow just... vanish? Melt?

Or perhaps immunity to X just means I'm immune to the EFFECTS of X? Because that miiiight be easier to work with, wouldn't it?


MadMage wrote:
RumpinRufus wrote:
MadMage wrote:
Now, that being said, I have seen some talk of ranged magical attacks - I'm pretty sure the sneak attack rule doesn't grant permission there, so that I would deny (unless you're a level 10 Arcane Trickster).

You can definitely get sneak attack on spell attacks.

The advantage of the Arcane Trickster capstone is you can get Sneak Attack on spells that don't require attack rolls, like Fireball or Magic Missile. Or Storm of Vengeance. (I REALLY want to get Sneak Attack damage on everyone in a 360 ft. radius one day.)

Not that I want to argue two things at once, but you seem to be arguing two different directions here. The rules don't actually give permission to sneak attack with spells, unless you're counting spells which require a 'ranged touch attack' as a literal ranged attack. I'm on the fence with that interpretation, I'll admit. I'll have to read into it more.

Did you read the FAQ post in the link from my post? It's literally the design team stating how many times Scorching Ray (a ranged touch attack spell) can receive extra damage from Sneak Attack (their ruling is that it benefits once.)


Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
MadMage wrote:

I love this 'immunity to flanking' angle, though. Let's take that another step, eh?

If immunity to flanking means that flanking just can't happen (as in, you can't be on opposite sides of said creature), then what does immunity to cold do? Cold can't exist around me? Do cold spells just fail around me? How about snow? Does snow just... vanish? Melt?

Or perhaps immunity to X just means I'm immune to the EFFECTS of X? Because that miiiight be easier to work with, wouldn't it?

I was (poorly) trying to point out to the people that said "flanking" wasn't tied to a bonus, but was solely dependent on positioning. That if flanking = position, then if you can't flank, you can't be in that position. (which I find ridiculous because me and my players DO treat "immune to x" as "x doesn't effect you")

Maybe it's just "English" vs "Game term". To me as a GM when someone says "Am I flanking" I use the game term to determine if the answer is yes or no, not the English language term of position. Is the player making a melee attack? - Yes. Is there an ally on the opposite side that is threatening the opponent? - Yes. Is the opponent immune to flanking? - Yes. Then the answer is no, you aren't flanking.

I just don't understand the "Yes you are flanking by the legal English definition, but you aren't flanking by the rules because the target can't be flanked. But you can apply sneak attack because the rules only state that you have to be flanking, not that you need to have a bonus to flank" mentality that is out there.


Canthin wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:
still flanking as far as i can see unless something says otherwise.

Can you "flank" an Elemental? RAW says you CANNOT.

Elemental Subtype wrote:
Not subject to critical hits or flanking. Does not take additional damage from precision-based attacks, such as sneak attack.

If "flanking" is not the same as "flanking bonus", as some have said, then you are saying that two allies can't occupy squares on the opposite sides of an elemental. This makes no sense.

Saying "You don't have to have the flanking bonus in order to be considered flanking for sneak attack purposes" makes no sense.

If you read it that way, then I am not allowed to roll a 20 on the die, as that is a critical.

What it states is that it is not subject to these things. Or more plainly, you do not benefit from these things despite having them.

This is a case of specific overrules general and not a conflict in the rules.

/cevah


bbangerter wrote:
Cevah wrote:

If it is untyped, then you can stack it. For example: you face a large opponent. Just on the other side are two of your friends. Paragraph 2 shows each of the two friends is flanking. With an untyped bonus, you now get +4 on your attack. For a huge opponent, you can get +6.

No. Untyped bonuses from the same source do not stack. In this case the source is 'flanking'

I have two sources of Flanking +2 bonus. Lets say I had instead two sources of Aid Another +2 bonus on the attack. This is also untyped. So you can only be aided by one of them? I don't think so.

/cevah


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
MadMage wrote:

I'm just curious why it's being argued against so vehemently; the spirit of sneak attacking isn't violated by allowing ranged attacks to benefit from them and the exclusion all but invalidates the possibility of a rogue focused on ranged combat.

Even if we took a RAI approach, it would seem far-fetched to deny a sneak attack to a rogue who took the time to get behind an engaged opponent just because she was using a ranged weapon.

Now, that being said, I have seen some talk of ranged magical attacks - I'm pretty sure the sneak attack rule doesn't grant permission there, so that I would deny (unless you're a level 10 Arcane Trickster).

rays behave exactly like ranged attacks and are "weapon focus"-able.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
James Risner wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:

generally you need a rule to say you lose something

so i still don't see how RAW you do not qualify for a sneak attack.

The rules are written to be easy to read. They are not written in legalese and they shouldn't be.

So your concept of RAW isn't the best way to view RAW. It is more like "Rules as Wiggled into awkward interpretations".

i came to this conclusion after the question in the forum was asked, and it took me just the time to read the flanking section and then the sneak attack ability to come to this conclusion.

seemed pretty easy to read the rules this way, and not wiggled at all.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Bandw2 wrote:
seemed pretty easy to read the rules this way, and not wiggled at all.

Seems easy to read it that way for you, but your way of reading it hasn't ever came up in any game I've ever been present. Including optimized to the 9's PVP combats with Rogues trying to meter out all the advantage you can. I've seen ranged Rogues that worked hard to make all targets flat foot. Why work? When you can finagle some way to get considered "flanking" and dump your sneak attack dice with a ranged attack.

Because in real games people don't read it your way. It is only in Theoretical Optimization exercises.


James Risner wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:
seemed pretty easy to read the rules this way, and not wiggled at all.

Seems easy to read it that way for you, but your way of reading it hasn't ever came up in any game I've ever been present. Including optimized to the 9's PVP combats with Rogues trying to meter out all the advantage you can. I've seen ranged Rogues that worked hard to make all targets flat foot. Why work? When you can finagle some way to get considered "flanking" and dump your sneak attack dice with a ranged attack.

Because in real games people don't read it your way. It is only in Theoretical Optimization exercises.

Well, eating a whole bunch of AoOs would suck, and having to move into position robs you of your full attack. Plus, if you're in melee range anyway, you can usually just melee attack.

The original thought was in case ranged touch attacks are easier for you to achieve than melee touch attacks.


bbangerter wrote:
So far Cevah is the only one (IMO) that has put forth any kind of reasonable argument from the rules themselves.

Thanks.

bbangerter wrote:
As to why he insists that is the correct reading of the rules, when he knows it goes against RAI, and an alternate reading of the rules matches the RAI.... I'm at a loss on that one.

Some say it is wishful thinking. Could be. On either side. :-)

I argue my point because I believe RAW allows ranged flanking, and this is the Rules forum. I also have legacy, having played from 1st ed, and having to go from facing in 2E to no-facing in 3E, I had to adjust to the new rules to cover the old tactics. PF took 3.5's facing-less rules, and took away some verbiage, and opened up flanking to ranged. Planed or not, it was a specific removal of the statement of flanking being melee. Would you not think a removal of a restriction to be the same as implicit permission? Now the FAQ everyone gets hyper about does not actually reimpose that restriction. It actually sais there is a rule already out there, despite no one being able to clearly show it. They show post modified 3.5 text, that took out a restriction, as proof that the restriction is there. While a developer has chimed in, the clearest statement *I* remember is when he stated flanking works as others have stated, while at the same time not stating which others. Yea, I agree he wants flanking to be melee only, but he did not say that. Cagey? Perhaps. But it left us without FAQ or Errata. As to PDT policy relating to member comments, I would like to see a link showing that policy. Especially since I thought it was their policy that only PDT posts were official.

/cevah


Ssyvan wrote:
Cevah wrote:
HangarFlying wrote:

Underfoot Assault

This ability is unique in that it only requires an ally to be adjacent to the foe, not actually threaten it, in order for either of the characters to be considered flanking the foe. Though, they could still only make melee attacks.

Um...., where is the restriction to melee weapons?

Makes sense to avoid AoOs, but I don't see any text referring to how they can attack.

/cevah

I want to speak a bit more on this point

Underfoot Assault wrote:

Underfoot Assault (Ex): At 1st level, if a foe whose size is larger than the mouser's is adjacent to her and misses her with a melee attack, the mouser can as an immediate action spend 1 panache point to move 5 feet into an area of the attacker's space. This movement does not count against the mouser's movement the next round, and it doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity. While the mouser is within a foe's space, she is considered to occupy her square within that foe's space.

While the mouser is within her foe's space, the foe takes a –4 penalty on all attack rolls and combat maneuver checks not made against the mouser, and all of the mouser's allies that are adjacent to both the foe and the mouser are considered to be flanking the foe. The mouser is considered to be flanking the foe whose space she is within if she is adjacent to an ally who is also adjacent to the foe. The mouser can move within her foe's space and leave the foe's space unhindered and without provoking attacks of opportunity, but if the foe attempts to move to a position where the mouser is no longer in its space, the movement provokes an attack of opportunity from the mouser. This deed replaces opportune parry and riposte.

Gang Up wrote:
You are considered to be flanking an opponent if at least two of your allies are threatening that opponent, regardless of your actual positioning.
Since Gang Up doesn't allow you to flank a foe with a ranged attack, because flanking is specifically melee attacks, then Underfoot Assault wouldn't as well.

I don't agree about reading the Gang-Up FAQ as no ranged flanking. See previous posts for details.

A closer reading of Underfoot Assault also shows that some melee attackers would not be flanking. Specifically those with reach. Say longspear or whip.

/cevah


James Risner wrote:
Oddman80 wrote:
Cveh ... does not mean he is the only who believes that by RAW, his position is supported.

Do check the spelling on my name. It's not hard, as it is an in use game name. Not like many names on these boards with interesting spellings. :-)

James Risner wrote:
Trust me, I believe he and others feel RAW says it works. I'm fine with people believing RAW says it does. I'm not fine when they say "it only says this and doesn't say that" (when that is you can't get Sneak Attack on ranged attacks from the flanking clause.)

When you say it works your way and not mine while I say it works my way and not yours, it seems to me that is an indication it is not clear. Thus the need for a Specific FAQ on this. The Gang-up FAQ's comment on ranged flanking is a reference to rules elsewhere, so it does not add to the rules on flanking.

James Risner wrote:
I think this is basically Theoretical Optimization. I can't recall a single game or player in real life that tried to get Sneak Attack dice off a ranged attack when he wasn't Sniping, Invisible, or otherwise qualifying from the Denied Dex clause. Can anyone honestly say they have sat down at a table and asked the GM if they get Sneak Attack dice with their ranged attack due to flanking the target adjacent?

It will go from theory to fact should they say it is possible by RAW. Then you will see ranged flanking builds being used in PFS and elsewhere. If they say they did not express themselves properly and it is not possible, it will go from theory to absent. Why waste time on something not possible at all. Until one of these outcomes happens, we are between where it *might* be possible, so many try out builds in theory, where they don't have to contend with opinions different than theirs.

/cevah

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