Rogue Back Attack

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marroon69
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Rogue Back Attack

Post by marroon69 »

Quick question about the how this would work. In the ability it seems that the the Rogue must make a successful hide or move silently check to get his back attack. Under hide is says that a Rogue can not be casually observed but under Move Silently is does not. So if the Rogue is in plain view and makes a move silent check can he do his back attack? To me it seems that he would have to hidden or the enemy would have to unaware of him? But thought I would ask...our Rogue complained that he would never get back attack then. Which I pointed out was not true...since he got it in the first combat where he sneaked up on a Orc Archer.

He thinks I am to harsh...but it seems to me that is the way the rules play out. I would appreciate other opinions....

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Go0gleplex
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Re: Rogue Back Attack

Post by Go0gleplex »

I've always ran this with the intent that the target must be unaware of the rogue. While the target may know the rogue is around, they don't necessarily know where.

That said, the rogue doesn't necessarily have to be in hiding if they are coming up from behind the target who is unaware of their presence. Cue Move Silent check.
If the rogue isn't approaching from behind, but instead is choosing to hide as the target approaches...or the rogue has come upon the target and tries to hide before the target becomes aware of them, then the Hide check would apply. In some cases such a situation may require both checks be made to avoid alerting the target to the rogue's presence.

If the rogue is in plain sight and the target could logically see them, irregardless of the move silent check, there would be no possibility for a successful back attack IMO. Same situation, even if the rogue were to make a successful Hide check while the target could see them, it would be meaningless since the target watched where the rogue hid. Hence the caveat of casual observance.
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mmbutter
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Re: Rogue Back Attack

Post by mmbutter »

Go0gleplex wrote:In some cases such a situation may require both checks be made to avoid alerting the target to the rogue's presence.
The description for Hide says that the rogue can move up to half his speed after successfully hiding and remain hidden. So, if they successfully hide, wait for the opponent to move past, then come up behind the opponent (as long as they never move more than half their base speed per round) no Move Silently check needs to be done.

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Re: Rogue Back Attack

Post by marroon69 »

Sure if he is hidden before the encounter then I agree...but standing in an open swamp he can not just hide or move silently why the enemy is standing there.

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Go0gleplex
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Re: Rogue Back Attack

Post by Go0gleplex »

mmbutter wrote:
Go0gleplex wrote:In some cases such a situation may require both checks be made to avoid alerting the target to the rogue's presence.
The description for Hide says that the rogue can move up to half his speed after successfully hiding and remain hidden. So, if they successfully hide, wait for the opponent to move past, then come up behind the opponent (as long as they never move more than half their base speed per round) no Move Silently check needs to be done.
That's true. But they still have to be hidden or perform their hide when the target is not observing them, ideally, when the target has their vision focused elsewhere or hasn't yet spotted the rogue.
marroon69 wrote:...but standing in an open swamp he can not just hide or move silently why the enemy is standing there.
If the target turns away from the rogue standing there so that the rogue is no longer within their field of vision, then there is a chance for the rogue to move quietly and hide. Assuming of course that there is somewhere for the rogue TO hide that isn't obvious. (refer to Monty Python's "Now for Something Completely Different-The Art of Not Being Seen") If there's only one bush or the rogue is letting bubbles out while swimming under water and can't get out of sight before running out of breath, then even if the hide check is successful there isn't going to be much point of it. At some point along the logic path, common sense has to prevail.
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marroon69
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Re: Rogue Back Attack

Post by marroon69 »

I am assuming that they could try and hide if they could just get they get behind the person. I basically said that he would have the -10 assuming that the target was distracted by the fighter he was battling. Seemed fair to me based on the hide rules.

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Re: Rogue Back Attack

Post by Go0gleplex »

marroon69 wrote:I am assuming that they could try and hide if they could just get they get behind the person. I basically said that he would have the -10 assuming that the target was distracted by the fighter he was battling. Seemed fair to me based on the hide rules.
If the rogue can get behind the target, then yes. The key phrase is "out of the line of sight."

If the target is battling a fighter but the rogue is still within the target's field of vision then your modifier is okay. Personally, I wouldn't give the rogue a chance since a successful trained combatant is able to keep track of everything in their field of vision so as to avoid other potential attacks.
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Re: Rogue Back Attack

Post by alcyone »

Pathfinder and d20 have a much more permissive "sneak attack" that a rogue gets whenever their opponent is flanked or denied their Dex bonus to AC. There is no direct equivalent in C&C.

Back to C&C, if you contrast the rogue's Back Attack to the 4th level Sneak Attack, you can see the limitations more clearly:

Code: Select all

BACK ATTACK                                                            SNEAK ATTACK
Must make a move silently or hide in shadows check         Only at the CK's discretion, not necessarily needed.
Must use a close quarters melee weapon                        Can use a variety of weapons and situations, including ranged attacks.
+4 to hit                                                                   +2 to hit
Double damage                                                          +4 damage
From the rear                                                            Situational
                                                                              Opponent misses next turn (doesn't roll initiative)
                                    Cannot be combined, must do sneak or back.
By my reading, and how I run things, is that under normal circumstances, neither of these are available past the surprise round (because the opponent is then aware of the attackers). There are exceptions. A rogue in the middle of combat under Silence and Invisibility for instance could do either, or when attacking a deafened and blinded opponent. A rogue not observed until later in the combat because of those checks of course can use the attacks. A generous CK might allow the sneak attack even if the foe is aware of the threat, even running it similarly to the Pathfinder rules above.

Some people think this is too harsh and the rogue can never shine. I am a jerk and run it as written. In any case, C&C has no rule loopholes :). The CK's common sense always wins. The intent of the move silently roll is to prevent the attacker from being observed. If you can't hear someone sneaking up on you but you are in a combat with them and just noticed they aren't in front of you anymore, your situational awareness certainly thwarts the Back Attack and maybe the Sneak Attack.

Note that the rear attack situational bonus of +2 to hit is available to anyone not using the Back Attack skill, and that would still apply if behind the foe.
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Re: Rogue Back Attack

Post by Captain_K »

I'll be the voice on the other side.. if the thief or assassin spend any amount of time sneaking, hiding working to get behind someone, usually many round... and makes all the rolls.. I don't care if the target has 90% of his brain firing and is aware a thief is out to get him.. he does not see it in that instant, lots going on in combat, all it takes is a split second for a trained pro to slip out of sight and into a target's blind spot.. give the thief or assassin the shot.. after all, sneak attack is a trivial damage add and multiplying the thief back stab is 2x or 3x likely.. if it took three rounds or more to get there then a quiver full of arrows shot from corned will do more damage and have a higher probability of doing damage than all that work to get to the back and back stab..

Back stab and sneak attack rarely happen, why make them so uncommon or hard to have happen.. it's like making a magic missile spell require a dex check, an intelligence check then the target gets to see if they are unaware of the physical impossibility of magic actually working...

I find I have to work as a GM to ever get all the stars to align for the low level thief to ever pull off a back stab... then when it does finally work he's rewarded with a wounded, but not dead, bad guy right in his face....
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Go0gleplex
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Re: Rogue Back Attack

Post by Go0gleplex »

Sorry. You're wrong about that Captain. A person with a high degree of situational awareness doesn't need to see their opponent. There is some truth to people intercepting attacks while blind. I used to make a game of closing my eyes in my HS Economics class and then point where people had moved to and identify who they were, including those behind me, with better than 80% accuracy. (I've mellowed a lot since then, not having people wanting to stick knives in me anymore.)

As long as there is line of sight, the rogue cannot hide nor make a successful back attack. Per the rule. If the rogue can create a situation where that line of sight is broken for a moment and can take advantage of it, then yes, they can hide and then work around the target to a position of best advantage from which to attack pending successful checks as apply.
Sneak attack is different in this regard, such that the situation that you are describing would be more likely to fall under that ability. It merely has the requirement of taking the target off guard rather than needing to be unseen. Back attack and sneak attack cannot be used in tandem. It's one or the other, so the sneak attack damage bonus cannot be modified in any way by the back attack bonus which is how your scenario reads.

And I don't know what you mean 'rarely happen'. I've never had any difficulty pulling either maneuver off whenever I've played a rogue (which is my second favorite class after Paladin). You simply have to plan ahead and take advantage of surroundings and items is all. More so than a mage, a rogue requires thinking through your actions IMO since it's combat squishy.
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Aramis
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Re: Rogue Back Attack

Post by Aramis »

The critics and proponents are both right :lol:. As written, the C&C back attack seems to preclude success after the surprise round. And, as written, that makes the rogue kind of sucky and back attacks as common as blue moons if the CK is strict as a school marm

My (completely personal) view is that the rogue is intended as a "tactical" combatant. Thus, he will not often equal the effectiveness of others unless he manages to act tactically in the combat. Back attacks are intended to be his tactical move par excellence.

For me, there are 2 basic situations where this should come up. 1) where the rogue has complete surprise on an unsuspecting foe. This kind of attack should be devastating but rare (maybe happens once per evening). 2) Or, where, in the hurly burly of combat, the foe knows the rogue is there somewhere but "loses track" of him, allowing the rogue to sneak up and stab him in the back. This kind of attack should get a nice bonus but not be devastating, and it should be relatively common in combat if the rogue does his tactical job correctly (maybe happens once per combat).

3e made this fairly clear by defining sneak attack as
SRD 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
and then further defines that as either when the target is "denied Dex bonus to AC" or "flanked". Both these concepts are _fairly_ clear so, easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Thus, in surprise situations, the rogue got a sneak bonus, and in tactical situations (i.e. the flanking) the rogue also got the bonus

Initially, I thought the C&C rogue was going to follow this forked path, with back attack being the rare but devastating attack and sneak attack being the common but less devastating attack. but the way the C&C attacks are written is very odd, making both unlikely to occur.

Sneak attack comes only at 4th level and requires that the foe be unsuspecting of any attack (so more rare.) but actually gives a relatively weaker benefit. Whereas the back attack is more powerful but requires a skill roll , a rear position, a particular set of weapons and, critically, requires an opponent be "unaware of the rogue's presence". And further down the page we are told that the rogue cannot hide if he is being observed (even casually), and even if the foe is distracted (whatever that means) the hide check is made at -10. Oh for the simple days of 3e and their lone requirement for flanking. Taking the C&C descriptions literally means there will be very few of either attack in the normal course of dungeoneering

One possible way to modify the C&C rule is to read the requirement for "unaware of presence" as "unaware of precise location" of the rogue. The foe knows the rogue is there somewhere, but he has lost track of him in the melee with swords and spells flying around. This could only occur when that particular foe is not engaged in direct melee combat with rogue at the time. I.e. a rogue can't swing a sword at the ogre, then make a hide check, then backstab that same ogre. His attempt must be against the bugbear who is presently fighting the ranger, even though the bugbear also knows a rogue is "present". How our rogue disengages with the ogre in front of him to go around and sneak up on the ranger's bugbear, I will leave to the (hopefully very creative) movement decisions of that player. Once disengaged from the ogre, he could come back around in later rounds and make a hide check for the ogre (if the ogre is sufficiently distracted) to lose track of him and then backstab the ogre. A failed hide check might indicate that the rogue is now being "observed" by that foe in subsequent rounds until he does something to break the observation. Magic like invisibility makes all of this much easier of course

This would probably further require that "observation" be limited in dungeon combat situations. In a brightly lit desert battle it will be almost impossible for the rogue to hide but in the more typical shadowy dungeon ruins with lots of alcoves and crevices and pools of shadow, when the foes are engaged in melee generally (but not with the rogue specifically), and the rogue makes a successful hide check, the foes have "lost track" of the rogue. If he is able to make the skill check, and position himself behind the foe, and has the appropriate weapon, and makes the to hit roll, the foe was sufficiently "unaware of his presence". Note, only the damage dice of the weapon should be doubled, not the various bonuses.

This would certainly make back attacks more common. Would it be unbalancing? Well, if we assume roughly similar HD etc. between PCs and monsters, the hide check will probably succeed about half of the time. The follow on back attack with +4 bonus is probably now equal to an equivalent fighter's BTH or a little better, so again a roughly 50% success chance on the attack. So perhaps 1 in 4 of these attempts will succeed (and these attacks are not possible at all against a number of foes). And remember, in 4 out of 4 of these attacks, the lightly armored rogue is now in face to face melee with a foe who is entirely aware of his presence and more than a little peeved.

This is all just my house ruling however. By the book, C&C seems to say that once the rogue is known about, neither attack may be attempted

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Re: Rogue Back Attack

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Quick point of detail, If the target is smart enough to see a party of PCs and say to itself "Self I bet there are thieves there mixed in that there party and I bet they might try to stab me in the back".. is that enough to forever (rest of the encounter) foil all attempts? I say no, if the thief ( as in made all the rolls note above ) manages to get behind and "successfully hide", thus no longer be in any line of sight and then successfully "move silently" up into range to back attack... that thief has become "unaware" by the target. I just re-read the pages, its is directly aware in that few seconds of exactly where the thief is, not "aware that a thief might exist in this combat"... I think it really comes down to that one sentence.. if you interpret it to mean "aware a thief might be in the room" is all it takes to stop a thief then you have short changed the professional thief who's job it is to be in the room and disappear from the room making folks nutty "how did he do that"... then moving silently from the shadow behind his target and whispering in their ear, "Because I can". The description in the PH specifically tells you "To catch an opponent unaware, a rogue must make a successful move silent check to sneak up behind..." it does not also say "and be in the surprise phase only" or " and the target must have no idea the thief exists.."... that is my take and I had hope, what I had written earlier.. you got to get behind and not be seen or heard and it is up the CK to decide how long or what that takes.. that is where it gets tough. But in general I fully agree it must be planned, the right situation etc.. but it should occur fairly regularly or have the chance to occur for the thief PCs and as noted for some that is each fight or once a night, but for me and my group through poor GMing or rolling it is rather rare, I'll have to work on that I guess.

Great discussion, well thought out on all sides, lots of room for options/opinions/logic. Thanks, Capt K
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Re: Rogue Back Attack

Post by jdizzy001 »

Personally, I make back attack hard to accomplish. Mening, RAW. To balance that decision, I am much more leniant with sneak attack. For one thing, this benefits the rouge and the assassin. Additionally, I grew up playing 3e and 4e where it is easy to get your sneak atk bonus. So, thru my colored lens, I recommend making them work for back atk and use the 3e/4e approach for sneak atk.

I can also say that, from experience, back atk is strong. X2 or x3 dmg is a lot. But for a rogue to have +2 to atk and +4 to dmg isnt going to break the game to the point that your players throw up their hands and quit. You may find them trying to be more tactical and cunning as a rogue should be.
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Re: Rogue Back Attack

Post by Captain_K »

2x and 3x means two successful attacks or three successful attacks.. if it took the thief 2+ round to get into position, while others are fighting away doing 1x each of those rounds then by the time the thief gets that 2x or 3x the fighter may have been toe to toe doing 1x with a greater damage weapon for two or three rounds. So they end up doing affectively the same damage in three rounds. Then the thief is obvious and alone from behind and is back to trying to move and hide again or attack from the back but no more special bonus to hit or damage.. so to me it is not too powerful, but it is fun and it is a class prime ability in combat and all PCs (usually) want to do their part and if your only part is listen at doors and check for traps.. well, not many players like that, they want to contribute in the battle too. Obviously the best way is to hide and let the thief start the combat actions with the surprising back attack before anyone starts anything, but can be risky and does not always happen..
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Re: Rogue Back Attack

Post by Captain_K »

Here's a new one, two weapon fighting thief, double dagger back stab,, thoughts?
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Re: Rogue Back Attack

Post by Peter »

Here's a new one, two weapon fighting thief, double dagger back stab,, thoughts?
I allowed it in one of my games, tho both hands were used for a single dagger, which was called double dagger (had 2 blades). Later in the game the Thief also got a triple dagger (had 3 blades), which looking back is more like stabbing someone in the back with a broken beer bottle :P
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Re: Rogue Back Attack

Post by Arduin »

marroon69 wrote:Quick question about the how this would work. In the ability it seems that the the Rogue must make a successful hide or move silently check to get his back attack. Under hide is says that a Rogue can not be casually observed but under Move Silently is does not.
I have no difficulty with this one. You sneak up behind someone with a successful Hide or Move Silent roll and you stick them. I don't make it more complex than that. Unless the target is actively, constantly looking behind himself, it works.
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Go0gleplex
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Re: Rogue Back Attack

Post by Go0gleplex »

This should be a training film for rogues. lol

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltmMJntSfQI
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Re: Rogue Back Attack

Post by serleran »

There is quite a difference between back attack and sneak attack; one being easier and more readily accomplished than the other. Making it too difficult severely weakens the "rogue" whereas generosity highlights the power.... so, I would suggest deciding frequency of use and remembering that, at 5th level (I believe) a rogue can move as they hide.

For me, if the rogue can get behind you and stay behind you for a full round, they can stab you. Whether you are aware of them or not. Otherwise, they can sneak kill. And they're good at that too.

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Re: Rogue Back Attack

Post by Captain_K »

what is sneak kill?
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