5E Sneak Attack as an action

Saelorn

Hero
Something just doesn't sit right with me about the way the playtest packets approached things like sneak attack.

As written, a typical rogue would use two weapons and make two attacks, and sneak attack could be applied to one of them. Generally, you would make your first attack, and apply sneak attack if successful; then, you would make your off-hand attack, and apply sneak attack if that one was successful but the first one failed. (Let's ignore a situation where the DM lets you roll both attack simultaneously, so that you can choose to apply sneak attack to the one which happened to score the critical hit.)

It's weird to me that the state of success of your first attack should alter the properties of your second attack. The opening that your opponent leaves is not suddenly wider for the second attack, just because you happened to miss the first time. (I mean, I guess it could be, but that makes the situation much more complicated to imagine.)

What I was wondering, to anyone mathematically inclined, is what would happen if Sneak Attack was its own action, which wasn't just a modified attack (so you couldn't use it along with Extra Attack, and it wouldn't benefit from dual-wielding rules, among other things). The rogue just declares the Sneak Attack action, at which point the attack roll is made and damage is dealt. Would the loss of the second weapon - the second chance to apply sneak attack - really hurt all that much? And if so, could anything be done to re-balance it?

(Smites also really bug me, since you can see whether an attack is a critical hit before you decide whether to smite or not. I would want that to be declared ahead of time, as well, even if you didn't spend the use if the attack happened to miss.)
 

tsadkiel

Visitor
Would the loss of the second weapon - the second chance to apply sneak attack - really hurt all that much? And if so, could anything be done to re-balance it?
Yes. My campaign features a (one weapon) rogue and a (two weapon) ranger. The rogue does comparable damage (a little less, on average), but it's all or nothing. When he misses (and he misses a lot; the dice hate the poor guy) he accomplishes absolutely nothing, while the ranger almost always manages to land at least one blow. Just picking up a dagger and getting an extra chance to hit and actually apply those lovely sneak attack dice would make the rogue much more effective.
 

fjw70

Explorer
It is a game, not simulation.
What he said.

But on the multi-attack I would just assume the first missed attack distracted the target and made the second attack a sneak attack.

Smites being declared after a crit is rolled don't bother me.
 

GSHamster

Visitor
This is probably an optimization for a common case in how people play.

Many people will roll both attacks at the same time (using 2 different color d20s). Allowing Sneaks to be applied after the roll simplifies and speeds things up. If either attack hits, you apply Sneak attack damage.

As well, from a math point of view, this makes a Sneak attack more likely, and thus the damage of a single Sneak attack can be lowered while still keeping the average or expected damage the same.

For example, let's say the expected damage from Sneak attack over 10 rounds is 50 damage. If you have a 50% chance of hitting, each Sneak attack should do 10 points of damage. If you have a 75% chance of hitting, each Sneak attack should do 6.67 damage.

Adding Sneak Attack to either main or offhand keeps it less "bursty" and a smoother experience.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
The extra chance and damage is valuable, but easy enough to compensate for -- they make Sneak Attack as an action, roll an extra die, and deal 2[W] damage on a hit.
 
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Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
It's a valid question. From a simulationist perspective sneak attack and smiting are difficult. I play D&D simulationist myself, but I've basically put off worrying about that until I have the finished rules to work with.

Since, from a game perspective, I actually like the effects of it, I'm probably going to find a way to spin it in my head that doesn't offend my D&D playstyle without actually changing the rules.
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
It's a valid question. From a simulationist perspective sneak attack and smiting are difficult. I play D&D simulationist myself, but I've basically put off worrying about that until I have the finished rules to work with.

Since, from a game perspective, I actually like the effects of it, I'm probably going to find a way to spin it in my head that doesn't offend my D&D playstyle without actually changing the rules.
The first time you hit them in the turn, they change their position, thus negating the perfect positioning you've got for future sneak attacks. :)
 

MarkB

Legend
What he said.

But on the multi-attack I would just assume the first missed attack distracted the target and made the second attack a sneak attack.
I'd think of it as a feint, to set up the target. Basically, if they don't see the first attack coming, they'll take a nasty hit - but if they do see the first attack coming, the easiest direction for them to dodge that attack will send them right into the path of the second attack.

If both attacks miss, then the enemy was either too fast, or too smart to fall for that tactic.
 
The extra chance and damage is valuable, but easy enough to compensate for -- they make Sneak Attack as an action, roll an extra die, and deal 2[W] damage on a hit.
Assuming you mean an extra [W], and mean an extra SA die by "roll an extra die", and looking at say, a shortsword, this would result in very significant increase in SA damage over it working if either weapon hits at lower levels (up to 4d6 SA), and a small-but-significant decrease at higher levels (when you have 6d6 SA or more).
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Assuming you mean an extra [W], and mean an extra SA die by "roll an extra die", and looking at say, a shortsword, this would result in very significant increase in SA damage over it working if either weapon hits at lower levels (up to 4d6 SA), and a small-but-significant decrease at higher levels (when you have 6d6 SA or more).
Yeah, that wasn't very clear -- 1 extra attack die, and one extra W if it hits, too.
 

UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
I´d like sneak attack as an action.

I don´t like to see every rogue dual wielding. Instead I would start with higher sneak attack damage. +2d6 sits well with me.
 

Mistwell

Legend
I´d like sneak attack as an action.

I don´t like to see every rogue dual wielding. Instead I would start with higher sneak attack damage. +2d6 sits well with me.
I've only ever seen rogues in 5e focused on archery and not dual wielding. They already do plenty of damage, particularly if they start the battle with an assassination.
 
I've only ever seen rogues in 5e focused on archery and not dual wielding. They already do plenty of damage, particularly if they start the battle with an assassination.
We're talking about mathematically accounting for the lost damage in changing the rules, though, and actually his suggestion fails to do that at higher levels, whilst making Rogues even better at very low levels.

If one doesn't care about Rogues losing damage, obviously, it's a non-issue.
 

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