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D&D 5E Sneak Attack with spells?


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ECMO3

Hero
You're an arcane trickster. Why are you wasting your bonus action on aiming when you could be using your familiar to do the help action?
Numerous reasons:

1. Most familiars will die the first time they do this in battle.

2. All of them will die if they do this repeatedly in battle.

3. Any AOE will usually kill a familiar and if it is walking around with you it will rarely survive an adventuring day and cost 10gp, an hour and a spell slot every time you resummon it. It takes an action to call your familiar from its pocket plane. So assuming you are keeping it safe you will lose an action to summon it in combat.

4. Not all Arcane Tricksters have Find Familiar and if they do their spell selections are VERY limited. Also carrying around a brazier all the time can be difficult unless you have decent strength or a bag of holding.

Usually when I play a single-classed AT I get find familiar at third level, then I summon my familiar and promptly put him away and only let him out when I need him. At 4th level I keep the familiar but switch that spell slot out for something more useful that is not on the AT list like cause fear, shield or absorb elements.

The only time this is really a viable tactic all the time is on a Wizard multiclass that can bot summon a new familiar with a ritual during a short rest AND has the gold/incense to spare.
 
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The familiar give you free advantage util it dies. If someone wastes an attack to target it, that's a win as well.

Multiclassing as a wizard is pretty much a win as well.
 

ECMO3

Hero
The familiar give you free advantage util it dies.

That is usually 1 turn if you use it for this

If someone wastes an attack to target it, that's a win as well.
It costs an AT a spell slot to summon it, so I would say being a win is debatable if this is all you get out of it. If all your familiar does is give 1 advantage and suck up 1 attack, then I would say it is a tradeoff. Another 1st level spell like Cause Fear or even Tasha's Laughter can do far better than just eliminating 1 attack.

To be clear I am not downing familiars, they have a wide range of uses and this is one and in the right circumstance it is a good one, but it is not something you can count on every fight.
 

That is usually 1 turn if you use it for this


It costs an AT a spell slot to summon it, so I would say being a win is debatable if this is all you get out of it. If all your familiar does is give 1 advantage and suck up 1 attack, then I would say it is a tradeoff. Another 1st level spell like Cause Fear or even Tasha's Laughter can do far better than just eliminating 1 attack.

To be clear I am not downing familiars, they have a wide range of uses and this is one and in the right circumstance it is a good one, but it is not something you can count on every fight.
1 turn is your experience, I have found it to be rarely attacked. I also think that picking up ritual casting for an Arcane Trickster is just a very good idea. Being able to save your spell slots is very useful. (Although less so if you have another wizard in the party I guess).

Find familiar also doesn't require you to have a good saving throw DC.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Sneak attack does not work with spells. Anyone who wants it to work with Toll of the Dead, Dancing Lights, or intense glares, go ahead. I think the OP was asking if the rules as written allow it.
The OP was seven years ago. I'm pretty sure Mouseferatu has got his answer by now.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
There's no reason you have to. It might seem arbritraty, but this is D&D, arbritrary rules for balance purposes is the name of the game.

Honestly, I don't think allowing it with spells is a big deal anyway. Arcane Trickstrs just don't have that many spell slots.

But I'd probably want to do some playtesting of that to see how it went.
Maybe. 3-4 attack rolls, though, pretty much guarantees a hit to do sneak attack.
 

Maybe. 3-4 attack rolls, though, pretty much guarantees a hit to do sneak attack.
For a daily resource. It ought to be worth using.

And remember, you only do one sneak attack once, no matter how many times you hit.

Hit chances in 5e are already high, Advantage makes them even higher. You probably are doing sneak attack anyway. How often do rogues fail to hit at all in your games? In my experience the rogue either has Advantage, is dual wielding or both. They're not fighters with several attacks, they need to hit or they waste their turn. The game recognises that.

I think this is one of those things that sounds overpowered but probably really isn't in practice.

A vengeance paladin with their advantage thingy up and two attacks a round is pretty much guaranteed to do at least one Divine Smite, but we don't worry about that.
 

ECMO3

Hero
1 turn is your experience, I have found it to be rarely attacked. I also think that picking up ritual casting for an Arcane Trickster is just a very good idea. Being able to save your spell slots is very useful. (Although less so if you have another wizard in the party I guess).

Find familiar also doesn't require you to have a good saving throw DC.
You can't cast it as a ritual as an Arcane Trickster. Arcane Tricksters do not have the ritual casting feature. They need to use a spell slot every single time they cast find familiar or any other spell with the ritual tag. If your DM is not enforcing this that is a big difference.

If you are using it to cause advantage it must get to melee range and a smart enemy should attack it. A familiar should never last more than 2 turns for level 3 players if it is helping every turn. An Owl can do a bit better using flyby, as long as the enemy is not using an AOE or missile weapons.

If your experience is that your DM never fights smart, then that is different than my experience.
 

You can't cast it as a ritual as an Arcane Trickster. Arcane Tricksters do not have the ritual casting feature.
Obviously. I wouldn't have said it's a good idea to get it if they already had it now would I.

They need to use a spell slot every single time they cast find familiar or any other spell with the ritual tag. If your DM is not enforcing this that is a big difference.

If you are using it to cause advantage it must get to melee Range and a smart enemy will attack it. A familiar should never last more than 2 turns for level 3 players if it is helping every turn. An Owl can do a bit better due to flyby, as long as the enemy is not using an AOE or missile weapons.

If your experience is that your DM never fights smart, then that is different than my experience.

I think we're going to have to disagree. Other than passively agressively insulting my DM you are not putting forward anything new.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Why does 'fight smart' always mean 'wastes turns to specifically hose a player (not character, player) rather than deal with active threats', AKA, not fighting smart at all?
 

Irlo

Explorer
Why does 'fight smart' always mean 'wastes turns to specifically hose a player (not character, player) rather than deal with active threats', AKA, not fighting smart at all?
I'm not so sure that dealing with the familiar is not fighting smart. As a player, if an opponent had some tiny, vulnerable ally that was continually distracting me to grant advantage (and large amounts of damage), I would certainly hope that someone in my party would take it out fast, if I didn't do it myself.
 

The familiar give you free advantage util it dies. If someone wastes an attack to target it, that's a win as well.
While it is an option in your tool belt, I would rather have an hour of scouting with a living familiar after combat, than spend that time stationary summoning another. :p
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
I'm not so sure that dealing with the familiar is not fighting smart. As a player, if an opponent had some tiny, vulnerable ally that was continually distracting me to grant advantage (and large amounts of damage), I would certainly hope that someone in my party would take it out fast, if I didn't do it myself.
It's massive metagaming.

Imagine you're hired to ice some dude and his parakeet won't stop squawking, which is distracting you while he's trying to self-defense you to death with a knife. Do you distract yourself more to kill the bird while giving the guy more time to see if his Cutco can go still cut a tomato after bisecting an assailant's spinal cord?

Long story short, does anyone know what parrots eat? I tried cookies, but I think Minecraft lied to me.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It's massive metagaming.
It's not. Advantage is a mechanic. Some small creature putting you off guard so it's harder to defend yourself against the rogue is something very, VERY apparent in the game.
Imagine you're hired to ice some dude and his parakeet won't stop squawking, which is distracting you while he's trying to self-defense you to death with a knife. Do you distract yourself more to kill the bird while giving the guy more time to see if his Cutco can go still cut a tomato after bisecting an assailant's spinal cord?
No. You spend a few seconds defending yourself against the guy cutting you to ribbons BECAUSE of the parakeet, to end the cause of your getting cut to ribbons. It's a smart move.
Long story short, does anyone know what parrots eat? I tried cookies, but I think Minecraft lied to me.
If my old house is any indication. Wood planking on the walls. :p

Have you tried crackers? Polly want a cracker is like the oldest parrot line I know.
 

The assumption in the equation is that without the familiar the rogue won't get advantage. That seems dubious. If the rogue isn't getting advantage almost every round anyway then something is very wrong. (or defacto advantage by dual wielding in melee).

What you stop the rogue from doing by killing their familiar is using their bonus action to do something else. Is that really worth wasting an attack on? (In some circumstances yes. But probably not most of the time).
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The assumption in the equation is that without the familiar the rogue won't get advantage. That seems dubious. If the rogue isn't getting advantage almost every round anyway then something is very wrong. (or defacto advantage by dual wielding in melee).

What you stop the rogue from doing by killing their familiar is using their bonus action to do something else. Is that really worth wasting an attack on? (In some circumstances yes. But probably not most of the time).
Ahh, but playing on that knowledge WOULD be metagaming. It's the familiar that the bad guy is seeing as the issue. He doesn't know if the rogue has some other way to make him vulnerable.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Why does 'fight smart' always mean 'wastes turns to specifically hose a player (not character, player) rather than deal with active threats', AKA, not fighting smart at all?
When it stops a sneak attack not to mention advantage and any other actions. Darn right it is smart and attacking a familiar is never a waste if it hits. If you hit it almost always takes down the familiar ..... and if it doesn't hit it probably would not have hit a player anyway.

A few points to consider:

1. Down low hp enemies first: Typically the most effective tactic in any battle is to concentrate on wounded and low hp enemies first. Take them enemy off the battlefield eliminating actions from that character for the entire rest of the fight. With 1 or 2hps a familiar is normally the lowest hp creature in the party. Hitting him once takes away its action that turn and every turn thereafter for the entire battle. Choose to attack someone else and unless you down him/her you lose no actions.

2. No Whack a Mole: A familiar can't be healed from 0. If you take the familiar to 0 it is done, no healing word to get it back in the fight. Again in terms of action economy, it loses its action for the entire fight. Depending on the initiative order, bringing a familiar to 0 can be a bigger benefit in terms of action economy than bringing a party member to 0.

3. Severely cuts into party member attacks: Advantage is a huge boost even without the SA it comes with.

Now I am not saying they will always target a familiar. If the familiar is hanging back and doing nothing in the battle I might not specifically go after it (unless it is really easy and the opportunity presents itself), but if the familiar is up in melee and giving someone advantage every turn, or if it has Dragon's breath cast on it and it is strafing the bad guys for 3d6 every turn .... darn right I am going to go out of my way to kill it.

Finally a familiar is VERY vulnerable. If you have him out all the time he is going to die often. He will die from almost any AOE. If your enemy decides to use freaking sword burst your familiar is going to die. Should I choose not to use it just because the cat is up there next to the tank and helping by scratching at the enemies legs and I don't want to "hose a player".

They will also die from traps just skulking through the dungeon on the Rogue's shoulder, it is not just enemy attacks. If he is not out all the time then he often is not going to be out on the first turn of combat meaning it costs an action to summon him. If he is out all the time he is going to die a lot.
 
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ECMO3

Hero
The assumption in the equation is that without the familiar the rogue won't get advantage. That seems dubious. If the rogue isn't getting advantage almost every round anyway then something is very wrong. (or defacto advantage by dual wielding in melee).
What you stop the rogue from doing by killing their familiar is using their bonus action to do something else. Is that really worth wasting an attack on? (In some circumstances yes. But probably not most of the time).

With Booming Blade she won't typically get advantage regularly and certainly not almost every turn and you can't use Two Weapon Fighting with booming blade because TWF requires you use an attack action and booming blade uses the cast a spell action.

Yes TWF is normally the rough equivalent of advantage, but if you do that you lose the extra cantrip damage.

Doing it with a ranged cantrip would allow you to get the advantage AND the cantrip damage .... almost every turn like you said.
 
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With Booming Blade he won't typically get advantage regularly and certainly not almost every turn and you can't use two weapon fighting with booming blade because TWF requires you use an attack action and booming blade uses the cast a spell action.
God I hate the whole concept of RAW. I've never seen anyone apply this, nor would I apply it myself. It doesn't make any sense and it's based off rules text that predates these kinds of cantrips anyway.
 

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