D&D 5E What Is Sneak Attack "Equal" To, Balance-wise?

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I was thinking about the Ranger, and about how I see it more as an expert class than a warrior class, and it occurred to me that I might be on the wrong track with giving Sneak Attack to an Assassin class, and instead might give it to the Ranger.

But that then begs the question, is it enough to give the Ranger Sneak Attack in exchange for Extra Attack? Must they also lose Fighting Style? Even more?

Has anyone tried anything like this in 5e?

I wonder if you could make a half caster into a full caster by dropping Extra Attack?

I mean, I know all these things interact with other features, so it would require playtesting to really know, but I'm curious what folks thoughts are.
 

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TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
I haven't tried it, but it's a thought provoking question. Like, Extra Attack is only worth so much in a vacuum, it has to synergize with other portions of the class kit to really be "worth it". There's a reason they can throw it in to various gish subclasses (like Swords bard or Bladesinger wizard) and it doesn't obviously become broken. Whereas, I think if those subclasses had gotten Sneak Attack progression as a rogue instead, people would have had major issues with them.

I do think if you're going to trade in Extra Attack for something, you really need to throw out Fighting Style as well. If I made Paladin a full caster, I'd probably dial back some of the lower level features and spread them across Tier 1 and into Tier 2.

If I replaced Ranger Extra Attack with Sneak Attack, I'd definitely dump fighting style. I feel like something else should be dumped, but I'm not sure what. Maybe the 11th level archetype feature?
 

Retreater

Legend
I'd get rid of extra attack and spells. Which would basically just make him a rogue.
Sneak attack is the sole defining role of the modern rogue. Searching for and disabling traps, opening locks, sneaking, and all the other skills are open to every class. If you give sneak attack to any other class - why even have a rogue?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Well, assuming the ranger is using Hunter’s Mark, extra attack is worth between 8 (2d6) and 9 (1d8 + 1d6) + Dex mod damage per round, so call it about 12 damage at 5th level, increasing to about 13 by 8th level and capping out at about 14 by 12th level. Sneak Attack is worth 10.5 (3d6) damage at 5th level, 14 (4d6) at 8th level, and 21 (6d6) at 12th level, and keeps going all the way up to 35 (10d6) at 20th level. So, long-term, Sneak Attack is definitely worth more. In the mid-levels, it’s on par with extra attack plus Hunter’s Mark.

But, since you’re rebuilding the class anyway, there’s no need to give ranger Sneak Attack the same damage dice progression as rogue Sneak Attack. Maybe the ranger could be a “half Sneak Attacker,” gaining Sneak Attack at 2nd, 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th level? That seems like a fair tradeoff for extra attack to me.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I'd get rid of extra attack and spells. Which would basically just make him a rogue.
Sneak attack is the sole defining role of the modern rogue. Searching for and disabling traps, opening locks, sneaking, and all the other skills are open to every class. If you give sneak attack to any other class - why even have a rogue?
@doctorbadwolf is also looking to redo the rogue to not have Sneak Attack.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I haven't tried it, but it's a thought provoking question. Like, Extra Attack is only worth so much in a vacuum, it has to synergize with other portions of the class kit to really be "worth it". There's a reason they can throw it in to various gish subclasses (like Swords bard or Bladesinger wizard) and it doesn't obviously become broken. Whereas, I think if those subclasses had gotten Sneak Attack progression as a rogue instead, people would have had major issues with them.

I do think if you're going to trade in Extra Attack for something, you really need to throw out Fighting Style as well. If I made Paladin a full caster, I'd probably dial back some of the lower level features and spread them across Tier 1 and into Tier 2.

If I replaced Ranger Extra Attack with Sneak Attack, I'd definitely dump fighting style. I feel like something else should be dumped, but I'm not sure what. Maybe the 11th level archetype feature?
Yeah I think you're right. I will say though, some amount of the classes power comes from adding damage buffs more than once a round, so I don't know if we would need to drop anything else.

Perhaps Ranger's Sneak Attack could progress somewhat more slowly, as well. I'd definitely also rethink my plans for an alternate Ranger in terms of adding things to the base class at low level, and instead just beef up Natural Explorer as planned. Perhaps with an ability to always use Sneak Attack against a favored enemy, regardless of circumstance?
I'd get rid of extra attack and spells. Which would basically just make him a rogue.
Sneak attack is the sole defining role of the modern rogue. Searching for and disabling traps, opening locks, sneaking, and all the other skills are open to every class. If you give sneak attack to any other class - why even have a rogue?
I disagree, but that also isn't the question.

The question is one of balance, not of class identity.

As for class identity, however, this wouldn't happen in a vacuum, and sneak attack would be replaced, rather than shared. IMO the Rogue is the Rogue with or without Sneak Attack, as long as they are a non-straightforward combatant with incredible skill expertise.

I'd like to see them get Extra Attack and maybe even add "make a single weapon attack" to Cunning Action, and give each attack a short list of negative effects they an impose on an enemy.

My thought originally was to then give SA to an Assassin class, but I'm exploring if it wouldn't be better suited to the Ranger instead, and stick with the semi-mystical Assassin I've been building.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
I was thinking about the Ranger, and about how I see it more as an expert class than a warrior class, and it occurred to me that I might be on the wrong track with giving Sneak Attack to an Assassin class, and instead might give it to the Ranger.

But that then begs the question, is it enough to give the Ranger Sneak Attack in exchange for Extra Attack? Must they also lose Fighting Style? Even more?

Has anyone tried anything like this in 5e?

I wonder if you could make a half caster into a full caster by dropping Extra Attack?

I mean, I know all these things interact with other features, so it would require playtesting to really know, but I'm curious what folks thoughts are.
What scaling on the sneak dice & with what weapons? It's a pain to compare rogue sneak attack to other stuff because there are 20 different levels of sneak attack but you can pick a few breakpoints.

Rangers only get 2 attacks so it's a little easier to make comparisons though.

Longbow is 1d10 & 20 dex is a reasonable baseline that at (5.5+5)*2=21 which works out to about the same as the level 11 rogue sneak alone or 1 attack+the level 5/6 sneak tacked on. The ranger might be losing out with only one attack since weapon mods won't be multiplicative any more & it's a single all or nothing rather than two, however if the sneak die multiplies across targets hit by hail of thons once per round you might want to drop to the rogue 4/5 sneak. If you limit it to something like a shortbow & 30ish feet or crossbow rather than rogue style threatened by an ally/unaware of you going to 5/6 might be reasonable. You could also aim a little higher & stretch it out over a longer period, rogue sneak scaling is rounddown +0.5d6/level & doing something like rounddown+1/3d6 per level would give rogue 5 & 9 sneak at 9 & 15 respectively with higher levels eventually scaling to rogue 11 at 20. Wih rangers generally being considered weak this might not be a bad thing.
 

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
Yeah I think you're right. I will say though, some amount of the classes power comes from adding damage buffs more than once a round, so I don't know if we would need to drop anything else.
Oh, absolutely. I’d say baseline that extra attack is worth about 4d6 worth of sneak attack. A normal attack will do about 10 points of damage, roughly, but the extra attack can stack with a lot more buffs and is much less conditional than sneak attack.

Perhaps Ranger's Sneak Attack could progress somewhat more slowly, as well. I'd definitely also rethink my plans for an alternate Ranger in terms of adding things to the base class at low level, and instead just beef up Natural Explorer as planned. Perhaps with an ability to always use Sneak Attack against a favored enemy, regardless of circumstance?
Yea, auto SA against favored enemy makes a ton of sense. Lightening up the weapon restrictions would make sense also, maybe any one-handed melee or any ranged weapon for Ranger SA. A ranger should be able to take down enemies with a hatchet, IMO.

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Stormonu

Legend
I think if you give sneak attack to the ranger, what would need to be done is eliminate or severly curtain their spell use - I think they'd be able to use magic to pump their spell attacks to unhealthy levels (smite spells or lightning arrow + sneak attack, for example).

Also, while I'm not much of an expert, I personally think that an Extra Attack is only worth about 1/4 spell casting, certainly not half, or up to about 3d6 sneak attack.
 

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