Saturday, April 24, 2010

Backstab and Turn Undead

After a bit of research today, here are rules clarifications on two abilities we debated a bit during last night's game:

  • Backstab - To backstab, the intended target must be unaware of the thief (this typically requires at least a Move Silently check). The target need not be "living," but it must have a discernible backside (for example, slimes and beholders cannot be backstabbed). A successful backstab renders the victim instantly aware of the thief, automatically foiling subsequent attempts. Also remember that thieves gain +4 to hit when backstabbing.
  • Turn undead - This ability can only be attempted once per encounter, per cleric.


  1. So unaware of existence in the room vs unaware of current location?

    What about a low intelligence creature that *isn't* aware of your existence if it isn't looking at you (for example, a giant goldfish)

    I guess I don't totally buy it... there have to be situations where one can *become* unaware of another even if he was once aware of that same person...

  2. The idea behind the rule is that, once the opponent becomes mentally aware that an attack may be coming from an unknown location, their alertness is raised to the point that backstabbing is no longer possible (at least, not in the +4 to hit, x2 damage sense).

    Based on the above, I suppose the goldfish scenario is reasonable EXCEPT that a goldfish does not have a discernible backside. The to-hit bonus for backstab stems from the opponent not expecting the attack; the damage bonus stems from the thief knowing exactly where to strike. (This is why there's often debate over whether backstabbing undead should be allowed - if they don't have functioning vital organs, etc...)