How Does Sneak Attack Work in DnD 5e?


A Sneak Attack in DnD 5e is a neat little feature of the Rogue class that comes in handy, given the right circumstances.
We’ve become accustomed for rogues and other similar miscreants in RPG settings to have some sort of mechanic like this. The ability to do extra damage to an unsuspecting foe. Well, Dungeons and Dragons was the first to start that trope.

And like the rest of Dungeons and Dragons. This mechanic is governed by a lot of systems, and a lot of numbers.
But don’t you worry. Today we will be looking at what sneak attack is, how to properly perform it and what numbers to keep in mind.

So, without further ado, let’s get right into it.

What is a Sneak Attack in DnD 5e?

The Sneak Attack is a class feature that Rogues can perform to get extra 1d6 dice on their rolls. The Player’s Handbook best describes it, so I’ll just use that description instead.

“Beginning at 1st level, you know how to strike subtly and exploit a foe’s distraction.
Once per turn, you can deal an extra 1d6 damage to one creature you hit with an attack if you have advantage on the attack roll. The attack must use a finesse or a ranged weapon.
You don’t need advantage on the attack roll if another enemy of the target is within 5 feet of it, that enemy isn’t incapacitated, and you don’t have disadvantage on the attack roll.
The amount of the extra damage increases as you gain levels in this class, as shown in the Sneak Attack column of the Rogue table.”

Now, to explain what all of this means.

How Sneak Attacks Work

In order to perform a sneak attack you must either have: a) an advantage over your foe or b) an ally within 5 feet of your target.
Having an advantage is pretty self explanatory, so I’ll move on to explaining the other part.

What is an ally?
And no, I don’t mean to get philosophical here. An ally is any creature, be it a human player, or a NPC willing to help you accomplish your goals of killing the target.
I like to imagine the RP reason behind this is that you need someone to distract your target so that you can strike.
Obviously you wouldn’t just walk up to your target and introduce yourself with: – “Hi. I’m here to stab you in the back. This is my friend, he’s supposed to distract you. Please be distracted so that I may stab you in the back. Thank you.”

But hey, that’s just me. What do I know.
Oh right, onto the important numbers.

Table For Sneak Attack Dice Per Level

Rogue LevelSneak Attack Dice

As you can see, the numbers go way up there as you advance in levels. Having 10 extra d6 dice to roll at lvl 19 is no small thing after you add it all up.

Another important thing to mention here is that. These numbers don’t scale up if you multiclass. What this means is, no matter what level your character is, if his levels in rogue aren’t sufficient then you won’t get the extra dice.

FAQs About Sneak Attack in DnD 5e

Which weapons can sneak attack?

Only weapons with the finesse property can be used to perform a sneak attack. You wouldn’t sneak attack with a cannon now would you?
The weapons with which a rogue is proficient at sneak attacking are: Daggers, Shortswords, Rapiers and Darts. There are also ranged weapons, but these have to be learned. You can also use a Scimitar and whips, but you also have to learn how to use those too.

How many sneak attack can I perform in combat?

Sneak Attacks can be performed once per turn. What this means is that you can perform a sneak attack multiple times per encounter. If you can find a way how to, that is.

Which subclass should I play as?

This one depends on your preference. All the subclasses alter the sneak attack mechanic somehow. So it’s best to consult the Player’s Handbook to best understand what suits your play style.

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