I like the idea of the Inquisitive rogue archetype combined with the City Watch feature for a Commander Vimes-type character concept. Maybe not Vimes exactly, but, y'know, in that line.

But although so much of Inquisitive fits, the whole "sneak attack" thing doesn't so much. Are there any published options for a "swap in" alternative that has a little... less sneak?

Something thematically linked to street fighting or urban brawling would be fine, but the whole sniper/backstab angle doesn't really fit in my mind. That's a problem, as this is the key mechanical combat feature of the class, and I don't want to come up with self-justifications for "re-coloring" the feature every round in combat.

I'm pretty sure there's nothing in Xanathar's or any of the other hardcovers, but is there Unearthed Arcana I've overlooked? What about DM's Guild material that one might be able to convince a lenient Adventurer's League DM is a reasonable substitute?

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    \$\begingroup\$ The community stance is that linking to D&D Beyond is fine, we can reference that service or books and preferably both when someone can do so. If you're able and willing to add a book & page number reference I invite you to do so. Bear in mind books are paywalled too, by having to buy the book. Here's our meta discussing linking to D&D Beyond for references: Stance on using D&D Beyond for references? - feel free to vote or contribute. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 30, 2018 at 20:38

2 Answers 2


Keep the mechanic, change the name

There is actually nothing “sneaky” about “Sneak Attack” - the name is a holdover from earlier editions when it was sneaky. Indeed, in really early editions it was called “backstab”: they weren’t subtle - Rogues were called Thieves.

The mechanic kicks in when you have advantage or an ally distracting your enemy (some specialities expand on this). Being hidden is one way to get advantage but there are lots more, in any case, 90% of “sneak” attacks come from having a nearby ally.

Don't be frightened to use what you learned when you were kids. We don't get marks for playing fair. And for closeup fighting, as your senior sergeant I explicitly forbid you to investigate the range of coshes, blackjacks and brass knuckles sold by Mrs Goodbody at No. 8 Easy Street, at a range of prices and sizes to suit all pockets, and should any of you approach me privately I absolutely will not demonstrate a variety of specialist blows suitable for these useful yet tricky instruments.

Samuel Vimes (Night Watch (2002), Terry Pratchett)

Knowing where to hit someone to hurt them the most is very Sam Vimes. If you want to call it “Street Fighting” or “Dirty Fighting” or “Kick ‘em in the fork” I won’t stop you. Admittedly that last one is more Nobby than Vimes.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Jan 31, 2018 at 2:51

Homebrew A Different Feature

"Sneak Attack" uses advantage to deal bonus damage, however gaining the advantage in combat can have other effects. An example of this would be gaining "points" to fill a "gauge" when Sneak Attack would be triggered. The points could be spent on a feature similar to action surge. Alternatively, you could give a bonus to hit or grant bonus damage based off of the hit total instead of granting sneak attack damage.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the stack Logan, take the tour when you have a moment. This post gives some guidance for the sort of things we are and are not looking for from really good answers. In particular, we like to see subjective answers like your backed up with experience implementing the suggested solution. Have you used any homebrew alternatives to Sneak Attack like the one you suggest? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 16, 2022 at 18:00

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