Some feats/abilities allow you to trade off sneak attack dice for other effects. For Example, the Deep Poisoning feat description says:

When making a sneak attack with a poisoned weapon, you may elect to exchange +1d6 sneak attack damage for a +1 increase to the DC of the victim's Fortitude saving throws (maximum 5d6 exchanged for DC +5). You sacrifice outright damage for accurately delivering poison to critical parts of the victim's anatomy.

Can these Feats/Abilities be used on creatures that are normally immune to sneak attack damage?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I like this auestion, but I am curious as to how many creatures exist (besides higher level rogues) that cannot be sneak attacked, but can be poisoned. \$\endgroup\$ May 21 '19 at 21:29
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @GarretGang Someone with a 100% Fortification would be an example. \$\endgroup\$ May 21 '19 at 21:37

A comprehensive general rule is impossible

Of the game's two thousand or so feats, there are about 40 feats like the one the question describes. That is, the feats have sneak attack as a prerequisite, and they require the attacker to spend sneak attack dice to realize a different benefit. About half of those feats—so about 20 or so—are like the untyped feat Deep Poisoning (Dragon #322 37): outlier feats with no connection to other feats, their individual mechanics dictating the rules for their use.

This means the feat Deep Poisoning stands alone and can only be examined in isolation. It begins its benefit by saying, "When making a sneak attack with a poisoned weapon,…." To this reader, that indicates that if the attacker can't deal sneak attack damage to the defender, the attacker can't realize the feat's benefit. Against a shambling mound or vampire, for example, the typical attacker just won't be dealing sneak attack damage, so unless the attacker has a way to make sneak attacks against such creatures, the attacker can, essentially, stop trying to make the feat's benefit happen after word number five.

Whether other feats work in a fashion similar to the feat Deep Poisoning will depend on the feat.

However, there are rules for ambush feats

The remaining 20 feats that allow an attacker to cause a different effect by sacrificing sneak attack damage dice are classified as ambush feats. The final description of ambush feats, in part, says

Ambush feats… allow you to use your sneak attack ability to deal an additional harmful or hindering effect upon an opponent, at the cost of one or more of the extra damage dice you normally deal with a successful hit. (Drow of the Underdark 53)

In other words, for the benefit of an ambush feat to be realized, the attacker must already be able to deal sneak attack damage—and, in fact, must still deal at least +1d6 sneak attack damage to realize the ambush feat's benefit! These feats are clear in how they work, and they all work the same way.

  • \$\begingroup\$ 3276 feats of record according to the Consolidated List put out by WotC. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    May 22 '19 at 1:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko Does that exclude reprints? \$\endgroup\$ May 22 '19 at 15:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, that's the total. What's annoying is that some reprints change the text, and thus count as a new or different ability, not to mention the occasional duplicate name but totally different effect. So a simple diet to remove duplicates isn't totally accurate either, sadly. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    May 23 '19 at 2:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko Later-printed items with the same name typically replace earlier-printed items (q.v. here). There are a handful of places where this is nonsense (the general feat Fleet of Foot (Complete Warrior 99) being superseded by the regional feat Fleet of Foot (Player's Guide to Faerun 38), for instance), but, by and large, I don't think the game expects the player to pick the version of the feat he prefers any more than the game expects the player to pick the version of a prestige class or magic item he prefers. :-) \$\endgroup\$ May 23 '19 at 2:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, we do exactly that in most of our games, but these variants become regional and local specialties unique to a specific place. They want it, they have to go get it. In fact we also use second ed stuff in the form of items or training of antiquity. I just love when my players try that Antique Scroll of Fireball for the first time.... ^^ \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    May 26 '19 at 1:11


At least your example ends with "...to critical parts of the victim's anatomy." (I cannot speak for any others you had in mind). Rogue & Sneak Attack includes "A rogue can sneak attack only living creatures with discernible anatomies—undead, constructs, oozes, plants, and incorporeal creatures lack vital areas to attack."

Your example at least seems to have the same block to usage as the norm.


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