There are numerous ways to get additional d6’s worth of sneak attack, but almost all of them require that you have 1d6 (or more) sneak attack before you can take them. How does one get +1d6 sneak attack damage from non-level sources when one has no sneak attack?

There is at least one way—Martial Stance (assassin’s stance) from Tome of Battle, which actually gives +2d6—but that isn’t available until 12th or (if the DM is generous) maybe 9th, and requires another feat besides.

  • Any Wizards of the Coast published 3.5e material, as well as any 3.5e content from Dragon and Dungeon magazines, is legitimate. This includes 3e material that is legal under 3.5e rules.
  • While stuff earlier than Martial Stance’s 12th is preferred, any content available pre-epic is acceptable.
  • Epic content is not allowed, even if you somehow cheese into it prior to epic levels.
  • Infinite or arbitrary loops are not allowed.
  • Manipulate form is not allowed.
  • Any kind of polymorph or shape changing is not allowed.
  • The sneak attack must be available on a continuous, permanent basis. A magic item is acceptable, as is a 24-hour daily effect (e.g. spell), but not anything less than that.
  • Persistent Spell, and any other means of turning a less-than-24-hour-duration spell into a 24-hours duration spell, are not allowed.
  • LA counts as “levels” for this purpose, as do RHD. No ECL can be consumed by a valid answer.
  • Bloodlines are not allowed.
  • Any form of “undoing” levels (e.g. level loss from energy drain or resurrection, curing lycanthropy, various rituals) is not allowed.
  • No assumptions about which classes are taken may be made, though you may leave achieving the necessary BAB/saves/skill ranks as an exercise for the reader so long as they’re non-epic values.
  • No assumptions about outside assistance, aside from the general existence of people who can and do make various magic items.

Really, what I want is feats and/or magic items that just say “you gain +1d6 [or more] sneak attack,” not some kind of shenanigan. Assassin’s stance proves it exists, and I’m fairly confident there’s some more out there (some named magic weapons, IIRC?). If you’re inclined to suggest a shenanigan, you may be well served running it by me in a comment before you spend your time—I have made every effort to provide a thorough list of the things I’m against, but if an answer manages to prove me wrong, I’m still not going to be happy with the shenanigan.


1 Answer 1


Novice Shadow Hands

Novice Shadow Hands (ToB, p. 150) grant the wearer "the use of a single [Shadow Hand] maneuver for which he meets the prerequisite."

Tome of Battle is unclear on whether stances are maneuvers. On page 5, it says:

A stance is a special type of maneuver.

...but later (p. 43), it appears to contradict this:

A stance is not a maneuver, but a specific fighting method that you maintain from round to round.


Stances are considered maneuvers for the purpose of fulfilling prerequisites for learning higher-level maneuvers, or qualifying for prestige classes or feats.

The prerequisites for Assassin's Stance are initiator level 5 and one known Shadow Hand maneuver.

Thus, if your DM rules that stances are maneuvers for the purposes of these gloves, they will allow you to use Assassin's Stance to meet Sneak Attack prerequisites at level 10 (assuming no levels in ToB classes) at the cost of one feat (Martial Study for any Shadow Hand maneuver), an improvement over level 12 and two feats.

At a cost of 3000 gp, these are well within the means of a level 10 character.

Assassination weapon property

The Assassination weapon property (+1 price equivalent), from part 3 of the Cityscape web enhancements, grants the following bonus:

An assassination weapon deals an extra 1d6 points of damage against a foe who is flat-footed or otherwise denied a Dexterity bonus to AC, or who is flanked.

This damage works exactly like sneak attack damage, but is not explicitly called out as the sneak attack ability. It is explicitly stated to stack with the sneak attack ability, however, with phrasing that sorta-kinda implies that the damage from the weapon property is sneak attack damage (emphasis mine):

If the wielder deals sneak attack damage from other sources, such as levels in the rogue class, the extra damage stacks.

Probably not as RAW-airtight as you're looking for, but perhaps worth asking your DM if this is for an actual game.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I imagine a lot of DMs are going to take a dim view of novice shadow hands too (because while they totally are maneuvers, stances don’t seem totally in keeping with what those items are trying to do—a lot of DMs will likely view that as an oversight), but both solid ideas to ask after, +1. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jan 14, 2021 at 22:30

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