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The rules for rogue state that

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.

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.

This is confusing. It says that you need advantage in order to Sneak Attack but then it says you don't. Can someone please rephrase this so it is more understandable?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Added the dnd-5e tag based on quotes from the book. In the future, please make sure to add dnd-5e (or the different system you're playing) along with any other tags \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Feb 4, 2023 at 4:32

4 Answers 4

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In Laymen's terms:

  • If you have advantage - You can Sneak Attack.

  • If you don't have Advantage OR Disadvantage - you can still sneak attack if another (non-incapacitated) enemy of the target is within 5 feet of it.

Its two situations that give the bonus damage:a primary and secondary criteria.

  • If situation A fits - use that (advantage),
  • If situation B fits, you can use that instead (simplified flanking),
  • If neither apply - you don't get to sneak attack.
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It's telling you two different circumstances under which you can sneak attack.

They aren't exclusive. If either of the quoted circumstances is true, you get to add +1d6 (or more, if a higher level Rogue) to your attack's damage.

It's a 'if any of the following are true'.

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The first line doesn't read that you need advantage. It just says that if you do have advantage, you get sneak attack. It's not an if and only if.

The second provides another way of getting sneak attack. They are not contradicting each other. Let me give you a similar example:

You get an A if you scored 90 or more on the final. You don't need to get a 90 or more on the final to get an A as long as you got a 90 or more on every other assignment.

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The first quoted section is the general rule for when rogues get sneak attack, which is to say, when they have advantage.

The second quoted section is an exception of sorts-- even if the rogue does not have advantage, they still get sneak attack when all those other conditions hold.

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