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I have a Rogue with the Assassin Archetype in a campaign I am playing. Our DM allowed us an additional feat which I chose Piercer as I am using a longbow as my main weapon (rapier for close quarters).

Assassinate states:

You have advantage on attack rolls against any creature that hasn't taken a turn in combat yet and any hit you score against a surprised creature is a critical hit

So, assuming I am hidden, and surprise an enemy and hit them, would this also count as a sneak attack? This would bring a 1d8 (Longbow) + 2d6 (Sneak) to a 2d8 + 4d6 attack.

Next, the Piercer feat states:

Once per turn, you can re-roll the piercing damage from an attack. On a critical hit, you can roll one additional damage die

Is the additional damage die simply another d8, making the damage a total of 3d8 + 4d6? Or is there an additional sneak attack die too? When it comes to re-rolling, is this limited to one of the d8 die, or can I re-roll the entire attack as they are all contributing to piercing damage? I assume I would then have to go with the new roll. I also get to add my dex modifier to the damage, so is this just done once at the end, or is it doubled for a crit?

I just want to make sure I am understanding my abilities before I attempt a 1 hit stealth kill (which may well fail anyway) next session.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Remember that you will need some way for your rogue to be proficient with longbows; they are military ranged weapons and by default rogues don't have that proficiency. \$\endgroup\$
    – Marq
    Commented Mar 5 at 13:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Marq Variant Eladrin with Elf Weapon training has that covered \$\endgroup\$
    – MCG
    Commented Mar 5 at 13:58

2 Answers 2

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Let's walk through it

With a longbow you get the following base damage:

  • 1d8 + Dex
  • Average of 4.5 + Dex

Assassinate gives advantage on attack rolls, letting you add Sneak Attack:

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:

  • 1d8 + 2d6 + Dex
  • Average of 11.5 + Dex

Assassinate turns a hit against a surprised opponent into a critical hit, doubling your damage dice (you don't double the Dexterity mod):

When you score a critical hit, you get to roll extra dice for the attack's damage against the target. Roll all of the attack's damage dice twice and add them together.

  • 2d8 + 4d6 + Dexterity
  • Average of 23 + Dex

Now that we have a critical hit, Piercer adds one extra die (I choose the d8 here since it has a higher expected value):

When you score a critical hit that deals piercing damage to a creature, you can roll one additional damage die when determining the extra piercing damage the target takes.

  • 3d8 + 4d6 + Dexterity
  • Average of 27.5 + Dex

Piercer lets us reroll any one of these dice:

Once per turn, when you hit a creature with an attack that deals piercing damage, you can reroll one of the attack’s damage dice, and you must use the new roll.

  • 3d8 + 4d6 + Dexterity (one reroll)
  • Average of 29.5 + Dex1

1: To calculate this, I simulated 10,000 rolls choosing to reroll the lowest die if it less than the average on that die prioritizing d8s on a match.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Fantastic. Just what I was after. Upvoted and accepted \$\endgroup\$
    – MCG
    Commented Feb 28 at 15:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ By my reading, the first usage of Piercer, adding one die of damage, forces you to choose between the d8 and the d6, since both were damage from critical hits that did piercing damage - as it is generally assumed that sneak attack damage is of the same type as the base attack. Clearly, choosing the d8 rather than the d6 is the better choice, but it is still a choice you make, so you might want to be explicit. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Feb 28 at 15:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt Added explanations of rolling strategy, and also fixed my math (9 + 14 is not 25) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 28 at 15:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt yes, I had the session last night and I chose to roll an extra d8 rather than d6! The re-roll came up big too as it swapped a 1 for a 6, then a 2 for an 8 (managed to surprise 2 enemies) \$\endgroup\$
    – MCG
    Commented Feb 29 at 14:40
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So let's assume you beat your opponent on initiative and they are surprised. Let's assume you also hit.

The Assassinate feature says this is a critical hit. According to the basic rules on critical hits:

Roll all of the attack's damage dice twice and add them together. Then add any relevant modifiers as normal

So you roll your damage dice twice. So you roll 2d8 (longbow twice) + 4d6 (sneak dice twice). And then you add your Dexterity modifier.

The Piercer feat says:

  • Once per turn, when you hit a creature with an attack that deals piercing damage, you can reroll one of the attack’s damage dice, and you must use the new roll.
  • When you score a critical hit that deals piercing damage to a creature, you can roll one additional damage die when determining the extra piercing damage the target takes.

Note this allows you to re-roll one of the damage dice, so you can choose whether you want to re-roll one of the d8s (from the longbow) or one of the d6s (from the sneak attack). Then for the crit you get to add one additional damage dice so, again, you can choose whether you want to add an additional d8 or d6 (obviously the d8 a better choice here).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Brilliant, thank you for the answer. Upvoted, but unfortunately can only accept one answer and the other had that tiny bit more info in it. \$\endgroup\$
    – MCG
    Commented Feb 28 at 15:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MCG That's ok. I was trying to expand on my answer but my wi-fi kept dropping! \$\endgroup\$
    – PJRZ
    Commented Feb 28 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Always the way! Still has all the relevant information in the answer though \$\endgroup\$
    – MCG
    Commented Feb 29 at 14:41

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