While reading this question: Can a Barbarian/Rogue Sneak Attack during a Rage? it made me think, Is there a "mundane" way to avoid sneak attack?

Sneak Attack works when a rogue: "can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from her attack.." So my thinking is this..If I am flanked by say a fighter and a rogue, can I completely ignore the fighter behind me, effectively making me flatfooted against just the fighter to concentrate ONLY on the rogue..this would me me able to "defend effectively from her attack."

I know this has got to be one of the most ineffective ways to negate it but it should work..a less deadly option would be to replace the fighter with a wizard (as far as flatfooted AC next to an enemy goes).


  • \$\begingroup\$ Which version of D&D are you asking about? dungeons-and-dragons is meant for discussing D&D as a whole. \$\endgroup\$
    – Simon Gill
    Jan 30, 2013 at 1:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm mainly concerned with 3.5, however, I left that blank b/c I'm curious if another edition has something to say about it that might be helpful. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben-Jamin
    Jan 30, 2013 at 2:08
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ 3E was the first edition to include sneak attack and 4Es mechanics are different enough to not be relevant to the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Simon Gill
    Jan 30, 2013 at 2:12
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ See What are the most effective ways to protect a character against critical hits? – protection against a critical hit is protection from Sneak Attack. Some additional measures (mostly Uncanny Dodge) apply to Sneak Attack but not critical hits, though, so this is not exactly a duplicate but a superset of the other question. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jan 30, 2013 at 3:26
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Always fight from a corner. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phill.Zitt
    Jan 30, 2013 at 15:37

2 Answers 2


What you are talking about is combat facing variant, which indeed allows to turn your back to the fighter and not fear the sneak attack from the rogue. There is no such option in the standard rules.

Otherwise, seek cover (tower shield, preferrably animated), concealment (if Tome of Battle is mundane enough for you), uncanny dodge or any protection from critical hits (not that it can be obtained in mundane ways, though).


By RAW, what you described does not work; if you're flanked, you're flanked, and there's not a lot you can do about that. However, you can invest in the Uncanny Dodge ability (Barbarians, Rogues, Monks, and Warblades get it). If you're concealed or totally concealed, you're immune to sneak attack (like if you're standing in the area of a smoke stick, or in darkness against an enemy that doesn't have darkvision), and if your type is immune to critical hits you're also immune to sneak attack (undead, oozes, and plants notably). The Warshaper prestige class comes with immunity to crits/sneak attack, and moving out of the flanked area can also help (Sudden Leap, Tumble ranks).

Some magical items, like the Fortification property or Anklets of Translocation, can supplement or enhance the above, and there's also plenty of spells that can help, but I won't go into detail on those since they're not mundane.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Tower Shields are a great way to get insta-cover in one direction. \$\endgroup\$
    – CatLord
    Jan 30, 2013 at 6:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Which won't actually help, per se, since your enemy is just going to use five-foot steps to place the fighter and rogue on the unprotected flank angle. There is, essentially, no situation in which using a Tower Shield is a good idea. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 30, 2013 at 16:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Lord_Gareth not if it is animated. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 30, 2013 at 17:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Animating the shield doesn't make it cover all of your sides at the same time; if you switch the side that's being covered, they'll just five-foot-step again, and this pattern will repeat itself until someone in this equation (probably you) dies. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 30, 2013 at 18:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you're alone against both a fighter and a rogue, odds are flanking is on the lower end of your concerns, haha \$\endgroup\$
    – CatLord
    Jan 31, 2013 at 5:00

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