I'm starting a D&D 3.5e campaign this weekend as a rogue and have been thinking about not being able to make a sneak attacks on undead.

I was thinking that I could at least slice its Achilles tendon or something, but I don't know if the rules allow for attacking a specific portion of the body.

Does anyone know of any rules that discuss this?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Does a skeleton have an achilles tendon? It's just magically animated bones. \$\endgroup\$ – Tridus Feb 7 '14 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ You could possibly steal a femur as you stumble through its square. I'm looking for more effective options rather than "I attack this round," doing a meager 1d4. It would be great if there was a way to maim it. \$\endgroup\$ – Brevarius Feb 7 '14 at 16:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ This question's potentially about the history and controversial nature of hit points in D&D. If you really just want to know how a rogue can be more effective versus undead, you should ask that. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 7 '14 at 16:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed. There are ways to be more effective against undead. You could ask a new question on that issue specifically. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Tridus Feb 7 '14 at 16:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Brevarius Though the answer is no, do talk to your DM about it. The limitations of rogues against constructs, plants, and undead, in particular, are kind of ridiculous; those clearly can have “weak spots” even if they aren’t the same, and they’re way too common to completely ignore the rogue’s combat ability. Pathfinder eliminated their immunity, for example. Your DM may be willing to do the same. Failing that, buy wands of golem strike, grave strike, and vine strike (all 1st-level spells in Spell Compendium: Swift, 1 round, Sneak Attack creatures usually immune). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 7 '14 at 17:05

Usually - No

The general rule is no. Damage in D&D is abstracted as Hit Points. Sneak Attack does more damage because you're "hitting vital organs", which makes it a more effective attack than a normal one. There's no rule in RAW to do a called shot like what you're describing, and it wouldn't work on all undead anyway (some of them don't have flesh or tendons, they're just bones animated by magic).

There are some exceptions:


Some monsters (like the Hydra) can have limbs severed. When that is the case, the monster entry gives specific information on it, usually using the sunder rules.


Vorpal weapons have the ability to decapitate an enemy with a strike.

Ambush Feats

Complete Scoundrel has some special feats called Ambush Feats, that let you do some special effects when sneak attacking. Some of these could be considered as called shots (there's one called "Head Shot"). These still require you to be able to sneak attack, so they won't work against undead.

Variants & House Rules

Beyond that, you're starting to look at variant rules and house rules. The DMG (p. 27) has variant rules for dealing with damaged body parts, and the Regeneration spell lets you reattach lost limbs, but they don't give a clear way to damage those things in the first place.

3.5 just doesn't have a "called shot to the left arm" system, due to how HP is designed to work. Having such a thing would make True Strike an incredibly dangerous spell, as a first level Wizard could just use it and do a called shot to the eyeball every time.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Some feats, called Ambush feats, allow a rogue to ignore some of their sneak attack dice to inflict some penalties, most of which are rendered as called shots. I'd add that to the exceptions. They still don't work on enemies you can't sneak attack, IIRC. \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Feb 7 '14 at 16:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Zachiel Added, thanks! I didn't know those existed. \$\endgroup\$ – Tridus Feb 7 '14 at 16:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the one named by Colin D in his answer is one of those. Being so hard to land sneak attacks on people I never really looked at them. \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Feb 7 '14 at 16:15

There are no official 'called shot' rules for D&D 3.5.

There is the Hamstring feat from Complete Warrior that lets you trade sneak attack damage in order to reduce an opponents movement speed. However, I do not think this will apply to your situation as it would require you to land a sneak attack against the undead which is impossible.


Sort of. In Unearthed Arcana and the DMG, there are rules and regulations in place that allow for you to deal damage to specific parts of the body. Usually this is in the form of things like the character suffering penalties, or being blinded or deafened. I remember in 2nd Edition there were slashing weapons that had the "Sharpness" effect, which allowed you to cut off limbs, you just had to naturally roll a high number.

In general, as many have pointed out, HP is an abstraction of damage, but as for roleplaying purposes, that "abstract damage" was supposed to have an impact on the creatures besides just doing a fixed amount of damage. Generally, it's up to your DM as to what kind of penalties you accrue for targeting a specific part of an enemy. D&D isn't a video game and it's very malleable and has a lot of variant rules and systems in place to try and mechanically accommodate people looking for concrete criteria to use and support a sense of "fairness" but in a roleplaying game where anything can happen, mechanics tend to become more of a ground-work than everything the game encompasses. If I throw a flask of acid at someone, does it just burn them, or do I throw a flask of acid at their face to blind them so I can make a getaway?

Talk with your DM about the kinds of rules and roleplay that's acceptable, try and challenge your DM on what's possible, and try to work with your group to find what's fun.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to rpg.se! Take the tour and visit the help center to learn how things work around here. The first part of your answer is good but needs to be supported by quotes or references to the rulebook rather than vague "the rules exist". Mentioning other editions isn't as useful though and the rest of your answer reads more like a forum post than an answer to the question. Answer post should focus, first and foremost on answering the question. Thanks for participating and happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Apr 11 '19 at 0:27

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