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Maybe this question has a very simple answer, but I'm not sure how this works.

The SRD says about the Rogue's Sneak Attack: "Any creature that is immune to critical hits is not vulnerable to sneak attacks."

Does that mean that if I somehow can critical on a target that would normally be immune, that I can make sneak attacks against it too?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It would be helpful if you told us what you're doing to crit things that can't be critted. It seems like you're looking for a more general answer, but telling us how you're doing it can help us explain more nuances of why or why not this would work. \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Dec 13 '14 at 7:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ This seems very theoretical. There are a few items that do this, but all I know are very explicit on how this affects sneak attacks. Maybe you found one that's not? \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Dec 13 '14 at 8:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I found this unofficial feat in the D&DWiki link \$\endgroup\$ – Markus Bendinho Dec 13 '14 at 12:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I suggest incorporating that link into your question. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 14 '14 at 18:28
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Rules-as-Written it depends on whether your ability temporarily removes or negates the target's immunity, or bypasses or ignores it. If it is of the former two options, you can certainly sneak attack the target while it is no longer immune to critical hits. If it is of the latter two options you cannot do so, as the target is still technically immune to critical hits from your perspective, you are just critting it anyways.

Rules-as-I-Think-They-Should-Be If your game ignores non-combat mechanics (like the skill system), rogues need sneak attack to be effective. I don't know of any ability that bypasses immunity to critical hits, but letting that ability also bypass immunity to sneak attack seems like a good idea. Critical hit stuff is normally overpriced anyways.

Keep in mind that Rules-as-Written this only bypasses the immunity to sneak attacks gained from immunity to critical hits; undead, constructs, oozes, plants, and incorporeal creatures will still be immune to sneak attacks anyways, because you can only sneak attack living creatures with discernible anatomies. In relation to your question's title, then, the answer is no, but in relation to, for example, a hypothetical fey-type monster that happened to be immune to critical hits, the answer would be yes.

Rules-as-I-Think-They-Should-Be if you can crit a creature, you can hit its vital spots. Sneak attack immunity based on type reflects a creature having no vital spots you can hit. Thus I think if gain the ability to bypass crit immunity a creature normally has, you should also bypass any type-based and anatomy-based immunity they also possess.

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Things Do What They Say They Do

For example, a feat that says it enables the user to deal sneak attack damage to undead creatures enables the user to deal sneak attack damage to undead creatures. On the other hand, a feat that says it enables the user to score critical hits on undead creatures enables the user to score critical hits against undead creatures. Finally, a feat that says it enables the user to deal sneak attack damage to undead creatures and score critical hits on undead creatures lets the user do both.

But the first feat won't do what the second feat does, and the second feat won't do what the first feat does. And that last feat? It will do both--because it says it does.


It appears you might be considering this feat, originally from the Netbook of Feats.1

Enable Criticals

[General, Fighter]
You have learned to score critical hits on unusual creature types.
Prerequisite: [None listed]
Benefit: Choose one type of creature that is normally immune to critical hits (construct, elemental, ooze, plant, undead). You can score critical hits against that type of creature, despite that this is not generally allowed.
Special: If you choose constructs, you can also score critical hits against inanimate objects. If you choose undead and are using an attack that does not suffer a miss chance against incorporeal opponents (like a ghost touch weapon), you can score critical hits against incorporeal undead.
Notes: This also allows you to use abilities and actions that only work against creatures subject to critical hits, such as coup de grace, Sneak Attack and the ranger's Favored Enemy damage bonus. A construct, object, or undead need never make a Fortitude save to survive a coup de grace.

Emphasis mine. Thus were the DM to allow this feat, it would enable the rogue to deal sneak attack damage to creatures of the picked type. A tortured argument can be made that the Note is not a benefit, therefore the Benefit should be examined in isolation, but the Note is a clear indication of authorial intent and technically remains rules text. So, yeah, if the DM approves the feat, deal sneak attack damage and score critical hits on those picked creatures all day long--heck, the feat implies that the user can coup de grace plants. Give those treant jerks the what-for. (It's actually unlikely that one's supposed to be able to coup de grace plants et al. with this feat, though. That's probably a reference to creatures in Dungeons and Dragons, 3rd Edition who have Constitution as a nonability always failing Constitution-based checks, meaning the DM may have to adjust this feat to fit Dungeons and Dragons 3.5.)

The value of this feat is extremely campaign-specific, which perhaps accounts for the omission of prerequisites. There are campaigns where it would be nigh worthless (e.g. historical Victorian London) and others where it would be extremely valuable (e.g. zombie apocalypse).

It also appears you're hunting undead (not, unfortunately, treants). The typical workaround for dealing sneak attack damage to undead creatures is a Use Magic Device skill sufficient to reach DC 20 and a wand of gravestrike [div] (SpC 107) (750 gp; 0 lbs.) (50 charges) in a wand chamber (Du 34) (100 gp; 0 lbs.). Alternatively, slap onto your weapon with a +3 or better enhancement bonus a greater truedeath crystal (MIC 66) (10,000 gp; 0 lbs.), enabling you to use your swift actions for something besides activating swift-action-casting-time wands.


  1. I'd be happy to link to the current edition of the Netbook of Feats so as to source this better, but the last one I can find is 2003. This version of the feat is hosted on DanDWiki.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Awesome, thanks for fixing that! I'd upvote, except I already did. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Dec 15 '14 at 3:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is an ancestor feat from "Rokugan" that allows critical hits on undead as well. Name escapes me. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Feb 8 '15 at 6:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ruut It took me a few months, but I flipped through Rokugan and couldn't locate that feat. Could the feat be in a different AEG Oriental Adventures book or did I just miss it? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 13 '15 at 9:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Back into Death (Secrets of the Lion) \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Aug 13 '15 at 11:52
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This is a classic case of denying the antecedent. In formal logic, this is invalid. For example,

If I am in Dallas, then I am in Texas.

However,

if I am not in Dallas, I'm not in Texas

is invalid. (I could be in any other city in Texas)

It is valid to say,

I'm not in Texas, therefore, then I can't be in Dallas, TX.

(Modus Tollens, denying the consequent)

To restate in terms of the game question,

A creature immune to critical hits (P) is immune to sneak attacks (Q).

Not P, does not (necessarily) mean not Q. Rather, not immune to critical hits doesn't necessarily imply not immune to sneak attacks.

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I have recently began playing again, and with an undead heavy campaign we needed to find a place for the rogue.

So we began looking at the game mechanics, first on Critical hits. We all agreed that a Critical hit won't apply to undead......obviously.

We then looked at the other features of the rogue, the crippling strike. Now this can be used against undead, logically. Slice'n Dice the legs of an undead and it really can't move that well nor fight. It won't kill the undead but it sure puts it out of the equation for a while.

This worked well, but we found flaws, so we tried something new. We decided that when it comes to Criticals and undead, we only allow a Critical on a confirmed roll twice (meaning you confirm the crit) then ONLY if you confirm it again can you apply it to undead in the following way. We decided that due to the undead's lack of anything worth striking, on a basic hit location table the 2nd confirmation of a Critical allows not a Critical strike, but a MAX base weapon damage strike to a hit location with the effect of possibly damaging the specific location. Due to this being a type of "aimed attack" we added a -5 penalty to the attack roll but not to the confirmation rolls.

To us at least this worked fine.

When we looked at sneak attacks we did it the following way. Sneak attack, it means just that, you sneak up on someone and attack on a blind spot. Now there is no reason why you can't sneak up on an undead. The move silently as well as the hide skill both allow you to sneak past them. So with this in mind we decided again that with no "vital organs" to strike, we can still do a hefty job when blindsiding an enemy. A Vampire is an intelligent greater undead capable of learning new skills etc. and there is no reason he is immune to being sneaked up on so again the skill works.

So how to solve the added damage? We decided to make the sneak attack feature into a combo, where all the rules for sneak attack apply, however on undead (we never debated constructs, plants, etc.) we decided to allow a crit chance on the successful sneak attack. If the crit was confirmed only max damage was dealt, this is because you strike from the blind spot. You can't hit any vital organs but you can cause extra damage, though not any pain.

That is what my group worked out to work around the immunities. Alternate is a class from the path of the sword from Fantasy Flight Games which has a PrC, which is easily accessed as a monk but any class with the required feats can choose it. It is basically a monk with Divine Powered fists causing a lot of harm to undead and he has some nifty abilities, though not sneak attack.

An alternative is using the Monk then adding the ability to turn undead if sacrificing the fortitude save to equal that of a rogue. Also, this ability does not allow the character to take any other turning feats, unless given as a class feature. So the monk can never take extra turning, quicken turning etc, unless such feats are given by a class .

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