In our last session a melee style rogue using Sneak Attack did more damage than the warrior. That seems pretty powerful especially at low levels.

Is there no way creatures can defend against a Sneak attack?


Is there no way a creature can stop the Sneak attack?

If it's able to impose disadvantage on the rogue's attack, then the rogue will not be able to do a sneak attack, even with support. However, imposing disadvantage on somebody is not that easy and most enemies may not have this ability.

Especially in early levels, rogues outdamage warriors, if there is a single target that is attacked by two characters. The rogue will get the sneak attack and that is indeed powerful.

However, that assumes that you have two people to attack a single enemy. Speaking in football terms, when you have your two front line people fighting the same enemy and you have as many enemies as characters, now there is one free to do as he pleases. Blitz the Quarterback, or rather the mage for example. So assuming your mage does not want to get into melee, you now have two enemies free (the one that the mage did not engage and the one that your warrior/rogue combo did not engage when they doubled on one enemy).

So while your rogue is making his powerful sneak attack, a number of things may happen:

  • two enemies may attack the mage, that is not happy to have even one of them
  • three enemies might pile on either the rogue or the warrior (or any other party member that is holding an enemy at bay, for example the cleric)
  • two enemies are free to use range weapons
  • two enemies are free to cast uninterrupted
  • two enemies are free to get help
  • two enemies are free to flee and lay traps

Yes, the rogue is powerful. But using his power might be tactically unwise, putting the weaker party members in danger if the enemy is not outnumbered from the start.

If the party is outnumbering the enemy, chances are the enemy itself is pretty strong. So the rogue still has to run the risk of getting smacked because he needs to go close. And he does not have the staying power of a warrior class.

So the answer to the implied question of "how to balance this power": you need smart enemies. Enemies that employ tactics. If they just stand there in line, waiting to be slaughtered, then the rogue is overpowered. Let them be smart, let them exploit the tactical weaknesses of the rogues somewhat egoistic power.

And in the end of the day, the rogue would not be able to do a sneak attack if not for the warrior (or anyone else) standing next to him. So the warrior should get some credit for that damage in your group, too. It's a tactical decision. Sure, the guy with the football in the endzone get's the photos and headlines, but in the end, it's the team that wins or loses, not the single player.


The Alert feat (PHB, p. 165) states that:

  1. You can't be surprised while you're conscious.
  2. Other creatures don't gain advantage on attack rolls against you as a result of being unseen by you.
  3. Also this feat has an awesome +5 to initiative.

Note: This doesn't stop Swashbucklers from performing Sneak Attack on you or if a Rogue of any archetype has an ally nearby.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This prevents the rogue from getting advantage from being hidden/unseen, but that's only one way they might Sneak Attack... It doesn't really do all that much to stop Sneak Attack, given the other possible ways (e.g. an adjacent ally, or some other source of advantage, or another way granted by a subclass). \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Dec 10 '18 at 3:42

Heheheh…there is a way. The Wizard Abjurer's Arcane Ward is a seperate entity that surrounds and takes damage for the Wizard. It is also an inanimate object, the only thing immune to a sneak attack. As far as I know, that is the only way to stop a sneak attack other than a quick casting of the Shield spell to bump your AC over their attack roll, which does not always work. You could put yourself in a metal box, another inanimate object, which grants immunity to sneak attacks but also…you are rather trapped in a metal box.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ -1 for trying to require explanations of all downvotes; the tooltip gives the default reason one can assume to be applicable. (And for dubious rules lawyering that needs more careful support to be credible.) \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Jun 27 '16 at 3:45
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You might find the discussion on this meta question useful to see why downvoting without commenting is an intentional part of the site's design: Can we require comments on downvotes? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 27 '16 at 5:46

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