I have a Pathfinder ranged rogue build and I was looking up some some rules on sneak attack. The way I read it, it would seem that it's almost impossible to sneak attack anybody that has with uncanny dodge using range weapons.

Here's what is said about the condition needed for sneak attacking:

the rogue's attack deals extra damage anytime her target would be denied a dexterity bonus to AC, or when the rogue flanks her target.

Since ranged flanking seems a bit illogical, it seems you can only sneak attack by denying defenders their dex modifier. In combat that would usually be in the surprise round, when your opponents are still flat footed. However, when somebody has uncanny dodge things change.

About being flat footed, uncanny dodge says the following:

a rogue can react to danger before her senses would normally allow her to do so. She cannot be caught flat-footed, nor does she loose her dex bonus to ac if the attacker is invisible.

I feel this implies that the flat footed condition can never be applied to characters with uncanny dodge. I have not yet found a situation where the dex bonus is denied, while the defenders are still conscious and in control of their own body.

Then there is the rogue talent surprise attack. And it seems it's ruling conflicts with the uncanny dodge rulings. It says:

During the surprise round, opponents are always considered flat-footed to a rogue with this ability, even if they have already acted.

You could debate about what is said in all these rules, and what the intentions of the rules are. I think they can be read in at least two ways.

One way would be to say that a rogue with uncanny dodge cannot be caught flat footed, so it will always have their dex bonus applied to the defense. The surprise attack cannot work on them, and this is also due to the fact that the surprise attack is meant to provide the flat footed condition to the defender that has already acted in the surprise round. It cannot turn off the uncanny dodge ability of any defender.

Another way would be to say that the surprise attack doesn't make the defender flat footed, but they are only considered to be flat footed for the attacker. This means, while the defenders are not flat footed, they are treated as flat footed only to the attacker with this talent.

The first interpretation denies the sneak attack, while the second allows it. At this point I think I agree with the second statement since it does not create a conflict in the rules. But it also helps that I sort of want to use the rules in my favor. So is this possible?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Please use quoteboxes, that is, paragraphs starting with >, rather than codeboxes, paragraphs starting with four spaces, for quotes. Alternative web-browsing tools, particularly non-visual ones for the blind, handle code in very specific ways that is not appropriate to regular text. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 13:15

1 Answer 1


First, to the title question: No, uncanny dodge does not make a character completely immune to ranged sneak attacks. There are ways to make a creature flat-footed aside from catching them before they act, and ways to deny Dexterity to AC without relying on invisibility.

As for uncanny dodge vs. surprise attack, I agree with your second interpretation: uncanny dodge prevents the character from being flat-footed. It does nothing to prevent the character from being treated as flat-footed by a particular assailant. But it’s definitely ambiguous enough that I wouldn’t rely on this interpretation without discussing it with the DM (or explaining it to players, if I were DM and one of them thought uncanny dodge protected them from surprise attack).

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ While I get this, an analogy might be worthwhile. For example, in utter darkness one is usually considered blind yet one isn't actually blind so an immunity to effects that cause blindness doesn't permit a creature to see through complete darkness. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 13:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ could you list an example of when ranged sneak attacks can occur on someone with uncanny dodge? I'm having a hard time to think of scenarios besides the one I sketched with the surprise attack talent. \$\endgroup\$
    – martijn
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 20:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @martijn Someone crossing narrow surfaces or uneven ground is flat-footed. This notably occurs also to those who move across the area of a grease spell. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 20:27

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .