Backstab is the starting ability received by Rogues at level 1 in Dragon Age RPG. The full explanation of the ability is outlined below. Highlighting the key section in bold

You can inflict extra damage with an attack if you can strike an opponent from an unexpected direction or catch them unawares. You must approach your opponent with a move action If attacking with a melee weapon. Then you must win an opposed test of your Dexterity (Stealth) vs. your target’s Perception (Seeing). If you win the test, you can use your major action this round to Backstab him. This is an attack with a +2 bonus to the attack roll that inflicts +1d6 extra damage. You cannot Backstab an enemy that you begin your turn adjacent to (but see the Bluff power at level 4.

This section differs between the printed book and the PDF edition.

The same highlighted sentence in the printed book reads:

You must approach your opponent with a move action

We are struggling to figure out whether this means that the move action is only required for melee weapons (and ranged surprise attacks are possible) or backstab is only possible with a melee weapon, the 2 books appear to imply different answers and we can't figure out which is which.


2 Answers 2


After some thorough research, I've managed to find an answer for my own question.

On the official forums for the RPG, staff gave a clarification. The original question was:

From what I remember, Backstab was going to stay melee-only for the core book, but be possibly switched to ranged, as well when generic AGE is released.

The Staff confirmed this understanding was correct, their exact response was:

This is correct. Changes worked better with the slightly different stat breakdowns for Fantasy Age.


So: Backstab is Melee only in the specific Dragon Age RPG. The rules for Fantasy AGE may vary.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Source link broken, unfortunately Green Ronin forums have been shut down recently \$\endgroup\$
    – Glaerferyn
    Feb 25, 2021 at 12:14

Warning with my answer below, it uses cross translation using official french rules (as edited by Black Book Editions). But it may give some perspective upon the english Core Rulebook ambiguity on Backstab ability, and was too elaborate to post as a comment only.

The french reprint of the rulebook states the following definition for Backstab :

Attaque sournoise : vous pouvez infliger des dégâts supplémentaires avec une attaque au corps à corps si vous arrivez à frapper un adversaire depuis une direction inattendue ou à le prendre par surprise.

The phrasing is somehow different from english rulebook, clears out all ambiguity. Translated back to english it means :

Backstab : you can inflict extra damage with a melee attack if you achieve to strike your opponent from an unexpected direction or catch him by surprise.

So no, you should not be able to use backstab with a distance or throwing weapon.


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