So Surprise Attack says

A rogue with this ability adds 1/2 her rogue level to her sneak attack damage rolls made during the surprise round.

For a level 10 Rogue, having a sneak attack of +5d6, would you add +5 to each roll or +5 to the total damage from the attack? IE: either 5d6+25 or 5d6+5?


2 Answers 2


Half your level per sneak attack (+5 in the example).

In pathfinder damage roll is commonly used to refer the whole set of dice you have to roll to deal damage from an effect or attack. When a bonus is meant to be added per each die it is explicitly stated.

Compare the reading of Fey Foundling to that one of Point-Blank Shot for an example.

The use of the plural, as per rolls instead of roll, simply denotes every time you roll for damage.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Alright, thank you. I have seen that elsewhere, I just wanted to be absolutely sure, as there is a substantial difference, and I don't want to cheat my players. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pethrax
    Sep 11, 2016 at 1:23

The Unchained versions of Rogue Talents offer slight bonuses over the original versions of those same talents. In this instance, both versions of Surprise Attack grant you the ability to treat all targets as flat-footed during the surprise round, but the Unchained version adds damage to your Sneak Attacks as well.

Given that the additional effects of other unchained talents are quite minor, I would rule that the +5 is added to the total damage, and not to each individual roll.

For comparison:

The Unchained versions of Camouflage and Esoteric Scholar simply removes the "once a day" restriction.

The Unchained version of Combat Swipe allows you to qualify for the feat Greater Steal (the original does not).

The Unchained version of Hold Breath doubles the number of rounds the Rogue can hold their breath rather than adding 2.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I would tend to agree based on the trend, but the wording itself is what gave me pause, thus leading to the question. It specifically says to add to the sneak attack damage rolls, leading to the possibility that they mean it is added to each roll individually. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pethrax
    Sep 10, 2016 at 22:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree that the wording is vague. That's why I gave the reasoning that I did. I am interested to see if someone else has an answer based on the wording though. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10, 2016 at 23:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not knowing PF, is there a way that a rogue could end up making multiple sneak attacks during the surprise round? Such that the plural "rolls" could be referring to the 5d6 roll for first surprise sneak attack, then another 5d6 roll for another surprise sneak attack? \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Sep 10, 2016 at 23:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes. A rogue at level 10 has 2 attacks for a full-round attack, and if the rogue dual wields, that makes 4 attacks with the proper feats. So with each attack being a sneak attack, that would be 5d6*4 or 20d6. So that either becomes 20d6+100, or 20d6+20, a rather sizable difference. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pethrax
    Sep 11, 2016 at 0:18
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 Not usually, but phrasing it differently would be more confusing. The surprise round usually only allows a creature to take a standard action, and making one attack is a standard action. So, usually, a rogue is making only one attack during the surprise round, but -- because Pathfinder -- I'm sure there are ways to take a full action during a surprise round and therefore make a full attack which would allow multiple attack and, hence, damage rolls. (All of those damage rolls could deal sneak attack damage, by the way.) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 11, 2016 at 1:31

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