Trying to find rules on attacking from behind.
Shields don’t count:
Shield: A character with a shield equipped has his Armor Class increased by 1 point. A shield does not protect a character that is retreating or being attacked from behind, however.
Someone with Acrobatics can somersault behind an enemy to get a +2 to attack, but this requires a successful proficiency throw to get the bonus:
The proficiency throw required for the somersault is reduced by 1 per level of experience the character possesses. If successful, the character is now behind his opponent, gaining a +2 bonus on his attack throw. (Thieves and others eligible to backstab an opponent gain their usual +4 on the attack throw and bonus to damage). Note that elven nightblades automatically begin play with this ability as part of their class.
But, this isn’t entirely clear. Does the attack get a +2 because they are “behind” or because they have “somersaulted and are behind”. Meaning, if someone is simply behind someone, do they get a +2? Or, must they somersault to get behind them?
The Thief skill requires someone to be “unaware of their presence or surprised”. I’m guessing the somersault “surprises” the opponent to where they are allowed the +2 (or +4 if a Thief)…
My players however believe that the intention is that just being “behind” someone grants you a +2 bonus to attack (in addition to them losing their shield bonus) ala “flanking” from 3E.
Can you clarify this for me?
Yeah, I don’t see it in the rules either.
Duskreign’s Minion here.
It appears to me that positioning in ACKS is irrelevant with the exceptions noted above. Simply being being someone confers no benefit unless you are a Thief and are unnoticed (granting backstab), and it allows you to bypass the protection of the shield (if present). Acrobatics gives the stated +2 bonus, and automatically grants Thieves (Assassins, Nightblades) a backstab.
This, for me, is a key advantage of ACKS over D&D 3e and 4e. The removal of position related bonuses speeds up combat tremendously, as does removing any actions that can occur outside of your turn (attacks of opportunity, immediate reactions, immediate interrupts). I would be very sad to see these mechanics introduced into the game.
Yeah, my main concern is that the wording of Acrobatics seems to indicate that simply being behind someone gives a +2 bonus.
//If successful, the character is now behind his opponent, gaining a +2 bonus on his attack throw.//
Instead of say, “If successful, the character is now behind his opponent and gains a +2 bonus on his attack throw.”
The “now behind his opponent, gaining…” makes it seem like the proficiency puts you behind your opponent and by being behind them, you gain a +2 bonus.
So, I think we’ve hashed out what we agree on in our group’s discussion board, and that’s basically this:
Simply standing behind someone, is not grounds for an “attack from behind”.
You need to have some sort of edge on them: sneaking up, surprising them, somersaulting behind them, them retreating, etc.
Walking around them in combat and getting on the other side of them from an ally isn’t grounds for an “attack from behind”.
These sort of situations where you have an edge on them gives you a +2 bonus for “attacking from behind” and nets Thieves a +4/backstab.
Let me know if I’m way off base here…
You are correct about our intent. The idea is that you are abstractly “engaged” with the enemy. You are not supposed to have to track position and facing in most circumstances. Only in particular mechanically-driven situations are you considered to be flanked or susceptible to backstabbed. Those are:
- If you are surprised, or snuck up on, you lose the use of your shield. Thieves get +4 to hit and can backstab.
- If you are retreating, you lose the use of your shield. Foes get +2 to hit while you are retreating. Thieves get +4 to hit and can backstab.
- If your foe gets behind you using acrobatics, he gets +2 to hit. Thieves get +4 to hit and can backstab.
In reviewing these rules, I think I probably should rationalize them, so that in all three cases it is +2 to hit and loss of shield. Right now there is an asymmetry between surprise and acrobatics that doesn’t make sense.
Also, I would clarify the rules in Surprise, because they state that you retain your Armor Class with no mention of losing your shield bonus.
In any case would you lose your Dex bonus to AC by being surprised or backstabbed?
And, yes, I agree about the losing of shield with Acrobatics. I think some more uniformity or a more generic rule in the Surprise section clarifying attacks from behind would help a ton.
Nightblades: In lieu of moving during a round, the nightblade may attempt a proficiency throw of 20+ to tumble behind an opponent in melee. The proficiency throw required for the tumble is reduced by 1 per level of experience the character possesses. If successful, the nightblade is now behind his opponent. The opponent loses the benefit of his shield, if any, and the nightblade can backstab his opponent (gaining +4 to his attack throw and bonus damage based on his level). Nightblades also gain a +2 bonus to saving throws where agility would help avoid the situation, such as tilting floors and pit traps.
Shields: A character with a shield equipped has his Armor Class increased by 1 point. A shield does not protect a character that is surprised, retreating, or attacked from behind, however.
saving throws where agility would help avoid the situation, such as tilting floors and pit traps. In lieu of moving during a round, the character may attempt a proficiency throw of 20+ to tumble behind an opponent in melee. The proficiency throw required for the tumble is reduced by 1 per level of experience the character possesses. If successful, the character is behind his opponent. The opponent can now attacked with a +2 bonus to the attack throw, and gains no benefit from his shield. Thieves and others eligible to backstab an opponent gain their usual +4 on the attack throw and bonus to damage. Characters with an encumbrance of 6 stones or more may not tumble. Note that elven nightblades automatically begin play with this ability as part of their class.
Surprise: Surprised opponents can be attacked with a +2 bonus to the attack throw, and gain no benefit from their shields (if any). Thieves can backstab surprised opponents.
Retreating: A full retreat occurs when a combatant moves backwards at a faster rate than 1/2 of combat movement. The combatant making the movement forfeits his attack this round, and all his opponent attacks with a +2 bonus that round. In addition, if the retreating combatant is carrying a shield, it does not apply to their Armor Class during the retreat. Thieves can backstab retreating opponents.
Would a character’s Dex bonus to AC apply if they are surprised?
Yes, a character’s DEX bonus still applies to AC if they are suprised. In ACKS your Dexterity doesn’t modify your CHANCE of being surprised, but in recompense we allow it to still apply to your AC when surprised.
In short, characters with fast reflexes can still be caught off-guard, but if they are caught off guard they start to recover faster, so they get their AC bonus.
What about Dex modifiers for retreating or being backstabbed?
I genuinely don’t like the 3.5 concept of “flat footed” denying your DEX bonus. If having a high DEX means anything, it must in part mean that you’re less likely to be caught flat-footed and less likely to stay that way.
Nice. Thanks for the clarification. I just have some players I have to answer to.