Beginning at 1st level, you know how to strike subtly and exploit a foe’s distraction. Once per turn, you can deal an extra 1d6 damage to one creature you hit with an attack if you have advantage on the attack roll. The attack must use a finesse or a ranged weapon.

You don’t need advantage on the attack roll if another enemy of the target is within 5 feet of it, that enemy isn’t incapacitated, and you don’t have disadvantage on the attack roll.

The amount of the extra damage increases as you gain levels in this class, as shown in the Sneak Attack column of the Rogue table.

Player’s Handbook, pg. 96

Rogue Sneak Attack Damage Table

Rogue Level Sneak Attack Damage
1-2 1d6
3-4 2d6
5-6 3d6
7-8 4d6
9-10 5d6
11-12 6d6
13-14 7d6
15-16 8d6
17-18 9d6
19-20 10d6

Player’s Handbook, pg. 95

Sneak Attack 5e

Sneak Attack is one of the worst-named abilities in DnD 5e (looking at you, Chill Touch), but it’s also a staple of the Rogue class. On top of that, many subclasses get additional Sneak Attack features or introduce new ways of triggering its damage.

This guide will cover the basics of how Sneak Attack works in 5e, answer the most common Sneak Attack rules questions, and give advice for using the feature. It’ll also touch a bit on the Rogue subclass-specific tips for Sneak Attack.

How Does Sneak Attack Work in 5e?

Sneak Attack works when a Rogue attacks with a finesse or ranged weapon and one or both conditions are met:

  • Advantage. The Rogue has advantage on the attack roll.

  • Ally adjacent to target. At least one ally is within 5 feet of the target, and they’re not incapacitated. The Rogue also can’t have disadvantage on the attack.

You do not need to be hidden to trigger Sneak Attack damage. No sneaking is necessary — this is just a horribly-named feature.

Sneak Atack’s damage starts at 1d6 (3.5 average) at 1st-level and scales to 10d6 (35 average) at 19th level. The number of Sneak Attack dice used is equal to half a player’s Rogue level, rounded up. This damage is the same type as the weapon.

Sneak Attack can only trigger once per turn.

Here’s a helpful flowchart for whether or not Sneak Attack triggers on an attack:

rogue sneak attack flowchart

It’s a little more complicated than this with some Rogue subclasses, but this is the basic version

Here are all the finesse and ranged weapons in 5e:

  • Dagger*

  • Light Crossbow*

  • Dart*

  • Shortbow*

  • Sling*

  • Rapier*

  • Scimitar

  • Shortsword*

  • Whip

  • Blowgun

  • Hand Crossbow

  • Heavy Crossbow

  • Longbow

*These are the only weapons that Rogues are proficient with as a base class.

D&D 5e Sneak Attack Rules

Here are some answers to the most common rules questions around Sneak Attack in 5e:

  • You can Sneak Attack twice in one round, but not twice in one turn. As the Sage Advice Compendium puts it, “The Sneak Attack description specifies that you can use the feature once per turn, but it’s not limited to your turn.” (SAC 5). Yes, that means you can do a sneak attack attack of opportunity — it’s also explicitly stated in the SAC.

    This was also confirmed not once, but twice on Sage Advice.

  • Sneak Attack damage doubles on a critical strike. When you get a critical hit in 5e, you “roll all of the attack’s damage dice twice” (PHB 196). This includes Sneak Attack damage — in fact, the rules even cite it explicitly (“if your attack involves other damage dice, such as from the rogue’s Sneak Attack feature, you roll those dice twice as well”).

    So if you’re a 4th-level Rogue with 2d6 Sneak Attack damage and you use the feature on a critical strike, you’d roll 4d6 for your Sneak Attack damage (along with double the dice for your weapon).

    If you get a Sneak Attack crit in 5e, it’s party time. (Sage Advice 1 + 2)

  • You can Sneak Attack with disadvantage, as long as it’s canceled out by advantage. Because advantage and disadvantage cancel out, you’re “considered to have neither of them” when this happens (PHB 173).

    In other words, you can still satisfy the “no disadvantage” clause of the “adjacent ally” trigger for Sneak Attack damage, as long as you’ve canceled disadvantage out with advantage somehow. Even if you have disadvantage from multiple sources and advantage from only one, this is still true.

    This was confirmed on Sage Advice.

  • You decide to use Sneak Attack after an attack hits. You don’t have to announce before attacking that “this is a Sneak Attack.” This also means that you can wait for another attack (via two-weapon fighting, Extra Attack, etc.) to use your Sneak Attack, if you so choose.

  • Sneak Atack deals the same damage type as the weapon used for the attack. So if you’re using a Rapier that deals piercing damage, Sneak Attack also deals piercing damage. Confirmed by the game’s developers.

  • Sneak Attack works with Green-Flame Blade, Booming Blade, and Shadow Blade. As long as you’re using a finesse weapon for the melee attack that’s part of the spell for GFB or BB, you’re good (SAC 18). And Shadow Blade is a finesse weapon, so you’re all good there (bonus points: Sneak Attack deals psychic damage with it).

  • Sneak Attack doesn’t work with other spells. The above-mentioned spells are exceptions to the rule. Sneak Attack requires a weapon attack with finesse or ranged weapon.

  • Sneak Attack works on all creatures. In older editions of Dungeons and Dragons, Sneak Attack didn’t work on undead, oozes, and other monsters that didn’t make sense (thematically), with Sneak Attack working based on “exploiting a foe’s distraction.”

    DnD 5e did away with these restrictions for the sake of simplicity — no foe in the game is immune to Sneak Attack’s bonus damage.

  • Sneak Attack doesn’t work if your ally is 10 feet away from the target with a reach weapon. Sneak Attack requires a “close-up distraction, regardless of the weapon in hand,” according to the Sage Advice Compendium (pg. 6).

  • Sneak Attack doesn’t deal damage with a net. Even though it’s a ranged weapon, it doesn’t deal any damage, so the intended rules were for no Sneak Attack damage to trigger. But “the RAW certainly isn’t entirely clear here,” according to Jeremy Crawford.

  • Sneak Attack only works on creatures. Sorry, you can’t Sneak Attack a door. The creature target requirement is right there in the feature’s description.

  • Sneak Attack can’t be used with unarmed strikes. Because they’re not finesse weapons…or weapons at all, technically (SAC 8).

dungeons & dragons orc minis

How to Use Sneak Attack in 5e

The main tip for using Sneak Attack effectively is using it as often as possible — every turn, in fact, if you want to play optimally. That’s why the first tip is to

  1. Stay close to martial allies. The easiest way to reliably trigger Sneak Attack damage is simply to focus on a target that’s adjacent to your allies. Most of the time, your martial allies (Fighters, Monks, Paladins, etc.) will already be in such a position anyway.

    The good news is, this is the optimal way to play anyway — focus fire is an important part of efficient and effective DnD combat.

  2. Other than that, it’s just a matter of ensuring you have advantage as often as possible. Here are common tactics for achieving that as a Rogue:

    How to Get Advantage for Sneak Attack

  3. Hide before attacking. This is what most people think of when they hear “Sneak Attack,” but it’s actually one of the less common ways of achieving attack advantage. Approaching stealthily is nice, but no matter what, when you hide successfully and are an unseen attacker, you have advantage on your attack roll (PHB 195).

    Since a Rogue can use their Cunning Action feature to attempt hiding every turn they have a bonus action available (as long as they’re out of line of sight), this is a good option even once combat has been kicked off.

  4. Use Steady Aim if you’re alone. This is an optional 3rd-level class feature that allows a Rogue to use a bonus action to give themselves advantage on the next attack roll they make on the same turn (TCoE 62).

    You can’t move on the same turn as using Steady Aim, but it’s a good option if you’re already where you want to be anyway. As the name suggests, this is especially good for ranged Rogues, but it also works for melee attacks.

  5. Get a mount. While you’re riding it, it’ll also be adjacent to your melee attack targets — giving you Sneak Attack. And if you get the Mounted Combatant feat, you’ll also have advantage against unmounted creatures that are smaller than your mount (PHB 168).

  6. The Find Familiar spell. Either via the Help action to give you attack advantage or just by positioning the familiar adjacent to your target, this is a reliable way of triggering Sneak Attack without putting melee allies in danger.

  7. The Shove action (prone). You have advantage attacking prone targets, and the Shove action is the most common/straightforward way of causing a target to fall prone. In fact, the Shield Master feat on an ally allows for this to be attempted pretty much every turn (PHB 170).

    Spells that knock enemies prone, like Grease, Command, and Sleet Storm can also be an easy source of advantage.

  8. The Help action. The Help action can give an ally advantage on their next attack roll (PHB 192). If an ally doesn’t have a better use of their turn, this can be a good way of boosting their Rogue buddy in multiple ways.

  9. Conditions. Blinded, Paralyzed, Prone, Restrained, Stunned are the most common. If they’re unconscious or petrified, you’ve probably got the situation well in hand already. Spells and abilities that cause these, like Hold Person, Entangle, or Stunnng Strike, pair really nicely with a Rogue’s Sneak Attack.

  10. Greater Invisibility. A spell that lasts for a minute and makes you invisible, giving you advantage (and Sneak Attack) on every attack roll. An absolute godsend for any Rogue.

Sneak Attack Tricks by Rogue Subclass

    Player’s Handbook

  • Arcane Trickster. Versatile Trickster – 13th-level feature that lets you use a bonus action to give yourself advantage on an attack if your Mage Hand is within 5 feet of the target, which allows you to trigger your Sneak Atack damage.

  • Assassin. Assassinate – 3rd-level feature that grants you advantage on creatures that haven’t take a turn in combat yet, allowing you to trigger Sneak Attack. Additionally, you get automatic critical strikes on surprised creatures, doubling the amount of Sneak Attack dice you roll.

  • Thief. Supreme Sneak – 9th-level feature that gives advantage on Stealth checks when you move at half speed, making it easier to hide, giving you attack advantage from unseen attacker.

    Thief’s Reflexes – 17th-level feature that allows you to take two turns on your first turn in combat. Sneak Attack can trigger on both of these turns.

  • Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

  • Inquisitive. Insightful Fighting – 3rd-level feature that allows you to use a bonus action to get Sneak Attack from succeeding on an Insight check against the target’s Deception check. You still can’t have disadvantage on the attack roll. This benefit lasts for 1 full minute or until the feature is switched to a new target.

  • Mastermind. There are no additional Sneak Attack tricks for this subclass, as far as I can tell.

  • Scout. Sudden Strike – 17th-level feature that allows you to take an additional attack as a bonus action after using the Attack action. Both attacks can benefit from Sneak Attack, as long as they don’t target the same creature.

  • Swashbuckler. Rakish Audacity – 3rd-level feature that allows you to use Sneak Attack if you are within 5 feet of a creature and no other creatures are within 5 feet of you. You still can’t have disadvantage on the attack.

  • Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

  • Phantom. Ghost Walk – 13th-level feature that allows you to fly and pass through objects, which can make it easier to Hide and therefore benefit from unseen attacker attack advantage.

  • Soulknife. Psychic Veil – 13th-level feature that allows you to become invisible; an effect which ends after you attack. Still, you’ll have advantage on the first attack, and therefore be able to use Sneak Attack.

Is Sneak Attack Good in 5e?

Yes, Sneak Attack is good in DnD 5e. Many new DMs actually think it’s too good, but that’s not the case. On the contrary, Sneak Attack is the only thing that keeps Rogues competitive among martial classes — without it triggering almost every turn, Rogues are pretty much just inferior Fighters.

Sneak Attack Changes in One D&D

One D&D is an update to the 5e ruleset that’s likely coming in 2023 or 2024. At the moment, Wizards of the Coast is introducing playtest materials periodically. Expert Classes was dropped on September 29, 2022, which you can read here.

It introduced a major change to Sneak Attack rules: Sneak Attack damage can only trigger on the Rogue’s turn — not the turn of any other creature (pg. 13). This means that Rogues will no longer be able to use Sneak Attack twice in one round of combat, as they currently can through things like opportunity attacks or Commander’s Strike (PHB 74).

This is a major nerf to the Rogue class, and one that the community seems uniformly unhappy with. As noted above, any player who does math can see that Rogue damage is far from overpowered, and the possibility of two Sneak Attacks in one round of combat is one fun facet of the class that also keeps them (somewhat) competitive.

On the positive side, the playtest material indicates that Rogues are now proficient with all finesse weapons, so they can go ahead and use scimitars, whips, and the martial ranged weapons as a base class.

Reminder: This is playtest material; not the final version.

DnD 5e Sneak Attack FAQ

Sneak attack DnD 5e questions and answers:

  1. How does sneak attack work in 5e? Sneak attack in DnD 5e allows a Rogue to deal extra damage when they have advantage on the attack roll or when an ally of the Rogue is within 5 feet of the target, and the Rogue doesn’t have disadvantage on the attack. The Rogue must attack with a finesse or a ranged weapon. The extra damage scales with Rogue levels and is determined by the sneak attack dice, which are listed on the Rogue class table.

    Sneak attack can only be applied once per turn, but can be applied multiple times per round, most commonly when used on an attack of opportunity.

  2. Do you double sneak attack damage on a critical hit? Yes, when a Rogue scores a critical hit with an attack that qualifies for sneak attack, the extra damage from sneak attack is doubled. This is because critical hits double all damage dice, including those from sneak attack (Player’s Handbook, page 196 and Sage Advice confirmation).

  3. Does sneak attack work with an attack of opportunity in 5e? Yes, sneak attack works with an attack of opportunity in DnD 5e. As long as the conditions for sneak attack damage are met (using a finesse weapon and having advantage on the attack roll or having an ally within 5 feet of the target), sneak attack damage applies to all attacks (limit once per turn).

  4. Does sneak attack apply to spells in 5e? No, sneak attack does not apply to spells in DnD 5e. Sneak attack explicitly states that it works with ranged or finesse weapons. However, certain spells that involve a melee attack, like booming blade, green-flame blade, and shadow blade, do function with sneak attack, as long as all other sneak attack conditions are met.

  5. What type of damage is sneak attack in 5e? Sneak attack damage is not a specific damage type in DnD 5e. It is the Rogue’s additional damage that is added to the attack, and it is the same damage type as the weapon used to make the attack.

  6. Can a Rogue sneak attack on multiple attacks in 5e? No, a Rogue cannot apply sneak attack damage on multiple attacks on the same turn; the feature explicitly states that you can only trigger this damage “once per turn” (Player’s Handbook, page 96). However, sneak attack damage can apply to multiple attacks in the same round of combat. Most commonly, this occurs when you trigger sneak attack damage on an attack on your turn, and then again on another creature’s turn when it provokes your opportunity attack (Sage Advice confirmation from Jeremy Crawford).

  7. Can you sneak attack with disadvantage in DnD 5e? No, you cannot sneak attack with disadvantage on the attack roll in DnD 5e. However, if your disadvantage is canceled out by advantage, you are considered to have neither, and then can use sneak attack, as long as its other conditions are met (Sage Advice confirmation). This means that a hidden rogue with a hand crossbow can trigger sneak attack at long range, for example.

  8. What weapons can a rogue sneak attack with? A Rogue can use Sneak Attack with any weapon that meets the criteria of the sneak attack feature: the weapon must have the finesse property or be a ranged weapon. This includes the melee weapons of dagger, rapier, scimitar, shortsword, or whip, and all ranged weapons. The choice of weapon does not affect the damage of the sneak attack itself, as the damage is based on the Rogue’s sneak attack dice.

  9. Does Sneak Attack count as a bonus action? No, sneak attack is not a bonus action. It is simply an extra damage feature that Rogues can apply under specific conditions. It does not require a separate action or bonus action to use.