This article was written by the god
, and posted on Mar 14, 2009.
This article discusses the thief backstab skill, including descriptions of
how it works and how best to maximize its effectiveness for your character.
Tips are provided for both beginners and veterans alike.
What is Backstab?
Backstab is a thief skill that allows a player to execute a sneak attack on
an unsuspecting enemy. Learn the backstab skill as soon as it is
available. Backstab is a mainstay of thievery and puts you on equal
footing, in terms of dealing damage, with casters and warriors. Backstab
is a low level skill and can be improved with use. Experienced, high level
thieves can do a massive amount of damage with a well-executed backstab,
possibly inflicting more damage than is possible with any other attack or
Choose Your Weapon!
You must wield a weapon in order to backstab. Only weapons that have the
'pierce', 'stab', or 'sting' damage type and do not have a NO_BACKSTAB flag can be used to
backstab. The damage type and flags of a weapon can be determined when it
is identified or otherwise statted. You cannot attempt a backstab with an
When choosing a weapon, consider its dieroll and any damroll effects. The
damage your backstab inflicts is determined in part by your weapon's dieroll
and your character's damroll.
Step by Step
You can only backstab an opponent that is not currently engaged in combat
(with you or anyone else). Once you have chosen an eligible target, type
"backstab ". You will get the message: "You move steathily
into position...". There will be a short pause, sometimes called the
'setup lag'. The length of the setup lag is dependent on the speed of your
backstabbing weapon, but beyond that cannot be changed. After the setup
lag is complete, you attempt the backstab.
As with most thief skills, dexterity of the attacker is the governing attribute in
determing success. However, unlike most other skills, there is no real
defensive technique that targets may use beyond being paranoid and constantly
on the lookout for the attack. Injured creatures are generally more aware
and are harder to backstab, unless they are so wounded that they begin
losing awareness of their surroundings. Creatures that sense life may also
sense your presence prior to attack (hence the large proportion of undead
The throw to land a successful backstab therefore looks something like:
attacker dexterity - target injury bonus - target sense life bonus
Sleeping, mortally wounded, or otherwise unaware creatures are generally
even easier to backstab.
Note that in the above, there is no mention of thief level or backstab
skill level. Anyone can land a sneak attack or sucker punch - the real
power of the skill lies in making it the most effective sneak attack it
Damage and Multipliers
If your attempt is successful, damage is dealt. The two basic stages to
calculate your backstab damage are to calculate the base damage, then
calculate the skill multiplier. The multiplier times the base damage is
the final damage for the attack.
The base damage is simple to calculate; the weapon's dieroll is rolled,
then half of the player's damroll is added. Other minor bonuses that
are largely insignificant in the course of normal game play may also
be present and are added into the overall damage roll.
The skill multiplier is substantially more complex. Your backstab skill
level, thief level, and dexterity are the primary contributors here. Making
sure that each is as high as possible raises the odds of a high multiplier.
A typical multiplier range for a level 15 thief would be from 1 to 11. For
a high level thief with a lot of experience, the multiplier range may be as
high as 1 to 24. Keep in mind that these are extreme limits, and that
generally your backstab multiplier will remain near the center of the
range. Wearing eq with the THIEF_SKILL_LEVEL effect can affect this range.
After you make a backstab attempt, your character will be unable to perform
any other action for a short period of time except for melee combat. This
recovery time is frequently referred to as the 'stab lag' and lasts for 3
rounds. You will experience stab lag and your target will attack you even
if your attempt fails. Once the stab lag is over, you can react normally
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