Author Topic: Dex Based Backstab  (Read 2089 times)


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Dex Based Backstab
« on: May 08, 2012, 09:27:02 PM »
I know this was brought up earlier, but I thought it warranted it's own post.

My thief player from the Thursday game really wanted to know why Backstab wasn't Dex.  We drew up pro's and con's but in the end, honestly I think his points are strong and I can't counter them.

Lets look at some prominent reasoning in order:

1.  Since you no longer get XP for succeeding (a-la marked stats in Apocalypse World) having your primary special ability no longer stresses free XP.  So having it be Str isn't all that handy as an XP braking mechanism.

2.  Rogues are about knifing someone in the dark.  Yet a dex fighter (precise weapon, top dex) is just as good at sneaking, and with 'backstab' as their first advance actually better at shivving people in every regard (especially if they are wearing armor).

3.  No other class gets WORSE in their abilities when push comes to shove. The rogue has 'free' no-roll damage option with BS.  The ranger has the same with called shot.  But while the rogues primary stat is Dex (as it is the rangers) they have to get specials with Str instead and the ranger doesn't.  Nearly identical ability otherwise.

Similarly no other class has a 'the otyugh-food has hit the fan' ability that switches away from their primary stat in combat.

4.  There are a number of other classes that have a 'one hit wonder' stat (ex: wizard and int) that allow for diversification in the secondary stat choices (dex-cha or dex-int rogues for example).


Overall, he made a halfling with a +0 strength because it was in-character, and was looking for good reasons he couldn't dash in and stab quick and get out as opposed to having to haul-off with a rapier two-handed any time he was trying to be sneaky and surprising.  I have to say his arguments were pretty compelling, and I don't have really anything in the 'this is a bad idea' column.

So if folks have suggestions to the contrary, or stories in support ... have at! :)



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Re: Dex Based Backstab
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2012, 09:36:30 PM »
We've already changed it to Dex for the next Beta! (If you're super nerdy you can check out the changelist in git)


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Re: Dex Based Backstab
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2012, 09:51:33 PM »
They are all good arguments Stras, and as you say, it has breen brought up before and most likely will again, especially if was 'offically' based on DEX. In my mind it could be based on each dependent on the situation. As a an advantageous move, its sort of like Defy Danger with a little spice on top.

I always try and imagine how I would handle it if a non-thief tried this fictionally? You already deal damage to an unsuspecting enemy without hack and slash, so the intent might be maximum damage or knocking them out or avoiding melee or somesuch. Effectively asking for one of the options under backstab, which would occur on a 10+ Defy Danger. On a 7-9 they would have a complication too. In which case it would most certainly fall under either DEX or STR, though INT or WIS is not out of the question, depending on the way the player presented their fictional actions...

So really, Backstab is an 'enhancement' or 'trained' iteration of a very specific (and contextual) untrained Defy Danger move. I don't know why its so scary to substitute DEX instead of STR for Backstab sometimes based on the narrative intent of the player. If it make sense, Go for it!


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Re: Dex Based Backstab
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2012, 10:44:45 PM »
Good points. The only quibble I'd have is I just can't see how a heavy-armor-and-shield fighter is going to sneak as well as a thief. By virtue of his stats, he's likely better than a Str fighter at sneaking, but the fiction demands the armor should apply some penalty to any attempts at sneaking, even if it's not specific in the mechanic.