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Questions about Backstab

NeoNeo Member Posts: 125
I'm debating or not to try that Solo Dark Moon Monk (I cleared BG1 + SoD with him a while back and didn't get into BG2) or play something else. So I made 6 characters in Black Pits 2 from classes I haven't played in any of my BG1/SoD/BG2/IWD runs but that I might be interested in.

1- Assassin
2- Fighter/Thief (mostly to compare vs the Assassin)
3- Shaman
4- Archer (seems pretty decent so far)
5- Wizard Slayer (I always thought it sounded cool in theory but I still think it's weak overall)
6- Kensai (I did play a solo Kensai/mage a few years ago through BG1, I think I switched at lvl 7 and tried early BG2 with one but it seemed like the THAC0 wouldn't be as great late game and that you stop really being a melee and mostly turn into a mage late game, in which case I rather just have a sorcerer)

I read many things about backstab and I'm realizing that hiding back in shadows during combat is possible and not as hard as I thought and being in enemy's faces with silent move doesn't reveal you. Overall, I have almost always had a thief in my party but always only used them to find/disarm traps and unlock doors (I've never used backstab or if I did, it was a bit with Yoshimo in BG2 and never used set traps or even detect illusions).

I read some contradictory things about how Backstab works, the strongest backstabbing classes/kits and so on.

1- I read many times people say that Staves are the strongest weapons for backstab. Is this true? If so, what makes them the strongest weapons for it? I mean, staves do 1D6 dmg vs say Katanas that do 1D10 (+ offhand on top of it?).

2- Does Dual Wield affect backstab or not? Do both weapons hit or only the main hand (I read that main hand would get the dmg multiplier and then the offhand's dmg would be added with no multiplier?).

3- Who gets the strongest backstabs or how would you rate an Assassin vs a Fighter/Thief? I think Fighter/Thief gets stronger backstabs early on (2 specialization points vs 1 and more bonus from strength?) on top of having a lower THAC0 and being able to switch into heavy armor after opening with backstab vs Assassin having maybe a stronger backstab very late game and having the soso poison ability? Some people also mentioned Cleric/Thief.


After some testing (only did up to the 3rd fight but that brings these classes in to levels around 14-17), Archer looks decent although it doesn't seem to hit has hard as melee (but doesn't waste time chasing targets and can position more safely). Shaman I'm not sure what to think about it, seems like a sorcerer but for cleric instead of mage along with a few extra unique spells but the dance gets me more in trouble than it helps me so far. Wizard Slayer is even worse than I thought considering by the end of BG2, he'd maybe only have about 25% spell resistance (meaning 75% of the time spells will still land on him as if he had no special defenses) and mages have so many defenses in BG2 before I can land hits, I think by the time I do, the mage would die shortly after that anyways). Kensai seems to have better THAC0 and damage output as the other fighters but at the cost of being some sort of glass canon in the frontline which I'm not sure I'd enjoy so much.

Concerning the Assassin and F/T, I still can't decide cause I'm not at the x7 multiplier for Assassin to stand out yet. It feels like both can hit hard (F/T got me some bigger backstab numbers so far but maybe I just got luckier rolls on him) with backstab and then they're both quite weak and exposed behind enemy lines. The poison's damage is too weak to have much of an impact in BG2 I think (and useless vs Undead), maybe just helpful vs mages and more in BG1. The F/T can't swap chest armor in combat like I thought he would and he has lower dmg and THAC0 than my other 2 fighters (can't grandmaster and lower fighter lvl from multi-class) so he's squishier and does less damage overall in order to gain backstab and the other thief abilities (just that if I need to invest in move silent and hide in shadows, it'll take a long time before he can be reliable to find traps and unlock stuff).

Post edited by Neo on


  • DaevelonDaevelon Member Posts: 600
    1. The best backstabbing weapon is the Staff of Ram, so this is the reason why you heard about that; on its base version the damage is 1d6 +10, you can see why 1d6 it's not so important
    2. Only the main hand weapon matter for backstab
    3. The best backstabber, as far as i know, is a dual Kensai -> Thief, especially if the Kensai class before dual is high; i recently tried a Kensai 24/Thief 28 and backstab is unbelievable. I don't advice that, anyway, you will enjoy that only by the half of BG2 (and only if you powergame, otherwise in ToB). Second is the Assassin, but i find a multi F/T better in general purposes.

  • iosfrustrationiosfrustration Member Posts: 153
    I love the cheese in #3
    For extra cheese with a side-order of bug exploitation I’m wondering if an assassin could cast simulacrum from Vhailors helm, get the simulacrum to cast shape change from scroll via UAI, then get the golem to backstab for 280 damage.
    The description of simulacrum says this should not be possible (clone is lower level than original) but the level reduction for dual/multi is so buggy...

  • NeoNeo Member Posts: 125
    edited November 2019
    Thanks for the quick answers. It's surprising how these forums are still alive despite how old this game is (even though the EE sort of revived it a bit).

    I must have been lucky with the F/T and unlucky with the Assassin backstabs so far then. Still in Black Pits 2, the Assassin is lvl 19 (so he has x6 multiplier ATM), F/T is lvl 12/14 (x5 multiplier). The Assassin has been ahead 1 multiplier from the start pretty much but the F/T always hits harder with his backstabs so far (and sometimes by a large margin). They both have about the same stats (19 str, using same gear which is a +1 Quarterstaff, etc.). For instance, the Assassin just landed a 43 backstab dmg onto an umber hulk while the F/T just landed a 94 (looking at the dmg text, I just realized it was a crit but it still would be slightly higher dmg despite being 1 modifier down).

    I'll keep on testing but I think I like the F/T a bit better (I'll have to see with those x7 multipliers maybe) and especially if I don't want to have a 2nd thief on the team just for traps and unlocks, if I want to use backstab a lot with the Assassin, he'll only be able to find traps and unlock stuff way late into the game. However, I guess that I have to take into consideration that the Assassin levels up way faster (he's 5 lvls ahead of the F/T thief's level) so despite having fewer thief points per level, he might end up having as many if not more for the same amount of XP. (Nevermind, Assassin now has 6 lvls ahead with lvl 21 vs F/T lvl 15 Thief and he is still 60 thief points behind).

    Archer seems a lot better than I thought so far, didn't realize they get quite a few priest spells even at lvl 14 on top of excellent THAC0 and decent dmg. Shaman I also like (seems like the equivalent of sorc compared to mages but this time shaman compared to druid and has a few extra unique spells and ability on top of it), it's just that there are so many things that I need the Shaman to cast and she's so fragile that I'm not sure that I could really use the dance all that much.

  • NeverusedNeverused Member Posts: 785
    A bit off topic, but since you've mentioned Shaman:
    Shamans are really jacks of all trades, and a lot of people have looked at either the times spellcasting isn't useful or dancing isn't useful to argue that the class isn't good. But if you know what you're doing, you have pretty good flexibility. If you're going against trolls or a lot of melee bruisers, the dance can give you free disposable units that can absorb a ton of punishment before falling. If you're going against a bunch of mages, don't dance and get an Insect Plague onto the field instead.
    The difficulty is knowing when you should be doing which, because if you screw up there's at least a 1 round period where you can't do anything. But if you can figure it out, I think Shamans have the biggest toolkit of any single-classed divine class barring maybe Totemic Druid, and I'd give the advantage to Shaman personally.

  • NeverusedNeverused Member Posts: 785
    I'm pretty certain that specialization bonuses are NOT multiplied for backstab calculations: I had tried a Fighter -> Thief build specifically to try to cheese it, and the resulting damage was lower than possible if that bonus had been multiplied. Only the weapon damage + enchantment damage is multiplied. In the above example, working backwards, we had a 56 damage backstab before the critical hit, maybe 42 damage before strength (assuming a 25 strength?), and that implies that this was a roll of a 6.

  • Humanoid_TaifunHumanoid_Taifun Member Posts: 1,041
    @Neverused The image posted depicts an Assassin->Cleric running Holy Power, Righteous Magic and Draw Upon Holy Might and getting a septuple backstab. We can be certain that unless cheats were used, she has 25 strength and no specialization. I do not see a critical hit though in the text box though.
    Damage without strength bonus: 112-14=98
    Damage without the multiplier: 98/7=14
    Damage one can expect to deal with Righteous Magic and the Firetooth +3, Assassin Damage bonus and gauntlets: 11+1+2=14 (gauntlets are not mentioned or shown, I am just assuming because the bonus matches the numbers)
    So no, she definitely did not get a critical hit. This is just a normal backstab for an Assassin->Cleric.

    But yes, specialization bonuses are multiplied on backstabs. Just for you (and because I hate being wrong on the internet) I just started up the game and ran a few tests with a modded F/T whom I gave a few uses of Kai so I could have reliable damage outputs. Proficiency bonuses, style bonuses and the +4 bonus you get when the enemy is not holding a melee weapon are all multiplied for the backstab.

    But if you do not believe me, I can even show you from the examples posted in this thread:
    The Fighter/Thief being discussed had a strength score of 19, a quarterstaff +1 and did 94 points of damage. Taking away the strength bonus, we get 94-14=80 points of damage.
    This number is divisible by 5 and by 10 (because it is both a critical hit and a backstab).
    The specialization bonus is 2 (or 4 in this case, because of the critical hit). That is not divisible by 5.
    But if you subtract a number that is not divisible by 5 from a number that is divisible by 5, the difference will not be divisible by 5.
    So unless you have some secret damage bonus or penalty that no one has taken into account yet, the specialization bonus must be multiplied for backstab calculations.

  • Humanoid_TaifunHumanoid_Taifun Member Posts: 1,041
    @Grond0 I am pretty sure that the wiki is wrong in this instance. The bonus damage from the Staff of the Ram is NOT multiplied.

  • MichelleMichelle Member Posts: 514
    @Grond0 I am pretty sure that the wiki is wrong in this instance. The bonus damage from the Staff of the Ram is NOT multiplied.

    Staff of the Ram +4 used to be multiplied, I haven't gotten there yet on this run so I can't say that it still is. Staff of the Ram +6 has never been multiplied because the extra damage was crushing damage. I don't actually use SotR anymore with a thief to be honest, if the extra damage is needed BBoD or SoS will chunk most backstabbable(is that a word?) enemies. I haven't run a Stalker in a very long time, SotR +4 used to be the best backstabbing weapon for them if I remember right.

    Yes, Gauntlets of Weapon Expertise are used in the SS. No cheats, I would not even know how on my Android. :)

  • NeoNeo Member Posts: 125
    edited November 2019
    I stopped Black Pits 2 to go back to my SoA new game (Assassin in BP2 was lvl 21 but my party was weak and it was starting to get more difficult, I only wanted to get an idea how some of these classes felt at higher levels anyways). The mod install worked (never used them before) so I can eventually buy back that SoD headpiece I had on my monk which I wanted to solo with. I'm now thinking of possibly importing the monk back and creating the rest of the party like I did in my IWD game.

    I did try out the Staff of Striking (not sure of the name anymore, staff that has 25 charges) in BP2 and made a backstab around 200 dmg with the Assassin at lvl 21 (x7 modifier, can't remember if it was a crit, probably was) but these are expansive and have a limited use so if I want to make an Assassin or F/T, I'll need to rely on something else most of the time and also I think the Staff of Ram people talk about is from ToB. What type of weapon should I use until then for backstab and to spend my weapon proficiency points into? I think that Katana hits the hardest but considering how magical katanas are more rare (and expansive), I don't know if that's truly the best. Also wondering about single weapon proficiency vs two weapons (single one gives a better THAC0 and if only the main hand hits in the backstab, might be better for it?).

    Finally, I'm wondering about Thief skill points distribution. In my recent IWD game, I had a Cleric/Thief and his Thief was pretty much only to unlock stuff and find/disarm traps so I boosted the find traps but I pushed it to 200 and I could have went higher. I read that 100 was enough so I'm a bit confused about this. I know that the BG wiki probably has this info but I'm unable to get the pages to open for some reason. If I have no other thief in my party, would you recommend I get find traps and unlock to 100 first before investing in the cloaking and move silent (unless I have a mage/sorc with Knock in my party I guess, never really used the Find Traps spells so I don't know how effective those are but I still might need to disarm some of those). I read that move silently was more important than hide in shadows (100 should be enough for each again?).

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,805
    @Grond0: Very curious that Berserker rage and racial enemy bonuses don't get multiplied by backstab. I'd never have guessed.

    The Staff of the Ram +4 gets all of its damage multiplied by backstabs and critical hits, 1d6+10. The upgraded version, however, the Staff of the Ram +6, is a bit different: the base crushing damage of 1d6+12 is multiplied, but the 1d4 piercing damage is not, as it is an on-hit effect.

    On-hit damage bonuses don't get multiplied even if the damage type is physical. The on-hit piercing damage from the Impaler and Ixil's Spike, for example, do not get multiplied.

  • NeoNeo Member Posts: 125
    Yea I'm making my party ATM and I decided to try for the F/T although Assassin still would have been tempting. Maybe if I do an other playthrough and am more used to the thieves by using the F/T with backstabs more, I might go with an Assassin or one of its variations next time (Kensai/Assassin sure sounds good in theory but considering the downtime when you dual class on top of needing to reach lvl 21 Assassin to get the x7 modifier, I'm not sure how much fun I would have with this until very late game, that's also not counting not having a thief early on or having to rely on a 2nd one).

  • Humanoid_TaifunHumanoid_Taifun Member Posts: 1,041
    Something rather important that no one has bothered to mention yet is that in Throne of Bhaal, most of the noteworthy opponents are immune to backstabs (and assassinations). So it is good to be able to fall back on other means of murder.

  • NeoNeo Member Posts: 125
    Yea I read about that (hence why I forgot about the idea of trying to solo the series with a backstab centered character), I wasn't sure about Assassination HLA though, thanks for the info!

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 3,678
    For extra cheese with a side-order of bug exploitation I’m wondering if an assassin could cast simulacrum from Vhailors helm, get the simulacrum to cast shape change from scroll via UAI, then get the golem to backstab for 280 damage.
    only playing at low difficulty settings.
    because in the combo righteous magic is needed, it grants an automatically maxed damage roll like kensai's kai, so the 4d10 is always 40.
    as an assassin can not use kai nor RM he will get on average 5.5+4= 22 from the roll, but if unlucky he can get just 4, while the cleric rolls every time for 40.

    semiticgod wrote: »
    On-hit damage bonuses don't get multiplied even if the damage type is physical. The on-hit piercing damage from the Impaler and Ixil's Spike, for example, do not get multiplied.
    if i am not wrong spear is not a thief weapon, how can you stab with it?

    about the stab not only the maximum damage matters, also the thac0 a stabber has does, the FT can maybe have less potential damage then other classes but as has better thac0 misses less.
    it is annoying when you plan a stabbing strategy and your stabber misses, and it can happen as soon as you don't stab only mages but also people with actual good AC.

    stabbing is an art, it is true that some enemies and many bosses are immune, but is also true that a proficient stabber can clear whole dungeons alone, as my ones and @Humanoid_Taifun 's ones often do.

    give me 2 corners that i can use to break the sight line for a split second, 2 corners that have low light so i can have a good chance to hide, better also some speed boots, and i can stab every enemy in the dungeon multiple times if a single stab is not enough to kill them.

    as side capability a toon with good hiding skills can make the enemy mages waste whole spell books, appear at the border of their field of view, as they begin to cast step back and hide, their spell fizzle and is wasted as there is no more a target. repeat at will.

    and don't forget to use some traps as you lure the enemy towards the corner that you will use to hide and stab him.

    thieves rule :)

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