Backstab is an ability that allows attacks made while concealed and behind a target to perform additional damage. The additional damage is substantial enough to often kill targets in a single blow. This ability is available to thieves (except swashbucklers), and stalkers.
Mechanics[edit | edit source]
In order to attempt a backstab, the character must be:
- Concealed: while typically achieved by use of the Hide in Shadows ability, it can also be achieved through the use of spells, a Potion of Invisibility, or magic items (see the Invisibility section for a complete list). An important benefit of invisibility is that it imposes no armor restrictions.
- Behind the target: in the original Baldur's Gate, a backstab could be initiated from any angle. With Tales of the Sword Coast, backstabbing was adjusted to require the attacker to be within a 90 degree arc behind the target, which carried over to Shadows of Amn and the Enhanced Editions.
- Wielding an appropriate weapon: see the Backstab Eligible Weapons section for a discussion on the eligible weapons.
Any attack made while these conditions are met will be treated as a backstab attempt. Regardless of whether the attempt is successful or not, the attacker will immediately become visible. If the attack roll is successful, the target will suffer a multiple of the weapon's normal damage.
If the attacker is dual-wielding, the backstab attempt will be made with the weapon in the main hand. If that weapon isn't suitable for backstabs, the attack may still succeed but it will only result in normal damage. Since the first attack usually breaks concealment, the character's APR is not relevant.
Enemies immune to backstab[edit | edit source]
This is a (mostly complete) list of enemies immune to backstab. If an enemy isn't listed here, odds are it's vulnerable to backstabs (keep in mind that monsters that ignore invisibility like most Liches and Demons might seem immune at first, but they aren't):
General enemy types:
-Demiliches (not regular liches)
-Mists/Wraiths (such as Mist/Swamp/Wandering Horrors, Vampiric Wraiths/Mists, Spellhaunts and Slave Wraiths, not the shadowy enemies confusingly called 'Wraiths')
-Aesgareth and his entire party
-Bone fiends (Bone Golem-looking demons)
-Specific demons in fight 2-5 of the Black Pits II
-Garock/Rock (the two Minotaurs at the Machine of Lum level of Watcher's Keep)
-Heart Key fight in Watcher's Keep Final Seal level: The Huntress, the unnamed Hive Mother and Ameralis are immune (conversely, Nalmissra, Xei Win Toh and even Y'Tossi are vulnerable to backstabs)
-Kiser (in Saradush)
-Liches, only two of them: Azamantes and Vongoethe
-Velithuu (the Ice Salamander-looking Demons found in the Watcher's Keep Maze level)
-The Bhaalspawn: Balthazar, Gromnir, Illasera, Sendai, Yaga-Shura (and even his Lieutenants)
-Ravager and its Bone Blades
Backstab Eligible Weapons[edit | edit source]
Backstabs can only be performed with fists or melee weapons that a pure Thief would be able to use:
Even if a weapon falls into one of the above categories, it may not be used for backstabbing if:
- its usage restrictions exclude thieves. For example the Staff of the Magi is a quarterstaff (a permitted weapon category) but cannot be used for backstabbing since its use is restricted to Mages/Sorcerers.
- access to the weapon was gained through the Use Any Item HLA.
- access to the weapon was gained through multi/dual classing
Backstab Damage Formula[edit | edit source]
((weapon damage + damage bonuses) × multiplier + strength bonus) x critical multiplier
- weapon damage is the weapon's physical damage. This includes bonuses from enchantments and supplemental melee damage, but does not include non-melee damage such as elemental damage. For example, the extra +1d4 piercing done by the upgraded Staff of the Ram would be included, but the +1 Cold Damage from Varscona would not.
- damage bonuses are damage bonuses from class kits, weapon specialization, and weapon style bonuses.
- multiplier is the backstab multiplier. See bottom of the page.
- strength bonus is bonus damage from high Strength.
- critical multiplier is 2 for critical hits, 1 otherwise.
For most characters, the backstabbing weapon with the most damage potential is the upgraded Staff of the Ram, which does an average of 15.5 points of damage per hit. A Mage / Thief, however, has access to the Black Blade of Disaster which can do an average of 23 points of damage per hit.
Backstab Success Chance[edit | edit source]
Since a backstab occurs with a successful hit, success chance can be increased by improving THAC0. See the general article on THAC0 for ideas on how this attribute can be improved. Taking the Single Weapon or Two-Handed Weapon proficiency improves the critical hit chance, ensuring a 10% chance to hit.
As members of the warrior group, Stalkers are much less likely to suffer from THAC0 issues than thieves. See the class page for thieves for ideas on how to improve their THAC0. In terms of general advice (applicable to both), be wary when dual wielding since the main-hand weapon will suffer a THAC0 penalty until the character is specialized (2 points) in two-handed fighting. In the late game, a weapon that increases Strength, like Angurvadal or Crom Faeyr might compensate that even if as a plain Thief you only have access to one proficiency point in that style. Also, consider playing as an Elf, since they receive a +1 to-hit racial bonus when using short swords and long swords.
Some effects, mostly from spells, allow an attacker to automatically hit the enemy, thus guaranteeing a successful backstab attempt. These effects include:
- Sleep (e.g. from Sleep, Power Word Sleep).
- Held (e.g. from Hold Person, Hold Monster, the Priest HLA Implosion).
- Stunned (e.g. from Power Word Stun, Symbol, Stun).
- Time stopped (e.g. from the spell Time Stop or the Rogue HLA Set Time Trap).
- Warrior HLAs Critical Strike and Smite.
Additional backstab opportunities[edit | edit source]
Instead of using Hide-in-Shadows, a thief can use Invisibility to create a backstab opportunity. The advantage to this method is that it can be done while in the direct line of sight of enemies while in the midst of combat. Various wizard spells would work for this purpose, as would drinking a Potion of Invisibility. See the section on Backstab#Invisibility later in this article for a complete list of items and spells.
The high level ability Assassination allows for a full round of attacks using the backstab multiplier (without the need for concealment). Increasing APR, such as with the Improved Haste spell and wielding Belm and/or Kundane, is the key to getting the most out of this ability. Assassination is often best used after a time trap triggers to ensure that all attacks automatically hit, each one of them a backstab.
The Mislead spell allows characters to attack without breaking concealment. As a result, every attack they make (including with the offhand) are treated as backstabs as long as they stay behind their target. While this option is only directly available to the Mage / Thief class, any thief with the Use Any Item high level ability can use scrolls of Mislead as well.
Backstab Multiplier table[edit | edit source]
Enhanced Edition (2012)
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|Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition – Shadows of Amn (2013)|
This icon indicates content from the Shadows of Amn campaign of the Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition. Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition – Throne of Bhaal (2013)
This icon indicates content from the Throne of Bhaal campaign of the Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition.