Any time that you deliver a melee attack to an enemy which is distracted, asleep, or otherwise unable to defend itself properly, there's a chance that your character will make a stabbing attack. These attacks ignore EV and SH, partially bypass AC, and deal significantly more damage than normal. Characters built around stabbing can deal absurd amounts of damage, often ending fights with powerful opponents in a single blow.
Guaranteed to be stabs:
(1 + Dexterity + (Stealth + Weapon skill)/2)% chance:
- Held in a throwing net or web
- Blind (or if the player is invisible and unseen)
- Charmed or otherwise friendly
- Awake, but hasn't noticed you yet
- Distracted by damage from a non-player source
The additional damage from a stab attempt varies based on the target's status effect, the weapon you make the attack with, your skill with the weapon, and your Stealth skill. The enemy's status effect and your weapon are the largest factors, determining which Tier of stabbing damage you'll inflict:
- Stabbing attacks against creatures that are sleeping, paralyzed, or petrified are top-tier stabs, the most effective kind.
- All other stabbing attacks are low-tier.
Short blades are the most effective weapon for stabbing. Felid claws and weapons wielded while wearing the hood of the Assassin are considered equivalent to short blades for purposes of stabbing damage.
In addition to having higher multipliers, short blades provide bonus damage before the stabbing multiplier is applied. This extra damage is significantly increased if you are wielding a dagger, but is capped at 30. With sufficiently high skill and dexterity, other short blades can also hit the cap. To get the maximum bonus, you need to have DEX × (1 + (Weapon skill + Stealth skill)/2) > 350 with a dagger or 700 with another short blade. Even without this bonus, short blades are still the best for stabbing.
The table below details the total damage multiplier from your skills, tier, and weapon type:
|Stealth/Weapon skill average||Short Blades||Others|
Your Stealth skill is critical to being an effective stabber; along with increasing the damage you deal, it also makes it much easier to approach sleeping enemies, giving you the opportunity to inflict the most powerful stabs in the game. When stealth fails, magic also works well at creating opportunities: Ensorcelled Hibernation, Confusing Touch, Mephitic Cloud, Petrify, Alistair's Intoxication, Dazzling Flash... Alternatively, atropa-tipped darts or throwing nets will get the job done, though their effectiveness is highly dependent on your Throwing skill. Another method to create distractions is to fight alongside allies, whether they are created through Summoning spells, granted by divine abilities, or forcibly turned using a wand of charming.
The Shining One considers stabbing foes dishonorable and prevents its followers from doing so.
- Prior to 0.20, The Shining One would inflict penance for stabbing intelligent foes that were not demons or undead.
- In 0.19, four tiers of stabbing attacks were replaced by just two tiers. Stabs against distracted and petrified targets were buffed: +50% damage and +100% damage, respectively. Petrifying and net stabs got -50% to damage, and invisible stabs had their proc chance reduced.
- Prior to 0.16, Long Blades were slightly more effective at stabbing than most other weapons, and clubs and rods could stab for special effects.
- Prior to 0.13, Stabbing was a skill of its own, rather than being the average of your Stealth and weapon skills.