Stabbing

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Version 0.17: This article is up to date for the latest stable release of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.

This article is about stabbing attacks. For the weapon brand, see Vorpal.

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 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 hit.

Contents

Stabbing Odds

Your chance of delivering a stab attack varies based on your Stealth skill, your skill with the weapon you are currently wielding, your dexterity, and the status effects the enemy is suffering from:

Guaranteed to be stabs:

(Dexterity + (Stealth + Weapon skill)/2)/0.9% chance:

(Dexterity + (Stealth + Weapon skill)/2)% chance:

You cannot make stab attacks while confused, at zero dexterity, or if your target is invisible.

Stabbing Damage

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:

Tiers:

  • Stabbing attacks against creatures that are sleeping or paralyzed are tier 1 stabbings, the most effective kind.
  • Creatures that are petrified, petrifying, or held in a net fall under tier 2 stabbings.
  • Creatures that are confused, fleeing, friendly, or being invisistabbed fall under tier 3 stabbings.
  • Creatures that are simply distracted (or haven't noticed you yet) fall under tier 4 stabbings, and are the least effective.

Weapons:

Short blades are the most effective weapon type for stabbing. Felid claws and weapons wielded while wearing boots 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 bonus from your skills, tier, and weapon type:

Stealth/Weapon skill average Short Blades Others
Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4 Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4
1 +19.2% +9.4% +4.6% +3.1% +8.3% +4.2% +2.1% +1.4%
2 +40.0% +19.2% +9.4% +6.2% +16.7% +8.3% +4.2% +2.8%
3 +62.5% +29.4% +14.2% +9.4% +25.0% +12.5% +6.2% +4.2%
4 +86.7% +40.0% +19.2% +12.6% +33.3% +16.7% +8.3% +5.6%
5 +112.5% +51.0% +24.2% +15.9% +41.7% +20.8% +10.4% +6.9%
6 +140.0% +62.5% +29.4% +19.2% +50.0% +25.0% +12.5% +8.3%
7 +169.2% +74.4% +34.6% +22.5% +58.3% +29.2% +14.6% +9.7%
8 +200.0% +86.7% +40.0% +25.9% +66.7% +33.3% +16.7% +11.1%
9 +232.5% +99.4% +45.5% +29.4% +75.0% +37.5% +18.8% +12.5%
10 +266.7% +112.5% +51.0% +32.9% +83.3% +41.7% +20.8% +13.9%
11 +302.5% +126.0% +56.7% +36.4% +91.7% +45.8% +22.9% +15.3%
12 +340.0% +140.0% +62.5% +40.0% +100.0% +50.0% +25.0% +16.7%
13 +379.2% +154.4% +68.4% +43.6% +108.3% +54.2% +27.1% +18.1%
14 +420.0% +169.2% +74.4% +47.3% +116.7% +58.3% +29.2% +19.4%
15 +462.5% +184.4% +80.5% +51.0% +125.0% +62.5% +31.2% +20.8%
16 +506.7% +200.0% +86.7% +54.8% +133.3% +66.7% +33.3% +22.2%
17 +552.5% +216.0% +93.0% +58.6% +141.7% +70.8% +35.4% +23.6%
18 +600.0% +232.5% +99.4% +62.5% +150.0% +75.0% +37.5% +25.0%
19 +649.2% +249.4% +105.9% +66.4% +158.3% +79.2% +39.6% +26.4%
20 +700.0% +266.7% +112.5% +70.4% +166.7% +83.3% +41.7% +27.8%
21 +752.5% +284.4% +119.2% +74.4% +175.0% +87.5% +43.8% +29.2%
22 +806.7% +302.5% +126.0% +78.4% +183.3% +91.7% +45.8% +30.6%
23 +862.5% +321.0% +133.0% +82.5% +191.7% +95.8% +47.9% +31.9%
24 +920.0% +340.0% +140.0% +86.7% +200.0% +100.0% +50.0% +33.3%
25 +979.2% +359.4% +147.1% +90.9% +208.3% +104.2% +52.1% +34.7%
26 +1040.0% +379.2% +154.4% +95.1% +216.7% +108.3% +54.2% +36.1%
27 +1102.5% +399.4% +161.7% +99.4% +225.0% +112.5% +56.2% +37.5%


Other Considerations

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, Confuse, Confusing Touch, Mephitic Cloud, Petrify, Alistair's Intoxication, Enslavement, Dazzling Spray... Alternatively, needles of paralysis, sleep, or confusion also get the job done, as do throwing nets, though their effectiveness is highly dependent on your Throwing skill.

The Shining One considers stabbing certain foes dishonorable and will put you under penance for it. Thankfully, the game will first provide a warning prompt if your attack would violate his code of conduct ("Really attack the helpless <foo>?"). This restriction only applies to intelligent, non-undead, non-demonic enemies - TSO doesn't mind if you backstab a distracted dragon or rip an Ice fiend open in its sleep.

History

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.