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How do you sneak attack? Can it only be performed with certain weapons? I.E. Swords, Daggers, Bows.

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3 Answers 3

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How do you sneak attack?

When you attack some target, and that target doesn't know where you are at the moment the attack lands - that's a sneak attack.

Some relevant details:

  • The eye indicator tells you if anything detects you. You can still sneak attack with a fully open eye indicator when your target doesn't detect you.
  • You can sneak attack with any weapon or with fists. You cannot sneak attack with spells (or shield bash or twohander bash, I need to test this).
  • You can do a sneak power attack.

Additional tips:

  • Sneak attacks grant sneak skill experience. Sneak attacks are a great way to level sneak skill.
  • Sneak attack multipliers apply to physical damage done. Blacksmithing improvements, weapon skill perks, and power attack bonuses are multiplied. Poison and enchanting damage are not multiplied.
  • When you have low sneak skill, it is easiest to sneak attack with a bow.
  • The Calm spell is a great way to setup sneak attacks.
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Sneak attacks are performed when you do an attack in sneak mode on an unsuspecting enemy. You can perform sneak attacks with all weapons (but not spells.) Each has a different damage multiplier depends on the perk.

Unarmed and two handed will only go up to 2x damage
Bows can go up to 3x
One handed weapons can go up to 6x
Daggers can go up to 15x damage

If you wear gloves from a certain organization, you can double the bonus sneak damage, up to 30x for a sneak attack dagger strike.

As a bonus, sneak attacking with daggers is completely silent. So even if you miss, the enemy will not know you are there. This is not the case with any other weapon.

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Pretty simply you must be sneaking and unnoticed, which means that the 'eye' in the middle of your screen must not indicate that you have been detected. Note that this means it can be slightly open. You can read about the states of sneaking here. Since you didn't ask about the perks associated with sneak attacking or the damage multipliers I'll assume you're familiar with them and won't go over them but you can use a bow or any one-handed weapon. I have seen others comment that you should not hold down the attack button but I haven't had this problem. I've also tried 'power' attacks by moving slightly towards the target while attacking and haven't noticed any failure. In fact, I also was treated with the 3rd-person throat-cutting animation (was using daggers) so perhaps this is useful. There are many discussions on this topic on gaming.SE. If you're quick enough you may also be able to get in a second 'sneak' attack before they fully turn around and the game indicates they have noticed you. As far as making sound when sneaking with weapons, I've read that daggers are silent and this appears to be true since I have drawn my weapons within earshot of targets and they haven't noticed me. I haven't verified that is is true with other one-handed weapons so use at your own risk. Move slowly and watch for items on the floor and you should have success.

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