A long-standing bug with the Backstab command was fixed on 28th April 2011. However, this bug had become so ingrained in the game that many weapons are perceived to have been working "as expected" by the creators who implemented those weapons when the effects of the bug were applied.
This page was created to capture people's input of how backstab should be implemented in the mud. Please do not edit or criticise other people's ideas here, add a section with your own thoughts and opinions on how the command should work instead.
- The discussion about this page has been moved to this page's talk page.
Backstab is "a rapid series of blows, delivered with an element of surprise which catches the defender off guard".
A bigger (heavier, longer, wider) weapon is probably harder to wield covertly than a smaller (lighter, shorter, thinner) one.
A bigger weapon is probably harder to manipulate rapidly, and thus slower and does less attacks, than a smaller one.
A bigger weapon probably does more damage with each blow than a smaller one.
A more skilled attacker can probably wield a weapon faster than a less skilled one.
A more skilled attacker probably does more damage with each blow than a less skilled one.
After the initial blow is struck, covert bonuses no longer affect the remainder of the attack.
Observation - I can manage about 19 or 20 short stabbing motions of perhaps 8 inches * 2 hands in 7 seconds, a combat heartbeat is 2 rl seconds, and corresponds to 6 2/3 game seconds! However, this is without the resistance of penetrating armour / clothing / flesh, or withdrawing a blade against the friction and suction of a wound. Cutting and slashing / bashing type motions are slower.
I think that the number of actions possible in a single heartbeat would be a reasonable limiting factor.
Prime hand may be faster than off hand, so you might with identical weapons in each hand get more hits in with your prime hand. Hits with the prime hand might also be better placed and do more damage.
Lots of rapid hits taking advantage of the element of surprise, the element of surprise meaning that your target doesn't defend during the attack. However, these are not the prepared blows of a normal special attack, and might individually be less damaging than a normal base round, the strength of the attack will be the number of attacks combined with the surprise.
Certain weapon types (pure pierce) might be better than others (mixed pierce / slash, pure slash, blunt) due to the relative ease or difficulty of rapidly repeating different strikes. Changing strike during a backstab from eg a stabbing motion to a slashing motion would probably negatively impact the number of blows.
"Shock and Awe" effect is probably down to the surprise of the attack, so a feature of the co.it.weap and co.stealth.* skills.
Damage caused is a feature of the weapon skill and the weapon itself, possibly less intensive than a normal base round per blow.
You need to get closer with smaller weapons than with bigger ones. This might need more stealth. So, smaller weapons, more co.st.* less co.it.we, bigger weapons more co.it.we but less co.st.*.
Backstab might always focus on the upper body. The existing helpfile and command name suggest that you attack from behind the victim.
More of an aesthetic thing than anything else, I always found it odd that pretty much every single member of every single guild backstabbed in exactly the same way.
It would be nice to have more variety to the backstab, maybe having different "styles" that you could set/learn from different sources. Depending on the style used it could give a different "effect" as to how the backstab is performed (or failed). Purely cosmetic, it would add some variety. A few examples:
A "clumsy" backstab in which the attacker feigns tripping over, using the opportunity to stab their victim several times (inspired by Lao Tze and those other seemingly harmless types who can inflict serious damage without ever giving the impression of actually attacking) A violent style, focusing on pure brutality over finesse (with appropriate setup/attack messages) A professional style, with each hit being carefully placed etc.
I do not think there is anything in the logic of backstab (or in its description) that means there should be a flurry of blows, even if it has worked that way. I think it is more logical that it is a swift, but very focused attack, requiring good precision. I think there should be a one-hit limit per weapon and that small weapons should do more damage instead (determined by mainly co.it.we and also fi.me.da). A backstab command that lets you quietly slip your two daggers (or your longsword - but that would be a lot more difficult) through your opponents lungs rather than blindly waving them around is more what I would envision. This would of course mean that damage from backstab would have to be reworked quite a lot.
I think the less suited for backstab attacks a weapon is the closer the damage should be to its normal base rounds (but more damage with more co.it.we) - i.e. you do not gain very much from backstab. With smaller weapons which usually have (or should have) lower base round damage you would get a damage bonus from backstab (depending on weapon and co.it.we). Stilettos are in general not very suited for fighting (compared to e.g. swords), but are very good for finishing someone off instantly in a surprise stab.
This may be a little pie in the sky but talk of different backstab 'styles' got me thinking. If backstab is on the block for changes then I like the sound of that and it could even be taken further, to the effects a particular 'style' of backstab achieve. Maybe, for instance, a sword backstab causes a smaller chunk of immediate damage but causes a bleeding effect that puts it ahead of a dagger backstab in overall damage. It wouldn't be too farfetched if a crack to the head with a mace did less damage, but had a more extreme debilitating effect. Or maybe it's the dagger that causes the bleeding effect, or maybe one of them is a lung shot and they take a chunk of 'breath', ie gp, these are just examples.
If we're looking to play it safe and simple, I agree with the single-backstab idea. The entire concept of a backstab as a wave of multiple attacks is unusual in games and in my opinion unnessecary. It's more simple from a balance perspective, I would think, if each weapon backstabs once and the damage is calculated from there.