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Let's talk about Stealth and Perception


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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23 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the errata. 22 people marked this as a favorite.

I think everyone agrees that the rules for Stealth and Perception and Sneak Attack are very vague and open to misinterpretation. My hope in this thread can be used to constructively reach a consensus on how to rephrase/rewrite these rules to make them clear, concise, and correct.

A grand experiment, if you will.

This is a huge post so I've buried the relevent discussions in the following spoilers:

When to make a Stealth check:

There are three cases:
1. Entering Stealth. This one is pretty obvious. When you begin to hide, you roll a Stealth check to see how successful you are.

2. Staying in Stealth. If you're staying still and taking no actions, then there is no need to roll. You rolled to hide yourself when you entered Stealth, and that roll will still be in force as long as you take no actions (just sit there hiding). However, if you're taking actions, then each action you take will require you to make a new Stealth check if you want to remain hidden.

3. Leaving Stealth. No need to roll here. When you step out from your place of concealment with no desire to remain concealed, then obviously you don't need a stealth roll.

When you can and cannot attempt a Stealth check:

What we know:

You cannot attempt a Stealth check when you are being observed. This is pretty much the only time you cannot attempt a Stealth check, but it's safe to say that this is almost all the time (or at least, almost all the time when you would want to make a Stealth check - if you are truly all alone somewhere, unobserved because there are no observers, then you don't need Stealth at all).

So when can you attempt a Stealth check?

1. When you have Cover, but not Soft Cover.

Pathfinder SRD, Cover wrote:
Cover and Stealth Checks: You can use cover to make a Stealth check. Without cover, you usually need concealment (see below) to make a Stealth check.
Pathfinder SRD, Cover wrote:
Soft Cover: Creatures, even your enemies, can provide you with cover against ranged attacks, giving you a +4 bonus to AC. However, such soft cover provides no bonus on Reflex saves, nor does soft cover allow you to make a Stealth check.

2. When you have Concealment.

Pathfinder SRD, Cover wrote:
Concealment and Stealth Checks: You can use concealment to make a Stealth check. Without concealment, you usually need cover to make a Stealth check.

3. When your opponent cannot perceive you. This might be because of an impairing condition, such as being blind, or might be because of a Diversion (see my discussion on Distraction and Diversion below).

That's it. Barring a few corner-case execptions (such as spells, class abilities, or monster abilities that break the general rule with some specific special rule), you need one of those three situations to attempt a Stealth check.

So to clarify (combining this section with the one before it):

Proposed new Becoming or Remaining Stealthed rule wrote:
During a move action in which you wish to enter Stealth, or remain in Stealth from the previous round, you must attempt a Stealth check (opposed by Perception) to successfully become Stealthed. You must have Cover (but not Soft Cover) or Concealment, or your observers must be incapable of observing you for some other reason, such as (but not limited to) blindness or a successful Diversion.

Definition of 'Observed':

We cannot talk about being observed without understand what the word "observed" actually means.

First, let's clear up one point. There is no facing in combat. During a combat round, everyone is moving around, or at least looking around, to make sure they are aware of all possible threats. Just because the mini on the table is facing north doesn't mean you are "unobserved" when you stand south of it. Unfortunately, this is not explicitly stated in the Core rules, so it might seem open for debate. However, the Core rules also have absolutely no conditions, modifiers, or abilities that are affected in any way by facing. So while the lack of facing is not explicitly stated, there are no rule mechanics that benefit or penalize any combatant for facing any direction. Hence, no facing. Or more accurately, facing is a non-issue.

"Observed" usually means that an enemy can see you, but it can also apply to hearing, scent, Tremorsense, Blindsight, Blindsense, or any other means of locating you - usually the observer must have a special ability to use some sense other than vision to observe an opponent.

"Observed" also really only refers to your opponents. If you're trying to sneak up on an enemy, it doesn't matter whether your friends can see you or not.

"Observed" can be individually applied to opponents. If you are fighting two enemies, and one of them can observe you but the other one fails to observe you, then you apply the benefits of being unobserved against just that one enemy.

However, note this rule:

Pathfinder SRD, Combat, Actions, Speak wrote:
In general, speaking is a free action that you can perform even when it isn't your turn. Speaking more than a few sentences is generally beyond the limit of a free action.

This means that if you are successfully using Stealth against one enemy, but that enemy has allies who have spotted you, those allies can (and will) shout something like "There's someone sneaking up on your left!" so that your enemy will now know where you are.

Does that matter? Not much. If you are using Stealth against that enemy, then you must have Cover or Concealment, right? So even if his allies tell him you're there, the Cover or Concealment still grants you the ability to use Stealth against him. However, if he can move before you, he might ready an action against you, or move to a better vantage point where he can see you, etc.

So let's write the rule:

Proposed new Definition of "Observed" rule wrote:
You are "observed" when you are in a location where at least one opponent can perceive you. Generally this perception requires vision, but some opponents may have other senses, including Blindsense, that they can use to locate you. Conversely, you are "unobserved" when you are in a position where your enemies cannot perceive you using any sense, which almost always means you have Cover or Concealment. It is possible to be observed by some enemies while being unobserved by other enemies, but those who do observe you can instantly alert those who cannot by speaking as a free action, even if it is not their turn.

Being Observed:

Pathfinder SRD, Stealth wrote:
If people are observing you using any of their senses (but typically sight), you can't use Stealth.

When is this applied? At the start of your action? At the end? During the entire action?

Using Stealth is a non-action that piggybacks on some other action (usually movement) that you are taking. So looking at this rule, it's very obvious that you cannot begin a Stealth action while you are being observed.

If you complete your action but you end up in a space where you are being observed, well, there was very little benefit to the Stealth. You moved, but now you are in plain sight and your foes are observing you. Pointless.

Let's make that official:

Proposed new Being Observed rule wrote:
If you end your move action in a position where you are being observed by your foes, then you are no longer Stealthed, even if you made a sucessful Stealth check during that action. This includes taking a "double move" which is really two separate move actions in the same round - both of which require a Stealth roll if you wish to be stealthy, and each of which requires you to end that specific move action unobserved.

What about during the move? Can you dart from behind one tree, through plain sight of your foes, but end up behind another tree, all while maintaining your stealth? This one is trickier, but I think the rules give us the answer.

While you're behind the tree (each of them), you use your Stealth opposed by your foes' Perception. The first tree before you move was already covered by your Stealh check from last round when you moved into stealth behind this tree. The second tree at the end of your current move action will require you to make a Stealth check to enter Stealth when you get there.

But can you remain hidden while you dash between the trees, in plain sight? No, of course you can't. Here's how it works:

When you get to the second tree you can attempt Stealth. If you succeed, you are hidden. But during the dash across open ground, in plain sight, everyone gets a chance to spot you by using Perception. You cannot use your Stealth score to oppose their roll while you are in plain sight - the rule I quoted at the top of the section makes that quite clear (because you are in the open, you are observed, so you cannot make a Stealth check out in the open). So the DC to spot you is 0 according to the Perception rules to "Notice a visible creature". Adjust with all the usual modifiers for distance, lighting, etc.

Anyone who makes this roll can see you as you dash from one tree to the other, and they will know which tree you are hiding behind, even if they cannot see you (assuming your Stealth opposed by their Perception indicates that you successfully enter Stealth behind the tree). Anyone who fails to spot you during your dash will not see you and will not know which tree you are hiding behind.

Distraction and Diversion:

The poorly worded rule:
Pathfinder SRD, Stealth wrote:
If your observers are momentarily distracted (such as by a Bluff check), you can attempt to use Stealth. While the others turn their attention from you, you can attempt a Stealth check if you can get to an unobserved place of some kind. This check, however, is made at a –10 penalty because you have to move fast.

Better wording of the same rule:

Pathfinder SRD, Diversion wrote:
Creating a Diversion to Hide: You can use Bluff to allow you to use Stealth. A successful Bluff check can give you the momentary diversion you need to attempt a Stealth check while people are aware of you.

So what constitutes a distraction? What is a diversion? What kid of action does a Diversion require?

We could argue that anything is distracting. Combat, talking, drinking, brushing our teeth, chewing bubblegum, etc. But if we take it to that extreme, then the only time you cannot use Stealth is when your foe is standing still and doing nothing. You could sneak up on anyone, any time, unless they're holding still, taking no actions, doing nothing but looking and listening. I truly don't think that is the intent of the distraction rules.

So let's make a few assumptions:
1. It's a dangerous world. Most people who want to survive in it will try to be reasonably alert. This is infinitely more true in dangerous situations like combat, or dungeon exploring, or being on guard duty, etc. In other words, just about anyone or anything you try use Stealth against is very likely trying to be alert, even when doing something else like walking or talking or even fighting.

2. Granting Stealth against every little distraction is overpowering and game-breaking, so clearly the rules are meant to grant Stealth against a Diversion, not just a distraction. In fact, the paragraph heading in the Core rules is "Creating a Diversion to Hide".

3. This is not a Feint, and using a Diversion to gain stealth requires you to end your move action unobserved. Diversions are not used to gain attacks against enemies. In fact, the paragraph heading in the Core rules is "Creating a Diversion to Hide".

In any case, the quoted text at the top of this section is not precise. It uses the word "distraction" but we already have the same word used in the Perception skill to give a penalty on Perception checks (see my discussion on Perception and Distraction below). Obviously the two uses of this same word are quite different. We need to fix this text to consistently use the word "diversion" since "distraction" means something different.

The Core rules don't stipulate what type of action is used to create a Diversion. Clearly an oversight. We could argue that the Bluff check and the Stealth check are both made all as part of one movement action, but that's stacking a whole lot of different things all on one action. The Core rules do stipulate that Feinting (not the same thing as creating a Diversion, but a similar action for a different purpose) is a Standard action. It seems fair and balanced to assign the same action to creating a Diversion.

I propose rewording those two quotes above into one better rule as follows:

Proposed new Diversion rule wrote:
Creating a Diversion to hide: If your observers' attention is momentarily diverted, you can attempt to use Stealth. As a Standard action, you can attempt a Bluff check to give you the momentary diversion you need to move insto Stealth, even while your observers would otherwise be aware of you. If your Bluff check (opposed by Sense Motive) is successful, during that moment when the observers' attention is diverted from you, you can take a Move action that includes a Stealth check, but only if you can get to an unobserved place of some kind by the end of your move - you must end your move action unobserved. This check, however, is made at a –10 penalty because you have to move fast.

I believe this is what was originally meant by this rule.

Note: other forms of diversion would include events that are so momentous that the observers' attention is completely drawn to the events, such as seeing their home suddenly burst into flames, or hearing a loved one cry out in agony, etc. These types of diversions could enable you to make a Stealth check, but obviously, it's hard for you to create a diversion like that AND make a Stealth check, all in one round - you might need some friends to arrange the diversion for you (or you might have to set it up in advance).

Sneak Attacks and Stealth:

Pathfinder SRD, Rogue, Sneak Attack wrote:
If a rogue can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from her attack, she can strike a vital spot for extra damage.

Too vague. We need to break this down to specifics.

Pathfinder SRD, Rogue, Sneak Attack wrote:
The rogue's attack deals extra damage anytime her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the rogue flanks her target.

Better. So when do these two conditions arise? Flanking is pretty clear. The core rules deal with it quite thoroughly, so I'll skip it. That leaves us to explore what can cause a foe to be denied a DEX bonus to AC.

Pathfinder SRD, Combat, Armor Class wrote:
Sometimes you can't use your Dexterity bonus (if you have one). If you can't react to a blow, you can't use your Dexterity bonus to AC.

So any time your foe cannot react to your attack, he is denied his DEX bonus and can be Sneak Attacked:

1. Target is Blinded
2. Target is Cowering
3. Target is Flat-footed
4. Target is Helpless
5. Target is Paralyzed (causes Helpless condition)
6. Target is Pinned (causes Flat-footed condition)
7. Target is Stunned
8. Target is Unconscious (causes Helpless condition)

There are also things you can do to deny your opponent his DEX bonus:
A. You are Invisible

As far as I can tell, that's it. Stealth isn't on the list. Nowhere in the SRD can I find any text that says you can Sneak Attack an opponent if you succeed on a stealth roll.

Stealth is not the same thing as being invisible:

Pathfinder SRD, Stealth wrote:
If you are invisible, you gain a +40 bonus on Stealth checks if you are immobile, or a +20 bonus on Stealth checks if you're moving.

Clearly, since Invisibility gives a bonus to Stealth, they cannot be the same thing.

Likewise, a successful Stealth check does not grant Concealment or Cover since both of those rules clearly state you need Concealment or Cover in order to use Stealth. If you need them to even make the Stealth check, then success doesn't grant you what you already have. If it did, then after a single successful Stealth check, from that moment forward you would alrady be concealed at the start of every round. Each round your Stealth would grant Concealment, and your Concealment would allow you to make a new Stealth check at the start of the round. You would have concealment for the rest of your life - until you fail a Stealth roll. This is clearly not the intent of Concealment (or Cover).

So if Stealth is not equal to Invisibility, Cover, or Concealment, then what is it?

With regard to Sneak Attack, the rules are imprecise. I think just about everyone agrees that a rogue who is successfully Stealthed should be able to Sneak Attack, even if the rules don't explicitly say so.

Pathfinder SRD, Perception wrote:
Perception has a number of uses, the most common of which is an opposed check versus an opponent's Stealth check ... If you fail, your opponent can take a variety of actions, including attacking you.

and

Pathfinder SRD, Stealth wrote:
You are skilled at avoiding detection, allowing you to slip past foes or strike from an unseen position.

So, we know that if we are successfully Stealthed, we can attack/strike from an "unseen position", but we don't know if this let's us use Sneak Attack. Is the enemy denied his DEX bonus to AC? What is the difference between "unseen" and Invisible?

IMO, there are some differences, but in reference to "a rogue catching an opponent who is unable to defend himself effectively from her attack", I don't think there is any difference between "unseen" and "Invisible". In both cases, the foe cannot perceive the attack, therefore the benefits of being Invisible should also apply to being Stealthed.

So I would add to the list above:
B. You are Stealthed

Furthermore, I think it's quite clear that both A (invisible) and B (stealthed) require you to begin your action in that condition - there is no 'cheese' rule that you can make a Stealth check as part of your attack. So, to attack with the benefits of being invisible or stealthed, you must have those benefits before you begin your attack action.

Ergo, the rule should be:

Proposed new Sneak Attack with Flanking rule wrote:
If you begin an attack action while you are in a position of Flanking against your opponent, then you can Sneak Attack this opponent. All of your attacks this round can be Sneak Attacks.
Proposed new Sneak Attack while Unobserved rule wrote:
If you begin an attack action while you are Unobserved, meaning you are already Invisible or Stealthed before you begin this attack, then your opponent is denied his DEX bonus to his Armor Class and you can Sneak Attack this opponent. Your first attack (if you have more than one) will reveal you to this opponent, automatically removing your Invisibility or Stealth benefits (this is not true of Improved Invisibility) which means that only your first attack gets the benefits of being Invisible or Stealthed; subsequent attacks in this round are treated as normal attacks.

Note that last bit about multiple attacks. According to the SRD:

Pathfinder SRD, Special Abilities, Invisibility wrote:
If an invisible creature strikes a character, the character struck knows the location of the creature that struck him.

So once the first attack is made, either from Invisibility (but not Improved Invisibility) or from Stealth, the opponent knows where you are and can begin defending himself against you, which means he is no longer denied his DEX after your first attack.

Feinting and Sneak Attacks:

Pathfinder SRD, Feinting wrote:

Feinting is a standard action. To feint, make a Bluff skill check. The DC of this check is equal to 10 + your opponent's base attack bonus + your opponent's Wisdom modifier. If your opponent is trained in Sense Motive, the DC is instead equal to 10 + your opponent's Sense Motive bonus, if higher. If successful, the next melee attack you make against the target does not allow him to use his Dexterity bonus to AC (if any). This attack must be made on or before your next turn.

Feinting as a Move Action: With the Improved Feint feat, you can attempt a feint as a move action.

This is quite clear, actually, and I've only included it here to illustrate the difference between Feint (Bluff your foe to deny him his DEX bonus against your next attack) and Diversion (Bluff your foe to move with Stealth into an unobserved location).

Sniping:

Pathfinder SRD, Stealth wrote:
Sniping: If you've already successfully used Stealth at least 10 feet from your target, you can make one ranged attack and then immediately use Stealth again. You take a –20 penalty on your Stealth check to maintain your obscured location.

This is an awkward rule. Way too many unanswered questions. What type of action is it? Why do we even need it? Can we Sneak Attack when sniping?

Really, if you're behind a tree, leaning out and taking a normal shot at your enemy, then ducking behind the tree is easy enough to do. However, by RAW, there is no way to do it. It would require three actions: moving out of cover, attacking, moving back into cover. And since you can't take a 5' move if you make any other move in the same round, it would be impossible by RAW to "snipe" as described. Hence we have this rule.

What type of action is this?

Well, anyone can stand still and make a ranged attack as a standard action. Interestingly enough, even a hasted, Epic level fighter can only fire ONE ranged attack in a standard action. Sniping proposes popping out of Stealth, making a ranged attack, and ducking back into cover to regain Stealth. That's more than our Epic fighter can do in a standard action. Therefore, it's clear that Sniping must be a full-round action.

So the big question is, does a sniper with Sneak Attack get to apply his Sneak Attack damage on this shot?

Let's look at the wording.

What does "obscured location" mean? This is imprecise wording and the intent was probably to say "unobserved location" which would then be consistent with other rules in the book.

By the RAW (including the clarifications in this post), you must have used Stealth prior to commencing your snipe action. Since sniping is a full-round action, that means you gained Stealth in a previous round. That means you are beginning this snipe action with Stealth, which was one of our two conditions to deny your target his DEX bonus to AC (the other is being Invisible).

So, if you were Stealthed without sniping, you could Sneak Attack. Therefore I see no reason to penalize a sniper who is Stealthed while sniping by taking away a Sneak Attack he would have gotten just from Stealth alone. Really, the only benefit of Sniping is the chance to get back into Stealth afterward.

Note that you cannot (normally) vanish from plain sight, and the rules of Stealth require you to end your action in a location in which you are not observed, so in order to use this Sniping rule, you must essentially duck back behind cover or concealment. If you cannot do that, then you cannot snipe.

Also note that it is probably not the intent of this rule to allow the sniper to leave one cover, take his shot, and dive behind different cover. I will clarify this below and leave it to houserules for those who want a more cinematic "scoot-and-shoot" sniper action.

So, let's rewrite this rule for clarity (I'm not changing it in any way, just clarifying it:

Proposed new Sniping rule wrote:
Sniping: If you've already successfully used Stealth at least 10 feet from your target, you can, as a full-round action, make one ranged attack that denies your target his DEX bonus to his AC, and then immediately use Stealth again. You take a –20 penalty on your Stealth check to return to your previous unobserved location.

Perception and Distraction:

Pathfinder SRD, Perception wrote:
Creature making the check is distracted: +5 to the DC

I discussed Distraction and Diversion up above. So what does this "distracted" rule mean to Perception.

In this case, "distracted" does mean exactly what we think it does. Walking (maybe), talking (probably), fighting (certainly), reading a book (certainly), sleeping (nope - that's even worse and the rules give it a +10 DC), etc.

It's really up to the DM to decide what is and isn't "distracting", but it's probably fair to say that any activity that requires more attention than just standing still and looking around can be distracting.

Note that this makes it harder to succeed at a Perception check, but it is definitely NOT a Diversion, and it definitely does NOT grant anyone a chance to make a Stealth check against someone who is merely distracted (see my Distraction and Diversion discussion above).

******************************************************************

So putting that all together, I arrive at the following new rules.

Note #1: These are not actuallynew rules. They are just clarifications of the existing rules, reworded to make the rules more clear.

Note #2: I am not listing everything here, like size modifiers, or movement speed, or many other things. This is usually because the rules I omitted are quite clear in the rulebook and needed no clarification from me so I see no reason to make this post even longer by including those rules.

Note #3: This probably isn't everything. Maybe I did miss stuff that really needs clarification. Hopefully some good discussion will ensue to bring such points to light.

Note #4: I may be wrong. Please feel free to discuss anything I've screwed up here, but please be nice about it. This took a few hours of research, not to mention a few hours of typing it all up and organizing it, so be gentle.

Note #5: Finally, if you do post anything supporting or disputing these clarification, please make sure you read both the proposed rule AND the discussion that explains that rule. I put a lot of time into writing this, and it would be fruitless to have posts that just restate, or fail to consider, what I've already covered.

Newly clarified rules:

Proposed new Becoming or Remaining Stealthed rule wrote:
During a move action in which you wish to enter Stealth, or remain in Stealth from the previous round, you must attempt a Stealth check (opposed by Perception) to successfully become Stealthed. You must have Cover (but not Soft Cover) or Concealment, or your observers must be incapable of observing you for some other reason, such as (but not limited to) blindness or a successful Diversion.
Proposed new Definition of "Observed" rule wrote:
You are "observed" when you are in a location where at least one opponent can perceive you. Generally this perception requires vision, but some opponents may have other senses, including Blindsense, that they can use to locate you. Conversely, you are "unobserved" when you are in a position where your enemies cannot perceive you using any sense, which almost always means you have Cover or Concealment. It is possible to be observed by some enemies while being unobserved by other enemies, but those who do observe you can instantly alert those who cannot by speaking as a free action, even if it is not their turn.
Proposed new Being Observed rule wrote:
If you end your move action in a position where you are being observed by your foes, then you are no longer Stealthed, even if you made a sucessful Stealth check during that action. This includes taking a "double move" which is really two separate move actions in the same round - both of which require a Stealth roll if you wish to be stealthy, and each of which requires you to end that specific move action unobserved.
Proposed new Diversion rule wrote:
Creating a Diversion to hide: If your observers' attention is momentarily diverted, you can attempt to use Stealth. As a Standard action, you can attempt a Bluff check to give you the momentary diversion you need to move insto Stealth, even while your observers would otherwise be aware of you. If your Bluff check (opposed by Sense Motive) is successful, during that moment when the observers' attention is diverted from you, you can take a Move action that includes a Stealth check, but only if you can get to an unobserved place of some kind by the end of your move - you must end your move action unobserved. This check, however, is made at a –10 penalty because you have to move fast.
Proposed new Sneak Attack with Flanking rule wrote:
If you begin an attack action while you are in a position of Flanking against your opponent, then you can Sneak Attack this opponent. All of your attacks this round can be Sneak Attacks.
Proposed new Sneak Attack while Unobserved rule wrote:
If you begin an attack action while you are Unobserved, meaning you are already Invisible or Stealthed before you begin this attack, then your opponent is denied his DEX bonus to his Armor Class and you can Sneak Attack this opponent. Your first attack (if you have more than one) will reveal you to this opponent, automatically removing your Invisibility or Stealth benefits (this is not true of Improved Invisibility) which means that only your first attack gets the benefits of being Invisible or Stealthed; subsequent attacks in this round are treated as normal attacks.
Proposed new Sniping rule wrote:
Sniping: If you've already successfully used Stealth at least 10 feet from your target, you can, as a full-round action, make one ranged attack that denies your target his DEX bonus to his AC, and then immediately use Stealth again. You take a –20 penalty on your Stealth check to return to your previous unobserved location.

Scarab Sages

I'm at work right now so only have time to really glance over your post, but I did want to make one suggestion. When it comes to rolling, I've always had players avoid rolling when they 'entered' stealth, and instead just made a roll when I needed to make an opposed Perception check (or make them think I was rolling one).

This way, a player's entire Stealth, no matter how long, isn't penalized or benefited from the initial roll. I see the course of stealth being a roll every round in the background, but for game purposes we just need to know what they roll when it comes to others making Perception checks.


Karui Kage wrote:

I'm at work right now so only have time to really glance over your post, but I did want to make one suggestion. When it comes to rolling, I've always had players avoid rolling when they 'entered' stealth, and instead just made a roll when I needed to make an opposed Perception check (or make them think I was rolling one).

This way, a player's entire Stealth, no matter how long, isn't penalized or benefited from the initial roll. I see the course of stealth being a roll every round in the background, but for game purposes we just need to know what they roll when it comes to others making Perception checks.

Funny, I do that too. And in combat, say, against a room full of 20 kobolds fighting 6 PCs, when one PC goes into Stealth, I don't immediately roll 20 Perception checks. I wait until the kobolds' turn and make those checks retroactively, but only for the ones that care - those kobolds across the room fighting the barbarian and the cleric really don't need to even roll since they won't suddenly dart across the room and attack the stealthy guy.

Sure cuts down on dice rolling and saves a lot of time.

All of which is really just DMing style and, while both interesting and helpful, is tangental to the topic.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Nicely done, DM_Blake!

In reading through it I have a question about the "Sneak Attack while Unobserved" rule proposal: how does Blind-fight factor in? Is it worthwhile to clarify how blind-fight interacts with sneak attacks that are the result of Stealth? (I'm not saying it is or it isn't, only wondering if it should be considered.)


azhrei_fje wrote:

Nicely done, DM_Blake!

In reading through it I have a question about the "Sneak Attack while Unobserved" rule proposal: how does Blind-fight factor in? Is it worthwhile to clarify how blind-fight interacts with sneak attacks that are the result of Stealth? (I'm not saying it is or it isn't, only wondering if it should be considered.)

Done. I added a note about it under the definition of being "Observed".

Technically, I think both the RAW and my clarified version point out that if the opponent can perceive you, usually using vision but some creatures have other senses, then you are observed and cannot use Stealth.

However, your point is valid that we're trying to clarify the rules, and this was more of an inference than a stipulation, so for the sake of clarity, it's worth adding it.

Oh, and thanks for the props!

Shadow Lodge

This is a huge post and I don't have time to reply point to point I did find this quote a curious one:

DM_Blake wrote:
As far as I can tell, that's it. Stealth isn't on the list. Nowhere in the SRD can I find any text that says you can Sneak Attack an opponent if you succeed on a stealth roll.

In the games I've played stealth is used for scouting and only enables sneak attack because the rogue is acting against flat footed targets. This matches what you are saying here.

There are many people who suggest has an expanded role.

This also suggests that sniping effective in combat for gaining concealment but is not a valid method of sneak attacking.

Quote:
With regard to Sneak Attack, the rules are imprecise. I think just about everyone agrees that a rogue who is successfully Stealthed should be able to Sneak Attack, even if the rules don't explicitly say so.

I don't think everyone agrees on this. I've never had a player attempt this, nor do I do this as a rogue because we've generally not thought it was possible.


0gre wrote:
Quote:
With regard to Sneak Attack, the rules are imprecise. I think just about everyone agrees that a rogue who is successfully Stealthed should be able to Sneak Attack, even if the rules don't explicitly say so.
I don't think everyone agrees on this. I've never had a player attempt this, nor do I do this as a rogue because we've generally not thought it was possible.

You have a good point. Maybe I presumed too much when I said "just about everyone". I based that on the several points:

* I see lots of posts here where people explicitly state that they think as much, or take it for granted when they post about stalth related topics.
* Every player I've gamed with has believed Stealth allows a Sneak Attack.
* the 3.5 FAQ explicitly said that a successful Stealth check makes you effectively invisible vs. that opponent (denying DEX bonus to AC).

I'll accept your point that not everyone agrees, or as I said, not "just about everyone" agrees. But I don't think that would reverse my opinion that Stealth should deny DEX bonus, nor am I yet convinced that the majority of players (which is what I probably should have said in the first place) don't believe Stealth should have this benefit - not until the majority of players proves me wrong.

Star Voter 2015

I would like to mention something just as a "to point it out thing" on perception checks.

You can fail to notice someone just standing there without them making a stealth check. If you are distracted, and they have some distance, or other modifiers working in their favor you could simply roll under the need DC to see them there.

I know this can play into a lot of situations but I'm not wanting to get that much into this thread, just wanted to point out that such can happen.


Abraham spalding wrote:

I would like to mention something just as a "to point it out thing" on perception checks.

You can fail to notice someone just standing there without them making a stealth check. If you are distracted, and they have some distance, or other modifiers working in their favor you could simply roll under the need DC to see them there.

I know this can play into a lot of situations but I'm not wanting to get that much into this thread, just wanted to point out that such can happen.

Agreed.

I think I covered that under "Being Observed" and under "Perception and Distraction", thought I didn't put the two concepts together into one collected point. Thanks for summarizing and calling attention to it.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
DM_Blake wrote:
azhrei_fje wrote:
In reading through it I have a question about the "Sneak Attack while Unobserved" rule proposal: how does Blind-fight factor in? Is it worthwhile to clarify how blind-fight interacts with sneak attacks that are the result of Stealth? (I'm not saying it is or it isn't, only wondering if it should be considered.)

Done. I added a note about it under the definition of being "Observed".

I think you misunderstood and thought I said "blindsense" when I said "blind-fight". A benefit of the blind-fight feat:

PRD, Blind-Fight feat wrote:
An invisible attacker gets no advantages related to hitting you in melee. That is, you don't lose your Dexterity bonus to Armor Class, and the attacker doesn't get the usual +2 bonus for being invisible. The invisible attacker's bonuses do still apply for ranged attacks, however.

So the feat specifically says "invisible", but you are proposing that hiding characters should be treated the same way. So should the blind-fight feat be "clarified" to say, "An attacker with full concealment, such as invisible creatures, get no advantages related to hitting you in melee."?


azhrei_fje wrote:

A benefit of the blind-fight feat:

PRD, Blind-Fight feat wrote:
An invisible attacker gets no advantages related to hitting you in melee. That is, you don't lose your Dexterity bonus to Armor Class, and the attacker doesn't get the usual +2 bonus for being invisible. The invisible attacker's bonuses do still apply for ranged attacks, however.
So the feat specifically says "invisible", but you are proposing that hiding characters should be treated the same way. So should the blind-fight feat be "clarified" to say, "An attacker with full concealment, such as invisible creatures, get no advantages related to hitting you in melee."?

Good catch.

Yes, since Stealth grants the same benefits as Invisibility (at least in this regard), I think it is quite evident that the Blind-Fight feat shouuld be applied to both, but I would phrase the clarification a little simpler:

Proposed new Blind-Fight rule wrote:
A stealthed or invisible attacker gets no advantages related to hitting you in melee. That is, you don't lose your Dexterity bonus to Armor Class, and the attacker doesn't get the usual +2 bonus for being invisible. The invisible attacker's bonuses do still apply for ranged attacks, however.

Shadow Lodge

DM_Blake wrote:

* I see lots of posts here where people explicitly state that they think as much, or take it for granted when they post about stalth related topics.

* Every player I've gamed with has believed Stealth allows a Sneak Attack.
* the 3.5 FAQ explicitly said that a successful Stealth check makes you effectively invisible vs. that opponent (denying DEX bonus to AC).

See here is what I don't get, how do you use stealth during combat? The rules for sniping make me think the designers felt it should be pretty difficult to repeatedly stealth in combat. You have cover, pop out, shoot, and return to cover, pretty clear use of stealth in combat so why is there a -20 to do it?

You can use blur to get concealment so can you use that for stealth? How does that interact with the fact that you are being observed?

Can you spring attack from cover and return to that cover to restealth? If that's possible would it be with the same -20 or without a penalty? Since you are making the stealth check when you are behind the barrel does that mean you aren't being observed when you hide behind it?

I understand that there are a lot of people who feel it can be used this way (maybe the majority but that's not my experience), but I don't think the rules really support it well which ultimately is the frustration. Basically it requires a lot of the assumption of a lot of unwritten rules.

Quote:
I'll accept your point that not everyone agrees, or as I said, not "just about everyone" agrees. But I don't think that would reverse my opinion that Stealth should deny DEX bonus, nor am I yet convinced that the majority of players (which is what I probably should have said in the first place) don't believe Stealth should have this benefit - not until the majority of players proves me wrong.

I'm not sure how this can ever happen :) I don't claim to be a majority and generally don't worry too much about what the majority does in any case.

Dark Archive

I just wanted to say interesting stuff and nice job DM_Blake!

Cheers


DM_Blake wrote:

I think everyone agrees that the rules for Stealth and Perception and Sneak Attack are very vague and open to misinterpretation. My hope in this thread can be used to constructively reach a consensus on how to rephrase/rewrite these rules to make them clear, concise, and correct.

A grand experiment, if you will.

This is a huge post so I've buried the relevent discussions in the following spoilers:

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

...

With regard to the sneak attack and how it is applied by a "stealthing" rogue, I treat a rogue attacking from a stealth position as gaining a surprise round within the overall combat. Therefore partial action but sneak is allowed as the enemy is flatfooted (unless they have uncanny dodge).

I like your attempts to clarify, though :-)


Awesome job, DM_Blake! Very methodical, logical and well-researched. I'm going to bring over my case study post from the other (locked) thread, and I'd appreciate very much if you'd take the time to address each case to see if they are consistent with what you've stated here.

A couple things off the bat:

1. In the PRD's description of Stealth, we find this line:

Quote:
Action: Usually none. Normally, you make a Stealth check as part of movement, so it doesn't take a separate action. However, using Stealth immediately after a ranged attack (see Sniping, above) is a move action.

So Sniping is simply the alias for this sequence of actions/conditions: starting the turn already Stealthed from the previous turn, making a single ranged attack (standard action), then re-Stealthing (move action). It's not a full-round action in its own right.

2. Totally agree with the position that successfully Stealthing allows Sneak Attack.

3. Curious about your opinion on the mechanics of what point during the move the Stealth check is made. Can it be made at any point during the move at which Stealth-friendly conditions are available? Or should the check only be made at the beginning or end of the move?
I'm of the opinion that it's like a Jump/Acrobatics check -- it can and should be done at the point in the move that warrants it, whether that's at the beginning, in the middle, at the end.

4. Totally (and respectfully) disagree with you about the definition of "being observed" to mean "being in a location and circumstances where an opponent CAN perceive you", and the resulting consequences for trying to move, while Stealthed, through Stealth-unfriendly squares. I think the definition should be "having been the target of a successful Perception check", i.e. a synonym for being perceived.
Consider 2 hostiles a considerable distance away from each other, unaware of each other, but still in line of sight and within Perception range. Let's say 250' apart. By your definition, even though they are still unaware of each other, they are observing each other because they COULD POSSIBLY be perceived by the other. I say they are each unobserved/unperceived until the Perception checks, with distance and condition modifiers factored in, are successfully made.


0gre wrote:
Can you spring attack from cover and return to that cover to restealth? If that's possible would it be with the same -20 or without a penalty?

Good question!

And DM_Blake: nice summary!


This is my case study post from the other locked thread. Sorry that it's so gimongous.

coldkilla wrote:

I definitely subscribe to Caineach's interpretation on this. Others seem to be misreading or misinterpreting the rules. I would lay most of the blame on this sentence in the PRD's description of Stealth:

Against most creatures, finding cover or concealment allows you to use Stealth.

So people are making two mistakes:
1. They are equating "use Stealth" with the entire move action taken after the Stealth check, when it really only refers to the Stealth check itself.
2. They are twisting the logic of "cover or concealment allows" to mean "cover or concealment is required".

They then conclude that "cover or concealment is required at every point along the movement made after the Stealth check", which is untenable in gameplay terms.

So how do we arrive at a workable set of RAI given the poorly worded RAW? By deconstructing several different cases and applying consistent logic and extrapolating from game rules of which we are more certain.

Maybe we try to define some terms first, so we're working from the same vocabulary.

"Visible" - Well, given that the spell Invisibility exists, this seems straightforward. Visible = Able to be seen, invisible = unable to be seen. Visible gives you a +0 to Stealth checks; invisible gives you a +40 to Stealth when immobile, +20 when moving. Why would you want to make Stealth checks when you're already invisible? Because creatures can still make Perception checks (DC 20 to notice that an invisible creature is within 30', +20 on top of that to pinpoint location, with various modifiers for specific actions the invisible creature might be taking - see PRD Glossary) to perceive the invisible creature.

"Observed" = "Perceived" - And I think we have to treat these as equivalent terms. Once any creature succeeds on its Perception check (whether it's a passive DC or opposed by Stealth) to detect a target, that target is observed/perceived and remains so until something happens to break that "lock", e.g. the target successfully uses Stealth or leaves the vicinity (run, Dimension Door, Planar travel, Teleport). Whether the target is visible only affects the Perception DC/Stealth bonus.

Case 1: Regdar the human fighter and Lidda the halfling rogue wish to fight and begin moving directly toward each other from a starting point 1000ft apart, in clear open (Plains) terrain and day(bright)light. At what point does the encounter begin? When one or both perceive the other. Neither can employ Stealth in bright light and with no cover, so passive Perception DCs are rolled against every round, with all distance and circumstance modifiers factored in. Maybe the encounter begins at 250ft apart, maybe at only 40ft; maybe there's a surprise round, maybe not - it depends on the rolls. Both are visible the whole time and in direct line of sight, but only after a successful Perception check is made can the encounter begin and one character take action against the other.
This case by itself disproves the notion that observation/perception is automatic when a creature breaks cover/concealment; a successful Perception check is still needed (whether against the passive DC or the opposed Stealth roll is an endlessly debatable point, unfortunately).

Case 2: Regdar and Lidda begin the encounter underground, 30ft apart, line of sight, in normal lighting, both aware of the other. This is a common scenario in a dungeon crawl and most DMs won't even bother to roll Perception checks at this range and these conditions. But for our thought experiment, let's consider both PCs Perception checks to have been implicitly rolled and made. Initiative is rolled and combat ensues normally. How could Lidda make use of Stealth under these conditions? Only by turning invisible or by reaching cover/concealment while Regdar is distracted (e.g. Lidda makes a Bluff check, or someone else jumps out and attacks Regdar). Can she just move behind cover/concealment without Bluffing/distracting Regdar? Nope, because he is aware of and is observing her (has Perception-lock on her), or to look at it a different way - if she could just do that, why would they call out the distract/Bluff as a separate case in the rules?

Case 3: Same as case 2 above, but they start around the corner out of line of sight from each other. Lidda makes her Perception check so is aware of Regdar; he fails his and is unaware of Lidda. Lidda is unobserved by Regdar and has cover from him, so she can choose to initiate Stealth. Regdar immediately gets another Perception check to detect her, but this time against her Stealth check instead of her passive DC. If he wins, he knows she's there and combat ensues normally. If she wins the opposed check, she can Sneak Attack Regdar, as long as he is up to her normal speed (halfling = 20') away (although she'd take a penalty to her Stealth check if more than 10' away). The key point is that she maintains Stealth throughout her move, until after she attacks. Why should she be able to stay Stealthed even while moving out of cover/concealment? Because it's a game and nothing else in the game allows passive when-it's-not-your-turn non-action checks (like Perception) to interrupt or change the outcome or flip the condition on a successful use of a skill combined with an action (like Stealth and move). Maybe not a bullet-proof argument, but whaddya gonna do?

Case 4: Same as case 3 above, but Lidda successfully initiates Stealth and chooses to Snipe, waiting until Regdar rounds the corner and putting a light crossbow bolt in him. Now that Regdar is in line of sight, unless Lidda is behind cover/concealment, she's exposed to a normal Perception check and will probably be perceived. But if she has the benefit of cover/concealment, she can re-Stealth as a move action at a -20 penalty. If she wins that check, Regdar still doesn't know exactly where she is or where the attack came from. This case raises an odd side-effect -- unless either Lidda has Rapid Reload, or Stealth can also be employed with move-equivalent actions, she'll be unable to continue Sniping. Lidda's action sequence: standard - attack, move - re-Stealth, move-equiv - reload crossbow without Stealth check, standard - attack (no more Sniping). Only if you allow the Stealth check during the reload or if reloading is a free action does Lidda get to continue Sniping.

Case 5: Same as case 1 above, but Lidda has the Camouflage ranger ability in Plains terrain. Now if Lidda makes her Perception check first and gains surprise, she can use Stealth - she is unobserved and does not need the benefit of cover/concealment in her favored terrain. If she is observed first or simultaneously, then she needs a distraction or a successful Bluff to initiate Stealth. She should also be able to maintain Stealth over multiple rounds by winning the check for every move/move-equivalent action she takes.

Case 6: Same as case 2 above, but Lidda has the Hide in Plain Sight ranger ability in Underground terrain. At any point during the encounter, even though Regdar (implicitly or explicitly) made his initial Perception check and is observing her, she can initiate Stealth without the benefit of distraction/cover/concealment, and if she wins the opposed check, she has broken Regdar's Perception-lock. While he's still aware that she's probably near, he no longer knows her exact location. And if she waited to engage Stealth until Regdar was within 20', then she has the opportunity to Stealth, move in and Sneak Attack. This case best refutes the assertion that Stealth is automatically negated at any point during movement when there is no cover/concealment. If that were true, HiPS would go from being an awesome offensive or defensive ability to being strictly a defensive one.

I think you'll agree that these cases are logically consistent with each other and are the best fit to the spirit and flavor of the rules. If you disagree, please try to come up with a logically consistent set of cases that explain the use of Stealth and Stealth-related abilities.

Shadow Lodge

I guess I don't have issue with whether you can sneak attack during stealth or not, it seems like it should work. The bigger issue with me is the logistics and issues with how that could work during combat. I mentioned some examples above.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

You guys are over thinking this Stealth thing WAY too much.

I can't think of a single stealth related question/issue that can't be adjudicated quickly and easily. Why are you all so caught up on the minute specifics? Discussing it in such extreme depth (or arguing over it as is the case in other threads) doesn't really enhance your games, does it?

Shadow Lodge

Ravingdork wrote:
You guys are over thinking this Stealth thing WAY too much.

Heh, I agree. It seems to me like this is one of those issues which are huge problems on the boards but not an issue at the table. Maybe some groups have lots of arguments about it? Our group has a lot more arguments about spells than stealth.


0gre wrote:
Heh, I agree. It seems to me like this is one of those issues which are huge problems on the boards but not an issue at the table. Maybe some groups have lots of arguments about it? Our group has a lot more arguments about spells than stealth.

LOL, I guess your group doesn't consist of 4 lawyers, a doctor, a software engineer and a biomedical researcher. WE ARGUE ABOUT EVERYTHING! Mostly because someone is always trying to push the envelope.

Shadow Lodge

coldkilla wrote:
LOL, I guess your group doesn't consist of 4 lawyers, a doctor, a software engineer and a biomedical researcher. WE ARGUE ABOUT EVERYTHING! Mostly because someone is always trying to push the envelope.

That speaks more about your group dynamic than it does about the rules though.


0gre wrote:
See here is what I don't get, how do you use stealth during combat? The rules for sniping make me think the designers felt it should be pretty difficult to repeatedly stealth in combat. You have cover, pop out, shoot, and return to cover, pretty clear use of stealth in combat so why is there a -20 to do it?

Your example cannot be executed, by RAW, without using the sniping rules. You've described three actions.

1. "You have cover, pop out" - this is a move action to get out from your cover.
2. "shoot" - obviously a standard action.
3. "and return to cover." Another move action.

Even if we call one of those move actions a 5' move, the rule that says we cannot take a 5' move in any round when we use our move action to move would still prohibit doing all three actions in one round.

Sure, maybe we could assume that we're merely leaning out from behind over and un-leaning to return to it. In which case, sure, that should be pretty easy. I doubt I would require a penalty to return to cover if the action were described to me in that way, and the positions of the attacker, defender, and cover made it seem feasible. But, such a decision is also not covered by RAW, so either way, some clarification is needed.

In my clarification, I took the stance that it required a little more action that a mere lean to get off most ranged attacks (bows and javelins are not as easily "shot" as, say, a pistol - so thinking in terms of cinematic cowboys-and-indians stuff, or war movie stuff, may not quite give the right impression).

Either way you look at it, Sniping gives a clear RAW ruling that allows your version or mine to be explained. Without Sniping, it's hard to justify either version of the maneuver.

0gre wrote:
You can use blur to get concealment so can you use that for stealth? How does that interact with the fact that you are being observed?

Nice gray area there. That's a tough call. You are being observed, but the spell says you gain Concealment. This one maybe could go either way, and either way we call it will make it an exception to one interpretaion or another. So here's my call:

1. Blur says you gain "Concealment (20% miss chance)".
2. Concealment grants you the chance to make a Stealth check.
3. BUT Stealth requires you to be "Unobserved" or you can't use it.
4. Blur also says "Opponents that cannot see the subject ignore the spell's effect (though fighting an unseen opponent carries penalties of its own)". This is they key point. If the blurry guy is "Unobserved" then clearly this sentence doesn't need to be there - ALL opponents cannot see an "unobserved" guy regardless of whether he is blurred or not. Since this sentence exists, it's clear that the intent is that, under a Blur spell, you are still observed, and therefore cannot attempt a Stealth check.

Ergo, Blur grants you the 20% miss chance of Concealment, but not the necessary "unobserved" status required to attempt Stealth.

0gre wrote:
Can you spring attack from cover and return to that cover to restealth? If that's possible would it be with the same -20 or without a penalty? Since you are making the stealth check when you are behind the barrel does that mean you aren't being observed when you hide behind it?

I don't see why not. It folows the rules for Sniping, and since both are full-round actions that incorporate a move followed by an attack followed by a move, there is no reason that last move cannot include a Stealth roll as long as the other conditions are met (i.e. you are unobserved at the end of your move).

Since, in this case, you have taken three feats to get Spring Attack, compared to Sniping that can be attempted by any featless farmboy, this is a fairly advanced maneuver. Further, it incorporates a normal amount of activity that can be completed in one round (move + attack) unlike sniping that uses too many actions for one round (move + attack + move). So since we're not circumventing the normal number of actions allowed in a round (just reordering them a bit, for the price of three feats) I don't believe there is any need for the penalty (I see that penalty as the price to pay for being unusually hasty when Sniping, hasty enough to get an extra action).

So, Spring Attack and return to cover and you make a normal, unpenalized Stealth check.


Lord oKOyA wrote:

I just wanted to say interesting stuff and nice job DM_Blake!

Cheers

Thanks!


Tim Smith wrote:

With regard to the sneak attack and how it is applied by a "stealthing" rogue, I treat a rogue attacking from a stealth position as gaining a surprise round within the overall combat. Therefore partial action but sneak is allowed as the enemy is flatfooted (unless they have uncanny dodge).

I like your attempts to clarify, though :-)

Interesting house rule. The only drawback I see is that, under the normal rules a rogue with more than one attack can make all of his attacks, though only the first one is a Sneak Attack - at least he can make all the rest of his attacks normally. Per your rule, he loses this ability.

Still, for most rogues, the secondary attacks miss more often and without Sneak Attack, they rarely do that much damage. Not compared to that first deadly attack. So those extra attacks might not be missed too much.


coldkilla wrote:
Awesome job, DM_Blake! Very methodical, logical and well-researched.

Thanks!

coldkilla wrote:

A couple things off the bat:

1. In the PRD's description of Stealth, we find this line:

Quote:
Action: Usually none. Normally, you make a Stealth check as part of movement, so it doesn't take a separate action. However, using Stealth immediately after a ranged attack (see Sniping, above) is a move action.
So Sniping is simply the alias for this sequence of actions/conditions: starting the turn already Stealthed from the previous turn, making a single ranged attack (standard action), then re-Stealthing (move action). It's not a full-round action in its own right.

True, but taking a shot (Standard action) and then taking a Move action really is a Full-round of actions.

And consider this. If you begin your turn already Stealthed from the previous turn, that means you ended your turn with Cover or Concealment, which means you don't (usually) have line of sight to your target.

So at the start of this turn, with no line of sight, you cannot simply make your ranged attack. You must move to a spot from which you do have line of sight (or, if all you have is Concealment, you could fire blindly following those rules - but then you would still have Concealment and therefore have no need to dive back into the Concealment you already have, so re-Stealthing wouldn't be a problem and Sniping wouldn't be needed).

So if you move to a spot for line of sight, then make an attack, you are now out of actions and cannot return to your Cover or Concealment. That's where Sniping comes in - allowing you to move, shoot, and return, while making a Stealth check, but doing it so fast that you incur the -20 penalty.

coldkilla wrote:

3. Curious about your opinion on the mechanics of what point during the move the Stealth check is made. Can it be made at any point during the move at which Stealth-friendly conditions are available? Or should the check only be made at the beginning or end of the move?

I'm of the opinion that it's like a Jump/Acrobatics check -- it can and should be done at the point in the move that warrants it, whether that's at the beginning, in the middle, at the end.

The Stealth check would be made when you reach Cover or Concealment. No need to make it at the beginning or middle of the move while you're still observed (unless you begin your move in Cover or Concealment, in which case, you make the check right at the start).

If you still have movent left after reaching Cover or Concealment and making your Stealth check, then you can continue moving, while stealthed, remember that your movement rate is slower (unless you took the appropriate penalty on the Stealth check you just made or you have the appropriate Rogue talent).

coldkilla wrote:

4. Totally (and respectfully) disagree with you about the definition of "being observed" to mean "being in a location and circumstances where an opponent CAN perceive you", and the resulting consequences for trying to move, while Stealthed, through Stealth-unfriendly squares. I think the definition should be "having been the target of a successful Perception check", i.e. a synonym for being perceived.

Consider 2 hostiles a considerable distance away from each other, unaware of each other, but still in line of sight and within Perception range. Let's say 250' apart. By your definition, even though they are still unaware of each other, they are observing each other because they COULD POSSIBLY be perceived by the other. I say they are each unobserved/unperceived until the Perception checks, with distance and condition modifiers factored in, are successfully made.

That's a fine clarification, and you're right. My wording was imprecise. I should have used "does" instead of "can", and I probably should have mentioned the possibility of failing a Perception check.

Though, maybe this isn't the right thread for it, I will point out that I wholeheartedly disagree with the rule of -1/10 feet on Perception checks. Come on, an ordinary guy with no ranks in Perception can only see another human, in plain daylight on flat turn, at 210 feet?

To put that in perspective (no pun intended), consider an American NFL football field. That means a player on his endzone line can only see other players 70 yards away, to the opposing 30-yard line. A player on the opposing 25' yarline is completely invisible to this normal football player.

Or consider baseball. An outfielder makes a catch and wants to throw the ball to a baseman, but he can't see him because he's more than 210 feet away?

And how about the spectators in the bleachers who paid good money to see these games, but they can't see ANY of the players on the field?

No, -1/10 feet is great for listening. But it's horrible for vision. It's also horrible for smelling - I know I can't smell, say, a rose, at 200 feet, even on a good windy day when I'm downwind. But, a simple farmboy in Golarion could smell that rose on a 20, and a typical 1st level human cleric could smell it on a 16 or higher with no ranks in Perception.

It should be more like:

Scent: -1/2'
Hearing: -1/10'
Vision: -1/50'

Or something like that.

Not really the point of this thread, but I felt the need to rant. Your point about the difference between "can" and "does" is duly noted, and I agree.


0gre wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:

* I see lots of posts here where people explicitly state that they think as much, or take it for granted when they post about stalth related topics.

* Every player I've gamed with has believed Stealth allows a Sneak Attack.
* the 3.5 FAQ explicitly said that a successful Stealth check makes you effectively invisible vs. that opponent (denying DEX bonus to AC).

See here is what I don't get, how do you use stealth during combat? The rules for sniping make me think the designers felt it should be pretty difficult to repeatedly stealth in combat. You have cover, pop out, shoot, and return to cover, pretty clear use of stealth in combat so why is there a -20 to do it?

You can use blur to get concealment so can you use that for stealth? How does that interact with the fact that you are being observed?

Can you spring attack from cover and return to that cover to restealth? If that's possible would it be with the same -20 or without a penalty? Since you are making the stealth check when you are behind the barrel does that mean you aren't being observed when you hide behind it?

I understand that there are a lot of people who feel it can be used this way (maybe the majority but that's not my experience), but I don't think the rules really support it well which ultimately is the frustration. Basically it requires a lot of the assumption of a lot of unwritten rules.

Quote:
I'll accept your point that not everyone agrees, or as I said, not "just about everyone" agrees. But I don't think that would reverse my opinion that Stealth should deny DEX bonus, nor am I yet convinced that the majority of players (which is what I probably should have said in the first place) don't believe Stealth should have this benefit - not until the majority of players proves me wrong.
I'm not sure how this can ever happen :) I don't claim to be a majority and generally don't worry too much about what the majority does in any case.

One easy way to resolve it is this: the spell grants you concealment by shrouding you in an illusory effect that blurs your outline. You can hide within that illusory effect, sure, but the illusory effect itself remains in plain sight of anybody looking in that direction. Problem is, the illusory effect is a blurry image of you, which for all intents and purposes renders hiding within the illusory effect useless. =)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
FiddlersGreen wrote:
One easy way to resolve it is this: the spell grants you concealment by shrouding you in an illusory effect that blurs your outline. You can hide within that illusory effect, sure, but the illusory effect itself remains in plain sight of anybody looking in that direction. Problem is, the illusory effect is a blurry image of you, which for all intents and purposes renders hiding within the illusory effect useless. =)

This is the way I see it as well. You are successfully concealed within the glimmer of magic, the magical blur effect is still obvious to all (as is which square you are in).

Shadow Lodge

DM_Blake wrote:
0gre wrote:
See here is what I don't get, how do you use stealth during combat? The rules for sniping make me think the designers felt it should be pretty difficult to repeatedly stealth in combat. You have cover, pop out, shoot, and return to cover, pretty clear use of stealth in combat so why is there a -20 to do it?

Your example cannot be executed, by RAW, without using the sniping rules. You've described three actions.

1. "You have cover, pop out" - this is a move action to get out from your cover.
2. "shoot" - obviously a standard action.
3. "and return to cover." Another move action.

My example is sniping, it's right there in the skill, I'm not sure what you mean by this. I would point out that nowhere in the sniping rule does it say your enemy is flat footed or denied his DEX bonus which strikes me as an odd omission considering this is the one and only example of using stealth in combat.

Quote:
Either way you look at it, Sniping gives a clear RAW ruling that allows your version or mine to be explained. Without Sniping, it's hard to justify either version of the maneuver.

I was just referring to sniping. I guess the phrase 'pop out' was a little confusing.

Quote:

I don't see why not. It folows the rules for Sniping, and since both are full-round actions that incorporate a move followed by an attack followed by a move, there is no reason that last move cannot include a Stealth roll as long as the other conditions are met (i.e. you are unobserved at the end of your move).

Since, in this case, you have taken three feats to get Spring Attack, compared to Sniping that can be attempted by any featless farmboy, this is a fairly advanced maneuver. Further, it incorporates a normal amount of activity that can be completed in one round (move + attack) unlike sniping that uses too many actions for one round (move + attack + move). So since we're not circumventing the normal number of actions allowed in a round (just reordering them a bit, for the price of three feats) I don't believe there is any need for the penalty (I see that penalty as the price to pay for being unusually hasty when Sniping, hasty enough to get an extra action).

So, Spring Attack and return to cover and you make a normal, unpenalized Stealth check.

I'm not sure how you can say this follows the rules of sniping, sniping doesn't involve movement on either end of the action, and as I pointed out above nowhere does it suggest sniping makes enemies flat footed.

This is what it seems you are suggesting:
If you BEGIN your round under stealth you can do anything during that round and gain the benefits of stealth. A hasted human can come out from behind a boulder, run 30' to sneak attack, then return to the boulder, and re-stealth (with no penalty). He is effectively invisible the whole time (only more-so because invisible creatures show up to detect invisible).

(Yes it's 3 feats but they aren't even stealth feats, and these feats already have some great utility without layering on unwritten features.)

Shadow Lodge

So some other odd effects of sneak attack from sniping/ spring attack.

The fighter gets sniped from over in the bushes. "I ready an action to shoot anyone who sticks their head up over there."

The rogue is clearly visible when he pops out to snipe, does the fighter get to shoot him or is he still under stealth? If he's not under stealth while then does he get to sneak attack when sniping? How does it make sense that the fighter can use a readied action to shoot someone but is flat footed against his attack?

Is there a special exception for when you are particularly alert for a recently de-stealthed enemy so you can ready an action? This seems counter to the distraction rules which seem to assume that you are alert unless distracted.


How do Sniping and the "Shot on the Run" feat interact?
Maybe you need the feat to be able to snipe at all?


0gre wrote:

So some other odd effects of sneak attack from sniping/ spring attack.

The fighter gets sniped from over in the bushes. "I ready an action to shoot anyone who sticks their head up over there."

The rogue is clearly visible when he pops out to snipe, does the fighter get to shoot him or is he still under stealth?

Personally, I'd give the fighter who readied an action a perception roll when the sniper pops. If he makes it, he gets to take his readied shot (otherwise he didn't spot the target in time and so missed his chance to shoot).

After the rogue takes his shot, if he wasn't spotted and wants to try to stay stealthed another round, I'd say let him have a try at -20 as usual to poof back behind cover. If he pulls it off (extremely unlikely), there could be any number of explanations as to why. Maybe he popped just as the fighter blinked or glanced down, or moved with the swaying shrub-leaves as a breeze blew by.... who knows. It's not like it's gonna happen that often.

These are just my ideas for handling it. I know you're mostly concerned with the written rules though. I agree with you that stealth isn't and shouldn't be a middle-of-combat thing. I think it's intended to allow you to get the jump at the start of a fight by getting you a surprise round, or to get up close before you are noticed. In 99% of cases, I'd say once you're spotted there's no re-hiding. They know you're there. It's not about subtlety anymore.

Just my two copper pieces.


0gre wrote:

The fighter gets sniped from over in the bushes. "I ready an action to shoot anyone who sticks their head up over there."

If the sniper won the opposed Stealth vs. Perception check after the shot, then the fighter has no idea where the shot came from. Unrealistic perhaps, but it fits the game mechanic. If the sniper lost the opposed check to re-Stealth (very likely given the -20 penalty), the fighter would know where the shot came from.

So I'd rule he can't ready an action against something he can't see and when he doesn't even know from which direction the threat is coming.

0gre wrote:

The rogue is clearly visible when he pops out to snipe, does the fighter get to shoot him or is he still under stealth? If he's not under stealth while then does he get to sneak attack when sniping? How does it make sense that the fighter can use a readied action to shoot someone but is flat footed against his attack?

Is there a special exception for when you are particularly alert for a recently de-stealthed enemy so you can ready an action? This seems counter to the distraction rules which seem to assume that you are alert unless distracted.

I don't understand the assumption that the sniper has to move or "pop out" to take the shot. Dim lighting (which provides concealment of the 20% miss chance variety) allows you to Stealth, so that's no problem -- there's no actual obstruction. Hiding in some bushes? Shoot through a gap in the foliage. Hiding around a corner? Lean a bit and fire (yes, in real life, you'd be spotted, but this is a game). Hiding prone on a rooftop from a ground target? Peek over the edge and shoot.

Hard cover need not be 100% solid and unbroken in order to provide Stealth-friendly conditions. Gaps, holes, slits, etc will all allow the sniper to do his dirty work without making himself "clearly visible".

So fighter takes Sneak Attack damage, the sniper is considered to be hidden (Stealthed) the whole time if he wins all the checks, and the fighter can't use a readied action.

Readying an action against an enemy specifically for when they try to initiate Stealth? Hmmmm, that's an interesting one. Dunno how you'd handle that. Maybe a circumstance bonus on the Perception check? +5 maybe?

Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

By the rules, there are 2 things you can do if you have cover and want to make a ranged attack.
1. Sniping
2. Attack and then restealth.

Sniping is a -20, attacking and then making a stealth check as a move action is at no penalty. The only way I can see to justify this is if the person is using sniping he never gets his location revealed while if the person is not sniping the defender get a bead on where the attacker is every time he attacts.

By this, if the person is sniping and succeeds his stealth checks, a readied action to attack him would never trigger, but if he is using method 2 it would.

As for getting sneak attack while stealthed, the closest I can find to a rule on it would be in the combat section under suprize, right after initiative, where it says unaware opponents are flat footed, and you can be aware of some opponents and not others, but that is a real stretch.

Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

DM Blake, I also contend with many of your points. Especially those concerning when you are observed. I contend that you are not observed until someone actively succeeds a perception check against you, and therefore you can make a stealth check out in the open when dashing from cover to cover.

I also disagree on your interpretation of distractions. I believe that anything the GM wants to define as a distraction can be used to make a stealth check at -10. I think that the +5DC for perception checks and the word used in stealth are the same thing. If loud music is playing and people are watching, you can make a stealth check to move through the room without cover. If 2 guards are busy playing cards, you can make a stealth check to go past them. If 2 people are fighting and you want ot quietly slink away, you can. I think these things are beneficial to the game, and that this interpretation allows you to do things that you can in real life. I believe that yours prevents that.


Caineach wrote:

DM Blake, I also contend with many of your points. Especially those concerning when you are observed. I contend that you are not observed until someone actively succeeds a perception check against you, and therefore you can make a stealth check out in the open when dashing from cover to cover.

I think this plays into my earlier point about missing a perception check. After all if you completely failed to notice them you can hardly say that they are not hidden from you in a fashion. This should play into the stealth rules in some way.


Caineach wrote:
DM Blake, I also contend with many of your points. Especially those concerning when you are observed. I contend that you are not observed until someone actively succeeds a perception check against you, and therefore you can make a stealth check out in the open when dashing from cover to cover.

I'm siding with Caineach on this one. Really though, this is the big irreducible point of contention that almost all the stealth discussions come down to, "When is a creature/foe observing you? What is the definition of 'observe'? etc."

At my table I'd rule that the section in Stealth that talks about needing Cover and Concealment only applies while you are already being observed, not generally. If your foes are unaware of your presence, you should be able to move quickly from cover to cover and maintain stealth, albeit, probably at a penalty.

This just makes more sense from a simulationist standpoint (it's more realistic), from a narrativist standpoint (thematically, it seems like the sort of thing stealthy characters should be able to do), and from a gamist standpoint (it's more "fair", no automatic failure or success, there's some tactics involved, and it makes the game more interesting).

In my opinion, it also follows the RAW more closely. Looking at the Stealth skill, I see the following.

First it gives the general rule: "Your Stealth check is opposed by the Perception check of anyone who might notice you."

Then several lines with bonuses and penalties for movement and size: "You can move up to half your normal speed and use Stealth at no penalty. When moving at a speed greater than half but less than your normal speed, you take a –5 penalty. It's impossible to use Stealth while attacking, running, or charging.

A creature larger or smaller than Medium takes a size bonus or penalty on Stealth checks depending on its size category: Fine +16, Diminutive +12, Tiny +8, Small +4, Large –4, Huge –8, Gargantuan –12, Colossal –16."

Then an exception to the general rule: "If people are observing you using any of their senses (but typically sight), you can't use Stealth."

And then two conditions under which this exception does not apply: "Against most creatures, finding cover or concealment allows you to use Stealth." and "If your observers are momentarily distracted (such as by a Bluff check), you can attempt to use Stealth. While the others turn their attention from you, you can attempt a Stealth check if you can get to an unobserved place of some kind. This check, however, is made at a –10 penalty because you have to move fast."

The big point here being that neither of these two conditions matters one bit, unless you are already being observed.


Great job Blake on bringing this all together...a few comments.

1. Sniping: I agree with Coldkilla, there is no need to "pop out" when sniping in a tree with a 5 ft step or move action.

For example, if an archer shoots from around a hard corner in a dungeon, the archer can pick ANY corner of his square to begin his shot from when tracing to opposite corners of his opponents square (this is easier to visualize in a diagram). The target doesn't even receive a cover bonus to AC if the archer is standing just around the corner. Picture an archer in a tree that fills the archer's square. The archer can select a corner of his square closest to his opponents square and not grant his target a cover bonus to AC, without moving.

2. In 3.x I vaguely recall rules that let a target move between two hiding spots, if the spots were spaced a number of feet apart <= the stealthy guy's ranks in hide. Am I making that up? Is that gone in Pathfinder, Blake? I assume if it was still in, you would have found it in your comprehensive review.

3. I also agree with Coldkilla the default assumption should not necessarily be observed. This really needs to be adjudicated by the DM on a case-by-case basis. For example, in the 2nd round+ of a combat, when none of the combatants are making an effort to hide, I think it is fair to assume everyone sees everyone, to avoid a bunch of stealth and perception checks. But on the first round/surprise round of a combat that doesn't begin with an obvious event* I think it is fair to have everyone roll stealth and perception checks. I'm generally of the opinion that DMs don't give players the option to surprise monsters enough, and that surprise rounds where a portion of both sides act increase the excitement of the game and let players who upped their stealth and perception skills feel good about themselves.
*An obvious event could be a door opening. In this case the party is obviously on guard when they open the door, and all the bad guys are going to look at the just opened door. A not obvious event would be a group of character's and monsters walking into the forest and stumbling into one another (SURPRISE ROUNDS!). There's a lot of less clear cases between these examples that the DM needs to adjudicate).

4. Something strange that I hadn't considered until I read your post Blake. Does it make sense that standing around a corner permits stealth checks opposed by scent? When I walk in the door of someone making spaghetti sauce, I know someone's making spaghetti sauce the second I walk in the house ... not the second I walk in the kitchen. Sure, if someone's making a stealth check because they benefit from concealment caused by a fire the smoke there could affect sight AND scent. Also, does it make sense that standing in smoke (and receiving concealment) permits hiding against perception checks made by hearing? I appreciate the efforts of the designers to simplify 2 3.5 skills into perception, and 2 3.5 skills into stealth, and in general it works fine. But I think once in a while the DM may need to make special excpetions for creatures that don't primarily base their perception on sight for whether cover or concealment should actually permit stealth checks.

Again, great job.


0gre wrote:

This is what it seems you are suggesting:

If you BEGIN your round under stealth you can do anything during that round and gain the benefits of stealth. A hasted human can come out from behind a boulder, run 30' to sneak attack, then return to the boulder, and re-stealth (with no penalty). He is effectively invisible the whole time (only more-so because invisible creatures show up to detect invisible).

Not at all.

If you check my original post under "Being Observed" I give a specific example of someone moving from one tree to another, and how he is "observed" while he's between trees.

As for Sniping, I'm really talking about the simplest cases of Cover, using 5' square grids on a battlemat. I'll try to illustrate:

Sx
C
.
.
.
.
T

S = Sniper, C = Cover, T = Target, x = an empty space.

Imagine that the Cover in this case is the corner of a house, or a thick tree or big rock that takes up pretty much the entire 5' space.

In order for S to use the Sniping rules to fire a shot at T he needs line of sight. He doesn't have line of sight where he is. By the purest interpretation of RAW, S must move out from behind his Cover to get line of sight. Since he has to move 5' to reach space x, this is a Move action. Now he fires his shot. This is a Standard action. Then he wants to return to his original space, another Move action. Without Haste he cannot do this. Hence the Sniping rules to allow this action.

Now, sure, we could still talk about leaning, or what if the cover is just 4' tall and he's crouching behind it, popping up and ducking down, or whatever. There are lots of cases where the simple situation I presented doesn't apply.

But I think Sniping in the RAW was intended for that simple solution (RAW says it takes a penalized Move action to "return" to cover - that sounds more significant that "ducking" or "un-leaning"). And if we can get Sniping to work for the simple case, then it can be applied to all the other cases as well. Of course, in some corner cases, the DM may choose to stray away from RAW, as is his choice with any rule in the game.


If the sniper does not have LOS from the square they are in, then they cannot attack.

In your example, I would not allow the attack to even happen, sniping or otherwise.


0gre wrote:

So some other odd effects of sneak attack from sniping/ spring attack.

The fighter gets sniped from over in the bushes. "I ready an action to shoot anyone who sticks their head up over there."

The rogue is clearly visible when he pops out to snipe, does the fighter get to shoot him or is he still under stealth? If he's not under stealth while then does he get to sneak attack when sniping? How does it make sense that the fighter can use a readied action to shoot someone but is flat footed against his attack?

Is there a special exception for when you are particularly alert for a recently de-stealthed enemy so you can ready an action? This seems counter to the distraction rules which seem to assume that you are alert unless distracted.

This is a good example of a collision of the rules. Sniping is designed to give a single ranged attack from Stealth, and Ready Action is designed to interrupt anything and change the order of combat turns. Logically, it's unrealistic to explain how a guy can shoot a sniper and then still be unprepared for the sniper's attack.

I don't think there is a good answer.

The hardcore solution would be to say the Readied action trumps the sniper. Because the target gave up a previous action and chose to wait, risking the possibility of losing his action entirely (no sniper, no action for the target), and because he gambled on his foe doing exactly what he is prepared to deal with, then when the sniper does pop out of cover, the target's gamble has paid off. He pings the sniper first and since the sniper is now clearly "observed" the sniper can only fire a normal attack with no denial of the target's DEX bonus to AC.

That last part is open for interpretation by the DMs, and maybe a source of debate. A less harcore DM would say that clearly both shots are being fired at basically the same moment, and being ready to shoot the sniper is not the same thing as being ready to take an arrow to the face, so maybe the sniper's attack is not interrupted at all, and the attack still gets the benefits of Stealth.

Me, I would rule the first way, but I can understand the other argument too - it just seems to be farther from the RAI than the first version.

So I say, woe unto the sneaky rogue looking to launch any kind of stealthy Sneak Attack on any readied foe who knows where the rogue attacking from. To me, it stands to reason that the rogue is naturally going to have a very bad day when he sneaks into the "observed" range of a fully ready, prepared, and dangerous foe.


Zen79 wrote:

How do Sniping and the "Shot on the Run" feat interact?

Maybe you need the feat to be able to snipe at all?

For Sniping, all you need is Stealth. No RAW requirement for any feats at all. Adding a feat requirement would clearly be a houserule, but your point is a rather valid that the two concepts seem made for each other - I just see it differently (and I think the RAW does too).

Sniping specifically says "return to cover". That clearly indicatess "return" which means you go back to where you were.

With Shot on the Run you gain a whole new ability and you don't need to snipe anymore. Just like I described in an earlier post about Spring Attack (which is the melee version of Shot on the Run), a rogue can now move, shoot, move all in one full-round action.

So if he starts with Stealth or not, he can move, take his shot, and then move again such that he ends up in Cover or Concealment, making a Stealth check during that second movement. He doesn't even have to return to his starting space to do this. Note that this ranged attack would not be a Sneak Attack since he is clearly moving into an "observed" position to make his shot (if he has LOS to fire his shot, the target has LOS to see him do it).

Combining Shot on the Run with Sniping, we can use Sniping to get a Stealthed ranged attack per the Sniping rules and use Shot on the Run to finish our movement in any square we want rather than returning to our starting square. This changes the Sniping rule, but most feats change some rule in some way.


Brodiggan Gale, I've generally agreed with your interpretation on this, but it raises an important rules question -- specifically about Ranger abilities.
Can you explain under what circumstances a Ranger with Camouflage can do something that another character cannot, and under what circumstances a Ranger with Hide in Plain Sight can do something that another character cannot?

Let me be explicit with my question. As I understand it, you're claiming the following:
1) An unobserved creature can maintain Stealth without cover or concealment.
2) An observed creature cannot acheive Stealth without cover or concealment.
Now, what about Camouflage?
It seems that you don't need Camouflage when the character is unobserved, correct?
But if Camouflage works when the character is observed, then how is Camouflage different from Hide in Plain Sight?

Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
AvalonXQ wrote:

Brodiggan Gale, I've generally agreed with your interpretation on this, but it raises an important rules question -- specifically about Ranger abilities.

Can you explain under what circumstances a Ranger with Camouflage can do something that another character cannot, and under what circumstances a Ranger with Hide in Plain Sight can do something that another character cannot?

Let me be explicit with my question. As I understand it, you're claiming the following:
1) An unobserved creature can maintain Stealth without cover or concealment.
2) An observed creature cannot acheive Stealth without cover or concealment.
Now, what about Camouflage?
It seems that you don't need Camouflage when the character is unobserved, correct?
But if Camouflage works when the character is observed, then how is Camouflage different from Hide in Plain Sight?

Using my interpretation of stealth above.

Camouflage allows a character to maintain stealth without penalty without cover or concealment. By my interpretation, it would be a -10 to do this past distracted opponents normally, and impossible to do if the opponents were aware.

Hide in Plain Sight allows a character to start stealth without penalty without cover or concealment, and then stay there. By my interpretation, it would normally be a -10 to do this if the opponents were distracted, and could not be done if they were not without the use of bluff to make them distracted. If you used bluff to make them distracted, they would no longer be distracted at the end of the turn, so you must get to a place that grants cover or concealment.


Scissors Lizard wrote:
0gre wrote:

The fighter gets sniped from over in the bushes. "I ready an action to shoot anyone who sticks their head up over there."

The rogue is clearly visible when he pops out to snipe, does the fighter get to shoot him or is he still under stealth?

Personally, I'd give the fighter who readied an action a perception roll when the sniper pops. If he makes it, he gets to take his readied shot (otherwise he didn't spot the target in time and so missed his chance to shoot).

This is a great interpretation and seems completely in line with what Sniping and Stealth and Perception should mean. Unfortunately, this becomes a suicide tactic under this interpretation.

If you Ready an action, and the trigger never happens, then you have lost your action. You do nothing. In your example, you say "missed his chance to shoot" which means he does nothing and has sacrificed his entire turn this round.

Consider the typical Stealth skill of the kinds of guys who would use this style of Sniping attack. Consider the typical Perception skills of almost anyone who would likely be targetted by this attack.

For example, I just did the math on a 5th level rogue with +13 on Stealth vs. a 5th level fighter with +5 on Perception (note: he put half of his skill ranks on Perception). 80.5% of the time (4 rounds out of 5) the rogue wins the opposed check and fires off a Sneak Attack against the fighter who does absolutely nothing those rounds. 19.5% (1 round out of 5) the fighter shoots at the rogue and the rogue shoots at the fighter).

So, rogue gets 4 sneak attacks and one normal attack for every 1 fighter attack.

Suicide.

It shouldn't be suicide, but we would need new rules, or at least some rule changes, to make this concept work for the fighter. Without those changes, the fighter should just take his action to rush the rogue and get himself out of the killzone.


coldkilla wrote:

I don't understand the assumption that the sniper has to move or "pop out" to take the shot. Dim lighting (which provides concealment of the 20% miss chance variety) allows you to Stealth, so that's no problem -- there's no actual obstruction. Hiding in some bushes? Shoot through a gap in the foliage. Hiding around a corner? Lean a bit and fire (yes, in real life, you'd be spotted, but this is a game). Hiding prone on a rooftop from a ground target? Peek over the edge and shoot.

Hard cover need not be 100% solid and unbroken in order to provide Stealth-friendly conditions. Gaps, holes, slits, etc will all allow the sniper to do his dirty work without making himself "clearly visible".

Absolutely.

In these situations there is no need to snipe at all. Assuming you're stealthed from the previous round, take your Sneak Attack then use your move action to reacquire Stealth at no penalty.

Sniping wasn't designed for these cases.

Sniping was designed for what we have seen in every Cops-and-Robbers movie, or Cowboys-and-Indians, or every John Wayne movie ever made. People around a corner or behind a rock or behind a car or inside a doorway (off to the side). They "pop out" or "Pop up" and fire off a shot, then "duck back" to hide again. Over and over, until they kill the bad guys or get killed themselves.

Hence the move-shoot-move scenario.

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
DM_Blake wrote:
Scissors Lizard wrote:
0gre wrote:

The fighter gets sniped from over in the bushes. "I ready an action to shoot anyone who sticks their head up over there."

The rogue is clearly visible when he pops out to snipe, does the fighter get to shoot him or is he still under stealth?

Personally, I'd give the fighter who readied an action a perception roll when the sniper pops. If he makes it, he gets to take his readied shot (otherwise he didn't spot the target in time and so missed his chance to shoot).

This is a great interpretation and seems completely in line with what Sniping and Stealth and Perception should mean. Unfortunately, this becomes a suicide tactic under this interpretation.

If you Ready an action, and the trigger never happens, then you have lost your action. You do nothing. In your example, you say "missed his chance to shoot" which means he does nothing and has sacrificed his entire turn this round.

Consider the typical Stealth skill of the kinds of guys who would use this style of Sniping attack. Consider the typical Perception skills of almost anyone who would likely be targetted by this attack.

For example, I just did the math on a 5th level rogue with +13 on Stealth vs. a 5th level fighter with +5 on Perception (note: he put half of his skill ranks on Perception). 80.5% of the time (4 rounds out of 5) the rogue wins the opposed check and fires off a Sneak Attack against the fighter who does absolutely nothing those rounds. 19.5% (1 round out of 5) the fighter shoots at the rogue and the rogue shoots at the fighter).

So, rogue gets 4 sneak attacks and one normal attack for every 1 fighter attack.

Suicide.

It shouldn't be suicide, but we would need new rules, or at least some rule changes, to make this concept work for the fighter. Without those changes, the fighter should just take his action to rush the rogue and get himself out of the killzone.

A. 13-20 = -7. The fighter gets a significant bonus in this case to spot the rogue. Unless you rogue somehow has a +33 bonus when the fighter has a +5.

B. why should you be able to ready an action to shoot someone you never saw and get the shot? I ready actions for things that do not happen all the time. I miss a turn, big deal.

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
DM_Blake wrote:
coldkilla wrote:

I don't understand the assumption that the sniper has to move or "pop out" to take the shot. Dim lighting (which provides concealment of the 20% miss chance variety) allows you to Stealth, so that's no problem -- there's no actual obstruction. Hiding in some bushes? Shoot through a gap in the foliage. Hiding around a corner? Lean a bit and fire (yes, in real life, you'd be spotted, but this is a game). Hiding prone on a rooftop from a ground target? Peek over the edge and shoot.

Hard cover need not be 100% solid and unbroken in order to provide Stealth-friendly conditions. Gaps, holes, slits, etc will all allow the sniper to do his dirty work without making himself "clearly visible".

Absolutely.

In these situations there is no need to snipe at all. Assuming you're stealthed from the previous round, take your Sneak Attack then use your move action to reacquire Stealth at no penalty.

Sniping wasn't designed for these cases.

Sniping was designed for what we have seen in every Cops-and-Robbers movie, or Cowboys-and-Indians, or every John Wayne movie ever made. People around a corner or behind a rock or behind a car or inside a doorway (off to the side). They "pop out" or "Pop up" and fire off a shot, then "duck back" to hide again. Over and over, until they kill the bad guys or get killed themselves.

Hence the move-shoot-move scenario.

But with sniping, you fire from your location. You don't move at all. You "pop out" from behind cover that does not block LOS and then restealth. There is nothing in the sniping description that implies you move at all. What you are describing with cops & robers or cowboys is using your move action to stealth normally. The opponent figures out where you are firing from, but cannot see you currently. Sniping is for when you never reveal your location to the enemy, and they have no idea where the shot came from. You "maintain your obscured location," so they never notice you.


Caineach wrote:
As for getting sneak attack while stealthed, the closest I can find to a rule on it would be in the combat section under suprize, right after initiative, where it says unaware opponents are flat footed, and you can be aware of some opponents and not others, but that is a real stretch.

I agree, this is definitely a very gray area in the rules. Without assigning some way for Sneak Attack from Stealth, then a rogue is required to find flanking or invisibility, or only use Sneak Attack when he wins initiative (usually too far away to get much use of it).

Consider this:
Before combat: Party finds a troll, rogue sneaks around to the other side of the troll's camp using Stealth successfully.
Round 1: Fighter charges the troll. Troll fights back and uses a 5' step to keep the fighter at "Reach". Rogue uses Stealth successfully to sneak up behind the troll. But now he cannot Sneak Attack because the troll is not Flatfooted and the there is no Flanking.

In that scenario, the completely hidden Stealthy rogue cannot Sneak Attack, but logic says, at least to me, that he should be able to.

Hence the notion that Stealth affords the same privileges as Invisibility with regards to denying DEX bonus to AC which, as I've demonstrated (my original post, "Sneak Attacks and Stealth", is well supported by RAW even though it is not explicitly stated.

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