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How often are stealth checks made?


Beginner Box


I want one of the player characters to sneak up to a building and unlock a watched door so all the non-stealthy characters can just quickly run up to the building and through the door before they can be stopped.

Say I have a person in a watchtower on the building. How often do I role the stealth vs perception check? Is it every time the stealth character moves? (either half speed for no penalty or full speed for -5 penalty)

ex. The rogue, with a speed of 30 feet, is trying to cross a 60 ft field to get to the small building. If the player decided to move at half-speed, and avoid the penalty, the character would need to make 4 stealth checks to make his way across the field?

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

There are minor guidelines on this, a lot of which translates into "GM's option / flare for the dramatic".

Steal Skill says: "Your Stealth check is opposed by the Perception check of anyone who might notice you."

Across that 60 ft field if it was relatevle free of debris but had some cover like trees or boulders, as a GM I'd just ask for a single stealth vs. perception check. If it was an open area with no cover but plenty of items which may make noise like battlefield debris (or provide a penalty like bright light) I'd ask for two over that distance.

Also, I'd ask for another check at the door. In general as a GM I just ask for 1 stealth vs. perception check until the character tries something different while still trying to stay stealthy.

Hope this helps!


In a similar boat with DM Jeff, I look at the entirety of the 'task' in which the stealth role in being made. If it's open the door, then getting across the field, around the corner, and picking the lock without making noise, that's one stealth check with whatever modifiers that come up along that path. Now then, if that takes multiple rounds to accomplish, I'd give the gaurd a perc check one the first round to see if he just so happpens to notice, the every round after that, give him one only if he's looking (since he is a gaurd after all). Of course, exceptions would be if the rouge were to do something blatently hurtful to being stealthy, like swimming through a mote or breaking something open, end the effect of the first check and role a new one.

Yes, a plethora of exceptions exist, but as GM handle those as they come up, but limit the checks to as few as possible.


DM Jeff wrote:

If it was an open area with no cover but plenty of items which may make noise like battlefield debris (or provide a penalty like bright light) I'd ask for two over that distance.

I don't think you can even stealth without cover.


If you give a sentry one stealth check per round of stealthing you basically ensure that the PC will eventually lose. Given enough rolls the player will roll bad and the NPC will roll good.

If the PC needs to be in an area requiring stealth checks for an extended time I would have him roll once and have the NPC take 10 on perception. Should the PC do anything that would change his circumstances you can either have him roll again or just alter his result compared to the NPC's.


"If you give a sentry one stealth check per round of stealthing you basically ensure that the PC will eventually lose. Given enough rolls the player will roll bad and the NPC will roll good."

Agreed.

Although, 1) I like the dramatic effect of the second stealth check right before the character is "home free" at the door; and

2) Context is everything. Is there a reason the guards might be extra vigilant? Or is this 'ho-hum' security guard duty? If there had been a recent attack or theft in the area, I might give the guard one more chance as he scans the area again, and signal to the PCs that these guards are pretty serious. (Maybe even have the PCs roll a perception check to see if they notice the anxious darting eyes of an alert guard.)


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Gignere wrote:
DM Jeff wrote:

If it was an open area with no cover but plenty of items which may make noise like battlefield debris (or provide a penalty like bright light) I'd ask for two over that distance.

I don't think you can even stealth without cover.

Concealment works. Presumably in that example it's dark out.


He has to have cover/concealment to perform Stealth. Fog, dim light, darkness, smoke, or any number of other things could provide this. Also the terrain can provide it depending on the height and density of plant life around the building. Trees provide Cover. Once the player gets to the edge of the wall the wall itself could provide some cover depending on where guards are in relation to the stone wall and the PC. If it is night the player will be good right up until he hits the edge of any lamps or torches, also if any guards have low light vision or darkvision that is something to consider.

The player will have to roll Stealth every time he does something that could get him caught (IE: every turn when he moves). The NPCs will roll a Perception check every time the Stealth check is rolled. Additionally the NPC on his turn can also roll a deliberate Perception check as a move action.


I would recommend two Stealth checks. One to stealthily cross the field and one to stealthily unlock the door, each opposed by one Perception check for the guard(s). This isn't strict RAW, but strict RAW for Stealth is infamously dysfunctional.

In case you want strict RAW, though, it would require four stealth checks to cross the field opposed by (if the guard is doing nothing but guarding, ie, making two active perception checks on his turn) three Perception checks per guard per turn, while how many if any Stealth checks are required to stealthily unlock a door is not clear/not provided for.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Personally, if they're using stealth 'sensibly', I only get the stealthy players to roll once. (I dont generally feel constrained to 'get the rules right' though, which isnt everyone's cup of tea).

In my experience, players seem to only try stealth if they're pretty confident it's going to work. If they have to roll lots of times they'll do the maths and decide that it's eventually going to fail - so then they never end up using their skills. (It doesnt take long to realise that the randomness of a 1-20 dice roll is likely to be the most significant factor in determining success - even if you're quite good at the skill in question).

I dont mind making things easy for the players if it means they use a variety of tactics and if the stealthy character gets his chance to shine (like the heavy hitters get a chance to shine in combat).


I'd say it's highly variable. It really depends on the campaign. I cannot speak for the amount of Stealth checks in APs, sadly.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
The Emortal wrote:

I want one of the player characters to sneak up to a building and unlock a watched door so all the non-stealthy characters can just quickly run up to the building and through the door before they can be stopped.

Say I have a person in a watchtower on the building. How often do I role the stealth vs perception check? Is it every time the stealth character moves? (either half speed for no penalty or full speed for -5 penalty)

You make the check every round that a character is subject to line of sight observation. So assuming the player isn't taking the time to admire the scenery and is double moving, you'd make two stealth checks.

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