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DMing a non-stop-stealth party?


Beginner Box


Hey guys,
First time DMing and my group of 3 use stealth 100% of the time.
According to my understanding of the rules i can't do anything about that
1. They stick to walls constantly (end their turns in cover) - as far as i understand as long as they don't attack\do actions like attack/cast/open doors they stay in stealth.
2. As long as they are outside of combat they keep trying stealth until they get a good score

This is problematic because they enter a room with a haunt\enemy that is hidden and nothing happens - they just sit there because no one is able to detect the other.

Any way to mitigate the first issue?
Can i mitigate the "Keep trying untill they stealth" thing somehow? i don't want to be an ass and say "only try once" without reason, but maybe if i explain that they don't know how how well they hid? any other idea?

Please, any help from experienced DMs will help!


They need to start and end their turns in cover or concealment to use stealth.

It's an opposed roll. They don't roll unless there's someone there to notice them.

It's very hard to have an entire party be stealthy unless they're all goblins and just take 10 every round.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Don't forget that stealth is usually a part of movement, so unless they are wandering back and forth until successful...

yeah, exactly. It is not unreasonable to say they can only try once - they only get one chance to sneak up on someone.

Encourage taking 10.

Being beside a wall is not sufficient cover. they need to actually have something between them and the observer - remove cover and concealment.

Haunts normally trigger no matter what your stealth is, they have to be specifically called out as able to be tricked by invisibility/stealth etc.

Use fewer hidden enemies.

But more importantly, if your players are having fun with this playstyle don't overreact and go out of your way to make stealth irrelevant at every turn.


Quote:
Characters with darkvision (dwarves and half-orcs) can see lit areas normally as well as dark areas within 60 feet. A creature can't hide within 60 feet of a character with darkvision unless it is invisible or has cover.

Unless they're completely hidden behind a wall or statue or something, anything with darkvision will instantly see the party whether they're stealthing or not.


Thank you both for your input!
Dragonhunterq, The last thing you said is the most important for me - i do not want to reduce from their fun with unreasonable things.

A few questions about what you guys said.
1. When they are wondering around a dungeon, as long as they aren't in a battle we don't count turns (except a general sense of time to calculate buff expiration) - so what did you mean by "move back and forth"?
2. Why is it hard for the entire party to stealth? they all have good stealth stats.
3. I use an AP, so i don't get to decide who is hidden... should i just change the monsters?
4. About "cover between them and the monster" how can my PC's know if they are ending the turn in cover if it relative to the enemy? (especially if they can't see it), or is that exactly the point, they cant know
5. feels to me like i don't fully understand Stealth, and the explanation in the books is short and lacking. From what i understand, as long as i end my turn in cover, i don't lose stealth. and as long as i'm in someone's line of site they can throw perception to see if they detect me.

Sorry for all the questions, like i said, first time DMing (and only 3rd game ever)


Quote:
2. Why is it hard for the entire party to stealth? they all have good stealth stats.

Because that's a lot of opposed stealth checks to beat. One for each character assuming they're passing into a room with a creature in it. Eventually someone will role a 1 or something.

Quote:
4. About "cover between them and the monster" how can my PC's know if they are ending the turn in cover if it relative to the enemy? (especially if they can't see it), or is that exactly the point, they cant know

Yup. They just have to go in blind and hope they aren't spotted.

Quote:
5. feels to me like i don't fully understand Stealth, and the explanation in the books is short and lacking. From what i understand, as long as i end my turn in cover, i don't lose stealth. and as long as i'm in someone's line of site they can throw perception to see if they detect me.
Quote:
Breaking Stealth: When you start your turn using Stealth, you can leave cover or concealment and remain unobserved as long as you succeed at a Stealth check and end your turn in cover or concealment. Your Stealth immediately ends after you make an attack roll, whether or not the attack is successful.

Assuming I'm reading this right, if you pass a stealth check and end your turn behind cover, yes. The creatures in the room would get perception checks against each PC leaving cover to go to the next section of cover though. So if we have two creatures and 5 PC's, the two creatures get to make a perception check against every one of the 5 PCs.


As long as you end your turn in cover, you can remain in stealth, that is true.
I think the point of confusin here are the cover rules.

You are not automatically in cover, because you crouch next to a wall. Cover is determined relative to someone or something.

If you determine cover correctly, your players should have a much harder time always staying in stealth.

The thing you say under 4 is correct. As long as your players haven't made their perception rolls to know the position of all enemies, they have no way of knowing wether a certain position really is in cover from all enemies or not.

Also concerning the "just trying again" thing:

You make stealth rolls as part of movement. The moment you roll stealth, you already move.

So you can't just roll stealth until everybody rolls well and THEN move through the corridor. Everybody moves through the corridor and while they do so, stealth is rolled to find out how stealthy they are while doing so.

Of course they can walk back and try again, but how does that help them if the first roll was crappy and the enemies have already seen/heard them?


Answers to your questions below.

Qayinisorouse wrote:
1. When they are wondering around a dungeon, as long as they aren't in a battle we don't count turns (except a general sense of time to calculate buff expiration) - so what did you mean by "move back and forth"?

They only get to make the check if they're moving and they only get to make the check if someone is there to see/hear them. Generally, if they're moving quietly down the hall they just keep going until there's a chance an NPC can spot them then you roll the opposed checks.

Qayinisorouse wrote:
2. Why is it hard for the entire party to stealth? they all have good stealth stats.

It's a numbers thing. If you have a group of PCs trying to sneak and a group of NPCs trying to detect, you only need one NPC to spot one PC to blow the whole thing.

If you have five NPCs with only a +5 perception and they roll a 4, 7, 11, 13, and 16 (not an unusual range) and you have your 4 PCs with a +15 stealth roll a 5, 11, 14, and a 17 then you have one of the NPCs get a total of 20 and one of the PCs roll as low as a 20. Oops! You got caught.

Qayinisorouse wrote:
3. I use an AP, so i don't get to decide who is hidden... should i just change the monsters?

Nah, let them stay hidden.

Qayinisorouse wrote:
4. About "cover between them and the monster" how can my PC's know if they are ending the turn in cover if it relative to the enemy? (especially if they can't see it), or is that exactly the point, they cant know

They can't know unless, perhaps, they see the monster during their movement.

Qayinisorouse wrote:
5. feels to me like i don't fully understand Stealth, and the explanation in the books is short and lacking. From what i understand, as long as i end my turn in cover, i don't lose stealth. and as long as i'm in someone's line of site they can throw perception to see if they detect me.

The biggest thing is that you roll when they move. If they're not moving, they're not rolling so they don't get rerolls.

Qayinisorouse wrote:
Sorry for all the questions, like i said, first time DMing (and only 3rd game ever)

No problem! We were all new once.


Qayinisorouse wrote:
1. When they are wondering around a dungeon, as long as they aren't in a battle we don't count turns (except a general sense of time to calculate buff expiration) - so what did you mean by "move back and forth"?

A stealth check is only relevant when there is someone who could see them. If there is no-one around just tell them they are being super sneaky and move on. If there is someone around who can spot them, then they don't get to keep trying, once they fail a stealth check that critter knows they are there.

I usually ask for one stealth check as soon as they start moving sneakily, and that is their check for when they finally meet something. Anything else is just a crazy amount of dice rolling.

The Guy With A Face wrote:
Quote:
4. About "cover between them and the monster" how can my PC's know if they are ending the turn in cover if it relative to the enemy? (especially if they can't see it), or is that exactly the point, they cant know
Yup. They just have to go in blind and hope they aren't spotted.

This.

It is unusual by the way to have an entire party be good at stealth. Usually there is only 1-2 good sneaks and another 1-2 equipped in heavy armour with a stealth in the negatives.


oh - now after you all explained it i understand it much better.

So is it impossible to stand in a room/corridor BEFORE a flight and say "ill stealth" (lets say in a corner for example)? i have to say where im moving and then use stealth?
if so, i don't mind simplyfing that by letting them stealth ONCE, as a pre-toss for the next preception a monster will have to throw against them

Thank you for all the help!


You can just sit and hide, that's fine, too. You decide your movement before the roll, though.


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Just be sure to keep track of the lighting as well. Cover is one of the factor, another is concealment. Dim light is enough to give a creature 20% concealment that only Darkvision (or the ability to See in Darkness) can overcome and while many monsters living in such an area will have that ability, it's probably a good idea to check before declaring the PCs are automatically detected if they happen to end their movement without cover.

Edit: This works both ways of course. Monsters can also avoid automatic detection in their lairs if their foes don't have Darkvision.


The Guy With A Face wrote:
Quote:
Characters with darkvision (dwarves and half-orcs) can see lit areas normally as well as dark areas within 60 feet. A creature can't hide within 60 feet of a character with darkvision unless it is invisible or has cover.
Unless they're completely hidden behind a wall or statue or something, anything with darkvision will instantly see the party whether they're stealthing or not.

There is also hide in plain sight, a sorcerer bloodline similar, and a feat chain that will let you stealth while being observed. Don't forget skill tricks for Stealth.


How would i determine lighting? just randomly decide where all light sources are and stick with it?


Qayinisorouse wrote:
How would i determine lighting? just randomly decide where all light sources are and stick with it?

Personally I like using this handy map maker to help determine lighting. It might not be relevant to what you need at all, but I feel like I should throw it out there.

Roll20


Qayinisorouse wrote:
How would i determine lighting? just randomly decide where all light sources are and stick with it?

The first question - are they carrying their own light sources? That's going to have a significant impact on stealth.


no light sources on themselves, and we happen to use roll20 to play, but im not sure i saw an option for lighting - mind explaining further?


One thing to always remember, stealth is not invisibility.

Additionally, the individual who is trying to sneak doesn't have any idea how sneaky they are because they cannot observe themselves from a different perspective. Rolling over and over until they get a "good" score is some pretty meta-gamey BS, as far as I'm concerned.

Lastly, as others have pointed out, merely standing next to a wall doesn't necessarily provide cover or concealment. If you're in a long, straight hallway with a guard at one end of it, standing by the wall does nothing to allow for stealth, assuming there is adequate lighting.


Also to note: if the move more than half speed, they get a penalty.

There are specific rules for cover. When in doubt, use a ruler.

If they are hiding behind statues and such, I use the rule for "hiding behind other creatures" under Stealth.

Ways to deal with stealth.

Alarm and Invisibility Alarm can be made permanent. They cannot be fooled by stealth. They cannot be fooled by nondetection (they are abjuration spells, not divination)

If they make a ranged attack, they then need a move action to hide again at -20. Otherwise they are not hidden. They cannot stay hidden after a melee attack.

Smart tacticians will make sure that there is no cover before important doors. Many species will include permanent lights.

While a person may be stealthy, opening a door is visible. If people especially want to know when the door is open, mounting a bell to it is an easy way to deal with this. If they are opening a door from a dark room to a bright room, it's even more obvious.

Enemies can ready actions when they suspect stealth. They can attack while the person is visible.

Scent, blindsense and blindsight negate stealth. Lots of people use guard dogs.

Detect magic won't pinpoint people unless they stay still for three rounds, but it will detect auras. A Lantern of Auras is a cheap way to use this. Arcane Sight and Aura Sight work instantly. They give the square of the aura, but the person would still have a 50% miss chance as they only have the aura to go on.

Seeking arrows are good ways to target located people.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Qayinisorouse wrote:
no light sources on themselves, ...

If they don't have light sources how do they see? What AP are you using and which part are they on? It might give us an idea of what they are facing.


Use an occasional monster with special senses. Even a dog can have Scent and bark.

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