Stealth Doesn't Work or How Jack B. Nimble Doesn't Steal A Chicken


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RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

8 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the FAQ. 13 people marked this as a favorite.

Stealth doesn't work. At least, not the way you'd think it does, or the way you'd hope it does. This is a problem Pathfinder has inherited from previous versions of 3e. It hasn't worked for a long time, and near as I can tell nobody plays with the rules the way they are written because the rules as written make stealthy characters less competent than your average housecat or middle-aged nerd.

Just for quick reference: Stealth and Perception.

Now, let's say we have Jack B. Nimble, a 5th level rogue down on his luck. Jack has 18 dex and has maxed his ranks in Stealth, giving him a +12 on Stealth checks. He's not had a lot of luck lately, so he wants to steal Farmer John's chickens. Farmer John (no great shakes for observation: level 2 in a non-Perceptive class and wis 10, giving him a total of +2 to Perception) has Woof, a dozey dog (Perception +8) guarding the coop. The farmer is puttering around on his porch (which is surrounded by concealing hedges, with a 5' opening in the front). Farmer John's coop is a distance away from his house, which is between the coop and a dense cornfield. Chickens, incidentally, have the same stats as lizards because it amuses me and they're pretty spot on, so their Perception is +1.

Jack B. should be eating chicken dinner easy tonight, right? A dozey dog, a lower level farmer, and some chickens should be no match for his stealthy prowess.

Well, first he needs to find a good hiding place on the edge of the cornfield. It's going to be slow going for quite a while; to avoid a sizable penalty to his stealth, he's moving one 5' square a turn through the still-flowering cornstalks. Good thing he's not in a hurry to eat!

Much of the terrain that actually allows you to use Stealth also cuts your movement in half. It's cut in half again to keep from suffering a -5 penalty to your Stealth skill. Even 30' movers will be moving 7.5' a round, which is rounded down to 5'.

Eventually, Jack makes it to the edge of the cornfield about lunchtime, the sun high in the sky. Woof is sound asleep, snoring away in front of the clucking hens. Farmer John is tinkering with his crossbow on his porch, fiddling with something or another and muttering about coyotes. Jack isn't sure what's around back behind the house and doesn't want to take a chance, so he ducks down low and creeps up to the hedges...and is instantly spotted by Farmer John. Whoops. He barely makes it back to the cornfield without catching a crossbow bolt in the hindquarters.

It's outdoors with the sun shining, so Jack was in an area of bright light. In bright light, characters can't use Stealth without cover or invisibility. Since the hedges only concealed Jack, he couldn't use Stealth. Thus, the DC to spot him was 0, and Farmer John's Perception was -3 with the distraction penalty. Our master rogue was spotted by a take 10.

Hunger is a powerful motivator, and Jack gives it a few hours until the sky clouds up. Farmer John is back to puttering with his crossbow (with a vengeance, now) and Woof is still fast asleep. Jack tries to chance his same route again, creeping up to the hedges, with Farmer John none the wiser. Then, as Jack tries to zip past the entrance to the porch, the farmer spots him again, and ends up putting two new holes in Jack's last decent cloak. At this rate, our rogue's going to have to try eating a crossbow bolt!

Oops. You need cover or concealment to use Stealth. Once you step out of your cover/concealment, the DC to spot him is 0 again. Incidentally, if Jack ever had any murderous intentions towards the farmer, this is the point at which all surprise rounds would begin. It's nearly impossible to start a surprise round in melee range.

Complete Adventurer has rules for crossing gaps in cover in this way, but if the gap were 10' wide he'd still be spotted most of the time due to the -10 penalty for crossing a gap that size. He'd almost always be spotted if he were a halfling, since he'd also have to eat the -5 for moving over half speed.

Jack makes his way back to the edge of the cornfield and, what luck! Farmer John has gone inside. Jack creeps over to the coop, being careful to keep it between him and the sleepy mutt. In fact, there's a delicious-looking bird, dozing away, oblivious to the world around it.

Actually, a sleeping chicken should spot him. Take 10, -10 to Perception for being asleep, +1 base Perception mod beats DC 0 to spot someone 5' away. Perhaps this was a particularly oblivious chicken.

He creeps forward to grab it and...suddenly hears a growling sound from the other side of the coop. WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF Jack is chased away from the coop, past the house, and gets a crossbow bolt in the arse for his troubles.

Scent, as well as more-powerful abilities like Tremorsense and Blindsense and Blindsight, just beat Stealth hands down. No check, no nothing. There are feats in various books to work around this, in various books, as it's a well-known failing.

I wonder if there's an adventuring party that needs a half-starved rogue?

Dark Archive

Just out of curiosity, why does the ol' hound dog have class levels at all?

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

David Fryer wrote:
Just out of curiosity, why does the ol' hound dog have class levels at all?

Heh, he doesn't. Edited for clarity's sake.


This is precisely why I have nearly eliminated Stealth from my Rogue's attack sequence. Acrobatics, Dex, Str, TWF, Weapon Focus/Finesse, etc. make a perfectly serviceable character that relies on flanks to set up sneak attacks. Otherwise, too much time is wasted in trying to Bluff/Feint/Imp Feint/Stealth and the penalties are too great in doing so. Not to mention that the Rogue is lucky to have a Standard Action left when all is said and done.

Grand Lodge

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Why does a sleeping chicken get to take any actions at all?

Doesn't taking 10 also imply that the chicken has to take ten minutes to detect the rogue? If the rogue gets there first, the chicken is done for. Chicken is flatfooted, one hit from a cluband its dead.

Since this is a 5th level rogue I have to think that it can think of something that will throw off a scent.

Sorry I have to think that the rogue wins in this senario.

Sczarni

First thing first... i always enjoy a good dose irony and i enjoyed the scenario!

I totally agree with you and get your point. But as far as the rules are concerned don't you think that their should'nt be anything in rule that allow easy sneaking in absolute unfreindly conditions?

Your rogue goin unoticed in the yard by miday is like trying to sneak unoticed right in the middle of en empty parkinglot by miday! That feat should be everything BUT easy.

I'm not familiar enouph yet with PF rule but is there anything that can make it easier on the rogue to simply wait for perfect occasion e.i. rain, darkness, storm, camoflage, etc...?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

You're talking about going in at high noon in broad daylight, crossing a front yard devoid of cover while the farmer and his dog are both sitting on the front porch. That is, no offense, the dumbest plan for stealing a chicken I've ever heard, and I would feel very comfortable allowing any rogue with less than godlike levels of stealth to fail at it miserably.

Scarab Sages

I was under the impression that most chicken thieves actually come at night (whether animals or people). There might be a reason for that. Any rogue in my games wants to try to steal chickens at high noon had better be really good at what he does. And if he's that good, what is he doing stealing chickens?

So the main complaint is that sneaking around in brightly lit areas is too hard? Or is that an oversimplification?

Dark Archive

Okay, so this is how I hndle things at the table, nd is based entirely on my reading of the RAW. The first thing I noticed about Scent is that it says you can detect something based on scent. The rules are not entirely clear in this case, so I have interputed it to mean that you get the same bonuses on Perception checks as a humanoid would from sight, but it is not an automatic detection.

The second thing I noticed is that Stealth says that you only need cover or concealment to use Stealth if you are being directly observed. That means that if I am the Ripper and I'm trying to sneak up behind an unsuspecting victim, as long as nobody is looking at me, I can use Stealth to sneak up on him. Therfore, as long as the thief is not upwind from th dog and stays more than 30 ft from him, and the farmer is in the farm house, he should have a reasonable chance of sneaking up to the chicken coop.

Finally, as I read the rules, making a sill check is an action, which requires the person making the check to be concious. A sleeping opponent is considered to be helpless and unconcious in most cases, which is why adventurers usully post guard watches. Therfore if the dog is sleeping, he couldn't make a Perception check to detect the thief, so in this case the thief is effectively safe from detection, least from the barnyard dog.

Again, this is only my opinion based on my reading of the rules. If you were playing at my table, this is exactly how I would hand the scenario. Under the conditions described by the OP, the only thing that Jack would have to worry about is the farmer, and that i only if he completely screws up.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Herald wrote:
Why does a sleeping chicken get to take any actions at all?

Perception is a non-action.

Quote:
Doesn't taking 10 also imply that the chicken has to take ten minutes to detect the rogue? If the rogue gets there first, the chicken is done for. Chicken is flatfooted, one hit from a cluband its dead.

Taking 10 is routine use of a skill. It does not take 10 times as long as a normal use.

Quote:
Since this is a 5th level rogue I have to think that it can think of something that will throw off a scent.

Shame there aren't any rules for that!

Michael Gentry wrote:
You're talking about going in at high noon in broad daylight, crossing a front yard devoid of cover while the farmer and his dog are both sitting on the front porch. That is, no offense, the dumbest plan for stealing a chicken I've ever heard, and I would feel very comfortable allowing any rogue with less than godlike levels of stealth to fail at it miserably.

The farmer is distracted and the visible gap is 5'. Even if the hedges completely encircled the porch, Jack would be screwed even if he went prone and crawled to get full concealment. I could create even more ridiculous scenarios that illustrate this issue with Stealth, if you want.

As for the dog, he's over by the coop, and out of line of sight. He's only there to prove a point about exception-based abilities screwing stealthy sorts.

There's also the fact that the rogue loses to a sleeping chicken unless it's dark outside.


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Have to agree with Gentry above.

How it should work.

Jack B. waits until about midnight. He's hungry, but waiting until 3AM for dinner is better than getting a cross-bow bolt in the back. Farmer Brown is asleep in his snug little bed, and his dog is asleep on the porch. Jack B. waits in the woods on the other side of the cornfield, sleeping. We are assuming the cornfield does not have ripe corn, or else why is he stealing chickens instead of swiping ears of corn from the far side of the field? While in the woods, he finds some dead remains and rubs them on himself. It's smelly, but now he smells like dead squirrel instead of himself.

At midnight, he starts sneaking through the cornfield. A cornfield does have lots of cover, but honestly, it's not hard to walk through. I've done so, both with the rows and against them. You can move at a normal clip through them and not make much noise. So, he moves at half-move (taking a -5 on stealth) until he get's 20 feet from the edge, then slows to careful movements. Jack waits until he's sure no-one has seen him. Then he moves forward carefully, hugging the hedges. He get's huge bonus's to stealth now, being dark and in the hedges. He sneaks across the opening, making a stealth check to see if he makes any noise (say, DC 15, there's nothing to step on like limbs or such, this is a main walkway). If he doesn't fail, the dog gets no check, it's asleep. If he fails horribly, the dog get's to wake up and make a perception check while Jack makes a second stealth check as he drops to the ground in the dark. The dog get's no bonus for scent because Jack smells like a dead squirrel, not a human.

Now, let's assume Jack didn't trip over his own feet and wake the dog. Next he goes to the chicken coup (where all the chickens are asleep). He makes a stealth check and a disable device check (DC 5, it's just a simple latch with a bell attached for coyotes to set off when they try to wriggle through). If he doesn't fail miserably on his stealth check (IE: Roll a 1) he's through and into the chicken coup.

Now the chickens are asleep, so as long as he doesn't make lots of noise (roll 1's on his stealth check) they are asleep and don't get perception checks. A dagger to the throat kills the rooster (the real danger) and another dagger to the throat kills a hen. If he has handle animals he can go through and carefully look for eggs by sliding his hand under the chickens if he wants eggs. Otherwise, he takes his two dead and bleeding birds and stuffs them into a sack and sneaks away from the farm. Three hours away in the forest, he builds a small fire, plucks his ill gotten gain, and roasts them both up for a fine breakfast.

At 5AM Mr. Brown curses and kicks his dog before shooting him in the head with the crossbow for letting this happen again.


David Fryer wrote:


Finally, as I read the rules, making a sill check is an action, which requires the person making the check to be concious. A sleeping opponent is considered to be helpless and unconcious in most cases, which is why adventurers usully post guard watches. Therfore if the dog is sleeping, he couldn't make a Perception check to detect the thief, so in this case the thief is effectively safe from detection, least from the barnyard dog.

"Action: Most Perception checks are reactive, made in response to observable stimulus. Intentionally searching for stimulus is a move action."

Hearing a sneaking enemy is a reaction to them sneaking. The reason people post watch is because there is a -10 penalty to your perception for being alseep, and if you fail the perception check you are helpless.


Also note that the rogue would get a stealth check against the chicken, as the chicken is asleep and thus can not see the rogue, meaning he has total concealment vs the chicken. There's no chance of the chicken hearing the rogue.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

2 people marked this as FAQ candidate.
mdt wrote:
He sneaks across the opening, making a stealth check to see if he makes any noise (say, DC 15, there's nothing to step on like limbs or such, this is a main walkway). If he doesn't fail, the dog gets no check, it's asleep.

The dog gets a Perception check, at +6, against either DC 0 or DC whatever the stealth roll is (depending on how you interpret the Stealth skill and the rogue's actions).

In 3.0 and 3.5, you didn't get a Spot check because you were asleep. However, you would get a Hear check, at -10. In PF, you just get one check, at -10. This leads to weird RAW situations where you can't sneak past a sleeping person in broad daylight but you can at night, because blindness is Total Concealment but Total Concealment isn't good enough in bright light. Nobody plays like that, but the whole point of the story is that the rules are badly written. Even if you don't play like that, even in 3.5 (and in real life) sleeping creatures could still hear and smell.

Now, coming within 30' of the dog means you're detected by Scent. You don't stop smelling things when you're asleep, and while Scent apparently gives +8 to Perception checks on foes which can be smelled, Stealth does not hide you from scent. It's even there in the description:

Quote:
This skill covers hiding and moving silently.

Now, assuming Stealth is allowed to do something it doesn't say it can do, and assuming smelling like a dead squirrel is somehow concealing yourself from being smelled by a dog rather than counting as a strong scent that can be smelled from double range, Jack still can't sneak by the sleeping CR 1/3 creature a third of the time.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Erm. It's certainly possible for a sleeping creature to hear someone coming (with a -10 penalty,) but if you have your eyes closed, everything has total concealment to you, so... Nimble's stealth check does not drop to 0 against a sleeping opponent. Also, closed eyelids are usually fairly dark from the inside (allowing stealth checks.)

I still think taking 10 is an active choice which a sleeping target can't take. But frankly, I'm not wholey fond of the concept of taking 10 on perception as a concept anyway.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
A Man In Black wrote:
Now, assuming Stealth is allowed to do something it doesn't say it can do, and assuming smelling like a dead squirrel is somehow concealing yourself from being smelled by a dog rather than counting as a strong scent that can be smelled from double range, Jack still can't sneak by the sleeping CR 1/3 creature a third of the time.

Actually I think the assumption is that a dead squirrel smells like something that is neither alarming nor something the dog would be particularly inclined to investigate.

Also, as others have pointed out, Jack is not visible to the dog while the dog's eyes are closed. That makes the Perception DC = Jack's stealth check result +10 for the dog being asleep, or 32 if Jack takes 10. Farmer loses one chicken. This seems perfectly straightforward given the RAW in the two skill descriptions you cite. I don't see the problem.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Drakli wrote:
I still think taking 10 is an active choice which a sleeping target can't take. But frankly, I'm not wholey fond of the concept of taking 10 on perception as a concept anyway.

Okay, taking off my "strict RAW" hat for a second...

I find that having NPCs take 10 whenever possible, especially on opposed rolls, makes life a lot easier and makes the game flow faster. It reduces the amount of randomness in the game (which favors the PCs) and reduces situations where the level 15 rogue is spotted by the level 1 warrior guard because I rolled a 20 and he rolled a 1.

I just prefer to have the players feel like the important part of the roll is in their hands, so it's more "My character was lucky/unlucky" than "I got screwed by the GM's luck". It's a style thing.

Plus, when I'm pulling scenarios out of my butt for RAW examples, it helps to assume all rolls that can be take-10s are, because it's RAW legal and means I have to gab on about probability less. ¬_¬

Michael Gentry wrote:

Actually I think the assumption is that a dead squirrel smells like something that is neither alarming nor something the dog would be particularly inclined to investigate.

Also, as others have pointed out, Jack is not visible to the dog while the dog's eyes are closed. That makes the Perception DC = Jack's stealth check result +10 for the dog being asleep, or 32 if Jack takes 10. Farmer loses one chicken. This seems perfectly straightforward given the RAW in the two skill descriptions you cite. I don't see the problem.

A dead squirrel is something a dog would not be particularly inclined to investigate? While I understand the point you're trying to make about the rules, personally I'd say smelling like a dead squirrel would be a Very Large Penalty to keeping a dog from being inclined to investigate you, considering every dog I've ever known. XD

RAW hat back on.

The problem with the rules as written is that Stealth as written doesn't protect you from non-sight/sound-based perception. In the case of a mundane dog, yeah, there are no rules for making yourself smell like something a dog doesn't want to investigate (I recommend a skunk) but it's something you can obviously figure out. Once you've defeated Scent with GM fiat, it's a d20+12 check against a base 8 (plus distance modifier since Jack has no reason to approach the porch). I'm pretty sure Jack can't fail at that.

Now, if Farmer John was a grimlock and Jack couldn't range the blindsight (with no way to know how far the blindsight reaches), Jack's not getting a mushroom dinner no way no how. The mundane dog was an illustrative example of how pervasive the "Stealth loses" abilities are.


Interesting example, but...

A Man In Black wrote:
Actually, a sleeping chicken should spot him. Take 10, -10 to Perception for being asleep, +1 base Perception mod beats DC 0 to spot someone 5' away. Perhaps this was a particularly oblivious chicken.

Er...I'm pretty sure a sleeping chicken (unless these chickens are sleeping with their eyes open) is not "observing" anyone, so he should be able to use Stealth normally against their (hearing) Perception check.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

hogarth wrote:

Interesting example, but...

Er...I'm pretty sure a sleeping chicken (unless these chickens are sleeping with their eyes open) is not "observing" anyone, so he should be able to use Stealth normally against their (hearing) Perception check.

To put a fine point on it: Where are the rules separating hearing Perception checks from visual ones?

No GM with two brain cells is going to let the chicken roll Perception against the DC 0 Spot target on the rogue there. That's silly. However, the rules do a bad job of separating rules for seeing from rules for hearing from rules for sensing in other ways and it leads to confusion like "You can't Perceive someone when you're asleep" (as you're seeing all through this thread, and which is plainly false) or "I guess the rules mean for you to spot people while sleeping?"

Here's a poser for you. Are you meant to be able to spot people who aren't sneaking while you're asleep? Why or why not?


I suppose I understand that this post is born from some type of frustration, but stealth works just fine when it's not being put up against a scenario like the OP.

Like mdt posted, the rogue should be smart and go at night. I'm not going to rewrite a lot of what has been written above, but my off the cuff ruling and calculations put the dog at a base perception of 8, +8 for 16 if we account for the scent special ability.

At night with the dog asleep on the porch the rogue would have a good chance to sneak right in front of the dog by taking 10. Rogue stealth skill +12 with +10 (for sleeping opponent) +10 (for taking 10) = 32 vs. the dogs perception +8 and +8 for scent means the dog needs to roll a 16 or better to detect the brazen rogue traipsing right under the dogs nose. The smart rogue keeps away from the dog, downwind and out of range of that sniffer, denying the dog the +8 making the dogs check only +8 while the rogue continues to enjoy his stealth check of 32.

Any situation can be made impossible, designed to force something to fail.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
A Man In Black wrote:
Here's a poser for you. Are you meant to be able to spot people who aren't sneaking while you're asleep? Why or why not?

Yes. The DC for your Perception check is 20. 10 for hearing a person walking, +10 for being asleep.

This is right there in the rules for the Perception skill. I still don't see what's so difficult about it.


A Man In Black wrote:

To put a fine point on it: Where are the rules separating hearing Perception checks from visual ones?

No GM with two brain cells is going to let the chicken roll Perception against the DC 0 Spot target on the rogue there. That's silly. However, the rules do a bad job of separating rules for seeing from rules for hearing from rules for sensing in other ways and it leads to confusion like "You can't Perceive someone when you're asleep" (as you're seeing all through this thread, and which is plainly false) or "I guess the rules mean for you to spot people while sleeping?"

I agree; the rules for Hide weren't very solid to begin with, and I don't think they improved the situation by combining Spot/Listen and Hide/Move Silently.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
A Man In Black wrote:
hogarth wrote:

Interesting example, but...

Er...I'm pretty sure a sleeping chicken (unless these chickens are sleeping with their eyes open) is not "observing" anyone, so he should be able to use Stealth normally against their (hearing) Perception check.

To put a fine point on it: Where are the rules separating hearing Perception checks from visual ones?

Well, to my knowledge, Elves have a +2 bonus on hearing based perception checks and dwarves and gnomes have +2 on smell based ones, so the distinction exists, even if it's up to the DM to decide which apples to which situation.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

J.R. Farrington, Esq. wrote:
Any situation can be made impossible, designed to force something to fail.

I can hide behind bushes during the day.

I can sneak past a doorway without needing shadows/cover.

I can sneak past a dog with a building between us.

In the world I live in, there do not exist creatures who just detect everyone within X feet of themselves.

I am not very sneaky, but somehow I am sneakier than Jack B. Nimble. This is designed to fail in ways that should succeed in the world where you and I keep our dice.

Dark Archive

A Man In Black wrote:

Okay, taking off my "strict RAW" hat for a second...

I find that having NPCs take 10 whenever possible, especially on opposed rolls, makes life a lot easier and makes the game flow faster. It reduces the amount of randomness in the game (which favors the PCs) and reduces situations where the level 15 rogue is spotted by the level 1 warrior guard because I rolled a 20 and he rolled a 1.

Er, by RAW, taking 10 means it takes 10 times as long as a single check, and unless I'm completely misremembering you can't take 10 on an opposed check (even if it were more convenient and smoother that way).

Whatever houserules you're using do not affect an interpretation based on RAW, which is what other posters are doing here.

Grand Lodge

yea, not buying the +10 while asleep. Taking 10 is an active, not passive use of skill. It implies focus.

I can just imagine a game write now putting a perimeter of chickens around his BBEG to thwart the heroes. (Perhaps the chicken sleep in shifts)


Drakli wrote:


Well, to my knowledge, Elves have a +2 bonus on hearing based perception checks and dwarves and gnomes have +2 on smell based ones, so the distinction exists, even if it's up to the DM to decide which apples to which situation.

They changed that in the final version of the PFRPG. Now it's just straight bonuses to Perception.


Asgetrion wrote:
Er, by RAW, taking 10 means it takes 10 times as long as a single check

Please cite your source. I guarantee it's not in either the Pathfinder Core Rules or the 3.5 rules.

Quote:
and unless I'm completely misremembering you can't take 10 on an opposed check (even if it were more convenient and smoother that way).

This is also not in the rules.

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The dog's scent ability is precisely why people keep guard dogs--they can literally smell trouble. The smart rogue is going to poison the dog (some sort of knockout poison would be preferable) via his food dish, some kind of bait, or maybe even a blowgun dart.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
A Man In Black wrote:
The problem with the rules as written is that Stealth as written doesn't protect you from non-sight/sound-based perception. In the case of a mundane dog, yeah, there are no rules for making yourself smell like something a dog doesn't want to investigate (I recommend a skunk) but it's something you can obviously figure out. Once you've defeated Scent with GM fiat, it's a d20+12 check against a base 8 (plus distance modifier since Jack has no reason to approach the porch). I'm pretty sure Jack can't fail at that.

No, it's a d20 + 22 check, because the dog is asleep.

Forget about the dead skunk or whatever for a second. Let's assume Jack smells like a mixture of sweat and guilt, just like every other thief. Just because smells are going into the dog's nostrils doesn't mean it automatically wakes up when Jack gets near, any more than ordinary sounds going into your earholes automatically wakes you up when someone walks by. The dog gets a Perception check. The DC is 32. Good luck.


Herald wrote:

yea, not buying the +10 while asleep. Taking 10 is an active, not passive use of skill. It implies focus.

I can just imagine a game write now putting a perimeter of chickens around his BBEG to thwart the heroes. (Perhaps the chicken sleep in shifts)

Curses, foiled again!

Besides, they don't need to sleep in shifts if they are ZOMBIE chickens!

Now I want to raise an army of undead poultry...

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Michael Gentry wrote:
No, it's a d20 + 22 check, because the dog is asleep.

We don't disagree here. You're saying Jack gets +10, I'm saying the dog gets -10, so his roll is take 10 + 8 Perception - 10 sleeping for a total of 8, with Jack rolling d20+12 against that 8. Not d20+8, just 8. There's no difference between d20+22 versus 18 and d20+12 versus 8. Jack just wins if Scent is defeated.

The dog just wins if Scent isn't defeated. He gets take 10 +8 Perception +8 Scent -10 sleeping against a DC of 0 to "Notice a visible creature". Alternately, there is no DC to detect a creature with Scent, and "The creature can detect opponents within 30 feet by sense of smell" so Jack is just screwed. Either interpretation works in the dog's favor if Scent is allowed to work by the GM. Also note the hole here; while there's a whole rule scheme for varying degrees of ability to prevent being heard or seen, the ability to prevent being smelled or sonared or whatever it is that dragons do is up to how well you play mother-may-I with the GM.

I understand what you're saying when you talk about "hearing/smelling doesn't automatically mean perceiving" and I completely agree with you, when we're talking about the world where we keep our dice. I think the game should better simulate the world where we keep our dice in this way and that the rules can simply be fixed to make them fairer to stealthy characters. It sucks to be a rogue in a game with RAW Stealth.

The simplest rule modification to fix the dog is to just say "Stealth can beat senses beyond sight and visual", possibly with a penalty. That way you have a skill for Jack to know how to mask his scent, and it's also possible to steal from grimlocks and dragons and whatnot. The problem is that this directly contradicts RAW for non-audiovisual senses, so it doesn't work as a RAI kind of thing.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Neat post and discussion. Is taking 0 in the rules at all, or is that just an informal DM trick I picked up somewhere? I usually use that for perception checks when the perceiver is asleep instead of taking 10.


Sebastian wrote:
Neat post and discussion. Is taking 0 in the rules at all, or is that just an informal DM trick I picked up somewhere? I usually use that for perception checks when the perceiver is asleep instead of taking 10.

The rules give a -10 penalty for being asleep, so that's effectively "taking 0". Likewise, the DC for spotting someone who's not hiding is 0, so that's like "taking 0" as well.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

hogarth wrote:
Sebastian wrote:
Neat post and discussion. Is taking 0 in the rules at all, or is that just an informal DM trick I picked up somewhere? I usually use that for perception checks when the perceiver is asleep instead of taking 10.
The rules give a -10 penalty for being asleep, so that's effectively "taking 0". Likewise, the DC for spotting someone who's not hiding is 0, so that's like "taking 0" as well.

Ah. That makes sense. Thanks.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Some bonus lameness about the Perception rules I noticed, before I go off to work for the day:

Because the bonuses/penalties on Perception are posed as modifiers to the target DC and not to the skill roll, they reverse the normal D20 convention of positive modifiers making things easier and negative modifiers making things harder.

For example, the +10 modifiers are bad for the rolling character ("the creature making the check is asleep") while the -2 modifier is good ("favorable conditions"). I thought disposing of THAC0-like mechanics was a core 3e design goal.


Zurai wrote:
Asgetrion wrote:


Quote:
and unless I'm completely misremembering you can't take 10 on an opposed check (even if it were more convenient and smoother that way).
This is also not in the rules.

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/skills#TOC-Taking-10

Pathfinder SRD wrote:

Taking 10 and Taking 20

A skill check represents an attempt to accomplish some goal, usually while under some sort of time pressure or distraction. Sometimes, though, a character can use a skill under more favorable conditions, increasing the odds of success.
Taking 10

When your character is not in immediate danger or distracted, you may choose to take 10. Instead of rolling 1d20 for the skill check, calculate your result as if you had rolled a 10. For many routine tasks, taking 10 makes them automatically successful. Distractions or threats (such as combat) make it impossible for a character to take 10. In most cases, taking 10 is purely a safety measure—you know (or expect) that an average roll will succeed but fear that a poor roll might fail, so you elect to settle for the average roll (a 10). Taking 10 is especially useful in situations where a particularly high roll wouldn't help.

Knowing that Farmer John could notice you and shoot you, or his dog smell you and maul you constitutes an immediate danger in my book. As a matter of fact, I cannot off the top my head think of a time I'd ever let a player take 10 on a stealth check. Though I also dislike the concept of taking 10 (and 20 for that matter) and so I admit that I may be interpreting that in a bias manner. YMMV.


Abbasax wrote:
Knowing that Farmer John could notice you and shoot you, or his dog smell you and maul you constitutes an immediate danger in my book. As a matter of fact, I cannot off the top my head think of a time I'd ever let a player take 10 on a stealth check. Though I also dislike the concept of taking 10 (and 20 for that matter) and so I admit that I may be interpreting that in a bias manner. YMMV.

First, the statement was made in regards to the animals and the farmer taking 10 on their Perception checks, not Jack taking 10 on his Stealth check.

Second, that is still completely unrelated to Opposed Tests. You can take 10 on Opposed Tests, as a rule. You're right that you probably can't take 10 on a Stealth check to set the DC for the crossbow-toting farmer to spot you trying to steal his chickens, but the farmer is still allowed to take 10 on his Perception test against the DC your Stealth check set.

Grand Lodge

QOShea wrote:
Herald wrote:

yea, not buying the +10 while asleep. Taking 10 is an active, not passive use of skill. It implies focus.

I can just imagine a game write now putting a perimeter of chickens around his BBEG to thwart the heroes. (Perhaps the chicken sleep in shifts)

Curses, foiled again!

Besides, they don't need to sleep in shifts if they are ZOMBIE chickens!

Now I want to raise an army of undead poultry...

So glad that I wasn't drinking anything at the moment I read this. I would have shot out my nose and destroyed my monitor.


Zurai wrote:

First, the statement was made in regards to the animals and the farmer taking 10 on their Perception checks, not Jack taking 10 on his Stealth check.

Second, that is still completely unrelated to Opposed Tests. You can take 10 on Opposed Tests, as a rule. You're right that you probably can't take 10 on a Stealth check to set the DC for the crossbow-toting farmer to spot you trying to steal his chickens, but the farmer is still allowed to take 10 on his Perception test against the DC your Stealth check set.

Ah, duh. Sorry, I missed that. That's what I get for trying to post a response to a subject I've only skimmed through because I'm at work not working. Stupid karma making me look bad. *grumble grumble*


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
A Man In Black wrote:
I understand what you're saying when you talk about "hearing/smelling doesn't automatically mean perceiving" and I completely agree with you, when we're talking about the world where we keep our dice. I think the game should better simulate the world where we keep our dice in this way and that the rules can simply be fixed to make them fairer to stealthy characters. It sucks to be a rogue in a game with RAW Stealth.

Does it? Yes, you have established that the rules do not definitively say whether the scent ability allows a sleeping creature to automatically wake up when a smell. That's a separate issue from the Stealth skill entirely.

Surely common sense is not that difficult to apply here. Smells both familiar and unfamiliar are as ubiquitous as light particles and sound waves. If the proximity of any scentable smell means an automatic wake-up, then nothing with the scent ability would ever get any sleep at all. This obviously cannot be the rule's intent.

Nonetheless, you make a good point that a DC would be nice. I think you are probably right that the Stealth skill is not meant to be construed as covering rubbing yourself with dead animals (though I would allow a Survival check for it). So let's look at the chart and extrapolate. "The sound of someone walking" seems like a reasonable benchmark. It's an ordinary, undisguised sound that does not require any effort to detect while awake, unless you are particularly dim. While asleep, it would be a DC20 Perception check.

Likewise, an ordinary, undisguised scent that reuires no effort to detect while awake (for creatures with the scent ability) could reasonably be construed to require a DC20 Perception check while asleep. Perhaps modified if the dog has been specifically trained, or if the scent was of a particularly threatening nature (a bugbear, for ex.), of if the thief managed to somehow disguise his scent as something innocuous.

This seems eminently reasonable to me, although I do acknowledge that for some people, nothing short of an official rule typeset in the book will do.


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Not sure I agree with all of this, some of the wording on Stealth is slightly unclear, but I'd like to point out places I would rule differently and why.

First, some of your assumptions are flawed. At level 5 Jack could have as much as an additional +10 to Stealth from feats and equipment. Admittedly, not many people take Stealthy or Skill Focus(Stealth), but by level 5 a Cloak of Elvenkind is quite likely considering the cost, which would give Jack a total of +17 to Stealth. I'm also not exactly sure why a farmer commoner would have ranks in spot, but considering the potential for coyotes, I'll go along.

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On moving through a cornfield
Jack's movement is somewhat limited, unless of course Jack has fast stealth, or takes advantage of the total concealment provided by the corn to forgo Stealth checks until he's considerably closer to his objective. I'm also not entirely convinced that an orderly field would represent difficult terrain, but I'll go with it for now. Even moving at 5 ft. per round, Jack is still covering 50 feet per minute, which should be sufficient to get in and out in less time than it would take Farmer John to prepare a decent cup of coffee.

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On Bright Light

A Man In Black wrote:
It's outdoors with the sun shining, so Jack was in an area of bright light. In bright light, characters can't use Stealth without cover or invisibility. Since the hedges only concealed Jack, he couldn't use Stealth. Thus, the DC to spot him was 0, and Farmer John's Perception was -3 with the distraction penalty. Our master rogue was spotted by a take 10.

Where does it say that bright light negates concealment and stealth? It mentions in the PRD that certain types of concealment may be ineffective because of abilities like Darkvision and Low-Light vision, but Jack should still have Total Concealment versus the farmer due to the hedgerow, allowing him to use his stealth normally. Assuming Jack takes 10 on his Stealth check, Farmer John's DC to spot him is a 27. With the penalties from distraction (+5 DC) Farmer John cannot detect Jack, even on a natural 20.

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On Moving From Cover to Cover

A Man In Black wrote:
Oops. You need cover or concealment to use Stealth. Once you step out of your cover/concealment, the DC to spot him is 0 again. Incidentally, if Jack ever had any murderous intentions towards the farmer, this is the point at which all surprise rounds would begin. It's nearly impossible to start a surprise round in melee range.

Incorrect again. If you are being observed you need cover or concealment to use stealth. Unless Farmer John beats Jack's Stealth check and detects him, Jack remains undetected (and therefore unobserved) and can continue using Stealth. It's perfectly possible to sneak up behind someone, even across open terrain, as long as you can cover the distance without them spotting you. Now once you're spotted, you're right, you can no longer use stealth unless you can get back to cover or find concealment.

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On Sleeping Opponents

A Man In Black wrote:
Actually, a sleeping chicken should spot him. Take 10, -10 to Perception for being asleep, +1 base Perception mod beats DC 0 to spot someone 5' away. Perhaps this was a particularly oblivious chicken.

Except if the chicken is sleeping, Jack once again has total concealment (due to the chicken having closed her eyes), making the DC to spot him 27, not 0.

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On Foes with Scent

A Man In Black wrote:
Scent, as well as more-powerful abilities like Tremorsense and Blindsense and Blindsight, just beat Stealth hands down. No check, no nothing. There are feats in various books to work around this, in various books, as it's a well-known failing.

Scent is troublesome, but it's not automatic. The ability does allow Woof to negate Jack's Stealth, making the DC to detect him a 0, but Woof must still make a Perception check to detect him. With the penalties from being asleep (-10) this is less than automatic, with Woof needing an 8 or better to succeed. (Also, just a side note, but considering the description of taking 10 involves slowly and carefully working to accomplish a task, I'm not convinced that it's appropriate to "always be taking 10" on skills like perception.)

If Jack has thought ahead, and worked to obscure his scent, or is approaching against the wind and keeps his distance, Woof will have to make a standard perception check against Jack's stealth. (And will almost certainly fail).

Liberty's Edge

Brodiggan Gale wrote:
Where does it say that bright light negates concealment and stealth? It mentions in the PRD that certain types of concealment may be ineffective because of abilities like Darkvision and Low-Light vision, but Jack should still have Total Concealment versus the farmer due to the hedgerow, allowing him to use his stealth normally. Assuming Jack takes 10 on his Stealth check, Farmer John's DC to spot him is a 27. With the penalties from distraction (+5 DC) Farmer John cannot detect Jack, even on a natural 20.

According to the PFSRD, bright light makes stealth checks require invisibility or cover, not concealment.

PFSRD wrote:
In an area of bright light, all characters can see clearly. Some creatures, such as those with light sensitivity and light blindness, take penalties while in areas of bright light. A creature can't use Stealth in an area of bright light unless it is invisible or has cover. Areas of bright light include outside in direct sunshine and inside the area of a daylight spell.

And in this example, Man In Black specifically says the hedges only provide concealment, not total concealment. Whether you would rule that differently really doesn't refute his argument (not that I am saying either one is correct, just pointing it out).

A Man In Black wrote:
The farmer is puttering around on his porch (which is surrounded by concealing hedges, with a 5' opening in the front).


Anyone who rules that hedges don't provide cover is smoking something.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Zurai wrote:
Anyone who rules that hedges don't provide cover is smoking something.

Hedges provide concealment. I can still shoot you through a hedge. Not cover, therefore. :P

Army joke.


PFSRD wrote:
In an area of bright light, all characters can see clearly. Some creatures, such as those with light sensitivity and light blindness, take penalties while in areas of bright light. A creature can't use Stealth in an area of bright light unless it is invisible or has cover. Areas of bright light include outside in direct sunshine and inside the area of a daylight spell.

I stand corrected, what section was that in? I looked under combat and skills but didn't see it. (Regardless, Jack still has cover from the hedges.)

Jocard The Fist wrote:
And in this example, Man In Black specifically says the hedges only provide concealment, not total concealment. Whether you would rule that differently really doesn't refute his argument (not that I am saying either one is correct, just pointing it out).

Well, the degree of concealment doesn't matter so much, any concealment is sufficient for Stealth (except apparently in bright light).


How is either a distracted farmer or a sleeping chicken able to take 10?

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