Stealth, Concealment, and Invisibility


Rules Questions

Silver Crusade

All verbage pulled from PRD

Rules debate:

Skills chapter under Stealth:
"If people are observing you using any of their senses (but typically sight), you can't use Stealth. Against most creatures, finding cover or concealment allows you to use Stealth."

Combat Chapter under Concealment:
"Concealment and Stealth Checks: You can use concealment to make a Stealth check. Without concealment, you usually need cover to make a Stealth check."

CRB Glossary under Invisibility Condition:
"The ability to move about unseen is not foolproof. While they can't be seen, invisible creatures can be heard, smelled, or felt.

Invisibility makes a creature undetectable by vision, including darkvision."

Hypothetical situation:
Combat has started, everyone is aware of everyone. An enemy casts invisibility. He now:

A) Uses his move action to stealth since he has concealment and concealment says he can stealth?

B) Just has total concealment, and can not stealth without something else like a bluff for distraction because everyone is aware of him and is "observing" him with their ears?

My Stance:
He takes option A, concealment is a specific rule that overrides a generic rule such as stealth which states that simply listening to/for someone you're aware of makes it impossible to stealth.

My opponents stance:
He takes option B, if you're aware of them at the start of their turn in any way, he can't stealth, ever.

Does anyone have anything concrete that supports either stance? Developer opinion, rules monkeying, obscure book knowledge, etc?


Lemme start with a question about your question:

What do either of you think will change if he can, or can't, "stealth" while invisible?

Also note: You don't "use a move action to stealth". Stealth is used when you are moving to keep people from observing you moving, or when you are still to keep people from seeing you. I know in some video games, "enter stealth" is an action, and then you Are In Stealth, but that's not how Pathfinder does it, so far as I know. In Pathfinder (and also 3E D&D), "stealth" is just what you roll to determine whether people can detect you or not. It's not a state that you are either in or not-in; it is quite possible that some people can see you and others can't, for instance.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Option A is correct by my reading of it.

Silver Crusade

@Seebs:
Stealth can be used even if you don't physically move cross grid. You can stay in the same square and still stealth. If you were not in stealth previously, you need to make a move action to obtain the condition despite not physically moving.


Wow. Your players just really didn't put enough ranks into perception did they?

If you're invisible, you are automatically concealed, which is what the cover was doing to begin with. You get to skip that step.

Now, you still have to make a stealth roll anytime you are moving around (as part of declaring your move, not a move action in addition to actually moving), with all the appropriate modifiers for invisibility, speed, encumbrance and the like, and if they beat it with perception they can slowly narrow it down to your actual square.

But they don't get to auto detect you just because they knew you were there to begin with somewhere.

And, even when they figure out what square you are standing in, there is a 50% miss chance still.

Grand Lodge

"Stealth" is not a verb, nor an action in itself. If he becomes invisible and moves away, he can move silently to prevent enemies from hearing where he went. If he's doing something that inherently makes noise, such as casting a spell with a verbal component, his enemies can hear him and therefore he can't move silently.


The rule in question is not quite how it's being described.

The rule in question is not that he can't stealth, it's that he doesn't get the additional +20 from invisibility spell because he's being observed by sound. Invisibility does not make you magically silent. If you have already been seen and go invisible then they are using perception/auditory to observe you. You can still stealth, because you have concealment, you do not gain the extra +20 to the roll since they already know you are there. If you were to have used invisibility before anyone knew you were there then you would gain the +20/+40 because you are not being observed. If there is more than one creature and battle is still going on then the pinpoint DC would rise because of the distractions.

This is the major problem with combining Spot/Listen and Move/Silently that I've been telling people since Beta. You will have people who can't common sense out the difference between hearing and seeing and will overpower the spell invisibility. You already get a +2 to hit, they are denied Dexterity and you have a 50/50 chance to be hit yourself. Oh and now apparently you can't even be detected...ever by anyone except someone who min/maxes perception, and even then only on a really high roll.


Dan Luckett wrote:

@Seebs:

Stealth can be used even if you don't physically move cross grid. You can stay in the same square and still stealth. If you were not in stealth previously, you need to make a move action to obtain the condition despite not physically moving.

What "condition"? "In stealth" is not a condition. You aren't in-stealth or not-in-stealth, and there's nothing saying you need "a move action" to "enter stealth". Stealth's action type is "usually none". It's not an action, it's a thing that influences how an action might resolve. If you move, and wish to be unobserved, you roll stealth, but you're not using an action to stealth, you're using an action to move. If you aren't trying to do a thing, you don't need an action.

Silver Crusade

seebs wrote:
Dan Luckett wrote:

@Seebs:

Stealth can be used even if you don't physically move cross grid. You can stay in the same square and still stealth. If you were not in stealth previously, you need to make a move action to obtain the condition despite not physically moving.

What "condition"? "In stealth" is not a condition. You aren't in-stealth or not-in-stealth, and there's nothing saying you need "a move action" to "enter stealth". Stealth's action type is "usually none". It's not an action, it's a thing that influences how an action might resolve. If you move, and wish to be unobserved, you roll stealth, but you're not using an action to stealth, you're using an action to move. If you aren't trying to do a thing, you don't need an action.

Huh...I thought they made "Stealth" a condition in the 5th printing errata. I double checked and you are right. I had the old stealth playtest rule in my head for the condition.


Needing to actually move to stealth has been debated venomously here for quote some time

People side A: believe that you must use a move action (and actually move) to hide yourself, whether you have abilities or spells that should allow you to do so

example:
A character with HiPS (SD or assassin version) and Hellcat Stealth must still move at least 5 ft using an actual move action (5 ft step doesn't count) to "stealth" even though the listed abilities say nothing of it. The arguments mostly being that it's too powerful when all someone needs is a very high stealth score, levels in assassin or SD, and 2 to three feats

People side B: believe that since stealth require no actual action to use it that if someone were to have the abilities listed in the example they should be able to either

A: stealth basically anywhere at anytime because that is what the abilities allow them to do

Or

B: stealth basically anywhere at anytime because that is what the abilities allow them to do however they have to at least make a 5 ft step

(The above go along with how invisibility would be viewed as well for stealth...simply replace HiPS and Hellcat stealth with "invisibility")


I think we got a pretty strong answer from Paizo on Hellcat Stealth and HiPS, which is "yes, you can just declare that you want to be stealthed and roll stealth". Of course, if you don't move, enemies know what square you're in, which might make it easier for them to find you.

But it's pretty unambiguous that in general you don't use an action to become stealthed, you just roll stealth when you are trying to avoid detection. "Usually none." Sniping gives special rules for avoiding becoming observed when you attack, which is modeled sort of as using an action to do so.

To be fair, I think the game might benefit from a condition of "in stealth" that distinguishes states, or in some way addresses the problems, but mostly it works fine.

But this brings us back to: What exactly is the purpose of "entering stealth" when you're invisible? All stealth does is prevent you from being seen or heard.

It does seem to me that if you're invisible, you certainly do get a +20 on stealth checks, so if you move, you get a +20 on your stealth check to see whether observers can figure out where you moved to. And if you don't move, you get a +40 on your stealth check to keep them from realizing that you didn't move. (Say, if someone were to make illusory sounds of movement leaving your position.)

Sczarni

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The Perception DC to hear someone walking is 10. Invisibility gives a +20 to Stealth when moving.

So would the base DC to hear an Invisible person walking be 30? 10? Or 20+Stealth?

Also, for the longest time I've been running off the belief that it was only a DC 20 Perception check to notice an Invisible creature standing out in the open, but now I can't seem to find that rule.

Silver Crusade

Nefreet wrote:

The Perception DC to hear someone walking is 10. Invisibility gives a +20 to Stealth when moving.

So would the base DC to hear an Invisible person walking be 30? 10? Or 20+Stealth?

Also, for the longest time I've been running off the belief that it was only a DC 20 Perception check to notice an Invisible creature standing out in the open, but now I can't seem to find that rule.

It's under special conditions in the back section before the glossary.


I would go with option A.

However, if you want to get super technical and split the difference between options A and B you could. Whether or not you are being "observed" depends on your definition of "observed" I would guess. My definition is that you can consistently pinpoint a person's location using whatever sense you are "observing" them with.

PRD wrote:
A creature can generally notice the presence of an active invisible creature within 30 feet with a DC 20 Perception check. The observer gains a hunch that “something's there” but can't see it or target it accurately with an attack. It's practically impossible (+20 DC) to pinpoint an invisible creature's location with a Perception check. Even once a character has pinpointed the square that contains an invisible creature, the creature still benefits from total concealment (50% miss chance). There are a number of modifiers that can be applied to this DC if the invisible creature is moving or engaged in a noisy activity.

Now, noticing someone's presence is only a DC 20 (+20 for not moving), but that only tells you something is in the general area... that is not actively observing something. Pinpointing something is a DC 40 (+20 for not moving). Perception checks can be made reactively to anything that would stimulate a Perception check, I think becoming invisible would do that. So, you could make any "observers" immediately roll a Perception check against the invisible player... if they can't pinpoint him with a DC 40+ check they are no longer "observing" him. Note that if the invisible person moves all "observers" who made the first check have to make new checks to maintain the pin-point "observation." If observation is broken Stealth is permitted.

Option A is much simpler and will probably have the same results since most people aren't going to make a DC 40+ Perception check.


This is why my druids don't leave bat form...

Sczarni

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

So what about the DC 10 to hear someone walking?


Nefreet wrote:
So what about the DC 10 to hear someone walking?

Presumably that's someone not trying to be quiet.

I set the DC for someone fighting or casting at 0 (because you can't stealth while fighting and you really can't talk silently)

You can pinpoint someone (get their square) by adding 20 to the dc, so anyone with a brain will know there's someone there and if you can make a dc 20 check you know what square they're in to either aoe or swing at and hope for the best.


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Nefreet wrote:
So what about the DC 10 to hear someone walking?

Read further down on the Perception chart. Yes the DC to hear someone walking is 10 but the modifier for something invisible is +20. That is a base of 30 DC just to notice something is in the area. Then add another +20 to pinpoint something so really the base DC to pinpoint something that is invisible and walking around is 50.

This is covered by the chart that shows DC modifiers to Invisibility as well. There is a -5 to the DC of Perception if you are moving at half speed and a -10 if moving full speed. So, it would be a DC 20-25 to notice something is moving around in the area. It's a DC 40-45 to Pinpoint something's exact location as it's moving. But if you are going to get that technical your Perception DC also goes up by 1 for every 10' between you and what your trying to detect.

If you disregard the Perception chart and just use the description of Invisibility the DCs would be a little different. They would just be the base 20 with a -5 or -10 depending on movement to notice and a base 40 with a -5 or -10.

The numbers are a little contradictory between the two but I think they intend the same thing. Things are harder to detect when they are invisible, even if you are trying to locate the source of a sound. Why, because we primarily use vision to perceive our surroundings. Have you ever noticed that when you hear someone walking or talking sometimes you can't tell where the sound is coming from. Sometimes it takes a while to visually acquire, pinpoint, the source of that sound. If you can't find it right away you start looking around in all directions until you see it. Now add in the fact that echo and acoustics can throw audio acuity off and it gets more complicated. Now imagine if the source of that sound were actually invisible. Oh, and let's not forget that any "observers" would also have the sounds the other PCs and even their own allies to deal with, making it that much harder to single out the sounds the invisible creature makes.

Sczarni

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Sure.

I'm just trying to put this into context for my PFS Rogue w/ +36 to Perception and +35 to Stealth.

Up until now I was just auto-detecting any Invisible critters within 30ft, and I was likewise gimping myself when I turned on my Ring of Invisibility.

Guess I'll do it differently now.


Nefreet wrote:

Sure.

I'm just trying to put this into context for my PFS Rogue w/ +36 to Perception and +35 to Stealth.

Well PFS has it's own way of adjudicating. I try to use RAW, RAI, Designer Input, and Common Sense to adjudicate. PFS bases rulings on the strictest possible interpretation of RAW with absolute disregard for everything else, from what I have read on the boards.

However by combining Invisibility with Perception RAW, I think it's a 10 DC to notice someone walking around in the area, +20 if invisible, +20 to pinpoint, +1 per 10 feet between you, -5 if walking half speed or -10 if full speed. Those numbers are assuming someone is NOT actively trying to stay quiet by using Stealth. By RAW option A above is correct. Invisibility breaks the only means of constant observation most creatures use - sight. If Stealth is used you add the result of the Stealth roll on top of that.

Nefreet wrote:

Up until now I was just auto-detecting any Invisible critters within 30ft, and I was likewise gimping myself when I turned on my Ring of Invisibility.

Guess I'll do it differently now.

You definitely shouldn't be rolling for a DC 10 to pinpoint the sound of an invisible creature.


It does seem more than a little odd to me that the DC of a check to hear someone walking would change if they were invisible. I think this is probably fallout from the conversion of spot/listen/search into Perception and hide/move-silently into Stealth.

Sczarni

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Shadowlord wrote:
PFS has it's own way of adjudicating. I try to use RAW, RAI, Designer Input, and Common Sense to adjudicate. PFS bases rulings on the strictest possible interpretation of RAW with absolute disregard for everything else, from what I have read on the boards.

I'm sorry that is your understanding. You're not alone. What perpetuates that belief are the ppl coming to the Rules Forum asking for hardcore rules-as-written no variation answers to their questions and refusing to listen to any other possible interpretation because "it's for PFS".

PFS GMs, for the most part, also utilize RAW, RAI, Designer Input, and Common Sense to adjudicate. There are a few houserules to keep in mind when playing or GMing, but really the vast majority of PFS play is no different than regular Pathfinder.

But a few posters can certainly ruin the perception for everyone else. Try it out sometime and see for yourself =).

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Invisible creatures are considered to have total concealment.

See here.


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seebs wrote:
It does seem more than a little odd to me that the DC of a check to hear someone walking would change if they were invisible. I think this is probably fallout from the conversion of spot/listen/search into Perception and hide/move-silently into Stealth.

To an extent I'm sure it is a byproduct of the combining of those skills. But it makes sense the way it is. When you hear something you get a very general fix on where it probably is. But very few people or creatures can track something's specific location by sound alone. You hear something and pass that information off to your eyes to try and locate the source of the sound using sight to get the specific location. However, if you hear something and can't immediately confirm it's location visually, you start questioning yourself: Did I really hear something? Where was it? Maybe it was an eco? Maybe it was the wind? If you can't confirm what you hear with other senses and pinpoint what you heard with your eyes it confuses your senses. So I think it's perfectly justifiable for Invisibility to add to the DC of locating something by sound.

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