Sniping, the Melee Version


Rules Questions

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Are there rules covering something similar to sniping, but for melee attacks?

Basically, use Stealth, make one melee attack and then immediately use Stealth again. Maybe, a –20 penalty on your Stealth check to maintain your obscured location.

Sort of a stab from nowwhere.

Maybe in the dark, or in a crowd.

How do the rules handle this?


Hide in Plain Sight would let you do this, as would Spring Attack, but there's no allowance for it in the rules otherwise, no.


I don't think there are specific rules concerning this circumstance. However, if an invisible creature makes a successful melee attack against an adjacent creature, the target immediately knows their location. I would assume the same applies for creatures simply using stealth.

If this is the case, attacking a guard from stealth at melee would probably work something like this:

1. You find an area of cover or concealment to use stealth.
2. You move adjacent to the guard while behind cover or concealment. If your Stealth check is successful, the guard does not know you are there.
3. At the start of your next turn, you attack the guard with your longsword.
4. The guard knows your location, but can not necessarily see you completely. I'm not entirely sure about this. As GM, I would just make a judgement call on this depending on the nature of the cover or concealment.
5. You can move away into another area of cover or concealment. If your Stealth check succeeds, the guard does not know where you moved to.
6. Since the guard is flat-footed, he cannot make an attack of opportunity against you unless they have Combat Reflexes. Even if he does, or if combat is already going on, you can prevent an attack of opportunity by attacking from total concealment or by just taking a 5-foot step.

Does that seem about right to you?

Attacking in darkness or using Hide in Plain Sight just means you don't have to bother with finding cover or concealment.
Attacking with Spring Attack just means you don't have to spend a turn moving up to your target.

You could hide in a crowd if you're a smaller size than the crowd, using the Hide behind other Creatures rules from the Giant Hunter's Handbook. Other than that, a crowd doesn't provide any special benefits. Although I think you might be able walk up to your target in a crowd, attack them, then use Bluff to create a diversion to hide if there's a close enough spot.

Things I have no idea about:
1. Not moving after attacking. If you can't or don't want to move to another place in cover or concealment after you make your attack, I have no idea whether you would be able to hide in the same spot again. And regardless, the guard would definitely still know someone had been there, even if he doesn't know that they are still there.

2. Bluff checks to create a diversion. I assume you wouldn't need a Bluff check to create a diversion to hide. After all, you're still in cover or concealment, and you're still using Stealth. The guard just happens to know where you are. But I don't really know.

3. Attacking with reach. The rules for invisible creatures work differently when they attack with reach; the target just knows the "general location" of the creature. But you are not invisible, just using Stealth. So I have no idea how it should work. I would rule that the guard still knows the square you are in unless you have total concealment or objects in the guards own square have concealment from him. But that would be a complete house rule.


Sniping requires that you are using a ranged weapon from at least 10' away.

There is no melee equivalent, although you may be able to move and hide after the attack. (but without the benefits of truly sniping)


I suppose you could be a Ninja with Vanishing Trick...


Make the mother of all bluff checks: "No, I didn't stab you! Honestly!"


My Self wrote:
Make the mother of all bluff checks: "No, I didn't stab you! Honestly!"

"It was him!"

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Is Hide in Plain Sight, or some form of Invisibility, the only options?

I mean, the stabbing of someone whilst in a crowd, is not an uncommon trope.

Neither are other hit and run(hide) scenarios.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Fiendsight + deeper darkness
smoke/fog + respective feats /abilities

Else only hips and similarities, best with spring attack.

Or gang up, but that's a bit different.

Rules is either surprised or flanked or flat-footed.
Interesting feat there is surprising combatant from blood of the moon.


blackbloodtroll wrote:

Is Hide in Plain Sight, or some form of Invisibility, the only options?

I mean, the stabbing of someone whilst in a crowd, is not an uncommon trope.

Neither are other hit and run(hide) scenarios.

If there is a crowd, I believe you can use it as cover/concealment and make a Stealth check....


Hide in Plain Sight and Invisibility are definitely not the only options.

Here's some information for using stealth in crowds of creatures that are larger than you are:

Hide behind other Creatures (from the Giant Hunter's Handbook):

Large bodies that break your opponent's line of sight can sometimes be just as useful as darkness for hiding your position.

Special: Normally the soft cover provided by other creatures is not sufficient to allow you to attempt a Stealth check. Soft cover provided by creatures at least one size category larger than you does allow you to attempt Stealth checks against other creatures not already aware of your presence at a –10 penalty. If the creature providing the cover knows which square you occupy and is trying to avoid concealing you, this penalty increases to –20.

You can also hide from a creature by staying under its own body if it is at least two size categories larger than you and you are in its space. Such attempts also take a –10 penalty, which increases to a –20 penalty if the creature is aware you are in the area. If the creature moves away from you, you are automatically revealed, unless you have readied an action to move with it.


But regardless of the rules for hiding in crowds, attacking in melee and then running and hiding is definitely something that can be done, as I described in my previous post. You can use Stealth in an area with cover and concealment, then attack, then move away into another area of cover and concealment using Stealth. Alternatively, you can just walk up to someone (maybe in a crowd), attack, then use Bluff to make a diversion to use Stealth.
Invisibility and Hide in Plain Sight just negate the need for cover or concealment.

The thing about sniping with a ranged weapon that can't be duplicated against an adjacent foe is the ability to attack without revealing your current location. Even invisibility and Hide in Plain Sight can't let you do that when attacking an adjacent foe. If you don't want to be found, you have to stealthily move away right after you attack. That sounds realistic to me.

If you want to make a melee attack without revealing where you are, you have to attack with reach. And even then you probably need total concealment or something along those lines to avoid being pinpointed, but that's very ambiguous. And the attack still reveals your "general location."


If performance combat is allowed through Performing Combatant, the Mocking Dance Performance Feat is a hilarious way to do hit-and-run. Use Masterful Display to combine it with Hero's Display and you can fear-bomb a whole group of foes into the bargain.

With four or more levels of Thug-Scout Rogue you can charge in with a sneak attack, inflict sickened on the target, disable their AoO, and then inflict shaken on them and all their friends while you slink away mocking their pain. Combine it with the Shadow Clone Ninja Trick and your mocking dance is a performance with exceptional production value. Best of all, you can call it the Mocking Shadow (TM).

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
blackbloodtroll wrote:
I mean, the stabbing of someone whilst in a crowd, is not an uncommon trope.

It is an old trope but I can't think of any examples that fit your scenario. Sure, there's the assassination amidst the crowd but it's the crowd who doesn't realize who did what. The victim dies.

If they don't, we end up with another common trope--the race against time by the assassin to get to his unconscious, hospitalized victim before he wakes up and identifies his attacker.


blackbloodtroll wrote:

Is Hide in Plain Sight, or some form of Invisibility, the only options?

I mean, the stabbing of someone whilst in a crowd, is not an uncommon trope.

Neither are other hit and run(hide) scenarios.

I know the Assassin prestige class can do this, and the Slayer has a talent that emulates it. Probably not what you're looking for mechanics-wise, though.


KahnyaGnorc wrote:
My Self wrote:
Make the mother of all bluff checks: "No, I didn't stab you! Honestly!"
"It was him!"

*points with blood-dripping dagger*

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