Pale Mountain - Stealth and zone B4


Doomsday Dawn Game Master Feedback


So, my party is at zone B4, and

Spoiler:
the party chose to use the stealthy tactic to climb the mountain after seeing the gnolls' corpses, and are travelling past the Manticore (which I will call "M" from now on)

RAW, M should not have a Perception check against the group. But it seems weird. I don't understand if M should use Perception against the group's Stealth (which would make the stealthy tactic useless), or if they just go past M without fighting him. What's your opinion ?


Nobody gets perception checks vs stealth, you use the passive perception DC of 10 + mod.


I was thinking about using Stealth and Perception as Initiative rolls. Thanks, but this does not answer my question =/


I assume that the playtest figures that if the entire party is stealthing then the Manticore would have no way to spot them from far away. Assuming that there is actually Perception reduction from distance that we don't know about.


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I interpreted it as a simple "If X, then Y" routine at the time. That is, if the players actually bother to stealth, they will automatically bypass the Manticore encounter simply by taking the Sneaking tactic. Since the Manticore is usually flying or scaling rocks, he probably won't see them as a matter of principle and/or distance. In addition, it doesn't say that the players have to make a Stealth check, merely that they have to try sneaking around it.

However, I do believe the intent is that you still make a Stealth check for those involved by using a DC equal to 10 + the Manticore's Stealth modifier (which is what my players believed at the time, which is why they didn't bother trying to stealth past it; their Stealth was abysmal compared to the DC 20+ of the Manticore).

Maybe Mr. Seifter or some other developer can make a clarification here, as it is pretty important. In our group's case, simply taking the effort to do it (despite being the major underdogs in the skill) would have been enough to bypass the encounter entirely, and I probably would have awarded a Hero Point to each player for even risking trying to Stealth despite their major deficit instead of just trying to fight it head-on.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Manticore should get a single perception check to hunt for prey on its mountaintop, given that this is something the Manticore probably does regularly. So it's not just passive perception.

However, if it rolls crap on its Perception or the whole party rolls great on Stealth, then it wouldn't see the party and wouldn't attack. In that case, I'd have it fly overhead, let the party see it and be properly frightened, and then have it be a circling shadow overhead for the rest of the climb. If the party chooses to attack it, that's on their heads. And if they do something that obviously breaks stealth, like hollering up the mountain at the gnolls, then maybe bring the manticore back. But otherwise, they've successfully avoided the encounter. Hurrah!

It can jump them on their way out. :D


Thanks for your answers everyone !

As of now, I ruled that if the whole group decides to be stealthy, they don't fight the Manticore.

Liberty's Edge

My interpretation of the rule is that the PCs all need to roll stealth against the Manticore's perception DC. Given how high that DC is, it's pretty much impossible and they get spotted and attacked.

Which is fine because they managed to skip two of the three previous encounters but kind of annoying at the same time.


I agree with the interpretation that per the RAW of this encounter, the party automatically bypasses the encounter if they all choose to stealth. They automatically get spotted and have the encounter if even one person chooses a different tactic. In either case, rolls aren't relevant so any roll a PC makes would simply serve as their initiative roll in the ensuing combat if they don't all sneak, or would provide fluff for why they avoid notice if they do all sneak.

It's... unsatisfying, but that's how it is presented.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Fuzzypaws wrote:

I agree with the interpretation that per the RAW of this encounter, the party automatically bypasses the encounter if they all choose to stealth. They automatically get spotted and have the encounter if even one person chooses a different tactic. In either case, rolls aren't relevant so any roll a PC makes would simply serve as their initiative roll in the ensuing combat if they don't all sneak, or would provide fluff for why they avoid notice if they do all sneak.

It's... unsatisfying, but that's how it is presented.

Am I missing something? How is it possible to bypass this encounter just by "declaring" stealth? Doesn't their stealth check need to exceed the Manticore's perception DC? Do they get a perception check to notice the manticore flying around?


The line is
"the M notices the PCs unless the entire party is stealthy in their exploration"
This could be interpreted as the encounter being avoided if everyone tries to sneak, or it could be that everyone needs to be the M's perception DC. Since the M is only given stealth as an initiative option in the encounter guide, I assume that it is taking the "sneak" explore action and can't see anything.


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I agree with swordchucks that traveling stealthily merely adds a Perception check for M to spot the party. It would be a single roll against the lowest Stealth DC in the party. That sounded no fun, so I handled it via terrain this Tuesday as follows.

Spoiler:
After the party found the gnoll corpses and identified that a manticore had killed them, I offered them a choice of terrains: stick to the wide open paths that had minimal climbing, or head to the deeper ravines that offered more cover. I repeated this choice in many different words for them to understand the choice I was giving them, because both routes involved scouting and climbing.

They chose the deep ravines.

But Haku, our expert-climber barbarian, had to climb out of the ravine to scout around. She can climb as a Sneak action, because Raging Athlete gives her a climb speed. Despite her trained Stealth, the manticore spotted her--given the manticore's Perception, that was almost inevitable.

However, the manticore did not have line of sight on the other three party members. Haku called down to them in Orisoni to hide. They did so, ranged weapons ready for attacks from stealth.

(Secretly, my wife--Haku's player--and I had talked this over that morning and decided on the best way to encounter the manticore. This was our plan. Stealth most likely would not work to avoid the manticore, but perhaps they could catch it flat-footed.)

However, when the manticore flew over the deep ravine, it looked down and made a Perception roll that beat everyone's Stealth DC. The only one that remained hidden was our elf ranger who was flat against a wall so that the manticore still lacked a line of sight. Still, when the manticore attacked the barbarian above the ravine, everyone in the ravine got a ranged attack against it due to their good positioning.

And I modeled the ravine after the picture on page 18 of Doomsday Dawn. Haku was standing on the same rock as the dwarf ranger Harsk. I printed out that picture and showed it to my players. Have to let them enjoy the art, too. You can see why I thought the ravine offered enough cover to hide.


Almarane wrote:

Thanks for your answers everyone !

As of now, I ruled that if the whole group decides to be stealthy, they don't fight the Manticore.

The question you should ask yourself:

Are you testing the system during this play test or are you simply running a campaign?

If the answer is that you're just running a campaign, then the PCs should be able to outsmart or simply avoid encounters by good roleplay and system mastery without ever having any trouble. Heck, they could have stayed in town, hired a wizard to scry Pale Mountain and then teleport them right into the dungeon. Think of the time and risk they could have avoided!

Of course, that wouldn't really be a play test of the system.

So, if the answer is that you're actually interested in testing this new game system, then I suggest saying this to your players: "Hey, guys, great idea with the stealth. You avoided a very nasty encounter. But, that seems to invalidate the results of our groups' play test by creating anomalous data. So, in the spirit of conducting a complete and valid test of this chapter, let's assume this nasty encounter happens anyway."

And then fight the manticore. For the sake of the playtest. Then give your feedback about how that fight went so you can help the developers make this a better game.

It's up to you. There's no right answer. But having said that, this IS a playtest, and there is a very limited time for you to make suggestions that could improve the game. But if all you want to do is run a fun and exciting campaign, PF1 has a fully complete game system with tons of existing campaign material - it's probably, right now, the better choice for fun campaigns.


As for the rules, each PC rolls their stealth check. They all need to beat the manticore's passive perception (10+whatever its perception is). If anybody fails, you get the fight. If they all succeed, no fight (and no fun and no playtest - but that's how Stealth works).

Combining the Sneaking rules for Exploration Mode (page 317) and the Stealth skill rules (page 158), it seems that the GM rolls all the PCs' stealth rolls secretly*. These rolls are compared to the Manticore's Perception DC (10 + Perception).

*Secret stealth checks. OK, sure, if there is a secret encounter that would AVOID the PCs if it can, the secret rolls make sense. But if the monster is going to attack anyway, there is no need to roll secretly. OK, I guess if you have a group of new and/or immature players ("Hey, guys, we all rolled really good on our Stealth checks and the GM said nothing happened. Let's draw weapons and search for hidden enemies. Buff up!"), most players would simply say "We keep sneaking". Me, I'd rather train those players in good roleplaying and then let them roll their own fate. But the rules say otherwise. This is definitely a house rule for my games, but, for now, during the play test, we're all doing what the book says and my players are grumbling about it.


DM_Blake wrote:


Are you testing the system during this play test or are you simply running a campaign?

If the answer is that you're just running a campaign, then the PCs should be able to outsmart or simply avoid encounters by good roleplay and system mastery without ever having any trouble. Heck, they could have stayed in town, hired a wizard to scry Pale Mountain and then teleport them right into the dungeon. Think of the time and risk they could have avoided!

Of course, that wouldn't really be a play test of the system.

I have to disagree on this. Part of the playtest is to test how the new adventures are designed. It's for exemple stated at the beginning that they want to test encounters with no maps.

Spoiler:
Anyway, we did try the M's battle out of curiosity, and then rewinded to say the battle did not happen. It couldn't hit anything because I rolled badly all the time, the Bard used his enchantments to force the M to come to close combat all the time, the ranger throwed his hatchets at him while the barbarian fired at him with a bow, until the Bard ran out of spells and the M flew too high, then the priest used the Scroll of Fly to make the barbarian fly to it. Damage wise, the encounter did nothing, but at least it depleted the bard's spells and the scroll of fly (which I suspect was given to the players for this encounter). Then the group took a nap.


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Almarane wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:


Are you testing the system during this play test or are you simply running a campaign?

If the answer is that you're just running a campaign, then the PCs should be able to outsmart or simply avoid encounters by good roleplay and system mastery without ever having any trouble. Heck, they could have stayed in town, hired a wizard to scry Pale Mountain and then teleport them right into the dungeon. Think of the time and risk they could have avoided!

Of course, that wouldn't really be a play test of the system.

I have to disagree on this. Part of the playtest is to test how the new adventures are designed. It's for exemple stated at the beginning that they want to test encounters with no maps.

** spoiler omitted **

I agree with Almarane. To answer DM_Blake's point about this being a playtest, are we playtesting just the combat system or are we also testing the Exploration system that could let the party avoid the combat?

That is why I think that avoiding M requires some kind of roll. If the chapter simply has an unrelated-to-the-playtest rule to avoid M, then we are not testing the playtest system. But if the party is supposed to use the playtest ruless to avoid M, then we need to use the rules.

For example, do we have M make a Perception roll to be opposed by Stealth rolls by each individual party member? No, because Pathfinder 2nd Edition dropped opposed rolls. Either Perception is rolled against a fixed Stealth DC or Stealth is rolled against a fixed Perception DC. Which one do we use?

Imagine that M has Perception +10 (he doesn't). In the party, Slippery has Stealth +8, Nature Girl has Stealth +6, Presto has Stealth +4, and Steelplate has Stealth +3.

If M makes the Perception roll, it would be +10 versus the lowest Stealth DC, Steelplate's DC 13. M would succeed on a 3 or higher, a 10% chance that the party could avoid M.

If the party members make Stealth rolls, that would be +8, +6, +4, and +3 versue DC 20. Slippery has a 45% chance of hiding, Natural Girl has a 35% chance of hiding, Presto has a 25% chance of hiding, and Steelplate has a 20% chance of hiding. The chance that M spots none of them is (0.45)(0.35)(0.25)(0.20) = 0.007875, less than 1%. Mathematically, this is invalid, because it assumes the probablities are independent. The probabilities aren't independent, because their best chance for stealth is simply that M did not look in the direction of the party.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I had this same question too when I ran it. I also agree with the thought that if all the PCs say they are stealthy then they succeed. As pointed out above the odds of PCs rolling dice to be sneaky isn't going to happen (especially as I think the DC is 23 and not 20)

This is a test of expectations and writing.

Not that it matters, its not like a heavily armored PC is going to try to be stealthy. Stealthy PCs have enough difficulty being stealthy.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Seannoss wrote:
As pointed out above the odds of PCs rolling dice to be sneaky isn't going to happen (especially as I think the DC is 23 and not 20)

This is more a problem with the stealth rules than the monster or encounter in particular. With four people rolling and needing all of them to succeed, the chances of failure are just too high. Nor is this just a case of the DC's being too high. If you have a party where everyone has a +7 stealth bonus (that's trained with 16 dexterity, by the way) then the DC would have to be 11 for the party as a whole to have a 50% chance to succeed. The rules themselves the problem, so long as everyone is rolling against the full perception DC, there is no level-appropriate DC that gives a remotely decent chance of success.

Paizo has two possible solutions here, in my view. One approach is that they could adopt the distance and condition penalties of PF1, and eliminating the natural 20/natural 1 rule. It would still be nearly impossible to sneak past a Manticore if you're walking within 10 feet of it, but at 100 ft distance with a -10 penalty that's looking more doable. The other approach is to fundamentally change the way stealth checks work so there's only one roll for the entire party.


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Almarane wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:


Are you testing the system during this play test or are you simply running a campaign?

If the answer is that you're just running a campaign, then the PCs should be able to outsmart or simply avoid encounters by good roleplay and system mastery without ever having any trouble. Heck, they could have stayed in town, hired a wizard to scry Pale Mountain and then teleport them right into the dungeon. Think of the time and risk they could have avoided!

Of course, that wouldn't really be a play test of the system.

I have to disagree on this. Part of the playtest is to test how the new adventures are designed. It's for exemple stated at the beginning that they want to test encounters with no maps.

Funny thing about encounter design. There's no published 2nd edition (or any edition) rulebook for it. Which means that if Paizo publishes some poorly designed encounters or a poorly designed adventure path, they can always make a better one next month. Even years from now after this system is in print and set in stone, a poorly designed adventure can be remedied by making a better one next time. They'll learn their lesson on the forums and in the bank account if people aren't buying it due to bad reviews.

But, the same thing is not true about game mechanics. Paizo will release a core rulebook with all these rules in it. We only have a very short window to get them to fix anything that needs to be fixed.

Therefore, if we are currently skipping content because the designers somehow created poor encounter design, then we won't find out if the actual game mechanics will work or not.

Worst case scenario:

Hypothetically, suppose the manticore fight could expose some truly terrible game mechanics. Perhaps related to ranged combat or flying/aerial combat. But, for very good roleplaying reasons, we all skip the encounter. Paizo learns nothing. Maybe they learn to make airborne encounters harder to skip, but that's about all. Then, a year from now, these hypothetical bad rules are in print. Published. Set in stone. Because nobody tested them.

THEN when Paizo publishes a 2e encounter with an unskippable aerial encounter and everybody dies, everybody hates it, it's pretty much too late to fix the broken rules. Errat? That sucks. Buy a printed rulebook and then download a huge PDF, break out the Sharpie, and start scribbling all over the new book? That sucks. They know it. They want to avoid it.

That's why we should, no must, test every mechanic we can, now, as much as we can, while there is still time to fix any broken rules BEFORE they get published and set in stone.

Fight it. Give them feedback about the fight. Then add a footnote that says something like "Oh, btw Paizo, my group actually avoided this encounter due to fuzzy writing about stealth and perception, so maybe consider tightening those rules up a bit."

That's a win/win for everybody.


I interpreted "being stealthy" as using the actual stealth rules. I would have liked for the tactics to do something Independent from rolling, as it has been mathed out that stealthing past it with a normal Party is extremely unlikely.
The tactics could do something Independent of the normal stealth rules, to enable more interesting RP choices, but it would be extremely counterintuitive. As mentioned above, no normal group would ever expect Clanky McPaladin to choose Stealth as a tactic and shoot himself in the knee in initiative on top of being louder than the whole group combined.

Liberty's Edge

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This brings up a thought that I hadn't realized was bugging me.

If we now raise the DC of a check by 4 in a situation where everyone can roll but only one must succeed, should we also lower the DC by 4 in a situation where everyone must roll and everyone must succeed? The base DC is too high, in either case, but having a check like this where the whole party is trying to stealth it would make a degree of sense to have the DC be lower just to give them a fighting chance.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
swordchucks wrote:
If we now raise the DC of a check by 4 in a situation where everyone can roll but only one must succeed, should we also lower the DC by 4 in a situation where everyone must roll and everyone must succeed?

Actually, it needs to be closer to -12 if you want to keep roughly the same odds. The math isn't symmetrical, and you need much bigger decreases if everyone is to succeed.

One of the big problems is the natural 1 rule. If four people are rolling, there's a 20% chance that one of them will roll a 1 and the party fails regardless of how easy the DC is. As a result, the DC's have to be incredibly low for the party as a whole to have even a 50/50 shot of having everyone beating them. For instance, a typical 5th level party would only have about a 50% chance of making a DC 8 stealth check. Group checks are that hard.

Liberty's Edge

Those numbers agree with what my gut is telling me - that using the standard DC table or monster perception DC to set the bar for a group check is a terrible idea. Most of the reason of having a variable DC table is so that I can control, roughly, how easy or hard I want the task to be.

Now, if group checks were handled more like an extended skill check (which is vaguely similar to how 4e attempted to do things, but definitely not the same), it'd work a lot better.

For instance, if a failure is 0, a critical failure -1, a success +1, and a critical success is +2, you could require that a group of four score a 2 to succeed on a check and the exact way they do so would be unimportant (two successes + to failures, one critical success + three failures, or three failures and one critical success). Said in another way, "with every critical failure canceling out a success and every critical success counting as two successes, the group must score a total number of successes..."

Actually, if PF2 wanted to really boil down the 4e skill challenge mechanic to what made it good and loose what made it bad, I'd be all for it. Making complicated activities more interesting than "what did everyone roll? You fail/pass" is great (and I'm ignoring secret checks which don't even have half of that).


Dasrak wrote:
swordchucks wrote:
If we now raise the DC of a check by 4 in a situation where everyone can roll but only one must succeed, should we also lower the DC by 4 in a situation where everyone must roll and everyone must succeed?

Actually, it needs to be closer to -12 if you want to keep roughly the same odds. The math isn't symmetrical, and you need much bigger decreases if everyone is to succeed.

One of the big problems is the natural 1 rule. If four people are rolling, there's a 20% chance that one of them will roll a 1 and the party fails regardless of how easy the DC is. As a result, the DC's have to be incredibly low for the party as a whole to have even a 50/50 shot of having everyone beating them. For instance, a typical 5th level party would only have about a 50% chance of making a DC 8 stealth check. Group checks are that hard.

Reinstating the "no critial success/failure on skills" rules would work for this problem ?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Almarane wrote:
Reinstating the "no critial success/failure on skills" rules would work for this problem ?

It would also need to be coupled with a reinstatement of the distance and conditions penalties, because otherwise the DC's are so high that even highly skilled stealth characters are only succeeding on a roll of 10 or 12. And if the best in the party have only a 40% chance of succeeding, the party as a whole has no chance of success, with or without the natural 1 rule.

The DC's need to come down, and applying a distance penalty is a good way of doing that. It allows players to make an informed decision of risk, knowing that 100 ft distance means they DC's are 10 points lower. This is also nice for GM's since it tells us when we need to start rolling stealth checks since we know at what point failure is actually possible.


If range penalties come back they should be simplified.

I'd be happy for spells to be called out as close, medium and long range again, then have skills use the same ranges for consistency. No penalty on Perception within close range (30 ft), -2 at Medium range (120 ft), -5 at Long range (500 ft), -10 at extreme range (over 500 out to the horizon).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Fuzzypaws wrote:

If range penalties come back they should be simplified.

I'd be happy for spells to be called out as close, medium and long range again, then have skills use the same ranges for consistency. No penalty on Perception within close range (30 ft), -2 at Medium range (120 ft), -5 at Long range (500 ft), -10 at extreme range (over 500 out to the horizon).

That's more complicated than the distance penalties in PF1, which were -1 to perception for every 10 ft of distance. That's easy to remember and apply.


Dasrak wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:

If range penalties come back they should be simplified.

I'd be happy for spells to be called out as close, medium and long range again, then have skills use the same ranges for consistency. No penalty on Perception within close range (30 ft), -2 at Medium range (120 ft), -5 at Long range (500 ft), -10 at extreme range (over 500 out to the horizon).

That's more complicated than the distance penalties in PF1, which were -1 to perception for every 10 ft of distance. That's easy to remember and apply.

The -1 per 10 ft is absurdly punitive and always has been. I can easily see stuff all the way down at the end of my street and I'm hardly some world beating perception expert. Having just a couple defined ranges makes way more sense.


Fuzzypaws wrote:
Dasrak wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:

If range penalties come back they should be simplified.

I'd be happy for spells to be called out as close, medium and long range again, then have skills use the same ranges for consistency. No penalty on Perception within close range (30 ft), -2 at Medium range (120 ft), -5 at Long range (500 ft), -10 at extreme range (over 500 out to the horizon).

That's more complicated than the distance penalties in PF1, which were -1 to perception for every 10 ft of distance. That's easy to remember and apply.
The -1 per 10 ft is absurdly punitive and always has been. I can easily see stuff all the way down at the end of my street and I'm hardly some world beating perception expert. Having just a couple defined ranges makes way more sense.

Yeah, but the problem with the old rule is that it didn't differentiate between senses.

It's easy to SEE to the end of the street, but it's harder to hear to the end of the street, it's much harder to smell to the end of the street, and it's much, much harder to taste to the end of the street.

For a better simulationist experience, the range increment for -1 per X feet should have been something like:

Taste: must be in same square.
Touch: must be in same or adjacent square (personal, not weapon, reach applies).
Smell: -1 per 5 feet, doubled upwind, halved downwind.
Hear: -1 per 10 feet.
See: -1 per 100 feet.

Still impossible to see the sun or even clouds in the sky, but it works fairly well for any plausible encounter ranges, even extreme bow ranges.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
DM_Blake wrote:
It's easy to SEE to the end of the street, but it's harder to hear to the end of the street, it's much harder to smell to the end of the street, and it's much, much harder to taste to the end of the street.

Taste probably isn't an issue here since a check wouldn't even be given at a distance in most cases. Smell is kinda similar; most creatures don't have the scent ability, and most who do probably can detect something 100 ft out provided it's upwind and not downwind. Hearing actually is more of an issue of background noise. If you were on a rural road on a calm night, it'd probably be easier to hear 100 ft out than to see 100 ft out. In a bustling city in the middle of the afternoon, hearing would be borderline useless.

I feel the -1 per 10 feet penalty is practically perfect. We're not talking about someone walking in the open 100 ft away; stealth requires you to have cover or concealment, so we're talking about spotting someone who hiding behind a fence 100 ft away, or who is shrouded in an early morning mist 100 ft away. That's really freaking hard, and I feel -10 is an appropriate penalty for such large distances.


I enjoy the -1 per 10 for setting encounter start distance. It's inability to model checks that don't need to be made isn't enough to offset that benefit. I could get behind the tiers of distance idea but I like the granularity of 1 per 10. You'd probably want about 1 per 50 for PF2 values though.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dasrak wrote:


One of the big problems is the natural 1 rule. If four people are rolling, there's a 20% chance that one of them will roll a 1 and the party fails regardless of how easy the DC is. As a result, the DC's have to be incredibly low for the party as a whole to have even a 50/50 shot of having everyone beating them. For instance, a typical 5th level party would only have about a 50% chance of making a DC 8 stealth check. Group checks are that hard.

Something that GMs who like to play with large numbers of monsters, like my spouse, have found out the hard way. Eight harpies, for example, will absolutely wreck a PC party that makes its saves on a 5; each character has just a 17% chance to survive a round of that, and it's quite plausible for everyone to fail. (I had to write a simulation program to prove this point, but it's quite true.)

Multiple rolls all of which must succeed are counterintuitively difficult.

Our house games treat group Stealth as an Aid Another situation. The stealth leader rolls their stealth. Everyone else makes an Aid roll whose DC depends on the stealth leader's skill; if they fail, they subtract the number of PCs in the group, plus their personal armor penalty, from the leader's roll. It is a bit clunky but it allows a group to sneak successfully while still penalizing it for being huge or containing McClunky.

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