Ambushes, stealth and initiative


Rules Discussion

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There are also degrees of scouting, generally scouting for something ahead is a little easier than scouting for a prepared and active ambush.


Franz Lunzer wrote:
If the GM wants to make the encounter happen, it is going to happen. I would expect as much, with table variance.

OK, why are the players here again? Whatever they do, it doesn't seems to make any difference...

Quote:
Furthermore: Yeah, the scout activity doesn't really help you at low levels, when the Rogue can't avoid notice while scouting. At high levels, the Rogue can Avoid notice while Scouting, so he can possibly find badly hidden ambushers, that might not notice him.

The scout activity isn't about scouting, be it at low level or at high level. The scout activity is about staying with the party and giving a bonus to initiative roll - this has nothing to do with scouting. This tactic doesn't allow the scout to find ambushers because it's not the purpose of the activity.

Quote:
In such a case, if the rogue notices at least one ambusher, but none of the ambushers notice the rogue, the rogue should be able to sneak back to the rest of the party and grant them the Scout bonus to Initiative, and a tactical advantage by pointing out the location of the ambushers he noticed.

It seems the rule is: encounter mode starts, everyone knows there's an enemy in the area.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber

Gaterie:

It is just as likely that the pcs will notice the goblins and be able to ambush them first under the rules. When I say you enter encounter mode there is just as much chance the goblins will screw up at that point.

I get the impression by your tone that you are not here in the rules forum to ask questions about rules, but are here with an agenda to complain about the rules.

How many PF2 games have you played before you came to such an entrenched position?


The ShadowShackleton wrote:
How many PF2 games have you played before you came to such an entrenched position?

I'd be curious to know if he's even a GM. If he is, I'd highly recommend this resource (now available in book format) because he doesn't seem to even understand the basics of GMing.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Gaterie wrote:
OK, why are the players here again?

To have fun, I guess?

The First Rule sidebar, page 7 wrote:

The First Rule

The first rule of Pathfinder is that this game is yours. Use it to tell the stories you want to tell, be the character you want to be, and share exciting adventures with friends. If any other rule gets in the way of your fun, as long as your group agrees, you can alter or ignore it to fit your story. The true goal of Pathfinder is for everyone to enjoy themselves.

If you aren't having fun playing the game, tell your GM, and the other players. You have to work together to make the game fun for everyone.

If the rules don't fit your groups playstyle, adjust them so they work for your group.
That's in the rulebook as well.

The Concordance

Alright so back to the topic...

Any reason to not have an initial attack/volley be the thing that causes Encounter Mode? I know we weren’t supposed to do that in 1e but I’m not seeing anything written to deter that interpretation for 2e.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Even while Avoiding Notice a Rogue, especially one built to be find and dismantle traps, will still has a fairly decent chance to notice most ambushes. Even with just a 14 Wisdom a first level Rogue has a Perception DC of 17. A kobold warrior would need to roll a 12 while a kobold scout would need to roll a 10. If even one of the kobolds has a poor roll the rogue would know something is up.


ShieldLawrence wrote:

Alright so back to the topic...

Any reason to not have an initial attack/volley be the thing that causes Encounter Mode? I know we weren’t supposed to do that in 1e but I’m not seeing anything written to deter that interpretation for 2e.

By RAW, you can open an encounter with an attack by winning initiative and using your firsts action to attack. For a volley, if everyone of the ambushers succeeded on their stealth initiative they could ready actions on their first round to all shoot at once? But I don't know if that's worth giving the ambushed party a round to Seek, take defensive action, or otherwise prepare.

The Concordance

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Captain Morgan wrote:
ShieldLawrence wrote:

Alright so back to the topic...

Any reason to not have an initial attack/volley be the thing that causes Encounter Mode? I know we weren’t supposed to do that in 1e but I’m not seeing anything written to deter that interpretation for 2e.

By RAW, you can open an encounter with an attack by winning initiative and using your firsts action to attack. For a volley, if everyone of the ambushers succeeded on their stealth initiative they could ready actions on their first round to all shoot at once? But I don't know if that's worth giving the ambushed party a round to Seek, take defensive action, or otherwise prepare.

What I mean is, enemy attacks happening before initiative is rolled. As in, the enemy attack is what causes the initiative roll.

GM: As you are walking through this corridor, arrows begin whizzing by! Sam and Garnet, what are your armor classes? Oof. Those will both hit. Sam you take 5 damage, and Garnet you take 3. Alright everyone let’s get some initiative going.

Edit: ^This would all happen after rolling secret checks for those searching/investigating during Exploration.

Exo-Guardians

ShieldLawrence wrote:

What I mean is, enemy attacks happening before initiative is rolled. As in, the enemy attack is what causes the initiative roll.

GM: As you are walking through this corridor, arrows begin whizzing by! Sam and Garnet, what are your armor classes? Oof. Those will both hit. Sam you take 5 damage, and Garnet you take 3. Alright everyone let’s get some initiative going.

Edit: ^This would all happen after rolling secret checks for those searching/investigating during Exploration.

Makes a lot of sense to me. That's how I'd probably do it.

This paragraph from page 498 of the CRB seems to support such an approach:

Quote:

INITIATIVE AFTER REACTIONS

In some cases, a trap or a foe has a reaction that tells
you to roll initiative. For instance, a complex trap that’s
triggered might make an attack with its reaction before
the initiative order begins. In these cases, resolve all the
results of the reaction before calling for initiative rolls.


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ShieldLawrence wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
ShieldLawrence wrote:

Alright so back to the topic...

Any reason to not have an initial attack/volley be the thing that causes Encounter Mode? I know we weren’t supposed to do that in 1e but I’m not seeing anything written to deter that interpretation for 2e.

By RAW, you can open an encounter with an attack by winning initiative and using your firsts action to attack. For a volley, if everyone of the ambushers succeeded on their stealth initiative they could ready actions on their first round to all shoot at once? But I don't know if that's worth giving the ambushed party a round to Seek, take defensive action, or otherwise prepare.

What I mean is, enemy attacks happening before initiative is rolled. As in, the enemy attack is what causes the initiative roll.

GM: As you are walking through this corridor, arrows begin whizzing by! Sam and Garnet, what are your armor classes? Oof. Those will both hit. Sam you take 5 damage, and Garnet you take 3. Alright everyone let’s get some initiative going.

Edit: ^This would all happen after rolling secret checks for those searching/investigating during Exploration.

I understand your meaning. I just don't think it is supported by the rules. What you are describing is basically a surprise round and those were very intentionally removed from the game. You are of course free to add them back in if that works for you.

Also,to clarify something, neither Investigate or Search impacts spotting enemy creatures. You trigger the same perception checks for initiative when you encounter them either way. Scout is the one thing which impacts spotting creatures, and only by giving you that +1 to initiative.

But what you could do is roll everyone's initiative as a secret check and not give your players the ”you have the sense you are being watched" warning discussed earlier. If one side doesn't know a combat has begun, the other side could coordinate a volley by readying actions or delaying to go back to back while the party is none the wiser. In this case, though, is say anyone using Investigate, Scout, or Search should be considering Seeking on their first turn and give them all a single perception check to see if they spot the baddies. You could even have the secret initiative role count as this I suppose.

All of that seems legal to me, but it gets complicated fast. It seems like a better idea to keep it simple and just give people who win initiative against unnoticed foes the "you're being watched" spiel and keep it moving. Or just house rule in the surprise round if you prefer.

Exo-Guardians

Captain Morgan wrote:
But what you could do is roll everyone's initiative as a secret check and not give your players the ”you have the sense you are being watched" warning discussed earlier. If one side doesn't know a combat has begun, the other side could coordinate a volley by readying actions or delaying to go back to back while the party is none the wiser.

So you've rolled initiative, but one side gets a free first round regardless of the init order because the other side was unaware of them. How is that different from a surprise round?


Saros Palanthios wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
But what you could do is roll everyone's initiative as a secret check and not give your players the ”you have the sense you are being watched" warning discussed earlier. If one side doesn't know a combat has begun, the other side could coordinate a volley by readying actions or delaying to go back to back while the party is none the wiser.
So you've rolled initiative, but one side gets a free first round regardless of the init order. How is that different from a surprise round?

Specifically,the PF1 surprise round only let you do one standard or move action. The unchained surprise round let you do 2 acts. This would be all 3 actions.

Also, if we are talking about the "everyone delays to go back to back" ambush, then the ambushed party acts immediately afterwards, as opposed to the surprise round which allowed you to take your action(s) and then immediately take your normal turn if you won initiative.

If you did the readied action thing it would wind feeling more like the surprise round except you couldn't cast spells. But I think to make that work you'd need the whole group to do really well on it's stealth checks, probably both for initiative and again during their turns. (If you're readying an action to shoot someone, that means you guys have to have line of sight with each other after all.) In the playtest this was viable because of the "invisible people treat Sneak checks as if they rolled a 20” rule which made invisibility sphere kind of OP. Now that seems much less likely to occur.

And again,I don't really think you should do this. I don't really think it is intended and seems more complicated than it is worth. But I think you could get away with it.


Liegence wrote:

Circumstance bonuses for waiting in ambush totally acceptable. Love the idea that this can be used to bluff encounters - nothing gets players focused like “roll initiative” even if it’s otherwise a standard perception check. Then we can go into a few cautious rounds where I can detail the scenery and the tension of exploring a dark dungeon.

If I don’t beat their perception, maybe they hear the screech of a rusted iron door, or the chittering of a rat. If I pass stealth, maybe it’s just their hair is standing on ends, or maybe this area does actually just look like a great place for an ambush...

Good way to get distracted players to stop messing with their phones and focus for a few rounds on the scene

This.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Saros Palanthios wrote:

This paragraph from page 498 of the CRB seems to support such an approach:

Quote:

INITIATIVE AFTER REACTIONS

In some cases, a trap or a foe has a reaction that tells
you to roll initiative. For instance, a complex trap that’s
triggered might make an attack with its reaction before
the initiative order begins. In these cases, resolve all the
results of the reaction before calling for initiative rolls.

Here's the thing though: Can you delay or ready, if you aren't in Encounter mode?

Ready is a two action activity, Delay is a free action.

I approve of the example with the arrows though, but I don't think it works with the "Initiative after reactions"-rule, unless it's from a complex trap or some hidden fighter with an Attack of opportunity.

In such a case (unnoticed(!) ambusher readying actions against observed trespassers), I'd roll Initiative in secret, have the ambushers ready those ranged strikes, with the trigger being the trespassers arriving at a certain point.

If the ambushers aren't unnoticed, but undetected or just hidden, the trespassers can react to the thread, so initiative can be rolled not secretly. Either way, the GM would have to roll Stealth before and compare it to the Perception DC's of the trespassers to figure out the degree of detection

The Concordance

After looking at the GM section a bit more, it would appear that the intent is to roll initiative before any attacks are made, unless the trap or creature calls out something else.

Rolling Initiative, p.498 wrote:

Transitioning from exploration to an encounter usually involves rolling for initiative. Call for initiative once a trap is triggered, as soon as two opposing groups come into contact, or when a creature on one side decides to take action against the other. For example:

A group of PCs are exploring a cavern. They enter a narrow passage patrolled by a group of kobold warriors. Now that the two groups are in the same area, it’s time to roll initiative.
Amiri and a kobold champion agree to have a friendly wrestling match. They square off on a patch of dirt, and you call for initiative using Athletics.
Merisiel and Kyra are negotiating with the kobold king. Things aren’t going well, so Merisiel decides to launch a surprise attack. As soon as she says this is her plan, you call for initiative.
Harsk and Ezren are trying to Balance across a narrow beam to reach an isolated kobold treasure trove. When they get halfway across, a red dragon who was hiding behind the mountain flies around to attack! As soon as the dragon makes its appearance, you call for an initiative roll.

So I guess we are left with corner cases where a high initiative roll can lead to PCs reacting first to an unknown situation. Adventurer’s spidey sense it is!

Exo-Guardians

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Franz Lunzer wrote:
Saros Palanthios wrote:

This paragraph from page 498 of the CRB seems to support such an approach:

Quote:

INITIATIVE AFTER REACTIONS

In some cases, a trap or a foe has a reaction that tells
you to roll initiative. For instance, a complex trap that’s
triggered might make an attack with its reaction before
the initiative order begins. In these cases, resolve all the
results of the reaction before calling for initiative rolls.

Here's the thing though: Can you delay or ready, if you aren't in Encounter mode?

Ready is a two action activity, Delay is a free action.

I approve of the example with the arrows though, but I don't think it works with the "Initiative after reactions"-rule, unless it's from a complex trap or some hidden fighter with an Attack of opportunity.

In such a case (unnoticed(!) ambusher readying actions against observed trespassers), I'd roll Initiative in secret, have the ambushers ready those ranged strikes, with the trigger being the trespassers arriving at a certain point.

If the ambushers aren't unnoticed, but undetected or just hidden, the trespassers can react to the thread, so initiative can be rolled not secretly. Either way, the GM would have to roll Stealth before and compare it to the Perception DC's of the trespassers to figure out the degree of detection

A Readied action is a Reaction:
Quote:

READY

Source Core Rulebook pg. 470
You prepare to use an action that will occur outside your turn. Choose a single action or free action you can use, and designate a trigger. Your turn then ends. If the trigger you designated occurs before the start of your next turn, you can use the chosen action as a reaction (provided you still meet the requirements to use it). You can’t Ready a free action that already has a trigger.

So that's why the "Initiative After Attacks" bit i quoted earlier applies in the situation of an ambush. The ambusher is a "foe" that "has a reaction" (their readied attack) which "tells you to roll initiative".

So the scenario would go something like this:
1. Party approaches ambush point, GM rolls secret Perception/Stealth checks.
2a. If party perceives abushers, roll initiative as usual
2b. If party doesn't perceive ambushers, ambushers use their readied reactions to attack. Resolve the attacks and THEN roll initiative, per the "Initiative After Reactions" rule.
3. Encounter proceeds per initiative order as usual, using the standard Undetected/Hidden/Observed rules according to who perceived whom.

As far as i can tell this is the RAW & RAI, no houserules or handwaving required.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
ShieldLawrence wrote:

After looking at the GM section a bit more, it would appear that the intent is to roll initiative before any attacks are made, unless the trap or creature calls out something else.

Rolling Initiative, p.498 wrote:

Transitioning from exploration to an encounter usually involves rolling for initiative. Call for initiative once a trap is triggered, as soon as two opposing groups come into contact, or when a creature on one side decides to take action against the other. For example:

A group of PCs are exploring a cavern. They enter a narrow passage patrolled by a group of kobold warriors. Now that the two groups are in the same area, it’s time to roll initiative.
Amiri and a kobold champion agree to have a friendly wrestling match. They square off on a patch of dirt, and you call for initiative using Athletics.
Merisiel and Kyra are negotiating with the kobold king. Things aren’t going well, so Merisiel decides to launch a surprise attack. As soon as she says this is her plan, you call for initiative.
Harsk and Ezren are trying to Balance across a narrow beam to reach an isolated kobold treasure trove. When they get halfway across, a red dragon who was hiding behind the mountain flies around to attack! As soon as the dragon makes its appearance, you call for an initiative roll.
So I guess we are left with corner cases where a high initiative roll can lead to PCs reacting first to an unknown situation. Adventurer’s spidey sense it is!

Get your players to roll 3 or 4 perception rolls at the start of the session and make note to use them whenever its called for. No more obvious combat is coming issue.


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I still find the rules for this very confusing. I appreciate everyone's very good posts and explanations, but a few things still bother me about how 2e handles this.

In my opinion, if you fail to notice a hidden monster by failing perception vs. stealth, you have no idea the monster is there at all. Hence, you do not have a 6th sense/spider sense that danger is present. You are completely unaware.

But from what I've been reading in this thread, the 2e rules in this scenario use Perception as initiative. So it's possible to fail to notice the hidden creature but yet still win initiative and get to go before the hidden ambushers. This does not make sense to me.

I know the new rules intend to streamline things mechanically, and maybe I'm just used to previous systems where a surprise round was used (I've been gaming for 40 years and am familiar with ALL the D&D editions and Pathfinder 1e + many other RPGs, both as a GM and a player. I've also been published in Dungeon magazine three times). But the older system rules just made more sense. If you don't perceive a hidden foe, then they're going to get the drop on you and act first. Running a surprise round wasn't hard.

That being said, I'm not "hating" on 2e. I have a completely open mind to it, and am willing to give it a fair shake. There are a number of 2e things I like. This one, though, I just find very confusing.

Maybe as I read more, and play more 2e, this will mentally click better. We'll have to see.


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UndeadViking wrote:

In my opinion, if you fail to notice a hidden monster by failing perception vs. stealth, you have no idea the monster is there at all. Hence, you do not have a 6th sense/spider sense that danger is present. You are completely unaware.

But from what I've been reading in this thread, the 2e rules in this scenario use Perception as initiative. So it's possible to fail to notice the hidden creature but yet still win initiative and get to go before the hidden ambushers. This does not make sense to me.

Initiative is the stealth vs perception check. The ambushers roll stealth for initiative and I roll perception.

If I get a 12 on my check and they get a 10 on theirs, my perception beats their stealth and my initiative beats their initiative. So I go first, but since my perception check is higher than their stealth check, I also spot them.

Having the active perception check of rolling initiative replace the passive DC when rolling initiative seems to completely resolve most of the problems in this thread.


So I am starting to come around to the idea that any time you enter exploration mode you should have your players declare tactics and make an appropriate roll. This will almost always be perception or stealth. Have them record that somewhere, possibly an initiative tracker. Then let that roll ride until they reach a point where it actually matters. Instead of having them roll perception each time they worry about traps or if something is on the other side of the door, have them roll perception once at the beginning and apply that whenever they actually hit a trap. Then have them roll again and apply it to the next thing.

Not only does this have the advantage of cutting down on excessive rolling fueled by player paranoia, but it creates an easy to reference set of numbers for initiative. If you don't like the spider sense solution, you can use those numbers to pretty quickly figure out if any of the PCs are in the "won initiative but aren't aware combat has begun" column and go from there.


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Squiggit wrote:


Initiative is the stealth vs perception check. The ambushers roll stealth for initiative and I roll perception.

If I get a 12 on my check and they get a 10 on theirs, my perception beats their stealth and my initiative beats their initiative. So I go first, but since my perception check is higher than their stealth check, I also spot them.

Having the active perception check of rolling initiative replace the passive DC when rolling initiative seems to completely resolve most of the problems in this thread.

My understanding is that the hidden creature rolls a Stealth check and attempts to beat the DC of your Perception skill (DC 10 + your Perception skill modifier). You don't roll against the creature's roll at this point.

From the 2e SRD at https://2e.aonprd.com/Rules.aspx?ID=171:

"When someone or something tests your skill, they attempt a check against your skill DC, which is equal to 10 plus your skill modifier. A skill DC works like any other DC to determine the effect of an opposing creature’s skill action."

So the monster rolls vs. your Perception DC to determine if you see them. So if the monster's Stealth check beats your DC, then you don't see it. It also happens that the monster's Stealth check is used as their initiative roll.

Now determine who goes first. If its Stealth beat your Perception DC, then you don't know it's there. So now you roll your initiative by rolling d20 + your Perception skill bonus. If you roll high, you go first even though you are unaware the creature is there.

That's my understanding based on previous posts.

This is where I'm confused.


UndeadViking wrote:

If you roll high, you go first even though you are unaware the creature is there.

That's my understanding based on previous posts.

This is where I'm confused

If you rolled high enough on Perception to go first, you noticed something was off. That doesn't give you the location of the hidden ambushers, but gives the character an opportunity to use the Seek action.

What exactly they perceive is up to the GM. But, it could be a falling pebble, a cracked twig, or even just Spidey-sense.


RexAliquid wrote:

If you rolled high enough on Perception to go first, you noticed something was off. That doesn't give you the location of the hidden ambushers, but gives the character an opportunity to use the Seek action.

What exactly they perceive is up to the GM. But, it could be a falling pebble, a cracked twig, or even just Spidey-sense.

Well, I'm trying to think through the situation where the Init winners have their Perception DCs beat by the ambushers. In that situation, you'd like to avoid having the PCs know they are in Encounter Mode. So you tell player X, "hey, you smell something funny." But as soon as you limit them to three actions, they know what's up.

I'm also not sure it's fair to ask for Exploration type actions and then cut them off in the middle of acting because they've arguably used up three actions. And then let other NPCs or players take specific Encounter Mode actions.

Perhaps you can't avoid the metagame of Encounter Mode once you're in it?


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Why wouldn't you drop them right into encounter mode? They won initiative, after all.

"Gary, as you are exploring along this narrow path, you hear a twig snap in the forest. You have three actions"


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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I don't believe this is RAW, but what I would do in a home game. (and still not sure how I would do it a a PFS2 game if it came up -- hoping these discussions help shake out the most correct RAW and the easiest version to explain that.)

As described above: party rolled perception for initiative, ambushers rolled stealth (likely with circumstance and item bonuses). Order the groups as usual, and mark off where the ambusher's stealth DC is.

If any PC is going before the first ambusher:
a) did the beat the stealth DC?
yes) "you heard something over there" 3 actions
no) shift them in the initiative order to right after the first opponent/auto-delay.
b) no PC before the first ambusher
no problem, ambush starts as expected


RexAliquid wrote:

Why wouldn't you drop them right into encounter mode? They won initiative, after all.

"Gary, as you are exploring along this narrow path, you hear a twig snap in the forest. You have three actions"

Ya know, when I posted the question, I had it in my mind that there was a reason. Maybe it will come back to be later. But until then, I guess what you say makes sense.


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RexAliquid wrote:
UndeadViking wrote:

If you roll high, you go first even though you are unaware the creature is there.

That's my understanding based on previous posts.

This is where I'm confused

If you rolled high enough on Perception to go first, you noticed something was off. That doesn't give you the location of the hidden ambushers, but gives the character an opportunity to use the Seek action.

What exactly they perceive is up to the GM. But, it could be a falling pebble, a cracked twig, or even just Spidey-sense.

Hi Rex, I get part of what you're saying, but if the monster's Stealth roll beat your Perception DC, you don't know it's there: you perceived nothing. So I'm confused why you then roll Perception as initiative, and if you roll high then somehow you do perceive something after all even though you weren't supposed to have perceived anything in the first place (as determined by the monster's Stealth check vs. your Perception DC). Initiative should be about who reacts first, but to react to something you must first be aware of it. If you're unaware, then there's nothing for you to react to.

Perception as initiative in this scenario seems to be basically a 2nd chance to perceive something even after it was determined you didn't perceive anything. IMO, if you perceived nothing, then the creature should get to go first.


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N N 959 wrote:
RexAliquid wrote:

Why wouldn't you drop them right into encounter mode? They won initiative, after all.

"Gary, as you are exploring along this narrow path, you hear a twig snap in the forest. You have three actions"

Ya know, when I posted the question, I had it in my mind that there was a reason. Maybe it will come back to be later. But until then, I guess what you say makes sense.

I remember. So in the situation where the PC wins init, but all the ambushers beat the PC's Perception, the ambushers lose the element of surprise. If the GM suddenly says, "You get three actions," then I'm likely to raise my shield or cast Shield, Delay, or even declare a Ready Action and hoping someone else in the group can expose the attackers.

Put another way, you really can't get the jump on someone unless you both elude their Perception and roll higher than their Init roll. That may seem okay if you're the PC, but let's reverse it.

A PC successfully hides from an NPC. The NPC fails to detect the PC, but the NPC wins Init and the NPC runs past the NPC who was specifically was waiting to spring the trap and avoided detection. If the PC gets notified that they have "3 actions" then the NPC should get the same heads up.

What am I missing?


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NielsenE wrote:


no) shift them in the initiative order to right after the first opponent/auto-delay.
b) no PC before the first ambusher
no problem, ambush starts as expected

This seems to be the most logical. Is this really not RAW? if not, any idea why?

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

This is where the various perception conditions come in. The ambusher is undetected but not unnoticed. Proceed accordingly.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
N N 959 wrote:
NielsenE wrote:


no) shift them in the initiative order to right after the first opponent/auto-delay.
b) no PC before the first ambusher
no problem, ambush starts as expected
This seems to be the most logical. Is this really not RAW? if not, any idea why?

I think its not RAW simply because I don't think there's a rule in place to just skip/auto-delay someone. (other than rule 0).

I know my home groups would be ok with it, which is why I'll use it there. It feels right/thematic. And its probably fairly rare, unless you're playing in a more stealth flavored campaign than I usually see.

The one thing I am worried about is that in a typical 'party rolls perception for initiative versus a group's stealth for initiative roll' is the spread of nubmers (4-6 on the PCs side and likely (1-3) on the monsters side greatly increases the chance that someone in the party rolls high, high enough to get into either the 'spidey-sense' or the 'you skipped my turn' bit. Its the 'when everyone can roll, but only one success is needed' bit for GM guidance on picking appropriate DCs (hence why I think you need to give the ambusher's an item/circumstance bonus on top of their stealth in most cases). Alternative (and again this is not RAW, but might work for one of my home games), non-scout/search/investigate activity take a penality on their initiative roll (scout might counteract).


Shisumo wrote:
This is where the various perception conditions come in. The ambusher is undetected but not unnoticed. Proceed accordingly.

Right, but there's a step missing. When the PCs enter the mouth of the cave, the kobolds at the end of the cave are Unnoticed. At what point do they suddenly become Undetected? I think that's the part that was causing Gaterie so much confusion.

There seems to be this automatic thing that happens when someone tries to hide from someone else...they somehow go from Unnoticed to Undetected, even if they beat the Perception DC. What am I missing?


UndeadViking wrote:
RexAliquid wrote:
UndeadViking wrote:

If you roll high, you go first even though you are unaware the creature is there.

That's my understanding based on previous posts.

This is where I'm confused

If you rolled high enough on Perception to go first, you noticed something was off. That doesn't give you the location of the hidden ambushers, but gives the character an opportunity to use the Seek action.

What exactly they perceive is up to the GM. But, it could be a falling pebble, a cracked twig, or even just Spidey-sense.

Hi Rex, I get part of what you're saying, but if the monster's Stealth roll beat your Perception DC, you don't know it's there: you perceived nothing.

That's incorrect. If a monster's stealth beats the character's Perception DC, the monster remains undetected. That is not the same thing as remaining unnoticed.

The character's Perception check beat the monster's Stealth DC. That is why the character gets to go first and why the monster is undetected instead of unnoticed.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
N N 959 wrote:
Shisumo wrote:
This is where the various perception conditions come in. The ambusher is undetected but not unnoticed. Proceed accordingly.

Right, but there's a step missing. When the PCs enter the mouth of the cave, the kobolds at the end of the cave are Unnoticed. At what point do they suddenly become Undetected? I think that's the part that was causing Gaterie so much confusion.

There seems to be this automatic thing that happens when someone tries to hide from someone else...they somehow go from Unnoticed to Undetected, even if they beat the Perception DC. What am I missing?

It happens when they lose initiative because the target rolled a really good Perception roll. Good enough to beat the ambushers' Stealth checks. This doesn't beat the basic rule that you only have to beat the Perception DC to be hidden/undetected, but it does reward the good Perception check with, well, perceiving something.


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Shisumo wrote:
It happens when they lose initiative because the target rolled a really good Perception roll. Good enough to beat the ambushers' Stealth checks. This doesn't beat the basic rule that you only have to beat the Perception DC to be hidden/undetected, but it does reward the good Perception check with, well, perceiving something.

That doesn't work.

If the Hidden NPC's Stealth roll is higher than the Perception roll, the PC still gets to treat the NPC as undetected when it's the PC's turn, correct? So even if the hidden creature rolls a higher Init, the PC is still being put in Encounter Mode, which will prompt a Seek or some other action predicated on someone being undetected, rather than unnoticed, by the PC.

A place I could see this happening is if someone is trying to escape and is half a day ahead, but decides to stop and hide. As soon as someone comes along, that person wins Init, goes undetected, but the the person trying to find them is now in Encounter Mode and simply has to start using Seek when what should happen is there should be no Encounter mode.

Once again, there seems to be step missing. If a Hidden creature remains hidden and beats all Perception DCs and wins init how/why does that creature move from Unnoticed to Undetected?


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N N 959 wrote:
Once again, there seems to be step missing. If a Hidden creature remains hidden and beats all Perception DCs and wins init how/why does that creature move from Unnoticed to Undetected?

He doesn't. Here are the possible outcomes:

* Beats perception DC and wins initiative: unnoticed (no idea you even exist).
* Beats perception DC and loses initiative: undetected (knows SOMETHING is there, but has no idea what it is. Has a vague sense of which square someone could be in, but has to Seek or move to know for sure).
* Loses perception DC and wins initiative: You get to go first, but you were not hidden.
* Loses perception DC and loses initiative: You not only don't go first, but everyone knows where you are.

That (to me) is intuitive and we only have to roll once.


John Lynch 106 wrote:

Here are the possible outcomes:

* Beats perception DC and wins initiative: unnoticed (no idea you even exist).
* Beats perception DC and loses initiative: undetected (knows SOMETHING is there, but has no idea what it is. Has a vague sense of which square someone could be in, but has to Seek or move to know for sure).
* Loses perception DC and wins initiative: You get to go first, but you were not hidden.
* Loses perception DC and loses initiative: You not only don't go first, but everyone knows where you are.

Okay, that makes sense. Where in the book does it cover the first situation. I've been looking for it and it's like rules are in five different places.

If we have Number 1, where the NPC is the one that beats DC and wins init, then the PC shouldn't be in Encounter mode until the NPC decides to act, correct? So the PC shouldn't get any prompt for using Seek or taking any action specific to an Encounter.

If the PC is on the other side of the rolls, then the NPC should be under the same restrictions and there should be no Encounter if the PC does not wish to act.

I think the part that others are picking up on is that you're rolling init when the hidden creature hasn't been detected. As UndeadViking remarks, the searching Creature is given another chance to detect something (via rolling init) despite not having detected something (Hidden creature beats Perception DC).

That (to me) is counter-intuitive, hidden creature (who beats Perception) should deny someone the right to even roll for init.

Exo-Guardians

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N N 959 wrote:

Okay, that makes sense. Where in the book does it cover the first situation. I've been looking for it and it's like rules are in five different places.

If we have Number 1, where the NPC is the one that beats DC and wins init, then the PC shouldn't be in Encounter mode until the NPC decides to act, correct? So the PC shouldn't get any prompt for using Seek or taking any action specific to an Encounter.

If the PC is on the other side of the rolls, then the NPC should be under the same restrictions and there should be no Encounter if the PC does not wish to act.

I think the part that others are picking up on is that you're rolling init when the hidden creature hasn't been detected. As UndeadViking remarks, the searching Creature is given another chance to detect something (via rolling init) despite not having detected something (Hidden creature beats Perception DC).

That (to me) is counter-intuitive, hidden creature (who beats Perception) should deny someone the right to even roll for init.

I agree. If the ambusher's Stealth roll beats the ambushee's Perception DC, initiative shouldn't be rolled unless the ambusher chooses to engage. If they do engage, they get to use a single readied action (which counts as a reaction per pg 470), and only after that action resolves does everybody roll initiative. This is how the "Initiative After Reactions" rule on pg 498 tells us to do it.


This is how I would Play it - basically, use Ambushes as Complex Hazards, with the Reaction being defined by the readied Action of the ambushers. You can still have the Scenario of everybody moving past the other Party undetected.

This happened in the playtest Scenario with the quicksand and burrowed Ankhegs.. The Party stealthed, we went into initiative. The Party kept stealthing, never triggered the quicksand or the readied Action of the Ankhegs. The moved across the map, and once everybody was out we left Encounter mode.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber

Ok so taking a deep dive into the rules on this and it doesn’t appear that “unnoticed” is even a condition that is achievable with regular use of Sneak in encounter mode.

The best you can achieve is “undetected” with a successful stealth check. I guess the question we need answered by the developers is:

- Is Avoid Notice meant to be adjudicated in the same way as sneak OR is the mention of “avoiding notice” meant to be a rules mechanic outside of exploration mode? At no point do they use the rules mechanic term of “unnoticed” in the avoid notice description but do mention avoiding notice in the flavour text. If I had to guess I would say the flavour text is unintentional and they intended for the best level you could achieve normally to be “undetected” meaning initiative starts anyway, but it is not 100% clear and is purely a guess on my part.

The final sentence of Avoid Notice seems to resolve it though, with the words “as normal for Sneak”.

An answer to this question would resolve a lot of the confusion in this thread.

It would appear though that there is no way though using Sneak alone to achieve the condition of “Unnoticed” which is the condition most people seem to be concerned with.

Personally I am content to say that it is more fun for an encounter to happen than to not happen so I like it the way it is.


The challenge here is that once you enter Encounter mode, it becomes way more difficult to escape notice. Even in my example, suddenly you are not talking about one roll from the PC's that has to clear the perception DC of the Guards anymore, now you have to hope that the guards Seek Actions never clear your sneak DC.

Realistically speaking, in my games I would normally just have the Party avoid notice, make their rolls vs. the guards Perception DC, and call it a day. Until they come to the very Special chokepoint where I Initiate Encounter mode and they now have to try to evade the guards Seek Actions.

It all comes down to what Level of challenge I want to present to my Players. Yes, that does take some agency out of my Players Hands, as I decide when I want to use the Encounter mode and when I stay in Exploration mode. This is something you Need to communicate well to Players that care about a consistent use of Rules, because there is a certain judgement call from the GM involved that your Players Need to be ok with.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber

See my post above though. It does not appear that mechanically there is any way to be “unnoticed” within the current rules.

Of course do anything you like at your own table!

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