Ambushes, stealth and initiative


Rules Discussion

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Campbell wrote:
I would note that cannot be hidden/undetected/unnoticed and ready an action.

Well that isn't quite right because I can Ready an Action while your out of sight and that doesn't suddenly make me Observed. But I see what you're getting at, so let's explore it.

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As soon as you ready you are not doing any exploration activities so avoiding notice does not apply

I agree that you can't Ready and then Avoid Notice. I disagree that if you're unnoticed, a Ready Action automatically changes your state.

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When you are hidden/undetected doing anything except step, hide, and sneak makes you observed.

That's true but you've left off the important part.

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If you do anything else, you become observed just before you act unless the GM determines otherwise. The GM might allow you to perform a particularly unobtrusive action without being noticed, possibly requiring another Stealth check.

If I'm Hidden, and you're not anywhere near me to make a valid Perception check, then I can obviously draw my sword and lift it above my head, aim my crossbow, notch an arrow, etc. There's a valid question of whether my state of being Ready adds a negative modifier, but, my aiming my crossbow should have zero effect on you detecting me from around the corner versus my not aiming my crossbow.

I would definitely rule that the Ready Action is usually going to be "unobtrusive" because there is no one there to observe it, which is what something obtrusive requires. It's also fair to point out that the Ready Action, isn't really a serious of actions, but simply being prepared to act as it has the Concentrate trait.

If you're setting an ambush, you start out Unnoticed. In order for someone to notice/detect/observe you, they have to be in a position to do so. If I am waiting around the corner, you have no direct line of sight. If you have no way to perceive me, then I remain Undetected until you step around the corner and the trigger happens. Yes, I am now observed, but per RAW my Reaction resolves before Init is rolled.

But going by RAW, there's a potential for all kinds of table variation if we go hyper-literal "Anything but step, hide, and sneak" making you observed becomes nonsensical if there's no one around to observe you. Paizo will need to clear that up.

One way to think about this that you can create a Trap that is both Hidden and gets a Reaction on a Trigger. If that can be true about a trap, it can be true for a foe. So I'll have to think more about how the language addresses this Stealth problem.


N N 959 wrote:
Gaterie wrote:
You shouldn't allow readied action before init: if you readied an action with the right trigger, obviously you aren't surprised. you get a whole round before surprised character, that's better than activating your trigger
Let's unravel this.

I'm not sure you understood: I think character shouldn't be allowed to have readied action before init in the context of the rule I described. Which isn't the rule in PF2. The rule I propose is "surprised characters lose init" (they act in first round like everyone else, but they act last).

Concerning the mexican standoff:

1/ I start by rolling init, but... if no one attack and everyone talk instead, I'll quickly just ignore init.

2/ Let's say A is aiming at C, B is aiming at A, and C is aiming at B (everyone has readied action). A Attacks; this is the trigger for B... First of all, it's hard to justify for B to resolve his action before the trigger: it would mean B has attacked before A broke the standoff. But let's assume that's how it works: at the moment A say "I attack", B attacks - and he's the one breaking the standoff. This activates the attack of C, so C broke the standoff. But at that point, since we aren't even at the point where A attack, A should still have his readied action, so he attack before C?... At that point, it's easier to just say "roll init and ignore readied actions".

... Again, in the context of the rule I explained which isn't the actual rule I think it's easier to ignore readied action before init: unsurprised characters act before surprised characters, being sure to act first is probably better than doing the readied action with a risk of being the last one to act.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I came to this thread in the hope of gaining better insight into the stealth rules. Instead I find a lot of toxicity. Way to represent guys.


Gaterie wrote:
I'm not sure you understood: I think character shouldn't be allowed to have readied action before init in the context of the rule I described. Which isn't the rule in PF2.

You're right. I did not understand. I was trying to reformulate your statement into the form of a question I could answer. It appears you were not asking a question.

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Again, in the context of the rule I explained which isn't the actual rule I think it's easier to ignore readied action before init: unsurprised characters act before surprised characters, being sure to act first is probably better than doing the readied action with a risk of being the last one to act.

Okay. I don't have any comment on rule modifications. If you're just wanting to state what you think should be done, cool. If you're looking for feedback on changes, the homebrew/house rule forum is the place to ask.


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Campbell wrote:
I would note that you cannot be hidden/undetected and ready an action. As soon as you ready you are not doing any exploration activities so avoiding notice does not apply. When you are hidden/undetected doing anything except step, hide, and sneak makes you observed.

So I've been thinking about how to resolve this is the context of the rules as written. I think the answer is fairly straight-forward based on this:

Stealth p. 251 sidebar wrote:
Three conditions explain the states of detection.]Remember that these conditions are relative to each creature—you can be observed by one creature while hidden to another and undetected by a third.

This means there is no general state of being Observed, Hidden, Undetected. It's all based on the observer.

So this statement:

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When you are hidden/undetected doing anything except step, hide, and sneak makes you observed.

Only applies if there is someone there to actually observe you. I said this before, but the Stealth sidebar makes it clear that your state of Stealth is observer-dependent. So even if your Ready act was objectively "obtrusive" you are still Undetected if no one is there to detect you, as would be the case if you Readied an action before the targets arrived or had cause to know you existed.

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