Ambushes, stealth and initiative


Rules Discussion

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I’m putting together a one shot and I wanted to include a variety of situations to demonstrate the capabilities of the new game, teach certain rules and encourage tactics without creating fights that are going to be complete murder to a bunch of newbies.

One of the encounters is a pair of kobolds (or maybe goblins. Still deciding) hiding in ambush and waiting for the PCs to reach a certain point before jumping out. Unless a PC scouts ahead, the kobolds will be aware of their presence. How do I determine whether or not the PCs spot the kobolds before the kobolds leap out? Rolling initiative as soon as they enter the cave seems like the wrong answer.

Any help?


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Exploration Mode
(CRB 479)

The party travels at half speed:
PC's that declare Defending as their Exploration Activity start combat with their shield Ready
PC's that declare Investigate as their Exploration Activity may identify a clue to warn of ambush
PC's that declare Search as their Exploration Activity may spot any hazards the kobolds set
PC's that declare Scouting as their Exploration Activity grant their party +1 to initiative rolls

The party travels at full speed:
If the PCs have no reason to suspect foul play on their travels, they may instead travel at full speed

...

If I was DMing, I would do two things. The first, give them a time constraint, incentivizing them to travel at their full speed to their destination. The second, drop some kind of clue that their may be kobolds wanting to ambush them, incentivizing them to travel at half speed (but cautiously) to their destination.

Thus, whichever their choice, it has meaning (either arriving early, or being prepared for the ambush)


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My understanding is that that everyone would roll for initiative when the encounter occurs. Goblins would likely use stealth to roll if they are trying to hide. The goblins would also use their stealth roll vs. the PC's perception DC (not their perception roll for initiative). If a goblin wins initiative and beats a PC's perception DC, he is hidden to that character (and the PC would be flatfooted to him). The PC could use a Seek action to try and find that hidden goblin. If a goblin wins initiative but fails to be beat a PC's perception DC, the goblin goes first but isn't hidden to that character.

I don't think it's that hard once you understand it, but it isn't presented in a simple-to-understand way in the CRB and the information to put it all together is scattered in several sections. Could have been written more clearly and examples (such as this scenario) would have been useful.


Thanks both for the replies.

rainzax wrote:

Exploration Mode

(CRB 479)

The party travels at half speed:
PC's that declare Defending as their Exploration Activity start combat with their shield Ready
PC's that declare Investigate as their Exploration Activity may identify a clue to warn of ambush
PC's that declare Search as their Exploration Activity may spot any hazards the kobolds set
PC's that declare Scouting as their Exploration Activity grant their party +1 to initiative rolls

The party travels at full speed:
If the PCs have no reason to suspect foul play on their travels, they may instead travel at full speed

...

If I was DMing, I would do two things. The first, give them a time constraint, incentivizing them to travel at their full speed to their destination. The second, drop some kind of clue that their may be kobolds wanting to ambush them, incentivizing them to travel at half speed (but cautiously) to their destination.

Thus, whichever their choice, it has meaning (either arriving early, or being prepared for the ambush)

So if they arent seeking then there is no chance to spot the kobolds?

Technotrooper: that would seem an intuitive way to handle it, although I thought less rolling was meant to happen with the skills as initiative mechanic. Can you direct me to the pages that support your understanding? :)


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

Technotroper's version is what was discussed on ArcaneMark's stream this weekend, IIRC.

Its still only one set of rolls for initiative.
Golbins Stealth
Parties Perception.

But also compare the Goblin's stealth (same roll as initiative) to the partiy member's perception DC. to determine which party members can see goblins.


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I pieced this understanding together after reading all the material in the CRB on stealth, hidden, visible, perception, initiative, etc. This info is scattered everywhere. What finally put things into place for me was the PF2 designers explaining how this works during the Paizo Friday Q&A stream on Twitch. They discussed a similar scenario (sorry I don't have the time codes). What is important to remember is that rolling stealth for initiative and comparing this stealth roll against perception DCs are two different things. One is to see who acts first and the other is to see who can see whom when the action begins.

The only exploration activity that seems to affect this type of scenario is scouting. If someone in the party is scouting, all PCs get a +1 to their initiative roll--which could definitely help in an ambush situation. It's actually a fairly simple and elegant system; it's just not explained very clearly in the CRB.


Alright. I'm going to need a bit more help understanding this then.

So an encounter happens when tracking time on a slow scale is important. Initiative is rolled when it's important know what order people act and when someone decides to act.

If the PCs dick about at the front of the cave the kobolds wont act. Being kobolds they have a scheme in place to give them a tactical advantage when the PCs move to a particular spot. So the PCs coild spend 10 minutes not moving forward (why would they do this? God only knows. I've seen it happen enough time though) and the kobolds will simply wait for them.

I'm trying to work out what chance the PCs get to spot the kobolds. I could roll a stealth check vs perception DC at that point the PC might be smart and suggest the group leave the cave for a moment. They then discuss tactics before reentering the cave (the kobolds also being smart send one of their party to go alert others in the cave to put the kobolds on alert of intruders).

But in that scenario I would then need to roll stealth a second time once initiative is rolled. Is that right? If so it seems like we're rolling stealth twice (once to determine whether they're hidden and once for initiative order).

Now 99% of groups might spot the kobold and attack. But I seem to have a knack for GMing that 1% so I'd like to understand the what the rules suggest I do in that scenario.


When two potentially hostile groups encounter each other and one side is hidden, you roll stealth vs. perception DC to see who can see whom (particularly on the unaware side because those waiting in ambush can see everyone on the other side unless they are also trying to use stealth). You also use this same roll for initiative for those who are trying to use stealth to hide (so you are only rolling once).

If the goblins decide to hold back in hiding and wait until the (unaware) PC group reaches a certain spot, they are essentially repeatedly taking the Ready action. If the unaware group turns around and leaves before reaching that spot (not because they noticed the ambushers) and comes back later on (and the goblins are still waiting in hiding), it would be another (new) initiative roll and stealth vs. perception DC check (use the same stealth roll for both) because it is essentially a new battle. I hope this makes sense. This seems like a really rare and unlikely case.


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Fair enough. That does make sense. A but strange/annoying to have to write down the stealth but as you said it's an unusual case.

For a more common case: group is hiding in ambush. They decide to leap out and attack the players and everyone rolls initiative. Player's perception DC are: PlayerA 18, PlayerB 18, PlayerC 14, PlayerD 12. Goblins roll a 15 so they are spotted by 2 people and hidden by 2.

The dice arent on the players side though. Initiative is as follows:
PlayerD 19 (rolled a 17)
PlayerC 18 (rolled a 14)
Kobolds 15
PlayerB 12 (rolled a 4)
PlayerA 9 (rolled a 1)

If it is perception DC which determines who is aware then PlayerD and PlayerC not only have no reason to suspect danger, they dont even know combat has initiated in game.

I thought it was meant to be in terms of ambushes that initiative roll = stealth or perception and whoever beats the enemies stealth gets to spot them and whoever lost didnt spot them.

Are you sure this is really how initiative in PF2e is meant to operate? It's got the worst elements of PF1e yet again. Did the video cover that part of the rules?


See the "Point Out" action (p. 472) for rules on how those who are aware of an ambush (undetected creatures) can help those who are not yet aware to become aware. Once a battle is joined, it won't take the unaware PCs very long to figure out the party has been ambushed (although they still may not know where the hidden attackers are located). The party members may need to use Point Out and/or Seek actions to help everyone understand where the attack is coming from.

The thing you have to remember about PF2 is that there are no "contested skill rolls," which is what you seem to be describing. That concept no longer exists at all. Everything is a skill roll vs. a static DC. This is a big change from PF1. For those in that older mindset, it makes understanding the new rules more challenging.

I am fairly certain I have these rules right, but I am open to correction if someone has a better understanding. Just trying to be helpful.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
John Lynch 106 wrote:

Fair enough. That does make sense. A but strange/annoying to have to write down the stealth but as you said it's an unusual case.

For a more common case: group is hiding in ambush. They decide to leap out and attack the players and everyone rolls initiative. Player's perception DC are: PlayerA 18, PlayerB 18, PlayerC 14, PlayerD 12. Goblins roll a 15 so they are spotted by 2 people and hidden by 2.

The dice arent on the players side though. Initiative is as follows:
PlayerD 19 (rolled a 17)
PlayerC 18 (rolled a 14)
Kobolds 15
PlayerB 12 (rolled a 4)
PlayerA 9 (rolled a 1)

If it is perception DC which determines who is aware then PlayerD and PlayerC not only have no reason to suspect danger, they dont even know combat has initiated in game.

I thought it was meant to be in terms of ambushes that initiative roll = stealth or perception and whoever beats the enemies stealth gets to spot them and whoever lost didnt spot them.

Are you sure this is really how initiative in PF2e is meant to operate? It's got the worst elements of PF1e yet again. Did the video cover that part of the rules?

My impression is that rolling initiative is also simultaneously the roll to notice ambushers. So anyone whose Perception-based initiative is higher than the Stealth-based initiative of the kobolds sees the kobolds.

This kinda makes intuitive sense on account of surprise rounds not being a thing.


@MaxAstro: That is what I thought and is the only reason I've been happy with skills as initiative bonus. But then how do you determine if the players spot the enemy without initiative?

@Texhnitrooper: Point out only works on their turn. So it doesnt help with round 1 of combat.


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The roll is the same, but it's not a stealth vs. perception "contested roll." It's stealth vs. a static perception DC for each PC.


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@techno

imagine everyone in the party has a perception DC of 14

the kobolds roll 15 for stealth, and the party all rolls 16 or above.

it's pretty strange. the party goes first but are completely unaware they're in combat even though they just rolled initiative.


Bandw2 wrote:

@techno

imagine everyone in the party has a perception DC of 14

the kobolds roll 15 for stealth, and the party all rolls 16 or above.

it's pretty strange. the party goes first but are completely unaware they're in combat even though they just rolled initiative.

Agreed, although it is a somewhat unlikely scenario. It means the PCs "act" first (do their current exploration activity first) but, because they are unaware of the hidden enemy, they can't act on that knowledge. That's my understanding of how the rules work whether that seems strange or not.

Most people seem to want to make this some kind of contested roll and that concept has been completely removed from the game, for better or worse. For those who don't believe me, show me any contested skill rolls in the CRB. I don't have a problem with people house ruling this if they don't like the RAW.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Bandw2 wrote:

@techno

imagine everyone in the party has a perception DC of 14

the kobolds roll 15 for stealth, and the party all rolls 16 or above.

it's pretty strange. the party goes first but are completely unaware they're in combat even though they just rolled initiative.

So here's how it works, to the best of my knowledge:

If the kobolds beat the party's passive Perception, the party is unaware of them... until the kobolds try to enter combat.

As soon as the kobolds declare initiative, the party rolls initiative as well. At that point, anyone whose initiative beats the kobolds initiative spots them.

This does mean that to successfully ambush someone, you potentially need to beat them twice - once against their passive Perception and once against their Initiative check. But that makes sense because you are in a way getting two different benefits: By beating their passive Perception you gain the benefit of "unnoticed in Exploration mode". Then you need to beat their initiative to gain the separate benefit of "unnoticed in Encounter mode".

EDIT: I am incorrect; see below.


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In Exploration Mode, the Kobolds are attempting the avoid notice action. When the encounter starts (GMs discretion), kobolds roll Stealth for initiative - that roll determines both their initiative (result) and their degree of stealth (result vs. PCs perception DC regardless of initiative result). See page 479 under Avoid Notice.

This can lead to all kind of various results. It’s possible the Kobolds bomb the stealth roll but actually win initiative, in which case they attack first but their target isn’t flat foot (unless they have the Rogue class ability). They could best the perception DC but a PC could absolutely school then on an initiative roll - it’s the PCs turn, but the Kobolds are still hidden and undetected, so that PC would need to take a Seek action to pinpoint his ambushers, but based on his Perception roll he knows something is up.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Hm... On further research, Ligence is correct.

I believe that this situation would result in the kobolds being undetected, but not unnoticed. In other words, the PCs who won initiative know that something is out there, but not what or where it is. At the very least, the PCs would know that they are in encounter mode, since initiative is not a secret roll.


Liegence wrote:

In Exploration Mode, the Kobolds are attempting the avoid notice action. When the encounter starts (GMs discretion), kobolds roll Stealth for initiative - that roll determines both their initiative (result) and their degree of stealth (result vs. PCs perception DC regardless of initiative result). See page 479 under Avoid Notice.

This can lead to all kind of various results. It’s possible the Kobolds bomb the stealth roll but actually win initiative, in which case they attack first but their target isn’t flat foot (unless they have the Rogue class ability). They could best the perception DC but a PC could absolutely school then on an initiative roll - it’s the PCs turn, but the Kobolds are still hidden and undetected, so that PC would need to take a Seek action to pinpoint his ambushers, but based on his Perception roll he knows something is up.

This is generally correct based on my understanding. The only thing I question is, if the goblins are in hiding in a fixed position, it doesn't seem like Avoid Notice (which always seems to entail "traveling at half speed" according to p. 479). Avoiding Notice seems more like "hiding on the move" than "fixed ambush." If the goblins can see the PCs and are preparing to imminently jump them but the PCs can't yet see the goblins, I believe you are probably in Encounter Mode at that point.


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The rules don’t specify Avoid Notice is what a creature is doing when it ambushes, but it does expressly give the GM flexibility to interpret actions in Exploration Mode. That’s how I run it, absent any other rule in the book to the contrary.

How I do Complex Hazards, too, which btw is amazing. This is the best system to start a trap room I’ve ever seen in a tabletop RPG because it can have so many various starting triggers and by a single unified system.

Think of it like this - I put them into encounter mode to start the tension. I roll stealth and they see I beat their perception DC, but let’s say they win initiative. They know something is up, they can feel it, but what is it? Is it a monster? Or is it a trap? Is it behind us, or am I standing on it? Do you crouch defensively, or move forward to peek behind the corner? Or am I just f’n with them to get them to focus on a detailed role play moment, and what they perceived was just an echo down the hall?

That’s the good stuff.


Liegence wrote:

The rules don’t specify Avoid Notice is what a creature is doing when it ambushes, but it does expressly give the GM flexibility to interpret actions in Exploration Mode. That’s how I run it, absent any other rule in the book to the contrary.

How I do Complex Hazards, too, which btw is amazing. This is the best system to start a trap room I’ve ever seen in a tabletop RPG because it can have so many various starting triggers and by a single unified system.

It is a pretty amazing and flexible system. There is a lot more leeway for GMs to just make a call on how they are going to interpret/handle stuff like this at their table.


Liegence wrote:

In Exploration Mode, the Kobolds are attempting the avoid notice action. When the encounter starts (GMs discretion), kobolds roll Stealth for initiative - that roll determines both their initiative (result) and their degree of stealth (result vs. PCs perception DC regardless of initiative result). See page 479 under Avoid Notice.

This can lead to all kind of various results. It’s possible the Kobolds bomb the stealth roll but actually win initiative, in which case they attack first but their target isn’t flat foot (unless they have the Rogue class ability). They could best the perception DC but a PC could absolutely school then on an initiative roll - it’s the PCs turn, but the Kobolds are still hidden and undetected, so that PC would need to take a Seek action to pinpoint his ambushers, but based on his Perception roll he knows something is up.

Huh. So that answers a very common situation (you win initiative but have had no stimulus to cause you to roll initiative. What do you do?) by saying “your finely tuned senses tell you something isn’t write but you don’t know what. You should act accordingly.” Works fine from a game perspective I suppose. Seems a little goofy but people get bad feelings all the time IRL but they can’t articulate why.

Thanks everyone!

Technotrooper wrote:
This is generally correct based on my understanding. The only thing I question is, if the goblins are in hiding in a fixed position, it doesn't seem like Avoid Notice (which always seems to entail "traveling at half speed" according to p. 479). Avoiding Notice seems more like "hiding on the move" than "fixed ambush." If the goblins can see the PCs and are preparing to imminently jump them but the PCs can't yet see the goblins, I believe you are probably in Encounter Mode at that point.
Quote:

Page 500

If a savvy enemy waits for a particularly vulnerable character to take watch before attacking, the attack can happen on that character’s watch automatically. However, you might have the ambusher attempt a Stealth check against the Perception DCs of all characters to see if anyone noticed its approach.

This quote seems to speak more directly to my proposed situation. Without watching that video (and I’ll have to in a couple of days to see what the devs think), the above quote suggests that because the enemy is waiting in hiding for a trigger, he has to roll stealth against perception DC and that’s a penalty for waiting for the perfect moment to attack. With what Ligien said he would then use that roll for initiative.


Good discussion. I don't believe the "I have a bad feeling" is RAW (at least I couldn't find anything in the CRB along these lines), but I do think it is a cool and valid way to approach this situation.


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For avoiding notice on the move versus ambush, there is this action:

Quote:

TAKE COVER [one-action]

Requirements You are benefiting from cover, are near a feature that allows you to take cover, or are prone.

You press yourself against a wall or duck behind an obstacle to take better advantage of cover (page 477). If you would have standard cover, you instead gain greater cover, which provides a +4 circumstance bonus to AC; to Reflex saves against area effects; and to Stealth checks to Hide, Sneak, or otherwise avoid detection. Otherwise, you gain the benefits of standard cover (a +2 circumstance bonus instead). This lasts until you move from your current space, use an attack action, become unconscious, or end this effect as a free action.

I think it’s fair to say Wait in Ambush is an exploration activity which grants a +2 or +4 circumstance bonus to stealth rolls. This is available to both PCs and NPCs and means using your terrain creatively gives you substantial bonuses which I think is a good thing to encourage in my games (others may disagree for their games).


Up to GM on what the trigger is, but rainzax above has a lot of good suggestions on possible triggers based on what exploration activity is being undertaken.


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John Lynch 106 wrote:
For avoiding notice on the move versus ambush, there is this action:
Quote:

TAKE COVER [one-action]

Requirements You are benefiting from cover, are near a feature that allows you to take cover, or are prone.

You press yourself against a wall or duck behind an obstacle to take better advantage of cover (page 477). If you would have standard cover, you instead gain greater cover, which provides a +4 circumstance bonus to AC; to Reflex saves against area effects; and to Stealth checks to Hide, Sneak, or otherwise avoid detection. Otherwise, you gain the benefits of standard cover (a +2 circumstance bonus instead). This lasts until you move from your current space, use an attack action, become unconscious, or end this effect as a free action.

I think it’s fair to say Wait in Ambush is an exploration activity which grants a +2 or +4 circumstance bonus to stealth rolls. This is available to both PCs and NPCs and means using your terrain creatively gives you substantial bonuses which I think is a good thing to encourage in my games (others may disagree for their games).

Good idea. I think there should be a difference when you are not moving and have taken up excellent cover/position.


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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


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How does it work if the party is sneaking ?

As far as I understand, encounter mode starts, everyone use Stealth as initiative, no one knows why they are in combat mode...


It would take unique geography to walk past without deliberately hiding from each other and still without seeing each other.


It require both group to use the "avoid notice" activity, nothing more. eg a group of kobolds sets an ambush while the whole party is sneaking around.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Goblin group (let's say 1 goblin comamndo and 3 goblin warriors) are in ambush, the PC's are trying to sneak in the cavern.

Goblin's roll Stealth as Initiative, PC's roll Stealth as initiative, both sides compare their stealth rolls against the other sides perception DCs to determine level of detection.

(I'm making up some numbers below:)

The commando rolls Stealth 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (15) + 6 = 21 the Perception DC is 15.
The warrior goblins Stealth is 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (12) + 5 = 17, Perception DC is 12.

The rogue 1 rolls Stealth 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (19) + 7 = 26 Perception DC is 17.
The cleric rolls Stealth 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 2 = 14 Perception DC is 14.
The fighter rolls Stealth 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 1 = 9 Perception DC is 16.
the wizard rolls Stealth 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (12) + 3 = 15 Perception DC is 13.

So Initiative is:

Rogue (26) - unnoticed by the goblins, and he has a sense of danger/hears a goblin moving to strike/... that triggered the initiative.
Goblin Commando (21) - unnoticed by the PC's, but he only makes out the Wizard, Cleirc and Fighter.
Goblin warriors (17) - undetected by the PC's, they only make out the Fighter.
Wizard (15) - is hidden against the warriors, observed from the commando, and thinks something is about to happen.
Cleric (14) - is hidden against the warriors, observed from the commando, and thinks something is about to happen.
Fighter (9) - is observed by all goblins, and smells some goblins in the cavern.

As for, who is where on the battlemap: I'd put up the map and as GM indicate an area the Wizard, Cleric and Fighter should position themself (depending on the size, I'd give them a 2 by 3, or in larger caves 4 by 6 area). The Rogue can put his mini pretty much anywhere.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber

It took me forever and 4 game sessions to figure this out on my own but Liegence has it correct.

The part I had the hardest part coming to terms with is when a character says they are Avoiding Notice there is no real reason to roll the dice until you enter encounter mode and something triggers. You accept that they are sneaking and wait for initiative to find out how well, which makes perfect sense.

It is much more elegant and simple than it appears as the rules on this are scattered throughout the book.


Gaterie wrote:

It require both group to use the "avoid notice" activity, nothing more.

If you were to apply the game rules without any consideration for the in game fiction you would be right. Fortunately the CRB makes it clear you aren’t meant to do that but you are of course entitled to run your game any way you want.


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Franz Lunzer wrote:

Goblin group (let's say 1 goblin comamndo and 3 goblin warriors) are in ambush, the PC's are trying to sneak in the cavern.

Goblin's roll Stealth as Initiative, PC's roll Stealth as initiative, both sides compare their stealth rolls against the other sides perception DCs to determine level of detection.

(I'm making up some numbers below:)

The commando rolls Stealth 1d20+6 the Perception DC is 15.
The warrior goblins Stealth is 1d20+5, Perception DC is 12.

The rogue 1 rolls Stealth 1d20+7 Perception DC is 17.
The cleric rolls Stealth 1d20+2 Perception DC is 14.
The fighter rolls Stealth 1d20+1 Perception DC is 16.
the wizard rolls Stealth 1d20+3 Perception DC is 13.

So Initiative is:

Rogue (26) - unnoticed by the goblins, and he has a sense of danger/hears a goblin moving to strike/... that triggered the initiative.
Goblin Commando (21) - unnoticed by the PC's, but he only makes out the Wizard, Cleirc and Fighter.
Goblin warriors (17) - undetected by the PC's, they only make out the Fighter.
Wizard (15) - is hidden against the warriors, observed from the commando, and thinks something is about to happen.
Cleric (14) - is hidden against the warriors, observed from the commando, and thinks something is about to happen.
Fighter (9) - is observed by all goblins, and smells some goblins in the cavern.

As for, who is where on the battlemap: I'd put up the map and as GM indicate an area the Wizard, Cleric and Fighter should position themself (depending on the size, I'd give them a 2 by 3, or in larger caves 4 by 6 area). The Rogue can put his mini pretty much anywhere.

Your numbers are off; this party isn't fitted to sneak around and shouldn't even try. The fighter and the cleric would have a better initiative doing nothing... A sneaking party should have at least (Level + 2 + Dex) in Stealth, either because everyone is trained, either because the rogue is expert (and they follow the expert).

Anyway, you don't answer my question: what if nobody detects anybody? Combat start, no one can see anyone, everyone knows there are enemies thanks to spider-senses?

And how do you decide where the kobolds start on the battlemap? How do you decide the distance between the kobolds and the party?

It's really strange to assume every creature has a foolproof spider-sense that automatically detects other creatures but doesn't work on other hazards. And it defeats any infiltration mission before it starts: at the moment someone starts an infiltration, every guard knows there's an enemy nearby.


Gaterie are you deliberately trying to implement every rule in the worst way possible? Or are you honestly this confused about how to GM a game?


John Lynch 106 wrote:
Gaterie wrote:

It require both group to use the "avoid notice" activity, nothing more.

If you were to apply the game rules without any consideration for the in game fiction you would be right. Fortunately the CRB makes it clear you aren’t meant to do that but you are of course entitled to run your game any way you want.

Wait; what?

How is a sneaking party "against the game fiction"? There's an exploration activity designed to allow a sneaking party, how can this be against the game's fiction?...

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber

On the subject of other hidden stuff, as far as I can tell the party only gets a chance to detect hidden traps and loot if they are actively searching or have trapfinding. So usually only one or two party members get a secret check. Not sure if I am doing this right.


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John Lynch 106 wrote:
Gaterie are you deliberately trying to implement every rule in the worst way possible? Or are you honestly this confused about how to GM a game?

I'm honestly confused about how to play a sneaking party. In PF1 I've played in such party, and it required every character to have ranks in stealth; in pf2 it doesn't require that so it should become more common, but I have no idea how it works - especially against hidden hazards or creatures.

Edit: in this thread, there are 20 confusing/confused posts before Liegence gives an understandable explanation - his explanation involves foolproof spider-sense, but at least it is understandable. 20 confusing/confused posts for something as simple as "some kobolds set an ambush". And now you're insinuating I deliberately misinterpret the rules?

Have you considered one instant the possibility that maybe, only maybe, people are confused because the rules are confusing?


Gaterie wrote:
I'm honestly confused about how to play a sneaking party.

Well maybe instead of just dismissing what someone says and confidently saying "all you need to do X is this mechanic, no more and no less" you could instead ask the person "what do you mean by your comment. It looks like all that has to be done is X, I'm confused by what you mean and how to correctly apply this rule."

Gaterie wrote:
Have you considered one instant the possibility that maybe, only maybe, people are confused because the rules are confusing?

I did consider it but you kept rudely responding to everything I've said. So would you like some help from me? Because if not I have plenty of better things I can be doing with my time.


The ShadowShackleton wrote:
On the subject of other hidden stuff, as far as I can tell the party only gets a chance to detect hidden traps and loot if they are actively searching or have trapfinding. So usually only one or two party members get a secret check. Not sure if I am doing this right.

Yes, in pf2 we can't search for traps while being sneaky. Whatever. In pf1 we often used the frontline barbarian as our trap spotter, I guess we'll do that in pf2. Still, I have no idea how it works when hidden creatures encounter hidden creatures.


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So, I don't think you enter initiative without stimulus. You can enter combat without knowing where your enemies are. If your Perception for initiative is higher than all the enemies, but they managed to stay hidden, you notice a twig crack or some rocks tumble. Enough to recognize a threat is nearby, but not enough to know where, precisely.


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RexAliquid wrote:
So, I don't think you enter initiative without stimulus. You can enter combat without knowing where your enemies are. If your Perception for initiative is higher than all the enemies, but they managed to stay hidden, you notice a twig crack or some rocks tumble. Enough to recognize a threat is nearby, but not enough to know where, precisely.

Right, has no one seen a Vietnam movie?


Gaterie wrote:
The ShadowShackleton wrote:
On the subject of other hidden stuff, as far as I can tell the party only gets a chance to detect hidden traps and loot if they are actively searching or have trapfinding. So usually only one or two party members get a secret check. Not sure if I am doing this right.
Yes, in pf2 we can't search for traps while being sneaky. Whatever. In pf1 we often used the frontline barbarian as our trap spotter, I guess we'll do that in pf2. Still, I have no idea how it works when hidden creatures encounter hidden creatures.

There are abilities that allow Rogues (maybe more?) to Stealth & do whatever they want. Also Trapfinder lets them attempt to detect traps while doing something else.

I think if somebody want to move extra slow, 1/4?, then I could see them incrementally sneaking 5', searching next 5', and so on. But then I often use time constraints.

I was about to pose the same question re: two groups using Stealth.
The person going first (w/ highest Stealth) may not even know there are enemies present, so they don't actually go? Or they keep Stealthing forward, feeling odd that their comrades aren't keeping pace? (Due to shift from Exploration to Encounter.)
There might be no Perc rolls for initiative, so you'd have a mess of secondary rolls for Perc., with you comparing each roll to each person's stealth.
Luckily, I don't foresee this happening much.
Unfortunately, I do have a Drow PC campaign mapped out where it might become normal. :O

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Easy: if both parties are so sneaky that they don't observe each other, there is no encounter.

Why roll Stealth at all, if the parties sneak past each other? To determine IF they sneak past each other. Someone could roll a 1.

Where do the Goblins start/how much of a distance? The Goblins set the ambush, they trigger the ambush when the PC's are in optimal range.
Unless the PC's spot the Goblins... or other edge cases, I won't start discussing.


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Couple of notes to remember:

1) GM decides when an encounter is triggered. If there’s not going to be an encounter because the stealthed creature isn’t going to act and the party isn’t looking, then he’s unnoticed and call for the encounter when it’s time
2) the quirks of a Pc winning initiative but all creatures passing the perception DC is going to be fairly uncommon. The most likely result is either one of the monsters fails the Stealth check and is immediately detected at the first players initiative, or no monster is detected and that’s because all the rolls were so high that it’s likely they’ll go first. All monsters beating the stealth check but losing initiative is going to be pretty rare
3) initiative is a perception check, and thus the PC winning the initiative against monsters that pass stealth and remain hidden and undetected is still going to react to some stimulus. Up to the Gm what that is - maybe the branches rustling (by the kobolds in the bushes), a small tumbling of pebbles from the rock outcropping to the right (by a bandit readying to spring forth), the sound of a bowstring drawn (by the hobgoblin around the corner) a drop of clear liquid hitting the cavern floor (by the Lurker waiting above). Personally I would always include an indication of where the noticed creature or trap was so they at least have somewhere to Seek, or take cover from

Have fun, be creative, tell a story


Gaterie wrote:
The ShadowShackleton wrote:
On the subject of other hidden stuff, as far as I can tell the party only gets a chance to detect hidden traps and loot if they are actively searching or have trapfinding. So usually only one or two party members get a secret check. Not sure if I am doing this right.
Yes, in pf2 we can't search for traps while being sneaky. Whatever. In pf1 we often used the frontline barbarian as our trap spotter, I guess we'll do that in pf2. Still, I have no idea how it works when hidden creatures encounter hidden creatures.

There is nuance to this. If the trap can be found untrained the rules say you need not be searching to find it. Rogues get a feat that allows them to find traps even if they are not searching so long as they meet the required proficiency to find. Some magic traps might get picked up on detect magic while the PC is sustaining (and not searching). Even if searching if you don’t meet the proficiency requirement you won’t find it regardless of how high you roll.

Love the trap system it’s a massive improvement to any other system I’ve played with.

Exo-Guardians

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The other thing to remember is that any check can be a Secret roll, at the GM's discretion. In the case of an ambush, the GM can secretly roll initiative for everyone (without telling the players he's doing so), and figure out who sees whom before the players even know they're in an Encounter.

If you have players who are good at avoiding metagaming, that's not necessary... but for certain types of players, it will be.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber

So if both parties are rolling Stealth for initiative I would tend to compare that to the opposing perception DCs. If neither party spots the other, based on the circumstances I would:

- have them pass each other unnoticed (if for example they were both sneaking through a forest

OR

- enter encounter mode with some noise or other indicator something is wrong. At that point if anyone moves they have to make a stealth roll every round. They are bound to fail eventually, and almost certainly before round one is over.


Franz Lunzer wrote:

Easy: if both parties are so sneaky that they don't observe each other, there is no encounter.

Why roll Stealth at all, if the parties sneak past each other? To determine IF they sneak past each other. Someone could roll a 1.

OK, so I guess you roll Stealth, and if someone fail it becomes the initiative roll.

Quote:

Where do the Goblins start/how much of a distance? The Goblins set the ambush, they trigger the ambush when the PC's are in optimal range.

Unless the PC's spot the Goblins... or other edge cases, I won't start discussing.

Except the roll to spot the goblins is the initiative roll. You don't know if the PCs spot the goblins until you roll initiative.

Actually, what I want to know is : how can the PCs avoid the ambush script? Right now, as I understand the rules, the only way to avoid the script is to be sneaky - and to negate the whole encounter. There's no way to spot the ambush beforehand; if the party is looking around, they make their perception check when the script begins - and the perception check is the initiative check. There's no way to have a scout explore the area and find the ambushers before he's spotted - I have no idea what the "scout" exploration tactic is about, but obviously it's not about scouting. Moreover, even if there was a way to scout, at the moment the scout spot an ambusher, combat start, the spider-sense of the ambushers activates and they start searching the area to seek and destroy the lone scout. Scouting would be a suicide in pf2.

So, apart from stealth, is their a way to avoid the ambush script ?

The ShadowShackleton wrote:

So if both parties are rolling Stealth for initiative I would tend to compare that to the opposing perception DCs. If neither party spots the other, based on the circumstances I would:

- have them pass each other unnoticed (if for example they were both sneaking through a forest

OR

- enter encounter mode with some noise or other indicator something is wrong. At that point if anyone moves they have to make a stealth roll every round. They are bound to fail eventually, and almost certainly before round one is over.

oh please. So even when the PCs use the only tactics allowing them to avoid a script and they succeed every roll, you can still randomly activate the script.

Is there a way to avoid a script in pf2? If I wanted to play a scripted game, I'd play a video game instead of a ttrpg.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Gaterie wrote:

Actually, what I want to know is : how can the PCs avoid the ambush script? Right now, as I understand the rules, the only way to avoid the script is to be sneaky - and to negate the whole encounter. There's no way to spot the ambush beforehand; if the party is looking around, they make their perception check when the script begins - and the perception check is the initiative check. There's no way to have a scout explore the area and find the ambushers before he's spotted - I have no idea what the "scout" exploration tactic is about, but obviously it's not about scouting. Moreover, even if there was a way to scout, at the moment the scout spot an ambusher, combat start, the spider-sense of the ambushers activates and they start searching the area to seek and destroy the lone scout. Scouting would be a suicide in pf2.

So, apart from stealth, is their a way to avoid the ambush script ?

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

My solution as GM is clearly not within the rules, so I'm going to spoiler it:

Spoiler:
Pathfinder 1 had a distance penalty on perception rolls: +1 / 10ft. distance, applied to the DC. I would port that over to PF2 and apply it to the Stealth vs. Perception DC to determine a distance.
Now to spot the ambushers, your perception DC has to be higher than the Stealth check of the ambushers, the difference tells you, how far away you notice the ambushers. So it only really works against badly hidden ambushers, as should be the case.

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.

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.

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