How Not to Be Seen


Your typical stealthy PC thinks that hiding every round in every terrain is viable. Meanwhile, your average GM is sitting there like, “No, you can’t hide behind the halfling.” In scenarios where there isn't clearly marked terrain, how do you decide if there's enough cover to hide behind? The question goes double for groups that play without a battle map in theater of the mind style.

Comic for illustrative purposes.

Scarab Sages

Generally with rules like this, PFS or otherwise, things like that get left up to the GM. Hiding behind party members is one thing Ive never seen allowed (other than my kitsune who had turned into a normal fox), but hiding behind crates, trees, rocks, etc. is usually left to the GMs decision. Now, specifically for unmarked or unclearly marked terrain, it really all depends on where it is the PCs are. If you're in a marketplace, then there's always something to hide behind. In a forest, there's trees and rocks and the like. But in a house or bar or something similar, it usually goes to the GM to decide.

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Remember to not pick the lonely bush as your hiding place. Also do not stand up just because someone asks you to.

The only way I've found to really resolve the argument is Hide in Plain Sight + Dampen Presence.

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WagnerSika wrote:
Remember to not pick the lonely bush as your hiding place. Also do not stand up just because someone asks you to.

For anyone who wants to see that one again.

Volkard Abendroth wrote:

The only way I've found to really resolve the argument is Hide in Plain Sight + Dampen Presence.

And that's the problem. Hide in plain sight or hellcat stealth solve the issue, but not everyone has those abilities. What's a first-level rogue to do?

A first level character is not supposed to always be successful in what they try. The first level fighter does not always hit, the first level mages spells are extremely limited. So expecting a first level rouge to always be able to hide is unrealistic.

Once you get some gold you can purchase magic items to boost your chance. A potion of vanish is only 50 gold. It may not last long but should be enough for you to find some cover. Once you get more gold a wand invisibility work pretty well.

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I don't have access to the books or the SRD at the moment, but I believe there's a rule about hiding using a crowd; a 5' square with people your Size or larger is considered Concealment or Cover, I forget which.

As far as hiding in every terrain:

1. Bring a Smokestick - instant Concealment in 2 squares
2. Expeditious Construction/Excavation - dive in a pit or behind a low wall for cover
3. Distractions (situational; check with your GM) - using a Thunderstone or Prestidigitation to cause momentary action diverts attention from where you are
4. Sack of flour/chalk dust (situational; check with your GM) - a cheaper alternative to the Smokestick

These are some cheap alternative ways to generate Concealment or Cover that a level 1 party should be able to pull off, regardless of build (granted that they possess an Arcane spellcaster who has the appropriate spell or spells).

Of course there are other environmental conditions that can work to the advantage of both sides. Size is a factor; if you're Small or smaller and you're in an area with irregular dungeon walls such as natural caves or rough-hewn dungeon environments, you might be able to duck behind a rock outcrop that larger folks can't use. Lighting can be a factor, though most foes have either Low Light Vision or Darkvision but still it can be. Also don't forget the Scent ability and prevailing winds.

Is it raining? Are there piles of leaves or bones? Is there a ditch nearby? Mist or smoke from a fire? All of these can be advantageous or not, depending on the Stealth users goal.

Or, just bag all of this and make your Stealth user a level 1 arcane spellcaster with Vanish and call it a day.

d20pfsrd's stealth skill has a section on using creatures to hide. The penalties are huge and it only works if the creatures are unaware of the PC. So no using another player for multiple sneak attacks.

Liberty's Edge

High Dex (Usually starting with 17 with Point Buy)

1st level - Feats Stealthy and Skill Focus {stealth}

this gives a first level Rogue a Stealth of +12

further down the road, Rogue Talents should be Fast Stealth, Minor Magic [Ghost Sound] (Great for Distractions), and Major Magic (Vanish) Great for Well Vanishing in a hurry.

Doable in pretty short order level wise, by level five if you sacrifice a feat to get a rogue talent early. Level six if you don't

DRD1812 wrote:
What's a first-level rogue to do?

Be an Elf and an Eldritch Scoundrel, cast Blend?

Grand Lodge

Where I play, there's often the need to have good resilience if the player doesn't want to see the character being a valuable target. Will saves, hit points, AC, etc. otherwise, not displaying rogue features at times can paradoxically help too.

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