Stealth

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Description

Ability Score Used: Dexterity
Usable Untrained? Yes
Armor Check Penalty Applies? Yes

You are skilled at avoiding detection, allowing you to slip past foes or strike from an unseen position. This skill covers hiding and moving silently. Characters which are skilled at stealth can use a combination of careful movement, nearby shadows, and clever timing to evade all of the senses of their enemies.

Stealth and Invisibility

Stealth is the act of moving silently and hiding in shadows, and invisibility is very complimentary to its effectiveness. While invisible, you gain a +4 bonus on stealth checks if you are immobile, or a +2 bonus on stealth checks if you are moving. Invisibility also provides the total concealment necessary for initiating stealth, but does NOT automatically grant successful stealth. An invisible ogre in plate mail is still going to be audible (making him easy to find with a hearing-based Perception check, or an active Spot check with a visual sense) unless he initiates a stealth stance and rolls a stealth check.
Invisible creatures who have not initiated a stealth stance can have their squares targeted simply by rolling an Average DC Perception check against the creature's CR, and those who succeed will know what square the invisible creature is in. Of course, invisibility provides total concealment, which grants a 50% miss chance. By contrast, had our invisible creature initiated a stealth stance and made a stealth roll, enemies could only target the creature's square if they beat its stealth roll with an active perception check (Spot check), or by making a perception check using a non-visual sense (such as hearing.
Creatures with Blindsense, Tremorsense, Lifesense and other non-sight-based senses can ignore the bonuses provided by invisibility, and even gain a bonus to their perception rolls to see through stealth of +5. However, they do not automatically perceive a stealthed character. See Types of Senses for more details.

Stealth and Movement Types

Using any type of movement besides your Walk speed typically inflicts a penalty on your stealth check. Some movement types are so noisy, or produce such flashy visual effects, that their use ends your stealth stance altogether.
  • Lesser Climb, Greater Climb, Brachiating: If you have a climb speed (i.e. you can climb without making Movement checks), you do not suffer any penalties to stealth checks while climbing. However, if you must make Movement checks to climb, you must also make a new stealth check at a -5 penalty, in addition to any other penalties you might incur. (Note that the climb skill use also inflicts penalties for moving more than 1/4th your speed.)
  • Lesser Swim, Greater Swim, Jet: If you have a swim speed (i.e. you can swim without making Movement checks), you do not suffer any penalties to stealth checks while swimming. However, if you must make Movement checks to swim, you must also make a new stealth check at a -5 penalty, in addition to any other penalties you might incur. (Note that the swim skill use also inflicts penalties for swimming more than half your speed.)
  • Lesser Flight, Greater Flight, Hover: If you have a fly speed (i.e. you can fly without making Movement checks and have some means of flying that does not require the use of a command word or verbal spell component), you may or may not need to make a new stealth check at a penalty. If your flight is accomplished by the use of wings, you must make a new stealth check at a -5 penalty, in addition to any other penalties you might incur. Some modes of flying, such as a magic carpet, may not inflict any penalties to stealth checks.
  • Lesser Teleport, Greater Teleport: All teleportation abilities require you to make a new stealth check at a -10 penalty, as they are loud and flashy. Obviously, using any teleportation spell or item that requires a verbal component or command word will immediately break your stealth stance.
  • Burrowing, Tunneling, Earth Glide: Burrowing through stone breaks the stealth stance. Burrowing through earth inflicts a -10 penalty to your stealth roll in addition to any other penalties you may incur. Earth Glide does not inflict any penalties to stealth checks. Note that burrowing more than 5 feet below the surface in loose earth inflicts a -10 penalty to perception rolls made to detect you per full 5-foot square of loose earth between you and any observers. Conversely, if a creature has Tremorsense, it takes no perception penalties, and instead gains a +5 bonus to its Perception to detect burrowing creatures. Furthermore, you cannot initiate stealth against a creature with Tremorsense while on or under the ground within the radius its tremorsense, as you do not have total cover or total concealment from that creature.

Initiate Stealth

Stealth is a stance which you can enter either as part of a move action or using a swift action, and requiring a free action to sustain each round after the first. Like other stances, it can be disrupted by being knocked prone or subjected to a condition which reduces your available actions for the round, and it cannot be maintained continuously for more than 1 minute. In addition, the stealth stance carries several other restrictions which must be followed in order to sustain the stance (see 'Maintaining Stealth' below).

Upon entering the stance, the GM rolls a stealth check for you, adding your stealth skill to the result. This result is the target DC for any creature's perception roll to perceive you while you remain stealthed. Some GM's may elect to allow players to make this check themselves (though it can be difficult for players to ignore that 1 they just rolled).

To initiate the stealth stance, you must have either total cover or total concealment from each target you wish to be hidden from. You may initiate stealth as long as you have total cover or total concealment from at least one target. Anyone who can perceive you when you make your stealth check is unaffected by your stealth check, regardless of the result. As a result of this, some creatures are nearly immune to stealth (e.g. creatures with Lifesense, Tremorsense, etc. are very difficult to find cover/concealment against).

You cannot enter a stealth stance if you are carrying a visible light source or making noise louder than a whisper (which includes command words for items, or verbal components for spells).

Once initiated, creatures may make Passive Perception checks, with a DC equal to your stealth check result to attempt to see you, any time you perform an action which might draw their attention. Creatures may make a Spot check at any time to attempt to penetrate your stealth, regardless of whether you have done anything to suggest your presence.

Action Required:

Swift action, or as part of a move action.

DC of Check:

opposed by all observers' Perception checks (usually as Passive Perception, but sometimes as Spot checks).

Modifiers to Check
  • Size: Creatures gain a bonus or penalty on Stealth checks based on their size: Fine +4, Diminutive +3, Tiny +2, Small +1, Large -1, Huge -2, Gargantuan -3, Colossal -4, Titanic -5.
  • Standing Still: A creature that is not moving (not even a 5-foot step), but is taking other actions which don't break stealth (like drinking a potion), gains a +5 circumstance bonus on stealth checks.
  • Freeze In Place: A creature that stands stock-still, takes no actions other than to hold as still as possible to maximize their stealthiness, gains a +10 circumstance bonus on stealth checks.
  • Moving Fast: If you move at greater than half your speed, the DC is increased by +10.
  • Invisibility: If you are invisible, you gain a +4 circumstance bonus on Stealth checks if you are immobile (standing still or frozen in place), or a +2 circumstance bonus on Stealth checks if you're moving. Note that this bonus stacks with the bonus for standing still or freezing in place.
Take 10? / Take 20?

You can take 10 (outside of combat), but you cannot take 20.

Allows Assists?

No

Results of Success

You are able to hide from any of the creatures that failed their perceptions, and against whom you had total cover or total concealment when you initiated the stance.

Consequences of Failure

Creatures which equaled or exceeded your stealth check with their perception check, or who could see you when you initiated the stance are still able to see you.

Note that, only if all non-friendly creatures were able to equal or exceed your stealth check with their perception checks can the stealth attempt be considered a complete failure. Of course, on a die result of a natural 1, this is exactly the case.

Retry Allowed?

No. You believe you are hiding like a pro, and wouldn't dream of trying again.

Provokes AOO?

No (though moving may provoke, if an enemy creature threatening a space you are leaving can still see you)

Maintain Stealth

Once you have entered the Stealth stance and rolled your stealth check, you may sustain your stealth stance as a free action each round as long as you are not affected by a condition which terminates your stealth, and do not take any actions which break your stealth. Any time you perform an action which introduces (or removes) a penalty to your stealth check, you must make a new stealth check if you wish to remain stealthed.

You may move around unobserved as long as you sustain the stance and your stealth check continues to exceed at least one creature's perception checks. You can move up to half your normal speed each round and use Stealth at no penalty. If you move more than half your speed, up to (or including) your full speed, you take a -10 penalty. Running or charging breaks stealth.

Ending a move with no cover or concealment does not end your stealth stance. You are assumed to be staying low, keeping quiet, and moving cautiously, regardless of your lack of obvious cover.

As with all stances, stealth cannot be sustained continuously for more than 1 minute at a time. While you can restart it, you must wait until the following round after it ends to restart it, and you must spend a new swift action (or part of a move action) in a location with total cover or total concealment.

Action Required:

Free action each round

DC of Check:

opposed by all observers' Perception checks (usually as Passive Perception, but sometimes as Spot checks).

Modifiers to Check
  • Size: Creatures gain a bonus or penalty on Stealth checks based on their size: Fine +4, Diminutive +3, Tiny +2, Small +1, Large -1, Huge -2, Gargantuan -3, Colossal -4, Titanic -5.
  • Standing Still: A creature that is not moving (not even a 5-foot step), but is taking other actions which don't break stealth (like drinking a potion), gains a +5 circumstance bonus on stealth checks.
  • Freeze In Place: A creature that stands stock-still, takes no actions other than to hold as still as possible to maximize their stealthiness, gains a +10 circumstance bonus on stealth checks.
  • Moving Fast: If you move at greater than half your speed, the DC is increased by +10.
  • Invisibility: If you are invisible, you gain a +4 circumstance bonus on Stealth checks if you are immobile (standing still or frozen in place), or a +2 circumstance bonus on Stealth checks if you're moving. Note that this bonus stacks with the bonus for standing still or freezing in place.
Take 10? / Take 20?

You can take 10 (outside of combat), but you cannot take 20.

Allows Assists?

No

Results of Success

You are able to hide from any of the creatures that failed their perceptions, and against whom you had total cover or total concealment when you initiated the stance.

Consequences of Failure

Creatures which equaled or exceeded your stealth check with their perception check, or who could see you when you initiated the stance are still able to see you.

Note that, only if all non-friendly creatures were able to equal or exceed your stealth check with their perception checks can the stealth attempt be considered a complete failure. Of course, on a die result of a natural 1, this is exactly the case.

Retry Allowed?

No. You believe you are hiding like a pro, and wouldn't dream of trying again.

Provokes AOO?

No (though moving may provoke, if an enemy creature threatening a space you are leaving can still see you)

Breaking Stealth

Many actions break a stealth stance, either voluntarily or involuntarily. This is a list of the most common actions or events which break stealth, but it is by no means exhaustive.
  • Making an attack: Your stealth stance ends immediately after you take any action which includes an attack (except for Sniping), regardless of whether you hit or miss. You are considered stealthed until the resolution of the action which includes the attack, as long as your target did not perceive you before the attack. Attacks made from stealth are made against the target's flat-footed AC and allow the use of abilities requiring an unaware opponent, such as sneak attack.
  • Note: Stealth persists until the end of the action which includes an attack, not at the end of the attack's resolution. This means that a character with Spring Attack (Feat) can move, attack, and move away, before the stealth stance ends, since all of that is a single full attack action. Similarly, Cleave (Feat), which is a standard action that includes a normal attack and a bonus attack against an adjacent target, would have both of its attacks resolved before the stealth stance is broken.
  • Failing a Skill Check: The stealth stance ends if you attempt to make a Might, Movement or Acrobatics check and fail to meet any DC required for the skill check to succeed. This means that your stealth stance ends if you enter an enemy's space, unless you succeed on a Might check to Clamber into that space. Failing an acrobatics check to cross a narrow surface or move across uneven ground also breaks your stealth stance. Note, however, that moving through threatened squares (but not occupied squares) while sustaining a stealth stance does not require a Tumble (Acrobatics) check unless the creature can detect you somehow -- the creature doesn't threaten you if it can't perceive you.
  • Making Noise: Stealth immediately ends if you make any noise louder than a whisper, including uttering the verbal components of a spell or command words for an item.
  • Running or Charging: Running or charging breaks the stealth stance just before you start to perform the run or charge action.
  • Turning On a Light Source: Stealth immediately ends if you turn on, or reveal, a light source. Carrying an Invisible light source does not end stealth, although it may give creatures a strong reason to actively look for you.
  • Prone or Action-Reducing Condition: Being knocked prone, or suffering a condition which prevents you from taking actions (even a condition which only reduces the number of available actions, such as Rattled) causes the stance to end.
  • Timeout: As with all stances, stealth cannot be sustained continuously for more than 1 minute at a time. While you can restart it, you must wait until the following round after it ends to restart it, and you must spend a new swift action (or part of a move action) in a location with total cover or total concealment.
You cannot re-enter a stealth stance in the same round in which it was broken. That is, you cannot attack (breaking the stance), use a move action to acquire total cover/concealment and then use a swift action to initiate stealth on the same round; you must wait until the following round to re-enter your stealth stance. This same rule nearly always applies to monsters, even those which are naturally invisible such as the Will-o-Wisp. Such creatures, if they have the proper remaining actions to do so, could re-initiate invisibility, but not the stealth stance. They would have to wait until the following round to initiate the stealth stance.

Sniping

Sniping is a special action which allows you to make a single ranged attack without breaking your stealth stance. If you are in a stealth stance and are at least 10 feet from your target, you can use a full-round action to make one ranged attack and then immediately make a new stealth roll at a -10 penalty to sustain the stance. There are feats, weapon properties, and class abilities which can reduce this penalty.

You must have at least partial cover or concealment to attempt to snipe.

Action Required:

Full round action

DC of Check:

opposed by each non-friendly observer's Perception check. This is typically the creature's Passive Perception value, but can also be an active Spot check.

Modifiers to Check
  • Size: Creatures gain a bonus or penalty on Stealth checks based on their size: Fine +4, Diminutive +3, Tiny +2, Small +1, Large -1, Huge -2, Gargantuan -3, Colossal -4, Titanic -5.
  • Invisibility: If you are invisible, you gain a +4 circumstance bonus on Stealth checks if you are immobile (standing still or frozen in place), or a +2 circumstance bonus on Stealth checks if you're moving. Note that this bonus stacks with the bonus for standing still or freezing in place.
Take 10? / Take 20?

No

Allows Assists?

No

Results of Success

You make your attack and resume your stealth, with your enemies none-the-wiser.

Note that it is possible to only partially succeed on this check, where some, but not all, enemies can pierce your stealth check with their perceptions. In this case, you still make your attack, and resume your stealth against those creatures whose perceptions you were able to beat.

Consequences of Failure

You make your attack, but are unable to successfully maintain your stealth stance. You will require total cover or total concealment to re-initiate stealth (unless you have some ability which requires less).

Retry Allowed?

No

Provokes AOO?

Yes (but only if the enemy creature is aware of you)

Attacking a Stealthed Creature

If you know that a stealthed creature is in a particular square, you may attack him as though he has partial concealment (20% miss chance). However, in most cases, you don't know (in-game) which square a stealthed creature is in. Generally, GM's should just disallow attacks when the target's location is unknown. However, area attacks and wild swings may sometimes come up, and the GM should calculate where the target could possibly be, make a roll to see if the right square was chosen and then roll miss chance.
For example, a stealthy enemy is somewhere within an 80' x 80' room, and the insane gnome sorcerer wants to chuck a fireball at them, even though they don't have any real clue where the enemy is. Meta-game, the players can see a miniature on the board and know the enemy is in the northeast corner of the room. However, to simulate uncertainty, the GM could give the gnome a 25% chance to choose the right region of the room (since the fireball is a 40' diameter, and the room has roughly four 40' regions). Obviously, if the room were smaller, or the fireball bigger, the chance of guessing the correct region is improved. All of this is an attempt at ignoring the metagaming knowledge that the enemy is in a particular area, and instead simulate complete uncertainty. Generally speaking, the GM should announce how they're going to determine whether the attack had a valid target, but not reveal whether the check succeeded or not, since the players wouldn't know whether the fireball hit the enemy. If the enemy is later revealed, it may or may not look a bit charred.

Creating a Diversion to Hide

You can use the Bluff skill to create a diversion, allowing you to initiate a stealth stance without total cover or total concealment.