Stealth Playtest, Round Two

Courtesy of Paizo's Pathfinder Blog

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

In case you missed it, a few weeks ago the Pathfinder design team previewed some changes we were considering making to the Stealth skill. Like any design endeavor, game design benefits from iteration. After letting all of you playtest the rules and let us know what you thought of the first draft, we went back to the drawing board and made some changes based on that fantastic feedback.
In this round of playtesting, you'll find that we've cleared up some action issues. We have opened up the possibilities for using standard actions with the Stealth skill, as long as those standard actions do not attack creatures. In this way, the Stealth skill mirrors the rules found in the invisibility spell; at least as far as what actions you can attempt while you are hidden without automatically ending that condition.

Speaking of hidden, while we have kept the invisible condition, and have even strengthened the wording on that condition a bit, we have also created a lesser, connected condition called hidden. You gain the hidden condition when you benefit from Stealth, and you gain the invisible condition when you use a spell or effect that makes you visually undetectable, like the invisibility spell. Hidden is the base condition, and invisible is an upgrade of that condition.

Lastly, we have added some small language changes to explain how the hidden condition interacts with some universal monster rules dealing with senses—specifically blindsense, blindsight, scent, and tremorsense.
Just like the last round of playtesting, keep in mind that these changes are not yet official. While you are free to use them in your home game—and we would like you to do so—these changes are not yet ready for Pathfinder Society play. This time around we are going to give you two weeks to playtest and comment on these proposed changes, so tell us what you think sometime before October 3rd. We'll announce the final version in the Design Tuesday blog sometime after the playtest is completed, and make changes to the rules using the Pathfinder RPG FAQ system.


(Dex; Armor Check Penalty) 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.

Check: Your Stealth check is opposed by the Perception check of anyone who might notice you. Usually a Stealth check is made at the start of an action when you have some kind of cover (except for soft cover) or concealment. You cannot spend a free action to initiate Stealth, but if you spend a free action while under the effects of Stealth, you must make a new Stealth check to continue its effects. You can always spend a swift action to stay immobile and make a Stealth check. You can move up to half your speed and use Stealth at no penalty. When moving at a speed greater than half your speed and up to your normal speed, you take a –5 penalty on the Stealth check. It's usually impossible to use Stealth while taking an immediate action, a full-round action, or any action to make an attack, unless you are subject to greater invisibility or a similar effect, or you are sniping (see below). When you make your Stealth check, those creatures that didn't succeed at the opposed roll treat you as hidden until the start of your next action or until the end of your turn if you do not end your turn with cover or concealment. You are not hidden from creatures that are observing you (creatures that you didn't have cover or concealment from) or that succeed at the opposed check.
A creature larger or smaller than Medium takes a size bonus or penalty on Stealth checks depending on its size category: Fine +16, Diminutive +12, Tiny +8, Small +4, Large –4, Huge –8, Gargantuan –12, Colossal –16.

Attacking while Hidden: Usually, making an attack against a creature ends the hidden condition. For purposes of Stealth, an attack includes any spell targeting a foe or whose area or effect includes a foe. Actions directed at an unattended object do not end Stealth. Causing harm indirectly is not an attack. If during your last action you were hidden to a creature, you are still considered hidden when you make the first attack of that new action.

Other Perception Checks: If a creature makes a Perception check as a move action to notice a hidden creature, the DC of the Perception check is the hidden creature's last Stealth check. This is also the case if a creature makes a Perception check to notice a hidden creature because the perceiving creature is entering an area where it could possibly notice a hidden creature.

Sniping: If you already are hidden to a target and you are at least 10 feet away from that target, as a standard action, you can make one ranged attack against that target and immediately make an opposed Stealth check to stay hidden. You take a –20 penalty on your Stealth check when attempting to snipe.

Creating a Diversion to Hide: You can use Bluff to allow you to use Stealth. If you do not have cover or concealment, as a swift action, you can attempt a Bluff check opposed by the Sense Motive of opponents that can see you. If you are successful, you are considered to have concealment from those creatures (but you do not gain the percent miss chance from concealment) until the end of your next action, you make an attack (as defined in the Attacking while Hidden section, above), or the end of your turn, whichever happens first.

Action: Usually making a Stealth check is not an action. Using Stealth is part of the action you are taking.

Special: If you are subject to the invisibility or greater invisibility spells or a similar effect, you gain a +40 bonus on Stealth checks while you are immobile, or a +20 bonus on Stealth checks while you're moving. If you have the Stealthy feat, you get a bonus on Stealth checks (see Chapter 5).


Hidden: You are difficult to detect but you not invisible. A hidden creature gains a +2 bonus on attack rolls against sighted opponents, and ignores its opponents' Dexterity bonus to AC (if any). You do not have line of sight to a creature or object that is hidden from you.

Invisible: Invisible creatures are visually undetectable. An invisible creature or object gains the benefits of the hidden condition. An invisible object or creature gains total concealment.

Universal Monster Rules

Blindsense (Ex) Using nonvisual senses, such as acute smell or hearing, a creature with blindsense notices things it cannot see. The creature usually does not need to make Perception checks notice hidden creatures or to pinpoint the location of an invisible creature within range of its blindsense ability, provided that it has line of effect to that creature. Any opponent the creature cannot see still has total concealment from the creature with blindsense, and the creature still has the normal miss chance when attacking foes that have concealment. Visibility still affects the movement of a creature with blindsense. A creature with blindsense is still denied its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class against attacks from creatures it cannot see.
Format: blindsense 60 ft.; Location: Senses.

Blindsight (Ex) This ability is similar to blindsense, but is far more discerning. Using nonvisual senses, such as sensitivity to vibrations, keen smell, acute hearing, or echolocation, a creature with blindsight maneuvers and fights as well as a sighted creature. invisibility, darkness, and most kinds of concealment are irrelevant, as is the hidden condition, though the creature must have line of effect to a creature or object to discern that creature or object. The ability's range is specified in the creature's descriptive text. The creature usually does not need to make Perception checks to notice creatures within this range. Unless noted otherwise, blindsight is continuous, and the creature need do nothing to use it. Some forms of blindsight, however, must be triggered as a free action. If so, this is noted in the creature's description. If a creature must trigger its blindsight ability, the creature gains the benefits of blindsight only during its turn.
Format: blindsight 60 ft.; Location: Senses.

Scent (Ex) This special quality allows a creature to detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell. Creatures with the scent ability can identify familiar odors just as humans do familiar sights.
The creature can detect opponents within 30 feet by sense of smell. If the opponent is upwind, the range increases to 60 feet; if downwind, it drops to 15 feet. Strong scents, such as smoke or rotting garbage, can be detected at twice the ranges noted above. Overpowering scents, such as skunk musk or troglodyte stench, can be detected at triple normal range.
When a creature detects a scent, the exact location of the source is not revealed—only its presence somewhere within range. The creature can take a move action to note the direction of the scent. When it is within 5 feet of the source, the creature pinpoints the source's location or notices a hidden creature.
A creature with the scent ability can follow tracks by smell, making a Wisdom (or Survival) check to find or follow a track. The typical DC for a fresh trail is 10 (no matter what kind of surface holds the scent). This DC increases or decreases depending on how strong the quarry's odor is, the number of creatures, and the age of the trail. For each hour that the trail is cold, the DC increases by 2. The ability otherwise follows the rules for the Survival skill. Creatures tracking by scent ignore the effects of surface conditions and poor visibility.
Format: scent; Location: Senses.

Tremorsense (Ex) A creature with tremorsense is sensitive to vibrations in the ground and can automatically notice hidden creatures and objects as well as pinpoint invisible creatures and objects in contact with the ground. Aquatic creatures with tremorsense can also sense the location of creatures moving through water. The ability's range is specified in the creature's descriptive text.
Format: tremorsense 60 ft.; Location: Senses.

Stephen Radney-MacFarland