The ability to remain hidden from your foes is useful in many scenarios, whether to avoid detection by a more powerful force or to sneak up on a foe and silently dispatch of them. Naturally those classes oriented around stealth are not only more adept at hiding and sneaking, but also more capable of exploiting it to their advantage. However at its very core, hiding and sneaking are skills available to any and all classes. They simply bestow upon the user the ability to not be detected by an enemy.
Any character can elect to hide at anytime if it is reasonable to do so. You cannot hide if an opponent has a clear of Line of Sight (LoS) on you or is otherwise aware of your presence (i.e. Blindsense, Sense Living, Tremor Sense, etc…). While properly hidden you cannot be directly targeted by any opponent unless they have detected your presence, though you can take indirect damage or effects (i.e. AoE attacks).
At any time you may choose to voluntarily stop hiding. There is no cost associated with this (however if you are a Stealth class, you immediately lose all available Stealth). With the exception of Stealth Classes, using any instant or action immediately cancels Hiding upon its completion. Making a significant amount of noise such as when yelling, opening a door with rusted hinges, or breaking a window or vase also immediately cancels hiding. You may however move, provided you take special care to move silently and without giving yourself away. This is referred to as ‘Sneaking’.
It is important to note, that hiding and sneaking is not magic, nor is it invisibility. It is a natural status achieved under particular conditions. While there are many magical effects that can assist with hiding, on its own it is limited by real world logic. For example, attempting Sneak past a guard in broad daylight while they are undistracted and there is no obstacles or obstructions to LoS would be impossible, no matter how sneaky you are. However if there was heavy fog, or a staged altercation to distract the guards attention, perhaps it would be possible. GM discretion is required when roleplaying any form of Hiding and Sneaking.
Hiding is divided up into two states:
Undetected: Default state when initially hiding, enemies and sometimes even allies are unaware of your presence and therefore cannot target you. Typically you must be unseen and unheard to be undetected. Attacking while undetected prevents the target from using any active defensive or preventative measures such as the dodge contribution to AC or resistances, block, parry, ward-off, impale, reversal, counter-attack or any other out-of-turn reactionary measure.
Detected: Detected or spotted by all targets with reasonable LoS, while still attempting to remain inconspicuous or stealthy. Could also be unseen but detected by other senses, such as hearing, smell, tremor sense, etc…). Can be targeted as normal, and opponents can use an instant to call out your position to allies that might not have LoS. Non stealth classes may decide to simply stop hiding at this point.
To track your hidden state on the table top it can be useful to use a double sided token, such as a coin or cardboard marker with icons (i.e. a closed eye on one side and an open eye on the other).
Hiding and Combat
Typically you may not elect to hide at the same moment that an incoming battle or encounter is announced by the GM. In some instances, such as an ambush, it may be appropriate to allow characters to hide after the battle is announced but before combat actually begins. Because Stealth Classes generally rely upon being undetected to use the many of their Skills, some Stealth classes may prefer to hide as a default state, even when out of combat, so that whenever a battle is joined they start the combat already Hidden and Undetected. GMs should take this into account when determining out of combat travel times, as groups generally only travel as fast as their slowest member.
Moving out of base contact with an opponent does NOT count as Disengaging from Combat, provided you are BOTH hidden AND undetected.
There are three basic skills available to all characters and classes when considering hiding and combat (these can apply out of combat as well):
Hide: Spend an action to hide if you are out of line of sight (LoS) of your enemies. This could include being in shadows, behind allies or cover, or otherwise obscured from view. By default successfully Hiding also means you are considered Undetected. If already hiding, but in a Detected state, a successful Hiding action will render you Undetected again. For Stealth classes successfully Hiding resets your available Stealth (see Stealth).
Sneak: Attempting to make any kind of regular movement, other than to simply rotate on the spot, will immediately cancel Hiding or for Stealth classes requires passing a Stealth Test (see Stealth) or becoming Detected. This penalties can be avoided by Sneaking. Sneaking means that you move at 1/2 of you normal movement stat, calculated AFTER any movement impairing effects (i.e. slows, injuries, etc…). Example: A character has movement 4, but is suffering from a leg injury that has reduced his normal movement stat by 1/2, reducing his normal movement stat to 2. If the character then hid, they would Sneak at a movement speed 1/2 of the injured movement speed (therefore 1).
Hustle: Move quickly while hidden, without becoming detected. Can only move at 2x your Sneak speed (aka normal movement speed), calculated after any movement impairing effects (i.e. slows, injuries, etc…). This counts as a Sprint, and requires your full turn.
There is a fourth basic skill available only to Stealth Classes:
Fade (stealth Classes only): As an out-of-turn instant, when targeted by an opponent in a Detected state, if passing a Stealth test they will overlook you and target something else (if reasonable to do so). This does not make you undetected.
There are three forms of detection. When any of these comes into effect a character or foe that was hidden and Undetected becomes Detected. In many cases, and for most non-Stealth classes once Detected they effectively stop hiding as it affords no additional benefits.
Automatic detection is meant to represent the obvious cases when you would become detected and immediately puts you in a detected state. It occurs under four conditions:
- Any activity that effectively cancels hiding (i.e. loud noises, making your presence known, non sneaking movements, using ANY Fury skill, Stealth reduced to zero, etc…)
- Any time there is unobscured (direct) LoS between any opponent and the character attempting to remain hidden or avoid detection. LoS can be obscured by Dim Light, Shadows, or Darkness as well as light or heavy obstructions or cover (see Active Detection)
- Immediately following any melee skill/attack action or melee casting action, with the exception of melee Stealth skills or a regular melee attack action made by a Stealth class (See Stealth Tests)
- Immediately following any failed Stealth test unless otherwise stated (see Stealth)
Active detection represents an opponent actively using their senses to search for you. This is sometimes referred to as being “spotted” by an opponent. Usually they will not attempt to do so unless given cause to do so, such as a whispered communication between two hidden targets, a creaking floor board, or an unusual shift in some nearby shadows. There is obviously a high degree of GM discretion involved with this process.
Opponents are even less likely to attempt to actively detect hidden characters if already engaged in melee combat as melee combatants tend to tunnel vision on those in base contact with them. However, this is not always the case. Some opponents may be wise enough to search for other targets if, for example, they can’t seem to get past the high armor of their current target. (See Basic Enemy Tactics)
At the start of anyone’s turn, they may roll to actively detect hidden opponents. There is no cost associated with this.
- To actively detect you, they must win a Perception vs. Avoidance Stat Roll-off, with all Detection Modifiers applied.
- If they score higher than you, you are now considered Detected by anyone with reasonable LoS to you and you can now be targeted as normal.
- Stealth classes use their current available Stealth instead of Avoidance for Active Detection stat roll-offs.
Passive detection represents the chance of someone detecting you even when they aren’t actively searching. This involves no dice rolling and allows GMs to secretly assess whether a hidden character or enemy is detected without tipping off players.
- Passive detection uses Passive Perception, which is 1/2 of regular Perception, compared against Avoidance, with Detection Modifiers applied to both sides.
- If their Passive Perception is greater than your Avoidance, you are now considered Detected by anyone with reasonable LoS to you and you can now be targeted as normal.
- Stealth classes use their current available Stealth instead of Avoidance for Passive Detection
The following factors apply to anyone using Passive or Active Detection to locate a undetected opponent:
- creature size modifiers: apply as advantage or disadvantage (i.e. if you are a Halfling with size modifier of -2, they have -2 disadvantage to detect you)
- if the target has the “Sneaky” title passive, suffer -3 disadvantage
- +1 advantage to locate an undetected opponent per piece of Noisy armor they are wearing
The following factors apply to anyone attempting to avoid Passive or Active Detection:
- Bright/Daylight conditions: -5 Disadvantage (unless already in direct LoS, in which case see see Auto Detection)
- Dim Light/Shadow conditions: no additional advantage or disadvantage
- Darkness (natural or magical): +3 Advantage
- Light obstructions and/or cover: +2 Advantage
- Heavy obstructions and/or cover: +5 Advantage
For Stealth classes, Hiding also generates Stealth. For Stealth classes this is essentially another Stat which can be rolled against, but one that fluctuates up or down based on your activities. Your available Stealth is NOT directly related to hiding, other than the fact that if available Stealth ever drops to zero you immediately stop being hidden. Stealth can be thought of as the relative capability of your class to act in a stealthy manner, regardless of hiding or detection. While anyone can hide and avoid detection by their opponents, Stealth classes are specifically trained to use a variety of skills and abilities without becoming detected. But, even when a Stealth class has been detected, they have a toolkit of available skills that benefit from their ability to act in a stealthy manner. As such, being detected does not reduce Stealth.
Stealth classes are affording some protection by having Stealth available, even if while attempting to hide they have been detected. As an example, while the Warrior or Mage in the party might simply be either hidden or not-hidden, a stealth class such as a Thief or Assassin can use the presence of that same Warrior and Mage to avoid notice or fade into the background. This doesn’t mean they can’t be targeted as normal, however it might make them less likely of a target (See Fade).
Base stealth is the amount of Stealth you receive upon hiding. It is calculated based on Avoidance, Character level, and Size Modifier
BASE STEALTH = AVOIDANCE + 0.5 per LEVEL – SIZE MODIFIER
|Character (Race) Size||Size Modifier|
Available Stealth is essentially your current stealth value at any given time, tracked on your character sheet and typically just referred to as Stealth. While initially it is likely equal to Base Stealth, as you take actions and use skills it will decrease over time (see Stealth Costs). There are also some skills and abilities which might increase it as well. Available stealth is treated like a character stat, but one unique to Stealth classes only, and is used any time you need to take a Stealth Test (see Stealth Tests).
Stealth costs act as a reduction to your available stealth, typically applied prior to taking a Stealth Test.
- All offensive or aggressive actions reduce Stealth by 2 prior to taking a Stealth Test
- All offensive or aggressive instants reduce Stealth by 1 prior to taking a Stealth Test
- Increase the Stealth cost by 1 if the offensive or aggressive instant or action is NOT a Stealth skill (i.e. a regular attack action)
- If an action includes both a main hand and off hand portion, only reduce stealth once for the entire action
- All regular movement reduces Stealth by 1 per tabletop inch moved prior to taking a Stealth Test
- Defensive, support, or non-aggressive instants and actions do not carry a stealth cost (i.e. drinking a potion, healing or casting a boon on ally, etc…)
Stealth tests may be specifically required by a particular Stealth skill, but otherwise assume any time a d100 hit, cast, or success roll is required a Stealth Test also likely required. In the case of an action that includes a main hand and off hand portion, roll a separate stealth test for each, AFTER the entire action is complete. Use the following table to assist in determining when a Stealth Test is required:
|Event||Stealth Test Required||Result|
|Hit or Success (including Critical)||yes||Pass = undetected, Fail = detected|
|Miss or Failure||no||Undetected|
|Critical Miss or Failure||no||Detected|
|Regular Movement||yes||Pass = undetected, Fail = detected|
A Stealth test is treated exactly the same as a Stat Test, where the character Stat used is equal to your current Available Stealth. Advantage or disadvantage is usually applied to this test based on the rank of the Stealth Skill that was used. (i.e. Rank 4 Surprise attack applies -9 disadvantage for each use, while Rank 2 Swift Kick applies +1 advantage for each use).
NOTE: Weapons that possess the “Stealthy” attribute allow you to re-roll a failed Stealth Test
Learning New Stealth Skills
Stealth classes learn skills by placing points into them, where each point spent on a Stealth ability constitutes one “Rank” of that ability. When Stealth Classes go up levels, they gain Stealth Ability Points that can be used to either learn an entirely new Stealth ability or to “rank-up” an existing one.
Other than during level 1 character creation, to learn a new ability (i.e. Rank 1) you must be taught by an Expertise Trainer that knows the corresponding ability. However, if assigning a skill point to an already known ability (i.e. advancing from Rank 1 to Rank 2), no trainer is required. If a Stealth Class happens to be a level 3 Expertise Trainer, they can self-teach new skills.
Stealth classes gain three ability points for each level (including level 1), however some restrictions apply to how they can be spent, as outlined in the Stealth Disciplines section below.
A complete list of Stealth Skills can be found on the Stealth Skills page.
Stealth skills are broken down into seven disciplines. Every class has one Primary Discipline and two Forbidden Disciplines (except Thieves, who have no Forbidden Disciplines). When spending Stealth ability points the following applies:
- You must always spend at least one point per level on an ability in your Primary Discipline
- Upon character creation, each class receives two free skills from their primary discipline before receiving their three points per level.
- You cannot, under any circumstances, spend any points on skills from your forbidden disciplines, nor can you ever use those skills with your class
- You cannot spend more than one point in a single ability each level up (except through titles)
|Discipline||Primary||Rank 1 Free Skills||Forbidden|
|Thievery||Thief||Larceny, Pick Pocket||Ninja, Ranger|
|Dirty Fighting||Swashbuckler||Low-blow, Dirt-in-the-Eye||Ninja, Monk|
|Survival||Ranger||Escape Artist, Evade||Swashbuckler, Assassin|
|Assassination||Assassin||Study Prey, Apply Poison||Monk, Swashbuckler|
|Suppression||Monk||Swift Kick, Confuse||Berserker|
|Subterfuge||Ninja||Espionage, Distract||Ranger, Berserker|
NOTE: Stealth classes can choose to specialize in a specific Discipline using the Secondary Skill system (see Specialist Skills).