Stealth - the low down UPDATED!

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Being hidden using Stealth gives you Combat Advantage and obscures your exact position, until you are spotted.

1. If you have Cover or Concealment from any source you can use Stealth provided your DM deems the given situation appropriate. Your DM will tell you if you can make a check. A power such as Fleeting Ghost or a skill such as Bluff that explicitly grants you a Stealth check should qualify as appropriate. Using Stealth from a diversion can let you get hidden without Cover or Concealment, but see 8. below. You will need some way to stay hidden after the end of your turn. You can use your allies for Cover against ranged enemies, but in all cases your DM decides if you have Cover using common sense.

2. Roll your initial check to get hidden against your enemies' passive Perceptions. They don't need to do anything or roll any dice: you need to roll equal or better to beat them. You can hide using any appropriate move or minor action, but whatever action you use, that whole action has to qualify for Stealth. At the end of each of your subsequent turns, and whenever you take an immediate or opportunity action, make a new check against your enemies' passive Perceptions. If there are lightly obscured squares between an enemy and the hider, apply a -5 penalty to that enemy's Perception. Note that dim-light doesn't obscure or count for Concealment against those forms of sight.

3. You are not hidden from any enemy whose passive Perception you fail to beat. Those enemies know what square you are in and can attack you; taking a -2 penalty for Cover, or a -2 penalty for Concealment if they are using a ranged or melee attack, or both (-4).

4. You are hidden from every enemy whose passive Perception you beat: they don't know what square you are in. If they are Alert, they can make active Perception checks in their turns using minor actions to find you. They need to roll equal or better than your Stealth to beat it; if they do they will discover what square you are in and can attack you as 3. above. Even if they haven't yet found you, they can pick a square based on whatever information they have and try to attack you; taking a -2 penalty for Cover, or a -5 penalty if they are using a ranged or melee attack, but not both. If they are not Alert, they can't try to find you until you take an action affecting your Stealth or something makes them Alert.

5. Stealth does not upgrade Cover to Superior Cover, or Concealment to Total Concealment. Don't stack those modifiers onto your other advantages. Stealth doesn't make you Invisible.

6. You have Combat Advantage against every enemy whose Perception has not beaten your Stealth check. You can have Combat Advantage this way against some enemies and not others. To attack with Combat Advantage you must be hidden first by using some other action. When you attack from hiding, your hidden condition does not end until after completing the entirety of your attack action. An attack action in this context includes only those things that happen within the action you used to make the attack, and not any effects that run beyond that action.

7. Once any enemy notices you, that enemy can share information. If they do, anyone capable of understanding that information is Alert and knows what direction you are in. They don't automatically gain a successful Perception check: you are still hidden against enemies who have not yet beaten your check. Knowing the right direction to look in can provide a favourable circumstances modifier of +2 on active Perception checks, or an unfavourable circumstances modifier of -2 on further Stealth checks.

8. If you lose Cover or Concealment against an enemy while you are hidden from them, they spot you (no check). You can lose Cover or Concealment against some enemies and not others, but you are no longer hidden against any enemy after you attack or shout (no check).

9. Suggested House Rule Remaining adjacent to an enemy you just attacked or who just successfully hit you with a melee attack automatically disqualifies a given situation from being appropriate. If you are not hidden now, you can't hide again without changing the situation. Gaining Superior Cover or Total Concealment should typically do that, even if you don't subsequently hide in that Superior Cover or with that Total Concealment, as should creating a diversion.

10. Suggested House Rule When an enemy shares information about a hider, if that enemy or a given recipient of their information is standing right next to the hider (i.e. adjacent), they can tell the exact square. Attackers who know only the direction pick 3 or 4 squares, using a d6 or a d10 respectively. One of the picked squares always includes the hider. They choose one square to be least likely (1), one fairly likely (2-3), one very likely (4-6), and one most likely (7-10), then roll.

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1. Cover or Concealment
CSR 'On page 178 of the Players Handbook, the last paragraph on the left side of the page states "The DM tells you if a skill check is appropriate in a given situation or directs you to make a check if circumstances call for one." On Page 188 under the description of stealth, under the Cover or Concealment section it states "...You must have cover against or concealment from the creature to make a stealth check". These rules do not state that the player must be granted a stealth check. It is to the DM's discretion if they would like to allow a stealth check or not.'

Argument Given If A, possible B; then If A, always B = unproven. Having Cover and Concealment makes Stealth possible, but not inevitable.

CSR 'Question:
1) Since your allies provide you cover against enemy ranged attacks, can you make a opposed Stealth Check versus the Perception of enemies at range to become hidden from their view? (Per the FAQ and your previous CSR reply you'd then have combat advantage against those ranged enemies and they'd be -5 to attack you until they can spot you with a perception check.)

2) On a related question, let's say you're fighting an enemy that has a reach weapon like a polearm. Per p.280 Cover under Reach it says that you still have cover against that enemy if the intervening square between you and them provides cover. But then under Creatures and Cover it says that allies don't provide cover against melee attacks. So my question is, if there is an ally between you and an enemy with a reach weapon, does your ally provide cover against that enemy? And if so, can you use that cover to make a Stealth check to become temporarilly hidden from view relative to that enemy as per question 1) above?

Answer:
Thank you for writing.

1. Yes you can.

2. No, your ally does not provide cover against a melee reach attack.'


PHB183, PHB188, PHB280, PHB281, DMG43.

2. Passive Perception
CSR. 'The DM can choose to use either active or passive perception checks to notice Stealth. Even if an active check fails, if passive would succeed the check succeeds. An active roll is just a chance to roll better.'

WotC_Mearls 'Make your Stealth checks against passive Perception, unless a critter uses a minor action to make another Stealth check.' Note: I make the assumption that the second 'Stealth' is a typo. The context suggests 'Perception' is intended.

Argument Regardless of readiness, enemies always get passive Perception against Stealth. Once they are alert, they can use minor actions to make active checks. WotC_Mearls generalised that. You can use standard actions to make active Perception checks: standard actions can be traded down for minor ones and there is no difference in function with regard to Stealth, so I left it at 'minor'.

PHB26, PHB186, PHB188, PHB281, DMG61, DMG67

3. Not Hidden
CSR 'A PC in concealment) makes a Stealth check of 20 beating an enemy's passive Perception of 19. Now that they've beaten that enemy's passive Perception, does that enemy have to roll a 30 on an active check to know what square they are in, now that they come under the rules on PHB281?

If the PC had rolled a 19 instead, not beating that enemy's passive Perception, would that enemy have somehow really needed a 29 to know what square they are in? Or is a 19 good enough in this case? Does it change only on a failed initial roll?

and received

1. Correct. You we need to roll a 30 to know what square they were in.

2. If the player rolled a 19, and did not beat the enemy's passive perception, that enemy would know where the player is.<...>'


CSR 'Assume that a creature has cover or concealment, but not Total Concealment or Superior Cover. Assume that another creature makes a minor perception check against the hidden creature.

People have taken two interpretations of applying the "targeting what you can't see" sidebar on page 281.

Some apply only what is written directly in that sidebar, meaning the creature must beat the Stealth score by ten points to pinpoint the hidden creature's location, and even then get a -5 penalty to attack.

Others believe that the requirement to beat the Stealth check by ten points and the -5 penalty to attack even after a successful Stealth check is only in situations where the creature is both hidden and Totally Concealed (since both of these rules would be inferred from the rules for Stealth and Total Concealment, and the sidebar seems to assume that the hidden creature has Total Concealment). In that case that the creature is not Totally Concealed, only the Stealth check itself must be beaten, and, if beaten, the hidden creature is revealed and there is no penalty to attack it beyond whatever cover or concealment it has.

Can you shed some light on this? Specifically, if the hidden creature doesn't have Total Concealment, does one's active perception check have to beat a hidden creature's Stealth check by 10 points to pinpoint its location? And, if the Stealth check is beaten, is the creature still hidden and does the -5 penalty still apply?

On a related note, does the -5 penalty stack with cover and concealment penalties the creature would have even if it were not hidden?


Answer:

Thank you for contacting us. The Targeting What you Can't See side bar on page 281 only applies to creatures you physically can't see, either because the creature is invisible, your blinded, or your fighting in darkness you can't see through. If the creature is not invisible, and your vision is not impeded by blindness or impenetrable darkness, and it just has normal cover or normal concealment. You only have to beat the creatures stealth check itself. You would not have to beat the stealth check by 10. If you beat the stealth check, then you can see the creature and attack it. You would just be subject to the normal penalties to attack vs. Cover (-2) or Concealment (-2).

As per the description of penalties on page 275, Penalties add together unless they are from the same power. So if a creature had Cover (-2) and Concealment (-2) the total penalty to attack would be (-4).'


FAQ 'There are several benefits of being hidden from an enemy - you have combat advantage against them and they will have a more difficult time targeting you. Page 281 of the Player's Handbook explains the rules for targeting creatures you cannot see.'

Argument If your enemy couldn't see you irrespective of Stealth, you should be using the Targeting What You Can't See Rules. In the opening sentence those rules limit themselves to situations where blindness, invisibility, or total obscurement (darkness) applies. The FAQ is a guideline for what to do when something is hidden, but the explicit rules such as needing to beat a check by 10 are all tied to cases where something else is impeding primary senses.

Argument The CSRs are contradictory, but that may be an artifact of the framing of the questions. If the +10 rule did apply, since you know hiders_number beat your Perception+10 (passive) and you must now beat hiders_number+10 (active), you will only succeed in guessing exact location on a 20, or may have no chance to succeed. If you decide the TWYCS rules apply in full, Stealth is an At-Will power better than many Encounter powers, netting superb defensive benefits against ranged and melee attacks (-5 to hit any defence, missing automatically if the wrong square is targeted, with the right square found only on a natural 20, or unfindable), and your DM will need a fast method for picking random squares! All classes would always desire Stealth, either throwing it in untrained (many MM creatures have low Perception) or taking Ranger-Multiclass (Warrior of the Wild) to pick it up.

Argument The rules would then introduce cases where two or more numbers simultaneously apply to beat one Stealth check. Imagine two observers, one with 19pP and one with 20pP. Hider rolls 19. So now the 19pP owner needs 29 to spot hider, while the other observer spots hider with 20. We can rule out arguments from common sense at that point.

PHB188, PHB281.

4. Hidden
CSR '...If you beat the stealth check, then you can see the creature and attack it. You would just be subject to the normal penalties to attack vs. Cover (-2) or Concealment (-2).

As per the description of penalties on page 275, Penalties add together unless they are from the same power. So if a creature had Cover (-2) and Concealment (-2) the total penalty to attack would be (-4).'


Argument The ruling proferred by the 'low down' takes us deep into RAI. We have to squint at the TWYCS rules a bit, but it works, just. If you beat Stealth the rules don't apply, including the -10, if you don't beat Stealth they do, but not those parts that only apply to targets you can't see for some other reason as well. With me so far? That guides us toward 'you don't know the square'.

Argument We then have to decide the penalty to hit a Rogue successfully hidden behind a corner in dim-light. The options are -2, -4, -5, -7 or -9. In the TWYCS block -5 is tied to Total Concealment. Per 5. we know Stealth does not upgrade Concealment to Total Concealment, and despite being asked directly, a more recent CSR does not confirm -5. However, the RAW for Total Concealment begins 'You can't see the target' which matches the 'hidden from view' condition described under Success for Stealth. Drawing on the TWYCS RAW we decide the hider must be concealed in their square: Stealth is taking supernal advantage of the protection of that square. It therefore feels right to go-ahead and use the -5. If Cover or Concealment were removed that -5 would typically disappear, so that -5 penalty is coming from whichever already applies, and therefore can't stack with itself! Cover protects against all forms of attack, so that's your baseline: if you have Cover from an attack it gets -2.

PHB275, PHB281

5. Does Not Upgrade
CSR'...if a warlock makes a successful stealth check, does he or does he not gain total concealment, effectively making him invisible because of a stealth check? Am I correct to assume that there is no way to "upgrade" to total concealment just from a shadow walk+ stealth?

The Warlock does not have Total Concealment, the Warlock is however unnoticed for the time being and still has Concealment.'


See also the CSR's under Not Hidden above.

Argument Shadow Walk grants Concealment if you move more than 3-squares, therefore it can let you use Stealth. Nothing about that is different from using Stealth with other kinds of Cover or Concealment; save that your DM might deem your attempt to hide behind the only piece of Concealment in a brightly lit room to be an inappropriate situation, and therefore not grant you a check. See also Monty Python's The Secret of Not Being Seen, with particular attention to the first part.

PHB131

6. Combat Advantage
WotC_Mearls 'You can't attack stealthily; you have to already be hidden when you attack.' and 'The game's math assumes that the rogue gets sneak attack with just about every attack he makes' and 'when you are DMing it's OK to be liberal with letting people use the skill.'

Argument Attacking ends Stealth. Mechanically, an attack, start to finish, resolves instantly: meaning the entire attack will resolve simultaneously with Stealth breaking.

PHB188

7. Enemy Notices You
WotC_Mearls 'Remember that intelligent foes will share information. If one of the four hobgoblins spots a hidden PC, that guy can tell his allies where the PC is hiding.'

Argument WotC_Mearls might have intended that 'tell his allies' means 'gives them a bonus', or 'makes them alert', or 'shows them what square to pick', or 'shows them what direction to look in'. The first reading needs words added. We've no solid reason to add words. The second reading seems inevitable: anyone understanding the information is Alert to the hider's presence. The third and fourth readings are equally good, but while anyone will agree it's easy to point in the general direction of something, some will feel uncomfortable about that being any more exact. DMs should probably make an exception where either the spotter or the given ally is standing adjacent to the hider. 'Here, right next to me!

8. Losing Cover or Concealment
Argument Unambiguous RAW.

PHB188.

9. and 10 House Rules
Argument None, they're house rules.
:P


-vk
I've been trying to argue exactly what you outline here for the last week on a thread in Rules Q&A called AWARENESS: More Fuel for the Fire. You should direct everyone over here.

It seems that maybe common sense is finally spreading.
9. Suggested House Rule Moving more than half your movement automatically disqualifies a given situation from being appropriate. Using any power that explicitly grants you a check overrides that.

#9 I propose this to put a cost on Stealth. Simply, you can't Stealth and do a full move unless you use a power that lets you. The ruling doesn't contradict RAW, and still gives Rogues full benefit of their sneaky powers.

Moving more than 2 squares already puts a cost of -5 to the Stealth check (-10 for a Run), that seems enough. And this ruling does contradict RAW actually, as you can clearly Stealth either as a Move or a Run.
Here's a question revolving around Chameleon.

Chameleon Rogue Utility 6
You blend into your surroundings.
At-Will, Martial
Immediate Interrupt Personal
Trigger: You are hidden and lose cover or concealment against an opponent
Prerequisite: You must be trained in Stealth.
Effect: Make a Stealth check. Until the end of your next turn, you remain hidden if a creature that has a clear line of sight to you does not beat your check result with its Perception check. If at the end of your turn you do not have cover or concealment against a creature, that creature automatically notices you.

Combat begins.

Round One - Rogue moves to cover, employs stealth, engages enemy from range (crossbow, dagger, whatever) with the benefit of combat advantage. Attacking makes the rogue lose stealth, but they then activate Chameleon and hide again.

Assuming the stealth check is good enough to stay hidden, is there any reason you couldn't just snipe away at range this way? You'd get the benefits of CA and your sneak attack as long as you kept rolling well on the stealth checks.

- Manii Names
Here's a question revolving around Chameleon.
...
Immediate Interrupt Personal
Trigger: You are hidden and lose cover or concealment against an opponent
...

Round One - Rogue moves to cover, employs stealth, engages enemy from range (crossbow, dagger, whatever) with the benefit of combat advantage. Attacking makes the rogue lose stealth, but they then activate Chameleon and hide again.

Assuming the stealth check is good enough to stay hidden, is there any reason you couldn't just snipe away at range this way? You'd get the benefits of CA and your sneak attack as long as you kept rolling well on the stealth checks.
...

It won't work. First: Chameleon is an interupt, you cannot take an interupt on your turn. It must be someone elses turn. Second: you did not lose cover, you lost stealth. Losing stealth does not qualify for Chameleon, losing cover does.

But what you can do: Take a minor action after the shot to hide again. If your check succeeds you are hidden and you get CA. But the other guy might just walk around your cover to track you down - then Chameleon pops in.
A power such as Fleeting Ghost or a skill such as Bluff that explicitly grants you a Stealth check should qualify as appropriate.

Fleeting Ghost is only useful if you have cover or concealment after you make your stealth check. If you have neither, then the enemy has clear line of sight to you and yer instantly revealed.
1. Stealth does not upgrade Cover to Superior Cover, or Concealment to Total Concealment. Stealth alone does not place you under the Targeting What You Can't See rules.

This kind of leaves us with the question: Targeting What You Can't Notice - how does it work?

My take: forget the -10 on the stealth checks for being invisible. Because a character that is hidden with stealth is not invisible. So the defender who wants to pinpoint the attacker rolls his active perception check against the attackers stealth. No bonus added. Plain and simple.

If the defender beats the attackers stealth check. The attacker is no longer hidden. The defender can shot the attacker with -2 (because the attacker is still behind cover) unless he decides to walk around the cover before the shot.

Now if the defender loses his perception check he obviously got a problem on his hand. If he knows or assumes the attacker is hiding somewhere behind a 6 squares wide wall, he can only guess in which square the attacker might be and can fire a blind shot into this square (which I would rule as -5 to attack if he choses the right square) - or, if the defender is smart, he probably just walks around the wall and auto-pinpoints the (no longer) hidden attacker.
This kind of leaves us with the question: Targeting What You Can't Notice - how does it work?

It took a lot of work to resolve the very good question you raise.

Since the sneaker only has Cover or Concealment and Stealth doesn't upgrade that, we know for sure that the defender has a LOS to her. If the defender did not have a LOS to her, she would be Totally Concealed and come under the Targeting What You Can't See rules. Since we know for sure that the defender has a LOS to her, he knows what square she is in; he can trace a line right to her.

Since he can do that, he's allowed to attack her. At what penalty? -2 for cover or concealment. However, unless he beats her Stealth check she will have Combat Advantage. The confusion everyone is having basically hinges on one simple point of disbelief.

All Stealth in Combat really does, bottom line, is give you Combat Advantage.

Wtf? Surely not. Surely it also confers some fabulisticofantastabrillissima defensive bonuses? Nope. How about immunity from being the target of attacks until my turn? Nope. How about flying and immunity from lightning damage? Nuh-uh.



-vk
That's B/C they still think that stealth = invisible, when it's not. It's sneaky. When you have cover or concealment you can use that to your advantage to gain the upper hand momentarily, but you aren't harder to hit then anyone else behind that cover/concealment. If we're talking full cover/total concealment it's a different story, but even then it's the cover/concealment that's making you "invisible" not the stealth.
Well, I understand it in a different way. But that is not a problem - we are not playing in the same group. ;)

I would allow someone to slink past guards using stealth. So if someone wants to go through the line of sight of a guard, he can do this if there is cover (a wall or something), that covers him all the way and he succeeds on his stealth check. And he would remain unseen, unheard, he would not be noticed.

Why would I play Stealth like this? - Well, pretty much because the description in the PHB "..slink past guards... without being noticed... without being seen or heard"

If stealth would mean the defender gets only the -2 penalty to attack (from cover) and grants combat advantage - how could you use stealth to slink past guards?
I would allow someone to slink past guards using stealth. So if someone wants to go through the line of sight of a guard, he can do this if there is cover (a wall or something), that covers him all the way and he succeeds on his stealth check. And he would remain unseen, unheard, he would not be noticed.

Why would I play Stealth like this? - Well, pretty much because the description in the PHB "..slink past guards... without being noticed... without being seen or heard"

If stealth would mean the defender gets only the -2 penalty to attack (from cover) and grants combat advantage - how could you use stealth to slink past guards?

I would compare Stealth in combat with Bluff in combat. If all Bluff did out of combat was create a diversion allowing me to hide, that would be kind of sucky.

Official of the Court: So you say you are related to her Majesty?
Me: Creates a diversion to hide...

Further, the Rogue can always make use of his powers (yes, I know, why would anyone do that?) and of total concealment to get into position. That's if you tactical grid it. The situation you describe may be more appropriate as a Skill challenge.

-vk
Well, I understand it in a different way. But that is not a problem - we are not playing in the same group. ;)

I would allow someone to slink past guards using stealth. So if someone wants to go through the line of sight of a guard, he can do this if there is cover (a wall or something), that covers him all the way and he succeeds on his stealth check. And he would remain unseen, unheard, he would not be noticed.

Why would I play Stealth like this? - Well, pretty much because the description in the PHB "..slink past guards... without being noticed... without being seen or heard"

If stealth would mean the defender gets only the -2 penalty to attack (from cover) and grants combat advantage - how could you use stealth to slink past guards?

I agree completely! This thread is speaking of stealth in combat. Slinking past that guard while he's activly searching in order to kill you is another story entirely.
All Stealth in Combat really does, bottom line, is give you Combat Advantage.

Wtf? Surely not. Surely it also confers some fabulisticofantastabrillissima defensive bonuses? Nope. How about immunity from being the target of attacks until my turn? Nope. How about flying and immunity from lightning damage? Nuh-uh.



-vk

This didn't sit well with me. I thought "Surely, being hidden makes you harder to attack." So I sent the following question to CSR:

Let's assume that a party of PCs are in combat with a group of kobolds and the fight has been going on for several rounds. All members of both groups are aware of each other. A PC rogue dives into some bushes (gaining concealment) and makes a successful stealth check against all of the kobold's passive perception checks before ending his turn.

1) If kobold #1 wants to attack the rogue but fails to beat the rogue's stealth check with an active perception check. Can the kobold attack the rogue and, if so, at what penalty?

2) Kobold #2 spots the rogue with an active perception check but decides he wants to concentrate on the PC cleric. However, he communicates the rogue's position to the other kobolds. What affect does this have on the other kobolds and their ability to attack the rogue?

3) Kobold #3 hears kobold #2 but he still can't beat the rogue's stealth with an active perception roll. Can he attack the rogue and, if so, at what penalty?

Thanks!

And check out this response!!

Brian,

1. The Kobold knows the rogue is there, but cannot see and therefore cannot clearly target the Rogue. If the Kobold searches and sees the rogue, the rogue still has cover. If the kobold walks up to the rogue in the bush, the rogue has no bonuses and can be seen clearly.
2. Now the other's all know where the rogue is and have the same options as the first kobold originally had.
3. Information on targeting what you cannot see is listed on page 281 of the Player's Handbook.

Good Gaming!


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It turns out that until you are spotted you can't be targetted at all! (Or, can't be 'clearly' targetted. Hmmm...) Furthermore, the fact that #2 pointed him out seems to indicate that the other kobolds only know which square to target with the attacking a creature you can't see penalty.

So, hiding has *great* defensive benefits. As such, #5, 6, and 7 are wrong. (for #6, Of course, a clear line of sight would reveal you to that particular opponent) Furthermore, #1, while techincally correct, is wrong in that a hiding rogue does use the targetting what you can't see rules.

Having said all this, I do like parts of your house rule #10. If you hit an enemy you shouldn't be able to immediately hide again without moving; or at least there should be a penalty.
Nicely done, Vonklaude. Here’s some comments I’d like to add.

All Stealth in Combat allows a character to do against aware opponents is to become unnoticed, unheard and hidden from view. Shouting/Attacking and being unnoticed, unheard, and hidden from view are mutually exclusive.

Even a target that isn’t aware of a character will see them as they are attacking – the character simply gains CA because the target wasn’t on their guard to defend against an attack from them (just as if the target was Surprised).

Combat Advantage only relates to Stealth in the sense that Stealth is a useful enabling skill when trying to get a surprise attack on a target(s) that doesn’t know the character is in the area.

In combat, against aware opponents, hiding can have many tactical uses, but not for generating CA for Sneak Attacks. Against aware opponents, Stealth becomes a defensive skill. Enemies that want to attack the character are forced to either:
  • Spend a standard action to use an active Perception check to see the character clearly (which might very well fail).
  • Use a minor action to make an active Perception check (success on which merely tells them what square the character is in, but still doesn’t allow them to see the character - and also might very well fail), and even attacking into the correct square, they suffer -5 to attack any of the character’s defenses.
  • Correctly discern/guess what square the character is in (here is where getting advice from their allies comes in), but still suffer a -5 to attack any of the character’s defenses.

As a result, the enemy may very well turn their attention to other targets. Meanwhile, the character can use a Second Wind, healing items, reposition themselves, or take any number of other tactical actions besides shouting or attacking.

To use recurring CA from Stealth means that you are also saying a character may remain unnoticed, unheard and hidden from view, [i]while shouting right at their target[/i]. A character can shout right in their target’s face while attacking them, and will still get Combat Advantage against them because they are “unnoticed, unheard, and hidden from view”.

I think Vonklaude is on the right track by introducing house rules as the appropriate solution for those who don’t like how the regular rules work for using the skill in combat.
vk - nice work (again!)

Let's keep in mind the practicality of stealth in combat, and what really happens in terms of cost and benefit. I do not believe everyone is taking this into account in their analysis. Some are, Joe apparently did.

1. If you are set on attacking an opponent who is trying to hide from you after you're aware of them, for CA/defensive advantages, you can negate their stealth using less than, or similar cost, compared to what they used to enter into stealth. It is closely balanced already.

2. If you are not set on attacking the opponent in stealth, the defensive bonuses are irrelevant, they get CA, but then they also paid the cost.

Opponents can also choose to stealth.

Stealth cost/requirements:
==========
stealth requries moving to cover/concealment
- if you moved more than 2 squares, you have -5 to your roll
- if you spoke (free action), you take -5 (cumulative)
- if you had to run for cover/concealment, you have -10
(assume penalties on same round you moved only of course)

plus:
spend a minor action

plus:
Success on stealth check

Once in place, the movement related costs are gone, but you still pay minor + need to succeed on roll. Notice, if the stealther misses their roll, they may have paid the movement and minor action cost, and gotten nothing in return.

Counter-to-stealth cost/requirements
==================
move to any location that removes the stealther's cover/concealment
OR
spend minor action to make another opposed perception check (passive still in effect)
OR
Do something that negates the cover/concealment (like lighting a torch if the concealment was dim light).
==================================================

This also provides synergy for the opposition, because if they eliminate the cover/concealment, they counter stealth AND concealment/cover modifiers for the same cost. If they intended to engage in melee, the move is also "free". Ranged, not free.

So when you examine a more realistic set of costs/benefit, I think it's clear that the rules already take into account how to counter it, and keep it balanced. Only warlocks change the paradigm with their perma-walking-concealment effect. And that should not color our thinking on the general application of stealth, since warlocks don't get stealth as a class skill, perhaps it was an oversight that a small rule wording tweak will remedy.

- from Joe:
1. The Kobold knows the rogue is there, but cannot see and therefore cannot clearly target the Rogue. If the Kobold searches and sees the rogue, the rogue still has cover. If the kobold walks up to the rogue in the bush, the rogue has no bonuses and can be seen clearly.

There you have it, nice information HiFructose!
Let me try to understand this using the same kobolds.

1. If the kobold succeeds, he spots the rogue, but the rogue still has cover (-2 to attack) - The kobold loses its concealment, but it retains its cover.

Joe said "the kobold cannot clearly see his target...". He didn't say the kobold cannot see the target at all. I realize that the stealth description says you are "unseen", but then doesn't this become Total Concealment?

3. The kobold tries but fails to spot the rogue even though he knows what square the rogue is in. So the rogue still has cover and concealment (-4 to attack)

I guess I'm a little confused as to why that would be a -5 penalty. The rogue doesn't have Total Concealment. It has already been confirmed with CSR's that stealth doesn't give you Total Concealment.

If the rogue moved into terrain that gave him total concealment, then used stealth, then I can see it.

My brain is so fried on this subject. I need some clarity.
HiFructose asked excellent questions, and with a surprising result. Joe's response is at odds with other CS responses, and appears to overrule WotC_Mearls. (His answer #2 presents a strange voyage upon the seas of logic. See if you can work out how.)

Meanwhile I'll post a detailed set of questions to CS and see what turns up.

-vk
My brain is going to explode. Do I still get CA if I make a successful stealth check?
My brain is going to explode. Do I still get CA if I make a successful stealth check?

Hehe. It starts to feel like WotC do not themselves have a clear answer on Stealth.

Everyone agrees that if your are in Cover or Concealment your DM can allow you a Stealth check, and if that check beats a target's Perception you have Combat Advantage against that target.

-vk
Yeah, while Joe's answers are pretty clear I'm not entirely sure how all of the pieces fit together. The biggest question I have now concerns the bluff skill; but that's a whole 'nother can of worms.

Everyone agrees that if your are in Cover or Concealment your DM can allow you a Stealth check, and if that check beats a target's Perception you have Combat Advantage against that target.

-vk

Except for Lootus.
Its kind of bizzare that all stealth does is grant combat advantage but it is correct. It also explains why it is so easy to make a stealth check - it isn't nearly as much of an advantage anymore.

Sounds fair to me.
Hehe. It starts to feel like WotC do not themselves have a clear answer on Stealth.

Everyone agrees that if your are in Cover or Concealment your DM can allow you a Stealth check, and if that check beats a target's Perception you have Combat Advantage against that target.

-vk

I was originally on the side of Lootus and Dete73. I still see their argument and I think it is valid. I agree with vonklaude's statement above, and I believe that is the way that the PHB author's intended the game to be played, so that is how I intend to rule it.

Regarding a situation like Kobold #3:

What confuses me and I hope is cleared up soon, is whether you get CA when you are hidden (via stealth) because your target is unaware (which is what it says in the stealth description); or you get CA because you are "unable to be seen" which is given on p.280 in reference to Invisibility/Total Concealment.

By my view, that is what determines the attack penalty for a target to hit the hidden "stealther" if they are not able to locate them (their perception fails vs. the stealther's stealth... oh crap, what have I done).

The attacker knows what square the stealther is in, but it can't clearly see the target. So, is it:

-2 for cover?

-4 (-2 cover, -2 concealment)?

or

-5 (total concealment)?

The latter was implied by Joe's response above, but was denounced earlier by other CSR's.

Why is it soooooooooooo hard!
take CSR not so seriously please. they told me i could sneak attack with powers such as eldritch blast and magic missile. im never gonna get over that. but yes, this is the point i have been arguing in the thread i made a week ago.
all you get is combat advantage.
take CSR not so seriously please. they told me i could sneak attack with powers such as eldritch blast and magic missile. im never gonna get over that. but yes, this is the point i have been arguing in the thread i made a week ago.
all you get is combat advantage.

So in the situation I outline, is the attack penalty simply -2 for Cover or Concealment (whichever you may have used in conjunction with the stealth skill)?

That would work for me. That's what I originally argued as well.
So in the situation I outline, is the attack penalty simply -2 for Cover or Concealment (whichever you may have used in conjunction with the stealth skill)?

That would work for me. That's what I originally argued as well.

cover/concealment stack. but yea, just a -2 to get hit. that is pretty abusive imo.
shadow walk gives you concealment, and you go partially behind a pillar for cover. -4 for stuff to hit you. woots.
The latter was implied by Joe's response above, but was denounced earlier by other CSR's.

Joe's response is artistic. See if you can answer the following questions based on it

1. What effect did Kobold #2 have?
2. What rules covered the actions of Kobold #1? Were those the Targeting What You Can't See rules?

Like I said, a strange voyage of discovery. Have fun!

-vk
Updated the update taking into account HF's findings.

He asked good questions. Though it's a fun puzzle to work out what the answers mean

-vk
Except for Lootus.

Not so – I completely agree that Stealth can give you Combat Advantage – if the target is not aware that you are hiding in a nearby square.

The only things that all of the back and forth has proven is that some people don’t like the way the rules work as they appear in the 4th edition PHB, and would prefer that characters be able to use the Stealth skill for a use that isn’t in the rules – that is, to gain combat advantage every round in addition to the benefits of hiding and sneaking around.

Here is a summary:

”Not Aware” vs. “Unnoticed, unseen, and unheard”
Choosing to interpret the words “not aware” to mean what you want is pretty weak. Just flipping to Chapter 9 of the PHB (The Combat Sequence) reveals the only reason why Combat Advantage is mentioned in the Stealth skill description in the first place:

1. Determine surprise. The DM determines whether any combatants are surprised. If any combatants notice enemy combatants without being noticed in return, the aware combatants gain a surprise round.

Which brings us to…

Valid ways of using Stealth to gain Combat Advantage:

  • Stealth helps you get a surprise round, it’s that simple.
  • Now, since the skill doesn’t say that a character hidden with Stealth must reveal themselves (or is automatically revealed) in the surprise round, it makes sense that there’s no reason why a character couldn’t “save” their surprise round action (i.e. remain hidden until they choose to make an attack with Combat Advantage) until they reveal themselves. When you put two and two together, it follows that this is the only reason why Combat Advantage had to be mentioned in the Stealth skill description in the first place – because otherwise people might think that you couldn’t get Combat Advantage with an attack after the surprise round on a target that still wasn’t aware of you (because you were remaining hidden).


Benefits of Stealth against opponents who are aware of you:

As it should be, being successfully hidden with Stealth is basically the same as Total Concealment against those that can’t see you, as far as defense is concerned. Once you obtain cover or concealment and attempt to hide, an opponent must jump through several hoops to target you:
  • Use their passive Perception check against your active Stealth check (automatic).
  • If #1 fails, then if the opponent can simply maneuver so that you no longer have Cover or Concealment from them (unblocked line of sight), they automatically see you (Stealth breaks immediately against that opponent).
  • Since #1 and #2 are certainly not reliable options, an opponent can attempt an active Perception check by using a Standard Action (at least they’ll see what you’re up to).
  • For those opponents who have better things to do with their Standard Action, they can use a Minor Action to make an active Perception check – but success on this only lets them be certain of what square you’re hiding in (oh…and they need to beat your check by 10! ).
  • If the opponent hasn’t beaten your active Stealth check, but they either succeed with #4, another ally (that can see you) tells them what square you’re hiding in, or they correctly guess the square you’re in, they are free to blindly attack your position with the usual -5 penalty (unless they have an area effect handy).

Now all of this generally amounts to making you, the skillful hidden character, a royal pain to get at. As if that weren’t bad enough news for the opponent, you can attack and then re-hide with but a Minor Action. A really intent opponent could start readying actions and hope that you do what they expect you to – or they could just target another character that’s in plain view and ignore you (or hope that you will decide to remain hiding for the rest of the encounter).

Attacking from Stealth:

Here are the valid scenarios:

Target is not aware of you:
  • You used Stealth to sneak up on a target and gain a Surprise round. You get Combat Advantage against any Surprised opponents.
  • As in #1, however you choose to remain hidden while other characters act in the Surprise round. When you successfully remain hidden in this way, you will get the Combat Advantage on your first attack from Stealth, because it’s a special situation where a target not being aware of you is not directly connected to the target being Surprised during the Surprise round. For example, say you are hiding while the rest of the charactes engage an enemy (either the characters do not have a surprise round or the enemies have a surprise roung). The hidden character may still effectively gain the benefit of a surprise round when they reveal themselves – regardless of the actual surprise round consequences.

Target is aware of you:
  • You are hidden, and make an attack. As it says in Stealth, if you later attack or shout, you are no longer hidden. You don’t get Combat Advantage for your attack, and you must then use at least a Minor Action to make another active Stealth check (you still retain the advantage of any Cover or Concealment from the square you occupy).

So that’s it – all of this with one skill - but you still want more? You want to use the Stealth skill to gain the defensive benefits of total concealment on every turn, and the offensive benefits of a surprise round on every turn?

Some Other Observations:

  • If Stealth was meant to be used to obtain Sneak Attacks from range this often using the Stealth skill, why the increased damage die with the Shuriken? Wouldn’t this be redundant? (this would be why this Class Feature uses a light thrown weapon that is ranged only – not a light melee/ranged weapon such as the dagger)
  • If Stealth was meant to be used to obtain Sneak Attacks from range whenever Cover is available using the Stealth skill, wouldn’t a more appropriate name have been chosen for the “Backstabber” feat? However, if the authors assumed that the majority of Sneak Attacks would be achieved from flanking, the name makes perfect sense.


Thoughts/comments?
Shadow walk: conc till the end of your next turn.
Stealth: unless a creature is distracted you must have cover or concealment to make a stealth check.

SO... minor(curse),Standard(attack power),move(gaining conc)
next turn rinse repeat.



There are several things going on here which are not being adapted to,
Stealth, includes move silent, hide in shadows, improved feint, create diversion etc...
Perception, includes listen,spot,search,sense motive, etc...

You no longer just roll a check, you have to substantiate it. ie:
The rogue sneaks past the guards(stealth check as move silent and hide in shadows), then climbs a wall(athletics check), then stops at the window to see if the room is empty(perception check as listen cause its dark and he cant see), then creeps across the floor(stealth as move silent), then attempts to open the locked door as quietly as possible(thievery and stealth), then proceeds to slink into the hallway unseen(stealth as hide), and finally when confronted(init) he sneak attacks from a concealed position(stealth) then turns and leaps over the bannister(acrobatics) and has cover from the banister and gains concealment from the wall in the hallway, (stealth check) to remain hidden next turn when his opponent comes down the stairs.

Its not up to the Dm to say you cant do things, its up to the Dm to say what kind of DC your PC is attempting to do and it's up to you to describe(ie roleplay)what kind of skills/feats/powers that you will use to gain the desired effect.
katrick
Let me preface this by saying that I think Lootus makes some great points about the balancing effects of the offensive and defensive benefits of stealth. I think his interpretation is very fair to both the stealthers and the stealthed. I particularly like his view of ruling "sniping". That said...

Stealth helps you get a surprise round, it’s that simple.

I completely disagree with this. Why? You only get ONE action in a surprise round. This is clear as day in the rules.

Granting a surprise round for stealth means you can only make the surprise attack and your turn ends there, OR, the attacker can make an extra attack. First, they make the surprise attack, the surprise round ends, then they also get their normal actions following the initiative order.

Furthermore, if stealth granted a surprise round, the CA table on page 280 should read "surprised, p.188 and p.267. There is no need for the "unaware of you p.188" entry unless it is something different.

There would be no need for a CA entry in Stealth; it would say you are granted a Surprise Round.

The mechanics simply don't work because you are pulling rules from various parts of the PHB to fit your view of how the rule should work. This is chillingly similar to the people out there claiming that using stealth to hide upgrades your cover/concealment to total concealment. Once again, they are pulling rules from various areas to fit with their view of how the rules should work.

I maintain that Stealth is something in and of itself. It is not a renaming of any other rules.
The only things that all of the back and forth has proven is that some people don’t like the way the rules work as they appear in the 4th edition PHB, and would prefer that characters be able to use the Stealth skill for a use that isn’t in the rules – that is, to gain combat advantage every round in addition to the benefits of hiding and sneaking around.

Now, now... this is a little bit unfair. The people who disagree with you also feel that they are being true to the rules. I might make a similar comment about your position as well. "The only thing that all this back in forth has shown is that Lootus doesn't like stealthers so he reads the rules the way he wants to!" But, let's get to the heart of your position:

You are hidden, and make an attack. As it says in Stealth, if you later attack or shout, you are no longer hidden. You don’t get Combat Advantage for your attack, and you must then use at least a Minor Action to make another active Stealth check (you still retain the advantage of any Cover or Concealment from the square you occupy).

This, I take it, is the lynchpin of your position. I agree that the rules clearly state that attacking reveals a character using stealth. The question is when; before or after the attack is resolved? Your postion is before while mine is after.

See? It's not that I'm willfully misreading the rules. Indeed, I think that using stealth to gain combat advantage in normal combat is the way the rules are supposed to work. That is, I belief this is RAI. (And I suppose that you think that your reading is RAI as well.)
I completely disagree with this. Why? You only get ONE action in a surprise round. This is clear as day in the rules.

That's not quite what I meant - I should probably have been a little more clear. What I mean is that Stealth can help a character:
  • Gain a Surprise round, even if none of the other characters get one.
  • Gain a Surprise-esque action when they first reveal themselves during the course of combat (if it's not during the actual Surprise round, then the character isn't limited to the single action). The effect is similar to an actual Surprise round, in that one side is aware and the other is not, but not exactly the same - another reason why it would have needed to be included in the Stealth description, to clarify just such a misunderstanding (obviously they did not succeed here! ).


Now, now... this is a little bit unfair. The people who disagree with you also feel that they are being true to the rules. I might make a similar comment about your position as well. "The only thing that all this back in forth has shown is that Lootus doesn't like stealthers so he reads the rules the way he wants to!"

You may consider me chided. I don't mean to offend. I was attempting to say that it seems the one major blockage to a consensus on how Stealth works is in trying to justify repeatedly getting Combat Advantage with it, and how this would work with all the various other parts of the rules. I totally agree that the rules could've been written much more clearly than they are. I just don't see how, after a more careful reading of all of the pieces involved, it can be anything but what I've been advocating.
The official FAQ has been updated, and clearly states that you do, in fact, use the Targetting What You Cannot See rules when hidden.

16. What are the benefits of being hidden?

There are several benefits of being hidden from an enemy - you have combat advantage against them and they will have a more difficult time targeting you. Page 281 of the Player's Handbook explains the rules for targeting creatures you cannot see.

Personally I like the Where's Waldo model much better. I don't think you can really combine "Stealth=Invis" and "You can hide when people are watching" into one rules system, especially with how easy it is to hide in 4e.

Consider the following. I can be in melee with a monster, in a completely featureless room except for one waist-high tumbleweed in the middle. On my turn, without making any sort of diversion, I can run over, dive in the tumbleweed, and hide, and the monster, using the RAW, has absolutely no idea where I am. He's clueless, and if he's not good at Perception, he might NEVER find me.

I find it much more reasonable to say that me hiding in the tumbleweed gives me CA because he can't track my exact motions and so can't defend against my thrown daggers, but that he knows where I am and can attack me with only the normal concealment penalty.
Where did you find this?
Hooray! A FAQ update about stealth is long overdue. But something tells me this won't settle the issue. (I mean, there are still folks over on the rules board debating about the difference between a rogue 'wielding' a dagger and one 'holding' a dagger.)

What *I* want to know is, how does the bluff skill work with stealth?
Thanks for putting up these posts VK, each one gets better and better.
My take is that the "Targeting what you can't see" rules are incomplete. They don't differentiate between the different types of cover, concealment, and invisibility.

My hope is that we will see a re-write of the "targeting what you can't see" rules in the near future.

What I am hoping to see clarified/changed:
Passive check: When a creature makes a stealth check it is opposed by your passive Perception. Compare results and see below.
Active check: On your turn, you can make an active Perception check as a minor action, comparing the result to the hidden creature's last Stealth check. You can make this check if you have on information the location of the hidden opponent or if you want more information. (If you know his direction but have not yet gleaned his location, for example.) Use the higher result between passive and active checks.

Stealther is in:
  • Concealment/cover: Compare your Perception to their last Stealth check, if you win you have pierced their stealth and can target them (normal modifiers for the various forms of cover and concealment apply).

  • Total concealment/Total Cover/Invisible: Compare your Perception to their last Stealth check. If you win, you know the direction to the creature's location, or it's exact location if you beat it by 10 or more. Unless you can negate your opponent's Total Concealment/Total Cover/Invisibility, use the Pick a square and attack rule to attack your opponent with a targeted attack.

Pick a square and attack:If you can not see your opponent, choose...[the rest is the same]
Close or area attacks: No change

"Oh bother." sighed Pooh as he chambered another round.
The big problem with my wishlist (and the rules) is what if an invisible creature is not using stealth. Is it a Perception check of 0 to know the direction and a Perception check of 10 to know what square he is in? Seems kind of easy.
"Oh bother." sighed Pooh as he chambered another round.
It won't work. First: Chameleon is an interupt, you cannot take an interupt on your turn. It must be someone elses turn. Second: you did not lose cover, you lost stealth. Losing stealth does not qualify for Chameleon, losing cover does.

First: Page 268 says an interrupt occurs whenever its trigger takes affect, in other words, when you attack you're not hiding anymore.

Second: You use the stealth ability to hide in other words they cannot see you. You have concealment, be it behind a table in the dark corner of a room.

edit: also, I love how you edited out most of the description of chameleon.
Since the sneaker only has Cover or Concealment and Stealth doesn't upgrade that, we know for sure that the defender has a LOS to her. If the defender did not have a LOS to her, she would be Totally Concealed and come under the Targeting What You Can't See rules. Since we know for sure that the defender has a LOS to her, he knows what square she is in; he can trace a line right to her.

I think the problem here and why the FAQ disagrees is that you've reduced what should be three things to only two. You keep referring only to having LOS or not. But the game clearly distinguishes between unblocked LOS, (partially) blocked LOS, and no LOS. You do not have unblocked LOS to someone with Cover or Concealment. (See page 188, where it says that unblocked LOS means you have no Cover nor Concealment.)

As a side note, though it does say that powers of concealment help to avoid attack, I think that is just a flavorful use of the word, not meant to be the same key word.

Chris
I'll add here that in addition to the new FAQ entry regarding using stealth to force opponents to use the Targetting What You Can't See mechanics, I specifically asked customer service the follow up question of what penalties opponents have to attack you. The flat answer is that if you succeed at hiding during combat using Stealth then:

1) You have combat advantage if you attack your opponent from hiding.
2) Your opponent has to use the Targetting What You Can't See rules to attack you with a melee or ranged attack. That means he has to guess what square you're in, and if he guesses correctly he is still -5 to attack you because he can't directly see you.


Below is the follow-up customer service question and answer for reference:

Question:
The official Player's Handbook FAQ added a Q&A regarding the results of being hidden in which it says "There are several benefits of being hidden from an enemy - you have combat advantage against them and they will have a more difficult time targeting you. Page 281 of the Player's Handbook explains the rules for targeting creatures you cannot see."

Since this new FAQ entry refers to the rules on p.281 for targetting creatures you can't see, does that mean that if you succeed at a Stealth check during combat to hide while an enemy is watching you that the enemy now cannot see you, has to guess at the square you're in and suffers a -5 penalty to attack you?

Answer:
Yes, that is correct. You enemy will take a -5 to attack you if you make a successful stealth check. Please let me know if you need anymore help!

Tony
Customer Service Representative
Wizards of the Coast

Thanks for posting that. I finally just found it.

Now.... let the mass stealthing BEGIN!!!!!