Hide. Ugh.

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I'll keep this short: Hide made no sense in 3E. It was a mundane thing, not magical, and because creatures did not "face" any direction, you needed concealment or cover. Which made it pretty hard to be hiding when you sunk that dagger into the unsuspecting guard.
Why can't Hide be mundane? As for the guard, you can be hidden, make a partial charge, and then hope to kill him in a single attack.

It needs work, but it's kind of alright.
Oh, I'm not saying Hide should be magical. I'm saying the fact that it's mundane (coupled with the lack of facing in 3.5) means logically, you can't have people hide without being in fog or behind a rock. In other words, its mundaneness means it must make sense in the real, non-magical world too.

Basically, I think the fix needs to come from an ability to create a personal sort of concealment, or from a way to incorporate facing--not necessarily for everybody, just some kind of equivalent to flanking (which is basically 3.5's way of saying, "you can't face two opposite directions at once").
The problem is with facing. Sure no facing using flanking as its substitute makes some sense and is great for ease of play. Don't create bizarre rules hinging on the fact that there is no facing.

Square horses and not being able to move down a 5' wide corridor easily, can't sneak up on someone in an open road/plain.

Bad ideas, it using a ease of use rule to alter basic fundamentals of reality. Sure in a turn based game the flanking idea is snazzy. Its unrealistic to think that you can't face any way you want and multiple different ways in a 6 second span. Its also unrealistic to assume you can always see behind you or you are in a constant state of spinning like a top. In reality you do have a back we all have them don't make rules that imply otherwise because in a turn based combat round you should be able to follow your opponent as he circles you.

I'm expressing my self really poorly here, but I'm finding this a hard idea to convey.
Or you could just describe things or use miniatures in such a way that people actually face in a direction...therefore there is facing in 3.5. Seriously, how hard is it to say the guard's looking south and you're approaching from the east, or to have a mini (or something standing in for a mini) that is facing away from your party?
Or you could just describe things or use miniatures in such a way that people actually face in a direction...therefore there is facing in 3.5. Seriously, how hard is it to say the guard's looking south and you're approaching from the east, or to have a mini (or something standing in for a mini) that is facing away from your party?

Its not hard to house rule it, but by the RAW the guard isn't facing any direction, he is facing all directions at once because there is no facing. Not they didn't mention facing, but there is expressly no facing.
Well it really does make sense that you need cover. I mean, you can generally partial charge 30ft anyways, 40+ if you've got magical boots. I'd also personally say that if you can start and end your round with cover/ concealment then they don't automatically see you as you exit cover (Solid Snake jumps over the doorway...), but could get another check. At night, you can just hide by being 25ft away from a human with his torch.

Also, there's no magic that defeats Hide checks (that I know of at least.), which makes it fairly valuable.
Well it really does make sense that you need cover. I mean, you can generally partial charge 30ft anyways, 40+ if you've got magical boots. I'd also personally say that if you can start and end your round with cover/ concealment then they don't automatically see you as you exit cover (Solid Snake jumps over the doorway...), but could get another check. At night, you can just hide by being 25ft away from a human with his torch.

Also, there's no magic that defeats Hide checks (that I know of at least.), which makes it fairly valuable.

Have you ever walked up behind someone and said hey, and then they jump a bit because they didn't know you were there?

You weren't charging out form behind cover, you weren't darting from shadow to shadow, you just walked up behind them.

Apparently that is impossible in a D&D world because you have no facing. People can't walk up behind you. It is physically impossible to do something basic to reality.

Rules like this are just designed bad.
1. There is no facing
2. If its true that there is no facing then X is true.

Totally wrong. Its not that facing doesn't exist creatures do look certain directions its just that in the turn based system of D&D it is simulated through flanking.

Hide should just go against spot in most open environments. There can be a note in it that says in certain circumstances it is impossible to hide. Such as an area with no cover and concealment that is being actively watched. So saying its impossible to hide in a blank hallway while a guard is looking down it is fine. Saying you can't hide from a dude in an open plain isn't. The hide skill can and should encompass the concept of moving in areas the person is currently not looking. At long ranges there should be effective cover anyways, at shorter ranges unless the dude is doing quick spin moves you can move with him to stay out of his line of sight.
It's not that there isn't facing, it's that there isn't facing in battle, on the battlemap.

Do you use the battle map when you're walking down the street? I would guess no, you're not using tactical movement rules. In combat it's assumed that everyone involved is actively surveying their surroundings in all directions all the time. While being able to do this in reality is a bit harder than they make it seem, it's better than the alternative and flanking rules are a good enough abstraction.

Now if you're out of combat and you try to sneak up on someone, only to have your DM tell you "there is no facing in 3.5" then, well, you've just got an awful DM. If an NPC is walking down the street, facing away from you, then he's just plain facing away from you. You don't need to make hide checks because he doesn't even get a spot check, because he can't see something he's not looking at.

Hide isn't for sneaking up on unsuspecting people, that's what move silently is for. Hide is for concealing yourself from people who are looking right at you, so you can remain undetected.

Say you're robbing a store late at night and you hear voices, you quickly step into the window display and pretend you're part of it (hide check, move silently check). The shopkeeper gets a listen check to hear your movement and a spot check to notice you're not a normal part of his window display. He doesn't notice you, so he turns around and starts heading for the stairs. If you want to run over and try to knock him out you only need to make a move silently check since he's not looking at you. Technically you could make a hide check but since he has light and you're practically right next to him it'll be virtually impossible for him to not see you...IF he turns around.
I'll keep this short: Hide made no sense in 3E. It was a mundane thing, not magical, and because creatures did not "face" any direction, you needed concealment or cover. Which made it pretty hard to be hiding when you sunk that dagger into the unsuspecting guard.

I never viewed it as an issue because I always interpreted that you only needed cover (or a brief distraction) to initially hide, and then after that, anyone trying to detect you had to make spot/listen checks vs your hide/move silently checks. Cover was only ever needed to be able to Hide initially, it was no longer needed afterwards. So in your scenario above, you would need cover from the guard only long enough to initially hide (or just otherwise be unobserved by him), and then after that, you would be "hidden" unless spotted or heard. Thus you could sneak up to hit the guard assuming he didn't succeed at his spot/listen, cover not withstanding. Facing isn't an issue relative to hiding and moving silently, because once you've employed these skills, it becomes a function not of the Guard's facing, but a function of his ability to perceive the world around him using Spot and Listen. My 2 cents.
It's not that there isn't facing, it's that there isn't facing in battle, on the battlemap.

Do you use the battle map when you're walking down the street? I would guess no, you're not using tactical movement rules. In combat it's assumed that everyone involved is actively surveying their surroundings in all directions all the time. While being able to do this in reality is a bit harder than they make it seem, it's better than the alternative and flanking rules are a good enough abstraction.

Now if you're out of combat and you try to sneak up on someone, only to have your DM tell you "there is no facing in 3.5" then, well, you've just got an awful DM. If an NPC is walking down the street, facing away from you, then he's just plain facing away from you. You don't need to make hide checks because he doesn't even get a spot check, because he can't see something he's not looking at.

Hide isn't for sneaking up on unsuspecting people, that's what move silently is for. Hide is for concealing yourself from people who are looking right at you, so you can remain undetected.

Say you're robbing a store late at night and you hear voices, you quickly step into the window display and pretend you're part of it (hide check, move silently check). The shopkeeper gets a listen check to hear your movement and a spot check to notice you're not a normal part of his window display. He doesn't notice you, so he turns around and starts heading for the stairs. If you want to run over and try to knock him out you only need to make a move silently check since he's not looking at you. Technically you could make a hide check but since he has light and you're practically right next to him it'll be virtually impossible for him to not see you...IF he turns around.

Exactly how we've always played it - and I think that's pretty clearly as it was meant to be. The OP seems to just want something like a WoW rogue's stealth mode in the game.
Have you ever walked up behind someone and said hey, and then they jump a bit because they didn't know you were there?

Not when that someone was in an open space. Always when I jump out of a side hallway or from behind a coat rack of something. Not saying it'd be impossible to do otherwise, just that I've never done it.

Maybe "Paranoid" would be a personality trait that'd let you spot in all directions at once in exchange for -2 to all charisma based checks.