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Author Topic: Food for thought: Stealth  (Read 917 times)

Aphel

Food for thought: Stealth
« on: December 29, 2012, 04:30:00 pm »
I originally wanted to post an answer to this other topic,  but then I figured it would be best to take the opportunity to approach  the issue differently. I would like to share my thoughts on the issue  of stealth, and if there are any thougths and discussions archived on  this topic, a link won't do no harm.

One of things that can be  done with most RPG I played is to create and play character using  stealth. Some systems implement it better than others, some make things  easier for player and GM while others just provide competetive skill  checks and a limited ability to back stab. That aside and talked about  later, there are some more roleplay-oriented things that I think might  be worth talking about.

Stealth and how it can be roleplayed is  in my experience only limited by time and patience of those involved as  it could drag on for quite a while to play it out. In the past, I used  text macros to emote what my character was doing, however it felt too  simple and easy most of the time, automated in an way that somehow  didn't quite fit to what I wanted to portray. It's a bit more  complicated than *uses the terrain, light and his own gear to conceal himself*, so here are a few thoughts. Stealth depends on various different factors:
  • Distance to your enemies
  • Perception of your enemies
  • Amount of cover
  • Personal skill and gear
  • Alertness of your enemies
  • Environment
  • What you want to do
  • What your enemies can do
Stealth  is more than being unheard or unseen. You can be seen, but judged as  harmless or be forgotten quite easily. Items can be disguised as  harmless objects, and mind games shall be played. Creativity is important if you approach stealth in your roleplay.

Think  of those that you want to elude, confuse and deceive. What kind of  sense to they have? Do they have good smell, heat sensitivity, dark  vision? How alert and/or paranoid are they? How far away are they? What  are they looking for, and what do they deem as harmless? Most of these  questions can be answered by the GM or come from the experiences of the  character.


How much concealment does your character  have available? No matter the armor penalty, with 100% line of sight  cover it is hard to see somebody. Sure, other senses then smell or  really bad luck (shadows, parts of gear sticking out of cover etc) it  can still be possible to notice somebody. On a very loud place, or a  very smelly or hot place, other senses might be likewise limited.  Stealth can also mean that distractions and baits are used to remain  unnoticed. Hide and move silently can be used without training, and if  he stays out of sight, even a warrior in full plate can sneak up on  somebody, or remain hidden.
It is quite possible to hide a warrior  in full plate with a tower shield in plain sight without the use of  magic. It does depend on your opponent and her or his abilities and  resources, and maybe a good bluff check or something similar.


Stealth  is all about perception and creativity, yours and your opponents. It's  more than just a perception check against a skill check, and even Hide  in plain sight has its downfalls. If rangers and shadowdancers can  aquire at a certain level the ability of doing a hide check despite  being observed, does that mean one can't use distractions to achieve the  same? Of course one can. Hide in plain sight just implies, in my  opinion, that the character is so good at using her or his  environment/mystical ability/ to  simply "vanish" despit being "watched". It's a perception game, after  all.

Stealth is a great tool to solve encounters  if the GM so permits. Just like combat, magic and social skills it can  be (more or less) cleverly used, and even should be used in my opinion.

What  do you think in regards to the use of stealth? When roleplaying  stealth, how do you go about it? Or does it hinder the flow of action  too much for you? What are your pet peeves in regards to  stealth/stealthy characters? Do you use it with the character you play  on quests?
Do you think making things complexis better than  making it easy and simple, reducing it to competetive skill checkes and  +d6 sneak attack, or vice versa?
 
The following users thanked this post: lonnarin

Stephen_Zuckerman

Re: Food for thought: Stealth
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2012, 05:02:19 pm »
My character has a Cloak of Elvenkind (along with a few other items) that make him harder to see by camouflaging him with his surroundings. When he's focused on being stealthy, he blends in as well or better than an invisible character (his +36 beats the heck out of the +20 you get from Invis... In PnP, anyway).

This, of course, is physically being hard to see. For Phinn, that's the pinnacle of stealth - not subterfuge, but almost not even being there at all.

For the rest of your [strike]article[/strike] post... I think you're really just overthinking it a little.
 

lonnarin

Re: Food for thought: Stealth
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2012, 06:35:20 pm »
I think using stealth skills is an excellent application of misdirection to get by obstacles.  If you want to avoid or get the drop on something on any of my quests, by all means send me a tell and I'll work with it.  Something like throwing a coin down the hallway to make a guard chase it to investigate, disguising yourself like a commoner in a crowd, swaddling a shortsword to make it look like a baby, hiding objects real well on your person to avoid them being confiscated, all applicable.  Many skills like tumble, pickpocket/sleight of hand, bluff, diplomacy, use magic device and spellcraft have a multitude of uses outside the Neverwinter code-box with the right imagination. ;)
 

Stephen_Zuckerman

Re: Food for thought: Stealth
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2012, 06:53:24 pm »
And here I thought we were just talking about Hide/Move Silently.

Liches don't know 'bout my Adventuring Kit.
 

Aphel

Re: Food for thought: Stealth
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2012, 07:08:27 pm »
Quote from: Stephen_Zuckerman
My character has a Cloak of Elvenkind (along with a few other items) that make him harder to see by camouflaging him with his surroundings. When he's focused on being stealthy, he blends in as well or better than an invisible character (his +36 beats the heck out of the +20 you get from Invis... In PnP, anyway).

This, of course, is physically being hard to see. For Phinn, that's the pinnacle of stealth - not subterfuge, but almost not even being there at all.
So, no real interesting roleplay involved? Slip on gear, done?

Quote
For the rest of your [strike]article[/strike] post... I think you're really just overthinking it a little.
Thanks. That means I am doing it right. :D

Quote from: lonnarin
I think using stealth skills is an excellent application of misdirection  to get by obstacles.  If you want to avoid or get the drop on something  on any of my quests, by all means send me a tell and I'll work with it.   Something like throwing a coin down the hallway to make a guard chase  it to investigate, disguising yourself like a commoner in a crowd,  swaddling a shortsword to make it look like a baby, hiding objects real  well on your person to avoid them being confiscated, all applicable.   Many skills like tumble, pickpocket/sleight of hand, bluff, diplomacy,  use magic device and spellcraft have a multitude of uses outside the  Neverwinter code-box with the right imagination. ;)
In my experience, the usefulness of a more thinking/tactical approach including stealth is limited in quests, usually. There's simply not enough time to roleplay things out, as a GM, you can't devote time to a single character and let the others out on a quest. So at best, a sneak character does a bit of scouting, practically. The rest is just the "bonus damage", which means that in most cases, unless you rp things in a CDQ or over the forums/IRC, you can't do what you should be able to. Maybe that's a problem with the large groups during quests. I am very interested to find a solution which benefits all involved parties. One can reduce a charater to a min/maxed heap of numbers (hm, all the possibilities of game theory, probability theory and other nice things...), then again, so can I in other, more competetive oriented mmorpgs, and what would be the point of calling it a "character", but ymmv.
 

Lord Dark

Re: Food for thought: Stealth
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2012, 07:45:47 pm »
I think Shadowdancer has to be my favorite class, I have not had as much fun playing any other of my characters than I have had with Tod. I like how you mentioned about being seen but seen as harmless, but I think that is more of a charismatic skill. I would think that you are thinking a little too into this, mainly because some players, even myself at moments, like to get the ball rolling in quests and adventures. To be that detailed in the game might make questing feel little cumbersome to some. When I play Tod and I'm trying to type an elaborate description of what he is doing, then more often than not, someone else well jump in with a simple *Goes into the room, doing his/her best to remain quiet and out of sight*.

I also really like how you mentioned all the different aspects to stealth, not only on the variables such as your gear and skill, but also other skills the enemy might have such as: hearing, smell, and sight. There are so many variables that the possibilities are endless, but in a quest where multiple players (often players who have children) commit to a quest, having one person incorporating all mentioned variables in their actions would consume a lot of time. That is only one person, if all players who were of the sneaky sort were to do the same thing, then progress could be really slow going.

Even the point you made about a warrior in full armor, that is very much true! Perhaps not everything should be about the roll of dice, but rather on the creativity you mentioned and playing outside of the restriction presented by a given number of points in a given skill. I would think to use very detailed emotes in journals and in game when things are very time restricted.

I know I might not have answered your questions or offered advice that you might find useful, but you really gave me food for thought, and even ideas on how to RP in the future. : )
 

lonnarin

Re: Food for thought: Stealth
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2012, 07:48:15 pm »
I do have an idea for a rogue/bard/thug based quest series utilizing the utmost of subterfuge and skill rolls.  I mostly got the idea from watching two awesomely RPed rogues on our server, Jetta and Tyra.  I was thinking something along the lines of a "Dirty Dozen" scenario where a select group of stealthy, personable or intimidating individuals get together on a mission of infiltration on behalf of some government given their spotty moral histories.  Some could be voluntary folks trying to make good, others RPed into the mix as having gotten caught for something underhanded, and doing the mission to avoid legal repercussions.  Sort of a gathering of the anti-heroes.  In this sort of quest, dialogue and social maneuvering would be key and hack n slash down to a minimum.

This discussion makes me think its high time I ran that one.  With the Razorbacks and Lucien gone, new gangs and power brokers will be vying for control in Layonara's seedy underworld.  I'll start a thread in Rumors over the next few days, once I hash out some plot details.
 

Stephen_Zuckerman

Re: Food for thought: Stealth
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2012, 07:54:17 pm »
Quote from: Aphel
So, no real interesting roleplay involved? Slip on gear, done?

Not at all. Emoting the magic doing its work gives the appropriate flavor for Phinn entering stealth mode (or leaving it). I just think you might be using the "doing lots of different and super-special clever things" definition of "roleplaying," rather than "portraying a character."


Quote from: Aphel
Thanks. That means I am doing it right. :D

Not necessarily. That's a little bit like saying it's good to "drink too much water." It's not. That's why it's "too much."

However, putting thought into aspects of playing a character is never a bad thing.

I definitely disagree with you lumping everything a rogue-class character is best at into "stealth," though. Subtlety is not stealth. Reflexes are not stealth. Charisma is not stealth. Insight is not stealth. Misdirection is not stealth. Do all of these things help, when you try to go unnoticed? Yes. But that's not what you're trying to say.

Emoting "Ronnie Rogue throws a rock to distract the medusa as he slips past the doorway" implies that the medusa is distracted by the rock. The player doesn't have that power. You could throw a rock, and have a GM take a Bluff check (or whathaveyou) as a bonus to your Hide and Move Silently checks, but that's a much more dynamic scenario than you seem to be addressing in your first post.

Stealth mode is very simply hiding from sight, and being quiet about it. Armor check penalties apply to Hide and Move Silently.

NWN is poorly suited to strict simulationism. The GMs reward cleverness and ingenuity, but you can only get so far when you have a -20 to Move Silently, and the fellow you're sneaking up on isn't stone deaf.
 

LordCove

Re: Food for thought: Stealth
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2012, 10:48:09 am »
A slight side-track, but something I'd like to add from an RP point regarding Hide and Stealth.

True Seeing. Able to spot Hidden opponents. Yes.
But please, anyone with TrueSight, please put limitations on it when you are RPing.

If your a level 11 Wizard with TrueSight, and a level 30 Rogue/ShadowDancer with +80 Hide and MS is hiding behind a tree or a boulder... please don't assume you can see them.

Mechanically you can, but RP wise a high level sneak/hide expert would probably have wised up by now that wizards/clerics of even a low level can see them. And True Seeing isn't X-ray, you shouldn't be able to see through Rocks and Trees to see the Master Assassin hiding behind them.

I would think it frustrating to build a character specialising in hiding, only to have every character on the server with TS able to see him no matter where he hides.
 

Dorganath

Re: Food for thought: Stealth
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2012, 12:36:06 pm »
Quote from: LordCove
True Seeing. Able to spot Hidden opponents. Yes.
But please, anyone with TrueSight, please put limitations on it when you are RPing.

This cannot be a one-sided request.  Stealth users are just as guilty.

Here's why.

Stealth is broken in NWN. It's implementation was the easiest possible one to do, and as such the mechanics of it are too simplistic, too easy and too perfect.  A high enough Hide/Move Silent combination is nearly as effective as magical invisibility and can last a whole lot longer. As such, True Seeing is likewise broken in similar and opposing ways to balance out the design compromises Bioware made.  As a pair and as they're implemented, it balances out in a mechanical sense.

What am I talking about?

A non-Shadowdancer, mid-level Rogue standing in the middle of a road in broad daylight and just...vanishes. No cover, no RP, no token attempt to "hide".  Yes, I've seen this, plenty, and it's every bit as bad as Lord Cove's example from the other side. On the converse side of things, a previously Stealthed Rogue coming into the middle of a group of people and just un-Stealthing. Mechanically valid, yes.  RP-wise, it's poor. The fallacy is that normal Stealth mode actually makes a person unable to be seen.  For Shadowdancers, this could be argued, but for the general users of Stealth, this is not true. However, that's how it's used because that's how NWN implemented it.

Stealth mode has basically two mechanical reasons for existence in NWN: sneaking past hostiles and combat.  Hide in Plain Sight mechanically allows for entering stealth mode while in the midst of combat, which is a huge benefit, as we all know. But let's be honest, the default implementation of Stealth in NWN already allows people to "hide in plain sight" in a mechanical sense when out of combat, as my above example illustrates.  

Again, this is just how NWN was designed.  There's no cover system.  There's no accounting for obstacles. The best we have are walls or terrain tiles that block visibility completely.

But unless Stealthy characters stop using Stealth mode as an on-demand Invisibility, I think it's perfectly acceptable for True Seeing to pierce right on through it.  That said, if there's some actual RP of hiding, as Lord Cove suggests...of ducking behind obstacles and making a serious effort to actually hide, then it would also be appropriate for True Seeing users do not automatically see hidden characters through solid objects.

Both sides should have some consideration. Stealth users should spend extra time emoting their actions and True Seeing users should pay attention to what their party-mates are doing and respond appropriately.  A "stealthed" PC walking down the middle of an open hallway is fair game (and should, in fact, be seen by everyone), but one taking pains to use cover may not be.
 

Guardian 452

Re: Food for thought: Stealth
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2012, 12:49:34 pm »
Enzo hid and stalk/followed Milara a long tome ago. Milara was controlled by Leanthar. Milara had true seeing yet because of Enzo using actual cover etc. It was a brilliant game of sneaking and avoiding beeing seen and heard. It was more than the game mechanics and it was great!