5E A Reliable Talent for Expert Stealth

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
Oh my gods, six pages. Thank you all for taking the time to respond.

75% success against a garden-variety monster, under adverse conditions, seems pretty reasonable to me. If you want to have a particularly alert guard, you can give it proficiency, or even expertise, in perception.
You are not wrong, but this is not in line with your original proposal. You said that high-level rogues should have the chance to sneak when no one else could. I agree with that idea, but that is not what this is. This is a high-level rogue having a chance to be detected when anyone else would be detected as a matter of course. To actually get to the point where such a rogue feels challenged, the monster would require a truly ridiculous bonus to their roll, well in excess of +10.

Seems you have a good handle on it and don't need my advice. Enjoy it!
I hope I didn't shut you down, Ovinomancer; I have a tendency to speak in absolutes that is easily interpreted as a lack of interest in discussion. I'm not certain, I just project confidence.

The high-level rogue doesn't have to sneak through a dark dungeon past a sleepy guard. The high-level rogue has to sneak past a dragon, in broad daylight, at a full tilt run.
Good. Yes. That is actually more helpful than it seems. Forest for the trees, and all that.

I was actually just thinking about starting a post about whether or not expertise ruins the game.
Is that not this thread? :)

It just sounds to me like the argument is not so much "Expertise is problematic..." but "Expertise is problematic when I chop away two of the three pillars underpinning the game and things get wobbly." Which doesn't so much sound like a problem with Expertise per se, but the choices the DM has made. I think we agree here?
I will cop to the fact that my issue is far more combat-focused than I thought when I wrote the post. I am much less concerned with someone being Solid Snake /in general/ than I am with someone being Solid Snake /during their initiative phase/. And it's not that the rogue often succeeds at hiding in adverse conditions -- that would not be a problem -- it's that they /always/ succeed, which I see as being just as little fun as never succeeding. That might be an exaggeration, but I do believe that it is uncertainty that drives entertainment in tabletop roleplaying, to a large degree.

What I have taken to doing is assigning each encounter a 'clutter value,' which I report to rogue players at the beginning of the encounter. The clutter value is an abstraction of how much junk is lying around in the encounter area that the rogue can use for cover. It directly translates to the number of times the rogue can hide before the enemy starts getting advantage on their Perception checks because the rogue is reusing hiding spots.

This worked fine until Reliable Talent. After Reliable Talent the enemy can roll for advantage until they are blue in the face and they still won't ever see the rogue. It's irrelevant.

I accept as logically valid the argument that this is fine. Logically valid or not, I do worry that it is less fun to succeed all the time than it is to have even a 5% failure chance.

One thing that every DM should do, IMO, is give every single NPC in the game at least 4 total trained skills, and most of them racial traits and a feat.
That's a great idea. I will remember that.

If you had read the entire thread...the OP isn't complaining about high level rogues being too sneaky....the OP is saying that the mechanic of EXPERTISE allows character to break the BOUNDED ACCURACY design principle by reliably getting 20+ skill checks without expending some sort of resource to do so. There is a difference between saying high level characters can do some crazy things and saying high level characters can never fail at a basic class ability regardless of who they use it against.
Eloquently said.

It is an intentional design decision.

It is NOT a problem.
Yeah... these two things are in no way linked. I am a game designer. Game designers are full of s**t.

I havent had an issue with it. Even presuming a Dex 20/ Expertise/ +4 Prof Rogue, you're looking at DC 23.
Minimum. And that minimum value is still out of range for 90% of the Monster Manual.

'Hiding' isnt just button mashing in 5E. It requires a little bit of set up and/or context to be even possible in the first place.
You are entitled to your opinion, but in the opinion of nearly everyone I've discussed this with, that is not how D&D5 was designed. The rogue class depends on sneak attack every round, with exceptions being the rarity.
 

Flamestrike

Explorer
DC 23 is still out of range for 90% of the Monster Manual.
The circumstances need to be appropriate for hiding in the first place (as adjudicated by the DM).

You're entirely within your rights as DM to say ''Nope, the monster is watching you duck behind the pillar/ around behind the tree; you cant Hide there''.

Hiding in 5e isnt button mashing (unless you want it to be as DM of course).

In my games, if the Monster sees you going into your hiding spot (and that's objectively where you are) you cant hide relative to that monster; your Stealth check to Hide fails.

A Rogue that pops down into a box (in full view of the enemy) and closes the lid, cant Hide. His Stealth check fails; the enemy monster knows exactly where he is.

It's a different case if the Box concealed a secret passage in the floor and the Rogue used that to slink off and Hide.

It's a matter of context.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I will cop to the fact that my issue is far more combat-focused than I thought when I wrote the post. I am much less concerned with someone being Solid Snake /in general/ than I am with someone being Solid Snake /during their initiative phase/. And it's not that the rogue often succeeds at hiding in adverse conditions -- that would not be a problem -- it's that they /always/ succeed, which I see as being just as little fun as never succeeding. That might be an exaggeration, but I do believe that it is uncertainty that drives entertainment in tabletop roleplaying, to a large degree.

What I have taken to doing is assigning each encounter a 'clutter value,' which I report to rogue players at the beginning of the encounter. The clutter value is an abstraction of how much junk is lying around in the encounter area that the rogue can use for cover. It directly translates to the number of times the rogue can hide before the enemy starts getting advantage on their Perception checks because the rogue is reusing hiding spots.

This worked fine until Reliable Talent. After Reliable Talent the enemy can roll for advantage until they are blue in the face and they still won't ever see the rogue. It's irrelevant.

I accept as logically valid the argument that this is fine. Logically valid or not, I do worry that it is less fun to succeed all the time than it is to have even a 5% failure chance.
It seems to me all that really matters is whether the player thinks it's fun. If he or she does, carry on, I say. If not, then you can either jointly tinker with the rules to make it less certain, create conditions in the game that accomplish the same effect without tinkering with the rules, or the player can just choose not to have the character hide all the time.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
In my games, if the Monster sees you going into your hiding spot (and that's objectively where you are) you cant hide relative to that monster; your Stealth check to Hide fails. A Rogue that pops down into a box (in full view of the enemy) and closes the lid, cant Hide. His Stealth check fails; the enemy monster knows exactly where he is. It's a different case if the Box concealed a secret passage in the floor and the Rogue used that to slink off and Hide. It's a matter of context.
Honestly, I think that is how I would prefer it to work, but it is not the assumption the rules make. The rules assume that if the rogue is not engaged (or actively being targeted by a ranged or spell attack), the rogue can slip out of sight.

I know I just got done saying that game designers are full of s**t, but the key is whether or not a bad rule makes the game less fun. In my opinion, Reliable Talent makes the game less fun, while rogues being able to hide during combat makes the game a lot more fun. Nerfing the latter substantially would require a lot of other revisions to keep the class viable.

For clarity, I'm not talking about mechanical viability, although I do think that is in play here. I'm talking about playability -- how much enjoyment a player gets out of the class.

It seems to me all that really matters is whether the player thinks it's fun. If he or she does, carry on, I say. If not, then you can either jointly tinker with the rules to make it less certain, create conditions in the game that accomplish the same effect without tinkering with the rules, or the player can just choose not to have the character hide all the time.
You are absolutely right -- my opinion is not as relevant as the player's. If they are happy winning all the time, I can only diminish their fun by tinkering.
 

Flamestrike

Explorer
Honestly, I think that is how I would prefer it to work, but it is not the assumption the rules make.
The Hiding rules (page 60 PHB, sidebar) states: ''The DM decides when circumstances are appropriate for Hiding''.

Arent you the DM?

The RAW also goes on to state: ''The question isnt whether a creature can see you when you're hiding. The question is whether it can see you clearly.''

The rules assume that if the rogue is not engaged (or actively being targeted by a ranged or spell attack), the rogue can slip out of sight.
The rules assume nothing of the sort. The assumption is yours.

The rules state it's down to the DM to determine when circumstances are appropriate for hiding (using common sense).

If you and I are playing Hide and Seek, (and you happen to be a 20th level Rogue) and I watch you (clear as day) crawl inside a cardboard box and close the lid, you are not hidden from me. I know where you are (and am objectively correct in that knowledge).

This is why we have DM's; to adjudicate this kind of stuff, and take into account context.

If the party Rogue (under close supervision) walks over to a tree or pillar, and attempts to Hide, his check auto-fails.

Now you dont HAVE to run it that way. Plenty of DMs run it as 'find cover - mash the Hide button'. In other words plenty of DMs decide that these are all the circumstances one needs to Hide.

For mine, those circumstances (find cover and roll a Stealth check via the Hide action) are already expressly covered by the rules, and are not what the rules are talking about when they add the additional text (over and above 'find cover and take the Hide action' when they then go on to state: 'the DM determines when you can/ cannot hide'.

Hiding flowchart (RAW):

Step 1: Find appropriate cover/ concealment.
Step 2: Use appropriate action to take the Hide action.
Step 3: Do circumstances other than the above, enable you to Hide (as determined by the DM)? For example, are you under close observation during the hiding attempt, and is it plainly obvious where you're hiding?
Step 4: Compare Stealth check result to passive perception of eligible targets.

You're missing Step 3 in your games. You're allowing ''button mash'' stealth checks, and ignoring context (such as a monster watching you closely as you crawl into your hiding spot).

That's fine if that's how you want to run Stealth (it's your games, you're the DM and the DM determines when the circumstances for hiding is appropriate). But if you decide that kind of circumstance (hiding under direct observation) is NOT appropriate for Hiding (as the RAW tells you to do), you're well within your rights to do so.
 

doctorbadwolf

Adventurer
The circumstances need to be appropriate for hiding in the first place (as adjudicated by the DM).

You're entirely within your rights as DM to say ''Nope, the monster is watching you duck behind the pillar/ around behind the tree; you cant Hide there''.

Hiding in 5e isnt button mashing (unless you want it to be as DM of course).

In my games, if the Monster sees you going into your hiding spot (and that's objectively where you are) you cant hide relative to that monster; your Stealth check to Hide fails.

A Rogue that pops down into a box (in full view of the enemy) and closes the lid, cant Hide. His Stealth check fails; the enemy monster knows exactly where he is.

It's a different case if the Box concealed a secret passage in the floor and the Rogue used that to slink off and Hide.

It's a matter of context.
You're describing your own house ruling, not the rules, as such.

In your later post, you even quote the relevant text. "It's about whether they can see you clearly." That literally includes them being able to see you. If they can't, the default assumption is that you can Hide.
 

Flamestrike

Explorer
You're describing your own house ruling, not the rules, as such.
Dude, I literally cited the rules in the above post.

In order to Hide the rules (this is RAW) are:

1) You need to first locate a place to hide (near total cover or concealment in most cases, barring Skulkers, Halflings and Wood Elves).
2) You use an action (or bonus action for Rogues) to take the Hide action.
3) The DM determines if there are any other circumstances NOT LISTED ABOVE that would negate your ability to Hide (such as being closely observed as you move to your hiding spot, your hiding spot being blindingly obvious and so forth) as per the Hiding sidebar on Page 60 of the PHB.
4) Presuming you meet those criterion, and the DM decides the circumstances are appropriate for you to Hide, you make a Stealth check to Hide.

In your later post, you even quote the relevant text. "It's about whether they can see you clearly." That literally includes them being able to see you. If they can't, the default assumption is that you can Hide.
Unless the DM determines circumstances are not appropriate for hiding (again: this is expressly RAW in the PHB) - such as being closely observed as you crawl behind your hiding spot, your hiding spot being blindingly obvious, and similar common sense situations.

That's why we have a DM mate.

Hiding in the PHB is not 'go behind cover or the equivalent and mash the Hide button'.

Hiding in the PHB is 'go behind cover (and if the DM says the circumstances are OK for hiding in addition to you being behind cover) mash the Hide button'.
 
Last edited:

doctorbadwolf

Adventurer
Dude, I literally cited the rules in the above post.

In order to Hide the rules (this is RAW) are:

1) You need to first locate a place to hide (near total cover or concealment in most cases, barring Skulkers, Halflings and Wood Elves).
2) You use an action (or bonus action for Rogues) to take the Hide action.
3) The DM determines if there are any other circumstances NOT LISTED ABOVE that would negate your ability to Hide (such as being closely observed as you move to your hiding spot, your hiding spot being blindingly obvious and so forth) as per the Hiding sidebar on Page 60 of the PHB.
4) Presuming you meet those criterion, and the DM decides the circumstances are appropriate for you to Hide, you make a Stealth check to Hide.



Unless the DM determines circumstances are not appropriate for hiding (again: this is expressly RAW in the PHB) - such as being closely observed as you crawl behind your hiding spot, your hiding spot being blindingly obvious, and similar common sense situations.

That's why we have a DM mate.

Hiding in the PHB is not 'go behind cover or the equivalent and mash the Hide button'.

Hiding in the PHB is 'go behind cover (and if the DM says the circumstances are OK for hiding in addition to you being behind cover) mash the Hide button'.
Nah, the rule is, get out of line of sight, and unless the DM says otherwise, try to hide.

A DM who rules that breaking line of sight isn't enough, even as a general default, is making a house rule.
 

Flamestrike

Explorer
Nah, the rule is, get out of line of sight, and unless the DM says otherwise, try to hide.

A DM who rules that breaking line of sight isn't enough, even as a general default, is making a house rule.
Lol.

Exactly. Break line of sight AND the DM rules the circumstances are OK for hiding.

Such as the enemy not closely watching you enter your plainly obvious hiding position.

That would be a circumstance that this DM would say renders hiding impossible.

Maybe in your bizzaro world someone can strip object permanence from an observer simply by crawling into a box and shutting the lid while in full view of an observer, but not in my world.
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
Nah, the rule is, get out of line of sight, and unless the DM says otherwise, try to hide.

A DM who rules that breaking line of sight isn't enough, even as a general default, is making a house rule.
Um, not quite. Not that there is anything wrong with that - house rules - mind you. I've got lots of house rule friends. My father is a house ruler.

PHB p 177:

[SECTION]Hiding
When you try to hide, make a Dexterity (Stealth) check. Until you are discovered or you stop hiding, that check's total is contested by the Wisdom (Perception) check of any creature that actively searches for signs of your presence.
You can't hide from a creature that can see you clearly, and if you make noise (such as shouting a warning or knocking over a vase), you give away your position. An invisible creature can't be seen, so it can always try to hide. Signs of its passage might still be noticed, however, and it still has to stay quiet.
In combat, most creatures stay alert for signs of danger all around, so if you come out of hiding and approach a creature, it usually sees you. However, under certain circumstances, the Dungeon Master might allow you to stay hidden as you approach a creature that is distracted, allowing you to gain advantage on an attack before you are seen.
Ultimately, the DM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding.
Passive Perception. When you hide, there's a chance someone will notice you even if they aren't searching. To determine whether such a creature notices you, the DM compares your Dexterity (Stealth) check with that creature's passive Wisdom (Perception) score, which equals 10 + the creature's Wisdom modifier, as well as any other bonuses or penalties. If the creature has advantage, add 5. For disadvantage, subtract 5.
For example, if a 1st-level character (with a proficiency bonus of +2) has a Wisdom of 15 (a +2 modifier) and a proficiency in Perception, he or she has a passive Wisdom (Perception) of 14.

What Can you See?. One of the main factors in determining whether you can find a hidden creature or object is how well you can see in an area, which might be lightly or heavily obscured, as explained in chapter 8.[/SECTION]
 

ParanoydStyle

Peace Among Worlds
The first thing that occurs to me is magical senses or sensors of any kind. Blindsense or tremorsense for instance shouldn't necessarily care that much about how hard a rogue is to see and hear. An even more common example would be the scent ability that many beasts have (mechanically, it grants advantage to their perception test which might not be enough to detect an ultra-skilled rogue, but you could have it do more, especially in a situation where it was possible for a rogue to mask their scent, but they did not). But also Alarm is a 1st level spell that, if my interpretation of the rules is correct, there is no way for a rogue to Stealth past. Likewise, a rogue carrying magic items could be detected by Detect Magic, another 1st level spell.

What I'm getting at is, in all seriousness, the answer to your question is: "magic".

Short of magic (although really if you're playing D&D you've got to ask yourself why you'd stop short of magic), perhaps circumstance penalties? I'm thinking of something like the "ninja-proof" flooring that was super noisy to walk on that was installed in the castles of feudal Japanese warlords.
 

doctorbadwolf

Adventurer
No I’m not. I could diagram it for you if you like.
What do you think “, even as a general default,” means?

Do you understand the difference between a clarifying phrase and an independent statement?

It seriously isn't a complicated sentence, but I’ll go ahead and rephrase it for you.

If a DM rules that the general default is not that breaking line of sight is enough to allow an attempt to hide, they are houseruling.

The rules state that you can hide if you break line of sight. It also says that the DM can countermand that if they think it’s appropriate. (note how this statement does not mean that the default is anything other than “you can hide if they can’t see you”, and in fact acknowledges that default as an implied statement within the explicit statement)

these two statements essentially restate each other, adding a small note of clarification on the particulars of the “process” involved in ruling on stealth.


In case there is still, somehow, confusion, I have not stated that “ruling that stealth isn’t possible in a given moment is a house rule”. If you got here and think I have, you need to reread my statements. I have stated that establishing a default that disallows stealth by simply breaking line of sight is a houserule. It changes the starting point from which stealth is determined.
 

Advertisement

Top