D&D 5E Thievery in 5e - still relevant?

Notice how, in these examples, the GM is maintaining control over how the situation is presented to the players. The PC successfully performing the declared action doesn't actually change the situation in any significant way.
This is RPG 101. I fail to see how any example you have every given across many threads has the players take control of a situation. The player wants to do a task, so they roll at rule check. You look at the rules, and the rules tell you what to do, and then you do it. The player just sits there and nods. Though I guess you might say "the rules" are in control?

The players can never be "in control", as the rules are very strict and clear and say they can't.....right? I player can't just say "my character finds a billion gold coin" as the rules stop the player from doing that.

Not really. There are reasons I don't play 5e D&D. The fact that, by default, it has no resolution mechanic for most things beyond "GM decides" is one of them.
I guess an all rule dice rolling game is more fair to you? You can have failure based on the dice and rules, not on a DMs whim.

And it sounds great for a defensive DM who can point to the rules or roll and say "I did not do anything it was the rules and or the roll". I guess the roll is very attractive as the DM can point to it and say "it's your fault for rolling low player....I'm innocent".

But....I wonder why you don't see the game beyond the rules here?

I understand in your personal closed circle game with your best of best friends who all agree on nearly everything about everything together always have a smooth game as everyone is on the same page and mndset.

But you oddly give all the credit to the rules...and not your chosen groups mindset play style. But the rules are not that great. They say things that are utterly useless, like "be reasonable". And "reasonable" only works for tight, closed minset groups....
 

log in or register to remove this ad

ad_hoc

(they/them)
Well no, it's obviously not intended to be fun. The DM who employs a tactic like this really doesn't want Stealth to succeed. That was the whole point of my post- Stealth tends to be less pass/fail and more "does the DM want it to function in this circumstance" (in my experience).

Stealth has many hoops to jump through to begin with, and thus can easily be rendered pointless by any DM who doesn't want it be an option. I often don't bother to be proficient with it, because it's so rarely functioned. I still recall my very first AD&D Thief, trying to sneak about and gather intel on our enemies, being told that I was automatically spotted by an orc, because orcs have infravision, and the book says I can only hide from infravision "only if some heat producing light source is near to the creature or to the thief attempting to so hide....". Yes because carrying around a torch while sneaking makes perfect sense, lol.

And again, ask yourself how many standard D&D monsters who lurk in dungeons have infravision (or some other stealth-foiling sense). So here you have an ability in a game called "Dungeons & Dragons" that typically neither works in Dungeons or against Dragons, lol.

So yeah. I've learned that stealth only works when the DM wants it to, the fiddly rules are simply there to justify them not wanting it to.

In the current edition, it's even worse in some ways, as I've encountered several DM's who like to make group checks to see if the party can sneak about without being detected. Given that most armor users have disadvantage on this check (and armor users tend not to be trained in Stealth or have particularly high Dexterity in the first place), the chances of success in your standard Fighter/Cleric/Wizard/Rogue party is fairly slim in such cases.

In fact, one of the best ways to get Stealth to function at all in this edition is Pass Without Trace. A spell. Something a Rogue doesn't have access to natively, let alone Invisibility. Not long ago, I was in another thread complaining about how useless Stealth is (with regards to AD&D Backstab) when someone was like "what? in my campaign Thieves were backstabbing all the time!".

I bring up the extremely restrictive rules for setting up a Backstab in the first place, and his response was (as near as I can recall), "oh well, I always give Thieves a Ring of Invisibility". LOL.

Now I know some people are going to say "well in my campaign, I allow Rogues to..." and that's great. I'm sure there are many sane DM's have long since made rulings about stealth that actually allow it to work. But of all the skills in the game, there is none more restrictive than the ability to creep up on someone unseen.

I recently started playing Baldur's Gate 3, and I was surprised at how easy sneaking about is. All you need to do is stay out of the enemy perception range and you're hidden. The game only makes you roll if you actually blunder into said range. And there are several ways to distract enemies to make sneaking about easier. It functions so simply that I'm stunned that it's always been so complicated at the table, almost as if the designers don't want stealth to function!

The DM can make anything fail if they want to.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
In the current edition, it's even worse in some ways, as I've encountered several DM's who like to make group checks to see if the party can sneak about without being detected. Given that most armor users have disadvantage on this check (and armor users tend not to be trained in Stealth or have particularly high Dexterity in the first place), the chances of success in your standard Fighter/Cleric/Wizard/Rogue party is fairly slim in such cases.
In and of itself I don't see the bolded as being controversial at all. Trying to sneak around while in heavy armour is highly unlikely to go very well, and complaining that clanky types aren't good at stealth will fall on deaf ears with me.

Now if the armoured types can fly (or levitate and be towed like a balloon), that's different. Ditto if the heavy armour is removed, wrapped in cloth, and stuffed into a sack.
Not long ago, I was in another thread complaining about how useless Stealth is (with regards to AD&D Backstab) when someone was like "what? in my campaign Thieves were backstabbing all the time!".

I bring up the extremely restrictive rules for setting up a Backstab in the first place,
Yes, the 1e RAW for backstriking are too harsh. That said, 3e and later have gone too far the other way. There's a happy medium in there somewhere.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Rather, the game is designed so that the players can't assert control over how a situation is presented to them. Stealth is just a particularly salient example.
Almost. The players don't have control over how the situation is presented to them and nor should they; but they in some cases don't have as much control over what they do with that situation as maybe they should have.

A DM (or system) saying that sneaking in heavy clanky armour is prone to failure is just using some common sense. A DM (or system) saying that a non-clanky stealthy group is still prone to failing stealth al the time, however, is doing it wrong.
 



James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
In 5e Dark Vision doesn't spoil stealth. It's not thermographic vision like in previous editions where body heat shines out like a light bulb.
I'm aware, however, I am talking about my experience throughout all the years I've played. Darkvision actually benefits Stealth, technically, by imposing disadvantage on anyone trying to detect you (well at least by vision). Unfortunately that ends up kind of a wash, as sneaking around when you can't see isn't a great idea, and if you use darkvision to get around, you have disadvantage trying to notice any enemies lurking about...
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
In and of itself I don't see the bolded as being controversial at all. Trying to sneak around while in heavy armour is highly unlikely to go very well, and complaining that clanky types aren't good at stealth will fall on deaf ears with me.

Now if the armoured types can fly (or levitate and be towed like a balloon), that's different. Ditto if the heavy armour is removed, wrapped in cloth, and stuffed into a sack.

Yes, the 1e RAW for backstriking are too harsh. That said, 3e and later have gone too far the other way. There's a happy medium in there somewhere.
But you can see how that makes using the skill problematic. If I'm a Rogue with Stealth trained, typically I need to be far away from my party to use it. If the DM uses a Group check to tell if the party is noticed, well, chances are highly good that my training doesn't matter as my companions are likely untrained or worse, untrained with disadvantage, lol.

So on top of being a hard skill to use before the DM says anything, there's the additional hurdle that it's not generally party friendly- or more accurately, your party isn't friendly to the skill, unless you build around it....or magic gets thrown at it, ala Pass Without Trace.

As to your comments Larnievc, that's my point. Stealth tends to be either the DM says "yeah sure you can sneak, roll DC x" and there's no hassle, or it's soft shut down by enforcement of the rules for stealth themselves, which give the DM ample opportunity to say "oops, sorry, don't work".

Compared to other kinds of ability checks, Stealth is a bit of an outlier for how unwieldly it can be to use successfully. Which begs the question- is it even worth trying to use?
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
But you can see how that makes using the skill problematic. If I'm a Rogue with Stealth trained, typically I need to be far away from my party to use it.
Yes, that's the point. Let them make noise over here while you sneak around over there. Great distraction! :)
If the DM uses a Group check to tell if the party is noticed, well, chances are highly good that my training doesn't matter as my companions are likely untrained or worse, untrained with disadvantage, lol.
Again, if the Rogue (or any other quiet sneaky type) is anywhere near the party while trying to be stealthy s/he's doing it wrong.
So on top of being a hard skill to use before the DM says anything, there's the additional hurdle that it's not generally party friendly- or more accurately, your party isn't friendly to the skill, unless you build around it
Well, yes, for stealth to consistently work for the whole party the party does kinda need to be built around the concept.
Compared to other kinds of ability checks, Stealth is a bit of an outlier for how unwieldly it can be to use successfully. Which begs the question- is it even worth trying to use?
Part of it might be 5e's rather odd rules around perception, too.
 

ad_hoc

(they/them)
But you can see how that makes using the skill problematic. If I'm a Rogue with Stealth trained, typically I need to be far away from my party to use it. If the DM uses a Group check to tell if the party is noticed, well, chances are highly good that my training doesn't matter as my companions are likely untrained or worse, untrained with disadvantage, lol.

So on top of being a hard skill to use before the DM says anything, there's the additional hurdle that it's not generally party friendly- or more accurately, your party isn't friendly to the skill, unless you build around it....or magic gets thrown at it, ala Pass Without Trace.

As to your comments Larnievc, that's my point. Stealth tends to be either the DM says "yeah sure you can sneak, roll DC x" and there's no hassle, or it's soft shut down by enforcement of the rules for stealth themselves, which give the DM ample opportunity to say "oops, sorry, don't work".

Compared to other kinds of ability checks, Stealth is a bit of an outlier for how unwieldly it can be to use successfully. Which begs the question- is it even worth trying to use?

Stealth isn't shut down by enforcement of the rules.

You are using an interpretation of the rules to be the most restrictive.

5e rules are actually pretty lenient by using passive perception and having the entire party be able to do it via group checks, even if there is a heavy armour user. 1 can fail and the group can still pass as the stealthy characters help them.

Or not even using a group check a rogue can use their action to help another character while using their bonus action to hide. That gives advantage or cancels out disadvantage.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top