In this episode of the RPGBOT.Podcast, we discuss stealth and invisibility mechanics in TTRPGs. We examine how stealth works in DnD 5e and Pathfinder 2e, how invisibility works, how to both use and counter stealth and invisibility as a player, and how to handle it as a DM/GM.
If you’ve enjoyed the show, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts, and rate us on Spotify or your favorite podcast app. It’s a quick, free way to support the podcast, and helps us reach new listeners.
Materials Referenced in this Episode
- DnD 5e
- Pathfinder 2e
- Other Stuff
Welcome to the RPGBOT dot Podcast. I’m Randall James, your hastily hidden hors d’oeuvre and with me is Tyler Kamstra.
Hi everybody. Hors d’oeuvre does start with an H, doesn’t it?
Technically. And Ash Eli.
Ash Ely 00:35
Hi guys, so don’t know what to do with that.
And because I choked on that, Ash Eli!
Ash Ely 00:46
Tyler, what’s happening? We’re starting good. Let’s do it.
Well, today we are going to talk about stealth, we’re going to talk about stealth perception and things related to it, including invisibility and you know, special stuff like blindsense and tremor sense and things like that. These are mechanics that have existed in D&D and Pathfinder for a very, very long time. And in basically every edition of either game that I’ve played, they’ve always been kind of confusing. And the rules are very spread out in strange ways. So today, we’re going to, we’re going to break things down, we’re going to simplify everything, make it all make sense. And we’re going to teach you how you can use stealth, perception, and invisibility, all these things more effectively at the table, especially in combat, where they frequently matter the most, without them becoming a huge, massive problem. And also, we’re going to talk about some fun things like throwing flour in the middle of the fight.
I think, I think I enjoy like the hiding rules for 5e, invisibility rules for 5e. But it really does feel to me, like somebody sat down, and they designed the system for hiding and combat like, you know, popping out haha, got you stab. And then somebody else came along, and they were like, Hey, by the way, you know, they can use magic to just be invisible, right? And now everybody’s like, Oh, we have to start stacking all of these things.
Ash Ely 02:12
Yeah, speaking from experience so, the thing about hiding, and especially invisibility is it’s one of those mechanics that people at the table always fight over. It’s like, but he couldn’t really see me. And, you know, it’s, it’s a question of like, what can they hear? How can they hear it? That kind of thing. And specifically, like, just sort of when it comes to meta knowledge, especially when you’re the DM and a player goes invisible? How do you play around that without, you know, feeling like you’re unfair, like it’s easier for the DM to hide where their position is from players, but it’s harder for the players to hide their position from the DM, because at DM needs to know that information.
Absolutely. And that kind of soft rules definition can be very frustrating in a lot of cases, let’s dig into it. Like let’s dig into where the the hard edges and the soft edges are. And let’s see if we can make this a little simpler for everybody and make it feel a little more fair. First, quick glance at the fifth edition rules for hiding because they’re in three places, which is how you know that a rule is very well thought out. They’re in the using ability score section, the adventuring section, and the combat section. And all of them tell you to look at each other but don’t list page numbers or what sections to look to. The important stuff is all in a sidebar hidden in the using ability scores chapter that’s simply called hiding. So go read that it’s broken.
There’s something meta there. I can’t quite put my finger on it. But…
Absolutely. And okay, so we’re gonna look at this sidebar real quick to make things way worse before we make them better. The first, the first sentence in this sidebar is the DM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding, immediately fuzzy.
Ash Ely 04:04
That’s the problem with hiding is that it’s kind of a gray area. If you’re leaving most of hiding, and I think like hiding more than most mechanics is really up to DM Fiat. So if you think that you should be hidden, it seems like well, that covers not quite high enough. So no, you’re not hitting. Like it’s caused a lot of hurt feelings, at least at my table. I don’t know about you guys.
Fortunately, I don’t think, I think it’s been a while since I’ve been in a party with a Rogue who spent a lot of time hiding. So it really hasn’t been a problem for me. But yeah, I could absolutely see it being a problem. So digging a little further into this. It continues to get worse. The next bit of important text you can’t hide from a creature that can see you clearly so first line is DM decides when it’s okay. And then like the next line is like except when we tell you that it’s just not okay. It kind of makes sense though you can’t hide from a creature that’s staring down directly at you, this is a mistake I see people make all the time, like I have an insanely high self, I’m gonna cast paths without trace my modifiers, like plus 30, I’m standing right in front of the sky, and I’m just going to duck down and hide right in front of them and go invisible apparently, does not work like that. You still have to be behind stuff.
And right, we’ve talked about this for other skills as well, like, you can’t persuade the king with a 30 to give you the kingdom. You know, a crit doesn’t necessarily mean you get everything you want and a high number doesn’t necessarily mean you can achieve the impossible. And this is just one more case of it. It’s like, Sure, you’re super quiet when you move and you’re wearing all black, but we’re in a well lit room, and you just sat down like crisscross applesauce and are expecting this guy not to be able to see you. It’s not gonna work.
Ash Ely 05:49
But I have a really high stealth though.
I bet you do. You were, you, you, are very sneaky. They’re very impressed.
Now in previous editions of the games in Pathfinder first edition in D&D 3x, you could actually hide in plain sight, a with a minus 20 modifier, which, in fifth edition, like a minus 20 modifier’s like, I’m not even gonna roll there’s, there’s no possible way in 3x Pathfinder. first edition minus 20 modifier’s the challenge. Someone says, Okay, you can do this with a minus 20 modifier, and the immediate response is like, Okay, let me count real quick and see if I can still overcome this, because it’s very possible.
Ash Ely 06:31
It’s what happens when you don’t have bounded accuracy.
Exactly. So we’ve covered you can’t just hide in the middle of a room. So we know that’s not allowed. We know that the DM adjudicates when circumstances are otherwise Okay, for hiding. There’s a bit of text that says if you come out of hiding and approach a creature, it usually sees you. So usually, there’s carrying a ton of weight because, you know, normal circumstances, fifth edition, there’s no facing creatures, see in all directions, at the same time, just pretend everyone’s head is continually rotating. So if you walk out of cover creatures will usually see you unless you have like concealment, it’s dark, you’re invisible, the creatures blind, something like that. One of those other circumstances. But this is also very important. Because if you can, if you can create the circumstances to allow it, you can emerge from wherever your hidden, walk up to somebody and attack them, which is very, very helpful for people like rogues.
But usually, they’ll see you.
But usually they will see you, yeah.
Ash Ely 07:35
Yeah. So that’s, that’s I feel the biggest issue is you mentioned before how 5e doesn’t have facing like Pathfinder does, which is good facing and Pathfinder is kind of up to system. But I feel like for this kind of, you kind of need it. Because if we’re just going to ignore facing, then it doesn’t really translate mechanicswise as to whether you can tell if a creature sees you or not, if they’re not facing you, logic should dictate that they can’t necessarily see you.
Yeah, definitely. This is one of those places where you kind of have to suspend disbelief. You may need to go a little outside the rules a little bit and say like, okay, DM, you’ve stated that they are looking that way. Can I just be behind them, please?
Well, and I think we do get an out, right, because it is stated, the DM might allow you to stay hidden as you approach a creature that is distracted, allowing you to gain advantage on an attack roll before you’re seeing. And I think that’s again, like that’s the here. This is the usually. So if, let’s say, you know, what can a DM do? If they’re engaged with somebody else? You might say they’re distracted, they’re not going to come through. If they’re, would you let like if a spellcaster was concentrating?
Ash Ely 08:48
I think it depends on the spell. Like if they’re just casting a pretty simple one action spell? I don’t think so. But if they’re like focused on a ritual, like let’s say they’re trying to make a magic circle, I feel like yeah, that’s a distraction, for sure. And I think that’s why the DM decides when circumstances are appropriate is doing a lot of the heavy lifting here. Because it really is kind of up to the DM. Like, usually, in certain situations, the player can sort of dictate what they’re doing and the DMs like okay, but with this, it’s more of like, when is the DM going to say no, rather than when is the DM gonna say yes.
And I do think like one more thing I’ll add to this for the for the DM and for the players at a table. You know what’s good for the goose, good for the gander sort of thing going on. If the enemies are able to hide in the environment that you’re in, ensure that shortly the players are also able to take advantage of the same structure to do their own bit of hiding. And so if you’re a player on the other side, like you walk in, and there’s like six goblins running around, your first thought is hide. You may be opening a door that you’re not going to enjoy.
Yeah, definitely. So the easiest way to handle situations like this is just for everyone to have an agreed upon set of rules before you go into the game. Like it’s the same reason we talked about anything during session zero. It’s same reason we have combat rules so that people don’t get to the table and immediately break down into arguing over like I hit this guy with my sword. No, you don’t… anger. So let’s offer some guidelines for when you can and can’t hide. So the first and most obvious situation is when you have cover. Now how much cover in my opinion, anything that’s enough to provide the cover AC bonus is enough to hide behind. So that might be like a waist high wall leaning around a doorway, some far drop school like a column, something like that, not necessarily something that completely blocks line of sight. So it doesn’t need to be like I am behind a building. But any amount of cover, in my opinion is enough to hide behind.
Alright, I want to ask a clarifying question. I’m in a graveyard. All of the graves, gravestones have fallen over. And the enemy sees me run and then crouch behind the one remaining gravestone. Am I hidden?
That’s a great question. So we’re gonna peek ahead to Pathfinder second edition just a little bit because we’re gonna talk about that later in the episode. In Pathfinder, Second Edition, there’s a series of conditions for handling stealth. There’s observed which is everybody knows where you are hidden, which is everyone knows what square you’re in, but not where you are in that square. Oh like that. Okay. Undetected, which is nobody knows where you are, and then invisible. If you are hidden creatures know you’re in that square, but don’t know exactly where you are in that square. So it’s difficult to target you with an attack, it’s difficult to target you with a spell. So for fifth edition purposes, I would say anything that requires the caster to see you to target you, I would say you can’t do that. And I would say attacks with disadvantage, but you still might know where they are. Because yeah, obviously you can deduce that it’s the only thing here to hide behind.
Okay, so then if, if I’m a Rogue and I pop out and attempt to attack with it, well, it doesn’t matter at that point. If I tried to attack, do I get advantage? When I pop out behind the gravestone or like, Haha, stab.
Ash Ely 12:25
I knew you were gonna ask that question before he got to the eternal question that causes so many arguments do I have? Can I do sneak attack in these circumstances? And that’s the real question. And I think… you guys can feel free to disagree with me. But I think in that circumstance, no. Like, especially like they know what square, if they know what square you’re in, it’s not necessarily a surprise attack, it’s not a seek attack, because they are watching that square, they just don’t know where you are in that moment. But as soon as you pop up, they can see the attack. That’s the way that I would read it, but you guys can feel free to disagree with.
Okay so I’m gonna make this worse than it sounds like, the rule I really want to have. I agree with everything Tyler said previously. Basically, if I can take cover if I get the AC advantage, or the Yeah, the AC bonus, we would consider me hidden. One more thing. I need the ability in my obscured position to move between two positions. So it has to be a table that spans two squares. Yeah, I could be the left I could be to the right. I need a wall I need two gravestones with like moss or something. Right. But very big gravestone. It was a it was a small dragon.
Yeah, that’s that actually seems like a good requirement. Basically the ability to go from just they don’t know where I am in my square to I could be in multiple locations. Peeking ahead at Pathfinder again. So there’s the hidden and then undetected conditions, the easiest way to become hidden is just to take the hide action. So you just like I duck down behind the gravestone, I’m now hidden. And then from there, once you’re hidden, you can take the sneak action, which is the I’m going to move while hidden so that people lose track of where I am. So that goes that takes you from hidden to undetected, which is the not only do creatures not know what square I am, are not only do they not know where I am in my square, but they also don’t know which square I am in. So they have to completely guess if I’m trying to hit me with stuff, we could very easily port that logic to fifth edition and say you need the ability to move without exiting cover in order to benefit from hiding. Now, I don’t know if that was the intent when they wrote the stealth rules.
That’s fair. I really do like the Pathfinder. Two way of handling this I feel like that distinction of hidden versus undetected is really great would help us resolve a lot of this and so I do like I like what we’re talking about now I feel like it would really help.
Ash Ely 15:01
Yeah, I agree. just glancing at the Pathfinder rules for hiding. I’m just like, This is really good. Really, it really has a distinction of like, the difference, like hiding is a status effect kind of, and it affects multiple creatures differently. So you can be hidden by one creature and undetected by another creature, which I really like. And I wish fivey was better about that. Because it’s fivey you’re either hidden or you’re unhidden and it’s everybody. And it’s a status effect that you have not that the enemy has.
Yeah, it’s kind of a classic thing between fifth edition and Pathfinder, like Pathfinder is mechanics for the same thing will always be a lot more complex and a lot more precise. But you’re trading complexity for accessibility.
Ash Ely 15:47
Yeah, personal preference in our graveyard single tombstone example. While I agree that it does require some suspension of disbelief, I think I would actually let our hypothetical character benefit from being hidden there. The rules for stealth in fifth edition are already pretty inaccessible. And like the only character who’s really intended to use them in combat is the Rogue and you know, a couple monsters like goblins. But if you make stealth exceptionally difficult to use in combat, the only person that it punishes is rogues that small decision alone can have a huge balance impact on your game. So like, make that decision during your session zero. Discuss this stuff with your players. If someone says, Hey, I want to play a Rogue and spent a lot of time like jumping in and out of somewhere where I’m hidden. You either need to say okay, we’re going to just be very permissive about this or you as the DM need to be very certain that in any given combat encounter, there’s going to be places for the Rogue to hide and move between. Alternatively, you can just use the optional class feature study aim and say like look, sorry, Rogue, there’s nowhere here for you to hide, just hold still and point at things until they fall down.
Ash Ely 17:01
I also think because Stealth is so nebulous in 5e, that’s why they added a thing to rogues where if you are with… if you’re engaged with someone who’s already engaged, you can use your sneak attack, which you couldn’t really do in Pathfinder, like Pathfinder sneak attack was something that you really had to set up for. But in 5e, it’s a lot easier to get sneak attack, you don’t have to always stealth anymore, and that was the trade off for making stuff more nebulous. So even in some games that I’ve run, stealth is really only the thing that happens before the fight, not really during the fight, which is kind of disappointing, in a lot of ways.
Yeah, PF one and 3x definitely had that problem where stealth basically only happened outside of combat and in combat. Usually the go to option for rogues is flanking, because the target has to be flat footed or you have to be flanking them. And making something flat footed, varies in PF2, very hard and PF one. So generally just go straight to flanking you get two daggers, put on a hat that gives you a horn attack and just make as many attacks as you can just throw D sixes at people until they fall down. So let’s look at the benefits of stealth and fifth edition like we’ve hit on how you get it. How complicated it is. We’ve offered some suggestions, we discussed using cover as an excuse to hide. So let’s talk about why you would bother doing any of these things because it’s very clearly kind of a pain. The sidebar hiding says the DM might allow you to stay hidden as you approach a creature that is distracted allowing you to gain advantage on an attack roll before you are seen. Ignore the part about approaching the creature if you’re going to use a ranged weapon, but just you gain advantage on tackle before you’re seen. That is the entire point of stealth. I mean, sure there’s defensive benefits, like they can’t see you. So they can’t target you with stuff. But usually, if you’re going to bother with stealth, it’s because you want that advantage.
Ash Ely 17:56
And when you say stealth you mean hiding, right?
Yes, yeah. Fifth Edition doesn’t distinguish between moving silently or being hidden, at least not super explicitly, but we’ll get into that in a minute. Okay, cool. Thanks. Yeah, so as far as I can tell, this rule does apply at range. So you can like I am a hidden pop out shoot people with a bow and I believe that is very much the intention, especially for Rogue so we’re expected to use cutting action like bonus action hide, and then breakable action attack. And that’s my term every term basically.
And then similarly, though, so if you start hidden, you’re both unseen, unheard. When you make an attack, you give away your location when the attack hits or misses.
Yes, exactly. If you can make it happen. It’s often a better idea to attack first and then hide so that you’re hidden between turns, because if you’re hidden between turns, it’s very hard to target you with anything like, like explosions.
Ash Ely 19:56
Yeah, and I think one of the things is that is a trap that I think some DMs can also get into and players is that you pop up, shoot, and then go back down and hide. And if you keep doing that, like a lot of times people just kind of let that happen. That’s just the thing that they do. But I feel like at a certain point, the monsters gonna come cut wise that you haven’t moved. And you’re just over there. And so I feel like, and I don’t know how strict you want to be on the rules with DM, because again, if players fun needs to come first. So if it doesn’t matter to you, then just let them keep popping up and shoot and pop it up and shoot him. But if it’s matters to you, maybe you need to require them to at least change their position before they hide again.
Yeah, and that’s a perfectly reasonable solution. If your players do refuse to change their solution, just have the monsters walk over there. Like in our tombstone example, our Rogue is hiding behind a gravestone, necromancer is over there, necromancer is like, I know you’re there, I can’t see you. So I’m just going to walk around to the other side of this gravestone. So I can see you because now I’ve clearly line of sight, you no longer have cover. So you no longer qualified to hide.
Ash Ely 21:05
Yeah, that’s a good middle ground, I think.
So on top of the advantage for attacking. We’ve mentioned this a little bit previously, but since creatures don’t know where you are, they have disadvantage on attack rolls against you, just as if they were blinded, as if you had complete concealment, as if you were in a pitch, dark room, all of those things, creature doesn’t know specifically where you are in your square, even if they know you’re in a square, they still have disadvantage to attack you, which is why I suggested earlier, like, stay hidden through everybody else’s turns, if you can.
And so the way we’re supposed to play this, both players and DMS is we’re supposed to say, I know there’s something over there in that general direction. I’m going to try to hit something in this square. If I’m the player, the DM tells me to roll with disadvantage. If the thing was actually in that square, and my disadvantage would hit, congratulations, you hit the thing you couldn’t see, you know, you beat the odds. If it were not in that cell, to DM is supposed to look very discerning at the roles like Hmm, oh, no, that’s not quite enough. You don’t hit just to keep the players on their toes, right? Because you can’t just like oh, you know, no, no, they’re not there you miss goes. Okay, now we’re playing battleship. Yeah, you know, you’re not there. Now, Ash, you brought up a really interesting point that we flipped this on its head, the DM has perfect knowledge. So what is the DM supposed to do?
Ash Ely 22:28
Yeah, that would be my question. And it’s something that I’ve struggled with a lot, especially when it comes to invisibility, which I know we’re going to get to in a second. Invisibility is, it’s a complicated thing. But when the player is supposed to be hidden, how are you as a DM supposed to avoid meta knowledge and not use that against people and feel like you want to make it make it so that your, your monsters or your enemies are competent, but you also don’t want it to feel like you’re cheating. And I guess one of the less elegant solutions you could do is like, randomly determine if they figure it out. But I don’t feel like that’s a perfect solution. So I am curious as to what you guys think.
Okay. I mean, you’d call it an inelegant, I was gonna say it was the perfect solution.
Ash Ely 23:17
I already dis’d you.
No, so what I would do, I would look at the footprint for where the creature might be, use that to map to a dice roll. So if it’s that, that gravestone, I’m gonna flip a coin, and then I’ll roll with this advantage. If it’s that to sell table, I’ll roll a d4, it’s a building, I’ll roll a d10.
Ash Ely 23:39
That’s actually not a bad idea. Like if you have a general sense of where a person is, and then you like extrapolate that depending on I guess, if you really want to make this more engaged, you can have to make a perception role. And based on their perception, like it’s a larger area that they’re observing or a smaller area. And then you apply each cell to like a dice roll. And I mean, that’s a bit complicated, but that is one way that you could be fair, I was just thinking of like rolling a percentage di and like 25 or lower, they’ll find them or something like that. But that that I like that better. That is good.
I feel like you can bring a little bit of realism into it. Yeah, this way, just having an idea of like a footprint. This gets complicated because maybe you can’t see or maybe like if you don’t have line of sight, or you don’t have access to the entire space, you know, if you legitimately have cover behind a wall, I, I can’t hit you, right if you have full cover, I should say. Now, when we get into half cover and this sort of thing. That’s where I suppose this is interesting.
Now, as an alternative to having creatures attack blindly into a square. Why not just have them look for you. Imagine you’re a person. You’re in a fight. Some dude that you’re fighting just disappears, like, where to go? Do you start shooting arrows into random spaces, or do you look around for him? Like I think most of us probably would look around for them. But I also don’t know how to fight in real life. So maybe I’m not a good example.
No, I would totally be shooting blind in the spaces and just listening.
Ash Ely 25:11
If I had a gun that shot very fast, I just go, just spray and pray. There you go.
Differences in personality.
Ash Ely 25:18
I do agree that most people would probably search. But remember that in 5e searching is an action.
Ash Ely 25:27
So you are gimping your enemies, like your monsters or stuff to make them search? And that is one way you can do it. But if you don’t want to sacrifice or attack, you can do like the chance thing.
Yeah, I’m gonna search with my bow. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. My tentacle monster like, whatever. Yeah, whatever is happening here.
Yeah, so you guys are absolutely right. Perception is an action, which means for most characters, that’s all you’re going to do on your turn. Yeah, which is another great reason why players should be using stealth. Because if you’re hidden during enemy’s turns, if it’s important to them to find you, then they have to waste their action to try to find you, they still make a perception check against whatever self role you used last time you hid. Like we talked about this on the perception investigation episode way, way back when you still have that passive perception floor. But most likely, if a creature is looking for a hidden creature, it’s because their passive perception wasn’t high enough. And that means that at best, they have like a 50% chance of beating their passive deception to try to find you.
Then just from a DMs perspective, part of the issue might have if it’s one creature versus the party, if they waste their actions, searching for that one person hiding, you’re doomed, right, you’re literally wasting around. And so this really only even makes sense if there’s multiple monsters. And then it’s strategically like, do I want to burn first up? So they could then use a free action to say like, he’s over there! E5, you know, is that is that really what you want the creature to do on their turn? Or if that’s your, you know, if the initiative order, is that it’s your most strong creature up after the height action? Do you do something else with it? And then you wait for maybe a weaker creature to step up? Like there’s a lot that you have to think about as a DM to make sure that you’re not getting idle turns? Because especially on that failed perception check. I mean, you might as well be stung for the round. What do you even do? You did nothing?
Ash Ely 27:30
Yeah. And that’s why like, You got to be careful, because again, because you’re using your action to search for a player. That just tells you where they are in that moment. And if the player is able to move around, they have to do a new perception check every round. So you’re basically just stay there. Where is he? Where is he? And conceivably, if a Rogue has enough cover, they could just solo your monster themselves. Although on the flip side of this, this is why fighting invisible stalkers for players is an exercise in frustration.
Yes, exactly. So while we’re on the subject of perception, and stealth checks real quick, we should hit on that when a creature hides in combat, they do still need to make a stealth check. Like it’s not just I am now hidden. Other people must search for it, you must still make a stealth check. And compare that to the passive perception of every other creature that you’re fighting. So the passive perceptions effectively become the DC for your stealth check. So if you’re fighting very observant, enemies, stealth might not work out for you. If your stealth checks are really, really bad. Stealth is probably not going to work out for you.
Okay, I want to make sure that I understand this though. I make my stealth roll. I have to beat every person on the or every creature on the opposing side. In order to be hidden.
Ash Ely 28:55
So if theoretically, I could be hidden from three, but the fourth, you know, theoretically spotted me maybe on passive perception maybe? I guess Yeah, on passive perception that has to be this time. I’m not hidden because that one person knows and theoretically is yelling at like, over there, is that…
That part’s a little less clear. So your DM could reasonably say like creatures are only allowed to talk on their own term, in which case, you are hidden until that creature is turned comes up and they call out where you’re hiding. But until that happens, you’re still playing battleship.
Ash Ely 29:26
Yeah, I mean, it really does. I think I agree with Tyler It does depend on the DM like I’m for me, saying one sentence in combat is a free action. And I hold that for myself and my players because sometimes people need to just say stuff. But a way you could rule it is that if you fail to beat one person and a group’s passive perception, that person knows where you are, so they can still use that information. They just won’t be able to communicate it until it’s their turn.
Ash Ely 29:54
But logically like, once it’s their turn, they’re going to act on it anyway. So just kind of is a moot point.
Yeah. So in a way, the initiative order also matters a great deal. But the best case scenario for you as the Rogue hiding in combat is you want to have the best stealth you possibly can. And you want to fight things with poor passive perception.
Ash Ely 30:15
This is speaking of passive perception. This is one of the things I’m sorry to duck back to Pathfinder 2. But I think this is another thing that Pathfinder 2 does better. Because instead of one person rolling and comparing that to a bunch of people’s passive perception, each individual creature just has to make a check against your stealth, which I think works better and makes it feel more active. And like, Do you have a better chance? I guess, then maybe that’s just me is six of one half a dozen of the other. But I do think about Pathfinders way of handling passive, passive perception is better.
Now you’re talking about? Sorry, you’re talking about PF One, Correct?
Ash Ely 31:01
IsN Isn’t that in PF2? Or,
Oh, yeah. So Pathfinder, Second Edition is very, very good about like, when a thing happens, only one person rolls generally.
Ash Ely 31:12
Gotcha. Yeah, my mistake.
So every skill saving throw, AC all those things. If it’s if it is a number, you can add to a D 20 modifier, or to a D 20. Roll. You have a DC for that thing. That’s just 10 plus whatever. So when you make a stealth check, it’s against the perception DC of opposed creatures. When you make a perception check to seek it’s against the stealth DC of any creature.
Ash Ely 31:41
Yeah, that’s what I misunderstood. Gotcha. Thank you for clearing that up for me.
Yeah. That’s one of those things that I think that fourth edition actually did that super well, the intent was like, when a thing happens, only one roll happens. So you don’t have like, okay, Rogue hides, Rogue rolls, a D 20. Everybody else at the table checks their perception rolls of D 20. Everybody compares who won, takes 10 minutes while everyone figures out math for one thing, and then the Rogue continues taking their turn. So they figured out like, we’re just gonna take mathematical average. And we’re done. And, I mean, it’s effectively the same thing as passive perception in fifth edition. So it’s, I am hiding therefore I will roll or I’m taking the search action to look around. Therefore, I shall roll perception. Nobody else needs to roll. It’s just me doing the thing.
So I feel like we have a pretty good idea of what hiding looks like both in D&D Five E and Pathfinder. Two, we’ve talked a little bit about how this gets used in combat, I think it’s time to throw something new into the mix. Let’s talk about invisibility.
Invisibility in fifth edition is very intentionally, very, very powerful. Like the most important thing it does is it makes line of sight to you impossible. Anything that says a creature you can see is just outright impossible against an invisible creature. And considering that’s most spells, like most special abilities, all those things, visibility is really, really good. And on top of that, since creatures can’t see you, you get advantage on your attack rolls.
Ash Ely 33:21
And creatures also get disadvantaged to attack you even if they know where you are, which can be incredibly annoying on either side that you’re on. But one thing that doesn’t, that people don’t realize about invisibility that I recently found out, is when you go invisible, you’re not automatically hidden.Because if you go invisible, the creature still knows you’re there. But you need to still take the hide action in order to, you know, get rid of their line of sight because invisibility just blocks line of sight. It doesn’t block auditory hearing. And that’s the key. People can still hear you if you’re not hiding.
Okay, I want to I want to talk about this for a second. I recognize this is probably just one of those, suspend your disbelief and let’s go on. But what we talked about earlier is if I’m hiding, then you may know that I’m in that cell. But you don’t know where I am in that cell. If I’m invisible, and you’re invisible in that five foot block. I know you’re in there because you just went invisible. And it’s not your turn to move. And that’s the rules we’ve agreed to when we started this combat. But I might not know where you are in that cell. And yet, you are not hidden. Yeah, until you declare to the DM. I’m taking the height action.
Thank you for Yeah, just thanks for coming on that journey with me.
That’s all Yeah, it is a little bit surprising. But this is explicitly written into the rules in the hiding sidebar. It’s says, an invisible creature can always try to hide. And that tells us two things. One, an invisible creature can always try to hide and two, an invisible creature is not hidden by default.
Ash Ely 35:13
Yeah. So in your example of, I wouldn’t know where you are, if you are behind the gravestone because you’re hidden, but with invisible if you’re if you just go invisible in front of me in the cell, you’re not hitting yet. I know where you are. I know where you are in that cell, I may still have disadvantage to hit you. Because I can’t see you. But I still know where you are, and can make the attacks.
And then I have to get away sneaky. I mean, that’s the whole idea, right? Is I still make noise. You know, in in 3x, we had different senses for whether it was noise or whether it was seeing with your eyeballs. In this case, they’re combined and I have to make a skill check. To move away silently so that you don’t hear me move.
Exactly. Invisibility does not magically turn your full plate armor Paladin into a master of stealth.
Ash Ely 36:04
Yeah. Imagine if like a bag of like, you know, canned food just started running, you know, five years ago. What was that? Where did that go?
Ash Ely 36:12
Yeah, cuz, I mean, the thing that I had been running into before we can get him across the stipulation was that people would use invisibility as a free disengage. Like you, you they would go invisible with a person they were in melee with and then just walk away. They’re like, I just walk away, which doesn’t work that way. Technically. So I think the way it works, I haven’t double checked this but you can’t have opportunity attacks against a creature you can’t really that you don’t know is there. But you can still take opportunity attacks against a creature that isn’t hidden. So if a creature walks away from you like your your example, if the Paladin goes invisible, and you hear Clank, Clank, Clank moving away from you, logic dictates that you can still take a whack at them, even if it’s a disadvantage.
I believe that is correct. If I remember right, the rules for opportunity attacks don’t require you to be able to see the creature. We should probably double check on that.
We got it surely right. Everybody at home? It’s right.
Ash Ely 37:10
If I’m wrong, no, please don’t have it. Please.
Definitely never been wrong on this podcast before.
And we’re not going to do a entire episode just to talk about it at some point.
Yeah totally. Alright, so let’s talk about countering invisibility. Because inevitably, as a player, you’re going to be fighting something that’s invisible. And you might not be ready for that. Sometimes you just didn’t bring the right spell. Sometimes the DM decides throw an invisible stalker at you at level one. Stuff happens. Yeah, you got to be prepared for this, basically. So the most important thing to know about countering invisibility, like we said, if you’re invisible, you’re not automatically hidden. The description of the invisible conditions says the creatures location can be detected by any noise it makes, or any tracks that leaves. So any sort of visual or audio indication you know where the creature is. So you still can’t see it. So you still have disadvantage to hit it and all those things, but you can pinpoint where the creature is, or at least which square there and so like, if you’re on sand, if you’re on snow, they’re definitely going to leave footprints. If you throw something on the ground, that’s going to cause them to leave footprints, golden, you still can’t target them with a lot of spells, but like you know what space they’re in, so you can drop a fireball on them or something.
It’s really all you need.
Yeah, unless it’s an enclosed space. Let’s not talk about that right now.
In addition to throwing stuff on the floor, this is kind of a classic fantasy D&D, not just D&D, like any fantasy genre, where there are invisible creatures at some point, someone thinks there’s an invisible creature in the room. I’m going to throw something on them or around the room in order to try to reveal their location. Randall, I believe you did this in our weekly Game once recently with pepper.
Yes, absolutely. It was. There were these invisible dwarfs running around, and we thought the guy was drunk and just making jokes. So then we started making jokes and the joke was we were throwing pepper on people. And then we actually found an invisible dwarf. Pikachu.
Ash Ely 39:22
Brilliant, I love that. Like, follow the sneeze, just follow the sneeze.
Alright, so so I’m going to ask you guys for opinions. So the invisibility spell says anything the target is wearing or carrying is invisible as long as it is on the targets person. So let’s say my character Bob, the Fighter is standing next to an invisible Wizard. And Bob the Fighter pulls out an ink flask pops the cork and splashes ink on the Wizard in order to you know idealy see like, oh yes, there’s ink suspended in midair upon this invisible Wizard? What happens to the ink?
Ash Ely 40:05
That is a question that has caused a lot of debate in my mind and in my party. That if you throw something on an invisible creature like let’s say flour or ink, are you consider to be carrying it, and does it then go invisible? The way that I think is fair and makes sense in my head, and you guys can disagree with me is that the wearing stuff that the stuff that you are wearing that goes invisible only happens when you cast the spell. So the stuff that you’re wearing, it takes a snapshot of that. And all of that goes invisible. Anything that is added to your person is floating in space. So if someone’s like, go invisible, now carry this rock, the rock is just going to be floating in space. That is my personal opinion. But you guys can feel free to disagree.
Well, okay, that might be a reasonable like home fix, but you have to agree, rules as written. If I start carrying the rock, the rock has to become invisible.
Ash Ely 41:06
I mean, that’s the thing, though, is that it’s people do say rules as written, this is the problem a lot with 5e is that there are a lot of gray areas that aren’t specifically called out unless you talk, unless you catch on Mike Murrells on Twitter. And then he’ll be like, yeah, no, that’s not the way or more likely Jeremy Crawford, because Jeremy Crawford is very much about like, Okay, I need to clear this up, because people have a lot of questions about it.
I think that’s a reasonable fix. And I wouldn’t actually object to it. Like, if you were my DM, and you said, this is what we’re doing, I would say, Great, let’s party, that’s, that’s not the thing I’m gonna argue over, I’m gonna, I’m gonna weasel a little bit, ink gets interesting, because ink is probably going to get sucked into the cloth. But let’s say it was so saturated, that it begins to drip off. Like, let’s say I poured a whole bucket of water on you. And it was blue water for some reason, or it was ink, you know, it was ink, let’s stick with ink. Okay, If I pour a whole bucket of ink on you. Whatever it gets absorbed into the clothes, I would say probably has to become invisible. But if it’s to the point where it’s dripping off, I think I’d be able to see the drips,
I think that’s reasonable.
Ash Ely 42:13
That is reasonable.
Okay, so let’s look at the text of the spell and do some thought exercise. So anything the target is wearing or carrying is invisible as long as it is on the target’s person, that applies for the full duration of the spell. So the way I read it is anything that the target is wearing for the duration of spell is invisible. So like if they put on a shirt, they are now wearing that it is still for the duration of the spell, therefore it becomes invisible. But that’s not to say that my interpretation is totally right. Ash, you may be absolutely right there. I need to I may be totally wrong. I couldn’t find the answer from Crawford. So I don’t know.
Ash Ely 42:51
But I 100% agree, all of the ink dripping off of the creature definitely becomes visible. Like in either of our interpretations. It is no longer on the characters person. So it becomes, it becomes visible again, just like if, if you threw an object, like if I set something down on a table and walked away, it doesn’t magically get to stay invisible, just because I was carrying it when I turned invisible.
Ash Ely 43:16
Yeah. So I mean, I agree with that. And I can see why people view it that way. Just like I said, for my own benefit. That’s the sort of justification that I had to make for myself so that we could avoid all of the rules lawyering that would happen. Stuff like that. But in your in your way of doing it. I am curious, how would you guys rule flour? Like if someone were to throw flour on you? Do you think that would reveal them? Or is it the flour coming off of it that reveals them?
I think it’s a combination of things. So I would say the flour that sticks to their body becomes invisible. All of the flour floating in the air around them? Doesn’t. So you have this conspicuously person shaped hole in the middle of a cloud of flour.
Ash Ely 44:04
I see. Yeah, that’s an interesting way of ruling it.
That’s actually really powerful. In general, even go back to the ink thing. Let’s say I threw it horizontally. So like, you know, I hurled the ink at them. And let’s say I had a party member standing at 90 degrees. So kind of watching the ink go from left to right. Or better yet, somebody behind them watching. What they’re gonna see is a whole bucket of ink coming at them and they’re gonna think you’re a jerk. And then a person sized silhouette of the ink coming at them is gonna get cut out.
Ash Ely 44:07
Ah, that’s clever.
And the flour’s honestly better because the flour basically just floats right like you almost just want to have like handfuls of flower everywhere. Then you’re, you’re looking for like a trajectory getting cut to the flour as the guests or the ghostly apparition is approaching you.
Ash Ely 44:53
So in addition to a five foot pole, and a barrel that a person has to bring with them. They need to bring flour.
He’s basically a bakery.
Can the alchemist drug make flour.
No, I don’t really liquids.
Okay, though, man is Yeah, it’s a great use of mayonnaise.
It produces so much mayonnaise. It’s possible gallons a day. What are you going to do with all that mayonnaise? Detect invisibility apparently.
Ash Ely 45:20
[Garbled] on to something, he’s obviously wiser than all of us.
Why is everybody in your party carry an alchemist jug?
Ash Ely 45:30
Invisible with it. That’s what if we need mayo? Good. Okay.
Now fortunately, we don’t always have to resort to these options. There are some low level spells that should be widely accessible Most parties fairy fire, see invisibility, you’re done. If you can figure out roughly where they are dropped fairy fire on them. Problem solved. Yeah, see and visibility someone in the party says they are in that square. We have narrowed it down to this square. Everyone dropped fireballs in it. Very simple. Alternatively, if you don’t have any of those just give up cast fog cloud no one gets to see anyone. That is it. Everyone is fighting with a disadvantage from now on. I hope you’re happy DM for bringing this invisible monster into this encounter.
Ash Ely 46:15
That’s a D&D equivalent of I’m taking my ball and going home.
And then the Fighter with with blind fighting comes out and it’s like a choice.
That’s that’s actually it’s a wonderful party. Right? Like everybody in the party is blind. Yeah, they just cast darkness wherever they go. Yep. Towns people love them.
Ash Ely 46:41
Speaking of darkness, should we talk about magical darkness?
Ah, do we have to. So magical darkness. Very, very simple. You can’t see through it unless you have something that lets you see through magical darkness or if you have a special sense, like blind sight. So that really is the like take your ball and go home on vision options. So like if you have a spell caster who can cast darkness just like okay, something’s something’s in the room. And visibly, we can’t do anything about it. Magical darkness.
Ash Ely 47:15
Yeah. One of the things that I discovered that’s very annoying about darkness. And I didn’t realize this until my players started to abuse it is darkness, unlike fog cloud, once you it’s not when you cast it, it’s in that area, and it’s just stays in that area you cast it likely would do light onto an object. So if you were to cast it onto like, say, your belt, or a sword or something, and you walk around, you’re suddenly now that darkness is following you. Now, let’s say you want to combine that with a really easy Warlock invocation to get called Devil’s sight. Suddenly, you’re just a really broken character that’s going to ruin my day. Yes.
Wait, but I want to poke at this. How high of an intelligence would you have a creature? Like what would the required intelligent check be to recognize that at the center of the darkness, probably the thing making the darkness?
Ash Ely 48:09
Oh, it’s funny that you should mention that because my players found a way around this too. They they attach the darkness to the edge of a stick. And they would wave the stick around so that you couldn’t exactly pinpoint the center of mass.
That’s a wonderful.
The object interaction each time. It’s like we want to bring a sidekick in. there are sidekicks in 5e, right? I’m not crazy. Okay? We want to bring a sidekick in what the sidekick is, is basically a flag bearer. Except for instead of a flag, magical darkness.
Just cast it on a rock, hand it to your wizards bat familiar, bats up blindside and fly around the circle. They’ll never even notice the difference.
Ash Ely 48:51
Exactly. I was both very irritated and kind of proud of my players and they figured this out. I hate you guys so much, but this is brilliant. I have to applaud you.
The next adventure, it’s all devils.
Ash Ely 49:08
Exactly. Exactly. All people with true sight, have fun!
Wonderful gaming. I need a three hour break. I’ll see you guys in a little bit.
Ash Ely 49:25
So speaking of bats, hey, how about blind sight? Blind sight’s cool.
Ash Ely 49:32
That is one way you can count your magical darkness as well.
Sure is. So blind sight has some interactions with stealth that might not be super obvious. Did you know that stealth works against blind sight? Because it totally does
That make sense?
Did you know…
Ash Ely 49:48
Yeah, that does make sense because it was delta is muffling your movement and noise and since BLINDSIGHT requires requires sound,
Some of it?
Ash Ely 49:58
Some of it, yeah.
There are multiple forms of blind sight. So there’s regular just bog standard blind sight. And then there’s blind sight with echolocation. So that’s like bats, dolphins, things like that. Most things with blind sight just have regular blind sight, which is… think of it like radar, basically, I guess, but stealth still works against that.
Or radar is actually a lot like echolocation.
You know, I’m gonna say that you scientifically would know that. And I’m just going to trust you on that.
Ya know, like, I send a wave out there and the wave comes back and I use that to estimate distance, potentially velocity. Yeah, it’s great.
Yeah, that that is basically echolocation. Okay, what’s something that’s like radar, but not waves?
I mean? Everything’s waves, matter is waves. Thanks. He was a brokes. Certainly wavelength anybody now. Okay.
Ash Ely 50:50
All right. I have a question for you, then Randall. So you clearly know a lot about this. So when you’re doing echolocation, it’s my understanding is you’re sending sound waves out and they bounce off of physical surfaces. And back to you. Is that right?
Yeah. And let’s so if we’re going to talk about what human beings do, let’s talk about like an ultrasonic sensor is a great example. And what you said is exactly right. In an RF, you might call it chirping, but I’m basically going to send a particular signal out, and I really know the shape of that. And it’s likely designed in such a way that I, I’m not going to see that in the real world. I’m only going to see it because I emitted and it came back.
Ash Ely 51:27
Gotcha. So how do you stealth say against that? Because even if you’re being noiseless, I guess if you’re behind cover, maybe?
Yeah, that’s definitely if you were, if you were okay, let’s be silly. We’re talking about stealth for a second. If I was using like sound dampening armor. Literally, my armor would absorb the sound if it were an appropriate frequency. And then I wouldn’t admit it back. Oh, that’s clever.
Ash Ely 51:52
That’s really clever. So that’s an excuse. That’s something that I’ve struggled with as blindside is like how do you make blind sight and not just true sight, because like I can see through magical darkness and invisibility. But it’s countered, providing really dumb things like cover or the padding that’s the…
You might make an argument that like it doesn’t so blind sight is able to see anybody wearing full plate. But anybody wearing chainmail with like leather underneath it or just leather? Maybe you make an argument that that was absorbent enough that maybe the echolocation version of blind sight didn’t come back to them. But of course then we have like, the weird. I mean, honestly, like it’s not magical. But it is fantasy blind sight of just like yeah, I don’t have eyeballs, but I see all.
Ash Ely 52:42
Yeah, yeah, like, like all of those kung fu guys who are blind but can see perfectly clearly. AKA Toph from Avatar? Yeah. She has tremor sets, which we’ll get to.
Ash Ely 52:53
So if we’re talking about different types of blind sight, then we also have to talk about smell, right?
Yes, I don’t think scent quite qualifies as blind sight because like blind sight, allows you to functionally see without seeing so like I can, I can use blind sight and say like, Randall is standing right there holding up three fingers. With scent. I can say Randall’s vaguely that way.
Ash Ely 53:18
Yeah, I mean, there are some… The reason I bring it up is there are some creatures, at least from my understanding that they have. They’re blind. They’re functionally blind, but they can see you through your smell through your scent. Like certain snakes work this way. Or maybe not snakes like to forget. Oh, moles, moles.
Okay, are we talking 5e or are we talking real life?
Ash Ely 53:42
Real life? Okay, good. Yeah, that’s interesting. So the, you can know something’s there. But it would be really hard to build a sensor that could detect someone is what I’ll say is like, let’s say even you feel that the wind is coming in your direction right now. And so you use that to estimate the likely this thing is in front of you, versus if you felt the wind coming from the right, you would know maybe this creature is off to the right. Except the wind isn’t constant in a line of sight. And so who knows what direction those particular scent particles had to take to get to you?
Ash Ely 54:15
Yeah, so maybe interpreting the scent is the issue. But I think there’s a way that even if the you had like a creature that could detect you through smell like knew where you were, you could mess with that is how they messed with an Avatar, again, is throwing a bunch of scents at it. And confusing its sense of smell.
No, that makes sense. Yeah, just garlic bombs. Yeah.
Garlic suddenly becomes part of the STEALTH META.
Yeah, that’s like Wait, what are you carrying a Durian fruit?
Ash Ely 54:49
We’ve added durian fruit to the list of things we need to carry with us when we’re in dungeon diving.
In the end of the alchemist jug and use it instead of the Badger cannon hen it’s now like…
Mayonnaise power durian gun?
We’re gonna get a human rights call at some point.
Ash Ely 55:11
You just, you just created a war crime my friend of mass destruction.
So I’m gonna peek forward at Pathfinder second edition again. PF2 has the concept of vague, imprecise and precise senses. So vague sense is like I can tell something is there but not where imprecise is I can tell roughly where it is. So usually like this square, but not where in that square, and then precise is like vision like I can see specific details there it is. So scent is a typically a vague sense. So creatures with a with a scent ability can typically say like there is a zombie somewhere within my 30 foot scent range, but I can’t tell you where. I smell it. But I’m… good luck finding it. An imprecise sense. Like tremor sense. Some creatures with really good scent have it as an imprecise sense. And then you can figure out like, which squares is this creature and so it’s much like an invisible creature who hasn’t bothered hiding themselves in fifth edition, or a creature who is very obviously hidden behind the only tombstone in a 50 foot radius, you know which square its in but you don’t know like position, orientation, any of those things. And then precise senses are essentially sight equivalent. So often blind sight. Some other things like some creatures have very specific unique things. But we can apply that concept in fifth edition. So blind sight is typically precise, tremor sense is usually imprecise. Scent is usually vague. So just having those like three terms to describe how those senses work can do a lot to tell you about how those senses perceive creatures.
Ash Ely 57:02
So the big one also that I think is confusing a lot, at least for me, is tremor sense? So I think with tremor sense, do we think that anybody who is touching the ground, they’re able to see or do you specifically have to make noise on the ground for it to see you?
That’s a good question. So the description of tremor sense in the monster manual says a monster with tremor sense can detect and pinpoint the origin of vibrations within a specific radius. So you can tell where the vibrations came from, which I would argue basically a square, but you couldn’t tell like, Oh, someone is in this square, but they’re crouching down, or they’re like waving their arms up in the air, you can just tell like they are in that square making some vibrations. And then if someone is going to use stealth, they’re presumably walking very softly trying to be quiet, which is smaller vibrations less easy to detect.
Ash Ely 58:03
So my next question is, do we want to do a thing? Similar to Toph where you make your own vibrations, and it’s a form of tremor sense with echolocation?
That’s a good question. I’m not sure how I would interpret that within the rules. Like we’ve definitely seen examples of that in media. Yeah, Toph is a great example of tremor sense. Daredevil is a great example of blind sight and echolocation. Yeah, I don’t know how to interpret that maybe somebody like wacks the ground with a hammer really hard to like blind you with tremor sense. Personally, I wouldn’t mess with it too much. The rules in the rules in 5e really don’t support getting that crunchy. So in my opinion, I would just say like, Look, folks, people at the table with me, please stop.
Ash Ely 59:01
You’re ruining my game.
Like, look, I just wanted to use one and qayg in one encounter. I don’t want to spend an hour figuring out how tremor sense would work in a real scientific scenario.
Yeah, right. Right. As you the player asked me that question. The creature you are getting ready to fight instead leaps off a cliff, and the plot moves on.
Oh, hey, there’s a new thing in the meta, annoying the DM until the counters go away.
Ash Ely 59:27
That so many so much. The reason I asked these questions is because I have been asked these questions by my players. And it’s because I’m, I’m in a group with a bunch of science teachers essentially like there’s, there’s one science teacher, one guy who’s like just really into science, and so they’re always asking me these scientific questions like, I don’t know, man. I’m just a writer… I’m just a game designer. I don’t know how science works.
I didn’t expect to have to, you know, fulfill a consulting contract. so that I can execute this game.
Ash Ely 1:00:01
Yeah, exactly. Right?
So let’s talk about Pathfinder second edition a little bit because we’ve we’ve beaten on Fifth Edition quite a bit. And we keep saying, Hey PF2 is real great. Let’s take a look at that. So we already talked about the conditions in PF2. So we have that kind of like steps essentially observed, hidden, which is I know what square you’re in but not where you are in the square. Concealed which is, actually I don’t think we talked about concealed, so concealed is like you’re not hiding, but there’s something making it hard to see you it’s usually fog or something like that. And PF2 doesn’t have advantages advantage. Instead, there’s a 20% miss chance to attack a concealed creature. 50% to attack them if you’re shooting blind into a square. So if they’re hidden, undetected, it’s invisible, etc. 50% miss chance, which is not mathematically the same as disadvantage, but conceptually similar. So concealed is very useful. If you are concealed, you can hide so like just in fifth, just like in fifth edition, you might say, I’m in thick fog, people are having trouble seeing me, I think I can hide now. And then you argue with your DM for 10 minutes. There’s undetected, which is creatures don’t know where you are. So if they somehow managed to attack you, then they still have that 50% miss chance. And crucially, with these missed chances, in Pathfinder, Second Edition, it also applies to other things that target you. So spells that target you directly that might require a save. So like someone attempts to cast hold monster on you, they can still target you, I think, depending on the wording of the spell, but you have a 50% chance for that effect to simply fail, because you’re not where the thing was targeted. So the mechanics are just a little bit different. Make sure you read the text of your spells before you start casting blind.
Ash Ely 1:02:04
Yeah, that’s a big difference from 5e. Because when you’re hidden, a lot of spells require sight. So you just can’t target that person if you don’t know where they are. But this makes it so that, you know, mages aren’t as royally you know, screwed over. If they can’t see you, they still have a chance, which I kind of like… I dig that as cool.
Yeah, we should also look at how perception works because it is very different than PF2 from fifth edition. So fifth edition, perception is a skill. If you want to be good at it, you have to take proficiency in it and someone in your party better be good at perception, or you’re gonna die. In PF2, everyone automatically progresses in perception, like it works just like a skill, but it is not a skill. Because the designers of PF2 looked at it and said, Look, this is very clearly the best skill that we’re going to put into this game, just like it is in fifth edition. So we’re just going to give it to everybody, instead of making it a tax on people’s resources. Now different classes will get like different proficiencies. So they’ll advance at different rates, but everybody adds their level plus something plus wisdom. So even if you’ve not thought about perception, once in your character’s entire career, you’re still not total garbage, looking around the room. In addition to that, when you’re looking around for creatures in combat, you take the seek action. Now you guys remember the three action economy? Yes, yes, seek is one action, fifth edition, you search for creatures, it is your action, that is basically the meat of your turn, you’re probably not going to do anything else exciting. In PF2, you could cast a two action spell, you can make two strikes and still have an action to seek. You could seek repeatedly if you want. But you also have to pick where you’re seeking. Unlike fifth edition, fifth edition, it’s like everything that I survey is my domain. In PF2, you have to pick either a 30 foot cone, or a 15 foot burst in a place that you can see. And you essentially scrutinize that area and say I’m looking for things in this general area… geometry tip, pick the 15 foot first, it’s way bigger. And then you make a perception check against the stealth DC of any creature that’s hidden there. So if a creature went over there, hid, rolled a absolutely garbage roll, you still have to roll against like 10 plus their modifier which might be higher than whatever they rolled to successfully hide. It’s not always going to work out. You still want someone in your party to have both good perception, proficiency progression and good wisdom to back that up. Seeking in combat is also just WAY less costly than it is in fifth edition. So it’s much more achievable. It’s much more usable.
Even the idea that you could actually seek multiple times in a row if it’s that important to you. Find that creature that’s now hiding. Yeah, being able to say, okay, look, I failed once I failed twice. I tried the third time, hey, party, you don’t have to waste your actions. They’re right over there.
Ash Ely 1:05:09
Yeah. And the way that it’s like strategic, like I’ve always liked systems that allow you to be more strategic in exchange for doing it more frequently. And that’s the big issue with seeking in 5e is that there’s no way to sort of, you know, can I seek in a specific area and still do something on my turn? No, that you just have to roll perception? It’s more powerful in 5e. But I would trade power for strategy. Any day of the week?
Yeah, I think I would do.
Allright, I think we did it. I think we Yeah. Yeah, we did it. All right. Question of the week this week. Our question of the week this week comes from @Mattlikesbanana. Games like D&D have fundamental rules such as advantage disadvantage, cannot stack, are what they are. And to frequently, deliberately break them with stuff like elven accuracy. What makes such a breaking of the rules, good or bad design or gameplay. And for folks at home elven accuracy, it’s basically triple advantage, you get to roll three dice instead of two dice and then take the highest. So in a game where, you know, advantage never stacks you never get through, you never get forward disadvantage, never stacks at most, one of each will cancel each other out. Why is making up an accuracy, the triple advantage, a good game design?
Tell you what. So I’m going to guess at this one first. And then Ash, you actually know something about game design. So I’m going to hope that you come along and tell me why I’m wrong. Sure. Having the core rules that work a way gives everyone a shared baseline understanding of how things work. So like if we imagine a dead simple game where your objective is to walk down the hallway, and everyone follows the rule that you must walk along the right side of the hallway, to get to the end of the hallway, like let’s imagine that’s our dead simple game. And then one player has something that says, you have this unique thing that lets you do something that makes you special. And your special thing is you get to walk on the left side of the hallway. Now everyone still understands the rule is you walk on the right side of the hallway unless you have that special exception. And those exceptions give room for characters to feel special for monsters to do unique things for spells to not necessarily break the rules, because they exist within the rules, but to you know, do something that normally wouldn’t be possible.
Ash Ely 1:07:30
Yeahm that’s, that’s correct. So just to clarify, we’re talking about why it’s good game design, right?
Yeah. The question is, is it good or bad. And I think, you know, two for three have asserted it’s good.
Ash Ely 1:07:43
I’m biased against elven accuracy, in particular, because it’s been used, again, to great effect against me. Especially if you pair it with a guy who’s a samurai who can just give himself a badge whenever he wants. So one, I think it is good game design. And the fact that, like Tyler said, it lets the person feel special, especially with because we did away with all the floating modifiers of Pathfinder, and we decided we were just going to do advantage. If you want to communicate, hey, elves are better at certain things than other people. That’s kind of the fantasy of elves, they’re humans plus. And so you can’t just give them advantage all the time, because that would be broken. And people would hate elves and ban them. So and you can’t just… so you want to get across the idea that when they do a thing that they’re good at, they’re really good at that thing. So in this case, this is an acceptable break of mechanics to say in this case, advantage stacks. But I hate it. I think it’s bad. And I think that this is where Pathfinder is just like I realized that floating modifiers are a pain in the ass to track. But I think that that is a… it was it’s designed better in that sort of thing. Like you just get a plus two to arrange attacks or something like that. Or when you have advantage, you have like a plus two or something. I’m not saying it’s a perfect solution. But I think triple advantage just because advantage is so easy to get in 5e. It’s almost like you always have advantage and when you always have advantage. It’s also triple advantage. I like what they were going for. But I think that there was a better way of approaching it than breaking an established rule, because it’s now a required feat. If you’re going to be an elf, and I don’t feel like mechanics that are supposed to be options, but are presented as there are so Good that they basically become mandatory.
So I want to take what you both said, I want to couch it a little bit. I feel like what makes doing something like this worth it is either if there’s a high opportunity cost to come with it, or if there’s a consumable and that consumable is a key mechanic.
Ash Ely 1:10:18
I agree with that. I think that’s a great idea. I like the consumable, or there’s a drawback, because right now, it’s just a flat bonus. And it’s, it’s just too powerful. It’s too good.
What if the only thing you did to modify it was, say, proficiency bonus per short rest? We’ve done that to a lot of other things over, you know, with with the modifications to classes over, I guess, what, past two or three books, you know, do that one more time here and say, sure, you know, your level six, you can do that three times for short rest, you know, pick your positions wisely for when you’re actually going to take advantage of it.
Ash Ely 1:10:59
Yeah, I like that. Um, I think the reason that they did elven accuracy the way they did is because it’s, it’s the leg loss fantasy, you know, the guy who never misses. But leg loss became kind of a meme, especially towards the third. He was just good at everything. And he was kind of a flat character. I personally like characters who fail at things. Like that was what makes them interesting to me. And I think that having them being able to burn things like proficiency bonus is a great, is a great compromise, I think because it’s it scales well, it’s not set, and you can set it up like, okay, so I kneel down and I pull my bow back. And my elven eyes allow me to fixate on the jugular. So I think that that’s cool and adds a lot of complexity and story rather than just like I’m really good at both stuff. So I’m just gonna always hit him right where it hurts.
Ash Ely 1:11:59
Yes, the wallet.
All right, I’m Randall James, you can find email@example.com and on Twitter and Instagram at Jackamateur.
I’m Tyler Kamstra. You’ll find me at RPGBOT.net Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at RPGBOT d o t n e t, and patreon.com/rpgbot.
Ash Ely 1:12:16
I’m Ash Eli, and you can find me on Twitter @gravenashes.
I like that. I like that a lot. If you’ve enjoyed the show, please rate and review us on Apple podcast and rate us on Spotify or your favorite podcast app. It’s a quick free way to support the podcasts and helps us to reach new listeners. You’ll find links in the show notes. You’ll find affiliate links for source books and other materials linked in the show notes as well as on RPGBOT.net. Following these links helps us to make this show happen every week. If you weren’t question should be the question of the week next week, please email podcast@RPGBOT.net or message us on Twitter at RPGBOT D O T n et please also consider supporting us on Patreon where you’ll find ad-free access to the RPGBOT dot podcast, RPGBOT dot news, early access to RPGBOT content, polls for future content and access to the RPGBOT dot Discord. You can find us at patreon.com/rpgbot. When you were talking about so you know I like characters that fail immediately popped in my head is the Mitch Hedberg joke. It’s like you know, and last night all of those characters were at my table.