Tome of Prowess (3.5e Sourcebook)/Stealth

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The stealth skill is a movement skill involving cover, concealment, and blind spots. With it, you can walk past guards without their noticing, sneak up on a sentry, or slip unnoticed through a crowd. Those who specialize in stealth can help carry their friends when stealth matters and even tip toe past a creature that sees everything touching the earth nearby.

Key Attribute: Dexterity

Check Modifiers[edit]

Attention Modifiers Check Modifier1 Example
Standing still in a clear space +5 Leaning against a streetlight.
Action at an unhurried pace in a clear space1, 2 +0 Walking down a street.
Action at a hustling pace in a clear space1, 2 -5 Jogging away from the scene of a robbery.
Action at a flat-out pace in a clear space1, 2 -10 Running across a castle wall.
Performing an action that causes you to be the center of attention -6 to -103 Dueling someone in an otherwise empty street.
Performing an action that causes you to stand out from the background event -1 to -53 Obviously stabbing a person, not taking part in an active bar brawl, standing or moving against a fast moving crowd.
Performing an action that causes you to blend in with a normal background event +2 to -23 Pressing up close to a speaker with a crowd, joining in with a boisterous tavern song
Performing an action that causes you to blend in to a very active background event +1 to +53 Taking part in an active bar brawl, moving quickly with a dense crowd
  1. These modifiers do not stack, use only the most appropriate one from each group. A clear space is one in which the dominant background scene is still and quiet.
  2. Using unexpected movement types, like burrowing or flying in most humanoid settlements, makes you likely to also suffer one of the attention penalties.
  3. The exact value of this penalty is determined by the DM based on in-game factors. Characters with 4 ranks and above can determine the penalty or bonus their actions will generate before they take the action by asking the DM.
Size Modifiers and Stealth
Modifiers based on size alone do some odd things. They make giants at a hiding disadvantage against other giants in giant sized surroundings. Similarly, gnomes gain a hiding advantage against other gnomes in their own communities by simple virtue of their size. It's an unfortunate simplification, and they have been removed here.

Instead size differences are handled on the perception side of things, where smaller creatures must be closer than larger creatures to be seen clearly. If that sounds like the same thing, remember that large creatures have larger homes and structures, and so everything is farther apart anyway. Similarly, small creatures have smaller homes and structures, so everything is closer together. When humans are scaled up or down to these cases, their environments are scaled too and they all work out appropriately. If a human could reach the wall of a human castle before detection became a strong concern, a giant could reach the wall of a much larger giant castle, and a pixie could reach the wall of a much smaller pixie castle. Importantly, a giant could be seen from much farther away and would not reach the wall of the much smaller human or pixie castle, while a human or pixie could slip past the much larger giant wall with relative ease. So smaller is better against larger creatures, as we would expect, but being larger is not a handicap in itself and in its own environments.


You can hide behind a curtain, a well, or a hill and people on the other side of it can’t see you; they may not be able to hear or smell or otherwise sense you, either. This isn’t a skill or ability; it’s just what happens when something sits between people. While that’s useful, and not anything you should ever roll a stealth check for, sometimes you need to expose yourself and break cover to check out the people on the other side. That’s where the avoid notice or detection abilities of stealth are useful.

For the purposes of a stealth check, you are treated as being only as big as your exposed parts. If you are walking in the open casing a joint, the whole of you is exposed. If you are simply performing reconnaissance from cover, your exposed parts are generally three or more sizes smaller than your environment, and so you probably gain a substantial bonus on this check as indicated on the table above. You likely gain a similar bonus for traveling slowly with a very dense crowd, as only your head may be uncovered by the press of bodies. In general, the more you have to surround yourself with and the harder it is to pick you out of a crowd, the better the bonus you get to your stealth checks.

Untrained Uses[edit]

Avoid Notice[edit]

Anyone can keep their head down and their hood up when they have to. If someone is searching a crowd for you, or you are being generally observed but haven’t been specifically picked out, you may make a stealth check to continue to avoid notice. This check is a free action, and is made at the end of your turn with modifiers based on what you did during your turn. Your check result replaces the base DC for a searcher’s perception check to notice you (generally 0), and you must make a new check each round that you attempt to avoid notice. Your check result may not exceed 25 at this level of skill.

This ability can be used to sneak up behind someone; anyone who is unaware of you or unable to detect you is treated as flatfooted against your attack. Attacking someone alerts them to the square you are in, and carries sufficient penalties that they probably notice you, but it's not guaranteed. It is difficult, but not impossible, to sneak up on someone and stab them in the back while remaining effectively hidden, though they would certainly be aware of the attack and take measures to protect themselves if possible.

If you are noticed, you can’t continue to avoid their notice with a check anymore. Worse, they can point you out or describe you to their friends, granting them bonuses to locating you. You must escape or confuse their ability to detect you before you can make any additional stealth checks to avoid notice from any person who has noticed you, though you may still make checks to avoid notice from those who haven't spotted you yet. Some ways to break their detection are running around a corner, disappearing into a crowd, gaining full concealment or full cover, or using the Combat Distraction ability of Bluff to make them look away just long enough for a quick getaway. This doesn’t mean they don’t know where you’ve gone, just that you get to start making checks again for them to miss you when they come looking. If they see you disappear around a corner and then can’t find you, it might be perfectly reasonable for them to lightning bolt or web the alley to try and bring you out of hiding. Even after you break line of sight and can make new checks, they gain a bonus to finding you in the future because they know what they're looking for, at least until you change your clothes or face.

You take a penalty to this check if you draw attention to yourself. The most common ways to draw attention to yourself are moving in ways that stand out or becoming involved in a fight or commotion; these modifiers are included in the table above. Note that you suffer no penalty if you are traveling with a group of fast moving people, as not moving as quickly as everyone else would make you stand out instead of blend in. Other ways of drawing attention to yourself may include being painted the wrong color during a festival or singing the wrong words while hiding in a choir. These less common ways of drawing attention to yourself may carry a penalty of up to −10 on your roll. The exact penalty is determined by the DM, and they are not required to tell you what the penalty is until after you make your check. You simply don't have the skill to determine the penalty before you have taken the action.

Base DC: None.
Check Result: Your check result replaces the base DC for an observer to notice you (generally 0). Your check result may not exceed 25 with this level of skill.

Rank 4 Uses[edit]

Avoid Detection[edit]

You know enough about slipping away from attention to be pretty good at it when you need to be. There is no limit to your check result with the Avoid Notice ability. You are also trained enough to know how large a penalty to your stealth check you would take from uncommon attention drawing conditions, like those described above, and can plan your route and actions better as a result. Mechanically, this means that you can ask the DM ahead of time what the numeric result of doing something would be if it isn’t listed, and they have to tell you, even if they'd rather not.

Rank 6 Uses[edit]

Team Player[edit]

Sometimes you have to bring the team with you into the shadows, and they may not have any idea what they’re doing. You know how to help keep those who lack your knowledge of stealth from bringing the team down. If you accept a -5 penalty to your stealth check, you may use your base check as the base result for every member of your group within 30 feet for the purposes of avoiding detection. Each member suffers penalties individually based on their actions for the round, though.

Alternately, your group can each make individual checks to avoid notice or detection, as appropriate for each character, and you may then reduce the result of your check to boost the checks of others. For every 1 point that you reduce your check by, you may increase the check of an ally within 30 feet by 2. You may not increase an ally’s check above your own reduced check with this ability, though you may increase their results above 25 if they would be limited from lack of training.

Rank 8 Uses[edit]

Foil Senses[edit]

When you hide, you can even mask your echo and vibrations. You show poorly against tremorsense and blindsense, and creatures must make a Perception check to locate you with these abilities. These abilities are checked by the creature when they make a notice check against your avoid detection DC. This is an automatic ability that occurs whenever you try to avoid detection, though you may lower or re-raise this protection at any time as a free action. It does not apply to anyone you are assisting with the Team Player ability.

Rank 10 Uses[edit]

Foil False Sight[edit]

Even the keenest of senses must work to find you if you don't want them to. In addition to tremorsense and blindsense, you also show poorly against blindsight. This otherwise functions as Foil Senses.

Rank 12 Uses[edit]

Fade Into the Background[edit]

People have a really hard time keeping an eye on you, even when they know you’re there. You can attempt a stealth check after someone has spotted you without first breaking line of sight or otherwise losing your pursuer, or while you are under any other sort of direct observation. You gain no special benefit to your roll, and may have a hard time pulling it off as your pursuer still gains a benefit from knowing what to look for.

If you also have the Hide In Plain Sight class feature, the bonus a spotter gains from having seen you is reduced by half.

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