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Person_Man
2011-02-08, 09:45 AM
So I recently homebrewed a Ninja class for a new-ish player. We played a game session, fought a few combats, I cleaned it up a little and posted it for comment (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=10326268) on the homebrew forum, and will probably be rewriting it again soon. (So please head over and comment on it if you have any Ninja ideas).

One very big issue that I need to deal with is invisibility. Specifically you can essentially gain Greater Invisibility for the bulk of every combat at some point in it's progression. For the Complete Adventurer Ninja this is level 2 (but only for one or two combats, and then after that you're useless). For my Ninja it's around level 4-5 (but for every combat). For a Wizard it's around level 8ish.

I've been able to get Hide in Plain Site at level 1, and honestly it's not very hard to get around ECL 2-6 for anyone who tries. There are also various "mole" builds, which find ways to block line of sight various ways (such as by getting Flyby Attack, casting, and the ability to move through walls). There's also Darkstalker (Lords of Madness) and high enough Hide and Move Silently. And more.

What this all boils down to is this: How do you choose to deal with a player who either can't be targeted, or can only be targeted by (often non-sequitur) counter measures?

In the past, I've just asked players not to be jerks about it (similar to how I deal with Polymorph), and thrown in the occasional BBEG or mini-boss with ridiculous Spot and whatnot. But if a player wants to play a character who's whole shtick is stealth, what do you do?

TroubleBrewing
2011-02-08, 09:49 AM
ECL 2 is easy (dark template), but how do you figure on level 1 character? Incarnate Construct Dark [Something Else] Warforged?

Greenish
2011-02-08, 09:49 AM
What this all boils down to is this: How do you choose to deal with a player who either can't be targeted, or can only be targeted by (often non-sequitur) counter measures?

In the past, I've just asked players not to be jerks about it (similar to how I deal with Polymorph), and thrown in the occasional BBEG or mini-boss with ridiculous Spot and whatnot. But if a player wants to play a character who's whole shtick is stealth, what do you do?Let them be stealthy?

The monsters will attack other characters, resources will be drained, and the situations where it would be a problem are basically limited to TPK and PvP.

Skorj
2011-02-08, 10:34 AM
Let them be stealthy?

The monsters will attack other characters, resources will be drained, and the situations where it would be a problem are basically limited to TPK and PvP.

I'm always in favor of letting players' clever build work as intended at least for minion fights. Unfortunately, this one creates a strong incentive to split the party from time to time, to let the invisible guy solve important problems away from the visible party. This can be prevented by giving valuable objectives reasonable defenses against ninjas.

Assume for a moment that Greater Invis is common enough in a game world that assassins would commonly have it. This implies that any living person of importance would have some kind of usually-reliable defense against it, and that this whole situation would be somewhat well known (and ditto valuable items being guarded). At high level, this works itself out with magical defenses.

At lower level, I'd think this would work itself out with improvised non-magical defenses. Sure, random minions wouldn't be prepared for an invisible opponent, but as Greenish points out, that's OK. But a boss or treasure room is going to have some perimeter defenses against invisibility, at least alarms and some prepared reaction if those alarms are tripped. It makes sense IC, and removes any incentive to split the party.

In combat? The world will survive melee having a nice thing.

Person_Man
2011-02-08, 11:16 AM
ECL 2 is easy (dark template), but how do you figure on level 1 character? Incarnate Construct Dark [Something Else] Warforged?

Blend into Shadows feat, from Drow of the Underdark. You must have the ability to use Darkness as a spell-like ability. You expend a Darkness use, and can Hide as a Swift Action even while being observed. It was written as a limited use ability for Drow, but Warlocks and Dragonfire Adepts can use Darkness as a spell-like ability at will at 1st level.

Curmudgeon
2011-02-08, 12:18 PM
There are two different issues here. Greater Invisibility is a spell, so the counter is more magic (See Invisibility, permanent Arcane Sight to pinpoint an "empty" square with magic active in it, & c.). Hide in Plain Sight is merely an enabler for the Hide skill, so the counter is an excellent Spot skill.

Any untargetable character can still be subject to area effects, or a flight of arrows (each with a 50% miss chance). They're only protected from individual target spells. That's nothing to get worked up over.

Basically the way I'd "deal" with this issue is to do nothing special ─ just use the basic tools of a D&D world. Watchers (sentries and the like) should be good at all sorts of watching. Spellcasting watchers should avail themselves of See Invisibility and Permanency. Skillful watchers should max out Spot, with some magical boosts to the skill.

Person_Man
2011-02-08, 01:40 PM
OK, stop me if you disagree, but the consensus seems to be "Let the player be super stealthy, but mix in counter measures from time to time." That's what my general thinking is as well.

But at what ECL does it seem appropriate for a player to have access to all day-ish Greater Invisibility/HiPS (or some variant "I'm really hard to target ability)?

Again, it can be done at level 1. But I'm more interested in what is balanced for Tier 3ish, which is where most of my games tend to take place. I'm guessing level 6ish, but I'm open to discussion.

Curmudgeon
2011-02-08, 06:28 PM
Greater Invisibility is a level 4 spell, so Wizards will be able to cast it normally at level 7. Entry to Shadowdancer (with Supernatural Hide in Plain Sight at Shadowdancer 1) is available at character level 8. So even if you're restricted to core options you're going to expect reliably undetectable characters by that point.

In a Forgotten Realms-specific campaign, the version of the Dark Creature template in Cormyr: The Tearing Of The Weave grants Supernatural Hide in Plain Sight, so you should adjust the expected level down considerably for FR games.

Popertop
2011-02-08, 09:14 PM
What about Ex hide in plain sight?
At what level should that be available?

Also, does anyone else think Curmudgeon should write source material?

Kelvara
2011-02-08, 10:27 PM
For things like Ninja and HiPS after attacking, just have enemies ready an action to attack when they appear. Even if it's a swift action to hide/invis, you're still going to hit them with the readied action. For actual greater invisibility, you'll need magic.

ffone
2011-02-08, 10:47 PM
OK, stop me if you disagree, but the consensus seems to be "Let the player be super stealthy, but mix in counter measures from time to time." That's what my general thinking is as well.

But at what ECL does it seem appropriate for a player to have access to all day-ish Greater Invisibility/HiPS (or some variant "I'm really hard to target ability)?

Again, it can be done at level 1. But I'm more interested in what is balanced for Tier 3ish, which is where most of my games tend to take place. I'm guessing level 6ish, but I'm open to discussion.

Is much of your issue just the exploit with that drow darkness feat? If so you could just houserule close that loophole, by limiting it to X/day uses or to racial Darkness (as it was intended).

Also seconding 'readied actions' as the last poster said. I've had the impression - although I can't find the RAW to back it up, now that I think about it - that when you're attacked by, say, a Gr. Invis attacker, you know the direction of the attack? so a readied action vs a non-reach melee attack would 'only' suffer the 50% miss chance but would hit the right square?

(But the HiPSer could still use ranged attacks constantly I guess.)

Curmudgeon
2011-02-08, 10:48 PM
For things like Ninja and HiPS after attacking, just have enemies ready an action to attack when they appear.
I can't see that being very useful. You're assuming they appear after attacking, which is a characteristic only guaranteed with the Invisibility spell. Obviously Greater Invisibility will remain unbroken, but also Ninja Ghost Step lasts for a full round, meaning the Ninja will remain invisible through and after a full attack. A Monk with the Invisible Fist ACF (Exemplars of Evil) similarly stays invisible for a full round. Supernatural Hide in Plain Sight enables you to Hide with any permitted action, so you can piggyback that check on each blow of an attack. If successful just once, you'll never trigger the readied action.

Even if it's a swift action to hide/invis, you're still going to hit them with the readied action. For actual greater invisibility, you'll need magic.
It's no action at all to Hide (except in the special case when using the Sniping option for ranged attacks), and as I noted you can piggyback that check on each swing of your attack. A readied action dependent on someone becoming visually apparent may never trigger.
Trying to spot something you failed to see previously is a move action.
The "something" term is ambiguous, so a DM could interpret it broadly (the same creature) or narrowly (the same creature performing the same action in the same place). Regardless, one successful Hide check on one swing of a full attack will make it impossible for a readied action to trigger, because you would need to use a move action for a Spot recheck first, and you don't have any opportunity to take a move action while you've readied something.

ffone
2011-02-08, 10:56 PM
Curm:

For a DM who doesn't think I can piggyback Hide onto the attacks of a full attack, how would I explain/justify/RAW-cite it? The Hide description (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/skills/hide.htm) gives some people the impression that the Hide check must be a part of movement (although that might include a 5' step, at least).

Kelvara
2011-02-08, 11:27 PM
The text of hide seems to indicate that it's part of a move action.

As for ninja, I just assumed it would break like regular invisibility on attack. That makes ninja much better than I thought.

Akal Saris
2011-02-09, 12:31 AM
My own experiences:
One of my PCs is a 16th level warlock with the full line of DoTU stealth feats, meaning that she has about +40ish to her Hide check, Hide in Plain Sight, and Deeper Darkness at will as an immediate action. She also flies, has a Ring of the Darkhidden, Dark armor, and the Darkstalker feat. The PCs all have various equipment to see in magical darkness as well.

She's also stacked whatever miss chances she can - 50% from total concealment most rounds, as well as 20% from ranged with entropic shielding, and another 20% when she activates her ring of blinking. As the DM, I've allowed all 3 to stack, since they have different sources & counters.

Here's how I've dealt with it so far, since this game has gone on since L9:
1. Let her be invisible and focus on other PCs. This is the plan for about 50% of combats or so. PCs who have focused heavily on something should be able to enjoy it most of the time.
2. Creatures that can see through Darkstalker. Lifesight is the one I've used twice so far (Greater Shadows are terrifying to her), but Mindsight will be coming up soon as they are about to enter an area full of aberrations. Touchsight might come up as well.
3. Creatures with True Seeing and True Strike. This comes up often enough in the game as well, since the PCs are enemies of an elven kingdom known for their duskblades and elven archers - and the elven archer PrC is surprisingly effective against stealthers.
4. Creatures with ways to create daylight or eliminate hide modifiers. A lucky Glitterdust from a buffed Ogre Magi followed by several volleys of magic missile was one such encounter. Ironically, the PC was the only PC standing at the end of the encounter, despite it being set up to be more difficult than usual for her.
5. Area of effect spells and abilities. Dragons are a classic example of this (especially with their blindsense and huge spot/listen modifiers). I once used a tooth golem that took the warlock to -8 through incidental AOE damage since every attack on it was sending teeth flying to all the PCs. A volley of arrows or of thrown boulders is another "AOE" that can effectively endanger such a character.
6. Creatures with excellent listen modifiers. I've used advanced yrthaks with unusually high Listen before, and will do so again soon, since the PCs are heading towards an area where they have been bred by one of their enemies.

BobVosh
2011-02-09, 01:49 AM
I will tell you the most frustrating thing ever for a player who has worked at being hard to find is that suddenly everything can find them. I learned this from the pixie campaign.

I would also say 5 would be about right for getting permanent invisibility effects. This is again off pixies, but its at the level people can get stuff to see through it or mobs that can't are immune to a bunch of SA type stuff (which I imagine the ninja variant you're using has.)

Optimator
2011-02-09, 02:30 AM
For a DM who doesn't think I can piggyback Hide onto the attacks of a full attack, how would I explain/justify/RAW-cite it? The Hide description (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/skills/hide.htm) gives some people the impression that the Hide check must be a part of movement (although that might include a 5' step, at least).

You could bring up sniping and the -20 penalty. -20 on a skill is the go-to number for "impossible" tasks. Examples abound, though some may be in splatbooks with extended skill descriptions (most Completes and Races books, I'm sure there's more). Staying hidden while attacking should be a hide check with a -20 penalty.

If that's not related to your question, sorry. Not sure what you mean by piggybacking in this context.

Curmudgeon
2011-02-09, 04:53 AM
Curm:

For a DM who doesn't think I can piggyback Hide onto the attacks of a full attack, how would I explain/justify/RAW-cite it? The Hide description (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/skills/hide.htm) gives some people the impression that the Hide check must be a part of movement (although that might include a 5' step, at least).
The Hide skill description has everything you need; it's just poorly organized.

You can move up to one-half your normal speed and hide at no penalty. When moving at a speed greater than one-half but less than your normal speed, you take a -5 penalty. Itís practically impossible (-20 penalty) to hide while attacking, running or charging.

Action: Usually none. You Hide while moving, or while attacking, or while charging. It's not an independent action. Hiding while moving at Ĺ speed or less is just the most common case because that's the only option without a penalty to your check.

There's nothing at all abusive about using Hide while attacking, because it's tough to do so:

You've got a -20 penalty on all such checks.
Getting the ability to make those checks at all requires overcoming both Hide use requirements: cover/concealment, and not being observed. You're going to have to dedicate at least one ECL for either a template or a class dip for Hide in Plain Sight.
Do not bring up Sniping, contrary to Optimator's suggestion. That's a unique case:

It only applies to ranged attacks.
Its the only time the Hide skill requires its own action.
You're trying to make the case for using Hide in Plain Sight, and Sniping is specifically designed to work without HiPS.
Bringing up Sniping when you're trying to discuss HiPS is like talking about oranges when someone's discussing how to make the best apple pie. :smallconfused:

korifugi
2011-02-09, 05:41 AM
It depends how smart/organised the enemies are - I have a character that is designed to do as such and this is how the DM (Hi Aotrs!) deals with me...

Generally - I'm left to it, I have to make move silent rolls to disguise my presence but as stealth is the main thing my build does, my DM is loathe to nerf me totally. We do, however run into the occasional enemy that has glitterdust/see invis/some other way of seeing me, but as a general thing, this is not every enemy in existence.

Clever foes will sometimes wait for me to appear if it is tactically sound(we rule that I 'flicker' into view for a brief moment when using consecutive invis charges)

Organised bad guys will make things difficult for me, but not impossible - meaning I have to fight smart (which I generally do all the time).

That being said - I have ensured the character is not a one trick pony, sinking levels into invisible blade to allow me to feint enemies that can see me, and making use of my mobility in combat to get flanking bonuses.

Darrin
2011-02-09, 08:31 AM
What this all boils down to is this: How do you choose to deal with a player who either can't be targeted, or can only be targeted by (often non-sequitur) counter measures?


I'd introduce an NPC with a backstory that involves a grudge against the character. This NPC, let's call her Elusia, would have 1) a higher hide skill 2) an even higher spot skill and 3) access to rediculously accurate divinations. This NPC has a habit of leaving little "gifts" for your Stealthmonger. Start with a mysterious personalized note or calling card that the PC finds strategically placed in his next hiding spot. If he picks it up, a magic mouth loudly announces: "Did you really think this was a good spot? HEY, HE'S OVER HERE! RIGHT HERE!"

When the magic mouths get old, upgrade to a Messenger Arrow (Ghostwalk Web Enhancement) with Spell Storing or a Glyph Seal + faerie fire/glitterdust. To add a little injury to the insult, add explosive runes, sepia snake sigil, or fire trap.

Let's make Elusia a Spellthief/Unseen Seer, maybe toss in a little Mystic Ranger/SotAO for spell selection and some archery-related help. Outfit her with a Stormfire Ring (faerie fire 5/day + some electricity damage make it sting a bit), a Revealing Bane-Blind (favored enemy = PC) composite longbow with a Revelation Crystal. In addition to the Spell-Storing + Messenger Arrows, Summoning Arrows (A&EG), Arrows of Biting (MIC), Fountainhead Arrows (MIC), Burrowing Arrows (CWar), Jumping Caltrops (MIC), Glitter Stone (MIC).

Elusia only appears briefly, usually only long enough to embarass the PC for a round or two, and then disappears, cackling about "Too bad I can't stay for a chat", "Not the right time for a proper tete-a-tete", "Oh, tsk tsk, you can do better than that", etc.

Elusia isn't designed to completely negate the PC for an entire battle. At best, the PC has to re-hide somewhere else, at worst he has to spend some time to come up with a counter (deflect arrows feat, shield of arrow deflection, dispel the faerie fire/glitterdust, lesser globe of invulnerability, etc.). It also encourages the PC to do some homework: Who is she? What does she want? How can I counter her debuffs? Can I predict where she'll appear next? Can I lay a trap for her?



But at what ECL does it seem appropriate for a player to have access to all day-ish Greater Invisibility/HiPS (or some variant "I'm really hard to target ability)?


Greater invisibility is available to spellcasters around ECL 7ish, and Boots of Tracklessness (11000 GP, MIC) are affordable around 7-8ish by WBL. If you're players are sharp enough to Persist greater invisibility (I believe this was one of Cindy's all-day buffs), then that's usually a good sign it's time to take off the kid-gloves.

Mindsight it available via Mindbender at ECL 6 for most spellcasters (or earlier if you allow the mindlink power or soulmelds to qualify for Mindsight). Lesser globe of invulnerability (the best counter to glitterdust) is available at ECL 7ish. I'd let the PC enjoy his untargetableness for 1-2 levels, and then he can reasonably expect that his more devoted enemies will start taking notes and invest in appropriate countermeasures... probably in the ECL 7-9 range.

If you're dealing with an Adept of Darkness build doing this at ECL 1... occasionally toss in a Darkmantle, Grimlock, or an ooze here and there to keep the PC on his toes for ECLs 1-4. At ECL 5+, Warlocks get access to Fell Flight, Hungry Darkness, Voidsense, and Walk Unseen... I'd probably start making his life difficult with one of those, or a DFA with Entangling Exhalation.

Greenish
2011-02-09, 08:34 AM
Is much of your issue just the exploit with that drow darkness feat?No, because that's not what his player is using.

See, this thread is about homebrewing a working ninja, and on the desirable level of difficulty in detecting one. :smallamused:

Person_Man
2011-02-09, 11:05 AM
No, because that's not what his player is using.

See, this thread is about homebrewing a working ninja, and on the desirable level of difficulty in detecting one. :smallamused:

This.

I'm homebrewing a Ninja (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=186505), written specifically to be fun, easy to use, and balanced to Tier 3-ish (in that order of priority).

I'm not concerned about the Dark template or Blend into Shadows. What I'm saying is that I know for a fact that this player wants to be hidden most of the time. Like most good DMs, I intend to allow them to do what they're good at most of the time. As they gain levels I'll mix in more counter measures, and I'll build counter-counter measures (some sort of Darkstalker ability, Non-Detection, etc) into the class so that the player doesn't feel like their basic shtick is being "taxed". But balancing all of that is a bit tricky, because being able to avoid most detection is a fairly potent ability.

Also, I just thought of an interesting idea. Why is the Ninja Wisdom based? Why not make it a purely Dexterity based class? It ruins the Ki life force fluff, but fixes MAD issues.

ffone
2011-02-16, 03:31 AM
The Hide skill description has everything you need; it's just poorly organized. You Hide while moving, or while attacking, or while charging. It's not an independent action. Hiding while moving at Ĺ speed or less is just the most common case because that's the only option without a penalty to your check.

There's nothing at all abusive about using Hide while attacking, because it's tough to do so:

You've got a -20 penalty on all such checks.
Getting the ability to make those checks at all requires overcoming both Hide use requirements: cover/concealment, and not being observed. You're going to have to dedicate at least one ECL for either a template or a class dip for Hide in Plain Sight.
Do not bring up Sniping, contrary to Optimator's suggestion. That's a unique case:

It only applies to ranged attacks.
Its the only time the Hide skill requires its own action.
You're trying to make the case for using Hide in Plain Sight, and Sniping is specifically designed to work without HiPS.
Bringing up Sniping when you're trying to discuss HiPS is like talking about oranges when someone's discussing how to make the best apple pie. :smallconfused:


Aha, thanks Curm...it seems obvious now ,i.e. you laid it out well. I think I had tacitly assumed that the "while attacking" clause only referred to sniping, b/c it seemed odd, given that sniping required the extra move action, that you could do it for free. Now, I see your point, that what that's buying you is the ability to hide again at all - if you were hiding before the attack you must've met the 'environmental' condition (cover, concealment, or maybe Camouflage or some other ability) but are now 'being observed' by the target immediately following the attack, so the sniping rule is a provided exception (which with HiPS you don't need).

Person_Man
2011-02-16, 10:10 AM
Yeah, it's easy to get confused about Hide, Move Silently, Hide in Plain Site, Invisibility, etc. It would make a lot more sense if there was just a single unified stealth mechanic, and if everything else just modified it in some way.

Greenish
2011-02-16, 10:22 AM
Yeah, it's easy to get confused about Hide, Move Silently, Hide in Plain Site, Invisibility, etc. It would make a lot more sense if there was just a single unified stealth mechanic, and if everything else just modified it in some way.If it were simple and intuitive, it wouldn't be the 3.5 we know and love. :smalltongue: