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/tg/ - Traditional Games

Are there any RPGs that do stealth well?
Shadowrun does it pretty well imo
Most of them (it's mostly up to the GM and the players to make it interesting and exciting).
The Rock, Paper, Shotgun article on Invisible Inc. talks about what makes a good stealth system in a way I found super useful, even if it's talking about them in a videogame context rather than a ttrpg one.

I find most stealth systems in TTRPGs to be kind of lame.
That said there's a system called Dark that I've been wanting to look into. It uses a resource-based card mechanic, where you have a hand of cards that varies in size based on how well hidden you are, how alert the enemy is, etc. When you need to do something risky, you spend cards to accomplish it.
It means you have to plan ahead, and worry about trade-offs between different courses of action. If you go this way, you'll certainly get in and get the doohickey, but you might not have enough left to get back out without the alarm being raised.
It seems pretty sweet. Here's a playthrough:

phoenix command
OD&D works pretty well.
Can you write, like, three sentences on how it does stealth right?

(Not OP, I just have an interest in this.)
I'm not that guy, but OD&D works well because it doesn't have reams of detailed notes on how to sneak and listening ranges or anything- it expects you to put the fiction first and that (in my experience) is a lot more fun than rolling Stealth vs Perception and seeing who gets a better roll (and having that be basically the whole "stealth encounter")
What's the difference between OD&D and freeform for the purpose of stealth scenes?

I mean, I do agree that freeform is much better than "roll stealth, ok you win". Just, why name OD&D?
Phoenix Command stealth is basically like a video game. A character's actions, movement speed, clothes, etc. determines how loud and visible they are. Then for each enemy, roll for hearing and spotting, each phase of combat.

It recreates actual stealth very stealth-computer-game-like and realistically. You have to avoid enemy sight lines (they have vision cones and %-chances to turn their heads, I kid you fucking not).

It also involves involves rolling painfully large amounts of dice if you're unlucky. I'm not sure I'd recommend it (not the guy who recommended it), and its rather bereft of mechanical options, but it's a robust and rigorous system.

Some people just really like OD&D and think it's the best ever, for all purposes.
A lot of stealth being good requires a good GM. As has been mentioned earlier, rigid rules about distances and the like can bog it down. Also, 3.5's division of hide and move silently is kinda retarded.

I think OD&D is a nice, tightly built game that's underappreciated compared to Basic or AD&D, but I wouldn't single out its stealth mechanics as particularly good -- they're hardly there at all.
Good mechanics enhance a play experience, bad ones hinder it. So while no mechanics are better than bad mechanics, the best choice is to have good mechanics for anything that's important to a game. Stealth, though, is one of those things that's especially hard to build good mechanics for.

I wouldn't say its hard to build good mechanics for stealth. Rather that nobody ever tries, because RPGs are more inbred that Charles II of Spain, and moving outside the comfort zone of "D&D-style combat" is basically unheard of.
Yeah, I never use random rolls for stealth as its too easy for it too all fall apart in a hurry
Blades in the Dark.

Sounds neat, got a PDF?

Well, I looked into it again. The actual release has been delayed somewhat due to Will Hindmarch having some health issues, but I think there's a playtest packet floating around.
Hindmarch's previous project was massively delayed, but it did come out eventually with everything promised and more, and was generally well recieved. It seems he's a great designer, but has trouble meeting deadlines.
Invisible Inc
I think it's interesting to look at what Invisible Inc does to make stealth fun.
- Player control. There are basically no random rolls in Invisible. Everything is under the player's control, if you do x then y will happen every time. The environment if procedurally generated but individual actions are deterministic. This is very different to the average TTRPG.
- Levels of failure. Being glimpsed or spotted is not a game over or a transition into a shitty combat game. It alerts guards, changes patrol patterns, raises the alarm level. In most TTRPG spotted = roll for initiative. I suppose if you fuck up real bad in Invisible you are outright dead.
- Team Focus. The entire team are stealth characters. In most TTRPGs you have a split between stealth and non-stealthy characters, so when the ninja/rogue/thief is deep in enemy territory with no fucking backup when he fails his roll.

In the game I'm running I'm using fixed stealth and notice numbers for the stealth characters and guards. No random rolls. Cover, distance, equipment etc. modifies these numbers. If guards beat the PCs then they notice something. Only if the guards win by a lot does it become outright combat. By giving the players lots of information about what kind of guards they are facing (and their notice ability) they can move and take cover etc. accordingly.
I would love to capture, "Hey, what the Hell was that?" in my TTRPG, a la Deus Ex:HR or any "guard is now alert" stealth adventure.

It's just stupid to say a competent character tripped over a loose shoe and is now bringing the whole party into a sequence of "fumblestealth".
For Shadowrun its because it's a group thing. Most systems you just have one stealth character that scouts ahead, but with Shadowrun you need people hacking into things to disable alarms and cameras, a mage making sure there aren't any magical dangers, a rigger keeping tabs outside with drones etc. Even if only one PC is actually physically infiltrating the rest of the party is still contributing.

Good fucking post
Project: Dark was supposed to be a tabletop RPG all about stealth, but I've heard fuck-all about it since the Kickstarter funded almost two years ago.

A base number is a great idea over rolls.

I've never found a system that does stealth takedowns all too well. I've had to GM Fiat it so stealthed players instantly drop unaware guards, I've always found it upsetting that most RPG's are just "if you dont do enough damage they'll be alive and ready to fight you"

I use a modified version of Last Gasp Grimoire's Flesh/Grit system, which fixes that. Only the first hit die of a human is physical wounds, the rest is ye olde fighting spirit.
Attacks from surprise (as well as missile attack, yeowch!) bypass all that Grit and strike Flesh directly. In addition, if you do max damage for your weapon, or more than half the enemy's total flesh in that one hit, he suffers a severe wound and will fall unconscious shortly.
Tack on Lamentations of the Flame Princess' rules for garrotes, and sneaky characters are NASTY.
Most RPGs are not that deadly. I use Silhouette (the Heavy Gear system). In that system attacks vs unaware targets are vs Difficulty 1 rather than opposed rolls like for normal combat, and since damage is dependent on how well you hit, sneak attacks very often result in 1-hit kills.

I think stealth goes best with a lethal system since it empowers players to take out guards easily and discourages them from engaging in combat.
Yeah, stealth in games like D&D with bloated HP pools is tedious to run.
OD&D is the best system for all purposes
>- Player control. There are basically no random rolls in Invisible. Everything is under the player's control, if you do x then y will happen every time. The environment if procedurally generated but individual actions are deterministic.
Uncertainty and risk mitigation is a good part of the fun. Invisible Inc. can get away with this because there's a large amount of hidden information. "Should I move forward and risk being caught with my pants down if there's a hidden guard? Or should I waste half my turn?"

But RPGs (except, apparently, Phoenix Command) can't do that, because it's very taxing on the GM to keep track of private information (the squares of vision that a camera has etc.) and because it's slow and awkward to add features to a map as the players move. You usually do it whole-room by whole-room.

The dice rolls make up for that. "Should I move forward and risk being seen if I fail my Stealth check? Or should I waste half my turn?"
>"if you dont do enough damage they'll be alive and ready to fight you"
A stealth RPG should offer lots and lots of ways to do partial failure, including for incapacitation, that don't immediately end the stealth.
>You've got a black eye and your costume is all askew.
>There's blood on the wall.
>Nasty knife wound. You shouldn't be doing any physical effort, or it'll only get worse.
>Your gadget is broken.
>The noise attracted some suspicion and a guard is knocking at the door. You need to stall them until you can hide the body.
>So much for a no-kill mission. Now the consequences are considerably higher if you get arrested.
Stealth in most things is just bad foreplay to more combat, not an end to itself. You roll the dice until you mess up and get detected. Oh the other five people in your party who weren't dumb enough to make a stealth character? They're just going to sit on their asses waiting for your minigame to be over.

I hate Fallout P&P so damn much

OSRfag here. Please don't try to make OD&D the new GURPS. OD&D has legitimate and awesome uses.. and no one will ever actually care if you run with this nonsense.
You're on the right track here.

Roleplaying games are, generally, some unholy mashup of freeform theatre and tabletop wargames repurposed for looting dungeons filled with monsters.

Sitting around and pretending to be other people tends to work, because freeform theatre is a pretty good way of doing that. Fighting people tends to work, because it's adapted from decades of experience in making games about fighting.

There are less games about stealth out there, so let's look at video games instead, which is where the stealth-genre flourishes.

What happens when a guard spots Snake in Metal Gear Solid? What certainly doesn't happen is that the entire base he's trying to infiltrate is put on high alert and there's no way to get back into stealthing again.

What happens is one of two things:

A) The guard goes "Hey, what was that!?" and goes to investigate, or;
B) The guard calls for reinforcements.

In situation A, the guard *increases* their chance of spotting Snake (leading to 1. situation B, and 2. bullets), but Snake can still try to hide somewhere else. Or sneak around an obstacle and ambush the guard from behind. Or just kill the guard with a well-placed headshot. Point is, being spotted in situation A is not an end of the stealth-phase; it's a *new situation* that needs to be addressed; often with more stealth, such as hiding in a locker or under a cardboard box. Then the guard says something silly like "I must be seeing things," or "Just a rat,", and goes back to their patrol. Then Snake goes on stealthing his merry way past the guard again.

In situation B, Snake can still try to hide - but now there's more guards combing the area. This increases the chances of a stand-up fight (which is dangerous), but also allows Snake to use his one-man-sneaking-skills to take down the reinforcements one-by-one, or he can hide until they go their way again.
>>42009258 (cont)

This may seem like an unrealistic game-thing, but it actually makes sense; the guards can't find Snake, so they assume he's run off to somewhere else and spread out to search.

The overall point is, in games about stealth, setting off an alarm or being seen by a guard is not a permanent end to stealth; it is a *complication* that can often be defeated with more stealth.

Let's also look at Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Here, when Sam Fisher is partially detected, the guards will A) come investigate and/or B) pull out glowsticks or flashlights to be able to spot Fisher better.

If Fisher is fully detected, they will A) increase the Alert Level of the level, B) shoot at him, and C) summon nearby guards. B and C are similar to MGS; either kill the guards or sneak away.

A has a much more fun effect. First, when guards partially detect Fisher at a heightened Alert Level, they'll shoot in his general direction instead of investigating, because they know someone dangerous are there. Secondly, they'll put on bulletproof vests, making killing them harder. But stealth is not made *impossible* from this point onwards.

Chaos Theory also has two different multiplayer modes; Thieves vs. Mercenaries and Co-op Campaign. The Co-op Campaign especially showcases that stealth games can involve multiple players. Having two people stealthing around allows them to double up on taking down enemies, give each other adrenalin injections when one has been shot too much, help each other scale walls, etc.
>>42009396 (cont)

Another important design element in stealth video games is that the player character is at their strongest when stealthing, and at their weakest when they try to go in guns blazing.

For example, Sam Fisher has a deadly array of one-hit takedowns. If he can sneak up on someone, they usually go down in a single blow, or he can drag them out of sight for an interrogation. When staying concealed in the shadows, Fisher can spend time to line up headshots. Several of Fisher's tools are for aiding stealth; shoot out lights, disable security cameras, etc.

Snake can throw people to the ground with a single attack, or disable them with a chokehold. He can sneak up on them and hold them up at gunpoint to get more supplies, or hide and take his time to line up a headshot.

However, if Sam Fisher goes in guns blazing, he will quickly be worn down by the numerous guards. He can survive maybe 5-6 shots, and there are far more than 5-6 guards in each map, so he must take some of them out without being shot. Likewise, Snake will be whittled down by the reinforcements if he tries to engage in stand-up fights.

Therefore, players of stealth games are rewarded by staying stealthy; they are more effective when stealthy, survive longer when stealthy, and there's less enemies to sneak past when they're stealthy.
>>42009497 (cont)

These are design elements that can be applied to a stealth tabletop game to make stealthing around actually interesting.

Take, for example, a position with two guards that need to be bypassed.

The players can try to sneak past the guards by watching their patrol routes and avoiding their lines of sight and not making too much noise.

They can hide in the bushes, line up shots, and try to kill them both with shots to the head at the same time.

They can make a distraction and sneak past while the guards are distracted - the guards will radio for backup, but by then they'll be long gone.

The players can make a noise. Guard A goes to investigate while Guard B covers him with a gun. Then a PC sneaks up and slits Guard B's throat, and now that Guard A isn't covered anymore, another PC can kill him too. If they'd killed guard A first, B might have had time to raise the alarm.

Or maybe Guard A and Guard B decide to call in the disturbance, and reinforcements are sent over - time for the players to hide! (Or maybe they set a trap to take out the reinforcements. The base will be on increased alert, but there'll be less reinforcements to go around.)

These are all options the players can choose between, which'll make them active participants in the stealth, and let them play on the strengths and weaknesses of their characters.
You son of a bitch. I was living life in blissful ignorance. I want this game so bad now.
This thread is awesome, I'm going to archive it on suptg if it's not already there.
Are there any games that do CQC well?


straight from john harper on g+
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You're the best.
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Oh man, I am impressed with how ingenious and awesome this is. I think I have to buy the final when it's out.
>This may seem like an unrealistic game-thing, but it actually makes sense
It's a realistic thing that's exaggerated for gameplay purposes. Real guards do come looking when they think they heard something and wander off if nothing's wrong. But not in a deterministic way, and not while saying "WHAT WAS THAT? ...Huh, mind's playing tricks on me."
At the risk of sounding like a shill. I was looking over the stretch goals on the kickstarter and now I'm wishing I got in on that. They all sound like awesome expansions of an already rad setting. I'll probably pirate them all when they hit, then buy physical copies as my wallet allows.
The system's not built with stealth in mind but I quite like Savage Worlds' approach to stealth.

People are either active or inactive when it comes to keeping their eyes open and searching for you. Inactive guards are bored out of their skulls, unaware of any intruders, and only require a standard Stealth check to slip past.
However, if you fuck up on this check or they're on alert for some other reason they're active guards and turn your Stealth checks into opposed ones versus their Notice skill.

Also, closing to melee range of someone automatically requires an opposed check regardless of whether they were active or inactive before.
>The players can try to sneak past the guards by watching their patrol routes and avoiding their lines of sight and not making too much noise.
Although unlike video games (and, apparently, Phoenix Command), you're better off resolving this in an abstract way than keeping track of the exact m2 where everyone is.
What are you looking for in a CQC system?

In the context of stealth, it seems to me that a simple "he's out / he's out but there's trouble / he's not out and there's big trouble" check will serve better than something more detailed.
Sorry about that, re-posting.
Here's a stupid(?) idea I'd like to toss my hat in for:

You have a number of dice you roll all the time, called STEALTH.
The more dice you have, the better you are generally considered at sneaking around and the like.
In specific circumstances based on your character, you may gain temporary bonus STEALTH dice.
When you take action, every STEALTH die you roll that gives a value at or above a target number (usually 7 on a d12) counts as a success.
The more successes you have, the more benefits you can take, and the more hindrances you can 'buy off'.

For example:
I roll four STEALTH d12s and my target number is 6 for disabling a machine, BUT I roll a four, a seven, a three, and a five.
Now, I could simply fail at disabling the machine without setting off an alarm, but a guard is coming, and I'm in a hurry.
I spend STAMINA to roll an additional die, and roll a six. My character realizes his mistake and manages to disable the panel.
Now he can pass into the next room before the guard sees him.
If the panel were particularly tricky, I might be able to negotiate with the DM to have the panel disable- after beeping loudly.
Now the guard entering is more wary, and I have to be more careful in the future.

You have STAMINA, which is a well of ability and experience you can draw on to boost your actions and prevent issues.
You can only spend X amount of STAMINA dice on any roll, based on your level, because you do/don't know how to use your experience yet.
As you advance, you gain more STAMINA, and the number of STAMINA dice you can use in any roll goes up.
You can regain STAMINA over time or in certain circumstances (the guards assuming you're dead, the like).
When you have no STAMINA, it represents your luck running out, or exhaustion, or the guards getting wise to your tricks.
Guards each have their own target number, which is the number you must roll above when your character moves to sneak past the guard.
This target number can increase or decrease based on the whether the guard has more wary or less suspicious because of your actions.
They also have a BACKUP value, which is the number of dice they can take away from your roll. It represents training and teamwork.
More guards means higher BACKUP, and if the number ever gets high enough, you get sniffed out unless you have a certain kind of COVER.

COVER, whether it be noise or gunfire or an object to hide behind, gives you bonus dice to hide and move undetected.
Sometimes, BACKUP can take away these dice as well, but sometimes they can't, such as when you are completely hidden from the outside.

ALARM is another mechanic.
Guards can decrease their own target number by four and increase the level of alarm by one, if they can contact headquarters.
They can only do this when their target number is raised four or more above its regular value as a result of the player's actions.
This represents their sense of security for guaranteed backup, as well as increased security.
Any particular GUARD can only raise ALARM once, except in certain cases, such as raising ALARM in the stead of a GUARD that has not.
ALARM is similar to BACKUP, except it can be added to any roll where there is at least one GUARD.
Some GUARDs cannot benefit from ALARM because they cannot be contacted or may not be capable of ALARM, such as automated systems.
If ALARM rises high enough, the game is over or the mission is failed in certain circumstances.


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