The Hide skill, all in one place.
I'd like to point out that just about none of the things I'll discuss below have any official status. These are just the things
I came up with to clarify the effect of the surrounding area and actions taken on the use and effectiveness of the Hide skill.
If some official source is involved, a reference will be included.
Casting a spell has certain mitigating circumstances that lessen the penalty (cumulatively).
|Effect ||Circumstance mod.
Up to ½ speed
Up to full speed
Faster than full speed
Less than 50% conc.
No check allowed
No check required
After a ranged attack
(min 10 ft.)
After casting a spell
(min 10 ft.)
- No obvious effect
or hostile target
Low-light or Darkvision
may negate concealment.
Max distance between hiding places: 1 ft. per rank plus 1 ft. per point of magical bonus.
Hide check takes a move-equivalent action, which can be combined with a move, to perform. (MotW, p. 19)Movement
effects of movement on the Hide skill are clearly described in the PHB: up to ½ base speed no penalty, up to full speed you
take a 5 and moving faster gives you a whopping 20 penalty to your Hide check (PHB, p. 69). This assumes that suitable hiding
places, or cover and/or concealment to put it in game terms, are available. When trying to stay hidden, the distance between
hiding places cant be greater than 1 foot per Hide rank (add one foot per point of bonus from magic, like a Cloak of Elvenkind).
(MotW, p. 20, S&S, p. 36))
When staying more than 60 ft. away from someone you are following, you only have to make
one Hide check per 10 minutes. When you get within 60 ft. you have to make one every round. (MotW, p. 19) I think it is safe
to assume this also means that, when scouting, staying more than 60 ft. away from observers makes one check per 10 minutes
sufficient, wherease getting closer would require one check per round.Concealment
The effects of the availability
of concealment (there is almost no distinction between cover and concealment, regarding their effect on hiding, so from this
point on read cover and/or concealment every time I speak of concealment) are less clearly described. In fact, the PHB doesn't
even mention them in the Hide skill write-up.
Masters of the Wild and Song & Silence both agree that you need at least
50% concealment to hide succesfully, unless you have got some special ability like a Shadow Dancers Hide in Plain Sight ability.
Modern, which is very similar to D&D 3e, does mention concealment. It says: "Cover and concealment (see page 144) grant
circumstance bonuses to Hide checks, as shown below. Note that you can't hide if you have less than one-half cover or concealment."
the accompanying table three-quarters concealment gives a +5 and nine-tenths a +10 circumstance bonus to Hide checks. Note
that this favors stationary ambushes, as these can be laid in areas with a good deal of concealment. This tends to favor the
PCs' opponents, more than the PCs themselves.Concealment based on (natural) lighting conditions
relying on darkness alone, to hide them from unfriendly eyes, are in for a nasty surprise the first time they meet opponents
with low-light or darkvision. For these opponents, the circumstance modifier from natural darkness based concealment should
be lessened (or increased in the case of penalties). Darkvision negates such bonuses completely (even requiring a check for
complete natural darkness, with NO circumstance bonus). Low-light vision reduces the bonus by one step (or +5), except for
100% concealment, as there has to be at least some light for low-light vision to operate.
Concealment reduced to less
than 50%, by either type of special vision, makes hiding impossible.
Magically created lighting conditions tend to have
their effect described (often making low-light and darkvision irrelevant). Those that don't, should follow the same rules
as set out above. The effect of movement on concealment
Determining concealment levels for stationary characters
is relatively simple. Doing the same for moving characters shouldn't be much harder. You just take some sort of 'average'
level of concealment for the path the character covers during the time unit for which the Hide check is relevant. For the
mathematically inclined assign the values 1 through 6 to the different levels of concealment (None to 100%) and then take
a weighted summation of those found in the path covered to get an average value. You might also just take the most common
level as a base line and adjust that level's modifier by +/- 2, depending on the other levels of concealment.
of terrain without cover, longer than one foot per Hide rank (add one foot per point of bonus from magic, like a Cloak of
Elvenkind), cannot be passed unnoticed (again excepting Hide in plain Sight and similar abilities).Attacking from
Those attacking with melee weapons, tend to leave their hiding places, so spotting them is an automatic success
(the normal combat rules regarding concealment and miss chance apply, when hiding in fog/darkness), though comes too late
to avoid being suprised. If the distance between the final hiding place and the target of the attack is less than one foot
per Hide rank (add one foot per point of bonus from magic, like a Cloak of Elvenkind) you can sneak up and attack before he
or she sees you. (S&S, p. 37) Those attacking with ranged weapons or spells, however, have a small chance of retaining
their hidden status, given that there is enough concealment to hide behind. If you have already succesfully hidden at least
10 ft. from your target, you can make one ranged attack, then immediately try to hide again as a move action. You suffer a
-20 circumstance penalty on your Hide check to conceal yourself after the shot. (S&S, p. 37)
That seems to imply for
spellcasting from hiding that, if you have already succesfully hidden at least 10 ft. from your target, you can cast a spell
that takes only a single action to cast, then immediately try to hide again as a move action. You suffer a -20 circumstance
penalty on your Hide check to conceal yourself after casting the spell. (S&S, p. 37)
I believe that the presence or
absence of Verbal and Somatic components, as well as how noticeable a spell is should affect your chance of staying hidden.
If the spell requires Verbal and Somatic components and the spell targets an enemy/area or has a visible/audible/tactile
effect, then the Hide check would be at -20.
If the spell requires Verbal and Somatic components and the spell doesn't
target an enemy/area and has no visible/audible/tactile effect, then the Hide check would be at -15.
Not having a Verbal
or Somatic component lowers the penalty by another 5 points (cumulatively).
If the spell requires no Verbal or Somatic
components (ie a Stilled, Silenced spell) and the spell targets only the caster and his/her allies and has no visible/audible/tactile
effect, the caster need not make a Hide check.