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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Albions_Angel's Avatar

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    Default Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    Hi all,

    I was always frustrated as a player that I could sneak up behind someone and attack them totally unaware, and the best I could do was a regular attack with +2 against their FF AC, with regular damage, and maybe sneak attack or similar. Often times, thats pitiful damage for the trouble of sneaking up to a lone guard. It often resulted in me simply leaving my team outside somewhere and sneaking in alone, doing a pacifist run, grabbing the McGuffin and getting out. In my HEAD, it felt I should be rewarded for sneaking up behind a guard with a near instant kill (subject to CR disparity of course).

    Now that I DM (well, now that I world build while waiting for players who actually like 3.5e and not simply drinking while I play the game myself), I am slowly compiling lists and lists of house rules. Class fixes, feat modifications, in world homebrew. The aim is to have everything written down so that I stay consistent, and my players know what to expect.

    So I have been mulling this over in my head. What would happen if, subject to hitting their FF AC (with +2 from concealment), you didnt simply do damage, but did a CDG? The caviats are, it has to be from stealth. And it has to be on a totally unaware enemy. The "from stealth" is pretty set in stone. The "totally unaware" is probably covered by the "from stealth" in 99% of cases, but the idea is a super crazy rogue can drop the FIRST guard of a group of guards, but the SECOND and all SUBSEQUENT guards are at least aware something is up, even if they are still flat footed, and thus its harder to slit their throats, even if they cant see you. They might not know exactly where you are, and so might still be subject to sneak attack damage, but they are likely covering the most vital spots, so instant kills are harder.

    So far, pretty much every situation i can think of is fine with this ruling. A well organised party can drop multiple guards "at the same time" with this, but to do that, they need to all stealth successfully, and for that, there should be some reward. This wont operate in a surprise round where you wernt hidden before hand, because trying to slit the throat of the person you are talking to is rather difficult, even if they arnt expecting you to try.

    The totally unaware part gives me a little pause, as its totally DM dependent. But I like to think the meaning is clear.

    Thoughts? Changes? Pointing to actual rules for this?

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    This sounds like you basically want the death attack offered by the assassin (and a few others). Only better, and with no class investment.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    Yeah I would go against it. For one its pretty trivial to have a stealth check thats more or less unbeatable. Of the top of my head a level 1 whisper gnome rogue with 20 dex and a mw hide tool, enough cha to use their sla silence, and max ranks with darkstalker is at +15 compared to a guards maybe 2 or 3 ranks if they have non penalized int and wis and no other skills.

    The guard needs a 20 and for you to roll 8 or less to even hope to notice you.

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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    Allowing anyone to CDG a surprised opponent is just plain silly. You'll have a low-level spellcaster using Swift Invisibility and then killing an opponent with a heavy pick they're not even proficient with.

    I'd say allow it to work only with a sap, and it knocks them unconscious if they fail the save. Otherwise if they want to do a lethal attack from stealth they're left with sneak attack or nothing.

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    Chimera

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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    I see your point, 3.5 doesn't handle stealth and surprise well. To be honest, the problem with this ruling is that it opens the gates for PCs to get instagibbed without a say in the matter because any character that ever attempts Stealth has a pretty much unbeatable Stealth check by normal averages. Even without magic items, a goblin or kobold can get stupid high stealth checks just by investing ranks and being small, which in turn forces every PC to max Spot/Listen because not doing so is not an option anymore.

    If you intend on making Stealth better, maybe add the ability to do so as a feat with X rounds of preparation, like the Assassin PrC. If you're already making many changes, maybe address the fact that Stealth is completely all-or-nothing, you either succeed all rolls and no one ever sees you, or you fail one roll and everything goes down the drain. That all or nothing mentality is what forced the devs to make stealth bad and ineffective, because protecting against it is hard.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    This is literally what Sneak Attack is for, but you reference Rogues in your post. What exactly are you seeking to do? Make Stealth more useful to non-Rogues, at the cost of impinging on the Rogue's schtick?

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    Flumph

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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Adventurer View Post
    This is literally what Sneak Attack is for, but you reference Rogues in your post. What exactly are you seeking to do? Make Stealth more useful to non-Rogues, at the cost of impinging on the Rogue's schtick?
    TBF, one single Sneak Attack is pretty unimpressive against a non-trivial foe. This houserule seems to benefit Rogues if anything.

    That said, I wouldn't use CdG - too guaranteed deadly and with weird incentives like "use a scythe and power attack for the best throat-slitting."

    Maybe:
    Fort save (DC 10 + half level + Dex) or die, else take an extra 3*level damage and Sneak Attack dice are maximized.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2019-05-21 at 02:10 PM.

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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biffoniacus_Furiou View Post
    I'd say allow it to work only with a sap, and it knocks them unconscious if they fail the save. Otherwise if they want to do a lethal attack from stealth they're left with sneak attack or nothing.
    Can't you still CDG someone after you sap them?

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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    TBF, one single Sneak Attack is pretty unimpressive against a non-trivial foe. This houserule seems to benefit Rogues if anything.
    The quoted foes are nameless guards. It is true that I was assuming they were low-challenge opponents individually. Does the proposed house rule look better if you can coup de grace important, significant foes?

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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    Hi all,

    Getting the general feeling of "no".

    I would want whatever I have to work on essentially everything, so maybe CDG might not be the best idea as one failed save will simply kill whatever.

    My "nameless guards" might well be cr 1/2 goblin warriors, in which case its not really needed. Or they might be my standard level 5 town guards with 5 levels in warrior. Or they might be higher cr monsters guarding something.

    I guess my idea is that if a player or party invests the time and effort into sneaking up to a guard, I would like to reward that and allow them to slit the guards throat, or easily knock them out. But for it to either have to be highly coordinated (all party members sneaking, each taking out a guard to dispatch a whole lot at once), or for it to be a one time leveler (one player sneaks up to 2 guards guarding a door, kills 1, other one is alerted as he watches his friends body fall, even if he doesnt spot the sneaker). But I concede stealth is very easy to optimize, and I dont want my level 1 players instakilling the level 16 king.

    Maybe its fort save or maximum damage? Fort DC being something like 10 + level?

    As for instagibbing players, Ive never been a fan of using save or die things on my players. Its never seemed fair. Im not there to kill the party, I am there to provide the framework for their adventure. Sure, if they are silly, or if they roll badly on a boss encounter, I wont pull my punches, but even then, TPKs often end up with "you wake up bound and gagged. One of you finds the bindings to be a little loose. Good luck".

    So with that in mind, what would people suggest I do. I get rogues have sneak attack, but even a wizard should be able to slit someones throat from behind, right?

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    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    A level 5 rogue sneak attacking a lvl 1 npc guard is doing around 15 damage on average against its 8-12 hp. That is what you see in movies when secret agents slit throats: one hit kills with confidence. You don't want a mechanical effect like widening save or dies and CdGs to have further implications as mentioned above.

    If you want real takedowns like most stealth games, you need a different game, or make the opposition suitably weak.

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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    The only thing I've seen concerning the CDG is that is has to be a helpless defender. Being that it's a full-round action, a guard on duty (per the given example) will notice. I believe there is something out there that can speed it up to a standard action, but I'm not remembering it.

    The fortitude save you mentioned is actually weaker than the one listed in the book...DC 10+damage dealt, including SA. Getting the guard helpless for that is an issue, but the standard grunts on guard duty won't pass that save.

    When it comes to the wizards, how often do you see them doing that in movies/cartoons, etc? Wizards don't slit people's throats because all their time is devoted to magic, and they're not exactly front-liners. Can they? Yes. Should they? There's a 1st-level spell called Sleep that would probably be better...then the Rogue can CDG the sleeping beauties.

    Maybe a good house-rule would be a hasted creature can do it as a standard action.

    It honestly sounds like you're trying to replace SA with CDG's...you don't need to be helpless to be SA'd, but ultimately I think it's designed the way it is due to issues of balance.

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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    AFB at the moment, but I believe the Advanced Gamemaster's Guide (or possibly Advanced Player's Guide) from Green Ronin Press includes optional rules for "bushwhacking", which pretty much do what the OP is after. It makes the game pretty deadly, though.

    [edit] The rules are available free online, in a sample of the book here: https://freeronin.com/gr_files/agg_pre_1.pdf

    The bushwhack rule applies only when a target is flat-footed and unaware of an attack against him. This second part is very important. A thief jumping out of the shadows to stab a guard in the chest isnít bushwhacking him ó the guard sees the blade coming even if he doesnít have time to react to it. If the thief was stabbing the guard in the back or attacking him under cover of total darkness or while invisible, the situation would qualify as a bushwhack. Since the d20 rules assume no facing, a character must either declare heís attacking a target from behind (and reasonably be able to do so) or win an opposed skill contest of the worst of his Move Silently and Hide against the best of his victimís Listen or Spot.
    If the target is both flat-footed and unaware, he must make a Fortitude save if successfully damaged (DC 10 + damage dealt) or die. If the damage is non-lethal, the target must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + damage dealt) or be knocked unconscious for 2d6 minutes. Creatures immune to critical hits or sneak attacks are immune to bushwhacks
    [/edit]
    Last edited by Thurbane; 2019-05-21 at 06:35 PM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    I think profession executioner at 5 ranks gives cdg as a standard, book of vile darkness iirc. 3.0 so ymmv and I no longer own a copy.

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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    This isn't a damage problem; this is a genre problem.

    The OP implies that they desire low-CR enemies to be easily dispatched in this manner; other characters (PCs, moderate- to high-CR enemies) will not be so dispatched.

    The answer is a mook rule, where unimportant NPCs whose sole purpose is to be quietly dispatched once one has demonstrated appropriate stealth abilities to be so dispatched at will. I would further suggest that this allow for the aggressor to choose a nonlethal outcome if desired. Simply pick a level difference -- say, 4 levels -- then say that un-alert characters that difference or greater that take damage from a stealthed individual can be immediately k.o.'d. Note that such lower-level characters aren't really much of a combat threat in the first place. . . which is the point. If their CR says "instantly loses combat" then, with this rule, their CR says "also instantly loses stealth."

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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    In terms of realism it makes sense but sometimes too much realism is bad game design. This is one of those cases.

    You could run this system but the world would become incredibly deadly, so it's one of those things you'd have to talk over with your players. Personally I think it would make invisibility and stealth overpowered. If you want to give everyone some sort of bonus for attacking from stealth but not have it be an instant kill, that'd be more balanced, especially with regards to the players not getting one-shot.

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    Griffon

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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Albions_Angel View Post
    Hi all,

    I was always frustrated as a player that I could sneak up behind someone and attack them totally unaware, and the best I could do was a regular attack with +2 against their FF AC, with regular damage, and maybe sneak attack or similar. Often times, thats pitiful damage for the trouble of sneaking up to a lone guard. It often resulted in me simply leaving my team outside somewhere and sneaking in alone, doing a pacifist run, grabbing the McGuffin and getting out. In my HEAD, it felt I should be rewarded for sneaking up behind a guard with a near instant kill (subject to CR disparity of course).

    Now that I DM (well, now that I world build while waiting for players who actually like 3.5e and not simply drinking while I play the game myself), I am slowly compiling lists and lists of house rules. Class fixes, feat modifications, in world homebrew. The aim is to have everything written down so that I stay consistent, and my players know what to expect.

    So I have been mulling this over in my head. What would happen if, subject to hitting their FF AC (with +2 from concealment), you didnt simply do damage, but did a CDG? The caviats are, it has to be from stealth. And it has to be on a totally unaware enemy. The "from stealth" is pretty set in stone. The "totally unaware" is probably covered by the "from stealth" in 99% of cases, but the idea is a super crazy rogue can drop the FIRST guard of a group of guards, but the SECOND and all SUBSEQUENT guards are at least aware something is up, even if they are still flat footed, and thus its harder to slit their throats, even if they cant see you. They might not know exactly where you are, and so might still be subject to sneak attack damage, but they are likely covering the most vital spots, so instant kills are harder.

    So far, pretty much every situation i can think of is fine with this ruling. A well organised party can drop multiple guards "at the same time" with this, but to do that, they need to all stealth successfully, and for that, there should be some reward. This wont operate in a surprise round where you wernt hidden before hand, because trying to slit the throat of the person you are talking to is rather difficult, even if they arnt expecting you to try.

    The totally unaware part gives me a little pause, as its totally DM dependent. But I like to think the meaning is clear.

    Thoughts? Changes? Pointing to actual rules for this?

    Remember the Mosquito Bite and multiple attacks per round means multiple sneaks. But I especially agree when it comes to knocking people out!

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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    This is why 4th Edition gave us minions. Level-appropriate attacks and defenses, always do average damage so the DM has to roll less, and only 1 hit point. They were literally made for stuff like this.
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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by RNightstalker View Post
    The only thing I've seen concerning the CDG is that is has to be a helpless defender. Being that it's a full-round action, a guard on duty (per the given example) will notice. I believe there is something out there that can speed it up to a standard action, but I'm not remembering it.
    I was going to say all of this. It's a full-round action so you can't do it a non-helpless opponent. Assassins like the US Navy Seals might be able to do it but that's why the PRC has that ability. Everyone else is just dealing with a surprised opponent and they get one free action that isn't a full-round one. The guard will notice you trying to cut his throat. That said, an alternative that my players tend to go for is to GRAPPLE the guard and now that he's helpless cut his throat. Tends to take a strength check to keep him from screaming.

    So yeah, don't use CDG on non-helpless guards. If you want to give your players a free crit or something then do that instead.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    Grappled creatures aren't helpless, even if they are pinned.

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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    In my opinion, making overly complex mechanics just invites overly complex ways to break them.

    Your party sneaks into position, managing to take a whole group of low level guards by surprise, sneaking up on each one...

    ... and you describe that, by various means, they each quickly dispatch their targets, and then you move the fight onto the actual important enemies that the now-dead 'guards' were literally just living alarm bells for.

    There are lots of existing mechanics, especially in Pathfinder (looking at the Sap Adept/Sap Master feats for KO damage, and the Underhanded Rogue Trick) for making sneak attacks sneakier...

    HOWEVER, there's a reason the Rogue and Assassin have the abilities they do.

    Just because you get behind someone doesn't mean you can simultaneously step up, put an arm around them to hold them still (Still enough they won't be able to scream, and hold them strongly enough they can't break your grip before you can actually get the knife around), put a knife to their throat (without stabbing yourself in the arm), cut their throat (without cutting your hand, or cutting too shallowly and missing, or missing entirely), and then keep them held long enough that they can't quaff a healing potion, activate Lay on Hands (Or whatever ability) and also prevent them from turning around and spending their dying moments in a frenzy slashing at you before they bleed out in ~30 seconds... Which, btw, if five rounds of activity. Even worst-case scenario you're looking at three turns with the Staggered condition before they actually drop dead.

    Instant-kill sneak attacks are a really difficult thing to pull off. They require practice and training. That's why Sneak Attack is a class mechanic.

    Perhaps a simpler middle ground is that an attack on an unaware opponent, from stealth, can be done as a full round action to deal maximum sneak attack damage?

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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Albions_Angel View Post
    So with that in mind, what would people suggest I do. I get rogues have sneak attack, but even a wizard should be able to slit someones throat from behind, right?
    A weak 1/2 CR guard? sure. But a level 5+ mercenary? That's about as tough as a bear. Do you think a normal person is able to slit a bear's throat in one slice, even if the bear is unaware? I don't think so.

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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    Death Blow from Complete Adventurer makes a CDG a standard action.

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    Default Re: Consistent rule for CDG from stealth?

    I believe there are rules for something similar with the garotte in song and silence. It allows for stealth kills as long as you can pull it off. It might take a bit longer than just a single knockout blow, but it should still be perfectly silent unless your opponent gets away.
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