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shared_worlds:thick_as_thieves_stealth

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Thick as Thieves RP - Gameplay : Stealth

There are many different skills to be aware of during this roleplay, but one of the most crucial skillsets to all characters are those concerning their stealthiness.

Though not all thieves need to be skilled in stealth (support personnel is also important), generally, the smaller the organisation you work for, the more people you need to do the sneaking and burglary itself. If you're a freelancer, you're outright required to learn stealthiness. If you work for a fairly large guild, you might find a comfortable and useful position for your character even if you don't prefer stealth. It's all about one's priorities and ideas on what feasible approach he wants to take.


1.) Types of Stealth

The RP doesn't restrict itself to just one particular type of stealth, instead offering each character several possible routes of how to deal with the challenge of blending in, avoiding detection and handling concealment well. However, the practicality and effectiveness of these variations on stealth can vary accordingly on the context of the exact situation and location they occur in.

a.) Light-and-Shadows Stealth

When anyone usually talks about stealth, the first thing to come to one's mind is the idea of remaining unseen when you do not wish to be seen by others. Out of sight, out of mind, preferrably to its logical extreme - becoming nearly ghost-like in your sneaking around. Unsurprisingly, light-and-shadows stealth has two major facets: 1. It is best conducted during night time or during weather with lowered visibility. 2. One must learn to navigate the often delicate and ambiguous line between shadows and sources of light, as there are hardly any clean-cut borders, just various degrees of transition.

Player specialisations of note: Lightsneaking Teacher, Skulker, Adventurer

b.) Aural Stealth

Being unseen doesn't guarantee you complete discretion. Concealing the sounds you make with every single of your louder movements is just as important. And often, it can be even more difficult than simply hiding in the shadows or behind cover. Particularly if you want to pull it off in a satisfying way. Nevertheless, sneaking around quietly and not causing much ruckus is one thing you should certainly never underestimate during your training and experience gaining. While hard to master, the reward for finding a succesful pattern for silent-enough movement will reward you many times over, even in situations where you might least expect it. Much like with Light-and-Shadows Stealth, Aural Stealth can be seen as a small science unto itself, if not outright a complicated artform. It's not just about learning different patterns of loudness while walking, crawling or climbing, or about the choice of clothing you make when you set off for your latest thievy endeavour. The thoroughly studied knowledge about the loudness of various types of surfaces is what you should really start off with, as it will always be your essential “ABC of Stealth” (along with your knowledge on sources of light and their mutual differences). No surface is ever the same as the other, even if they consist of the exact same material. Wooden floors, doors and windows tend to be safe but might creak, carpets and padded surfaces mostly conceal you steps and movements, stone and tiled floors can easily give you away if you don't develop enough skill to work around their potential treachery… You are a thief. You are not a supernatural being, but for the sake of being unheard and thus unspotted, you might as well become one (at face value, to the commoners).

Player specialisations of note: Soundsneaking Teacher, Skulker, Adventurer

c.) Disguise Stealth

This approach opts for the risky, but otherwise straightforward “hidden in plain sight” method of concealing one's own presence. Instead of creating a convincing illussion of non-existence, the focus is on creating as convincing an illussion of the genuineness of one's false identity. This stealth option is effectively available to everyone and can prove effective even for a dilligent enough amateur in the field. But it is most popular among those that dabble in the Master of Disguise specialisation (popular among freelancers and guildsmen alike). Disguising yourself is not merely an act of putting on the appropriate clothes, footwear, headgear and wig or fake moustache. Its complexities also involve learning how to modulate one's own behaviour and personal tics into an altogether different kind of behaviour and habits. Coaching and taming one's aural and verbal expressions is not to be underestimated either - sometimes, an otherwise brilliant disguise can fail purely on the basis of a few misplaced words and phrases, insufficient knowledge of the local situation and premises, or an unconvincing accent. Disguise Stealth is as much reliant on one's language and social skills as it is reliant on outward ruses.

Player specialisations of note: Master of Disguise, Gentleman Thief, Shadowblade


2.) Stealthing without the use of equipment

Before you can start thinking avidly about using any gadgetry and tools for your sneaky exploits, you need to learn the basics. Your five senses and one additional - common sense ;-) - are always your best and most important starting gear of all. So… Shall we begin ?


Gameplay examples

Here are rough examples of player-referee interactions during a typical session. The player provides the narration for his character's actions (in addition to the character's monologues and dialogues), while the referee provides the narration and descriptions for the surroundings and for all NPC events.

In these opening examples, the gameplay focuses on sneaking around without the use of any tools or gadgetry for manipulating the surrounding environment to one's advantage. The examples will only include the basics of individual stealth.


a.) Standard situation

For simplicity's sake, we're assuming in this example that the player is a single individual (e.g. a burglar-freelancer).

Referee's post:

Player's post:

Referee's post:

Player's post:


Variations in narration styles

Based on what the players of a session agree upon, a player can use a “My character did this” or “I did this” style of narration in their posts. Or even some other style that seems fitting. Naturally, this player character narration is all in-character, much like dialogue between the player character and the characters of other players. If one wants to adress a referee directly, he needs to use the OOC (“Out of Character”) notice first.

All of this can pertain to the referee as well: He can describe and narrate either in a somewhat adressing manner (”You push the creaky door and carefully enter the chamber… You notice a stack of coins on an old musty desk.”) or in a more detached, impersonal manner (“The creaky door moves aside and slowly reveals the interior of the chamber… A stack of copper coins lies on an old musty desk.”).


b.) Complications

Referee's post:

Player's post:

Referee's post:

Player's post:


c.) Teamwork

TBA.


d.) The environment as a tool

Even without modifying your surroundings in any way, it's perfectly possible to use the local context of any environment to your own advantage. This of course varies, but the observant and thoughtful player will usually be able to find at least a single way to gain a favourable outcome or advantage.

For instance, aural stealth doesn't exist within a bubble divorced from the rest of reality. As an example, imagine you've snuck into two different environments: One a medium-sized walled-in courtyard in front of a mansion, on a quiet night with crickets chirping, the other a machine room with some loudly whirring and buzzing generators and engines. Both of these environments have a patrolling guard passing by. As you sneak (either to avoid the guard or to find a safe position from which you can knock him out), the limits to how much you can risk spreading sounds varies according to the different conditions of the two environments. You need to be rather mindful of making loud sounds, even just louder footstepts, while in the courtyard at dark. It's a fairly quiet time of day, even the background sounds of nature are subdued compared to broad daylight. In contrast, while in the machine room, the loud background noises present throughout that space can make it easier to hide the sounds you make (especially the unintentional ones). Obviously, this doesn't mean the running machine sounds will completely drown out what you're doing; you still need to remain careful. Nevertheless, you can take a greater sound-related risk while traversing this room.


3.) Stealthing with the use of equipment

While sneaking around is perfectly possible without pretty much any equipment outside of your senses (and the clothing you're wearing, unless you're naked), most thieves have been well aware for a long time that making things a little easier for yourself is no great sin.


Gameplay examples

Here are rough examples of player-referee interactions during a typical session. The player provides the narration for his character's actions (in addition to the character's monologues and dialogues), while the referee provides the narration and descriptions for the surroundings and for all NPC events.

Unlike the previous examples, the gameplay now includes the use of specialised thieving tools that can help ease one's sneaking, or manipulate the environment in a way that makes sneaking slightly easier.


a.) Standard situation

For simplicity's sake, we're assuming in this example that the player is a single individual (e.g. a burglar-freelancer).

Referee's post: You find yourself in a slightly wider hallway with two closed, stained glass windows to the right. The hallway has doors at both of its ends, and there's also a door to the left, lying roughly in the middle of the hallway. Adjacent to the door in the middle is a tall candlestick, with three larger, brightly lit candles. There is also a small oil lamp burning near the door at the other end of the hallway.

Player's post: After giving it some thought, I've decided it's too risky to traverse the hallway right away. I need to put out at least some of the light sources. I check if I have any dousing arrows
(or bolts, etc.) left.

Referee's post: At last count, you had 2 left. You check your quiver, and there they are.

Player's post: I ready my bow
(or crossbow, etc.), take aim and fire a dousing arrow at the tall candlestick around the middle of the hallway.


Variations in narration styles

Based on what the players of a session agree upon, a player can use a “My character did this” or “I did this” style of narration in their posts. Or even some other style that seems fitting. Naturally, this player character narration is all in-character, much like dialogue between the player character and the characters of other players. If one wants to adress a referee directly, he needs to use the OOC (“Out of Character”) notice first.

All of this can pertain to the referee as well: He can describe and narrate either in a somewhat adressing manner (”You push the creaky door and carefully enter the chamber… You notice a stack of coins on an old musty desk.”) or in a more detached, impersonal manner (“The creaky door moves aside and slowly reveals the interior of the chamber… A stack of copper coins lies on an old musty desk.”).


b.) Complications

Of course, one can run into the occassional fumble or an unexpected occurence outside his control that complicates things. Sometimes, things just don't go the way one would prefer them to. Life isn't always fair and from time to time, either the environment or your own performance hand you the shorter end of the stick.

We continue with the example scenario laid out in the previous section.

Referee's post: Unfortunately, possibly because of forgetting to account for height in aim, the arrow impacts the candlestick, but doesn't manage to hit the burning candles. Their flames tremble for a split moment, but continue to burn.

Player's post: After briefly cursing under my breath, I decide to try again. I tell myself to remember that it's more probable I'll put out the burning candles by having the arrow impact the wall above them. This will almost guarantee that the water will bounce off the wall and at least some of it will splash onto the candles. I take aim again and fire my last dousing arrow…

Referee's post: Though the last arrow has just been spent, fortune seems to have favoured the second shot better. The arrowhead smashes and a spurt of liquid comes splashing down on the candles, putting them out. The middle section of the hallway is now less brightly lit, and offers enough of a shadow for sneaking to the door on the left side of the hallway.

Player's post: I put away my bow, take a deep breath and carefully keep creeping closer to the new patch of shadow.


c.) Teamwork

TBA.


d.) Pacifying threats

Many thieves pride themselves in leaving as few evidence of their sneaking around as possible. Naturally, if you decide to knock out a guard or some other potential adversary, you're already leaving some unintentional minor evidence behind. Even if you hide the knocked-out foe in question, after he wakes up, he'll certainly find it suspicious that he was knocked out in the first place.

Nevertheless, when the need sometimes arises, even a thief who takes great pride in the art of sneaking undetected has to cave in and pacify a threat or obstacle that is hard to evade. While there isn't a particularly big arsenal of tools to deal with threats and obstacles, the few that exist are more than sufficient for this goal, provided they are used creatively.


4.) Guard alertness

One thing to remember about inadvertently alerting guards is that there are some degrees to raising suspicion. Unless you deliberately run into a guard, or appear in front of him in full visibility, none of them will automatically go into an attacking frenzy aimed at you. Any guard will first attempt to check a suspicious sound, glimpse of movement or disorder in a room. The following two subsections will explain this in greater detail.

Alertness Levels

Everyone performing guard duty has an Alertness Level (AL) at any given moment of that duty. There are multiple levels of alertness, depending on the rising levels of suspicion and awareness a guard holds towards what might be an illegal infiltration. Such an infiltration of course means that a guard is suspecting the presence of thieves or other criminals and intuders.

When a guard's level of suspicion goes over a certain threshold, he moves on to a higher level of alertness. That's bad news for a thief. The good news is, alertness levels can also decrease over time. Nevertheless, such a reversion is not worth abusing, due to several obvious factors: It is time-consuming, it requires a thief to hide well during the “cool down”, and last but not least, there's also the added issue of the Paranoia Level (see further).

The levels of alertness are not easy to generalise and will always vary from situation to situation, but we could say there are five broad categories.

No. AL Cause Guard behaviour
1 Startled Minor suspicious sounds, like louder creakings, accidental louder footsteps on surfaces, heavy breathing, falling of objects on cushioned surfaces. Stopping for a moment if walking, listening carefully to suspicious sounds, proceeding again shortly afterward if nothing odd is heard again.
2 Slightly suspicious Stopping and detouring for a short while to check on suspicious sounds and visual glimpses, or on minor changes to furnishings or potential loot (slightly moved or tipped over recently, etc.). Pondering aloud, but without making verbal threats.
3 Strongly suspicious Preliminarily searching for a suspect/intruder, entering rooms with suspected criminal activity, searching shadowy areas briefly. Occassionally turning on lights or observing a place more carefully (especially if furnishings or potential loot has been clearly moved or tampered with a bit). Making occassional verbal threats, for the most part quietly.
4 Vigilant Making heavy, easily heard footsteps (by running, etc.), running around in spaces where shadows are easily cast or glimpses can be caught, leaving equipment or dropped loot behind in a fully-lit space or in a guard's way. Actively searching for a suspect/intruder, scouring rooms and spaces carefully, turning on or relighting lights. Looking into easier or more obvious hiding place. Making audible verbal threats, showing minor signs of irritation or frustration.
5 Fully alert Coming into full sight, being in a fully lit area, stealing loot in front of others, making a massive amount of noise, creating an explosion. Pursuing, attacking and apprehending (or killing) a suspect/intruder. (Stun weaponry might be used in addition to deadly weaponry.) Making audible verbal and physical threats, showing clear anger or frustration.

Paranoia Levels

In addition to the Alertness Levels, there's the added value of Paranoia Levels (PL). This is purely a modifier of existing guard alertness, and is meant to reflect the amount of times a thief has been seen or met by a guard, but evaded capture. If a thief gets caught red-handed during a “job”, but manages to escape and hide for long enough for a guard to give up on further searching/pursuing, this modifies the alertness level to a degree.

When a certain critical amount of these close-calls with alert guards has been accumulated over time, it gives rise to a level of paranoia in a guard. A development like this also counts for groups larger than an individual. If a single guard managed to call in reinforcements, and they all gave chase to the thief before he hid and “vanished”, then those other guards will also have a heightened Paranoia Level.

The Paranoia Level can be kept at complete zero during any playthrough of any mission. It will only begin to rise if the player is not careful enough to avoid raising a guard's Alertness Level to 5. Like with the Alertness Levels, it's not easy to over-generalise Paranoia Levels, but the following table offers a simplified overview.

No. PL Guard behaviour
1 Low Paranoia Much more mindful of his/her surroundings now that he/she's aware there's a thief about.
2 Medium Paranoia Near-constantly on the lookout for tresspassers and threat of theft now that he/she's aware there's a thief about. Attempts at actively catching a thief (or thieves) might occur.
3 High Paranoia At this point, entire groups of guards are uncompromisingly alert and there is a very real chance of them alerting further authorities and requesting external backup. Lockdowns of the entire area might occur.

See Also

shared_worlds/thick_as_thieves_stealth.1472408245.txt.gz · Last modified: 2019/03/29 15:17 (external edit)