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I've been trawling the handbook and google for information on the correct deployment of Smokestick. The reason being that I currently have a character "on the run" evading a much stronger CR enemy group and he's attempting to out-run. It's external and no torches around.

Now, a Smokestick needs to be ignited, can this be done whilst running, or do you need to be stationary to use the flint & steel? Logic would dictate that you would place it on the floor, and spark it with F&S, but this would render it practically unusable for many scenarios where you really, really need it!

In my head I have a dexterity check (with high DC) in mind for determining the result, would this be appropriate?

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2 Answers

The important part in answering this question is from the SRD link you provided:

The stick is consumed after 1 round, and the smoke dissipates naturally. (emphasis mine)

One round in D&D 3.5E is approximately six seconds. If you manage to ignite the smokestick while moving (see my last paragraph), then it will be consumed in six seconds, leaving behind a trail of smoke.

However, remember, it's only good for a ten foot cube; this means you can fill eight squares with smoke, which is probably what would happen if you were moving normally. If you move more than eight squares in one round, you're probably not going to get total concealment out of it, and may have to resign to partial concealment. That's a house ruling, though; that's just one of the many ways to handle it.

A dexterity check could be in order, as it's incredibly difficult to use flint and steel with one hand while running (remember, it's flint and steel: normal operation requires two hands). As you seem to have noted, this check would likely be fairly high. Either that, or you simply can't do it; depends again on your house ruling.

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I'd argue that "igniting" a smokestick is different from lighting a torch. Both the flint and steel (PH 126) and the tindertwig (PH 129) say that "lighting a torch with a [flint and steel or tindertwig] is a [full-round or standard] action, and lighting any other fire with one takes [that long, too]."

Neither mention "igniting." I know, I know. Bear with me. Look at the sunrod (PH 128). The smokestick's syntax is identical to the sunrod's--i.e. this thing [sunrod or smokestick] does something [makes light or makes smoke] when you do something [strike it or ignite it]--, and sunrods only require being struck (whatever that means, but let's boldly assume a standard action). So, although it's pretty solidly up to your DM what action is needed, it looks like whatever action is needed should be the same as sunrod, not a series of actions like take it out, kneel, place it on the floor, and stand over it for a full round clicking your flint and steel. That's a lot of effort for something that's 10x the price of a sunrod, that at that price can feed someone for a month, and that lasts 6 seconds.

Drawing an item (as a move action or using a feat or using a magic item to do so) expends resources, using the item expends resources, and the resource is limited by its availability, cost, and weight. That's enough for me, as a DM, to say, "Like a sunrod, smokesticks are self-igniting, and after you've drawn one you can ignite it as a standard action."

Note that a smokestick isn't a smoke grenade. There is no delay. It's ignited and it goes off in whatever crosshairs within your reach you lit it in. Done. That'll probably means, in your PC's case, a move action and drawing one on the run and then another move action to break line of sight, and if that doesn't work break line of sight again with the smokestick and then take a move action. You want to take that move action after the smokestick ignites, otherwise you get pincushioned half the time in the cloud.

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Yeah, we just assume they are strike-to-smoke, like a tindertwig but with a bigger delivery of smoke. It's the only thing that makes sense given how they work. –  mxyzplk Sep 6 '13 at 4:26
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