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I want to create a spellcaster who specializes in stealth. I know that I can substitute spells like Invisibility for the Hide skill, and I can use either the Mindsight feat or the Tremorsense spell to replace Listen/Spot skills to prevent someone else from sneaking up on me. Is there any good alternative to Move Silently? Assume the spellcaster is currently character level 10, capable of casting up to 5th level Wizard spells.

The description for Invisibility makes it very clear that you can still be heard, and detected through other non-magical means aside from vision:

Of course, the subject is not magically silenced, and certain other conditions can render the recipient detectable (such as stepping in a puddle).

I have already considered the Silence spell, but the fact that it prevents verbal communication amongst my party and also prevents me from casting spells with verbal components is a big sacrifice that I don't think I'm willing to make quite yet. I have a limited number of skill points and I would like to avoid investing heavily in Move Silently if I can avoid it. I know Superior Invisibility will do what I want but it's a 9th level spell and I would like to save that kind of firepower for emergencies if I can.

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Miscellaneous tricks that should make a Wizard (or in most cases, anyone) move more silently:

  • Get a Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis (Tome of Magic). Grants a move silently bonus as the least of its abilities, the others include Hide in Plain Sight.
  • Get some Silent Moves armor for up to +15 circumstance to move silently. Use ASF lowering techniques for best results. Alternatively, take Craft Wondrous Item and craft a custom item of +yes to move silently - if your DM is cool with that kind of stuff.
  • Make that armor out of shadow silk (Tome of Magic) for an additional +2 untyped bonus. Add a Muffling armor enhancement (Underdark) for another +2.
  • Buy a (cheap-ass) Rod of Silent Spell. Successfully sneaking only to call the horde of guards by speaking abracadabra "in a strong voice" is just embarrassing.
  • Buy a Ring of Silent Spells (Magic Item Compendium). Even cheaper than the Rod of Silent Spell, and it grants you your own personal field of Silence that you can cast through, although to a limited degree. Keep the Silence cake and eat it too.
  • Alter Self into something like a Whisper Gnome (Races of Stone) for a move silently bonus. For shorter excursions, Polymorph into something even better. Like a cat. That sounds stealthy.
  • Don't go in yourself. Summon something stealthier than you and have them do stuff. A 10th-level Wizard can cast Summon Undead V (Spell Compendium), which allows summoning Shadows.
  • Apply Softfoot powder (Complete Adventurer) to your boots. +1 alchemical bonus to move silently. Yes, it's +1, but you don't have an alchemical bonus already that overlaps.
  • Heroism up your skill checks. Why not? Lasts forever anyway.
  • Deafen your opponents. Bwahahaha.

Also,Teleport/Dimension Door/Benign Transposition (Spell Compendium) with your familiar whenever you can rather than sneaking like a muggle. Seriously, the good part about being a Spellcaster is that you can get stuff done without playing by rules like "I need to move through space to get places". CatLord's answer has additional suggestions of this nature.

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Worth noting that the Rod of Silent Spell also allows you to cast while under the effects of silence and telepathic bond (or minor telepathic bond from Spell Compendium) allows communication. –  KRyan Jan 23 at 14:14
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@KRyan, this reminds me of the Ring of Silent Spells. Added it. –  Ernir Jan 24 at 11:43
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Any zone of silence is probably too suspicious to remain unnoticed, and this makes it a bad stealth aid. –  Zachiel Jan 24 at 21:51
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Fly and Invisibility. If you are not touching the ground, but walking on the air just above the ground, you should produce less noise than walking directly on the ground (and shifting dirt and rubble around). In addition you can't be detected with tremorsense.

This is far less usable in higher levels when you can count on every monster having either True Seeing or other non-magical detections which make the Invisibility spell useless. Having the Hide and the Move Silently (or just Stealth) skill modifiers in 50+ is pretty much the only way to sneak without being countered by every creature with magical vision.

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Most magical senses (blindsight, lifesense, tremorsense, etc.) are likely to mess up Hide and Move Silently, too. Darkstalker from Lords of Madness does counter some of those. Also, what Ernir said: flight really doesn't need extra benefits. –  KRyan Jan 23 at 14:09
    
I agree this makes sense, but the rules only cover noisy surfaces, not "un-noisy" :) –  Wyrmwood Jan 23 at 19:56
    
Note also that equipment on your body should make noise if you're moving, whether flying or not. I would allow flying slowly, almost naked, without being heard... as long as there's no reason for the flyer to be so scared or strained as to be breathing heavily... :-P –  Julix Jan 24 at 1:24
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Flying at low altitude gives no advantages whatsoever to Move Silently on normal terrain. If you go higher up, distance penalties to listen would apply. –  Tridus Jan 24 at 2:09
    
note that there are also spells available to just give a straight-up numerical bonus to skill checks. also, stealth bonuses for size get really big as you get really small, so take a look at the polymorph chain and other size-changing transmutations. –  Matthew Najmon Jan 24 at 3:11
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Define "Stealth". I realize you're talking about not emitting image or sound but why not work with the classic of misdirection? Either way, below should show you that your prepared spells, even lower level ones, can do quite a few unexpected things in the right situations:

Early level Illusion spells are quite handy if you want to make the targets look right while you move left. Ghost Sound can make them check something out elsewhere, silent image and magic mouth based on distance from the illusion. You can even use Gaseous Form fairly well.

Suggestion is an amazing spell in my experience to compel anything capable of detecting you to busy itself with another task. Phantom Steed allows you to move swiftly and perfectly quietly. Sometimes Charm Person is enough and/or Alter Self can be all you need. Getting by unnoticed does not necessarily mean undetected - it can mean that you get through because nobody cares about you for whatever reasons.

I've combined Passwall and lllusory Wall to literally make extra passages for everyone. (IE duplicate a wall a couple feet out and walk the space between).

Lastly as a point of interest is whatever equipment you have can lend abilities of obfuscation and nondetection that your spells could not carry.

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Silence is dismiss-able. Also, it's area is an emanation that requires line of effect, so cast it on a coin and put it in your pocket for temporary dismiss.

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Excellent point. Silence can be controlled very finely by its caster - being Silenced when you want to be Silenced is highly useful. –  Ernir Jan 23 at 22:14
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Use These Low-level Spells Instead of the Move Silently Skill

That is, use them until you can consistently become ethereal or incorporeal. Make the rogue jealous with your +21 to Move Silently skill checks with 0 ranks in the Move Silently skill.

  • The 0th-level Sor/Wiz spell footpad’s grace [trans] (Dragon #302 50) while the caster concentrates grants the caster a +3 bonus to Move Silently skill checks.
  • The 2nd-level Sor/Wiz spell alter self [trans] (PH 197) for 10 min./level grants the caster the ability to assume a form of his type up to his own or 5 HD, whichever is less. A skulk (FF 154-5) is a 2 HD humanoid with a +15 racial bonus to Hide skill checks and a +8 racial bonus to Move Silently skill checks.
  • The 2nd-level Sor/Wiz spell Halaster’s light step [trans] (CSW 154) for 1 min./level grants 1 creature a +15 circumstance bonus to Climb skill checks, a +10 circumstance bonus to Move Silently skill checks, the inability to fall, and a 30 ft. fly speed (good maneuverability), but the creature can’t use this fly speed at angles steeper than 45 degrees and can’t hover more than 1 ft. above the ground.
  • The 3rd-level Sor/Wiz spell permeable form [trans] (LoM 129) as an immediate action for 1 round renders the caster incorporeal. Listen skill checks fail against the caster unless he wants to be heard.
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The earliest spell you could earn to assist you with silent movement would be Blink (Wizard 3).

Blink turns the caster ethereal, and ethereal creatures are inaudible on the Material Plane.

Unfortunately the duration is only 1 round per level, but it is effectively better than Move Silently as there is no chance for you to be heard based on a skill roll.

Also be aware that some GMs may rule that since you are visible/can be hit half of the time, that you are also inaudible only half of the time. That would be for you and your GM to discuss.

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Yeah, blink definitely doesn’t do it because you are not ethereal all of the time, you’re rapidly blinking in and out. I could see a Move Silently bonus, but the rules don’t give one and don’t indicate that it would obviate any need to roll Move Silently in the first place. –  KRyan Jan 22 at 21:57
    
I'm pretty sure my GM would rule that I would be inaudible only half of the time, but thanks! This is definitely on the right track. The group does have a more conventional rogue, so I could feasibly wait a few more levels to access a more helpful spell to help me in this endeavor. Primarily, I want to be prepared in case his character and my character get into a conflict with each other, because we are radically different philosophies and alignments and I do not want to be dependent on his skills in case of an unforeseen circumstance. –  Dyndrilliac Jan 22 at 22:00
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Ghost form can do it, but it comes online really late. –  Lord_Gareth Jan 23 at 8:15
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If you are a 10th level wizard, you have access to Private Sanctum spell. This demonstrates the magical skills you have at your disposal. For twenty-four hours, 270,000 cubic feet of area with the following qualities:

  • Can not be seen into, but those inside can see out.

  • Any sound, no matter how loud, from inside can not be heard outside.

  • Those inside are protected from divination, scrying, detect thoughts, but are still able to magical or telepathically communicate or scry with those of their choice outside.

  • It is not a glamer that some things are immune to, it is not even in the Illusion school which some creature types ignore, it is an Abjuration, a style of magic that can at level one make targets per level for 10 minutes per level completely undetectable from either animals or undead.

Obviously, you have the chops to do what you need to do, you just need to find, or possibly, build the right spell. Pitch it to your DM, you want to research or craft entirely a spell to ward:

  • A radius around you (15ft) or targets per level within a diameter (30ft) or a bubble withing close range. Only those originally effected can come under protection without recasting.

  • Those targeted/effected are undetectable by any means by those who are not, can communicate with each other, and can use magical means to contact those who are not effected. An individual can only be under one of these spells at the same time.

  • Any one individual who takes an aggressive action against a person or creature not protected loses the protection of the spell. Items picked up become protected. This should work similarly to Invisibility.

  • Have it last 10 minutes per level or every two levels. It may need to have a full minute cast time.

This should be either a 3rd or 4th level spell depending on your choices above and your DM. Remember that the rules in the book are guidelines and examples. In any RPG, if you can not find a mechanic or tool that does what you need, ask your DM to work with you to make one.

Happy hunting!

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