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As a pathfinder Rogue, can I move away from an enemy around a corner using a stealth check to gain stealth then ready an attack for when he pursues me? The trigger is when he is directly in front of me — as opposed to diagonal where he would receive a +4 cover bonus.

The rules state:

If people are observing you using any of their senses (but typically sight), you can't use Stealth. Against most creatures, finding cover or concealment allows you to use Stealth...

Action: Usually none. Normally, you make a Stealth check as part of movement, so it doesn't take a separate action. However, using Stealth immediately after a ranged attack (see Sniping, above) is a move action.

This would imply I cannot stealth at the beginning of my movement as he is watching me, but as soon as i round the corner I have cover which allows me to use a stealth check as 'part of a movement.'

Assuming I beat his perception check I'm basically invisible to him, which would allow me to wait until he is in front of me to use my readied attack gaining sneak attack damage.

Does this sound flawed... or brilliant? That would also imply he is flat footed as he is not aware of his assailant.

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I'd allow it if he really failed that probably very easy perception check –  Eric B Feb 6 at 22:06
    
Are you looking for a RAW written answer or a common sense/houserule answer. IIRC, RAW total concealment which is granted by stealth does not deny the opponent their dex bonus to ac and does not allow sneak attack damage to be applied. –  Colin D Feb 6 at 22:12
    
@ColinD I believe a recent errata changed that, because that rule was unimaginably dumb. –  KRyan Feb 6 at 22:15
    
@KRyan how recent? The most recent Errata I have seen only promoted the stealth from concealment to total concealment. herosheets.com/pathfinder-rules-update-changes-to-stealth –  Colin D Feb 6 at 22:16
    
@ColinD Oh wait, I read your comment as "total cover" not "total concealment." Yeah, that's the latest one –  KRyan Feb 6 at 22:17
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4 Answers

RAW: No. Stealth provides total concealment. Total concealment does not deny your opponent their dex bonus to AC and does not make you flank your opponent (which are the 2 requirements for sneak attack to work)

RAI: Maybe. As KRyan's answer points out, there is discussion about the most recent errata saying its intent was to allow sneak attack in situations like this but the rules do not totally support it.

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Hiding behind a wall

If you have partial cover, you may use Stealth. If you have total cover (wall is taller than you, or floor-to-ceiling, or whatever), you don’t even need Stealth. So you may hide behind a wall.

Readying an attack

You may then ready an attack for when he enters a square next to you, since an Attack Action may be done as a Standard and you are allowed to ready those. Your DM may require that you specify which square; the rules leave it up to the DM how specific you have to be. In any event, if this readied action is triggered, however specific your DM requires it to be, you then attack the target.

Sneak Attack?

The most recent errata gives you Total Concealment until after you make an attack. So what does that give you? Well, it means he doesn’t know what square you’re in and takes a 50% miss chance even if he guesses the right square. Does that let you Sneak Attack?

No. It does not. Sneaking does not actually let you Sneak Attack.

Commentary on this errata seems to indicate that the point of the errata was to allow rogues to Sneak Attack while, ya know, sneaking, but that doesn’t actually seem borne out by the rules.

So the rules don’t actually give you a Sneak Attack, even though you are considered “hidden” for that first attack (the one you readied). If your DM is sane, he’ll allow sneaking to trigger Sneak Attacks, because it’s ridiculous that the rules don’t allow it. Paizo’s lead dev has even stated (if you go digging through the forums) that it’s supposed to work; why he doesn’t just fix the rules is anyone’s guess, but there it is. Ultimately, this is something you’ll have to ask your DM about.

Does this sound flawed...or brilliant?

Considering that it doesn’t work, quite flawed, but even if we assume it’s allowed to work, it’s still pretty poor damage most of the time. Rogues tend to have very little combat presence at mid-to-high levels if they can’t get full attacks with Two-Weapon Fighting to multiply their Sneak Attack damage. At low levels, it could be a useful trick.

Of course, with the various ways that Pathfinder has shafted rogues’ ability to Sneak Attack multiple times in a round, it may be the best you can hope for. Unfortunately, it’s not very good.

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thanks KRyan. as for the 'behind a wall'-its not really behind it (hard to describe). Think of a Long L shaped hallway. just past the corner you can still see, but would still have cover which the rules allow you to use stealth. I think the part of the errata that indicates that sneaking would be allowable is that the enemy is not aware of you. That would indicate a lack of usable dexterity (unless uncanny dodge). –  Nupraptor Feb 6 at 23:16
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Does this sound flawed...or brilliant?

The existing answers provide lots of detail. I feel like there's a clear basis for allowing a sneak attack, but I feel like you're overestimating the relative efficiency of this tactic.

I think there are two things to consider.

Location relative to the enemy?

You are waiting until the opponent is right in front of you to avoid the "diagonal" attack penalty.

The trigger is when he is directly in front of me — as opposed to diagonal where he would receive a +4 cover bonus.

However, that gives the opponent an extra chance to see you, because they can "see" through the diagonal. And if you're just hiding against the wall around the corner, they're probably going to get another perception check (oh he was hiding against the wall), because they're really expecting you.

So if it's going to work, you're going to have to beat a couple of perception checks with your stealth. And if they have a weapon drawn and know the square you are in, it's going to be hard to surprise them in an open well-lit hallway.

The brings us to the second point.

Where are you hiding?

If you're in a class 5x5 dungeon corridor with lots of torches and you're in the exact square your opponent is expecting, then his bonuses are going to make it hard to hide.

If you're on the roof using spider climb boots, then your odds of surprising him are probably much better. Or maybe there is "stuff" in your square that makes it possible to effectively be covered while he comes into view.

While I don't think it's worth slicing hairs about "invisbility" vs. "stealthed", I do think it's important to weight the perception checks appropriately.

The "around the corner" trick can actually work, you are really sneaky after all. But don't assume it will work consistently without a little help. And it will be really sub-par if two or more people come after you as your sneak attack is only going to work on one of them while the rest try to beat you up.

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I'm going to go a little bit against the grain and state that by RAW, there actually is a way to do this: it carries some penalties, but it ought to work.

You can run around a corner, but even if the enemy can't see your exact location, he still knows you went around the corner. He's still going to be ready for you when he turns the corner himself, and so if nothing else about the situation changes, he wouldn't be flat-footed against you.

What you need to do is to defeat this: the creature turns the corner expecting to see you, so you need to make it not see you. People get confused when they don't see something they expect to, and they tend to let their guard down for a moment. If you've readied your attack, that's all you need.

But how does one do this? The easiest way would be to use a second, purposeful move action to hide once you're around the corner (which would have required a Hide check in 3.5e; now it's Stealth). But this would mean you had no actions left in the round, so you couldn't ready an attack.

The other way I could see would be to cite the distraction rule. RAW states that you could use a Bluff check to distract enemies, but states that this isn't an exhaustive list of how to distract an opponent. In this case, rather than using a Bluff check, you went behind total cover so it couldn't see you anymore, even though it could at the start of your action. It can't devote its full attention to you anymore, because it has no way to perceive you directly, and it's not hard to argue that this is enough distraction to let you hide as part of your move action.

The distraction rule isn't free, of course: doing things this way would impose a -10 penalty on your Stealth check. Given the reason stated in the distraction rule (there isn't a complete action's worth of time to get into position, so you have to hurry) I'd call that fair, so the penalty still applies. But it would preserve your second action, which you could then use to ready the attack.

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