The skill Hide says that a creature "can move up to one-half [its] normal speed and hide at no penalty[, but w]hen moving at a speed greater than one-half but less than [its] normal speed, [it'll] take a −5 penalty" on Hide skill checks made to hide (Player's Handbook 76).

What I'm struggling with is this: In what fashion is the creature's speed halved? That is, what if the creature only needs to hide in a few—rather than all—of the squares it enters? Does the creature declare at the start of its movement the speed at which it will be traveling? (Note that the game usually mentions when something mandates a declaration of intent.) Alternatively, do just those particular squares count double? If this latter, since movement is dynamic rather than plotted beforehand, what happens when the scout later in that move action opts to move his full speed (rather than 5 ft. less) after having hidden in those particular squares? (That is, the creature seems to avoid any penalties completely if the squares are near enough to his starting position!) Or is there some other solution I'm overlooking?

The scenario

The speedy scout wants to use the supernatural ability hide in plain sight (yes, that one—don't judge) combined with the feat Spring Attack (PH 100–1), both to increase the accuracy of his attacks (a foe is treated as flat-footed against a hidden attacker and the scout'll have a +2 bonus on his attack rolls as a hidden attacker is effectively invisible (Rules Compendium 92)) and to avoid retaliatory strikes from the foes he recently attacked (even if a foe determines his location, the scout's total concealment'll give the foe a 50% miss chance).

The scout's current plan is to approach a foe while not hiding, employ the special ability hide in plain sight to hide in a square 10 ft. away from his foe, use the rules for Sneak up from Hiding (ibid.) to move adjacent to his foe, and attack his flat-footed-with-regard-to-him foe. Then, afterward, because of the Spring Attack feat, he'll visibly retreat from the foe and, using again the special ability hide in plain sight, hide in a square some distance away. Thus the scout only really needs to hide in two squares during his turn. The scout's normal speed is 50 ft. How far can he move during his turn using this plan of attack without suffering any penalty to Hide skill checks? While suffering only a −5 penalty to his Hide skill checks? And—darn you, Hide skill!—what's his penalty if he moves his normal speed?

Note: This linked question is about how the feat Spring Attack and the special ability hide in plain sight work in conjunction. Because of that linked question, I know how those two items work in conjunction. What that questions does not answer—and what this question asks—is How can I determine the creature's speed when the creature need only use the Hide skill in few of its squares? That linked question doesn't address this speed issue at all.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Because this is such a niche scenario (most of the time, you can't split up your movement in 3.5E), I haven't been able to find an answer so far apart from "This is a weird situation, ask your DM." This sort of situation can only come up in the case of someone having either Spring Attack or Shot on the Run...or some other Feat I am not aware of (so many sourcebooks) \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Nov 16 '17 at 18:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @guildsbounty Even without those feats, a creature could be in a shadowy-illuminated hallway and want to hide only while passing the open door to the guard room. I mean, still the scenario is niche, but at least it happens in film. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 16 '17 at 19:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @guildsbounty Scenarios can be contrived that render the Move Silently skill check moot—the guard room is in an inevitable factory, the sneaking happens during a prison riot, the guards are deaf—, so I hope it's okay if we just stick to just the Hide question for now. (But, really, answering this Hide question might inadvertently answer the Move Silently question, too.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 16 '17 at 20:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate of Can hide in plain sight, melee, spring attack, hide work together? \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Nov 16 '17 at 22:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DaleM I checked that question first, and while Wyrmwood's answer was helpful in hashing out some details, that question doesn't address how far the creature can travel in a turn. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 16 '17 at 23:58

The scout's normal speed is 50 ft. How far can he move during his turn using this plan of attack without suffering any penalty to Hide skill checks?

If I read that correctly, the scout needs to move through two squares at one-half speed, using 4 squares of the scout's 10 squares of movement, assuming a single move.

While suffering only a −5 penalty to his Hide skill checks? And—darn you, Hide skill!—what's his penalty if he moves his normal speed?

Taking RAW literally, you would be restricted to something less than full speed... but over half-speed. In this case, the maximum would be 9 squares.

There are three cases mentioned, up to and including half-speed, up to (but not including) full speed, and running/charging.

I would recommend treating the squares as double for no penalty (effectively the same as half-speed), -5 penalty for up to full speed (ignoring the not quite full speed bit), and -20 for anything over full speed. You can't split up a run or charge, as both are full round actions (or a standard action during a surprise round) so there isn't really anything in between. You might argue you can't split "moving at one-half speed" either, but I think it would be an unreasonable limitation.

Otherwise, as you mention, RAW doesn't cover the case of moving at full speed.

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