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I'm playing my first Pathfinder campaign and created a monstrosity of cowardly proportions; the result of an overwhelming buffet of available classes. He is a ranged rogue (shocker) and has some Rogue levels and Inquisitor (Heretic) levels with Clandestine inquisition and just I added one for Shadowdancer. My BAB is FAN-TAS-TIC. Oh and Zen Archer. He is fun to play.

Anyway, my questions are about whether I understand correctly how Stealth mixes with combat. The general idea is to be able to hide after attacking or remain hidden throughout (or before and after). For reference, or posterity or clarity, at the bottom are listed all the applicable things, that I'm aware of.

Based on my limited reading and knowledge, my understanding of how this all works is this:

  • Normally, you can use Stealth as part of a move action (i.e., for free) and try to poof away from sight. It's not a separate action in and of itself.
  • Also normally, you can attack with a ranged item as some sort of action, depending on what you do.
  • However, if you want to shoot a ranged item and then attempt to use Stealth, in the same round (aka Sniping), using Stealth counts as a move action and you take a -20 penalty on the roll (if you have no bonuses).

First question: is using Bluff to create a distraction and then using Stealth. What sort of action(s) is/are these, and can one use them after attacking? I'm guessing that this isn't possible (normally) after attacking, largely because the Inquisitor's Heretic archetype allows you to do that as a move action (I assume that's better than normal, so normally, it's "bigger than" a move action). So it seems to me that with this archetype one would be able to do this after attacking (if they can still move). Is that correct?

Secondly, the Clandestine inquisition allows you to cast Invisibility as a standard action. This cannot normally be combined with an attack, since it's a standard action, correct?

Lastly, the Shadowdancer's Hide in Plain Sight (HIPS) ability allows one to use Stealth "even while being observed" if there is some dim light nearby. If the nearby light allows, does this effectively preclude the requirement to use Sniping (and the associated penalty), allowing one to use Stealth normally after attacking?

Definitions (copied or paraphrased from http://www.d20pfsrd.com):

Create a Diversion to Hide: You can use Bluff to allow you to use Stealth. A successful Bluff check can give you the momentary diversion you need to attempt a Stealth check while people are aware of you.


Heretic: A heretic gains the following judgment in addition to the normal list of inquisitor judgments: Escape (Su): Each time the inquisitor using this judgment hits an opponent with a melee or ranged attack, she can use a move action attempt to create a diversion to hide (see the Stealth skill).


Hide in Plain Sight: A shadowdancer can use the Stealth skill even while being observed. As long as she is within 10 feet of an area of dim light, a shadowdancer can hide herself from view in the open without anything to actually hide behind. She cannot, however, hide in her own shadow.


Sniping: If you’ve already successfully used Stealth at least 10 feet from your target, you can make one ranged attack and then immediately use Stealth again. You take a –20 penalty on your Stealth check to maintain your obscured location. 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 (Sniping) is a move action.


Clandestine Inquisition: You can become invisible as per the spell as a standard action.

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Creating a diversion to hide

While it's mentioned as part of both the skills Bluff and Stealth, creating a diversion is detailed under the Influence skill (a combination of Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate) in Pathfinder Unchained (released about 5 years after the Pathfinder Core Rulebook). To create a diversion to hide, you take a standard action, "attempt[ing] an Influence [i.e. Bluff] check against the viewer’s opposed [S]ense [M]otive [check]. If you succeed, you can attempt a Stealth check. When applicable, use the same modifiers from the lie function."

The inquisitor archetype heretic when using the supernatural ability judgment can opt for the escape judgment to grant the inquisitor the ability to take a move action (instead of a standard action) to create a diversion to hide upon making a successful attack. This lets the inquisitor, essentially, stab then hide.

(From an optimization perspective, this is acceptable at low levels, but it'll lose its luster at higher levels when full attacks are necessary to pull your weight. Further, picking the escape judgment typically means forgoing all the other awesome judgments the inquisitor could've picked instead! And the issue remains that the inquisitor still needs to end her movement behind cover or in concealment to have stealth and those conditions must be within 15 ft. of her unless she can afford suffering some hefty penalties. Also, if she has the supernatural ability hide in plain sight, that ability is just super better than this one.)

Becoming invisible as a spell-like ability

The complete text of the inquisitor's clandestine inquisition's granted power disappear, a spell-like ability, says, "You can become invisible as per the spell as a standard action. The invisibility lasts for 1 round per inquisitor level or until you attack. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier." Typically, a creature can only take 1 standard action per round. Thus a normal creature that takes the standard action to activate the spell-like ability disappear will be unable to also attack in the same turn. (She'll also provoke an attack of opportunity from each foe threatening her when she activates the spell-like ability disappear, by the way. Follow this link and this link to learn more about the differences between spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities.)

Sniping and hiding in plain sight

The special case with sniping is that after making that one ranged attack the sniper can take a move action to remain in the same place and, if the sniper's Stealth skill check to hide result (that suffers a −20 penalty) beats onlookers' Perception skill check results, the sniper need not move, the sniper's position undetected by onlookers. Snipers do this—stay in one place—because normally "Stealth immediately ends after [the sniper] make[s] an attack roll, whether or not the attack is successful." While the sniper—instead of sniping—could have just make an attack from her originally-hidden-but-revealed-upon-making-the-attack position then take a move action to move from that position, that'd mean everybody sees where she is and where she's going!

However, with the shadowdancer's supernatural ability hide in plain sight and without using the sniping rules, the sniper's position is still revealed after the attack, but, afterward, the sniper can take a normal move action (or even a 5-ft. step) in conjunction with the skill Stealth to take up a different position. (She can't stay in the same place because everybody knows she's right there because she revealed her position by making an attack!) She makes a Stealth skill check opposed by observers' Perception skill check "even while being observed." Further, "[a]s long as she is within 10 feet of an area of dim light, a shadowdancer can hide herself from view in the open without anything to actually hide behind."

This means a shadowdancer sniper in, for example, a cramped pillbox likely must use the normal sniping rules, but, if out in the open, the shadowdancer will be better off using the supernatural ability hide in plain sight.


Note: You've picked to play a minigame that, traditionally, Pathfinder doesn't play well. If you want to play a good, interesting stealth simulator, you may find Pathfinder disappointing you, and you may find the GM frustrated by your efforts to fit this square stealth peg into that round just-fight-stuff-normally-already! hole. There's a lot of confusion around the issue of stealth, and it's been the subject of long debates, frequent animosity, and at least a few official revisions. If everyone at the table objects to this particular playstyle, keep in mind for your next character that the game is a much more robust magic simulator and smacking-things-with-swords simulator.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It's unclear whether you're indicating that Hide in Plain Sight would or would not take the -20 Sniping penalty. \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Feb 4 '18 at 22:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso Second 'graph begins, "However, with the shadowdancer's supernatural ability hide in plain sight and without using the sniping rules,…." I can emphasize more how that's not using the sniping rules I guess, but I thought it was clear enough: as long as the shadowdancer's willing to move after making the attack from stealth and can use hide in plain sight, I don't think there's any need for the shadowdancer to even bother with the sniping rules. (Happy to be told otherwise, though. Self-doubt and the the stealth rules go hand-in-hand.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 5 '18 at 0:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems that HiPS doesn't do anything (actively) on its own, it just allows one to use Stealth when one normally couldn't (while being observed), meaning it requires a move action and movement. In the normal case, i.e. when not attacking, one would still need to move (as per normal for Stealth). Is that correct? \$\endgroup\$ – Josh May 4 '18 at 1:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Josh That's accurate, yes, and I know that 2nd 'graph in "Sniping and hiding in plain sight" is a bit of a mess, but I can't figure out a way that would make it clearer. The rules themselves are that convoluted! \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 4 '18 at 1:39

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