My rogue thinks one of three opponents is carrying a magic orb he needs. He cannot see the orb, but he has been told one of these three has it in a robe pocket. The orb is smaller than a tennis ball. The three are in combat with orcs, and my rogue doesn't want the orcs to find the orb after their larger numbers overwhelm the three.

The rogue intends to drink a Potion of Invisibility, search all three during combat, then after identifying the orb's location use Sleight Of Hand to remove it without being detected.

Invisibility ends if he were to attack a force that outnumbers him:

The spell ends if the subject attacks any creature. For purposes of this spell, an attack includes any spell targeting a foe or whose area or effect includes a foe. Exactly who is a foe depends on the invisible character’s perceptions. Actions directed at unattended objects do not break the spell. Causing harm indirectly is not an attack. Thus, an invisible being can open doors, talk, eat, climb stairs, summon monsters and have them attack, cut the ropes holding a rope bridge while enemies are on the bridge, remotely trigger traps, open a portcullis to release attack dogs, and so forth. If the subject attacks directly, however, it immediately becomes visible along with all its gear.

Does a search of an opponent's pockets count as an attack?

https://rpg.stackexchange.com/a/74560/27498 suggests the answers vary from Gaming Table to Gaming Table.


2 Answers 2


No, you have to steal the orb, which ends invisibility

They are in combat, to search something you have to spend at least a Move Action to locate it before using Take Something Unnoticed assuming it's visible to you, because if not, you have to search the target looking for it (similar to looking for a hidden/secret door), which requires at least a Touch attack if your target is mid-combat.

Trying to take something during combat would require a Steal Maneuver, assuming the item is visible and not hidden too, with a bonus from being invisible (+2) and a penalty on the target's CMD as they are unaware of you (losing Dex bonus to AC/CMD), which would then break the spell, being an attack against CMD.

Enemies are not stationary in combat, they are moving, dodging, jumping and swinging their weapons, and you are attempting to search through their pockets for an orb, while they are doing all that and you can't even tell the location of this orb by sight.

Even the Steal maneuver isn't enough to take something that is inside a bag or or backpack. There is a feat for that: Graceful Steal.

You can steal items with the steal combat maneuver even if they are hidden in a bag or pack (provided you can reach the item within), but the opponent gains at least a +5 bonus to its CMD (as for a fastened object) in this case.

Similarly, the Swipe and Stash feat says that you must use the Steal maneuver when trying to use the feat to plant an item on an enemy in combat, instead of a simple Sleight of Hand check against Perception. Though this text is exclusive to the feat, the same logic can be applied to take something unnoticed.

In combat, you must succeed at a steal combat maneuver in order to plant an item on a creature while attempting a Sleight of Hand check opposed by the target’s Perception check to do so without the target noticing.

What you have to keep in mind that, even though you are not attacking or defending yourself, you are in combat as well, you have to roll initiative as soon as your targets and the orcs do, and you gotta act on your initiative order, regardless if they are aware of your presence or not.

Weren't your targets in combat, as the GM, I would allow you to make multiple checks looking for it, depending on how many pockets those enemies got, and depending on whether or not your information about said orb being really inside their robe pockets is correct, as it could be hidden inside a belt pocket, or even in their backpack inside a small chest, etc.

On each of those checks, you first would have to succeed at a Stealth check, to search for things unnoticed, and a Perception check, to use your hands to find it. On each Stealth check, the enemies would be allowed an opposed Perception check to notice your hands shuffling through their things and body. Your own Perception check wouldn't have a high DC, as you know exactly what you are looking for (again, unless your information was false).

This wouldn't break invisibility, as you are not causing harm to your targets in any way.

To be honest, you are probably better first using Detect Magic (since its a magic orb) to find this orb, or waiting for each enemy to be taken down during combat and then search his body, as their enemies (the orcs) won't simply stop mid-combat to search them for the orbs while there is a risk of getting attacked by her enemies.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is correct, and, unlike the other answers, answers both the question asked (Can I search a foe and remain invisible?) and the question unasked (Can I pick a foe's pocket and remain invisible?). However, I think the header may be off-putting. Maybe something like Frisking a foe ends invisibility, and you must steal to take something from someone in combat or something rather than No, which may be coming off as simply contrarian. (It makes me sad that mine's the only +1 on this excellent answer.) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 18, 2018 at 14:35

Great Question. Based on what you quoted, the key is . . .

"Actions directed at unattended objects do not break the spell. Causing harm indirectly is not an attack."

I would say, technically, if you are not attacking them, but simply trying to search their pockets and use sleight of hand to remove the orb, as a DM I would rule the following...

  1. The search and sleight of hand do not constitute an attack. You remain invisible.
  2. However, since invisibility does not prevent them from feeling, smelling, or hearing you, they will have a chance for a Perception check for "Notice a pickpocket Opposed by Sleight of Hand".
  3. The Perception Modifiers to the Perception DC would be as follows...

    IF the target is in a fight, then rolls are straight up because both you and the target are distracted and in a terrible condition situation...The target is distracted by the fight. You are in a "Terrible Condition" trying to avoid being hit by weapons or tripped over in the process by the target and their opponent/s.
    Otherwise, if not in a fight, then I would apply any modifiers that would apply to that particular situation.

  4. However, if he wins the perception check, then he detects you but you would still remain invisible. As long as you are in the same area as he is or he is actively looking for you, then the +20 to detect an invisible creature would drop to a +10 to your Stealth number until you are able to escape the area, you attack him, or he fails a check. Any advantages they have to smell or hearing would also apply for their opposing Stealth checks.

    If he succeeds on a check (i.e. you fail a stealth check), he would simply know the general area you are in. At that point, I would allow him, on his turn to move into that area and take whatever action is available to him. On your turn you would be able to move and take whatever action you have available to you and so forth.

    If he fails a check, then he no longer has an idea of where you are at. But until you escape the area (i.e. room, cave chamber, corridor, & etc.) or attack him (become visible) he will be able to actively search for you with more checks.

These checks would continue until you either escape the area (i.e. room, chamber, corridor, & etc.), you attack him (you become visible), or somehow or another through successful checks and actions that he takes, he captures or able to attack you.

But, in general, technically you are not attacking them and thus not lose your invisibility, even if you accidentally injured them in the process.

I hope that helps.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So, you could conceivably hold the opponent still to allow the orcs to carve in and then search the pockets? \$\endgroup\$
    – Willtech
    Jun 18, 2018 at 12:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you have any sources for these statements? \$\endgroup\$
    – Bishop
    Jun 18, 2018 at 16:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Will Tech: Good question. If holding opponent, if DM rules it an attack then no. If not ruled an attack, remain invisible but probably easily detected since opponent feel something holding them. Bishop: Combo of Sources from Pathfinder Rules online + Scenario presented: Invisibility - d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/i/invisibility Perception - d20pfsrd.com/skills/perception My suggested handling of the scenario is based on the rules on invisibility & perception, the scenario given, & imagination to fill in gaps where the rules didn't cover the scenario. \$\endgroup\$
    – dndtomball
    Jun 21, 2018 at 3:13

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