Okay so I am rather confused about a particular part of the stealth mechanic in regards to Elves of the Valley Adventure from Dungeon Mag #178.

In the 1st encounter, it says the elves (enemies) get a round of surprise (provided PCs failed previous skill challenge) and then use stealth checks to hide whenever they can. What does that last part mean? How is this possible?

For anyone who hasn't played that part of the Chaos Scar campaign:

An enemy (who has advantage against the PCs because of a failed skill challenge) attacks on its surprise round. Next, during its turn, it attacks, then tries to make a stealth check to hide, I'm assuming after moving behind a tree nearby. Next turn, provided no one has found it, it can attack with surprise again. But what about the 3rd turn? It can no longer move and can't make a stealth check cause to attack it has to move out of the tree's cover, does it not? Or can it stand behind the tree and attack from behind it (logic being it leans around the tree, shoots a bow, and tries to hide again)?

Also, how do you prevent meta-gaming if the enemy reveals itself with an attack; aka the PCs will know it's behind that tree (regardless of how that mechanic works) and will march on over and attack it regardless?

I've read the hidden club guide and several other stealth guides, but none seem to address this issue.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Zachiel already has a pretty good answer, but I wanted to point out that 'Hidden', 'Surprise', and 'Combat Advantage' are all different things. You can't regain surprise during a fight, you just have it at the beginning. After that they're using Stealth to gain Hidden, which grants Combat Advantage. \$\endgroup\$ – DCShannon May 16 '14 at 23:48

I'm not familiar with the module but I'm going to suppose the elf has a ranged attack (otherwise, attacking from where he's standing might be impossible just because there are no valid targets.)

If the elf has line of sight to one of the players, he can attack them while standing behind a tree and keeping its cover. Characters standing right behind any kind of physical cover usually have the avdantage of having lots of corners where the opponents can't see them, while they usually have a corner of their square that has sight over lots of enemy square corners.
See the rules for determining line of sight on the combat chapter of the PHB for more details.

Once this is covered we need to understand that (as you've probably already noticed) hiding is done at the end of a movement or of a movement action and, unless the character can move again, they are hidden but everyone else knows where they are.
This means your NPC elf attacks and is not hidden at the end of the surprise round. At the end of any subsequent round where he attacks and then uses a movement action to stand still and hide in the spot (or move and hide), everyone still knows where the elf is.

This means that it's not metagaming knowing where the enemy has hidden. In fiction, he hid there just a moment ago and had no time to move from there.
Also, if the elf has any power that allows him to hit and move as a standard action you could use that movement to hide (provided you can move at least 1 square into a space with superior cover) and then use his movement action to actually move (so that everyone loses his tracks, needs not to lose cover while moving).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that a strict interpretation of the rules prevents a character from regaining Hidden with the same action that lost Hidden. So, if the elf was hidden at the start of the action, 'any power that allows them to hit and move' wouldn't allow them to re-stealth at the end of the move, assuming that the move is after the attack. They could still use a move action afterward to regain Hidden for next turn. \$\endgroup\$ – DCShannon May 16 '14 at 23:46

In 4th edition everybody always knows the position of everybody else on the battlefield, except for characters who are hidden. Thus elves "using stealth checks to hide whenever they can" means that if an elf at the end of a movement action has total concealment, he will make a stealth check so that his position will become unknown to the players. The sequence for that would have to be to make an attack first, then move, and make the stealth check at the end of the movement action.

Note that the elves will NOT get another surprise round. There is only ever one surprise round in a combat. The advantages of being hidden are being hard to attack, and having combat advantage.


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