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This was the subject of much discussion during the Savage Worlds session I ran last night, since 3 out of 5 members of my group are rules lawyers, counting me. Having read through the relevant sections of the Savage Worlds Deluxe rule book this morning, I feel reasonably confident that there are no rules as written regarding this question. In fact, the best I could find on PegInc's forums was this from Clint Black:

As to the overarching questions of what other actions/attacks/etc. fall under certain categories by RAW, that's more of an open forum discussion, but I would note the equally overarching answer to all of them by the RAW...

Whatever the GM decides fits that category.

That post doesn't specifically address Stealth, per se, but since it does address other "other actions/attacks/etc." I feel fairly comfortable accepting it.

Since being the GM and having an opinion is rarely enough to quiet my demons/players, however, here's my rationalization:

Yes, Movement by itself is a free action. However, modified Movement is typically an Action. Running, by RAW, is an Action. Climbing, Jumping, and Swimming, according to Clint Black, are typically Actions as well.

climbing, jumping and swimming are actions ?

Typically, yes, all those would be actions.

When you're trying to move while avoiding detection (or in order to avoid detection), This would also seem to me to be an Action. If it wasn't, then you could attempt to Run, Climb, Jump, or Swim stealthily with little worry. However, I note that the Stealth Modifiers table specifically mentions a -2 penalty for Running - this could be read to suggest that Running is inflicting a Multi-action Penalty on your Stealth check.

So, is rolling Stealth in Combat an Action? Am I correct in believing that there are no RAW on the subject, or have I missed something? Does my rationalization seem to hold water, or is it full of holes?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Its weird because stealth is really two actions: sneak (so that opponent doesn't see you; and sneak attack (sneak, get drop, attack). My gut is its an action - if you want to do the latter it's either two separate actions across two rounds or one with a multi action penalty \$\endgroup\$ – GaryFurash Oct 17 '14 at 16:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GaryFurash That's the way I applied it last night. The character needed to Move (Free Action), use Stealth (Action), and then Attack (Action). It's good to hear someone else agreeing with that instinct. \$\endgroup\$ – dxapp Oct 17 '14 at 16:23
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Stealth is a separate action unless it's used as part of your movement (see here and here). That means you can use Stealth to walk, climb, swim, run, or even jump silently, and there is no MAP - but if you wish to use Stealth for a different activity (such as picking a pocket) it counts as an action, and incurs a MAP if combined with another action.

For example you could sneak up behind a guard and attack them without a MAP (see here), but if you wish to walk up behind them, pick their pocket (to steal their weapon) and then attack them, that would incur a MAP. In both cases you move, roll Stealth, and roll Fighting - but in the first scenario the Stealth is rolled as part of your movement and therefore doesn't count as an action.

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The way I've always played it, (so this may be a house rule, but it was presented to me by my GMs as traditional), is that it depends on whether you're actively trying to be stealthy, or passively stealthy by nature. Basically, it's all about whether you're taking extra time or effort to pull it off:

Multi-Action - If you're tip-toeing around or sneaking past someone, it's an action: within the 6-second period that is your turn, sneaking around makes everything else harder, so it should apply a penalty to whatever else you're doing. You are taking time to be stealthy, and you are focusing effort on being stealthy, so you are necessarily focusing less on whatever else you're trying to do. If you fail the stealth roll or the other action roll, it's because you were trying to do too many things at once, which makes sense.

Free Action - However, if you've got some predator-style cloaking device or you're wearing the One Ring, you could just stroll through the battlefield quite stealthily, without taking any extra care to do so. In that case, your stealth roll would be more to establish how convincing the cloak is, rather than any specific action you're taking. Your character is still free to focus all their time and effort on whatever else they're doing, so no penalty should apply. If they fail their stealth roll, it just becomes a shimmer in the cloak (or something similar) that an enemy might notice. It's not a "multi-action" because the character's stealth doesn't require any action for them to maintain.

For example, imagine Black Widow and the Invisible Woman on a mission together: Black Widow would need to take a multi-action to stealth and run, because it requires extra effort to run stealthily, while the Invisible Woman could run effortlessly through the battlefield without being seen, because being "stealthy" is just her natural state.

By this system, it becomes largely GM's choice whether the player gets a multi-action penalty in any given instance of stealth. If your players are as picky as you say, though, it would be a good idea to pound out the details beforehand: this ninja skill requires stealth as a multi-action, but that cloak of invisibility allows stealth as a free action, etc. That way you won't be arguing when you're in the thick of combat, and the players can make the appropriate plans beforehand, fully aware of their options and abilities.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure this really addresses the issue. The Free Action you describe seems to apply to various cases of the Invisibility Power, which works separately from Stealth, although the two can be combined. Clint notes: "A Stealth roll might make it harder (or possibly easier on a critical failure) to Notice the character, but it's not needed because the power already covers what is required to Notice the character." Interestingly though, the character in my game who was sneaking was also invisible. \$\endgroup\$ – dxapp Oct 17 '14 at 16:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Invisibility power works that way, it's true, but I was just using "invisibility" as an easy example of when stealth might be "natural" and require no effort. Other examples include being unexpected (an Elf in a party of Dwarves), having an ability which makes them hard to notice (like a perception filter, or even just wearing camouflage. In those cases I would argue that stealth isn't a multi-action because the character can be stealthy without it requiring effort. If they "play into it" or make an effort, it becomes multi-action. \$\endgroup\$ – Nerrolken Oct 17 '14 at 16:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ based on the answer given by @Zadmar, including official sources I'm afraid this looks like it is incorrect \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Oct 19 '14 at 14:37

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