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D&D: How To Be Stealthy When No One Has Stealth

4 Minute Read
Mar 11 2021
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Stealth is always an option in D&D–even when nobody is skilled at it. Just follow these tricks, and every mission can be a “stealth” mission.

We’ve all been there. The party is stealthily making their way into an enemy fort/underground dungeon/floating castle/fantasy IKEA and everything is going smoothly right up until the Paladin has to roll a stealth check because they’re wearing enough metal to start an item shop, and then it all comes crashing down, literally, when they roll low enough for every enemy in the nearby area to come to investigate, exclamation point over their head and everything.

Don’t let your friends’ fashion flush your sneaky solutions down the sink. Here are five ways you can get into a place “undetected” even if your whole party is in heavy armor.

Because you can sneak into anywhere with the right attitude. There’s a world of difference between stealth and sneak– let’s explore!

Deception

You might not be able to roll a stealth check to save your life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get where you’re not supposed to be. Why not try the tried and true method and just start lying through your teeth. There are a few different ways that Deception plays out here. You can disguise yourself as someone who’s supposed to be there, posing as guards or minions, or whatever. Use magic or the disguise kit the Bard started with and has forgotten about for the last three months, and you’re well on your way to sneaking in.

If that doesn’t seem to work, you could always try the old Dungeon Inspector routine, lying to whoever is at the gate and convincing them that they’re supposed to let you in to “inspect the traps” or, if you’re playing a slightly more serious game, to see whatever boss runs the dungeon. Bonus points if you can invent an actual ruse to get your party invited in officially–just take care not to cause trouble until you’re ready to throw down/escape.

Cause A Distraction

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Sometimes all you need is for everyone’s attention to be elsewhere. After all, if nobody’s there to catch you when you roll that stealth check, then did you really get a 3? Try and lure the guards or whomever might catch you away from their post by causing a diversion. This could be something enticing that lures them out–like a pleasant picnic with some good friends, if you’ve taken the time to befriend the guards, or you could start a fire, or hire mercenaries to attack one part of the fort and while that’s going down you sneak in the back way, no one the wiser.

Bribery

Guards don’t make enough money. This is true whatever kind of guard you are–from unsuspecting goblins, to dedicated orcs–even magical constructs who don’t really have sentience don’t get paid enough. So why not let the Invisible Hand of the Free Market open the door for you. All you have to do is make it worth their while to turn a blind eye and you can sneak in with whatever you want. All it takes is a little up front investment that’s sure to pay off in dividends.

Trojan Horse

Or better yet, give them something that they think they want. Is there a wizard’s tower? Play with a little deception and hide your Cleric in a crate while your Sorcerer tells the guards that the crate your party is hiding in is actually a magical item or a batch of rare components or something else the boss might want. Sure you might have to sign the odd form, but you’ll be delivering your party inside enemy lines without having to make a single stealth check.

Kill Everyone

Finally, the video game method, first popularized in the year 2000 with Ion Storm’s hit conspiracy theory/sci-fi action RPG, Deus Ex, but seen everywhere there are stealth levels that make you reload the level/otherwise penalize you for being seen even once. The principle is simple, ‘can’t get caught if everyone’s dead.’ And it’s pretty easy, all you have to do is kill everyone you come across and no one will be alive to sound the alarm.

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If you don’t wanna just kill everyone, tell your DM you’re rolling Charisma (Stealth) and intimidating everyone into not seeing you. Because if you walk in with a big enough sword, nobody is going to want to stop you.

And there you have it. Five ways to be stealthy without having to roll stealth.

What’s your favorite method for being sneaky when the party is covered in noisy armor? Let us know in the comments!

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