How to be stealthy in Pathfinder

  1. Buy ranks in Stealth. Every class in Pathfinder can purchase ranks in this skill on a 1-1 cost; it's a great way to ensure you have a basic level of sneakiness.
  2. Take a level of Bard, Monk, Ranger, or Rogue. These classes have Stealth as a class skill, so if you buy one rank you get a +3 bonus on Stealth checks. You can also take a level of Cleric and select the Trickery domain.
  3. Play a human, elf, half-elf, or half-orc. Humans get bonus skill points at every level while Half-elves get a free Skill Focus feat - use these to increase your Stealth check. All of these races can also get a racial bonus to Dexterity.
  4. Play a Gnome or Halfling. These races are Small and gain a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks. Halflings also gain a bonus to Dexterity.
  5. Play a Fighter. Fighters learn armor training at level 3, 7, 11, 15, and 19; this allows them to reduce the armor check penalty, increase the max Dex bonus, and move more quickly.
  6. Play a Rogue. The Rogue Talent 'Fast Stealth' lets the rogue move at full speed while being stealthy, while the Advanced Rogue Talent 'Skill Mastery' can let her take 10 on Stealth checks even when stressed or distracted. Rogues also get lots of skill points.
  7. Pick a cat familiar. If you're a wizard this nets you a +3 on Stealth checks.
  8. Use feats. Skill Focus (Stealth) and Stealthy, while perhaps not optimal, both add to your Stealth skill check. In Pathfinder the bonus increases if you have 10 skill ranks!
  9. Use traits. Several pathfinder traits can help you be more stealthy.
  10. Wear masterwork armor. Sure it "only" reduces your armor check penalty by one point, but every little bit helps. Masterwork armor is a cheap way to improve your Stealth skill that doesn't cost skill points or feats.
  11. Wear special materials. Mithral armor and shields are one category lighter for the purposes of movement and encumbrance, weigh half as much, increase the max Dex bonus by 2, and decrease the armor check penalty by 3. Darkwood shields also lower the armor check penalty by 2.
  12. Get Shadow armor. For 4900gp (150 masterwork, 1,000 +1 enhancement, 3,750 Shadow) you can buy +1 Shadow armor and get a +5 competence bonus on Stealth checks. This can be upgraded to +10 and +15 at higher levels.
  13. Buy a wand of invisibility. At 4500gp these are not cheap, but they can help hide your less stealthy party members at key times. Other spells in wands may work well too.
  14. Use consumables:
    • Dust of Disappearance grants you 'greater invisibility' for 2d6 rounds (3,500gp)
    • Dust of Tracelessness can be used to hide your tracks (250gp).
    • Elixir of Hiding: +10 Stealth for 1 hour (250gp)
  15. Use other magic items:

    • Cloak of the Bat (+5 Stealth, 26,000gp)
    • Cloak of Elvenkind (+5 Stealth, 2,500gp)
    • Cloak of Etherealness (55,000gp)
  16. Use spells! Many spells can help individuals or a group be sneakier, including:

    alter self; animal shapes; animal trance; beast shape i, ii, iii, and iv; cat's grace; cat's grace, mass; color spray; dancing lights; darkness; darkvision; deep slumber; deeper darkness; disguise self; elemental body i, ii, iii, and iv; ethereal jaunt; etherealness; fog cloud; gaseous form; ghost sound; glitterdust; guidance; hallucinatory terrain; heroism; heroism, greater; hide from animals; hide from undead; hypnotic pattern; hypnotism; illusory wall; invisibility; invisibility sphere; invisibility, greater; invisibility, mass; levitate; major image; meld into stone; message; minor image; mirage arcana; obscuring mist; open/close; pass without trace; persistent image; polymorph; project image; rainbow pattern; reduce person, mass; seeming; shapechange; silence; silent image; sleep; sleet storm; spider climb; suggestion; symbol of sleep; telepathic bond; transport via plants; tree shape; tree stride; ventriloquism

  17. Use tactics! Some ideas:

    • Use a scout or magic to recon the area ahead so you can approach at the right time or when danger has passed.
    • Set ambushes. Let the stealthier members of your group wait in hiding and have noisier characters lead the enemy into your trap.
    • Cast 'levitate' on noisy party members and have them hold on to a stealthy individual, or fly them on a rope like a kite. This allows heavily armored party members to be moved without doing a lot of clanking.

Which bonuses stack?

MethodCostBonus type
Stealth ranks - -
Bard/Monk/Ranger/Rogue - -
Race - Inherent (stacks)
Small Race - Size
Fighter armor mastery - -
Rogue talents - -
Cat familiar - Inherent (stacks)
Skill Focus: Stealth- Inherent (stacks)
Stealthy- Inherent (stacks)
Conspiracy Hunter- Trait
Masterwork armor 150gp -
Shadow Armor 4,900gp Competence
Mithral 1/4/9k gp -
Darkwood MW + 10/lb gp -
Wand of invisibilty 4,500gp Untyped (stacks)
Dust of disappearance 3,500gp Untyped (stacks)
Elixir of Hiding 250gp Competence
Cloak of the Bat 26,000gp Competence
Cloak of Elvenkind 2,500gp Competence
Cloak of Etherealness 55,000gp Untyped (stacks)

Credits: many thanks to Daniel Moyer, Mistwalker, and Zurai from the Paizo boards for additional ideas.

changed November 13, 2009