Welcome to The Advanced Stealth Guide, where you may or may not learn how to avoid pretty much every non-required fight there is.
A few quick notes before beginning:
- This guide assumes a few basic things:
- You have some level of experience with basic sneaking. You know a bit about the mechanics, such as auto-detect zones, spot checks and listen checks.
- You have a high hide and move silently score. For Epic Elites, you'll want over 90 in at least Move Silently (90 is not actually that hard a number to reach). Invisibility makes Hide not as important, however Hide should be equal to your MS anyway. The point is, get it as high as you can each level and you'll be good to go.
- You have a useful UMD score.
- You are going to be soloing/shortmanning
- Sneaking is one thing. Stealth is a different thing. Sneak is a stance you can activate that allows you to move undetected. Stealth is the style of play that involves completing the quest with minimal amounts of fighting or alerting of mobs.
- This guide is meant for Rogue characters, but is useful for any class. The major differences between Rogue stealth and other stealth is that Rogues have Assassinate and Noisemakers.
- Stealth is not quick! Take your time.
- It's better to skip past a mob than to fight it. However, sometimes it's easier to just kill something, and sometimes you're required to.
- If you have suggestions/corrections, feel free to give them.
- This guide is primarily aimed at high-level characters, however most methods work at lower levels.
Anyone with a high Hide/MS score can be stealthy. Stealth is not a build, it's a playstyle. That said, you should probably max out your skill points in H/MS. The 12-point penalty for not having H/MS is something that should be avoided: take a splash in monk, rogue, ranger, etc if you can.
Spot is useful for seeing the location of sneaking mobs, which, if bumped into, can rightly mess you up. If you have spare skill points, level this up.
Bluff is very useful, and is criminally underused, even by parties. It allows you clear out a room one by one, preventing you from getting swarmed and alleviating a lot of damage (or all of it, if you can CC the mob).
You should not take any feats or enhancements that improve your H/MS. As important as those skills are, a measly few points are not worth it in this case.
Rogues are probably the best class for stealth play, depending on what factors you look at. Assassinate is incredibly useful, noisemakers are handy. They can also sneak faster and have bluff as a class skills. I would put Bards second, only because they have H/MS AND bluff as class skills and for their ridiculously powerful Fascinate; almost no matter how tough the going gets, they'll only have to fight one mob at a time. Monks, Rangers and Druids come after, with Druids and Monks probably on top. Druids have some good offensive and defensive spells and are very survivable, and can also compensate for their lack of H/MS as class skills with their spells. Monks have Abundant Step, which is very useful in many areas.
At a glance:
Rogue Bard Monk Ranger Everyone else H/MS Yes Yes Yes Yes No, -12* Bluff Yes Yes No, -12 No, -12 Sorc only DPS Very high Varies Very high Moderate Depends Faster Sneak Yes No No Yes No Assassinate Yes** No No No No Noisemakers Yes No No No Arti only UMD Yes Yes No, -12 No, -12 Depends Fascinate No Yes No No No Hide in Plain Sight No*** No*** No*** Yes No***
*With some exceptions: Druids have the Pass Without Trace and Spiderskin Spells. Wizard Palemasters have Wraith form (although it can't be used with Shadow Form)
**Requires the Assassin PrE
***Hide in Plain Sight can be obtained with Shadowdancer's Stealthy
Shadowdancer is, in my opinion, the single best destiny for stealthy toons, especially Rogues. For a few reasons:
- Shadowform gives an immense +20 bonus to H/MS. It also gives a very useful 25% incorporeal miss chance, which is a great boon to your defenses.
- "Stealthy," the level one enhancement, is another useful +6 to your H/MS, although this can be easily twisted. It also gives +6 to Assassinate DCs. This also has an unlisted effect of giving your toon Hide in Plain Sight, which lowers your light penalty by two "eyes" (you know what that is, right?)
- Sneak Freedom: this clickie is immensely useful, even with its large cooldown.
- The capstone, which allows you to sneak attack elementals, undead, etc. is exceptionally useful for rogues, but is not necessarily a bonus to stealth play.
- Shadow Manipulation. My god, this ability is immensely powerful for stealth play. More on it later.
If you don't use Shadowdancer... then just use whatever. Because there isn't really a "second best."
Note with Shadowdancer: get your maximum number of shadowcharges prior to entering the quest, if possible.
Twists are mostly up to personal preference. My only recommendation is Otto's Whistler, which is extremely reliable single-target CC, and Summon Dryad Elder, which gives you a sturdy summon (more on that later).
I personally use Whistler, Improved Combat Mastery, and Brace for Impact.
Getting Good Sneak Scores
10 DEX mod
20 Shadow Form
5 Epic Levels
85, easy. Add in some more rare stuff and you're good to go. Minus 12 if your H/MS is not a class skill. Plus 8 if you're an Assassin.
Note: it's possible to get scores of over 200
Improved Deception. Improved Deception. Nothing. But. Improved. Deception.
Observe. The boss is "locked down" due to the constant deception procs, which make the target vulnerable to sneak attacks as well as turning them around. The boss here is only able to cast two spells, and only because I activated Boosts. Note that I am also using an Improved Deception accessory: get one!
Due to this "locking" effect, Improved Deception items are one of the best choices for soloing melee characters, not just stealth ones.
Otherwise, use either your highest damage dealers. Your weapons will be (should be) almost exclusively for bosses/required kills. If you are a Rogue, also get Epic Midnight's Greetings
Besides the obvious skill bonuses to H/MS, gear is mostly the same as any other toon. Use what you like.
Besides the usual...
- Invisibility, in pots, wands or clickies. In case you didn't already have any of these. Not just useful for sneaking, but also for invis pulling, which will be covered in a bit
- Enervation scrolls. Useful for Assassins if there's a mob that needs to be killed whose saves are just a tad too high for Assassinate. Also useful against meaty orange names or things like oozes, elementals, etc.
- Halt/Command Undead scrolls. Simple, effective CC against undead.
- Summon Monster scrolls/Roderic's Wand. Summons have a useful purpose in stealth, to be covered later.
- Epic Big Top. Otto's Irresistable Dance clickie. I'm surprised I don't see this used more often.
- Epic Wolf Whistle. Although rare, this powerful item summons the undoubtedly most powerful summon in the game.
Noisemakers, which require at least one level in Rogue and Artificer (to take the trapmaking feat, which is an auto-grant for lvl4 Rogues/Arties), make a sound that attracts mobs to investigate. They are handy for moving mobs around, letting you pull levers or sneak by without getting seen.
Noisemakers give you the highest level of control as to where the mobs will end up, and they're the best to use if you need to pull a lever or open a door without being noticed.
Easily the most powerful tool in your arsenal, this thing is immensely powerful. Requires a decent INT score if you're looking to use it in Epic Elite.
This ability charms a single mob for a minute. It does not require line of sight or for you to even be close to the mob (like the Savant abilities, before they got fixed). It allows you to easily slip past even the largest number of mobs. Be careful about bumping into them, though, or they'll aggro on you after they've killed the charmed mob.
It can be tempting to join the fray and drop a few mobs, but ask yourself this: what do you gain by doing that?
...besides a shadow charge, that is. Assassinate a mob if there's one you can safely kill (usually an archer/caster) to get your shadow charge back. If you're not a rogue and don't have Assassinate, then tough luck because I advise against DPSing down a mob while using Shadow Manipulation. Get your charge back on an isolated mob.
SM is also great for clearing out rooms that need to be cleared out.
Like Shadow Manipulation, except not as good. The spell summons that you can get from scrolls will only last a few seconds against epic mobs, but this can be enough for you to slip by.
The best summons are ones that use ranged/magic attacks, as they will displace mobs the greastest. It doesn't really matter what summon you use for it: they'll all die at roughly the same speed.
Except for the Dryad Elder summon, however she requires a lvl4 twist. She can surivive for a couple more seconds against epic elite mobs, and can last for a good period of time without aid against lesser mobs.
And then there's the Tharaak Hound summon, the most powerful summon (and also, by far, the hardest to get). This thing is a juggernaut, and is absolute overkill if you only want to distract the mobs momentarily. If you do actually have this beast, I would save him for required/boss fights.
The poor-man's version of noisemakers, this is the quickest way to move mobs around.
This functions similarly to Noisemakers, however it's a bit riskier and backfires when mobs with See Invisibility are present. At any rate, if you don't have rogue levels you'd better learn how to do this.
When a projectile, i.e. and arrow or a throwing weapon, hits a surface, it makes a sound that attracts mobs, allowing you to move them around at a range. To do this, turn off auto-target (press G) so that you don't accidentally hit anything, turn on mouselook (press T or press the mouse wheel) and fire away. Don't hit the mob, just hit the surface near them.
This ability, which is exclusive to bards (or HElfs with a bard dillettante, though you won't achieve a very good DC), is the ultimate "roflstomp" button for Stealth. It allows you to disable all enemies around you, allowing you open doors, pull levers and loot chests in total safety. While it does aggro the mobs, by the time they're free to move you'll be long gone (you do lose stealth points for aggroing so many mobs, though. What are stealth points? I dunno lol).
This ability alone is what makes Bards great at stealth. Just about as good as rogues, honestly.
The Basic Method
There are two ways you can approach a given group of mobs:
-Sneak past them
-Fight them (don't do this)
Always, if possible, go for the first option. Most groups of mobs can simply be snuck past without having to move them around, but if not, use one of your abilities to distract them so you can get by.
Option two should only ever be done if absolutely necessary, e.g. boss fights, "kill these mobs to open door," etc. If this is the case, I recommend bluff pulling and/or Shadow Manipulation. For bluff pulling, make sure you have a good "Kill Zone" where you can safely 1v1 a mob without any other mobs noticing you. Assassins are most efficient at killing mobs with bluff pulling.
You can also use ranged weapons to pull mobs individually. Prior to u17, hitting one mob with a ranged weapon would also alert its friends, but not anymore. I personally don't think this is WAI, so I don't do it. What else is not WAI is being able to Assassinate mobs without aggroing surrounding mobs. IF YOU DO THIS YOUR BODY WILL ROT FROM THE INSIDE OUT DUE TO A CURSE SET UPON YOU BY THE STEALTH GODS. Seriously, it is baby mode for stealth and you will lose all your honor points for doing it.
Good Quests for Practicing Your Stealth
Most of these quests can be completed with only the required kills(of which there are few):-Fathom the Depths (Red Fens)
-Claw of Vulkoor (Red Fens)
-Cry for Help (Gianthold)
-Bargain of Blood (Sentinels)
-Trial by Fire (Gianthold) (yup, even with the spiders. Deal with spiders as you would bluff pulled mobs)
-Chains of Flame (Sands)
-Haywire Foundry (VON)
-The Tide Turns (Sentinels)
-House of Death Undone (Eveningstar)
-The Chamber of Raiyum (Sands) (protip: use charmed undead to kill Raiyum and required mobs)
-The Unquiet Graves (Eveningstar)
-The House of Broken Chains (Eveningstar)
-Servants of the Overlord (Web of Chaos)
-Trial by Fury (Demonweb)
-Numerous low-level quests. Suggest some!
--Stealthy Repossession (Harbor)
--Monastery of the Scorpion (Reaver's Refuge)
--Blockade Buster (Attack on Stormreach)
--A New Invasion
--Sins of Attrition
And that's my guide. Feel free to add your own tips. I will add some "putting it all together" videos later of me running quests alone.
BY THE WAY, PARTY STEALTHING IS FUN.