[RPG] How to communicate to the GM that not being allowed to use stealth isn’t fun for me


I started with a group some times ago a new campaign. I made a thief that used a bow and was very very stealth based (level 3 thief having +21 on stealth with all effects applied). The intent was using the stealth to get sneak attacks with the bow and using mastersniper to remain stealthy despite shooting around arrows.

I asked the DM if they were fine with a stealth loaded character which they agreed to.

Now our 5th session went by, and my thief so far got knocked out 7 times in these few sessions.

The thing is, my character is never being allowed to use stealth, when in crowded areas I am told "you can't use stealth here, too many people could see you" In empty places when I say "Ok, I am hiding behind the corner of that hallway, waiting for anyone possibly joining this hall, while our group discusses their actions.", I am told "It's an empty hall, someone joining it would see you anyways, you should instead join the groups discussion" Or even in our very first session when our group was walking through the desert I said "Ok, I am trying to find a low profile in the desert, walking close to the group but staying unseen for anyone in the distance." to which the GM responded with "You all are walking through a desert, its inescapable to be seen." I even was more than once having been revoked my stealth state after a successful stealth check just by passing an enemy's line of sight during combat, which, as I understand from the rules isn't even how it is supposed to be, as the previous stealth check determined that exactly that is not gonna happen.

And what adds even more frustration to it. Our enemies always engage us stealthily. There wasn't a single encounter so far, which wasn't approached by us where we didn't have to roll perception against their stealth. In the before mentioned desert situation, I was complaining "How can we even be sneaked upon if I was told, I can't use stealth here cause we would be seen from very far in any direction." to which the the GM responded with "Well rather than your group the enemy knew the area, they sneaked onto your group using the cover of the dunes next to where you were walking to gank on you."

Given all this, I think I don't need to explain why exactly this is very frustrating for me… my character is simply denied the use of the only thing he is good at, while all others at the table can use their characters' features as intended. I already confronted the GM about the situation and asked them if they could opt for letting my character have more of their moments. What they said was, "The first sessions are in very open areas, you were aware of it, so you shouldn't expect it to work, but as soon we are in the jungle where this mission is supposed to get to, you will be able to make more use of it." So the last session we finally arrived in the jungle and it just continued "You can't use stealth here, the group is walking on an open path", "You can't use stealth here, the plants are so thick that one would be able to trace you through the undergrowth anyway" and so on.

So my question here is not about whether the GM or me is right in their way of how to expect stealth to work. But rather:

How can I effectively communicate to my GM – without making them get defensive – that this is just boring, very frustrating, and not fun at all for me?

Best Answer

First of all, you need to introduce this topic to your GM by letting them know that unfortunately you're not having fun in their game, and this is a problem you'd like to reach a solution for somehow. Help them see your perspective. There's lots of great advice for this part in other answers.

I wonder if there's some kind of disconnect about the details of how you're asking to stealth, like if your GM wants you to describe in more detail how you go about it or what you use for cover. They're right that you can't just "go stealth" in the middle of an open room when people are already looking at you.

Stealth can be a matter of who you're hiding from; it's not always "everyone" if you're using cover that hides you from one side but not the other. (But "being stealthed" is a useful simplification, and moving from shadow to shadow along the edges of a street is the typical assumption if you don't go into detail. Or moving in a way that is unlikely to reveal your presence to people in at least the direction you're going.)

Not always, but yeah it happened that we were engaged by stealthd groups in areas where I had been denied to even roll stealth.

That sounds problematic.

But the more usual case is, we just get engaged when I am so annoyed that I don't even ask for being allowed to make a stealth check.

Being too annoyed to even ask if you could stealth may be partially hiding the problem from the rest of the group and/or the GM.

In your first talk with the GM, you could ask after the fact if stealth would have been an option for you in any of the cases where your group got jumped. And if so, how/when you could have asked "properly" to go stealth.

After communicating how this is stopping you from having fun, maybe part of the solution could be having the GM let you know when the terrain presents any opportunity to be stealthy. (At least in the short term while it's a sore subject and you don't want to keep asking and getting rejected).

It would be unusual (and could get meta-gamey) for the GM to remind you every time stealth is an option long-term, but it might help you get on the same page with each other about the game world in the short term. (And heal your psychological wounds / rebuild trust with the GM about treating your character fairly).

In-world, your character should be able to recognize opportunities for stealth when they occur in the game-world envisioned by the GM. So having the GM tell you about the game world in the those terms does fit playing a character who focuses on stealth.