[RPG] I rolled a 20 on a stealth check. What now


I rolled a 20 on a stealth check and my DM thinks I have to reroll stealth everytime I perform an action. (I.e.: opening a door, walking up stairs, grabbing something.) If this were true I would have to reroll stealth a lot. I know that the drow that I'm sneaking by are supposed to make perception checks, but do I have to keep making stealth checks?

Best Answer

Your DM is wrong

PHB p.177:

Until you are discovered or you stop hiding, that check’s total is contested by the Wisdom (Perception) check of any creature that actively searches for signs of your presence.

Hiding (as a verb) means "To keep oneself out of sight or notice" - it is not inherent in this definition that you cannot move or take any other action. Indeed the skill is called Stealth which means "The act of moving, proceeding, or acting in a covert way". It is entirely reasonable to "hide" in plain sight if the intent is not to be noticed rather than not be seen.

The only ways that a character ceases to be hidden is if somebody finds them (and communicates this to others who have not found them) by beating the Dexterity (Stealth) check with a Wisdom (Perception) check or if the character "stop[s] hiding" - a conscious choice. A new Dexterity (Stealth) check is only called for when you want to hide again after being discovered or circumstances change such that your method of hiding is no longer appropriate (e.g. you were hiding in a crowd which disperses, you move from a paved area to an area covered with fallen branches and leaves).

Remember, this cuts both ways: a really bad roll has to be kept even though eventually the player knows character will encounter someone with enough Wisdom (Perception) to overcome it. This is potentially a problem with out-of-game knowledge affecting game play but mature gamers can usually keep these separate OR the DM can roll Dexterity (Stealth) checks and keep the results secret from the players (equivalently, the DM can roll active Wisdom (Perception) checks and use the PC's passive Dexterity (Stealth) - the odds are identical). It also means that creatures sneaking up on the players only get one roll too which may be to the benefit or detriment of the players.

Doing otherwise will simply result in the character failing eventually. For example a character with +5 to Dexterity (Stealth) facing an opponent with a 10 passive Wisdom (Perception) will succeed 75% with one roll, 56% will 2 rolls, 42% with 3 and only 32% with 4. This is an unfair nerfing of a skill the player chose over another skill - does the DM require multiple Intelligence (Investigation) checks to find a secret door, multiple Dexterity (Athletics) checks to jump a chasm, or multiple Wisdom (Perception) checks to find someone who is hidden? The Alexandrian has an excellent article on this.

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