Squad Stealth Procedure

A group of 6 Asshuri soldiers (minions) and their leader (toughened) are sneaking up on a group of unsuspecting PCs. Having them all add a dice to the Leader’s “Movement Expertise” skill roll actually makes the larger group a benefit when in actuality more guys trying to be stealthy should be a detriment. What am I doing wrong here?

Remember in a assist rules the leader has to succeed with his roll, before the minions add any dice. If the leader fails then they all fail.

Also with a larger group you make the difficulty higher as well, especially if they are wearing noisy armor.

K thanks! I forgot he had to succeed first

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@rgrove0172 and @Stokar -

As a clarification, the Leader needs to only achieve 1 success, rather than “succeeding” on the test. Here’s the text explaining Teamwork and Assistance, from the core rulebook, p100:

In order to assist with a skill test, you must describe how your character is assisting the test’s leader. If the gamemaster approves, each participating assistant rolls one d20 using the character’s own attribute and skill ranks to determine if any successes are scored, with additional successes from Fortune or other talents applied. The leader makes his skill test as normal. Assistants may not use any means to roll additional dice, though the leader may use Momentum, Doom, Resources, Fortune, or other methods of gaining extra d20s. Because other characters roll these dice, they do not count towards the limit of three bonus d20s applied to a single task. However, any character providing assistance cannot do anything else while assisting, because providing assistance takes time, concentration, and effort.

If the leader scores at least one success on the roll, any successes generated by the assistants are added to the leader’s total. If the leader does not generate any successes, then any successes scored by the assistants are lost and the effort fails utterly due to poor leadership and coordination.

Characters providing assistance do not have to use the same skill as the character being assisted: sometimes assistance is best provided with the contribution of out- side knowledge and different training. Ultimately, the gamemaster is the arbiter of whether one particular skill can be used to assist another, and may require the player to explain how the assistance would work.

For those who might find it helpful, here is how I use and explain Surprise and Ambush to my players. This rules interpretation is not 100% rules as written. Specifically, the effect of an ambush in the rules is to reduce the Difficulty of the Exploit action by one step—per ambusher—making it, typically a d0 and thus a free action. I think simply keeping the Exploit test Difficulty the same, but giving the successful ambushers Exploit as a “bonus” action is cleaner. And yeah, I’m a D&D 5e guy, so this makes more sense to me. I didn’t like that more ambushers means easier Exploit action, that makes no sense to me.

An ambush is a Struggle between the ambushing (or surprising) side and the ambushed (or surprised) side.

Determining Success of Attempt to Ambush

  • The ambushing side nominates a leader to make the test (usually a Stealth test) and prepares an ambush. Other members of the ambushing side can assist the ambush preparations. See the Teamwork and Assistance rules, p 100 of the core rulebook.
  • The ambushed side nominates a leader to make the test to sense the impending ambush (usually an Observation test), with other members assisting with their eyes and ears.
  • The ambushing side’s difficulty in their (Stealth) test is modified by the circumstances of terrain, weather, etc.
  • The ambushed side’s difficulty is modified by their precautions. For example, scouting ahead or traveling stealthily would reduce the difficulty of their (Observation) test, while moving quickly or being engaged in conversation would increase the difficulty.

Note that Stealth and Observation aren’t the only way to test for surprise or ambush. For example, a sudden attack during a negotiation might use Persuade against Insight.

Effect of a Successful Ambush
If the ambushing side is successful, they gain these advantages, without spending any momentum or Doom, and neither momentum nor Doom can negate these advantages:

  • Any momentum generated from the ambush Struggle is put into the momentum pool, or added to the Doom pool.
  • The ambushing side acts at the start of the round, before the ambushed side.
  • Each character on the ambushing side gains a bonus Exploit action at the start of the round.

Effect of an Unsuccessful Ambush
If the ambushed side prevails in the Struggle, they may turn the tables on the ambushers, gaining all the advantages of a successful ambush, by spending two Doom, or one fortune point (for the whole side).

Thats actually a pretty good rule, I may give it a try.

The main issue I see is that you simply cant use a group assist type mechanic when dealing with stealth. It works fine for the observing side but a group of characters trying to be quiet are just going to have to do it individually, it makes no sense to grant an advantage for there being more of them.

In a solo game Im running I had the observing characters make observation checks then rolled for each enemy trying to be sneaky and then compared them. It was a bit of a mess with this guy being heard by this guy but not this guy and this guy over here hearing this guy etc. Afterward I thought it would be simpler to just lump the observers into a group and let them do the Leader/ Assist thing then compare each sneaking individual against the result. Wouldnt take too long and gives a number of detected foes.


Depends if the NPCs are Minions or better antagonists. They work differently.

Not really as individuals, other than just using a single dice.

Honestly now that Ive played a bit it seems the Group assist mechanic frequently doesnt seem to apply. For example: A mob of minions has to scurry across an obstacle of scattered rubble in order to move to an adjacent zone - Acrobatics roll… group assists? Sure, maybe they help pull one another over rocks and such… I guess but the image of them each just running through the debris makes a group assist mechanic out of place.

In these cases I guess you just treat the minions as individuals and if their failure/success splits the mob for some reason, so bit it.

Here’s an idea I came up with for a squad trying to sneak up on a group of guards and applying the assist rules. I was thinking of it as having the benefit of six sets of eyes to keep watch for the enemy.

The first Asshuri soldier, Aram, creeps forward and hides behind a large tree. He peers around the tree and sees a guard standing twenty feet away, looking from side to side. The guard turns toward the rest of the Asshuri soldiers and Aram holds up his fist, motioning for the rest of the squad to stay hidden in place. After the guard turns back around, Aram signals the next squad member, Shopak, to advance. Shopak creeps up to a large boulder ten feet to the right of Aram. Shopak peers around the boulder and spots a guard exiting the door on the side of the building, so he motions for the rest of the squad to stay in place. After the guard closes the door and walks behind the fence, Shopak motions for the rest of the squad to advance.

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For the example you gave rgrove0172, if you’re in a situation that has them to things that assisting doesn’t apply in such as go over rubble, you can up the difficulty of the acrobatics roll to represent a lot of them trying to do something at once, and if you fail,split the party according to how many successes you got relative to what the difficulty was for the roll. That way you’re not rolling 5 dice to see what happens to the group.

Or just have them roll 2 dice to represent all of them, and if they fail, they spend the whole turn traversing that obstacle as they keep getting in the way of themselves… Up to you really how you wish to interpret that situation.

@rgrove Keep in mind that Conan 2d20 describes a mechanic for “Surprise and Ambushes” (Core p 108). If its just a group of people all trying to be stealthy, it’s more logical that it’d be harder to be stealthy as a group. But if its an ambush, more people might be better for the ambushing side (e.g., better preparation of the ambush; more different directions to come from) and for the ambushed side (e.g., more eyes and ears to notice the ambush).

Surprise mechanics have required lots of GM interpretation in all the RPGs I’ve played.

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