Nauta's Guide to Sneak
So you are a sneaky sneak and have these skills like hide,
sneak, scan, and watch on your skill-sheet. How do you
go about using them? How does the world see or not see
what you are doing while you are slinking about? This
guide will walk you through the commands and common
pitfalls and questions that people have related to playing
a sneak on ArmageddonMUD. First, and foremost, avail
yourself to the help files: hide, sneak, scan, watch, hemote, and
semote. See also the Thief's Bible for some further information
about stealing. I've divided this guide into the following sections:
- Added section on backstab, sap, steal, peek, and sleight of hand syntax and crimcode. 03/12/2018
Initiating Hide and Sneak
To initiate hide, just type >hide. To stop hiding, type >visible. It takes a moment or two before your character finds a place to hide. If you do another action during this time period, you will get the message: "Your concentration falters..." This means that you have not found a place to hide. Eventually, you will receive a message about how you are attempting to blend in with the crowds or wilderness.
There is no way of telling whether your character is still hiding or not. Certain actions will break hide (see below) and even if you are detected by one person, this does not mean you are visible to everyone.
To initiate sneak, just type >sneak. To stop sneaking type >walk or >run.
Sneak is always on until you type >walk or >run. You can see if you are sneaking by typing >stat or by setting the speed variable (%w) in your prompt. See >help prompt for more information.
Emoting while hidden
Ok, so all hidden? Now, what would other people see? In ArmageddonMUD there are three forms of emote: emote, hemote aka hidden emote, and semote aka silent emote, as well as their possessives: pemote, phemote, psemote respectively.
Hemote is a hidden emote, something that wouldn't be seen unless someone is looking at you very closely, perhaps with the >watch command. It could be something you're doing under the table, or a minute detail that wouldn't be apparent to everyone.
Semote is a silent emote, for actions that have no sound. Semote is only visible to those who can see you, so it is often used by players who are hiding, or magickers. (Intro to Communication)
As a general rule of thumb, you'll almost always want to use semote while you are hidden, although sometimes emote and hemote are appropriate.
Emote will replace your short description (sdesc) with 'someone' if you are hidden. So, suppose you type >emote winks. This is what other people see if you are hidden:
And this is what they see if you are not hidden:
The blue-eyed, red-haired woman winks.
You should rarely, if ever, use emote while hidden (use hemote or semote instead). However, on occasion, the judicious use of emote can add flavor to a scene:
>em A large rat scurries out from behind the curtain as @ shifts from foot to foot.
If you are hidden, this is what they will see:
A large rat scurries out from behind the curtain as someone shifts from foot to foot.
Or, another example:
>em bumps up against ~victim in the busy market crowd.
If you are hidden, this is what they will see:
Someone bumps up against you in the busy market crowd.
You should never use emote if the action you are describing is not stealthy in character. If the emoted action does not make sense for someone hidden, you should manually break out of hide by typing >visible first, and then emote the action as normal.
Hemotes are detected through the watch skill (see below). If they fail their watch check, they will not see your hemote, regardless of whether you are hidden or not. If they pass their watch check, and you are hidden, then your short description (sdesc) will be replaced with 'someone'. For instance, if you type >hemote winks:
You notice: Someone winks.
This is what they see if they pass their watch check and you are hidden.
You notice: The blue-eyed, red-haired woman winks.
This is what they see if they pass their watch check and you are not hidden.
Hemote ('hidden emote') is a bit of a misnomer, as you should more often than not use semote ('silent emote') while you are hidden. However, as with emote, judicious use of hemote can set the scene nicely.
Semote will not show up at all to other people if you are hidden. If you are not, then it will be an ordinary emote, with your short description included. So if you type >semote winks:
The short, blue-eyed gith winks.
This is what they will see if you are not hidden. If you are hidden, they will see nothing at all.
In general, I prefer to use semote exclusively when I am hidden, since the code will decide if others see that emote or not; I use hemote and emote to add some flavor while hidden, but usually I use these when I am not hidden.
What breaks hide?
Hide never expires on its own; rather certain situations (rooms) or actions (loud ones) will break hide. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing whether you are still hidden or not, and hence the question often arises: What breaks hide? The command >visible will break hide, and any coded action that is not stealthy in nature will also break hide. Stealthy commands should be more or less common sense, e.g., steal, plant, backstab, palm, unlatch, etc. However it is worth clarifying a few corner cases:
There are sleight of hand verbs associated with that skill that won't break hide if successful: stow, ready, slip, palm, latch, and unlatch. You can assume that their non-stealthy alternatives (sheathe, draw, put, get, open, close) will break hide.
stand, sit, rest, sleep, arrange, equipping and unequipping an item (hold, remove, wear, etc.), and raising/lowering a hood definitely do break hide.
Movement has a chance of breaking hide (see the next section).
Using the >draw and >sheathe commands to draw from and sheathe into an equipped sheath probably does not break hide, judging by the echo you receive from such an action.
The help file on stow and ready is wrong (03/07/2018). You cannot stow or ready into / from an equipped sheath object.
change hands will check against the sleight of hand skill if you have it, and if successful changing hands will not break hide.
Torches. While equipping or lighting a torch will break hide, you can successfully initiate hide with a lit torch in your hand. This sometimes causes confusion about realism. Basically, if you are hidden with a lit torch, you can assume you are blending into a virtual crowd of torchbearers; if the room is described as having no population, then you can probably assume the room will break your hide.
Rooms. Some rooms will also be set to break hide, such as well-lit rooms without any virtual population, nooks and crannies, etc. In general, when you hide you should look at the room and decide where you are hiding. See RP Tips below for more information.
Moving while hidden, and sneaking
If you move while hidden, there is a chance that your hide will break. If you set your movement speed to >sneak, however, this chance is the smallest compared to >run and >walk. As well, if you >shadow someone else, this will be treated the same as sneaking, even if codedly you will be set to whatever speed your prey is set at --- hence: you can even be hidden while running, if your prey is running!
If you are not hidden, you can still sneak into and out of a room undetected if your speed is set to sneak.
You can use command emotes while sneaking, and these will only show up if someone detects you with a successful watch check, e.g., >north (slipping under the tarp).
Sneak never expires and never breaks on its own. To stop sneaking, you must set your speed to >walk or >run. You can tell if you are sneaking or not with >stat or in the %w variable in the prompt (see >help prompt).
Detecting hidden people
To engage scan type >scan. If someone has scan engaged and types >look there is a chance that a hidden person might be detected (although this will not break their hide).
Scan will expire after a time. You can tell whether you are scanning or not by typing >scan status or with the (%p) variable in prompt (see >help prompt).
Hidden persons that are detected show up in the room to the scanner as *a strange shadow is here*.
While you may spam >look with scan engaged, it is probably better to toss out an emote or hemote about looking closely in a certain area, so that you can interact with the sneak in a more nuanced way.
You can also do >look shadow or >watch shadow to look at or watch the detected hidden person.
If you show up to a scanner as *a strange shadow*, your long description (ldesc) will be set to a default: *a strange shadow is here*. No custom ldesc is possible while you are hidden, and so >change ldesc is pointless (unfortunately). I still change my ldesc whenever I hide, however, since it helps me remember where in the room my PC is hiding.
There are two forms of watch: passive watch and active (or targeted) watch. Your watch skill affects your chance of picking up on hidden emotes (hemotes) as well as stealthy actions (e.g., steal attempts and sneak movements), and it will do so in a passive manner, i.e., you do not need to type anything; it is always on. However, you can also target someone with watch, e.g., >watch tall, and this will not only improve your chances of detecting their hemotes and stealthy actions, but it will also make it harder for them to hide from you, and it will make it easier to target them.
You cannot scan and do a targeted watch at the same time. Often, to detect a sneak, you will >scan, and then >look several times, and then >watch shadow.
Other RP tips
Hide (both city and wilderness variants) can be two different things:
- it can be literally hiding in a closet or cleaving to a shadow; or
- it can be blending into a crowd, or hiding in plain sight.
This allows for a lot of creativity and flexibility for the sneak: hiding is not just slipping under a bed or lingering in a shadow. However, you should try to be realistic.
One thing I do is look at a room carefully and decide where my PC is hiding. I then use semote to 'move' them there, e.g., up to a rafter, behind a closet, among a crowd of virtual grebbers in the corner, and toss out an semote every few minutes indicating that I am still hiding there.
Another trick I use: I pretend that there is someone who can see my PC in the same room, so I continue to emote (using semote) as normal.
Finally, while >change ldesc seems to have no effect if you are hidden, I still like to set my ldesc to indicate where I am hiding as a reminder to myself.
While certain gear will increase your chance of hiding, you should also recognize that some of the onus is on you to make sure things are realistic: if you are the only one at the Fale dinner party wearing a ninja outfit, and there is no indication in the room description that there is somewhere you could hide in a shadow or behind an object, perhaps this is not an appropriate place to be hiding. Likewise, bright clothing does not give you a negative to hide (codedly), but it perhaps isn't the most appropriate thing to be wearing if you are trying to blend in with a crowd of dusty grebbers. However, in some cases it might be the better outfit, for instance, if you are trying to blend into the crowd at a Fale dinner party or among a pack of Sun Runners.
Similarly, while there are rooms that will not allow you to hide in them, and which will break your hide, such as well-lit rooms with no virtual population and no shadows to hide in, you can always use >visible to make yourself visible if you feel that the area you are in is not one that it makes sense to hide in.
In general, the game has attempted to be balanced between a sneak and their potential victims. However, you will be able to get a lot more out of a scene if you try to engage with your victim: use emotes to indicate that they have been bumped up against when stealing, for instance, or toss out an semote every few minutes to indicate where you are hidden, in case someone can see you. The same goes in the other direction: those attempting to ward off a sneak can get a lot more interaction from the sneak if they add a few emotes to their >watch and >look commands, indicating to the sneak what is going on. There are two situations that often come up worth highlighting.
On the end of the sneak, it is especially important to know what others see and how your sneaking might come off as jarring. For instance, while it is codedly possible to hide after you say something to someone, or pop out of hide and say something right away, this can often come across as jarring; there is a small lag when you initiate hide, but it might be better to ease into and out of hide with an emote, indicating to the victim your location in the scene.
On the end of the victim, the scan help file insists that the information you receive from a successful scan and look at *a strange shadow* is 'incomplete'; however, in reality you will see their entire mdesc, and while it might be sometimes possible to get a good bead on someone who is hidden, it might be better to operate under the assumption that you did not get a complete look, and RP accordingly.
Example 1: I have decided to engage hide after someone I don't like walks into the room.
> hemote slinks off to a group of grebbers gathered in the corner of the busy bar
> change ldesc is mingling with a group of grebbers in the corner
> semote mingling with a group of grebbers in the corner of the busy bar, @ peeks over towards ~victim
Example 2: I have decided to pop out of my hide and talk to someone.
> semote shifts out from among the group of grebbers in the corner of the room, approaching ~victim
> hemote approaching ~victim, @ slides past a table
> hemote approaches ~victim from behind
> tell victim (approaching ~victim from behind) Busy day, isn't it?
Steal, Sleight of Hand, Peek, etc.
Stealthy people usually do a lot of stealthy things, and there are certain skills and verbs that you'll want to know. First, check >skills to see if you have the skill. What follows is a discussion of some common skills: >help skill peek, >help skill steal, >help skill sleight of hand, >help skill backstab, and >help skill sap.
Steal & Plant
The steal skill has two verbs: >steal and >plant. You can steal from a person's inventory, or a container that is open, such as a cloak, bag, or trouser's with pockets, or even from the room itself. Examples:
>steal dagger Felix
>steal dagger Felix pack
>steal dagger room
You can do the same thing with >plant.
The help file on steal is incorrect. To steal from a container, the syntax is what I gave you above.
You can use . instead of the object to steal whatever is on top:
>steal . Felix
>steal . Felix pack
Peek is a useful skill and the verb associated with it is >peek. You can use >peek to see into other people's bags or under their closed cloaks. Example:
>peek Felix's bag
Sleight of Hand: Latch, Unlatch, Ready, Stow, Palm, Slip
The sleight of hand skill allows you to do stealthy versions of:
>open and >close: >unlatch and >latch
>get and >put: >palm and >slip
>draw and >sheathe: >ready and >stow
The syntax is the same as their unstealthy alternatives, altough there is a pre-delay to such commands. Examples:
>palm shotglass bar
>slip coins pack
You cannot sheathe into a sheath with >stow and you cannot draw from a sheath with >ready. The helpfile is incorrect.
Backstab & Sap
A backstab requires a stabbing weapon, which is a kind of piercing weapon. A sap requires a bludgeoning weapon. How do you 'train' these? This is a tough question and I don't have an answer. Be realistic and always treat NPC people as people and not training dummies.
Crimcode: Getting Arrested
I'd suggest you read >help criminal carefully.
Big fat warning!
Please review the Thief's Bible before continuing. Treat all NPCs as if they were real people! This includes shopkeepers and the like, but also the NPC soldiers.
If you get caught, you'll likely get flagged as wanted. You should receive the message:
You are now wanted!
You can see if you are wanted or not by typing >stat as well. You will get flagged as wanted by either soldier NPCs who witnessed the crime or the virtual population itself if the action was not performed in a lawless area. Lawless areas often but not always are places like the Labyrinth, rooftops, areas outside the city, and apartments. The wanted flag usually expires after a day or so.
If you are wanted, soldier NPCs will try to arrest you. Type >stat and look for this line:
You are refusing saves on: arrest.
This means you will not resist an attempt to arrest you. By default, everyone is set this way. To change it, type:
>nosave arrest off
If you are resisting arrest, the soldier will likely get very upset and attack you. If you are not resisting arrest, the soldier will likely try to subdue you and take you to jail.
If you try to >flee self from a soldier's subdue, this will automatically turn >nosave arrest off, and so likely cause the soldier to attack you!
The bottomline is that ArmageddonMUD prides itself on offering the coded ability to RP in a meaningful and realistic manner: roleplay is paramount, and the above guide should help you understand the code better so that you can roleplay a sneak to its maximum potential. Nothing, however, beats experience.