It seems like only yesterday we were talking about splitting the party. Of course, that was Handbook of Heroes #7 way back in *adjusts glasses* September of 2015!? Holy crap we’ve been doing this comic for a while. Any dang way, rather than rehashing that old chestnut, I’d like to talk today about a specific aspect of party-splitting. Namely, the need to send the stealthy guy on a solo mission to collect intel.

First and foremost, this mess is dangerous. I’m assuming that you guys have seen any spy movie ever, right? A single botched roll behind enemy lines can mean a one way trip to the laser circumcision table, and that is not a fun place to be. So before you head off all loniest wolf style, make sure you’ve got your ECEC covered.

  1. Exigence
    Solo stealth is a high-risk play, so make sure there aren’t any low-risk alternatives. Can you send a familiar? Hack their computers? Maybe beak out the scrying mirror? Even if sending in an operative is your best bet, there’s nothing that says it has to be a solo mission. Like we talked about back here, there are statistical reasons to minimize the number of stealth rolls in a covert op, and additional bodies on the field mean more chances of tripping the alarm. Even so, it’s always worth weighing the pros and cons. Group stealth remains an option, and even a single sneaking partner can go a long way if it comes time to cut your way out of a bad situation.
  2. Communication
    How are you reporting back to your party? If you’re caught and tortured by red leather-clad fantasy dominatrixes (a common scenario), you’re going to wish you had a better plan than “I’ll be right back.” It doesn’t matter how tough your squad is if they don’t know you’re in need of rescue. Cell phones, rockie talkies, and strict “report in every five minutes” policies are all relevant here. 
  3. Extraction
    How are you getting out? Patrols can rotate, doors can close, and the way in might not always be your best way out. Before you creep into the BBEG’s secret inner sanctum, make sure you know the exits. Teleportation is ideal, but daring leaps from “no one could survive that jump” waterfalls work just as well. Even something as simple as hitching a ride on a sheep can mean the difference between life and death. Do your research, and plan multiple escape routes when possible.
  4. Contingencies
    This is a roleplaying game. Things will go wrong. When that happens, you need to be ready to improvise. Pulling your best John McClane impression and crawling through the vents is a go-to play. So is releasing the villain’s attack beast, uncorking an iron flask, or otherwise setting off a spark in the fireworks factory. Causing distractions, taking hostages, and calling in air strikes all fall under this category. These are your “oh shit buttons,” and the wise stealth monkey will always have a couple.

Question of the day then. When you’re running a stealth operation, what are your favorite strategies? Any especially good tools or tactics for the rest of us black pajama wearing Solid Snake wannabes? Let’s hear it in the comments!


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