Despite only having a handful of abilities dedicated to it (pretty much all of them ninja abilities). Stealth and espionage will likely come up in numerous campaigns. With actual stealth being an agility skill and precision (one of the highest on average attributes) being the skill that spots it, one might assume that stealth is best left to one party specialist. However, this only covers the physical act of hiding. There’s plenty that your players can do to get into the mood and suspenseful action.
First of all, as previously mentioned, stealth is NOT just about hiding. Hiding is primarily for assassination techniques. Hiding from everyone with a large group around can prove to be very difficult in the long run and is best left up to one single expert like expected. Instead, most Ninjas and Pirates that want to sneak into places are at their best when they use disguises and fake aliases. This, of course, favors a character with a decent Will score (and possibly a few Feykinja skills) for disguises, and a character with a high precision and trained knowledge skills (such as the Wanderers’ Well-Traveled Man) for knowing certain details to keep up the persona. Furthermore, when trying to spot a target in a busy bar or location, stealth from that specific person is fairly easy. However, that high precision may be necessary for spotting the target and keeping your sight on him or her. Stealth can be as much about information gathering, investigation, and hiding in plain sight, as it is about good old hiding stealth.
Still, a stealthy approach is often favored when large numbers of enemies are involved. After all, if you can’t rest to regain life, most characters won’t last more than 2-3 battles and certainly won’t be able to take on numerous targets of their level. Instead, avoiding combat when you can keeps your characters healthy and ready for the big battles.
So, groups tend to favor the more spy flavored stealth tactics; Lie, Corroborate, Gain Trust, and Back-stab at the right time. There are, of course, times for the party agility specialist to go into the Magistrate or Port Authority’s office and steal files and evidence, but a good portion of stealth is figuring out where to look first. In this way, almost everyone in a party can help.
“But Dairun,” I hear you saying, “what if I have middle of the road attributes or body is my high attribute or I’m a Shoninja and have no subtlety whatsoever?” Well, you’ll obviously have less of a chance of success than others, but there’s still things you as a player or your GM can do to still make sure you play your part. First, faction allegiance isn’t just for show. Connections in some factions is just as important as an attribute score. For instance, the Craftsmen take care of their own kind and can help your party come up with alibis and fake identities. Likewise, being a higher up in some of the more traditional ninja schools can confer some status in ninja-controlled towns. Pirates can mostly pay off better pirates to do invesitgation for them. Pirates aren’t often subtle. However, the same Pirate can go out of his or her way to use their lack of subtlety to threaten and intimidate a target for more information.
Worse comes to worst, and you’re playing a Drunkarrd with NO connections… Well, stealth plans often need distractions. Loud characters with no subtlety are great at making others pay attention to them while their less-obvious allies sneak behind and go for the goal. You’d also be surprised what you can do with machines made by Gunnars and a bit of creativity. Why hide when you can build a machine to dig under the base? Of course, you could also just let the party Equinja rush in like a lunatic and come out before they can be caught, but where’s the fun in that?
So. Don’t just think of stealth as an agility check. There are plenty of ways to play a Cloak and DaggARR character. As a GM, it’s your responsibility to set up scenarios where all characters feel useful. Even with a low agility party, you shouldn’t automatically throw out stealth scenarios. There are, after all, a lot of ways to approach it. As a player, it’s your job to use your creativity and your character’s unique skills to help the team as a whole towards their goal. EVERYONE can contribute something to a stealthy encounter no matter what.