Q: I recently purchased a copy of Live To Tell The Tale, and I must say, excellent work. But I was confused by all of the hiding and Stealth in the first scenario. There were times it seemed the goblins were moving, rolling Stealth, attacking, moving, rolling Stealth to Hide. What were all those Stealth rolls? And what about all of the Perception rolls that the players were doing during their turns? Do those count as part of their action?
A: A large part of that encounter has to do with the goblins’ Nimble Escape feature, which lets them Hide as a bonus action. In order to Hide successfully, a goblin has to (a) be out of view and (b) make a Stealth roll that exceeds every player character’s passive Perception. Once it’s made a successful Stealth check, it doesn’t have to keep making Stealth checks—it stays hidden until it does something that gives its position away, or until an opponent choosing the Search action finds it (which requires him or her to make a Perception check). Once it’s been seen, to Hide again requires another Stealth check, and so on.
In other words: I don’t have to make a Perception check to see you when you’re not hidden. If you want to Hide (action), you have to make a Stealth check. If that Stealth check is equal to or lower than my passive Perception, I can still see where you went. If it’s higher than my passive Perception, you’ve slipped out of my sight. If you’ve successfully hidden from me, and I want to find you again, I have to use the Search action, which involves making a Perception check. If I beat your previous Stealth roll, I’ve found you. If not, you’re still hidden.
As soon as you Attack, Cast a Spell, make a loud noise or run out into the open in the direction I’m looking, you’re no longer hidden. Otherwise, you can stay hidden as long as you like—that is, unless and until I find you while Searching. Make sense?
Q: I have a few problems with having my monsters retreat. First, my players don’t like it when the monsters retreat. I give them full XP for defeated or retreating monsters, and they still don’t like it. Second, how do monsters succesfully retreat? My players chase down retreating monsters. They refuse to let any monster retreat. What more should I do after a monster Disengages?
A: Of course, as dungeon masters, we want to keep our players happy, but we don’t have to indulge them when they’re being childish. Monsters don’t care whether what they do pleases the player characters or not. They pursue their goals, not the PCs’ goals. If the PCs don’t like that, they can start a monster obedience school.
The fact that a monster tries to escape a fight doesn’t mean that it will be successful. As I mention in “Dodge, Dash or Disengage?” retreating is difficult and dangerous. It’s very likely that a retreating monster will be chased down. C’est la vie. Just as the monsters pursue their goals, not the PCs’, the PCs pursue their goals, not the monsters’. If the party wants to chase down a retreating monster rather than let it live, that’s their prerogative. (That being said, if any of the members of that party consider themselves lawful good or neutral good, you may want to have a talk about what alignment means.)