|I was never here.|
Race and Traits
For true stealth experts, you have to begin at the beginning. For those who want to play medium-sized characters the best stalkers are half elves and humans. The former because they receive Skill Focus (Core Rulebook 134) as a bonus feat, and the latter because they can take any sort of stealth-related feat as a bonus feat. For players who are all right playing a small-sized character such as a halfling, gnome, or even a goblin, all of them receive an inherent bonus to stealth because of their size.
Lastly, take at least one trait that offers a +1 stealth bonus, and which makes stealth a class skill for your character from that point onward. Conspiracy Hunter (Council of Thieves) is one example of an ideal trait for a stealth-based character.
Technically speaking any class that offers stealth as a class skill can be quite stealthy. However, it's wise to choose a class that gives you additional, stealth-based abilities that will make you that much harder to find when enemies start rolling dice.
|There are four rangers in this picture. One is the tree.|
|Didn't expect that, did you?|
|There are 27 ninja in this picture.|
|Don't ask... just don't ask.|
As with so many other areas of Pathfinder, feats are what transform a competent character into a paragon of ability. Stealth-based characters are no different, and it could be argued they need feats even more than some other builds in order to achieve peak performance.
|Two more levels, and they'll never find me.|
Skill Focus (Core Rulebook 134) provides a +3 to the skill selected for it, which in this case is stealth. Stealthy (Core Rulebook 135) provides a +2 bonus on all stealth and escape artist checks. When the character has 10 ranks in stealth the bonus provided by Skill Focus goes up to +6, and the bonus provided by Stealthy goes up to +4. That's nothing to sneeze at.
Hellcat Stealth (Cheliax: Empire of Devils) allows players to make stealth checks in bright or normal light, even when observed, at a -10. This feat requires Skill Focus (Stealth), as well as 6 ranks of stealth, but it's a game changer for those who find they're always moving about in broad daylight.
Magic and Alchemical Items
Natural ability will only take you so far. That's why it's a good idea to stack the deck just a little bit in your favor by getting your hands on just the right tools for the job.
|No I don't know what it is. Don't put it on your head.|
Whether it's Shadow, Improved Shadow, or Greater Shadow armor (with a +5, +10, or +15 respectively), this armor helps make it that much harder to see and hear the wearer. This armor provides a solid bonus that makes previously impossible burglaries and sneak thievery quite possible.
Cloak of Elvenkind
A go-to item inspired by Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, this cloak (Core Rulebook 507) provides a +5 competence bonus on Stealth checks. It's important to remember that competence bonuses don't stack though, so pick the one that provides the biggest boost to your sneak score.
Dust of Disappearance
Rarely carried except for extreme circumstances, this dust is pricey for 2d6 rounds of greater invisibility. However, it renders the dusted creature completely undetectable by magical means, which is something that players should keep in mind when spending cash on backup items.
The only alchemical item to make the list (a more complete list of useful alchemical items may be found here), scent cloak makes someone harder to track by scent. They receive a +10 to avoid being tracked by scent, and if a creature does pinpoint the character in person the scenting creature can't determine an individual, unique smell. They know something is there, but not what or whom.
This doesn't cover all a player's options for creating stealthy adventurers; but there's plenty of material here for a solid base. That said, players need to know what they plan to do with their obscenely high stealth scores in order to actually get anything out of these build suggestions.
Being able to sneak into an archmage's bedchamber undetected, or to vanish without a trace from a prison cell is a useful ability to have. Not every situation calls for such extreme stealth though, and the silent stalker will still have to figure out how to coordinate with the rest of the party. Make sure, before dumping so much time and effort into building a ghost, that your concept is going to fit into the game and that you'll get to do the things you've built your character to do. Just because you can, it doesn't mean you should.
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