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Thread: Official Ghost Rules

  1. #1
    Registered: Aug 2003
    Location: Phoenix, AZ, USA, Earth

    Official Ghost Rules

    Following is the latest draft of the Official Ghost Rules. Comments may be seen in the discussion thread.



    The following rules describe a style of Thief game play called "Ghosting", invented by clayman and others of the Eidos Thief Forum and modified by consensus of the Eidos ghosting community. The principles of ghosting are: you are not seen or heard and you do no damage. The only evidence of your presence should be the items you have stolen. The original concept adhered strictly to the above, but several exceptions have evolved, mainly to relieve the player of frustration at being busted by events beyond his control, such as a mission objective to kill someone.

    Three modes of play are described below: Ghost, Strict Ghost, and Supreme Ghost. Ghost is the standard variant. Strict Ghost is the original concept. Supreme Ghost allows no hint of your presence whatsoever other than gathering loot. A section with examples and interpretations is also provided.

    Ghosting was conceived by Clayman and Sneak in the Eidos Thief Forum in the year 2000. Clayman wrote the first brief rules that year. Much discussion ensued on clarification, exceptions, and examples between Clayman, Sneak, Peter Smith, Vanguard, and Dafydd. The Official Ghost Rules, as seen here, were first compiled by Peter Smith in 2003. Minor clarifications have been written by Klatremus in collaboration with Peter Smith (smithpd here), and a few other members of the TTLG community.

    A. Ghost Mode

    1. Highest difficulty level available and playable, usually Expert, although it might be renamed by the author.

    2. No combat damage may be dealt or taken and no knockouts or kills of any kind are allowed, whether or not they show up in the final stats, with the exception of rule 11.

    3. Damage taken from falls, machinery, lava, etc. is allowed as a last resort, but such damage is frowned upon and must be reported.

    4. No second level alerts, that is recognition or hunting alerts, of human or non-humans AI are allowed. This includes undead, fire elementals, spiders, bots etc. Rats are excluded.

    5. Garrett must not cause suicides of AI or melees that intentionally cause AI to attack each other, with the exception of rule 12.

    6. No property damage is allowed. No banners cut, no doors bashed in, no things burnt or destroyed, and no broken glass.

    7. The use of potions, such as speed, breath, and invisibility, is allowed but frowned upon. Such use must be reported, and a ghost success so aided must be listed as "chemical success".

    8. The use of quirks of the Dark engine is allowed, but only as a last resort, and must be reported. Examples include techniques such as "banner transmigration" and "nudging," as explained in part B.

    9. No loot cheats or walkthroughs are allowed -- a point of honor that cannot be enforced.

    10. It is not necessary to re-shut doors, re-light torches, return keys, etc.. There is no time requirement, no Ironman type requirement, etc.. Just finish the mission clean, damage free, and alert free.

    11. Any mission objective that explicitly requires that one of the above rules be broken, such as "Kill the Haunts," is OK to complete and does not bust the ghost so long as no AI are alerted in the process.

    12. AI behaviors that are programmed into the game (scripts) and that are not caused by Garrett's being seen or heard, are allowed if agreed by the consensus of the ghosting community. An example is the archer fight in Life of the Party.

    13. The entire mission must be ghosted to claim success.

    Perfect Thief Mode is defined as completing all of the above requirements and also obtaining the maximum loot available for the particular mission.

    B. Commentary and Interpretation of Ghost Rules

    1. Mission Objectives

    Any mission objective that explicitly demands that the player break one of the rules above is OK to complete and does not bust the ghost. Examples of such an objective are:

    "Kill the bad guy."

    "Kill all the Haunts" (in Return to the Cathedral)

    "Kidnap Cavador" (he must be KO'ed to be picked up)

    So long as you do this without alerting any AI, including (for example) the one who must be killed, and so long as you do not break any other rule, it is OK. It is not acceptable, however, to incur a ghost bust that the player thinks is "necessary" to meet another objective. For example, it is not allowed to KO an AI or slash a banner simply because they stand in the way of meeting another objective, such as stealing something.

    2. No shame in failing

    In spite of exceptions that have been allowed, it is preferable to report doubtful results as a bust and to avoid attempts to dilute the rules with exceptions or new modes of play. There is no shame in failing to complete a mission in Ghost mode. It is intended to be a challenge that is not usually achievable.

    3. Property damage

    "No property damage" means no visible damage. Visible damage is when the object is destroyed or appears to be in a different condition than before. For example, if you drop a crate, it makes a noise indicative of damage. This is allowed until the crate actually breaks. The bashing of a door causes visible damage only when the door opens (the lock is broken). Items that disappear from inventory or when used do not count as destroyed.

    4. Quirks of the Dark engine

    The techniques of "Banner Transmigration" and "Nudging" are grudgingly allowed, as a last resort, under the Ghost rules. Banner Transmigration is going through a banner without slashing it, as was done in Shipping and Receiving (see ghosting archives). Nudging is moving an AI by applying pressure to its body, causing it to slowly shift position without noticing you. All such techniques must be repeatable. Quirks of the dark engine that are not repeatable must be considered "blind luck," and they cannot be used to claim success. Alerts and damage caused by quirks require a reload.

    5. Examples of alerts

    Examples of second level alerts that bust the ghost include but are not limited to:

    * Humans go into a hunting behavior, with arms or weapons raised.

    * Humans confirm that they have seen or heard you with statements like "I see you", "You can't hide any longer", or "Show yourself."

    * Watchers go "yellow".

    * Bots freeze/pivot/search.

    * Zombie turns and heads for you.

    * Burrick howls or belches green gas.

    * Spider stops rotational motion and looks at you and/or raises feelers

    Examples of first level alerts that do not bust the ghost include but are not limited to:

    * Human grumbles, shifts in place and goes back to relaxed.

    * Statements like "Must've been rats".

    * Human stands up in bed motionless. May grumble, as "Must've been rats."

    * Zombie stands up, does not hunt, and simply places chin on chest.

    * Watcher makes a clicking noise.

    * Burrick grunts but does not notice you.

    * Spider makes a chirp sound without raising feelers and without deviating from its normal path or rotation pattern.

    No alerts also means no distractions, noisemakers, or artificial diversions that cause an AI to search for you, even if it is away from where you are. No use of frog eggs is allowed, as they necessarily alert AI, even though the damage does not show up in the stats.

    6. Scripts

    Melees that occur beyond Garret's control, as part of a game script, are allowed. An example is the fight between archers in Life of the Party, which is caused by Garrett approaching an area, even if he is unheard and unseen. Another example is the Night of the Living Dead event in the Fan Mission Calendra's Legacy.

    Some alerts that are caused as a scripted reaction to meeting a mission objective, even though Garrett is neither seen or heard, may be allowed if agreed by a consensus of members of the Eidos ghosting community. Such alerts that have been allowed in the past include the silent alarm when taking the Eye in Return to the Cathedral and the alarm when taking the Talisman in Undercover. Since such consensus may be difficult to obtain, it is preferable to treat such events as busts.

    7. Statistics can be unreliable

    End of game statistics are sometimes unreliable indications of success or failure. Damage may be allowed by exceptions such as objectives or scripts. Gas and frogbeasts cause damage that do not appear in the stats. Body count statistics can be in error if an AI discovers a body that was not caused by Garrett. Some of these things are bugs and some are part of the Dark Engine. In any case, the most important indicator of success is the player's honesty in following the rules, not the statistics.

    C. Strict Ghost Mode

    Strict Ghost Mode is the original concept of clayman. It is still preferred by some because it eliminates all arguments and discussion about exceptions. There is very little difference in actual game play between Strict Ghost and Ghost. The main difference is how often you report a bust vs. a success, or report "ghosted except for (blank)."

    1. All the basic Ghost rules apply, except that there are no exceptions of any kind allowed.

    2. There can be no second-level alerts, period. No BJ’s, period. No kills, period. Mission objectives have no relevance. You must finish the mission without violating any of the rules. If you must violate a rule to finish, to complete an objective, to continue….then you are busted. No exceptions.

    3. That means no killing AI if the mission objectives demand it, no knocking out of AI and carting them to other places, nothing.

    4. A Ghost is not seen, not heard. He / she doesn’t kill, doesn’t alert, doesn’t BJ, doesn’t gas arrow, doesn’t initiate any action that directly results in another AI’s death, injury or alert.

    D. Supreme Ghost Mode

    Supreme Ghost was invented by Sneak and clayman as an additional challenge. It is similar to Ghost except that the player must be completely unseen and unheard without any assistance. No first level alerts are allowed, and things need to be put back as you found them.


    This Thief is the absolute best there is. He is faceless, he could be anyone. No one has ever gotten a fingerprint, a footprint, not even a whiff of him. Even the Keepers are oblivious to him. He carries out his work with meticulous detail, leaves no evidence at all that he was there. He has quite a large self image but cares nothing about gaining a reputation. In fact, he wants to remain anonymous. But at the same time, he enters a mission with a heightened sense of paranoia. Nothing can go wrong, he will settle for no error or slip ups in his execution of the job. He is a Paranoid Perfectionist while working, nothing out of place or amiss when he is finished. Not even the Allusion of a Thought in anyone's mind that he was there. He is also discriminating. Some missions he might not take because he might leave a trail, clue or hint of something. People are wondering how these things happen or get stolen and who is doing it and how. But no one knows anything or has a clue.

    Supreme Ghost Rules

    Edited Dec 21, 2017 by the TTLG ghosting community. Clarified rules 5 and 6a to reflect the use of holy water vials and the removal of lights created by the player.
    Edited Oct 26, 2014 by Peter Smith and Klatremus. Clarified rule 2 to account for objectives that are not necessary. Clarified rule 6, now 6a, 6b, and 6c, to allow for use of arrows to solve puzzles, as opposed to dousing torches and deadening sound, which are still not allowed.

    1. Highest difficulty level available and playable, usually Expert, although it might be renamed by author.

    2. Complete the mission without leaving any incomplete (unchecked) objectives, including optional objectives. Objectives declared irrelevant (a red circle) do not matter. Also, it is acceptable to bypass objectives by not triggering them as long as the mission completes.

    3. No Damage given or taken: No falls or incidental damage from lava, loss of health from being underwater too long, etc.

    4. No Alerts of any kind from any AI or Device: No first alerts, no comments at all from AI. A single chirp from a Watcher, “Musta Been Rats…”, zombies groaning, etc are a bust. All AI and devices must remain in their normal state and not react to anything you do or initiate in the game. AI walking around and muttering to themselves or having a conversation with another AI are fine.

    5. Inventory and Weapons: You can not purchase weapons and inventory items from the store at loadout. This thief doesn’t even go to the store to chance being seen and identified purchasing said items. Use nothing that would leave a trace or remnant of evidence. No Potions can be used at all. Rope Arrows and Scouting Orbs can be used but they must be retrieved. Holy water vials are not considered potions and are allowed.

    6a. No dousing of torches. Turning off electric lights, snuffing candles, or removing any light source including Mushrooms is also Not Allowed. Removing light sources directly created by the player, for example in order to complete a puzzle, is allowed.
    6b. No use of moss arrows to deaden noise.
    6c. The use of moss, water, and other arrows is allowed for other purposes, such as to hit a switch or to complete a puzzle element.

    7. Put Everything back that can be put back: doors closed and re-locked if they are re-lockable, chests and gates closed if closable; keys returned, books/scrolls/letters returned to their original place. If items are picked off a patrolling AI, drop them back on the original patrol route or at their feet if they are a stationary AI. If the item was acquired from a niche or other similar place you can’t get it back into, drop the item on the floor below it or the nearest logical place. You cannot stack boxes to gain access to an area when your stack is on the patrol path of an AI. If it can be done in a shadowed area off a patrol path or even in direct light where no one is patrolling, that is fine. But all boxes used must be put back in their original location.

    Some items stay permanently in inventory or disappear from inventory so they cannot be put back. These are excused.

    8. No turning off of watchers, or other security systems.

    9. No triggering of traps is allowed if the trigger is caused directly by Garrett, such as stepping on a pressure plate or crossing an invisible trip wire. If a trap is already running when Garrett arrives (e.g., the fireballs in Bonehoard), it is not a bust.

    10. No property damage of any kind: No door bashing, banner slashing, crate/barrel breaking, blowing up mechs or watchers. Lock picking that creates infinitesimal degradation of the lock mechanism is OK.

    11. No exploitation of the Dark engine: No nudging, banner transmigration, hooking of AI with boxes, barrel polka dancing or anything that takes advantage of quirks in the Dark engine for game play advantage.

    12. No knockouts or killings of any kind allowed: whether by blackjack, gas arrows, hammers, maces, or any weapons or items at all, whether they show up in the stats or not. No induced melees.

    13. Keep a clean inventory: don’t pick up what you don’t need and return what is not usable.

    14. As with normal Ghost, Explicit Objectives to break a rule (such as to kill someone) prevail over the rules, but it is not permitted to break a secondary rule that seems necessary to meet an objective.

    Perfect Supreme Ghost is defined as completion of the mission by the above rules and also getting all available loot in the mission.

    Have fun, and don’t take your frustrations out on this Mode’s creators. You aren’t going to win every time! In fact, we bet you will win less.
    Last edited by klatremus; 22nd Dec 2017 at 18:52.

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