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Thread: Playstyle - Story Mode aka "Realistic Ghosting"

  1. #1
    New Member
    Registered: Feb 2015

    Playstyle - Story Mode aka "Realistic Ghosting"

    Hi Everyone. I’ve been playing Thief for many years and thought it would be fun to share this playstyle. This focuses on Thief Gold as I haven’t gone through Thief 2 with this yet, but looking forward to it.

    The rules for this playstyle are flexible. It can be considered a sort of Story Mode. It’s up to the player to reason for each scenario, and fill in the blanks with their imagination. The idea is to play with stealth as intended, but not forgo using items and weapons as much as required in many Ghosting styles, and to not perform tedious AI pushing maneuvers or crate stacking. Crate stacking to avoid being seen by tiny spiders and such, or slowly pushing AI against a wall is certainly unrealistic. So, consider these rules and decide which ones you would follow consistently.

    Thanks ahead for reading. I’ll add to this if I can think of anything.

    Basic Rules:

    * Play on expert
    * Obtain all loot. (Variant: Leave loot that is not “practical” or “realistic” for Garrett to obtain.) Here are a couple examples:

    Example 1: Forget about the notorious purse in the Casino of the Thieves Guild.
    Example 2: Skip the silver nugget in the locked chest in the bedrooms of the North Basement on the way to Ruben’s mansion. This area is all-over-the-place when it comes to a Ghost attempt. One way or another you will be knocking people out, putting out torches, being heard, or performing any amount of stealthy weirdness to perfectly Ghost. Note you will miss reading the plaque on the wall if you skip this area.

    *Obtain minimal pickpockets. (Variant: Obtain all pickpockets) Only pickpocket keys when necessary. It is not realistic to steal every last copy of a key from everyone who carries one. It would be too risky and illogical, even if Garrett is a daring kleptomaniac. When possible, use a key that doesn’t need to be pickpocketed.

    For example, in Bafford’s basement study there is a key to the throne room. Ramirez has a key to his basement in his bedroom. Speaking of Ramirez’s mansion, it’s possible to obtain zero pickpockets and even not pick any of the locked doors requiring either the storage or courtyard keys. It’s also possible to obtain only one pickpocket in Cragscleft (the first patrolling guard who speaks of Cutty) as a safe key can be found with Nammon. Never pickpocket items unless you’re going for all items, which can be a rule variant set for yourself. Again, Garrett is prepared enough and doesn’t need to take unnecessary risks pickpocketing items.

    Note that dropping off keys where or near where you found them is optional. I do this only when it’s not going too much out of Garrett’s way. For example, the wellhouse guard’s key in Bafford’s Manor is never needed after unlocking the wellhouse door, so just lock the door (stand in the way of the door so it doesn’t close) and drop the key next to him as if he dropped it. Funny enough, dropping keys next to someone is often not an option as it alerts them!

    Generally, leave the environment as undisturbed as possible. This will be discussed in more detail in the next section as there are exceptions, but it’s mostly self explanatory and consistent with other Ghosting style rules. Shut doors behind you, don’t toss around objects randomly, don’t take food (unless “stopping for a snack” or otherwise attempting to collect all food), and close chests after looting them. These rules can be more loosely followed. For example, one may choose not to shut the arrow-trapped chests in Bonehoard because it would be unnecessary/dangerous to do so. Use your imagination, it’s your story, but you may want to set your rules in stone from the beginning and be consistent throughout the game, so just close the arrow-trapped chests if you must.

    1. Do not be seen by human AI. It is better to use the blackjack than to be seen. This is one of the most important rules. The exception here are creatures such as spiders or the undead as they could never make a case against you. Avoid being spotted, but in places like the Bonehoard it can be a little tedious, so don’t worry about it too much.

    Try not to be seen by burricks or craymen because they will call out loudly to others. However it’s not the worst if you get a quiet first alert. Do not blackjack burricks or craymen as this is not very “realistic,” and they make *a lot* of noise on the way down.

    *Even the burrick guarding the rope in Bonehoard’s burrick tunnels can be avoided. Slowly enter the area and shoot your noisemaker arrow across the room where it can be picked up near the rope, behind the burrick’s resting position. Run over when the distracted burrick’s back is turned and quickly climb the rope after grabbing the noisemaker arrow. When you descend, you must be very slow and careful so as to not be seen by the burrick upon releasing the rope. This requires the slow, walk keyboard tapping method, and may take several attempts to get it right. Now, behind the burrick grab your noisemaker arrow if you didn't before, and shoot it towards the room’s entrance to sneak past the Burrick once more, grabbing the noisemaker arrow once again before vanishing out of sight.*

    *Please see note at the end about some tough spots in Cragscleft*

    2. Avoid killing, blackjacking, and being heard by the AI, especially humans. Mostly. This rule is more flexible than the previous. There are some AI noise alerts that are unavoidable if you’re attempting to get all items and loot without blackjacking. Noise distractions with objects or jumping are allowed to avoid being seen or to avoid blackjacking, which will be discussed.

    2a. Killing: Since we’re playing on expert mode we generally can’t kill humans anyway. Don’t wantonly kill creatures, especially burricks (because they are so noisy, and cute and cuddly). Tiny spiders can be easily avoided, and Garrett probably wouldn’t waste time or resources on them. Bigger spiders might be a different story. That said, if your story requires more killing then you can freely kill any creature, and I think it’s somewhat encouraged to kill creatures in the late game, and perhaps use some of those mines you have (Escape!). Just try not to cause too much commotion. Also, it’s perfectly acceptable to dispatch as many undead as you’d like. Those holy water vials are useful! Also, snuffing out fire elementals is a good idea.

    *You can sneak past the spider minding its own business at the bottom of the mines in Cragscleft by hugging the left and doing the slow walking, keyboard tapping method. (I don't know what else to call this technique.)*

    2b. Blackjacking: Avoid doing this as much as possible. It’s sometimes better to make a noise distraction than to attempt to knock someone out. There is no telling when a person who is knocked out will come to and alert everyone! However, knocking someone out is always better than being seen, and sometimes better than being heard or performing tedious maneuvers, so perform knockouts at your discretion.

    Examples: You may want to just knock out the priest in Cragscleft guarding the path to the barracks. You can lean around the corner and knock him out without being seen. Putting out that torch there is unrealistic because it’s extremely suspicious being directly in front of him, and he probably wouldn’t just stand there in the dark.

    Just knock out the woman in the restaurant in Thieves Guild, and just knock out Thom. I actually end up with several knockouts in Thieves Guild usually, some not listed. I usually knock out the two guards guarding the door to Ruben’s area. This can be done without being seen by skillfully throwing (it can take a few attempts) a flash bomb in front of both guards when the patrolling guard is near the stationary one facing the same direction. If done correctly they both will be blinded, and you must very quickly run (use a speed potion) and blackjack both of them before they can say or do anything. Most other levels can be done with minimal or no knockouts. Again, it’s your story, so do what you think is most "realistic."

    You can even just knockout the guard in the throne room of Bafford’s manor (without being seen by him of course) if you don’t feel like waiting and sneaking around him as he turns. Realistically, this one could go either way. It’s up to you. Just be sure to hide bodies appropriately.

    Also, just knockout Ramirez in Assassins instead of tip-toeing around the room trying to avoid alerts. One can then ominously throw his body in his burrick pit. This may cause “bodies found by enemies” at the end of the mission, but it’s funny, and perhaps something Garrett would do to send a message.

    2c. Being heard by AI: Typically you do not want to be heard by AI, especially huumans. If you must be heard you typically do not want a search to initiate unless it’s being used as a distraction.

    Example 1: The first guard in the basement of Bafford’s Manor blocks the path. Instead of blackjacking him, which we often try to avoid, we will create a noise distraction. Drop the shovel from the shelf there onto the metal floor (a rat must’ve knocked it over). The guard will begin searching, allowing you to safely pass. Or, just knock him out, either is legal in “Story Mode,” it’s up to you and the rules you set, and which take priority. For me, I'd rather have less knocked out people unless it seems too unrealistic, e.g. someone noticing torches go out around them one by one followed by lockpicking sounds.

    Example 2: The Gold Hammer on the chapel altar in Cragscleft is in a tough spot. You can just skip this loot if you’re doing the loot variant of forgoing tough loot, but otherwise do this: Jump up and down a few times on the right side of the altar room near the niche with the stairs when the patrolling guard is in the adjacent room on the opposite side (so he doesn’t immediately start searching). Immediately run through the adjacent room, being careful not to be seen through the strange hole in the wall, to the opposite side. The priests should already be searching in the niche with their backs turned to you. The patrolling guard should be somewhere close to the middle of the room with his back to you. He may or may not begin searching in the niche as well. Quickly (I use a speed potion) grab the gold hammer and read the book before going down the steps back to where you came in. It may take a few attempts, but it’s not too hard, and you will have not been seen! “It was only rats, in truth.”

    Example 3: The infamous casino purse and items: When the patrolling guard in the center walkway is on the opposite side in the adjacent room (so he can’t hear), jump up and down in the room near the right guard (if facing towards the guard room). The two guards and the two gamblers should begin searching in that room. Immediately run into the center walkway area (careful that the patrolling guard isn’t almost there to run into you) and climb the partition quietly. Now, use a speed potion if necessary. Near the “secret” roulette wheel, climb into the guard room through the window and take everything and leave the same way. It may take a few tries, but if you’re lucky no one will see you and return to their positions.

    *Speaking of making noise in the casino, the two gamblers who talk about playing blackjack will hear you put out the torch near them, so put the torch out early on during their conversation. The conversation gets triggered near where you enter the casino, so save before attempting so as not to miss the opportunity. This is just a neurotic personal preference and doesn’t break any rules.*

    3. Other notes on affecting the environment

    Water arrows: Use these at your discretion, but since we’re being “realistic” try not to use every last one to put out torches. It’s usually not necessary, but there are some tough spots where using them is pretty much necessary, e.g. all the torches (not the fireplace) in the Casino if you want to get all the loot without being seen.

    Moss arrows: These are fun and effective (when they’re not working against you, haha), and it would be a shame to never use them. I just try not to use them in obvious areas. It would be rather strange indeed for your entire ballroom or kitchen to suddenly be covered in moss!

    Fire Arrows: Needed for lighting torches. Useful for killing, but oh so noisy.

    Gas Arrows and Gas Mines: These are fun, and inflict no damage to boot, not that it matters with these rules. Use them all!

    Rope and Noisemaker Arrows: Try to collect them after using, but not absolutely necessary. Set your rule before you play. It’s fun to challenge yourself to get back all your arrows. Getting back the rope arrow you used to enter the Thieves Guild is a little adventure in itself. Other times you have to play Tarzan a bit to collect your ropes.

    Broadhead arrows: Effective for sniping, especially the exploding frogs. Can also be used as a noise distraction, but sometimes causes AI to run for help rather than investigate.

    Potions: Use as needed.

    Flash Bombs: Use these to avoid being seen. I typically never let a blinded person go without knocking them out. Also useful in killing undead, but cause damage if you care about that.

    Mines: These are fun, but very noisy. Use them in later levels against undead and other creatures.

    Banners: Slash as needed to reveal secret passages or obtain loot, except for the one in Ramirez’s Mansion, because it’s not much of a shortcut and it will be noticed by a passing guard.

    Scrolls: I usually try to read them all, even the note on Donal’s front door. This can totally be done (there's water arrows there too) without using items or being noticed. Maybe use a speed potion. Otherwise, don’t worry about reading everything especially if you’re using the variant rule of skipping these tough sections with unnecessary/risky loot and items.
    Also, put scrolls and such back where you found them unless you’re taking useful documents and letters that could potentially be used as blackmail. Looking at you, Ramirez.

    Doors: Avoid leaving them open. It’s possible, and not too difficult, to go through Thieves Guild without opening any of the big sewer doors with the levers. The only exception is the one to Donal’s mansion, I believe. It’s probably not practical or realistic for Garrett to go all the way back to shut that door before escaping, but go ahead and do that if it's your thing.

    *The gate in the sewers in Bafford’s Manor can be shut behind you with a quick maneuver. It’s not necessary, but I always do it. Stand facing the lever with the door in front of you cutting off half of your vision on the right. Save. Lean left around the door and also lean forward. Garrett will sort of lurch forward where he is able to frob the lever. Flip the lever, releasing the lean forward key, and quickly run around the corner hugging the wall as much as possible and using the quicker diagonal run technique, finally crouching near the wall closest to the switch room (because the gate will be already halfway down). This may take several attempts if you're not used to it.*

    Lights and Levers: Try to leave things as they were, as usual. Some secret passages cannot be closed back up. As for the lights in The Haunted Cathedral, I prefer to turn them on as it’s sort of intended as part of the mission. It could be a fun challenge to do the mission in the dark, or maybe even turn off the lights after you’re done before leaving. Another mission of note is Cragscleft. It’s up to you if you want to close the prison cells after opening them. I now only bother to close the one to Cutty’s cell and the one with the Hand of Glory. Bassos cell requires a difficult jump maneuver to get into the cell without being seen. See notes at the end.

    Conversations and Garrett’s Dialogue: I try to listen to all of them. Please comment on some of the more elusive ones in case I’m missing any. For example, I know there’s one in the Lost City when he takes the path that overlooks the building containing the Fire Talisman. It’s easy to miss because one doesn’t need to go that way for anything else.

    Using zombies or spiders to distract or kill: This can be fun and perfectly legal if not overdone.

    *I sometimes lure the zombie near the freight elevator room in Cragscleft to kill the Hammerite guarding it. The other path to the factory seems much more risky, but there is some dialogue from Garrett on the other path. Run over the zombie and open the door. Make sure the pacing guard is at the top of the stairs prior. Wake up the zombie and get it to start chasing you. Very quickly run into the room and attempt to close the door (the zombie will kindly close the door behind him when he walks in if he opened it himself, which will prevent the other guards from hearing the commotion). You should be hiding on the wall opposite the door at this point. If you did it fast enough the zombie will just be searching at this point instead of pursuing you. The guard will haplessly walk in and be spotted by the zombie, who will promptly attack him (enemies will choose to attack Garrett first over other AI if they know he's there.) You may have to try a few times in case the zombie or guard finds, or if the guard kills the zombie.*

    *Another place to do this trick is the captive spider in the basement of Donal or Ruben's(?) mansion, where the two extremely annoying servants wander about randomly. These servants are easily frightened and will run upstairs for help at the slightest provocation, so I attempted to block the door with some nearby crates. If you're lucky you can get the spider to kill them (and perhaps people upstairs), but it's pretty tough as the spider will chase you over the AI if given the option.

    *Note about being seen in Cragscleft Prison*

    After Cutty finishes his dialogue he drops to the floor. He will be seen by the prisoner in the cell opposite his if you don’t pick him up immediately. Now, while avoiding being seen by this prisoner yourself, toss cutty into the top left corner of his cell if you’re facing the cell entrance. This is to avoid his body being noticed by the passing guard, who will make a comment when he passes if you don’t move Cutty.

    In cell block 3 there is a prisoner (Tarquis the Goldlender, a greedy snitch no doubt) who is next to the guard station. One must jump into the cell from the walkway to avoid being seen by him.. First, make sure the patrolling guard has already passed the upper walkway area so he won’t bother us during this time. When the stationed guard turns around or to the right, quickly run and jump over the rail onto the stone rail of the guard station. Often the metal railing of the walkway will clank and you will have to start over. I know there’s a trick to it, but it still takes me several attempts usually. After doing this successfully, wedge yourself onto the floor on the guard’s left side, crouching. He may have to be pushed slightly. He should still be facing right or towards the levers. Stay until he begins to turn to face forward and creep behind him. You’re in. Read the book and pull the appropriate lever. Quicksave unless he is already turning around as sometimes he will turn too quickly. You now must wait until he decides to face right or turn around. Stay to his left. Quickly sneak past him on his left when he begins to turn. Approach the stone railing to climb it (you can only climb this thin railing after having stood up and crouched again or vice versa, can’t remember, and not sure if pressing forward is needed, for Garrett to mount. It’s not too hard to figure out, but Garrett will just jump in place if done incorrectly). Silently jump onto the walkway again or drop to the floor. He can drop silently if you maneuver a certain way, sort of hugging the wall, but otherwise shoot a moss arrow beforehand.

    Cell block 1 has a similar situation with the first cell on the walkway containing a prisoner who will notice you. This prisoner isn’t as vocal as Tarquis, but he will see you if you walk by nevertheless. You have to hug the wall on your left and do the slow walk keyboard tapping trick to inch by until you’re out of his sight. This must be repeated on the way back as well.

    Speaking of Cragscleft, I always exit this level via the 3rd floor, which is only accessible from elevator on the 4th floor. I didn't know I could do this for the longest time. Much better than going back to the 2nd floor and swimming out the way you came in.
    Last edited by sneaksie415; 3rd Sep 2022 at 13:56. Reason: misspelling, clarification

  2. #2
    Registered: Apr 2016
    Location: France
    When I saw the thread title, I thought it'd be yet another essay on why saving and loading should not be allowed in ghosting.

  3. #3
    New Member
    Registered: Feb 2015

    Quote Originally Posted by marbleman View Post
    When I saw the thread title, I thought it'd be yet another essay on why saving and loading should not be allowed in ghosting.
    Much saving and reloading still going on, though it could be refreshing to do a playthrough with minimal saving, just "going with the flow" when something goes wrong. I would try that, but skipping the "tough/unnecessary" areas.

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