It appears that I can't make any progress before I complete some simple tutorial quests, which should presumably teach me how to control my character. The last quest teaches how to use sneak mode. It has an NPC, Jan, place an object on the ground, which I have to pick up without being seen.
The problem is, even after I successfully half-run/half-sneak up that object, pick it up, and wait for the NPC to turn around and see me standing there gloriously, he still then goes all "I have seen you, PC, you have failed the quest" on me. What am I doing wrong?