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The Achievement text is:

Complete Deus Ex: Human Revolution without setting off any alarms.

But what alarms are counted? If I throw a box to lure away a guard and put them in "alarmed" mode, does that already count?

Or does it only count security cameras and lasers?

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I think it boils down to completing every mission with the "Smooth Operator" bonus, which you get from not triggering any alarms. – Raven Dreamer Aug 30 '11 at 4:23
up vote 5 down vote accepted

From this answer

Note that the Smooth Operator reward is an easier version of Ghost. (If you get "Ghost" you will always get "Smooth Operator" as well.) Smooth Operator is used for the Foxiest of the Hounds achievement. It deals almost only with alarm panels and security-system alarms, rather than "alarmed" guards

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Slight correction to that: You can get Ghost without getting Smooth Operator, if you are passing a section that doesn't have a security system for you to not-be-detected-by in the first place. – Darien Sep 3 '11 at 0:50
  1. It is tied to the Smooth Operator reward, which is given when you pass certain plot-points without triggering electronic alarm systems involved in the plot points. This triggering can occur through cameras, guards pressing alarm panels, probably failed hacks, and possibly hostile turrets or bots seeing you.
  2. It has nothing do with the "Alarmed" state shown in the minimap for human guards. I think this completely-misleading wording is an error on behalf of the developers, and I hope they change the wording, perhaps to "suspicious" for guards.
  3. As far as I know, the only alarm systems that exist are ones tied to the main missions, although it is possible for side-missions to be occurring at the same time. (Ex: Police station.)
  4. You do not have to worry about times when the alarms go off because of the plot or game-scripting, only alarms that you could have bypassed. (Ex: TYM Penthouse.)
  5. Areas that don't have any alarm or security systems cannot give you Smooth Operator, and FoTH cannot be failed there no matter how obnoxious you are. (e.g. The construction-site crash.)
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Are you able to confirm whether or not hostile turrets and bots result in losing the Smooth Operator bonus? – Wipqozn Sep 22 '11 at 0:59
Hmm, I'll need to find a good place to test it. Some encounter areas don't work well because they're not SO-able for other reasons, or because you can't see whether you got it due to cut-scene timing (like the Hengsha docks.) I might see if I have a good save from Highland Park and try saving the box-bot for last. – Darien Sep 26 '11 at 19:39

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