5E Tremorsense and ranged attacks
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  1. #1

    Tremorsense and ranged attacks

    Hi, I'm just curious how other DMs would rule the following situation:

    The combat takes place in a heavily obscured area (e.g. Fog Cloud). One person has tremorsense, the other person does not. As per sage advice clarification we know that Tremorsense also counts as seeing someone. The rules also state that if you can't see the one you attack, you have disadvantage. If you get attacked by someone you can't see, the attack is at advantage.

    So if one has tremorsense and the other does not in this situation, that means all attacks on the person with tremorsense are at disadvantage (unless the attack is flying) and all attack from the person with tremorsense are at advantage.

    Now, what about ranged attacks? Projectiles are not connected to the ground and consequently cannot be seen with tremorsense. However as per RAW it counts that you can see the attacker, it doesn't matter whether you can see the projectiles.

    Of course as DM you can still grant advantage/disadvantage whenever you think it's reasonable.

    So how would you rule here:

    Person without tremorsense shoots an arrow at person with tremorsense in a heavily obscured area within tremorsense range? Disadvantage or neutral?

  2. #2
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    Tremorsense lets you know where a creature is, but it doesn't specifically say that it overcomes the Blinded condition, or the effects of obscured terrain. As a DM ruling, I'm not sure that I'd consider it to be equivalent to vision for the purposes of overcoming disadvantage on attacks, or advantage on incoming attacks.

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    Waghalter (Lvl 7)



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    As for me, I'd say that the one with Tremorsense can only 'see' the opponent's shoes!

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    What IS Tremorsense? The ability to determine the location of something because it is moving on the ground and is massive enough to create vibrations and you can feel the vibrations and sense direction and distance. A simple question answered by you (the thread starter) will answer your question. Could the creature with tremorsense detect if the opponent opened or closed their hand? If NOT, they are at a disadvantage when attacked with that missile weapon.




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    I may base it on the terrain more than other things. I would allow you to know where the opponent is and be able to target him, but if you are in a wooded area where things get in the way of arrows, you would be at normal. If you were in an open area, I would let it slide for advantage. I figure the opponent still cannot see you and is at disadvantage and takes no action to block you, thus your PC is firing at normal or advantage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aco175 View Post
    I figure the opponent still cannot see you and is at disadvantage and takes no action to block you, thus your PC is firing at normal or advantage.
    Still, you don't know what the target looks like, only its location and probably its rough mass. Line up a perfect headshot on what you assume to be an unarmoured human wizard, and it'll be a clean miss if it turns out to actually be a heavily armoured halfling cleric. I'd tend towards you still having disadvantage for not actually seeing the target, which cancels out the advantage for them not seeing you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkB View Post
    Still, you don't know what the target looks like, only its location and probably its rough mass. Line up a perfect headshot on what you assume to be an unarmoured human wizard, and it'll be a clean miss if it turns out to actually be a heavily armoured halfling cleric. I'd tend towards you still having disadvantage for not actually seeing the target, which cancels out the advantage for them not seeing you.
    I tend to favor the PCs and the players having fun. I get that you only can locate someone on the ground and maybe be able to generalize something about them. I do not have monsters that have tremorsense be at disadvantage. I also think that the PC spent a spell or was given an item that lets him have this ability, which is using some resources so I tend to give them the advantage of doubt.

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    I think it depends on the exact situation, which is going to be really rare anyway. IMO, if the attacker never moves and is using a crossbow, bow or other non-movement related attack (such as a spell), then the attacker wouldn't know when/if an attack is coming. Thrown weapons, moving attackers, and even the rotation of a sling would require the attacker to shift their body in a way that (in theory) the tremorsense might detect.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Bobble View Post
    Could the creature with tremorsense detect if the opponent opened or closed their hand? If NOT, they are at a disadvantage when attacked with that missile weapon.
    But as clarified by Sage Advice, with Tremorsense you can see everything that's connected to the ground, the hand is connected to the ground via the rest of the body, so you can detect that with tremorsense. So no disadvantage for not seeing the attacker, but disadvantage for the attacker for not seeing you.

    The only thing you cannot see is the arrow once let loose as it's not connected to the ground. So the only question is if that warrant enough disadvantage to grant advantage for the attacker.

    If arrow attacks will be at disadvantage, what about Spiritual Weapon? It's a floating weapon. Per RAW, the attack is still done by the caster and not by the Spiritual Weapon, but the target with Tremorsense wouldn't even know where the attack was coming from. Another way to reasonably argue it should give advantage on the attack, even though not covered in RAW.

    I guess it mostly comes down to rewarding the players for clever thinking. For arrow attacks I'm not so sure if I want to reward the mere idea of just shooting arrows to get advantage. Especially since Tremorsense always has a range, so an even better strategy was to attack outside the tremorsense range.

    For Spiritual Weapon however, that's a spell specifically used to make use of "Enemy can't feel the movement of the weapon", so I'm leaning a lot more to giving advantage on the attack here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rya.Reisender View Post
    So how would you rule here:

    Person without tremorsense shoots an arrow at person with tremorsense in a heavily obscured area within tremorsense range? Disadvantage or neutral?
    Disadvantage on attacks against an unseen target applies to this attack because the attacker is seen so doesnt have advantage for being an unseen attacker. There is no advantage for unseen missiles.

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