D&D 5E A fix for Hide in Plain Sight

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Explicit beats general. In general, you can't hide unless you're obscured but for this feature specifically, you can hide so long as you press yourself against a tall tree or wall and you are camoflauged.

There may be an argument about not getting the advantage from the attack, but you still get the surprise.
Yeah, in my view the problem with the RAW of HiPS is not that you need cover or concealment to hide with it - I think the text is clear you don’t. The problem is that for 1 minute of work, you get a benefit that only lasts for as long as you remain perfectly still. The effect of this being that the feature is useless unless you know exactly where whoever you’re trying to hide from is going to be, a minute or more before they’re going to be there. I can count on zero hands the number of times I’ve seen that happen in a game of D&D.
 

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Asisreo

Patron Badass
The effect of this being that the feature is useless unless you know exactly where whoever you’re trying to hide from is going to be, a minute or more before they’re going to be there. I can count on zero hands the number of times I’ve seen that happen in a game of D&D.
Really? Huh. It's almost routine for my Ranger characters to be the type to observe and ambush.

Most creatures have some rotation, patrol, or routine. The animal companion sneaks in and watches and when the coast is clear, set yourself up to ambush the enemy. It works pretty consistently. It's not cheap, though, because it's usually more than just a stealth check for it to completely work out.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Really? Huh. It's almost routine for my Ranger characters to be the type to observe and ambush.

Most creatures have some rotation, patrol, or routine. The animal companion sneaks in and watches and when the coast is clear, set yourself up to ambush the enemy. It works pretty consistently. It's not cheap, though, because it's usually more than just a stealth check for it to completely work out.
In my games the action usually happens in unfamiliar territory - delving into dungeons or trekking through wilderness. Generally not great conditions for setting ambushes. I guess the “zero hands” thing was a bit hyperbolic, but in general I’ve found it to be exceedingly rare to be able to anticipate combat by a full minute with any degree of reliability.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Only if every battle takes place in the exact same location. RAW the camouflage takes a minute to make and stops working if you move. That means the only way it can be useful in combat is if you know at least a minute in advance that combat is going to happen in this particular area, and you’re willing and able to wait motionless for your opponents to come to you.

It stops working if you move after you hide, not if you move after you apply the camo. Nothing in the rules say you can't move (or fight) after applying the cam but before you hide.

Starting at 10th level, you can spend 1 minute creating camouflage for yourself. You must have access to fresh mud, dirt, plants, soot, and other naturally occurring materials with which to create your camouflage.

Once you are camouflaged in this way, you can try to hide by pressing yourself up against a solid surface, such as a tree or wall, that is at least as tall and wide as you are. You gain a +10 bonus to Dexterity (Stealth) checks as long as you remain there without moving or taking actions. Once you move or take an action or a reaction, you must camouflage yourself again to gain this benefit.


Nothing in there about not being able to move after applying the camo. As a matter of fact it says you would be "pressing yourself up against a solid surface" AFTER you "spend 1 minute creating camouflage" This means you pretty much have to move to press yourself against the surface.

Now, if you want to house rule that you can take a minute to craft the camouflage and then keep it “in your back pocket” until some later time when you can use it to hide as an action, and it’s only after hiding with it that moving causes it to break, that’s potentially much more useful. But since you’re house ruling anyway at that point, you might as well take it a step further and get rid of the part where your ghille suit falls apart if you move.

That is not a house rule it is RAW, there is no time or movement limit noted between getting the camo and hiding.

If you move to a new location, you might need to make a new set of camouflage, if the DM determines that the terrain is different enough to require it.
The DM is going down a rabbit hole here and it is not clear why. Sure it may possibly, theoeretically have some "real world merit", but it seems silly to make some minor bit of realism get in the way when your Ranger is a talking Dragon-spawn carrying a flaming sword.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Where in the rules are you getting this from?
From the part that says, “Once you move or take an action or a reaction, you must camouflage yourself again to gain this benefit.” The benefit referred to is literally the only benefit the camouflage grants. If you lose the only benefit of the feature when you move or take an action, you can’t move or take an action after using the feature and retain its benefits. It couldn’t be any more straightforward.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
It stops working if you move after you hide, not if you move after you apply the camo.
Yes, but you hide once you are camouflaged.
Nothing in the rules say you can't move (or fight) after applying the cam but before you hide.
There is no after you apply the camo but before you hide. Hiding is the benefit of the camo.
Starting at 10th level, you can spend 1 minute creating camouflage for yourself. You must have access to fresh mud, dirt, plants, soot, and other naturally occurring materials with which to create your camouflage.

Once you are camouflaged in this way, you can try to hide by pressing yourself up against a solid surface, such as a tree or wall, that is at least as tall and wide as you are. You gain a +10 bonus to Dexterity (Stealth) checks as long as you remain there without moving or taking actions. Once you move or take an action or a reaction, you must camouflage yourself again to gain this benefit.


Nothing in there about not being able to move after applying the camo.
Except the bolded part.
As a matter of fact it says you would be "pressing yourself up against a solid surface" AFTER you "spend 1 minute creating camouflage" This means you pretty much have to move to press yourself against the surface.
It doesn’t say after you spend 1 minute applying the camouflage, it says once you are camouflaged. If you interpret “once” to mean “at any point you want after,” then you can also stop being hidden at any point you want after moving, which is self-evidently not correct.
That is not a house rule it is RAW, there is no time or movement limit noted between getting the camo and hiding.
Whatever, I don’t care to argue with you about what the RAW is here. If you rule that it works that way, it’s better. But if you’re going to rule that way, I say you might as well rule that the camo lasts after moving too.
The DM is going down a rabbit hole here and it is not clear why. Sure it may possibly, theoeretically have some "real world merit", but it seems silly to make some minor bit of realism get in the way when your Ranger is a talking Dragon-spawn carrying a flaming sword.
Again, it’s specific to my house-ruled version of the feature, as a limitation, since otherwise the 1 minute requirement to craft the camouflage would be meaningless. If the camouflage doesn’t break when you move or act, and you can use it anywhere, the feature might as well just be +10 to stealth and you can hide on any flat surface at least as wide and tall as you. I added the limitation so that you have to craft camouflage appropriate to the environment you’re in, rather than crafting it once and then having it forever. Obviously in the way you rule it working, such a limitation would be unnecessary.
 

Asisreo

Patron Badass
In my games the action usually happens in unfamiliar territory - delving into dungeons or trekking through wilderness. Generally not great conditions for setting ambushes. I guess the “zero hands” thing was a bit hyperbolic, but in general I’ve found it to be exceedingly rare to be able to anticipate combat by a full minute with any degree of reliability.
Hmm...

I could probably make it work but it depends on the exact situation and what I'm up against. An intelligent creature probably patrols around. A beast-like creature moves instinctively. If it's on guard, it can be distracted.

So if I said "I want to determine if my player knows or can guess what might lure the creature somewhere. Then, I want to use that to set up an ambush while using my Hide in Plain Sight ability." How would you rule that? (Assuming a beast-like creature ig)
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Hmm...

I could probably make it work but it depends on the exact situation and what I'm up against. An intelligent creature probably patrols around. A beast-like creature moves instinctively. If it's on guard, it can be distracted.
Sure. I’m not saying there’s no way to use the feature, just that in my experience the opportunities to use it are extremely rare at best.
So if I said "I want to determine if my player knows or can guess what might lure the creature somewhere. Then, I want to use that to set up an ambush while using my Hide in Plain Sight ability." How would you rule that? (Assuming a beast-like creature ig)
Well, one action at a time. It sounds like you first of all have a goal of determining a way to lure the creature to a particular location. I would normally ask what your character does to try and accomplish that goal - perhaps if you have some relevant training or experience you might draw on that. I imagine if your character is a ranger, you very likely have such training or experience. Depending on the specifics (the creature in question and the experience or training you draw on), such an action would almost certainly be able to succeed and might or might not have a chance of failure, so I might just give you the information or I might ask you to make an Intelligence check, to which your approach would likely suggest a relevant proficiency.

Assuming that you do gain this information, either automatically, with a successful roll, or simply by guessing correctly (I mean, if we’re talking about a beast, I feel like using food is a pretty safe bet for how to lure it somewhere), it sounds like you want to set up an ambush. Again, I’d need to know your approach to properly adjudicate it, but it sounds like you intend to use the information you gained about how to lure it. So, a good approach might be to place the appropriate bait in a location you expect to find the creature, then use your Hide in Plain Sight to hide, and wait for it to show up. If there’s no time pressure, this is likely to work without chance of failure - eventually, the creature is bound to come by. If there is time pressure (which in my games there almost always is; if nothing else, there’s usually at least a mounting chance of a complication occurring), you would need to make a roll of some sort, the specifics of which I would work out based on the circumstances and your approach.

But this all just strikes me as not the kind of thing that would be likely to come up in my games. Again, you’re usually delving dungeons, trekking across dangerous wilderness, or in town selling your loot, resupplying, and otherwise spending downtime.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Sure. I’m not saying there’s no way to use the feature, just that in my experience the opportunities to use it are extremely rare at best.

Are you sure you're not actually making it more difficult than it should be? :)

You're bringing up terrain conditions, additional rolls, a DM's calling for more realism.... of course then the Ranger will almost never use this feature.

The only real requirements are (1) one minute to prepare and (2) don't move once you're ready.

When preparing an ambush I don't think it's that rare to have 1 minute. Clearly you can't use this benefit for an impromptu ambush like "they're coming round the corner, hide quickly!" but out of combat when you're not counting rounds I would not start being too picky about the 1 minute every time.

The "don't move" is not just there to avoid getting the bonus multiple times during the same encounter but also to avoid letting the Ranger sneak through an area, not because it would be overpowered but only because it's not the intended use by the narrative.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
The only real requirements are (1) one minute to prepare and (2) don't move once you're ready. When preparing an ambush I don't think it's that rare to have 1 minute.

I won't say it's an extremely useful feature, especially for a 10th level one which is a level that a considerable number of tables will never play at anyway, and where you expect features to be, let's say, "high level" whereas that one could be had at a very low level honestly and not imbalance the game at all.

That being said, it's not a totally useless feature, in our groups, the PCs often prepare ambushes (or the NPCs for that matter), and that allows the ranger to position himself in an interesting place and have little likelihood of being found out (+10 is a really a huge bonus).

That being said, @Charlaquin 's suggestion is far from being unreasonable at that level, I understand wanting the rangers non-magical...
 

ECMO3

Hero
Yes, but you hide once you are camouflaged.
Any time after you camo. RAW, you could hide a tenday after you applied the camo, because an hour, a tenday, a year are all after that.

There is no after you apply the camo but before you hide. Hiding is the benefit of the camo.

Nothing in the rules says or implies this. It does not say you can take no other action except hie between when you apply the camo and press yourself against the wall. You are adding words into the ability.

Heck applying the camo and hiding are in two separate paragraphs, in th English language that it applies to two separate points.

Except the bolded part.
The bolded part is after you hide, not after you apply the camo. If it was the other way around it would be in the first paragraph, not in the second paragraph.

It doesn’t say after you spend 1 minute applying the camouflage, it says once you are camouflaged. If you interpret “once” to mean “at any point you want after,” then you can also stop being hidden at any point you want after moving, which is self-evidently not correct.

I am not following the second part. The RAW are pretty clear:

1. You apply camo
2. At any point thereafter, in any location that has a surface larger than you, you press yourself up against something and take the hide action
3. You remain hidden there with a +10 to your stealth, until you move, take an action or reaction or I suppose die of hunger
4. You can't complete this sequence again until after you spend a minute applying the camo again.


Whatever, I don’t care to argue with you about what the RAW is here. If you rule that it works that way, it’s better. But if you’re going to rule that way, I say you might as well rule that the camo lasts after moving too.
The camo does last after moving, just not after hiding (or more accurately hiding with a +10 after pressing yourself against the wall).

Happy Holidays!
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Any time after you camo. RAW, you could hide a tenday after you applied the camo, because an hour, a tenday, a year are all after that.



Nothing in the rules says or implies this. It does not say you can take no other action except hie between when you apply the camo and press yourself against the wall. You are adding words into the ability.

Heck applying the camo and hiding are in two separate paragraphs, in th English language that it applies to two separate points.


The bolded part is after you hide, not after you apply the camo. If it was the other way around it would be in the first paragraph, not in the second paragraph.



I am not following the second part. The RAW are pretty clear:

1. You apply camo
2. At any point thereafter, in any location that has a surface larger than you, you press yourself up against something and take the hide action
3. You remain hidden there with a +10 to your stealth, until you move, take an action or reaction or I suppose die of hunger
4. You can't complete this sequence again until after you spend a minute applying the camo again.



The camo does last after moving, just not after hiding (or more accurately hiding with a +10 after pressing yourself against the wall).

Happy Holidays!
It doesn’t say “at any point thereafter.” It says “Once you are camouflaged in this way.” It also says, “Once you move or take an action or a reaction, you must camouflage yourself again to gain this benefit.”

Your interpretation requires treating the first instance of “once X, Y” as “at any point after X, Y” and the other instance of once X, Y” as “immediately after X, Y.” My interpretation is consistent in how it treats the term “once.”
 

ECMO3

Hero
It doesn’t say “at any point thereafter.” It says “Once you are camouflaged in this way.” It also says, “Once you move or take an action or a reaction, you must camouflage yourself again to gain this benefit.”
Your interpretation requires treating the first instance of “once X, Y” as “at any point after X, Y” and the other instance of once X, Y” as “immediately after X, Y.” My interpretation is consistent in how it treats the term “once.

Those are two entirely different paragraphs. The first is referring to the camo, the second is referring to the hiding. Moreover you need to move to "press yourself against something" that in itself requires a small amount of movement to accomplish.

If the movement applied to the camo it would say it before it talked about pressing yourself up to the surface. It would say:

you can spend 1 minute creating camouflage for yourself. You must have access to fresh mud, dirt, plants, soot, and other naturally occurring materials with which to create your camouflage. If you move you need to reapply the camouflage .....

Then after this paragraph it would say "Once you are camouflaged in this way....

Finally, if the argument is the ability is weak, why would you purposely choose the weaker of the possible interpretations?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Finally, if the argument is the ability is weak, why would you purposely choose the weaker of the possible interpretations?
Because I believe it to be the correct interpretation. But it’s irrelevant. Either way you interpret it, I believe my house rule to be better, and I recommend it if you find Hide in Plain Sight to be too weak and don’t like Nature’s Veil as an alternative.
 

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