• COMING SOON! -- The Awfully Cheerful Engine on Kickstarter! An action comedy RPG inspired by cheerful tabletop games of the 80s! With a foreword by Sandy 'Ghostbusters' Petersen, and VTT support!
log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E Cloak of Elvenkind - Advantage to Stealth AND -5 to passive perception?

jgsugden

Legend
The -5 to Perception in dim light only applies to Perception checks to see stuff. It doesn't apply to Perception checks (or passive perception) generally (which rely on all 5 senses)....
By the words of your very argument, this is in error.

A given area might be lightly or heavily obscured. In a lightly obscured area, such as dim light, patchy fog, or moderate foliage, creatures have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

If a general perception check relies on all 5 senses, it relies upon sight (in addition to the other senses). It is only when sight does not play a factor, at all, that it is not implicated.

A PC can elect to focus on only one sense when making a perception check, but when passive is relied upon, they make no decisions. If the perception opportunity would benefit from sight (as in there is a potential to see some clue), and it is in Dim Light, then it is hampered with the -5 penalty (subject to the always present DM override).
 

log in or register to remove this ad

And 'yes'. He notices non hidden things within the range of his vision automatically (doors, trees, people, walls, chairs etc). That said, its dead easy for those non hidden things in his vision to become hidden (as long as there is something to hide behind) and if they are hidden creatures or are concealed objects, it's insanely hard for him to find them.
Does directly observing someone guarantee success? Or does he have to roll every round?
 


By the words of your very argument, this is in error.

A given area might be lightly or heavily obscured. In a lightly obscured area, such as dim light, patchy fog, or moderate foliage, creatures have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

If a general perception check relies on all 5 senses, it relies upon sight (in addition to the other senses). It is only when sight does not play a factor, at all, that it is not implicated.

If I accept this argument, it is easier to Search for an invisible creature or a creature when blinded (a Perception check that does not rely on sight) than it is to Search for a creature in dim light (which apparently relies on sight).

So I dont accept this argument.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Yeah but 'this is how it works at my table/ under my rulings' isnt really relevant to a discussion on how it's intended to work.
To say that misapprehends my meaning, ironically enough. What I am saying is that what the rule is, is a matter that is determined - at least in part - by local norms. It's not that the rule is ruled upon differently, it is that the rule in truth has different meaning at the other table.

As to how it is intended to work; I believe that - as @Xetheral points out - it is intended to be vague.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
If I accept this argument, it is easier to Search for an invisible creature or a creature when blinded (a Perception check that does not rely on sight) than it is to Search for a creature in dim light (which apparently relies on sight).

So I dont accept this argument.
Your insights on that were new to me, and I really feel you are right even though it makes it harder to correctly parse scenarios.
 

Your insights on that were new to me, and I really feel you are right even though it makes it harder to correctly parse scenarios.

If the Perception check relies solely on sight, then it gets a -5 in dim light, or automatically fails if you have the Blinded condition (as described in the condition), or if the creature you are trying to observe is invisible/ in heavy obscurement (which causes the observer to have the blinded condition relative to that creature).

When I search (via the Search action) for a hidden invisible creature (or one in the radius of a Darkness spell) I do NOT have a penalty to my Perception check.

Why should I have one to search for (via the Search action) a creature in dim light?

Logically it doesn't make sense, and its incongruent with the rules for searching generally or for detecting hidden (unseen and unheard) creatures generally.
 

jgsugden

Legend
If I accept this argument, it is easier to Search for an invisible creature or a creature when blinded (a Perception check that does not rely on sight) than it is to Search for a creature in dim light (which apparently relies on sight).

So I dont accept this argument.
Try again. It relies upon sight, and you do not have it. So you get the -5 penalty for being blind to your passive perception there, too.

Now, if the PC said, "I stop and listen for the location of the enemy" they might not have that disadvantage, but that has nothing to do with the passive score.

Reminder: The DM can also decide that circumstances influence a roll in one direction or the other and grant advantage or impose disadvantage as a result.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
I'm curious. Do you use perception checks to notice things in your game?
I'm not @Flamestrike , but no, I don't. I use Wisdom (Perception) checks to determine whether an attempt to notice something that is hidden is successful when the attempt is both genre appropriate and possible within the established fiction, and when success is in doubt and failure has a meaningful consequence.
 

I'm not @Flamestrike , but no, I don't. I use Wisdom (Perception) checks to determine whether an attempt to notice something that is hidden is successful when the attempt is both genre appropriate and possible within the established fiction, and when success is in doubt and failure has a meaningful consequence.
That could also be a fundamental difference in approach. I know I use perception checks to notice things in game, though I also use passive perception to establish a baseline. I do restrict that to times when failure has a meaningful consequence, but I'm running into some narrative dissonance where someone actively trying to hide is automatically revealed even when there is a reasonable chance of failure. I'm not sure why the direct observer is automatically assumed to succeed without a check.

To each their own, of course.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
That could also be a fundamental difference in approach. I know I use perception checks to notice things in game, though I also use passive perception to establish a baseline. I do restrict that to times when failure has a meaningful consequence, but I'm running into some narrative dissonance where someone actively trying to hide is automatically revealed even when there is a reasonable chance of failure. I'm not sure why the direct observer is automatically assumed to succeed without a check.

To each their own, of course.
Just for clarity, I'm including passive Perception checks in the category "Wisdom (Perception) checks", and I don't use passive Perception as a floor except in terms of resolving declared actions to notice hidden things (and, of course, in combat where it is assumed), just like I would use a rolled check. I actually very much dislike the idea of using a Perception check to gate information about the situation that isn't expressly hidden, as the phrase "notice things" seems to suggest. If it's there to be noticed, it's noticed.
 
Last edited:

Try again. It relies upon sight, and you do not have it. So you get the -5 penalty for being blind to your passive perception there, too.

Wrong. If a perception check relies on sight and you cant see, you have the blinded condition.

Go away are read the first dot point of the blinded condition. As a hint, it's not -5 to perception checks that rely on sight.

The disadvantage to Perception checks that rely on sight only applies to Perception checks that rely solely on sight (which are very few perception checks).

It would include checks to notice a secret door as you walked past one for example.

If you have the blinded condition, such checks instead automatically fail as per the first dot point of the condition.

When making a Perception check to notice a hidden creature, you often are not even using sight (the hidden creature is in darkness), and you're almost always using multiple senses (mainly hearing).

On topic, this is why the Cloak of elvenkinds disadavatnage to Perception checks almost never applies (as opposed to its advantage on Stealth checks).
 
Last edited:

Rabulias

Adventurer
The disadvantage to Perception checks that rely on sight only applies to Perception checks that rely solely on sight (which are very few perception checks).
I think "Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight" =/= "Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely solely on sight". The word "rely" does not imply "to the exclusion of all other sources" to me. I would say that most Wisdom (Perception) checks made by characters will rely primarily on sight, though they may use a number of senses. That makes the cloak of elvenkind a bit more useful.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
I think "Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight" =/= "Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely solely on sight". The word "rely" does not imply "to the exclusion of all other sources" to me. I would say that most Wisdom (Perception) checks made by characters will rely primarily on sight, though they may use a number of senses. That makes the cloak of elvenkind a bit more useful.
There's a vague area to manage around invisibility versus cloaked. An invisible creature might be located by the noise it makes, but SFAIK there isn't a specified penalty to observers for doing so. Per RAW, the perception check to locate them could be unmodified. That would lead to the cloak being better than invisibility, because if sight is involved it imposes disadvantage. Alternatively, the observer shuts their eyes and relies on sound for both, to make the checks without penalty.

That is the possible absurdity pointed out by @Flamestrike - I shouldn't be better at locating a cloaked creature just because I shut my eyes! A group might decide that the cloak is visually baffling, so that really - shutting your eyes can help. Or they might decide that creatures that typically rely on multiple senses or a primary sense, make perception checks at disadvantage when relying on fewer senses or a secondary sense.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
I think "Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight" =/= "Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely solely on sight". The word "rely" does not imply "to the exclusion of all other sources" to me. I would say that most Wisdom (Perception) checks made by characters will rely primarily on sight, though they may use a number of senses. That makes the cloak of elvenkind a bit more useful.
I think there's a clear-cut distinction between checks that are made to resolve an attempt to see something, such as a minute detail that might be overlooked, and checks made to generally detect something that circumstances have already informed us can't be seen clearly, such as a creature that is trying to hide. The DM is meant to make this distinction for playability.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
To put it another way, if the DM has determined that circumstances are such that a creature can attempt to hide in them, then it has already been decided (and established) that the creature cannot be seen clearly. It does not honor this established fiction to then call for a check to determine whether or not the creature is seen clearly. That, perforce, has already been decided before the attempt to hide can be made, and the result of the ensuing Stealth/Perception contest can only determine other details of the fiction, such as whether the creature can be located by hearing or smell.
 

I think "Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight" =/= "Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely solely on sight". The word "rely" does not imply "to the exclusion of all other sources" to me.
'Rely' is defined as 'be dependent on' or 'be the main pillar of' or 'depend on with full trust or confidence'.

I somewhat agree with what you say (not 'solely' which I retract), or to say it another way, rely does not mean 'rely on to the exclusion of all other senses', but rather a reference to relying on 'sight' for a Perception check means a Perception check, with sight being the core, central and fundamental sense relied on.

Disadvantage to Perception checks that rely on sight (such as from a Cloak of Elvenkind, or from Dim light) can thus NOT apply to the following Perception checks (where a creature is hidden, but cant be seen):
  • Detecting a creature hidden in Darkness or other Heavy obscurement.
  • Detecting an invisible hidden creature.
  • Detecting a creature hidden behind total cover
  • Detecting a creature sneaking up behind you
That being the case, it would be absolutely perverse to apply the Disadvantage to Perception checks in the following cases (where a creature is hidden, but can also be seen):
  • Detecting a hidden creature peering around from total cover
  • Detecting a hidden Wood Elf in light obscurement such as rain.
  • Detecting a Halfling hiding behind a Humans leg.
  • Detecting a hidden Skulker, moving stealthily up a hallway.
Each of those Perception checks rely on senses other than sight (with hearing being as or more important than sight in every example).

TL;DR - Disadvantage to 'Perception checks that rely on sight' are rarer than people think - walking past a secret door, or scanning the horizon for signs of pursuing enemy creatures, or making out if a distant keeps walls are currently manned are all examples.

Detecting a hidden creature? The disadvantage almost never applies.
 

I think there's a clear-cut distinction between checks that are made to resolve an attempt to see something, such as a minute detail that might be overlooked, and checks made to generally detect something that circumstances have already informed us can't be seen clearly, such as a creature that is trying to hide. The DM is meant to make this distinction for playability.

I don't necessarily think I'd describe it as clear-cut. Sometimes they are. If you're making a check to spot someone wearing a red hat in a crowd, for example, well, that's 100% visual because it's color-based. However, if a character drops a purse while walking in a crowd, that might be both seen and heard, for example. I do agree that it's entirely up to the DM to decide when a cloak's benefit might apply to a given perception roll, though. I just don't think the rules need to be considered beyond that.

In general, I think this thread is way too focused on the use of the word "rely". There are posters asking that single word to carry so much weight that I'd ask to see its character sheet to check encumbrance.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
I don't necessarily think I'd describe it as clear-cut. Sometimes they are. If you're making a check to spot someone wearing a red hat in a crowd, for example, well, that's 100% visual because it's color-based. However, if a character drops a purse while walking in a crowd, that might be both seen and heard, for example. I do agree that it's entirely up to the DM to decide when a cloak's benefit might apply to a given perception roll, though. I just don't think the rules need to be considered beyond that.

In general, I think this thread is way too focused on the use of the word "rely". There are posters asking that single word to carry so much weight that I'd ask to see its character sheet to check encumbrance.
I think the discussion has been very focused on the possibility of the cloak conferring its first benefit onto someone who is trying to hide, and it has been my position that's generally not going to be the case. Trying to blend into a crowd and trying to lift someone's purse are not examples of trying to hide, at least I wouldn't resolve them that way, so to me your examples seem to support my point, and I would agree that the cloak's first benefit should probably apply in both cases, but that the second benefit wouldn't.
 

jgsugden

Legend
'Rely' is defined as 'be dependent on' or 'be the main pillar of' or 'depend on with full trust or confidence'.

I somewhat agree with what you say (not 'solely' which I retract), or to say it another way, rely does not mean 'rely on to the exclusion of all other senses', but rather a reference to relying on 'sight' for a Perception check means a Perception check, with sight being the core, central and fundamental sense relied on.
Which is not correct. You just went through the definitions. Ignoring the third, which is about how people see other people (trust and confidence are not relevant here), the first two clearly mean that there are other factors involved, and the first clearly shows that it includes situations in which the end result may involve many other factors.

10 boards are needed for a bridge to hold my weight. If any of the boards are removed, and I walk across it, it will collapse. Does the integrity of that bridge rely upon each and every board for it to carry my weight? Obviously, yes. That is the common definition of rely, and the common understanding of what it means. Does your car rely upon the steering wheel to be safe to drive? If not, I can take it off for you and you'll be fine to drive it, right?

A perception check that relies upon sight is one in which sight would play a factor.

Let's look at it this way.

In the REAL WORLD, I am going to sneak up on you. It is foggy outside. I start out hiding behind a wall when you are facing away from me. When I walk out from around the wall and try to quietly approach you, there are a few things that might happen. I might reach you before you detect me, but that isn't likely as I am about as stealthy as an elephant. You might hear me before I reach you. You might turn and see me before I reach you. You might smell my manly musk before I reach you. There are lots of ways that individually I could first be detected.

But the chance I am going to be detected is going to be a factor of all of those things, and we'll be relying upon all of those senses to determine the chance I will be detected. A perception check, which checks the chance of detection, relies upon sight unless sight plays no part.

I treat sight as playing no part when: There is total cover / heavy obscurement / blindness or an election is made to focus on another sense. However, if someone shuts off a sense, I might alter the DC (or grant advantage on an oppositional roll) if someone elects to not use their sight when they would otherwise benefit from using it in the detection.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top