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

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
The playtest packets (which are kindly archived here) actually contradict themselves. I've researched each one, and the contradiction stays consistent from Packet 1 to Packet 10.
  • "A creature can attempt a Dexterity (Stealth) check to sneak around, moving quietly and using cover and heavily obscured areas to avoid detection. [...] If a creature might see you, you need to keep behind cover or stay in heavily obscured areas to remain hidden."
  • "You can't simply stand in the middle of an empty, lit room and hope to avoid notice. Something must conceal you, perhaps a large object, a piece of terrain, or an immobile creature of an appropriate size, such as a slumbering dragon. Regardless of what obscures you, the thing must cover at least half your body for you to hide."
In the first passage, it outright states that you need to keep behind cover (not specified which) or stay in heavily obscured areas (VERY specific) to remain hidden. In the second passage, it outright states the thing must cover at least half your body for you to hide (VERY specific).
That doesn’t seem contradictory to me. You need to be in a heavily obscured area or behind cover, which the second passage specified needs to be at least half cover.

That’s actually not far off from the published rules, though it’s a bit more generous in that it allows you to hide with only half cover. And in fact, it makes it pretty clear that, if a creature might see you, you need to stay behind cover or in a heavily obscured area, so moving into a lightly obscured area would seem to break stealth. Though IIRC there was a feat in some of the early packets that let you attack a target with advantage as long as you started your turn hidden from it. I remember cause I used it a lot on the rogue I played at the time.
 
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Iry

Hero
That doesn’t seem contradictory to me. You need to be in a heavily obscured area or behind cover, which the second passage specified needs to be at least half cover.

That’s actually not far off from the published rules, though it’s a bit more generous in that it allows you to hide with only half cover. And in fact, it makes it pretty clear that, if a creature might see you, you need to stay behind cover or in a heavily obscured area, so moving into a lightly obscured area would seem to break stealth. Though IIRC there was a feat in some of the rail packets that let you attack a target with advantage as long as you started your turn hidden from it. I remember cause I used it a lot on the rogue I played at the time.
I think that's a fair assessment. You're right, it doesn't seem contradictory when I look at it that way.
 

Yes, obscurement means you cannot be seen clearly.
No, Mask of the Wild, Lightfoots, and Skulkers can take the Hide action in light obscurement. Other people cannot.
A person cannot Hide in partial cover / light obscurement (exceptions not included), but they can remain hidden if they move from total cover / heavy obscurement into a place of partial cover / light obscurement. The condition for ending Hidden is being clearly seen.
You can if the other person fails their Perception check.

N begins to Hide in the darkness. This is acceptable because N has Total Cover / Heavy Obscurement
N begins moving towards C and enters Light Obscurement. This triggers a Perception (Wisdom) check.
DM interpretation time (you may rule differently) "He's staring right down the hallway, so... you have disadvantage and he has advantage for reasons (you decide why)."
N passes the check? N is still hidden!

Could the DM step in and rule that hiding is impossible because N is standing right in front of C? Yes, absolutely.
Otherwise, it's up to the DM to decide why C failed to notice N sneaking up on him.
Thats not how hiding works. There is no 'triggering perception checks'

As soon as N moves into Cs vision (walks down a dimly lit hallway that C is looking down) he is automatically revealed.

Youre doing it wrong.

If N was a Skulker he could remain hidden in the hallway and there would be no perception check triggered (although C could take the Search action as normal to find him).

At this point seeing as you're using your own rules for hiding and stealth there is no point continuing to debate this with you.

Take care.
 

Iry

Hero
Thats not how hiding works. There is no 'triggering perception checks'
As soon as N moves into Cs vision (walks down a dimly lit hallway that C is looking down) he is automatically revealed.
The condition for ending Hidden is being clearly seen. Being obscured means not being clearly seen. Hence, a Wisdom (Perception) check comes into play to determine if you are seen regardless of not being clearly seen.
At this point seeing as you're using your own rules for hiding and stealth there is no point continuing to debate this with you.
Take care.
We're laying out our points so current and future readers can come to their own informed rulings.
 
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The condition for ending Hidden is being clearly seen. Being obscured means not being clearly seen.

No youre conflating light obscurement with 'not being seen clearly enough'.

Thats clearly not the case as Skulker, Mask of the Wild and other abilities clearly demonstrate.

Dim light is not enough to Hide in or remain Hidden in.

And there is no 'triggering a perception check'. If you're hidden you remain so until you reveal yourself or someone takes the Sesrch action to locate you.

A DM can rule otherwise, but what youre asserting is not the rules.
 

Iry

Hero
No youre conflating light obscurement with 'not being seen clearly enough'.

Thats clearly not the case as Skulker, Mask of the Wild and other abilities clearly demonstrate.

Dim light is not enough to Hide in or remain Hidden in.

And there is no 'triggering a perception check'. If you're hidden you remain so until you reveal yourself or someone takes the Sesrch action to locate you.

A DM can rule otherwise, but what youre asserting is not the rules.
Light obscurement is not being seen clearly. It's both in the definition of obscurement, and literally gives you disadvantage on seeing.
Skulker, Mask of the Wild, and Lightfoot allow someone to hide in light obscurement, which is otherwise not possible.
Dim light is not enough to hide in, but not enough to reveal you either. Because the condition for ending Hidden is being clearly seen.
Triggering the perception check is DM perogative. That's always been my position.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Light obscurement is not being seen clearly. It's both in the definition of obscurement, and literally gives you disadvantage on seeing.
Skulker, Mask of the Wild, and Lightfoot allow someone to hide in light obscurement, which is otherwise not possible.
Dim light is not enough to hide in, but not enough to reveal you either. Because the condition for ending Hidden is being clearly seen.
Triggering the perception check is DM perogative. That's always been my position.
This synthesis doesn't add up for me. If you can't be seen clearly in a lightly obscured area, then where in the rules does it say you can't become hidden in it?
 

Light obscurement is not being seen clearly.

Not for hiding purposes its not. Its a dimly lit room mate. You can't be hidden in the middle of a dinly lit room unless you're a shadow demon or skulker or have an ability that allows it.

Ask Sage advice if you want. Youre wrong here.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Possibly relevant to this discussion: the wording, “you can’t hide from a creature that can see you clearly” was an errata. The original wording was “you can’t hide from a creature that can see you.” In the same errata that changed this wording, they added the sentence “The DM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding” sentence to the beginning of the paragraph.

So, under the original wording it was definitely not possible to hide from a creature that could see you at all, but for whatever reason, the devs decided to change the wording so that you only need to not be seen clearly, and to emphasize that it’s up to the DM what exactly that means. I think pre-errata, @Iry ’s interpretation would clearly not be correct, but the new wording does leave room for it to be.
 

That's literally what obscured means.

I see his argument.

But Crawford has repeatedly said "It's a DMs call depending on the particular circumstances." There is no "right" on this one.

Look at the example I posted above. Iry asserts you can walk past a creature while under direct observation in dim light and remain hidden.

Dim light is darkvision remember.

Hes asserting you can't hide in low light, but you can remain hidden in lowlight, which is not the rules.

A DM can rule otherwise, but thats not the rule.

Being 'unable to be seen clearly' for hiding purposes is situations like being in total cover and peering around the corner of said cover (a sniper for example).

His interpretation is the wrong one.
 

Possibly relevant to this discussion: the wording, “you can’t hide from a creature that can see you clearly” was an errata. The original wording was “you can’t hide from a creature that can see you.” In the same errata that changed this wording, they added the sentence “The DM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding” sentence to the beginning of the paragraph.

So, under the original wording it was definitely not possible to hide from a creature that could see you at all, but for whatever reason, the devs decided to change the wording so that you only need to not be seen clearly, and to emphasize that it’s up to the DM what exactly that means. I think pre-errata, @Iry ’s interpretation would clearly not be correct, but the new wording does leave room for it to be.

The change in wording was not meant to cover light concealment (an empty room being closely watched by a creature with darkvision).

It was meant to cover situations like a sniper observing his target from total cover and similar situations.

If you can see someone clearly enough to thwart the hiding attempt in the first place (which Iry accepts is the case in low light) then you can also see them clearly enough to automatically reveal them in the same situation (barring a special rule that lets them like Skulker).
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
The change in wording was not meant to cover light concealment (an empty room being closely watched by a creature with darkvision).

It was meant to cover situations like a sniper observing his target from total cover and similar situations.

If you can see someone clearly enough to thwart the hiding attempt in the first place (which Iry accepts is the case in low light) then you can also see them clearly enough to automatically reveal them in the same situation (barring a special rule that lets them like Skulker).
I think the wording, “the DM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding” by itself validates @Iry ‘s interpretation (and everyone else’s for that matter). As long as a character can’t be seen with perfect clarity, the DM can decide that circumstances are appropriate for them to hide.
 

I think the wording, “the DM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding” by itself validates @Iry ‘s interpretation (and everyone else’s for that matter). As long as a character can’t be seen with perfect clarity, the DM can decide that circumstances are appropriate for them to hide.

That wording validates ANY interpretation though.

If you can't hide in dim light (its impossible which he agrees with) then you can't remain hidden there.
 

Mistwell

Legend
Look at the example I posted above. Iry asserts you can walk past a creature while under direct observation in dim light and remain hidden.

Dim light is darkvision remember.

Hes asserting you can't hide in low light, but you can remain hidden in lowlight, which is not the rules.

A DM can rule otherwise, but thats not the rule.

Being 'unable to be seen clearly' for hiding purposes is situations like being in total cover and peering around the corner of said cover (a sniper for example).

His interpretation is the wrong one.
No matter how many times you assert you must be right and he must be wrong, that doesn't make it true. It is in fact a DMs call. That is the rule. If a DM rules in that situation he doesn't lose being hidden, that's within the existing rules as written. It's literally the first sentence of the Hiding section, "The DM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding." And it is not contradicted directly by the "You can't hide from a creature that can see you clearly" rule because "clearly" is up to the DM to determine in the situation.
 

Mistwell

Legend
That wording validates ANY interpretation though.

If you can't hide in dim light (its impossible which he agrees with) then you can't remain hidden there.
If you can't cast a spell while wildshaped, then you cannot concentrate on that spell when wildshaped? Oh wait, you can. Because some rules in the game provide for one set of conditions to initiate something, and a lesser set of conditions to maintain that same thing. His interpretation is one valid way to look at the Hiding rules.
 


clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Supporter
If you can't cast a spell while wildshaped, then you cannot concentrate on that spell when wildshaped? Oh wait, you can. Because some rules in the game provide for one set of conditions to initiate something, and a lesser set of conditions to maintain that same thing. His interpretation is one valid way to look at the Hiding rules.
Casting a spell and concentrating on a spell are different things: which we can tell as just because a spell is cast does not mean it must be concentrated on. But hiding and being hidden are one thing: there's no mode of hiding that doesn't result in being hidden. The better argument is DM discretion, which can mean whatever a DM likes it to mean.

Say that we want to exercise our discretion in a way that reliably meets the expectations of other players. Probably therefore we want to exercise our discretion consistently. It feels to me like we are not doing that very well if treat becoming hidden and hiding differently.

Another and perhaps more important consideration is the effect in play. In dim light (or darkness counting as dim light) our rogue can step around a corner (out of sight) to become hidden, and then sneak back. Other creatures have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks to notice them, so if not actively searching many creatures in the MM will remain oblivious to them. Even actively searching, many will be very unlikely to see our rogue due to their expertise in Stealth.

On the good side, that will mean rogues will far more frequently be able to make melee attacks from hidden. (A stricter DM ruling results in rogues mostly being limited to ranged attacks from hidden.) Assassins will be more effective. On the bad side, a group will see Stealth become far more powerful in their game - and they will get some bald-faced acts that feel almost as if they are sneaking-in-plain-sight. That might jar their narrative (I backed away from stronger hiding in part due to this).

Of course, a DM might avoid OP Stealth and jarring the narrative by exercising their discretion differently at different times, but I believe that has a negative impact on player control over the narrative. Usually it's better for character abilities to work in a reliable way. If you think of those as levers that let players choose modify a narrative in specific ways, then hopefully you can see why this can be an important consideration.

That is why for me, I favour the stronger consistency, and the weaker rather than stronger use when lightly obscured.
 

Iry

Hero
Possibly relevant to this discussion: the wording, “you can’t hide from a creature that can see you clearly” was an errata. The original wording was “you can’t hide from a creature that can see you.” In the same errata that changed this wording, they added the sentence “The DM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding” sentence to the beginning of the paragraph.

So, under the original wording it was definitely not possible to hide from a creature that could see you at all, but for whatever reason, the devs decided to change the wording so that you only need to not be seen clearly, and to emphasize that it’s up to the DM what exactly that means. I think pre-errata, @Iry ’s interpretation would clearly not be correct, but the new wording does leave room for it to be.
Yeah, adding the world clearly was an intentional choice. We don't know exactly why it was added, but it creates emphasis that seeing clearly is important and distinct from other forms of seeing. My version would definitely be wrong prior to the errata. The errata is what solidified my belief in how stealth is supposed to work.

It passes the Rules check. Nothing in this interpretation is contradicted by any other rule. It also passes the RL check. I have absolutely failed to notice people in foliage, heavy rain, falling snow, and mist. I've even failed to notice people in poorly lit rooms (both when they were just sitting there, and when they were intentionally trying to hide from me). That's anecdotal, of course. There is no "One Right Way". But it's the way that seems to encompass and allow the most situations, prior to DM arbitration of circumstances.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Supporter
Yeah, adding the world clearly was an intentional choice. We don't know exactly why it was added, but it creates emphasis that seeing clearly is important and distinct from other forms of seeing. My version would definitely be wrong prior to the errata. The errata is what solidified my belief in how stealth is supposed to work.

It passes the Rules check. Nothing in this interpretation is contradicted by any other rule. It also passes the RL check. I have absolutely failed to notice people in foliage, heavy rain, falling snow, and mist. I've even failed to notice people in poorly lit rooms (both when they were just sitting there, and when they were intentionally trying to hide from me). That's anecdotal, of course. There is no "One Right Way". But it's the way that seems to encompass and allow the most situations, prior to DM arbitration of circumstances.
Three issues I see with your ruling are
  1. The inconsistency in application - you seem to take "You can't hide..." to imply "you can stay hidden" but not "you can hide". Surely if anything, the language speaks to the latter even more strongly than the former?
  2. Weakens some game features - this might be a wash. It really depends how much a group values those features.
  3. Strengthens Stealth - the skill is already a must-take for many characters, this reading makes it very powerful in play. It's particularly problematic that the condition that allows remaining hidden also applies disadvantage to Perception.
Regarding 1. in particular, it is really hard to see how you justify reading that way. The balance issues are just whatever each table wants to value or tolerate, but the language issue feels like you really have to squint at the page. One can fall back to DM discretion, but then that falls afoul of conceding words meaning (that is, a reading that concedes meaning to all the words ought to be preferred to one that makes some of them empty of meaning).

EDIT Incidentally, I hope I am properly ascribing rulings - I think you are saying remains hidden, but can't become hidden, ordinarily in light cover, right?
 
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