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

Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
Is there anywhere within the actual rules text that specify Line of Sight or Obscurement at all in relations to hiding in the PHB or DMG?

Actually, I don't even think the PHB or Sage Advice states that cover or obscurement is necessary to be hidden, which makes sense because you can hide from someone as long as you aren't in their field of vision.
 

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Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
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 would paraphrase that simply as the DM decides when you can't be seen clearly, i.e. if the DM decides that appropriate circumstances for hiding exist, then by definition you must not be seen clearly.

Edit: I would also add that I would expect those appropriate circumstances to match up with my reading of the rules, i.e. you're travelling at a slow pace, in a heavily obscured area, or concealed by an obstacle, or you have a feature that allows you to hide under some other circumstance. Otherwise, I feel that such a ruling would be inconsistent with the circumstances given in the rules as appropriate for hiding, but mileages may vary.
 
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jgsugden

Legend
These are the rules from the PHB and Sage Advice Compendium accumulated, and reordered a bit to put similar concepts together. To me, this spells out a reasonably clear approach (although a clarification on how observation applies would make it more clear), and makes clear what advantages the halfling, elf and skulker get from their ability (which primarily related to observation).

Assembling this has changed my views on hiding, stealth and perception a small bit.

General Rule: The DM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding. When you try to hide, make a Dexterity (Stealth) check. Normally, you can’t hide from someone if you’re in full view.

Actively searching creatures: Until you are discovered or you stop hiding, that check's total is contested by the Wisdom (Perception) check of any creature that actively searches for signs of your presence. [Note: While not explicit in the book, Sage Advice and Interviews by Crawford indicate that passive perception is intended to be a floor for this role.]

Not actively searching creatures: When you hide, there's a chance someone will notice you even if they aren't searching. To determine whether such a creature notices you, the DM compares your Dexterity (Stealth) check with that creature's passive Wisdom (Perception) score, which equals 10 + the creature's Wisdom modifier, as well as any other bonuses or penalties. If the creature has advantage, add 5. For disadvantage, subtract 5.

Giving yourself away: You can't hide from a creature that can see you clearly, and you give away your position if you make noise, such as shouting a warning or knocking over a vase. However, under certain circumstances, the DM might allow you to stay hidden as you approach a creature that is distracted...

Bright light: Bright light lets most creatures see normally. Even gloomy days provide bright light, as do torches, lanterns, fires, and other sources of illumination within a specific radius. Normally, you can’t hide from someone if you’re in full view.

Dim light and light obscurement: Dim light, also called shadows, creates a lightly obscured area. An area of dim light is usually a boundary between a source of bright light, such as a torch, and surrounding darkness. 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. A target has half cover if an obstacle blocks at least half of its body. A target has three-quarters cover if about three-quarters of it is covered by an obstacle.

Darkness and heavy obscurement: Darkness creates a heavily obscured area. Characters face darkness outdoors at night (even most moonlit nights), within the confines of an unlit dungeon or a subterranean vault, or in an area of magical darkness. A heavily obscured area--such as darkness, opaque fog, or dense foliage--blocks vision entirely. A creature effectively suffers from the blinded condition when trying to see something in that area. A target has total cover if it is completely concealed by an obstacle.

... and Invisibility: An invisible creature can always try to hide. Signs of its passage might still be noticed, and it does have to stay quiet. [Unless hidden,] the creature's location can be detected by any noise it makes or any tracks it leaves.

In combat: In combat, most creatures stay alert for signs of danger all around, so if you come out of hiding and approach a creature, it usually sees you. However, under certain circumstances, the DM might allow you to stay hidden as you approach a creature that is distracted, allowing you to gain advantage on an attack roll before you are seen. Combatants often try to escape their foes' notice by hiding... When a creature can't see you, you have advantage on attack rolls against it. If you are hidden — both unseen and unheard — when you make an attack, you give away your location when the attack hits or misses.

On halflings and elves and skulkers: The lightfoot halfling and wood elf traits do allow members of those subraces to try to hide in their special circumstances even when observers are nearby. Normally, you can’t hide from someone if you’re in full view. A lightfoot halfling, though, can try to vanish behind a creature that is at least one size larger, and a wood elf can try to hide simply by being in heavy rain, mist, falling snow, foliage, or similar natural phenomena. [As a skulker, you can] hide when you are lightly obscured from the creature from which you are hiding. When [a skuler is] hidden from a creature and miss it with a ranged weapon attack, making the attack doesn't reveal [its] position.

Contested checks: Until you are discovered or you stop hiding, [your stealth check] is contested by the Wisdom (Perception) check of any creature that actively searches for signs of your presence. If the contest results in a tie, the situation remains the same as it was before the contest.

When I add that all up:

When I want to hide, I ask the DM if circumstances are appropriate. The DM can overrule anything below, but my expectation is that the following will usually be true. Then I have to roll a stealth check. As I am not hidden yet, to enter hiding I must exceed the relevant perception rolls (active or passive as circumstances indicate).

If I am in bright light, I may only hide with DM permission.

If I am blocked by 1/2 or 3/4 cover or in light obscurement (where opponents have disadvantage to perception checks related to sight - which indicates that they can't see me clearly); and, in addition to one of those situations, I am not being observed (as you can't hide while in full view), I can generally hide.

If I am a wood elf, lightfoot halfling or skulker, the prohibition on being observed is lifted in some circumstances. As long as a lightfoot halfling can find cover from a creature, it can hide, but loses the hidden condition if it loses the cover (and is not otherwise in any obscurement/cover). The wood elf can hide while obscured by natural phenomena, even when observed at the time. A skulker can enter hiding even when observed so long as they have any light obscurement. In addition, I would hope that the DM would be more permissive for my lightfoot/wood elf/skulker in allowing me to hide in their stated conditions than the DM would be for other PCs - I'd get more benefit of the doubt in judgment calls.

If I am in heavy obscurement (which prevents observation entirely), I can generally hide. If I am invisible to the target I can generally hide. This also applies if someone is concealed by total cover.

If a creature wants to take an action to find me when I am already hidden, they must exceed my stealth check with their perception check.

If I lose obscurement or cover, I lose hiding unless the DM decides that I do not. However, if I hide in heavy obscurement and then move to light obscurement, I do not lose my hidden condition. However, me attacking generally ends my hidden condition.

So, Bob hides while benefiting from total cover (behind a corner) from Tim. He sneaks around the corner into dim light and remains hidden. Then he attacks, revealing his location. He is now observed. He can't hide again in the dim light, as he is now observed, unless he is a skulker, is a halfling and moves behind a creature, or is a wood elf and there is natural phenomena present (heavy rain?) - unless the DM decides to allow it. However, he could go around that corner or find other total concealment / heavy obscurement and hide then.
 
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Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Casting a spell and concentrating on a spell are different things:
Initiating hiding and maintaining hiding 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.
The "clearly" part IS the DM discretion part. It's the same argument.

Crawford has answered this specific question in an interview posted on D&D Beyond. He's asked by the interviewer if a hidden rogue can then sneak out in the open to backstab someone 10 feet away, and he answers that is a matter of DMs discretion. He also says you can pop out from being hidden and make an attack which benefits from being hidden until the attack resolves as a hit or miss, provided you didn't leave your space to do it. So, we know there are in fact lesser rules for maintaining being hidden than there were for initiating being hidden.

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).
Steady Aim already makes it abundantly clear rogues were supposed to be able to make attacks that benefit from the advantage that comes from being hidden. Crawford also makes it clear in that interview the intent was for rogues to get advantage on a fairly regular basis from being hidden.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Initiating hiding and maintaining hiding are different things.
So far as I understand it, the words the implication is being drawn from are "You can't hide from a creature that can see you clearly" and if we focus for a moment on the first three "You can't hide" it seems really odd to construe that "You can remain hidden" but not that "You can hide" when not clearly seen. I should have thought the latter the far more obvious reading.


The "clearly" part IS the DM discretion part. It's the same argument.
The DM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding" finesses the above argument, because a DM could just never decide circumstances are appropriate for a creature that is not clearly seen to attempt to hide, while deciding they are always appropriate for a hidden creature that is not clearly seen to remain hidden. In saying "better" I just mean it seems the far stronger argument to appeal to.

Crawford has answered this specific question in an interview posted on D&D Beyond. He's asked by the interviewer if a hidden rogue can then sneak out in the open to backstab someone 10 feet away, and he answers that is a matter of DMs discretion. He also says you can pop out from being hidden and make an attack which benefits from being hidden until the attack resolves as a hit or miss, provided you didn't leave your space to do it. So, we know there are in fact lesser rules for maintaining being hidden than there were for initiating being hidden.
That doesn't add any information to where we are already.

Steady Aim already makes it abundantly clear rogues were supposed to be able to make attacks that benefit from the advantage that comes from being hidden. Crawford also makes it clear in that interview the intent was for rogues to get advantage on a fairly regular basis from being hidden.
I agree with you that it suggests the designers wanted rogues to regularly get advantage. Steady Aim is a much better way of achieving that than stronger Stealth, because it is hedged to 0 movement and is available only to rogues.
 

Iry

Hero
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?
Yeah, you're properly ascribing rulings (and thank you for being civil).

Regarding 1,

I'm not sure what you mean by inconsistency. I'm randomly speculating, but maybe it's a gaming background that makes me parse things like Hide and Hidden as two different things. Like Hide is the action you take, and Hidden is the condition with a resolution mechanic? Or Hide is the name of the M:TG card and Hidden is what the card actually does? As in, "Here are the conditions necessary to cast Hide. It makes you Hidden." So when I look at the wording, it seems like a fairly natural thing, instead of anything strange. @Charlaquin might be able to explain it better.
 

If I am blocked by light obscurement (where opponents have disadvantage to perception checks related to sight - which indicates that they can't see me clearly), I can generally hide.

No, you generally cant Hide (or remain hidden) in those circumstances, barring a rule like Skulker, Mask of the Wild, Shadow demon etc allowing you to hide in light obscurement.

Light obscurement is rain, light snow or an empty room being viewed by a PC with darkvision.

In light obscurement you can be seen clearly enough to automatically thwart any hiding attempt (without a special rule to allow you to do so).
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
I'm not sure what you mean by inconsistency. I'm randomly speculating, but maybe it's a gaming background that makes me parse things like Hide and Hidden as two different things. Like Hide is the action you take, and Hidden is the condition with a resolution mechanic? Or Hide is the name of the M:TG card and Hidden is what the card actually does? As in, "Here are the conditions necessary to cast Hide. It makes you Hidden." So when I look at the wording, it seems like a fairly natural thing, instead of anything strange. @Charlaquin might be able to explain it better.
For the sake of argument, let's go with that - hiding and remaining hidden are two different things. The RAW we're interested in is "You can't hide from a creature that can see you clearly...".

If I revise that in the simplest way to draw the implication, it's "You can hide from a creature that can't see you clearly..." so I am curious about your arriving at ""You can remain hidden from a creature that can't see you clearly...". Why do you resist the former and embrace the latter?
 

I find it interesting that regardless of how detailed the rules are (as with 3e), or how simple the rules are (as with 5e), there are always edges cases where the rules may seem unclear.

Also, perhaps we should stop quoting Jeremy Crawford when trying to figure out the rules. As anything he may have said in an interview or blog post, is easily taken out of context, or sheds further confusion on the rules as written.
 
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For the sake of argument, let's go with that - hiding and remaining hidden are two different things. The RAW we're interested in is "You can't hide from a creature that can see you clearly...".

If I revise that in the simplest way to draw the implication, it's "You can hide from a creature that can't see you clearly..." so I am curious about your arriving at ""You can remain hidden from a creature that can't see you clearly...". Why do you resist the former and embrace the latter?

He agrees you cant hide in dim light under direct observation (barring a special ability that allows you to do so).

But in the same breath he also asserts you can remain hidden in dim light, even while under direct observation.

I think he's trying to turn his house ruled 'perception check as a reaction to the creature entering dim light' into the 'direct observation' bit. Or in his mind, a successful perception check translates to 'you observe the now formerly hidden creature'.

Which is putting the cart before the horse. If you can directly observe the creature (which you can do in dim light or light rain or snow just fine) you dont need to make a perception check at all.
 

Iry

Hero
If I revise that in the simplest way to draw the implication, it's "You can hide from a creature that can't see you clearly..." so I am curious about your arriving at ""You can remain hidden from a creature that can't see you clearly...". Why do you resist the former and embrace the latter?
It's because the conditions to Hide require heavy obscurement or total cover. The exception being the previously mentioned Mask of the Wild, Lightfoot, Skulker, DM interpretation, etc.
 

jgsugden

Legend
It's because the conditions to Hide require heavy obscurement or total cover. The exception being the previously mentioned Mask of the Wild, Lightfoot, Skulker, DM interpretation, etc.
Also, if you are not observed, you can hide in light obscurement or partial cover.

The circumstances in which someone is not observed is generally going to be up to the DM (under the heading of distracted viewers, mostly), but there are some spells (enthrall, for example) and other monster abilities that indicate distraction on the part of an impacted target, that should give players the capability to make a good case that hiding is possible. However it is up to the DM.
 

Also, if you are not observed, you can hide in light obscurement or partial cover.

If you're not being observed , you can hide in the open (sneaking up behind someone). As soon as they turn their head to look at you the jig is up though.

It's because the conditions to Hide require heavy obscurement or total cover.
Exactly.

And as soon as you break those conditions (enter a well lit area, or one of dim light), you are no longer hidden (unless its dim light and you're a Skulker).

In this example:

room.png


As soon as N leaves the magically darkened room he is hiding in, and starts moving down the dimly lit hallway towards C (a hallway that C is staring straight down), N is no longer hidden from C anymore.

There is no perception check required by C
, just as if N knocked over a vase, or started screaming, or made an attack. The movement itself automatically reveals N's presence to C (as N lacks any special ability to be hidden in low light under direct observation, C now sees N moving down the empty hallway).

That is the case whether the hallway is brightly lit, or dimly lit (unless N was a Skulker, Shadow demon or had a similar ability letting them Hide in low light).
 

Iry

Hero
And as soon as you break those conditions (enter a well lit area, or one of dim light), you are no longer hidden (unless its dim light and you're a Skulker).
The condition to end hidden is being clearly seen.
If you rule that dim light is clearly seen, then who am I to say otherwise?
 

The condition to end hidden is being clearly seen.
No, you're not reading the rules as a whole.

The rule is you must be unable to be seen clearly in order to Hide. That's why you generally need total cover or total obscurement in order to Hide (unless you're a Skulker, Halfing or Wood Elf etc and you have a special rule that lets you), or to remain hidden.

Light obscurement does not count as 'not being seen clearly' (unless you have a special rule that lets it count) otherwise those special rules that let you hide and remain hidden in light obscurement such as Skulker or Mask of the Wild are redundant and superfluous.

And the rule is if you leave your hiding spot/ something you can Hide behind (total cover or total obscurement, unless you have a special rule that lets you hide behind something else) you are automatically noticed as creatures are assumed to be aware of their surroundings.

If you're hiding behind a crate in a dimly lit 30' hallway (a hallway which is under direct observation by a creature at the end of the hallway) you are automatically noticed by that creature as soon as you walk around from behind the crate.
If you rule that dim light is clearly seen, then who am I to say otherwise?
It's not a ruling, its the rule. Otherwise Skulker (which contains a rule that lets you hide in such circumstances) does nothing.

You can see someone 'clearly' in dim light, light rain or light snow. They are standing there right in front of you and you can clearly see them, shadows obscuring fine details, snow falling on their hair, or wet from the rain or whatever. You can see them clearly enough to thwart their attempts at hiding from you in that light obscurement UNLESS the hiding creature has a special rule that specifically lets them hide in such conditions.
 

No, you're not reading the rules as a whole.

The rule is you must be unable to be seen clearly in order to Hide.

No, the rule is that it's DM's discretion when you can hide, with the caveat that you can always hide if you are totally concealed. If an orc is at the position marked by a green circle, a DM may allow a rogue to hide at A. He must allow the rogue to hide at B. On a similar note, a character in Fog Cloud, or Invisible, or Darkness can always hide.

ypyKtzf.png
 

The rule is that it's DM's discretion when you can hide

I agree. A DM can rule a PC can Hide while in the open (no cover or concealment at all) if he rules the Monster is looking the other way, or distracted.

As in your example, where the Rogue does NOT have cover vs A.

But as a general rule, if all you have is partial cover or light obscurement, you cant Hide unless you have a special rule that lets you.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
I agree. A DM can rule a PC can Hide while in the open (no cover or concealment at all) if he rules the Monster is looking the other way, or distracted.

As in your example, where the Rogue does NOT have cover vs A.

But as a general rule, if all you have is partial cover or light obscurement, you cant Hide unless you have a special rule that lets you.
I have a special rule that let's me. It's the rule that the DM make judge that you can hide, even if it's just dim light.
 

I have a special rule that let's me. It's the rule that the DM make judge that you can hide, even if it's just dim light.
You dont even need dim light with a DM ruling. You could have a guard in a brightly lit room, and [hide] and sneak up behind him staying hidden the whole way.

But generally (sans DM ruling, or a special ability that lets you hide in other circumstances) you need total cover or heavy obscurement to hide, and if you leave either, you are generally noticed the instant you do so.
 

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