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

Your version and mine can both lead to absurd results when taken to their extremes,
No mine doesn't lead to absurd results. Or if it does, you have yet to show me one.

Your version has creatures walking circles around people in the rain or being able to approach them down a hallway when they're staring straight at them, using darkvision to see them.

Your 'interpretation' also totally ignores the rules on Page 167 off the PHB that clearly state 'when you leave your hiding spot and approach a creature, unless that creature is distracted, it automatically notices you'.

If you cant hide in light obscurement while someone is looking at you you cant remain hidden in light obscuremment when someone is looking at you.
 

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Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Yeah, they can't try/attempt to Hide under less than heavily obscured / total cover conditions. And yes, when N comes out from behind his/her tree, N remains hidden until seen clearly or s/he makes some noise. If N is discovered, s/he cannot hide again without going back into somewhere heavily obscured / total cover. I don't think of it as "doing something else", but as a condition that continues until (revealing) conditions are met.
I'd say if N has stopped trying to hide, then N has stopped hiding.
 


I've been avoiding going on the offensive, for the most part.
Politely give me an absurd example of how my reading of 'If you leave your hiding spot and approach someone, they automatically see you unless they are distracted' might mean something other than what it says.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
The condition to not be able to hide like at all in the first place is being clearly seen. If you are ruling that N can't be clearly seen due to heavy rain, then why couldn't N hide there in the first place? Why did N have to go behind a tree to hide?

Edit to add: I think I asked this up-thread but didn't get an answer. Where in the rules are you getting the idea that more is needed to begin hiding than to not be seen clearly?
I see @Iry's argument as arising from a dilemma.

Suppose we take the consequence of being lightly obscured - "disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight" - to amount to a mechanical restatement of "cannot see clearly". And then suppose we take it that if "You can't hide from a creature that can see you clearly" then "You can hide from a creature that can't see you clearly". But following this logic, we should also read "You can try to hide when you are lightly obscured" if you have Skulker as implying "You can't try to hide when you are lightly obscured" if you don't have Skulker.

So now we have our dilemma. The first horn is that we think we must let creatures that are lightly obscured hide because they cannot be seen clearly. The second horn is that something needs to change when you have / don't have Skulker. @Iry grasps the first horn and adjusts it just enough to resolve the dilemma. A creature that is lightly obscured can remain hidden, but it cannot try to hide - because that power is owned by Skulker! The second horn thus proves to be blunt.

The view espoused by @Flamestrike resolves that dilemma in a different way. It says that "can't see you clearly" and "disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight" are really two different things: I can see you clearly AND have disadvantage on my sight-based Wisdom (Perception) check. They're not mutually exclusive. The first horn thus proves to be blunt... and there is no second horn.

The dispute therefore should be over the linchpin point - is disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight the same as or different from seeing clearly? One argument I thought of that might help this is to consider how you would rule on perceiving a stealthy creature who is hiding in a brightly lit space that is free from any obscurement, using invisibility? I think that searchers do not have disadvantage on their Wisdom (Perception) check relying on sight in this situation even though they surely cannot see the hider clearly. I would be interested to hear others thoughts.
 
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The dispute therefore should be over the linchpin point - is disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight the same as or different from seeing clearly?
Different.

By seeing clearly, they mean akin to looking through NVG's at night, or standing in light fog or heavy rain.

You can see things clearly enough to thwart them hiding from you in the rain or fog or NVG light, but you cant make out finer details, and past a a hundred feet or so, you cant see anything at all.

One argument I thought of that might help this is to consider how you would rule on perceiving a stealthy creature who is hiding in a brightly lit space that is free from any obscurement, using invisibility? I think that searchers do not have disadvantage on their Wisdom (Perception) check relying on sight in this situation even though they surely cannot see the hider clearly. I would be interested to hear others thoughts.

You have disadvantage on perception checks that rely on sight vs a creature in dim light. In darkness (or vs an invisible creature) you can’t see and thus automatically fail any ability check that requires sight (see the blinded condition).

Perception isnt just sight though, and its not just seeing the invisible + hidden creature itself (such a check would simply fail) but also includes signs of its passage (footprints, splashes in puddles etc).

@Iry would have you believe (among the other bizarre and absurd outcomes of his 'interpretation') that should C be trying to detect N (who is somehow hidden in light obscurement despite having no special ability that lets him), and N was wearing a Cloak of Elvenkind, C gets disadvantage on his Perception check due to both the cloak and the fact he is in Dim light, (because C can see N, both those effects trigger), but at the same time C also cant see N clearly enough to stop N from being hidden.

N is existing in a state of quantum superposition, both seen and not seen, hidden and not hidden, all at the same time.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
You have disadvantage on perception checks that rely on sight vs a creature in dim light. In darkness (or vs an invisible creature) you can’t see and thus automatically fail any ability check that requires sight (see the blinded condition).

Perception isnt just sight though, and its not just seeing the invisible + hidden creature itself (such a check would simply fail) but also includes signs of its passage (footprints, splashes in puddles etc).
My mistake, you are correct.

@Iry would have you believe (among the other bizarre and absurd outcomes of his 'interpretation') that should C be trying to detect N (who is somehow hidden in light obscurement despite having no special ability that lets him), and N was wearing a Cloak of Elvenkind, C gets disadvantage on his Perception check due to both the cloak and the fact he is in Dim light, (because C can see N, both those effects trigger), but at the same time C also cant see N clearly enough to stop N from being hidden.

N is existing in a state of quantum superposition, both seen and not seen, hidden and not hidden, all at the same time.
This isn't right. Remember that @Iry is perforce saying that trying to hide and being hidden are two separate things. I don't recall that being settled by the RAW... unless you can point to somewhere it is defined that they are the same thing? There is no superposition under the view that the two are separate.

I don't currently see how one would prove they must be the same, which is why I felt it might be more productive to prove instead that disadvantage to sight-based Perception isn't identical to unclearly seen.
 

This isn't right. Remember that @Iry is perforce saying that trying to hide and being hidden are two separate things.
Explain to me the difference. Both require conditions suitable for hiding, which @Iry agrees light obscurement is not (barring Skuker etc).

I don't recall that being settled by the RAW... unless you can point to somewhere it is defined that they are the same thing? There is no superposition under the view that the two are separate.

No the superposition is @Iry would assert that in C observing N stepping out from behind the tree, C can simultaneously see N (and thus incur disadvantage on perception checks for dim light and the cloak of elvenkind) and at the same time not see N clearly enough, because N is hidden (short of some kind of perception check) and thus - by the definition of hidden - N is also unseen and unheard.

Apparently C is too stupid to realize the vague man sized dark form emerging from behind the tree (that he doesnt actually see despite the rules on P 167 telling us he does automatically see) might actually be something.

I don't currently see how one would prove they must be the same, which is why I felt it might be more productive to prove instead that disadvantage to sight-based Perception isn't identical to unclearly seen.
If you enter an area you cannot hide in (@Iry agrees that it is impossible to hide in light obscurement, unless a special ability lets you) the rules on Page 167 of the PHB state you are automatically noticed when you leave an area you can hide in (for an area you cannot hide in) unless the nearby observer is 'distracted' (i.e. looking the other way).

N is not a Skulker, and they are not a Wood Elf, so they cannot hide (or remain hidden) in dim light or heavy rain. The rule states that as soon as they leave a valid hiding spot and approach a creature they are automatically noticed by that creature, unless it is 'distracted' (i.e. they can sneak up behind it).

When N emerges from Hiding behind the tree, and enters an area C is observing closely, and where N cannot hide in (bright light, dim light, heavy rain etc) and heads towards C, N is automatically revealed.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Explain to me the difference. Both require conditions suitable for hiding, which @Iry agrees light obscurement is not (barring Skuker etc).
My point is not that I can explain the difference, but rather that I cannot prove they are the same.

One might attempt to do so by looking at other ability checks. For example, is trying to climb, and climbing, the same thing? I think they are, but how can one prove that they are? A group could say that trying to climb is rolling the die, and climbing is the product of rolling the die, or something like that.

No the superposition is @Iry would assert that in C observing N stepping out from behind the tree, C can simultaneously see N (and thus incur disadvantage on perception checks for dim light and the cloak of elvenkind) and at the same time not see N clearly enough, because N is hidden (short of some kind of perception check) and thus - by the definition of hidden - N is also unseen and unheard.
Implied by you are not clearly seen is that you are seen. Just not clearly. Your point might be addressed by denying the sight-based check and going off sound, just as if the hider were invisible in this situation. Thus, no superposition. There is no RAW-mandated penalty for creatures that normally use a combination of senses when relying only on one, but a DM might apply disadvantage.

EDIT I think the RAW always requires there to be a point where unseen/unheard abruptly transitions to seen/heard. One view says not being heavily obscured is such a point. Another view says that not being heavily or lightly obscured is such a point. In truth both might be somewhat incomplete, due to "you give away your position if you make noise" and to be hidden your position must be unknown.

If you enter an area you cannot hide in (@Iry agrees that it is impossible to hide in light obscurement, unless a special ability lets you) the rules on Page 167 of the PHB state you are automatically noticed when you leave an area you can hide in (for an area you cannot hide in) unless the nearby observer is 'distracted' (i.e. looking the other way).

N is not a Skulker, and they are not a Wood Elf, so they cannot hide (or remain hidden) in dim light or heavy rain. The rule states that as soon as they leave a valid hiding spot and approach a creature they are automatically noticed by that creature, unless it is 'distracted' (i.e. they can sneak up behind it).
That's not precisely true. The rules state that you can't hide from a creature that can see you clearly. That implies that you can hide from a creature that can't see you clearly. Restating all this isn't productive. I honestly believe that to avail against a position like the one you oppose (and for the record, I also don't agree with) one must show one or both of
  • attempting to hide, and being hidden, are one and the same thing in RAW
  • disadvantage on (or denial of) Wisdom (Perception) checks relying on sight, and not being clearly seen, are two different things in RAW
So one needs to find cases that crisply demonstrate that. Or I guess to put it another way, if the exchange of yes it is / no it isn't was going to get anywhere, perhaps it should have done so by now :D
 
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My point is not that I can explain the difference, but rather that I cannot prove they are the same.

One might attempt to do so by looking at other ability checks. For example, is trying to climb, and climbing, the same thing? I think they are, but how can one prove that they are? A group could say that trying to climb is rolling the die, and climbing is the product of rolling the die, or something like that.
But consider the analogy. Trying to climb something that is impossible to climb (a sheer glass wall with no ropes etc) means you cant climb it.

You can attempt to, but you fail.

So if you cant hide in something (dim light) you cant therefore be hidden in it. You can attempt to, but you fail.

If you cant swim in a slab of rock, you cant be swimming in it. You can attempt to, but you fail.

I mean it's plain language we're using here. If any attempt to do the task is impossible, you cant do the task.

Implied by you are not clearly seen is that you are seen.

A creature that CAN see you clearly is the wording. And you CAN see a creature clearly when looking at it with NVG's (i.e. with darkvision) in light fog, or heavy rain, which is why it is (generally speaking) impossible for them to hide from you in such circumstances.

You might be unable to make out finer details, or be only viewing them in black and white, but you CAN clearly see them.

I mean go outside with a friend in heavy rain. Stare straight at each other. Try and hide without moving.

Obviously it wont work!

Now try the same thing, with your friend behind a lone tree, and you staring at the tree from 30' away. Count to 3, and on 3 your friend has to move around from the tree, and up to you and touch your nose using only the rain as cover, without you seeing him.

You can try this experiment a million times, and you see your friend the instant he steps around from behind the tree every single ttime.

It's madness we're arguing this. The RAW is not trying to set up some absurd situations (which is what you end up with if you follow @Iry interpretation).

In Law we have a rule of interpretation of legislation. If two possible interpretations are available, and one leads to an absurd result, we accept the one that doesn't.

That's not precisely true. The rules state that you can't hide from a creature that can see you clearly.

Yes, but the PHB also specifically defines hidden as 'unseen and unheard' so when you become hidden, you become unseen and unheard.

How do you remain unseen and unheard, when you leave a hiding spot, and approach someone who can now see you, such as by moving through heavy rain straight towards them as they stare straight at you?
 
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clearstream

Be just and fear not...
But consider the analogy. Trying to climb something that is impossible to climb (a sheer glass wall with no ropes etc) means you cant climb it.

You can attempt to, but you fail.

So if you cant hide in something (dim light) you cant therefore be hidden in it. You can attempt to, but you fail.

If you cant swim in a slab of rock, you cant be swimming in it. You can attempt to, but you fail.

I mean it's plain language we're using here. If any attempt to do the task is impossible, you cant do the task.
What matters is whether the set attempt() == the set result(). Consider an attempt that I can succeed or fail at - like climbing a perpendicular wall? I cannot fail to make the attempt, but I can fail to climb the wall. In that case, it seems like result() has different contents than attempt().

It might be like saying - you can only attempt to turn yourself into a goldfish when it is raining, but rain or shine once you are a goldfish you can remain one. This is peculiar, but I am not arguing for realism here, only for what the RAW could possibly entail.

The RAW is not trying to set up some absurd situations (which is what you end up with if you follow @Iry interpretation).

In Law we have a rule of interpretation of legislation. If two possible interpretations are available, and one leads to an absurd result, we accept the one that doesn't.
Typically what becomes accepted as absurd is just what happens to satisfy the beliefs and expectations of some or other empowered group. But in RPGs, we already have absurd results - a person can turn into a fish - and at our table we are the decisively empowered group. I point this out not to say that I disagree with the absurdity, but rather that I disagree that such an argument is necessarily persuasive.

Yes, but the PHB also specifically defines hidden as 'unseen and unheard' so when you become hidden, you become unseen and unheard.

How do you remain unseen and unheard, when you leave a hiding spot, and approach someone who can now see you, such as by moving through heavy rain straight towards them as they stare straight at you?
You have not left your hiding spot, because your hiding spot extends into lightly obscured squares. One way to think about it is as two new conditions that a creature can possess. The first is "can hide" - a creature possessing this condition can make an attempt to hide. The second is "can remain hidden" - a creature possessing this condition can remain hidden. A creature may possess none, one or both of these conditions.

However, inadvisable they may be, it would be straightforward to create such mechanics in a tool like Unreal or Unity. One way would be to have something check what tile a creature is in, and update the condition based on properties of that tile. There could be other properties - "half move", "zero move" and so on, and perhaps volumetric effects - e.g. fog or lighting - would be taken into account. The point is, from the perspective of a consistent set of game mechanics there is nothing impossible going on here.

Which as it happens is a point already conceded, in supposing that there can be creatures that can remain hidden in squares that are lightly obscured. Seeing as a skulker can sneak directly toward a searcher if lightly obscured, it seems mistaken to argue that it's impossible for creatures to do so. Rather one should argue that skulker shouldn't be robbed of meaning... which so far everyone agrees with.
 

What matters is whether the set attempt() == the set result().

No, there is an obvious logical fallacy created.

If you cant hide somewhere (and we accept you cant hide in light obscurement) how are you hiding there?

@Iry s interpretaton produces absurd results, including that one, and the other absurd result of a hidden creature emerging from behind a lone tree 60' away from me as and approaching me in heavy rain, as I stare straight at it, and somehow remaining hidden.

Accordingly that absurd interpretation is to be rejected, in favor of a common sense reading of the rules and dropping your convoluted and artificial parsing that leads to a nonsense.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
No, there is an obvious logical fallacy created.

If you cant hide somewhere (and we accept you cant hide in light obscurement) how are you hiding there?
It's only a logical fallacy if to-hide, and to-be-hidden are identical. Remember that @Iry asserts that they are different.

@Iry s interpretaton produces absurd results, including that one, and the other absurd result of a hidden creature emerging from behind a lone tree 60' away from me as and approaching me in heavy rain, as I stare straight at it, and somehow remaining hidden.
Would you concede that a character who is a wood elf can do exactly that?
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
I see @Iry's argument as arising from a dilemma.

Suppose we take the consequence of being lightly obscured - "disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight" - to amount to a mechanical restatement of "cannot see clearly". And then suppose we take it that if "You can't hide from a creature that can see you clearly" then "You can hide from a creature that can't see you clearly". But following this logic, we should also read "You can try to hide when you are lightly obscured" if you have Skulker as implying "You can't try to hide when you are lightly obscured" if you don't have Skulker.

So now we have our dilemma. The first horn is that we think we must let creatures that are lightly obscured hide because they cannot be seen clearly. The second horn is that something needs to change when you have / don't have Skulker. @Iry grasps the first horn and adjusts it just enough to resolve the dilemma. A creature that is lightly obscured can remain hidden, but it cannot try to hide - because that power is owned by Skulker! The second horn thus proves to be blunt.

The view espoused by @Flamestrike resolves that dilemma in a different way. It says that "can't see you clearly" and "disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight" are really two different things: I can see you clearly AND have disadvantage on my sight-based Wisdom (Perception) check. They're not mutually exclusive. The first horn thus proves to be blunt... and there is no second horn.

The dispute therefore should be over the linchpin point - is disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight the same as or different from seeing clearly? One argument I thought of that might help this is to consider how you would rule on perceiving a stealthy creature who is hiding in a brightly lit space that is free from any obscurement, using invisibility? I think that searchers do not have disadvantage on their Wisdom (Perception) check relying on sight in this situation even though they surely cannot see the hider clearly. I would be interested to hear others thoughts.
There's an additional point of disagreement, regarding the "role" of the dice. In particular, @Flamestrike is restricting the determination of what can and can not be seen clearly to the DM/rules, whereas @Iry is comfortable using dice to resolve any doubt as to whether or not someone is clearly seen.

Given that (a) the DMG discussed a wide range of ways to use the dice as resolution tools and (b) the designers deliberately left the stealth rules open-ended, I don't think we can say with confidence that either approach as "against the rules".

That being said, I personally think @Flamestrike's reading of the text is the stronger one. I just don't think the rules were written narrowly enough to preclude @Iry's interpretation.
 

Iry

Hero
Politely give me an absurd example of how my reading of 'If you leave your hiding spot and approach someone, they automatically see you unless they are distracted' might mean something other than what it says.
Your interpretation has infallible radar vision, incapable of error or missing anything. You can walk into a dimly lit room and fail to notice someone. You can move through foliage and possibly be unseen. You can miss things when you drive down the road. You can sneak up on people and startle them. You can walk past someone without them even noticing you. You can step on a snake without seeing it first.

I can go on for hours. All of these things we know are possible cannot happen in the conditions you are arguing with. Of course, we shouldn't expect a game of fantasy to simulate real life, but my interpretation allows for all of these things to happen without issue. Both of our positions have extremes that become absurd. Mine happen rarely. Yours would happen all the time.

My players are going to think they can do these things in game, because they are easily done in RL. So I'm going to choose an interpretation that allows the world to work the way they expect (to create smooth gameplay and not confuse expectations). And before you say "We're talking about RAW, not what your players expect." We're talking about choosing between two valid interpretations of the rules, one of which accommodates more RL situations VS one that (to me) does not.
 

There's an additional point of disagreement, regarding the "role" of the dice. In particular, @Flamestrike is restricting the determination of what can and can not be seen clearly to the DM/rules, whereas @Iry is comfortable using dice to resolve any doubt as to whether or not someone is clearly seen.

Given that (a) the DMG discussed a wide range of ways to use the dice as resolution tools and (b) the designers deliberately left the stealth rules open-ended, I don't think we can say with confidence that either approach as "against the rules".

That being said, I personally think @Flamestrike's reading of the text is the stronger one. I just don't think the rules were written narrowly enough to preclude @Iry's interpretation.

To give @Iry some credit, the DM determines when circusmtances are OK for hiding. If that's how he wants to run things (absurdities aside) then more luck to him.

A DM can rule you can 'mash the stealth button' and hide willy nilly if he wants. Who am I to stop him if it works at his table.

Im just saying I dont thing the rules are designed to work the way (by default) that @Iry suggests.

In particular the express rule of 'When you come out from hiding [and enter a place you cannot hide in] and approach a creature, it sees you, unless the DM rules it is distracted'.
 

Your interpretation has infallible radar vision, incapable of error or missing anything.

I'll stop you there because that's not my position.

A creature could be distracted or looking the other way. Heck in such circumstances its possible to hide from a creature in bright light (sneaking up behind it as it's distracted).

Those are things left up to DM discretion though, with the general rule of 'creatures are generally assumed to be alert all around them, and when you come out of hiding (and enter a place you cannot hide) and approach a creature, while being observed by that creature, you instantly cease being hidden'
 

It's only a logical fallacy if to-hide, and to-be-hidden are identical. Remember that @Iry asserts that they are different.
And they're not different.

Would you concede that a character who is a wood elf can do exactly that? [a hidden Wood Elf emerging from behind a lone tree 60' away from me as and approaching me in heavy rain, as I stare straight at it, and somehow remaining hidden]

Yes. Wood Elves can do just that because they're magical creatures. They don't even need the Tree to hide behind in the first place (the rain itself will do) and can do it while under direct observation.

Such a thing is impossible in the real world, but of course so are Elves.
 

Iry

Hero
I'll stop you there because that's not my position. A creature could be distracted or looking the other way. Heck in such circumstances its possible to hide from a creature in bright light (sneaking up behind it as it's distracted).

Those are things left up to DM discretion though, with the general rule of 'creatures are generally assumed to be alert all around them, and when you come out of hiding (and enter a place you cannot hide) and approach a creature, while being observed by that creature, you instantly cease being hidden'
You are not allowing DM arbitration in this discussion. That is your own condition. You cannot have it both ways.
 

You are not allowing DM arbitration in this discussion. That is your own condition. You cannot have it both ways.
No, Im expressly allowing it. Have said so twice.

I just assert your base reading of the rules is wrong, and I disagree with your arbitration of those rules which results in absurdities like a creature in heavy rain being hidden., despite being unable to hide in heavy rain, and being stared straight at, and despite the rules stating 'if you come out of hiding and approach a creature, it sees you'.
 

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