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D&D 5E Does being Heavily Obscured grant Cover... And should it???

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
I think it would be better if you could only get advantage for being an unseen attacker if you yourself can see the target. Two characters fighting in the dark trying to hit each other should both have disadvantage.
That just makes game longer, while not adding any options or interesting things to exploit and without any actual impact on, well, anyone's effectiveness.
 

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DND_Reborn

Legend
Think about this:

An invisible stalker is on guard duty. A rogue can hear it so has an idea of its location and moves up quietly behind it to attack it, but can't see it due to it being invisible. The stalker is unaware of the rogue behind it.

Who gets advantage or disadvantage on what?

This is a situation where RAW I understand everything should cancel out. The rogue would have advantage due to the stalker being unaware of the attack, but has disadvantage for trying to attack a target he can't see.

If you think like this:
When a creature you can see can't see you, you have advantage on attack rolls against it.
I think it would be better if you could only get advantage for being an unseen attacker if you yourself can see the target.
The rogue would still have disadvantage on the attack, correct?

Then what would be the point of stealth and moving up on the target?

The advantage the rogue gets isn't because he can see the target, it is because his target (the stalker) is unaware of the incoming attack. The stalker isn't being "defensive", it is just standing or patrolling or whatever. It is almost like the reverse of Dodge.

That is why, at least as long as you have an idea of the location of a target (even one you can't see), you can make the attack and benefit if the target doesn't know the attack is coming.

What seems to be ignored more often than not IME, is this:
1608387795324.png

1608387807757.png


In the above example, as DM, I would require the rogue's player to make a Wisdom (Perception) check with disadvantage to determine the location of the stalker. If the check fails, the rogue "attacks" the wrong location, automatically missing, and is revealed to the stalker.
 

Think about this:

An invisible stalker is on guard duty. A rogue can hear it so has an idea of its location and moves up quietly behind it to attack it, but can't see it due to it being invisible. The stalker is unaware of the rogue behind it.

Who gets advantage or disadvantage on what?

This is a situation where RAW I understand everything should cancel out. The rogue would have advantage due to the stalker being unaware of the attack, but has disadvantage for trying to attack a target he can't see.

If you think like this:


The rogue would still have disadvantage on the attack, correct?

Then what would be the point of stealth and moving up on the target?
Yep, the rogue would still have disadvantage. The point of stealth would be that the rogue doesn't get attacked by the invisible stalker before he's ready to strike.
 


DND_Reborn

Legend
Yep, the rogue would still have disadvantage. The point of stealth would be that the rogue doesn't get attacked by the invisible stalker before he's ready to strike.
No much of a boon then IMO since the if the rogue wins initiative, the effect is the same.

Yes and the Rogue could still have surprise (key for Assassin as they can get a crit regardless of advantage/disadvantage).
This is potentially the bigger boon in that with surprise the stalker couldn't attack the first round, meaning if the rogue wins initiative he gets to act twice (in essence, anyway).

But, Assassins getting a crit isn't as big a deal without advantage (cancelled by the disadvantage the invisibility imposes for tables who want to house-rule it that way), as that means no sneak attack damage. 🤷‍♂️
 

No much of a boon then IMO since the if the rogue wins initiative, the effect is the same.


This is potentially the bigger boon in that with surprise the stalker couldn't attack the first round, meaning if the rogue wins initiative he gets to act twice (in essence, anyway).
If the rogue is hidden, then it gets surprise, which is a really big boon. If not, then it would have disadvantage as normal. If the rogue loses initiative, then the surprise negates the loss of initiative, with the possible chance of 2 turns in a row. Seems worth it to me.
 

No much of a boon then IMO since the if the rogue wins initiative, the effect is the same.


This is potentially the bigger boon in that with surprise the stalker couldn't attack the first round, meaning if the rogue wins initiative he gets to act twice (in essence, anyway).

But, Assassins getting a crit isn't as big a deal without advantage (cancelled by the disadvantage the invisibility imposes for tables who want to house-rule it that way), as that means no sneak attack damage. 🤷‍♂️
If this edge case bothers you a lot, then we could expand the rule so that you always get advantage against an unaware opponent, regardless if you can see it or not.
 

No much of a boon then IMO since the if the rogue wins initiative, the effect is the same.


This is potentially the bigger boon in that with surprise the stalker couldn't attack the first round, meaning if the rogue wins initiative he gets to act twice (in essence, anyway).

But, Assassins getting a crit isn't as big a deal without advantage (cancelled by the disadvantage the invisibility imposes for tables who want to house-rule it that way), as that means no sneak attack damage. 🤷‍♂️
Bonus action for the Assassin to off-hand attack the Invisible Stalker with a light bag of flour (covering the Invisible Stalker on a hit). Followed by an action to attack with their shortsword and... sneak attack.

Need a bit of buy-in from the DM on the bonus action flour "attack". And hope that the airborne flour doesn't also create a heavily obscuring cloud...
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I was thinking about two niche rules issues:

1) Advantage can be very prolific and easy to grant, making it less special.

2) The classic "shooting at a target in a Fog Cloud" scenario in which advantage and disadvantage always cancel out.

It made me wonder: would a creature in a Fog Cloud or Darkness, or otherwise Heavily Obscured, have cover?

Here's what the PHB says about being Heavily Obscured:



And Total Cover:



Now I'm assuming that if the game designers wanted concealment to grant cover, they would have said so (or just combined the rules), so RAW it probably doesn't. Especially with that word "obstacle" in there, the designers were obviously thinking about being behind a wall, not a cloud.

But should it grant cover???

I could see a House Rule granting characters who are heavily obscured 3/4 cover or even total cover. This may make effects like Fog Cloud and Darkness more effective. What other consequences would it have?
No. Being in a thick fog or smoke is like being invisible. You are out of sight, but can still be targeted. Total cover is being behind a wall where you can't be targeted. They don't equate.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
If this edge case bothers you a lot, then we could expand the rule so that you always get advantage against an unaware opponent, regardless if you can see it or not.
I think I would have to add that, personally. I see your point, believe me, but I also see the advantage is due to the opponent being unaware of the attack. Perhaps this is something more that having surprise would deal with?

At least if you are standing in the middle of a Fog Cloud and someone is shooting arrows into the cloud, you're going to be moving and aware of attacks, so I can see the attacker not benefiting if they can't see you, either.

Bonus action for the Assassin to off-hand attack the Invisible Stalker with a light bag of flour (covering the Invisible Stalker on a hit). Followed by an action to attack with their shortsword and... sneak attack.

Need a bit of buy-in from the DM on the bonus action flour "attack". And hope that the airborne flour doesn't also create a heavily obscuring cloud...
Yeah, this would require some DM buy-in LOL!

First, technically you can't use your Bonus Action to Attack until you have attacked with the Attack action. 🤷‍♂️ It's a minor issue, but it means for this to work you would have to:

Attack with the bag of flour. It would be a ranged attack (with an improvised weapon) against the stalker's AC, similar to oil or holy water I would think. Then use your bonus action for the second-weapon shortsword and sneak attack. The only downside to this method is no DEX mod to damage with the shortsword since it becomes your second-weapon. Again, 🤷‍♂️

Unless you are using a 20-lb bag of flour, I doubt it would be enough for heavy obscurement! :D
 

nevin

Adventurer
Obscured = vision

Cover = barrier

A cloud/darkness doesn't impede the progress of an arrow.

Think of it this way. If 20 archers fire arrows blindly into a fog, they might still hit something. If 20 archers fire arrows at a brick wall barrier, they won't hit whoever is behind that wall so the "attack" on anyone behind that wall is invalid. If 20 archers fire arrows into the darkness at someone hiding behind a table (3/4 cover), they might hit something. It's possible. In that scenario, both the "blind" and "cover" effects apply.

The same applies to spells. Remember, some spells don't function like arrows. Some can't "blindly" be fired and hope to hit something. They require a specific target "that you can see" to be valid.

That's all old news Sage Advice and Errata.

If you're talking a homebrew rule, I wouldn't because you're turning insubstantial barriers into physical barriers and adding a lot more power to low level effects.
If the spell requires a specific target then no you shouldn't be able to do it. so the question on Archers is, did they see where the target was before obscurment happened or are they really just firing blindly. Firing blindly I'd probably impose a large - to hit or if some of them hit roll a percentile to see how much actual damage occured after calculating it. I'd not expect firing blindly to have any realistic chance of being successful
 

toucanbuzz

Legend
If the spell requires a specific target then no you shouldn't be able to do it. so the question on Archers is, did they see where the target was before obscurement happened or are they really just firing blindly. Firing blindly I'd probably impose a large - to hit or if some of them hit roll a percentile to see how much actual damage occurred after calculating it. I'd not expect firing blindly to have any realistic chance of being successful
It depends on whether you're using "theater of the mind" or a grid map. On a grid map, a blind swing of a weapon, or an arrow shot, would require you to pick a square.

Theater of the mind would be more freeform and up to the DM as to whether firing blindly would have a "realistic chance." In a post on disadvantage, I talked about an absurd scenario where a PC had 11 sources of disadvantage and yet could attack normally if even 1 source of advantage (his owl familiar "helping" by hooting at enemy) occurred. Another poster suggested the DM should step in, use some common sense, and call it a miss. So cycling back to the OP, should we do more than the rules suggest? Sure, you can, but every modifier you toss into the game will slow the game down a bit and get it closer to what D&D was avoiding (less number crunching, more action).
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I was thinking about two niche rules issues:

1) Advantage can be very prolific and easy to grant, making it less special.

2) The classic "shooting at a target in a Fog Cloud" scenario in which advantage and disadvantage always cancel out.

It made me wonder: would a creature in a Fog Cloud or Darkness, or otherwise Heavily Obscured, have cover?

Here's what the PHB says about being Heavily Obscured:



And Total Cover:



Now I'm assuming that if the game designers wanted concealment to grant cover, they would have said so (or just combined the rules), so RAW it probably doesn't. Especially with that word "obstacle" in there, the designers were obviously thinking about being behind a wall, not a cloud.

But should it grant cover???

I could see a House Rule granting characters who are heavily obscured 3/4 cover or even total cover. This may make effects like Fog Cloud and Darkness more effective. What other consequences would it have?
I wouldn’t go that route, myself. Instead, I’d say that shooting a heavily obscured creature is at disadvantage, regardless of the RAW.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
If the spell requires a specific target then no you shouldn't be able to do it. so the question on Archers is, did they see where the target was before obscurment happened or are they really just firing blindly. Firing blindly I'd probably impose a large - to hit or if some of them hit roll a percentile to see how much actual damage occured after calculating it. I'd not expect firing blindly to have any realistic chance of being successful
I might allow an archer to negate the disadvantage by not moving that turn, and taking their action and bonus action to make a single attack, spending at least 3 arrows. They’re blanketing an area.

But even then, if the target knows they’re being shot at, and has a shield or other way of protecting themselves, you’d be back to square one.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Bonus action for the Assassin to off-hand attack the Invisible Stalker with a light bag of flour (covering the Invisible Stalker on a hit). Followed by an action to attack with their shortsword and... sneak attack.

Need a bit of buy-in from the DM on the bonus action flour "attack". And hope that the airborne flour doesn't also create a heavily obscuring cloud...
This is where I like to inject highly specific common magic items. 10g for the device, 5 silver per charge, gets you a device that looks like a turkey baster with a barrel on the dropper end, with a wad of flour and chemicals that will shed dim light when combined with oxygen, and a ball of magically compressed air in the squeeze end. Just point and squeeze, and the ball explodes out the barrel, shooting a shotgun blast of glowing flour out before it.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
I think it would be better if you could only get advantage for being an unseen attacker if you yourself can see the target. Two characters fighting in the dark trying to hit each other should both have disadvantage.
That does seem a pretty reasonable fix. It’s a very bizarre case that fighting in complete darkness is equivalent to fighting in broad daylight.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
As others have pointed out, it should not grant cover, both by RAW and RAI.

This came up very early in 5E and our group has a very simple houserule for it:

When a creature you can see can't see you, you have advantage on attack rolls against it.

This removes the cancelling of disadvantage while blinded. If two people can't see each other, there's going to be a LOT more missing than two people who can see each other.
I've always played it this way....didnt know I was houseruling.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
What seems to be ignored more often than not IME, is this:
View attachment 130307
View attachment 130308

In the above example, as DM, I would require the rogue's player to make a Wisdom (Perception) check with disadvantage to determine the location of the stalker. If the check fails, the rogue "attacks" the wrong location, automatically missing, and is revealed to the stalker.
But unless the stalker is Hidden, the rogue can discern its location based on sound and contextual indicators like footprints and such.

It’s for the best that the rogue attacks without advantage or disadvantage here. That way the stalker benefits from being invisible by denying the rogue advantage on the attack (and most likely preventing a sneak attack) and the rogue benefits from stealth by not getting disadvantage on the attack (and most likely surprising the stalker).
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
Bonus action for the Assassin to off-hand attack the Invisible Stalker with a light bag of flour (covering the Invisible Stalker on a hit). Followed by an action to attack with their shortsword and... sneak attack.

Need a bit of buy-in from the DM on the bonus action flour "attack". And hope that the airborne flour doesn't also create a heavily obscuring cloud...
I’d rule that the flour attack has to be made with the action if you want to make it first, but I’d allow the shortsword attack with the bonus action. Alternatively, a thief with deft hands could Use the bag of flower as a bonus action if for some reason it was important to save the action for the shortsword attack.
 

I rule you don't get advantage om attack rolls against targets who can't see you if you also can't see them.

So attacks in the darkness situation are always at disadvantage.
 

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