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5E Greater Invis and Stealth checks, how do you rule it?

DM Dave1

Adventurer
So if I understand correctly...
A guard walks on the parapet minding his own business. At a 100 feet, down in the field, stands an unhidden invisible monk breathing slowly and watching the guard. All of a sudden, the guard looks toward the monk and says: "I know where you are punk! You'd better be careful!"
Am I the only one that finds this laughable to the extreme?

Or this one
During the Rock Show of Cacophonius the Bard, an invisible Arcane Trickster climb on the stage. The music is loud, very loud with the unique spell Cacophonius invented: "Pump up the volume!" a spell that makes music louder so more people can hear his perfect music. So our invisible arcane trickster climb on the stage but did not take the hide action. Cacophonius stops the show, turns toward the arcane trickster and says: "I know where you are you little autograph stealer! Go back in the crowd or I'll give you to the bouncers!"

By using these silly example, I hope to wake up the logic that people have. Use your logic. Rules are not everything. Especialy when adapting a rule to something it was not meant to rule...

Neither situation deals with combat so there's no Hide action to be taken in your examples (mosh pit notwithstanding). I'd hope the DM at the table would make a reasonable ruling about the invisible character based on the scene and what the player has said the PC is trying to accomplish and how they are going about it.
 

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In any case, if you can find rules that say that an invisible creature's location is automatically known unless they take the hide action feel free to quote it.

Spells do what they say they do. Not what they did in a previous edition, not what you feel they ought to be due to their narrative flavor, just what they say their do. Now, I'll admit that Invisibility is a bit unintuitive because it sends you chasing through several different rules passages. So let's follow the trail.

We start with the Invisibility spell on p254, which says it makes you invisible. This is not a vaguely defined term, it's one of the official Conditions from Appendix A. So we go to p291 for that Condition's definition, where it says "An invisible creature is impossible to see without the aid of magic or a special sense. For the purpose of hiding, the creature is heavily obscured. The creature's location can be detected by any noise it makes or any tracks it leaves." This gives us the spell's actual mechanical framework. The creature's location can still be detected, but for purposes of hiding it counts as heavily obscured. Not that it IS heavily obscured, merely that it counts as such for hiding.

Going to p177 for the Hiding sidebar, we are treated to this bit of advice. "You can't hide from a creature that can see you, and if you make noise (such as shouting a warning or knocking over a vase), you give away your position. An invisible creature can't be seen, so it can always try to hide. Signs of its passage might still be noticed, however, and it still has to stay quiet. 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." This again draws a picture for us. Invisible creatures are still detectable if they haven't taken the Hide action and entities in combat are staying alert for all signs of danger. Qualifiers for "most" and "usually" are used, allowing for exceptions, but with the strong implications that such exceptions are supposed to be rare.

Does this satisfy your desire for rules quotes?
 

Spells do what they say they do. Not what they did in a previous edition, not what you feel they ought to be due to their narrative flavor, just what they say their do. Now, I'll admit that Invisibility is a bit unintuitive because it sends you chasing through several different rules passages. So let's follow the trail.

We start with the Invisibility spell on p254, which says it makes you invisible. This is not a vaguely defined term, it's one of the official Conditions from Appendix A. So we go to p291 for that Condition's definition, where it says "An invisible creature is impossible to see without the aid of magic or a special sense. For the purpose of hiding, the creature is heavily obscured. The creature's location can be detected by any noise it makes or any tracks it leaves." This gives us the spell's actual mechanical framework. The creature's location can still be detected, but for purposes of hiding it counts as heavily obscured. Not that it IS heavily obscured, merely that it counts as such for hiding.
Right. 'Being impossible to see' is pretty important here.

Going to p177 for the Hiding sidebar, we are treated to this bit of advice. "You can't hide from a creature that can see you, and if you make noise (such as shouting a warning or knocking over a vase), you give away your position. An invisible creature can't be seen, so it can always try to hide. Signs of its passage might still be noticed, however, and it still has to stay quiet. 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." This again draws a picture for us. Invisible creatures are still detectable if they haven't taken the Hide action and entities in combat are staying alert for all signs of danger. Qualifiers for "most" and "usually" are used, allowing for exceptions, but with the strong implications that such exceptions are supposed to be rare.
'Usually sees you' refers to hiding things in general and not to invisible things, which we know are impossible to see!
 

Richwil

First Post
So if I understand correctly...
A guard walks on the parapet minding his own business. At a 100 feet, down in the field, stands an unhidden invisible monk breathing slowly and watching the guard. All of a sudden, the guard looks toward the monk and says: "I know where you are punk! You'd better be careful!"
Am I the only one that finds this laughable to the extreme?

Or this one
During the Rock Show of Cacophonius the Bard, an invisible Arcane Trickster climb on the stage. The music is loud, very loud with the unique spell Cacophonius invented: "Pump up the volume!" a spell that makes music louder so more people can hear his perfect music. So our invisible arcane trickster climb on the stage but did not take the hide action. Cacophonius stops the show, turns toward the arcane trickster and says: "I know where you are you little autograph stealer! Go back in the crowd or I'll give you to the bouncers!"

By using these silly example, I hope to wake up the logic that people have. Use your logic. Rules are not everything. Especialy when adapting a rule to something it was not meant to rule...

By the rules, you are 100% correct on both counts. Whether or not that is "realistic" or should be true in the "real world" is a different question. (I put "realistic" and "real world" in quotes because we don't have a real-world example of invisibility to use an example).

I think that part of the issue is that (to paraphrase The Princess Bride), as used in the D&D rules, the word "invisible" does not mean what people typically think that it means. Based on the common use of the word and the way invisibility is typically depicted in fiction, I agree that detection of the invisible person in both scenarios above would not be possible and would not be "realistic". The fact that the rules allow for detection of the invisible person under both scenarios means that the D&D rules do not use the words "invisible" and "invisibility" the same way that we use them in normal life. Now, that may be problem with the way the rules are written, maybe the rules should do a better job of explaining what invisibility actual is, should better explain how something that is invisible "looks" or can be detected, etc., but those are ultimately different issues from how invisibility operates within the rules.

I think that the designers deliberately chose to make invisibility "unrealistic" in order to avoid invisibility effects from becoming too powerful and to keep invisibility from largely negating or swallowing the stealth skill. I think part of the reason there is such "debate" over how hiding, invisibility, etc. work is the designers did a poor job of making it clear that, again, as used in the D&D rules, invisibility does not mean what most people think that word means.

As an aside, one thing I always try to keep in mind when interpreting rules is not no "reify the flavor text" or the word used to describe a condition. For example, I think there is also a disconnect between what the D&D rules mean when they say "paralyzed" and what people mean when they say "paralyzed" in real life. In day to day life, people think of someone who is paralyzed as someone who cannot move at all, cannot offer any resistance to a melee attack, and, for example, whose throat you could leisurely slit (i.e. auto kill). The fact that, within the D&D rules, you cannot auto-kill someone who is paralyzed means that when the rules say "paralyzed" they do not mean someone who is "paralyzed" as we use that word in our day-to-day life. Because you cannot, by the rules, auto-kill someone who is paralyzed, in the D&D rules, paralyzed means someone who is at a disadvantage but who can still move enough to somewhat defend themselves from a physical attack. Now, the rules could do a better job of explaining the above and maybe some conditions should not be described with the words that are used to describe them, but, that is also a different question.

For my group, despite the disconnect with the fiction and the fact that it is "unrealistic", we go with the rules as written precisely because we think that the rules properly "rein in" invisibility and keep it from dominating the game. To justify it in ours minds, we throw out a post-hoc "Predator-shimmering-effect" description to harmonize the rules with what the PCs, NPCs, monsters, etc. "see". That works for us.
 

Teemu

Adventurer
One of the issues is that hiding takes up your action, unless you're a rogue. I think this is rogue niche protection and speeding up play. You could become invisible and hide on your turn in previous editions.

I guess a house rule could be to allow hiding as a bonus action when you're invisible.
 

I guess a house rule could be to allow hiding as a bonus action when you're invisible.

But why? It's a minor and unnecessary buff to Invisibility and a major and unnecessary buff to Greater Invisibility. Invisibility is already a very potent scouting spell and Greater Invisibility is already a very potent combat buff spell. They don't need to be more powerful.
 

Teemu

Adventurer
But why? It's a minor and unnecessary buff to Invisibility and a major and unnecessary buff to Greater Invisibility. Invisibility is already a very potent scouting spell and Greater Invisibility is already a very potent combat buff spell. They don't need to be more powerful.
I agree, but I've seen players frustrated because they can't hide on the same turn as they become invisible. You can pull that off in other editions but not in 5e, so maybe they did that with another character in another game and find it annoying when invisibility doesn't allow you to become undetected immediately.
 

I agree, but I've seen players frustrated because they can't hide on the same turn as they become invisible. You can pull that off in other editions but not in 5e, so maybe they did that with another character in another game and find it annoying when invisibility doesn't allow you to become undetected immediately.

On the one hand, I can see that throwing some people off. But on the other hand, nerfs to caster supremacy were intentional, highly necessary, and shouldn't be walked back just because they're different than how things used to be. Ninja vanish tricks should be for Rogues, not Wizards!
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I think being invisible in 5E is quite clear and simple as described in the PHB. If you are invisible you cannot be seen. If you can't be seen, in order for someone to know where you are they have to perceive something else. You have interact with the environment in a way that can be noticed. Affecting something that can be seen, making a noise loud enough to be heard, body heat, touch, smell, something.

Sometimes others will know where an invisible creature is, sometimes they won't, sometimes it's uncertain and the DM may call for whatever roll they think is appropriate. Not sure why there's this much debate on this topic.
 

Where does it state that? People keep repeating this as if it's a rule. Would you know where the monk was if he's on the other side of the planet?
The PHB.

At the start of combat every combatant is aware of all other combatants unless they were being stealthy.

Once combat begins, you remain aware of the rough location of all other combatants unless they take rhe Hide action and succeed in a Steath check.

The PHB states:

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. An invisible creature can always try to hide. Signs of its passage might still be noticed, and it does have to stay quiet.

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.


Being invisible just lets you take the Hide action whenever you want (representing you moving silently and concealing traces of your passage).

Unless and until you do so, the game assumes all combatants know your rough location.

Now there might be special circumstances that override that general rule. But an invisible PC, who is not hidden, sprinting 100' is not one of those special circumstances.

He can attempt to Hide on his next turn if he wants (and if no one followed him up on the prior round, I'd likely give him advantage to his Stealth check due to being far away from the main battle). But until he does, the game assumes nearby combatants are aware of his presence and rough location to launch some very limited attacks and spells against him, and even those very limited attacks that can be made, are made with disadvantage.
 

I think being invisible in 5E is quite clear and simple as described in the PHB. If you are invisible you cannot be seen. If you can't be seen, in order for someone to know where you are they have to perceive something else. You have interact with the environment in a way that can be noticed. Affecting something that can be seen, making a noise loud enough to be heard, body heat, touch, smell, something.

Sometimes others will know where an invisible creature is, sometimes they won't, sometimes it's uncertain and the DM may call for whatever roll they think is appropriate. Not sure why there's this much debate on this topic.

No mate. All invisibility does is allow you to attempt to Hide.

Its no different to hiding behind a tree or any other cover.

Hidden is defined as unseen and unheard. To be unheard you need to Move Silenty which is what the Stealth skill does, in combat, via the Hide action
 

I think being invisible in 5E is quite clear and simple as described in the PHB. If you are invisible you cannot be seen. If you can't be seen, in order for someone to know where you are they have to perceive something else. You have interact with the environment in a way that can be noticed. Affecting something that can be seen, making a noise loud enough to be heard, body heat, touch, smell, something.

Sometimes others will know where an invisible creature is, sometimes they won't, sometimes it's uncertain and the DM may call for whatever roll they think is appropriate. Not sure why there's this much debate on this topic.

No mate. All invisibility does is allow you to attempt to Hide.

Its no different to hiding behind a tree or any other cover.

Hidden is defined as unseen and unheard. To be unheard you need to Move Silenty which is what the Stealth skill does, in combat, via the Hide action
 

No, the monk is locatable until he hides. How he's locatable is up to however that successful action is described by the GM. Hearing is one option, it's not the only one.

Agree. Footprints in the dirt or snow. Branches bending back as he moves. Splashing puddles. A human shaped hole in smoke from the lanterns. Etc.
 

The PHB.

At the start of combat every combatant is aware of all other combatants unless they were being stealthy.

Once combat begins, you remain aware of the rough location of all other combatants unless they take rhe Hide action and succeed in a Steath check.
Then quote that rule. The rule you quoted says no such thing.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
By the rules, you are 100% correct on both counts. Whether or not that is "realistic" or should be true in the "real world" is a different question. (I put "realistic" and "real world" in quotes because we don't have a real-world example of invisibility to use an example).

I think that part of the issue is that (to paraphrase The Princess Bride), as used in the D&D rules, the word "invisible" does not mean what people typically think that it means. Based on the common use of the word and the way invisibility is typically depicted in fiction, I agree that detection of the invisible person in both scenarios above would not be possible and would not be "realistic". The fact that the rules allow for detection of the invisible person under both scenarios means that the D&D rules do not use the words "invisible" and "invisibility" the same way that we use them in normal life. Now, that may be problem with the way the rules are written, maybe the rules should do a better job of explaining what invisibility actual is, should better explain how something that is invisible "looks" or can be detected, etc., but those are ultimately different issues from how invisibility operates within the rules.

I think that the designers deliberately chose to make invisibility "unrealistic" in order to avoid invisibility effects from becoming too powerful and to keep invisibility from largely negating or swallowing the stealth skill. I think part of the reason there is such "debate" over how hiding, invisibility, etc. work is the designers did a poor job of making it clear that, again, as used in the D&D rules, invisibility does not mean what most people think that word means.

As an aside, one thing I always try to keep in mind when interpreting rules is not no "reify the flavor text" or the word used to describe a condition. For example, I think there is also a disconnect between what the D&D rules mean when they say "paralyzed" and what people mean when they say "paralyzed" in real life. In day to day life, people think of someone who is paralyzed as someone who cannot move at all, cannot offer any resistance to a melee attack, and, for example, whose throat you could leisurely slit (i.e. auto kill). The fact that, within the D&D rules, you cannot auto-kill someone who is paralyzed means that when the rules say "paralyzed" they do not mean someone who is "paralyzed" as we use that word in our day-to-day life. Because you cannot, by the rules, auto-kill someone who is paralyzed, in the D&D rules, paralyzed means someone who is at a disadvantage but who can still move enough to somewhat defend themselves from a physical attack. Now, the rules could do a better job of explaining the above and maybe some conditions should not be described with the words that are used to describe them, but, that is also a different question.

For my group, despite the disconnect with the fiction and the fact that it is "unrealistic", we go with the rules as written precisely because we think that the rules properly "rein in" invisibility and keep it from dominating the game. To justify it in ours minds, we throw out a post-hoc "Predator-shimmering-effect" description to harmonize the rules with what the PCs, NPCs, monsters, etc. "see". That works for us.
No, by the rules @Helldritch isn't right, nor are you. Page 4 of the PHB tells us that the GM determines if an action succeeds, fails, or is uncertain, and, if uncertain, to use the mechanics (ability checks and the like). So, by the rules, the first pass is for the GM to determine what chance of success the guard has in this situation. It's only if the GM decides that it's uncertain that the guard might notice the monk do we turn to the mechanics. And, at that point, the mechanics heavily suggest that the monk can be locatable. Still, by the rules, this only happens if the GM first determines it's uncertain that the monk is detected and then that those mechanics are the proper ones to adjudicate this situation.

That said, the rules do strongly suggest that an invisible creature is not automatically hidden, especially in combat, but page 4 exists because GM's need to consider the situation and not blindly apply one-size-fits-all adjudications that create absurd situations. My preferences is to stick to the rules as much as possible because that creates a stable assumption set so players can make good decisions about risk/reward for a given action, but temper that with what's going on in the fiction. It seems pretty ludicrous to have a invisible monk 100' away from a guard and just watching to be automatically noticed.

Of course, there's another great tool you could use here, but it isn't widely liked -- don't narrate what the monk does until after it's determined if he's detected. This lets you narrate a clear reason why the monk was detected instead of trying to align previously narrated fiction with an adverse mechanical outcome.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
@Flamestrike, I agree you can make a stealth check to hide in order to conceal your location. It's like saying a rectangle can be a square. All rectangles are not squares, lack of a stealth check does not automatically give away your position.

The rules do not support the rest of your statements, it's a judgement call on the part of the DM to decide if someone can be located by means other than sight.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
@Flamestrike, I agree you can make a stealth check to hide in order to conceal your location. It's like saying a rectangle can be a square. All rectangles are not squares, lack of a stealth check does not automatically give away your position.

The rules do not support the rest of your statements, it's a judgement call on the part of the DM to decide if someone can be located by means other than sight.
Agree, with the strong presumption that, in many cases, you'd need to hide to conceal your location.
 




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