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D&D 5E Moving out of concealment to attack - when is stealth broken?

Stalker0

Legend
A common scenario. A character is currently in darkness and hidden. The character moves 20 ft towards an enemy, and after the first 10 ft of movement, is no longer in the darkness. They then proceed to make two attacks. They complete their move by moving back into the darkness.

At what point does the character lose the benefit of stealth?

1) As soon as they first move out of the darkness. None of their attacks get advantage.
2) The first attack gets advantage, then they lose stealth.
3) Both attacks get advantage, then they lose stealth.
4) They maintain stealth the entire time
 

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A common scenario. A character is currently in darkness and hidden. The character moves 20 ft towards an enemy, and after the first 10 ft of movement, is no longer in the darkness. They then proceed to make two attacks. They complete their move by moving back into the darkness.

At what point does the character lose the benefit of stealth?

1) As soon as they first move out of the darkness. None of their attacks get advantage.
2) The first attack gets advantage, then they lose stealth.
3) Both attacks get advantage, then they lose stealth.
4) They maintain stealth the entire time
#1 unless the DM determines the enemy hasn’t seen the PC yet in which case #2, per the Unseen Attackers and Targets rules (PHB p 194)
 

Undrave

Hero
#1 unless the DM determines the enemy hasn’t seen the PC yet in which case #2, per the Unseen Attackers and Targets rules (PHB p 194)
Hiding in battle would be pretty frickin' useless if it was #1 and Rogues would never do it. Rogues are supposed to get Advantage every turn so it should be at 2 or 3. You need to spend an action to hide (bonus for a rogue, standard for everybody else) so even if you move back into darkness you're not considered hidden. They can't see you but they know that's where you are so they won't be surprised on the following turn.

Why isn't that spelled out in the rulebook?! I don't have my book handy but I find it really stupid if it's not. That's not, in any way, a corner case, nor is it something opened to interpretation like the very concept of 'hidden' seems to be.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Same as @DM Dave1. You can't be hidden if you can be clearly seen. Under some circumstances the target may be distracted enough that they won't notice the attacker.

In my game there are times when this will work, but only the first time if coming from the same location.
 

Hiding in battle would be pretty frickin' useless if it was #1.

Why isn't that spelled out in the rulebook?! I don't have my book handy but I find it really stupid if it's not. That's not, in any way, a corner case, nor is it something opened to interpretation like the very concept of 'hidden' seems to be.

In any case, it would be either 2 or 3. You need to spend an action to hide (bonus for a rogue, standard for everybody else) so even if you move back into darkness you're not considered hidden. They can't see you but they know that's where you are so they won't be surprised on the following turn.
Popping out of hiding and shooting is way different than popping out of hiding and moving 10’ across the battle area towards your target and making a melee attack. The creature is in combat and looking out for danger, which includes PCs approaching it. If the creature is not otherwise distracted, as determined by the DM, they are going to have a chance to notice someone approaching in the light.
 


1) As soon as they first move out of the darkness. None of their attacks get advantage.
2) The first attack gets advantage, then they lose stealth.
Could be both.

PHB page 177: "You can't hide from a creature that can see you....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." It follows that "under certain circumstances" the DM might allow you to stay hidden if the creature is "distracted," thus allowing your 1st attack to have advantage.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Supporter
A common scenario. A character is currently in darkness and hidden. The character moves 20 ft towards an enemy, and after the first 10 ft of movement, is no longer in the darkness. They then proceed to make two attacks. They complete their move by moving back into the darkness.

At what point does the character lose the benefit of stealth?

1) As soon as they first move out of the darkness. None of their attacks get advantage.
2) The first attack gets advantage, then they lose stealth.
3) Both attacks get advantage, then they lose stealth.
4) They maintain stealth the entire time
I've run now about a hundred sessions (I keep count) of stealth-heavy 5e and where I have landed is this wording -

If creatures are unsuspecting, you remain hidden in the first square you enter that is in their sight, until you move, take an action, bonus action or reaction, attack, or end your turn.

Thus, I would support 2) The first attack gets advantage, then they lose stealth. I've based this as closely as possible on the RAW. I have had to rule effectively on Mask of the Wild, Shadow Step, rogue moving ahead of the party hoping to get individual surprise, party using group checks, rogues wanting to kite in and out of hiding, warlocks using Devil's Sight and Darkness... and basically any sort of nonsense-I-mean-cunning play you can imagine!

EDIT I probably should also hedge around a free interaction, but my players seem to get the point. You're hidden (in plain sight) until you do anything or choose not to do anything.
 

Undrave

Hero
Popping out of hiding and shooting is way different than popping out of hiding and moving 10’ across the battle area towards your target and making a melee attack. The creature is in combat and looking out for danger, which includes PCs approaching it. If the creature is not otherwise distracted, as determined by the DM, they are going to have a chance to notice someone approaching in the light.
I guess Melee would be pretty different from ranged attack yeah...
 

aco175

Legend
PHB page 177: "You can't hide from a creature that can see you....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." It follows that "under certain circumstances" the DM might allow you to stay hidden if the creature is "distracted," thus allowing your 1st attack to have advantage.
I would think this says it all.

What would be "under certain circumstances" though, that may be more open to wiggle room.
 

fearsomepirate

Adventurer
A common scenario. A character is currently in darkness and hidden. The character moves 20 ft towards an enemy, and after the first 10 ft of movement, is no longer in the darkness. They then proceed to make two attacks. They complete their move by moving back into the darkness.

At what point does the character lose the benefit of stealth?

1) As soon as they first move out of the darkness. None of their attacks get advantage.
2) The first attack gets advantage, then they lose stealth.
3) Both attacks get advantage, then they lose stealth.
4) They maintain stealth the entire time

Possibly (1), DM's call. If the DM allows the rogue to proceed stealthily, then (2). I generally do not allow (1) in combat. Plenty of sources of advantage otherwise, and what self-respecting rogue isn't carrying a ranged weapon?
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Supporter
I would think this says it all.

What would be "under certain circumstances" though, that may be more open to wiggle room.
In my campaign we use a grid, so I ended up choosing to rule it consistently as "If creatures are unsuspecting, you remain hidden in the first square you enter that is in their sight, until you move, take an action, bonus action or reaction, attack, or end your turn." That allows my stealth-focused player characters (two currently) to plan actions knowing what to expect.

It amounts to the same thing: I'm just saying the creature must be unsuspecting (e.g. could be distracted) and specifying that you are still hidden in the first square until you do something, so that it is clear how that will interact with advantage. The impact is that it is fairly easy to get with abilities like Mask of the Wild and a bow, and still possible but less common to get for melee attacks.
 


jgsugden

Legend
A key thing to remember: The designers pretty much admitted that they punted on the hiding rules. Crawford discusses it here in a podcast: James Haeck on D&D Writing | Dungeons & Dragons

"We very intentionally in fifth edition have put stealth in the domain of the Dungeon Master."

"The DM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding."

They note that they tried highly mechanical rules in prior editions, and it was problematic, so they went with giving DMs a very broad power to decide when stealth/hiding is allowed.

In the end, for anything relating to stealth: ASK THE DM.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
A key thing to remember: The designers pretty much admitted that they punted on the hiding rules. Crawford discusses it here in a podcast: James Haeck on D&D Writing | Dungeons & Dragons

"We very intentionally in fifth edition have put stealth in the domain of the Dungeon Master."

"The DM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding."

They note that they tried highly mechanical rules in prior editions, and it was problematic, so they went with giving DMs a very broad power to decide when stealth/hiding is allowed.
I don’t... Think that constitutes punting...
 

EpicureanDM

Explorer
"We very intentionally in fifth edition have put stealth in the domain of the Dungeon Master."

"The DM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding."
Remarkable that the "principal rules designer of Dungeons & Dragons" couldn't come up with rules to solve D&D's alleged tradition of problematic stealth rules.
 

Mistwell

Legend
According to Crawford, IF you leave the space in which you are hidden, then it becomes a DM's call as to whether you're in clear sight of your target or not. However, if you remain in the same spot you were hidden and peak around a corner or above a wall or around an obstacle to fire or attack without leaving that spot, then you get advantage because losing the benefit of being hidden doesn't resolve until after the attack hits or misses.

Crawford did a very long interview on this topic here (fast forward to 8:58 for the beginning of the stealth discussion).
 

I always figured it as #1 by RAW and probably RAI, but normally run it as #2 as a DM. Stealth, Hidden, and all of it was meant (originally) to be interpreted heavily by the DM, probably for this exact reason. Just because #1 makes sense to most people doesn't mean it should be the only answer for everyone.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I don’t... Think that constitutes punting...
It absolutely does. Rather than coming up with cohesive, decisive and clear rules for stealth, they said, "We're going to have the DMs make calls with only rough guidance." That is punting.

It was also the right call.

By the way - if you have never listened to that interview, I recommend it highly. They address the issue under this thread explicitly at 42 minutes into the interview.
 

It was also the right call.
Yep, and I knew what you meant by saying punting, which may throw folks off by insinuating failure. They succeeded by giving the rule back to the DM to adjudicate with "common sense" as an inflexible mechanic could lead to absurdity.

The AngryGM has an overly wordy but wise insight into D&D Rules, including what he calls the Rules of Resolution and Rules of Structure. Resolution allows us to simulate reality, as realistically as we can (e.g. DC checks for climbing), while Structure gives us often unreal rules necessary for the game to run (e.g. everyone takes 1 turn in combat, in order, before the next guy goes).

Plugging Stealth into this, if it becomes a Rule of Structure (that Stealth is only detected with a successful Perception check), it could get absurd. "Of course I see the guy coming out of the shadows from 20' away. I'm not blind, and I'm not stupid, and I heard him fart back there." The same thing applies to use of Charisma-skills and so on. "It doesn't matter if you rolled a Natural 20. You spit in the king's face and insulted his daughter's character. He's tossing you in the dungeon."
 

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