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D&D 5E Ranged attacks and disadvantage in melee

auburn2

Adventurer
Ok a few things came up on the verbiage:

"you have disadvantage on the attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature who can see you and who isn’t incapacitated."

Ok this brought up a specific cases in a recent game I DM and caused a larger discussion with one of the players. Here is my interpretation, tell me if I am wrong.

1. "I move behind him so he can't see me"
My rule is being behind someone does not mean they can't see you. Most enemies can turn and look at you. If you are sneaking up behind someone who does not know you are ther and you pass your stealth check ok I might let this go and I might even give you advantage, but if you are within 5 ft of an enemy an he knows you are there he is going to turn his head and look at you before you shoot.

2. Blind sight is not the same as seeing me
I am actually going to go with the player on this. If you are fighting someone who has no eyes (like a plant) I will let you shoot from 5' without disadvantage since he has no eyes and can't "see" anything.

What do you think?
 

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Dausuul

Legend
Ok a few things came up on the verbiage:

"you have disadvantage on the attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature who can see you and who isn’t incapacitated."

Ok this brought up a specific cases in a recent game I DM and caused a larger discussion with one of the players. Here is my interpretation, tell me if I am wrong.

1. "I move behind him so he can't see me"
My rule is being behind someone does not mean they can't see you. Most enemies can turn and look at you. If you are sneaking up behind someone who does not know you are ther and you pass your stealth check ok I might let this go and I might even give you advantage, but if you are within 5 ft of an enemy an he knows you are there he is going to turn his head and look at you before you shoot.

2. Blind sight is not the same as seeing me
I am actually going to go with the player on this. If you are fighting someone who has no eyes (like a plant) I will let you shoot from 5' without disadvantage since he has no eyes and can't "see" anything.

What do you think?
I agree with you on #1. The player might want to consider all the ways monsters could take advantage of "I'm behind you, you can't see me!" There's a reason 5E doesn't have facing rules.

Disagree on #2. If a creature has blindsight, it can see well enough to attack you and defend itself from your attacks. No reason it shouldn't present the same challenges to ranged attackers as any other foe.

(Also, from a pure gamist perspective, ranged attacks are already on the strong side in D&D. They don't need any extra help.)

That said, #2 is an unusual scenario and it's no big deal to go either way. #1 is much more significant.
 

Dragongrief

Explorer
Agreed with Daulsuul.

#1 - There is no facing in 5e (unless you're using tactical house rules), therefore you can see in all directions.

#2 - "See" is a descriptive term rather than a litteral statement. It's more of a shorthand for "has good knowledge of your physical location and movements."
Hense creatures with blindsight can "see" invisible things, while sighted creatures cannot.

That said, you can rule that interfering with ranged attacks relies on traditional sight, but then you would want to consider whether "non-sighted" creatures should be able to make opportunity attacks.
 

ninjayeti

Adventurer
#1 Agree. There are no facing rules in 5E. Otherwise it would be trivially easy in most fights to get advantage by running behind the other guy.

#2 RAW that's technically correct. RAI I think blindsight is be equivalent to actual sight here. If the plant or whatever can sense you well enough to attack you effectively, it can sense you well enough to smack your bow as you are trying to nock an arrow and line up a shot.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Ok a few things came up on the verbiage:

"you have disadvantage on the attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature who can see you and who isn’t incapacitated."

Ok this brought up a specific cases in a recent game I DM and caused a larger discussion with one of the players. Here is my interpretation, tell me if I am wrong.

1. "I move behind him so he can't see me"
My rule is being behind someone does not mean they can't see you. Most enemies can turn and look at you. If you are sneaking up behind someone who does not know you are ther and you pass your stealth check ok I might let this go and I might even give you advantage, but if you are within 5 ft of an enemy an he knows you are there he is going to turn his head and look at you before you shoot.
You are correct; unless you’re using the optional Facing rules from the DMG, it’s assumed that creatures are aware of their surroundings in combat, and the rules draw no distinction between being “in front of” or “behind” a creature.

2. Blind sight is not the same as seeing me
I am actually going to go with the player on this. If you are fighting someone who has no eyes (like a plant) I will let you shoot from 5' without disadvantage since he has no eyes and can't "see" anything.
A creature with blindsight can perceive its surroundings without relying on sight. Arguing that a creature with blindsight can’t see you is pointless because it doesn’t need to “see” you in a literal sense. It’s aware of your presence and can detect you with exactly the same acuity as normal vision. It’s your game and you are free to rule however you like, but your player is definitely wrong about this and doing a poor job of trying to rules-lawyer it.
 




Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
I disagree with the player's reasoning in both cases. 1) Moving behind a creature doesn't make it not see you, and 2) as the name suggests, blindsight allows a creature to "see" without seeing.

I also want to point out that the discussion is focused on targeting a hostile creature within 5 feet, but the rule is that you have disadvantage if any hostile creature is within 5 feet whether that's the creature you're targeting or not, so it isn't about whether it can defend itself. It's about whether you can make a ranged attack effectively when you're potentially having to defend yourself from melee attacks.
 
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6ENow!

I don't debate opinions.
For reference: (Sorry, I like to see the complete rule/ situation)

1610210702509.png


I see some of the logic behind this, but frankly I think this is a bad rule. Think about the concept.

1. "I move behind him so he can't see me"
My rule is being behind someone does not mean they can't see you. Most enemies can turn and look at you. If you are sneaking up behind someone who does not know you are ther and you pass your stealth check ok I might let this go and I might even give you advantage, but if you are within 5 ft of an enemy an he knows you are there he is going to turn his head and look at you before you shoot.
Agreed.

A hidden attacker gains advantage because the target is unaware of the attack.

2. Blind sight is not the same as seeing me
I am actually going to go with the player on this. If you are fighting someone who has no eyes (like a plant) I will let you shoot from 5' without disadvantage since he has no eyes and can't "see" anything.
1610212059268.png


Blindsight allows the creature to "see" (perceive its surroundings) without needing to see. If the creature can sense you to attack you, it is a threat and should (according to the rule) impost disadvantage on your attack.

But, either way, I would just get rid of the original rule in the first place. shrug
 


6ENow!

I don't debate opinions.
Getting rid of the rule would make ranged attacks even more powerful than they already are. They really do not need any help.
Shocker--ranged attacks are more dangerous. Which is why ranged combat is so strong historically. Being able to attack a foe without immediate risk to yourself is pretty good.

If a PC has a sword and the foe has a bow, the bow guy definitely has the advantage. PCs (given the heroic view) wouldn't suffer issues uses a ranged attack in melee.
 

Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
Shocker--ranged attacks are more dangerous. Which is why ranged combat is so strong historically. Being able to attack a foe without immediate risk to yourself is pretty good.

If a PC has a sword and the foe has a bow, the bow guy definitely has the advantage. PCs (given the heroic view) wouldn't suffer issues uses a ranged attack in melee.
From a realism point of view, that's fine. But we also have to consider the game aspect of it, otherwise being a melee combatant would be a detriment.

As it stands now, its already true someone with a bow has advantage against someone with a sword at long range. However, the melee combatant has access to more damage and technically more AC. Also, the melee combatant is better when at melee (no surprise) and actively threatens the ranged combatants with disadvantage on their attacks or an Opportunity Attack which can give even more damage.

A ranged combatant gets disadvantage when their target simply takes the prone condition which is free to do and only takes movement to undo.

I think Ranged Combat is strong but its not as powerful as some would believe when factoring in all the pros and cons.
 

For situation #1, I agree with the OP's conclusion: just because a PC moves behind another creature doesn't mean that creature doesn't know the PC is there, unless there is a successful stealth attempt appropriate to the scene. Participants in combat are hyper-aware of their surroundings and constantly surveying the scene. On a more granular, gamist level, the creatures are all in 5' squares, which means turning 90 degrees and taking one step backwards in a 5' square could allow a creature to see attackers to their immediately left and right while hardly turning their head. So, yeah, while we're not trying to build a realistic combat simulator, the simplification of the rule works well enough without needing to overthink it.

For situation #2, blindsight allows a creature to "see" in its own way and does not provide relief to the rule that ranged attacks are at disadvantage when in close combat.


Here's an interesting side question (well, to me anyway, since I have two characters in our games with nets, one a sea elf wizard and one a ranger with the fisher background):

A Net is a ranged weapon that has a range of 5'/15'. Is the attack always at disadvantage when throwing it?
 


Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
A Net is a ranged weapon that has a range of 5'/15'. Is the attack always at disadvantage when throwing it?
Always? No. But it usually is at disadvantage. The times when they're not at disadvantage is when you are unseen, when your target is incapacitated (stun, unconscious, paralyzed, etc.), when you're underwater, when you've gained advantage from a source not listed above.

Notice the situations called out negates the "ranged in melee" situation, so they stack with advantage. Sneak up on someone and use your net attack, you get advantage on the roll. It can be quite useful for sneak attacks. Monk stuns the enemy? Use the net to basically ensure it has to get through the net and the stun to get rehabilitated.
 

6ENow!

I don't debate opinions.
Not when the sword guy is literally bearing down on him and about to stick him.
Watch Legolas again... he does it all the time. :D

Or Robin Hood. "Can you make your shot when you must?"

And how is it any different from a melee character when a "sword guys is literally bearing down on him blah blah blah"?
 

6ENow!

I don't debate opinions.
From a realism point of view, that's fine. But we also have to consider the game aspect of it, otherwise being a melee combatant would be a detriment.

As it stands now, its already true someone with a bow has advantage against someone with a sword at long range. However, the melee combatant has access to more damage and technically more AC. Also, the melee combatant is better when at melee (no surprise) and actively threatens the ranged combatants with disadvantage on their attacks or an Opportunity Attack which can give even more damage.

A ranged combatant gets disadvantage when their target simply takes the prone condition which is free to do and only takes movement to undo.

I think Ranged Combat is strong but its not as powerful as some would believe when factoring in all the pros and cons.
Good points, all, but I want to address this in particular:

actively threatens the ranged combatants with disadvantage on their attacks or an Opportunity Attack which can give even more damage.
Why impose disadvantage or grant an OA? A melee opponent is assumed always be actively threatening their target, regardless of what weapon you are wielding. And, as you say, ranged attackers typically already have lower ACs and are often denied "parry"-type features.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Ok, so...
  1. Is it really so hard to say that there are (optional) rules for facing on page 252 of the Dungeon Master's Guide compared to what you did?
I... Did say there are optional facing rules in the DMG...?
  1. The (optional) rules for facing are so absolutely terrible that I don't blame anyone for blanking out on their existence.
I disagree. They’re pretty solid, if facing rules are a thing you want. I’ve used them for some campaigns I’ve run, and they do their job just fine.
 

Watch Legolas again... he does it all the time. :D
Using ammunition as a melee weapon falls under improvised weapon rules.

And how is it any different from a melee character when a "sword guys is literally bearing down on him blah blah blah"?
Now you're being obtuse for the sake of being obtuse.

If I have to explain to you the obvious fact that it is much easier to defend yourself against and attack an enemy in melee combat with an actual melee weapon, then there is no reason to continue this conversation.
 

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