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D&D 5E Rogue's Cunning Action to Hide: In Combat??

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
I was startled to have a rules argument tonight with a group that I've been playing with since the start of 5E. For context, we were in the lair of Xipe, the oni, in Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. Three of the party were in melee with the oni, while two others (human warlock and halfling rogue) were attacking at range. This room doesn't appear on the map and has no boxed text description; the only hint about its furnishings is in the list of treasure, which mentions an ornamental table.

The rogue kept missing her attacks, and since I've played a rogue in several other games, I suggested that she hide so as to get advantage on the shot. (Note, before anyone asks: Yes, I also mentioned the new Aim action from Tasha's, but that's not what caused the argument). The DM, backed up by her husband, insisted that it's impossible to hide during combat. They pointed to the section on page 177 of the PHB that says "You can't hide from a creature that can see you clearly" and said that since Xipe could see the rogue, that meant she couldn't hide.

I said rogues were intended to be able to hide during combat and that's what the use of cunning action to hide as a bonus action was designed for. But I was so caught off guard and so amazed at their position that I was reduced to the lamest possible argument--"Well, my other DMs have always let me do it." To which the answer was, of course, "Your other DMs are wrong."

So ... am I and the three other DMs that I've played rogues under just wrong about this?

Is it up for interpretation?

If I'm right, or if there's at least a case to be made that I'm right, what other rule can I point to that will convince this DM?

(To be clear, I'm not playing the rogue in this particular game, but it will end soon, and if this is going to be their way to play it, that could stop me from ever rolling a rogue at this table.)

Bonus extra question

I could see a case that there was nothing in the room suitable for the rogue to hide behind, although it seems like the living quarters of a Large creature should provide hiding opportunities for a Small PC. But the rogue is a halfling and the warlock, who was next to her, is a human. And Lightfoot halflings have the "Naturally Stealthy" ability, which says this: "You can attempt to hide even when you are obscured only by a creature that is at least one size larger than you." So it seems to me that the halfling rogue should have been able to hide behind the human warlock even if there was nothing else suitable in the area. If you would allow a rogue to hide during combat, would you allow a halfling rogue who is attacking from range to hide behind a human?
 

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Zardnaar

Legend
Way I do it if you're being observed you can't do it.

If you're a halfing you can hide behind someone but it's only good for the first shot.

It's hiding not greater invisibility or even normal invisibility.

Basically once you launch an attack the enemy knows you're there.
 



Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
The Hide action is literally listed under the header “Actions in Combat,” so yes, it is intended that characters be able to hide in combat. That said, it is also true that you can’t hide from a creature that can see you clearly, and what exactly that means is up to DM interpretation. But I think any reasonable DM would say that total cover and heavy obscurement both count at the very least. Now, it is possible that the terrain in your example just didn’t provide any means by which to prevent the rogue from being seen clearly. But it sounds like the environment may not have been described clearly enough to make that determination, which in my opinion is on the DM, even if the module was vague in its description of the room. Finally, if the rogue was a lightfoot halfling, they should have been able to hide behind their Medium allies by RAW. But I know a lot of DMs don’t allow that, so it’s something you should always ask your DM about if you’re considering playing a lightfoot halfling. Same goes for wood elf, to a lesser extent.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I was startled to have a rules argument tonight with a group that I've been playing with since the start of 5E. For context, we were in the lair of Xipe, the oni, in Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. Three of the party were in melee with the oni, while two others (human warlock and halfling rogue) were attacking at range. This room doesn't appear on the map and has no boxed text description; the only hint about its furnishings is in the list of treasure, which mentions an ornamental table.

The rogue kept missing her attacks, and since I've played a rogue in several other games, I suggested that she hide so as to get advantage on the shot. (Note, before anyone asks: Yes, I also mentioned the new Aim action from Tasha's, but that's not what caused the argument). The DM, backed up by her husband, insisted that it's impossible to hide during combat. They pointed to the section on page 177 of the PHB that says "You can't hide from a creature that can see you clearly" and said that since Xipe could see the rogue, that meant she couldn't hide.

I said rogues were intended to be able to hide during combat and that's what the use of cunning action to hide as a bonus action was designed for. But I was so caught off guard and so amazed at their position that I was reduced to the lamest possible argument--"Well, my other DMs have always let me do it." To which the answer was, of course, "Your other DMs are wrong."

So ... am I and the three other DMs that I've played rogues under just wrong about this?

Is it up for interpretation?

If I'm right, or if there's at least a case to be made that I'm right, what other rule can I point to that will convince this DM?

(To be clear, I'm not playing the rogue in this particular game, but it will end soon, and if this is going to be their way to play it, that could stop me from ever rolling a rogue at this table.)

Bonus extra question

I could see a case that there was nothing in the room suitable for the rogue to hide behind, although it seems like the living quarters of a Large creature should provide hiding opportunities for a Small PC. But the rogue is a halfling and the warlock, who was next to her, is a human. And Lightfoot halflings have the "Naturally Stealthy" ability, which says this: "You can attempt to hide even when you are obscured only by a creature that is at least one size larger than you." So it seems to me that the halfling rogue should have been able to hide behind the human warlock even if there was nothing else suitable in the area. If you would allow a rogue to hide during combat, would you allow a halfling rogue who is attacking from range to hide behind a human?
If the rogue can be seen clearly or heard, the rogue cannot be hidden. Whether the environment has elements which allows the rogue to try to hide is entirely up to the DM. It's not a rule that "you can't hide in combat," but circumstances may be such that you can't hide in a given environment. As for the bonus question, a halfling rogue could hide behind a human as long as the rogue is not heard.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
If the rogue can be seen clearly or heard, the rogue cannot be hidden.
But can the rogue, as a bonus action during combat, move to a place where she cannot be seen clearly and then attempt to hide?

As for the bonus question, a halfling rogue could hide behind a human as long as the rogue is not heard.
How would you adjudicate whether the rogue was heard or not?
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Hiding in combat is definitely a thing or there wouldn’t be a Hide action in the first place. But, yeah, you have to have suitable places to hide that give you appropriate concealment or suitably distract the observer. Keep in mind that the appropriate concealment has to be from the perspective of the observer. A lightfoot halfling has to be behind their larger buddy with respect to the opponent to try to hide from them, so always think of the suitability of the concealment.
 


iserith

Magic Wordsmith
But can the rogue, as a bonus action during combat, move to a place where she cannot be seen clearly and then attempt to hide?
If there is such a place, yes.

How would you adjudicate whether the rogue was heard or not?
As long as the rogue isn't talking, singing, or whatever, then the Dexterity (Stealth) check will determine the outcome. If they are talking, singing, or otherwise making noise, their attempt to hide fails (no roll).
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Even if a rogue can hide (debatable) once they attack. An enemy only has to move negating the cover and the rogues not hiding then.

We just use the Tashas rules to solve arguements. I tell the players that we're doing RAW errata and twitter doesn't count unless I've added the errsta to the game.

Mostly because I've had some players know about it and others don't and/or quote rulings outside the books and mess it up.

Doesn't really matter what the rules are as long as everyone knows what they are (or should).
 

Rabulias

Hero
But can the rogue, as a bonus action during combat, move to a place where she cannot be seen clearly and then attempt to hide?
Just to be precise, if a rogue uses their Cunning Action Bonus Action (CABA) to move to a point where the enemy cannot see them, then the only way they can Hide on this turn is to use their standard Action. Use the CABA at the start of their next turn, then attack from hiding, move back into position, and repeat.

Edit: As Zardnaar points out, a hiding place is only good so long as the opponent cannot see the rogue there. If the enemy can see the rogue, then the rogue needs to move to a different hiding place. Highly mobile opponents can make this tough for the rogue, so you want your comrades to lock enemies down, or use terrain features to prevent being seen.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
But can the rogue, as a bonus action during combat, move to a place where she cannot be seen clearly and then attempt to hide?
The rogue can use their movement to get to a place where they can’t be seen clearly (assuming there is such a place within the range of their movement. This will depend on the surrounding environment, which is why it’s important that the DM describes the environment clearly enough that the players can understand their options). Once they’re there, they can use the Hide action to attempt to become hidden (and a rogue’s Cunning Action allows them to do so as a bonus action).
How would you adjudicate whether the rogue was heard or not?
That’s what the Dexterity (Stealth) check is for. You make the check, and become hidden from any creature that can’t clearly see you and has a lower passive Wisdom (Perception) than the result. Note, however, that you stop being hidden from a creature if it sees or hears you. If you move away from whatever is preventing you from being seen clearly, if your opponent moves to a position where they can see you clearly, or if your opponent uses the Search action and gets a higher result on their Wisdom (Perception) check than you got on your Dexterity (Stealth) check, you are no longer hidden from them.

The the DM may decide that you can briefly move out of cover (perhaps to make an attack or move to another source of cover) without being seen if the opponent is distracted. Generally, since creatures are considered to be aware of their surroundings and alert to danger at all times in combat, it is unlikely that any creature will be sufficiently distracted in combat, especially if they just watched you walk behind a pillar (or one of your allies).

Ultimately, the DM decides when conditions are appropriate to hide (or to remain hidden).
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
Even if a rogue can hide (debatable) once they attack. An enemy only has to move negating the cover and the rogues not hiding then.
That’s why the rogue gets the ability to hide as a bonus action. You can move to cover, use your cunning action to hide as a bonus action, then use your action to attack with advantage, thereby allowing you to deal sneak attack damage if you hit. It doesn’t matter that they can find you on their turn, you already got what you needed out of it.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
That’s why the rogue gets the ability to hide as a bonus action. You can move to cover, use your cunning action to hide as a bonus action, then use your action to attack with advantage, thereby allowing you to deal sneak attack damage if you hit. It doesn’t matter that they can find you on their turn, you already got what you needed out of it.
Which is also why they included aim in Tasha’s, to end silly arguments and prevent rogue’s being neutered by bad readings of the rules.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
Which is also why they included aim in Tasha’s, to end silly arguments and prevent rogue’s being neutered by bad readings of the rules.
Precisely. I don’t really like the Aim maneuver very much personally - I like that ranged rogues need a source of cover or concealment, and to pass that Stealth check, to help balance out the fact that they are able to stay at a safe distance from the melee. But, I do think it’s an important option to have, since it’s so important for ranged rogues to have an at-will way to gain advantage and a lot of DMs are way too stingy with stealth. Unfortunately, I think most DMs who are so particular about the conditions for hiding are likely to also be the types not to allow Aim.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Which is also why they included aim in Tasha’s, to end silly arguments and prevent rogue’s being neutered by bad readings of the rules.

Bad reading the rules say if you're seen you can't hide. Once you attack you're spotted.

Don't blame the DMs blame the writers.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I was startled to have a rules argument tonight with a group that I've been playing with since the start of 5E. For context, we were in the lair of Xipe, the oni, in Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. Three of the party were in melee with the oni, while two others (human warlock and halfling rogue) were attacking at range. This room doesn't appear on the map and has no boxed text description; the only hint about its furnishings is in the list of treasure, which mentions an ornamental table.

The rogue kept missing her attacks, and since I've played a rogue in several other games, I suggested that she hide so as to get advantage on the shot. (Note, before anyone asks: Yes, I also mentioned the new Aim action from Tasha's, but that's not what caused the argument). The DM, backed up by her husband, insisted that it's impossible to hide during combat. They pointed to the section on page 177 of the PHB that says "You can't hide from a creature that can see you clearly" and said that since Xipe could see the rogue, that meant she couldn't hide.

I said rogues were intended to be able to hide during combat and that's what the use of cunning action to hide as a bonus action was designed for. But I was so caught off guard and so amazed at their position that I was reduced to the lamest possible argument--"Well, my other DMs have always let me do it." To which the answer was, of course, "Your other DMs are wrong."

So ... am I and the three other DMs that I've played rogues under just wrong about this?

Is it up for interpretation?

If I'm right, or if there's at least a case to be made that I'm right, what other rule can I point to that will convince this DM?

(To be clear, I'm not playing the rogue in this particular game, but it will end soon, and if this is going to be their way to play it, that could stop me from ever rolling a rogue at this table.)

Bonus extra question

I could see a case that there was nothing in the room suitable for the rogue to hide behind, although it seems like the living quarters of a Large creature should provide hiding opportunities for a Small PC. But the rogue is a halfling and the warlock, who was next to her, is a human. And Lightfoot halflings have the "Naturally Stealthy" ability, which says this: "You can attempt to hide even when you are obscured only by a creature that is at least one size larger than you." So it seems to me that the halfling rogue should have been able to hide behind the human warlock even if there was nothing else suitable in the area. If you would allow a rogue to hide during combat, would you allow a halfling rogue who is attacking from range to hide behind a human?
They’re wrong. Flat out. The rogue just needs to break line of sight, and spend the action or Bonus Action to Hide.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
Bad reading the rules say if you're seen you can't hide. Once you attack you're spotted.

Don't blame the DMs blame the writers.
The rules say the DM decides when conditions are appropriate to hide, so if a DM decides that a character is spotted once they attack, that’s 100% on the DM.

Personally, I rule that you can make a ranged attack while hidden and benefit from the advantages of being hidden on the attack and damage roll, though you will probably be spotted after the attack hits or misses (unless you have the Skulker Feat, in which case you’ll remain hidden if it misses, as the Feat says.) Since the RAW is that the DM decides when it’s appropriate to hide, this ruling is fully supported by RAW.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
The rules say the DM decides when conditions are appropriate to hide, so if a DM decides that a character is spotted once they attack, that’s 100% on the DM.

Personally, I rule that you can make a ranged attack while hidden and benefit from the advantages of being hidden on the attack and damage roll, though you will probably be spotted after the attack hits or misses (unless you have the Skulker Feat, in which case you’ll remain hidden if it misses, as the Feat says.) Since the RAW is that the DM decides when it’s appropriate to hide, this ruling is fully supported by RAW.

Ranger get hide in plain sight rogues don't.

A bit of an oversight perhaps if RAI originally.

I think most of us can probably agree the stealth rules suck.
 

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