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5E Stealth, hiding and you! A mini guide (Noctaem)

Clockwerk66

First Post
Originally posted by Noctaem:





Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.

And in some cases it has a knife...




This mini guide is meant to be a go to place for people who wish to better understand stealth and hiding but also covers such things as Surprise, Light and Darkness within 5th edition. Before we start I will list the relevant rule sections and pages:

PHB
Chapter 7 Ability Scores (pages 175 Passive Checks + Group Checks, 177 Stealth + Hiding, 178 Perception),
Chapter 8 under Stealth, Noticing Threats, Encountering Creatures and Surprising Foes, Vision and Light + various senses on pages 182-185.
Chapter 9 Hide on page 192, Unseen attackers and targets on pages 194-195, Opportunity Attacks page 195.
Appendix A Conditions on page 291 for Invisibility.

MM
Pages 8-9 for the various senses.


ERRATA
June 10 2015 - PHB errata document: http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/ph_errata

NOTES ABOUT ERRATA
-The June 10 2015 errata has changed the way the sight restriction for hiding works as a whole. It explicitely states that the question when it comes to sight is no longer "can an observer see me?" but instead "can an observer see me clearly?". This is a nice boon for hiding in general since it means that many new situations will allow a creature to roll to try to hide. What constitutes being "clearly seen" is left up to the DM to determine, however it is logical to expect anything that makes you uncleartly seen to work. Light obscurement, heavy obscurement, half cover, 3/4 cover would all fall into this conclusion since they all make you unclearly seen. But ETV is going to be the best recommendation this guide can make.


Part 1 Hiding:

When you want to hide, you make a Dexterity (Stealth) check. This check is against the Passive Perception (determined by each creature's Wisdom score, more on this below) of creatures around you. Several factors revolve around becoming and remaining hidden. Clear sight and noise being the most common.


What does hiding get me in general?:

-Advantage on attack rolls against creatures you are hiding from.
-If you manage to beat a creature's Passive Perception score, you are considered hidden - both unseen and unheard - from it.
-Creature's who can't see you have disadvantage on attack rolls against you. This is true weither the attacker is guessing the target's location or if it the attacker is targeting a creature it can hear but not see (an invisible one for example). If the hiding creature is not in the location that is targeted by the attack, the attack automatically misses.

-There are many more benefits possible depending on your class, race, etc... Monsters also have many unique abilities and features that player characters cannot access easily if at all.


What does being invisible get me in general?:

-An invisible creature is impossible to see without the aid of magic or a special sense (see below). 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.
-Attack rolls against the creature have disadvantage, and the creature's attack rolls have advantage.


What is the difference?:

-An invisible creature does not lose its benefits after making an attack unless whatever grants you the invisibility specifies that you do.
-If you are hidden and invisible and a creature beats your Dexterity (Stealth) check, you do not lose invisibility unless whatever grants you the invisibility specifies that you do.


Restrictions when trying to become hidden or remain hidden:

-You can't hide from a creature who can clearly see you. If you have Total Cover (such as standing behind a wall which covers you completely) or are Heavily Obscured (such as standing in complete darkness) from a creature, it cannot see you as you are completely concealed. The June 10 errata has changed the limits for sight to specifically say it's about being clearly seen and no longer simply "seen". Another way is invisibility which causes you to be unseen(see below).
-In combat, it is assumed by the edition that most creatures are alert (this is DM fiat). So if you move out of hiding (from behind a rock, tree, corner, or whatever was stopping a creature from clearly seeing you) and approach someone you don't necessarily remain hidden. If your DM determines that the creature is distracted, you may be able to remain hidden and gain advantage on an attack before you are clearly seen.
-If your Dexterity (Stealth) check doesn't beat a creature's passive perception, you are not hidden from it. This can be important if creatures enter the area where you are hiding as your stealth check is immediately compared to their passive perception.
-If you make noise (such as shouting a warning or knocking over a vase), you give away your position and lose hidden.
-if you attack while hidden, you lose hidden and give away your location when the attack hits or misses.
-If your Dexterity (Stealth) check is beaten by a creature's active perception check (using the Search action as detailed below), you are no longer hidden from it.


Ways to see/detect hiding or invisible creatures automatically:

-Blindsight allows a creature to perceive its surroundings without relying on sight, within a specific radius. This allows a creature to see invisible creatures or creatures who are hiding. Examples of creatures with this sense would be creatures without eyes, creatures who use echolocation (bats) or have heightened senses (true dragons).
-Darkvision allows a creature to see in the dark within specific radius. If a creature is using darkness to hide, it will not be able to hide from a creature with darkvision. This is a very common sense, especially on creatures who typically live underground.
-Tremorsense allows creatures to detect and pinpoint the origin of vibrations within a specific radius, provided that the creature and the source of the vibrations are in contact with the same ground or substance. Unless the creature hiding is flying or incorporeal, hiding creatures are detected by this sense.
-Truesight is the ultimate sense. It allows creatures up to a specific range, see in normal and magical darkness, see invisible creatures and objects, automatically detect visual illusions and succeed on saving throws against them, and perceive the original form of a shapechanger or a creature that is transformed by magic. Furthermore, the creature can see into the Ethereal Plane within the same range.
-If a creature is using Complete Darkess to hide and a light source illuminates the square the hidden creature is in, it will automatically lose hidden since it can now be seen clearly.
-If a creature is using Total Cover to hide (such as standing behind a wall) and an observer places itself in a way that the hidden creature no longer has total cover, the hidden creature will automaticaly lose hidden since it can now be clearly seen.


Part 2 How Passive Perception works:

Passive perception is already on monster stat blocks. However to determine the passive perception of a character, you simply use the following formulae:

10+Wisdom Modifier. So if you have a 14 Wisdom on a 1st level character, your Passive Perception score is 12 (10 base + 2 from Wisdom). If you have proficiency in Perception, you gain your proficiency bonus. Your score then becomes 14 (10 base +2 from Wisdom + 2 Proficiency).

If you have a negative Wisdom Modifier, you simply deduct your score. So with 9 Wisdom, you have a -1 modifier. If we use the same character as above, your Passive Perception is now 11 (10 - 1 from Wisdom + 2 Proficiency).


When you roll a Dexterity (Stealth) check you compare it to the Passive Perception of creatures around you. So if you roll 15 Stealth and a creature has 14 Passive Perception, as long as you meet the criteria to become hidden (see Part 1) you are now hidden from that creature.

Finding hidden creatures the hard way:

You can use your action to make a Wisdom (Perception) check via the Search Action to try to find a hidden creature or creatures. The result of the check is compared to the Dexterity (Stealth) check of the hidden creature(s). If you tie or beat the Stealth check, that creature or creatures are no longer hidden, though you may not be able to see them in the case of an invisible creature for instance.


Part 3 The things that help to hide

-Invisibility stops creatures who don't have Blindsight, Tremorsense and True Sight from clearly seeing you. Which means you can make a check to hide whenever you want as long as you are invisible. However the PHB states that signs of an invisible creature's passage may still be noticed and you still have to remain quiet. (see above for what it gets you)
-Having proficiency in Stealth means that you get to add your proficiency bonus, this can be as high as your Dexterity score for example and so is very useful to have.
-The Lightfoot Halfling's Naturally Stealthy feature allows you to attempt to hide even when you are obscured only by a creature that is at least one size larger than you (Medium and above).
-Wood Elf's Mask of the Wild feature allows you to attempt to hide even when you are lightly obscured by foliage, heavy rain, falling snow, mist, and other natural phenomena.
-The Skulker feat gives you many benefits which revolve around stealth. You can try to hide when lightly obscured from the creature from which you are hiding. When you are hidden from a creature and miss it with a Ranged Weapon Attack, making the attack doesn't reveal your position. Dim light doesn't impose disadvantage on your Wisdom (Perception) checks relying on sight. However it should be noted that the Errata released on June 10 2015 has changed the way stealth works. The question is no longer "can I be seen?" but "can I be seen clearly?" which could mean that this feat is now redundant for hiding. Light obscurement is by definition something that makes you unclear for sight outside of things like creatures with Darkvision (which turns light obscurement into bright light). This is unclear at the time of this update so one should expect table variation.
-More on this section soon




Work in progress




Originally posted by Noctaem:


Part 4 Light and Darkness:
This section of the mini guide will cover game elements related to light and darkness with regards to hiding specifically. Let's start with this rule:

"A heavily obscured area-such as darkness, opaque fog, or dense foliage-blocks vision entirely. A creature in a heavily obscured area effectively suffers from the blinded condition."

EDIT: This rule has been errata'ed. You are no longer considered to be suffering from the blinded condition and instead are now simply "effectively blinded" while looking INTO heavy obscurement. This resolves the problem listed here since you can now see beyond the heavy obscurement such as in the image below. Bob the rogue who is standing in the heavy obscurement (the black areas) isn't automatically seen by an observer. But at the same time that observer is not prevented from seeing beyond the heavy obscurement in order to see the rest of the hallway. Kudos to Coolossus2123 for pointing out the errata.




As you can see in this image, darkness and light share the hallway. To the observer, looking into darkness means the equivalent of being effectively blinded. Looking into the light however causes no issue and the intervening darkness does not in fact completely block line of sight to whatever is further in the background of the image, which is what the rule text above used to imply before the errata. It's a good thing that they have released the errata to resolve this problem.


Part 5: Surprise

Surprise has changed in 5e when compared to previous editions. It now functions as a condition that can affect characters or monsters at the start of an encounter during the first round until they have completed their first turn. There is no longer such a thing as a surprise round before the first round of the encounter for example like in 4e.

A surprised character or monster cannot take any actions until the end of their first turn at which point they may take a reaction if they have an ability to use one or are granted one via an Opportunity Attack for example. Some abilities, namely an Assassin archtype rogue, can gain benefits against surprised foes. Though not being able to act is quite a powerful penalty by default. Everything else happens as normal. Here is the breakdown for how and where surprise fits within the set up of an encounter:

1. Determine Surprise. The DM determines whether anyone involved in the combat encounter is surprise.
2. Establish positions. The DM decides where all the characters and monsters are located. Given the adventurers' marching order or their stated positions in the room or other location, the DM figures out where the adversaries are - how far away and in what direction.
3. Roll initiative. Everyone involved in the combat encounter rolls initiative, determining the order of combatants' turns.

It's important to note that a surprised character is no longer surprised after their first turn and that everyone rolls initiative as normal. So if Bob the Bandit is surprised but rolls well enough to go first in the initiative order, Charles the Assassin rogue won't get to benefit from his archtype features against surprised enemies since after Bob finishes his turn, he's no longer surprised.

The PHB (page 189) gives us two detailed scenarios and specific rules for how encounters which have hidden and non-hidden creatures works. Let's look at the first two:

"A band of adventurers sneaks up on a bandit camp, springing from the trees to attack them."
In this scenario, the band of adventurers is using stealth to become hidden and sneak up on their targets in order to surprise them.

"A gelatinous cube glides down a dungeon passage, unnoticed by the adventurers until the cube engulfs one of them."
In this scenario, the cube is not noticed by the adventurers until it attacks one of them, causing surprise. Note that stealth is not used, the cube simply needed to be "unnoticed" by the adventurers.

On the same page you can find the way that the DM is supposed to decide which character or monster might be surprised and why the second example is worded as it is:

"Any character or monster that doesn't notice a threat is surprised at the start of the encounter."

Essentially it all revolves around "noticing a threat". This is up to DM interpretation of course as he/she will decide what that means for the NPC's and depending on the situation, a PC. The rules do say however that usually noticing a threat uses the passive perception of a creature. Also note that the rules state that "a member of a group can be surprised even if the other members aren't". This covers situations where some creatures might notice a threat but others don't.

The rules found on page 189 also specifically explain how stealth, or the lack of it, is handled when it comes to surprise. This also brings us to the two other scenarios:

"If neither side tries to be stealthy, they automatically notice each other."
This explains that at the start of an encounter when determining surprise, if no one is trying to use stealth in order to hide, all participants of the encounter notice each other.

"Otherwise, the DM compares the Dexterity (Stealth) checks of anyone hiding with the passive Wisdom (Perception) score of each creature on the opposing side"
This is the other side of the coin. This just actually re-iterates the rules for stealth found earlier in both the PHB and this guide, but it's still important to show the two sides of this coin.

As you can see, Surprise actually revolves around "noticing threats". Achieving this can be done in many different ways and aren't limited to stealth and hiding. Here are a few examples:

"The rogue hiding in the dark room is not detected by the human guards passive perception. As he springs to attack, his opponent is surprised since he did not notice the threat."

"The rogue acts like an old man, using his skill at deception against the insight of the guard, to approach his target without appearing like a threat. The guard doesn't notice the danger until the rogue stabs him in the back."

"The king is having a feast at his castle and has invited the adventurers who have helped him rid his lands of the monsters which plagued it. While everyone is having a good time, the kings advisor suddenly stabs him to the surprise of everyone present."

"The thug moves amongst the busy crowd of the market, blending in with all the others who seek to purchase the many shiny things. The thug however has his eyes set on a bigger prize. He siddles up to his target and stabs him in the belly while the victim's eyes go wide with surprise."

These, along with the 4 scenarios in the rules themselves should help to understand the core principle of this game element. It doesn't matter how it happens, failing to notice a threat is paramount to being surprised in 5e.



Work in progress.





Originally posted by Noctaem:


Part 6 Example Scenarios related to this guide:

The double blind: In this scenario you have two warriors attacking each other while being effectively blinded. This could be because they are both affected by the blinded condition via spell effect, being in complete darkness without a special sense, etc.. I'm placing this example here because of the conundrum this scenario creates when it comes to attacking. Fighter 1 has advantage against Fighter 2 because Fighter cannot see Fighter 1. Fighter 1 however has disadvantage as well because HE cannot see Fighter 2. And vice versa. So the bottom line from a mechanical sense is that both fighters aren't affected at all by advantage/disadvantage since they cancel each other. This is important to note because many people find it completely illogical. The point is that because the fighters effectively have the same penalties and avantages, they are fighting on the same level.

As example cases of the double blind, here are two situations posted on the forum by turri:

Case 1:
Creature A is in a heavily obscured area, Creature B is in a heavily obscured area.


A is "blinded" if he targets B, and so is B.


If A attacks B, he rolls 1 dice(Both of them are "blinded", so advantage and disadvantage ends in a normal roll)


A can roll stealth and become "hidden" from B, as long as A stay's in the area, and B has no darkvision


Case 2:
Creature A is in a heavily obscured area, Creature B is in non obscured Area.


IF A attacks B, he has advantage, because B is "blinded" when defending from A


IF B attacks A, he has disadvantage, because B is "blinded" when attacking A


A can roll stealth and become "hidden" from B, as long as A stay's in the area, and B has no darkvision



Halfling Hiding: Because of the racial ability of the Halfling race, it is possible for them to hide behind allies so long as the ally is between them and another creature. Because of this, it is completely legal and in fact intended for them to be able to hide behind an ally, attack which causes them to lose the hidden condition and then simply hide once again behind the same ally. As long as the requirement, that the ally be between the halfling and other creatures, is true they can always re-hide should they lose hidden. The recent errata to hiding has further clarified that halfling's can hide behind an ally without any problem but at the same time has made this racial trait potentially obsolete since you might be able to hide behind an ally by default. It all depends on what the DM considers being "unclearly seen". Ask your DM!



Wood Elf Hiding: Just like the halfling, a Wood Elf is capable of attacking from hiding and then hide once again without having to move so long as the Wood Elf is within the required environment as detailed in the feature itself. The recent errata to hiding and vision has made the wood elf trait possibly obsolete depending on what you consider being "unclearly seen". Ask your DM!
Work in progress.




Originally posted by Plaguescarred1:


Thanks for the great guide Noctaem this should help a lot!



Noctaem wrote:estrictions when trying to become hidden or remain hidden:
-If your Dexterity (Stealth) check doesn't beat a creature's passive perception, you are not hidden from it.
I'd also add;
-If your Dexterity (Stealth) check doesn't beat a creature's active perception check (using the Search action), you are not hidden from it.




Noctaem wrote:What does hiding get me in general?:
-There are many more benefits possible depending on your class, race, etc... Monsters also have many unique abilities and features that player characters cannot access easily if at all.
I'd touch on the 3 most commun ways to facilitate hdiing. Lightfoot Halfling's Naturally Stealthy, Wood Elf's Mask of the Wild and the Skulker feat.
I'd also copy pertinent rules entries;



For Exemple
[sblock]
BR60 HIDING: When you try to hide, make a Dexterity (Stealth) check. Until you are discovered or you stop hiding, that check’s total is contested by the Wisdom (Perception) check of any creature that actively searches for signs of your presence. 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. However, under certain circumstances, the Dungeon Master might allow you to stay hidden as you approach a creature that is distracted, allowing you to gain advantage on an attack before you are seen. Passive Perception. When you hide, there’s a chance someone will notice you even if they aren’t searching. To determine whether such a creature notices you, the DM compares your Dexterity (Stealth) check with that creature’s passive Wisdom (Perception) score, which equals 10 + the creature’s Wisdom modifier, as well as any other bonuses or penalties. If the creature has advantage, add 5. For disadvantage, subtract 5. For example, if a 1st-level character (with a proficiency bonus of +2) has a Wisdom of 15 (a +2 modifier) and proficiency in Perception, he or she has a passive Wisdom (Perception) of 14. What Can You See? One of the main factors in determining whether you can find a hidden creature or object is how well you can see in an area, which might be lightly or heavily obscured, as explained in chapter 8.

BR73 Unseen Attackers and Targets: Combatants often try to escape their foes’ notice by hiding, casting the invisibility spell, or lurking in darkness. When you attack a target that you can’t see, you have disadvantage on the attack roll. This is true whether you’re guessing the target’s location or you’re targeting a creature you can hear but not see. If the target isn’t in the location you targeted, you automatically miss, but the DM typically just says that the attack missed, not whether you guessed the target’s location correctly. When a creature can’t see you, you have advantage on attack rolls against it. If you are hidden—both unseen and unheard—when you make an attack, you give away your location when the attack hits or misses.
[/sblock]


Originally posted by Plaguescarred1:


You might want to incorporate what is being Invisible entails and the difference between hidden and insivibleI think it could be useful




Originally posted by vectner:


Great write up Noctaem!

I ran dragon encounter recently and I guess I used blindsight incorrectly with the dragon. Is it safe to say that it's impossible to sneak up on a dragon? I was using it's passive perception unless the dragon was actively looking for the rogue, which is wasn't because it was being distracted by an archmage.




Originally posted by Noctaem:


vectner wrote:Great write up Noctaem!

I ran dragon encounter recently and I guess I used blindsight incorrectly with the dragon. Is it safe to say that it's impossible to sneak up on a dragon? I was using it's passive perception unless the dragon was actively looking for the rogue, which is wasn't because it was being distracted by an archmage.
Well then you ruled as per DM fiat. As the DM you can decide that a creature which is distracted might not be able to see the hidden creature. Stealth and Hiding is very DM dependent. You sided with you players though and I'm sure they had more fun because of it. Good job





Originally posted by Noctaem:


Plaguescarred wrote:You might want to incorporate what is being Invisible entails and the difference between hidden and insivibleI think it could be useful
Plaguescarred wrote:Thanks for the great guide Noctaem this should help a lot!


Noctaem wrote:estrictions when trying to become hidden or remain hidden:
-If your Dexterity (Stealth) check doesn't beat a creature's passive perception, you are not hidden from it.
I'd also add;

-If your Dexterity (Stealth) check doesn't beat a creature's active perception check (using the Search action), you are not hidden from it.



Noctaem wrote:What does hiding get me in general?:
-There are many more benefits possible depending on your class, race, etc... Monsters also have many unique abilities and features that player characters cannot access easily if at all.
I'd touch on the 3 most commun ways to facilitate hdiing. Lightfoot Halfling's Naturally Stealthy, Wood Elf's Mask of the Wild and the Skulker feat.

I'd also copy pertinent rules entries;
Done for the most part. I'll keep working on this. Thanks for the suggestions





Originally posted by Plaguescarred1:


I'd also add;



Noctaem wrote:Ways to see/detect hiding or invisible creatures automatically:
-Bright light source allows a creature to cancel darkness within specific radius. If a creature is using darkness to hide, it will not be able to hide from any creature that can see it. -Moving in a manner that let you clearly see a hidden creature allows to cancel hidden immediatly. If a creature is using a source of opaque total cover or heavy obscurement to hide behind, it will not be able to remain hidden from any creature that can see it.





Originally posted by Noctaem:


Plaguescarred wrote:I'd also add;


Noctaem wrote:Ways to see/detect hiding or invisible creatures automatically:
-Bright light source allows a creature to cancel darkness within specific radius. If a creature is using darkness to hide, it will not be able to hide from any creature that can see it.
-Moving in a manner that let you clearly see a hidden creature allows to cancel hidden immediatly. If a creature is using a source of opaque total cover or heavy obscurement to hide behind, it will not be able to remain hidden from any creature that can see it.
Fair enough with the light source, but could you explain the second one a little more?




Originally posted by Plaguescarred1:


A creature hidden behind a corner wall, heavily obscured effect like a fog cloud (or an ally if halfling) will not remain hidden at the moment an enemy moves to a position where it can now clearly see it.




Originally posted by obsid:


One inference that people sometimes miss is that, because "when you attack while hiding you get advantage" implies "that you can attack while hiding". This is important because you cannot attack a creature with total cover. Therefor you can remain hidden even when you dont have total cover. You need total cover to START hiding (thats what the rules say unless you are a lightfoot halfling/wood elf), but once hidden even partial cover is enough to remain hidden. This allows you to "lean" out behind the corner and attack with advantage (otherwise the mere act of leaning out would mean you immediately lose hidden status and dont get advantage).




Originally posted by Psikerlord:


I think the most important thing to note is the devs have stated in videos and on twitter that the DM is supposed to make "rulings" on stealth scenarios, and that the rules are intentionally vague to facilitate such. From memory Mearls gave an example ruling, he said if a lightfoot halfling tries to hide in the same spot twice in one combat (eg behind an ally), then his ruling would be that that could be possible, but to use common sense, and that he would impose disadvantage on the check.

Also I'm not sure that every hide check is made against passive perception. DMs might rule that hiding in combat calls for a contest: an active stealth check vs an active perception check, as opposed to a stealth check vs passive perception. The guys in combat will be keeping a lookout after all. Passive perception, as I read it, is really supposed to be for when (i) you dont want to tip the players off to a surprise trap or ambush by rolling before it happens, or (ii) when you want to represent making checks repeatedly over and over across a period of time (eg while roleplaying style exploring, as opposed to round by round combat).






Originally posted by Plaguescarred1:


obsid wrote:you can remain hidden even when you dont have total cover.
The rules are not crystal clear on this as nothing says what's required to remain hidden. The only guideline we have is 'You can’t hide from a creature that can see you''


Originally posted by Plaguescarred1:


Another pertinent rule to this guide;

PHB182 Noticing Threats: Use the passive Wisdom (Perception) scores o f the characters to determine whether anyone in the group notices a hidden threat. The DM might decide that a threat can be noticed only by characters in a particular rank. For example, as the characters are exploring a maze o f tunnels, the DM might decide that only those characters in the back rank have a chance to hear or spot a stealthy creature following the group, while characters in the front and middle ranks cannot. While traveling at a fast pace, characters take a - 5 penalty to their passive Wisdom (Perception) scores to notice hidden threats.




Originally posted by obsid:


Plaguescarred wrote:

The rules are not crystal clear on this as nothing says what's required to remain hidden. The only guideline we have is 'You can’t hide from a creature that can see you''
As I said, it is implied from the fact that you can attack while hidden and get advantage (and therefore you can attack a creature while hidden), and that you cannot attack a creature that has total cover. To say that you must have total cover to remain hidden is to say that you cannot attack while hidden.




Originally posted by Plaguescarred1:


obsid wrote:As I said, it is implied from the fact that you can attack while hidden and get advantage (and therefore you can attack a creature while hidden), and that you cannot attack a creature that has total cover. To say that you must have total cover to remain hidden is to say that you cannot attack while hidden.
You don't only hide with total cover, you can hide while being heavily obscured. This allows you to attack from hidden without even moving out of it, i.e fog, darkness...


Originally posted by obsid:


Plaguescarred wrote:
obsid wrote:As I said, it is implied from the fact that you can attack while hidden and get advantage (and therefore you can attack a creature while hidden), and that you cannot attack a creature that has total cover. To say that you must have total cover to remain hidden is to say that you cannot attack while hidden.
You don't only hide with total cover, you can hide while being heavily obscured. This allows you to attack from hidden without even moving out of it, i.e fog, darkness...
Heavy obscured areas suffer the many of same problem as total cover. As per page 183: "A heavily obscured area - such as darkness, opaque fog, or dense foliage - blocks vision entirely. A creature in heavily obscured area effectively suffers from the blinded condition (see appendix A)." Blinded condition says you have disadvantage on attack rolls. Maybe you could make the argument that the only thing becoming hidden gets you is normal attack (no advantage or disadvantage) in a heavily obscured area. (you can also hide when invis, but you already gain advantage from that).

In short unless your willing to say the only thing that hiding does ANYTHING in terms of attack rolls is reducing the penalty from disadvantage to normal in heavy obscurement then you must agree that total cover is not required to maintain hidden status (that half or 3/4 cover can still maintain). My guess is most DM's are not willing to go that far, nor is that what the developers intended, nor is that a required reading of the stealth rules (as the rules leave open the maintaining cover at less then full).

Additionally there is little purpose in hiding while in total cover if the moment you have anything less then total cover you lose it (or in other words as soon as you can attack you gain no adv.). So what is the point of being able to hide in total cover?

(I should note these arguments apply to normal charactes, a lightfoot halfling or a wood elf can gain hidden status in other areas, but again you have to assume that they can maintain it without full cover as what is the point of being able to say hide behind a character if the character doesnt provide total cover and you immedialy lose it?)




Originally posted by jonathonhawke:


So a character sitting in the dark can't see a burning torch 50' away?




Originally posted by Plaguescarred1:


jonathonhawke wrote:So a character sitting in the dark can't see a burning torch 50' away?
Nope, blinded people dont see enemies holding torch 50 ft away

Its a phenomenon called the Impenetrable Darkness(x) which i reported when 5E launched. No sane DM will follow this though...




Originally posted by obsid:


Thats what it says RAW, but I agree, no sane DM wouldn't house rule it. (probably by changing the light rules so that you can be heavy conealed from someone while they are normal or lightly consealed to you).




Originally posted by Timborama:


jonathonhawke wrote:So a character sitting in the dark can't see a burning torch 50' away?
Yeah, this is one of those ambiguities where a DM is well within their right to say they're effectively blinded to the point UP to where the torch gives light. And even then might say light obscurement follows since you can (somewhat) clearly see it but can't see anything leading up to it (though I'd let them attack at full, unless some sorta cover existed between them and the target).

That's what I'd do! As for characters going to town on each other in a darkness bulb? Meh, that's a ruling I'll just wing when it happens. I might just impose disadvantage on everyone. Not because it "makes sense" but because I want to see the hilarity that happens from this scenario





Originally posted by Polaris:


jonathonhawke wrote:So a character sitting in the dark can't see a burning torch 50' away?
Correct according to RAW (but as others have said, no sane DM is going to rule it this way). It's also worth noting that sniper positions and murder-holes don't work according to 5e since you can't hide in a sniper's nest or behind a murder-hole since there is (obviously) a line of sight between the target and attacker. This too is absurd.

-Polaris




Originally posted by slaughterj:


The 50' away light thing doesn't bother me, it appears to be an overly technical reading. What seems more of an issue is two foes fighting in total obscurement. Each would have disadvantage on attacking the other from the obscurement, but also each would have advantage on attacking the other under the unseen attacker rolls, which would seem to cancel each other out. But it seems to me that the inability to see should override.




Originally posted by AaronOfBarbaria:


slaughterj wrote:The 50' away light thing doesn't bother me, it appears to be an overly technical reading. What seems more of an issue is two foes fighting in total obscurement. Each would have disadvantage on attacking the other from the obscurement, but also each would have advantage on attacking the other under the unseen attacker rolls, which would seem to cancel each other out. But it seems to me that the inability to see should override.
Right... but whose inability to see?
One combatant swings his weapon, wildly arcing into the darkness in front of him where he can hear his opponent to be.
The opponent hears what sounds like an attack coming his way... should he duck? Jump? Lean left?

Sounds like they have even odds to me - and that is exactly why the advantage they would gain is cancelled out by the disadvantage that would be inflicted.




Originally posted by slaughterj:


I get that but I still think that people wildly swinging in the dark shouldn't be on par with people fighting in a lit fight.




Originally posted by AaronOfBarbaria:


slaughterj wrote:I get that but I still think that people wildly swinging in the dark shouldn't be on par with people fighting in a lit fight.
Ah, yes - the mechanics do not fully model the reality, or even really attempt to do so. I can see how that can be disconcerting, but at the same time...
If they have, just to make up numbers, +5 to-hit and AC 16 each in a light fight, and while unable see are both equally penalized by -5, making that +0 to-hit and AC 11 each - is anything actually different?

I say no, because in either case there is the same chance of a hit being scored (50%, since in either case rolling an 11+ on the die would be a successful attack).

What the rules are doing is modeling the same thing, but not insisting that the numbers involved be changed despite the number that really matters (what has to be rolled on the die) staying the same.




Originally posted by jason10mm:


I could see a situation where, in total darkness, two "blinded" opponents in direct combat would have normal rolls (because their adv and disadv cancel out) but they could also have a cat and mouse fight where they try to "out stealth" each other, using the hide action to roll for stealth (versus passive perception scores) and perhaps gaining an additional advantage to attack (which, by RAW, isnt allowed but seems to be a thematic bit of DM fiat) if one gains stealth over the other. So rogues and the like with good stealth scores would excell at this type of combat.




Originally posted by Trance-Zg:


slaughterj wrote:I get that but I still think that people wildly swinging in the dark shouldn't be on par with people fighting in a lit fight.
I agree, it should be more of advantage on attack than disadvantage.

Defence is reactive,it requires vision or some other sense, attack can be just a sweep at space around you.




Originally posted by AaronOfBarbaria:


Trance-Zg wrote:I agree, it should be more of advantage on attack than disadvantage.
Defence is reactive,it requires vision or some other sense, attack can be just a sweep at space around you.
Defence can be proactive too - like knowing that your opponent is probably going to start swinging in big sweeping arcs because he can't see, so you duck down and lean away (towards your opponent's dominate side, if you know which way that is) so that you are probably under any horizontal swings, probably further away than your opponent expects, and probably on the outside of any vertical swings too.
...and weapons make sound while moving through the air, especially with "just a sweep at space around you" type attacks, thus providing stimulus to react to.




Originally posted by Strill:


Ways to see/detect hiding or invisible creatures automatically:
Add the Paladin's Divine Sense to this list.




Originally posted by Noctaem:


I'm still working on this guide, it's just been a tad crazy lately for me at work. I'm going to be taking a few days to get everything sorted out and finish up the guide to make it truly a good resource to have. Thank you to all those who gave feedback/suggestions so far. I'll be implementing your suggestions asap.




Originally posted by Psikerlord:


slaughterj wrote:The 50' away light thing doesn't bother me, it appears to be an overly technical reading. What seems more of an issue is two foes fighting in total obscurement. Each would have disadvantage on attacking the other from the obscurement, but also each would have advantage on attacking the other under the unseen attacker rolls, which would seem to cancel each other out. But it seems to me that the inability to see should override.
i agree and would simply impose disad on everyone, for "reality" reasons. Or possibly a flat -2 hit for everyone. Yes, yes, others disagree, but that would be my ruling as DM.


Originally posted by Noctaem:


I think it's a game balance issue. The sort of situation where both attackers are on level ground when it comes to the advantages and disadvantages of the situation they are currently in. Not being able to see yourself but your opponent not being able to see the attack coming. Anyway when I fill out the light portion of the guide I'll mention this sort of situation.

And the be honest, in actual play this sort of situation will be kind of rare. Most monsters that would be in a total darkness environment would have darkvision for example or some other sense.




Originally posted by Elfcrusher:


I'd love it if somebody would add some descriptive scenarios to this thread, to illustrate some of the more complex ways stealth can be used (or lost), especially in combat. E.g., could a lightfoot halfling stand behind his companion, "re-stealth", and then re-emerge to get another surprise attack?




Originally posted by Noctaem:


Sure I can create some generic example situations if it'll help. Especially for Halflings like you said.




Originally posted by IxidorRS:


Could a huge Mammoth summoned by Conjure Fey be an acceptable thing to hide behind?




Originally posted by jonathonhawke:


IxidorRS wrote:Could a huge Mammoth summoned by Conjure Fey be an acceptable thing to hide behind?
Probably, except that Mammoths aren't Fey creatures.




Originally posted by Noctaem:


IxidorRS wrote:Could a huge Mammoth summoned by Conjure Fey be an acceptable thing to hide behind?
If you mean for a halfling via their racial ability, then yes. The requirement is simply that it be a creature one size or more larger than the halfling.




Originally posted by Varisthenes:


Psikerlord wrote:
slaughterj wrote:The 50' away light thing doesn't bother me, it appears to be an overly technical reading. What seems more of an issue is two foes fighting in total obscurement. Each would have disadvantage on attacking the other from the obscurement, but also each would have advantage on attacking the other under the unseen attacker rolls, which would seem to cancel each other out. But it seems to me that the inability to see should override.
i agree and would simply impose disad on everyone, for "reality" reasons. Or possibly a flat -2 hit for everyone. Yes, yes, others disagree, but that would be my ruling as DM.

I've played systems like this and it turns combat in darkness into a whiff fest.


Personally I commend the developers for just making it even odds. Spending half an hour of real time while the DM and the party whiff back and forth isn't fun for me and I'm fine to sacrifice some realism for the sake of game mechanics that don't make fights drag on all night.




Originally posted by AaronOfBarbaria:




jonathonhawke wrote:
IxidorRS wrote:Could a huge Mammoth summoned by Conjure Fey be an acceptable thing to hide behind?
Probably, except that Mammoths aren't Fey creatures.
conjure fey allows you to conjure a fey spirit that takes the form of a beast, so that little detail is irrelevant.
 

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