5E Tremorsense and ranged attacks

Hi, I'm just curious how other DMs would rule the following situation:

The combat takes place in a heavily obscured area (e.g. Fog Cloud). One person has tremorsense, the other person does not. As per sage advice clarification we know that Tremorsense also counts as seeing someone. The rules also state that if you can't see the one you attack, you have disadvantage. If you get attacked by someone you can't see, the attack is at advantage.

So if one has tremorsense and the other does not in this situation, that means all attacks on the person with tremorsense are at disadvantage (unless the attack is flying) and all attack from the person with tremorsense are at advantage.

Now, what about ranged attacks? Projectiles are not connected to the ground and consequently cannot be seen with tremorsense. However as per RAW it counts that you can see the attacker, it doesn't matter whether you can see the projectiles.

Of course as DM you can still grant advantage/disadvantage whenever you think it's reasonable.

So how would you rule here:

Person without tremorsense shoots an arrow at person with tremorsense in a heavily obscured area within tremorsense range? Disadvantage or neutral?
 

MarkB

Hero
Tremorsense lets you know where a creature is, but it doesn't specifically say that it overcomes the Blinded condition, or the effects of obscured terrain. As a DM ruling, I'm not sure that I'd consider it to be equivalent to vision for the purposes of overcoming disadvantage on attacks, or advantage on incoming attacks.
 

Bobble

Villager
What IS Tremorsense? The ability to determine the location of something because it is moving on the ground and is massive enough to create vibrations and you can feel the vibrations and sense direction and distance. A simple question answered by you (the thread starter) will answer your question. Could the creature with tremorsense detect if the opponent opened or closed their hand? If NOT, they are at a disadvantage when attacked with that missile weapon.




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aco175

Adventurer
I may base it on the terrain more than other things. I would allow you to know where the opponent is and be able to target him, but if you are in a wooded area where things get in the way of arrows, you would be at normal. If you were in an open area, I would let it slide for advantage. I figure the opponent still cannot see you and is at disadvantage and takes no action to block you, thus your PC is firing at normal or advantage.
 

MarkB

Hero
I figure the opponent still cannot see you and is at disadvantage and takes no action to block you, thus your PC is firing at normal or advantage.
Still, you don't know what the target looks like, only its location and probably its rough mass. Line up a perfect headshot on what you assume to be an unarmoured human wizard, and it'll be a clean miss if it turns out to actually be a heavily armoured halfling cleric. I'd tend towards you still having disadvantage for not actually seeing the target, which cancels out the advantage for them not seeing you.
 

aco175

Adventurer
Still, you don't know what the target looks like, only its location and probably its rough mass. Line up a perfect headshot on what you assume to be an unarmoured human wizard, and it'll be a clean miss if it turns out to actually be a heavily armoured halfling cleric. I'd tend towards you still having disadvantage for not actually seeing the target, which cancels out the advantage for them not seeing you.
I tend to favor the PCs and the players having fun. I get that you only can locate someone on the ground and maybe be able to generalize something about them. I do not have monsters that have tremorsense be at disadvantage. I also think that the PC spent a spell or was given an item that lets him have this ability, which is using some resources so I tend to give them the advantage of doubt.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
I think it depends on the exact situation, which is going to be really rare anyway. IMO, if the attacker never moves and is using a crossbow, bow or other non-movement related attack (such as a spell), then the attacker wouldn't know when/if an attack is coming. Thrown weapons, moving attackers, and even the rotation of a sling would require the attacker to shift their body in a way that (in theory) the tremorsense might detect.
 
Could the creature with tremorsense detect if the opponent opened or closed their hand? If NOT, they are at a disadvantage when attacked with that missile weapon.
But as clarified by Sage Advice, with Tremorsense you can see everything that's connected to the ground, the hand is connected to the ground via the rest of the body, so you can detect that with tremorsense. So no disadvantage for not seeing the attacker, but disadvantage for the attacker for not seeing you.

The only thing you cannot see is the arrow once let loose as it's not connected to the ground. So the only question is if that warrant enough disadvantage to grant advantage for the attacker.

If arrow attacks will be at disadvantage, what about Spiritual Weapon? It's a floating weapon. Per RAW, the attack is still done by the caster and not by the Spiritual Weapon, but the target with Tremorsense wouldn't even know where the attack was coming from. Another way to reasonably argue it should give advantage on the attack, even though not covered in RAW.

I guess it mostly comes down to rewarding the players for clever thinking. For arrow attacks I'm not so sure if I want to reward the mere idea of just shooting arrows to get advantage. Especially since Tremorsense always has a range, so an even better strategy was to attack outside the tremorsense range.

For Spiritual Weapon however, that's a spell specifically used to make use of "Enemy can't feel the movement of the weapon", so I'm leaning a lot more to giving advantage on the attack here.
 

Hriston

Adventurer
So how would you rule here:

Person without tremorsense shoots an arrow at person with tremorsense in a heavily obscured area within tremorsense range? Disadvantage or neutral?
Disadvantage on attacks against an unseen target applies to this attack because the attacker is seen so doesn’t have advantage for being an unseen attacker. There is no advantage for unseen missiles.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Person without tremorsense shoots an arrow at person with tremorsense in a heavily obscured area within tremorsense range? Disadvantage or neutral?
Well, I only pay attention to the sage advice that's in the official document and I don't see a clarification there (and honestly I ignore/override some of those), so I'll give you my ruling.

So let's start with the definition: " tremorsense can detect and pinpoint the origin of vibrations within a specific radius, provided that the monster and the source of the vibrations are in contact with the same ground or substance."

Compare that to truesight: "
out to a specific range, see in normal and magical darkness, see invisible creatures and objects"


So I would say the former let's you know the exact location so you don't have to guess where they are, the latter allows you to see them. If you don't have tremorsense you have to guess where something is which may mean that you fire that arrow in the wrong direction and have no chance to hit. So I would say that no, it doesn't change the fact that you are effectively blinded for purposes of advantage/disadvantage.
 

Bobble

Villager
But as clarified by Sage Advice, with Tremorsense you can see everything that's connected to the ground, the hand is connected to the ground via the rest of the body, so you can detect that with tremorsense.
Then, since its original inception it has been changed to just another magical vision not a vibration detection like hearing or touch. At this point there is no reason to have it in the game. Might as well give all who have it True sight like ability.
 
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I have a player with a blind earth genasi fighter character. We gave her blindsight to 10’ and tremorsense to 100. The way we handle ranged attacks for her is that her AC is reduced by 2 for ranged attacks. The logic is that she knows the arrow is fired (tremorsense) but she has no sense of where it is from that point until it enters her blindsight range. So we felt advantage on the attack was a bit much, but that there should be some adjustment, thus the -2 to AC. (Alternatively, you could give +2 to the attack roll). For her character, I’d rule that fog makes no difference to her attacks. Sighted creatures attacking her would be at disadvantage due to fog, as is standard. But her AC would still take a hit if it a ranged attack.

I should note that attacks from non-grounded attackers are a whole different matter for her: they get the typical advantage on blinded targets.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
So if one has tremorsense and the other does not in this situation, that means all attacks on the person with tremorsense are at disadvantage (unless the attack is flying) and all attack from the person with tremorsense are at advantage.

You answered your own question. 5E tries not to nitpick every combat situation. And I see nothing is Sage advice compendium on tremorsense
 
Then, since its original inception it has been changed to just another magical vision not a vibration detection like hearing or touch. At this point there is no reason to have it in the game. Might as well give all who have it True sight like ability.
There's a difference between those. Tremorsense can only detect things that are in contact with the same ground. A flying creature or someone standing on a floating platform or floating himself would be unseen for the person with tremorsense.

So if one has tremorsense and the other does not in this situation, that means all attacks on the person with tremorsense are at disadvantage (unless the attack is flying) and all attack from the person with tremorsense are at advantage.
Yes, I think that's how it is according to RAW.

I'm still contemplating about Spiritual Weapon. Going by RAW, then if the caster moves out of visions but the weapon is in sight, the attacks with the weapon are still at advantage because the attacker can't be seen. (The spell text makes it clear that the caster is making a melee spell attack and not the weapon itself.)

But I guess that's just how the rules are.

By the way, here is what I went for: I go mostly by RAW (see above), but will grant advantage for clever thinking once. So if someone uses an arrow or spiritual weapon to make it harder for the enemy with tremorsense to know where the attack is coming from, the first time I'm granting advantage (which is neutralized by disadvantage from not seeing the target), but if the same attack is repeating that advantage is no longer given.
 

Bobble

Villager
There's a difference between those. Tremorsense can only detect things that are in contact with the same ground. A flying creature or someone standing on a floating platform or floating himself would be unseen for the person with tremorsense.
Yes, yes. And given that ~99% of encounters are with things that touch the ground my recommendation stands.
 

jaelis

Explorer
I think people are reading more into the Sage Advice tweets than warranted. All I see is an answer from Mike Mearls:
Q: When a spell/ability says that a creature must see the target, does blindsight/tremorsense count as seeing?
A: yes
So first that is Mearls not Crawford, and second it is not directly about attacks.

The plain text of tremorsense says "A monster with tremorsense can detect and pinpoint the origin of vibrations within a specific radius, provided that the monster and the source of the vibrations are in contact with the same ground or substance." To me, that sounds like it knows your location but not that it can see you, so I would rule that it doesn't have any impact on advantage/disadvantage while fighting, even in melee. I'd say it just makes it hard to hide from a creature with tremorsense, and lets you detect creatures through walls and the like.

Of course DMs should rule as works best for their table. But I would argue against taking Mearl's tweet as a deciding factor. (Unless there is another tweet that I didn't find.)
 

aco175

Adventurer
I keep coming back to how I would run a monster with tremmorsence and let the PC do the same thing. I would allow the monster to make attacks as normal unless the PC started levitating or such. The rule seems like it was made so that monsters were not penalized to use their attacks and could walk around in the dark.
 

Staffan

Adventurer
If you want a good illustration of Tremorsense in action, check out Toph in Avatar: The Last Airbender. She's blind, but can "see" things that are in contact with the ground (or at least the same surface she's on) via earthbending. There are some scenes where we see things via her... feet, I guess, and those are pretty cool.
 

Bobble

Villager
The rule seems like it was made so that monsters were not penalized to use their attacks and could walk around in the dark.
"A monster with tremorsense can detect and pinpoint the origin of vibrations within a specific radius..."

A wall doesn't make vibrations. Neither does a hole. So, "walking around in the dark" could be very hazardous.
 

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