Hide Action – DM’s Pocket Guide
Welcome to DM’s Pocket Guide, where we discuss the rules, spells, and monsters of Dungeons and Dragons, 5th edition.
Tricia: Hello! Today we are going to talk about Hide. We did not include it when we went over “Other Combat Actions” because it references two other parts of the Player’s Handbook. We’re going to dive into all of that today.
Rachel: So the DM decides when the circumstances are appropriate. When you’re trying to hide, you make a Dexterity Stealth check.
T: That makes sense.
R: For sure. –Until you are discovered, or you stop hiding. So you roll to sneak away, and you stay hidden until you decide not to or someone finds you.
T: Yeah, so you can’t be like, “Naw, but I’m hidden!” as the monster stands over you.
R: In order to do that, any creature that’s actively searching for you will be making a Perception check to look for signs of your presence, and I assume it’s going to be contesting the Stealth check that you use to hide. That’s how I would certainly do it.
T: Yeah, that makes sense.
R: You can’t hide from a creature that can see you clearly. This one is really important. People will try and pull the hide action all the time, like “It’s an action I can do.” Well, you can’t do it if the thing can see you.
T: “But I ducked down!”
R: Ducked down behind what? I’ve certainly had players sneak behind other players, other characters, particularly if they’re a size class larger or you know, just out of the way, to try and hide. If you give away your position or make a noise, you can also stop from hiding. An invisible creature can always try to hide, so if you can make yourself invisible, you can take this action literally whenever you like. It does note here in the book, actually, that signs of its passage might still be noticed – it does have to stay quiet, still. There are ways that even an invisible could give away–
T: Footprints in the sand!
R: Exactly, yup. 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. I know that there are a lot of rogues that like to use the stealth…
T: Sneak attack.
R: Yeah, sneak attack. So this is an interesting one for that. If they are hiding, and they come out of hiding and rush 20 feet toward an enemy that is looking right at them…
T: Not so sneaky anymore.
R: No, that’s right. But if that creature were distracted in some way, you could allow that to succeed.
T: Which, hey! Maybe another player uses the Help action to distract them so that the other person can sneak up and maintain their Hide.
R: Yeah, exactly. So actually, any creature that is coming out of hiding will get advantage on an attack if the other creature that it’s attacking doesn’t know it’s there. Then we’ve got some notes on passive perception. So when you hide, there’s a chance someone will notice you, even if no one is actively searching for you. To determine if such a creature notices you, the DM compares your Stealth check with the creature’s passive perception, which is actually a static score on most monster sheets. You can work it out yourself, because it’s 10 + the creature’s wisdom modifier and any bonuses that might apply.
T: Nice. And that is also what you had said earlier about contrasting perception with stealth, so you were right about that.
R: Yeah, those are the two things that oppose each other. One of the main factors in determining whether you can find a hidden creature or object is how well you can see the area, as being lightly or heavily obscured, which is explained in chapter 8: Adventuring.
T: I think that makes sense. If a place is dark, and other things don’t have darkvision, it’s going to be easier for you to hide. If it’s bright sunlight, it’s going to be harder for you to hide. If there’s fog, if there’s dust in the air; those things make it easier to hide.
R: Yeah, so I think as a DM, that’s probably going to influence the DC check, like how to make the check for Hide. Players will get bonuses if they describe the area around them, why it’s obscured. If you mention about dust or something like that.
T: So another piece to the Hide action is that it links you to Unseen Attackers and Targets to know what bonuses hiding gives you. This section of the Player’s Handbook also mentions that, in addition to hiding, you could gain these bonuses through the invisibility spell or by lurking in darkness.
R: I don’t know any player that would like to lurk in darkness!
T: When you attack a target that you can’t see, you have disadvantage on the attack roll. So if you as the DM are playing the monsters, and a player is hiding, you’re going to have disadvantage when you try to attack them. This is true whether you’re guessing the target’s location or you’re targeting a creature you can hear but can’t see. So if you’re not 100% sure of their visible location, you’ll be attacking at disadvantage.
R: Oh, that’s interesting, actually, because I had this circumstance come up in a game I was running where I wanted to – my monster was blinded and I wanted to just kind of wildly lash out, and we got into a discussion of like, “Oh, well if they attack is targeting this square, it automatically fails,” which I’m sure is a rule. But my monster should be able to lash out with its sword and have a chance of hitting something.
T: At disadvantage, but yeah. If the target isn’t in the location you targeted, you do automatically miss, but the DM doesn’t have to say if you guessed the location correctly or not. So like, if you are blindly shooting at something and you are correct for where they are but you miss the attack roll vs. you blindly shoot in an area and they’re not even there at all and you miss…the DM just says, “You miss,” and you have no idea if you were close or not.
R: Oh, that’s good to know. As a DM, I would feel obligated to say, “Yes, that hits…”
T: Well, if it hits you have to say, but if it misses, it doesn’t matter how near or far you are from missing it.
R: So it would be the case of wording it in such a way that it doesn’t give away that. Which I would be terrible at remembering in the moment.
T: Yes, yes, that’s good. Um, when a creature can’t see you, you have advantage on attack rolls against it, so if you are hiding, you are able to attack at advantage. However, if you are hidden, both unseen and unheard, and you make an attack, you give away your location whether your attack hits or misses. So you get it at advantage, but basically once, and then you have to hide again.
R: Once you come out of hiding to stab something in the ankle, it knows you’re there.
T: Yes. So that is Hide!
Thanks for listening! If you have something you’d like us to cover, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Twitter and Instagram @roarcatreads.