Wizards of the Coast released an official errata to the Player’s Handbook a few days ago. You can get your copy here (Errata_PH.pdf). It has a couple of entries that directly address the issue of PC hiding rules.
Another look at Hiding in combat
The items in the errata that pertain specifically to hiding are these:
Hiding (p. 177). The DM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding. Also, the question isn’t whether a creature can see you when you’re hiding. The question is whether it can see you clearly.
Vision and Light (p. 183). A heavily obscured area doesn’t blind you, but you are effectively blinded when you try to see something obscured by it.
Comments on my post on stealth and hiding (here) almost always boil down to one point of contention. The rules for hiding outside of combat are fairly easily understood. The biggest debate always seems to be about hiding during combat. We all agree that surprise can only be on the first round of combat, but what about hiding during combat? Of course a PC can attempt to hide (if he can move to where he can’t be seen clearly) and sneak away with some item, but the main question is this; Can a 2nd level rouge attack and then hide on his turn and then attack with advantage the next round and do it again. OR, more simply, can he use the hide rules to get advantage on tis attack every round?
There are two completely different points of view on this and they can both be easily defended by quoting the rules. The two sides can be expressed thus:
1) Yes, of course the rogue can attack with advantage every round (assuming he has something to hide behind and succeeds in his hide attempt). That is why the rules are written the way they are. That is the whole reason I am playing a rogue. Especially at lower levels, the rogue can deliver more damage, on average, than the fighter. This makes playing him so much fun.
2) No, it makes no logical sense that a character can hide behind a barrel and the opponents not know that he is there. Even if he does succeed in hiding, the moment he sticks his head out to make an attack, he can now be seen so he is no longer hidden and he cannot attack with advantage.
There is no right or wrong here. It all depends on how the group wants to play. Ultimately, it is up to the DM. Even though it has always been the case, the new errata makes it very clear that the DM decides when you can or cannot hide.
I personally prefer to the second option. The rogue can still get advantage anytime an opponent is distracted. Most often this will be because he is being attacked by someone else on the rogue’s team, but I can think of a lot of other things that might distract an opponent. Or, if you are attacking from the shadows I could be persuaded to allow advantage on the attack.
If you want a board or computer game like experience where rules dominate, choose option 1. If you want more realism choose option 2.
Thank you! That is exactly how I feel about it.
How about creating a page where people can submit topic ideas. It seems off topic for this page.
Good idea. Not today, but soon.
Since 5e was designed for option 2, I think option 1 will create game imbalance.
Even if you think fighters are stronger in combat, making rogues stronger than fighters doesn’t fix anything it just replaces one imbalance with another.
Finally, if all you want is rules and class balance then 4th edition may be for you.
I tend to agree with you. However, if you run a campaign using option 1 and everyone is okay with it and having fun, who am I to say that you are doing it wrong? It is just a game after all and the object should be to have fun. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that 5E was designed for option 2. I will say that in my opinion option 2 seems to fit with the design philosophy that 5E tends to aspire to.
Many people do prefer 4th edition. I never cared for it. It can be a lot of fun and is very balanced. It just feels too much like a video game for my taste.
Before 5E by favorite edition was 3.5 but I thought that it was a little rules-heavy. Part of the reason that I like 5E so much is that it is rules-light which leaves much to the discretion of the DM. This vagueness leaves it open to different styles of play.
I suppose my advice would be for any DM to be sure that he makes clear to the players how he prefers to run the game so as to keep rules arguments to a minimum during the game.
The reason I think 5e is not designed for option 1 is how option 1 is worded. “Yes, of course the rogue can attack with advantage every round…” is inconsistent with “The DM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding.” Perhaps If it said “the rogue can attack with advantage every time if the DM decides hiding behind a barrel of similar object is appropriate,” I would look at it differently.
Having said that, I prefer discussing the impact of decisions rather than determining which one is right. I am sure a blind application of advantage on every rogue attack would cause players of other classes to feel at a disadvantage and would make the rogue overpowered. I also believe that if your DM did not allow hiding behind a barrel you would find sneak attack still brings the rogue on par with a fighter.
I suppose I was a little indelicate in the wording. Thanks for clarifying your position.
Please do continue discussions here. I an not playing in a regular group right now and I appreciate your feedback.
Any suggestions for another topic? I have hit a bit of a dry spell and need a new topic tor this blog.
I’ve seen the rogue try to hide in plain sight just because they min/max’d their way to a high Stealth. Frustrating and comical.
3.5 had a “Hide in plain sight” ability, but I never liked the idea. Without magic you shouldn’t be able to just disappear if your opponent is looking at you.