How does the DM have an NPC guess where to attack me if my PC is invisible, since the DM always already knows? Unseen Attackers and Targets says:

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.

Does the DM have to pick a 5×5 square when playing on a grid? Should the DM roll the dice to choose?

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    \$\begingroup\$ related, but possible dupe: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/47727/… \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Sep 20, 2017 at 18:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ To confirm, are you asking for an Invisible Hidden creature or a creature that is Invisible only? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Sep 20, 2017 at 18:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Cam we answer both? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dnd junkie
    Sep 20, 2017 at 18:53

2 Answers 2


A random roll for location is the best solution when an Out of Character player knows the location but has to "guess" in-game without that knowledge.

Given that, I'd like to discuss the times when there is and isn't a known location of a creature. The RAW regarding unseen attackers and hidden attackers is fairly clear, although it is also somewhat counterintuitive to reality.

Unseen and Hidden - Location on Grid is Unknown

In this case, if the creature has Hidden successfully, then their location is unknown. They are unseen and have actively worked to not be heard or create anything that would give away their location. At this point, they'd just be guessing - and to guess, they'd have to know you were there in the first place.

Determining the location when Unknown

In this case, it is up to the DM decide what location to pick if they know you're in the room, but not where. If it was a PC picking a random spot without knowledge of actual location, then that's fine.

But given that the DM knows your actual location, a random roll for potential spots is entirely reasonable and resolves the situation fairly.

Unseen, but not hidden - Location on Grid is Known

Your quote box sums up the situation very well. The key phrase in there is a target that you can't see. There are other ways to detect the location of a target (hearing, smell, disturbance of the environment, etc.) that give away it's location to you. This allows you to know the specific location, but you attack at disadvantage. You are also not able to use any spells or abilities that require sight.

Commentary: Many people are frustrated by this lack of realism regarding invisible creatures having a known location. It is entirely within the purview of the DM to make the call that there are no external clues that would give away location based on their environment (effectively automatically Hidden without having taken the action to Hide), etc. However, the strict reading is that location known, but disadvantage given.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The DM could decide you are automatically Hidden when unseen, but shouldn't, as it is horribly unbalanced \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Sep 20, 2017 at 21:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd argue that the rules are more realistic than not. I bet if you closed your eyes and spun around several times, you'd be able to throw a ball at someone talking and get fairly close to hitting them, if not actually hitting them. Now if that person was trying to be silent as well by suppressing unnecessary noises, then they'd be trying to be hidden and not simply unseen. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ellesedil
    Sep 25, 2017 at 15:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I totally agree with that. in all my games an invisible character's location (which exact square on the map) is KNOWN unless they perform a Hide action successfully. Which is the RAW official rule. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 8, 2020 at 21:59

A simple, direct answer; by using senses other than their sight.

The location of an invisible, but not Hidden creature, should always be known. They're leaving marks, scuffs in the sand or make sounds. So an invisible but not hidden creature can be targeted with certainty, though usually with Disadvantage.

Being invisible also allows the creature to always qualify for hiding. If they are Hidden, then their location is not known and anyone would have to guess their location. They won't be targetable usually like this, though a Fireball may still catch them, or a very luck sword slash. The DM can simulate guessing by randomizing a target location in a room, for example (for a 4x6 room, throw a d4 and a d6 and use that coordinate as the target square).

This Dragon Talk episode has a section where Jeremy Crawford talks about Stealth in his Sage Advice column.

It mentions most of the above, and helps explain why even if people know where you are when invisible, you still have an great advantage over them.

Keep in mind that the reverse is also true. While invisible monsters are freaking scary, if they're not actively spending Actions for hiding, they just get advantage on you. You still hear them stomping towards you before they swing.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You may want to flesh out this answer a bit more. Most of this answer is saying how great another answer is. If that answer gets deleted or changed, that may not be the case. Try to answer questions independently. There is a meta post about this for more information: rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3326/… \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21, 2017 at 15:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's much better! \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21, 2017 at 15:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ "if they're not actively hiding (and thus moving more slowly)" Hiding in combat doesn't reduce your movement or speed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Doval
    Sep 21, 2017 at 19:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Doval I meant that actively hiding usually means the monster is spending Actions to Hide, thus limiting them to one Move per turn. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21, 2017 at 20:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Might be worth rephrasing that to "and thus using up actions" then. I've seen enough misunderstandings regarding stealth/hiding and conflating travel pace rules with combat rules to know that kind of wording can lead to confusion. In my mind the usual cost of hiding isn't moving less, but not getting to attack/cast a spell. \$\endgroup\$
    – Doval
    Sep 21, 2017 at 20:09

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