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Today I was searching for some 5th edition rules to clarify attacking with a longbow from stealth and how the fighter's extra attack feature interacts with gaining advantage from attacking from stealth.

I was able to confirm from a Sage Advice response that only the first attack from stealth is considered a surprise attack from stealth, and only that first attack gains advantage. Attacks after that do not gain advantage.

How would that interact with an archer that nocks 2 arrows in the bowstring to fire 2 arrows with one "attack" of the longbow? Would both arrows gain the advantage of being fired from stealth? or just the first one that lands on a target?

This might just be my way of flavoring up the RP of having the extra attack feature as an archer, but I wanted to be sure of the technical aspects of the attack before I do it at our table and cause a rule confusion.

My Google-fu didn't bear much for results, so I'm hoping some can steer me in the right direction here.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Please take the tour when you get a chance. Your mention of Sage Advice makes it sound like you're talking about 5th edition D&D, is that the case? \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Sep 27 '17 at 14:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, this is for 5th edition, I can change the topic to reflect it. Any other changes that need to be made? \$\endgroup\$ – Dreamweaver Sep 27 '17 at 14:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems like you're talking about the rules-effects of fluffing the extra attack feature as nocking two arrows simultaneously (as opposed to the standard "just shoot real fast, one after the other"). 5e's answer to the rules effect of fluff changes is "only if your DM thinks there should be one". \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Sep 27 '17 at 15:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ The question seems to boil down to: "Can I nock and fire two arrows at the same time?" \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Sep 27 '17 at 15:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Szega has the correct question, and in addition to that, do both arrows fired at the same time grant advantage since you are firing from stealth. RAW states only the first attack from stealth has advantage, so there's a grey area there. I placed the questions in my post in the middle paragraph, so maybe that's where the confusion is? \$\endgroup\$ – Dreamweaver Sep 27 '17 at 15:27
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Strictly by the book, only your first attack has advantage

A longbow has the ammunition property. The ammunition property states (emphasis mine):

You can use a weapon that has the ammunition property to make a ranged attack only if you have ammunition to fire from the weapon. Each time you attack with the weapon, you expend one piece of ammunition...

As far as the rules are concerned, you can't mechanically fire two arrows at the same time; you have to fire one arrow and then the other. From there we know that you lose any benefits from being hidden when the first attack hits or misses, as mentioned in Baergren's answer:

If you are hidden—both unseen and unheard—when you make an attack, you give away your location when the attack hits or misses. (PHB p.195)

So unless you had managed to hide again between shots, or had some effect like the Skulker feat, which allows you to remain hidden if you miss a shot from cover, only the first attack will have advantage.

Of course, the DM can rule otherwise

Your DM can make whatever ruling they feel is reasonable about whatever you are trying to propose. I have never come across this situation in my own games, so I will refrain from proposing any solutions, as they would all be untested. Just know that in this case, your DM is going to have to make a call. Whatever the DM rules at that point is what you're going to have to go with.

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You can't fire two or more arrows at once

no you can't do that

Despite being a common fantasy trope, shooting a bow with multiple arrows simultaneously is impossible, both in reality and in 5e. The Extra attack feature allows you to shoot faster, effectively making two or more attacks during the 6-seconds round. But they are still separate attacks - all can be launched into different foes, and each needs its own attack roll.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ And even if one was going to house rule to allow it, I'd recommend the damage for each arrow being halved (since only half of the bow's energy is going into each arrow), and probably some kind of modifier to make you less likely to hit. \$\endgroup\$ – Shufflepants Sep 27 '17 at 18:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can't, or shouldn't? \$\endgroup\$ – Yakk Sep 27 '17 at 18:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Probably one of the better versions of this was Legolas in the movie drawing and stabbing with an arrow to a target directly in front of him then drawing and firing traditional at the next. \$\endgroup\$ – JohnP Sep 27 '17 at 21:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ not completely absent from reality: arco-iris.com/George/chu-ko-nu.htm "Some fired two bolts at once" Sure these are crossbows but still. Plus, Rule of Cool, man! \$\endgroup\$ – Nacht Sep 28 '17 at 0:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ There's a reason it's a common D&D trope, it was a standard feat for rangers in 3.5e. Manyshot literally fired two arrows off the one attack role. \$\endgroup\$ – bp. Sep 28 '17 at 5:35
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Nocking 2 arrows is an improvised move. Totally up to the DM what happens. I would rule as follows: You're hidden, you gain advantage. You're improvising a difficult shot, you gain disadvantage. Netting you make 2 to-hit rolls as normal.

So your best gain would be to take the first shot at advantage.

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When a creature can't see you you have advantage on attack rolls against it. (PHB p.195)

Emphasis mine. This states rolls (multiple) so yes, all attacks made by you against a creature you are hidden from have advantage. I imagine it would say first if it were restricted as such.

However it could be argued that you are seen after the first attack hits.

If you are hidden—both unseen and unheard—when you make an attack, you give away your location when the attack hits or misses. (PHB p.195)

This might be a DM call if your attacks are in quick enough succession to be considered functionally simultaneous, which I would argue they would be.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for updating that. I've removed the "edited" comment from the bottom of your post since we don't signal our edits in text here. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 27 '17 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Disregarding the "whether the attack hits or misses" part would make part of the Stalker feat irrelevant. A character with Stalker does not break Hidden on a miss. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Sep 27 '17 at 18:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.J.L. This is a specific instance of multiple attacks in the same round. The feat would still be relevant for keeping you hidden between rounds on a miss so you get advantage on the next attack attempt. That being said I've come around to agree with disallowing advantage on the second attack. \$\endgroup\$ – Baergren Sep 27 '17 at 19:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer is confusing the Attack action with an attack. \$\endgroup\$ – yinzanat Sep 28 '17 at 13:48
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5 arrows is maybe a stretch but reasonably draw up to 3 arrows at the same time since you have 3 places between your fingers that can hold arrows in a drawing position

Though, yes, the accuracy decreases a slight amount for each extra arrow you have but the middle arrow tends to lose the least accuracy.

Depending on how many arrows you draw, the shot also changes if you're drawing 2; the arrows tend to fly straighter but if you draw 3 arrows the top and bottom arrows tend to split off to the sides and the middle stays relatively true to its starting position.

Anything more then 3 arrows and i don't see how you could logically hold them.

You also have to account for the bow's Orientation: is the person trying to draw on a Horizontal or Vertical, a Horizontal draw would give the arrows more stability but you would have to sacrifice Aim-Down-Sights for hip fire.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What's ADS? Are you answering based on your expertise as a real-life archery enthusiast? Can you add some citations to your answer, and how do they translate into the game? \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 Sep 28 '17 at 0:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ ADS -.-' a common expression used for Aim Down Sights, a sight can be anything from the tip of your Finger to to a Sniper Scope, i'm not a real life archer this is just me making a opinion with the facts i have on hand i can hold 3 pieces wood between my index, middle, ring and pinky fingers so why not a professional archer, the shot spread i used scientific analysis to theorize, and the weapon Orientation i also analyzed scientifically, in short my answer is just Scientific Theory but its not impossible to logically do, 4 or 5 arrows yes its impossible but not 2 or 3 \$\endgroup\$ – Judess 69er Sep 28 '17 at 1:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ i guess you would also need more knots so you could nock your arrows in their proper positions without them all sliding into each other as soon at you release them \$\endgroup\$ – Judess 69er Sep 28 '17 at 2:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ for a game it would be an interesting Shot Modifier so you could say hold the LMB Down to Charge how many arrows will be nocked, or i guess you could add a up and down button GUI for your ammo item so you could choose how many arrows you want to nock to your bow, you would burn through ammo quicker but i guess that's the players choice if they wanna use their ammo at 2x or 3x its normal rate with a different shot pattern \$\endgroup\$ – Judess 69er Sep 28 '17 at 2:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi @Judess69er, and welcome to the site. Please check out our tour to see how we work here, and note we're a Q&A site and don't work like a discussion forum. All your comments that expand upon your answer should be edited to include in your answer. Also, we prefer answers that have some support - either something from a published book, or something that you've tried in-game, or even read about someone else's experience. Also, this site is about is tabletop roleplaying games, not computer games, so half your comments are off-topic. \$\endgroup\$ – Adeptus Sep 28 '17 at 6:37

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