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At 14th level, a Rogue gains the Blindsense feature, which states the following:

if you are able to hear, you are aware of the location of any hidden or invisible creature within 10 feet of you.

The extent and phrasing of this ability seems a bit vague to me. Is there a limit on obstructions between the Rogue and the target? For example, can a Rogue detect the presence of someone within 10' of them when the other person is in another corridor with a 5'-thick stone wall between them?

It seems that the only limitation on Blindsense is if the Rogue is Deafened, which would prevent them from hearing and activating the ability. Is this correct?


FYI, the following Crawford tweet regarding Blindsight may be relevant here:

You can't hide from a creature if you're in its blindsight radius, unless magic cloaks your presence entirely.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Part 2: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/110660/… \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Nov 28 '17 at 15:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why do you think they aren't subject to the Deafened condition - do you mean the Blinded condition? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 28 '17 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, he means that the only limitation on Blindsense is that the rogue must not be Deafened in order to use it. \$\endgroup\$ – Marq Nov 28 '17 at 16:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ As I noticed earlier, Blindsight isn't equivalent to blindsense. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 28 '17 at 18:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ And he also said "If you're behind total cover, you're out of the blindsight's radius." \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Boncer Nov 28 '17 at 18:58
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You are Daredevil...light

So long as you can hear, you know the location. You hear the heartbeat of the guy on the other side of the wall. Do note though you only know the LOCATION of the creature, you do not know WHAT the creature is. So you don't know if it's a threat, a friend, a monster, a humanoid, a draconequus, what.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How would you rule a hidden undead creature - or something similar - where they theoretically make no sounds whatsoever while hidden? \$\endgroup\$ – Baergren Nov 28 '17 at 16:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Baergren I have two answers to this. My interpretation of the RAW would be no difference unless the MM says it doesn't make a sound. If the MM does say that then well sucks to be you. At my table though, specially with the group I'm currently running with, I would say no sound means no blindsense. It adds fun to the game and helps my players feel there. \$\endgroup\$ – Miatog Nov 28 '17 at 16:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your last sentence contradicts the RAW description of the feature. It seems by design, you are aware of their presence, regardless of a DC40 Stealth, invisibility, or any other means to go unnoticed, regardless of whether they're making noise or not. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Nov 28 '17 at 16:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ I propose a counter example. Suppose a creature is standing inside of a silence spell, 5 feet from the edge. The rogue, 10 feet away and outside of the silence radius, can hear. If the rogue moves 5 feet closer and into the silence the rogue can no longer hear and doesn't know the location of the creature. I agree that RAW the rogue might know at 10 feet, but RAI and narrative logic suggest that the rogue must be capable of hearing the creature to know it is there. I would give the rogue the blindsense for undead (they can still make noise), but not magical silence effects. \$\endgroup\$ – William Nov 28 '17 at 16:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical removed that bit all together. Sometimes me no good makey the wordy words. \$\endgroup\$ – Miatog Nov 28 '17 at 16:57
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I would rule that you still need "line of sight" and that cover affects this. It sounds sort of like a echo-location power to me, so the rogue would "hear" just whatever he could normally see if it was lighted, within 10', and ignoring visually hidden or invisible, since those do not affect hearing. I would not allow the rogue to detect the presence of someone within 10' of them when the other person is in another corridor with a 5' thick stone wall between them.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with this, but some more citations regarding Blindsight rules, vision rules regarding obscurity, and the lack of direction with regard to hearing and 'obscurity' may help draw the line that visual obscurity and audio obscurity can be the same and should be applied equally. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 28 '17 at 17:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did not base this on specific citations, which is why I started with "I would rule ..." and said "It sounds sort of like a echo-location power to me". This may or may not be how Crawford sees it and would rule it. There are implications that probably do contradict the official RAW and the RAI. "Obscurity" is a visual phenomenon, and so this would cancel that at least partly under some conditions. I would probably also give the rogue at least an advantage on saves for illusions that are visual only and do not have a sound component. All of this is just me -- how I reason it out. \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Boncer Nov 28 '17 at 18:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PhilBoncer Please note that I've added a Crawford tweet, which may affect your answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Nov 28 '17 at 18:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ It actually is consistent with what I'm thinking and would rule. Note that (a) blindsight is not entirely the same as blindsense, (b) his tweet said "You can't hide from a creature if you're in its blindsight radius, unless magic cloaks your presence entirely", and (c) he also has tweeted that "If you're behind total cover, you're out of the blindsight's radius". These together amount to the same thing I said -- that you still need "line of sight" and that cover affects this. \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Boncer Nov 28 '17 at 19:01

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