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So this is coming up because in a game in the past, I thwarted an enemy's attempt to turn invisible and flee from us by basically rolling a high enough perception check to watch the trail of grass squishing as he stepped on it, and then splashing him with a bottle of writing ink. The DM allowed it, and we chased after the floating Rorschach Test. But this got me thinking about what would work for this.

So my question is, if a creature is already invisible, such as by the spell, would things thrown onto it then become invisible as well?

Now, I'm guessing this would work for most games in general, but I was playing 5e D&D in particular, so I'm going to cite the spell from that edition's book.

The spells says:

A creature you touch becomes invisible until the spell ends. Anything the target is wearing or carrying is invisible as long as it is on the target's person. (PHB, 254)

While it doesn't specifically state it, one would assume that anything the target puts on or picks up during the spell's duration would become invisible as well. So the issue then becomes what would be considered "worn".

NI would assume that if the target were, say, set on fire, the spell would not make the fire become invisible. I could also see the ink working, because it is not wearing the ink, with possibly the ink that soaks into clothing turning invisible.

But what about, say, throwing a sheet or a net onto an invisible target? Would they be considered wearing it, turning it invisible as well? Or would you just see an sheet or net hanging there in the air?

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    \$\begingroup\$ "one would assume that anything the target puts on or picks up during the spell's duration would become invisible as well." actually I would assume the exact opposite as this is the effect of the spell on the target when it is cast. "New" objects have not been targeted by the spell and therefore would not be invisible. \$\endgroup\$ – Protonflux Jan 2 '18 at 10:13
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The thrown item is visible

If an invisible creature picks up an item, that item is not invisible. The same applies to ink or flour or something similar thrown on the creature.

References

"Only items worn/carried when invisibility is cast are invisible," Jeremy Crawford tweet.

A related question on this site, Does picking up an item while under the effects of the Invisibility spell turn it invisible?.

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    \$\begingroup\$ To support this the text of the spell: "A creature you touch becomes invisible until the spell ends. Anything the target is wearing or carrying is invisible as long as it is on the target's person. (PHB, 254)" applies to the creature etc. when the spell is cast. "New" objects have not been targeted by the spell and are therefore not made invisible. I would imagine that if you took the opposite interpretation there are many spells that would be greatly effected by the same interpretation being applied. \$\endgroup\$ – Protonflux Jan 2 '18 at 10:17
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The spell text implies intentionality.

In the absence of a clear answer in the text, we're left with the spell text that you quote. "Wearing" or "carrying" something suggests that the creature is actively doing those things. For example, in common language, if you spill a drink on yourself, few would say that you were wearing it (unless they're making fun of you). Likewise, you could be inadvertently carrying something on you, but it's hard to say that you're "carrying" a leaf that falls on your shoulder.

This interpretation reconciles the examples you give: if the invisible creature picks up an inkwell, then it becomes invisible because it's carrying it. If the creature has an inkwell smashed on it, then the ink is visible because it's neither worn nor carried.

This interpretation is best for gameplay

There are a few points to quibble over in this interpretation, but it's the most useful for gameplay. Throwing something at an invisible creature to mark it is a classic gameplay trick and makes for a better time at the table. In order to do this maneuver, players need to be engaged with their surroundings or inventory, and be immersed in the game world beyond its literal mechanics. As long as it's not too game-breaking, such engagement and clever thinking should be rewarded. Given that invisible creatures can be detected by sound or by their effect on the environment anyway, it's not too overpowered to let this marking happen.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll point out that Glitter Dust is pretty much that effect (if you dig back and back and back into what magic spells were, originally): A handful of gold(?) power thrown on the target(s). \$\endgroup\$ – Draco18s Jan 1 '18 at 6:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ What mechanical difference would it make? You still attack with disadvantage, the enemy was not hidden before either. \$\endgroup\$ – András Jan 1 '18 at 13:15

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