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The question “Since advantage and disadvantage caused in a heavy obscured area cancel out, what effect does it have in combat?” notes that attacks in darkness or magical fog cause attacks to be cancel out advantage and disadvantage - thus “leveling” the battlefield as no one has advantage or disadvantage.

Additionally, heavily obscured areas are described functionally equivalent to invoking the Blindness condition.

Adding to that, the PHB p.291 says:

“An invisible creature is impossible to see without the aid of magic or a special sense. For the purpose of hiding, the creature is heavily obscured. The creature's location can be detected by any noise it makes or any tracks it leaves.

What seems unclear is whether the location of an opponent is automatically known or not known in heavily obscured areas - and subsequently how attacks are made.

When in heavily obscured areas...

  1. Does the PHB reference above imply that, when using battle maps, the combatants in heavily obscured areas automatically know in what 5 foot square combatants are located (i.e. hearing their location)?

  2. If combatants do know each other’s location, what happens if opponents simply stand still? Are they automatically unfindable? Or do combatants always have to roll a Stealth check to Hide in what 5 foot square they may be standing?

  3. If combatants do not know where opponents are located in heavily obscured areas, then how do combatants ever make an attack with the modifiers mentioned for the “Blindness” condition? Do they randomly choose 5 foot squares to attack and automatically miss if they choose the wrong square?

  4. If combatants do not know where oppponents are located, how do they ever find each other? Do they have to roll a Perception check every round to know what 5 foot grid in the battle map to attack? Is that Perception an action, bonus action or free action?

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  1. Does the PHB reference above imply that, when using battle maps, the combatants in heavily obscured areas automatically know in what 5 foot square combatants are located (i.e. hearing their location)?

Yes

  1. If combatants do know each other’s location, what happens if opponents simply stand still? Are they automatically unfindable? Or do combatants always have to roll a Stealth check to Hide in what 5 foot square they may be standing?

They have to take an action to Hide. Once hidden they remain so until stop hiding. Those whose passive Wisdom (Perception) beats the Dexterity (Stealth) check know where they are, those whose doesn’t, don’t.

  1. If combatants do not know where opponents are located in heavily obscured areas, then how do combatants ever make an attack with the modifiers mentioned for the “Blindness” condition? Do they randomly choose 5 foot squares to attack and automatically miss if they choose the wrong square?

Yes, they point to a square and say “there”.

  1. If combatants do not know where oppponents are located, how do they ever find each other? Do they have to roll a Perception check every round to know what 5 foot grid in the battle map to attack? Is that Perception action, bonus action or free action?

They don’t. They can guess or they can use their action to Search and use an active Wisdom (Perception) check. Usually, this means they can’t do anything else.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that if a creature makes an attack (hit or miss or even if they pick an empty square to attack), they give away their location. So unless they hide immediately after that, everyone else knows that something is there. Not sure if they can know friend from foe though. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Brown Feb 14 '18 at 19:26

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