A PC with the Alert feat cannot be surprised by Hidden opponents.

According to "When does a hidden opponent become visible when attacking?" - opponents only become visible on their turn in the round when they attack.

Does this effectively mean that a PC with an Alert feat (whose passive perception check fails against hidden opponents) knows an attack is coming but has no idea who, where or how many opponents? Can the alerted PC even attack or perform non-area-of-effect actions targeting any of these opponents?

This seems to substantially decrease the value of the Alert feat given how often surprise is related to hidden opponents?


1 Answer 1


The third bullet point in the description of the Alert feat was updated in the PHB Errata. The description originally read:

Always on the lookout for danger, you gain the following benefits:

  • You can’t be surprised while you are conscious.

  • You gain a +5 bonus to initiative.

  • Other creatures don't gain advantage on attack rolls against you as a result of being hidden from you.

The third bullet point was changed to read:

  • Other creatures don’t gain advantage on attack rolls against you as a result of being unseen by you.

As such, the benefit is not limited only to hidden opponents, but invisible ones as well (or those that you can not see for any reason).

However, the Alert feat does not grant you the ability to know where hidden enemies are or anything of that sort; it simply grants the mechanical benefit to you of them not getting advantage on their attack against you from being unseen, and prevents you from being surprised (which would prevent you from taking any actions or reactions until your turn during the first round of combat is over) while conscious.

It's not clear how enemies would get in range of you and then hide without you noticing if you can't be surprised.

Even if the enemies did manage to hide before you noticed, if your turn in the initiative order came before the enemies' turns, you could simply ready an attack against the first enemy to appear, or flee, or get behind cover and hide yourself.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The first few paragraphs raises an interesting point, but I don't see how it is related to the question. The last three sound spot on, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – daze413
    Mar 18, 2018 at 3:51
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @daze413 first bit attests to the value of the feat which is the last line in the original question \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2018 at 4:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think the enemies are getting into range and then hiding necessarily (though that's one scenario that feels weird). Depends on the situation - I've only had to tangle with alert once, and I played it as the PC knew something was up, but not from where or when or whom. No mechanical advantage, but they basically were "aware" enough to take action(s). They ended up RP'ing it and using a party-wide effect. Essentially, they can not attack. They can do a Search though? I would allow that. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2018 at 15:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SethR.Feldman: You're welcome to DM it that way, but that's not how the feat is written. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Mar 18, 2018 at 20:05
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The Alerted character could spend their Action to search (Perception or Investigation?), but I'm not sure it would be as helpful (since you can't un-Surprise your allies) as Readying an action or Dodging. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Brown
    Mar 19, 2018 at 14:37

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .