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I was browsing an older question recently thanks to a duplicate, and I found that the accepted answer for that question said something odd:

Sounds obvious. When you have advantage, there is a good chance for you to hit. If you use GWM/SS, you lose that advantage.

(Emphasis Mine)

That struck me as odd, so I went to look at the (relevant) Sharpshooter feat text, which says:

Before you make an attack with a ranged weapon that you are proficient with, you can choose to take a -5 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack hits, you add +10 to the attack’s damage.

As you can see, the feat's text says nothing about losing advantage when one uses the Feat and, as a side note, the Great Weapon Master feat referred-to in the answer also lacks any mention of losing Advantage when using the feat.

Is there something I'm missing here? What about Advantage-based conditions like Sneak Attack?

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's alright to ask questions about what other posts seem to be implying will happen, including when that turns out to be based on a misinterpretation (because it's not like the querent would know at question asking time). \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 3 '18 at 17:19
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It effectively removes advantage for the mid-range of a d20.

It's not that you're removing Advantage, but that the advantage is about +5 and is cancelled out by the -5 from GWM/SS.

There are two bases for this:

  1. Advantage often acts as a +5

  2. +5 is used when calculating passive advantage.

Advantage itself remains

Note that the math is the only thing that applies here with regard to +/-5. You still actually have advantage with all the rights and privileges granted by it (including a better chance to crit.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You still get Advantage-based Features like Sneak Attack, though, right? I'll go ahead and edit that into the question. \$\endgroup\$ – SeraphsWrath May 3 '18 at 19:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, you do, because you still have advantage - it's just that making a GWM/SS attack cancels out the actual effective benefit of having advantage so that the final result is mathematically roughly equivalent to a straight roll. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 3 '18 at 20:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeraphsWrath updated my answer as well \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 3 '18 at 21:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ AnyDice graph \$\endgroup\$ – JollyJoker May 4 '18 at 9:46
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"You lose that advantage" is more of a figure of speech than referring to a loss of the Advantage mechanic.

Another way the answerer could have phrased it is "You lose that benefit."

An example would be on a +10 to hit a 10 AC creature you are guaranteed to hit, but if you use GWM you lose that guarantee. (Ignoring automatic misses on 1s.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You may want to adjust this. WHile Critical Failures aren't a thing, rolling a 1 is an automatic miss and therefore aren't guaranteed a hit no matter what your modifier is. You still have the 5% chance to miss. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 3 '18 at 17:35
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For mid-range DCs, advantage is approximately worth a +5 to the roll.

Basically, the rule of thumb for advantage is that it gives an average of a +5 to the result of the roll. Because you're taking a -5 penalty to the roll, the logic is that the penalty cancels out the benefits of advantage.

The math of advantage is discussed in this question, and the +5 is referenced in this answer. Of course, advantage is much more statistically complicated than that, and the +5 is assuming a DC close to 10.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ the +5 is dependent on whether you round up or round down... only "true" +5 is at 11, or so a statistician told me recently. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth May 3 '18 at 17:16
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No.

As many of the other answers have pointed out, the -5 that GWM/SS applies to your attack roll is roughly equal and opposite to the increase in expected value of your roll that Advantage grants, but it does not interact with the Advantage mechanic at all. You still roll two dice, and effects that work off of advantage (such as Sneak Attack and Elven Accuracy) still apply.

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I think this confusion comes from an answer that was less than clear, and the fact that Advantage is a keyword in 5e.

See if this version makes more sense.

"Sounds obvious. When you have 'Advantage'*, there is a good chance for you to hit. If you use GWM/SS, you lose that advantage."

*Advantage has a rough value of +5 to hit.

The first instance of the word is referring to having Advantage (the game term to mean rolling an additional die, etc.) whereas the second instance to the word is referring to having 'an advantage' (nothing to do with the game term).

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The "that advantage" the person was mentioning was most likely

Sounds obvious. When you have advantage, there is a good chance for you to hit. If you use GWM/SS, you lose that advantage.

Meaning that it decreases your "good chance to hit", back to the usual chances you usually would have.

No, you don't lose your mechanical advantage

So you can still use things like Sneak Attack or any other thing that depends on the condition "having advantage".

Actually, even if the probability of hitting the target is about the same as having no advantage or penalty at all, the "right way" to resolve this is still

  1. Roll 2d20
  2. Take the greater value
  3. Add the appropriate bonus
  4. Reduce the 5 penalty
  5. Check if you hit

Meaning you still roll the 2 dice from advantage.

Related

It is similar to how the Lucky feat turns Disadvantage into "Super Advantage", but the "Disadvantage" status is still there.

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