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The D&D 3.5 rules for the Listen skill indicate that checks while the listener is distracted raises the DC by +5.

If the listener is participating in an encounter while trying to pinoint an invisible opponent, would the DC to pinpoint such an opponent be increased by 5 ?

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By raw, yes.

Assume an example. Party is fighting a group of goblins. Invisible creature attacks goblins 10 feet away.

DC to detect an invisible creature in combat is 0, +1 for the 10 feet distance, and +5 you are distracted by being in combat, dc is now 6 (IE, if you roll a 5, you cant tell if there is just combat noises back there or if there is an invisible creature back there)

if you roll a 26, you can pinpoint the invisible creatures location in addition to knowing it is there. It still benefits from full concealment if you try to attack.

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    \$\begingroup\$ DC is Move Silent unless the invisible opponent speaks or engages in combat. \$\endgroup\$ – Wyrmwood Jun 14 '18 at 23:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yea, I mention its 0 because of combat. \$\endgroup\$ – Drew Major Jun 15 '18 at 12:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is it always "in combat" if combat is occurring? Or does the invisible opponent need to be attacking? \$\endgroup\$ – Wyrmwood Jun 15 '18 at 18:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ By raw? its unclear. I would say it has to be activily participating in combat (shooting stabbing casting, being shot, being stabbed) if its just chilling off to the side watching people fight I would say its not in combat. \$\endgroup\$ – Drew Major Jun 17 '18 at 4:12
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Does fighting qualify for the “distracted” penalty to listen checks? If the listener is participating in an encounter while trying to pinoint an invisible opponent, would the DC to pinpoint such an opponent be increased by 5 ?

Since it is only mentioned in a table under Listen, there is no rules definition of distracted, so ultimately that would be up to the DM. The Rules Compendium also added DC modifiers for ambient noise. I would imagine one of those might apply too.

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Generally, yes, doing anything but the one task at hand - like moving, dodging blows and looking for openings - would constitute as "distracted" in regards to listen (and some other skill) checks. But listen is a special case, when it comes to invisible things: it has its own rules.

Let's explain that stuff a little: Combat is quite noisy in itself, as whenever a physical attack hits something, more noise is created than a combattant that just moves creates. That is, the noise is made when the attacks connect to the target or their parrying weapon, so the base DC to detect the general position of an invisible, fighting creature is 0 (and 20 to pinpoint). But if they are not engaging a specific PC (which, as engaged, automatically knows where it comes from as long as reach isn't involved), the distance to the invisible creature makes it often harder to directly pinpoint the combattant (+1 per 2 squares). So far the part on the invisibility status rule block.

But then there is the +5 for distraction on listen itself: I would not apply those, as a) the +1 per 10 feet/2 squares is specifically noted on the invisibility table and b) the +5 for being distracted is not. My interpretation of this is, that it is a specific case, that only for pinpointing the invisible creature in combat this penalty does not apply, even if it is realistically bogous and for all purposes should apply, if only because you make so much noise yourself. But the rules don't say so.

HOWEVER, if the invisible creature is not (yet) part of the combat, then I would just add it up: Move Silently + 5 + 1d20 (-movement mod) + distance.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ To pinpoint invisible creatures with Listen checks you need to beat the DC by 20. Otherwise you just know there's someone invisible. \$\endgroup\$ – burlap Jun 13 '18 at 9:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @burlap accounted for now \$\endgroup\$ – Trish Jun 13 '18 at 10:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ added in a raw definition because general rules still apply unless they are specifically excluded. As a DM though, this is how I would most likely rule the situation. \$\endgroup\$ – Drew Major Jun 14 '18 at 20:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ where "general position" <==> “over there somewhere.” \$\endgroup\$ – Wyrmwood Jun 14 '18 at 23:36

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