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I asked this question some time ago, and after a while I figured out more specifically what I want to ask.

The medusa has the Petrifying Gaze trait:

When a creature that can see the medusa's eyes starts its turn within 30 feet of the medusa, the medusa can force it to make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw if the medusa isn't incapacitated and can see the creature. [...] Unless surprised, a creature can avert its eyes to avoid the saving throw at the start of its turn. If the creature does so, it can't see the medusa until the start of its next turn, when it can avert its eyes again. If the creature looks at the medusa in the meantime, it must immediately make the save.

How does the medusa's Petrifying Gaze work?

The gaze attack specifies that anyone that can see the medusa's eyes is affected, but does the medusa have a "cone of vision", or 360° vision? I'm asking this because the game doesn't really deal with that bit, and I've always run - and seen the game run - with 360° vision for the PCs, so maybe it works the same for monsters.

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Effectively 360°

The medusa's petrifying gaze (MM. 214, emphasis mine) states:

When a creature that can see the medusa's eyes starts its turn within 30 feet of the medusa, the medusa can force it to make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw if the medusa isn't incapacitated and can see the creature.

During combat, each combatant is assumed to be able to see each other, unless an effect (such as invisibility or the Hide action) says otherwise. This is why you as a PC can see the whole combat. Therefore the medusa can normally see the creature (outside of situations where it is blinded).

Whether the players can see the medusa's eyes is the more difficult question, but later in the medusa's petrifying gaze states:

... a creature can avert its eyes to avoid the saving throw [...] it can't see the medusa until the start of its next turn [...] if the creature looks at the medusa in the meantime, it must immediately make the save.

This language, specifically immediately making the save if it looks at the medusa, implies the creature can always see the medusa's eyes.

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360 Degree Gazing

The standard rules do not include Facing as a factor and are only included as a Variant rule in the DMG (page 252.)

Because of this, it is assumed that any creature looking at the Medusa is going to be under the Gaze effect:

When a creature that can see the medusa's eyes...

Since there is no facing, looking at the Medusa is equivalent to looking at it's eyes.

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  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ You have just given me an idea for where the True Strike cantrip is useful. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 25 '18 at 20:38

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