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Say a Help action is performed, the helper is then removed in some way, then a party member attacks. Would the party member be able to take advantage of the Help if the helper is gone?

For instance, if a familiar uses the Help action in combat to distract an enemy, and the enemy then attacks and dispels the familiar, is the Help effect still granting advantage to an attacker during that turn? Does Help need to be "maintained", or does it just happen instantly on the character's turn?

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Yes, absolutely.

Narratively, the Help action can be explained in a large number of different ways, but mechanically, it is simple.

When you take the Help action, the creature you aid gains advantage on the next ability check it makes to perform the task you are helping with, provided that it makes the check before the start of your next turn.

Alternatively, you can aid a friendly creature in attacking a creature within 5 feet of you. [...] If your ally attacks the target before your next turn, the first attack roll is made with advantage.

If you take the Help action, then they get advantage. You can move away, die, use your reaction/bonus action/second action to do something completely different; it doesn't matter.

To narratively give just one example of why this makes sense, imagine the Help action was kicking up sand in their eyes. They now have to deal with that, and it doesn't matter if you are still standing there.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It might be worth referencing the Sage Advice Compendium question "If you use the Help action to distract a foe, do you have to stay within 5 feet of it for the action to work?", since the justification used there about why Help still helps if you move away is logically extensible to this scenario as well. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer May 27 at 11:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a great explanation, thanks! Going purely by the RAW, I was confident that's what the book SAYS the Help action does, but I felt unsure the description is as sound as it looks. It effects an attack "before your next turn", but if something were to prevent your next turn (like instant death), RAW suggests it would last indefinitely until an attack, which seems like an obvious bug. I thought the Helper being removed might be another situation where the rules wouldn't logically work precisely as stated, but your answer does make sense. \$\endgroup\$ – Nate May 27 at 15:11

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