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Multiple Advantages

When multiple situations give you Advantage, the rules for Advantage and Disadvantage do not say you only have Advantage once, they say you only roll one additional d20:

If two favorable situations grant Advantage, for example, you still roll only one additional d20.

That is, Advantages are like many other effects and don't stack with themselves. All sources provide the same effect, so there isn't really a choice and you simply get it.

A lot of people seem to disagree with this rule and state that if two situations grant Advantage, this means you only have Advantage once. This seems to contradict the rules in several places, including above, and this theory makes a distinction between being "granted advantage" and "having" advantage, a distinction that the rules do not make.

For example the language for being "granted" advantage in Unseen Attackers reads:

When a creature can't see you, you have advantage on attack rolls against it.

Advantages With Disadvantages

Having any combination of Advantage and Disadvantages means you do not roll any additional d20s.

If circumstances cause a roll to have both Advantage and Disadvantage, you are considered to have neither of them, and you roll one d20. This is true even if multiple circumstances impose Disadvantage and only one grants Advantage or vice versa. In such a situation, you have neither Advantage nor Disadvantage.

This is how Disadvantage is explicitly stated to cancel out an Advantage. No qualms here.

Non-Disadvantage Nullification

There is at least one non-Disadvantage ways to cancel out or remove an Advantage. Take for example the Rapid Strike feature:

If you take the Attack action on your turn and have Advantage on an attack roll against one of the targets, you can forgo the Advantage for that roll to make an additional weapon attack against that target, as part of the same action.

The rule on Disadvantage canceling multiple Advantages is specific to Disadvantage, not nullifying Advantage in general, so that specific rule doesn't apply to Rapid Strike. Thus, one way to read it is that only one Advantage is canceled out but any others remain.

The Question

I am looking for a general interpretation of the Advantage and Disadvantage rules to help adjudicate situations where something other than Disadvantage is used to remove an Advantage, such as Rapid Strike.

If multiple sources say you have Advantage, do you technically have Advantage multiple times?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Nov 13, 2019 at 6:06

2 Answers 2

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Yes

If circumstances cause a roll to have both advantage and disadvantage, you are considered to have neither of them, and you roll one d20. This is true even if multiple circumstances impose disadvantage and only one grants advantage or vice versa. In such a situation, you have neither advantage nor disadvantage (basic rules p. 60)

If you have advantage once, twice, 10x or 368x you roll 2d20 and pick the highest. However, if you have any disadvantage you have neither advantage nor disadvantage.

It can certainly happen that you have multiple sources of advantage; it just makes no difference. One is enough, more than one is a surfeit but handy if, for example, you drop one of your advantages down the back of the lounge with your car keys.

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    \$\begingroup\$ At least you'll have advantage on checks to find your keys! \$\endgroup\$
    – Rykara
    Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 6:01
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Advantage or disadvantage is a binary state. Either you have it or you don't. The rules talk about multiple sources of advantage but, in the end, you simply "have advantage" or "have disadvantage" on the roll (or neither).

The rules make it clear that a single instance of the opposite mechanic is enough to cancel the other:

If circumstances cause a roll to have both advantage and disadvantage, you are considered to have neither of them, and you roll one d20. This is true even if multiple circumstances impose disadvantage and only one grants advantage or vice versa. In such a situation, you have neither advantage nor disadvantage.

This supports the idea that dis/advantage is a binary mechanic, not a pluralistic one because, regardless of how many circumstances grant one, a single instance if the other is enough to zero them out.

A metaphoric example: If three people walk past a light switch and each person switches it on, the light switch doesn't become "triple on." It's just on. In this metaphor, each person is a source of the light switch being on and, no matter how many people (attempt to) flip it to on, it's just on. One person can walk by and flip it off, just as one source of disadvantage cancels out all the other sources of advantage.

(The metaphor isn't perfect because, if the off person flips it before the last on person does, the end result is different, but I believe the point is clear enough).

I know you asked about strict RAW answers but permit me to also use a source that is both unofficial and illuminating.

Though his tweets are not considered official rulings, lead rules designer Jeremy Crawford confirms the binary nature of dis/advantage:

Advantage and disadvantage cancel each other regardless of the number of things that give either of them to you. Either you have advantage/disadvantage or you don’t. Instances of them don’t stack up.

So, in the case of a samurai fighter who gives herself advantage through her class's fighting spirit and through the spell true strike, she does not have multiple instances of advantage. She just has advantage.

Now the original confusion seems to come down to the fact that the fighter is using advantage as a form of payment to activate rapid strike, not losing it by having it cancelled out by an instance of disadvantage.

But the fighter can't forego something and still have it. This isn't a rules issue. It's one of basic logic.

If I give Sally two pieces of pie and Sally "forgoes the pie" because she's on a diet, she doesn't get to eat one piece of pie and still claim she's on a diet. Well, I guess she can but then she'd be lying lol.

The point is that when rules use articles like "the" to refer to advantage, they're not implying the possibility that a player can grant more than one advantage to get around it. It's a general "the" referring to the one and only possible state of having advantage.

The word "the," in other words, is stylistic and technically unnecessary in the same way that one might both "share the love" or simply "share love."

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    \$\begingroup\$ It seems the distinction between "multiple sources of advantage" and "multiple advantages" is core to the askers confusion so it might be fruitful to spend a bit more time on that distinction. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 14:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 15:26

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