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Multiple abilities can be used "after seeing the roll, but before knowing whether it hits or misses" (examples: a Lore bard's Cutting Words or a Valor bard's Combat Inspiration).

However, in the case of the Enchantment Wizard's 6th-level Instinctive Charm feature (PHB, p. 117), which lets you divert an attack that targets you to a different creature, the text says that:

You must choose to use this feature before knowing whether the attack hits or misses.

There is no mention of "seeing the roll".

Do I get to see the attack roll before using Instinctive Charm?

Assuming I do get to see the roll and it is a critical hit (natural 20), can I still use Instinctive Charm? Or do I "know" the attack hits because it is a critical hit, and hence can't use the ability?

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Yes

There are two people who can know whether the attack hits; the player or their character. In both cases the answer is the same.

The Player

In every game that I've played, players are not supposed to have knowledge of a creature's statistics, including to-hit modifiers. Additionally, they do not know all the different spell and feature effects that may change the attack roll before or after it is made. They may be able to deduce the these values through observation, however as they are not the DM, players cannot have absolute knowledge of the final value of a roll.

Therefore, a player can never know for certain whether the attack hits or misses until the DM declares whether or not the attack hit. So, as long as you use the feature before the hit is declared, you should be able to use this feature.

The Character

Despite the usage of the word "you", descriptions for spells are typically written as a description of what the character can do, not you as the player. I believe that the following is the most likely RAI interpretation:

The character has no knowledge of a creature's statistics, including a creature's to-hit modifier and their own AC. These exist purely as a way of indicating how good a creature is at hitting things, and as a measure of how difficult it is to hit a creature, respectively, from a gameplay perspective. They have no real in-game counterpart. Therefore, you seeing the value of the roll does not impart on your character any knowledge of whether the attack hits or misses them. As such you can use this feature after seeing the roll.


This question contains further elaboration on this topic.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ According to the SRD, " If the d20 roll for an attack is a 20, the attack hits regardless of any modifiers or the target’s AC. ". So the Player seeing the dice roll a "20" knows that the Attack has hit. Surely this is now too late to activate "Instinctive Charm" ? \$\endgroup\$ – Black Spike Nov 20 '19 at 18:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems like for the most part, most monster attacks have a positive modifier (or at least the ones that matter.) If the die roll is higher than their AC, they know the result, don't they? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 20 '19 at 21:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch, it's true that if the roll is higher than the PC's AC then the attack is in most cases going to hit. But what if you start factoring other effects, like the bard's Cutting Words feature? The attack roll could easily be reduced below your character's AC after you've seen the attack roll. That's why I feel that the second (character-perspective) interpretation is the most RAI answer, because otherwise the player is essentially required to plug their ears and close their eyes anytime the DM makes an attack roll or other players start using their abilities. \$\endgroup\$ – Andrendire Nov 20 '19 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ In that case, the Bard is doing their thing first anyway. So not sure that's the best example :) And then the Wizard will be able to make their decision on the roll, but they'll still know if it ends up higher than their AC. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 20 '19 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Bard can use their feature after the creature has made the roll. So say that a creature attacks the Wizard, and they see the roll. At that point, the Wizard knows the value of the roll, but they don't know if the Bard is going to use their feature. Schroedinger the Bard might help them, or they might not. So the Wizard doesn't know if the attack will hit or not. Therefore they can use the Instinctive Charm feature as they please. \$\endgroup\$ – Andrendire Nov 20 '19 at 21:20
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Yes

you can use this feature up to until the DM says the attack hits or misses.

Note that typically DM rolls behind a screen; you don't get to see the result. Unless your DM rolls in the open, this is not an issue.

Regarding a natural 20 or 1, you can disregard it until the DM announce the hit. Remember that the DM may override a natural 20 or 1.

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