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I'm DMing a game of DND 5e and one of my players really really wants to be an invisible stalker character. The characters will be level 5.

I told him no right off the bat, because being invisible 24/7 is way too op first of all and could be campaign breaking.

But he's extremely insistent about it, is there a way to make a somewhat invisible character playable somehow without breaking the game?

Some Ideas I have had include:

  • He can be invisible but he gets no other racial benefits or ability score improvements from race.

  • He is simply a normal human with human stats that all other characters have disadvantage on perception checks against them.

  • He can only become invisible for a short period of time before having to rest.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What are the things about the Stalker that they like? What aspects are important to them in terms of the character they want to play? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 16 at 14:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hey, I want to play a level 20 character with all stats at 18, and all skills maxed, in a campaign designed for low-level players, while all the other PCs are low level. Maybe if I insist enough, the GM will allow it? :P \$\endgroup\$ – vsz Jan 18 at 19:56
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I told him no right off the bat...But he's extremely insistent about it

Just tell the player "no," again; you are allowed to do that as DM

There are a number of reasons for this.

  1. An invisible stalker is an elemental; PCs are humanoids1

  2. The CR of an invisible stalker is 6; it usually takes 2 or 3 PCs of level 6 to defeat an invisible stalker; the party is level 5 (per your comment).

  3. A ring of invisibility is a legendary item, usually not encountered until at least level 11; the invisibility of the stalker is better than that ring.

  4. The stalker has this many Hit Points (Hit Dice): 104 (16d8 + 32). A PC of level 5 has somewhere between 30 and 60 HP, depending on class and dice and constitution score.
  5. You want your PC to be of comparable ability to the other PCs.
  6. No PC race gets this combination of Resistances and Immunities:
    • Damage Resistances: bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
    • Damage Immunities: poison
    • Condition Immunities: exhaustion, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained, unconscious (SRD p. 323)

and lastly

  1. Monsters and PCs are built under different assumptions.

Work with the player on a class/subclass that meets their goals

There are a number of ways to get the feel of moving around unseen and then striking. If that is their goal, then ...

  1. Suggest the player rebuild their PC as either a Sorcerer (Shadow) or a Monk (Way of Shadows). I have played both of these classes and they can both find ways to move around as unseen, or nearly unseen, in a variety of situations.

    or

  2. Suggest the player rebuild as a Ranger, Gloom Stalker. At level 3, they become invisible to enemies who need darkvision to spot them. I played a Gloom Stalker Ranger, and hope to play him again if that campaign ever reactivates. I chose vHuman and Criminal background; Stealth is of course a prime choice for a Skill Proficiency if your Player takes this route. Of note, on the first round the Gloom Stalker gets an additional attack: for your 5th level party, that's three attacks in the first round.

    or

  3. Suggest the player rebuild into a Circle of the Moon druid. Why?
    If the player chooses the race Firbolg (from Volo's Guide to Monsters) the Firbolg-Druid can turn invisible once per short rest.
    Then, at level 10, the Druid can become an air elemental when using the wild shape ability. That's a step toward being able to change into an elemental type. With CR/3 as a guide, you could as the DM rule that at level 18 they could shift into an invisible stalker (CR 6, elemental) as a plausible variation on air elemental. That's a different challenge tier (4) than tier 2 where the players are now. Time enough between now and if the party gets to level 18 to decide if that option appeals to both you and the player.

Or, try another class/sub class.

There are a variety of ways to get the feel of moving about hidden/unseen, and then suddenly striking. Work with the player on finding a combination that meets their goals.


1 Granted, warforged (Eberron) are a lot like a constructs, and the Changeling has the shapeshifter trait, however, the creature type itself isn't specifically not humanoid. Given the tweet that V2Blast references in that discussion with K. Baker, there may be an erratum coming for Eberron: Rising From the Last War.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast in this answer (i dunno how to make links in comments) one commenter links to something the designers said which is that Changelings are in fact shape changers. As far as I can tell the book doesn't explicitly say it: Are unwilling Changeling PCs from “Eberron: Rising from the Last War” now immune to the Polymorph spell? \$\endgroup\$ – Glenn Driver Jan 16 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GlennDriver Great point, but that's from the UA, and I am going to go with Rising from the Last War as the official source. (NautArch checked for me on D&D beyond). Also, to make links in comments do this thing [words] followed by (link) with no space in between last ] and first ( \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 16 at 15:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I used the wrong link because the questions looked so similar, the link should be the right one? Keith Baker says they're supposed to be shapechangers but again, it's not actually in the book \$\endgroup\$ – Glenn Driver Jan 16 at 15:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GlennDriver And your link works perfectly; thanks for the tidbit. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 16 at 15:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GlennDriver: Just to clarify, it is in the book in the sense that the racial trait in question is titled "Shapechanger". (This is a change from the recent 2018 UA version, where it was named "Change Appearance" - though the very first UA in 2015 was for Eberron and had a trait named "Shapechanger" as well.) That said, it doesn't explicitly say in the body text that "You are considered a shapechanger." or anything, but rather leaves it implied by the name of the trait. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 16 at 23:22
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Ask the player "why?"

First step to solving these types of issues is asking why they want a thing. If the character wants to be invisible all the time just for the sake of that, just say no. If they like the idea of being able to attack from being hidden or that type of thing then you can help them out.

The Gloomstalker Ranger is invisible in darkness to anyone relying on Darkvision. I have one in my current group and he stays out of the light and only the Devils Sight Warlock can see him, it's a fairly humorous time.

Find a race that can innately cast Invisibility, Firbolgs can turn invisible for 1 round per short rest. If your player wants a longer lasting invisibility you could take a race like Air Genasi and replace Levitate with Invisibility, or find a race that could innately cast that spell.

If after you've asked them why they want to be invisible and their answer is "I dunno, cause it's cool" and they can't give you concrete things they want from being invisible (surprise attacking, sneaking, etc) then you can just say "No." You'll probably end up having to explain to the player why being invisible all the time would be broken, but in the end this is your game and it's up to you to make the call you think is best.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I have only +1 to give, but again, really great answer on trying to figure out what the player actually wants for their character. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 16 at 14:36
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The Bad News

As others have pointed out, Invisible Stalker is a monster and the stat block it uses is just not viable for a PC. You could always start tweaking the different parts of it to try to get something balanced but chances are it would never really pan out and your player would still be far too strong, or so saddled with drawbacks that he can't have any fun. So the idea of playing an Invisible Stalker is probably just not going to work...

The Good News

Unless your player is willing to work with you to come up with an in game reason for why they are invisible. If the PC was a standard race and the invisibility was a side effect on top of that, you don't have to worry about balancing anything other than the strengths of invisibility. And since we are firmly in homebrew territory anyway you can play around with how the invisibility works and what drawbacks you want to give it to make it more balanced.

The Invisible Man

As a really rough idea, let's look at the classic Invisible Man. Wrapped in bandages from head to foot, wears a long trench coat, has a hat and shades on even indoors. Why does the Invisible Man look this way? Because his invisibility doesn't affect his gear. Unlike the normal invisibility spell which will also hide items you wear and carry, whatever gives the Invisible Man his power is only skin-deep.

When the Invisible Man wants to sneak past a guard, he has to lose all of his clothing and sneak around naked to do so. If he gets found out while sneaking in this way he is going to have to deal with that situation with no armor, no weapons, and barely any dignity. Being magically invisible during a fight is a pretty big advantage. Being the Invisible Man in a fight means you are running around naked swinging a sword (that everyone can still see floating in mid air).

What made the Invisible Man the way he is today? Maybe it was an ancient curse picked up early in his adventuring career. Maybe it was an alchemical experiment gone terribly wrong. Maybe there is an actual Invisible Stalker lurking somewhere in his family tree. The reason why is something you should work with together with the player or even let them come up with on his own. In my experience, creating a backstory for a cheesy character like this is half the fun of playing them. Plus you can get a free plot hook out this, if the PC is trying to undo whatever made him invisible to begin with.

The Unreliably Opaque Man

A slightly different take on the same idea above, but with the invisibility not being a constant effect on the PC. Instead let the invisibility be something mostly out of the player's control. Figure out some trigger that you think would be fun and then have the player roll every time the trigger happens. If they succeed (or fail, depending on how you determine the roll) then they turn invisible.

As the PC levels up, maybe let them start to control the invisibility and attempt to turn it on even without the trigger. This represents them coming into their power, with the end goal of being able to fully control their visibility by level twenty. Of course, most games will never go long enough for PCs to hit epic, but even if you wrap up before then you can give your player a little epilogue note saying that the PC reached his goal eventually.

Have Fun With It

Letting your player just walk around invisible all of the time, with all of the bonuses that that implies mechanically is clearly not feasible. But if you are both willing to work together there are options for a PC that can less visible than most without breaking your whole game. Make sure the other players are okay with it as well, since you don't want to exclude other people just because of one goofy idea, but if everyone is onboard I would at least give it a try. Remember, D&D is all about having fun and telling stories together. The rules give you a box to do that in, but sometimes you need to stretch that box out to fit your idea.

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One thought, allow them to be invisible, but at a low level they have not ability to interact with the world around them while invisible. For instance, they can walk though doors and walls,but cannot open doors. They can view everything around them, but cannot pick up things.

This forces them to come out of invisibility then once fully visible (whole) they can then interact with the world around them. Maybe set a timer on the change, the longer they are invisible, the more difficult it is is to surprise people and get the drop on them, the shorter amount of time they are invisible for, the more OP.

A couple options for certain scenarios: First, sneaking up on someone to attack them could force the player to 'solidify' for 5 seconds, then have to pick up a weapon, then make the attack. Another possibility: you enter a treasure vault to see what's there, but you can not pick things up until fully visible, and then you still need to be solid to be able to carry things out with you. You could have it so that they cannot pick up or leave with items while invisible, so sneaking would only be helpful with reconnaissance, making it not nearly as OP.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, that would be a good idea however it could make it impossible for me to contain them as they can phase through the dungeon. \$\endgroup\$ – Efialtes Jan 21 at 12:25
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I am never a fan of making house rules, or new classes, because you never know when those decisions will haunt you later on.

However there are in game ways to do it. Warlocks get an invisibility at will power for example. Some races also get the ability. You can also offer it in the form of an epic boon. Maybe have him start out as a normal race, but he has to go on a quest to unlock some of his ancestry?

Also remind him, that lots, and I mean lots of monsters ignore invisibility. lots of low level spells negate it too.. And once the bad guys here that an invisible stalker is out to get them, you can bet they will invest in some of those methods.

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