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Dnd 5e Magic Missle requires you to be able to see the target. PHB, pg 257 "Each dart hits a creature of your choice that you can see within range."

Therefore you can't target an invisible creature with magic missile even if you know the spot they occupy, since you can't actually see them.

But what if they had an arrow sticking in them? Or a blanket thrown over them. Does that allow the Wizard to "see" the creature in order to use Magic Missle?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ OSR technique: bag of flour hurled/ruptured to cover inviso enemies in something that lets you see where it is ... but that's creative play that may need a bit of coordination with your DM and your team mates \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 14:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Would the arrow or blanket make them visible in general? I wasn't under the impression that tagging a foe with an arrow was enough to let you consistently guess their square, let alone target them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 15:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ As the arrow is now sticking out of them, I presume this means they are unseen, but not hidden. Meaning you can't see them (disadvantage on attack),but you don't have to guess the square. The creature could make a new Hide Action, if the DM decides they meet the criteria to hide as per the side bar in PHB pg 177 \$\endgroup\$
    – Tony
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 17:59
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    – V2Blast
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 19:02

2 Answers 2

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Unfortunately, you still can't see "the target"

What you see are effects the target has on the environment. But just because you see an arrow, doesn't mean you know where center mass is. They could be just holding the arrow off to the side; literally an arms length away from what you're trying to hit.

So you would only be able to target the arrow (or rug, or whatever device you're using to track them), but Magic Missile only hits creatures, not objects, meaning you're out of luck.

However as covered in this question, there are other spells that allow you make ranged spell attacks, but at disadvantage.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Wouldn't the rug or arrow become invisible? Anything the target is wearing or carrying is invisible as long as it is on the target’s person. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ols
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 8:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ols How that works is up to the DM. In previous editions, Invisibility was worded much the same way, and one of the common tricks was to take a bag of chalk dust and toss it over where you thought the invisible creature was, thereby revealing it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 13:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RevenantBacon, note that that trick could likely work whether the chalk becomes invisible or not. If not you see the shape in the chalk. If it does become invisible then only the chalk on the creature disappears and you should be able to make out where it is from the chalks disappearance (would be tougher to keep track of while it is moving and the success depends on the environment of course). With these things I would say it is up to the DM to decide. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kvothe
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 13:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RevenantBacon I've always preferred flour bombs- they're more versatile. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 14:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ We've always ruled that anything the target is wearing or carrying at the time the spell was cast becomes invisible. Anything new they pick up, or get covered in, is not affected. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tony
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 14:40
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Consider the case of a knight coming towards the caster in full platemetal, visor down. Technically the wizard can't see the creature - its completely covered in plate. However, I believe everyone would rule that the wizard can target the knight and damage it with MM, even though they're really only targeting the armour they can see.

I would carry that thought process to invisible creatures covered in a sheet, rug, paint, flour, etc. Wizard can "see" the creature in a similar fashion to seeing the knight in plate.

However, I would argue that the arrow does not similarly allow you to "see" the invisible creature, for many of the reasons listed by @MivaScott

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