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A level 5 goblin warlock moves behind a large tree and uses their bonus action to Hide. Their Stealth check beats the enemy's passive Perception. The hidden warlock then casts eldritch blast and rolls...

  1. Both beams with advantage?
  2. The first beam with advantage and the second beam without?
  3. Neither beam with advantage?

In case it makes a difference, assume that I (as the DM) rule that the enemy is close enough to clearly hear the "chanting of mystic words [...] with specific pitch and resonance" from the verbal components of eldritch blast.

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So there are two issues to consider, and my original answer only considered one of these. I can't find a definitive answer, but interpreting RAW to answer:

Issue One: Does a Verbal Component Spoil the Hidden Advantage?

Short Answer: GM's Call

There's no general rule I can find which dictates how loud/obvious verbal components are. There's a couple of specific spells, but nothing general. So it's a GM's call as to whether the verbal component can be heard and understood to be an attack. I'd err on the side of the player in most cases, esp if combat is already underway; the noise of combat would probably cover most verbal components.

If the GM rules the noise reveals the warlock, then none of the attacks will have advantage.

Do Separate Attack Rolls from Eldritch Blast All Use Advantage?

Again, there's no RAW which definitively answers this. But we can infer an answer using two other rules:

Attacking while Hidden, PHB, p195

When a creature can't see you, you have advantage on attack rolls against it. If you are hidden-both unseen and unheard-when you make an attack, you give away your location when the attack hits or misses.

Eldritch Blast Cantrip, PHB, p237

You can direct the beams at the same target or at different ones. Make a separate attack roll for each beam.

Since you're making a separate attack roll, you give away your location on the first roll, so you'd have advantage on the first, but not on the subsequent rolls. There's no wording to suggest the two (or more) blasts are simultaneous.

As a GM, I can imagine a circumstance where a player might convince me otherwise. But that would probably be outside of RAW.

So, in the specific case of your Goblin Warlock, It's GMs call if the first attack gets Advantage, but the second should definitely not.

A lot of D&D is the GM making calls like these. The rules are pretty good as a baseline, but far from comprehensive.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll edit something in, but there's no rule I can find that dictates how loud the verbal component is for most spells. It's purely a GM call. The closest I can find is a Crawford Tweet that still seems to leave up to the GM the question of how audible the verbal component is. \$\endgroup\$
    – Longspeak
    Oct 7 at 15:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure, but that ambiguity is itself the GMs call. Answer edited to reflect that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Longspeak
    Oct 7 at 16:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you skipped a step in your logic, the rules say "When a creature can't see you, you have advantage on attack rolls against it." but you say "you give away your location on the first roll, so you'd have advantage on the first, but not on the subsequent rolls". That doesn't quite connect. Would you mind explaining your logic there? The rules say "when a creature can't see you", not "when a creature doesn't know your location", correct? For example invisible creatures still attack with advantage despite their location being known. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 9 at 5:27
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Both beams with advantage

The duration of Eldritch Blast is “Instantaneous” meaning all beams attack at the same time. At that time the warlock is hidden so the attacks are made with advantage.

Indeed, after the warlock casts Erdrich Blast, they might still be hidden. Casting a spell or making an attack does not, of itself, end the hidden “condition” - hidden is not invisibility and has different end states. Neither does making a noise.

It reveals the warlock’s location, but we knew that anyway (“behind a large tree”). Hiding ends when you are seen and only for those creatures that have seen you.

Now, it’s perfectly sensible for a DM to rule that the “circumstances are [no longer] appropriate for hiding” once the warlock has cast the spell but I can see cases where they might be. For example, Eldritch Blast has a range of 120 feet, well beyond the range of most Darkvision or light sources. A goblin sniping with Eldritch Blast from where no one can see them might still be hidden after doing so.

As for losing the hidden state during the casting of a spell: don’t. Within the mechanics of D&D spells with a casting time of 1 (bonus) action are indivisible in time (Counterspell excepted). That is, within the structure of the game, no time passes between starting to cast and finishing casting.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Instantaneous means that each beam is instantaneous and can't be dispelled, only counter spelled. It doesn't mean that the beams aren't fired sequentially. The rules state: "when you make an attack, you give away your location when the attack hits or misses." which contradicts "Hiding ends when you are seen and only for those creatures that have seen you." You can be unseen (see: unseen attacker) but not hidden (see: hidden condition). \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7 at 0:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your instantaneous argument is unconvincing, and probably irrelevant, because you make a solid argument "It reveals the warlock’s location, but we knew that anyway (“behind a large tree”). Hiding ends when you are seen and only for those creatures that have seen you." which I think should be the focus of your answer. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 9 at 5:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @J.A.Streich Be careful, hidden isn't a condition. It's a mechanic that governs how a character is perceived. There is no contradiction in the text you point out - nothing in the hiding rules requires you to be in an "unknown location" to remain hidden. As Dale M said: "It reveals the warlock’s location, but we knew that anyway (“behind a large tree”)". You can have a known location but still be hidden, and your location may not be known but you are not hidden. Those are two separate concepts, beware confusing them. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 9 at 5:52
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Both attacks have advantage

The goblin warlock has already successful hidden, meaning they have found an acceptable hiding place, they are not clearly visible to enemies, they have rolled a stealth check, the target has not beaten that check with passive perception or an active check.

The goblin waits for their chance, then leans out, blast blast! Before anyone can react blasts slam into the enemies or fly past and hit the dirt. However, everyone now knows the goblin is hiding behind the tree!

Verbal components, do they matter?

The first obstacle is the verbal component of Eldritch Blast. The rules for hiding states: "you give away your position if you make noise, such as shouting a warning or knocking over a vase" From the examples, it seems clear we are talking about loud noises. Things like the sounds of breathing, your heart beat, or the rustle of your clothes don't seem to be the intent here, and that's how I rule. Ultimately it is up to your DM, but I think most people rule that only loud noises give away your position.

The rules describe verbal components as:

Most spells require the chanting of mystic words. The words themselves aren't the source of the spell's power; rather, the particular combination of sounds, with specific pitch and resonance, sets the threads of magic in motion.

It's not clear to me whether these words need to be shouted or can be said at normal volume, or whether that will be enough to give away your position. This is a DM ruling based on the distance between you and the target. For example if you are 300ft away it's unlikely that you will be heard. If they are just on the other side of the tree, then they can probably hear you.

Are you allowed to peek out of cover to attack?

I have found this is a contentious issue. The rules on hiding are surprisingly terse and tight;

Until you are discovered or you stop hiding, that check's total is contested by the Wisdom (Perception) check of any creature that actively searches for signs of your presence.

...

You can't hide from a creature that can see you clearly

...

In combat, most creatures stay alert for signs of danger all around, so if you come out of hiding and approach a creature, it usually sees you.

So you are hiding until your check is beaten, you stop hiding, a creature can see you clearly, or (usually) when you leave hiding and approach a creature. If you peek out of cover you are ok, you can continue hiding.

Interestingly, you can also hide even if the hiding place is obvious or people know exactly where you are.

Just because they know you are behind the tree, doesn't mean they can see you

The rules for Unseen Attackers states:

When a creature can't see you, you have advantage on attack rolls against it. If you are hidden--both unseen and unheard--when you make an attack, you give away your location when the attack hits or misses.

At this point you are probably noticing some repeated language, occasionally the rules talk about "giving away your location" or "giving away your position". In 5e you have essentially 3 tiers of knowledge:

  1. When you can see an enemy - You can attack enemies without penalty, you know their position and can observe their actions
  2. When you can detect an enemy with any other sense - You know enemies positions and can observe their actions, however you attack them with disadvantage
  3. When you cannot detect an enemy - You do not know the enemy's position, you have to guess, and when you do you attack with disadvantage, you cannot observe the enemies actions

Hiding makes you unseen, it means you have physically moved so that the enemy can't see you. The conditions for hiding are that your check isn't beaten, you are not seen clearly, and you don't leave your hiding place and approach an enemy.

And then there is the note about making loud noises: "you give away your position if you make noise, such as shouting a warning or knocking over a vase". This doesn't prevent you from hiding, it just lets everyone know "hey, someone behind this tree just sneezed!". That doesn't mean you have stopped hiding, it just means now the enemies can act on that knowledge - they don't have to guess your position, they can move to gain line of sight, they know where to search, etc.

Similarly the same rule applies to attacking: "If you are hidden--both unseen and unheard--when you make an attack, you give away your location when the attack hits or misses." once you make an attack, everyone can tell "hey that eldritch blast came from behind the tree!"

However, the condition for gaining advantage on attacks isn't "When a creature doesn't know your location", the rules are "When a creature can't see you, you have advantage on attack rolls against it." As such, whether you attack once, twice, or ten times, so long as you are not seen you have advantage.

Invisible creatures have a known location but are still unseen

Interestingly invisible creatures are always in this situation. They cannot be seen but their location is known because "The creature's location can be detected by any noise it makes or any tracks it leaves." However they still attack with advantage against enemies that can't see them. That's because knowing someone's location and being able to see them are two separate things.

All the more so in the case of a hiding enemy. Invisible enemies can be detected by sound or clues, but hiding enemies are not making audible sound nor leaving clues that have been discovered. Rather than having their location known all the time, as is the case for invisible creatures, their position is only given away if they happen to make a loud noise or attack. When they make noise or attack their location at that time can be inferred, but they are still not visible.

So why can't you just walk behind the tree and become unseen?

You might be wondering why hiding is even necessary. Why not just walk behind the tree? Unfortunately if you do that then when you pop out to attack you will immediately become visible. Using stealth means you have made specific effort to not be visible, even when you enter line of sight.

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