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The spell Invisibility makes the target invisible as well as making their worn/carried items invisible, but there are many abilities in the game (for instance, the monk's 18th level ability Empty Body) that make player characters invisible but include no such clause about worn/carried items. The invisible condition doesn't seem to mention anything about worn and carried items, so are such abilities effectively useless on a character wearing clothing or armor, or carying items?

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4 Answers 4

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If a class feature requires you to get naked for it to be effective, you’ve probably misapplied it.

The monk’s 18th level feature Empty Body says:

Beginning at 18th level, you can use your action to spend 4 ki points to become invisible for 1 minute. During that time, you also have resistance to all damage but force damage.

You’re right, it doesn’t mention things you are wearing or carrying. But if the feature doesn’t turn those things invisible, it’s really not that good unless you get naked. The resistance to all but force damage is nice, but the invisibility does nothing for you, unless you get naked. And in general, if your reading of a rule requires your character to get naked there’s a good chance you’ve misstepped somewhere. It makes the invisibility portion of the feature entirely meaningless. Got any magic items as an 18th level character? Better leave them behind. The feature simply doesn't make sense if it doesn't also turn worn and carried items invisible too.

This ruling is consistent with the official ruling concerning misty step found in the Sage Advice Compendium:

Misty step doesn’t say the caster can bring worn or carried equipment with them. Are they intended to leave everything, including their clothes, behind?

No, the caster’s worn and carried equipment are intended to go with them.

Finally, I will echo my answer to a very similar question about a different feature that involves invisibility, as the general idea of the answer applies perfectly to this situation:

If your reading of a feature called See Invisibility is that you cannot see invisibility, your reading is incorrect.

It's quite simple, really. The intended function of these features is so abundantly clear, that any argument that concludes that they do nothing can be dismissed out of hand.

In fact, this principle applies in general. If you read a feature, and know what it is supposed to do, but you determine that the feature actually does nothing, you can know without any doubt that your conclusion is wrong.

There is just no meaningful application of reading the rules this way.

Sure, maybe you found a bug in the game. But there is no reason at all to make this ruling at the table. This ruling contributes nothing of value to the game.

Sorry wizard, after reviewing the rules, your feature called See Invisibility does absolutely nothing.

The Dungeon Master's Guide states:

The D&D rules help you and the other players have a good time, but the rules aren’t in charge. You’re the DM, and you are in charge of the game. That said, your goal isn’t to slaughter the adventurers but to create a campaign world that revolves around their actions and decisions, and to keep your players coming back for more!

Ruling that See Invisibility does nothing is that exact opposite of this. This ruling puts the strictest possible reading of the rules in charge, to the detriment of everyone's fun.

It just doesn't seem reasonable to tell the monk:

Sorry monk, I know you were hoping that your feature that turns you invisible would make it so the enemies couldn't see you, but since you weren't already completely nude, they can still see you.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Or it's been worded very poorly to require that, depending on the theme. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe D.
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 10:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri I'd feel pretty weird having to tell a player "sorry that only works if you're naked". \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 17:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri An answer should be judged on its own merrits. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 18:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri I “deviate” from RAW all the time in answers. I usually will present a RAW reading and then explain my alternative ruling, the issue here is that I think the RAW reading is just totally absurd, so I avoided giving it more than a single sentence. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 18:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov same here, would feel stupidly punitive from a players perspective to enforce the strict reading. Especially since it's a Tier 4 ability no less. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe D.
    Commented Jan 1, 2022 at 1:51
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Based on how the condition of invisibility is defined, anything you are wearing or carrying at casting would need to also be invisible

There is an Invisible condition defined by the following:

  • An invisible creature is impossible to see without the aid of magic or a Special sense. For the Purpose of Hiding, the creature is heavily obscured. The creature’s Location can be detected by any noise it makes or any tracks it leaves.

  • Attack rolls against the creature have disadvantage, and the creature’s Attack rolls have advantage.

The important points are the creature is impossible to see without aide of magic or special senses and the location can be detected by noise. Imagine if Empty Body made only the monk themselves invisible and not anything the monk was wearing or carrying. This would give away the location of the caster and make them "seen" without any special senses, just plain sight.

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By a strict reading of the rules and the common understanding that spells only do what they say, I would say that effects that are worded like the Monk's Empty Body feature would indeed imply that wearing or carrying items does make the invisible condition pointless in hiding.

As you rightfully pointed out, the Monk's feature doesn't specify worn/carried items unlike Invisibility (https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/invisibility)

A creature you touch becomes invisible until the spell ends. Anything the target is wearing or carrying is invisible as long as it is on the target's person. The spell ends for a target that attacks or casts a spell.

And Greater Invisibility (https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/greater-invisibility)

You or a creature you touch becomes invisible until the spell ends. Anything the target is wearing or carrying is invisible as long as it is on the target's person.

Given Wizards consciously put the extra words into those two spells, it strongly implies that worn/carried items are not assumed to be affected by the invisible condition. Which regrettably means, only your body is in invisible. Which, as one of the other answers implies, is frankly a ridiculous oversite if an accident and a cruel joke if done on purpose.

However
I personally think that the intent of the designers for most effects granting the Invisible condition which don't have this clause, was to include these items. Because it would be mechanically and immersion breaking on multiple levels. So, rule the way that actually makes sense and isn't cruelly punitive.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kogarasho_Kaito Are you referring to this: google.com/amp/s/www.sageadvice.eu/… ? If so, I'm not seeing what you mean. Could you clarify? And, as I pointed out in my answer, there are at least two examples that specifically call out carried items/outerwear being affected, which implies that the assumption what you wear/carry is automatically affected by the invisible condition is potentially faulty. If you disagree, could you do so in an answer? \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe D.
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 13:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JoeD. I'd assume they are referring to dndbeyond.com/sources/sac/sage-advice-compendium#SA273. Note that there's a difference between SAC and the .eu website. The latter is a 3rd party collection of developer tweets while the former is official rulings/Q&A-answers released on WotC's website (the DDB mirror is just easier to link to). \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 14:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah, that makes a lot more sense, thank you. Will be browsing that later. But even with that, given the examples I've pointed out, it doesn't really change my conclusion. Unfortunately. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe D.
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 14:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Strict RAW, sure, but honestly I'd just assume it's another instance of inconsistency. I highly doubt Wizards intends you to strip down and drop everything every time you use such an ability or spell. As you say. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 14:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Pretty sure it is just a matter of inconsistency, and I'd rule that the intent was to include worn and carried items. But strict rules reading leaves a bad taste. I'll edit my answering to address that actually. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe D.
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 14:41
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We made a house rule.

As discussed in the question and several answers, multiple sources of invisibility, such as the invisbility and greater invisibility spells, as well as the cloak, ring, and potion of invisibility, all say that whatever you're wearing or carrying is also invisible, but then other methods of invisibility, such as the dust of disappearance, and the monk's empty body feature, do not carry such phrasing.

Similarly, some monsters say it one way, and some another.

Our house rule is that the invisible condition itself carries the feature that whatever you're wearing or carrying is invisible, regardless of the source of invisibility. If something is not intended to work that way, then it should have a specific rule that says so. Just for fun, we added the specific rule that things an unseen servant carries are visible.

We made this house rule because it just makes more sense that way.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This a house rule I can get behind. The bonus you add to unseen servant just seems like so much delightful mischief \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe D.
    Commented Jan 1, 2022 at 1:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that even with invisibility and greater invisibility, only the things you are wearing or carrying when the spell is cast are made invisible. Things you later pick up remain visible. Since an unseen servant is presumably not created already carrying something, it can abide by the standard rule and achieve the effect you are going for. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Jan 1, 2022 at 15:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirk Disagree. The spell doesn't say that. We interpret it to mean anything picked up also becomes invisible. We think madness ensues otherwise. (Our interpretation: You cast invisibility. You change your clothes. The clothes you are wearing now are invisible, the ones you dropped on the floor are now visible. You change back, and same thing, clothes on you are invisible, clothes on floor are visible. (Otherwise, how would the unseen servant be able to see them to pick them up?(lol))) Your way, what if you eat something? But we're getting pretty close to chatting in comments. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Jan 1, 2022 at 15:40

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