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The Rule Compendium, page 76 (invisibility) introduces the concept that it is possible to spot an invisible character within 30 feet (with a spot check that would be minimum 20+20= DC40).

Does this mean that, without any spell to see invisibility, a character invisible at 31 feet is impossible to be spotted?

example scenario: A rogue that is invisible (with superior invisibility) and incorporeal (no sound, no traces), does a full round ranged sneak attack to a target that is 40 feet away. If the target has no way to see invisibility, does this mean that the target fails automatically any spot check?

PS. This would mean that the rogue does not need to use the hide skill.

Example scenario if a target had a spell to see invisibility:

A rogue that is invisible (with superior invisibility) and incorporeal (no sound, no traces), does a full round ranged sneak attack to a target that is 130 feet away. The target has a true seeing spell on but the range of the spell is 120 feet, does this mean that the target fails automatically any spot check?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How can the rogue make a sneak attack against a target that is 130 feet away...? \$\endgroup\$
    – Peregrin
    Apr 7, 2022 at 8:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeregrinTook assassins spell if I'm not wrong, I'll ask. \$\endgroup\$
    – Digius
    Apr 7, 2022 at 8:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeregrinTook sniper shot (assassins spell 1) \$\endgroup\$
    – Digius
    Apr 8, 2022 at 1:50

2 Answers 2

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Invisible creatures can be spotted more than 30 feet away.

The rules in Rules Compendium are (mostly) compatible with the the base rules in the Hide skill:

If you are invisible, you gain a +40 bonus on Hide checks if you are immobile, or a +20 bonus on Hide checks if you’re moving.

The Rules Compendium does seem to empower invisibility, asserting that noticing an invisible creature "gains a hunch that 'something's there' but can't see it or target it accurately with an attack" where the Spot skill says that a high enough roll "lets you become aware of an invisible creature near you, though you can’t actually see it" (this GM's reading is that the spotter would know the square(s) that the invisible creature occupies, but they would still benefit from concealment). It also adds a 3rd state for the invisible creature: one that "is holding still is very hard to notice (DC = ... Hide check +30)" and suggests that only "inanimate object[s] or ... unliving creature[s] holding still" get the +40 bonus (which this GM has always read as applying to living creatures who are simply holding still).

Regardless, an invisible creature can be spotted by mundane means from more than 30 feet away (though, remember that there is a cumulative -1 penalty on Spot checks for each 10 feet of distance between the spotter and the thing being spotted; similar for Listen checks).

Interestingly, neither the Rules Compendium, the invisibility spell, or the base Hide, Listen, or Move Silently rules actually give any mechanical indication that the invisible creature's location is given away by sound; being incorporeal isn't relevant to a creature's Hide skill (aside from the fact that being incorporeal allows them to hide inside of objects, which probably helps).

The only sensory information inherent to being incorporeal is:

An incorporeal creature moves silently and cannot be heard with Listen checks if it doesn’t wish to be. ... Nonvisual senses, such as scent and blindsight, are either ineffective or only partly effective with regard to incorporeal creatures.

Being incorporeal doesn't affect your ability to use Hide to prevent someone else from being able to Spot you. This is backed up by the first line of the Spot skill's description:

The Spot skill is used primarily to detect characters or creatures who are hiding. Typically, your Spot check is opposed by the Hide check of the creature trying not to be seen.

Being silent, while helpful for avoiding detection generally, doesn't affect your ability to remain unseen; it doesn't factor into your Hide check, nor does it adversely affect the Spot check of someone who wants to see you, no matter the distance.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Invisibility has it's own entry, which says: "A Listen check that beats the DC by 20 pinpoints the invisible creature’s location." Not if it directly contradicts your answer's part about listen checks, but mentioning a bunch of relevant sources and skipping it seems a bit odd. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 8, 2022 at 20:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @annoyingimp: Listen is useful against invisible, corporeal creatures. Incorporeality removes that utility and the question was about Spot specifically, so I left it out. ... totally wasn't because I missed it when re-reading the descriptions, no-siree. 😅 \$\endgroup\$
    – minnmass
    Apr 8, 2022 at 20:32
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Correct.

Barring some class ability, skill trick, or other scenario, the general rule for invisibility (which is most defined in the MM) is that the creature becomes visually undetectable. They can still be located via Listen checks. Some GMs may rule that under certain circumstances (moving through a field of pebbles, say) the movement of non-invisible objects may give away the square of the invisible creature. Nearly every GM will rule that tossing paint or flour onto an invisible creature will reveal it. But by RAW, they are not detectable visually except via the later rules compendium addition, and again, probably some class abilities or skill tricks or something that specifically give that ability. No roll is required to Hide.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks for the reply, So what this means is that the skill hide is useless if you have access to invisibility and a way to not leave traces (e.g. assassin spells, incorporeality). Doesn't this make an invisibile creature extremely powerful for game purposes? (Can hit and it is impossible to be found). \$\endgroup\$
    – Digius
    Apr 7, 2022 at 4:00

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