There are other questions addressing how casting attack spells while hidden blows your cover, but what if you are out of the range of perception for the target?

Some additional background: based on the DM screen, the typical range of sound perception is 35' for people trying to be quiet, 70' for normal volume, and 350' for loud sounds. Firing a longbow creates a sound that's ~90 dB and sound drops off rapidly with the square of distance. By 90', the sound would be no louder than a close distance conversation. At maximum longbow range it would be quieter than any ambient noise.

If I have 120' dark vision range and cast a spell at someone at that range without dark vision (which is "normal" sound), there would seem to be no way they can perceive me and thus reveal my location. Even though I would "no longer be hidden" that only applies to individuals near enough to either hear or see me. Depending on the spell, they might be able to intuit a direction for the attack but not a clear source. Some spells (Chill Touch, for example) create a visual effect at range but do not provide a clear visual link between the spell effect and the caster.

Would a setup like this potentially allow for "spell sniping" someone in the dark without revealing your location?


1 Answer 1


When you make an attack, you give away your location

Just because someone cannot see your location does not mean they do not know where it is. This is actually the intro to the rule section

Combatants often try to escape their foes’ notice by hiding, casting the invisibility spell, or lurking in darkness. [...] If you are hidden—both unseen and unheard— when you make an attack, you give away your location when the attack hits or misses.

The rule is simple: if you make an attack while hidden, you give away your location. It is not requried that the other creature can see or hear you.

The DM of course can make special exceptions for unusual circumstances, but even narratively, when you attack from out of sight often you still would give pretty good indications on where you are, as the victim may figure this out based on the direction and angle of the missile or spell effect.

The rules are a bit simplistic here. For example, while you are invisible but not hidden, by the rules other creatures cannot see you but still can pinpoint exactly where you are, even if you are far away and it is unlikely they could really do this from sound, which only would give them an idea of direction, if that. Like always, if the mechanics of the rules do not seem to make sense, it would be up to the DM to step in and overrule them.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I would have agreed to this as the answer in the original linked question, except the rules don't seem to clarify what "giving away your location" means mechanically except you no longer have surprise/are hidden. And who are you giving it away to? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 30, 2023 at 21:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @IsaacKotlicky There are for example rules for attacking a space with a creature you cannot see. You can hit only if you pick the right space, and knowing the location here means you know what space to attack. For example, you can shoot with disadvantage at someone you cannot see, but need to know where to shoot. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 30, 2023 at 22:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ There has to be some finite range where your location is no longer "given away" - a monster on the other side of a dungeon doesn't suddenly know where you are once you ambush the guards at the entrance. And this isn't the Elder Scrolls, where every guard in every city immediately knows when you make an attack... \$\endgroup\$ Dec 1, 2023 at 0:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @IsaacKotlicky As pointed out by the answer, the RAW do not define such a distance as the rules are not a 1:1 realistic simulation of a physical fantasy world. A DM is recommended to make their own call when the RAW interpretation is unrealistic enough to harm the experience. The hearing distances from the DM screen you mention in the question are a good starting point. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kryomaani
    Dec 1, 2023 at 1:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does it mean that while all attacks (both magic and non-magic) reveal your position, spells with saving throws do not have this problem? \$\endgroup\$
    – J.E
    Dec 1, 2023 at 14:03

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