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Scenario: A group is in a room and the Druid amongst them casts the spell "Pass Without Trace" on the whole group, boosting their Dex (stealth) checks by 10. There is nothing in the room to hide behind. Moments later the door is kicked in and a gang of hobgoblins is looking right at the group. Can they be seen? Can they hide?

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but my interpretation of this spell is a boost to stealth, and not much more (it also grants the ability to not be tracked except for by magic, but that's irrelevant here). So if the group rolls a stealth check and the goblins roll a perception check, the goblins have the chance to see the group. I'm pretty sure of this. Where I'm less sure is if the group even has a chance of hiding with no boxes or beds or anything to hide behind. Even if they roll a natural 20 on their stealth check (boosted to 30 with the spell), do the goblins have to roll perception, or can they naturally see a hulking druid and 3 dwarven fighter allies who are just standing in the room?

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No, you can't hide in plain sight just by saying so, even with a really high Stealth buffed by magic. Rule One of hiding in 5e:

  1. If someone can see you, you can't attempt to hide from them.

You have find some where or some way of hiding before you can make the check to see if your hiding works. Hide first, roll the check second, always. For example (from the same link), you could all get down on the ground under your cloaks, and pretend to be lumps of rags. The goblins would see the rags, but they'd have to beat at least one of your party's stealth checks in order to notice that they don't belong there (and note that your DM might give the goblins Advantage if they're intimately familiar with this room and would usually notice something out of place).

So step one, find a hiding place. Do this like it makes sense in real life, using camo, breaking your outline, staying motionless deep in confusing shadows, getting up above the normal height people think to look at, etc. Make at least some minimal attempt to leverage that enhanced bonus. Then, and only then, can you roll your Stealth to see if you execute the method you thought up.

Now, the spell itself gives you some ideas for free, but you have to use them. Work those shadows, don't just stand around. Say how you're hiding, then find out if it worked.

No method, no Stealth check to see if the non-existent method works!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not "just by saying so" the players used the spell "Pass without Trace" which creates a magical "veil of shadows and silence". You wouldn't say that a wizard creates a magic fireball just by saying so, it's the effect of the spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard May 8 at 22:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AmethystWizard See rest of post after that. It’s only a bonus and lack of tracks, it doesn’t do everything for you. No effort to take advantage of the effect, no benefit. Just like if a wizard casts fireball but doesn’t bother to place it on their intended target, no effect on the target. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 8 at 23:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could this answer be improved by mentioning other magical methods that hiding could be augmented, like fog cloud for example? \$\endgroup\$ – L0neGamer May 9 at 15:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @L0neGamer I don’t really think so. The question is whether PWT all itself allows something specific. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 9 at 15:47
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It depends on how your DM reads the spell. The phrase "a veil of shadows and silence radiates from you" may or may not have mechanical impact at your table.

If your DM allows that phrase to have mechanical meaning, it may allow you to hide without otherwise meeting the criteria to hide (in that the shadows may provide sufficient darkness to hide).

However, if your DM only interprets that as fluff or being mechanically represented by the +10 to stealth and not being able to be nonmagically tracked, then no, you cannot hide without additional cover.

On the interpretation paragraph, there are two interpretations depending on which reading your DM takes:

  • Allows hiding without additional cover: the goblins must make a perception check to find the PCs, they can't just see them.

  • Does not allow hiding without additional cover: the goblins enter the room and instantly see the PCs.

So basically, it boils down to how you choose to read the first sentence. If that's a description of the spell's effects independent of the mechanics, then yes, you might be able to hide. If it's a description that is then interpreted by the mechanical effects described, then you definitely can't.

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In the previous versions there was a sneak and a hide skill, which (correct me if I am wrong) got merged into a single skill.

The "Pass Without Trace" removes footsteps (and other) to make it impossible to follow you, but it does not at all render you invisible.

What you stumbles upon seems to be a result of some simplification that should be handled best by using common sense: a group of untraceable people in a small room can be seen, heard and smelled by anyone capable of those senses once they enter that room, no roll necessary.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The primary effect of the spell is that it “masks you and your companions from detection”. A monster using its sense of sight to see a player is a form of detection, detection is masked by the spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard May 18 at 14:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ To Amethyst: the spell helps to hide the passage of the characters, including helping silence their footfalls/leave no footprints, as well as make hiding easier... but it doesn't render them invisible. That stealth checks are still required and there are rules for hiding/stealth means that while, yes, they are being "masked from detection", that "masking" requires effort/action on their parts. Again, it does not convey invisibility so in the original OP example if someone barges in and the PCs are not hidden (in shadowy corners, under/behind things, or similar) then they are seen, period. \$\endgroup\$ – John Preis Oct 7 at 6:30
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Yes the characters may hide successfully according to your scenario.

The order of events is important:

  1. Players are in a room by themselves (unseen by the enemy).
  2. Druid player casts the spell Pass Without Trace.
  3. Players each perform a +10 Dexterity (Stealth) check to determine if their characters are hidden in the veil of shadows.
  4. Gang of Hobgoblins kick open the door;
    A) to a mysteriously empty room.
    B) to see a lone Dwarf [who failed his Dexterity (Stealth) check].

Pass Without Trace:

A veil of shadows and silence radiates from you, masking you and your companions from detection. For the duration, each creature you choose within 30 feet of you (including you) has a +10 bonus to Dexterity (Stealth) checks and can't be tracked except by magical means. A creature that receives this bonus leaves behind no tracks or other traces of its passage.

Since the characters were unseen before the Dexterity (Stealth) check, Rule One of hiding is irrelevant.

  1. If someone can see you, you can't attempt to hide from them.

Had the Hobgoblins already been in the room and seen the players, then this rule would apply, however they were not and so it doesn't.

In this scenario, Rule four of hiding applies:

  1. You can hide in plain sight, given a moment of being unseen or unattended and an appropriate concealment strategy

In this case, the appropriate concealment strategy was casting the spell Pass Without Trace creating a magical veil of shadows that the PC's may attempt to hide within to become concealed.

The Druid character, according to the spell text chooses who will benefit from the spells effect. Each of the chosen must be within 30 feet of the Druid as the spell radiates from him/her. Each of the affected make their +10 Dexterity (Stealth) check to Hide into a magical veil of shadows.

The DM is as usual in control of the ability check DC. They could determine that since the room has little else in the way of cover that the characters should still have a significant chance of failure to Hide.

Any characters outside of the spells range OR who did not pass their check would be visible to anyone entering the room.

If the characters pass the check, in terms of roleplay there are a number of ways to handle the encounter. If not all the characters pass, when the Hobgoblins kick in the door, they would see one or more of the dwarves standing there in a shadowy room.

If all the characters pass, maybe the Hobgoblins after kicking in the door find it weird that the room is normally brightly lit and is now a dark haze with mysterious looming shadows. They can't see anyone but maybe they are suspicious and begin to investigate. They could walk in and bump into one of the characters or they could decide to close the door and lock it for fear of the hazy mist, barricading the door and presenting the players with a new challenge.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Where do you get the idea that the veil of shadows and silence is 'big' enough to cover creatures? All we are provided is that there is a "veil of shadows and silence...masking you and your companions...can't be tracked except by magical means...leaves behind no tracks or traces." THat doesn't imply that this is similar to a fog cloud, just that the veil masks tracks/traces. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 9 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ First the spell indicates the radius is 30 feet of the caster, the other characters would need to be in spell range. Second the spell says it “masks you and your companions from detection”, gives a bonus to Dexterity (Stealth) checks ”and can’t be tracked by magical means.” Meaning - in addition to - masking you and your companions. \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard May 9 at 13:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ The 30' range is creature dependent and not about an area. It's just each creature within 30'. I see where your logic is, I just think you need to be able to support that this has a function like fog cloud in addition to the +10 bonus. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 9 at 13:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you, I’ll add some more detail to the answer for this purpose. \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard May 9 at 13:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ It may also be helpful in the RP section to narrate how the haze only works for those under the effects but "isn't there" for looking at others not chosen. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 9 at 14:41

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