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So, the rules for Hiding from the Player Basic Rules, p. 73:

If you are hidden—both unseen and unheard—when you make an attack, you give away your location when the attack hits or misses.

Let's assume a player readies and action, such as a javelin throw, for when he sees the goblin.

Is the following list of steps correct?

  1. On his turn, player readies an action to throw javelin when he sees goblin
  2. Goblin, on his turn, uses short bow to shoot PC, goblin rolls attack (hit on PC)
  3. PC takes a reaction to throw javelin
  4. Resolve PC attack on goblin (hit and damage)
  5. Roll damage for goblin's attack on PC

The reason I ask is that when I ran the encounter, both the PC and goblin were low on health. If I run it in the order I've listed, the goblin dies before it can damage the PC. If the goblin rolls damage before the PCs reaction, the PC dies before he can take his reaction.

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  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ "If I run it in the order I've listed, the goblin dies before it can damage the PC" - From a practical point of view, if the arrow has hit the PC to trigger the PC's reaction I'm not sure why killing the goblin would prevent the arrow dealing damage. I think that even if you rule that the PC can throw the javelin and kill the goblin as a response to being hit, the arrow should still deal damage. \$\endgroup\$ – Kaine Mar 5 '15 at 15:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Potentially related: What happens if a creature is killed between its attack and damage rolls \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 5 '18 at 3:02
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JohnP is correct in his answer about the order of events, but here's why. You're missing the important phrasing in the PHB entry.

If you are hidden—both unseen and unheard—when you make an attack, you give away your location when the attack hits or misses.

Not When you take the Attack Action or when the attack is otherwise made. The attack has to be resolved as a hit or miss first, and any attack that's resolved as a hit immediately does it's damage first before anything can react to being attacked.

So the act of MAKING the attack isn't what gives away the Goblins position. It's the act of said attack coming into proximity of the Goblin's target, and either hitting or missing said target that gives away the Goblins location. Allow me to add some lose RP embellishment and Environment to the scenario

  • On his turn, player readies an action to throw javelin when he sees goblin. (Goblin vanishes in a field of trees, from there he could go/be anywhere when he shows up again and the Player want's to be ready for when it does.)

  • Goblin, on his turn, uses short bow to shoot PC, goblin rolls attack. (Goblin sees an opportunity to attack and looses an arrow at the target from his hiding spot, but is still for intents and purposes hidden to the target.)

  • Goblin misses. (Arrow zooms past targets face and reveals the firing position of the goblin.)

    • Player takes his readied reaction and throws Javelin at now revealed Goblin. (I'd be angry too if an arrow nearly hit me.)

OR

  • Goblin hits AND rolls damage. (Arrow embeds itself into the targets leg, definitely revealing the firing position of the goblin.)
    • Player takes his readied reaction and throws the Javelin at now revealed Goblin (If he's still alive after taking that arrow to the knee, a great war story for sure!)

There are no Interrupt abilities in D&D 5E as there were in 4E (I think?), so to answer the question; No, there are no actions or reactions that I'm aware of without taking Feats that a player can do that will rob or come between an enemy dealing damage after making an attack, or before it can make said attack. Everything in the book is worded carefully to avoid that when it comes to stealth and other situations.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So by this argument, if the player doesn't have enough health to take the arrow hit, he doesn't get to throw his javelin in case 2? \$\endgroup\$ – Brilliand Mar 5 '15 at 17:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Brilliand That is correct. Though like JohnP said above, if HE were running the Adventure he might rule that as a final death throe the player might just get a javelin throw in (That'd be a semi epic way to end an encounter, right?). But yes, rules as interpreted would mean if the creatures triggering attack brings you to 0HP, your Reaction is then void as you are, then, dead and incapacitated. What happens after the character drops to 0HP is between you and the Dungeon Master. I'd probably allow a final Javelin toss myself, but that would my personal ruling. \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Mar 5 '15 at 18:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ The key point is "There are no Interrupt abilities in D&D 5E". Readied Reactions happen after the triggering event. \$\endgroup\$ – Greenstone Walker Mar 6 '15 at 0:49
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No, the list of steps is not correct.

  1. On his turn, player readies an action to throw javelin when he sees goblin
  2. Goblin, on his turn, uses short bow to shoot PC, goblin rolls attack (hit on PC)
  3. PC takes a reaction to throw javelin
  4. Resolve PC attack on goblin (hit and damage)
  5. Roll damage for goblin's attack on PC

Look at steps 3-5. Even if the attack hitting provokes the reaction, why would your javelin hit and cause damage before the attack that hit you causes damage? If you go with that reaction, then it should be:

  1. Ready action
  2. Goblin attacks/hits
  3. Ready action goes off, hits
  4. Goblin rolls damage (PC dies)
  5. PC rolls damage (Goblin dies)

The more likely case is that attack and damage are simultaneous, in which case the PC dies. Now, the DM could rule that the PC as a dying action hurls the spear, but the PC still takes damage (And presumably dies).

I don't think that if the attack hits, there is any way for the PC to avoid taking damage. You would need to have your attack trigger first to avoid the attack from the goblin.

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