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If a player uses Divine Smite on a creature, and unbeknownst to them, that creature is a fiend or undead, does the character learn this? If not, how does the DM ensure that the rules are fair, without the player learning due to the extra damage?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60, it seems pretty clear to me that the extract d8 is the problem here if you want to keep the fact secret. \$\endgroup\$ – Alexis Wilke Oct 18 '15 at 20:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ still curious about player vs. character: are you worried about the player learning the info, or the character? You mention both in the question. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Dec 1 '15 at 3:01
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This is entirely up to the DM.

The rules don't say anywhere whether or not a player automatically knows about whether or not their extra damage triggers on their attacks. The Divine Smite ability in specific doesn't say that, for example, an extra burst of holy light strikes the target, or any other obviously visible display.

Thus, I would say that this is up to your DM and the style of the game that you are playing. If you're playing a game where easily knowing that some of your enemies are undead or fiends would ruin the fun, then you probably do the extra damage invisibly. If you're playing a typical dungeon crawl and it doesn't particularly matter what type of enemy you're fighting, then maybe you could know that the extra damage is being dealt.

It doesn't really matter that much either way. You can always use your Divine Sense to figure out for sure whether they're a fiend or undead, so knowing that you're doing the extra damage wouldn't usually be a big deal.

If the DM decides that this information should be secret, then they have a few options. IF they have a way of secretly rolling the damage die without the player knowing (say, though an automatic die-rolling app, or behind a screen), then they can roll the damage normally. If they can't practically roll the damage without the player knowing, then they can apply the average damage (in this case, 4.5) without telling the player that the extra damage has been added.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is what my own DM does. Since we use a virtual table top, any time I Divine Smite, it's coded in to automatically roll the extra 1d8 for Undead/Fiend and, if it applies, the DM notes it. I have no way of knowing if he's applying the extra damage or not in this case, but it's there for his reference in case it does. \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Oct 18 '15 at 19:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ That might be a good suggestion even when at a physical table. Ask the player to designate a d8 to be used for damage if the target is a fiend or undead, and have them always roll that die when using divine smite. I suggest having the extra die be a different colour, to make it easier to distinguish. \$\endgroup\$ – xanderh Oct 19 '15 at 0:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Honestly, I don't think it's enough of a big deal to matter. How often are you attacking a creature that could be fiendish or undead, but might not be? In my experience, it's pretty rare to not know already, and it's not common enough to warrant adding an extra die to every roll "just in case". \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Oct 19 '15 at 1:15
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As a DM I would have the effect light up and have flashing arrows at the target saying "YOU FOUND ONE"! Its a cool reveal and if the players are surprised by this knowledge all the better.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Keep in mind that the question is "does it?" not "should it?" \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 19 '15 at 14:51

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