Say a target is hidden and has the Hide in Plain Sight (Su) ability (Ref Cormyr: Tearing of the weave - Dark template -- So no need for cover or concealment).

If the PC fails his spot vs the target's hide check, what actions can he take against the target? (He obviously can't see him.) Is he treated as being invisible?

Are there any miss chances if he tries to hit a square? Does the target get any bonuses to AC? Etc...?

I'm rather new at DMing, and at present rather confused...

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Are you just curious about how a direct attack works, or in general what on earth someone's able to do against an invisible target? (Say, to locate them again.) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 2, 2015 at 5:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ How about just lighting up the area? Hide in plain sight still requires a shadow to hide in as far as I know. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bas Jansen
    Dec 2, 2015 at 12:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does the campaign use the core rules exclusively or also the Rules Compendium? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 2, 2015 at 22:28

2 Answers 2


A person that can't be seen is generally considered to have Total Concealment. As far as combat concerning the attacker:

You can’t attack an opponent that has total concealment, though you can attack into a square that you think he occupies. A successful attack into a square occupied by an enemy with total concealment has a 50% miss chance.

That being said, the attacker can still:

  • Attack the square you believe the person would be in (described above).
  • Attack the area you believe the person would be in. Examples are area of effect spells, splash weapons, siege weapons, etc.
  • Leave the area, observe, and wait for the person to reveal themselves.
  • Increase bonuses to a spot check and try again.
  • Bring a dog and sniff them out.
  • Stop moving and listen for peculiar noises.

Creativity could ultimately be endless. Creating situations that would cause the person to reveal themselves would be awesome role-playing. Imagine the shooter hiding from an assailant. The assailant then takes a hostage and demands the shooter to "come out wherever you are."


  • Hide in Plain Sight (Su)

    [You] can use the Hide skill even while being observed. As long as [you are] within 10 feet of some sort of shadow, [you can] hide [yourself] from view in the open without having anything to actually hide behind. [You] cannot, however, hide in [your] own shadow.

  • Hide (Dex; Armor Check Penalty)

    Your Hide check is opposed by the Spot check of anyone who might see you. You can move up to one-half your normal speed and hide at no penalty. When moving at a speed greater than one-half but less than your normal speed, you take a -5 penalty. It’s practically impossible (-20 penalty) to hide while attacking, running or charging.

  • Spot (Wis)

    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. Sometimes a creature isn’t intentionally hiding but is still difficult to see, so a successful Spot check is necessary to notice it.

    A Spot check result higher than 20 generally lets you become aware of an invisible creature near you, though you can’t actually see it.

  • Listen (Wis)

    Your Listen check is either made against a DC that reflects how quiet the noise is that you might hear, or it is opposed by your target’s Move Silently check.

    In the case of people trying to be quiet, the DCs given on the table could be replaced by Move Silently checks, in which case the indicated DC would be their average check result.

  • Move Silently (Dex; Armor Check Penalty)

    Your Move Silently check is opposed by the Listen check of anyone who might hear you. You can move up to one-half your normal speed at no penalty. When moving at a speed greater than one-half but less than your full speed, you take a -5 penalty. It’s practically impossible (-20 penalty) to move silently while running or charging.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! Nothing I need to do in relation to Armor Class? \$\endgroup\$
    – Phil
    Dec 2, 2015 at 5:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a little lacking in the "what can the player actually do about it?" side. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 2, 2015 at 5:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener as I understand 3.5... the quoted rules are the extent of what the player can actually do about it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tritium21
    Dec 2, 2015 at 5:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tritium21 The question does ask what actions you can take against the target. That sounds like a bigger question than "what actions directly result in attack?", and sounds like it includes "what can he do to even know where he is?". \$\endgroup\$ Dec 2, 2015 at 5:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Phil The person with concealment, unless mentioned otherwise, doesn't increase or decrease armor class - just provides a miss chance. If that same person is attacking, you could gain a bonus to attack, and deny someone their dexterity bonus to their armor class. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruut
    Dec 2, 2015 at 5:21

The person that hides is treated as invisible with respect to all persons that failed the opposed spot check - as long as he or she does nothing to reveal his or her presence and is not spotted.

The spotting rules call for an opposed check at any opportunity that there is something to spot.

PHB p.83

Every time you have a chance to spot something in a reactive manner (for example, when someone tries to sneak past you while hidden, or you move into a new area), you can make a Spot check without using an action.

In the case of someone using Hide in Plain Sight (HIPS) this could be any movement on the hand of the one hiding.

The observer can also actively call for a new check with a move action.

PHB, p. 84:

Trying to spot something you failed to see previously is a move action.

If the person hiding shoots this is treated as sniping. The hide check after sniping comes at a penalty of -20.

All that said it is really difficult to hide from several opponents unless your hide modifier is far beyond their spot modifiers. And it is virtually impossible to fight them and remain hidden.

A possibility not entirely covered by the rules is just moving about an area where you suspect someone invisible (or hiding in plain sight) to be. If you move into the square of the person hiding, he or she gets an attack of opportunity. The person hiding can also decide to let the person moving pass (like an ally does).

PHB p.157 (rules on overrun):

(You can always move through a square occupied by someone who lets you by.)

So far it is RAW.

What is not covered: If the person hiding lets the person moving pass - does the mover notice that there is something in the square? As a house rule in my group we agreed on a DC 25 Tumble check to avoid being noticed while letting someone pass through one's square. This is the DC of tumbling through an opponent's square.

If you run into a person hiding in plain sight it would also call for another opposed spot check to reveal the person.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Because of the hiding rules' complexity, I struggle to find some things: Can you cite a page for "The person hiding can also decide to let the person moving pass (like an ally does)"? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 2, 2015 at 22:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't agree that they are treated as invisible. Maybe figuratively but not mechanically. If that were the case, they would gain a +20 or a +40 to their hide checks. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruut
    Dec 3, 2015 at 0:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ruut: No, this bonus (+20/+40) might apply if they were invisible before hiding. In the case discussed here they are not invisible but only considered invisible with respect to persons who failed their opposed spot checks. Thus this relative invisbility is a result of the check - and it makes no sense to give bonusses on the check because you expect a certain result. If it makes any sense for an invisible person to hide is yet another matter. \$\endgroup\$
    – Giorin
    Dec 3, 2015 at 6:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Giorin You missed, "Maybe figuratively but not mechanically." But its okay, we still love you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruut
    Dec 3, 2015 at 7:10

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .