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I'm having trouble understanding the mechanics of invisibility, so I'd like to propose a scenario, as an example, which I don't know exactly how to handle as a GM.

Let's say my group is about to fight an Invisible stalker. The creature surprises them and a combat begins. At this point, at the very least the character who got attacked knows the location of the creature, right? It's a melee attack after all.

But what happens if the stalker walks around every round? Do they have to make a Perception check to find out on which square of the board the monster is EVERY round?

I guess what I'm trying to understand is exactly when do the characters have to guess the square where they think the invisible creature is, and when do they just know it.

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The invisible condition states:

An invisible creature is impossible to see without the aid of magic or a special sense. [...] The creature’s location can be detected by any noise it makes or any tracks it leaves.

Invisible is not the same as hidden as pointed out in the answer to this question.

Unless a creature is hidden, other creatures know the location of an invisible opponent without needing to make an ability check because "the creature’s location can be detected by any noise it makes or any tracks it leaves".

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, I tried searching for similar questions here but somehow missed that one. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$ – user28430 Apr 13 '16 at 3:00
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An invisible creature is not hidden; therefore everyone knows where it is.

If it takes an action to hide (which it can do because it is invisible) then only those whose passive Wisdom (Perception) equals or exceeds the creature's Dexterity (Stealth) check knows where it is. Those who know where it is can attack it (with disadvantage). Those who don't can a) guess and attack (with disadvantage if they guess right or no chance if they didn't) or b) use their action to Search; making an active Wisdom (Perception) check.

Note that this is how it works for all hidden creatures irrespective of if they are invisible or not. Note also that it is possible to hide from some people (because they can't see you) but not others (because they can).

Take some time to think about how lethal this makes rogues and goblins who can Hide as a bonus action; they can attack, move to cover, hide and move somewhere else making them almost immune from retaliation or hide and attack with advantage (and sneak attack for rogues) - rinse and repeat and you have a TPK.

All invisibility does is allow a creature to hide because it can't be seen (everyone else has to break line of sight some other way) and impose disadvantage on attack rolls against it.

See What advantages does hiding have? and What happens when an invisible creature is detected?.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the extra info, Dale. Since you mentioned the hide action, let me ask a followup question: if the player is invisible and takes that action, do you think it makes sense for them to roll the die, so they know if their attempt to hide was a good one or not? This is another issue that I sometimes have. \$\endgroup\$ – user28430 Apr 13 '16 at 3:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Please feel free to ask the question - that's what the site is for - just don't ask it in a comment. Also, please search before asking that one; its come up before. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Apr 13 '16 at 3:16

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