I am having trouble understanding why the hide and sneak attack rule is applicable to a rogue hiding at the corner of a long hall.

If a rogue shoots an arrow down the hall and hits his target on the first round then I would allow the sneak attack. The rogue then goes into hiding using cunning action. Except that his target knows that the attack came from down the hall. He is now prepared for the attack and knows it can come from only 1 place.

The rogue ducking back around the corner is no different than any other class shooting around a corner then ducking behind it. So why should the rogue even be able to hide and gain sneak attack again?

In this case I am seriously considering ruling that the rogue cannot use his hide and sneak attack because the rogues position is obvious. Can anyone give me another explanation for this situation that might be a counter to my ruling?

  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ Suggestion: Make your scenery interesting enough that there is never only one place he could be hiding. Sure we know he went round the corner, but where then? Is he ducking behinds, or under a drape? Who has empty well lit halls? You can avoid ever having to decide if being in just one possible position matters, if there is always 2 or 3 places he could be. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 19, 2016 at 7:14

6 Answers 6


It is up to the DM to determine under which circumstances a character may hide.

It is up to you as the DM to determine if the circumstances are such that the rogue can hide or sneak attack at all. My inclination as DM is to allow the rogue to attempt to hide and add advantage/disadvantage as I have outlined below because even if the enemy thinks he knows where the rogue is, he could still be caught off-guard by attacks. In my understanding of the rules, as long as the rogue can break line of sight he has the ability to attempt to hide. Whether he is successful or remains hidden is entirely different.

Rogues are the only character class in the game that can hide as a bonus action, and this is explicitly allowed because the rogue gets his sneak attack bonus when he has advantage or when he has allies adjacent to the target. Being hidden guarantees advantage on a roll, so it makes sense to give it to rogues. Additionally, rogues live and die by their sneak attack damage, and to remove their only reliable way of generating damage and being effective in combat (hide as a bonus action then sneak attack) would be to severely diminish the class' effectiveness (and will probably anger every rogue that plays at your table).

When the rogue attempts to hide he must make a successful dexterity (stealth) check opposed by the enemy's wisdom (perception) check. In the scenario you describe, if there is only one possible place for the rogue to hide, perhaps his target should receive advantage on the WIS (perception) roll, or the rogue may receive disadvantage on the roll (or both if it's looking particularly bad for the rogue). In either case, if the rogue does not succeed on his hide attempt his sneak attack will not apply on his next attack (unless he has an ally within 5' of the enemy).

Again, his success is entirely dependent upon the ability of his quarry to find him after he hides (hence the opposed rolls). If the hallway is well lit, the rogue may even break his own stealth when he pops out but before he attacks (he can't fire from behind the wall, can he?). How you handle this situation is up to you but I advise that you give the rogue every opportunity to become hidden and use sneak attack to his advantage because the class really is built around the mechanic.

Finding ways to mitigate the ability to hide using the stealth/perception rules, in my opinion, is a much better solution than telling the rogue he can't hide (although that is entirely left to the DM and the DM has ultimate decision making power). In the long run this will likely lead to the rogue making more creative choices in combat when he learns his old trick of "duck behind the corner and try again" isn't as effective as it once was.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Another point - there's a rule in the PHB "You can't hide from a creature that can see you." This is the general rule, although the DM might allow you to hide if a creature is distracted. \$\endgroup\$
    – Leo Izen
    Apr 18, 2016 at 19:47
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @LeoIzen In the example scenario, I understood the rogue to be around the corner, not visible. As such, he would be able to attempt to hide. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 18, 2016 at 19:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude ah okay, I missed that. Makes sense. \$\endgroup\$
    – Leo Izen
    Apr 18, 2016 at 19:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I adjusted the question \$\endgroup\$
    – user28536
    Apr 19, 2016 at 3:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Out of curiosity, do you think that a rogue should gain advantage on an attack if he comes out of hiding during a battle? \$\endgroup\$
    – user28536
    Apr 26, 2016 at 2:57

The rules are sort of unclear about this, and the book directly calls out the DM to make a judgement call.

Here is the extent of the PHB rules on hiding:

You can’t hide from a creature that can see you, and if you make noise (such as shouting a warning or knocking over a vase), you give away your position.

That's... not very helpful. But wait, it was errata'd:

Hiding (p. 177). The DM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding. Also, the question isn’t whether a creature can see you when you’re hiding. The question is whether it can see you clearly.

That's... even more unhelpful.

The way hiding rules work in 5e is convoluted, but essentially when you try to hide from someone, you need to first argue that they can't see you clearly. This definition is not spelled out anywhere in the PHB or DMG, so this is a judgement call that the DM has to make. The PHB does give you some guidance (mostly in the rules of obscurement), and it does mention that:

An invisible creature can’t be seen, so it can always try to hide.

So you know that at one end of the scale (perfectly visible) you cannot hide, and at the other end of the scale (invisible) you can always hide. The DM has to decide where the intermediate steps fall.

To circle back to your main question, knowing where someone is doesn't actually do anything as far as the 5e rules are concerned for hiding. The rules state that:

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

This is the only guidance you're given about what a creature knows about your location when hidden. So, once you make an attack, you immediately give your position away. However, there is nothing in that passage that modifies the behavior of the 'hide' action. Specifically, as long as the enemy cannot see you 'clearly', you can attempt to hide.

In your situation, your rogue can fire their arrow, and the enemies immediately know where it came from. Then, as long as the rogue cannot be seen 'clearly' by the attackers (ducking behind a corner, a box, or even just staying in the same shadow they were in before), they can hide again, even if they don't move and hide in the exact same spot. This can be continued forever, there is no limit to the number of times anyone can hide in the same spot. As long as the rogue is not clearly seen by his or her attackers, they can just continually make sneak attacks from the same hiding spot.

This is not what you asked, but as an aside I would caution you against making it too difficult for the rogue to get their sneak attack (even in seemingly cheesy situations like this). The rogue class is balanced around always having sneak attack for every attack; without sneak attack the rogue is extremely weak in combat and can contribute almost nothing. Do not be worried about your rogue getting sneak attack constantly in combat, because if they're not getting sneak attack at least 95% of the time then they'll probably quit out of frustration.


Your ruling is in line with the rules

The rules on hiding, on page 177 of the Player's Handbook state (among other things):

In combat, most creatures stay alert for signs of danger all around, so if you come out of hiding and approach a creature, it usually sees you. However, under certain circumstances, the Dungeon Master might allow you to stay hidden as you approach a creature that is distracted, allowing you to gain advantage on an attack before you are seen.

If you, as a DM, deem that hiding between the same rock twice in a row is not enough for the enemy to not immediately see the character again when he pops out, you can choose to not grant advantage on the attack roll, and therefore deny sneak attack.

That said, LegendaryDude gives a good explanation of whether you should allow sneak attack in his answer.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this is the best answer - as far as the rules are concerned, there's nothing to stop the Rogue from hiding, but the target is still going to be staring in their direction when they pop out for their "sneak" attack. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Apr 19, 2016 at 3:49

Yes the Rogue can hide in an obvious place, provided the opponent cannot see him or her clearly when they take the Action to hide. The Rogue then gains the benefits of being hidden, including gaining Advantage on attacks.

My in-game reasoning is that the advantage is gained from the opponent having no clue what the Rogue is up to - the opponent cannot know what kind of attack the Rogue is planning, who they are targeting, or exactly when they will strike, because they cannot observe them. This is functionally the same as the Rogue being invisible, and only becoming visible at the moment that they strike (as per the spell). Equally, for attacking when invisible, it doesn't matter if you have a good idea where the invisible character is standing, they still get advantage on attacks.

There is an important caveat: An opponent who logically knows exactly where a hidden rogue is, can take many sensible actions to deal with the situation. They can simply move directly to where the rogue is, see them (because no cover any more) and attack them normally. They can use area effect attacks, confident that they will include the Rogue. They can ready an action to use a ranged attack as soon as the Rogue reveals themself (and this readied action would usually go before the rogue's own attack).

Note: This imports a feature of hiding from 4E. It is not written explicitly as 5E RAW, but it is perfectly compatible with it, and doesn't add any new constraints or complexity.


Tell the rogue that he or she has to come up with a way to hide from the creatures that know where he or she is.

You might be surprised to see that the rogue in question has climbing boots and can improvise an ambush by hiding on the wall near the ceiling.

Hide would most certainly allow that character to get a sneak attack off if the enemy rounds the corner and does not see the rogue where the rogue should obviously be.

Usually this sort of thing comes from a player being forced to innovate using whatever's on hand at the moment and being put on the spot. I generally consider this to be a good thing. (tm)

You're not wrong in thinking that the rules wouldn't allow the hide check. It's up to the player to create a viable reason to justify it. I'd wait for the player to create the justification for the hide check, then roll with some modifiers to determine if it works or not.


So, the way I see it, it depends.

If your player is an old hand, and you've made this rule clear in the past, then they should know this. If they get pasted, it's all on them.

If they're new, and the rules are new to them, then they may be assuming something about a mechanic that is not clear and obvious. That you are asking this question implies it's not clear and obvious.

I don't personally feel it's fair to penalize players for getting into a situation where the rules don't work the way they thought they did. The first time you have to make a call, it's reasonable to cut some slack. "For future reference, this is how it works. But for this one case... it still works that way, but you notice there's a torch sconce right by you. If that torch were doused, that might help."

On the other hand, learning experiences happen.

My party was recently trapped in a tower. There were bad guys outside, but they had disappeared. I stealthed, and poked my head outside the doorway... and was hit by four saved action attacks, two each from the bad guys standing in wait either side of the door. BLAMMO.

I (out of character, me, the player) was kinda pissed. The GM had LET ME make that mistake, without any warning at all. But he was right. I knew that gaps can't be stealthed through if people are watching them, and he had clearly made this known to me in earlier encounters with "are you sure?" warnings. I was pissy at him, but he didn't deserve it. He had given me the respect of assuming I'd understood the rules by now. My character took a hefty hit, and could have died, but frankly, it was my own stupid fault.

So... learning experiences happen. As a GM you can warn about them if you see them happening ahead of time. You can even retcon recent actions, in very rare situations, where it could reasonably be argued that their character absolutely would not have performed an action if reality worked that other way.

But sometimes, they have to accept that you have to make a ruling. And if the ruling is "it's sometimes up to the rogue to make the environment hidable" (why is the hallway still lit?) then they have to accept that.


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