Is ranged attack broken when both attackers are in the dark?

As I read things, if both attackers are in the dark, but aware of the other ...

  • both gain Advantage because they are Invisible to the target
  • both gain Disadvantage because their target is Invisible

Net effect, straight roll as the Advantage and Disadvantage cancel out

And it's even worse ... you might as well stay at long range, as the Disadvantage for long range is also cancelled by the Advantage

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    \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean by "broken"? Are you just asking whether it works the way you think it does, or are you asking whether the way you think it works is broken, or something else? \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jun 12 '16 at 16:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Minor clarification: when in complete darkness, everyone (without darkvision or the like) are considered blinded, not invisible. While the mechanics are the same (advantage/disadvantage cancels out) it's an important distinction for when someone who can see shows up. \$\endgroup\$ – Christopher Jun 12 '16 at 18:00

No, it's not broken. The two points you highlight make sense and work like the following, but they're still only part of the story:

  • Advantage for the attacker in the dark means “I, the target, have no way to notice when and where from I am attacked, which makes it harder to avoid.”
  • Disadvantage for the attacker in the dark means “I, the attacker, cannot properly see my target in order to aim as accurately as I usually can.”

However, invisibility has another effect: not even knowing where the target is. So the target has the benefit of the attacker not being able to attack them at all unless they locate the target first:

An invisible creature is impossible to see without the aid of magic or a special sense. For the purpose of hiding, the creature is heavily obscured. The creature’s location can be detected by any noise it makes or any tracks it leaves.

If the target isn't revealing its location (i.e., by talking, or moving without Stealth checks), the attacker needs to do something specifically to locate the target or they can't shoot at them at all. This puts the target in the better position, because they can't be targetted normally. Only when the attacker knows where the target is does an attack roll become possible, and then yes, the advantage and disadvantage cancel out for the reasons above.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Without doing something specifically to locate the target, they can't be shot at at all." You know where the target is unless they're using Hide. You'd only need to Search if they Hide (but you can always guess). See this tweet and this tweet from Jeremy Crawford as well as this tweet from Mike Mearls. Rogues would have the advantage because they can attack and still Hide as a bonus action. \$\endgroup\$ – Doval Jun 12 '16 at 18:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Doval Yes, and avoiding making a sound to give away your location is a Stealth check. I'll mention that. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 12 '16 at 18:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie If you can't see someone, aren't they Invisible to you? So either you can't see them in the darkness, or you're Blinded \$\endgroup\$ – SteveC Jun 12 '16 at 18:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SteveC I don't understand the question? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 12 '16 at 18:47

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