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We have a monk in the party who believes that he can run up to an enemy, hit them in the back of the head, and then dive into the grass to hide until the next round.

His argument is that:

  1. He is a wood elf so his Mask of the Wild allows him to hide in lightly obscured areas
  2. Because he hit the target from behind and hid before they turned around they cannot "see" him

I feel that there should be a minimum distance that you must be away from a foe before you can attempt to hide in this kind of circumstance (I realize there are exceptions: complete darkness, invisibility, the creature cannot see, etc).

If i am not mistaken the sequence of actions performed were:

Step 1: Bonus Action: Step of the Wind to Dash behind the opponent; Step 2: Action: Attack Opponent; Step 3: Action: Hide.

So technically he attacked first , then hid in the long grass that was at his and his opponents feet. (just to clarify i believe the grass was just long grass ...not like they were fighting in a corn field or something clearly with cover)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/rules-answers-november-2015 may be relevant as, apparently, Mask of the Wild can even work while observed. \$\endgroup\$ – Danikov Jul 29 '16 at 9:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ While i appreciate the rule clarifications, what i am looking for in this question is whether, according to the rules, a character can (given enough actions) hit someone from behind and then hide at their feet in minuscule cover .. or would they have to be a minimum distance away to be able to hide. \$\endgroup\$ – Pawketz Jul 29 '16 at 22:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ My point was that Mask of the Wild, as clarified in that link, has a supernatural element to it that goes beyond just diving into grass. The grass and nature itself conspires to keep the wood elf hidden, hence the criteria for successfully hiding isn't as simple (for example, being unobserved isn't a criteria). From the sounds of things the only debatable issue is whether the cover involved constitutes 'lightly obscured'. If it does, all the required prereqs have been met and it should be permitted. \$\endgroup\$ – Danikov Aug 1 '16 at 9:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ how are they getting two actions in a round? \$\endgroup\$ – John 2 days ago
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Hiding takes an action

So, if the character is not able to attack solely using a bonus action or is allowed to hide as a bonus action he cannot hide after an attack.

Additionally in the PHB on p. 177 it says:

You can't hide from a creature that can see you clearly [...]

So you first have to get out of sight before taking the hide action.

For Wood Elves it is indeed possible when only "lightly obscured", but still he requires an action.


Also, just to clarify how being hidden works:

Even if you might say, that the target did not turn around and couldn't see the Monk, he will not stay hidden! I do not know if your player meant it that way, but for clarification in the PHB on pp. 194f under "Unseen Attackers and Targets" it clearly says, that you give away your location when the attack hits or misses. And after you gave away your location you must hide again to benefit from "Unseen Attackers and Targets"! Even if you are under the effect of "Greater Invisibility".

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    \$\begingroup\$ It might also be worth mentioning facing, or lack thereof - it sounds like the monk thought he was out of sight. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jul 29 '16 at 3:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ It might also be worth pointing out that any undergrowth thick enough to hide in will make a lot of noise when you run through it. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Jul 29 '16 at 5:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with @Miniman , I think everyone might be forgetting any house included optional facing rules (or lack thereof) that would be integral to the argument for or against the fact that there IS no 'behind the enemy' because combatants on a field of battle are always alert and looking around them. \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Jul 30 '16 at 17:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ the first part should be emphasized, he can't use an action to attack and another action to hide, they only get one action. \$\endgroup\$ – John 2 days ago
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The prequel to this answer is...

Where does the monk get a 2nd standard action from anyway? You only get one Standard action per round, unless you have something granting you additional actions.

Also you may only take a single Bonus Action per round, no matter how many options you have offering them...

But we'll ignore that, and assume he was Haste'd or something...


If the monk is able to take each of those actions as described, then Yes, this course of action is possible.

The monk is capable of attempting to hide in the long grass.

Now it turns to the DM to decide how reasonable this measure of success is.

From Vision and Light, PHB p.183:

In a lightly obscured area, such as dim light, patchy fog, or moderate foliage, ...

So the DM must decide if the grass is long enough, and thickly grown enough to meet this definition of "lightly obscured".

Common sense should factor in here; 2-3 feet of even very thick grass would provide little cover against a medium-sized opponent, and none at all against a large opponent, but it would be like walking through a corn field to a small opponent.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You may want to remove the phrase "Standard Action" from this answer to prevent confusion with 3.5. 5e only has Actions and Bonus Actions. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical 2 days ago
  • \$\begingroup\$ i chose standard action, to distinguish it from a bonus action or something else. \$\endgroup\$ – tzxAzrael yesterday
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You can't hit an opponent from behind in vanilla 5th edition. At least, not in a mechanical sense. There is no directional facing rule. PHB p.190: "In combat, characters and monsters are in constant motion." They are assumed to be able to turn and look about freely. This is reinforced by the inclusion of a variant rule for consideration of direction in the DMG on p.252.

I would rule against the player in this case, considering the tactic is intended to gain an arbitrary circumstantial edge based on a narrow interpretation of some rules, but not others.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just to be clear, there are facing rules, but they're optional and only presented in the DMG. (And there's nothing to suggest these rules were in effect in OP's situation.) To support your (correct, IMO) point I suggest you quote from PHB p.190: "In combat, characters and monsters are in constant motion." \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jul 29 '16 at 13:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ What page are the optional facing rules on? I missed this. \$\endgroup\$ – JAMalcolmson Jul 29 '16 at 17:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ DMG p.252 for facing. My only point about the PHB p.190 quote is that it's usually the one used to support the assertion that one doesn't have a static orientation during a round, by default. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jul 29 '16 at 17:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think that the inclusion of a specific facing rule as an optional variant of play does a better job of asserting that.... but I'm not sure how to go about saying that clearly in the answer... \$\endgroup\$ – JAMalcolmson Jul 29 '16 at 17:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think it's a huge deal. Facing's a red herring, anyway--the action economy and trying to hide a few feet from someone you just hit are the real issues. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jul 29 '16 at 17:14
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In the action economy

Players get one each of the following on their turn:

  • [Standard] Action
  • Interact with object
  • bonus action but only if one is triggered
  • movement of base distance (half if sneaking).

To make a roll to hide...

He's moving, Hiding, and attacking all in one round.

The monk's bonus actions allowing an attack require the Standard Action to be an attack; in the case of the Ki driven one, it's not required to be a monk weapon, but for the free one from Level 1, it must be a monk weapon or unarmed.

The Monk's Step of the Wind only allows disengage or dash.

So, while he might be "in the grass", he's not able to hide, and thus not eligible for any unseen attacker bonus.

A Rogue, however, can pull this off, as their Cunning Action allows hide as a bonus action. but note that I'd require the character to move AFTER hiding, at half speed, to be able to gain the advantage. And don't forget that grass tall enough and thick enough to provide adequate cover should also be difficult terrain.

A Fighter also might do it once per combat - thanks to their Action Surge.

Note on terminology. Standard is added for clarity, for the lack of it in the core rules is in fact a source of confusion, especially for new players.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have a page number for "half move if sneaking"? \$\endgroup\$ – Greenstone Walker Jul 30 '16 at 0:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GreenstoneWalker Page 182 requires slow pace to sneak by encountered foes. While at larger scales, it's 2/3, most interpret slow pace to be half speed in combat. THis also lines up with the symmetry of the 9th level rogue gaining advantage at half speed. The implication is that full move would be at disadvantage for others. \$\endgroup\$ – aramis 2 days ago
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One red herring to watch out for is being 'behind' someone. In combat everyone is constantly moving around, they have no facing. Out of combat you can certainly hit someone from behind though.

The monk does not have enough actions to do this, but there are situations where it will work.

For example a Rogue can do this:

  1. Attack from melee range
  2. Use Cunning Action to Hide

In order to Hide you only need to be not "clearly seen". This can be accomplished by a variety of methods including, as in your question, darkness, invisibility, blindness, and yes also Mask of the Wild in lightly obscured areas such as dim light, patchy fog, or moderate foliage.

It is up to the DM to decide if the grass is sufficiently dense and thick enough to hide in.

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