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At level 18, Rogues get the Elusive class feature, which says:

No attack roll has advantage against you while you aren’t incapacitated.

However, if you have both advantage and disadvantage, they cancel out, and you are considered to have neither.

That being the case, if you have both advantage and disadvantage, and you attack a level 18 Rogue, does Elusive steal the advantage entirely and leave you with disadvantage? Or do they cancel out before Elusive is applied, causing you to roll a single d20?

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The attacking enemy has disadvantage on the roll.

The relevant quote from the PHB is here:

If circumstances cause a roll to have both advantage and disadvantage, you are considered to have neither of them, and you roll one d20... In such a situation, you have neither advantage nor disadvantage.

It's pretty clear that, in order for the advantage and disadvantage to cancel out, the roll has to have both advantage and disadvantage. To use computing terms, it's an exclusive OR gate. A roll can have advantage or disadvantage, but if it has both, it gets neither.

The Elusive class feature could have been worded in a number of different ways, but the way it is worded makes it clear that a roll can never have advantage against a non-incapacitated Rogue 18. The only way that a roll can have advantage and disadvantage cancel out is if it has both at the same time. Since a roll can never have advantage, it can't have both, and instead keeps the disadvantage.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I like the logic used for this answer...but can also see rulings that simply remove adv/diasdv \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 11 '17 at 12:37
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A slightly more comprehensive answer: Its the DM's choice.

Simply put, all that matters is the order you apply the modifiers. You have two situations as follows...

(Attack(Adv) + Elusive) - (Disadvantage) = Attack(Dis)

or

(Attack(Adv) - Disadvantage) + Elusive = Attack

As far as I can tell, the order to apply the modifiers is not specified in the rules so it is likely the DM's choice how this situation should play out. I personally think it makes more sense for it to be a normal attack. Elusive is set out to make it so you cannot be attacked with advantage. It works perfectly but I feel making it disadvantage it outside of its scope.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is what I intended with my answer. I just went about it the wrong way. +1 for you from me. \$\endgroup\$ – Jay Apr 11 '17 at 14:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ I actually do agree with your answer. I think you should follow both rules, apply Adv+Dis = None, then elusive does nothing. I think elusive is just meant to be a counter for when you have no disadvantage on an attack (otherwise it would state as much). \$\endgroup\$ – Sh4d0wsPlyr Apr 11 '17 at 14:24
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A straight attack roll is made (no advantage or disadvantage)

Contrary to DuckTapeAl's answer, the way I see it is that whether an attack has advantage or disadvantage would be determined first, from all sources other than the Elusive feature. Then, if the attack is against such a Rogue and would have advantage, it simply does not.

I don't think RAW says which would apply first and this is how I interpret it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I forgot about that section, but it still would come down to whether the feat applies first or other effects. If Elusive counted as disadvantage, it would make it simpler (cancel everything out), but as it's worded, I still think that the feat applies last and only applies if an attack would otherwise have advantage. I'll edit my answer a bit to reflect your comment. \$\endgroup\$ – Jay Apr 11 '17 at 12:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ You've got a logical failure, here... You suggest determining it from "all sources." The target Rogue is a source. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Apr 11 '17 at 12:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ For an L18 ability, it's very right. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Apr 11 '17 at 14:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Then why not just give all attackers disadvantage? Wouldn't that have the same effect with a clearer phrasing? The phrasing really seems like it only negates advantage if the roll would otherwise have advantage, not negate all advantage a roll could get. \$\endgroup\$ – Jay Apr 11 '17 at 14:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ No, it would not have the same effect. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 11 '17 at 16:52

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