Let’s take a look at hiding, sneaking and stealth
People who play D&D 5E are always talking about the correct way to hide and/or sneak while playing D&D5E. Add to that the Rogue skills of “Sneak Attack” at level 1, and “Cunning Action” at level 2, and things can get further muddied.
We will start with hiding first.
When you think of hiding, you are actually thinking of Stealth. The players handbook doesn’t actually explain hiding and there is no “hidden” condition, so what is required for a character to be hidden?
Hiding while in combat.
For a character to hide, they must have the following:
There must be some type of cover to hide behind
They must also make a stealth check, and this number will be contested by a (Wisdom) perception check from any opponent that tries to perceive their location.
They cannot be seen by the opponent prior to trying to hide. (If other allies are distracting the opponents with melee combat, this will aid in succeeding with this reason. (Note: Invisibility doesn’t guarantee that you cannot be perceived. If you make noise, you will fail at being hidden.)
If all the above conditions are met, then the character is considered hidden, and he/she will gain advantage on their attack on their next turn.
Hiding out of combat.
Once again, the following must be met:
You must roll a stealth check, and this number will be contested by a passive perception roll from any opponent that wants to try to perceive your location. Passive perception is 10 + Wisdom modifier.
You can not try to hide from an opponent if they can see you.
Again, invisibility does not guarantee that you can’t be seen. You need to also be quiet or you will fail at being hidden.
So, what about Sneak Attack and Cunning Action?
A rogue gains the “Sneak Attack” skill at level one, and this skill allows the character to take extra damage once per turn on any tacks where either of the following is met:
The character has advantage on his/her attack.
An ally is within 5 feet of the opponent that he/she wants to attack.
The rogue gets additional damage based on their level for sneak attack. Keep in mind you can only use sneak attack once per round. See how this works using Fantasy Grounds in the screenshot below:
As you can see in the example from a Rogue character sheet, a finesse or ranged weapon must be used in order to get the additional 1d6 damage added to a successful attack. On the left, you can see the three effects that the Rogue PC can choose from based on the weapon used. You pick only ONE of these and it will apply to your character.
From there the Rogue makes his/her attack by targeting the opponent, clicking Control and then on the opponent’s token on the map, or entry in the combat tracker. The roll will show in the chat window, and if successful, the character then makes a damage roll by again clicking on the opponent on the map or in the combat tracker. The result will show in the chat window, displaying the normal damage, plus the 1d6 for “Sneak Attack.”
Remember, “Sneak Attack: can only be done once per turn, no matter how many attacks you may have per round.
Now let’s take a look at the “Cunning Action” skill.
A rogue gains the skill “Cunning Action” at level two. This is a bonus action that allows the rogue to either disengage, dash or hide once per turn while in combat.
You can see the benefits of using this would be the Rogue would find cover and hide while unseen by an opponent. On the example below, you can see the Rogue hiding on the first turn while the cleric interacts with one of the Giant rats.
On the second turn, the Rogue uses 5 ft of his movement to move southeast diagonally, and shoot his crossbow at the Giant rat, also gaining “Sneak Attack” damage as there is an ally within 5 ft of the Giant rat. The Rouge could then use the rest of his movement to move back up into the tree line and then use his “Cunning Action” to “hide” for his next turn.
On his third turn, he would roll a Stealth (Dex) check and compare that result with the Perception (Wisdom) of the second Giant rat (the one in the northernmost position in the image below). This is against the general perception, rather than passive perception as it is assumed that all three rats would be aware that there is a Rogue somewhere to the north. On this turn, if he passed his stealth check, he could then load up his crossbow and attack the second Giant rat from range, gaining “Sneak Attack,” if he passed his stealth check and started his turn hidden, or normal damage if the rat’s perception beat his stealth check.
After attacking, perhaps the Rogue could use his “Cunning Action” bonus action to “dash” into the tree line once more and head east, ending his turn on the far right edge of the map, and preparing to attack the rats from another angle.
Decisions… decisions. It’s sure that the rats would have moved by then, so this is just assuming that there would be rats for him to shoot the next round.
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