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    Default A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Dealing with players at organized play and reading the forums, I've noticed there are several 5E rules that people consistently find confusing or misinterpret. I'm going to post the ones I've seen here, and I'd like people to let me know about other ones they see come up so I can move them to the top. Note that this is not a complaint or critique thread, this is just here to help people understand RAW.

    1) Ability Checks, Attack Rolls, and Saving Throws are all separate concepts. Something that gives advantage or disadvantage on an Ability Check does not apply to the other two. This is explained at the beginning of page 173 and referenced elsewhere in the book.

    2) You can only do ONE bonus action per turn. They work almost identically to Swift actions from 3.5/4th ed. This is on page 189 of the PHB, but a lot of people seem to miss it.

    3) You can only do ONE reaction per round. p. 190 - "When you take a reaction, you can't take another one until the start of your next turn."

    4) Multiclass spell preparation/Wizard spellbook - You gain spells known/prepare spells as if you were single classed in each class.
    I made this mistake myself and started a thread about it, and I've seen other people do the same. The multiclass spell slots table is for casting only, even when you have a class like Wizard/Druid/Cleric that states you prepare spells based on your available slots - you base your slots only on your class table, not the multiclass slots table.

    Quote Originally Posted by hawklost View Post
    Multiclassing is laid out completely on page 164. It specifies that you use the table and rules under the multiclassing section for the Spell Slots and that you count each of the spells known/prepared as if you were only that level in the class.

    Lvl 5 Sorc/Lvl 5 Wizard is considered a lvl 10 caster for Spell slots (both combined) but only knows the spells a lvl 5 Sorc knows and the spells a lvl 5 Wizard knows (so he doesn't know how to cast 4th level spells even though he has the power to do so, he must enhance a lower level spell to that slot if he wants to use it)
    5) Things that set your AC or an attribute are not additive - they set it to the stated value. The most common one I see here is people thinking unarmored defense "stacks" with Mage Armor - it doesn't.

    6) Flanking does not exist (yet).
    It will be an optional rule in the DMG. My players still constantly try to move to flank before I remind them that it doesn't get them anything and they should probably stick together.

    7) Spell slots and prepared spells work differently than previous vancian systems.
    Partial credit to cobaltstarfire:
    A) Known Spells/Spellbook are all the spells you know. For many casters, they do not need to prepare spells and can use their spell slots to cast from these. Paladins, Clerics, and Druids know their entire class spell list, but must prepare spells. Wizards also prepare spells from their spellbook. For clerics, Domain spells do not count against your limit of prepared spells.
    B) Prepared Spells are the spells you can choose from to cast using your slots. You usually prepare a total number of spells equal to class level+ability modifier.
    C) Spell Slots are how many spells you can cast before needing a rest. You can cast any of your prepared/known spells by using an appropriate level slot, or a higher level slot (which will sometimes enhance lower level spells).
    Video guide here (not me)

    8) Sneak attack applies to only one attack on your turn. It has been pointed out that they can still get sneak attack damage on someone else's turn if they can make an attack at that time (from Commander's Strike or an opportunity attack, for instance).

    9) Critical Hits cause you to double the number of damage dice you roll for the attack.
    They do not deal maximum damage plus a die as in the playtest, and they do not double static modifiers to damage like 3.x critical hits. For example, an attack that normally did 1d8+1d6+3 would deal 2d8+2d6+3 on a critical hit.

    10) Proficiency is determined by your character level, and cannot apply to the same roll more than once. It can be doubled or halved one time, but it still only applies to the roll once. See Proficiency Bonus on p. 173-174.
    Last edited by Grynning; 2014-09-03 at 04:50 PM.
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    Comedian avatar by The_Stoney_One

    A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood 5th Edition Rules

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    You could add reactions to 2.
    My D&D 5th ed. Druid Handbook

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Also that reactions cannot be used on your turn.

    Oh, and halfling rogues don't get advantage with peek-a-boo tactics in melee.

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Rather than simply state things baselessly, it might be a better idea to support these things with quotes from the book. Already I'm seeing statements that I am kind of dubious about.

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    I am still a little confused about the first one. Do skill checks count as ability checks or are they also a separate thing?

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by ambartanen View Post
    I am still a little confused about the first one. Do skill checks count as ability checks or are they also a separate thing?
    There is technically no such thing as a "skill check." Having a skill (or tool proficiency) instead lets you add your proficiency bonus to an ability check in certain circumstances.
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    Comedian avatar by The_Stoney_One

    A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood 5th Edition Rules

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by akaddk View Post
    Oh, and halfling rogues don't get advantage with peek-a-boo tactics in melee.
    By RAW, they technically do. If they use the Hide action and their Stealth check is greater than the enemies Perception check, they become unseen and unheard, and they gain the benefits listed under Unseen Attackers and Targets on p. 194-95, which includes advantage on attack roles.
    Common sense says that the attacker would still know they were there and be ready for them, but common sense =/= RAW
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    A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood 5th Edition Rules

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by akaddk View Post
    Also that reactions cannot be used on your turn.
    Yes they can:

    Quote Originally Posted by PHB page 196
    Certain special abilities, spells, and situations allow you to take a special action called a reaction. A reaction is an instant response to a trigger of some kind, which can occur on your turn or on someone elseís.

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    See we're all learning things already. Fixed the top post.
    My friend and I have a blog, we write D&D stuff there: http://forgotmydice.com/



    Comedian avatar by The_Stoney_One

    A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood 5th Edition Rules

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    You might want to write something on there only being one initiative per combat or something. On many occasions I have seen people over-valuing the +2/4 class powers abilities when you roll Initiative with 0.

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Giant2005 View Post
    You might want to write something on there only being one initiative per combat or something. On many occasions I have seen people over-valuing the +2/4 class powers abilities when you roll Initiative with 0.
    I haven't seen anyone thinking you roll initiative multiple times per combat - initiative hasn't really changed since 3.0. That may be people remembering the playtest versions of the abilities, which were usually "if you start your turn with 0."
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    A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood 5th Edition Rules

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Grynning View Post
    I haven't seen anyone thinking you roll initiative multiple times per combat - initiative hasn't really changed since 3.0. That may be people remembering the playtest versions of the abilities, which were usually "if you start your turn with 0."
    That could be it.

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Grynning View Post
    By RAW, they technically do.
    Quote Originally Posted by Giant2005 View Post
    Yes they can:
    LIES! ALL LIES!

    Actually, I was sure about the reaction thing. That makes several things more powerful than I thought they were.

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Grynning View Post
    By RAW, they technically do. If they use the Hide action and their Stealth check is greater than the enemies Perception check, they become unseen and unheard, and they gain the benefits listed under Unseen Attackers and Targets on p. 194-95, which includes advantage on attack roles.
    Common sense says that the attacker would still know they were there and be ready for them, but common sense =/= RAW
    Well the Hide action says:

    Quote Originally Posted by Basic Rules pg 72
    When you take the Hide action, you make a Dexterity (Stealth) check in an attempt to hide, following the rules in chapter 7 for hiding. If you succeed, you gain certain benefits, as described in the ďUnseen Attackers and TargetsĒ section later in this chapter
    Emphasis mine because in the sidebar its referring to:

    Quote Originally Posted by Basic Rules pg 60
    Hiding
    When you try to hide, make a Dexterity (Stealth) check. Until you are discovered or you stop hiding, that checkís total is contested by the Wisdom (Perception) check of any creature that actively searches for signs of your presence. You canít 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. An invisible creature canít be seen, so it can always try to hide. Signs of its passage might still be noticed, however, and it still has to stay quiet. 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.
    So because you need to clear these rules before you can gain advantage... so well you only can if the DM allows it as some special circumstance.

    So for a Lightfoot Halfling well its a bit vague since Naturally Stealthy is allows you to Hide "when you are obscured" by a Medium or larger creature... well only thing I can find Ctrl+Fing the Basic rules that actively obscures anything is the invisibility condition and Web's AoE, neither would apply, ergo its entirely in improvised discretionary territory.

    Looks to me like its only when the DM allows and they may not agree that a halfling say standing behind a party member even meets the first hurdle of being able to Hide, or the second that they can attack from that position without breaking Hiding.

    Now maybe said party member makes a particular show of themselves and we get a sort of SEP Field like effect going on where the halfling is "seen" but just not noticed....

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Stun implies Incapcacitated which ends Concentration.

    You could also add the rule about bonus action spells.

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    page 196 under Cover

    A target with half cover has a +2 bonus to AC and Dexterity Saving throws. A target has half cover if an obstacle blocks at least half of its body. The obstacle might be a low wall, a large piece of furnature, a narrow tree trunk, or a creature, whether that creature is an enemy or friend.
    emphasis mine. So NOW not only do your friends give your enemies AC by ganging up on them and blocking sight, you can hide behind enemies if you are a Lightfoot Halfling.

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Have you had players getting confused by how spell slots work (the difference between the spells you know, the spells you prepared, and the slots?)

    Or how domain spells interact with that? (I was confused by those things at first, and had to do a lot of internet digging to find an explanation I understood properly).

    It seems like something that could confuse a lot of people, but I wouldn't know (my local game store doesn't start games until this upcoming Wednesday) I may secretly be hoping I wasn't confused by something that was simple to everyone else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cobaltstarfire View Post
    Have you had players getting confused by how spell slots work (the difference between the spells you know, the spells you prepared, and the slots?)

    Or how domain spells interact with that? (I was confused by those things at first, and had to do a lot of internet digging to find an explanation I understood properly).

    It seems like something that could confuse a lot of people, but I wouldn't know (my local game store doesn't start games until this upcoming Wednesday) I may secretly be hoping I wasn't confused by something that was simple to everyone else.
    Yes, one of my older players is having a hard time with this concept. He reads the "prepared" language the same way he did in AD&D because preparing expended slots.

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    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    i think that's one of the main issues. people are so used to convoluted rules that it's hard for them to relearn the simpler ones.
    I usually post from my phone, so please excuse any horrendous typos.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1337 b4k4 View Post
    [to somebody getting upset over somebody else's house rule] Maybe you should take a break, you're getting rather worked up over magic elf games.

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Callin View Post
    emphasis mine. So NOW not only do your friends give your enemies AC by ganging up on them and blocking sight, you can hide behind enemies if you are a Lightfoot Halfling.
    Well no... you have half-cover, a +2 to AC.

    Nothing there automatically says hostiles automatically can't see you or obviates the rules governing hiding. Imagine someone legs as the thin tree example, you could still see them easily (they're fatter then the tree say) its just harder to attack because there's a tree in your way.

    DM agrees that the cover is sufficient to hide behind you can Hide behind it.
    Which is not unreasonable but still their explicit option.

    DM then further agrees you get to attack from their such that you don't break Hide you only then get advantage on the attack. Especially if you don't want the opposition to have half-cover because big stupid fighter is in your way. And the advantage was the point under contention.

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Read this thread. It may or may not help you to decide where you stand on the 'hidden' issue.

    But beyond that, I think the rules on stealth were left intentionally vague. Intentionally being the key word there. 5e places the power back into the hands of the DM (like in 1e or 2e) rather than attempting to set hard and fast rules for every situation (like in 3.x or 4e). This is the one singular thing that I absolutely adore about 5e. DM fiat rules the game, as well it should.
    There will almost undoubtedly be a section in the DMG about options for a DM to choose between, or examples for him to base rulings off of.
    Last edited by Shadow; 2014-08-31 at 03:15 PM.

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Emphasis mine on the emphasis yours:
    Quote Originally Posted by Soras Teva Gee View Post
    Well the Hide action says:

    Emphasis mine because in the sidebar its referring to:

    Quote Originally Posted by Basic Rules pg 60
    Hiding
    When you try to hide, make a Dexterity (Stealth) check. Until you are discovered or you stop hiding, that checkís total is contested by the Wisdom (Perception) check of any creature that actively searches for signs of your presence. You canít 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. An invisible creature canít be seen, so it can always try to hide. Signs of its passage might still be noticed, however, and it still has to stay quiet. 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.
    People seem to be ignoring that both of those statements include phrasing which assumes a player approaches the target. And even then, it only usually sees you, even when not distracted.
    If you don't approach, that rule doesn't appply.
    If you're sniping from cover/obscurement and hiding, the target may know where you are, but he can't see you (advantage) and he doesn't know when you're going to pop out and shoot at him so he can't defend himself properly (sneak attack).
    In this case I would rule that a readied action on his part would negate the sneak attack, but it would apply in other circumstances.
    In some cases I would allow a stealth check, and in others I would not, situationally.
    Last edited by Shadow; 2014-08-31 at 03:42 PM.

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    Goblin

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Lightfoot Halflings may hide when obscured by a creature that is larger than them.
    Half Cover is when Half of your body can not be seen.

    This specific rule bypasses the general rule of Stealth for getting into stealth.

    Same as a wild elf in underbrush.

    No DM special ruling needed. Its in the rules.

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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Group checks and Jump rules.

    I've seen so many DMs screw this up so far.

    When you have group checks if half the party passes then they all pass. This allows 4 sneaky PCs to bring along a clunker.

    Move 10' and you may jump your strength score... No damn athletics check needed unless you want to go further or you want to do a stunt.

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Just saw a post with a link that answers ALL of your questions an concerns.
    Quote Originally Posted by cowsay
    Thanks for the vigorous debate. Mike Mearls explores this issue just a little here, about 11 minutes in.
    Like I said, DM fiat.
    Last edited by Shadow; 2014-08-31 at 07:57 PM.

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    Goblin

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    well then... I accept that its DM fiat.

    (so much for attempting to discuss rules now... lol)

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    I don't know how much of that you watched, but you should watch it all. If not all of it, then start at around 4 minutes and watch until after the stealth discussion.

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    Goblin

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    yea I skipped to the stealth part. I will go back and watch it while eating dinner.. which should be done in just a few mins.

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow View Post
    Read this thread. It may or may not help you to decide where you stand on the 'hidden' issue.

    But beyond that, I think the rules on stealth were left intentionally vague. Intentionally being the key word there. 5e places the power back into the hands of the DM (like in 1e or 2e) rather than attempting to set hard and fast rules for every situation (like in 3.x or 4e). This is the one singular thing that I absolutely adore about 5e. DM fiat rules the game, as well it should.
    There will almost undoubtedly be a section in the DMG about options for a DM to choose between, or examples for him to base rulings off of.
    I'm not quite sure if it's absolutely with the DM, but it's true that the game's in the players, not the papers. The narrative of the game world comes before "What the (arbitrary and convoluted) printed rules". Rules are guidelines for adjudicating situations.

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    Default Re: A Guide to Commonly Misunderstood Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Sartharina View Post
    I'm not quite sure if it's absolutely with the DM, but it's true that the game's in the players, not the papers. The narrative of the game world comes before "What the (arbitrary and convoluted) printed rules". Rules are guidelines for adjudicating situations.
    And in this edition many upon many of the rules are left intentionally vague and/or simplistic so that the DM is the final arbiter. Stealth is the most obvious of these examples, but it's not anywhere near the only one.
    Last edited by Shadow; 2014-08-31 at 04:11 PM.

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