[RPG] In a PvP arena, how can other characters deal with a Rogue with Expertise in Stealth


I'm running an arena-style fight between a lot of PCs. It's now getting to the point that there are few enough PCs that they are beginning to take levels to counter one another.

One of the players is a Rogue. At lvl 11, the die roll for ability checks rounds up to 10 when they are proficient – for a rogue with a dexterity of 20 and expertise in Stealth, the minimum Stealth check is 23. Two levels later at 13, it rises to 25, and eventually to 27 at lvl 17.

The first situation is difficult enough for opposing characters, but by lvl 17, only Perception-proficient characters who have good Wisdom even have a chance of spotting the Rogue.

I know some of the casters have their own advantages in class features (Hold Person is pretty lethal), but those all require a save at least. The rogue can shoot from hiding every turn and re-hide, dealing several dozen damage and being near-impossibe to find.

Besides staying in open areas without places to hide, what could any other PCs do to have a chance at winning?

Both numerical and strategic considerations are appreciated. No UA or homebrew is allowed as a source, for obvious reasons.

Best Answer

There are several options, some more devastating than others.

I'll list my three favorite ones here:

Chase the Rogue

As Guildsbounty mentioned, a hidden Rogue isn't invisible: it just means their enemies have lost track of where they are. But their enemies still know where they were. You can run behind the last object you saw the Rogue go behind. Unless the rogue is moving particularly quickly, the Rogue is likely now visible. You should note that even while visible, the rogue may still be hidden. However, they at least will no longer be "unseen", which means they will not gain advantage on an attack roll made against their pursuer (which is crucial: more on that later).

Ready Actions

A rogue will give away their possition when they attack. So you can ready an action to injure the rogue when you locate him or her. This tactic is somewhat flawed for a couple of reasons. For one thing, you'll usually need to be attacked before you take your held action, which could mean you'll take considerable damage. For another thing, if you're a martial class you'll lose access to your Extra Attacks, and if you're a spellcaster you'll need to maintain concentration on your readied spell (particularly problematic if you're going to be attacked before you cast the spell). But still, it will permit you to do some damage to the rogue whenever it attacks you. This leads me to a third and crucial tactic.

Give the Rogue Disadvantage on their attack

There are several ways to do this: you could become invisible yourself (or simply obscure your location through a spell like Darkness or Fog Cloud), or restrain the rogue somehow (like through the Entangle spell) or simply go prone if the rogue is using ranged attacks (and can't walk up to you safely). Whatever method you chose, you need to ensure that the rogue doesn't have advantage when attacking you.

Note that the rules on advantage and disadvantage state:

If circumstances cause a roll to have both advantage and disadvantage, you are considered to have neither of them, and you roll one d20. This is true even if multiple circumstances impose disadvantage and only one grants advantage or vice versa. In such a situation, you have neither advantage nor disadvantage. (PHB, p. 173)

Since advantage and disadvantage cancel (no matter how many times each is applied), that means that if you somehow do something which imposes disadvantage on the rogue's attacks, the rogue cannot then gain advantage (no matter what other sources of advantage they have). The rogue will be attacking you without advantage, and (since this is PvP, presumably) without another enemy of yours within 5' of you. That means that you've removed one of their most essential features: their Sneak Attack. Without it, a rogue's damage output plummets. They're essentially a martial class with a single attack per round, and lower hit points.

A spellcaster who simply goes prone and readies a fireball (or more likely "shatter" to circumvent the rogue's Evasion feature) every turn will quickly see the rogue's tactic fail spectacularly. A martial character may have a more difficult time, but they will likely find themselves dealing as much damage as the rogue every round if they ready actions while prone (again, make sure the rogue can't reach you), while sporting higher hit points.

No class is designed to be completely independent: we all rely on the support of our fellow party members in ways we may not even realize. A rogue, without companions to distract enemies or give them sneak attack opportunities, may find themselves acutely aware of how much their class is not designed to fight a canny enemy alone.

NOTE: Sneak attack does not require the Rogue to have an ally within 5' of their target, but rather an enemy of the target to be within 5' of it. So in a massive PvP arena, it's possible the rogue could still target a person who is imposing disadvantage on attack rolls, and still gain sneak attack. Particulars of the battle (how far away you can get from other characters, for example) will make this more or less effective.