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Ranged weapons and shooting through Party members and NPC'S


Rules Questions

Cheliax

2 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Staff response: no reply required.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

OK, is there a rule in the rulebook about shooting through team mates and or shooting through lines of creatures? I did not see any rules for this in the book, if I missed it could someone point it out for me.

Example.
Shooting through 4 Orcs to hit the evil cleric in the back

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
bigkilla wrote:

OK, is there a rule in the rulebook about shooting through tea mates and or shooting through lines of creatures? I did not see any rules for this in the book, if I missed it could someone point it out for me.

Example. Shooting through 5 Orcs to hit the evil cleric in the back

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The soft cover rules?

Soft Cover: Creatures, even your enemies, can provide you with cover against ranged attacks, giving you a +4 bonus to AC. However, such soft cover provides no bonus on Reflex saves, nor does soft cover allow you to make a Stealth check.


Y'know, in all my years of gaming, I've never considered a specific facet of the OPs dilemma: multiple "soft covers".

Do they stack? Is a cover bonus a "specific" type of bonus and thus doesn't stack? Or is it untyped and thus does? Would the example cleric in the OPs post have a +4 soft cover bonus, or +16?

I am honestly sitting here flabbergasted and annoyed with myself that this has never come up, either from me as a DM to a player action, or from a player to me. The realist in my says diminishing returns, since the people in the rear aren't providing as much relative cover due to the people in front of them. So +4 for the first, then +3, +2, +1 for each adittional, max of +10. Trying to shoot someone behind four other people should be difficult. But then again, I'm not so sure, especially without an embedded "Missed the target but the hit the cover, which is also an enemy" mechanic.

How do other people run it?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
The Black Bard wrote:

Y'know, in all my years of gaming, I've never considered a specific facet of the OPs dilemma: multiple "soft covers".

Do they stack? Is a cover bonus a "specific" type of bonus and thus doesn't stack? Or is it untyped and thus does? Would the example cleric in the OPs post have a +4 soft cover bonus, or +16?

I am honestly sitting here flabbergasted and annoyed with myself that this has never come up, either from me as a DM to a player action, or from a player to me. The realist in my says diminishing returns, since the people in the rear aren't providing as much relative cover due to the people in front of them. So +4 for the first, then +3, +2, +1 for each adittional, max of +10. Trying to shoot someone behind four other people should be difficult. But then again, I'm not so sure, especially without an embedded "Missed the target but the hit the cover, which is also an enemy" mechanic.

How do other people run it?

It's come up in my group before, but the answer RAW would be +4 i believe. House rules are another story.

My house rule: NOT RAW:

My group uses it with an increasing effect like the degrees of concealment like in the cloud spells and visibility. +4 for up to 2 squares, then increases again for another 2 squares to 'improved cover' at +8, and any more ranks of soft cover = 'total cover'. Improved precise shot also negates the first 4 ranks of soft cover completely allowing to shoot deeper with less penalties.

Shadow Lodge

RAW its all a cover bonus so it doesn't stack. Things are bad enough for missile combatants as it is, no point in adding in more problems.

Taldor

BigNorseWolf wrote:
RAW its all a cover bonus so it doesn't stack. Things are bad enough for missile combatants as it is, no point in adding in more problems.

+1... especially if you throw in prone on top of it! Did that this weekend vs my 3rd levels PC's and even Ranged Touch Spells had difficulty getting through!

--Vrocked Shot

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Well it just seems ridiculous when I have a Player trying to shoot through 2 team mates and then through a line of 5 or more enemies to shoot the caster in the back with very few penalties. I know realism is not truly factored into this "game" but it should be virtually impossible to shoot a arrow through squares occupied by 6 to 8 people.


Personally, I agree with Bigkilla.

Unfortunately, by the RAW cover provides a cover bonus to AC.

And bonuses of the same type do not stack.

However, my RAI, I would rule that it instead gives improved cover with a +8 cover bonus to AC.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
bigkilla wrote:
Well it just seems ridiculous when I have a Player trying to shoot through 2 team mates and then through a line of 5 or more enemies to shoot the caster in the back with very few penalties. I know realism is not truly factored into this "game" but it should be virtually impossible to shoot a arrow through squares occupied by 6 to 8 people.

That completely changes by specific group expectations however. It could just as easily be seen as a 'heroic' shot, like something legolas would pull in the LOTR movies for example. and for some groups that's perfect and well in their believability range. If it doesn't work for you, bring it up to your players and if they are on the same page (it works for their benefit when reversed as well) you can as a group change it into whatever house rule makes the most sense to those involved. (my groups own house rule is above, and my players brought it up as something that didn't make sense to them, not me going to them.)

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Tanis wrote:

Personally, I agree with Bigkilla.

Unfortunately, by the RAW cover provides a cover bonus to AC.

And bonuses of the same type do not stack.

However, my RAI, I would rule that it instead gives improved cover with a +8 cover bonus to AC.

Which is exactly how I intend to rule it from now on in my games.


bigkilla wrote:
Tanis wrote:

Personally, I agree with Bigkilla.

Unfortunately, by the RAW cover provides a cover bonus to AC.

And bonuses of the same type do not stack.

However, my RAI, I would rule that it instead gives improved cover with a +8 cover bonus to AC.

Which is exactly how I intend to rule it from now on in my games.

Same.

Andoran

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

On the opposite side of the coin, in mine and my friend's games we don't allow soft cover to work at all very often, based on the thinking that medium creatures don't take up very much of their spaces. There would be some penalty in the situation as shown in this thread, however.

What sorta bugs me about it is that you take this minus to hit. What if you don't care WHICH one you hit? Is there a chance to hit that one? Etc.

Andoran

Cover is cover. Unless all those orcs have some sort of teamwork training, they aren't providing cover in concert, they are each moving individually, so it is just as easy to miss one or 4, since they are as likely to all dodge in the same direction in the same time as provide a "solid" wall of orcs in front of the actual target.

And, in that case, the teamwork training, IMO, should then provide a penalty to their other defenses, since they are moving in concert, so they are constrained against properly getting out of the way of the sword to protect their compatriot against arrows....

I could easily see any feat that allows you to provide joint cover to someone against ranged attacks causing you to become flatfooted against attacks yourself, since you are concentrating on the ranged combatant's actions, rather than the guy in your face....


The Soft cover and generally the cover mechanic do not imply that the attacker may shoot the cover by mistake but that it is more difficult to aim since you are trying to find an open spot. So actually the partial cover guy isn't dodging the arrow since the attacker aimed at a clear spot .

I believe this because if the cover was actually being hit then we would use the old rules about hitting the soft cover in case of missing because of the +4. These rules do not exist in pathfinder and it is better that the do not IMO, too much trouble for something that can be done by the narrowing of the DM. Of course you could always say that a cover is hit in case of fumble rules or any other sick mechanic of the evil DM, but that's another story :-P.

So by RAW soft cover only provides a +4 bonus. BUT the DM is the final arbitrary not of how much bonus a soft cover provides but of when a cover is categorized as a soft one. So again IMO a DM in certain situations as the one above can rule that the orcs are many and that the available clear spots are less. So increase the penalty from +4 to +5,.. or even +8. This is not against the RAW IMO. You are given the mechanics and the thresholds as a DM (+4 is normal soft cover and +8 is improved cover). You know the limits so the game provides everything you need to know. The DM's job is to now adjust them on the situation.

Taldor

Standard soft cover rules, and a quick -2 unfavourable circumstances penalty on the shooter.

Improved cover is something like an arrow slit in a tower, not four Orc's. Admittedly, shooting past four is a bit harder than one. Hence, the -2.

Andoran

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Aris Kosmopoulos wrote:
The Soft cover and generally the cover mechanic do not imply that the attacker may shoot the cover by mistake but that it is more difficult to aim since you are trying to find an open spot. So actually the partial cover guy isn't dodging the arrow since the attacker aimed at a clear spot .

If the mechanic were concealment, I would buy this a lot more. Cover means something is physically blocking you. If you are partially behind a fence that can stop arrows, you get cover- if the cover was responsible for the miss, presumably *it* took the hit. Concealment is when there are leaves or what have you.

I guess what I'm saying is, it would be good if there were ways to just "fire at the bad guys" without having to resolve the arrow as if it was you sniping all the time.

Shadow Lodge

bigkilla wrote:
Well it just seems ridiculous when I have a Player trying to shoot through 2 team mates and then through a line of 5 or more enemies to shoot the caster in the back with very few penalties. I know realism is not truly factored into this "game" but it should be virtually impossible to shoot a arrow through squares occupied by 6 to 8 people.

That might be true if you were shooting straight, but generally when you shoot an arrow its on an arc. It wouldn't be that difficult to shoot over the heads of the combatants to aim for the guy in the back. If you miss by 1-4 you hit the guy in front of him. *shrug* makes sense to me.


The rule we use, which I think is a house rule then since it's a hold over from a previous version is that the Target gets the cover bonus to AC. The attacker gets the penalties applicable for shooting into combat. And if you miss by the cover bonus you strike and damage the cover.
With some logical adjudication.

For this specific example though of 4 orcs in front of the cleric. Wouldn't this just be improved cover. Which grants a +8?
Or if they are heavily armed orcs, full cover.

Andoran

As an additional sanity check (at least with long & short bows) you might say that each +1 strength bonus built into the bow allows an archer to shoot through 1 (and only one) target in this manner. So to hit the caster in back of 3 orcs the archer would need a +3 composite bow.

As for crossbows et al - I've heard of bolts going through an armored knight and pinning him to his horse, but never of a bolt going straight through multiple enemies. Frankly I'm suspicious of an arrow's ability to do this, but as Rathendar said this occupies something of a 'heroic' scenario in the game.

Maybe someday they'll do a Box O' Truth medieval edition and give us some real data to go off of. :3


cfalcon wrote:
Aris Kosmopoulos wrote:
The Soft cover and generally the cover mechanic do not imply that the attacker may shoot the cover by mistake but that it is more difficult to aim since you are trying to find an open spot. So actually the partial cover guy isn't dodging the arrow since the attacker aimed at a clear spot .

If the mechanic were concealment, I would buy this a lot more. Cover means something is physically blocking you. If you are partially behind a fence that can stop arrows, you get cover- if the cover was responsible for the miss, presumably *it* took the hit. Concealment is when there are leaves or what have you.

I guess what I'm saying is, it would be good if there were ways to just "fire at the bad guys" without having to resolve the arrow as if it was you sniping all the time.

I agree that cover means something physically blocking you. We do not disagree with that. What I am saying is that the shooter is not stupid. He aims at the spots of his enemy's body that do not have a cover. This is also clear if you see it from the perspective of the size modifiers and AC. The smaller you are the largest the bonus to your AC? Why? Because you provide less hittable area of your body to your opponents. The same goes with cover. Part of your body is protected by cover, so only the rest is available to be hit. The same goes with improved cover. You are behind an arrowslit, so there is only a small part of your body available to be hit. The shooter aims at that spot but since the available area to be hit is must smaller it is more difficult for him to hit you. He must w8 for the right time that he can see you and aim at this small hole.

In the abstractive system of DND all kinds of protection usually cover some part of your body. So if we are not talking about actions like sunder most of the time cover/armor/shield completely protects whatever is behind it, no matter the material. We are always talking about available spots to be hit and not about how hard the material that protects is. This is why adamantine armor does not increase your AC. The available spots are the same with a normal armor of the same type. It offers instead DR to simulate the effect that the blow hit you but it wasn't to deep because of the greater resistance of the material of the armor.

Another example of what I am saying:

1) A shooter shoots a mage who is behind an Orc. The shooter receives +4 to AC because of the soft cover.
2) Now the shooter shoots a mage who is behind an adamantine golem of the same size as the orc. He also receives a +4 AC. The material doesn't change anything since the shooter aims the clear spots not the golem.

This system deliberately does not take into account the case that the partial cover is hit for simplicity. It only cares if the mage was hit or not, not why? The arrow could have hit the cover if for example the orc raised his hand at the same time the arrow was passing or it could have hit the wall behind the mage. The system does not care about these thing but only about whether the mage was hit by the arrow or not. It is the DM/GM's job to handle, describe or change what happened through narrowing, botches, chance roll or whatever other sick system he is using :-)


On a related note, if you miss the attack by 4 or less where there's soft cover involved, shouldn't it hit the other creature (if it hits their AC)?


cfalcon wrote:

On the opposite side of the coin, in mine and my friend's games we don't allow soft cover to work at all very often, based on the thinking that medium creatures don't take up very much of their spaces. There would be some penalty in the situation as shown in this thread, however.

What sorta bugs me about it is that you take this minus to hit. What if you don't care WHICH one you hit? Is there a chance to hit that one? Etc.

as far as i remember, if you miss due to soft cover, you hit the cover instead.(Meaning if your attack would be sufficient to hit the target if the cover was not there, you instead hit/attack the cover.(if the attack roll without soft cover penalty doesn't "hit" that guy, well, you're out of luck))

don't know if thats written somewhere or an old houserule, though...but hey, the arrow HAS to go somewhere, right?


Tanis wrote:
On a related note, if you miss the attack by 4 or less where there's soft cover involved, shouldn't it hit the other creature (if it hits their AC)?

IMO it depends on the DM. If you wish to use the old rules that I have mentioned in the past then YES. The best explanation is that you hit the soft cover creature.

But then you have a problem: what if the AC of the soft-cover creature is grater than the attack?
It probably means (especially if the cover person has dex bonus or dodge bonus) that the arrow didn't hit at all the cover (not even his shield or armor, so no damage involved). Which in turn means that the initial target shouldn't have the +4 to its AC so the initial target is hit normally.

As you can see the more realistic you try to make it the more complicated it becomes. I honestly do no know which is the golden step to stop (balance realism and complexity). This is why I am saying that it is up to the DM and players and the way they like to play.


MordredofFairy wrote:
cfalcon wrote:

On the opposite side of the coin, in mine and my friend's games we don't allow soft cover to work at all very often, based on the thinking that medium creatures don't take up very much of their spaces. There would be some penalty in the situation as shown in this thread, however.

What sorta bugs me about it is that you take this minus to hit. What if you don't care WHICH one you hit? Is there a chance to hit that one? Etc.

as far as i remember, if you miss due to soft cover, you hit the cover instead.(Meaning if your attack would be sufficient to hit the target if the cover was not there, you instead hit/attack the cover.(if the attack roll without soft cover penalty doesn't "hit" that guy, well, you're out of luck))

don't know if thats written somewhere or an old houserule, though...but hey, the arrow HAS to go somewhere, right?

Old rule from a much older edition that keeps getting houseruled forward -- currently there is no such rule in pathfinder. The closest thing is the splash weapons miss table.

Honestly I've always figured that if you miss because of cover it is fair to say (as a fluff reason) that the reason you missed was because you were trying so hard to not hit the cover that you shot wide/high/etc of the cover thereby missing the target too.


Abraham spalding wrote:
MordredofFairy wrote:
cfalcon wrote:

On the opposite side of the coin, in mine and my friend's games we don't allow soft cover to work at all very often, based on the thinking that medium creatures don't take up very much of their spaces. There would be some penalty in the situation as shown in this thread, however.

What sorta bugs me about it is that you take this minus to hit. What if you don't care WHICH one you hit? Is there a chance to hit that one? Etc.

as far as i remember, if you miss due to soft cover, you hit the cover instead.(Meaning if your attack would be sufficient to hit the target if the cover was not there, you instead hit/attack the cover.(if the attack roll without soft cover penalty doesn't "hit" that guy, well, you're out of luck))

don't know if thats written somewhere or an old houserule, though...but hey, the arrow HAS to go somewhere, right?

Old rule from a much older edition that keeps getting houseruled forward -- currently there is no such rule in pathfinder. The closest thing is the splash weapons miss table.

thanks for clarification ;)

as to

Quote:

But then you have a problem: what if the AC of the soft-cover creature is grater than the attack?

It probably means (especially if the cover person has dex bonus or dodge bonus) that the arrow didn't hit at all the cover (not even his shield or armor, so no damage involved). Which in turn means that the initial target shouldn't have the +4 to its AC so the initial target is hit normally.

I don't really see that as problem, as said, if your attack roll would not hit the soft cover, then if there is armor, that stopped it, if it has dex/dodge bonus, it deflected the arrow.

really, it's a pity it has to be a houserule, but i definitely like that too much to give up. If the guy standing in front of someone is the reason you don't hit him, then that guy standing in front will have to deal with the arrow.

It's also weird that you can line up 20 guys in a row and it won't be harder to hit than having 1 guy stand there. -_-

As said, it's hard to balance complexity and realism, but really, thats one of those things that to me means immersion and believability in the game world.

So yeah, i'm all in favor of soft cover being +2AC for every single creature providing it(actually making it easier to shoot if there is only one creature), and checking to see if you hit soft cover targets.

Result: Yep, it gets really hard to shoot that orc shaman standing behind 6 rows of charging warriors, but even if you won't hit him, it's likely one of the minions gets hit by the arrow.

I can live with that being homebrew, it doesn't seem that complicated and just feels more immersive to me, i guess to each their own/what works for you.


I totally agree with you. The problem is that not all people think the same so this is why things like this are removed from the rule books. I have played with more than 10 different systems and in no way I can say that d20 focuses on to being realistic but instead in to being fast and enjoyable. So the good news are that this problem can be very easily be fixed by the DM. If you think that +4 is to little in a situation increase it up to +8, use the rules to hit cover or anything else. If you and the players like it then it is perfect. Other people think of it as too much, especially if they are DMing for the first times. So all can be happy the way it is :-)

The real problem would be to had change the rules so much in order to be very difficult for the DM to do changes on the fly like that. This is what I hate in 4th edition. Rules are so tight and specific that suffocate you. PCs must always press the desired button from available ones and the DM only inspects if the players are cheating and also presses some buttons for the monster. Imagine that I bought 13 books of 4th edition in order to understand this. I feel so stupid :-(.

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