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can you accidentally hit party members with....


Rules Questions


magic attacks like with ranged weapons? and if so is there a feat to negate the chances like for ranged weapons?


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Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

No, only splash weapons have a chance of landing off target and possibly including allies or even yourself in the area of effect.


k thanks
thats a load of my chest


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Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

There is a penalty to the attack roll when you fire into melee, but if you miss with a standard ranged weapon, you simply miss.

Scarab Sages

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to be clear there is absolutely no chance of hitting an ally with a ranged weapon, unless its a splash weapon. Its a common house rule, but its not in the rules.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It was a possibility in the 3.0 OGL, and like many rules that were changed in the transition from OGL from 3.0 to 3.5 (and to PFRPG), a not-insigificant number of GMs either didn't realize the rule changed or preferred the old rule.

The 3.0 rule:
There was no penalty for firing into melee per se. Instead, given the positions of the combatants, the GM needed to determine if another character in the melee provided some level of cover to the target; and, if so, how much cover they provided (1/4, 1/2, 3/4, or full). The level of cover determined the target's AC bonus. If the attacker's roll would have missed the target due to the cover, but would have hit the target without the cover, then the cover itself was hit; this becomes relevant if the cover was being provided by another character.

The rule got changed in the transition to 3.5 because it's complex and cumbersome. The simple -4 penalty is much easier adjucate at the table.

As an aside, I will occasionally invoke some aspect of this old rule in certain circumstances, such as if the defender grapples another character and tries to use him as a human shield.


so i do get a -1 when firing a spell at an enemy engaged with an ally.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

If a spell requires an attack roll, then yes, you take the same -4 penalty on firing into melee unless you have the Precise Shot feat.


Ross Byers wrote:
If a spell requires an attack roll, then yes, you take the same -4 penalty on firing into melee unless you have the Precise Shot feat.

And if your ally is interposed between you and the target, they additionally provide soft cover, which grants your target a +4 to AC unless you have the Improved Precise Shot feat.

So without either, you're looking at a total potential of -8 to hit (-4 to hit and +4 to the target's AC.)


This is of course why Point-Blank Shot (ray) and its descendants are popular. It helps avoid having to apologise for that Enervation in the back.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Qaianna wrote:
This is of course why Point-Blank Shot (ray) and its descendants are popular. It helps avoid having to apologise for that Enervation in the back.

1) Point Blank Shot isn't weapon specific feat (nor are Precise Shot, and Improved Precise Shot for that matter)

2) Point Blank Shot has nothing to do with shooting into melee or avoiding cover, except for being the prereq for the feats that do obviate those penalties.
3) One doesn't risk hitting an ally when firing a ranged weapon in Pathfinder


3) One doesn't risk hitting an ally when firing a ranged weapon in into melee combat

you can shout that all you want but it does not make sense.

thank you ross, gunthor and qaianna.


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zainale wrote:

3) One doesn't risk hitting an ally when firing a ranged weapon in into melee combat

you can shout that all you want but it does not make sense.

thank you ross, gunthor and qaianna.

No offense intended, but it doesn't matter if it makes sense.

Under the rules, targeted attacks do not normally have any chance to "accidentally" hit anyone other than their target. Splash weapons are an exception to this rule, and it is explained under the section about splash weapons. Another exception is the Friendly Fire teamwork betrayal feat.

But in general, all exceptions to the "don't accidentally hit target" are usually enumerated upon.

Although, you just generally mentioned "magic attacks" so its worth noting that area effects can hit your allies but those aren't targeted attacks like ranged weapons so I don't believe that is what you were asking about.

So in summation, targeted ranged attacks (whether magical or a ranged weapon) cannot accidentally hit an ally unless the specific ability/item you are using notes that this can happen.

Scarab Sages

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My house-rule is that players only accidentally shoot each other in the back when it would be funny.

Which is pretty much all the time. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
zainale wrote:
you can shout that all you want but it does not make sense.

Armor Class is made up of so many abstract concepts that there are plenty of times that it doesn't make sense for a "miss" to hit someone else in melee combat.

High AC could mean that you are really good at dodging.

It could also mean that you are wearing thick metal armor that makes arrows bounce off.

If you shoot someone with an arrow, and it hits their armor, goes "plink" and falls to the ground, it doesn't make any sense to allow that "miss" to damage someone else standing next to the target.

If I'm really good at dodging, and I duck under your arrow, why doesn't it have a chance to hit the guy standing 10 feet on the other side of me, but it does have a chance of hitting the guy standing 5 feet to my left?

Three reasons firing into melee simply imposes an attack penalty instead of a complicated "maybe you hit your friend" rule are:

1) AC and attack rolls are so abstract that trying to make them model realistic physics is silly.

2) "Miss" means something very different than "my arrow didn't go where I aimed it"

3) Hitting allies with attacks isn't fun.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

zainale wrote:
you can shout that all you want but it does not make sense.

It doesn't make sense, but it's that way for a reason.

The biggest being that accidentally murdering your teammates doesn't make the game more fun.

The next biggest is there is no good way to mechanically resolve it.

  • If you use the (accidental) target's AC, you're making more-skilled archers (higher attack bonus) more likely to shoot their teammate in the back.
  • If you don't use the accidental target's AC, then you're ignoring their investment in protective items that are supposed to get you shot less often.
  • If you try to reverse some value to that more-skilled attackers are less likely to hit a teammate, then you get a perverse situation where an unskilled attacker (say a wizard with a crossbow) can become oddly more likely to shoot their teammate than their target.

    In comparison, Warhammer games simply prohibit firing into melee at all.

  • Scarab Sages

    In settings where death is easy to cure, players killing eachother can be very fun. PFS's is a harsh setting regarding death.


    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    Just to put in my 2 cp: I can easily find a rule that says my allies provide soft cover, and I can easily find a rule that says firing into melee incurs a -4 penalty to hit my intended target, but I can't find in the PRD combat rules anything about hitting the cover.

    RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

    If the cover is inanimate (say a hedge) then it doesn't really matter if you hit the cover.
    If the cover is animate, see above.


    reckless aim gives you a bonus to hit, but you can hit your allies on the roll of a one.


    The way this topic parses is like it is asking if it is possible to hit party members with Ross Byers. To which I say, yes, it is.

    RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

    3 people marked this as a favorite.

    Please do not hit people with me. My jar isn't up to it.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
    Chemlak wrote:
    Just to put in my 2 cp: I can easily find a rule that says my allies provide soft cover, and I can easily find a rule that says firing into melee incurs a -4 penalty to hit my intended target, but I can't find in the PRD combat rules anything about hitting the cover.

    There isn't any.

    If your allies are in melee with the target and are also providing soft cover from your vantage point, they simply make the target even harder to hit. (Soft cover grants your target an AC bonus, in addition to your attack roll penalty for firing into melee.) The way the rules currently work, there's no danger of accidentally hitting your ally.

    The rules for hitting a target's cover was part of the original 1999 Open Game License (OGL) System Reference Document (SRD). (Known colloquially as "OGL 3.0," which refers to the original 3rd edition of Dungeons and Dragons, which the OGL was created for.) As I said in an earlier post, that rule was removed in the D&D 3rd Edition Revised rules (known as "OGL 3.5") when released in 2003.

    As PFRPG is based on the OGL 3.5 ruleset, the possibiliy of hitting a target's cover were never part of PFRPG.

    Lantern Lodge

    zainale wrote:

    3) One doesn't risk hitting an ally when firing a ranged weapon in into melee combat

    you can shout that all you want but it does not make sense.
    thank you ross, gunthor and qaianna.

    It "makes sense" for a couple of reasons I can think of.

    First, hitting your allies is not fun (and this is a game). It is bad enough with alchemists carpet bombing everything in sight that you don't need the archer putting arrows into the back of the front line either.

    Second (a much weaker argument but has a more combat reason), you can assume that if the situation was bad enough that you risked hitting your ally with the shot, then you probably wouldn't take the shot. Of course this is pure meta-gamey, but these are heroes we are talking about after all :).

    This situation just came up the other night as our group just started over at Level 1 after 4 years of RotRL. A stirge was feasting on the cleric and the gunslinger wanted to take a shot from 40' away. Conceptually we had trouble with this one, especially since you can reasonably assume the bullet would go through the stirge and hit the cleric even if his aim was on. We eventually just settled on -8 (firing into melee + soft cover), and we also decided in the future for a tiny or smaller target in a grapple we would also houserule basically an improved soft cover.


    Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

    You need both people to have a feat in order to risk hitting your ally with your non-splash ranged weapon.


    We houserule it that you can hit your ally with a missed ranged attack into melee.

    The numbers aren't set in stone. I tell my player that they will "take a penalty" to their attack roll. If they roll particularly low (especially on 1s), I then have either the player reroll their attack vs. the "cover" PC OR have the "cover" roll a Ref save to avoid damage. I think it adds a bit of flavor, as well as verisimilitude, to the game. I want my players to try and stretch their PC's capabilities, trying to go beyond what they are nominally designed to do. That being said, there should always be a cost for failure.

    Again all house rules.


    j b 200 wrote:

    We houserule it that you can hit your ally with a missed ranged attack into melee.

    The numbers aren't set in stone. I tell my player that they will "take a penalty" to their attack roll. If they roll particularly low (especially on 1s), I then have either the player reroll their attack vs. the "cover" PC OR have the "cover" roll a Ref save to avoid damage. I think it adds a bit of flavor, as well as verisimilitude, to the game. I want my players to try and stretch their PC's capabilities, trying to go beyond what they are nominally designed to do. That being said, there should always be a cost for failure.

    Again all house rules.

    Do you make similar rules for casters? After all spell casting is difficult and that would add flavor as well as verisimilitude. And there should be a cost for failure (like when the target makes its save).


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    Once in a game, I was in a 5 foot passage behind the dwarf barbarian. I made a cunning argument that I should be able to lob a simple fire blast ability over his head because he's a dwarf and I had a tall human. The GM said I could. I rolled a one to hit.

    "Your bolt fizzles and drops early, hitting the dwarf's beard which rapidly catches fire."
    "MY BEARD? HE BURNT MY BEARD? RAAAAAARRR."
    "I'm now spending my move action to run away very quickly."

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