Using a Person as Cover


Rules Questions


OK so in a scenario I just ran, one of the antagonists is using a slave as cover, holding them in front of them. One of the characters shoots at the man holding the slave.

Cover applies.

As you don't want the slave to get hit, I would say the rule for shooting into melee applies.

Am I correct in thinking that with those penalties, there is no chance to hit the slave?

Is there any situation where the slave may be at risk of being hit?


A soft cover is a cover provided by a creature, and it works just as a typical cover (+4 bonus to AC), except that the cover provided by a soft cover do not allow you to use the stealth skill. In 3.X you could hit the cover if you missed the target by 4 or less, but the number you rolled (with modifiers) was high enough to actually hit the cover AC, but I think that this rule was removed in Pathfinder, which means that, no, you could not accidentally hit the slave.


GM Hands of Fate wrote:

OK so in a scenario I just ran, one of the antagonists is using a slave as cover, holding them in front of them. One of the characters shoots at the man holding the slave.

Cover applies.

Specifically, 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."

GM Hands of Fate wrote:
As you don't want the slave to get hit, I would say the rule for shooting into melee applies.

Shooting or Throwing into a Melee: "If you shoot or throw a ranged weapon at a target engaged in melee with a friendly character, you take a –4 penalty on your attack roll. Two characters are engaged in melee if they are enemies of each other and either threatens the other. (An unconscious or otherwise immobilized character is not considered engaged unless he is actually being attacked.)"

If the slave is friendly to the shooter, and an enemy of the antagonist, and the slave is not considered immobilized then he's engaged. This assumes the antagonist threatens the slave (which he probably would, even if he's grappling).

That's going to vary from situation to situation.

GM Hands of Fate wrote:
Am I correct in thinking that with those penalties, there is no chance to hit the slave?

With a normal ranged attack, yes. Area spells, splash weapons, etc. could all potentially hit the slave.


Thanks. Sometimes, I need to check my train of thought.


You are correct. However the rule makes hostage taking much less effective. I would set something up where a really low roll resulted in the hostage being hit.

If you don't want to change the rules, there is a feat that allows you to use a grappled target to block a ranged attack.


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What are you talking about? You always shoot the hostage first!


With a high enough strength bow you can shoot through the hostage.


So taking a hostage seems like a pretty good option actually.. You get cover for +4 to AC AND you get to penalize the shooter as if in Melee An additional -4 for them to hit.

total mod of -8 to hit is well worth doing. In this scenario, the GM would have open license to have any shot that misses the bad guy have X chance to hit the "cover" but, by RAW no rule for it.


Harark wrote:
What are you talking about? You always shoot the hostage first!

Thats why merciful is such a great add on for bows!


Gilfalas wrote:
Harark wrote:
What are you talking about? You always shoot the hostage first!
Thats why merciful is such a great add on for bows!

Oh actually I was making a Speed reference.


Merciful can still kill the peasant. If the peasant has 5hp maximum, has a con score of 10, and the merciful arrow shot does 20points of damage the peasant is dead.

5pts nonlethal = total maximum hps. After 5pts nonlethal damage all remaining damage becomes lethal. 15points lethal damage (20-5=15) means the peasant is dead.

- Gauss

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