# Shooting into a Melee Clarification Requested

### Rules Questions

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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Globetrotter wrote:

This is the level of heat that exploded at my table.

It seems the problem is agreeing on how to measure. The problem is the core rule book never tells us to measure from the middle, the outer edge or the inner edge. Therefore, we need to make our own determinations. All this talk of abstraction and RAW is ridiculous. My table, I see each square as a block and I measure the closest sides to determine distance. If I'm talking affecting the square, I need to add that' square into the equation. It's not wrong, it's now I measure.

If its buildings, you measure the walls. Just like when you describe a Hallway that is 10 feet wide, you done say the wall are 15 feet apart. If you do, well then that's how you do it.

I view simple distance as squares apart and range as including the square. You can be a jerk and say I'm wrong or that I'm viewing the abstract wrong, but you can't really support yourself beyond using interpretations of position within a square, which is not stated anywhere except in your interpretation.

Keeping the discussion civil would be helpful, so I do apologize for my "you can't count" statement. That was out of place.

The problem here is you are counting from middle to middle, wall to wall, edge to edge, or whatever, when Pathfinder counts BY SQUARES. Your buildings are 10ft apart because people standing on top of them are counted as being two squares away from each other.

Quit trying to pick a point in the square, and just count by the entire square itself, and all your problems will fade away.

 Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

 2 people marked this as a favorite.
Player1 wrote:

If your target... is at least 10 feet away from the nearest friendly character, you can avoid the –4 penalty, even if the creature you're aiming at is engaged in melee with a friendly character."

R= Ranged Attacker, F= Friendly PC, E= Enemy with a reach weapon (2 squares away from F)

|R|_|F|_|E|

I don't know if those underlines are supposed to be squares or not, so I'm going to draw an example map and answer based on how I draw it.

(one typographical character = 5 feet)

RFE

In other words, R is adjacent to F, and F is adjacent to E.

Because E is adjacent to F, E is not at least 10 feet away from F. Therefore, R cannot avoid the –4 penalty. Or, to invert the language: E is too close to F, so R has a –4 penalty on the shot.

Let's draw another example.

(one typographical character = 5 feet)

RFXE

(X is an empty square)

In other words, R is adjacent to F, and F is 10 feet away from E.

Because E is 10 feet away from F, R doesn't have the –4 penalty.

And yes, as others have said: count by squares. You can't weasel a few extra feet within a square by saying F is on the left edge of his square and E is on the right edge of its square; they are in adjacent squares, and the rules count squares as 5 feet even though you may be at any point within your square.

Sean, thanks for your input. Can you explain some points to me then?

What does this mean? With a normal melee weapon, you can strike any opponent within 5 feet. (Opponents within 5 feet are considered adjacent to you.)

This is going to sound a little silly, but the within part matters to me, and I'm really not trying to split hairs. Adjacent characters are within 5 feet since they are adjacent. Being one square away is 5+ feet. I don't know...

My real points come from the rules are larger creatures. This is why my original call required two squares between to eliminate the -4. If the creature is large, any archer can fire at the back square and eliminate the -4. So, why is there a rule for 2 size categories different giving you a -2 instead of a -4? Wouldn't that be a useless rule?

I can't really draw the square here to make sense, but if a medium creature is fighting a huge creature, two size categories different, the rules say he takes the -2. But by this view, he wouldn't take a penalty since he can shoot to the left of the creature and avoid the penalty entirely. Yet, if we really do need 2 squares separating the target and the melee character, then the rules make sense vs a gargantuan creature since there would be two square of the fighter was on one side and the archer targeted the right side. No penalty at all.

Anyway, I hope that makes sense from my perspective. And at my table, I will continue to run it as such.

Nefreet wrote:
Globetrotter wrote:

This is the level of heat that exploded at my table.

It seems the problem is agreeing on how to measure. The problem is the core rule book never tells us to measure from the middle, the outer edge or the inner edge. Therefore, we need to make our own determinations. All this talk of abstraction and RAW is ridiculous. My table, I see each square as a block and I measure the closest sides to determine distance. If I'm talking affecting the square, I need to add that' square into the equation. It's not wrong, it's now I measure.

If its buildings, you measure the walls. Just like when you describe a Hallway that is 10 feet wide, you done say the wall are 15 feet apart. If you do, well then that's how you do it.

I view simple distance as squares apart and range as including the square. You can be a jerk and say I'm wrong or that I'm viewing the abstract wrong, but you can't really support yourself beyond using interpretations of position within a square, which is not stated anywhere except in your interpretation.

Keeping the discussion civil would be helpful, so I do apologize for my "you can't count" statement. That was out of place.

The problem here is you are counting from middle to middle, wall to wall, edge to edge, or whatever, when Pathfinder counts BY SQUARES. Your buildings are 10ft apart because people standing on top of them are counted as being two squares away from each other.

Quit trying to pick a point in the square, and just count by the entire square itself, and all your problems will fade away.

I suppose that's where the comedy lies. I'm not counting by point, I'm just counting squares.

XOX

I count one square between the X's. one square is 5 feet.
What would be the jump DC to jump over one square? Would it be 5 or 10? I count it as 5. If you count it as 10, is it possible to have a DC 5 jump check?

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

You are counting it wrong. Jumping over one square would be, effectively, jumping over two, since you are landing two squares away.

 Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

 1 person marked this as FAQ candidate. 3 people marked this as a favorite.

One square away is exactly 5 feet. Not "almost 5 feet" or "a little over 5 feet" depending on where you are in your square and they are in their square. For simplicity's sake, it's just measured in squares. Otherwise, if you have a dagger and you're in the square adjacent to me, I could say "you can't hit me because I'm in the farthest corner of my square, and there's no way you can reach all the way there from your square."

A Large creature is an entirely separate issue... and it turns out we're talking about a rule we inherited from 3.5. That rule basically means you almost never have to deal with the "firing into melee" penalty when shooting at a Large creature, so long as some part of that creature is at least 10 feet from the nearest ally.

So, in this example:

TT
TTV

M

V is Valeros
M is Merisiel
T is all four squares of a troll

The top left and bottom left squares of the troll are at least 10 feet away from Valeros, so Merisiel can shoot at them without the –4 penalty. Which is silly and means it's not any harder to shoot a Large creature in melee than it is to shoot a Medium creature. The only time the "firing into melee" rule applies to the troll is if Merisiel has an ally on the troll's left side.

So it looks like that (or the part of your target you're aiming at")" rule needs to go away. It and the "if the target is at least two sizes larger" rule are trying to do the same thing, but the former is mostly invalidating the "firing into melee" rule for Large or larger creatures.

It's a simulation, a model, used for the sake of simplifying exactly what these discussions are complicating.

Preach it brother!

 Assistant Software Developer

I removed some posts and replies. This forum is a place to ask and answer rules questions in a helpful, constructive way. Not for bickering and trying to prove who is smarter than whom.

 Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

And

XOY

X is a square.
O is a square.
Y is a square.

if you move from X to O, that's one square.
If you move from O to Y, that's one square.
If you move from X to Y, that's two squares.

Just like if you count from Monday to Tuesday on a calendar, that's one day away.
If you count from Tuesday to Wednesday, that's one day away.
If you count from Monday to Wednesday, that's two days away.

 1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ross Byers wrote:
I removed some posts and replies. This forum is a place to ask and answer rules questions in a helpful, constructive way. Not for bickering and trying to prove who is smarter than whom.

Well, where do we go to do that? Because that's the really fun stuff. :)

That's a part of my problem. If that rule wasn't there I may have looked at it differently. However, it is there and I kind of like it, lol.

It is to an advantage to fight larger creatures then, since that entire penalty goes away. It also means that the precise shot feat is that much more useless since its only purpose is to remove a negative for medium and smaller creatures.

TT
TT V

M

this would eliminate the bonus.

I'm not sure even how to use the rule regarding two size categories larger ( the -2 instead the -4). Can you explain that one to me? Or should I ignore it? The reason is

GGG
GGG
VGGGV

M

let's say there are two Valeros (I can't recall the other iconics names), this rule would normally state Merisiel would take a -2 instead of the -4. But now, we are saying there wouldn't be a negative at all since she can fire at the center of the giant. Se would still take a -2 if for some reason she wanted to shoot to the left or right side.

Seems like an odd rule.

I would think you're still at an advantage for Precise Shot, since many (most in my limited experience) enemies are humanoids, who tend to be medium or smaller.

Cheapy wrote:
I would think you're still at an advantage for Precise Shot, since many (most in my limited experience) enemies are humanoids, who tend to be medium or smaller.

I suppose there is merit, but now it seems like a bigger feat tax. People are already irritated at my table because they have to take it. I mean, it's more of a situational feat now that requires you to take it for all the great archery feats. Yet, I suppose this is no difference than combat expertise.

 Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

 6 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the FAQ. 3 people marked this as a favorite.
Globetrotter wrote:
I'm not sure even how to use the rule regarding two size categories larger ( the -2 instead the -4). Can you explain that one to me?

Sure!

1) Ignore the "or if part of the creature is at least 10 feet away" rule, because it's going away.
2) If the target is two or more sizes larger than your ally, the "firing into melee" penalty is –2 instead of –4.
3) Done!

Man, I wish I could cut away rules I didn't like :)

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
1) Ignore the "or if part of the creature is at least 10 feet away" rule, because it's going away.

Thanks for the clarification, Sean!

So, this is going to be in the next print of the CRB... or how are things going away?

Wait a moment... Wouldn't that complicate the problem?

If we removed that text, in the above diagram, Marisiel would be taking a penalty vs the troll (-4), a small penalty vs the giant (-2) and no penalty vs something larger. Since there wouldn't be targeting of a specific creature square. Am I thinking wrong on that?

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:

A Large creature is an entirely separate issue... and it turns out we're talking about a rule we inherited from 3.5. That rule basically means you almost never have to deal with the "firing into melee" penalty when shooting at a Large creature, so long as some part of that creature is at least 10 feet from the nearest ally.

So, in this example:

TT
TTV

M

V is Valeros
M is Merisiel
T is all four squares of a troll

The top left and bottom left squares of the troll are at least 10 feet away from Valeros, so Merisiel can shoot at them without the –4 penalty. Which is silly and means it's not any harder to shoot a Large creature in melee than it is to shoot a Medium creature. The only time the "firing into melee" rule applies to the troll is if Merisiel has an ally on the troll's left side.

So it looks like that (or the part of your target you're aiming at")" rule needs to go away. It and the "if the target is at least two sizes larger" rule are trying to do the same thing, but the former is mostly invalidating the "firing into melee" rule for Large or larger creatures.

Perhaps it was in one of the deleted posts, but where exactly is that rule stated? I've always interpreted that it's the creature you're shooting, not the square, so its size shouldn't matter so long as the creature is engaged in melee.

So the new text would read:

Quote:

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 your target is two size categories larger than the friendly characters it is engaged with, this penalty is reduced to –2. There is no penalty for firing at a creature that is three size categories larger than the friendly characters it is engaged with.

So now, if you are fighting a medium size, you take a -4

A large size, still a -4
Huge -2
And Gargantuan no penalty.

Is this correct? This would be regardless of ally positioning as long as they are threatening.

This would be easier to understand.

"Aiming at a part" is where people try and get technical with the rules.

Everyone wants to be Legolas but doesn't want to pay the feats for to he him.

If I were playing in a game and had no archery feats, I wouldn't expect my GM to let me aim at the trolls "upper right shoulder" to avoid the -4 or -2 while he was smashing my ally. I can certainly see someone trying to argue it though. We all know that guy

Nefreet wrote:
Perhaps it was in one of the deleted posts, but where exactly is that rule stated?

Core rulebook, Combat chapter, Attack, Shooting or Throwing into a Melee: "If your target (or the part of your target you're aiming at, if it's a big target) is at least 10 feet away from the nearest friendly character, you can avoid the –4 penalty, even if the creature you're aiming at is engaged in melee with a friendly character."

(Not that this matters anymore since they're removing that rule)

Nefreet wrote:
Perhaps it was in one of the deleted posts, but where exactly is that rule stated? I've always interpreted that it's the creature you're shooting, not the square, so its size shouldn't matter so long as the creature is engaged in melee.

From the CRB, Combat section:

Quote:

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 your target (or the part of your target you're aiming at, if it's a big target) is at least 10 feet away from the nearest friendly character, you can avoid the –4 penalty, even if the creature you're aiming at is engaged in melee with a friendly character.

If your target is two size categories larger than the friendly characters it is engaged with, this penalty is reduced to –2. There is no penalty for firing at a creature that is three size categories larger than the friendly characters it is engaged with.

Precise Shot: If you have the Precise Shot feat, you don't take this penalty.

SKR just stated that the italicized part of the rule is going to be deleted.

Edit: Darn; didn't know that gricks could take class levels in Ninja...

Not to forget, if you are shooting into melee, there's a very good chance the target has cover from your own allies. That gives them a cover bonus to AC.

Midnight_Angel wrote:

(or the part of your target you're aiming at, if it's a big target)

SKR just stated that the italicized part of the rule is going to be deleted.

Er, wasn't he talking about that whole sentence?

Meaning, if either one threatens the other, regardless of how far apart they are, then they're in melee and you'll take -4. (Unless two size categories larger etc.)

And also don't forget that there are no rules about accidentally hitting the cover-granter instead. Those went the way of the dodo.

 Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

"(or the part of your target you're aiming at, if it's a big target)" is the rule that has to go away.

Wish it into the corn patch, son!

Cheapy wrote:
And also don't forget that there are no rules about accidentally hitting the cover-granter instead. Those went the way of the dodo.

We used to play that you could CHOOSE to ignore the shooting into melee penalty, and if you hit, great, but if you missed, you had a 50% chance of hitting your ally.

I sort of miss that. Not sure if it was a house rule or not, been too long.

Grick wrote:
Midnight_Angel wrote:

(or the part of your target you're aiming at, if it's a big target)

SKR just stated that the italicized part of the rule is going to be deleted.

Er, wasn't he talking about that whole sentence?

Meaning, if either one threatens the other, regardless of how far apart they are, then they're in melee and you'll take -4. (Unless two size categories larger etc.)

I don't think he is saying exactly that. What I think he is saying is

TT
TTV

M

This would still be a penalty

TT
TT V

M

This wouldn't.

GGG
GGG
GGGV

M

this would be at -2

At least I hope that's right.

Edit: fixed some spelling errors

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

A Large creature is an entirely separate issue... and it turns out we're talking about a rule we inherited from 3.5. That rule basically means you almost never have to deal with the "firing into melee" penalty when shooting at a Large creature, so long as some part of that creature is at least 10 feet from the nearest ally.

There would have been no issue with the rules had they used a battle mat example like the one for cover and said one empty square instead of 10 feet.

Like several people and of course you Sean have said, the rules were not as clearly written as was originally though.

 Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

 4 people marked this as FAQ candidate. 9 people marked this as a favorite.

One more time, as we seem to be talking past each other:

The text will be revised to say this:

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 your target is at least 10 feet away from the nearest friendly character, you can avoid the –4 penalty, even if the creature you're aiming at is engaged in melee with a friendly character.
If your target is two size categories larger than the friendly characters it is engaged with, this penalty is reduced to –2. There is no penalty for firing at a creature that is three size categories larger than the friendly characters it is engaged with.
Precise Shot: If you have the Precise Shot feat, you don't take this penalty.

Therefore:
A target of any size will work exactly like a Medium target: you're always going to have to deal with the penalty, which is usually –4 (unless you have Precise shot, in which case there is no penalty).

But if the target is at least two sizes larger than your ally, the –4 penalty is reduced to –2 (unless you have Precise shot, in which case there is no penalty).

And if the target is at least three sizes larger than your ally, there is no penalty at all.

Jacob Saltband wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:

A Large creature is an entirely separate issue... and it turns out we're talking about a rule we inherited from 3.5. That rule basically means you almost never have to deal with the "firing into melee" penalty when shooting at a Large creature, so long as some part of that creature is at least 10 feet from the nearest ally.

There would have been no issue with the rules had they used a battle mat example like the one for cover and said one empty square instead of 10 feet.

Like several people and of course you Sean have said, the rules were not as clearly written as was originally though.

Yes... This.

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

One more time, as we seem to be talking past each other:

The text will be revised to say this:

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 your target is at least 10 feet away from the nearest friendly character, you can avoid the –4 penalty, even if the creature you're aiming at is engaged in melee with a friendly character.
If your target is two size categories larger than the friendly characters it is engaged with, this penalty is reduced to –2. There is no penalty for firing at a creature that is three size categories larger than the friendly characters it is engaged with.
Precise Shot: If you have the Precise Shot feat, you don't take this penalty.

Therefore:
A target of any size will work exactly like a Medium target: you're always going to have to deal with the penalty, which is usually –4 (unless you have Precise shot, in which case there is no penalty).

But if the target is at least two sizes larger than your ally, the –4 penalty is reduced to –2 (unless you have Precise shot, in which case there is no penalty).

And if the target is at least three sizes larger than your ally, there is no penalty at all.

So, not to beat a dead horse (and I'm really trying to pay attention), does my above diagram spell it out correct?

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
The text will be revised to say this:

Thanks, Sean!

Hooray Rules Team!

Jacob Saltband wrote:
There would have been no issue with the rules had they used a battle mat example like the one for cover and said one empty square instead of 10 feet.

This would have just been awkward and totally unhelpful to those of us that don't use battlemaps.

And the rules on large size creatures are what's unclear, not distance. The distance between squares is very well defined in the system, and it is very rare for people to misunderstand it.

Thank you everyone for your input, especially that of my GM whose opinion matters the most in our campaign.

I have a much better understanding now of how to handle the rules regarding shooting into melee.

mplindustries wrote:
Jacob Saltband wrote:
There would have been no issue with the rules had they used a battle mat example like the one for cover and said one empty square instead of 10 feet.

This would have just been awkward and totally unhelpful to those of us that don't use battlemaps.

And the rules on large size creatures are what's unclear, not distance. The distance between squares is very well defined in the system, and it is very rare for people to misunderstand it.

This whole thread was a misunderstanding on distance not just about size of creature.

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

@mplindustries: Why are you attributing a number of posts here to me?

This is my first post on this thread. Is there something you need to tell me?

blackbloodtroll wrote:

@mplindustries: Why are you attributing a number of posts here to me?

This is my first post on this thread. Is there something you need to tell me?

Two explanations:

1) Forum formatting weirdness
2) I was replying to you in another thread (so I had attributing a quote to you copied) and I either forgot to, or messed up copying the guy I was actually responding to.

Either way, sorry, but it was only a single post :P

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Okay, no problem.

So a rule I was never aware of has just been fixed. Yay!

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

(snip)

But if the target is at least two sizes larger than your ally, the –4 penalty is reduced to –2 (unless you have Precise shot, in which case there is no penalty).

And if the target is at least three sizes larger than your ally, there is no penalty at all.

I totally dig this. This is way cooler than my house rule: If you aim at one square of a larger creature to avoid firing into melee, that creature loses its size penalty to AC because you are only aiming at a "medium sized" portion of it.

Can we also work on applying this to cover bonuses from allies that are between you and the larger foe? It'll simplify table discussions about "aiming over his head at the top half of the troll"

The new rule is more elegant and clarifies things BECAUSE this thread clearly states that "10 feet away" is the same thing as "1 square away".

Previously, I (and my whole party) always saw "10 feet away" as meaning "2 squares away", because you know, 1 square = 5 feet, and thus 10 feet = 2 squares.

The fact that we are not native speakers probably contributed to the misunderstanding.

I would add to this discussion but I'd probably only simplify things.

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

One more time, as we seem to be talking past each other:

The text will be revised to say this:

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 your target is at least 10 feet away from the nearest friendly character, you can avoid the –4 penalty, even if the creature you're aiming at is engaged in melee with a friendly character.
If your target is two size categories larger than the friendly characters it is engaged with, this penalty is reduced to –2. There is no penalty for firing at a creature that is three size categories larger than the friendly characters it is engaged with.
Precise Shot: If you have the Precise Shot feat, you don't take this penalty.

Therefore:
A target of any size will work exactly like a Medium target: you're always going to have to deal with the penalty, which is usually –4 (unless you have Precise shot, in which case there is no penalty).

But if the target is at least two sizes larger than your ally, the –4 penalty is reduced to –2 (unless you have Precise shot, in which case there is no penalty).

And if the target is at least three sizes larger than your ally, there is no penalty at all.

Does this mean ray users will no longer need precise shot? Also will allies still be soft cover for your target if you are in a five foot wide hallway and the party fighter is between the archer and enemy?

 Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

It wouldn't change anything else.

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
The black raven wrote:

The new rule is more elegant and clarifies things BECAUSE this thread clearly states that "10 feet away" is the same thing as "1 square away".

Previously, I (and my whole party) always saw "10 feet away" as meaning "2 squares away", because you know, 1 square = 5 feet, and thus 10 feet = 2 squares.

LOL, no, "10 feet away" is still "2 squares away". Nothing regarding spacing changed, just the ruling on shooting creatures engaged in melee.

The black raven wrote:

The new rule is more elegant and clarifies things BECAUSE this thread clearly states that "10 feet away" is the same thing as "1 square away".

Previously, I (and my whole party) always saw "10 feet away" as meaning "2 squares away", because you know, 1 square = 5 feet, and thus 10 feet = 2 squares.

The fact that we are not native speakers probably contributed to the misunderstanding.

What has been clarified for me is that you have to include the squares that are occupied. I had always read it as 10' empty feet.

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