# Shooting into a Melee Clarification Requested

### Rules Questions

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Hi, I have a question regarding the following rule:

"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."

Please help me to understand exactly how far away a friendly melee engaged character needs to be away from the target creature (or targeted creature's distant square if it's large) to avoid this penalty.

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

|R|_|F|_|E|

With the above example would the ranged attack still incur the shooting into melee penalty?
I know it would certainly be affected by cover but that part I understand. I'm not sure if the enemy is considered ten feet away (2 squares away) from F or only considered five feet away (by measuring the one open square between them).

I would greatly appreciate your input in figuring out how to handle this correctly.

Thanks,

Adjacent squares are 5 feet away. If they are one space further (i.e. using a Reach weapon), they are 10 feet away.

So for the above example, the answer is no, the shooting into melee penalty would not apply because the enemy target (threatening with reach) is considered 10 feet away (2 squares) from the friendly PC?

Player1 wrote:

So for the above example, the answer is no, the shooting into melee penalty would not apply because the enemy target (threatening with reach) is considered 10 feet away (2 squares) from the friendly PC?

Correct.

See I would interpret that as needing 10' of space between, meaning 2 empty spaces between E and F. But I could be wrong, usually am most times.

Yeah it's a little weird.

I don't intuitively consider something five feet away from me (1 square) as also being adjacent to me. Hence the clarification request.

Hopefully you'll get a few more peole to chime in on this to a broader interpretation.

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You have to remember that squares are 5' wide and you don't fill the whole square. You're thinking of measuring the edge of your square to the edge of theirs. Don't do that, measure from center to center.

The center of your square is 5' away from the center of the next square over. Therefore, it's 10' from the center of your square to the center of the next square after that.

Even if the fighter is adjacent to a large creature, if the archer manages to get a shot at the far square of the large creature the distance requirement is fulfilled. That requires certain positioning though, then again, you want that position anyway to prevent the fighter from granting soft cover to the enemy.

Reach weapon only puts you 5 feet away from enemies, not 10 feet as required by the rule. You get the -4 even if there's an empty square between your friend and the foe if either one is being threatened by the other one.

Edit:

this for example is incorrect:

mplindustries wrote:
Adjacent squares are 5 feet away. If they are one space further (i.e. using a Reach weapon), they are 10 feet away.

If you are adjacent you are adjacent, i.e. there's no distance from you to your target when your square is bordering the enemy's square. Note that "away" and "within" mean different things. Someone can be 5 feet away from you without being within 5 feet.

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Mplindustries is correct, Trikk is not.

You count distance by squares. You are not touching each other just because you are in adjacent squares.

If three people were standing in the center of three squares, all in a line, the one in the center could not touch both of the others at the same time because they are roughly 10' apart from each other.

This becomes more obvious and pronounced when working on angles. The distance between the center of the diagonal squares is 14'2" (15' in game terms). There is no way that is considered touching.

In game terms you can move around the square and touch them both in one round. They can move to your edge of the square so you can reach them.

All of the above is adjudicated in the abstract by counting distance in squares.

Trikk wrote:

this for example is incorrect:

mplindustries wrote:
Adjacent squares are 5 feet away. If they are one space further (i.e. using a Reach weapon), they are 10 feet away.
If you are adjacent you are adjacent, i.e. there's no distance from you to your target when your square is bordering the enemy's square. Note that "away" and "within" mean different things. Someone can be 5 feet away from you without being within 5 feet.

By that logic, moving to an adjacent square isn't a "five-foot step" and wouldn't require me to use "five feet of movement". Sorry, but I think mplindustries has the right interpretation. Otherwise your "five-foot step" would move you two squares, even though the movement rules equate five feet of movement with one square of movement.

Also, remember that a medium creature has a reach of "five feet", which allows them to... target adjacent squares *only*. A creature with reach 10' can target adjacent squares, and a square beyond that. A creature with reach 0 cannot target adjacent squares, they have to move into your square to attack. Therefore, "adjacent" doesn't mean "zero separation". It means "up to five feet of separation".

If 5' away means adjacent, why not use that language? We already have a term for it so why would they use different language to describe "not adjacent" by saying 10' away?

Someone who is in the square next to you is as close as possible to you, not 5' away. Similarly, you only need a stick that's 5' long to poke someone "10' away" according to this inconsistent definition.

This would be an incredible buff to ranged as it would make Precise Shot practically useless in itself and only taken for pre-requisites. Just equip your whole party with reach weapons and they are never considered in melee as long as they can 5' step after their attacks.

In combat, creatures are considered adjacent if the 5' square one creature is in shares a border or corner with the 5' containing the other creature (increase 5' square to 10', 15', etc for larger creatures).

Adjacent creatures who are enemies are considered engaged in combat unless NEITHER can threaten the other. For example, the bumbling wizard hits his party's rogue and the enemy orc with a sleep spell and they both drop. No longer engaged in combat! Have fun shooting the orc without melee penalty (though you do get a penalty to shooting a prone target...)

Too often people seem to inject a desire of realism into combat. It is abstracted and unrelated to reality. Follow the rules as defined and assume everything is a cube of flesh that entirely occupies the space listed for their size.

And yes, tiny creatures make everything so much more confusing, but you can figure it out.

Although it's probably not ethical to do, I'm going to chime in here. This happened at my gaming table, me being the GM and the OP the player.

My ruling is along the same lines as Jacob; to remove the penalty for shooting into melee I ruled 2 squares needed to be between the opponents. My reasoning was since you can target any square ( in this case it was a large creature) as a ranged attack, if the above was true, any medium creature fighting a large creature would avoid the penalty by selecting the rear square while the melee combatant is still adjacent. This defeats the purpose of the precise shot feat and the rule of size difference in for shooting in melee. Remember, there is no penalty for a three size category difference, and only a -2 for 2 sizes different for this reason.

I also debated the difference between reaching into a square ( which the above example I agree with being 10') and being 10' away. With the above logic, any building with one square separating would be considered 10 feet apart. Not the way I see things.

Either way, the discussion devolved into a 20+ minute debate that ruined the session and may destroy the game due this happening in the past. As a GM, my ruling is law. Discussions like this are meant for out of game and not to disrupt everyone's good time. Not every ruling I make is correct at the table, but a ruling is a ruling and to conserve the game, players should abide. That is the contract we all agree to for the game.

Sorry to possibly derail or add to a confused discussion.

Note that the shooting into melee rule says that EITHER can threaten the other. That negates reach and a lot of other wacky possibilities. If you threaten them or they threaten you then shooting into melee applies.

Buri wrote:
Note that the shooting into melee rule says that EITHER can threaten the other. That negates reach and a lot of other wacky possibilities. If you threaten them or they threaten you then shooting into melee applies.

Except the part about being at least 10 feet away specifically removes the penalty, even if they are otherwise engaged in melee.

Your friend and an enemy, both with 20' reach and standing 15' apart both threaten each other, and thus are engaged in melee. But because they're at least 10' away from each other, you don't take the -4 penalty.

Indeed!

Re: shooting at specific squares of a large or larger creature's space; it will give you a -4 penalty for cover if you have to shoot through other squares containing the same creature!

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If you are dealing with "shooting into melee" and the -4 penalty, be sure to remember that if you are shooting at a target that is behind something, even if that "something" is a party member or another opponent in melee, then that creature also has a cover bonus to their AC. Full cover is a +4 to AC and partial cover is a +2 to AC. In many, if not most, cases in melee the target you are shooting at will have at least partial cover.

That's why the "improved precise shot" feat exists.

Archery is awesome, unless you lack the feats that deal with shooting into melee and dealing with cover... Then it's not so hot.

As people have said before, a medium character does not take up an entire 5 foot square. Think about it, if i was taking up a 5 foot diameter area i would be almost as wide as i am tall. You are assumed to be in the center and you can shift around in that 5' square allowing you to reach into the adjacent squares. Think of it as planting one foot and taking a single step into your swing.

So two adjacent medium creatures at the least 0 feet apart (grappled) but strictly less than 10 feet apart. Since this is a game and we are approximating combat we average it out and call it 5 feet apart.

By the same argument you get the average of 10 feet apart when there is one square in between. Applying this logic to the RAW gives you the ruling that you do not take a penalty when creatures are not adjacent. Even if they threaten via reach weapons.

@MurphysParadox, where in the rules does it say to assume everything is a 5ft cube of flesh? Do we not have rules for cramming multiple creatures into a square? if everything was a 5ft flesh cube would this not be impossible?

@Trikk, party with all reach weapons is a completely valid tactic. your archers would never have to worry about the penalty as long as you can keep the enemy at bay. However most reach weapons are pretty useless once the enemy closes the gap so there is your cost-benefit trade off. Also, if the language was always consistent in the rules we would eliminate more than half of these type of threads. That is simply not the case however.

Spell Slingin' Steve wrote:

@Trikk, party with all reach weapons is a completely valid tactic. your archers would never have to worry about the penalty as long as you can keep the enemy at bay. However most reach weapons are pretty useless once the enemy closes the gap so there is your cost-benefit trade off. Also, if the language was always consistent in the rules we would eliminate more than half of these type of threads. That is simply not the case however.

This effectively means that a large creature that is standing somewhere in a 3x3 grid, completely surrounded by enemies fighting him, can never be in melee combat to avoid getting shot without penalty. In fact, anyone being attacked with or attacking with reach is never in melee combat.

That, to me, is completely absurd and only works if you count people standing adjacent to you (i.e. at minimal distance from you) as standing 5' away, which is the consequence of interpreting 10' away as standing with one square between you.

I will keep counting distances from the borders rather than the middle, as you do in every other case, until someone can find a quote that says you should count from the middle of squares.

Trikk, if your character takes a "five foot step" where does he end up?

Trikk, if your character takes a "five foot step" where does he end up?

It could be as far as 10' or far less than 1', Pathfinder does not specify positions more precise than that.

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It never ceases to amaze me how people make things so simple so complicated.

If there is a square between your ally and the target you don't take a penalty - provided you have the right angle. All this borders, middle, pound of flesh bologna is unnecessary.

Trikk wrote:
Trikk, if your character takes a "five foot step" where does he end up?
It could be as far as 10' or far less than 1', Pathfinder does not specify positions more precise than that.

Trikk, if you take a five foot step, you end up in an adjacent square.

Period.

That's how it works.

So if you are in an adjacent square, you are five feet away.

You asked for RAW on this. That's RAW.

A five foot step moves you to an adjacent square. Therefore an adjacent square is five feet away in game terms.

 RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Trikk wrote:
I will keep counting distances from the borders rather than the middle, as you do in every other case, until someone can find a quote that says you should count from the middle of squares.

Alright, here we go:

Core Rulebook: Equipment chapter: Weapons: Reach Weapons wrote:
A reach weapon is a melee weapon that allows its wielder to strike at targets that aren't adjacent to him. Most reach weapons double the wielder's natural reach, meaning that a typical Small or Medium wielder of such a weapon can attack a creature 10 feet away, but not a creature in an adjacent square.

A few things from this quotation:

1) Reach enables striking non-adjacent targets. This means that without reach, you can only strike adjacent targets. Keep this in the back of your mind for a moment.
2) A reach weapon doubles your reach, which gives medium creatures an adjusted reach of 10ft. Now, what number do you have to double to get 10? That's right: 5. So this part of the rules confirms that a medium creature's normal reach is 5ft.

So the rules say you can normally only strike targets "adjacent" to you, and also that you normally have 5ft of reach. Therefore, a target that is in an adjacent square and a target that is 5ft away are the same thing.

But wait, there's more!

Core Rulebook: Combat chapter: Attacks of Opportunity: Threatened Squares wrote:

You threaten all squares into which you can make a melee attack, even when it is not your turn. Generally, that means everything in all squares adjacent to your space (including diagonally). An enemy that takes certain actions while in a threatened square provokes an attack of opportunity from you. If you're unarmed, you don't normally threaten any squares and thus can't make attacks of opportunity.

Reach Weapons: Most creatures of Medium or smaller size have a reach of only 5 feet. This means that they can make melee attacks only against creatures up to 5 feet (1 square) away. However, Small and Medium creatures wielding reach weapons threaten more squares than a typical creature. In addition, most creatures larger than Medium have a natural reach of 10 feet or more.

Here we again have the equivalency: you only threaten adjacent squares, and you threaten within 5ft. Therefore, adjacent = 5ft.

So there you go. :)

Funny, but you guys are not focusing on the right thing... Which was the point of this thread.

H-H

If H is a wall and the hyphen is the alley and the H is the other wall, how far apart are they?

The game doesn't focus on parts inside a square, it's the entire square or nothing. This is an 8 bit game. It doesn't say measure from the middle or the left, a square is a square. Measurement from the borders is how it's done. Why do we say they are 5 feet away? Well, you need five feet to affect the object in the square, but the squares are adjacent.

That's is the point. You guys are talking about interactions in a square and this thread is taking about distance between two squares.

XOX

X is a person.
O is a square
X is a person

They are one square apart. There is one square between them. One square equals five feet. They are 5 feet apart. To strike the opponent, you need to reach 10 feet.

Globetrotter wrote:
My reasoning was since you can target any square ( in this case it was a large creature) as a ranged attack, if the above was true, any medium creature fighting a large creature would avoid the penalty by selecting the rear square while the melee combatant is still adjacent.

Yes, that is exactly the point--this rule basically only applies to medium or smaller creatures. Why should it be hard to shoot a huge ogre when it's fighting something half its size? You have so much ogre to target.

blackbloodtroll wrote:
This defeats the purpose of the precise shot feat

No, the point of the Precise Shot feat is to help shoot into melee (when medium or smaller creatures are involved) and to serve as a feat tax for the archery feat tree.

blackbloodtroll wrote:
I also debated the difference between reaching into a square ( which the above example I agree with being 10') and being 10' away. With the above logic, any building with one square separating would be considered 10 feet apart. Not the way I see things.

No, characters stand in the middle of squares, walls go along the edges of squares (unless you specifically decide the wall is in the center, for a building.

Of course, this is all a product of trying to make an abstract idea (the location of RPG characters) into something concrete by putting them on a map. Have you noticed how Horses take up a 10x10 square? Did you ever consider that means a carriage drawn by four horses has to be 40 feet wide?

The end result is twofold:
1) You are wrong about the rule
2) Battlemaps are stupid and we should all play without them ;)

I will concede that Jiggy is correct, due to the rules using the same definition of "10 feet away" there.

However, I still think the language used is wrong.

10 feet away can be broken down into "x units distance from you".

What's the most basic way of measuring a distance? A measuring stick.

Take a 5' measuring stick and measure the distance of 5' from a wall to you. Are you standing in the closest 5' square to the wall?

Take a 10' measuring stick and repeat the process. Is there only one 5' square to the wall now?

Because the reach rules are so well understood and use the same language, I will however admit that the rules mean what the consensus has been in this thread all along, but I maintain that it is worded incorrectly.

If I say that I'm sitting 2' from my monitor, I don't mean the top of my head to the center of the monitor, I mean that the distance from the closest point of the monitor to the closest point of me is 2'.

Again, by the rules, this is wrong, so maybe I just English bad speak wrong.

Trikk, I think the rules are not as clear as they should be, but I think the conclusion is correct.

I think trying to view distance as real world is not valid because the game simply isn't a simulation of the real world. It's an abstraction and model.

Globetrotter, you are dealing with abstracts but trying not to. You can do that in this game.

In Jiggy's quote it clearly states that reach weapons reach 10'. Are you now going to allow them to reach into the third square away from medium sized combatants? Following your logic you would have to.

In your XOX example, they can also be counted as 15' apart. If you measure from the edges that are farthest away from each other, that is what you get.

Your building example is flawed because buildings don't move. they always take up the exact same spot. People don't.

Go outside and draw out three squares that are 5' x 5' If you and a friend stand in adjacent squares, at opposite corners away from each other, you won't even be able to touch. Stand with a square between you, at opposite sides, holding yard sticks (swords) and you couldn't touch them together.

Pathfinder works in the abstract and as such everything is measured by squares. A 5' square would be between them, they would not be 5' apart.

Even moving on an angle is abstract. If you were to move 10 squares on an angle in Pathfinder, it would count at 75'. The real world math is 70'. Are you now going to change how movement on an angle is counted?

The rules for targeting creatures work differently than measuring spaces between terrain.

Medium creatures typically have 5 feet of reach. A creature with 5 feet of reach can target a creature in an adjacent square. If such a creature has a Reach weapon as well, they can use their 10 feet of reach to target creatures two squares away -- that is, there is one empty square between them.

Terrain, such as how it affects Jump, works a little differently. If one square is solid ground, the next square is 5 feet of pit, then the next square is solid ground again, your character only has to jump across 5 feet.

You can see this principle elsewhere, such as how you target effects like missile spells (against a creature's square) versus how you target area spells (on a grid intersection, spreading out).

Globetrotter wrote:

That's is the point. You guys are talking about interactions in a square and this thread is taking about distance between two squares.

Actually we are talking about the distance between two entities (characters, creatures, objects etc) that are IN two different squares.

XOX

X is a SQUARE CONTAINING A person
O is an EMPTY square

Trikk wrote:

This effectively means that a large creature that is standing somewhere in a 3x3 grid, completely surrounded by enemies fighting him, can never be in melee combat to avoid getting shot without penalty. In fact, anyone being attacked with or attacking with reach is never in melee combat.

That, to me, is completely absurd and only works if you count people standing adjacent to you (i.e. at minimal distance from you) as standing 5' away, which is the consequence of interpreting 10' away as standing with one square between you.

First off, a Large creature stands in a 2x2 grid, and if he is surrounded by characters with reach weapons then technically he is not engaged in melee for the purposes of "Firing into Melee".

As you say, "In fact, anyone being attacked with or attacking with reach is never in melee combat." For the purposes of "Firing into Melee".

And actually I interpreted 1 square between is 10' away as a consequence of the rules that adjacent=5' away

Where does it say a person is in the middle of a square?

The rule simply say you take up a square.

Isn't there a feat to mitigate this?

Komoda wrote:

In your XOX example, they can also be counted as 15' apart. If you measure from the edges that are farthest away from each other, that is what you get.

Really, 15' apart?

Hmm... Yeah, I don't think this is productive.

All of these attempts to convert the abstract rules of position and movement into how human beings move in a gridless world is completely pointless. I understand how people want to view this mentally, but from a game rule perspective the visualization is simply irrelevant.

It is not necessary to determine where in a square a person might be located for the fighting, movement and line of sight rules to work. It's a simulation, a model, used for the sake of simplifying exactly what these discussions are complicating.

Spell Slingin' Steve wrote:

First off, a Large creature stands in a 2x2 grid, and if he is surrounded by characters with reach weapons then technically he is not engaged in melee for the purposes of "Firing into Melee".
As you say, "In fact, anyone being attacked with or attacking with reach is never in melee combat." For the purposes of "Firing into Melee".

And actually I interpreted 1 square between is 10' away as a consequence of the rules that adjacent=5' away

This is the situation I had in mind:

http://i.imgur.com/ykLV1.png

Blue F being fighters with reach weapons, green F just having any old non-reach weapon and yellow R being rangers with bows or other ranged weaponry.

He can't move anywhere to get into melee combat, which to me is strange but is RAW.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

@Globetrotter, the buildings in your example are 10 feet away from each other in the game of Pathfinder. End of story. You would need 10 feet of rope to get to the other side, and you would need a reach weapon to hit someone. If you dislike how the game works, homebrew something else up, but don't ask for clarification on your rulings here.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Trikk wrote:

This is the situation I had in mind:

http://i.imgur.com/ykLV1.png

Blue F being fighters with reach weapons, green F just having any old non-reach weapon and yellow R being rangers with bows or other ranged weaponry.

He can't move anywhere to get into melee combat, which to me is strange but is RAW.

How.. What?? The ogre is in melee combat. He has 10' reach. He can hit ANY of the fighters, blue OR green, that he wants to.

EDIT: Sorry, except for the very far corners, but still.

Nefreet wrote:
@Globetrotter, the buildings in your example are 10 feet away from each other in the game of Pathfinder. End of story. You would need 10 feet of rope to get to the other side, and you would need a reach weapon to hit someone. If you dislike how the game works, homebrew something else up, but don't ask for clarification on your rulings here.

I'm not asking for that. But it's good to know you think a building one square away is really 10 feet. It shows you can't count squares. It also means in your game , there are no alleys 5 ' wide, since it would be impossible.

Good logic.

Nefreet wrote:

How.. What?? The ogre is in melee combat. He has 10' reach. He can hit ANY of the fighters, blue OR green, that he wants to.

EDIT: Sorry, except for the very far corners, but still.

His full person is never in melee combat and he will only gain bonus for cover but the archers will never take a penalty to hit him because he's not fighting in melee.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Trikk wrote:
Nefreet wrote:

How.. What?? The ogre is in melee combat. He has 10' reach. He can hit ANY of the fighters, blue OR green, that he wants to.

EDIT: Sorry, except for the very far corners, but still.

His full person is never in melee combat and he will only gain bonus for cover but the archers will never take a penalty to hit him because he's not fighting in melee.

What part of "Two characters are engaged in melee if they are enemies of each other and either threatens the other" do you not understand?

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.

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