A few questions about ranged attacks, and ranged touch attack

Rules Questions

Me and a few players are playing Pathfinder, and I need some clarifications on how ranged attack works. So, i'll try to be clear and I thank you in advance for your responses.

Let's say i'm A the archer, I wanna shoot an enemy orc (o) who is currently in melee with F the fighter, but, in between, there is C, my allied Cleric. they are within normal range of my bow. How many penalties total do I have, and what are the feat(s) that can cancel or lessen the malus ?

Graphical exemple :


Also, is it the same with ranged touch attacks ? and can the same feats be used to lessen the maluses if it'S the case ?

Thank You

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

You have a -4 to hit for firing into a combat. The GM may rule the enemy also has 20% cover.

Ranged Touch Attacks use the touch-based AC of the enemy. This usually makes him easier to hit. Otherwise the same penalties should apply.

Liberty's Edge

It would be -4 for firing into combat (it can be negated by precise shot).

You would also have -4 for cover from the cleric if you are drawing a line of sight through him.

- You are firing into melee Ftr vs Orc (-4 To Hit) Precise Shot to eliminate.

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.

- You are firing at a target with cover provided by both the Clr and Ftr at the Orc (the target/Orc gets +4AC bonus - mathematically the same as a -4 to hit but ... ) Improved Precise Shot to eliminate.
tiny bit of Cover rules:
To determine whether your target has cover from your ranged attack, choose a corner of your square. If any line from this corner to any corner of the target's square passes through a square or border that blocks line of effect or provides cover, or through a square occupied by a creature, the target has cover (+4 to AC).

You may or may not run into a GM thinking the cover is more substantial since you are firing past 2 companions (rather than 1) to hit the target. Either way Improved Precise Shot will deal with anything less than Total Cover.

Ranged Touch Attack targets their Touch AC (As normal AC but excluding Armor, Natural Armor or Shield bonuses). All the above applies to either your Attack roll(s) or the Orc AC as appropriate.

And yes the feats above (Precise Shot and Improved Precise Shot) apply to ranged touch attack spells (or any other ranged touch attack) as does Point Blank Shot.

If an ally and enemy are engaged in melee, you suffer the -4 "firing into melee" penalty regardless of what angle you try to hit them from. So even if the order were A...OF, you'd still suffer a -4 because the Orc and Fighter aren't just sitting there like rock-em-sock-em robots taking turns mining for silver in each other's nasal cavities. They're engaged in a full-on, no holds barred slobberknocker, dancing around each other, trying to land hits and such. So, in order to avoid accidentally hitting your fighter ally, you're aiming a big off to the side, hoping to get the orc when he dances over that way. This is what the -4 penalty represents; you're not aiming square at the orc because that's a good chance to accidentally hit a teammate.

Then, you have the completely separate issue of cover; objects and obstacles between you and your target that you also have to aim around. Any bodies in the way of your shot add cumulative -4 penalties to the equation.

As far as normal vs touch attacks go, the only thing to concern you there is normal AC vs Touch AC, with Touch AC not benefiting from armor, shields, and natural armor. Whereas a normal attack might *ping* off their armor and it counts as a "miss", a touch attack will affect them regardless of their armor so only AC that involves dodging or deflecting the attack away counts.

I would guess the biggest reason to make clear that the cover modifier applies to the Orc ( a +4 to his AC) and not your To Hit is to make sure both you and the GM aren't applying a modifier. Don't want to take a -4 to hit if your GM is also applying a +4AC to the Orc's AC now would you :) Less likely to be an issue if you are playing with the same group each time, more possibly an issue for something like PFS play where it's a often a different GM each session.

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