# Attacking into Concealment

### Rules Questions

We had this come up in my last session and I wanted some other people's opinions on it as we're all fairly experienced but we reached a disagreement (well I disagreed with everyone else at the table).

Scenario:

Obscuring mist is cast on an area. There are two combatants (Chuck and Greg) right next to each other, they can see each other and can attack each other with a 20% miss chance.

Now let's say Chuck has a reach weapon, he 5ft adjust back to be 10 ft away from Greg, Greg is fully obscured (50% miss chance and the attacker cannot use sight to locate target). Can Chuck now attack Greg?

I said of course he can, he knows Greg didn't move and so Chuck would just receive the 50% miss chance. Everyone else at the table said you couldn't, you had to act like he was invisible and probe the square to locate, then attack the next round.

The scenario is simplified from what actually happened (the spell was stinking cloud, there was more than two combatants) but the fact pattern is the same.

Thoughts?

He is "invisible" but you're guessing you've located the square he was in. Pinpointing an invisible person is knowing which square they are in to attack in that square. But if you already have an idea where you want to attack then you just attack that square and have a 50% chance of hitting anything in there that you can't see.

You can always attack into a square if you think someone who is invisible to you is there.

Glossary: Invisibility wrote:
If a character tries to attack an invisible creature whose location he has not pinpointed, have the player choose the space where the character will direct the attack. If the invisible creature is there, conduct the attack normally. If the enemy's not there, roll the miss chance as if it were there and tell him that the character has missed, regardless of the result. That way the player doesn't know whether the attack missed because the enemy's not there or because you successfully rolled the miss chance.

No need to pinpoint first; that's just to try to eliminate some of the guesswork of attacking an invisible opponent, not a necessary step in the process.

Just an extra note: you cannot 5'step while your movement is hampered. Obscuring Mist hampers movement (poor visibility).

Gauss wrote:
Just an extra note: you cannot 5'step while your movement is hampered. Obscuring Mist hampers movement (poor visibility).

The core rulebook says, "You can only take a 5-foot-step if your movement isn't hampered by difficult terrain or darkness." (emphasis mine)

It doesn't say "anytime your movement is hampered in any way," but I can see some GMs ruling that way.

There are also mentions of hampered movement under Tactical Movement and Special Movement Rules.

I'm not finding anything that describes "poor visibility" in this context, though. There are descriptions of "poor visibility" in both the Getting Lost rules and the Survival skill "Follow Tracks" rules, but I don't think those are supposed to apply here. (For example, I can't imagine that you would be prevented from taking a 5 foot step because you can't see at least 60 feet in front of you.)

Rounds are turn based as a gameplay convenience but are meant to represent parallel activities. When you lost sight of your opponent you had no way to know they hadn't moved except through the game mechanic of it still being your turn.

So you swing at the square you think they are and you have your chance to hit.

 1 person marked this as a favorite.

Gwen Smith, how can you take a 5' step when stepping into the next square counts as two squares?

While you are absolutely correct in your RAW assessment the intent is clear, you cannot 5' step when movement costs are doubled.

As for poor visibility, that is left up to the GM to define, but there is plenty of references to "fog" being "poor visibility".

We aren't talking light fog where you can see 60'. We are talking the kind where 5' away is obscured (as per Fog Cloud, Obscuring Mist, etc).

CRB reference stating Obscuring Mist obscures sight (ie: poor visibility).

CRB p317 Obscuring Mist wrote:
The vapor obscures all sight, including darkvision, beyond 5 feet.

CRB references stating Fog Cloud obscures sight (ie: poor visibility).

CRB p284 Fog Cloud wrote:
The fog obscures all sight, including darkvision, beyond 5 feet.
CRB p346 Solid Fog wrote:
This spell functions like fog cloud, but in addition to obscuring sight, the solid fog is so thick that it impedes movement.

Another reference calling Fog "poor visibility":

APG p231 wrote:
Life bubble does not provide protection from negative or positive energy (such as found on the Negative and Positive Energy planes), the ability to see in conditions of poor visibility (such as in smoke or fog), nor the ability to move or act normally in conditions that impede movement (such as underwater).

So we have:

A) A clear situation of poor visibility (cannot see more than 5' in front of you) that is basically called out in the spell(s).
B) The rules state that poor visibility results in x2 movement costs.
C) The 5' step rules are intended to prevent you from 5' stepping anytime you have to pay x2 movement costs (such as difficult terrain and darkness).

You should not be able to 5' step inside an Obscuring Mist, Fog Cloud, or Solid Fog and I believe the intent of the rules supports that.

And, for the 3.5 reference (since Pathfinder cut soo much information out that clarifies all this) we have the following:

3.5 PHB p163 I cleaned up the table and added the "/" for clarity wrote:

Table 9–4: Hampered Movement

Condition / Example / Additional Movement Cost
Difficult terrain / Rubble, undergrowth, steep slope, ice, cracked and pitted surface, uneven floor / ×2
Obstacle1 / Low wall, deadfall, broken pillar / ×2
Poor visibility / Darkness or fog / ×2
Impassable / Floor-to-ceiling wall, closed door, blocked passage / —

Clearly fog was considered part of Poor Visibility.

Sorry, yes ChessPwn and others are right. I misread your post and thought you were still after The 20% miss chance. You can of course swipe at any area you want. If there is somebody there you have a 50% miss chance and if someone isn't there,a 100% miss chance.

Gauss wrote:

Gwen Smith, how can you take a 5' step when stepping into the next square counts as two squares?

While you are absolutely correct in your RAW assessment the intent is clear, you cannot 5' step when movement costs are doubled.

I disagree. The intent appears to be that you cannot 5' step when movement costs are doubled for particular reasons: 1. Difficult Terrain, and 2. Darkness.

Poor visibility is neither difficult terrain nor darkness. So while poor visibility hampers movement by doubling movement cost, it does not hamper your ability to take a 5' step.

There are specific mentions in the rules for moving in difficult terrain. There are specific mentions in the rules for moving in darkness. And there are specific mentions in the rules for moving in poor visibility. Since 5' step specifically mentions on difficult terrain and darkness, I think it is fair to assume (without any other evidence) that poor visibility was excepted on purpose.

No question that there is poor visibility within Obscuring Mist. But what is required to prevent a 5' step is either difficult terrain or darkness, of which poor visibility is neither.

EDIT: To be clear, the rule doesn't say "you can't 5' step when your movement cost is doubled such as with difficult terrain or darkness". If it did, you would have a very strong argument (and almost assuredly correct). However, the rule specifically states "You can only take a 5-foot-step if your movement isn't hampered by difficult terrain or darkness." That is presented as an exhaustive list, not a partial or exemplative one.

I see no reason Obscuring Mist (or Fog Cloud, which is a suped up version of Obscuring Mist) prevents a 5' step. Solid Fog, on the other hand, explicitly states that it impedes movement.

Gauss wrote:
fretgod99, according to your logic, you can still 5' step in Solid Fog regardless of the movement impedence.

From the solid fog spell:

Quote:
A creature cannot take a 5-foot-step while in solid fog.

There is no such statement in obscuring mist, nor would there be in solid fog if it was automatically prevented due to obscured vision.

Ozy, I deleted that post because I caught the reference in Solid Fog.

Everyone else:
One last note regarding "hampered movement" vs 5' steps:

3.5 Rules Compendium p90 wrote:

5-Foot Step

As long as your movement isn’t hampered or prohibited,
you can move 5 feet during a turn when you don’t take any other kind of movement. If you can take a 5-foot step, you can take it before, during, or after your other actions during your turn. Taking this 5-foot step never provokes attacks of opportunity.
You can’t take more than one 5-foot step in a round. Any creature that has a speed of 5 feet or lower can’t take a 5-foot step, since moving even 5 feet requires a move action for such a slow creature. You can’t take a 5-foot step using a movement mode for which you don’t have a natural speed. A natural speed is given in a race’s or creature’s description with a noted amount of movement.

Then we have that PF ripped the rules regarding 5' steps right from the 3.5 PHB (without the two examples and page reference). IE: they are identical except for the examples and page reference.

So, we (AGAIN) have a case where 3.5 went into more depth on the rules than Pathfinder and (AGAIN) as a result Pathfinder is left more confusing because of it.

So, RAW, you are absolutely correct you can 5' step anytime except when in difficult terrain or in darkness.
RAI, you cannot take a 5'step whenever your movement is hampered (such as in Fog).

Oh, and apparently in the Pathfinder beginner box it states you cannot take 5' steps anytime your movement is slowed. I don't have the beginner box but here is a thread regarding it.

Perhaps a FAQ is in order to resolve this once and for all.

I would love for you to be correct. It would make my reach Oracle with Water Sight an unstoppable beast inside Obscuring Mist. AoOs with total concealment and no chance of the enemy being able to 5' step in close or away.

But unfortunately, I believe RAW as well as RAI is that you can indeed take 5' steps in obscuring mist.

Quote:
Oh, and apparently in the Pathfinder beginner box it states you cannot take 5' steps anytime your movement is slowed. I don't have the beginner box but here is a thread regarding it.

This would certainly be relevant to the 5' step in Grease thread that was kicking around for a while.

_Ozy_ wrote:

I would love for you to be correct. It would make my reach Oracle with Water Sight an unstoppable beast inside Obscuring Mist. AoOs with total concealment and no chance of the enemy being able to 5' step in close or away.

But unfortunately, I believe RAW as well as RAI is that you can indeed take 5' steps in obscuring mist.

Well, nothing regarding this rule has changed from 3.5 to PF and hampered movement prevented 5' steps in 3.5 so it should in PF. Only the fact that PF did not expand upon and clarify the rules the way 3.5 did has caused this interpretation.

That's not the only reason. The contrast between solid fog and any other fog spell is another.

Ozy, that would be a different question (does Fog count as poor visibility).

3.5 clearly stated it did in the hampered movement table.

Pathfinder provides zero guidance in the hampered movement table because it failed to include examples.

Fog doesn't normally hamper movement. You can still see the square you're stepping into; it's different from being hampered by darkness.

Solid fog is different; it's unusually solid and so actually slows you down.

Obscuring mist specifically says it "obscures all sight, including darkvision, beyond 5 feet." That means that my sight is not obscured within 5 feet, so a 5 foot step should be permitted. (FWIW, from 3.5 on, I've never had a GM rule that Obscuring Mist made your movement count as double, much less prevent a 5 foot step.)

For the overall "poor visibility" question, there doesn't seem to be a global definition of poor visibility, and there are some of the definitions in specific contexts that clearly shouldn't apply (e.g., the aforementioned "must be able to see at least 60 feet to avoid getting lost due to poor visibility").

Oddly, the entire Darkness section under "Environment" does not contain any reference to "hampered movement" or "double movement" or the lack of ability to take a 5 foot step--but based on the reference to darkness in the movement rules, it seems like it should. The only reference to movement in that section is "Blind creatures must make a DC 10 Acrobatics skill check to move faster than half speed. Creatures that fail this check fall prone. Blinded creatures can't run or charge."

If darkness automatically doubles movement AND you can only move half your speed, darkness effectively cuts your speed to 1/4th normal. (I can't remember a GM ever ruling that way, but it's possible the characters just made the DC 10 Acrobatics check and I missed it.)

I just dug out my 3.5 PHB. The 5-foot step entry has the exact same language as PF. The only limiter in the 3.5 rules was also difficult terrain and darkness. The 5-foot step entry does not mention poor visibility.

Gwen, the 3.5 book clearly stated Fog counts as poor visibility for the purposes of hampered movement regardless of what your GMs ruled.

fretgod99, I quoted the section that mentioned hampered movement in the Rules Compendium. Why are you looking in the wrong book? It's like you didn't even read my post(s).

Guys, 3.5 100% absolutely, in print stated that:
A) fog counts as poor visibility (CRB hampered movement table)
B) poor visibility is hampered movement (CRB hampered movement table)
C) hampered movement prevents 5' steps (rules compendium)

There is zero question there regardless of how people ran it.

PF adopted the PHB version of the rules, because that's what was available to them. They didn't use the RC version. So I'm not sure why I'd analyze PF's rule referencing a version they didn't adopt. It certainly could be deemed the intent that poor visibility prevents 5-foot steps, but the wording really is pretty clear based on the CRB and PHB language. It also seems needless to call out Solid Fog as preventing 5-foot steps if they all do.

fretgod99 wrote:

PF adopted the PHB version of the rules, because that's what was available to them. They didn't use the RC version. So I'm not sure why I'd analyze PF's rule referencing a version they didn't adopt. It certainly could be deemed the intent that poor visibility prevents 5-foot steps, but the wording really is pretty clear based on the CRB and PHB language. It also seems needless to call out Solid Fog as preventing 5-foot steps if they all do.

Where is it stated they adopted the PHB rules vs the 3.5 rules which would include the compendium? I always understood they adopted the entire ruleset and changed what they thought would make the game better.

As an example, neither immediate or swift actions were in the core PHB.

Also the reason why he assumed you did not read the post was because he cited one book and you cited another. It had nothing to do with you disagreeing. Now had you said the RC is not a factor I don't think he would have thought that.

The fact that he said "I quoted the section that mentioned hampered movement in the Rules Compendium. Why are you looking in the wrong book?" make that obvious.

edit: You also said " The only limiter in the 3.5 rules was also difficult terrain and darkness."

The 3.5 rules would also include the RC.

The language in the CRB mirrors that in the PHB. Had they adopted a rule that significantly changes how the rule in the PHB functions, I imagine they would have addressed that. We're all familiar with circumstances in which they didn't, but those are relatively few. After all, immediate and swift actions did make the port when this relatively significant change to the 5-foot step base rule did not.

I also think it's a bad ruling in the RC, but that's another matter. Dim lighting obscures vision 5' away just as much as Obscuring Mist does. Nobody prevents 5-foot stepping in dim lighting, at least not in any game I've ever participated in.

I'm not going to presume additional restrictions in PF's rule when they didn't call it out because of what I think was a bad ruling in 3.5. Particularly not when one spell calls out a restriction that the other does not. Solid Fog is the same spell as Fog Cloud except for a few limited things explicitly listed. One of those explicitly listed things is preventing 5-foot steps. This isn't a situation where one entry simply includes reminder text. Solid Fog was written with the understanding that Fog Cloud did not prevent 5-foot steps, otherwise there's no reason to include that limiter as a difference between the two. For those extra restrictions, it is a 4th level spell instead of a 2nd level one.

Solid Fog and Fog Cloud work the same way in PF as they did in 3.5. I'm not aware of any errata in 3.5 to those spells, though I could have missed something.

Despite the RC entry for 3.5, I'm not convinced it's PF intent. It's admitted by everybody it's not RAW (a bad term but fitting here). I think it's terrible logic that leads to the RC version. The SKR quote regarding the Beginner Box isn't particularly illuminating since neither OM or FC severely impede movement, nor do they create difficult terrain. So until we've got something telling me explicitly otherwise, I'm not assuming a bad rule.

Okay, so the consensus is that I could have attacked the square and just faced the 50% miss chance.

And 5ft adjust legality or not, it didn't really matter because I could have taken a 5ft move action for the same result (low enough level for just one attack).

Oh but count me in on the fact you can 5ft adjust in Obscuring Mist etc. Because you can still clearly see the ground 5ft away, it's not fully obscured like darkness would make it, and it's not difficult terrain.

Eh, after reading more I'm not too sure. It makes sense that you could 5' adjust, but I am starting to come around to the face it's likely hampered movement.