Blocking terrain, walking through walls, and attacking through walls: am I going crazy?


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I have been looking at 2e's rules for blocking terrain, and as far as I can tell, walking through walls and attacking through walls is possible. Am I going crazy here?

The only time "blocking terrain" is ever mentioned is page 314, and it never actually says that blocking terrain actually blocks movement.

Furthermore, going by page 314, blocking terrain only ever provides cover and screening; it only bars line of effect for spells as per pages 298 to 299. Under the example with Kyra in page 314, Kyra is absolutely, positively, uncontestably shooting straight through a wall and incurring only cover and screening (or only cover, because they do not stack).

What am I missing here? How are characters not walking through walls? How is Kyra not shooting straight through a wall in page 314?

The rules for line of effect in pages 298 to 299 apply only to spells, not attacks:

Quote:

You usually need an unblocked path to the target of a spell, the origin point of an area, or the place where you create something with a spell or other ability. This is called the line of effect. If you need to check whether you have a line of effect, draw a line like you do when determining cover (see page 314). Only solid barriers break line of effect. Fog doesn’t matter for line of effect, nor do portcullises and other barriers that aren’t totally solid. If you’re unsure whether a barrier is solid enough, usually a 1-foot-square gap is enough to maintain a line of effect, though the GM makes the final call.

Line of effect also applies to areas. If there’s no line of effect between the origin of the area and the target, the target is unaffected by the spell. For example, if there’s a solid wall between the origin of a fireball and a creature that’s within the burst radius, that creature doesn’t need to attempt a save against the fireball and is unaffected by it. Likewise, any ongoing effects created by an area cease to affect anyone who moves outside of the line of effect.


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From the top right corner of Kyra's square to the top of the centerline for the ogre. That's your line of sight. It seems fine. No one is shooting through a wall. The two lines they drew simply explain why the ogre still has screening and cover.


Alyran wrote:
From the top right corner of Kyra's square to the top of the centerline for the ogre. That's your line of sight.

Where is tracing line of sight actually defined?

As far as I can tell, in page 314, you trace cover from the center of your square to the center of your target's square, and you trace screening from any corner of your square of your choice to the center of your target's square. Likewise, pages 298 to 299 refer the reader back to page 314 for tracing line of effect for squares.

It does not look like Kyra gets to simply choose any corner of the ogre's square rather than tracing to the center of the ogre's square.


Colette Brunel wrote:
It does not look like Kyra gets to simply choose any corner of the ogre's square rather than tracing to the center of the ogre's square.

First of all, don't listen to Kyra. Kyra is nothing but trouble.

I think what's happening here is that an ogre is 10' tall, and it's implied that the huts or houses don't rise that high.


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John Mechalas wrote:
I think what's happening here is that an ogre is 10' tall, and it's implied that the huts or houses don't rise that high.

If the buildings are only a baffling 5 feet high or so (I doubt they would be that short even in a halfling town), then why would cover even matter in this example? That is a bit of a stretch.


Colette Brunel wrote:
John Mechalas wrote:
I think what's happening here is that an ogre is 10' tall, and it's implied that the huts or houses don't rise that high.
If the buildings are only a baffling 5 feet high or so (I doubt they would be that short even in a halfling town), then why would cover even matter in this example? That is a bit of a stretch.

Maybe it's a gnome village?

If the buildings are 8' high with a roof peak of 10', then you can see the ogre from Kyra's position. But it's screened and it has cover. The cover trumps screened, so that extra "It's also screened..." seems redundant to me.

Screened specifically refers to ranged attacks whereas cover applies to melee, range, areas of effect from spells, splash damage, etc.


John Mechalas wrote:
If the buildings are 8' high with a roof peak of 10', then you can see the ogre from Kyra's position.

Even assuming that the buildings are only that high, Kyra still has to trace to the center of the ogre's space.


Quote:

Screening

To determine whether your target is screened from your attack, pick the corner of your space with the least obstructed line to your target and draw a line to the center of the target’s space.

To determine screening you draw from a corner of your square to the center of target. You pick the best corner.

Quote:

Cover

To determine whether a target has cover from an attack, the attacking creature or object draws a line from the center of its space to the center of the target’s space. If that line passes through any blocking terrain, the target has cover.

For cover, you draw from center to center.

In PF2, cover doesn't automatically mean "hidden", so you can still have line of sight to an enemy with cover.

So the diagram is fine, it's just wonky. They are trying to define the cover and screened conditions for multiple sources, even though cover overrides screened.


John Mechalas wrote:
In PF2, cover doesn't automatically mean "hidden", so you can still have line of sight to an enemy with cover.

But where is tracing line of sight actually defined, and why is line of sight what grants you the ability to target an enemy? Is there any actual rule that stipulates this?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Line of sight Is very loosely mentioned on pg 196 under Ranges, Areas, Targets in the spell section which simply states needing to see the target. Based on part three that deals with Kyra in Cover and Screening on pg 314, my take is that you have line of sight if you can draw a line from any corner of your square to any corner of an enemy’s square without cover. This follows both game logic and real life logic. You only need to see a piece of someone to aim at them and attack. Further, it explicitly says Kyra can see the ogre. Therefore, if you draw a line from Kyra’s top right corner to the ogres top right corner, Kyra can see the ogre. This follows my own take on line of site, as well as the books definition of line of site, and is consistent with the diagram. It is not based on “short buildings” as some have suggested.

Line of site could certainly use its own section for clarity of rules, on this I agree with you.

From there, the rest of the cover and screening rules seem pretty intuitive to me.


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Strachan Fireblade wrote:
Based on part three that deals with Kyra in Cover and Screening on pg 314, my take is that you have line of sight if you can draw a line from any corner of your square to any corner of an enemy’s square without cover.

Where is the rule that line of sight is determined by tracing corner to corner?

Where is the rule that line of sight is what is truly required to be eligible to make an attack? By this logic, someone who is blinded could never make attacks, as opposed to treating enemies as unseen.

Scarab Sages

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Colette Brunel wrote:
What am I missing here? How are characters not walking through walls?

Common Sense.


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Luceon wrote:
Common Sense.

A good ideal, but core rulebooks that determine the guts of a system must be held to a different standard. For instance, even 1e stipulated that, "On the other hand, some obstacles block movement entirely. A character can't move through a blocking obstacle."


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Luceon wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:
What am I missing here? How are characters not walking through walls?
Common Sense.

Nah, characters just refrain from walking through walls so that high level rogues who took Impossible Infiltration can feel special.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Colette Brunel wrote:
Strachan Fireblade wrote:
Based on part three that deals with Kyra in Cover and Screening on pg 314, my take is that you have line of sight if you can draw a line from any corner of your square to any corner of an enemy’s square without cover.

Where is the rule that line of sight is determined by tracing corner to corner?

Where is the rule that line of sight is what is truly required to be eligible to make an attack? By this logic, someone who is blinded could never make attacks, as opposed to treating enemies as unseen.

There is no rule that says you trace from corner to corner. But you do need a metric that the DM and the player agree upon that determines how two creatures see each other. If the player says "I see him" and the DM says "no you don't", how do you resolve that? It is simple common sense that if any point of your square can see any point of its square and its not blocked by cover, you see him. Pick whatever metric you want. Corner to corner is my reasonable approach and is the metric that I would use.

Your point stands that this should be clarified and be explicitly stated. Rules exist to help you adjudicate games, not to be abused, reinterpreted, bent, or otherwise twisted like a Galorian devil trying to take your soul.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

On the blocking terrain blocking movement, I don't believe I read anywhere in the rules that when something is submerged in water it gets what. That doesn't mean it doesn't. Some things just don't need to be quantified in the rules.


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Common Sense is not how you write rulebooks.

It's common sense that you should collect $200 when you pass Go (everybody knows it) but it's still stated in the rulebook.

It's common sense that a king must get out of check (else you lose on your next turn) but it's still stated in the rulebook.

It's commons sense that three of a kind beats two of a kind - a pair - (because it's harder to get three of a kind) but it's still stated in the rulebook.

Why?

Because rulebooks need to explicitly stipulate exactly how the game is played so all players can agree on every rule. Leaving it up to common sense opens up arguments that might seem sensible to one person but not to another.

Like:

"Well, I've never played this game before, how do I know you can collect $200?"
or
"What if I put YOU in check too, isn't that a draw?"
or
"My last three hands I got three of a kind but this is the first time I've gotten two of a kind so I think two of a kind is more rare and should be the better hand."

So all the answers on this thread (or other similar threads) that seem to be saying "Well, Paizo doesn't need to say it explicitly because of common sense" are not really helpful - that's just not the correct way to write a rulebook.


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This is actually an issue I agree on, objects, vision line of sight need to be defined in the core rules.

I would assume that it did not make it into the book due to space reasons, as something that is already well defined and easy to convert.


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DM_Blake wrote:

Common Sense is not how you write rulebooks.

It's common sense that you should collect $200 when you pass Go (everybody knows it) but it's still stated in the rulebook.

It's common sense that a king must get out of check (else you lose on your next turn) but it's still stated in the rulebook.

It's commons sense that three of a kind beats two of a kind - a pair - (because it's harder to get three of a kind) but it's still stated in the rulebook.

None of those things are common sense. Common knowledge, for those who already know the games, but not common sense.

$200 when you pass Go is purely a convention from the traditional American version of Monopoly. There are lots of other editions with their own variants.

In chess, the rules could equally state that you don't have to get out of check. There's no rule against making bad moves in most games.

Just because something is rare doesn't guarantee it will win in Poker. Does Evens beat a Pair? "Evens" is a ten, an eight, a six, a four and a two. It's pretty hard to get, but it doesn't beat a Pair, because it's not one of the hands that whoever invented Poker decided ought to matter.

In an RPG, we can assume that unless otherwise stated, things work like in real life. People know when they're too hot or too cold, and don't like it. Most people have fingers. They have bones inside their bodies. Sleeping people can't hold a normal conversation. Dead people don't spontaneously get better. People can't walk through walls, or see through walls. They can eat cheese, but can't eat swords.

You could fill a hundred pages of the rulebook with such obvious things, but it shouldn't be necessary.

Sovereign Court

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It might be good to clarify what counts as line of sight ("any corner to any corner"?). But I think the complaint about blocking terrain not being defined is a bit farfetched.

"You can't move/shoot through blocking terrain"
"What is blocking terrain?"
"Terrain that would block your movement/arrow"

Blocking terrain is defined by what it does, block.

Something might be blocking terrain to one thing but not another. Like a wind wall which would block arrows but not rays; firing an arrow sort of around it would incur cover, but the ray wouldn't.


Ascalaphus wrote:
"You can't move/shoot through blocking terrain"

As currently written, this applies only to spells.


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It's 'blocking' terrain. It blocks things that can be blocked.

It's not obvious that walls obstruct magic missile, because magic missiles are magic. So the rules need to state that spells can't go through walls.

It's obvious that walls obstruct arrows, so that doesn't need stating.


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What exactly is Kyra doing to shoot that ogre, then? Nothing suggests that corner to corner line-tracing is legal.


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Crikey, just do it how you always have, 3rd/PF1 (and SWSE, etc, etc), 4th and 5th Ed, all give very easy and clear rulings on this.


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They could be a consideration.

If we apply common sense then you can't walk through walls, and fire consumes oxygen, so fireballs in an enclosed space could cause suffocation, and bashing a metal door down will reduce the sharpness of your axe.

If we do not apply common sense, then anything could happen.

The best approach is to moderate common sense with practicality and game balance. Running a game with fireballs consuming oxygen is complicated. Damaging weapons when you use them to bash down the door is complicated and bad for game balance, since it's not fair on melee characters. Not letting characters walk through walls is realistic and simple and fair, compared to the alternative.


Matthew Downie wrote:
They could be a consideration.

Yes,, but I am not sure how successful a RPG would be that plays faithfully to physics.


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You can't be faithful to all physics (especially where magic is concerned), but you have to be faithful to some physics. Without applying basic laws of physics, how do I know if ball-bearings will roll down a hill or fly off into space or burst into flames?

Usually, it's easy to know where to draw the line in simulating reality. Usually.


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It's weird because Line of Sight is called out in a few spells as being completely different from Line of Effect, but it's never defined anywhere.

If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say it's any corner to any corner to determine LOS, given the example. Kyra could get LOS to the Ogre from her Top-Right Corner to the Ogre's Top Right Corner; that path is completely unimpeded. But since Corner-to-Center and Center-to-Center both go through Blocking Terrain, the Ogre has Cover and Screening.

The only other way the example works is if somehow the Ogre is taller than the buildings and that seems like a pretty big assumption to make and not spell out in the example.


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LOS definitely needs to be defined, if only because multiple games define it differently and thus there are multiple "common knowledge" answers as to how it should work in a game.
Common Sense does not enter into it for me, as it is intentionally unclear how much of the square you are in you occupy or utilise. There is no rule for peeking around a corner either, although it is very common as well.
My guess is that they imply Corner to Corner, but this Needs to be there in writing.
On the other hand, not walking through walls is obvious enough for me. As Long as the material and dimensions of the Terrain are clear we should be able to arbitrate how it can be traversed. Although an "impassable Terrain" category could be done, I don't feel it's really necessary.
I'd rather they made clear ruling on how partly blocked squares work, as for aestethic reasons maps will contain squares with half walls, half water, etc. Just make it clear who chooses which Terrain is relevant here and then go.


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Even if they define the line of sight rules, they should still define the rules for whether or not an enemy can be targeted by an attack.


my common sense says Kyra can't see the ogre on p 314 - unless the ogre is a cube, but according to my common sense ogre aren't cube. Yet, the rule says Kyra can see him and shoot though blocking terrain.

i am all for common sense because the rules become too heavy if they have to state "blocking terrain blocks movement", "dead characters can't act", "to breath requires no action", etc. In the other hand, I can use my common sense only if the rules don't contradict it - ie, if the rules don't use a character acting while he's dead as an example. Or an example involving Kyra shooting through a wall.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Gaterie wrote:
my common sense says Kyra can't see the ogre on p 314 - unless the ogre is a cube, but according to my common sense ogre aren't cube. Yet, the rule says Kyra can see him and shoot though blocking terrain.

Last time I checked I wasn’t a cube or 5 feet wide either. But no one questions that this is the space I take up in combat. It’s no different for the ogre and the space he takes up. This is why you can see the ogre.

This is why Kyra is not shooting through a wall.


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In other words, don't use "common sense" when playing Path 2. That's exactly what I wrote.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Gaterie wrote:

In other words, don't use "common sense" when playing Path 2. That's exactly what I wrote.

There is common sense and then there is common sense within the context of the rules.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Found this nugget for targeting enemies on pg 301 under senses:

The only way to target a creature without having drawbacks is to use a
precise sense.


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Common sense or not, I actually would like this cleared up. It's a little awkward to look at the actual rules and come to the conclusion that being behind a wall equates to cover and unseen/sensed.

It came up in combat for me and with some needling from players I ended up deciding that some gnoll tents were made of thick fabric that could be shot through even through two walls of the tent, as it was the closest I could find to RAW.

I'd be happy to run it like that for e.g. a giant attacking through a brick wall, but I'd rather my players not simply stab through one.

Incidentally and on a similar subject. As object ACs aren't really brought up elsewhere, basing them off the Wall of X spells it would probably be:

  • AC 10.
  • TAC 6.
  • TAC is instead 8 for a slippery substance such as ice.

    EDIT: It came up because one of my players was a ranger with favoured aim, who knew the location of the target gnoll. RAW shooting through the tent was a perfectly valid tactic.

  • Scarab Sages

    John Mechalas wrote:
    Colette Brunel wrote:
    It does not look like Kyra gets to simply choose any corner of the ogre's square rather than tracing to the center of the ogre's square.

    First of all, don't listen to Kyra. Kyra is nothing but trouble.

    I think what's happening here is that an ogre is 10' tall, and it's implied that the huts or houses don't rise that high.

    Nope, that is definitely not what is happening here and your idea is a very dubious assumption. The diagram is a top view, and there is definitely no mention of your idea anywhere in the text. I will admit that someone new to the hobby could make your assumption though. I’m guessing you aren’t new, so think back to every reference to 3.5 and PF, not that I would even need to use those to interpret the rule, it’s obvious to me that the reader is being shown those white lines for a reason. Those of you in this thread that keep saying that combatants are not cubes are missing the point, if it helps you understand this better for the purposes of targeting a target creature you can target any part of the square or squares it occupies. And obviously kyra can ‘aim’ from any corner of the square she occupies. I mean we are all PF players here, how did it come to this where you don’t understand this concept?


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    Where is it stated that "for the purposes of targeting a target creature you can target any part of the square or squares it occupies"?


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    Vic Ferrari wrote:
    Crikey, just do it how you always have, 3rd/PF1 (and SWSE, etc, etc), 4th and 5th Ed, all give very easy and clear rulings on this.

    But often different ones.


    This is a simple oversight. I doubt they will leave a line out of the final rulebook that says "blocking terrain blocks" and one that says "line-of-sight is drawn from any corner of your space to any corner of your target's space".

    Both of those can be easily inferred here, though.

    Kyra can see the ogre because the top right corner of her space can reach the top right corner of the ogre's space without anything blocking it. So can the middle of her space, if they mean to work it that way.

    The reason medium creatures take up a five-foot square (and large ones a ten-foot one) is both "because it's a game" and because if you don't KEEP MOVING in a fight you will quickly DIE.

    Both her and the Ogre are moving around. At some point during her six-second turn (an eternity in a fight) she can lean to that top corner and fire at the ogre when he is in sight.

    It's harder than a nice open shot, sure (hence the Cover) but it's totally believable.


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    I would like to revisit this and say that after running nearly two dozen playthroughs of premade adventures, issues of tracing line of sight and whether or not a character can attack a creature around a corner have come up very, very often.


    If the creature is seen by you. So if you can see any section of the creatures squares from yours. You have line of sight. Since sight and seeing are the same if you can see something you have line of sight to it. Kyra in the example can see a square of the ogre and can fire against with a ranged attack.

    However targeted spells specifically call for a need of line of effect which traces, as you do cover, center to center. If you don't have this you can't target that square or creature with the spell.


    As far as I can tell, line of sight never gets a definition as a game term, and only shows up in some ability and spell descriptions (i.e. a reaction might trigger when someone does X within your line of sight).

    In 3.X there was a rule to the effect that if you could draw an unobstructed line from any part of the attacker's square to any part of the defender's square the attacker could see the defender. No such rule appears to exist in PF2 and definitely should.

    When a term is used in the rules but isn't explicitly defined we should assume it has the normal meaning it has in English. The example tells us explicitly that Kyra can see the Ogre, so her arrow (or whatever) is presumably traveling down whatever line the photons that bounced off the Ogre followed.

    Kyra doesn't have line of effect to the Ogre, it isn't clear that she needs it to target the ogre with an arrow (though she would with a spell)? That feels like a pretty silly distinction. I'm not wild about a set of targeting rules that say there are circumstances where Ezren can hit you with an arrow, but not a magic missile. That seems fiddly and ugly.


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    The rules should not need to tell you that you cannot walk through walls. Let me know of a game that feels the need to tell you this so I can avoid it. I will not play a game that is so patronising that they think their readers need to be told this.

    Kyra can attack the ogre because she can see it. You can draw a line from the top left corner of Kyras square to the top right square of the ogre. That should be sufficient for precise senses to work. The ogre would need to take an action to hide to become 'sensed' to Kyra.

    I cannot see any reasonable argument that Kyra cannot see the ogre, Kyra can attack the Ogres top right square so she can attack the ogre. she cannot draw a line to the centre square so the ogre has cover.

    It is that simple .

    And if it's not defined, a term has it's usual English meaning. blocking terrain is terrain that blocks you - you cannot move or fire through it. If the book needs to define even basic stuff like this it will be too large to be practical.

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