Visibility down a hallway into a room


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Character A is standing in a long 5 ft wide hallway. Character B is standing beside the doorway in a larger room, not using Stealth. Normal light throughout the hallway and room.

How far away does Character A need to be before he spots Character B?

My group has been playing that as long as there is sufficient light, there is no maximum distance in this situation.

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If B is entirely to the side and not in the doorway. He can't be seen regardless of the lighting. Assuming B made no effort to hide (or didn't know A was there), A would have to get to doorway (about 5' diagonal) to see him around the corner.

It's possible for A to detect B's presence (but not where) with Perception if B is making sounds (the amount determining the difficulty) but, of course, lighting has no effect on that either.

Note that depending on the lighting in the room B's presence a likely location might also be obvious. For instance a lamp or torch on the wall might be casting B's shadow into the room or across the doorway where A could see it. That's a GM's determination. He still couldn't see B until he got to a point where he could reasonably view B's square before even bothering with whether he can be spotted.


Alright, assuming Character B is standing in a square next to the hallway they never achieve total cover against each other. The maximum distance would be calculated by using the Perception table for noticing something.

The Perception DC to "Notice a visible creature" is 0. Unless the hallway is filled with smoke or undergrowth the distance penalty is +1/10 ft, so Character A could stand a couple hundreds of feet away and notice Character B depending on their Perception modifier.

But apply common sense first. While Character B is considered visible from a mechanical point of view because they occupy the whole square they're standing in, that may not always be the case.


Wonderstell wrote:

But apply common sense first. While Character B is considered visible from a mechanical point of view because they occupy the whole square they're standing in, that may not always be the case.

Not disputing the common sense part, that's what applies. Just wanted to clarify the wording in case it gets misunderstood that there is no 'mechanical point' or rule of seeing a creature because they are in a square and you can see a part of the square. You have to be able to see them. In fact, the rules are very specific that while a creature occupies a square, they do not take up or include every part of it, or even most of it. If they do, it's obvious, such as a gelatinous cube.

For instance, if there was a three foot barrier across the bottom of the door (or it was one of those Dutch-style doors and the top half was open), you won't be able to see a halfling, gnome, or small or tiny creature standing behind it, even if they aren't hiding, and even if you can see the square and are able to target it (such as launching a fireball into the square and affecting the unseen creature (and denying it cover).

If you're fighting Olive Oil (a beanpole skinny woman from the Popeye cartoons), she can hide behind a flagpole and be unseen unless you legitimately move to a point where you can see here. That's a GM's call when that happens, but creatures (PC or NPC) are not implied to get x-ray vision or be able to see through or inside solid objects just because they can see the square they are in.


Pizza Lord wrote:
Wonderstell wrote:

But apply common sense first. While Character B is considered visible from a mechanical point of view because they occupy the whole square they're standing in, that may not always be the case.

Not disputing the common sense part, that's what applies. Just wanted to clarify the wording in case it gets misunderstood that there is no 'mechanical point' or rule of seeing a creature because they are in a square and you can see a part of the square.

Sure there are. Both Cover and Concealment are based on drawing lines to the corners of the squares you occupy. Line of Effect and Line of Sight are both dependent on squares, not the form of the creatures.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Pizza Lord wrote:
In fact, the rules are very specific that while a creature occupies a square, they do not take up or include every part of it, or even most of it. If they do, it's obvious, such as a gelatinous cube.

A creature doesn't take up all of a square, but they also don't fail to take up any particular portion of a square. It is kinda like quantum superposition. They are everywhere in the square and nowhere at the same time.

This is kind of necessary when a) trying to abstract combat into squares and b) resolving events that are happening over 6 seconds in an instant of a creatures turn. The core idea is that the creature is moving and generally occupying that area of space but specifically where isn't important or covered by the rules. If it is important and not already covered by rules (cover and concealment for example) then the GM can make a call and perhaps apply a circumstance bonus or penalty.


Am I the only one who can't visualize the diagrams in these posts? Even pasting them into a fixed-width text editor makes no sense.


More on topic, the combat map does a decent job of (abstractly) modeling combat situations. It isn't really designed to answer questions like "can I see that creature?" as opposed to "can I shoot that creature?".


Wonderstell wrote:

Both Cover and Concealment are based on drawing lines to the corners of the squares you occupy. Line of Effect and Line of Sight are both dependent on squares, not the form of the creatures.

This statement is true, but it is misleading in this situation. It is not always the case. There are many instances where a creature can have cover or not be seen or in line of sight despite there being no cover or interference between two creatures. For instance, you can hide behind a bigger creature (even one that does not fill a square, like a gelatinous cube). It is a little harder to do, but this is true even though soft cover, like creatures, does not provide cover or block line of sight normally.

You can also hide from a creature by using that very same creature, such as hiding beneath a creature two or more sizes than you. It clearly has line of sight and line of effect to you, but you are considered to be be unseen by it. At no point does doing this say it grants you cover or concealment, it just means you aren't seen (which is different than concealment).

Granted, in these cases the individual is likely attempting to specifically hide from someone, but these are just things that can be done with no special feats, powers, or racial abilities (though they might make it easier).

It is very clear that the intentions and wording for combat abstraction and rules for targeting are not meant to apply in normal/noncombat/everyday situations. Just because they removed facing from combat, does not mean that people have 360 degree all-around vision at all times. A person can specifically be looking in a direction and they can specifically not be looking in a direction. If they say they are standing with their back turned and are not looking at a door, they do not get to see anything that happens to the door, whether it magically changes color or opens. They may get a Perception check (since that covers listening as well) if the door opens or someone steps through and makes a detectable disturbance other than a visual one, but that's it.

If your GM determines from your position that you cannot see a creature where it is, whether you can see any part of the square, then you cannot see it, just like you cannot see inside a chest or box or through a curtain to see someone behind it, even if that object does not fill its entire square.

If you are completely under a 3 ft. x 3 ft. table, then someone on a balcony or even standing on that table looking down cannot see you, whether they have line of sight or line of effect into every single corner of that square. Even though that table in no way mechanically blocks line of sight or effect to the square. Someone stepping down off the table could be able to see someone underneath it, even if they didn't technically change squares from their original location. It is no different when someone is standing to one side of a doorway with nothing visible from a distance down a corridor. You can't see them until you get close enough to look around the obstacle.

As Blahpers said, applying the rules for combat to noncombat situations is not and never was intended. A normal human can hide behind a two-foot wide curtain or behind an upright coffin or behind an open door even though none of those things would block an entire square.

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