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D&D 3E
Too lazy - I mean busy, yeah, busy - to look this up myself right now 
17th-Apr-2005 11:13 am
ozymandias
Pole arms with reach. Longspears, guisarmes, etc. Can you attack someone on the far side of an occupied square or hex? For example. I am A, armed with a longspear. My paladin buddy is B. My target is Goblin G.

X-X-X
A-B-G
X-X-X

X-X-G
X-B-X
A-X-X

X-X-G
X-B-X
X-A-X

Can I attack Goblin G in any of those circumstances? Does Goblin G gain cover against my attack? Would the situation change if B was another goblin and not friendly to me? Would the situation change if B was a bulky inanimate object such as a tree or a pillar of rock?

I've been allowing it with no penalty, mostly for simplicity's sake, in my game. I feel like standing behind your heavily armored buddy with a pike should be an effective tactic in D&D, since it was such an effective tactic in ancient Earth. But I'm starting to feel like the target should get a cover bonus. Anyone have any comments?

Quoting rules is encouraged.
Comments 
17th-Apr-2005 05:09 pm (UTC)
Yes, but IIRC the target gets a cover bonus. I'd say check the SRD section on cover.
17th-Apr-2005 05:25 pm (UTC)
According to the SRD, a reach weapon is considered ranged for the purposes of cover, and "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)."

By that, G has cover in all three cases, because B is always in the way. Of course, you also have cover from G.

If you want to make using someone else as a shield a tactical ability, I think a feat that allows you to ignore cover granted to others by an ally would be appropriate. Kind of a melee version of Precise Shot.
17th-Apr-2005 06:01 pm (UTC)
Actually, with this wording I'd think the last example doesn't provide cover ineither direction. If you choose your upper right corner, and his lower right corner, the line goes only through the blank space.
17th-Apr-2005 06:09 pm (UTC)
But if you choose a different corner of G's square then it does go through the border of B's square.

Also, I'm not sure I like the arbitrariness of "choose a corner". It seems like that means that cover could or could not apply at somone's whim, and it doesn't specify whose.
17th-Apr-2005 06:19 pm (UTC)
Sure, but why choose a corner that hurts you. The quote is full of 'your's, so I'm guessing you choose if you are making the attack. If they're making the attack, they choose. What about:

X-G-X
B-X-X
X-A-X

If any bit of obstruction counts, then G ahs cover from A. But it doesn't seem to amke a lot of sense to me. I'd say G gets no cover, thus A gets to pick the corner's.
17th-Apr-2005 06:23 pm (UTC)
I know. That situation is precisely why I didn't try to make a decision about cover. I just said I didn't like the wording.

But with the wording, even after you pick a corner of your square, you have to test all the corners of your opponent's square.

so with
X-X-G
X-B-X
X-A-X

Picking either of the right-hand corners is going to cross through the right edge of B on the way to the left-hand corners of G. Hence, cover.

Of course they also don't specify what "through an edge" means. So the moral of the story? Your call in this case, but the other two cases seemed pretty clear.
17th-Apr-2005 07:46 pm (UTC)
On reading the salient bits of rules, it looks like in this circumstance G does not have cover - tracing from either right-hand corner of A's square is on the edge of B's square when it reaches the left-hand corner of G's square. We have arguments about this all the time in the Star Wars Miniatures game we play at work, but the general consensus is that this does not provide cover. (Imagine B were a wall, and A had a crossbow. Does G have cover? No.)

That's my interpretation, anyway. Not sure if I'll be getting into this kind of quibbly detail with my newbie players, but at least I'm secure in my own mind.
17th-Apr-2005 11:05 pm (UTC)
I think cover applies at the whim of the attacker.

If Attacker A wants to reach well out from behind Friend B to hit Goblin G, by all means he can do so. However, he's just as vulnerable to an attack from Goblin G.

If Attacker A wants to keep well hidden from behind Friend B to hit Goblin G, he can stay tucked back and awkwardly swing at Goblin G. By the same token, Goblin G will now have just as tough a time to hit Attacker A when he attacks.

In this case I would dictate that these cover bonuses are circumstance bonuses, as the cover results from them either trying to keep hidden behind someone or reaching out from someone, and the amount of cover provided is dictated by circumstances.

I'd also let them stack, so if both of them are not using Friend B as cover but all out trying to hit each other, there's a +0 circumstance bonus to AC for both; if one of the two is trying to hide but the other isn't, there's a +4 circumstance bonus to AC for both. If both of them are ducking behind Friend B trying to smack each other, there's a +8 circumstance bonus to AC for both.

But that's just how I'd run it *shrug*.
17th-Apr-2005 07:49 pm (UTC)
Let's write that feat.

Careful Teamwork or Precise Spearwork or Stick Them With the Pointy End
Prerequisites: Combat Reflexes, Base Attack +1 or better.
Benefit: When making melee attacks, your allies are not considered to grant cover to your target.
17th-Apr-2005 06:39 pm (UTC)
I'd say the first two examples get cover, but the last one doesn't.

If B was a rock/tree, then still the same. if B was another goblin, skewer them both in the first two examples. :P
17th-Apr-2005 07:47 pm (UTC)
I agree.
17th-Apr-2005 06:42 pm (UTC)
I think if B is A's ally, than B should get some say in the cover. If you're just ducking behind him and poking, it should work both ways, but B could choose to actively block the goblin's shots while allowing yours to get through, thus reducing the goblin's cover.
17th-Apr-2005 09:39 pm (UTC)
If you're being covered by an ally and still trying to attack consider this: Unless both characters had some sort of telepathic connection or hive mind, you would interfere with each other in combat. I could see practice (i.e. a feat) being able to reduce this, but as a DM I would rule for the interference and possible fouled rolls.
18th-Apr-2005 01:55 pm (UTC)
Thing is, this is a real-world tactic...polearms were meant to achieve two ends: to allow multiple ranks of troops to attack simultaneously or to impale horses (and combinations thereof). It definitely doesn't take telepathy to jab a polearm past a friendly to hit the person he's attacking. Remember...the polearm doesn't _stay_ there...the second rank person is essentially launching it forward for a quick jab, hoping to lop off an important appendage or, at least, make him bleed a bit. Once he's connected, he yanks it back out of the way of the person in front of him.

Now, there is a _possibility_ he's going to smack his buddy...and that's covered nicely by the D&D rules for attacking someone with cover.

Lucifer >:}
19th-Apr-2005 12:39 am (UTC)
Mostly pole-arms were used to defend against a charge of cavalry. They generally weren't "yanked back" but were a constant presence with very little in the way of aim. You point and pray, for the most part. Sure you can adjust, but not much, especially if you have someone else fighting in front of you. Most pole-armed guards are generally there for show, only. Even then their pole-arms are not as long as the pike-wallers of olde.

One of the things to consider if you are doing this indoors (in a castle, dungeon, or tavern, etc) is that the pole-arm is likely pretty long, having reach and all, and is hard to manipulate. I had someone try to bring his lance into a dungeon (1st ed. cavalier). He quickly became enlightened.

One weapon that would do the damage (to friend and foe) as a pole-arm and still reasonably get all your full attacks is some ranged weapon or other. You wouldn't even have to stand directly behind him. Just harry your opponent from the flanks of your friend.
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