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D&D 3E
Line of Sight 
28th-Feb-2006 09:14 am
Bitch Please - peanuts
This came up in my last game. What are the actual rules for drawing line of sight? Can I shoot at a bad guy from behind another character? I thought this was represented by the -4 for firing into melee, but the DM said (with some uncertainy, because he wasn't sure) that the character blocked line of sight. I flipped through the PHB and the SRD looking for the exact rules on drawing line of sight, but couldn't find what I was looking for.

1st-Mar-2006 01:29 am (UTC)
You're right, I forgot to check every corner of the target, and I always forget about the edges when it's not as clear-cut.

In fact, even were 'M' and 'A(right)' both five feet further north, it would still fail, because the line from upper left of 'Y' to lower-right of 'M' passes through 'A(right)'.

In other words, it's extremely tough to attack an enemy who is in melee with an ally without the enemy gaining cover, unless you are opposite your ally.
1st-Mar-2006 05:47 am (UTC)
Well, to clarify, it's not so much "if any line passes through a square or border that provides cover", but rather:

1. The attacker chooses a corner of their square.
2. The defender chooses a corner of their square.
3. A line is drawn.
4. If the line passes through any other occupied square, there is cover. If not, no cover.

So I think your first example would be correct if you go from the upper left corner of Y to the any corner that is NOT the lower right of M (although again I'd have to have the line). The lower right would clip A (right) as mentioned.

If M was five feet further north and A (right) was not, you'd be fine regardless of corner. If M was five feet further north and A (right) was also five feet further north, the same scenario applies as before.

Hope your DM sucks at picking corners. :)
1st-Mar-2006 11:32 am (UTC)
I've always had the impression that if any line is clear it works.
1st-Mar-2006 01:26 pm (UTC)
Other way around. If any line is blocked, they have cover.

"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)." (SRD, emphasis mine)

What you might be mixing it up with is the "big creatures" rule, which only applies in melee, and allows the attacker to choose which square of the big creature to attack.

"Any creature with a space larger than 5 feet (1 square) determines cover against melee attacks slightly differently than smaller creatures do. Such a creature can choose any square that it occupies to determine if an opponent has cover against its melee attacks. Similarly, when making a melee attack against such a creature, you can pick any of the squares it occupies to determine if it has cover against you." (SRD)
1st-Mar-2006 05:41 pm (UTC)
It's stuff like this that makes me quite glad we rarely use minis in the games I'm in. Although sometimes they are handy too.
1st-Mar-2006 05:46 pm (UTC)
In most cases, it should be obvious whether something or someone is providing cover to a target or not. These rules should only ever come into play if there's a question, or a marginal situation. If the DM wishes, the DM can ignore these rules, and make an ad hoc decision about it. However, I think it's best if a DM fully understands these rules before making such ad hoc decisions, or their ad hoc decisions are likely to be incorrect when examined, and create unpleasant precedence.
1st-Mar-2006 05:50 pm (UTC)
I'm in 100% in agreement with you, and thanks I think this seems to be something that was confusing a number of us and you've been very helpful in clarifying it.
1st-Mar-2006 01:29 pm (UTC)
Doesn't work that way; see my response to inncubus, below.

This is a good thing, anyway. It's better for the rule to come at least somewhat closer to what would be expected, than for the "corner-picking" to become a game of "Play the DM".

In an ideally-adjudicated game of 3.5, you shouldn't even need a DM's judgment for situations covered by the rules. This is one of the best things about 3.5; as a DM, knowing the rules as well as I do, I can ignore most things like this, and let the rules take care of them, while I do the things that a DM can do that the rules can't, like examining villainous motivations and tactics, and describing the activities of the environment in which the player characters find themselves.
1st-Mar-2006 01:30 pm (UTC)
Er, -below +above.
1st-Mar-2006 06:51 pm (UTC)
Ah, fantastic.

I was pretty sure I'd seen the "both of you pick" syndrome in a Sage Advice column, but either way, the GM would usually pick the square that's going to give cover anyway ;)
1st-Mar-2006 06:52 pm (UTC)
And you're right, I think I may have been mixing it up with the "big creature" rule.

Cover is not normally something that comes up in our games, as we seem to have a predisposition to either ending combats in one round or playing the long range bombardment game.
1st-Mar-2006 07:30 pm (UTC)
I see. At least some of my players have played either Alternity, Star Wars (WEG), Star Wars d20, or d20 Modern, where, in a firefight, "no cover" usually equalled "dead character", with "no chance of resurrection" (those games are in order from hardest to survive a firefight to easiest to survive a firefight; none are as easy as D&D, though).

1st-Mar-2006 07:31 pm (UTC)
Let's have a moment of silence for WEG Star Wars D6...

On another note, I never, ever expected this topic to go on this long :-p
1st-Mar-2006 10:50 pm (UTC)
I've done both Alternity and d20 Modern.

All of the games tended to involve very little gunfighting. When it did break it, it was usually over very quickly, cover or not. ;)
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