Combat Modifiers

A number of factors and conditions can influence an attack roll. Many of these situations grant a bonus or penalty on attack rolls or to a defender’s Defense score. As stated earlier, treat all references in Chapter 8 of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook as references to Defense.

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. Unless the type cover is soft, the attacker suffers a -4 penalty to his attack rolls. In addition, some shots may be impossible due to cover.

When making a melee attack against an adjacent target, the GM is the final arbiter when it comes to determining attack penalties. When making a melee attack against a target that isn’t adjacent to you (such as with a reach weapon), use the rules for determining cover from ranged attacks.

Low Obstacles and Cover: A low obstacle (such as a wall no higher than half your height) provides cover, but only to creatures within 30 feet (6 squares) of it. The attacker can ignore the cover if he’s closer to the obstacle than his target.

Cover and Attacks of Opportunity: You can’t execute an attack of opportunity against an opponent with cover relative to you - pending GM's discretion (such as when cover is of a soft kind).

Humanoid Shield: Creatures, even your enemies, can provide you with soft cover against ranged attacks. However, such soft cover provides no bonus on Reflex saves, nor does soft cover allow you to make a Stealth check.

Partial Cover: If a creature has cover, but more than half the creature is visible, the penalty to ranged attacks against it is only -2, though the GM still decides whether certain shots would be possible or not. The creature enjoying partial cover only received a +1 bonus on Reflex saving throws. This partial cover is subject to the GM’s discretion.

Improved Cover: In some cases, such as attacking a target hiding behind an arrowslit, cover may impose a greater penalty to ranged attacks and a greater bonus to Reflex saves. In such situations, the
normal cover penalty to attacks and bonus to Reflex saves can be doubled (to -8 and +4, respectively). A creature with this improved cover effectively gains improved evasion against any attack to which the Reflex save bonus applies. Furthermore, improved cover provides a +10 bonus on Stealth checks.

To determine whether your target has concealment 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 provides concealment, the target has concealment.

When making a melee attack against an adjacent target, your target has concealment if his space is entirely within an effect that grants concealment. When making a melee attack against a target that isn't adjacent to you, use the rules for determining concealment from ranged attacks.

In addition, some magical effects provide concealment against all attacks, regardless of whether any intervening concealment exists.

Concealment Miss Chance: Concealment gives the subject of a successful attack a 20% chance that the attacker missed because of the concealment. Make the attack normally - if the attacker hits, the defender must make a miss chance d% roll to avoid being struck. Multiple concealment conditions do not stack.

Concealment and Stealth Checks: You can use concealment to make a Stealth check. Without concealment, you usually need cover to make a Stealth check.

Total Concealment: If you have line of effect to a target but not line of sight, he is considered to have total concealment from you. You can't attack an opponent that has total concealment, though you can attack into a square that you think he occupies. A successful attack into a square occupied by an enemy with total concealment has a 50% miss chance (instead of the normal 20% miss chance for an opponent with concealment). The exception to this is an area effect attack (though Evasion checks still apply as normal).

You can't execute an attack of opportunity against an opponent with total concealment, even if you know what square or squares the opponent occupies.

Ignoring Concealment: Concealment isn't always effective. An area of dim lighting or darkness doesn't provide any concealment against an opponent with Darkvision. Characters with Low-light Vision can see clearly for a greater distance than other characters with the same light source. Although Invisibility provides total concealment, sighted opponents may still make Perception checks to notice the location of an invisible character. An invisible character gains a +20 bonus on Stealth checks if moving, or a +40 bonus on Stealth checks when not moving (even though opponents can't see you, they might be able to figure out where you are from other visual or auditory clues).

Varying Degrees of Concealment: Certain situations may provide more or less than typical concealment, and modify the miss chance accordingly.

When making a melee attack, you get a +2 flanking bonus if your opponent is threatened by another enemy character or creature on its opposite border or opposite corner.

When in doubt about whether two characters flank an opponent in the middle, trace an imaginary line between the two attackers' centers. If the line passes through opposite borders of the opponent's space (including corners of those borders), then the opponent is flanked.

Exception: If a flanker takes up more than 1 square, it gets the flanking bonus if any square it occupies counts for flanking.

Only a creature or character that threatens the defender can help an attacker get a flanking bonus.

Creatures with a reach of 0 feet can't flank an opponent.


Defender is… vs Melee Attacks vs Ranged Attacks
Behind cover see cover see cover
Blinded -21 -21
Concealed or invisible see concealment see concealment
Cowering -21 -21
Entangled +02 +02
Flat-footed +01 +01
Grappling +0 +0
Helpless -43 +03
Kneeling or sitting -2 +0
Pinned -43 +04
Prone -4 +04
Squeezing through a space -4 +04
Stunned -21 -21

1 The defender loses any Dexterity bonus to Defense.
2 An entangled character takes a –4 penalty to Dexterity.
3 The defender is treated as having a Dexterity of 0.
4 Penalty to Dexterity and/or Defense is determined by the GM on a case-by-case basis.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License