Category Archives: Pathfinder rules

Reach weapons

UPDATE: A new (as of January 2015) FAQ entry from Paizo indicates Reach weapons do reach the second diagonal. This means the diagram below is now wrong. See the FAQ entry here.

Most small and medium creatures (which includes pretty much all PCs) threaten the squares they occupy and the squares immediately around them. This determines whether they can make a melee attack on a target, flank and provoke attacks of opportunity.

Characters can buy some weapons, such as paricularly long polearms, that are longer than usual. However, these reach weapons do not threaten the squares immediately around their wielder, but the squares 10 feet away (see Core Rulebook p145, or the PRD here).

Reach weapons available in the Core Rulebook are the longspear, the glaive, the guisarme , the ranseur and the whip.

This can cause some confusion because of the way Pathfinder calculates diagonal distance in 5-foot squares (the first diagonal square is work 5 feet, the second 10 feet).

Some GMs disregard this, and say reach weapons threaten the far corners, even though they’re technically 15 feet away (this was a rule in the 3.5 edition of the game Pathfinder is based on).

I favour the strict interpretaton of the Pathfinder rules, that reach weapons do not threaten the “far” corners (see this post by Paizo Creative Director James Jacobs).

This has an effect on the reach-weapon user’s attacks of opportunity and potential targets. It’s possible to attack someone with a reach weapon without being threatened by them, if you’re clever (and they stay still): move into a corner square, and stop. You’re not threatened. Next turn, take a 5-foot step to stand next to them, and attack. They still aren’t threatening you (they’ll need to step back to do so).

But you can’t simply use a regular move action to dash in and attack a reach-weapon user along his diagonals without provoking an attack of opportunity, because you’ll still cross the 10-foot threashold on your way in (see this post from Pathfinder co-designer Sean K Reynolds).

Here’s a diagram showing how it all works. The cloaked charatcer in the middle has a reach weapon and is surrounded by enemies:

Reach weapons threat zoneIf you have a reach weapon, you should ask the GM which interpretation of the rules they apply – and let them know you’re using a reach weapon!

Aid Another in combat

In last night’s game, players were the epitome of co-operation by using Aid Another in combat a lot.

This is a little-known but extremely effective tactic, particularly when facing opponents that are tought to hit, or who hit too easily. We didn’t handle it precisely as per the rules, though we were pretty close.

It’s worth understanding exactly how it works, because it can make the difference between life and death, allowing your heavy damage melee expert to hit more often, or protecting her from hits.

The rules are on Core Rulebook p197 and in the PRD here.

Key points:

  • You must be in melee combat; missile combat can’t be used to aid another.
  • You can choose whether to add +2 to one ally’s next attack or +2 to her AC. Bonuses stack, so several people can aid one.
  • To Aid Another, you roll your attack, with all relevant bonuses, against an AC of 10. That often makes it much easier to Aid than to hit the enemy. If you fail, your Aid attempt is ineffective.
  • All combatants move in their standard initiative order. Aid bonuses apply until your next turn. If an ally you want to Aid moves before you, she must either delay her action until after your turn, or make a attack without the Aid, but get the bonus on her turn in the next round.

Visualising what’s happening: you’re distracting the enemy, or attempting to wrong-foot or hinder them.

One interesting possibility would be to use an attack-trained pet to Aid your own attack. You’d need to command the animal to attack (using Handle Animal); if the animal knows the Attack trick this is a move action (or a free action for druids and rangers), and you need to succeed at a DC10 Handle Animal check.

If the pet isn’t attack trained, it’s probably not worth the effort unless it’s about the only thing you can do (you’re severely injured, unable to close, out of missile ammo/spells, etc) ad you want to to aid an ally. Getting an animal without the Attack trick to attack is a full-round action (a move action for druids and rangers), and you must succeed at a DC25 Handle Animal check.