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Can a character flank when wielding a ranged weapon? I believe it is the case since the rules on flanking simply say "Must Be Able to Attack: You and your ally must be able to attack the enemy, whether you’re armed or unarmed." Are there other places this is clarified?

Also, was this different if versions prior to 4e?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Yes

If you find yourself in the unenviable position of flanking while holding a ranged weapon, you may indeed flank. The only requirements in this instance are:

Opposite Sides: To flank an enemy, you and an ally must be adjacent to the enemy and on opposite sides or corners of the enemy’s space. When in doubt about whether two characters flank an enemy, trace an imaginary line between the centers of the characters’ squares. If the line passes through opposite sides or corners of the enemy’s space, the enemy is flanked.

Must Be Able to Attack: You and your ally must be able to attack the enemy, whether you’re armed or unarmed. If there’s no line of effect between your enemy and either you or your ally, you don’t flank. If you’re affected by an effect that prevents you from taking actions, you don’t flank.

As flanking with a ranged weapon is generally a painful choice, I'm not sure why this situation would naturally arise, but when it does, you certainly are able to.

The wording is a bit looser in 3.5

Quoth d20srd:

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

...

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

Given that the ranged weapon could certainly be used as an improvised melee weapon, there's no inherent reason why they wouldn't count as threatening. However, a GM could rule otherwise.

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This situation comes up all the time in my group, it's not all that uncommon. Any time I (the ranged striker) get charged or otherwise manage to have a bad guy beating on me, and the defender acts before the I can get away, he's obviously going to move into a position that flanks so he can have a better chance at smacking the enemy. –  dpatchery Dec 23 '11 at 13:20
    
Oh, nice. Yeah, that is a fairly common tactical scenario. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Dec 23 '11 at 14:07

You can provide flanking only if the enemy is at range 1.

It order to generate combat advantage you must have both allies at range 1.

From DDI:

Opposite Sides: To flank an enemy, you and an ally must be adjacent to the enemy and on opposite sides or corners of the enemy’s space.

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