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In 3E (and 3.5), a human player would have a +0 bonus when attempting to hit another human, a -4 modifier when attempting to hit a rat, and a -8 modifier when attempting to hit a fly. This makes sense. The same player would get a +8 bonus when trying to hit "the broad side of a barn".

In 4E, it's just as easy to hit a fly as it is to hit the broad side of a barn.

So, why did D&D 4th Edition seemingly remove the size to-hit modifiers?

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You may have the same to-hit, but the fly may have AC 16 while the barn has AC 0. Just because your roll isn't modified doesn't mean it's "just as easy" to hit one over the other. –  dpatchery Jun 1 '11 at 23:15
    
Try this in 4.0: Human with 18 Dex, Level 1: AC=14 Halfling with 18 Dex, Level 1: AC=14 So yes, size is completely useless. Note the halfling also lost his 3rd ed +1 to hit bonus, making his size even more worthless. –  user2237 Jul 22 '11 at 11:51

4 Answers 4

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Fourth edition was not designed as a physics simulator. Thus, creature size is factored directly into monster stats. For example, if you compare two similar monsters of different size, you will see that the smaller monster has a higher AC.

However, you can essentially find size modifiers on page 65 of the DMG. An inanimate object's AC corresponds directly to its size: ranging from 2 for a gargantuan object up to 10 for a tiny object. Therefore, if you change a creature's size and wish to adjust its to-hit bonus and AC accordingly, add 1 to each for each size category change.

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4E has some size modifiers still; page 65 of the DMG lists the AC for objects. It ranges from 10 for Tiny down to 2 for Gargantuan.

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Actually, that's not entirely accurate. In 3.5 at least and to the best of my knowledge your To hit against a given creature doesn't change based on their size. Their Armor Class, does however change based on a given Size modifier (+2 Tiny, +1 Small, 0 Medium, -1 for Large, -2 Huge, and so on). Note that is only based on the size of the defending creature, not their differences in size. You also gain an attack bonus or penalty based on your size, not size difference. To quote from the section on Small Characters:

A Small character gets a +1 size bonus to Armor Class, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, and a +4 size bonus on Hide checks.

So, when you factor in the bonus you're getting to hit based on your size if you're small, say, and the AC penalty a Large creature takes for being Large, you're effectively at a +2 to try and hit them.

If you take this and apply it to 4e, you basically throw out the whole idea of getting a bonus/penalty to hit based on your size, and the size of the monster is factored in when determining its AC Defense. It's not too much of a leap to go from -1 Size penalty to AC factored into a Monster's stat block in 3.5e, whereas in 4e they just did the factoring of the Monster's AC and didn't tell you about it.

Sources:

Combat Section d20srd.com

Small Creatures Section d20srd.com

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Well, the difference is that a Small PC has no advantage to Medium when it comes to attack rolls in 4e. –  kravaros May 15 '13 at 17:48

D&D is not a simulation game as of 4th edition, so it doesn't expose an underlying "world physics" in the rules. Details like size modifiers are factored directly into monster stats instead, and aren't as relevant to the final numbers as things like monster levels or type.

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Very true. Try comparing same-level minions of medium size and tiny size. The tiny ones typically have 2 or 3 more AC. –  dpatchery Jun 1 '11 at 23:14
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+1: "D&D in not a simulation game". ^_^ –  Erik Burigo Jun 2 '11 at 1:14
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+1: "D&D is not a simulation game," -1: "as of 4th edition." It was true at the very least in 3.x, and arguably while earlier editions made some claims to simulationism, they didn't really execute that super-well. +1 again because it's just a good answer and I'm not going to let those quibbles stop me from upvoting. –  KRyan May 15 '13 at 16:07
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@KRyan Prior to 4e it could be played in any of the GNS modes, because it had no system support for any of them. 3.5e was better at G than S or N, but still had enough S assumptions that you could play it that way with a more S-leaning group. 4e is the first that is so firmly G that it's actively hard to play it N or S even with a group who are die-hard N or S. –  SevenSidedDie May 15 '13 at 16:25

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