So Starfinder is out, and I feel like my life is complete, as it is just great. I am used to playing D&D 5e, and while I have some experience with 3.5e, I have never played Pathfinder. As such, it is possible this question has been answered in some of the similar questions on RPG Stack, but I can't be sure since Starfinder is technically a new game.

If I am behind cover (let's say a chest-high crate) and a goblin standing in the middle of a field targets me with a ranged attack, I have cover according to the rules. But does the goblin also have cover if I make a ranged attack against it, since my square passes through the cover to reach the goblin? I would think the answer is no (it is just standing there after all), but I want to be sure.

Update: I have confirmed the cover system is the same as in Pathfinder. So if someone knows that, the knowledge applies here as well.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I've created a tag but don't know anything about the system, so someone else will need to edit the descriptions \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Aug 18, 2017 at 21:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ 1000 blessings upon you my friend. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 18, 2017 at 21:37
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Actually, as it turns out, there are a couple of differences between Pathfinder and Starfinder cover, but only for melee attacks, not ranged attacks. \$\endgroup\$
    – YogoZuno
    Aug 21, 2017 at 20:37

2 Answers 2


The general answer is, yes, cover can affect both parties. However, there may well be some circumstances where one party can claim a bonus from the cover, but the other can't. The best example for this is a Low Obstacle, which the attacker explicitly ignores if he is closer to the cover than his target. The other way this is likely to happen is if an attacker is standing at the corner of a wall, targeting someone in the open - he can generally shoot out with no penalty, but the defender would likely have the cover penalty when firing back. This is because the person firing chooses one corner of his square as the origin of the attack, but then has to trace a line to all corners of the target's square, and if any of them cross a piece of cover, the attack considers cover.

To understand this, you probably need a diagram - if you look at the diagram on page 253 of the Starfinder Core rulebook, it covers SOME situations, but not all. The example also appears to treat the Obozaya vs ksarik situation a little differently to what the text says (i.e. lines passing ALONG a border don't provide cover, only those CROSSING a border).

If you view the diagram as if the ksarik was not present, and the characters are all targeting each other with ranged attacks, then Obozaya will have cover from Altronus, but Altronus will not have cover from Obozaya, due to Obozaya basically poking around the corner. Raia and Obozaya have clear lines of sight to each other, so no cover applies. Raia and Altronus cannot see each other, so each has total cover from the other.

You can also see a more complete diagram at d2opfsrd. However, note that Pathfinder has a couple of slightly different rules for cover compared to Starfinder. In Pathfinder, ranged attacks all work out cover using the same mechanics as Starfinder. However, melee attacks from an adjacent enemy work differently, and instead of choosing a corner for the attack to originate from, melee attacks check from every corner of the attacker to every corner of the defender.

So, in your particular example, it actually depends on how the object you're hiding behind looks and is defined. Being at chest-height, it's not likely to be considered a Low Obstacle. If the crate is only a single square in size, you will be able to fire at the goblin without cover if he is not directly in front of the crate. If the crate is wider than one square, and you are at one of the edges of the crate, you MIGHT be able to fire at the goblin without cover if he is on the same side as the edge. But in most other circumstances, the goblin will also have cover from your shot.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you mean Altronus instead of Raia. Also, that doesn't make sense that the ksarik has cover from Obozaya. The top-left corner of Obozaya's square can extend a line to all corners of the ksarik's without passing through a wall or obstacle. Clear shot. But according to the book the ksarik does get cover because a line passes along a wall. So then Altronus would have cover even if the ksarik is gone, wouldn't he? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 20, 2017 at 19:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeeDerekEngineer I've fixed the names, and tried to make things a little clearer. I also realised there is actually a difference between Pathfinder and Starfinder cover rules, so included that. As it turns out, I've been doing it the Starfinder way in my Pathfinder games for the last 5 years or so... \$\endgroup\$
    – YogoZuno
    Aug 21, 2017 at 4:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Pathfinder has a couple of different rules for cover compared to Pathfinder" - You almost surely mean "Starfinder has" or "compared to Starfinder". \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Aug 25, 2017 at 8:40

The Goblin also has Cover against your attack per RAW... your GM can rule that it doesn't apply because it doesn't 'make sense'.

Per RAW, Cover is determined by:

To determine whether your target has cover from your 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.

There is no allowance written for ignoring cover that you're adjacent to or would be able to look over or around.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @lfusaso Your last statement is not entirely true. You can fire out from around cover in some circumstances with no penalty, if you are at an edge. Just not over, generally (things might change with a 3d grid). \$\endgroup\$
    – YogoZuno
    Aug 21, 2017 at 20:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @YogoZuno reference? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Aug 21, 2017 at 20:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @lfusaso Urr...read my answer? It's because you can choose a corner of your square for your attack to originate from. This can allow you to have your attack go around a piece of cover, depending on the shape of the cover and where the enemy is. \$\endgroup\$
    – YogoZuno
    Aug 21, 2017 at 21:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Only if you have clear line of effect to every corner of the enemies' square... so yes I suppose it's possible depending on angles. And the pic makes it clear that along walls counts as cover, so you're not able to 'peek around' to fire at someone along the wall. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Aug 22, 2017 at 11:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @lfusaso Actually, I think the pic in the Starfinder book is wrong in the case of tracing a line along the wall, since the actual rules text doesn't corroborate it. The text actually says you need to CROSS a border, not just travel along it. \$\endgroup\$
    – YogoZuno
    Aug 22, 2017 at 20:14

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