You can move through an ally's position (as difficult terrain), but can you attack through it at no cost?

If you have 10' reach, but there is an ally between you and the target, does the target get the +2 cover or is that ignored as friendly ally who could move away?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you consider the ally turning and clobbering you for swinging a sword so close to his ear to be a "penalty"? \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Dec 1 '17 at 23:57

Half cover is not ignored:

Cover rules say:

A target can benefit from cover only when an attack or other effect originates on the opposite side of the cover.

Specifically for half-cover (emphasis mine):

A target with half cover has a +2 bonus to AC and Dexterity saving throws. A target has half cover if an obstacle blocks at least half of its body. The obstacle might be a low wall, a large piece of furniture, a narrow tree trunk, or a creature, whether that creature is an enemy or a friend.

The reach property of a weapon states:

Reach. This weapon adds 5 feet to your reach when you attack with it, as well as when determining your reach for opportunity attacks with it.

Putting all this together (assuming every creature takes up a 5 foot space):

With a reach weapon you can target the enemy creature, even though there is an ally between you two. However, the attack is still originating from you. With that in mind, the target gains the benefits of half cover, since a creature is standing between you and the target, and the attack is originating from the other side of cover. There is no specific rule (for example, like the sharpshooter feat) that allows your attack to ignore half cover in this case, so the target keeps the benefit of half cover.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So I guess the pike/shield formation is not something D&D allows without penalty. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 1 '17 at 18:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch, No but still, a chance to do damage from the second rank is better than no chance to do damage. Also, you could house rule a feat like Pike Formation that allows you to do so without penalty so long as every allay adjacent to you has that feat. It would also allow two people per square for movement and two rows of people in that square for a formation stance. That would make a trained army different from adventures and a hard nut to crack (unless you fireball them). \$\endgroup\$ – ShadoCat Dec 1 '17 at 19:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch And honestly, that probably makes sense. The people in front of you that you have to manipulate a big pole around probably does make it a bit harder to hit a target than if you have complete freedom of movement. The advantage of having the person in front of you is that they keep your target at effective piking distance instead of having them charge further forward. That aspect isn't something D&D simulates very well though, because the movement is turn-based so you can often just walk around someone trying to block you without them being able to react. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Dec 1 '17 at 23:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ben That's what the Sentinel Feat or the Tunnel Fighter Style from UA are for. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Dec 2 '17 at 20:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ d20pfsrd.com/feats/combat-feats/phalanx-formation-combat \$\endgroup\$ – Julix Jan 7 at 5:57

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