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In case A attacks B with a ranged attack, does B get cover?

enter image description here

I ask because it seems to me that he might not. In the image above I assumed that A has chosen the upper right corner of his square as being the most favorable for his ranged attack.

To determine whether your target has cover from your ranged 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 (+4 to AC). (PHB p. 150)

The question is whether the line that runs left along the wall provides cover.

But A surely has cover from B's melee attacks.

When making a melee attack against an adjacent target, your target has cover if any line from your square to the target’s square goes through a wall (including a low wall). (PHB p.151)

If you draw lines from the bottom left corner of B's square you certainly cross the walls, so A definetively has cover from B's melee attack.

That would mean that a ranged attacker (A) standing right around the corner of a melee attacker (B) can shoot the melee attacker without penalty and without risking attacks of opportunity. That does not feel right.

On the other hand - if a line running along a wall grants cover you could not shoot down a straight hallway without cover. (See image below) That does not feel right either.

enter image description here

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B won't gain cover.

To be "blocked", your line must pass through a border, not just touch it.

I should say the fact borders are mentioned by themselves may realy be missleading. Borders are mentioned specifically because there may be a solid border without a square to belong to. A thing thin enough to be placed between two otherwise clear squares.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Where is this border definition anyway? (That's not a commentary on your answer, by the way, but on the game's organization!) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jan 14 '18 at 20:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is what I guessed - so it comes out to a significant advantage of ranged attacks over melee attacks in close quarters involving corners. Not really what you'd expect. \$\endgroup\$ – Giorin Jan 14 '18 at 23:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Given the other disadvantages that ranged attacks have, (cannot threaten, provokes AoO, etc.,) I do not begrudge this single point of advantage. \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Jan 15 '18 at 15:45
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Does a ranged attack around a corner incur cover penalties? I ask because it seems to me that he might not.

Correct. If the line from the chosen corner of the ranged attacker's square does not pass through a square or border that blocks line of effect to any corner of the target's square, the target does not receive cover from the attack. In your example, the attacker can choose a corner from which all corners of the target's square can be reached without passing through a square or border that blocks line of effect.

The question is whether the line that runs left along the wall provides cover.

No. No line passes through a square or border that blocks line of effect. A line runs beside the border but does not "pass through" or cross it.

But A surely has cover from B's melee attacks.

Correct.

That would mean that a ranged attacker (A) standing right around the corner of a melee attacker (B) can shoot the melee attacker without penalty and without risking attacks of opportunity. That does not feel right.

Correct. It is a safer position for the ranged attacker.

A ranged attacker can use this strategy to gain an edge; step one square inside an alcove or hallway to attack melee attackers and limit Attacks of Opportunity against the ranged attacker.

On the other hand - if a line running along a wall grants cover you could not shoot down a straight hallway without cover. (See image below) That does not feel right either.

Right. The previous understanding is correct.

Some maps do draw walls a bit thicker than the squares, thus from either ranged attacker's position in your diagrams, the target would have cover, but I wouldn't recommend imposing that cover penalty unless the hallway is intended to be less than 5'.

This does, however point out another modifier. If the hallway is less than 5' but at least 2.5' wide, then strictly speaking, the squeezing penalty (-4) and cover (-4) applies to both positions for both ranged and melee attacks.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Does the ranged attacker actually incur a penalty for for firing into melee if they're the only one in melee with the target? The wording of the rules suggests only that a -4 penalty is incurred if the target is in melee with an ally of the attacker. I had previously assumed there was a -4 penalty involved in trying to use a ranged weapon in melee combat but I could not actually find evidence for such. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer Jan 18 '18 at 2:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Spiked chain has inclusive reach, and does threaten, but I doubt it is relevant. You determine cover as a ranged attacker if you attack someone who isn't adjacent, with reach weapon or not. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Jan 18 '18 at 11:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Carcer The Player's Handbook General Guidelines and Glossary defines ally as "A creature friendly to you. In most cases, references to “allies” include yourself" (304). I've always run this as unless circumstances say in that case that you are not your own ally, you are your own ally—and that's always included firing into melee. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jan 18 '18 at 12:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan - maybe that's why it doesn't actually say "ally". If you shoot or throw a ranged weapon at a target engaged in melee with a friendly character \$\endgroup\$ – Wyrmwood Jan 18 '18 at 23:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Wyrmwood And the therapists said the archer's self-loathing was wasted. Ha! \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jan 19 '18 at 2:02

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