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While this sounds kind of silly, I'm a DM and trying to settle on a question a player asked me. In the game I use a battlemat and place all creatures in melee adjacent to each other. However a player asked me if being within 5ft meant that they could reach something that was one square away from them.

I can see their reasoning that if you imagine two sword fighters having at it, they aren't shield to shield and slapping each other but moving in and out of range with a significant gap between them.

Aside from practical, if a neutral creature who's foe to neither wanted to run in between two sword fighters my imagination says they could, but per how I place minis on a battlemat there's not a gap to move through.

Would it be a bad/game-breaking reason to leave a gap and call 5ft that gap, or is it implied more directly that creatures are small enough within their squares that the combined difference means adjacent creatures are actually 5ft away?


marked as duplicate by SevenSidedDie dnd-5e Nov 7 '18 at 16:41

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome! This site works best if you have a single, clear question. Your 1st paragraph poses one question and the rest another. You can post as many questions as you like, and I recommend that you separate these into two. Also, I have trouble imagining what your proposed "gap" would look like on a grid. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Nov 7 '18 at 8:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close as this appears to be asking four different things and I'm not sure what the main thrust is: (a) the titular question, "how close is 5ft?", (b) the first paragraph, can someone with 5ft attack something with a square's gap between them and it (if I understand correctly), (c) can someone run between two melee combatants, (d) what's the balance impact of this rules change. Can you clarify which of these you're trying to actually find out? I assume the others are just expanding on that problem, but it would really help to focus the question down on just one thing. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Nov 7 '18 at 9:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm assuming the main thrust is "can I attack a dude a square away if I've got 5ft reach", but we could do without the request to analyse a house rule of that's the case—just ask the rules question. (Do you mean with a full square's gap between your square and theirs?) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Nov 7 '18 at 9:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @aherocalledFrog See this FAQ for why your comment was removed. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 7 '18 at 16:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ We’ve had this question before. I’ve linked them together so you (and future readers who find your question) can benefit from the existing answer(s). Cheers! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 7 '18 at 16:41

A combat round in D&D may be resolved by a few dice rolls, but each roll represents an amount of movement, feints, thrusts, and clashes between the characters during the 6 seconds that it occurs over. The gap between two characters is constantly in flux during a battle.

In theory if both participants wanted too a creature could pass between them. I only have the basic rules PDF to hand at the moment but to quote from it.

Space A creature’s space is the area in feet that it effectively controls in combat, not an expression of its physical dimensions. A typical Medium creature isn’t 5 feet wide, for example, but it does control a space that wide. If a Medium hobgoblin stands in a 5-foot-wide doorway, other creatures can’t get through unless the hobgoblin lets them.

A creature’s space also reflects the space it needs to fight effectively.

That may not be practicable for most situations, most combatants will not be willing to pause fighting to allow another creature to pass through in case the other side gains an advantage or turns out to be less neutral than they first thought.


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