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In what circumstances would cover affect melee attacks?

If three characters are lined up as shown in the diagram, and the bottom-right man in armor makes a melee attack against the frog creature in the upper-left (through the woman's square, and around the corner), does the frog have half-cover from the attack?

Melee Cover Question

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you want us to assume that creatures and obstructions snap to the grid? \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Oct 9 at 5:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are two different questions here, actually: 1. does cover affect melee attacks in general and 2. does the frog have any cover in the particular situation described \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Oct 9 at 11:08
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Yes, cover does affect melee attacks

The rules for cover are below:

Cover

Walls, trees, creatures, and other obstacles can provide cover during combat, making a target more difficult to harm. A target can benefit from cover only when an attack or other effect originates on the opposite side of the cover.

There are three degrees of cover: half cover, three-quarters cover, and total cover. If a target is behind multiple sources of cover, only the most protective degree of cover applies; the degrees aren’t added together. For example, if a target is behind a creature that gives half cover and a tree trunk that gives three-quarters cover, the target has three-quarters cover.

Half Cover

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.

Three-quarters Cover

A target with three-quarters cover has a +5 bonus to AC and Dexterity saving throws. A target has three-quarters cover if about three-quarters of it is covered by an obstacle. The obstacle might be a portcullis, an arrow slit, or a thick tree trunk.

Total Cover

A target with total cover can’t be targeted directly by an attack or a spell, although some spells can reach such a target by including it in an area of effect. A target has total cover if it is completely concealed by an obstacle.

I'd consider the corner of the wall to be blocking at least half of that creature (it might be Bullywug) so it would get half cover from the attacker in the lower right.

I will also note that a melee attack victim could have cover if the attacker is attacking with a reach weapon and there is a creature between the attacker and the target.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I could be misremembering but I was sure that melee attacks without reach were not affected by cover since you needed to be on the opposite side of the cover for it to have any effect. (and you generally cant be on the opposite side of cover if you only have a 5-foot range) \$\endgroup\$ – Karan Shishoo Oct 9 at 4:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KaranShishoo It doesn't say that specifically. It might be rare if you use a tile grid since a wall might take up an actual tile, by you could put a wall on the edge. \$\endgroup\$ – Allan Mills Oct 9 at 4:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KaranShishoo: I don't think there's any rule forbidding cover from affected a 5-foot-range attack. There could be a half-wall or other obstruction between the creatures, making it harder to hit the target (hence the bonus to AC). \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 9 at 4:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ In support of your statement at the end: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/110937 and rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/120300 \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Oct 9 at 5:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ By the way, it's not a Bullywug, it's a Grung (here's a picture of them) \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 9 at 7:52
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Unless otherwise state by some specific ability (i.e. sharpshooter)

Cover applies equally to all forms of attack

I'm going to steal a fair amount from my answer about reach weapons and cover here, as I think it's mostly the same.

With that in mind we can evaluate whether or not an attack from some position incurs cover from another position.

Cover

Walls, trees, creatures, and other obstacles can provide cover during combat, making a target more difficult to harm. A target can benefit from cover only when an attack or other effect originates on the opposite side of the cover...

... A target has half cover if an obstacle blocks at least half of its body. The obstacle might be a ... creature, whether that creature is an enemy or a friend. (emphasis mine)

p.250 and p.251 of the DMG have a chart/description.

To determine whether a target has cover against an attack or other effect on a grid, choose a corner of the attacker's space... trace imaginary lines from that corner to every corner of any one square the target occupies. If one or two of those lines are blocked by an obstacle (including another creature), the target has half cover.... cover image p 250 DMG

So, we can attempt the same exercise with your image and we see that if either the woman or the wall were not there, no cover would be gained. Since both are present, the target receives a bonus for half cover.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a case where your answer and Alan's answer combine to help me understand how to make a good ruling. Well done to you both! :-) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 9 at 14:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Easymode44 Nothing is infallible, but this is helpful if one is stumped as DM. I rarely am, but now and again I am thinking "Is that half or 3/4 cover?" (full cover is easy) and this kind of thing helps me make a call. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 9 at 15:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast agreed. Mentioned just for the sake of completeness. \$\endgroup\$ – Easymode44 Oct 9 at 15:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells The attacker more or less chooses where in the square they're swinging from-that's why they get to pick the most convenient square for them. \$\endgroup\$ – The Dark Canuck Oct 9 at 15:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ruse Not a gap, a feature. The DM can rule on which one if needed, but it is worth remembering that within the 5' square, the PC is not just standing there. The PC can be anywhere in the square during the round/turn, and thus can be "looking" from any corner. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 9 at 16:01

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