Rank I of the Heavy Gunner talent, Covering Fire, is described on page 97 of the Lancer Core Book First Edition PDF as follows (emphasis mine):
As a quick action, choose a character within line of sight and RANGE of one of your HEAVY ranged weapons, and within 10 spaces: they are Impaired until the start of your next turn. For the duration, if your target moves more than 1 space, they clear Impaired, but you may attack them as a reaction with a HEAVY ranged weapon for half damage, [Heat], or [Burn], and then this effect ends. You can make this attack at any point during their movement (e.g., waiting until they exit cover).
COVERING FIRE can only affect one character at a time – subsequent uses replace previous ones – and it immediately ends if your target damages you.
As p. 104 of the core book notes below the "Patterns" subheading in the "Weapon Tags" section, some weapons affect an area rather than a single target:
Some weapons and systems have special attack patterns: LINE, CONE, BLAST, and BURST. These attacks affect all targets within a defined area and require a separate attack roll for each target. Damage is only rolled once, and bonus damage is halved if there are multiple targets affected.
The section then describes how those 4 kinds of AoEs work in particular.
How does Covering Fire's reaction work with area-of-effect attacks?
- To begin with, can AoE attacks (with heavy ranged weapons) even be made using the reaction from Covering Fire?
- If so, do they need to be centered (or otherwise focused) on the character chosen for Covering Fire? Or can they be placed in any configuration as long as the chosen character is in the AoE? (Does the answer differ based on which AoE pattern the attack has to use?)
- Does the reaction attack only affect the chosen character? Or does it affect other targets in the AoE as it would otherwise? (If it does affect other targets in the AoE, do they take full damage/Heat/Burn, or is it also halved?)