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I was looking at the Blade Barrier spell, and I was wondering does the spell have a 'front' and a 'back'? The spell description states:

The wall provides three-quarters cover to creatures behind it

Does this refer to creatures who are behind the 'back' of the blade barrier, or does this apply to any creature shooting another creature on the other side of the wall?

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2 Answers 2

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The wall doesn't have a direction, but attacks do

D&D doesn't spend a whole lot of time on cover and how and when to apply it, trusting players to use plain reading of the rules and their good sense to make things work. So let's try to read things plainly.

The spell doesn't have a direction, if it did, the description would say so. However, when you are making an attack, the attack has a direction (from you to your target). If the wall is between you and the target, the target is behind it. Specifically, it is behind the wall which qualifies it for cover. Consider the general rule on applicability of cover:

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

Player's Handbook, p. 196

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While this is a good explanation for some answer, it doesn't actually state an answer to the question asked. \$\endgroup\$
    – user31662
    Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 19:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GregMartin I try to address and answer the question, and more importantly the problem, presented in the body of the question (the title serves as a summary thereof). I'm curious to hear how you think this fails to answer the problem the asker has. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 19:48
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A wall grants cover to both sides.

In front and behind are observer relevant, the area of the wall itself is difficult terrain and an entity that grants cover, so the wall grants cover for both sides. If you try to traverse it from either side, then you will be subject to the Dexterity saving throw. If you try to make a ranged attack etc. from either side to the opposite side of the cover, then your target will have 3/4 cover (PHB 196).

Walls, trees, creatures, and other obstacles can provide cover during combat. [...] A target can benefit from cover only when an attack or other effect originates on the opposite side of the cover.

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