I'm running a module that features a fort with arrow slits and murder holes, and I'm trying to figure out what the cover rules are for people on each side of them.

Under the Combat rules, the CRB states:

Improved Cover

In some cases, such as attacking a target hiding behind an arrowslit, cover may provide a greater bonus to AC and Reflex saves. In such situations, the normal cover bonuses to AC and Reflex saves can be doubled (to +8 and +4, respectively). A creature with this improved cover effectively gains improved evasion against any attack to which the Reflex save bonus applies. Furthermore, improved cover provides a +10 bonus on Stealth checks.

From this, it seems clear that the defending archers should have improved cover. This is reinforced by this section under Dungeon Environments:

Walls with Arrow Slits

Walls with arrow slits can be made of any durable material but are most commonly masonry, hewn stone, or wood. Such a wall allows defenders to fire arrows or crossbow bolts at intruders from behind the safety of the wall. Archers behind arrow slits have improved cover that gives them a +8 bonus to Armor Class, a +4 bonus on Reflex saves, and the benefits of the improved evasion class feature. (emphasis added)

The words "defenders" and "behind arrow slits" make me think that the cover is at least somewhat directional - the defending archers are meant to be at an advantage over the besiegers (which makes sense). However, the general cover rules seem to suggest that the besiegers might also have some cover:


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).

When making a melee attack against an adjacent target, your target has cover if any line from any corner of your square to the target’s square goes through a wall (including a low wall). When making a melee attack against a target that isn’t adjacent to you (such as with a reach weapon), use the rules for determining cover from ranged attacks.

I think that the intent is that arrow slits would be at the corners of grid squares. RAW, I think that would give the besiegers no cover. However, on the map I'm using, the arrow slits are in the middle of the grid squares. RAW, I think that gives the besiegers at least cover, and maybe improved cover.

Distinct from this question (although related) in that this is about improved cover like arrow slits, whereas that was more a case of low cover.


1 Answer 1


RAW, no, they don’t have cover related to the arrow slit.

According to the rules as written, no, someone being attacked through an arrow slit has no cover inherent to the arrow slit and their cover should be determined from the two corners of the grid side with the arrow slit, which are, effectively, corners of the archer’s square for determining other cover. The target might have cover from something else, but not the arrow slit.

You might use a house rule to better reflect how arrow slits work.

An arrow slit is not a 2-way straight cut through a wall, it specifically designed to shoot outward and protect inward. It is small and narrow on the outside, but expands in width through the wall so the archer can target a wider field of view by angling to the left or right. Still, an arrow slit doesn’t have as wide a field of view as suggested by rules as written. I would probably use a pattern similar to a cone area of effect to determine the archer’s field of view and targeting through an arrow slit.

  • \$\begingroup\$ exactly. you cant hit what you cant see. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 14, 2020 at 7:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can sometimes. But you definitely can't hit what you can't effectively use your weapon against. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Oct 14, 2020 at 12:24

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