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So, a group of mine made this doubt pop up: do huge creatures have reach just because of their size?

From what I understand, a creature has reach on a melee attack only if it's written as this one (an adult red dragon used as an example)

jaws +29 / +24 / +19 (fire, magical, reach 15 feet)

The dragon is huge and has a different reach on every melee attack.

So a greater nightmare - although huge - should not have reach on an attack written like this, right?

jaws +24 / +19 / +14 (evil, magical)

Again, to summarize: is melee attacks' reach always written in the creature's stat block?

Edit: the first answers both seem valid, but they diverge. Any official quote would be helpful, thanks.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/158421/… - however, this question is only covering spells and effects that change sizes, so I don't think it's a dupe - if anything, that question is a dupe of this one (by being a sub-category) \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Jan 21, 2023 at 0:59

2 Answers 2

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Reach Should Always Be Listed

Operative word here being "should" - I've not yet seen a creature where it seems like it was a mistake it wasn't.

The rules for reach as it corresponds to size say this:

Table 9–1 also lists the typical reach for creatures of each size...

Table 9-1: Size and Reach

Size Space Reach (Tall) Reach (Long)
Tiny Less than 5 feet 0 feet 0 feet
Small 5 feet 5 feet 5 feet
Medium 5 feet 5 feet 5 feet
Large 10 feet 10 feet 5 feet
Huge 15 feet 15 feet 10 feet
Gargantuan 20 feet or more 20 feet 15 feet

The table shows the typical reach of a Huge (Long) creature like the Greater Nightmare is 10 feet. However... note the word typical means that this is more of an FYI of what to expect than an actual rule. These rules in turn reference the Range and Reach rules on page 455 of the CRB:

Your reach is typically 5 feet, but weapons with the reach trait can extend this. Larger creatures can have greater reach; for instance, an ogre has a 10-foot reach.

Again, none of the language here implies that it's all Large or larger creatures have reach! Importantly, the referenced Ogre explicitly calls out Reach in its stat block. This would be totally unnecessary if we were to assume the typical Reach.

RAW, Reach is never assumed to be anything but 5 feet, and thus must be explicitly printed on a stat block. Thus you should assume no printed Reach means 5 feet, even for Huge or larger creatures.

This is further reinforced by the text of the Enlarge spell:

Bolstered by magical power, the target grows to size Large. Its equipment grows with it but returns to natural size if removed. The creature is clumsy 1. Its reach increases by 5 feet (or by 10 feet if it started out Tiny), and

A PC with this spell is presumably now a Large (Tall) creature. Should the above table apply to all creatures regardless, then you'd already have a 10 foot reach just for being Large! This would mean Enlarge gives you a 15 foot reach - which I suppose isn't out of the question, but it very clearly seems to be designed to keep PCs on pace with the typical reach of Tall creatures of various sizes. Again, if the typical reach from the table was to be assumed, this text would be unnecessary.

It seems reasonable to say that, RAI, it's left up to the GM to determine whether it makes more sense for the creature that doesn't mention Reach to have the default Reach or the typical Reach - there's a lot that goes into designing a creature, and it's easy for authors to miss small details, especially if they were assumed in other editions.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What about Groody's answer? "If no reach is given at all, you should assume the default reach as provided in the table, because the rules tell you so." \$\endgroup\$
    – Snakehelm
    Jan 21, 2023 at 0:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Snakehelm I disagree with the esteemed Groody on what typical means here, I suppose. I tried to address this by showing that Reach is called out even when it's the "typical" amount (the Ogre, or the Enlarge spell) - I'll see if I can make it cleaner. \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Jan 21, 2023 at 1:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ RAW, it seems like there is no default reach. Everything, including the 5 feet "normal" reach is qualified by "typically". \$\endgroup\$
    – Alan
    Jan 21, 2023 at 1:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Alan yeah, that's a fair observation - a related discussion is ensuing in the comments on Groody's answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Jan 21, 2023 at 1:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the best support for this is the exception proving the rule for the reach trait <2e.aonprd.com/Traits.aspx?ID=192>, which states that unarmed attacks with reach have the stated reach instead of allowing only attacks into adjacent spaces. \$\endgroup\$
    – darch
    Jan 21, 2023 at 3:01
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Creatures have default reach by size

This is covered in the rules for size, space and reach, core rulebook page 473:

Creatures and objects of different sizes occupy different amounts of space. The sizes and the spaces they each take up on a grid are listed in Table 9–1: Size and Reach (page 474). Table 9–1 also lists the typical reach for creatures of each size, for both tall creatures (most bipeds) and long creatures (most quadrupeds). See page 455 for more about reach. (...)
Table 9-1: Size and Reach

Size Space Reach (Tall) Reach (Long)
Tiny Less than 5 feet 0 feet 0 feet
Small 5 feet 5 feet 5 feet
Medium 5 feet 5 feet 5 feet
Large 10 feet 10 feet 5 feet
Huge 15 feet 15 feet 10 feet
Gargantuan 20 feet or more 20 feet 15 feet

So yes, Huge creatures do have reach just because of their size.

Note that this is given as the typical reach. If a creature has different reach stated, it will override these measurements, as specific rules beat general ones. For example, a dragon is not tall, so as a huge creature it would normally have 10 feet reach, but the dragon, with its long neck has 15. A huge creature like the Greater Nightmare would need to say 5 feet, if it wanted to limit you to just that short reach.

If no reach is given at all, you should assume the default reach as provided in the table, because the rules tell you so.

There is no rule (that I am aware of), that states unlisted reach is always 5 feet. The statement under Range and Reach (p. 455 core rules) that says

Your reach is typically 5 feet, but weapons with the reach trait can extend this. Larger creatures can have greater reach;

also uses the term typically and seems to be targeted towards the player characters, who are addressed with you and normally have only 5 feet of range unless their weapons change that, but the default reach of monsters is covered by the table listed above. I do however agree that it would be much more convenient if the rules listed the actual reach right there in the stat block for all monsters.

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  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think the table is pretty clear. I agree with ESCE that the monsters should always list the reach, which would make it easier to use, but we are not talking PCs here as the rules do when they say "your reach is typcially 5 feet". The typical reach for monsters of other sizes is not 5 feet instead it it is given in the table. I least I found no statement that an unlisted range would count as 5 feet anywhere. If there was one, I would agree with his read. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21, 2023 at 1:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, this is really seeming like a case of Paizo simply not being clear. I still think the circumstantial evidence (the Athach, monsters having reach listed "unnecessarily" such as the Ogre, the Enlarge spell) leans towards the answer I provide. Best I can find is that the Reach trait is worded to assume that there's a 5 foot default reach. \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Jan 21, 2023 at 1:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ESCE (and Snakehelm, too), I agree with you, narratively reach larger than 5 feet does not make much sense for creatures with not appendices, but while we are at that, neither does even 5 feet. Such creatures narratively would need to bump into their targets with 0 feet reach. If we allow them jumping forward and back 5 feet we could just as well allow them to do it for 10 or 15 feet. I also agree, Paizo is not very clear here. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21, 2023 at 1:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Looking at the other end of the spectrum, only a couple (that I could find) tiny creatures list "reach 0" for their melee attacks. If we take ESCE's answer as right, the table 9-1 is blatantly wrong about tiny creatures' typical reach; If we take Groody's answer as right, then the demilitch shouldn't bother listing reach 0 for it's melee strike. It's frustratingly inconsistent either way :/ \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruse
    Jan 21, 2023 at 4:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ruse It seems normal to me, I checked other a bunch of tiny creatures and they do not say reach 0. After all, the Tiny trait says "They can also occupy the same space as larger creatures, and if their reach is 0 feet, they must do so in order to attack." And IF their reach is 0. That "if" looks important and that to me also seems like doubling down on Delioth's answer on the related question: "the table exists as a general rule or guideline (e.g. for building creatures, or if the GM wants to homebrew a super-enlarge that turns a target gargantuan)". \$\endgroup\$
    – Snakehelm
    Jan 21, 2023 at 5:13

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