Are there any clarifications or thoughts on if you can use cleave to get more than 1 attack against a large enemy (say takes up 4 tiles)?
The feat says "If you hit (with the first attack) you deal damage normally and can make an additional attack (using your full base attack bonus) against a foe that is adjacent to the first and also within reach." it seems to be clear but the concept behind cleave is you make a big swipe to hit a wide arc, so why not use it to attack multiple limbs of a larger creature, getting 2 attack and damage rolls as if both giant arms were 2 separate small foes?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I wonder if this is related to the reason why large creatures don't take more damage from area effect attacks, despite having more surface area exposed? \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Feb 5, 2013 at 5:59

1 Answer 1


The rules as written require a separate foe. A Large or larger creature does not count as adjacent to itself, and so cannot be eligible for the Cleave attack (its larger size is instead modeled by the AC penalty it takes for being Large or larger).

All things considered, it might make an interesting houserule, though. Cleave is not exactly the greatest of feats; usually it’s most useful against large numbers of weak enemies (which tend to not be too dangerous as a group, so it’s a bad choice for specializing). So giving it a use against big solo opponents seems like a good idea to me, anyway.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Pathfinder Cleave only requires that you hit the first target, not that you down the target, so it's equally effective against groups of weak and strong enemies. \$\endgroup\$
    – Steve G
    Feb 5, 2013 at 17:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SteveG Eh, even then, only if they're adjacent, which, particularly with Large or larger enemies (who have Reach), is unlikely. That's certainly an improvement to the feat but it's nonetheless far from a great feat. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 5, 2013 at 18:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I like the house rule idea. As character level, the creatures definitely tend to get bigger. While it probably doesn't make sense for a 1-step size difference, allowing a cleave for a 2-step size difference probably makes sense. Because if a creature is 2 sizes larger than you, there will basically never be anything adjacent. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gates VP
    Feb 5, 2013 at 19:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GatesVP I'd be tempted to change it from "adjacent" to "within your own melee reach, measured from the originally-struck creature," as well, but I worry that this would be complicated and slow to rule on the table. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 5, 2013 at 20:10
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan at some level, this is exactly what is happening with reach = 1. I can see the annoyance of triangulating for Greater Cleave. I wonder how broken it becomes if it is just simplified to "any two creatures within reach"? \$\endgroup\$
    – Gates VP
    Feb 6, 2013 at 10:38

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