Can a swarm attack an adjacent creature, or must they occupy the same space as a creature to attack them? Let's consider the regular "Swarm of Teeth" attack of a Rat Swarm for an example: is its reach 0 or 1?

I've found rules saying that (emphasis mine):

A swarm can occupy the same space as another creature

And that tiny creatures have 0 reach.

I haven't found 4th edition rules saying what the default reach of swarm creatures is (regardless of the space they occupy). So, what is it?


Yes, swarms can attack adjacent squares

Under the definition of melee attacks:

Reach: Most characters have a reach of 1 square. Certain powers, feats, and weapons can increase your reach. - Players Handbook p. 270

Unless a power specifies a longer range or shorter range it is always assumed to be range 1, or in other words, adjacent for all melee attacks. I say shorter because swarm creatures may have special attack powers that they can only use when in the same square as an enemy.

The reason that it is stated that swarms can occupy the same square as players is because a lot of swarms feature auras that deal damage or otherwise hinder players.

  • \$\begingroup\$ OK. Let's be more specific then. What about a rat swarm (tools.dungeonmastering.com/monstercards/shared/1619)? It doesn't specify the range of the regular "Swarm of Teeth" attack. Is it 1 or 0? \$\endgroup\$ – jpbochi Oct 12 '13 at 1:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ The swarm is "a" medium creature, and the attack does not specify a range. Medium creatures have reach 1 unless otherwise noted, so Swarm of Teeth has range 1. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Oct 12 '13 at 1:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ If it helps to visualise the effect, you should see the occupied square as being where the bulk of the swarm is, but that there are also creatures in the adjacent squares, and an attack by the swarm may also consist of a surge of many small creatures that charge forward, attack and retreat. This is not modelled in detail in the game system, as the existing rules for single creatures are already adequate (you don't model the step forward and thrusting a claw into the next square directly, it's all in the attack roll) \$\endgroup\$ – Neil Slater Oct 12 '13 at 18:18

A swarm is one creature for rules purposes, that consists of many tiny members, but who cares? In a game where you can prone a gelationus cube, simplicity clearly triumphs over logic. (And I like it that way)

The rat swarm is a medium creature, meduim creatures have a reach of 1 unless otherwise noted, so it has a reach of 1.


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