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I'm looking for clarification on a spell effect. The specific spell in question is lightning bolt, 3rd-level Sorcerer/Wizard spell. It has an area of a 120-ft line. Does it pass through enemies? If I have 4 enemies in a line in range, does it hit all, or only the first? I saw Do enemies block line of effect?, but that only helped for 4e, this is PF which has different wording.

So does an enemy count as a "Solid Barrier" for the purpose of blocking the effect from going further? Any info is appreciated, especially if you can point me to a source I can reference in the future.

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2 Answers 2

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Yes, lightning bolt affects everyone in its line of effect

Creatures do not block line-of-effect, so areas extend through them

A line area effect targets all squares (within the limits of its range and shape) to which the effect has line-of-effect.

Magic Overview > Aiming a Spell > Area > Cone, Cylinder, Line, or Sphere

A line-shaped spell shoots away from you in a line in the direction you designate. It starts from any corner of your square and extends to the limit of its range or until it strikes a barrier that blocks line of effect.

Note that, in the absence of such a blocker,

A line-shaped spell affects all creatures in squares through which the line passes.

So already there is a notion that multiple creatures can be included in the area, implying that they do not block the effect. But we can do better than an implication.

Glossary > Line of Effect

A line of effect is a straight, unblocked path that indicates what a spell can affect. A line of effect is canceled by a solid barrier. It's like line of sight for ranged weapons, except that it's not blocked by fog, darkness, and other factors that limit normal sight. A line of effect starts from any corner of your square and extends to the limit of its range or until it strikes a barrier that would block it. A line-shaped spell affects all creatures in squares through which the line passes.

Here we have the text explicitly stating that the line of effect passes through creatures. A creature is therefore not a solid barrier.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That was fast. Thank you very much for the quick and succint clarification. I assumed that was how it was supposed to act, and was going to Rule 0 it for balance if not, but wanted to be 100% sure first. Thank you again, I very much appreciate it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Omnitus
    Jul 21, 2015 at 16:57
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Lightning Bolt is has an area of effect; 'line'.

From the CRB chapter on Magic:

A line-shaped spell shoots away from you in a line in the direction you designate. It starts from any corner of your square and extends to the limit of its range or until it strikes a barrier that blocks line of effect. A line-shaped spell affects all creatures in squares through which the line passes.

The implication from the final line, is that yes a line shaped spell passes through creatures.

From the CRB chapter on Combat, wrt Total Cover:

Total Cover: If you don't have line of effect to your target (that is, you cannot draw any line from your square to your target's square without crossing a solid barrier), he is considered to have total cover from you. You can't make an attack against a target that has total cover.

So Total Cover is defined as a lack of line of effect.

But a creature only provides soft cover:

Soft Cover: Creatures, even your enemies, can provide you with cover against ranged attacks, giving you a +4 bonus to AC. However, such soft cover provides no bonus on Reflex saves, nor does soft cover allow you to make a Stealth check.

So by the Cover rules, yes your line spell will pass through creatures as they do not provide total cover.

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