Taking Cover Against Missile Fire

One of the best ways to avoid being hit and injured is to hide behind something--a wall, a tree, a building corner, a heap of boulders, or whatever happens to be available. Professional adventurers, wishing to make this sound heroic, call this "taking cover."

Taking cover doesn't work particularly well in a melee, since the cover hampers defenders and attackers equally. However, it is quite an effective tactic against missile fire.

There are two types of protection a character can have. The first is "concealment," also called soft cover. A character hiding behind a clump of bushes is concealed. He can be seen, but only with difficulty, and it's no easy task to determine exactly where he is. The bushes cannot stop an arrow, but they do make it less likely that the character is hit. Other types of concealment include curtains, tapestries, smoke, fog, and brambles.

The other type of protection is "cover," sometimes called, more precisely, hard cover. It is, as its name implies, something a character can hide behind that will block a missile. Hard cover includes stone walls, the corner of a building, tables, doors, earth embankments, tree trunks, and magical walls of force.

Cover helps a potential target by giving the attacker a negative modifier to his attack roll. The exact modifier for concealment or cover depends on the degree to which it is being used as shelter. A character who stands behind a two-foot wall is a pretty obvious target, especially when compared to the character who lies down behind that wall and carefully peers over it.
Table 44 lists the different modifiers for varying degrees of cover and concealment.

Cover also has an affect on saving throws, granting the character the modifier listed on
Table 44 as a bonus to his saving throws against spells that cause physical damage (e.g., fireball and lightning bolt spells).

In addition, a character who has 90% cover (or more) suffers one-half normal damage on a failed saving throw, and no damage at all if a saving throw is successful. This assumes, of course, that the cover is between the spell effect and the target--a man crouching behind a stone wall would be protected if a fireball exploded in front of the wall, but would not be protected by cover if the blast occurred behind him, on his side of the wall.

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