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 defender and attacker 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 59 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 59 as a bonus to his saving throws against spells that cause
physical damage (for example, fireball, lightning bolt, etc.)
Furthermore, a character who has 90% cover (or more) suffers one-half normal
damage on a failed save and no damage at all if a saving throw is successful.
This assumes, of course, that the fireball, lightning bolt, or whatever, hit the
cover--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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