Cover and Concealment

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D&D Home > Rules Miscellany > Cover and Concealment

In D&D 3.5 the rules for cover and concealment have been simplified. Cover always grants a +4 modifier to AC regardless of how effective it is, and concealment grants either a 20% miss chance for anything less than total concealment, and a 50% miss chance for total concealment (such as being invisible).

I strongly disagree with this simplification of the rules. I think it makes much more sense someone cowering the other side of an arrow-slit to be better protected against mêlée and ranged attacks than someone crouching behind a bush. Therefore, in a departure from the norm I declare that the D&D 3.0 rules stand in regard to cover and concealment.

As the original tables are no longer widely available, I reproduce them here:


Degree of Cover
AC Cover Bonus
Cover Ref Save Bonus
A human standing behind a 3 foot wall.
Fighting from around a corner or a tree; standing at an open window; behind a creature of the same size.
Peering around a corner or a tree.
Standing at an arrow slit; behind a door that is slightly ajar.
+4 *
On the other side of a solid wall.

* - half damage if save is failed, no damage if save is successful.

Note: The feat Sharp-Shooting gives +2 to hit foes who enjoy some degree of cover. The feat, Improved Precise Shot ignores all cover modifiers although you still cannot attack someone who enjoys total cover.

Cover and Firing into Mêlée: If you throw or shoot a ranged weapon at a foe engaged in mêlée combat with an ally (or anyone else) you have a chance to hit your ally by mistake. Your ally is considered to give the target one-half cover, granting a +4 cover bonus to the foe's armour class. Make your attack roll. If your roll is good enough to strike the foe normally, but falls short of the new target number the weapon is judged to have hit the cover - i.e. your friend.

Now compare the same attack roll to your friend's armour class. If it is good enough to hit him then it does so and deals normal damage. You will have some profuse apologising to do. If the roll is not good enough to hit your friend then the arrow misses completely.

At the GM's discretion a cover bonus of less or greater than +4 could be applied to the foe's armour class depending on circumstances. For example, if the enemy is an ogre and your friend is a gnome then the gnome is going to give the target significantly less cover. Equally if eight of your allies are pounding away on the one enemy, then the foe may enjoy nine-tenths cover (+10 to AC). If more than one ally is attacking the foe then roll a random dice to see which ally your weapon would have struck.

If you have the feat, Precise Shot, you can fire into mêlée without any risk of hitting your allies. You also ignore the cover bonus your allies grant the foe. However, Precise Shot does not help you circumvent normal cover, such as a low wall or a bush. The feats Sharp Shooting and Improved Precise Shot will reduce help in this respect (see above).


Miss Chance
Light fog; moderate darkness; light foliage.
Blur spell; dense fog at 5 ft (such as obscuring mist).
Dense foliage.
Near total darkness.
Invisibility; attacker blind; total darkness; dense fog at 10 ft.
50% *

* - and must guess the target's location.

Note: The feat Improved Precise Shot ignores all concealment modifieres short of total concealment.

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