Part Five: Reaching Cover

In this installment of Gamestoppers, we check out the rules for cover and reach weapons. Last month, the group dealt with a surly clay golem by bull rushing it off the edge of a cliff. The group has since clambered down a narrow flight of stone stairs carved into the face of the cliff in pursuit of the goblin high priest. Vadania used wildshape in the last encounter, and resumes her natural form before descending the stairs. Lidda drank a potion of invisibility, but its effects expire before they reach the bottom of the stairs; Nebin's invisibility spell is still in effect by the time they near the bottom of the immense flight of stairs. They stop when they hear the sound of rushing water below.

DM: Up ahead you can see that you've almost reached the floor of the canyon. Unfortunately, most of this canyon "floor" is in fact a raging river. The stairs descend down to a small stone beach on the riverbank with a stone pier jutting out into the river. At the base of the stairs stands the biggest and meanest looking goblin you've ever seen. He stands behind a low pile of rocks heaped at the base of the stairs and wields a cruel-looking barbed longspear. And lurking behind him is your quarry, the goblin high priest! As the goblin barbarian sees you, he cries out in rage . . . roll initiative!

[The DM rolls a 12 for the barbarian and a 4 for the high priest; Lidda rolls a 20, Krusk a 14, Vadania a 13, and Nebin an 8.]

DM: Okay, Lidda; you're up!


PC (Lidda): That high priest is going down. I'm shooting him with my crossbow.

DM: Since the high priest is lurking behind both the pile of rocks and his barbarian cohort, he's got three quarters cover, which grants him a +7 bonus to his armor class. Do your worst!

[Lidda rolls and gets a 32, hitting just barely for 5 points of damage.]

DM: Next is Krusk.

PC (Krusk): Well, since I'm still pretty thrashed by that clay golem, my only option is to charge that barbarian and bring the pain to him!

DM: Umm . . . if you say so. Anyway, his longspear has 10 feet of reach so as you close to melee, you'll be forced to exit his threat range; he can take an attack of opportunity on you. And since his spear reaches over the rock wall it won't provide you with any cover. [Cover can be effective against attacks with reach weapons, but in this case the barbarian can reach over the wall to avoid its effects; if he was a further 5 feet back from the wall, the low cover afforded by the low wall would apply.]

PC (Krusk): So?

[DM shrugs, rolls an attack and hits for 12 points of damage.]

DM: Okay. You're now in melee range, but since the goblin barbarian is behind the low wall of stone rubble, he's got one quarter cover and as a result has a +2 bonus to his armor class.

[Krusk rolls an attack and hits for 16 points of damage.]

DM: Your turn, Vadania.

PC (Vadania): Okay; that barbarian's already got his attack of opportunity in for the round so I'm going to move up behind Krusk and cast a spell on him.

DM: Good plan, but unfortunately the goblin barbarian has Combat Reflexes. And since you're standing in his threat range, the barbarian would normally get an attack of opportunity against you with his longspear. On the other hand, Krusk is between you and the barbarian, and because Krusk is more or less the same size as you, he provides half cover against this attack. And since half cover or better prevents attacks of opportunity, you can cast your spell easily.

PC (Vadania): Good. Anyway, I cast barkskin on Krusk.

DM: Well, the goblin barbarian doesn't seem to like your use of magic so close to him, Vadania. He unleashes a thunderous roar as he enters his barbarian rage and stabs at you with his longspear. Krusk is still providing half cover for you, [DM makes the attack roll] but he hits you anyway for 17 points of damage. Okay then; it's your turn, Nebin!

PC (Nebin): All right. I've had it with that dang goblin high priest and his cronies. Since it looks like there's enough room to race up next to Krusk, I'm going to do that and cast cone of cold on those goblins.

DM: Since you're still invisible, you can get up to the wall without drawing an attack of opportunity from the barbarian. You make it to the barricade without a problem and cast your spell; remember that the barbarian has one-quarter cover which gives him a +1 bonus to the Reflex saving throw against your spell, and the high priest has three-quarters cover so he gets a +3 bonus to the roll. Roll your damage!

[Nebin rolls fairly well, but both the goblin and the high priest make their saving throws and suffer only half damage; neither of them drops.]

PC (Nebin): DANG! And now I'm visible! Oops.

DM: Well, it's the high priest's turn finally! And sure enough, he starts casting a spell. Suddenly, a wall of granite springs out of the ground between him and the goblin barbarian, who looks a bit nervous now that his avenue for escape is cut off. You can hear the goblin high priest's footsteps vaguely as he retreats further down the beach, cackling to himself in delight. The wall provides him total cover so you can't target him with spells or attacks at all.

PC (Krusk): That's fine with Krusk! There's plenty to do right here! Krusk hefts his axe and prepares to leap over the rubble to get a good clean shot at his goblin nemesis. . . .

As the battle continues, the group makes short work of the goblin barbarian now that his master has left him behind as a "speed bump" while he makes good his escape. What will happen next to the group as they continue their chase after their enemy? Be sure to join us next time when we look at the rules for the swallow whole special attack!

Male Goblin Bbn10: CR 10; Small humanoid (goblinoid); HD 10d12+30; hp 95; Init +1; Spd 40 ft.; AC 17 (touch 12, flat-footed 17); Atk +17/+12 melee (1d4+8/x3, Small +2 longspear); SQ Darkvision 60 ft., fast movement, rage 3/day, uncanny dodge; AL CE; SV Fort +10, Ref +4, Will +4; Str 19, Dex 13, Con 16, Int 7, Wis 9, Cha 6.

Skills and Feats: Climb +15, Hide +5, Intimidate +11, Listen +2, Move Silently +3, Spot +2; Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Iron Will, Power Attack.

Rage:The following changes are in effect for the duration of the rage (8 rounds): HD 10d12+50; hp 115; AC 15 (touch 10, flat-footed 15); Atk +19/+14 melee (1d4+11/x3, Small +2 longspear); SV Fort +12, Will +6; Str 23, Con 20, Climb +17.

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