Rules for Cover & Concealment

OUR FRIEND Helmsmen has requested rules for cover and concealment, and I think that this is an excellent idea! Many times Dungeon Masters forget to factor this stuff in, and it is a shame, these rules bring the setting more into focus for players. It allows creative players to perform heroic acts, and brings more fun to the table.

All of these rules are speculative, and require the brains and decision making skills of a DM, only the DM knows how good of cover you have found, and only they can let you know exactly what kind of modifiers that you have found for yourself.

Here is the Chart itself:


Target is: cover/concealment
25%: -2/-1
50%: -4/-2
75%: -7/-3
90%: -10/-4

Now, what does this mean?


Concealment is defined as hiding but not all that well protected. A thief finding cover behind a curtain, archers firing upon a road from the woods. Concealment can also be because of natural things, such as fog or heavy smoke. A character that is hard to see but isn’t protected is considered to be concealed.


Cover is defined as hiding behind something hard which will take the brunt of the trauma for you. Hiding behind a large rock, or wall which arrows cannot penetrate. Of course grabbing a door and hiding behind this could also constitute cover.


Cover really isn’t all that effective against melee combat, but for missile combat, this could mean life and death. You’ll notice that 100% isn’t on the chart, characters who are 100% covered can’t be shot at.

Cover only works if the object that you are hiding behind is between you and who or what ever is firing at you. An archer can change your cover value, simply by repositioning himself to a different location.


Breath Weapons or grenade-like attacks which cause damage with a large blast can be covered from. The modifiers in the table are also used as bonuses to your saving-throws for such spells or attacks.

If the character can find 90% cover or more, and makes his saving-throw, he suffers no damage, despite what the rules say. This damage instead goes to the item which he was using to cover himself with, which may be destroyed. If the player fails this save, then he still only takes one-half normal damage, again, the item that he is covering behind has taken the damage for him.


Now the first thing that a character is going to try and pull with this system, is that he is hiding behind something and still firing his weapon, and tries to demand that he’s not exposing himself while he’s firing. Well, he is. Long bows require you to stand up to fire, and you must be exposed for a bit to line up your shot and take it. Short bows require at least a crouch, and again, you must be exposed to take your shot.

Crossbows can be fired from any position, being laying down or standing up, but with all of these things, if they still claim that they aren’t exposing themselves, then they aren’t aiming either. As the DM you can either ignore their shots, or impose a –10 penalty for attack, and remove all bonuses for damage. Those hit by un-aimed fire, or cover fire, only suffer half damage.

If a player or NPC uses 1 full attack, taking a good aimed shot with his missile weapon, he suffers 25% coverage per attack made that round. Thus, a fighter with 3/2 attacks per round, on the first round he’ll take 2 shots, this will give him a cover factor of 50%, on the next round, he can only attack once, so his cover factor will be 75%.


This is a highly suggestive system, made for as wide a variety of options as possible. It is completely up to you, the DM, to make sense of this and to apply the modifiers as you see fit, but it is such a fast and versatile chart that it makes coming up with answers quickly very easy.

It goes without saying that this system effects both Player Characters, as well as NPC & Monsters. These rules generally do effect ambushes and most fights which rely heavily on missile fire.

ART BY: Jeff Easley


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