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View Full Version : Can you tell an opponent's reach? [3.5]



true_shinken
2010-12-25, 09:12 AM
Exactly what it says on the tin.
I found no rules regarding this, and while in some cases it's obvious (Large size, reach weapon) in others it isn't (Warshaper's extended reach, concealed tentacles).
Is there any rule on this or should I just apply common sense? That's what I usually do, but maybe there is an actual rule somewhere.

Ernir
2010-12-25, 09:18 AM
I don't think there is.

However, reach is fairly systematic, so players should be able to get most of what they need to know by 1) looking at the space it occupies on the grid, and 2) asking whether it's "tall". Special stuff, like dragons' bite attacks having a longer reach than normal for a creature of their size, sounds like something that qualifies as "a bit of useful information" you can remember with a Knowledge check.

elonin
2010-12-25, 09:22 AM
It's fairly easy to make that deduction. Bigger creatures have bigger body parts to hit you with as well as using bigger weapons. Reach from tentacles may be a bit more surprising.

KillianHawkeye
2010-12-25, 09:25 AM
Reach from tentacles may be a bit more surprising.

It always is.... :smallwink:

SamsDisciple
2010-12-25, 09:29 AM
I think you would either have to do knowledge checks against the type of creature or if the creature has already attacked you might do a knowledge check tactics or something similar to figure that out. Or good old trial and error is my favorite

Ernir
2010-12-25, 09:44 AM
Or good old trial and error is my favorite

Yeah, pretty much.

Player: "I charge the tentacled monstrosity."
DM: "What's your touch AC vs. attacks of opportunity? Don't forget the -2 penalty for charging."
Player: :smalleek:

Ormur
2010-12-25, 11:13 AM
Since you mentioned Warshaper, it seems to hold the key to your query.


Morphic Reach (Su): A warshaper of 3rd level or higher
can suddenly stretch its limbs, neck, or other appendages
outward, giving it 5 more feet of reach than the creature itís
emulating. Unlike most creatures, warshapers donít appear to
have a longer reach until they actually use it.

So you wouldn't be able to tell that a warshaper had +5 feet reach but the text specifies that normally you would be able tell a creatures reach.

I think there may be other similar attacks like some hidden tentacles (think they were used for the emerald legion) that you couldn't tell the reach for. Apart from them I'd rule that you could always tell the reach of appendages and weapons if you can see them or know about them.

Coidzor
2010-12-25, 11:14 AM
I think warshaper is one of the ones where it's definitely stealthy until after the warshaper reveals it has that ability unless the warshaper has a tell and the character knows about 'em.

Others, like tentacles, are things that I'd assume characters would be wary about to begin with, and tall creatures of a certain size or with reach weapons should be readily apparent.

unimaginable
2010-12-25, 12:19 PM
Then there are weapons like spiked chains and whips which could, in principle, be either hidden or made to look much shorter than they actually are until used. Opposed sleight of hand or hide and spot to pull it off... Quick Draw could allow it to work for AoO (because you could draw it without taking a move action).

gbprime
2010-12-25, 12:32 PM
Yeah, it's obvious that a large tall creature has 10' of reach while a large quadruped does not, and anything with a long neck is obvious. But if they've got a racial trait, you don't know about it unless you've got that knowledge check. Hidden equipment... not til you see it. Feat... not til you experience it.

It's like the moment when you discover your opponant has Mage Slayer, or Hold the Line, or Reactive Counterspell, Robilar's Gambit. Surprise!

Keinnicht
2010-12-25, 12:41 PM
Generally yes. A trained fighter, even a low-level one, is going to be able to think "Huh. That ogre has really long arms. He can probably reach me."

true_shinken
2010-12-25, 12:44 PM
It's like the moment when you discover your opponant has Mage Slayer, or Hold the Line, or Reactive Counterspell, Robilar's Gambit. Surprise!

It bugs me that Mage Slayer has a line specifically denying this. :smallfrown:
Melee can't have nice things.

AtomicKitKat
2010-12-25, 09:50 PM
Actually, IIRC, Dragons have reach as a Quadruped of their size category, while their Bite is as a Tall creature of the same. Some subspecies(colours/types) have longer necks, which as an optional rule, can allow even greater reach. I'd argue that their tail slaps should probably follow the same rule, but make it so each of them can only cover up to a hemisphere on either end of their body during a single round(so you can't use the tail to hit the front except as a full-round action, for example).

Godskook
2010-12-25, 10:38 PM
Exactly what it says on the tin.
I found no rules regarding this, and while in some cases it's obvious (Large size, reach weapon) in others it isn't (Warshaper's extended reach, concealed tentacles).
Is there any rule on this or should I just apply common sense? That's what I usually do, but maybe there is an actual rule somewhere.

Not sure on if there's rules about it, but:

1.Size should be semi-obvious.

2.Reach weapons should be obvious to anyone proficient, or trained in Martial Lore.

3.Natural Attacks depend on what kind it is, and I'd probably require trial-and-error for non-standard ones, such as from a tentacle or Chaos Roc Span soulmeld.

4.Warshaper's ability is definitely a surprise, as Ormur mentions.


It bugs me that Mage Slayer has a line specifically denying this. :smallfrown:
Melee can't have nice things.

Mage Slayer already *IS* a nice thing.

AtomicKitKat
2010-12-27, 02:23 PM
Here's one: Inhuman Reach from Lords of Madness increases your reach by 5'. Even though as written, all it does fluff-wise is make your arms more flexible, you can now bite/kick/butt-bump/what-have-you from 5' further away than before!:smalltongue:

Coidzor
2010-12-27, 04:08 PM
2.Reach weapons should be obvious to anyone proficient, or trained in Martial Lore.

Reach weapons should be obvious to anyone with depth perception.

true_shinken
2010-12-27, 04:12 PM
Reach weapons should be obvious to anyone with depth perception.
Poor, poor one-eyed pirates.

Godskook
2010-12-27, 04:26 PM
Reach weapons should be obvious to anyone with depth perception.

Depth perception != "Can tell horizontal reach of unfamiliar vertical weapon"

Maybe if they're trained in a similar weapon(longspear gives you polearms, whip would apply to spiked chain, etc), but a wizard is proficient in clubs, daggers, quarterstaffs and light/heavy crossbows. I doubt your average 1st level wizard is familiar enough with combat to grasp the concept of reach weapons, let alone anticipate the exact reach of one in the heat of combat.

Coidzor
2010-12-27, 04:36 PM
Depth perception != "Can tell horizontal reach of unfamiliar vertical weapon"

Maybe if they're trained in a similar weapon(longspear gives you polearms, whip would apply to spiked chain, etc), but a wizard is proficient in clubs, daggers, quarterstaffs and light/heavy crossbows. I doubt your average 1st level wizard is familiar enough with combat to grasp the concept of reach weapons, let alone anticipate the exact reach of one in the heat of combat.

Most reach weapons are polearms. Long ones. And you're making way too many assumption s about the life experiences of a level 1 wizard and then applying it to even level 20 ones.

true_shinken
2010-12-27, 04:42 PM
Most reach weapons are polearms. Long ones. And you're making way too many assumption s about the life experiences of a level 1 wizard and then applying it to even level 20 ones.
Well, quarterstaffs are about as long as most reach weapons and they don't get reach. I kind of see his point.
Also, he specifically mentioned 1st level wizards.

Coidzor
2010-12-27, 04:54 PM
Well, quarterstaffs are about as long as most reach weapons and they don't get reach. I kind of see his point.
Also, he specifically mentioned 1st level wizards.

He specifically mentioned only those with proficiency getting it, so yes, he was extending it even to high level characters, read his earlier post on the matter.

And if it were only a matter of having to see the things in use, then it's not even going to apply to level 1 wizards after the first time they see them in action.

And no, a quarter staff is 5-7 feet long. That is shorter than a longspear, and further, is held and wielded very differently in such a way that is readily apparent how much length is available, especially if one is taking it as a given that larger creatures' natural reach is readily apparent.

grimbold
2010-12-27, 04:55 PM
personally when DMing i just use common sense and let players come to their own conclusions
theres no reason to overcomplicate things

Godskook
2010-12-27, 05:02 PM
Most reach weapons are polearms. Long ones. And you're making way too many assumption s about the life experiences of a level 1 wizard and then applying it to even level 20 ones.

1.Near as I can tell on a quick google search, Glaives clock in at about 6-7ft. Considering the guy with the 6ft sword actually can't reach you, I'd say it is non-obvious to correlate reach with length. (This is one of my points of irritation in D&D, that I can't get a spiked-chain equivalent sword, despite being able to fight with one, personally)

2.I'm assuming very little about a level 1 wizard, even to the point of allowing that some could actually be studied in war(Know(History)), have taken weapon proficiencies, or even had direct experience with polearms before. But none of these things are granted or implied in the class. A core wizard is a scholar and a bookworm, more likely to be found in the library than on the training grounds.

3.I've mentioned nothing about level 20 wizards, so I'm kinda confused as to why you're accusing me of applying anything to them.

4.My list of "you know it" made no assertion of 'completeness', and I think you're assuming it did.

Ravens_cry
2010-12-27, 05:16 PM
Poor, poor one-eyed pirates.
Yarr, it be yet another way the Ninja be keeping us down. Arr.