We Are Stupid – Episode 106

Some people know all of the rules to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, but many, many more do not. Here’s a list of the things we screwed up in our never-ending search for Pathfinder perfection…

We have a long standing tradition on this show of screwing up Cover and Concealment and Episode 106 is no exception. In this case, though, we don’t go the traditional GCP route and use the rules for Concealment in place of Cover. No, in this case we just manage to say one thing, mean another, or mean the original thing we meant, but just ignore that we said it in the first place.

Allow me to explain.

In Aaron Sorkin’s 1993 MTV Movie of the Year A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson’s character Colon Nathan Jessup has a famous speech that I’m reminded of today. It starts off with the pivotal, pop culture-feeding frenzy line “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” (which, incidentally,  held the “Most Over-Quoted Movie Line” title for a few years in the mid 90s before being unseated by Rod Tidwell’s “SHOW ME THE MONEY!” in 1996). During that speech, Colonel Jessup continues, “We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something.” Well, in Pathfinder, we choose our words carefully as well. We use words like partial cover, improved cover and total cover. While we don’t use those words as the backbone of a life spent defending something, we do use them as a very specific indication of what the combatants in an encounter can and cannot do.

Troy referred to the giants atop the choir loft as having “total cover” from the rest of us below on the cathedral’s ground level. He then proceeded to allow ranged attacks against them from Nestor as normal, save with a bonus to their AC. Fortunately for us, Troy made a major error here. Having total cover does not give you a bonus to AC, what it does give you is complete immunity from ranged attacks that require line of effect! That’s a huge difference. That would mean that Nestor could never have taken any of those shots from the pew below. (For the purposes of this article I’m assuming an increase in 5 feet for Nestor did not suddenly provide him with a clean shot into the upper loft.) He would have had to close and get into melee range, which would have been very dangerous…for the giants.

Now, it’s possible that the mistake was not misunderstanding the rules of total cover, but naming the cover as total cover in the first place. Maybe it was just “cover,” but that’s not what Troy said and here in the world of Pathfinder, unlike in the world of lesser games, the words that you choose matter. So who is stupid? Troy, for naming the giant’s cover “total cover” and then completely bungling the rules? Or is it Troy, for using the term total cover, when he meant cover? Since Troy has never, in the years I’ve known him, admitted to what he calls “human error,” I guess we’ll never know.

But you and I can learn from his mistake. As a GM if you give someone total cover, they aren’t just hard to hit, they are unhittable!

Thanks for reading this installment of “Cover and Concealment with the GCP.” Until next time!

Chasing the Quan.

-Joe

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