Action Scope

Actions are personal in their scope. They are done by a single character and, if relevant, are targeted at a single person within arm's reach or their equivalent space or mass. If the target is further away or larger than a single person the action becomes more difficult, attracting situation bonuses. Keywords such as Range (x) and Area (x) ameliorate these penalties.

The consequences of an action can affect things on a much larger scale. A character may give an order to launch nuclear missiles that devastate half a planet but the character's action is on a personal level, one person speaking to another.


The Range (x) keyword is not how far a bullet or spear can travel but the accuracy and the effectiveness of the weapon. The (x) value is the range step, how far in 5' squares the advantage can be targeted before it grants the target a situation bonus. For each additional range step between the attacker and target, another 1d6+0 bonus is awarded to the defender's resistance.

Little Red Hawk is preparing to throw his tomahawk at a coyote. The weapon has the keyword Range (2) giving it a range step of 10'. The coyote is 15' (three squares) away. This puts it out of the first range step and into the second giving the coyote a 1d6+0 situation bonus to its resistance.

Later Little Red Hawk has his Range (3) bow and spots a buffalo 50' (10 squares) away. At this range the buffalo would gain a 3d6+0 bonus to its resistance because it is in the fourth range step away from Little Red Hawk.

When a character attempts a ranged action without an advantage with the Range (x) keyword, the default Range (0) is used. With a range step of zero, every 5' square, including the one adjacent to the character, adds 1d6+0 to the action.

It is important to note that when a ranged advantage is used in a resistance action, the situation bonuses still apply. The defender gives the attacker bonuses in the same way that the attacker gives the defender bonuses. If the defender's range step is smaller than the attacker's, they may make themselves easier to hit.


Reach is applied to items that physically extend further, e.g. a Great Sword or a monster's tentacles. The (x) value of the Reach keyword is the number of 5' squares the advantage can target beyond the adjacent square. It is generally used on long, physical objects and, unlike range, it is not possible to affect targets beyond this distance. Because of their size, using reach advantages against targets in adjacent squares will attract a 1d6+0 situation bonus for the defender unless the melee keyword is also in the action.

Area of Effect

Whenever a character wishes to affect more than one person or target in an action they require the Area (x) keyword. The (x) is the number of squares that can be targeted without situation bonuses. If more squares are targeted the resistance gains 1d6+0 per (x) number of squares. For example, with an Area (2), two squares can be targeted without penalty. Three or four add 1d6+0 to the bonuses, five or six add 2d6+0, seven or eight add three dice and so on. The squares in a target area must be contiguous which includes squares touching corner to corner. Any empty squares the attacker needs to include to reach all their targets are counted towards the total area.

Characters will often want to attack two or more targets with advantages lacking the Area (x) keyword, e.g. shooting two foes with a single shot or casting a spell on multiple people. This is possible as all advantages have Area (0) by default and for each square targeted, including the first, there is a 1d6+0 situation bonus.

To resolve the action, the attacker makes a single dice roll against all the opponents in the area. Defenders make individual resistance actions. Situation bonuses relating to the size of the area and the range apply to all resistance actions.

Other Factors

Decreasing the scope of the action does not automatically make it easier. Hitting someone with a sword is relatively straightforward but hitting them exactly in one place is hard. Game Leaders should use their discretion based on the relative sizes of attacker and target. As a guideline, targeting a major body part (head, torso or a specific arm or leg) adds 1d6+0 to the difficulty. Hitting a hand or similar sized body part adds 2d6+0 while hitting someone in the eye adds 3d6+0. If the target is an object, add 1d6+0 for a sword, 2d6+0 for a pistol and 3d6+0 for a coin.

Intuitively, the more 'stuff' an action tries to affect the harder it gets. Additional situation bonuses will apply to the resistance for heavier objects depending on the action. Merely attacking a large target with a gun or power does not grant situation bonuses but an attempt to lift or move a large target may do so. The baseline for actions is a single person or their equivalent weight (which we take as approximately 11 stone or 150 lbs or 75 kg).

Range & Areas

Area of effect attacks are often carried out at range. This is measured from the character to the nearest square of the target area. Any situation bonuses for the range are added to the resistance of everyone within the area.

Beyond 5' Squares

The 5' square is the standard unit of measurement for range and area but the idea of a 5' square does not have to be taken literally. It is simply a way of dividing the game world into manageable chunks. A 5' square can be a one or two metre square if it suits your group and game better. The rules for ranges and areas work regardless of the size of the squares. If your game involves giant mech warriors then making the squares 100' by 100' has no impact on the rules.

No Squares

5' squares and concepts such as reach, range and area are very much based in a particular style of role playing involving miniatures and battlemats, but they are not necessary. The rules and game mechanics are simply there to provide balance and give advantages a mix of strengths and weakness. At its core, what a keyword like Range (5) is telling a player is that their advantage can be used at range reasonably well.

Groups that wish to play without all the paraphernalia of miniatures can easily do so. Instead of measuring distances and calculating situation bonuses, Game Leaders should simply estimate them based on the narrative and award bonuses as required.

You could leave a comment if you were logged in.
open/mechanics/core/time_and_scale.txt · Last modified: 2013/11/02 15:18 by darth_tigger
Recent changes RSS feed

The 6d6 RPG tabletop store is owned and operated by Chris Tregenza. Who also owns and runs Myomancy, a site about ADD / ADHD medication, Autism and Dyslexia Treatments and also site called Poosk. Chris also provides copy-writing, web design SEO advice to sites like Dingles' Games pathfinder rpg resources.