Whether you’re striking with a melee weapon or firing a weapon at range, an attack has a simple structure.
- Choose a target. Pick a target within your attack’s range: a creature, an object, or a location.
- Determine modifiers. The GM determines whether the target has cover and whether you have advantage or disadvantage against the target. In addition, spells, special abilities, and other effects can apply penalties or bonuses to your attack roll.
- Resolve the attack. You make the attack roll. On a hit, you roll damage, unless the particular attack has rules that specify otherwise. Some attacks cause special effects in addition to or instead of damage.
If there’s ever any question whether something you’re doing counts as an attack, the rule is simple: if you’re making an attack roll, you’re making an attack.
Quicklinks: Attack Rolls critical threshold | Unseen Attackers and Targets | Hiding losing your hidden value, surprised | Ranged Attacks range | Melee Attacks | Cover
When you make an attack, your attack roll determines if you hit or miss. To make an attack roll, roll a d20 then add your combat skill modifier. The combat skill modifier is determined by the weapon you are using. Each weapon will state whether to use Might or Accuracy. Unarmed attacks use the Might skill. If the total of this roll is equal to or greater than the targets Armor Class, then the attack is a hit. A roll of 20 does not always hit, if a 20 plus any modifiers you have is less than the targets Armor Class, you will still miss. Likewise, if a 1 plus your modifiers would hit, you still hit.
You have a critical threshold of 20. Different features or items can reduce or even raise this threshold. Whenever you make an attack roll, if the d20 roll is equal to or greater than your critical threshold the attack is considered to be a critical hit. The effects of a critical hit depends on the damage type of the attack.
Unseen Attackers and Targets
When you attack a target that you can’t see, you have disadvantage on the attack roll. This is true whether you’re guessing the target’s location or you’re targeting a creature you can hear but not see. If the target isn’t in the location you targeted, you automatically miss, but the GM typically just says that the attack missed, not whether you guessed the target’s location correctly.
When a creature can’t see you (such as being invisible), you have advantage on attack rolls against it. If you are hidden, such as through the the Hide action, you do not follow this general rule, and instead you follow the rules of hiding below.
Some actions make you hidden and is represented by your covert value. Your covert value is a number that is used to determine how quiet and stealthy you are being.
Losing your Covert Value
Your covert value will be removed when any of the following conditions occur:
- A creature you affected with an attack roll is not incapacitated after the attack roll is resolved.
- You end your turn while visible to a hostile creature.
- You perform any actions or use any objects that would make a loud noise (e.g. firing a gun or dropping a vase).
Reducing your Covert Value
Your covert value will be reduced by 1 when any of the following events occur:
- Whenever you make an object interaction
- Whenever you swim, climb, or fly 5 feet.
- Whenever you move 5 feet through difficult terrain, unless moving through the difficult terrain costs you no additional movement.
Your covert value will be reduced by half when any of the following events occur:
- Whenever you jump any distance.
- Whenever you take the dash action.
You have advantage on all attack rolls against creatures that have an awareness less than your covert value. These creatures are surprised to you. Some class features or spells have additional effects if your target is surprised.
When you make a ranged attack, you fire a gun, launch a crossbow bolt, throw a knife, or otherwise send projectiles to strike a foe at a distance.
You can make ranged attacks only against targets within a specified range.
If a ranged attack has a single range, you can’t attack a target beyond this range.
Some ranged attacks have up to three ranges.
- The smallest number is the short range, you have disadvantage on attack rolls against creatures within the short range of the attack.
- The middle number is the normal range, and the larger number is the long range. Your attack roll has disadvantage when your target is beyond normal range, and you can’t attack a target beyond the long range.
- If the ranged attack only has two numbers then the attack does not have a short range and the two numbers act as the normal and long range.
Ranged Attacks in Close Combat. Aiming a ranged attack is more difficult when a foe is next to you. When you make a ranged attack you have disadvantage on the attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature who can see you and who isn’t incapacitated.
Used in hand-to-hand combat, a melee attack allows you to attack a foe within your reach. A melee attack typically uses a handheld weapon such as a sword, a knife, or hammer.
Most creatures have a 5-foot reach and can thus attack targets within 5 feet of them when making a melee attack. If any creature or character would have more than a 5-foot reach, it would be noted in a feature.
Unarmed Strike. Instead of using a weapon to make a melee weapon attack, you can use an unarmed strike: a punch, kick, head-butt, or similar forceful blow (none of which count as weapons). On a hit, an unarmed strike deals bludgeoning damage equal to 1d4.
Walls, trees, creatures, and other obstacles can provide cover during combat, making a target more difficult to harm. A target can benefit from cover only when an attack or other effect originates on the opposite side of the cover.
There are three degrees of cover. If a target is behind multiple sources of cover, only the most protective degree of cover applies; the degrees aren’t added together. For example, if a target is behind a creature that gives half cover and a tree trunk that gives three-quarters cover, the target has three-quarters cover.
- Half Cover: A target with half cover has a +2 bonus to AC and Dexterity saving throws. A target has half cover if an obstacle blocks at least half of its body. The obstacle might be a through a window, a street pole, a overturned piece of furniture, or a creature, whether that creature is an enemy or a friend.
- Three-Quarters Cover: A target with three-quarters cover has a +5 bonus to AC and Dexterity saving throws. A target has three-quarters cover if about three-quarters of it is covered by an obstacle. The obstacle might be a sewer grate, a vehicle the creature is within, or through a window above you.
- Total (or Full) Cover: A target with total cover can’t be targeted directly by an attack, although some effects can reach such a target by including it in an area of effect (such as a grenades explosion). A target has total cover if it is completely concealed by an obstacle.