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Ask the Kobold: Size Matters

Ask the Kobold: Size Matters

The rules say a Tiny creature can move into or through a Medium creature’s space. Can it end its movement in that space? Can the Medium creature do anything about it?
Art by Darren Calvert
A Tiny creature can indeed move into or through a square another creature occupies, friend or foe. The other creature doesn’t have to be Medium size — a Tiny, Diminutive, or Fine creature can enter any occupied space. When the little creature enters a space that a foe of Medium size occupies, the gets an attack of opportunity when the Tiny creature leaves the adjacent square to enter the Medium creature’s space, thanks to its 5-foot reach. [More…]

The rules don’t actually come out and say that a Tiny creature can end its movement in another creature’s space (though you can argue about what “into or through” means in this context). If you think about it, however, they must be able to stop in occupied squares or they’d never be able to use their 0 reach to make a melee attack (sans a feat that might allow them to fight on the move).

Okay, what about creatures of different sizes? If you’re three sizes bigger, or three sizes smaller than another creature, you can move through its space. Can you also stop in that space?

You cannot stop in another creature’s space unless that creature is helpless—or if you’re size Tiny, Diminutive, or Fine.

So, Tiny and smaller creatures have 0 reach. How does that affect attacks of opportunity or flanking? For example, how would this situation play out?

A Tiny viper moves into a rogue’s square, provoking an attack of opportunity. The viper survives and attacks.

The rogue uses a move action to leave the space with the viper and moves his speed. Does the viper get an attack of opportunity when the rogue leaves? If yes, why does a swarm of Tiny creatures not make an attack of opportunity?

Yes, the viper makes an attack of opportunity when the rogue leaves the space. You threaten any space where you can make a melee attack and you make an attack of opportunity when a foe leaves a space you threaten.

Creatures with reach 0 cannot flank other creatures.

Swarms do not make melee attacks, so they don’t make attacks of opportunity, no matter what size the individual creatures in them are. The rules don’t explain why that is.

In game design terms, the swarm’s ability to hit automatically at the end their move and all a swarm’s special qualities replace the ability to threaten a space. In terms of what actually going on in the game world, there are any number of reasons why a swarm doesn’t make opportunity attacks. Perhaps creatures in a swarm are too busy crawling all over each other to threaten a space.

Got a question for the wise kobold? Post it and you may get an answer from Skip Williams!

5 thoughts on “Ask the Kobold: Size Matters”

  1. I would appreciate your opinon on a house rule. Since wisdom can equal expierence, characters receive extra feats based on wisdom bonus. If intelligence can provide bonus skills points by knowing then why can’t wisdom provide bonus feats by doing. The feats still must meet all requirments.
    thank you

  2. Wow, this is great! Thanks, Skip! :)

    From the “Ask the Kobold” thread http://www.koboldquarterly.com/kobold_kqforums/viewtopic.php?p=4509#4509

    Me: 2a. Does the viper threaten?
    Skip: Yes.

    Me: 2a(1) If yes, why does a swarm of Tiny creatures not threaten?
    Skip: Because swarms don’t threaten squares, see the swarm subtype description.

    Me: 2a(2) If yes, would 100 Fine creatures in the same square each receive an AOO as well?
    Skip: See 2a

    Me: 2a(3) If yes, since Tiny, Diminutive, and Fine creatures can each exist in the square at the same time, does that mean 4 AOOs from the Tiny, 25 AOOs from the Diminutive, and 100 from the Fine?
    Skip: Frankly, I’d force critters that small into a swam, just as a practical matter.

    So would you agree then that four Tiny creatures in the same space would all threaten the Medium-size creature — there’s no way that four Tiny constitute a swarm, right? Otherwise, four sprites or four black dragon wyrmlings constitute a swarm?!

    And since 25 Fine can fit in the same square, all of them would threaten as well? And I understand that you would lump the 100 Diminutive creatures into a swarm, but given the way you’ve ruled in this article, wouldn’t it be within the spirit of the rules to allow those 100 Diminutive creatures their AOOs?

    And would I be within the rules to simply make statistical assumptions about the AOO attack rolls? For example, say there are 20 Fine creatures. Can I assume one of each for a 20-sided die?

    I have to ask because I fully expect my players to follow this same line of reasoning and I need to be prepared!

  3. with your ruling that means i will have my PCs training Tiny and Fine animals to use to full effect, if they can find ones that are poisonous all the better, 25 Tiny snakes thrown into a square all get their AOO when said foe leaves the square yea!!!

  4. Um, no, wrathgon. Only four Tiny creatures to a square at one time. They would have to be Fine instead. But the idea is correct.

  5. Which means technically, only four Tiny creatures can attack a character at one time, while eight Small ones can surround him and attack at once. I just ignore that rule because I think tiny creatures should be able to swarm better, not worse.

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