How far can a PC see, or shoot


uestions are:

  1. How Far Away can your average character see typical terrain? Visible creatures?
    Example: There’s a Tarrasque standing about 200 feet away. It’s 50 feet tall. Are you capable of seeing it? If so, what determines this capability?
  2. What rolls are necessary to perceive them?
    Example: Do you really need to make a Perception roll with a +20 modifier to its DC, to notice a 50 foot tall creature (As in Noticing Finer Details)? What about a castle or structure?
  3. What AC would you grant an unattended square X distance away?
    Example: I want to hit the ground right beside the wall of a structure 250 feet away (I’m standing on a 150ft tall tower, 200 feet from this structure).How difficult is this?
The info below is based on what I have found on the internet in general and most of them are taken directly from paizo’s forum. I still hope it helps you.

Looking at the Perception check we can discover a few things about how what can and cannot be seen. Let us review a little bit and then move on to ranged attack and stealth.

The DC to spot a visible creature (size isn’t mentioned by I assume it is a medium sized creature) who is not using stealth is 0. Therefore, unless you have a -3 on your perception checks and you roll a 1 you will always see the man standing in front of you no further then 10 feet away.

The modifiers also state that the DC goes up by 1 for every 10 feet. That means if the man is now standing 10 feet away the DC increases to 1. If he was standing 100 feet away the DC is 10, and so on.

So to answer the first question, the average NPC has a perception check of +1 (maybe +2, but lets just err on the side of caution.) Assuming they take 10, they are aware of every visible creature within 110 feet of them, provided the conditions are ideal and the environment allows for this distance.

What distances do environments allow? Looks through the Terrain Sections of the rules to find out in more detail but here is the general rules on that subject. Swamps have a maximum perception distance of 6d6x10 feet, Deserts are 6d6x20 feet, Forests are from 3d6x10 to 2d6x10 feet, Hills are 2d10x10 feet, Mountains are 4d10x10, Plains are 6d6x40 feet, and Urban (as far as I can tell) has no set limit but it is assumed the distance is very limited due to the building and the area that the encounter is in. There are some places, such as a mountain overlooking the plains, where the ability to spot someone standing in the open is limited only by the perception check.

So according to the rules, if you were on flat and level ground in the plains the maximum distance for perception checks is 1440 feet. That would be a perception check with a DC of 144. You should keep in mind that a composite longbow without the distance magic ability has a limited range of 1100 feet, so really this maximum distance isn’t that unreasonable.

There are not rules that specifically give increases to that maximum distance. However, I think it is reasonable to say that you could add to that maximum distance if you were in a high tower, flying, or had some other advantage.

Keep in mind we are talking about the most ideal conditions, without spells or tools, and on even ground with no cover or concealment. The Perception skill is filled with many conditional modifiers, all but one of them increasing the DC.

The one thing the skill does not spell out is what the DC is for spotting creatures of different sizes, such as Small or Large creatures. In this case, I would personally just add the modifier they would have for Stealth. That would mean spotting a small sized creature who is not using stealth is DC 4, while spotting the Large sized creature is DC -4. Buildings are generally Colossal sized so the check to spot them is at DC-16. Obviously, if the building is particularly large, like a castle, the check would be something more obvious like DC-50 or DC-100. Even with the distance rules, I would just automatically have people notice them unless there was something like a mile between the PCs and the castle.

Besides, when do you ever need to roll to spot castles in the distance? Never. If a GM asks for a check to see a castle, shoot them. No jury will convict.


ow, let us tackle the questions!
  1. Already answered. The answer to the follow up is yes, you would see the Terrasque unless they were using stealth, and to be honest I would be surprised if he found cover large enough. For practice sake, the DC to spot the Terrasque standing in the open 200 feet away is DC 4 if you use my homerule on creatures larger or smaller then medium. Yep, DC 4. But that is just him standing there doing nothing, which would worry me more then if he was chasing after me.

  2. No, and the reason is simple. There is no such thing as a critical fail in skill checks. With a +20 perception check, you can assume you notice everything with a DC lower then DC 21.
    Your wording is a little confusing so I may have answered wrong due to misunderstanding.

  3. Ahh! An archery question! Okay, so after doing some math we can find that you are 250 ft. from the square you want to hit. If you have no feats or class abilities that reduce penalties for range increments then your shot with a composite longbow will be at a -4 (two increments away.) The DC for the perception check to pick out the 5×5 plot of land is DC 25 (actually I would have it be with favorable conditions and home rule a conditional modifier for high ground, putting the DC at 21.) So you should be able both see and hit that plot of ground most of the time if not all of the time if the PC is mid level.

Why? The Armor Class of that plot of ground is 3, and you have a +5 modifier to hitting it. So considering the range penalty, you gain a +1 to hit an AC of 3! Don’t Roll A 1!

Now onto the last proposed scenario you gave. To be honest this is something the rules do not cover, or at least cover well. Standing on a castle wall, during a beautiful day, shooting at an approaching army. Can it be done? Sure. It does depend on the size of the army, but let us assume that it is a massive 100,000 strong and it is marching across open plains that are miles wide in all directions. They would be kicking up dust, and would form a large body possibly miles long. If they were marching in a formation that was meant to set up a siege, then it is possible that they would be about a mile deep and wide, though I would need to do math on that to find out for sure.

So a huge army is approaching, you would first spot the dust cloud. Let us say that it is still 2 miles away. For this scenario I would forgo the increase to DC because of distance. I would just set the DC at 30 and lower it as the army drew closer.

The internets tell me that if you were standing on a tower 100m tall (about 320 feet) you could see for 35.7km (about 22miles) to the horizon. It would not be unreasonable then to house rule that you would be able to see the army by the time it was the 2000 feet you proposed. By could you attack the army with an arrow at that distance? With a +1 Distance Composite Longbow, the maximum distance is 2200 feet. If you had the Far Shot feat, and the sniper rogue’s accuracy class feature the penalty for the 2000 foot shot would be -4 (only -1 per increment, and half penalties with accuracy class feature, makes 9 increments give you a -4 penalty.)

So what I would do is let you fire at AC 10, seeing as the army is made up of people who will probably have some armor but who will be flat-footed. The AC is also low because you are not aiming at one person, but a group of people. If the army is packed tightly enough you are bound to hit someone. Also, the army is mostly level 1 commoners and level 1 warriors, so have fun racking up one shot kills.

  • Side note: if you are standing in a flat field, the horizon is about 3 miles away.
  • EDIT: The AC of 3 for the ground was assuming you were using the “Attacking unattended objects” rules. Using the splash weapons, the AC is 5 if attacking an intersection. I assume the higher AC (and the lack of +5 to hit with ranged attack) is due to the balance needed for that type of attack. In the real world, it is justified as trying to throw something in such a way that it breaks and splashes its contents all over your intended targets.

The GM may then use either ruling for attacking a specific 5 foot square area with a ranged attack.

How far can a PC see, or shoot

A strange campaign M0bious