D&D Guide

Cover 5e – Rules for Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) Fifth Edition (Dnd) 2023

Cover 5e – Rules for Dungeons and Dragons (D&D)

How do you get cover on 5e?

Cover 5e prevents you from being hit by the enemy’s attack. It allows you to take shelter or hide behind a wall, tree, creatures, and other similar objects; thus, preventing you from a direct line of attack. However, this can only work if the attack or effect comes from the shield’s opposite direction. By taking cover, you’re increasing your armor class and Dexterity saving throws. Your primary focus is to notice the type of shield the target has and if it’d be beneficial to them.

How does cover work in DnD 5e?

To know “how does cover work in D and D,” read this section.

5e cover rules

Rules regarding this aspect are available on pg. 196 of the Player’s Handbook.

Depending on your use of surroundings, you’d have 3 types of covers. For instance, if you’re prone, it’d enlarge your coverage area, whereas if you’re hiding behind an ally, that would also give you a specific hiding place. However, covers can be used one at a time only. 

Cover 5e - Rules for Dungeons and Dragons (D&D)

They are as follows –

Half cover 5e

Half cover or partial cover 5e provides you the least amount of coverage. According to the rules, if half of your body is hidden, then it has half cover. For example, a small wall, a slender tree trunk, a massive piece of furniture, etc. it can also be another creature, but he must be half as large as the target and standing next to him. It’s up to the DM, though. Medium creatures often encounter this option.

If you have this shield, then you’d acquire a +2 bonus in your AC and DEX saving throws. Those who don’t enjoy the perks of high AC can benefit from this.

Three-quarters cover

If the three-fourth of the target’s body is hidden, you call it ¾ cover 5e. With this, you’d gain a +5 bonus to your DEX saving throws and AC. It’s somewhat tricky for medium or large creatures to take this hiding place as compared to small ones. For instance, a low wall might cover most of the gnome’s body, but it would only hide half of an orc.

Hypothetically, a large rock can be counted as 3/4th shelter if only the target’s leg is visible. Other such objects might be an arrow slit, a portcullis, or a wide tree trunk.

Total cover 5e

As the name suggests, if the target is entirely invisible from the attacker’s line of sight, it’s a full cover 5e. Since you’d be hidden from your attacker, they can’t attack with a ranged attack 5e or spells. However, AoE spells and features like the fireball are exceptions to this rule. This is the most substantial DnD cover out of all three.

For instance, hiding behind an enormous rock, a building, or just a closed-door would prevent you from attacks.

Size matters

These shields are based solely on the size of the PC and creature, which the DM must focus on. To explain this further, a half cover for a medium-size creature might act as a three-fourth one for a small creature. If a large character is standing between you and the attack, then it’d be considered more than half cover. The same animal might act as total shield for small or medium PC and creatures.

Using cover and dropping prone

A common misconception is that dropping prone is terrible, but that’s not always the case. Page 292 of PHB states that “An attack roll has an advantage against a prone creature if the opponent is within 5 feet of the creature. Or else, the attack roll has a disadvantage.” With melee combatants, being prone is dangerous; however, ranged attackers would face difficulty attacking if they have a disadvantage. Being prone is more beneficial if you’re on a rooftop because the attackers wouldn’t be able to attack you, and the roof would act as a DnD 5e cover as well.

Crafting cover

There might be some situations wherein the DM plans an encounter but doesn’t offer covered positions. However, you can create them on your own. It’s quite a simple task for spell casters, but even the martial classes can create these D&D cover. For instance, the target can keep a shovel or ax with them which could help them to build fortifications in need. You can dig a trench or stack up logs to hide behind them. This is only possible if you have prior knowledge of the attack or you routed your enemy’s position with your followed trajectories.

For example, you can cause a roadblock to force the opponent’s caravan to change direction and clear the road. But once they stop, you’d have the upper hand to shower them with attacks from your hidden location. Even if they retaliate, you won’t face any harm due to your shelter. However, your enemies might be wise and create hding places of their own, too, like hiding behind the wagon or horses.

In the case of a trench, you don’t need to be prone. You can use an animal for digging or dig it yourself. The DM would enable you to cast a cantrip Mold Earth to immediately dig a 5×5 hole, only if the soil is loose. Mold Earth modifies dirt into armor bonuses for your team. With this cantrip, you can quickly dig trenches and create dirtballs.

Do creatures give cover 5e?

Now, if you use another player or creature as a shield, then they’d be hit by the DND 5e attack roll meant for you. A player whose size is similar to you would only provide half cover. If you use horses or other animals as cover, it might not bode well with your animal-loving teammates.

However, using a character as a shield would lead to complications; for instance, a Fighter can stand in front of a spellcaster as a cover. So if an enemy is planning on attacking a Wizard hiding behind the Fighter, the Wizard’s AC observes an increase. But according to the rule on PHB’s page 272 regarding “Hitting Cover,” if a ranged attack misses the covered target, the first thing is to notice if the cover was hit. You must analyze whether the target would have been hit if the obstruction wasn’t present. So if the range of attack was low enough to miss the intended player but high enough to hit it if the shield wasn’t there, then the cover was struck. The same rules apply to the creature’s AC, who was acting as a cover.

To give you some more clarity, here’s an example. An enemy archer is attacking the Wizard. Although the Wizard’s original AC was 13, it increased to 15 due to the Fighter’s help. However, the enemy’s attack roll is only 14. So the Wizard’s visible AC would be hit by this, but it would miss because of the Fighter’s cover and +2 AC bonus. The attack does hit the Fighter to determine if its AC is lower than the attack roll. If it’s AC is higher than 14 in this instance, then the attack would miss the Fighter as well. As the Fighter’s AC is always higher than the Wizard’s, it doesn’t cost them anything to act as a cover.

It can get quite confusing to distinguish between rules for cover and those for attacking the hidden. For instance, if a player is hides behind a bush, the arrows might still slice through it and hit him. However, some ranged attacks miss at times due to your invisibility. You must turn to your DM to know what to use as a cover and what not to use.

Covering spells

A few spells in D&D like fireball spread around the corners, as mentioned in their descriptions. The benefit of these spells is that even if an enemy has a cover, these spells would still affect him. However, if the ‘area of spell’ isn’t specified, it’d stop as it encounters a full cover. Refer to page 204 of PHB for the same. Moreover, targeted spells require an unobstructed path after they’re cast till it reaches the target. The same goes for the area of effect spells. Therefore, a hindrance such as the full cover wouldn’t do you any good. It’s better to learn about the various spell zones and their origins from PHB’s pages 204-205.

Another thing is that the bonuses on DEX saving throws wouldn’t be of any use if spells like fireball spread from around the corner, implying that there was no full cover in the first place. In contrast, Cone of Cold doesn’t seep through corners, so it’d stop progressing after hitting the full cover. However, a half cover won’t stop the Cone of Cold spell because its saving throws are based on Constitution, affecting the player hiding behind it.

If you opt for illusions, it’d only make you invisible but won’t protect you against area effects or attacks. There’s an option XGtE which allows you to know which illusion magic was cast and when. A closer inspection of the illusion would make it transparent. The Fog spell works the same way as it hinders visibility but doesn’t protect the players.

In the case of Full cover, it’d prevent the characters from various effects like the Radiance of the Dawn feature from Light Clerics’ Channel Divinity or a Paladin’s Divine Sense. It’s always good to research your enemies, which would help you choose an advantageous battlefield. Choose a field with more cover, preferably.

A 5th level spell, “Bigby’s Hand,” acts as a half cover as the hand interferes with the clear path between you and your chosen creature; thus, offering you partial cover from the target. A bonus of +2 AC and Dexterity saving throws are provided to the spellcaster. Furthermore, this spell is relatively challenging to push around, so it keeps melee attackers away.

Some spells enable you to create a wall. A solid wall would provide you full cover, whereas others might offer some level of obscurity. For instance, the 6th level Blade Barrier spell enables you to build a vertical wall full of magical razor-sharp blades. It’d only give 3/4th coverage, and its surface is considered as difficult terrain. So the silver lining is that although it wouldn’t hide you entirely, it’d restrict the enemy’s movement on the rugged terrain.

Some spells like the Sacred Flame moves past the cover, whereas one like Witch Bolt halts as soon as the target takes cover. You must have immense knowledge of all this before deciding what spells to choose.

Similar concepts

A Lightfoot Halflings’ feature, “Naturally Stealthy,” enables them to take cover behind large creatures. Don’t confuse it with 5e cover, though. At level 13, the mastermind Rogues learn to hide behind other creatures beside them to change the target of the ranged attacks target from the Rogue to the other character. Use someone unimportant as a shield and hope that the opponents don’t shift their positions to attack you. An enemy might never see this coming if you use it ideally. However, this can only work on targeted spells.

What if a Sharpshooter or Spell Sniper that disregards the half cover attacks a Mastermind Rogue with misdirection?

  • Since these spells only ignore partial or three-quarter covers, the Rogue would be unable to use misdirection until it’s totally covered. This means that they are not the target anyway.
  • Another point is that the Rogue still has cover even if it’s in disregard; therefore, using misdirection is still an option.


We hope this clarified some of your doubts and gave you an in-depth understanding of Cover 5e. It’s quite an essential aspect of the game, and you can’t do without it.

About the author

Shubhi singh

Shubhi Singh a bibliophile with a love for words and has completed her graduation in English Honours from a distinguished university. She has a passion for writing and her love for creativity reflects in her writing style. She also tries her hand at story writing in her free time and is quite dedicated when it comes to her work.

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