Concealment & Cover in Pathfinder RPG: How They Work

One day, a halfling wizard came across a group of bandits in the middle of a robbery. He knew he couldn’t take them on alone; he needed backup.

So he used his magic to create a thick fog around himself, and while the bandits were confused, he made his escape.

Concealment and cover are both critical aspects of the Pathfinder RPG, and they can be used in a variety of ways.

In this article, we’ll take a look at concealment and cover, discuss how they work mechanically, and show you some of the best ways to use them in your game.

What is Concealment in Pathfinder?

Concealment is a condition that affects creatures and objects, making them harder to detect. A creature or object that has concealment is hard to hit. Concealment helps you avoid detection, allowing you to move unnoticed. 


While you are concealed from a creature, such as in a thick fog, you are difficult for that creature to see. You can still be observed, but you’re tougher to target.

A creature that you’re concealed from must succeed at a DC 5 flat check when targeting you with an attack, spell, or other effect. Area effects aren’t subject to this flat check. If the check fails, the attack, spell, or effect doesn’t affect you.

Source: Core Rulebook pg. 618

While concealed, creatures will need to pass a flat check to attack you successfully. Flat checks are a roll that measures pure chance. For a flat check, roll a d20 without applying any bonuses or penalties. 


Pathfinder offers a number of ways to become concealed from enemies. The most common and most straightforward way is to use stealth. When you’re trying to stay hidden from creatures, you can use a combination of hiding and sneak. 

You can hide by taking advantage of cover, or you could use stealth to avoid detection. Once you’ve successfully hidden from the enemy, you can sneak while moving half your speed. Be sure to stay near cover, or else you’ll risk getting caught.

There may be times when you want to hide during an adventure. For example, you might be waiting for the right moment to strike or trying to avoid a fight altogether. If you can get out of the enemy’s line of sight, you can attempt to hide.

You can use stealth to hide even if enemies are aware of your presence. To do this, the GM will roll a secret stealth check against the observers. Additionally, the distance between you and the enemy affects your chances of being successful.

The more enemies that are trying to find you, the harder it becomes to stay hidden. If lots of enemies are actively seeking you out, your chances of successfully hiding drop to zero.

Using Invisibility

Invisibility is a unique form of concealment that can be used by creatures and objects. Invisibility makes you nearly undetectable to all enemies unless you attack or cast a spell. 

When you have the invisible condition, creatures won’t be able to see you. While they may still be able to hear you or smell you, they’ll need to successfully use the seek action to know you’re there. And even if they detect your presence, you’ll still be hidden and can sneak to become undetected again.

There are several ways to become invisible in Pathfinder. One of the most common ways is to use the invisibility spell. Another way is to drink a position of invisibility.  


Pathfinder has four states of detection: observed, hidden, undetected, and unnoticed. Most creatures are observed by default. States of detection are relative to the viewer. You can be hidden from some creatures and not others. 

You can avoid detection by evading the enemy’s perception. Hidden creatures are hard to spot and capable of moving without drawing attention. If a creature has no idea you’re even there, you’re unnoticed. 

A creature can be aware of your presence but unsure of your exact location. In such a case, you’ll be undetected. You can still be targeted if you’re undetected, but it isn’t easy because our enemies will have to guess at your location before they attack.

How Does Cover Work?

The paladin was in the middle of a fierce battle with a dragon. The dragon was breathing fire all over the paladin, but the paladin was able to take cover behind a large rock. The bonus to AC that the rock provided helped the paladin stay alive and eventually defeat the dragon.

One of the best ways to give yourself an edge in combat is to take cover behind an obstacle. This could mean anything from hiding behind a castle wall or ducking under an overturned wagon.

While you have cover, you’ll gain a bonus on your AC. How much of a bonus depends on the type of cover you have. Taking cover is a basic action that anyone can use to gain the upper hand in an encounter.

Taking Cover

When a creature is taking cover, it’s trying to minimize the amount of damage it takes from incoming attacks. Cover gives you a bonus to your AC, which can help you stay alive longer in a fight. 

You can try to take cover with a single action in Pathfinder. Whether or not the cover will be adequate depends on the situation. A castle wall provides excellent cover from an archer’s arrows. And hiding behind a stack of wooden crates will protect you from a rogue’s throwing knives.

Types of Cover

There are three types of cover in Pathfinder: standard, lesser, and greater. Cover is relative to the position of the players. A player may have cover from one creature and not another.

Lesser cover offers minimal protection. For example, hiding behind your teammate would give you lesser cover and a +1 bonus to your AC. 

Standard cover provides more protection, giving you a +2 bonus to your AC, as well as to Stealth and Reflex checks.

Greater cover protects the most. To gain the benefits of greater cover, you’ll need to use the take cover action. Examples of greater cover include thick stone walls, a metal wall, or a tower shield. 

Cover TypesAC BonusReflex BonusStealth BonusCan Hide

Fighting Large Creatures

If a creature is significantly large enough, it can provide standard cover instead of lesser cover. Ultimately the call is up to the GM to make, but if a creature is two more sizes than you, it can block your target.

Fighting large creatures in Pathfinder can be difficult, but there are some ways to make it a bit easier. One of the best ways to deal with large creatures is to flank them. This will make it easier to hit the creature. Additionally, using ranged attacks can be helpful as it’s harder for large creatures to close the distance.

Cover Up

It can sometimes be tricky to determine if a creature or player currently has cover. If you’re having trouble deciding, draw an imaginary line between yourself and the target.

If the line passes an obstacle that would block it, the target has standard cover. They may have greater cover if the obstacle is very large or if they’ve used the take cover action.

Imagine an elven archer has his bow pointed at a goblin rogue. The goblin moves behind a stack of stone bricks. Because an imaginary line drawn between the archer and the rogue would pass through the bricks, the goblin has standard cover in this situation.

If you’re measuring cover against spells or other effects, draw the line between the target and the spell’s origin. Some spells have origins separate from the caster. In some cases, the GM may allow you to overcome your target’s defenses. 

Hiding Out

Pathfinder and other tabletop RPGs offer a variety of ways to conceal yourself from enemies. One of the simplest and most common methods is through the use of Stealth.

However, if you’re looking for an edge in combat, taking cover behind an obstacle will give you a bonus to your AC.

Cover and concealment are two important mechanics in Pathfinder that you can use to survive encounters or avoid them altogether.

By understanding how they work, you can use these tools to make sure you’re always one step ahead of your enemies.