In ACKS and similar games, firing ranged weapons at engaged melee combatants is not permitted.
How do you adjudicate firing past melee combatants at non-engaged characters/monsters beyond the engaged 1st and 2nd ranks? (I'm assuming 2nd rank spear carriers are also considered engaged here - maybe that's a separate query). Do you take cues from the cover guidelines? (p 103)
I was thinking a -1 "cover" penalty for each rank of allies and foes might be appropriate to the typical situation in a dungeon.
Example 1: [Archers & Mage][Spears][Front Line]<> [Orcs Front Line][Orc Spears][Orc Shaman & Orc Archers] = a - 4 cover penalty for the Archers to fire at the Orc Shaman & a -4 cover penalty for the Orc Archers to fire at the Mage.
Example 2: [Archers & Mage][Front Line]<>[Orc Front Line][Orc Shaman & Orc Archers] = a -2 cover penalty for the Archer to fire at the Orc Shaman & a -2 cover penalty for the Orc Archers to fire at the Mage.
For these examples, assume a 10' wide passage with each rank immediately behind the other. And maybe it caps at -4 and gets no worse regardless? (equivalent to blindness or striking an opponent through a small window). Or maybe you count every rank and it could go as high as a -8? ACKS games tend to have quite a troupe. Or maybe it's always a -4 to fire past friends and/or foes regardless of how many or how few ranks?
This seems a critical thing to determine as it impacts PC spell-casters and monster spell-casters the PCs might seek to hit/disrupt. Too severe a penalty and you've got third rank PCs often with not much to do. Too light a penalty and you've got orc crossbowman dropping the pointy-hat robed folks all day long. Given their low ACs and the threat of that Sleep spell they seem to be casting,that's not hard to imagine even at a flat -4 come to think of it...
Or maybe Judges often rule no shot is available due to cramped conditions? Regardless of the above, do you incorporate friendly fire house rules?