Combat

Combat erupts when diplomacy, trickery, and stealth fail. It is the (all too common) last resort of adventurers everywhere.

How Combat Works

Combat in the Worlds of Adventure campaign rules is divided into rounds. Combat follows this sequence:

  1. The DM determines which characters are aware of their opponents at the start of the battle.
  2. All combatants declare their actions and roll for initiative.
    • Surprised (unaware) combatants take a −20 penalty to initiative checks on the first round of combat.
  3. Combatants act in initiative order (highest to lowest).
  4. The round ends; the next round begins.
  5. Steps 2–4 repeat until combat ends.

See The Combat Cycle for more details on the flow and order of combat.

Combat Statistics

This section details the statistics that determine success in combat, and how to use them.

Attack Roll

An attack roll represents your attempt to strike your opponent. When you make an attack roll, you roll a d20 and add your attack bonus. (Other modifiers may also apply to this roll.) If your result equals or beats the target’s Armor Class, you hit and deal damage.

Automatic Misses and Hits: A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on an attack roll is always a miss. A natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is always a hit. A natural 20 is also a threat—a possible critical hit.

Beating the Target’s AC by 20: If your attack roll result beats the target’s Armor Class by 20 or more, you automatically threaten a critical hit, even if you didn’t roll a natural 20.

Striking the Wrong Target With a Ranged Attack: When you miss with a ranged attack, you might hit a nearby target instead (see the Missing With Ranged Attacks sidebar).

Taking 10 on an Attack Roll: If you’re not in combat, and not otherwise distracted, rushed, or threatened, you can, as a full-round action, make an attack which is resolved as if you’d rolled a 10 on the d20.

Attack Bonus

When you make an attack roll, your attack bonus is the number you add to the d20 roll. The attack bonus you use depends on what kind of attack you are making.

Your attack bonus with a melee weapon is:

Base attack bonus + Strength modifier
(+ other modifiers, if any)

With a ranged weapon, your attack bonus is:

Base attack bonus + Dexterity modifier + size modifier + range penalty
(+ other modifiers, if any)

Base Attack Bonus: Your base attack bonus (or “BAB”) is a general measure of how proficient you are in combat. Your base attack bonus is derived from your class and level. (See Classes and Character Advancement for information on how to calculate your base attack bonus.)

Strength Modifier: Strength helps you swing a weapon harder and faster, so your Strength modifier applies to melee attack rolls.

Dexterity Modifier: Dexterity measures coordination and reflexes, so your Dexterity modifier applies to attacks with ranged weapons.

Size Modifier: The smaller you are, the bigger other creatures are relative to you (and vice versa). A human is a big target to a halfling just as an ogre is a big target to a human. You apply a size modifier to ranged attack rolls, depending on the difference in size between you and your target: +2 for every size category difference if the target is larger than you are, or −2 for every size category difference if the target is smaller than you are.

Range Penalty: The range penalty for a ranged weapon depends on the weapon and the distance to the target. All ranged weapons have a range increment, such as 10 feet for a thrown dagger or 40 feet for a shortbow (see Weapons). Any attack from a distance of less than one range increment is not penalized for range, so an arrow from a shortbow (range increment 40 feet) can strike at enemies up to 39 feet away with no penalty. However, each full range increment causes a cumulative −2 penalty on the attack roll. A shortbow archer firing at a target 150 feet away takes a −6 penalty on his attack roll (because 150 feet is at least three range increments but not four increments).

Thrown weapons, such as throwing axes, have a maximum range of five increments. Projectile weapons, such as bows, can shoot up to ten increments.

(The rules for range increments apply when you are attempting to directly strike a target with a ranged attack. If you’re attempting to shoot or throw in an arc, to hit a particular spot, use the indirect-fire rules for siege weapons.)

Other Modifiers: Many other modifiers may affect your attack roll. The following are some common examples (but by no means exhaustive):

Feats: Feats can improve your attack rolls in some situations. Example: the Weapon Focus feat improves your attack bonus with certain weapons by +1.

Superior Weapons: Well-crafted weapons (also called superior weapons, enhanced wepons, etc.) add their enhancement bonus (from +1 to +5) to your attack and damage rolls.

Magic Effects: Certain helpful spells (known as “buffs”) improve your attack rolls (e.g. the bless spell). Some class abilities (such as a bard’s inspire courage ability) have a similar effect. Certain magic items, alchemical concoctions, or other kinds of special items can also improve your attack bonus.

Damage

When your attack succeeds, you deal damage. Damage reduces a target’s current hit points. The amount of damage you deal is:

Weapon damage dice + damage modifiers (if any)

The die (or dice) you roll for weapon damage depends on what weapon you are using (see Weapons). Some common damage modifiers are the following.

Strength Modifier: Your Strength modifier applies to damage rolls with most weapons, including all melee weapons, all thrown weapons, and bows (but not crossbows). See each weapon’s description for any specific rules that may apply.

Off-Hand Weapon: When you deal damage with a weapon in your off hand, you add only 12 your Strength bonus.

Wielding Your Weapon Two-Handed: When you deal damage with a weapon that you are wielding two-handed, you add 112 times your Strength bonus. However, you don’t get this higher Strength bonus when using a light weapon with two hands (See Light, One-Handed, and Two-Handed Melee Weapons).

Superior Weapons: Exceptionally well-crafted (a.k.a. “enhanced” or “superior”) weapons add their enhancement bonus (from +1 to +5) to attack and damage rolls.

Feats and Class Abilities: Some classes have abilities that increase the damage they do in certain situations, and some feats also increase your weapon damage. Examples: the Weapon Specialization feat, available to fighters, increases the damage you deal with certain weapons; a ranger does more damage when attacking his favored enemies; etc.

Minimum Damage: If penalties reduce the damage result to less than 1, a hit still deals 1 point of damage.

Multiplying Damage: Sometimes you multiply damage by some factor, such as on a critical hit (see the Critical Hits sidebar). Roll the damage (with all modifiers) multiple times and total the results. Note: When you multiply damage more than once, each multiplier works off the original, unmultiplied damage. So if you are asked to double the damage twice, the end result is three times the normal damage.

Example: Krusk the half-orc barbarian has a Strength bonus of +3. That means he gets a +3 bonus on damage rolls when using a one-handed sword, a +4 bonus on damage when using a greataxe (two-handed), and a +1 bonus on damage when using a weapon in his off hand. His critical multiplier with a greataxe is ×3, so if he scores a critical hit with that weapon, he would roll 1d12+4 points of damage three times (the same as rolling 3d12+12).

Damage Without Weapons: Even though this section talks about “weapons”, all of the same rules apply when attacking unarmed, or with natural attack forms (such as claws, fangs, etc.). Such attacks add the character’s or creature’s full Strength bonus to damage rolls, unless otherwise stated.

Damage Reduction: Some creatures have damage reduction (DR), which means that they take less damage from physical weapon attacks. The DM applies the effects of a monster’s damage reduction after you determine how much damage your attack deals. (See Monsters for details on damage reduction and other monster-related rules.)

Armor Class

Your Armor Class (AC) represents how hard it is for opponents to land a solid, damaging blow on you. It’s the attack roll result that an opponent needs to achieve to hit you. The average, unarmored peasant has an AC of 10.

Your AC is equal to:

10 + armor bonus + shield bonus + Dexterity modifier
(+ other modifiers, if any)

Armor and Shield Bonuses: Your armor and shield each provide a bonus to your AC. This bonus represents their ability to protect you from blows.

You can’t use your shield bonus to AC when you’re not expecting an attack (such as when you’re attacked by surprise), or when you you’re unable to react to an attack (such as when you’re immobilized).

Dexterity Modifier: If your Dexterity is high, you are adept at dodging blows. If your Dexterity is low, you are inept at it. That’s why you apply your Dex modifier to your AC.

You can’t use your Dexterity bonus to AC when you’re not expecting an attack (such as when you’re attacked by surprise), or when you’re unable to react to an attack. (A Dexterity penalty, however, always applies to your AC, even against surprise attacks.)

Armor Limiting Your Dexterity Bonus to AC: Armor restricts your mobility, and limits how effectively you can dodge attacks. If you’re wearing armor, you might not be able to apply your whole Dexterity bonus to your AC (see Armor).

Other Modifiers: Many other factors can modify your AC. The following are some common modifiers (though by no means exhaustive).

Superior Armor: Just as with weapons, exceptionally well-crafted (a.k.a. superior or enhanced) armor and shields add their enhancement bonus (from +1 to +5) to your AC.

Deflection Bonus: Magical items such as a ring of protection ward off attacks, and thus improve your AC (and your Reflex save bonus against weapon-like attacks).

Natural Armor: Natural armor improves your AC. (Members of the common races don’t have natural armor, which usually consists of scales, fur, or layers of huge muscles.)

If you wear armor and also have natural armor, the bonuses don’t stack; only the larger bonus applies. However, you add one-half the smaller bonus as a special bonus to AC against critical confirmation rolls (see the Critical Hits sidebar). (Example: A troll has natural armor +5; if a troll donned a chain shirt (+6 AC for a Large creature), its AC would be 16 (plus any bonuses from Dexterity, etc.), and its AC against critical confirmation rolls would be 16 + one-half of +5 = 18.)

Dodge Bonuses: Some AC bonuses represent actively avoiding blows, such as the AC bonus for dodging as a combat reaction or the AC bonus you get from the Wind Stance feat. You can’t use your dodge bonuses to AC when you’re not expecting an attack (such as when you’re attacked by surprise), or when you’re unable to react to an attack (e.g. when you’re paralyzed). (Wearing armor, however, doesn’t limit these bonuses the way it limits a Dexterity bonus to AC.) Unlike most sorts of bonuses, dodge bonuses stack with each other.

Cover Bonus: If you’re behind cover, you get a bonus to AC against attacks that originate on the other side of the cover.

Touch Attacks: Physical protection (including armor and natural armor) is no help against certain kinds of attacks. For example, a cleric’s touch with an inflict critical wounds? spell hurts you regardless of what armor you’re wearing or how thick your skin happens to be. In these cases, the attacker makes a touch attack roll (either ranged or melee). When you are the target of a touch attack, your AC doesn’t include any armor or natural armor bonus. All other modifiers you may have, such as a Dexterity modifier, shield bonus, deflection bonus, and dodge bonuses, apply normally. (This modified AC—that is, your AC against touch attacks—is called your “touch AC”. If you are not wearing armor, and have no natural armor, your touch AC and your normal AC should be the same.)

Shields vs. Unusual Attacks: If you are subject to a touch attack which misses you, and the bonus from your shield is what made the difference between success and failure, your shield suffers any detrimental effects from the attack (such as fire or acid damage).

Armor vs. Unusual Attacks: In some cases, your armor may still help you against touch attacks after all. For example, an ankheg’s acid spit may strike your touch AC, but if it doesn’t beat your armored AC, you don’t suffer the effects—but your armor does. In other cases, armor can provide you with energy resistance (such as non-metallic armor does against electricity-based attacks).

Hit Points

Your hit points tell you how much punishment you can take before dropping. Your hit points are based on your class and character level, and your Constitution modifier. Creatures’ hit points are also based on their size (bigger creatures have more hit points, while smaller creatures, including Small-sized characters, generally have fewer hit points; see Big and Little Creatures in Combat for details).

When you lose hit points, your ability to fight effectively is reduced; if you lose enough hit points, you may be permanently injured or killed. See Injury and Death for more details on what happens when you lose hit points.

Speed

Your speed tells you how far you can move in a round and still do something, such as attack or drink a potion. Your speed depends mostly on your race, and how much equipment or loot you’re carrying or wearing.

Dwarves, gnomes, and halflings have a speed of 20 feet, or 15 feet when encumbered by weight (except for dwarves, who are not slowed down by heavy loads and so move 20 feet even when encumbered). Humans, elves, half-elves, half-orcs, and most humanoid monsters have a speed of 30 feet, or 20 feet when encumbered by weight. (See Carrying & Encumbrance? for details.)

You can move up to your speed in a single move action. If you spend a whole combat round moving (that is, take two move actions, a.k.a. a “double move”), you can move up to twice your speed. If you spend the whole round to run all out, you can move up to quadruple your normal speed. (See Movement for more details.)

Saving Throws

As an adventurer, you have more to worry about than taking damage. You may also have to face the petrifying gaze of a medusa, a wyvern’s lethal venom, or a harpy’s compelling song. But through toughness, skill, and no small measure of luck, you can survive these threats as well.

Generally, when you are subject to an unusual or magical attack, you get a saving throw (or “save”) to avoid or reduce the effect. Like an attack roll, a saving throw is a d20 roll plus a bonus based on your class, level, and an ability score. Your saving throw modifier is:

Base save bonus + ability modifier
(+ other modifiers, if any)

Saving Throw Types: The three different kinds of saving throws are Fortitude, Reflex and Will.

Fortitude: These saves measure your ability to stand up to physical punishment or attacks against your vitality and health. Apply your Constitution modifier to your Fortitude saving throws. Fortitude saves can be made against attacks or effects such as poison, disease, paralysis, petrification, energy drain, and the disintegrate? spell.

Reflex: These saves test your ability to dodge area attacks. Apply your Dexterity modifier to your Reflex saving throws. Reflex saves can be made against attacks or effects such as pit traps, catching on fire, the fireball? and lightning bolt? spells, and a red dragon’s fiery breath.

You automatically fail Reflex saves if you are unconscious, immobilized, or otherwise helpless (treat as if you had rolled a natural 1; see “Automatic Failures and Successes”, below).

Armor restricts your mobility, and limits how effectively you can dodge attacks. If you’re wearing armor, you might not be able to apply your whole Dexterity bonus to your Reflex saves.

Will: These saves reflect your resistance to mental influence, and to many magical effects. Apply your Wisdom modifier to your Will saving throws. Will saves can be made against attacks or effects such as the charm person? and hold person? spells, as well as many magical illusions.

Base Save Bonus: Your base save bonus for each of the three kinds of saving throw depends on your class and level. See Classes and Character Advancement for more information about how to determine your base save bonuses.

Other Modifiers: Many other factors can modify your saving throw bonuses. The following are some common modifiers (though by no means exhaustive).

Shield Bonus: If you are using a shield, you add your shield’s AC bonus to Reflex saves against area attacks. Just as with normal attacks, you can’t use your shield bonus when making a Reflex save against an area attack if you’re not expecting the attack, or if you’re unable to react to the attack (see Awareness and Surprise). If you succeed at a Reflex save against an area attack, and the bonus from your shield is what made the difference between success and failure, your shield suffers the effects of the attack. (You do not add your shield bonus to Reflex saves to avoid falling into a pit trap or similar hazards.)

Cover Bonus: If you’re behind cover, you get a bonus on Reflex saves against area attacks that originate on the other side of the cover.

Deflection Bonus: A deflection bonus (such as from a ring of protection) applies to Reflex saves against weapon-like attacks (such as a volley of arrows, a hail of stones, or any other attack that involves physical projectiles being hurled at you).

Being on the Edge of an Area Effect: If the area affected by an area attack, such as a fireball? or a dragon’s breath, only partially encompasses your space, you get a +2 bonus on your Reflex save against that attack.

Spells and Items: Certain spells (such as haste) and items (such as antitoxin) can improve your bonuses on some or all kinds of saving throws.

Saving Throw Difficulty Class: The DC for a save is determined by the attack itself. The fiery breath of an ancient red dragon is more difficult to dodge than a simple fire trap, for example.

Superior Success and Catastrophic Failure: If you beat a saving throw’s DC by 10 or more against an attack that still has an effect on a successful save, the effect is reduced even further (sometimes to nil). The details depend on the specific attack. (In the case of attacks that normally deal half damage on a successful save, such as a fireball? spell, passing the save by 10 or more reduces the damage to one-quarter normal or the minimum possible damage roll (whichever is lower), unless stated otherwise.)

If you fail a save by 10 or more, you suffer effects even more severe than the normal consequences of failure. As with superior success, the details depend on the specific attack. (In the case of damaging attacks that normally deal half damage on a successful save, failing the save by 10 or more usually causes you to take 150% of normal damage, or the maximum possible damage roll (whichever is higher), unless stated otherwise.)

Automatic Failures and Successes: A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on a saving throw is always a failure (and, in the case of physically damaging attacks, may cause damage to exposed items; see Items Surviving After a Saving Throw?). (It is not, however, a catastrophic failure, unless the roll result is in fact 10 or more points lower than the save DC.)

A natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is always a success. (It is not, however, a superior success, unless the roll result is in fact 10 or more points higher than the save DC.)

The Combat Cycle

Every round, each combatant gets to do something. The combatants’ initiative checks, from highest to lowest, determine the order in which they act.

Awareness and Surprise

When a combat starts, if you were not aware of your opponents before the start of combat, and they were aware of you, you’re surprised. (See the Determining Awareness sidebar for details about awareness and surprise.)

When you’re attacked by surprise (such as if a sniper fires a crossbow at you from hiding, or if an assassin sneaks up on you and stabs you in the back with a dagger), the first combat round begins after the surprise attack is resolved (and you’re no longer considered to be surprised, at that point).

Flat-Footed: If you’re caught by surprise at the start of a battle, you are flat-footed until you’ve had a chance to act. A flat-footed character can’t make combat reactions, and takes a −20 penalty on his initiative checks.

Armor Class Against Surprise Attacks: If you’re not expecting an attack, you can’t use your Dexterity, shield, or dodge bonuses to AC against it, and you can’t attempt to dodge or block the attack. (Experienced barbarians and rogues have the improved uncanny dodge ability, and can keep their full AC even when they’re attacked by surprise.)

Declaring Actions

At the start of each round, each character declares his or her actions. All combatants then make initiative checks to determine the order the characters are acting in. (See Actions in Combat for details on what sorts of things a character can do in a combat round.)

Note: Only standard, move, and full-round actions need to be declared. It is not necessary to declare free or swift actions, or combat reactions, ahead of time; such actions may be decided “on the fly” (i.e., you don’t need to declare that you’re taking one of these types of actions until the point in the round when you actually wish to take the action; you may declare the action in advance if you choose to do so, of course). (See Action Types for details on the various types of actions.)

Initiative

A character’s initiative result for a round is how quickly that character was able to react to the combat situation and take action.

Initiative Checks: An initiative check is d20 + the character’s Reflex saving throw bonus. (Modifiers that apply only to some Reflex saving throws, to Reflex saves against only some kinds of attacks, or resistance bonuses to saving throws, do not apply to initiative checks. Modifiers that apply to all Reflex saves—such as a character’s base Reflex save bonus and his Dexterity modifier—do apply to initiative checks.)

Monster Initiative: Typically, the DM makes a single initiative check for monsters and other opponents. At the DM’s option, however, he can make separate initiative checks for different groups of monsters or even for individual creatures. For instance, the DM may make one initiative check for an evil cleric, and another for all seven of her zombie guards.

Resolving Actions

After actions are declared and initiative is rolled, the DM finds out what order characters are acting in, counting down from highest result to lowest. All the characters then resolve their actions in order. If two or more combatants have the same initiative check result, the combatants who are tied act in order of initiative modifier (highest first). If there is still a tie, the DM randomly determines which one of them goes before the other.

Order of Actions: The actions of all the combatants are considered to be taking place simultaneously. (Sometimes, however, characters may want to coordinate or time their actions, to make sure they happen in a certain order; see Special Initiative Actions.)

Invalidated Actions: In some cases, a character’s declared action may no longer be possible when their turn comes. If this happens, they may be able to take a sufficiently similar action (e.g. attack an enemy adjacent to the one against which they’ve declared their attack, if that enemy is already dead); they may be able to take a move action only; or they may be unable to act until the next round (as per the DM’s discretion).

Subsequent Rounds

This process (declare actions, make initiative checks, resolve actions in order) repeats in every subsequent round of combat, until one side has won, retreated, or surrendered, or the combat is otherwise resolved.

Actions in Combat

This section explains how combat actions work, and describes common types of actions that you may take in combat—including moving, attacking, and casting a spell.

The Combat Round

Each round represents 6 seconds in the game world. At the table, a round presents an opportunity for each character involved in a combat situation to take an action. Anything a person could reasonably do in 6 seconds, your character can do in one round.

Each round begins with all characters participating in combat declaring their actions, rolling initiative, then performing their actions in order. When each character’s turn in the initiative order comes up, they perform their entire round’s worth of actions. (See The Combat Cycle for details. For exceptions, see Combat Reactions and Special Initiative Actions.)

Actions in a Combat Round: In one round, you can take a standard action and a move action (in any order), or you can take a full-round action. You can always take a move action in place of a standard action. You can also take one or more swift and free actions. (See Action Types for details.)

Duration of Effects in Rounds: Effects that last a certain number of rounds generally affect that many rounds’ worth of actions. For example, a monk’s stunning attack causes an opponent to lose one round of actions (which may be the current round or the next round, depending on whether the monk’s turn in the current round’s initiative order was before or after the opponent’s; in either case, the opponent would also be unable to make combat reactions for the duration of the round which they spent being stunned).

Action Types

An action’s type essentially tells you how long the action takes to perform (within the framework of the 6-second combat round), and how movement is treated. There are five types of actions: standard actions, move actions, full-round actions, free actions, and swift actions. (There are also combat reactions, which are not a kind of action but allow you to do certain things at any time during the round, even when it’s not your turn.)

Standard Action: The most common type of standard action is an attack—a single melee or ranged attack (see Attacking for details). Other common standard actions include drinking a potion, performing a combat maneuver, and concentrating to maintain an active spell. See Table: Actions in Combat for other standard actions.

Move Action: A move action allows you to move your speed (see Movement), or to perform an action that takes a similar amount of time, such as climbing one-half your speed, drawing or stowing a weapon or other item, standing up, or picking up an object. See Table: Actions in Combat for other move actions.

You can take a move action in place of a standard action. For example, rather than moving your speed and attacking, you could move up to twice your speed (taking two move actions to do so; this is called a “double move”), put away a weapon and climb one-half of your speed (two move actions), or pick up an item and stow it in your belt pouch (two move actions).

If you move no actual distance in a round (commonly because you took one of the other equivalent actions listed above), you can take one short step (a.k.a. a “5-foot step”) either before, during, or after your other actions. For example, if Tordek is crouching behind a battlement, he can stand up (a move action), take a short step to move up to 5 feet, and then fire his crossbow (as a standard action).

Full-Round Action: A full-round action consumes all your effort during a round. The only movement you can take during a full-round action is a short step before, during, or after the action. You can also make combat reactions (or take swift actions, which use up your combat reactions), and you may perform free actions as your DM allows. The most common type of full-round action is a full attack, which allows you to make multiple melee or ranged attacks in a single round.

Some full-round actions do not allow you to take a short step.

Free Action: Free actions consume a very small amount of time and effort, and over the span of the round, their impact is so minor that they are considered free. You do not have to declare free actions when you declare your actions for the round; you can choose to take free actions “on the fly”, in response to the state of the combat during your turn. You can perform one or more free actions while taking another action normally. However, the DM puts reasonable limits on what you can really do for free. For instance, calling out to your friends for help, dropping an item, and ceasing to concentrate on a spell are all free actions.

Swift Action: A swift action consumes a very small amount of time, but represents a larger expenditure of effort and energy than a free action. Each swift action that you take uses up one of your combat reactions for the round, so the number of swift actions you can take in a round is limited by how many combat reactions you have.

Like free actions, swift actions do not need to be declared in advance. You can take swift actions at any time during your turn (but you usually can’t interrupt another action you’re taking with a swift action, unless the description of the swift action you’re taking specifies otherwise).

Immediate Actions: Although a swift action uses up one of your combat reactions for the round, you generally can’t take a swift action when it’s not your turn (unlike other kinds of combat reactions, which you can make even when it’s not your turn). There are, however, some swift actions that you can take when it’s not your turn: these are called immediate actions. (Note that because you cannot make combat reactions when you’re flat-footed, you also can’t take immediate actions when you’re flat-footed—unless you have the Combat Reflexes feat.)

Not an Action

Some activities are so minor that they are not even considered free actions. They literally don’t take any time at all to do and are considered an inherent part of doing something else. For example, using the Stealth? skill to hide while moving is not action; it is part of the movement action itself.

Restricted Activity

In some situations (such as when you’re under the effects of a slow? spell), you may be unable to take a full round’s worth of actions. In such cases, you are restricted to taking only a single standard action or a single move action (plus free actions as normal). You can’t take a full-round action. Additionally, you may make only one-half your normal number of combat reactions per round (rounded down).

Start/Complete Full-Round Action: In situations of restricted activity, you may use a standard action to start a full-round action on one round, and then, on the next round, use a standard action to complete that full-round action. You can’t use this to make a full attack, however, nor can you use it to take any action that involves movement (such as running or charging).

Attacking

You can make a single melee or ranged attack as a standard action. Making multiple attacks requires a full-round action (see Making Multiple Attacks in a Round). Attacks of opportunity allow you to attack as a combat reaction.

Attacks are resolved using attack rolls.

Melee Attacks: With a normal melee weapon, you can strike any opponent within your normal melee reach (5 feet, for Medium-sized characters). (Attacking while unarmed works similarly; see the Unarmed Attacks sidebar.) Some melee weapons, such as longspears, have greater reach, and allow you to strike opponents further away. (See Melee Space and Reach for details.)

Ranged Attacks: With a ranged weapon, you can shoot or throw at any target that is within the weapon’s maximum range and in line of sight. (See Weapons for details on weapon ranges).

Ranged Attacks and Dodging: In a round when you use a standard or full-round action to make one or more ranged attacks, you can’t use combat reactions to dodge attacks.

Making Multiple Attacks in a Round

Characters gain the ability to attack twice in a round when their base attack bonus reaches +6. Making both attacks requires a full-round action (this is called a “full attack”). You may take a short step before, after, or between your attacks.

You may also gain the ability to make additional attacks in a round for other reasons: the haste spell, the Cleave feat, fighting with two weapons (see Two-Weapon Fighting), a monk’s flurry of blows ability, etc. See the description of each ability for details on what type of action is required to use it.

Actions Taken in Place of an Attack

Some combat actions (e.g. some combat maneuvers) may be taken in place of an attack (usually, in place of a melee attack only). This means that whenever you could normally make an attack of the appropriate kind—as part of a full attack, on a charge, as an attack of opportunity, etc.—you can perform that action instead.

Casting Spells

Casting a spell in combat is tricky (because you generally can’t defend yourself effectively while spellcasting, and may be interrupted if attacked), but a well-placed spell can turn the tide of a battle.

This section focuses on the rules for casting spells in combat. See Spells for more details on casting spells, their effects, and so on.

Cast a Spell

Casting a spell usually takes either a standard action (as with many single-target attack spells like magic missile? or hold person?) or a full-round action (as with many powerful spells like fireball?). You can also cast some spells as swift or immediate actions (for example, by using the Quicken Spell feat).

Spell Components: To cast a spell with a verbal (V) component, your character must speak in a firm voice. If you’re gagged or in the area of a silence? spell, you can’t cast such a spell; nor is it possible to cast a spell with a verbal component in a stealthy manner (such as by whispering or mumbling). A spellcaster who has been deafened has a 20% chance to spoil any spell he tries to cast if that spell has a verbal component.

To cast a spell with a somatic (S) component, you must gesture freely with at least one hand. You can’t cast a spell of this type while bound, grappling, or with both your hands full or occupied (swimming, clinging to a cliff, or the like).

To cast a spell with a material (M), focus (F), or divine focus (DF) component, you have to have the proper materials, as described by the spell. Unless these materials are elaborate (such as the 2-foot-by-4-foot mirror that a wizard needs to cast scrying?), preparing these materials (which usually involves simply taking them out of your spell component pouch) is a free action. For material components and focuses whose costs are not listed, you can assume that you have them if you have your component pouch.

Concentration: You must concentrate to cast a spell. If you can’t concentrate (because you are on the deck of a storm-tossed ship, for instance), you can’t cast a spell. If you start casting a spell but something interferes with your concentration, such as an ogre hitting you with its club (see Being Attacked While Casting, below), you must make a concentration check or lose the spell. The check’s DC depends on what is threatening your concentration. If you fail, the spell fizzles; it has no effect, but is still considered to have been cast (i.e., you no longer have that spell prepared, etc.).

Spellcasting and Combat Reactions: In any round when you cast a spell with a casting time of a standard or full-round action, you cannot make combat reactions of any kind.

Being Attacked While Casting: If you are attacked in a round when you cast a spell with a casting time of a standard or full-round action, you can’t dodge or block (because you can’t make combat reactions). If you take damage before your turn, during your turn (such as if an enemy has readied an action to attack you), or—in the case of spells with full-round-action casting times—even after your turn in the initiative order, you must make a concentration check (DC 10 + points of damage taken + 2 × the spell’s level) or lose the spell (i.e., have it fizzle). Likewise, if you are subject to a successful combat maneuver (before, during, or possibly even after your turn—depending on the spell’s casting time), you must make a concentration check (DC equal to the combat maneuver’s attack roll result + 2 × the spell’s level) or lose the spell.

Spells that require a move, swift, or free action to cast do not have these drawbacks.

When Spells Take Effect: Spells with a standard action or full-round action casting time generally take effect at the end of the turn (unless stated otherwise in the spell’s description). Spells with a move, swift, or free action casting time take effect immediately. However, spells that improve allies’ combat abilities (“buffs”), spells that cause detrimental effects to enemies (“debuffs”), spells that summon creatures, and many other sorts of spells that alter the conditions of the battle, take effect at the end of the round regardless of their casting time. See each spell’s description for details.

Touch Spells in Combat: Many spells (such as shocking grasp? or cure light wounds) have a range of touch. To use these spells, you cast the spell and then touch the subject, either in the same round or any time later. In the same round that you cast the spell, you may also touch (or attempt to touch) the target. You may take your move before casting the spell, after touching the target, or between casting the spell and touching the target. You can automatically touch one friend or use the spell on yourself, but to touch an opponent, you must succeed on an attack roll. Since you need only touch your enemy, you make a touch attack instead of a regular attack.

Holding the Charge: If you don’t discharge a touch spell in the round when you cast it, you can hold the discharge of the spell (a.k.a. “hold the charge”) indefinitely. You can continue to make touch attacks round after round. You can touch one friend as a standard action or up to six friends as a full-round action. If you touch anything or anyone while holding a charge, even unintentionally, the spell discharges. If you cast another spell, the touch spell dissipates without effect. Alternatively, you may make a normal unarmed attack (or an attack with a natural weapon) while holding a charge. If the attack hits, you deal normal damage for your unarmed attack or natural weapon and the spell discharges. If the attack misses, you are still holding the charge.

Concentrate to Maintain a Spell

Some spells require continued concentration to keep them going. Concentrating to maintain a spell is a standard action. Anything that could break your concentration when casting a spell can keep you from concentrating to maintain a spell. If your concentration breaks, the spell ends. Concentrating prevents you from making combat reactions.

You may cease concentrating on a spell as a free action, at any time during your turn.

Dismiss a Spell

Dismissing an active spell (such as wall of fire?) is a standard action. (See individual spell descriptions to find out whether a particular spell is dismissible.)

Direct or Redirect a Spell

Some spells, such as flaming sphere? or spiritual weapon?, allow you to redirect the effect to new targets or areas after you cast the spell. Redirecting a spell requires a move action, and does not require concentration.

Movement

Moving in combat usually takes a move action. Some standard and full-round actions also include movement. Taking a short step is a special free action. (See below for details.)

How Far You Can Move: Your race determines your base land speed. Various factors can modify your speed in combat. (What actual distance you cover in a round depends on what sort of movement action you take; see following sections for details.)

Encumbrance: A character encumbered by carrying a large amount of treasure, gear (including the weight of his armor), or fallen comrades, may move slower than normal (see Carrying & Encumbrance?).

Hampered Movement: Difficult terrain, obstacles, or poor visibility can hamper movement (see Surfaces, Terrain, and Obstacles and Visibility and Movement). Some spells (such as slow?) and other special attacks may reduce your move speed.

Bonuses to Speed: A barbarian has a +10 foot bonus to his speed (unless he’s wearing heavy armor or carrying a heavy load). Experienced monks also have higher speed (unless they’re wearing armor of any sort). In addition, many spells (such as expeditious retreat?) and magic items (such as boots of striding and springing) can affect a character’s speed. Always apply any modifiers to a character’s speed before adjusting the character’s speed based on encumbrance, and remember that multiple bonuses of the same type to a character’s speed (such as enhancement bonuses) don’t stack.

Unusual Movement Modes: Normal movement in combat doesn’t require any sort of check or roll; however, non-standard movement modes (climbing, swimming, flying, etc.) usually do require skill checks to do in combat. See Using Movement Skills, as well as the Acrobatics and Athletics skill descriptions, for details.

Moving Through Opponents’ Threatened Areas: Moving across a battlefield, past enemies and other hazards, is often perilous. See Attacks of Opportunity for details.

Moving and Attacking: In many cases, you may want to move, and also make one or more attacks, in the same round. There are several ways of doing this (this is not a complete list; only the most common options are listed).

Move and Attack: Because you can perform a move action and a standard action in one round, you can take a move action to move, and a standard action to make an attack.

Charge: Charging lets you move to an opponent and make a melee attack.

Short Step: You can take a short step, if your other actions in that round don’t include movement; this means that you can take a short step before or after taking a full round’s worth of actions (which may include attacking).

Feats: The Spring Attack feat lets you move before and after making a melee attack. The Shot on the Run feat lets you move before and after making a ranged attack.

Magic: The haste spell lets you take an extra move action in a round, allowing you to move and also take a full round’s worth of other actions (which may include attacking). Some magic items may also grant you similar abilities.

Class Abilities: A monk can spend a ki point to take an extra move action in a round, allowing him to move and also take a full round’s worth of other actions (which may include attacking).

Move

You can move up to your speed (usually 30 feet for most Medium characters; 20 feet for dwarves and most Small characters) as a move action. If you take this kind of move action during your turn, you can’t take a short step.

Taking Multiple Move Actions in a Round: You can use both of your actions in a round to move (since you can always take a move action in place of a standard action), covering a total of twice your speed (this known as a “double move”). (If you have additional actions available—such as via the haste spell—you can use those actions to move as well.)

Run

You can run as a full-round action. When you run, you can move up to four times your speed in a straight line. You take a −2 penalty to AC; you also can’t make combat reactions, and can’t take a short step.

You can run for a number of rounds equal to your Constitution score, but after that you must make a DC 10 Endurance? check to continue running. You must check again each round in which you continue to run, and the DC of this check increases by 1 each time. When you fail this check, you must stop running. A character who has run to his limit must rest for 1 minute (10 combat rounds) before running again. During a rest period, a character can move no faster than a normal move action.

You can’t run across difficult terrain, or using a form of movement for which you don’t have a listed speed (see Using Movement Skills for details).

A run represents a speed of about 12 miles per hour for an unencumbered human.

Take a Short Step

You can take a short step in any round when you don’t perform any other kind of movement. A short step covers a distance equal to your normal melee reach (5 feet, for Medium-sized humanoid characters, such as humans or dwarves). Taking a short step never provokes an attack of opportunity. You can’t take more than one short step in a round.

You can take a short step before, during, or after your other actions in the round. For example, you could draw a weapon (a move action), take a short step, and then attack (a standard action), or you could cast magic missile? (a standard action), take a short step through an open door, then close the door (a move action).

You can only take a short step if your movement isn’t hampered by difficult terrain or darkness. Any creature with a speed that is lower than the width of its short step can’t take a short step, since moving even that far requires a move action for such a slow creature.

You may not take a short step using a form of movement for which you do not have a listed speed (see Using Movement Skills for details).

Drop Prone or Crouch

You can drop to a prone position, or into a crouch, as a free action. (See Posture for details on the effects of being prone, crouching, etc.)

Stand Up

Standing up from a crouching position, or rising into a crouching position from prone, requires a move action. (Thus standing up from prone requires two move actions, or a single full-round action.)

An Acrobatics check (DC 10) allows you to get up from prone as a move action. An Acrobatics check (DC 20) allows you to rise from prone into a crouch, or stand up from a crouch, as a swift action. (Failing one of these checks means that you fail to get up.)

Any of these actions provoke an attack of opportunity. (If you try to use Acrobatics to get up quickly, you provoke an AoO regardless of whether you succeed on the check.)

Crawl

You can cover the same distance as a short step by crawling (while prone or crouching) as a move action. You are considered to be prone in any round in which you spend at least one move action crawling (with the attendant combat modifiers).

Handling Items

There are many ways in which adventurers may need to handle or manipulate items or objects (weapons or other equipment, furniture, levers, doors, rocks, etc.) in combat.

Draw or Sheathe a Weapon

Drawing a weapon so that you can use it in combat, or putting a weapon away so that you have a free hand, requires a move action. This also applies to weapon-like objects carried in easy reach, such as wands sheathed in a wand bandolier or holster. (If your weapon or similar item is stored in a pack or otherwise out of easy reach, retrieving it takes longer—a full-round action, at least.)

The Quick Draw feat lets you draw a weapon as a free action. If you have a base attack bonus of +1 or higher, you may draw a weapon as a free action combined with a regular move. If you have the Two-Weapon Fighting feat, you can draw two light or one-handed weapons in the time it would normally take you to draw one.

Drawing ammunition for use with a ranged weapon (such as arrows, bolts, or sling bullets) is a free action.

You can use the Sleight of Hand? skill to draw a hidden weapon (one that’s secreted somewhere on your person); doing so takes a standard action or less (depending on your check result). After drawing a hidden weapon, the first attack that you make with that weapon in the same round is considered to be a surprise attack (see Awareness and Surprise).

Ready or Loose a Shield

Strapping a shield to your arm to gain its shield bonus to your AC, or unstrapping and dropping a shield so you can use your shield hand for another purpose, requires a move action. If you have a base attack bonus of +1 or higher, you can ready or loose a shield as a free action combined with a regular move.

Dropping a carried (not worn) shield is a free action.

Retrieve or Manipulate an Item

In many cases, moving an item, retrieving it from a carried or worn container, or manipulating an item or object is a move action. This applies to situations where you don’t need to handle the item in question for more than a couple of moments, and includes actions like picking up an item that is lying on the ground, on a table, or otherwise within reach, or opening or closing a door (that is not locked or stuck).

More complex activities may require a full-round action (or longer, in some cases). Examples of things that can’t be accomplished with a move action include attempting to open a stuck door, moving a heavy table, and lighting or extinguishing a torch.

The time it takes to do something with an item or object depends heavily on the situation. You must, of course, have a hand (or sometimes even both hands) free in order to retrieve an item. Consult your DM for details on any particular action.

Retrieving an Item From a Worn Container: This includes taking a potion from a belt pouch, pulling a bag of caltrops out of your backpack, and similar actions. Doing so usually takes either a move action (in the case of items in belt pouches and similar containers within easy reach), a full-round action (in the case of items in backpacks), or even longer (for items that are securely stowed, that need to be unwrapped, etc.). See Carrying & Encumbrance? for details on carrying, stowing, and retrieving items.

Combat Reactions While Manipulating Items: In many (but not all) cases, you can’t make combat reactions in a round which you spend manipulating an item (even if doing so only takes a move action). Exceptions may include cases like grabbing something off a table next to you, which doesn’t require you to bend down, turn away from your opponents, or take your attention away from the battle.

Drop an Item

Dropping an item at your feet or within your reach is a free action. Hurling an item so that it lands further away is usually a move action. (This does not apply to attacking by throwing an item or weapon; see Attacking, in that case.)

Use Device

This category of action includes the use of magic or special items and other sorts of devices. Many such items don’t need to be “activated” or handled in any special way—boots of elvenkind have their effect simply by being worn, for example. However, certain sorts of items require that some sort of specific action be performed with them in order to gain their benefits. Some common examples are the following:

Potions: Drinking a potion, such as a potion of extra healing, is a standard action. You can pour a potion down the throat of an unconscious or immobilized character as a full-round action.

The effects of potions that confer enhancements or any sort of ongoing benefit start at the end of the round in which the potion is drunk. Healing potions, or any sort of potion that has an instantaneous benefit, take effect immediately.

You can’t make combat reactions in a round in which you use (either drink or a minister) a potion.

Wands and Staffs: Using a wand (such as a wand of fire) or a staff (such as a staff of conjuration) is usually a standard action, unless stated otherwise in the wand’s description. Activating a wand or staff usually requires speaking a command word or phrase, and gesturing with the device in some way. Each individual wand or staff may have specific means of activation or requirements for its use.

Scrolls: Reading a magic scroll to trigger the magic inscribed upon it is much like casting a spell. It takes at least a full-round action to read a scroll (and sometimes longer—such as if the scroll contains a spell which has a longer casting time). Reading a scroll requires concentration, just as casting a spell does; if you are interrupted (such as by taking damage) and fail your concentration check, a mishap may occur (see the Arcane Script skill description for details).

You can’t make combat reactions in a round in which you activate a scroll.

Other Command-Word Items: Other kinds of items may require a command word or phrase to activate (such as a flying carpet). If the command word/phrase is short, then you can speak it as quickly as any other word or phrase (which generally takes only a free action; this means that you can speak the command word or phrase while performing other combat actions). You can generally only activate devices with a command word/phrase on your turn, however. If the item requires a lengthier incantation to activate, then it may take a standard action or longer to do so. See each item’s description, and consult your DM, for details.

Other Devices: Many other kinds of devices and special items exist—far too many to list here. Some kinds of items require you to pull levers (such as an apparatus of Kwalish), press buttons (such as a rod of lordly might), or perform other actions. See each device’s description, and consult your DM, for details on a device’s use (including what sort of action is required to make use of it).

Miscellaneous Combat Actions

Some actions don’t fit into the categories described above. In addition to the actions listed in these sections, there are also various combat maneuvers that you can perform, as well as various special abilities and attacks; both of these kinds of actions are described in their own sections of this chapter.

Total Defense

You can defend yourself as a standard action (thereby sacrificing your opportunity to make an attack or full attack), gaining a +4 dodge bonus to Armor Class for the duration of the round. However, you cannot use your combat reactions in that round for anything other than dodging or blocking attacks (unless you have the Combat Expertise feat).

If you declare total defense on multiple consecutive rounds, then on the second and all subsequent rounds, you gain the dodge bonus to AC even against attacks that take place before your turn in the initiative order.

Speak

In general, speaking is a free action that you can perform even when it isn’t your turn. In the context of combat, you can’t speak when flat-footed (and so you can’t warn your allies of a surprise attack until you’ve had a chance to react to it yourself). Speaking more than a sentence or two is beyond the limits of a free action; to communicate more information than that, you have to take one or more rounds to speak.

Use Feat

Certain feats, such as Whirlwind Attack, let you take special actions in combat. Other feats, such as Improved Disarm, do not require actions themselves, but they give you a bonus (or otherwise improve your performance or capabilities) when attempting something you can already do. See individual feat descriptions for details.

Use Skill

Many skills have uses in combat. See Table: Skill Use in Combat for a summary of common ways to use skills in combat. The individual skill descriptions (in the Skills chapter) tell you what sorts of actions are required to use each skill, and provide other details.

Perform Combat Maneuver

The various combat maneuvers you can perform (such as tripping or disarming an opponent) are described in their own section of this chapter.

Use Special Ability

Characters may have various special abilities, based on their race, class, or for other reasons. Each special ability’s description specifies the action needed to use it, and other relevant details. Certain special abilities and attacks usable by most or all characters are described in the Special Attacks section of this chapter.

If you are unsure of how a particular special ability works, consult your DM.

Special Initiative Actions

There are three special kinds of actions that a character can declare, that affect the order of actions in a round in specific ways: delaying, readying, and refocusing.

Delay

When declaring your actions for the round, you can declare that, if you react more quickly than another character whom you specify, you will begin your action only after they have begun theirs. (You must still specify your action, as normal.) This is equivalent to rolling the same initiative as the other character (and losing the tie). If you do not react more quickly than the character for whom you were planning to wait (i.e., you roll a lower initiative result than they do), then your actions proceed just as if you hadn’t delayed.

Ready

When declaring your actions for the round, you can declare that you will take a certain action (which must be a standard, move, or free action) if a certain condition or trigger occurs.

(For example, you might specify that you will shoot an arrow at anyone coming through a nearby doorway, then—at any time after your turn would normally take place in the initiative order, but before the next round begins—you may take the readied action in response to that condition.)

The readied action, when taken, interrupts the action or event that triggers it. If you interrupt another character’s action, then (assuming he is still capable of doing so) he continues his actions once you complete your readied action.

Readying counts as a standard action (regardless of the kind of action you plan to take if your trigger condition occurs), so you can declare a readied action and a move action in the same round.

Taking a Short Step During a Readied Action: You can take a short step as part of your readied action, but only if you don’t otherwise move any distance during the round. (For instance, if you move up to an open door and then ready an action to swing your sword at whatever comes near, you can’t take a short step along with the readied action, since you’ve already moved in that round.)

Missing the Trigger: If you declare a readied action, but the trigger condition (such as “the goblin cleric casting a spell”) occurs before your turn in the initiative order (due to you rolling a lower initiative result than the triggering creature or event), you have two options. You can take your readied action when your turn comes (assuming the action is still possible), even though it can no longer interrupt the triggering event. Or, you can continue to ready the same action into the next combat round (see Readying for Multiple Rounds, below). (Of course you may also simply abandon the readied action. Your standard action for the current round is still used up, in that case; you don’t get the opportunity to take some other action instead.)

Readying for Multiple Rounds: If you ready an action, and don’t end up taking the readied action in that round, you can continue to ready the same action over the course of multiple rounds. In subsequent rounds (i.e., in any round when you continue to ready an action you declared in a previous round), you are automatically considered to have won the initiative for the purpose of responding to the trigger you declared.

Continuing to ready an action uses up your standard action for a round, though you can still take move actions or free actions (as long as doing so does not interfere with your ability to take the readied action; for example, if you ready an attack with a crossbow, putting the crossbow away—a move action—would effectively cancel your readied action).

You cannot make combat reactions when readying.

Continually watching for a trigger and being prepared to taken an action in response to takes attention and concentration. You are considered to be distracted (−5 penalty to perception skills) for the purpose of noticing anything other than the trigger event that you’re watching for. If you continue to ready an action for an extended period of time, them DM may call for concentration checks or other rolls to maintain your readiness.

Having Your Concentration Broken: Taking damage or otherwise being distracted while readying an action can break your concentration and prevent you from reacting quickly enough to the triggering event you’re watching for. If you are attacked or distracted, you must make a concentration check (DC 10 + damage taken, or otherwise appropriate to the nature of the distraction); if you fail, you are no longer considered to be readied.

Distracting Spellcasters: You can ready an attack against a spellcaster with the trigger “if she starts casting a spell”. If you damage the spellcaster, she may lose the spell she was trying to cast (as determined by her concentration check result).

Readying to Counterspell: You may ready a counterspell against a spellcaster (often with the trigger “if she starts casting a spell”). In this case, when the spellcaster starts a spell, you get a chance to identify it with a Spellcraft check. If you do, and if you can cast that same spell (are able to cast it and have it prepared, if you prepare spells), you can cast the spell as a counterspell and automatically ruin the other spellcaster’s spell. Counterspelling works regardless of whether you are of the same class as the other spellcaster—it matters only whether you’re casting the same spell.

A spellcaster can use dispel magic? to counterspell another spellcaster, but it doesn’t always work. (See Magic for details about counterspells.)

Readying a Weapon Against a Charge: You can ready certain piercing weapons (such as spears), setting them to receive charges (see Weapons). A readied weapon of this type deals double damage if you score a hit with it against a charging opponent.

Refocus

As a standard action, you can refocus your thoughts as you get your bearings and appraise the situation. On the following round of the combat, you are automatically considered to have rolled a 20 on your initiative check (your initiative modifier applies as normal).

Combat Maneuvers

Combat maneuvers are special attacks that you may perform in combat, such as pushing an opponent back, knocking him to the ground, or smashing a weapon he is holding.

General Rules

All combat maneuvers are resolved in the same basic way:

As a standard action, make a melee attack roll.

See Table: Combat Maneuvers for a summary of the six most common combat maneuvers that are described in this section. See individual combat maneuver descriptions for details and exceptions.

Combat Maneuver Attack Roll

An attack roll for a combat maneuver (a.k.a. a “combat maneuver check”) is d20 + your attack bonus, just like any other attack roll.

Attack Bonus for a Combat Maneuver: If you’re attempting the maneuver with a weapon, you use your attack bonus with the weapon. If you’re attempting the maneuver unarmed, or if the maneuver makes no use of weapons, you use your unarmed attack bonus. (See Attack Bonus for details.) (Note: Some combat maneuvers, such as tripping or disarming opponents, can be performed either with a weapon—a melee weapon only, in most cases—or without a weapon. Other combat maneuvers, such as pushing opponents, never make use of your weapons.)

Any modifiers that apply to your attack rolls (due to magic buffs, etc.) apply as normal. Certain feats or other abilities (such as the Tripping Strike feat) may modify your combat maneuver attack rolls in certain situations.

Combat Maneuver Armor Class

Your AC against most combat maneuvers is equal to:

touch AC + Strength bonus

(Any modifiers that apply to your touch AC—such as cover, magic buffs, deflection bonuses, etc.—thus also apply to your AC vs. combat maneuvers. Note that only a Strength bonus, but not a Strength penalty, applies to your combat maneuver AC.)

Certain feats or other abilities (such as a dwarf’s stability racial trait) may modify your AC against some or all kinds of combat maneuvers. Some maneuvers (such as disarm and sunder) are made against a different AC; see each maneuver’s description for details.

Dodging: You can use the dodge combat reaction to try to avoid an opponent’s combat maneuver attempt against you, because dodge bonuses improve your touch AC.

Big vs. Small Creatures

A character attempting a combat maneuver against an opponent of a different size category adds a size modifier to his combat maneuver check: +4 per size category difference if he’s bigger than his opponent, −4 per size category difference if he’s smaller.

Combat Maneuver Check Results

If your attack roll result equals or beats the target’s combat maneuver AC, your maneuver is successful.

As with a normal attack, a natural 1 on a combat maneuver check is always a failure; a natural 20 is always a success. (You cannot critically hit on a combat maneuver.)

If your target is immobilized, unconscious, or otherwise helpless, your maneuver automatically succeeds (treat as if you had rolled a natural 20 on the check).

Failing a Combat Maneuver Check: In the case of most combat maneuvers, if you fail your combat maneuver check (that is, if your attack roll result is not at least as high as your opponent’s AC), you provoke an attack of opportunity from the defender. (Any attack the defender makes against you as part of that attack of opportunity cannot provoke an attack of opportunity from you in turn, even if that sort of attack or maneuver would normally provoke an attack of opportunity. Thus it’s impossible to have, e.g., a back-and-forth chain of trip attacks, each triggered by the previous failed attempt of the other combatant.)

Disarm

You can attempt to knock (or grab) a weapon or object out of an opponent’s hands.

Action: You can attempt a disarm as a standard action. (The Disarming Strike feat allows you to attempt a disarm in place of an attack.)

Disarm Size Restrictions: You can only disarm an opponent who is one size category larger than you, the same size, or one size category smaller. (You can try to wrest items out of a smaller opponent’s grasp after successfully grabbing him; see the grab combat maneuver for details.)

Attack Bonus for Disarm: You can make disarm attempts while unarmed, or with any kind of melee weapon.

Armor Class Against Disarm Attacks: If an opponent is trying to disarm you of a weapon with which you’re proficient, you can, at your option, use your base attack bonus in place of your Strength bonus as a bonus to your AC against the disarm.

Using Two Hands: Snatching an item from an opponent’s grasp is easier if you use two hands. See the Grabbing With Both Hands sidebar for details.

Likewise, if you’re holding an item in two hands, you get a +4 bonus to your AC against being disarmed of it.

Disarming While Unarmed: If you are attempting a disarm while unarmed yourself, you provoke an attack of opportunity from your opponent unless you have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat or a similar ability (see the Unarmed Attacks sidebar for details). Any damage you take from this attack of opportunity is applied as a penalty to your combat maneuver check for the disarm.

Disarm Results

If your combat maneuver check is successful, your opponent is disarmed. If you were armed (i.e., if you were attempting the disarm with a weapon), the target item is now on the ground at your opponent’s feet. (If the weapon you were using is one-handed or light, and your other hand is free, a DC 15 Sleight of Hand? check, or the Improved Disarm feat, allows you to catch the item in your free hand.) If you were unarmed, you now have the weapon in your hand (although you may then drop it, if you choose).

If your check fails, your opponent is not disarmed, and you provoke an attack of opportunity from him.

Note: A defender using a weapon attached to a locked gauntlet gets a +10 bonus on their AC against attempts to disarm them of that weapon.

Grabbing Items

You can also use a disarm maneuver to snatch an item worn by the target (such as a hat or a necklace). You can use a weapon for this, although if you want to have the item in your hand, the disarm must be made as an unarmed attack. Unless the item is poorly secured or otherwise easy to snatch or cut away (such as a loose cloak or a brooch pinned to the front of a tunic), your opponent gains a +4 bonus to his AC against your attempt to grab it. You can’t snatch an item that is very well-secured, such as a ring or a bracelet, unless you have your opponent pinned. Even then, your opponent gets an additional +4 bonus on his AC against the maneuver.

You do not add your Strength bonus to your AC against attempts to grab an item that you’re wearing (as opposed to one you’re holding or wielding).

Grab

You can attempt to grab hold of an opponent.

Action: You can attempt a grab as a standard action. If your opponent’s space overlaps yours, you can grab in place of an attack.

The Improved Grab feat allows you to grab as a move action.

Releasing a grabbed opponent is a free action.

Attack Bonus for Grab: You don’t use your weapons (if any) to grab opponents, so you always use your unarmed attack bonus. You must have a hand free to grab (or two hands free, if you’re using both hands to grab; see the Grabbing With Both Hands sidebar).

You never add a size difference modifier to your attack roll when grabbing, regardless of the sizes of you and your opponent.

AC Against Grab Attacks: You do not add your Strength bonus to your Armor Class against grab attacks. (Thus your AC against grab attacks is simply equal to your touch AC.)

Grab Size Restrictions: You can grab a creature of any size as long as it’s no more than three size categories smaller than you are.

Grab Attacks and Creature Size: Exactly what the grab attempt represents, and its consequences, vary depending on the size (and shape) of the creatures involved. One Medium-sized humanoid (such as a human or a dwarf) grabbing another Medium-sized humanoid might be seizing the other’s arm or grabbing a handful of his shirt; a human could grab a halfling (or a child) about the waist with one arm; a cat could latch on to a gnome’s leg; a human could grab a cat by the scruff of its neck; a halfling might catch on to a storm giant’s shoelace; a cloud giant could grasp an entire halfling firmly in one hand; an elf can leap onto a galloping horse and hang on; a hill giant could latch on to an ancient dragon’s tail; etc.

Creatures grab opponents using whatever appendages or body parts are appropriate: humanoids with their hands, octopuses with arms, dragons with claws or in teeth, snakes by coiling about their opponents’ body, etc. It may sometimes be possible for a creature to attempt a grab with an unusual body part (a human latching on to an opponent’s cloak with his teeth, for example); the DM may use his discretion to decide what is feasible in any situation. A −4 penalty on the attacker’s roll is recommended in such cases (assuming the unusual grab is possible at all).

Grabbing an Armed Opponent: You provoke an attack of opportunity from an opponent you try to grab, unless you have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat or a similar ability (see the Unarmed Attacks sidebar for details). Any damage you take from this attack of opportunity is applied as a penalty to your combat maneuver check for the grab.

Grab Results

If your combat maneuver check is successful, you’ve grabbed your opponent.

When you successfully grab an opponent, you move into his space—or move him into your space, if he’s smaller than you are. (This does not provoke an attack of opportunity from your opponent.)

If your check fails, you’ve failed to get a hold, and you provoke an attack of opportunity from your opponent.

The consequences of grabbing an opponent depend greatly on the situation (your size, your opponent’s size, what part of his body, clothing, or equipment you’re grabbing, and so on). In general, grabbing hold of an opponent restricts your opponent’s freedom of action in some way, and your own as well (on average, though, it’s worse for the other guy).

Occupied Limbs: The most obvious consequence of grabbing an opponent’s arm, for example, is that he can’t use that arm to attack, cast spells, or perform other actions (and your own hand and arm are occupied as well). Likewise, if you grab on to an opponent’s leg, he can’t run or jump effectively (see below for more details about what grabbing an opponent does to his mobility). Situations involving other limbs, appendages, etc. have similar consequences.

Combat Penalties: In addition to any obvious effects of grabbing your opponent, you and he both take penalties to various combat actions. The penalties listed on Table: Grabbing by Numbers apply to attack rolls, AC, Reflex saves, and any skill checks, ability checks, or other sorts of rolls that involve movement or require physical freedom of action (such as Acrobatics, Athletics, etc.), including checks that involve maintaining, or escaping from, the grab.

More Than Two Combatants: If one character is grabbed by multiple opponents, simply add up the penalties applied by each opponent. Likewise, if one character is grabbing multiple opponents, add up the penalties the grabber takes for grabbing each opponent. Common-sense limitations apply; a human generally can’t grab more than two opponents at once, for example (having only two hands with which to grab).

One creature can usually be grabbed by up to four opponents of its own size category. Opponents of one size category larger count double; opponents of one size smaller count for half; etc. (Thus a storm giant might be grabbed by as many as thirty-two housecats at once; conversely, if the same giant grabs a gnome, no other giant can grab that same gnome at the same time.)

Dodging and Blocking: You can’t dodge attacks while grabbing or while grabbed. You can block attacks if your shield or weapon arm is free.

Restricted Movement: Being grabbed, by itself, reduces your mobility. If grabbed by an opponent of your size category, your speed is reduced by a factor of 2. Each additional such opponent that grabs you increases that reduction factor by 2. Being grabbed by an opponent of a larger size category reduces your speed more: twice as much if one size category larger, four times as much if two size categories larger, etc. Smaller opponents reduce your speed correspondingly less. If your speed is reduced to less than 5 feet, you can’t move at all. If you do manage to move, you drag along any opponents that have grabbed you.

Furthermore, opponents who grab you can actively try to stop you from moving. Any opponent who chooses to do so must sacrifice their own move action. In order to successfully move, you must make opposed Strength checks against the strongest of those grabbing opponents who are trying to stop you from moving.

Dragging: If you’ve grabbed an opponent, you can try to drag him along as you move. If your opponent doesn’t resist, no check is required; if he struggles, you must make opposed Strength checks. If you beat your opponent’s check, you can move at up to one-quarter speed (while dragging him along); if you beat his check by 5, you can move at half speed; if you beat his check by 10, you can move at full speed. If you’re trying to move while dragging multiple resisting opponents, make a single Strength check against the strongest one.

Squeezing or Crushing an Opponent: If you’ve grabbed an opponent who is at least one size category smaller than you are, you can try to deal damage to him with your grip. As a standard action, you can attempt to crush all opponents you’ve grabbed simultaneously. Make opposed Strength checks against each; if you beat an opponent’s check result by 5 or more, you deal damage equal to an unarmed strike (or damage for the appropriate natural weapon, in the case of non-humanoids).

At the DM’s option, a squeezed combatant may also suffer other effects, such as suffocation (from being crushed and unable to breathe). Some creatures—such as constrictor snakes—have special abilities related to grabbing and crushing opponents.

Throwing an Opponent: You can throw a grabbed opponent just as if you were throwing an inanimate object; you must succeed at an opposed Strength check, and win the check by 10 or more, to do so. (Size modifers, and the modifer for grabbing with both hands, apply as usual.) Winning the check by less than 10 means that you fail to throw the opponent, but are still grabbing him; losing the check means that you lose your grip.

If the opponent is helpless, no opposed check is needed.

Encumbrance: If you’re trying to move with an opponent who’s grabbed you, or whom you’ve grabbed, and that opponent is hanging off you, grasped entirely in your hand, or otherwise not standing on the ground (which may often be the case if he’s smaller than you are), then his weight counts against your encumbrance (see Carrying & Encumbrance?).

Getting Out of a Grab

As a move action, you can try to escape from the grasp of one opponent who has grabbed you. You and the grabbing opponent make opposed Strength checks. You must beat your opponent’s check in order to escape.

You can try to escape from the grasp of multiple opponents simultaneously as a full-round action. Make a single Strength check; each of the opponents makes their own Strength check to maintain their grasp. You escape from the grasp of any opponents whose check you beat; the others maintain their holds on you.

Using Both Hands: If your opponent has grabbed you with both hands, it’s harder to escape his grasp (see the Grabbing With Both Hands sidebar). On the other hand, if you have an additional hand free, you can try to pry your opponent’s grip loose or otherwise assist your attempt to escape, gaining a +4 bonus on your Strength check (but only against one opponent at a time).

Striking at an Opponent Who Has Grabbed You: If you have a hand free, you can attack your opponent (either with an unarmed strike, or with a weapon, if you’re wielding one in the free hand; if you’re not already wielding a weapon, you may or may not be able to draw one, depending on the situation). Any damage you deal is applied as a penalty to your opponent’s Strength check to hold on to you, if you try to escape his grasp in the same or the next round.

Using Skills Instead of Strength: Instead of a Strength check, you can attempt an Escape Artist? check to wriggle out of an opponent’s grasp. Remember that an untrained Escape Artist check is simply a Dexterity check.

Overrun

You can attempt to plow past or over your opponent as you move.

Action: You can overrun as a standard or a full-round action, or as a charge.

If you overrun as a standard action, you can move up to half your speed as part of the overrun; if you overrun as a full-round action, you can instead move up to your speed. If you overrun as a charge, you may not make the usual attack at the end of your charge, but incur the usual restrictions on how you can move, and gain a +2 bonus on your combat maneuver check to overrun. In any case, you can overrun an opponent at any point along the path of your movement.

The Improved Overrun feat allows you to overrun as part of your movement during a charge, and still make the usual attack at the end of your charge.

Overrun Size Restrictions: You can only overrun an opponent who is one size category larger than you, the same size, or up to two size categories smaller. (You can always move through the space of a creature that is three or more size categories larger or smaller than you are, though you provoke an attack of opportunity when entering the space of a larger opponent. See Passing Through an Occupied Space for details.)

Attack Bonus for Overrun: An overrun maneuver makes no use of your weapons (if any), so you always use your unarmed attack bonus.

If Your Opponent Lets You Pass: Your opponent has the option to simply avoid you (unless you have the Improved Overrun feat). If he avoids you, he doesn’t suffer any ill effects and you may keep moving (in general, you can always move through a space occupied by someone who lets you by); you do not need to make a combat maneuver check. In this case, the overrun attempt doesn’t count against your actions this round (except for the movement). Note: Your opponent can’t choose to avoid you if there’s no space to move aside, such as in a narrow hallway.

Overrunning Non-Humanoid Creatures: Your opponent gets a +4 bonus to his AC against your overrun attempt if he has more than two legs or is otherwise more stable than a normal humanoid. Some kinds of creatures, such as snakes and oozes, cannot be knocked prone, but you can still use an overrun maneuver to move through their space (assuming this is physically possible–you can’t move through a gelatinous cube’s space, for example).

Overrun Results

If your combat maneuver check is successful, you knock your opponent prone and can continue your movement as normal. (If you successfully overrun an opponent, or if he lets you pass, you avoid the attack of opportunity that you might normally provoke by entering an opponent’s space.)

If your check fails, your opponent is not knocked prone, and you end your movement in your opponent’s space. You also provoke an attack of opportunity from your opponent (even if you normally would not provoke an attack of opportunity for entering his space); you cannot use the Acrobatics skill to avoid this AoO.

Overrunning Multiple Opponents: If you successfully overrun one opponent and still have movement remaining, you can continue to overrun opponents along your path. For each opponent you successfully overrun, you take a cumulative −4 penalty on your combat maneuver check to overrun subsequent opponents (this penalty is instead −8 if the opponent you overran was larger than you are, −2 if one size category smaller, and −1 if two size categories smaller).

Mounted Overrun (Trample)

If your attempt an overrun while mounted, your mount makes the combat maneuver check instead of you (and uses its own attack bonus, with its hooves or other appropriate natural weapons). If you have the Trample feat, your opponent may not choose to avoid you, and if you knock your opponent prone with the mounted overrun, your mount may make one hoof (or similar) attack against him.

Push

You can attempt to push an opponent back without doing any harm.

Note: The rules for a push also apply to similar sorts of maneuvers, such as kicking an opponent away, knocking him back with a blow, bodily slamming into an opponent to drive him back, etc.

Action: You can attempt a push as a standard action or as part of a charge (that is, in place of the melee attack you would normally make on a charge).

Push Size Restrictions: You can only push an opponent who is one size category larger than you, the same size, or one size smaller (but see Much Smaller Opponents, below).

Attack Bonus for Push: A push maneuver makes no use of your weapons (if any), so you always use your unarmed attack bonus.

Much Smaller Opponents: If an opponent is two or three size categories smaller than you are, and is within your space, you can knock that opponent away with a normal unarmed attack (instead of having to use a standard action); if your combat maneuver attack roll result beats the opponent’s normal AC as well as his touch AC, you deal unarmed strike damage in addition to the effects of the push.

Push Results

If your combat maneuver check is successful, you push your target back a distance equal to the space you normally occupy in melee (5 feet, for Medium-sized characters). For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds your opponent’s AC, you can push him back another multiple of the same distance (i.e., 5 feet further, for Medium-sized characters).

You can move with the target if you wish, but you can’t exceed your normal movement limit. If you do move with the target, the distance you push him is calculated as if you’d rolled a result 5 points higher (but this can’t make you succeed if you’d normally fail).

If your check fails, your movement ends in front of the target, and you provoke an attack of opportunity from him.

Pushing an Opponent Into Something: If your successful push would result in moving an opponent into a solid object or obstacle, the opponent instead stops directly in front of the obstacle and takes damage as if he had fallen twice the total distance your push would have pushed him if he hadn’t hit the obstruction. (At the DM’s option, a creature pushed into a dangerous object or obstruction, such as a wall lined with spikes or a wall of fire?, might take a different type or amount of damage, as appropriate.)

Pushing Multiple Opponents: If there is another creature in the way of your push, you must immediately make a combat maneuver check to push that creature. You take a cumulative −4 penalty on this check for each creature being pushed beyond the first (this penalty is instead −8 if the preceding opponent you were pushing was larger than you are, and −2 if smaller). If you are successful, you can continue to push the creatures; the distance pushed is calculated from the lesser result.

Sunder

You can attempt to destroy a weapon, shield, or item that your opponent is holding or wearing.

Action: You can attempt a sunder maneuver as a standard action. (The Sundering Strike feat allows you to attempt to sunder in place of an attack.)

Sunder Size Restrictions: You can only sunder the items of opponents no more than two size categories smaller than you. (You can try to break the items of a smaller opponent after successfully grabbing him; see the grab maneuver for details.)

Attack Bonus for Sunder: You can sunder while unarmed, or with any kind of melee weapon (but some weapons may be ineffective at damaging some kinds of objects).

Armor Class Against Sunder Attacks: If an opponent is trying to sunder a weapon which you are wielding and with which you’re proficient, you can, at your option, use your base attack bonus in place of your Strength bonus as a bonus to your AC against the sunder.

You do not add your Strength bonus to your AC against attempts to sunder an item that you’re wearing (as opposed to one you’re holding or wielding).

Sundering a Weapon While Unarmed: If you attempt to sunder an opponent’s weapon with an unarmed strike, you provoke an attack of opportunity from your opponent unless you have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat or a similar ability (see the Unarmed Attacks sidebar).

Sundering with Ineffective Weapons: Certain weapons are less effective at dealing damage to certain objects, and some weapons just can’t effectively deal damage to some kinds of objects at all. Piercing weapons, for example, generally can’t be used to damage wooden or metallic objects, and deal half damage even to most softer materials, while a bludgeoning weapon is needed to damage something that is made of stone. The DM’s discretion determines whether a weapon can effectively damage any given sort of object. (See Weapons for details on which weapons deal what sort of damage.)

Sundering Well-Secured Items: You generally cannot sunder an item that is well-secured, such as a ring or bracelet, or an item that is protected by armor, such as a necklace worn under an armor chestpiece. In some cases (e.g. a necklace), you may be able to sunder the item if you have the target pinned; in others (e.g. a ring), sundering the item while it is worn is effectively impossible. Likewise, you can’t sunder armor worn by another character.

Sunder Results

If your combat maneuver check is successful, roll damage (with the weapon you used to make the sunder attack); you deal that damage to your opponent’s item.

If your check fails, you don’t deal any damage (but you don’t provoke an attack of opportunity from your opponent).

If you reduce an object to one-half or less of its full normal hit points, it is damaged (which usually means that any actions or tasks the item is used for take a −2 penalty, and the DC to break the object drops by 2). If you reduce an object to 0 hit points, it is broken and useless. (The object is not necessarily completely destroyed, however; in some cases, it may be possible to repair or rebuild a broken object.) See Equipment for details on how much damage it takes to destroy various kinds of items, including common types of weapons, shields, etc.

If you have the Improved Sunder feat, when you destroy an opponent’s weapon, shield, or held item with a sunder attack, any extra damage is applied to that opponent.

Trip

You can attempt to knock an opponent to the ground.

Note: The rules for a trip also apply to similar sorts of maneuvers, such as knocking an opponent down, pushing or throwing him to the ground, etc.

Action: You can attempt a trip maneuver as a standard action. If your opponent’s space overlaps yours, you can trip him in place of an attack. (The Tripping Strike feat also allows you to attempt a trip in place of an attack.)

Trip Size Restrictions: You can only trip an opponent who is one size category larger than you, the same size, or one size category smaller.

Attack Bonus for Trip: You can attempt a trip while unarmed, or with certain weapons (see Tripping With a Weapon, below).

Tripping with a Weapon: Some weapons can be used to make trip attacks. (You cannot trip with a weapon unless the weapon is specifically noted to be a “trip weapon”, i.e., one which can be used for trip attacks; see Weapons). If you fail your combat maneuver check when making a trip attack with a weapon, you can drop the weapon to avoid provoking an attack of opportunity.

Tripping Non-Humanoid Creatures: An opponent whom you try to trip gets a +4 bonus to his AC against your trip attack if he has more than two legs or is otherwise more stable than a normal humanoid. Some kinds of creatures, such as snakes and oozes, cannot be tripped.

Trip Results

If your combat maneuver check is successful, you trip your foe, knocking him prone.

If your check fails, your opponent is not tripped, and you provoke an attack of opportunity from him.

If you have the Improved Trip feat, an opponent you trip successfully provokes an attack of opportunity from you.

Tripping a Mounted Opponent

You can make a trip attack against a mounted opponent to try to pull or knock him from his mount. If you attempt such a trip unarmed, you take an attack of opportunity unless you have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat or a similar ability (see the Unarmed Attacks sidebar). The defender may make a Ride? check and use the result as his AC against your trip attempt. If you succeed, you pull the rider from his mount. A rider without a saddle takes a −2 penalty to his AC (or Ride check) against being unhorsed; a rider in a military saddle instead gets a +2 bonus.

Other Maneuvers

The combat maneuvers listed here are the most common things that characters might want to do to their opponents in combat (other than simply attacking them, of course). The combat maneuver rules can easily be used to represent other maneuvers as well.

The rule of thumb is: whenever a character tries to do something that isn’t already described in the rules for the maneuvers listed in this section, use the rules for the maneuver that most closely matches what the character is trying to do. If necessary, apply modifiers (to the attacker’s roll or the defender’s AC) to reflect any special circumstances or differences.

For example, trying to knock someone to the ground with a mighty swing of your weapon is close enough to a trip attack, even if it’s not quite the same thing; kicking someone into a pit can be resolved by treating it as a push; trying to push an opponent to the side might again be a trip, even though you’re not knocking them prone; leaping upon an opponent in a flying tackle might be a trip and a grab all in one (combined with a charge); etc. (Such variations may deviate from the given rules in certain ways, if need be (e.g. in the limitations on what size category of opponent the maneuver may be used against). Common sense should be applied, and the DM’s judgment is final.)

If no existing maneuver quite fits, then default to the general rule for combat maneuvers: as a standard action, make a melee attack roll (which should be an unarmed attack, unless the maneuver can plausibly be done with a weapon, in which case it may be either unarmed or a weapon attack) against the opponent’s combat maneuver AC.

(Not everything that a character might do in combat that isn’t a simple attack is a “combat maneuver”, however. For example, sneaking up to an opponent engaged in melee, and plucking a wand from their belt holster, is a use of the Sleight of Hand? skill, and shouldn’t use the combat maneuver rules. Likewise, flipping over someone’s head to attack them from a flanking position is a use of Acrobatics. If another existing rule fits the action better, don’t use the combat maneuver rules to resolve it.)

Combat Reactions

Combat reactions allow you to take certain actions when it is not your turn.

Number of Combat Reactions Per Round: A 1st-level character can make one combat reaction per round. As your base attack bonus increases, you gain the ability to make additional combat reactions per round: one additional combat reaction each at BAB +6, +11, and +16.

Combat Reactions While Flat-Footed: You can’t make combat reactions while flat-footed. (The Combat Reflexes feat allows you to make one extra combat reaction per round; it also allows you to make combat reactions while flat-footed.)

Types of Combat Reactions: There are five common kinds of combat reactions, which are listed below. These common combat reactions let you aid your allies by distracting or hampering enemies with whom they’re engaged in melee; dodge and block opponents’ attacks; and take free attacks when your opponents drop their guard in melee.

Swift and Immediate Actions: In addition to the five common types of combat reactions, taking a swift or immediate action also uses up one of your combat reactions for the round (and so you cannot take such actions when you’re flat-footed, or when you can’t make combat reactions for some other reason, such as spending a round spellcasting).

Feats and Class Abilities: Feats or class abilities may allow you to make other kinds of combat reactions.

Aid Attack

You may assist another character’s melee attack on his turn.

If you’re in a position to make a melee attack against an opponent with whom an ally is engaged in melee, you can aid your ally as a combat reaction. Before your ally makes his attack roll, announce your intention to use your combat reaction to aid his attack. (You do not need to make any rolls.) The opponent your ally is attacking suffers a −2 penalty to his AC against your ally’s attack.

Multiple characters can aid the same ally, and the penalties to the opponent’s AC stack.

You can only aid an attack that an ally makes on his own turn; you can’t assist an attack made as a combat reaction.

Aid Defense

You may assist another character’s defense.

If you’re in a position to make a melee attack on an opponent who is engaging an ally in melee, you can aid your ally as a combat reaction. On the opponent’s turn, before he makes his melee attack roll against your ally, announce your intention to use your combat reaction to aid your ally’s defense. (You do not need to make any rolls.) Your ally gains a +2 bonus to his AC against that attack.

Multiple characters can aid the same ally, and the bonuses to AC stack.

Block

Warriors only.

If you are wielding a melee weapon or wearing a shield, you may attempt to block a single melee or ranged attack.

You must be aware of the attack in order to attempt to block it. You can block melee attacks with either a shield or a melee weapon; blocking ranged attacks requires the use of a shield. On the opponent’s turn, before he makes his attack roll against you, announce your intention to use your combat reaction to block the attack. (You do not need to make any rolls.)

Effects of Blocking: Against the blocked attack, you gain damage reduction equal to one-half your warrior level if you are blocking with a shield or two-handed weapon, one-third your warrior level if you are blocking with a one-handed weapon, or one-quarter your warrior level if you are blocking with a light weapon. If you are blocking with a shield, add the shield’s AC bonus (including any enhancement bonus) to the amount of DR you get. (The amount of damage reduction you gain when blocking as a combat reaction is known as your “block value”.)

If you have DR from any other source (such as a barbarian’s damage reduction), the DR from blocking stacks with your highest applicable DR.

Damage to a Shield: Your shield suffers any detrimental effects of the attack (such as acid or fire damage). If you use your shield to block a ranged weapon attack, and the attack hits your AC and its damage overcomes your shield’s hardness, the weapon becomes lodged in your shield (potentially affecting the shield’s effectiveness in combat).

Feats: Several feats modify your block value, including Shield Focus, Shield Specialization, and Two-Weapon Defense.

Dodge

Warriors and rogues only.

You may attempt to dodge a single melee or ranged attack.

You must be aware of the attack in order to attempt to dodge it, and you must be able to see your attacker. On the opponent’s turn, before he makes his attack roll against you, announce your intention to use your combat reaction to dodge the attack. (You do not need to make any rolls.)

Effects of Dodging: Against the dodged attack, you gain a dodge bonus to your AC equal to one-half your warrior or rogue level (whichever is higher). (The dodge bonus to Armor Class that you gain when dodging as a combat reaction is known as your “dodge value”.)

Dodging While Encumbered: If you are wearing heavy armor or carrying a heavy load, you can only attempt to dodge one attack per round, and if you are wearing medium armor or carrying a medium load, you can only attempt to dodge two attacks per round, regardless of whether you still have more combat reactions for the round remaining. (See Carrying & Encumbrance? for details on medium and heavy loads.)

You cannot attempt to dodge if you’re wearing armor with which you are not proficient, or if you’re entangled, slowed, or affected by any other condition that restricts or slows your movements.

Other Dodging Rules: You cannot attempt to both dodge and block the same attack.

Feats & Skills: The Dodge feat allows characters who are not warriors or rogues to dodge attacks. High rank in the Acrobatics skill increases your dodge value.

Attack of Opportunity

Sometimes a combatant in melee lets her guard down. In such a case, opponents can take advantage of her lapse in defense to attack her as a combat reaction. Such attacks are called attacks of opportunity (or AoOs).

Threatened Area

Even when it is not your turn, you threaten the area into which you can make a melee attack. This is known as your threatened area. Generally, this area includes all creatures adjacent to you (i.e., within your melee reach), but does not include the space you occupy (unless you’re using a light weapon; see Melee Space and Reach for details). An enemy that takes certain actions while in your threatened area provokes an attack of opportunity from you. If you’re unarmed, you don’t normally threaten any area and thus can’t make attacks of opportunity (but see the Unarmed Attacks sidebar).

Provoking an Attack of Opportunity

Three kinds of actions most commonly provoke attacks of opportunity: moving carelessly across a battlefield, attempting to perform a combat maneuver but failing, and attacking an armed opponent while unarmed yourself.

Note: Many special attacks, combat maneuvers, and other combat actions involve movement; the movement that you take as part of such an action provokes AoOs if it meets any of the criteria described here, except where noted otherwise in the action’s description.

Disengaging: Engaging with an opponent does not provoke an attack of opportunity; disengaging from an opponent does. Moving into an opponent’s threatened area engages you with that opponent; moving out of an opponent’s threatened area then disengages you from that opponent (unless that opponent is still within your own threatened area—in which case you are still engaged). If you are engaged with an opponent, and any part of your movement disengages you from that opponent, you provoke an attack of opportunity. (Movement within an opponent’s threatened area generally does not provoke an attack of opportunity; however, see Ignoring a Threat, below.)

Ignoring a Threat: If you move within an opponent’s threatened space (whether you are engaging with that opponent or are already engaged with him), and then, in the same round, attack a different opponent, you provoke an attack of opportunity from the first opponent (the one you did not attack, but who is threatening you).

Entering an Opponent’s Space: If you enter the space of an opponent who is at least one size category larger than you are, or is the same size as you are and is armed with a one-handed or two-handed (but not light) melee weapon, or is one size category smaller than you are and is armed with a reach weapon (such as a longspear or glaive), you provoke an attack of opportunity from that opponent (even if you use a short step to do so).

Approaching an Opponent Armed With a Reach Weapon: If you approach to melee range of an opponent of your size or larger who’s armed with a reach weapon—that is, if you pass into the area (immediately around that opponent’s space) which he does not threaten with his reach weapon—you provoke an attack of opportunity from that opponent.

Standing Up: Rising from prone into a crouch or a kneeling position, standing up from a crouch, or getting up from prone, provokes an attack of opportunity from all opponents who threaten you. (See Stand Up for more information.)

Failing to Perform a Combat Maneuver: Attempting, and failing, to perform most combat maneuvers (i.e., failing your combat maneuver check) provokes an attack of opportunity from the opponent whom you were trying to attack.

Unarmed Attacks Against an Armed Opponent: Making an unarmed attack (including certain combat maneuvers—disarm, grab, and sunder) against an armed opponent provokes an attack of opportunity, unless you have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat. (See the Unarmed Attacks sidebar for details.)

Making an Attack of Opportunity

An attack of opportunity is a single melee attack. You make attacks of opportunity at the same attack bonus as your normal attacks for that round (taking into account any bonuses and penalties, such as from magic buffs, etc.).

An attack of opportunity interrupts the action that provoked it. When the AoO is provoked, immediately resolve it, then continue with the provoking action (if it is still possible), and the rest of the normal sequence of actions.

Avoiding Attacks of Opportunity

There are several ways to either avoid provoking an attack of opportunity, or to prevent yourself from getting hit when you do provoke one, depending on the situation.

Taking a Short Step: Taking a short step does not provokes an attack of opportunity, even if your movement would normally provoke an AoO. (The exception to this is entering an opponent’s space, which provokes an AoO even if you use a short step to do so.)

Defensive Disengage: You can move defensively when disengaging from an opponent. If you do so, your speed is halved, and you don’t provoke attacks of opportunity from any opponents from whom you disengage. However, if while you are disengaging defensively, your movement engages you with a different opponent, you provoke an attack of opportunity from him (this is an exception to the rule that engaging with an opponent doesn’t provoke an attack of opportunity).

You can’t disengage defensively if you’re slowed, if you’re moving across difficult terrain, or if your speed is reduced by some other condition. You also can’t disengage de-fensively using a form of movement for which you don’t have a listed speed (see Using Movement Skills for details).

Overrun: Using the overrun combat maneuver to move through an opponent’s space allows you to avoid the attack of opportunity you would normally provoke for entering the space occupied by an opponent. The Improved Overrun feat allows you to avoid the attack of opportunity caused by disengaging from an opponent after you overrun him.

Wind Stance Feat: The Wind Stance feat gives you a bonus to AC in any round when you move 10 feet or move.

Acrobatics: The Acrobatics skill allows you to use your skill check result as your AC against attacks of opportunity provoked by movement (see the “evasive movement” usage of Acrobatics for details).

Dodging: You can use the dodge combat reaction to increase your AC against an attack of opportunity (or any other attack that you’re aware of).

Cover: An opponent cannot make attacks of opportunity against you if you have one-half or better cover from him.

Invisibility: If you have total concealment from an opponent, you do not provoke attacks of opportunity from him.

All-Around Vision: Creatures that can see in all directions (such as beholders, oozes, and elementals) never provoke attacks of opportunity by disengaging from an opponent.

Other Defensive Measures: You can defend yourself against attacks of opportunity by most means that can be used against normal attacks (partial concealment, blocking, etc.).

Special Attacks

This section covers various special attacks and forms of combat: called shots, charging, feinting, grappling, mounted combat, two-weapon fighting, and turning undead.

Called Shots

A called shot is an attack aimed at a particular part of the body, in the hope of gaining some extra effect from the attack. Successful called shots inflict injuries in addition to doing damage.

Making Called Shots

A called shot is a single attack made as a full-round action (and thus can’t be combined with a charge, with feats like Vital Strike or Manyshot, or with a full attack). (However, the Deadly Stroke and Deadly Shot feats, available to fighters, allow you to overcome this limitation.)

Called Shot Difficulty: The smaller or better guarded the area or body part targeted, the more difficult the called shot will be (i.e., the greater the penalty on the attack roll). Called shots are divided into three difficulties: easy, tricky, and challenging.

Easy called shots represent large areas of the body, and are made at a −2 penalty on the attack roll. They have relatively minor effects unless a substantial amount of damage is dealt. (Called shots that target an opponent’s chest, arm, or leg are easy.)

Tricky called shots represent either smaller areas, like a hand, or areas that a creature protects well, like its head. Tricky called shots are made at a −5 penalty on the attack roll, and have more serious consequences. (Called shots that target an opponent’s head, hand, or vitals are tricky.)

Challenging called shots represent very small areas like eyes or a creature’s neck. They are made at a −10 penalty on the attack roll, and successful hits cause significant impairment. (Called shots that target an opponent’s ear, eye, neck, or heart are challenging.)

Beyond even these challenging called shots lie almost impossible called shots; made at a −20 penalty on the attack roll, an almost impossible called shot may represent, for example, the single vulnerable point on the body of an ancient red dragon.

See the rules for Injuries for more information on attacks to specific body parts.

Called Shot Restrictions: A called shot may only be made if the attack would not take any penalties from, nor be otherwised impeded by, any of the following conditions: cover, concealment, range, size, the use of the Manyshot or Rapid Shot feats, defensive measures such as the Wind Stance feat, or similar impediments. Abilities that negate such penalties (e.g. the Far Shot or Careful Aim feats) may allow you to take a called shot in such cases.

Called Shots With Touch Attacks: Touch attacks (either melee or ranged) made as called shots must be made against the target’s full Armor Class, rather than touch AC.

Called Shot Effects

If the called shot is successful (i.e., if the attack hits the target’s AC), you deal damage normally and also inflict an injury to the targeted body part. The DM uses Table: Injuries to determine the nature and severity of the called shot’s effects, which depend on the body part you targeted and the amount of damage you did. (See the Injury rules for details.)

Concentration Checks: Concentration checks forced by called shots to parts of the body involved in spellcasting (the head, as well as the casting arm and hand for spells with somatic components) are made at a −5 penalty.

Called Shots vs. Monsters

Special considerations apply when making called shots against non-humanoid creatures.

Reaching Vital Parts: In order to make a called shot against an opponent’s body part, you must be able to reach that body part with an attack. When making ranged attacks against creatures of your size or larger, this is usually not a problem. With melee attacks, however, hitting a vital part is more challenging.

Larger Opponents: Whether you can reach the body part you’re trying to hit is subject to the DM’s discretion in any given situation, though common sense applies. (You almost always need special positioning to make a called shot against an opponent that’s more than one size category larger than you are. This may mean climbing onto the creature’s body, climbing an adjacent structure, flying or levitating, etc.)

Smaller Opponents: It is usually impossible to make a called shot against a creature that’s more than two size categories smaller than you are, either with melee or ranged attacks, because your weapons are so large relative to such a creature’s size that they can only strike its body indiscriminately.

Non-Humanoid Anatomy: The injury rules are designed for humanoid creatures, and must be adjusted in order to account for differences in creatures’ body shapes, anatomy, etc. (For example, there is no such thing as a called shot to the leg or neck when you’re attacking a giant octopus; a clay golem has no heart or vitals, though it does have arms and legs; etc.)

For guidelines on adjudicating called shots against non-humanoid creatures, consult the Injuries for Non-Humanoid Creatures sidebar.

Charging

Charging is a special full-round action that allows you to move up to twice your speed and then attack. However, it carries tight restrictions on how you can move.

Movement During a Charge: You must move before your attack, not after. You must move at least twice as far as the size of the space you occupy in combat (for example, Medium-sized humanoid character, who occupies a space 5 feet across, must move at least 10 feet on a charge), and may move up to double your speed. You must move directly toward your target, and you must have a clear path to your opponent. (However, the Acrobatics skill may allow you to charge across obstacles or perilous surfaces.)

If you don’t have line of sight to your target at the start of your turn, you can’t charge.

You can’t take a short step in the same round as a charge.

You can’t charge over difficult terrain, or if you’re under the effect of a slow? spell or a tanglefoot bag, or if your speed is reduced in any other way.

You can’t charge using a form of movement for which you don’t have a listed speed (see Using Movement Skills for details).

Attacking on a Charge: After moving, you may make a single melee attack. (You can also perform certain combat maneuvers instead, such as a push or overrun.) You get a +2 bonus on your attack roll (since the momentum of the charge works in your favor), but take a −2 penalty to your AC for the round, as a charge is somewhat reckless.

Even if your base attack bonus is high enough to let you make two attacks in a round (or if you have some other way of making multiple melee attacks per round), you can still only attack once on a charge. (Some feats and class abilities, such as the Twin Sword Strike feat and the monk’s flurry of blows, may allow you to attack more than once on a charge.)

Weapons Readied Against a Charge: Spears and certain other piercing weapons deal double damage when readied (set) and used against a charging opponent (see Weapons).

Other Ways to “Charge”

Charging at an opponent is a way to get a momentary, minor offensive advantage, at the cost of a small drop in your defenses—a slightly reckless tactic. There are other ways to get essentially the same result, that are appropriate for various different combat situations.

For example, you might leap down onto an opponent from a ledge, to attack or tackle him. You might swing on a rope or chandelier from a balcony, drawing your rapier and attacking as you land. You might be picked up by an ally and thrown at a foe, attacking as you crash into your target.

All of these and other similar tactics have the same basic effect: you can move, attack at the end of your move—gaining a +2 bonus on your attack roll—and take a −2 penalty to AC for the round. The movement might require a skill check (most often Athletics or Acrobatics), and may carry restrictions as appropriate (charging, for instance, requires a straight and unobstructed path; no such restriction would apply when, for example, swinging at an opponent from a chandelier—but there would have to be a chandelier available, and you would need at least one hand free, etc.). The DM determines what skill checks are needed, if any, and what restrictions apply to the movement.

Abilities That Apply to a Charge: Any feats, class abilities, etc. that apply to a charge (such as the Twin Sword Strike feat) generally apply to such “alternative charging” as well.

Feinting

As a move action, you can try to mislead an opponent in melee combat so that he can’t dodge your next attack effectively. To feint, make an Acrobatics, Bluff?, or Intimidate? check, opposed by an Insight? check by your opponent. (Your opponent may use his base attack bonus + his Wisdom modifier for this check, in place of his Insight bonus.)

With the Improved Feint feat, you can attempt a feint as a swift action.

Feint Results: If your check result exceeds your opponent’s result, the next melee attack you make against him in the same round does not allow him to use his Dexterity, dodge, and shield bonuses to AC (and thus he also can’t dodge your attack).

Feinting Against Monsters: Feinting in this way against a nonhumanoid is difficult because it’s harder to read a strange creature’s body language; you take a −4 penalty. Against a creature of animal Intelligence (1 or 2), you take a −8 penalty. Against a nonintelligent creature, it’s impossible.

Successive Feints: It’s harder to trick an opponent more than once. Any opponent who sees you feint in combat (including one against whom you feint successfully) gets a +2 bonus on checks to resist your feints for the rest of the encounter; an opponent who successfully resists your feint instead gets a +4 bonus on checks to resist your feints for the rest of the encounter.

Grappling

The grab combat maneuver lets you grab hold of another creature, which is often enough to restrict an opponent’s mobility and combat options. Sometimes, however, you may want to go further—to place your opponent in a wrestling hold, to pin them to the ground, or to clamp their mouth shut. That’s what grappling is for.

Grappling is hand-to-hand wrestling, and it’s quite different from normal melee combat. Grappling does not involve trading strikes or moving independently; thus the rules that govern grappling differ in a number of ways from the general combat rules described in the rest of this chapter.

Grappling and the Combat Cycle

Combatants that are grappling do not take turns in the normal flow of combat; a combatant that is grappling when a round begins does not even roll initiative. All combatants involved in a grapple declare their actions as normal (choosing from the actions that may be taken while grappling, as listed in Activity in a Grapple); however, grapplers’ actions are resolved at the end of the combat round (after all non-grapplers have taken their turns, but before spell effects are resolved). Not all the grapplers are guaranteed to be able to take their declared actions; who gets to act, and who does not, depends on the outcome of the grapple check (see Resolving a Round of Grappling for details). See the Grappling diagram for a graphical illustration of how the grappling rules work.

Starting a Grapple

As a standard action, you can start grappling an opponent whom you’ve grabbed with a successful combat maneuver check. Alternatively, you can grab an opponent and also start grappling him, as a full-round action (with a single successful combat maneuver check).

The Improved Grab feat lets you start a grapple as a move action, or grab and start grappling as a standard action.

Once you’ve successfully started a grapple, neither you nor the opponent you’re grappling take any more actions that round. Your actions in the next round, and all subsequent rounds that begin with you still engaged in a grapple, are resolved using the rules described below (see Resolving a Round of Grappling and Activity in a Grapple).

Grapple Size Restrictions: You can only grapple an opponent of the same size as you, one size category larger, or one size category smaller. (The grab combat maneuver offers options for dealing similarly with larger or smaller creatures.)

Resolving a Round of Grappling

To determine what happens in the grapple in that round, combatants roll opposed combat maneuver checks (a.k.a. “grapple checks”). (A grapple check always uses your unarmed attack bonus.) If the combatants making the check are of different size categories, all combatants except the smallest one add the size modifier for combat maneuver checks to their rolls.

Outcome of a Grapple Check: The outcome depends both on which combatant wins the grapple check, and by how much he beats his opponent’s result.

One Combatant Wins Check By 5 or More: The winning combatant is able to take his declared action. In the next round, that combatant has the advantage in the grapple.

One Combatant Wins Check By 4 or Less: Neither combatant is able to take his declared action. In the next round, the winning combatant has the advantage in the grapple.

Combatants Tied: Neither combatant is able to take his declared action. In the next round, neither combatant has the advantage in the grapple.

Advantage in a Grapple: A combatant who has the advantage in a grapple gets a +4 bonus on his grapple check. The combatant who successfully started the grapple has the advantage in the first round of grappling.

Going to the Ground: At the end of any round of grappling in which a grappler who had the advantage loses it, or one who lacked the advantage gains it, the grapple has a 50% chance of going to the ground. If this happens, all grapplers fall prone (but otherwise continue grappling as before).

Activity in a Grapple

Characters’ activity while grappling does not follow the usual division of “one standard action and one move action, plus combat reactions and free actions” (described in The Combat Round). Instead, in any round when you’re engaged in a grapple, you may take (or rather, attempt to take—see Resolving a Round of Grappling) any one of the following actions. (You may also take one or more free actions, at the DM’s discretion. However, note that many free actions are infeasible while grappling.)

Maintain the Grapple: If you wish, you may simply maintain the grapple, taking no additional actions.

Release Your Opponent: If your opponent is attempting to escape, not resisting, or otherwise not making an attempt to continue the grapple, you can simply release him. If you do so, you are no longer grappling, and may take a move action in the same round. If you had the advantage in the grapple, you can maintain a hold on your opponent after releasing him from the grapple (i.e., you are then still grabbing him).

Escape the Grapple: If your opponent is actively grappling you (regardless of who started the grapple), you may attempt to escape. If you succeed, you are no longer grappling. (You may substitute an Escape Artist? check for your grapple check when attempting to escape a grapple.)

Initiate a Hold or Lock: This category of actions includes a variety of grappling or wrestling holds, locks, and similar moves. Some common moves are listed below. (At the DM’s discretion, you may be able to perform other moves; feats or class abilities may also enable you to perform certain other moves while grappling.)

Pin: You pin your opponent. If the grapple has gone to the ground (see Resolving a Round of Grappling), pinning your opponent means that he’s pinned to the ground, with you holding him down. Otherwise, you can either force your opponent to the ground, or pin him against a wall (or similar).

In a round that starts with your opponent pinned, your advantage is doubled (+8). Your opponent remains pinned until you release him from the pin (a free action), until you lose the advantage, or until the grapple ends.

A pinned character is considered to be immobilized (see Combat Modifiers in a Grapple for details), though this does not affect his ability to take the actions listed here.

Arm Lock: Similar to a pin, but does not require pinning your opponent to a wall or the ground. In a round that starts with your opponent’s arms locked, your advantage is improved by 50% (+6).

Clamp Mouth: You can prevent your opponent from speaking. In a round that starts with you having successfully clamped your opponent’s mouth, he can’t do anything involving speech (though he can grunt or otherwise vocalize); however, your advantage is halved (+2).

Attack Your Opponent: You can attack your opponent once with any light weapon. This works just like attacking normally, but you take a −2 penalty on the attack roll. (See Combat Modifiers in a Grapple for more information.)

Called Shots: Many harmful things you might want to do to an opponent while grappling him (choking him, gouging out his eyes, etc.) can be resolved using the called shot rules. You must win the grapple check by 10 or more to make a called shot while grappling; if you win by 5–9, your attack is simply a normal attack. (If you are a fighter with the Deadly Stroke feat, or a rogue whose sudden strike ability does triple damage or more, you need only win the grapple check by 5 or more—as normal—to make a called shot.)

Manipulate an Item: You can manipulate any item that requires only one hand to use. If one or both of your hands is occupied at the start of a round of grappling, you take a −4 penalty on your grapple check per occupied hand.

Draw an Item: You can draw a light weapon, or retrieve an item of similar size, from an easily accessible scabbard, belt pouch, etc.

Use an Item: You can use an item that you have in hand (attack with a weapon, use a wand, drink a potion, etc.), as long as doing so normally takes a standard action or less.

Draw and Use an Item: If you won the grapple check by 10 or more, you can draw and use an item in the same round.

Move the Grapple: You can move yourself and your opponent a distance equal to your space in combat (5 feet, for a Medium-sized character). If you win the grapple check by 10 or more, you move twice as far (and three times as far if you win by 15 or more, etc.).

Cast a Spell: Spellcasting while grappling is extremely difficult. You must succeed at a concentration check (DC 20 + 2 × the spell’s level) in order to cast a spell. (If you take any damage in that round, or otherwise are subjected to anything else that can ruin your concentration, the DC of the concentration check is increased accordingly.)

The spell you’re trying to cast may not have any somatic components, and you must have any material components in hand. (See Cast a Spell for details on spell components and other rules for casting spells.) If the spell has verbal components only, or no components at all, you need not win a grapple check in order to cast it (though you must still succeed on the concentration check).

Combat Maneuvers: Some combat maneuvers are impossible in a grapple (push, overrun), while others are inapplicable (grab, trip). It is possible to sunder or disarm in a grapple, however; indeed, it is often easier than otherwise. See the descriptions of those combat maneuvers for details.

Other Actions: Although this list of actions is not exhaustive, any other actions you may wish to take in a grapple are subject to the DM’s discretion. In general, you cannot do anything, while grappling, that would normally take more than a standard action, involve unrestricted movement, require fine manipulation or concentration, etc.

Combat Modifiers in a Grapple

Being Attacked Within a Grapple: Dexterity, dodge, and shield bonuses to your Armor Class do not apply against an opponent you’re grappling with, nor does positioning or modifiers due to combat tactics (i.e., those circumstances listed in the “Combat Tactics” section of of Table: Combat Modifiers).

Being Attacked From Outside the Grapple: If attacked from outside the grapple (i.e., by a combatant other than the one(s) you’re grappling with), you don’t get your Dexterity, dodge, or shield bonuses to Armor Class or to Reflex saves. Modifiers due to positioning or combat tactics also do not apply.

When attacking a grappling combatant, an attacker outside the grapple has a 25% chance (if attacking in melee) or a 50% chance (if attacking at range) to strike the wrong target (the attack still has to beat the target’s AC).

Pinning and Combat Modifiers: If one grappler pins another (see Activity in a Grapple), the pinned combatant is considered to be immobilized for the purpose of combat modifiers in the next round. There is no chance of striking the wrong target if either a pinning or pinned combatant is attacked from outside the grapple (but the pinning combatant is likely providing cover for the pinned combatant, as per the DM’s discretion).

Combat Reactions: You can’t make combat reactions while grappling.

Melee Space and Reach While Grappling: All combatants in a grapple occupy the same space; the space occupied is equal to the space of the largest grappler. You have no threatened area while grappling. (See Melee Space and Reach for details.)

More Than Two Grapplers

Up to two combatants of the same size can be engaged in a grapple with a single (third) opponent (smaller creatures count for half, larger creatures count for double). When a character in a grapple with more than two combatants makes a grapple check, all his opponents make checks; the highest result is used, and the others are considered to be aiding (+2 bonus per aiding grappler).

Advantage is determined individually for each grappler, comparing his own grapple check result to the highest result among his opponents.

Mounted Combat

Riding a mount into battle gives you several advantages.

The rules given here cover being mounted on a horse in combat, but can also be applied to more unusual steeds, such as a hippogriff or a dolphin.

(See the Ride? skill for more information on mounted combat. Several feats improve your combat options for fighting while mounted, including Mounted Combat, Mounted Archery, Mounted Shield, Trample, Spirited Charge, and Mounted Skirmisher.)

Mounts in Combat

Horses, ponies, and riding dogs serve readily as combat steeds if they are bred and trained for war. Some of the common races tame and ride more exotic animals.

Mounting and Dismounting: Mounting or dismounting an appropriately sized steed is a move action. A DC 20 Ride? check allows you to mount or dismount as a swift action.

Controlling a Mount in Combat: Mounts that are not war-trained are frightened by combat. Riders of such mounts usually dismount before entering combat. (War-trained mounts willingly enter combat; they can also make their own attacks, if you direct them.)

If you try to ride a non-war-trained into combat, you must actively control your mount to stop it from fleeing from combat. Controlling a mount is a move action, and requires a DC 20 Ride? check. If you succeed, the mount obeys you and goes where you direct it (though the mount itself still won’t attack). If you fail, you can try again (if you have more move actions remaining for the round), but if you don’t successfully control your mount, then on the next round, the mount flees from combat.

Guiding Your Mount: With a DC 5 Ride? check, you can guide your mount with your knees so as to use both hands to attack or defend yourself. Failure means that one hand is occupied with guiding your mount. (An unguided mount stays put, flees from threats, and—if it’s a war-trained mount—retaliates against attackers).

Your mount acts on your initiative count as you direct it. The mount uses its action to move, allowing you to move at its speed while you take a full round’s worth of actions (you can’t use your own actions to move without dismounting, of course).

A Mount’s Space in Combat: A horse (not a pony) is a Large creature (see Big and Little Creatures in Combat), and thus takes up a space 10 feet across. For simplicity, assume that you share your mount’s space during combat.

If Your Mount is Attacked: If your mount is not war-trained, it attempts to flee from attackers. When your mount takes damage, it rears and attempts to bolt; you must make a DC 5 Ride? check to stay in the saddle, and the DC for the next check to control your mount increases by 5.

War-trained mounts do not bolt when attacked, though they may rear or otherwise become hard to control if an unexpected or unusual threat appears (requiring a DC 5 Ride? check to stay in the saddle).

The Mounted Combat feat lets you use the Ride skill to protect your mount from attacks against it. See the feat description for details.

If Your Mount Falls in Battle: If your mount falls, you have to succeed on a DC 15 Ride? check to make a soft fall; if the check fails, you take 1d6 points of damage.

If You Are Dropped: If you are knocked unconscious, you have a 50% chance to stay in the saddle (or 75% if you’re in a military saddle). Otherwise you fall and take 1d6 points of damage. Without you to guide it, your mount avoids combat.

Combat While Mounted

To engage in melee combat on horseback, you must be seated in a saddle equipped with stirrups (a.k.a. a military saddle). If you’re not, then you can’t make melee attacks, can’t block, and must make a Ride? check (DC 5 + damage taken) to stay in the saddle if attacked. (You can’t dodge while mounted, even with a military saddle.)

Having Your Mount Attack: You can direct your mount to attack opponents with its natural weapons (hooves and a bite, for horses); if you do so, you can’t also attack, unless you succeed on a DC 10 Ride? check.

You can also have your mount perform some combat maneuvers; see the Ride? skill for more information.

Making Melee Attacks While Mounted: If your mount moves more than 5 feet, you can only make a single melee attack. (Essentially, you have to wait until the mount gets to your enemy before attacking, so you can’t make a full attack.) Even at your mount’s full speed, you don’t take any penalty on melee attacks while mounted.

When you attack a non-mounted creature (i.e., one who is on foot) that is smaller than your mount, you are considered to be on higher ground than your opponent.

Making a Mounted Charge: If your mount charges, you also take the AC penalty associated with a charge. If you make an attack at the end of the charge, you receive the bonus gained from the charge. When charging on horseback, you deal double damage with a lance. (See Charging for more details.)

Using Ranged Weapons While Mounted: You can use ranged weapons while your mount is taking a double move, but at a −4 penalty on the attack roll. You can use ranged weapons while your mount is running or charging, at a −8 penalty. (The Mounted Archery feat halves these penalties.) In either case, you make the attack roll when your mount has completed half its movement. You can make a full attack with a ranged weapon while your mount is moving. Likewise, because you can take move actions normally, you can (for instance) load and fire a crossbow in a round while your mount is moving.

Using Your Mount as Cover: As an immediate action when you’re attacked, you can drop down and hang alongside your mount, using it as cover. This requires a DC 15 Ride? check. Make the Ride check before the opponent makes his attack roll; if you succeed, you get one-half cover against that attack. (If multiple opponents are attacking on the same initiative count and from the same direction, make one Ride check to see if you have cover from all of those opponents’ attacks.) If you fail, you don’t get the benefit of cover.

You can’t attempt to claim this sort of cover while attacking, casting spells, or charging.

Unhorsing a Rider: You can pull or knock a rider off his mount; see the trip combat maneuver for details.

Casting Spells While Mounted

You can cast spells normally if you’re merely seated in a saddle. If your mount moves at its normal speed, you have to make a concentration check due to the vigorous motion (DC 10 + 2 × spell level) or lose the spell. If the mount is running (quadruple speed), your concentration check is more difficult due to the violent motion (DC 15 + 2 × spell level). (You must in any case be seated in a saddle equipped with stirrups in order to cast spells with somatic components.)

Two-Weapon Fighting

If you wield a second weapon in your off hand, you can get one extra attack per round with that weapon. (You must make a full attack in order to take this extra attack.) Fighting in this way is very hard, however, and you suffer a −8 penalty to all your attack rolls that round.

You can reduce this penalty in two ways. If your off-hand weapon is light, the penalty is reduced by 2. (An unarmed strike is always considered light.) The Two-Weapon Fighting feat reduces the penalty by 4. (Thus if you have the Two-Weapon Fighting feat, and your off-hand weapon is light, you take only a −2 penalty to your attack rolls when fighting with two weapons.)

Thrown Weapons: The same rules apply when you throw a weapon from each hand. Treat a dart or shuriken as a light weapon when used in this manner, and treat a javelin or sling as a one-handed weapon. (See Weapons.)

Bashing With a Shield: If your off-hand weapon is a shield (i.e., if you’re making a shield bash attack and also making one or more unarmed strikes, as part of a full attack), then the Improved Shield Bash feat can reduce your attack roll penalty by 4. Making a shield bash attack in combination with weapon attacks otherwise incurs the same penalties as fighting with two weapons.

Turning Undead

Clerics (and particularly pious or righteous non-clerics as well) can, through the power of their faith, stop undead creatures in their tracks, drive them off, or even destroy them. This is known as “turning” the undead.

Turning undead is a standard action. You must forcefully present your holy symbol when turning. Pick a direction; all undead within a 60-foot semicircle of you in that direction are affected. Affected undead must make a Will save (DC 10 + 12 your cleric level + your Charisma modifier) or be turned.

Turn Resistance: Some undead creatures are particularly resistant to being turned. Such undead receive a bonus to their saves against turning.

Results of Turning

Any undead who are turned (i.e., those that fail their saves) cannot approach within 60 feet of you, nor can they take any action (direct or indirect) against you, nor against anyone within the semicircle of your turning effect. Any turned undead who are within 60 feet of you must immediately back away to a minimum of 60 feet. Undead who are unable to back away are frightened (they take no action against you, but defend themselves if attacked).

Even if an undead creature succeeds at its saving throw, it is still shaken as long as it remains within the 60-foot semicircle of your turning effect.

Undead that fail their saving throw by 10 or more are panicked and must flee for 1 minute. Panicked undead flee from you by the best and fastest means available to them. If they cannot flee, they cower (but defend themselves if forced into melee).

Undead that fail their saving throw by 20 or more are destroyed.

Duration & Retries

You must concentrate (taking a standard action each round to do so) to maintain the turning effect, while continuing to present your holy symbol. As long as you concentrate, the turning attempt lasts for up to 1 minute (10 rounds). Your concentration may be interrupted (by damage or some other distraction), just as if you were concentrating on a spell; if that happens, the turning effect is broken.

Any new undead that come within 60 feet of you while you maintain the turning are affected, as are any new undead brought into the effect as a result of you moving. You can also turn (i.e., select a new direction to orient the semicircle of the effect) to affect additional undead, or turned undead that have moved out of the turning affect.

Undead that have successfully saved need not make any additional saving throws against any given turning attempt (even if they leave the area of the turning effect and then return).

Additional Turning Attempts: You can make additional turning attempts—either to extend the duration of the turning (past a minute) or to force new saving throws for undead previously unaffected. Turning attempts past the first one in any encounter are less effective; the save DC is reduced by 1 each time. (This reduction in effectiveness also applies when attempting to turn undead whom you’ve already turned, or attempted to turn, within a 10-minute period, even if it happened in a previous combat encounter.) All undead within the area of your turning effect get new saving throws whenever you attempt a new turning (undead who have fled beyond 60 feet get no new saves).

Boosting a Turning Effect With Spells

You can channel positive energy through your holy symbol to enhance the effectiveness of your turning. To do so, you must use a cure spell (such as cure moderate wounds?) that you have prepared. You cast the spell and present your holy symbol as a single standard action. In place of the spell’s normal effect, the positive energy is channeled through your glowing holy symbol. The spell’s level is added to the save DC for your turning attempt. Additionally, all affected undead (regardless of whether they make their saves or not) take damage from the channeled positive energy, equal to twice the spell’s level. (Any turn resistance that the undead have functions as energy resistance? against this damage.)

Evil Clerics

Clerics who serve dark powers (such as certain death gods or demon princes) can cause undead creatures to bow down in awe, rather than fleeing. (This is sometimes known as “rebuking” undead.) Affected undead recognize the cleric as a powerful servant of evil, and do not attack.

An evil cleric can’t use cure spells to boost his rebuking effect, but he can use inflict spells instead. Affected undead creatures take no damage, in that case.

Unlike with turning (by non-evil clerics), undead that fail their save by 20 or more against rebuking by an evil cleric are not destroyed.

Non-Clerics

At the DM’s option, a particularly pious or righteous (or particularly villainous) character may attempt to turn or rebuke undead, even if he is not a cleric. The same rules apply as for clerics, except that the save DC for the turning is only 10 + the character’s Charisma modifier. The character must present the holy symbol of the god or faith to which he is devoted. A non-cleric can’t boost the turning effect with spells, even if he is capable of casting cure or inflict spells.

Turning Other Kinds of Creatures

Certain other sorts of creatures may recoil from the strong presentation of a symbol of true faith. The DM’s discretion determines the details of what sorts of beings may be thus affected, though common beliefs and legends tell that demons, devils, and other sorts of fiends fear symbols of holiness. Even so, turning such creatures is likely to be more difficult than turning the undead.

The Field of Battle

Few characters in a fight stand around motionless. Enemies appear and charge the party. The heroes reply, advancing to take on new foes after they down their first opponents. Wizards remain outside the fight, looking for the best place to use their magic. Rogues quietly skirt the fracas seeking a straggler or an unwary opponent to strike with a sneak attack. Finally, if the fight is lost, most characters seek to remove themselves from the vicinity. Movement and positioning is just as important as attack skill and armor in gaining the upper hand on the battlefield.

The layout of the battlefield, too, is critical. Who can see whom? Can some combatants duck behind cover, or hide in the shadows? Can you take the high ground? Is there room to maneuver, or do you have to crowd in close? Is the ground hard and dry, or is there ice or mud that makes it hard or dangerous to move? Battlefield conditions, and the clever use of them, can make or break a fight.

Tactical Movement

Where you can move, how long it takes you to get there, and whether you’re vulnerable to attacks of opportunity while you’re moving are key questions in combat.

Movement in Combat: Generally, you can move your speed in a round (by taking a move action) and still do something, such as swing an axe or use a wand. See Movement for more details on what movement-related actions you can take in combat.

Attacks of Opportunity Due to Movement: Moving carelessly across the field of battle may expose you to attacks of opportunity from opponents. See Provoking an Attack of Opportunity for details; see Avoiding Attacks of Opportunity for ways to protect yourself.

Passing Through an Occupied Space

Sometimes you may want to pass through an area occupied by another character or creature.

Friend: You can freely move through a space occupied by a friendly character, or any character who willingly allows you to pass, if you move at your normal speed. If you move at double speed (such as if you’re running or charging), you must make a successful Acrobatics check to pass through a space occupied by another character; if you fail, you fall prone in the space directly before the interposing character. (A creature of your size category typically counts as an obstacle (Acrobatics DC 25 to charge across); a creature of a larger or smaller size category is easier to charge past, with the DC usually being reduced by 5 per size category of difference in either direction.)

Opponent: You can’t move through a space occupied by an opponent without either making a successful Acrobatics check or using the overrun combat maneuver. (If you use Acrobatics, then an opponent who actively attempts to hinder your movement makes a combat maneuver check; the DC for your Acrobatics check is the normal DC for an obstacle, or your opponent’s check result, whichever is higher.) Moving through a space occupied by a helpless opponent is easier; a prone opponent of your size category typically counts as a lightly obstructed or severely obstructed surface.

Much Bigger or Smaller Creatures: You can always move through the space of a creature that is three or more size categories larger or smaller than you are, without needing to make any special roll or check.

Attack of Opportunity: Entering an opponent’s space may provoke an attack of opportunity (see Provoking an Attack of Opportunity for details). Disengaging from an opponent (as in the case where you move through an opponent’s space and then keep moving far enough to exit his threatened area) also provokes an attack of opportunity.

Exceptions: Some creatures break the above rules. A creature that completely fills the space it occupies (such as a gelatinous cube) cannot be moved past, even with the Acrobatics skill or similar special abilities.

Using Movement Skills

The rules in the Movement section mostly assume that your character is walking (or running, etc.) on solid, relatively level ground. However, adventurers may find themselves making their way across an ice field, climbing a sheer cliff side, swimming through a fast-moving underground river, or even soaring through the air with the aid of a fly? spell. Two skills—Acrobatics and Athletics—allow your character to do such things effectively. (This section describes the rules that govern the use of these skills in combat. See the skill descriptions for details on non-combat and general-purpose uses of each skill.)

If you’re moving in an unusual way (such as by climbing or swimming), that affects your options in combat: how far and how quickly you can move, whether you can run or charge, whether you can take a short step, whether you can disengage defensively, your Armor Class, and what happens when you are attacked. Table: Unusual Movement Modes summarizes the rules for such situations; see below for additional details.

Natural Movement Modes: Every creature has one or more natural movement modes; these are the movement modes for which the creature has a listed speed. Humanoid characters generally have only one natural movement mode: “normal”, ground-based movement (walking, running, etc.). For a bird, flight is a natural movement mode; for a dolphin, swimming; etc. (Some creatures have multiple normal movement modes; many snakes, for instance, can move along the ground, climb, and swim.)

A creature may be able to move in other ways with training and effort (e.g. a human can climb or swim with an appropriate Athletics check). On the other hand, a creature may be totally unable to move in certain ways without the assistance of devices or magic (no amount of effort will let a human fly unaided; a fish is incapable of climbing; etc.).

A character who is moving using a natural movement mode need not make any skill checks to move in ordinary conditions (e.g. a human needs no skill checks to walk or run, a bird need no skill checks to fly, etc.). Skill checks may be required to take difficult or unusual actions, or to avoid hazards (e.g. using the Acrobatics check to maintain one’s balance while walking on a narrow beam, or to perform tricky aerial maneuvers). Conversely, moving using a non-natural movement mode always requires a skill check (although the DC may be so low that the character can succeed automatically, in some cases).

Gaining New Movement Modes: Spells or devices may grant a creature additional natural movement modes. For instance, slippers of spider climbing give their wearer a climb speed; etc. (Even though movement modes acquired in this way aren’t “natural” in the sense of being innate or deriving from the creature’s race, they are considered to be natural movement modes for the purposes of the rules for movement.) Shapeshifting or transmogrification magic (e.g. a polymorph spell) may also change what movement modes a creature can employ.

Common Movement Modes: Other than normal (ground-based) movement, some common movement modes that various creatures may possess include: swimming, climbing, flying, burrowing (either by displacing the material burrowed through, as bulette, or by gliding through it, as an earth elemental), and brachiation (i.e., swinging through trees or similar, as many monkeys do; a creature without a brachiation speed may attempt to move in this way, though it is difficult; see “an overhang or ceiling ...” on Table: Climbing).

Natural Movement Modes and Skill Checks: A creature with a listed speed for climbing, swimming, burrowing, or brachiation gets a +8 racial bonus to movement skill checks for that movement mode. Such a creature can always take 10 on checks with that skill.

How Far You Can Move: When you move using a movement skill, how far you move depends on how that skill works; see Table: Unusual Movement Modes, and each skill’s description, for details. (When you move using one of your natural movement modes, in conditions that don’t require a skill check to move, you move at your listed speed. See Movement for more information about normal movement. If you’re moving using a movement mode for which you have no listed speed, the distance you move with a successful skill check is usually one-half of your normal, ground-based move speed; see the Acrobatics and Athletics skill descriptions for details.)

Speeds For Different Movement Modes: You have a separate move speed for each of your natural movement modes. Spells and effects that modify your move speed generally specify whether they affect some or all of your move speeds; where not specified, assume that only your normal move speed is affected.

Other Movement Actions: You can only run, charge, take a short step, or disengage defensively using one of your natural movement modes (one for which you have a listed speed). See Table: Unusual Movement Modes, and each skill’s description, for details.

Combat Modifiers: Unusual movement modes (that is, moving in a way that requires making a check with one of the movement skills) can leave you more vulnerable to attacks. See Table: Unusual Movement Modes, and each skill’s description, for details.

If you’re attacked while balancing, climbing, swimming, or flying, you generally have to make an immediate skill check (at the same DC as the check you had, or would have, to make to move); failure generally means you suffer the same effect as failing the skill check to move. (See the Acrobatics and Athletics skill descriptions for details.)

Swimming and Flying: Special rules apply to swimming and flying in combat (because you’re moving in three dimensions in such cases, and for other reasons); see Aerial and Underwater Combat for details.

Evasion and Pursuit

When characters or creatures on one side of an encounter decide to flee rather than fight (either in lieu of combat, or when a combat encounter doesn’t go their way), their opponents may decide to simply let them get away, or they may choose to pursue. In the latter case, if the pursuit attempt can’t be resolved within one round (that is, if one round will not suffice either for the pursuers to intercept the fleeing opponent, or for the runner to get away without any chance of continued pursuit—e.g., by using a teleportation spell), a chase ensues. Chases don’t use the normal rules for movement in combat; the chase rules are used instead. See Chases, in the Adventuring chapter, for more information.

Positioning in Combat

A good or bad position can drastically affect the flow and outcome of a combat encounter. This section describes several aspects of advantageous combat positioning.

Melee Space and Reach

A character’s space is the diameter of the area that he occupies in combat; this is how much room the character needs in order to fight effectively. Medium-sized characters occupy a 5-foot-wide space in combat. A character forced to fight in tighter confines takes penalties in combat (see Squeezing for details).

A character’s reach is how far away he can reach with melee attacks when he fights. The character threatens the area within that distance from himself. (Reach is measured from the edge of a character’s space.)

Humanoid creatures normally have a melee reach equal to the width of their space, so a human (or a dwarf, etc.) would have a melee reach of 5 feet. This means that a Medium-sized character can make melee attacks only against creatures up to 5 feet away.

Most creatures larger than Medium have a natural reach of 10 feet or more. Conversely, smaller creatures have shorter melee reach. (See Big and Little Creatures in Combat for more information on creatures’ size, space, and reach.)

Reach Weapons: A reach weapon, such as a longspear, glaive, or another sort of polearm, allows a character to strike out to double its normal reach, but generally does not allow the creature to attack within its normal reach. (A character with a reach weapon is usually still able to attack within its normal reach, by making unarmed strikes, such as kicks, etc. Such attacks are made at a −4 penalty, and do not count for the purposes of determining a creature’s threatened area—that is, they cannot be used for attacks of opportunity.)

Attacking Into Your Own Space: You can attack into your own space, but you are not considered to be threatening the space you occupy unless you are wielding a light weapon. (Remember that an unarmed strike counts as a light weapon, though you do not threaten with unarmed attacks unless you have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat; see the Unarmed Attacks sidebar for details.) Melee attacks made into your own space with a one-handed or two-handed weapon take a −4 penalty (this is the same penalty that you take for crowding or squeezing, so you don’t take a greater penalty when attacking into your own space under such circumstances). Attacking with a light weapon avoids these penalties.

Ganging Up

Typically, up to six opponents can gang up on a single combatant (Figure 1), provided they’re all of the same size category and all have room to maneuver freely. If the defender can fight side by side with allies, back into a corner, fight through a doorway, or otherwise protect himself, attackers can’t gang up in this way.

The defender can reduce the opportunity for attackers to gang up based on how much of the area around himself he can block off. Backed against a wall, a creature only allows four attackers to get at him (Figure 2). If he’s backed into a corner, only two attackers can get at him at a time (Figure 3). If the defender is standing in a doorway, two attackers in front of him can attack normally (Figure 4); or three can attack, but then the defender has one-half cover from the two on the sides (Figure 5).

If the defender is fighting in a corridor no wider than the space he occupies in combat, only one attacker can get at him (from each direction) (Figure 6).

Crowding In: More attackers can crowd around a defender, but this causes some of them to take penalties (see Crowding). For each additional attacker past the limits listed above, that attacker and one other (usually the closest of the other ones who is not already crowding in) takes the penalties (Figure 7). Up to double the normal number of attackers can crowd in around a defender (and they would all then take the requisite penalties).

Differently Sized Combatants: The above rules assume that all combatants are the same size. If some of the combatants are of different size categories, special rules apply; see Big and Little Creatures in Combat for details.

Flanking

A creature is considered to be flanked if it is threatened by opponents on opposite sides (such that the defender is directly between them; Figure 8). (In situations of ambiguous positioning, the DM should make a judgment call.) A flanked creature takes a −2 penalty to AC, and a −4 penalty on attack rolls when making attacks of opportunity.

Ignoring Irrelevant Opponents: If you are flanked by opponents in melee, you may choose to ignore some of them (usually, if they are so weak that they can’t reasonably harm you). Those attackers cannot flank you (i.e., they do not count when determining whether you are flanked; Figure 9). However, attackers whom you are ignoring are effectively invisible to you (they have total concealment from you).

A character who does not threaten opponents in melee (e.g. an unarmed character who does not have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat; or a character who, for some reason, can’t make combat reactions in that round) cannot flank opponents (i.e., does not count when determining whether an opponent is flanked).

Squeezing

In some cases, you may have to squeeze into or through an area that isn’t as wide as the space you take up. You can squeeze through or into a space that is at least half as wide as the space you normally occupy in combat (5 feet across, for Medium-sized characters). For instance, an ogre (whose space is 10 feet wide) can squeeze through or into a space at least 5 feet wide. Movement into or through a narrow space is at half speed, and while squeezed in a narrow space you take a −4 penalty on attack rolls and a −4 penalty to AC and Reflex saves. (This penalty to attack rolls does not, however, apply when using a light weapon to attack an opponent within your own space.) While you’re squeezing through a narrow space, it’s not possible for other combatants to occupy your space unless they’re three or more size categories smaller than you are.

To squeeze through or into a space less than half your space’s width, you must use the Escape Artist? skill. You can’t attack while using Escape Artist to squeeze through or into a narrow space, you take a −4 penalty to AC and Reflex saves, you lose any Dexterity bonus to AC and to Reflex saves, and you can’t make combat reactions.

You can move through a space with a ceiling as low as half your height, with the same penalties. You can move through a space with a ceiling as low as one-quarter your height, but you must do so by going prone and crawling. (As with a narrow space, you take a −4 penalty to AC and Reflex saves, you lose any Dexterity bonus to AC and Reflex saves, and you can’t make combat reactions.)

In spaces both narrow and low, double the penalties given above.

Crowding

Sometimes, multiple combatants (whether allies or enemies) may crowd closer together than normal. If another combatant of your size occupies the same space as you do, you take a −2 penalty to attack rolls and a −2 penalty to AC and Reflex saves. (These penalties only apply in melee; furthermore, the penalty to attack rolls does not apply when using a light weapon to attack an opponent within your own space.) Up to three combatants of the same size can crowd into the normal space for a creature of their size; the penalties to attack rolls, AC, and Reflex saves are cumulative for each additional combatant.

Entering an Opponent’s Space: Entering an opponent’s space may provoke an attack of opportunity; see Provoking an Attack of Opportunity for details.

Formations: Certain formations and battlefield tactics (such as the phalanx, tight lines of charging cavalry, etc.) are designed for effective close arrangement of allied combatants. In such cases, the rules given here for crowding may be modified appropriately (for example, a line of charging knights do not take the aforementioned attack roll penalty on their charge attacks; likewise, the warriors in a phalanx do not take an AC penalty against attacks from outside the formation).

Occupying the Same Space as Unconscious Creatures: Unconscious, immobilized, or otherwise helpless creatures are treated as obstacles, not combatants, for the purposes of movement and positioning.

Creatures of Different Sizes: See Big and Little Creatures in Combat for what happens when combatants of disparate sizes occupy the same space.

Posture

In the context of the combat rules, “posture” refers to whether a character is standing up, sitting, kneeling, crouching, lying prone, etc.

A character’s posture affects his ability to attack and to defend himself; it also affects the character’s ability to provide cover to other combatants.

See the descriptions of the Drop Prone or Crouch and Stand Up movement actions for details on how a character can change his posture in combat.

Standing: A character who is upright (standing, walking, etc.) has no special modifiers to his combat statistics.

Prone: A prone character is lying on the ground (on his back, on his stomach, etc.).

A prone character takes a −4 penalty to his AC against melee attacks, but gets a +4 bonus to his AC against ranged attacks. This modifier also applies to Reflex saves; whether it’s a bonus or a penalty depends on the nature of the attack (for example, a prone character would get a bonus to his Reflex save against a fireball?, but a penalty to his Reflex save against a stampede of elephants).

A prone character takes a −4 penalty on melee attack rolls. Using most ranged weapons is difficult or impossible while prone (except for crossbows); see Weapons for details.

Prone characters wielding light weapons (including prone characters that are unarmed) do not threaten their normal threatened area. (A prone character wielding a one-handed or two-handed melee weapons threatens an area as normal.)

Prone characters generally provide no cover to other combatants of the same size.

Crouching: A crouching character has a lower profile. The combat modifiers for a crouching position are the same ones as for being prone, but halved.

A crouching character provides cover as a creature of one size category smaller.

Kneeling or Sitting: Sitting on a chair or similar is equivalent to crouching. Sitting or kneeling on the ground is likewise equivalent to crouching for the purpose of combat modifiers, but equivalent to being prone for the purpose of what actions it takes to stand up.

High Ground

Whether fighting on a hillside, leaping onto a table in a bar brawl, or attacking from the back of a warhorse, a difference in elevation between melee combatants can be a help or a hindrance.

Size of Combatants: High ground only affects melee attacks between combatants within one size category of each other; for ranged attacks, or combat between very differently sized opponents, elevation differences don’t matter much.

Elevation Difference: In order to count as being on high ground, you must generally be standing on a surface that’s at least waist high to your opponent (for example, standing on a table, or being adjacent to your opponent on a slope of at least 30°). (If you’re too high up, however, you can’t make melee attacks at all, because your opponent is out of reach.)

A character attacking from the back of a mount that’s larger than his opponent is considered to be on higher ground than an opponent who is on foot. (For example, a human mounted on a horse, attacking another human who’s on foot, has the higher ground.)

AC Bonus or Penalty: You take a −2 penalty on AC against attacks that come from an opponent on higher ground. Against attacks by an opponent on lower ground, you get a +2 bonus to AC.

Blocking: You can’t block attacks from an opponent that’s attacking you from lower ground unless you’re using a tower shield.

Cover

One of the best defenses available is cover. By taking cover behind a tree, a ruined wall, the side of a wagon, or the battlements of a castle, you can protect yourself from attacks, especially ranged attacks. Cover provides a bonus to your Armor Class. The more cover you have, the bigger the bonus. In a melee, if you have cover against an opponent, that opponent probably has cover against you, too. With ranged weapons, however, it’s easy to have better cover than your opponent. (Indeed, that’s what arrow slits are all about.)

The DM may impose other penalties or restrictions to attacks depending on the details of the cover. For example, to strike effectively through a narrow opening, you need to use a long piercing weapon, such as an arrow or a spear. A battleaxe or a warhammer isn’t going to get through an arrow slit to the person standing behind it.

Cover and Combat Reactions: An attacker can’t make an attack of opportunity against a character with one-half or better cover. A character likewise can’t use the aid attack or aid defense combat reactions if the enemy has one-half or better cover from him.

Degree of Cover: Cover is assessed in subjective measurements of how much protection it offers you. Your DM determines the value of cover. This measure is not a strict mathematical calculation, because you gain more value from covering the parts of your body that are more likely to be strike. If the bottom half of your body is covered (such as when a human stands behind a 3-foot wall), that only gives you one-quarter cover. If one side or the other is covered, such as when you’re partly behind a corner, you get one-half cover. Table: Cover gives examples of various situations that produce certain degrees of cover. (These examples might not always hold true. For example, a 3-foot wall might provide a human one-half cover in melee against kobolds, who have a hard time striking a human’s upper body, but the same wall might grant a human no cover in melee against a giant.)

Cover AC Bonus: Table: Cover lists the AC bonuses for different degrees of cover. Add the relevant number to your AC. This cover bonus overlaps (does not stack) with certain other bonuses. For example, kneeling or crouching gives you a +2 bonus to your AC against ranged weapons. Kneeling behind a low wall could change your cover from one-quarter (+2) to three-quarters (+6). You would not get the +2 kneeling bonus on top of the cover bonus.

Cover Reflex Save Bonus: Table: Cover lists the Reflex save bonuses for different degrees of cover. Add this bonus to Reflex saves against attacks that affect an area, such as a red dragon’s breath or a fireball? spell. These bonuses, however, only apply to attacks that originate or spread out from a point on the other side of the cover.

Cover Provided by Other Combatants: In certain cases, other combatants (enemies, allies, or bystanders) between an attacker and his target may provide the target with cover.

Reach Weapons: If you’re using a reach weapon, or otherwise are able to make a melee attack past another creature, a character standing between you and your target provides cover to your target. Generally, if both of the other creatures are the same size, the one in the back has one-half cover (+4 AC).

Ranged Weapons: If you’re attacking with a ranged weapon, and your line of sight to your target passes through another character’s space, the interposing character provides your target with cover. Generally, if both of the other creatures are the same size, the more distant one has one-half cover (+4 AC).

Area Effects: Creatures between you and the point of origin of an area effect, such as a fireball?, provide you with one-half cover. (Such cover is normally of no use against certain sorts of attacks, like the fiery breath of an ancient red dragon, which originate from a point above you, even if other combatants are between you and the dragon. However, a character who wishes to shield another from an area attack may do so as a combat reaction, accepting a −4 penalty on his own Reflex save to grant their ally a +2 bonus on theirs.)

Cover From Smaller Characters: A character one size category smaller than you provides you with only one-quarter cover against an attacker of your size category (the same as the cover from a waist-high wall). When your line of sight to your target passes through the space of a smaller character, you take no penalty on ranged attacks if the interposing smaller character is closer to you than to your target—you are effectively firing over the smaller character’s head. (Thus a standing human archer or crossbowman may fire over the head of a kneeling half-orc, or a standing dwarf or gnome, with no disadvantage, as long as any such interposing character is closer to him than to his target.)

Striking the Cover Instead of a Missed Target: If it ever becomes important to know whether the cover was actually struck by an incoming attack that misses the intended target, the DM should determine if the attack roll would have hit the protected target without the cover. If the attack roll falls within a range low enough to miss the target with cover but high enough to strike the target if there had been no cover, the object used for cover was struck. This can be particularly important to know in cases where a character uses another creature as cover. In such a case, if the cover is struck and the attack roll exceeds the AC of the covering creature, the covering creature takes the damage intended for the target.

If the covering creature has a Dexterity bonus or dodge bonus to AC, and this bonus keeps the covering creature from being hit, then the original target is hit instead. The covering creature has dodged out of the way and didn’t provide cover after all. A covering character can choose not to apply his Dexterity and/or dodge bonuses to AC against the attack, if his intent is in fact to try to take the damage in order to keep the covered character from being hit. (Conversely, a character in the line of fire of a ranged attack against a target for which he’s providing cover can choose to pre-emptively use a dodge combat reaction to ensure that he will not be struck by the attack in the event that it misses its intended target due to the cover he’s providing.)

If you hit the creature providing cover with a poleam or similar weapon, it usually takes no damage, since you strike it with the haft of your weapon. If you use another sort of weapon, the creature providing cover may take half damage if you strike it instead of your target (at the DM’s discretion). A covering creature takes full damage if you strike it with a ranged attack.

Total Cover: You can’t make an attack against an opponent that has total cover, nor can you target such a creature with a spell or similar effect. (You can, however, strike at whatever’s providing cover; if you do enough damage, you might break through the cover, which may allow you to strike the enemy behind the cover—assuming you strike at the right place.)

Cover and Stealth Checks: You can use cover to hide (see the Stealth? skill). (Without cover, you usually need concealment to hide.) You generally need total cover to hide. If you have a lesser degree of cover, you may be able to do something (duck behind the corner you’re peering past, drop prone behind the battlement, step to the side of an arrow slit, etc.) to gain total cover.

You cannot hide behind a creature of your size or smaller. You can usually hide behind a creature larger than you are, but only if it is not moving.

Visibility and Concealment

One way to avoid attacks is to make it hard for opponents to know where you are. Concealment encompasses all circumstances where nothing physically blocks a blow or shot but where something interferes with an attacker’s accuracy. Typically, concealment is provided by fog, smoke, poor illumination or darkness, tall grass, foliage, or spells that make it difficult to pinpoint a target’s location (e.g. blur?). (See Sources of Concealment for details.)

Degree of Concealment: Concealment is subjectively measured as to how difficult it is for an opponent to see you. Examples of what might qualify as concealment of various degrees are given on Table: Concealment. Concealment always depends on the point of view of the opponent (i.e., the attacker, if the defender’s concealed; or the defender, if the attacker’s concealed). Total darkness, for example, is meaningless to a creature with darkvision?. Moderate darkness doesn’t hamper a creature with low-light vision?, and near-total darkness is only one-half concealment for such a creature.

Concealment Attack Penalty: When your target has concealment from you, you take a penalty to your attack rolls against him, because you find it difficult to see your opponent to aim properly.

Concealment AC Penalty: When your attacker has concealment from you, you take a penalty to your AC against his attacks, because it’s hard to dodge an attack when you have trouble seeing where it came from.

Concealment Reflex Save Penalty: You take a penalty to Reflex saves against an effect whose source or point of origin you can’t see clearly. This penalty is the same as the penalty to AC for a given level of concealment.

Sources of Concealment

There are four basic kinds of things that can cause one combatant to be concealed from another: impaired vision, effects that shroud an opponent’s form, poor illumination, and environmental effects that interfere with sight.

Impaired Vision: When something’s wrong with your vision, all opponents have some degree of concealment from you. If you’re dazzled, for example, everything has one-quarter concealment from you; if you’re blinded, everything has total concealment from you.

Effects That Shroud an Opponent’s Form: Magical or mundane effects can distort or obscure a creature’s form, making it difficult to make out its contours or exactly see its position (or even making it entirely impossible to see). Examples include camouflage paint, the blur? spell, invisibility (such as from a potion of invisibility), etc.

Poor Illumination: Most creatures need at least some light to see (even creatures with darkvision?, though they see with light of a different sort than the human-visible spectrum, cannot see in supernatural—i.e., perfect—darkness). Whether an opponent has concealment from you due to poor illumination depends on two things: how well-lit the opponent is (i.e., how much light there is around and on him), and how much light you need in order to see well. Thus an opponent in an area of near-total darkness might have nine-tenths concealment from a human, but only one-half concealment from an elf, and no concealment at all from a dwarf.

Environmental Effects: Fog, smoke, flames, foliage, thick spider webs, swarms of insects, and many similar things can scatter light and make it difficult to see through an area, causing opponents to have concealment. The degree of concealment that one opponent has from another in such cases depends on the nature and density of the effect or phenomenon, and how much of it (i.e., how much distance) separates the two opponents.

Multiple Sources of Concealment: When multiple concealment conditions apply to your view of an opponent (behind dense foliage, near total darkness, and a blur? spell, for example), add the penalties together. However, the total penalty can never be higher than the penalty for total concealment (if the total penalty would be at least that high, then the opponent effectively has total concealment).

Total Concealment

When an opponent has total concealment from you, he is effectively invisible to you (and correspondingly, invisibility, e.g. from the invisibility? spell, grants a character total concealment—at least, from opponents without the ability to see invisible creatures). Total concealment has several effects.

Spell Targeting: You do not have line of sight? to a target that has total concealment from you. That means that you can’t cast targeted spells (or use targeted spell-like abilities) against that target (whether it be a creature or object), even if you have line of effect? to it. (See Spells for more information on spell targeting.)

Attacking: In order to attack an opponent with total concealment from you, you must guess roughly where he is located. The DM may call for Listen? checks (to hear the sounds of your opponent’s breathing, movement, etc.), Spot checks (to notice disturbances, such as displaced branches, caused by the opponent’s presence), or other sorts of checks, to pinpoint your opponent’s location. If you fail, you don’t know where your opponent is; you may have only a rough idea of what general area he’s located in, or you may have no information about his location at all, depending on the circumstances of the combat (and the DM’s discretion). In such cases, you may choose to make an attack against a particular location (based on a guess or a random determination), in the hope that your opponent is there; the DM will not tell you whether you’ve guessed right until after you attack (you can usually—but not always—tell whether your attack has hit).

Combat Reactions: You can’t dodge or block the attacks of an unseen opponent; nor can you make attacks of opportunity against him; nor can you aid an ally’s attacks or defense against such an opponent.

Concealment and Stealth

Concealment can help you hide. Observers who might try to notice you take a penalty to their Spot checks if you have concealment from them (see the Spot skill description for details). However, partial (i.e., less than total) concealment still doesn’t let you hide if you’re being observed unless you have cover. Total concealment allows you to hide even if you have no cover (because if you cannot be seen, then, by definition, you are not being observed). If you’re not being observed, you can hide with less than total concealment (indeed, this is the favorite tactic of thieves and predators who lurk in shadows to lie in wait for prey). (See the Stealth? skill for more details on hiding.)

Visibility and Movement

Poor visibility, such as darkness or fog, hampers your movement by making you unable to see the terrain beneath your feet. You run a greater risk tripping, slipping, bumping into objects, or suffering similar mishaps, and suffer a penalty to Acrobatics checks made to move safely. The penalty is equal to the penalty to attack rolls for the appropriate degree of concealment (see Table: Concealment).

If you run or charge into an obstacle (as might happen if you try to run or charge in total darkness or when you’ve been blinded), you take 1d6 points of nonlethal damage. (At the DM’s discretion, you may take more damage, or lethal damage, in certain cases—such as running into a barrier of spikes.)

(See Surfaces, Terrain, and Obstacles for more details about perilous movement.)

Other Effects of Poor Visibility

Difficulty seeing has a number of other effects (which are less directly relevant in combat). As a general guideline, apply the attack roll penalty also to Search? checks and to any other skill checks that involve seeing or interacting with your surroundings. See Visibility and Light in the Adventuring chapter for details.

Defeating Concealment

Some creatures don’t need sight to perfectly perceive opponents. (Note that other senses, such as a bat’s echolocation, can be impaired in their own ways.) The Blind-Fight and Blindsight, 5-ft. Radius feats improve a character’s ability to fight poorly-visible opponents. Certain spells (such as see invisibility?) and magic items (such as a gem of seeing) can defeat shrouding magic. Certain magical creatures have the ability to see through smoke or other environmental effects. And sometimes the simplest solutions work best: poor illumination is defeated by a good light source; fog can be dispersed by wind; etc.

Surfaces, Terrain, and Obstacles

The rules presented so far assume that you’re moving through an area clear of obstacles or difficult terrain. However, in dungeons and wilderness areas, that’s often not the case.

Perilous Surfaces

Perilous surfaces are tricky or dangerous to move across, and may cause you to fall prone. Such surfaces may be slippery, sloped, uneven, unsteady, or obstructed. An Acrobatics skill check is required to move across a perilous surface without tripping or slipping, and running or charging across such a surface is quite difficult. (See the Acrobatics skill description for details.)

Examples of perilous surfaces include narrow ledges, ice, steep inclines, fields of rubble, and the deck of a storm-tossed ship.

Difficult Terrain

Difficult terrain slows movement. In most cases, your speed is halved when moving across difficult terrain. (Essentially, this means that you must spend twice as much of your move speed covering a path through difficult terrain as the actual distance. For example, moving across 12 feet of difficult terrain costs 24 feet of movement; if your speed was 30 feet, you’d now only have 6 feet of movement remaining in a normal move.) You cannot reduce this penalty while moving through difficult terrain (Acrobatics doesn’t help), nor can you run or charge.

If more than one condition applies, multiply together all movement speed costs that apply (this is an exception to the normal rules for doubling?). (For example, if you were moving across deep snow and also being entangled by magically affected vines, you could only move at one-quarter speed.)

Difficult terrain imposes a −10 penalty on Acrobatics checks, such as checks to move through an opponent’s space, to stand up quickly, etc. (see the skill description for details).

Examples of difficult terrain include bogs and marshes, pools of water, and deep snow. (Being submerged in water also counts as difficult terrain. See Aquatic Movement and Combat for details.)

Flying, incorporeal, and gaseous creatures are not slowed by difficult terrain.

Obstacles

Like difficult terrain, obstacles can hamper movement. If an obstacle hampers movement but doesn’t completely block it, such as a low wall or a deadfall of branches, the space the obstacle occupies (which is usually counted in multiples of 5 feet) can generally be crossed at half speed with a successful Acrobatics check. (A more difficult Acrobatics check, with a higher DC, often allows you move at full speed across the obstacle.) Many obstacles may also be crossed by, e.g., climbing or jumping over them, which requires a successful Athletics skill check.

On the other hand, some obstacles, such as floor-to-ceiling walls, block movement entirely. A character can’t move through such an obstacle.

Flying and incorporeal creatures can avoid most obstacles, though a floor-to-ceiling wall blocks a flying creature as well as a landbound creature.

Big and Little Creatures in Combat

The combat rules generally assume, as a default, that combatants are of approximately the same size (as most player characters will usually be human-sized, give or take a factor of two). There is great diversity of life in the worlds, however; and so an adventuring character inevitably encounters creatures much larger or smaller than himself. This section explains how creature size affects the ways combatants can interact in combat.

Size Categories

There are seven size categories into which creatures may be classified. From smallest to largest, they are: Diminutive, Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, Huge, Gargantuan. (Humans are Medium-sized.) Each size category represents approximately a twofold size increase over the next-smaller one (in a creature’s longest dimension)—thus a Medium-sized creature is, on average, about twice as big as a Small one, a Large creature is about twice as big as a Medium one, etc. There are also two “pseudo-categories”, for creatures so small or so tremendous that they don’t fit into the normal scale of creature sizes; see the Miniscule and Colossal Creatures sidebar.

Table: Creature Size and Scale summarizes what each size category represents in terms of creatures’ dimensions and their physical and combat qualities. (Each column heading is additionally detailed below.)

Size Category: Creatures of Small, Medium, Large, Huge, and Gargantuan sizes are additionally classified, within each size category, as either “long” or “tall”. “Tall” creatures are upright bipeds (such as humanoids) or otherwise creatures whose longest dimension is their height. “Long” creatures generally have a horizontal longest dimensions; this includes quadrupeds, serpentine creatures, etc. (These are not hard and fast rules; exceptions exist.)

Remember that the “miniscule” and “colossal” entries on the table are not size categories as such; see the Miniscule and Colossal Creatures sidebar for details.

Examples: A handful of representative creatures for each category.

Dimension: Height, for tall creatures; length, for long creatures. This does not include length of tail, plumes, etc.

Weight: Assumes that the creature is roughly as dense as a regular animal. A creature made of stone will weigh considerably more. A gaseous creature will weigh much less. Some creatures (such as ghosts) are entirely weightless. (Normal gravity is assumed.)

Typical Ground Speed: The typical tactical (i.e., in-combat) movement rate of a roughly humanoid or otherwise bipedal creature of that size category. (Note that creatures’ tactical speeds generally don’t scale in proportion to size; this is due to matters of muscle density, inertia, leverage, etc. Also, many fantastic creatures have unusual movement forms and powers (which may apply to tactical, exploration, or overland movement); the movement rates enabled by such powers may have little relation to a creature’s move speed in combat.)

Space: See Melee Space and Reach. Note that a creature’s melee space is not the same thing as its physical proportions; for humanoids it includes arms’ reach and room to assume a fighting stance, whereas for a serpentine creature, its given melee space might assume that it coils up in combat.

Reach: See Melee Space and Reach. Some creatures have exceptional reach, whether due to wielding reach weapons, having long tentacles, or some other reason.

Tall vs. Long Creatures: A “tall” (i.e., bipedal or otherwise upright) creature, such as a human or an ogre, usually has normal melee reach equal to the width of its space. A “long” creature, such as a dog, a horse, or a snake, usually has melee reach equal to one-half the width of its space.

Vertical Reach: How far a creature can reach up. A “tall” creature can usually reach up a distance equal to half its normal reach (measured from the top of its space). A “long” creature generally can’t reach up higher than the height of its space. (As always, exceptions exist.)

HP Con Bonus Multiplier: When calculating a creature’s hit points, multiply the hit points that the creature gets from Constitution (i.e., its Constitution modifier × its level) by this number (rounding down). (The hit points a creature gets from its hit dice do not get multiplied.)

Armor AC Bonus Multiplier: Armor made for creatures bigger or smaller than Medium size offers more or less protection, respectively. Multiply the armor’s AC bonus (not including any enhancement bonus) by this number (rounding down). A type of armor that has its AC bonus reduced to 0 due to this adjustment is ineffective for a creature of that size.

Positioning and Creature Size

In addition to the rules concerning a creature’s space and reach given in the Size Categories section, several other aspects of positioning in combat must take combatants’ size differences into account.

Big and Little Creatures Surrounding Each Other: Many smaller creatures can surround one bigger one, while only a small number of larger creatures can surround a small one. Table: How Many Can Surround One? lists the greatest number of creatures that can surround one opponent, given the listed size differences between attackers and defender, without taking penalties. More attackers than the listed number can surround one defender if some or all of the attackers crowd in (in which case the attackers will take a penalty to their attack rolls and AC, as described in Ganging Up). (If attackers of different sizes surround one defender, the DM should interpolate appropriate values on the basis of those given on the table.)

Creatures of Very Different Sizes: If at least four size categories separate attacker(s) and defender(s), it is effectively meaningless to speak of the combatants “surrounding” one another; very small creatures can easily move through the space occupied by very large creatures, and vice-versa (see Passing Through an Occupied Space), and their attacks against one another don’t use the normal combat rules (see Miniscule and Colossal Creatures). Combat between a large creature and very many small creatures should be handled by means of the rules for swarms?.

Big and Little Creatures Occupying the Same Space: Creatures of disparate sizes can crowd in to occupy the same space more easily than creatures of the same size can. If another combatant who is one size larger or smaller than you are occupies your space, the penalty you take to attack rolls, AC, and Reflex saves is −1. (See Crowding for details.) If another combatant who is two or more sizes larger or smaller than you are occupies your space, you take no penalties at all.

The penalties for multiple combatants occupying the same space are cumulative for additional combatants. When determining the maximum number of creatures that can occupy a space, a creature counts as four creatures of one size category smaller (i.e., a human counts the same as four goblins, a purple worm counts the same as sixteen ogres, etc.).

Mounts and Riders: The penalties listed here do not apply when a willing mount is carrying a rider, even though mount and rider occupy the same space; they are considered to be one creature, for the purposes of the rules in this section.

Movement and Creature Size

A creature’s size determines its options for moving around a battlefield in several ways.

Size and Speed: As described in Size Categories, bigger creatures have greater speed in combat, though tactical movement speed does not scale proportionally to size.

Short Step Distance: A creature can cover a distance equal to its normal melee reach with a short step (thus a cloud giant can take a 20-foot-long short step, while both a horse and a human can only cover 5 feet with a short step).

Passing Through a Bigger or Smaller Creature’s Space: It is easier to use Acrobatics to pass through the space of a creature that is larger or smaller than you are. It is also easier to overrun a smaller creature (but harder to overrun a larger one; and it’s impossible to overrun a creature that is two or more size categories larger than you are). See the descriptions for the Acrobatics skill and the overrun combat maneuver, respectively, for details.

As described in Passing Through an Occupied Space, you can always move through the space of a creature that’s three or more sizes larger or smaller than you are, with no check required.

Danger From Big Creatures’ Movement: Big creatures often pose a threat to small creatures without making any specific effort to do so; an orc might step on a mouse in the course of normal movement, or a purple worm may knock down or crush a human without even noticing the human’s presence. A creature that moves through the space of another creature three or more size categories smaller than itself, and makes no special effort to avoid the smaller creature, poses a danger to the smaller creature. The smaller creature may usually attempt a Reflex save to avoid being injured by the larger creature’s movement; failure usually indicates that the smaller creature takes damage and is knocked prone. (The DC for this save, the damage taken on a failed save, and other details, are determined by the DM.)

Some creatures’ movement may be perilous in other ways. For example, a purple worm that bursts from the ground not only sends creatures near its exit point flying, it also creates difficult terrain and causes an eruption of soil and chunks of rock that may strike nearby creatures; a brontosaurus shakes the ground with every step, causing small creatures nearby to lose their footing and fall prone; the turbulent wake of a sea serpent can capsize boats; etc.

Combat and Creature Size

Creatures’ sizes, and size differences between combatants, have several effects on the ways that creatures interact in combat.

Space and Reach: Bigger creatures take up more space on the battlefield, and have longer reach (see Size Categories for details).

Positioning and Movement: See the previous two sections (Positioning and Creature Size and Movement and Creature Size) for details.

Size Modifier to Ranged Attack Rolls: It’s easier to hit a target that’s bigger than you are with a ranged attack, and harder to hit a smaller target. (See Attack Bonus for details.)

Size and Combat Maneuvers: It’s easier to perform a combat maneuver against an opponent that’s smaller than you are, and harder to perform a combat maneuver against a bigger opponent. (Grabbing is an exception.) Many combat maneuvers can only be performed at all against opponents of certain sizes, and some combat maneuvers have additional rules concerning combatants’ size. (See Table: Combat Maneuvers, as well as each maneuver’s description, for details.)

Size and Normal Attacks: The greater the size difference between you and your target, the more difficulties or complications arise in attacking it.

If a creature is two or more size categories larger than you are, you can’t make called shots, or use abilities like the rogue’s sudden strike, when fighting that creature in melee (without special circumstances, such as favorable positioning, etc.). (It is generally also impossible to make a called shot against an opponent two or more size categories smaller.)

If a creature is three or more size categories larger than you are, you cannot confirm a critical hit when fighting that creature in melee (without special circumstances).

If a creature is four or more size categories larger than you are, you usually cannot make normal attacks (ranged or melee) against that creature at all; most weapons you can wield simply cannot appreciably harm so massive a creature (without special circumstances).

If a creature is four or more size categories smaller than you are, you can generally kill it with a single attack of any sort.

See the Miniscule and Colossal Creatures sidebar for more information.

Size and Unusual or Magical Attacks: Disease?, poison?, death magic, and similar effects that attack a creature’s life processes or physical resilience have a harder time affecting larger creatures than smaller ones (which usually means a size modifier to saving throws against the effect; see each effect’s description for details). With magic, this modifier is based on relative size of caster and target. (Thus a cloud giant can more easily affect a human with a death spell than a human can affect another human, while for a human to affect a giant with such a spell is harder still. See Magic, and each spell’s description, for details.)

Similarly, some spells and items may, in practice, be ineffective, or much less effective, against differently sized opponents. (A tanglefoot bag would have much less effect on an elephant than a human—since the goo would cover relatively less of the elephant’s body—and a grease? spell (with a 10-foot-square area) would be no real impediment to a purple worm, which has a 40-foot space.) Such matters may not be spelled out in the description of the spell, item, etc.; common sense, and the DM’s discretion, suffice to resolve them.

The Monster as Battlefield

When fighting monsters larger than you are, you’ll often be unable to attack your opponent effectively (especially with melee attacks) in a normal, toe-to-toe combat. (For example, a halfling, standing on the ground, simply can’t reach anything resembling a vital area on a cloud giant’s body, and so can’t confirm critical hits with melee attacks against the giant; see Combat and Creature Size for details). One way to get an advantage in combat against much larger opponents is to grab on to the creature’s body and (using the Athletics and Acrobatics skills) make your way to a more advantageous spot, from which you can strike at its more vulnerable or more vital body parts. (Note: The guidelines in this section are usually applicable when a character is fighting an opponent two or more sizes larger.)

The details of how this is done in each particular case is up to the DM’s discretion, but a few guidelines follow. If you’re climbing up a monster’s body, or hanging on while it’s moving, the Athletics skill (climbing) applies, and you generally have to grab on to the creature first. If you’re on a monster’s back (or upper surface, whatever relation that has to its anatomy), you can use Acrobatics to balance while leaving your hands free. In combat, a creature you’re fighting is generally moving around, so use the check modifiers for “moving” or “violently moving” surfaces on Table: Perilous Surfaces (apply this modifier to any climb checks as well). (To get onto a creature’s back in the first place, you may be able to jump/teleport/etc. onto a creature, in lieu of climbing, as the situation permits.)

A monster you’ve grabbed onto will usually try to pry you off (see the grab maneuver for how this is resolved), but this may not always be easy; if you’re standing on an ettin’s shoulders, or on the back of a flying dragon, the creature may have difficulty reaching you. In such cases, the creature will often try to buck you off, and you’ll have to make Acrobatics or Athletics checks to keep your balance, maintain your grip, etc. (treat this as “encountering a hazard”, as described in the descriptions of each respective skill).

When you attack a monster while on its body, the monster cannot use its Dexterity, dodge, or shield bonuses against your attacks, nor can it block your attacks. (You, however, suffer the same penalties against it, should the monster choose to attack you.)

If you make a called shot against a monster whose body you’re on, assume that the usual called shot modifiers to attack rolls apply, although the DM may decide to reduce or entirely remove the penalty in some cases.

Aerial and Underwater Combat

The combat rules in this chapter generally assume that your character is walking (or running) on land (whether that be the ground, the floor of a dungeon, etc.), or otherwise moving in two dimensions along flat surfaces (jumping, climbing, and similar forms of movement are essentially variations of the same principle). However, you may encounter aquatic or flying creatures in your adventurers, and may take to the air or the water yourself. This section describes the special rules that apply to aquatic and aerial combat. (See the Using Movement Skills section, Table: Unusual Movement Modes, and the Athletics and Acrobatics skill descriptions, for details.)

Aerial Movement and Combat

There are two kinds of flight: buoyant and powered. Different rules apply to each.

Buoyant Flight: Also known as lighter-than-air flight, this is the flight method of some magical creatures (such as beholders and will-o’-wisps), and of characters under the effect of a fly? spell, a potion of flying, or similar magic.

A creature with buoyant flight capability need not expend any effort at all, nor take any actions, to stay aloft (some creatures even sleep while hovering). A buoyantly flying creature can move in any direction, both horizontally and vertically, at its full fly speed, can turn instantly, move backwards, etc. A buoyantly flying creature cannot run or charge, but can make attacks and cast spells while airborne without any risk of falling. (Casting spells in mid-air is difficult, however; see Spellcasting While Flying, below).

A character who is flying by means of a fly? spell, a potion of flying, or whose buoyant flight capability is otherwise not innate, must have the Born Flyer feat in order to attempt Acrobatics checks to perform special movement actions in flight (such as moving through an opponent’s space, or avoiding attacks of opportunity caused by movement), or to dodge attacks while flying. (See the Born Flyer feat description for details.)

Powered Flight: Also known as heavier-than-air flight, this is how winged creatures (birds, dragons, flies, dragonflies, etc.) fly. This category also includes flight with magic items like wings of flying, ornithopters and similar muscle-powered devices, and some more advanced mechanical means of flight.

A creature with powered flight capability is subject to the effects of gravity, and must expend effort to remain aloft and to move through the air; it must make Athletics checks in order to fly (see the skill description for details).

Spellcasting While Flying: Casting spells while flying is difficult, and requires a concentration check with a DC of 10 (for buoyant flight), or 15 or 20 (for powered flight, and depending on what flight actions you take in that round), plus 2 × the spell’s level.

If you cast a spell with a full-round casting time while flying via powered flight, you must succeed at a DC 30 fly check to hover as a swift action; if you do not, you fall. (See the Athletics skill description for details.)

Being Attacked While Flying: You take a −2 penalty to your Armor Class while flying, and can’t dodge attacks, unless your means of flight (whether buoyant or powered) is innate, or you have the Born Flyer feat.

If a buoyantly flying creature takes damage, is subject to a grab, trip, push, or overrun combat maneuver, dodges or blocks an attack, collides with anything, or encounters any other sort of hazard, it must make an Acrobatics check (DC 20); failure means that the creature is thrown off-balance (treat as being prone).

If a creature flying via powered flight encounters a hazard or attack, as above, it must make an Athletics check at the same DC as its movement; failure has the same consequences as failing the fly check itself (stalling, or falling if failed by 5 or more).

Elevation Differences: The high ground rules apply to aerial combat.

Aquatic Movement and Combat

Land-based creatures can have considerable difficulty when fighting in water. Water affects a creature’s Armor Class, attack rolls, and movement.

Swimming: You must make Athletics checks to move through the water; see the skill description for details.

Walking Along the Bottom: The bottom of a lake, ocean, or deep pool is difficult terrain. You can walk along the bottom only if you’re wearing or carrying enough gear to weigh yourself down—at least 16 pounds for a Medium character, twice that much per size category larger, or half that much per size category smaller.

Pulling Yourself Along: You can also pull yourself along a ship’s hull or other solid object; use the climbing rules for this. You climb just as quickly as normal (the speed penalty for difficult terrain does not stack with the speed penalty for climbing; you can’t climb rapidly underwater). You do not fall if you fail your check.

Holding Your Breath: Most land-based characters can’t breathe underwater, and must hold their breath. (See the Athletics and Endurance? skill descriptions for details.)

Being Attacked While Swimming: Unless you have a listed swim speed, you take a −2 penalty to AC while swimming, can’t use a shield, and can’t make combat reactions. If you’re attacked, you must make an Athletics check to avoid going under or being swept along with the current. (See the Athletics skill description for details.)

Weapon Attacks: You take a −2 penalty on attack rolls when you are swimming or immersed in at least chest-high water (including when you’re underwater). Your physical attacks (including natural weapons, manufactured weapons, and unarmed strikes) deal half damage, with the following exceptions. Spears, crossbows, and similar weapons deal full damage (although any range penalties are doubled). All other ranged weapons are entirely ineffective if they have to pass through more than several inches of water (i.e., unless you’re attacking an opponent on or near the surface while you’re not submerged yourself).

Aquatic Creatures: Creatures with a listed swim speed do not take any of these penalties when attacking with their natural weapons.

Concealment: Sight distance is lower underwater than on land; distant opponents have some degree of concealment. How far away you can see depends on whether the water is calm, whether it’s murky, etc.

Likewise, the surface of the water provides concealment to submerged combatants from opponents above, and vice-versa. This may be anything from one-quarter concealment (calm, mostly clear water) to total concealment (very murky or stormy water). (See Visibility and Concealment for details on the effects of different degrees of concealment.)

Area Effects: Submerged characters get a +4 bonus on Reflex saves against area attacks that originate above the water’s surface and do physical damage. Magical or unusual area attacks may also be impeded; see each effect’s description for details.

Fire: Non-magical fire (including alchemist’s fire) generally does not burn underwater (although some particularly powerful alchemical substances may be exceptions to this). Fire spells and spell-like fire effects are less effective underwater; see the Magic chapter, and each spell or effect’s description, for details. (Typically, a spell such as fireball? creates a bubble of steam, in place of its usual fiery effect, when used underwater.)

The surface of a body of water blocks line of effect? for any fire spell.

Spellcasting Underwater: Spellcasting underwater is very difficult. While submerged, you can’t cast any spells with verbal components unless you can breathe underwater (and even then, you have a 20% chance of ruining the spell, as if you were deafened). Many material components are ruined by exposure to water, and thus unusable when submerged. Spells with somatic components require that you make a concentration check (DC equal to the swim check DC for the prevailing conditions, plus twice the spell’s level) or lose the spell (this also applies if you’re swimming, even if you’re not fully submerged). (See Cast a Spell for more information about spell components.)

Note that if you don’t take at least a move action in a round to make a swim check, you go under (or get swept along by the current, etc.). (See the Athletics skill description for details.)

Aquatic creatures (i.e., ones with a listed swim speed) do not have to make concentration checks, nor do they run the risk of ruining spells with verbal components. (The risk of ruining spell components remains, though spellcasters of aquatic races have developed alternate versions of many spells, with material components that can survive underwater.)

Three-Dimensional Positioning: Gravity is of little consequence underwater, so there is no unique “down” direction in aquatic combat (combatants’ frames of reference are shared only by convention and for convenience). Since combatants can orient themselves in the water as they like, the high ground rules do not apply. However, analogous circumstances of advantageous or disadvantageous positioning may come up; the DM’s discretion determines when this is the case.

Injury and Death

Adventures promise all manner of physical harm to your character. A goblin’s blade, a dragon’s breath, a spider’s venom or a sudden fall–these and other threats await you. Some harms are fleeting, while others are as permanent as can be.

Hit Points

Your hit points are a measure of how much physical assault you can withstand. You record your character’s hit point total on your character sheet. (Your hit point total is based on your class and level—you gain hit points as your character level increases—and on your Constitution score; see Character Creation and Character Advancement for details on how to determine how many hit points you have.)

As your character takes damage, you subtract that damage from your hit points; what’s left is your current hit points. Current hit points go down when you take damage, and go back up when you recover.

What Hit Points Represent: Hit points mean two things in the game world: the ability to take physical punishment and keep going, and the ability to turn a serious blow into a less serious one—whether by skill or by luck. Losing hit points doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re being physically wounded—until you sustain an injury, you’re probably getting off with just bruises, cuts, or scrapes, or just having the wind knocked out of you by blows that don’t strike hard or accurately enough to do lasting harm. Eventually, however, your luck, your vigor, and your capacity to endure blows run out; that’s when you start taking serious hits (see Injuries for details).

Taking Damage

The most common way that your character gets hurt is to take lethal damage and lose hit points, whether from an orc’s axe, a wizard’s fireball? spell, or a fall into a spike-lined pit.

Simply taking damage—that is, losing hit points—has no additional effects, on its own; your character can fight just as well with 1 hit point remaining as he can when totally unharmed. (See Losing All Your Hit Points for what happens when you drop to 0 hit points or below.) However, there are several circumstances when taking damage carries additional penalties with it.

Staggering Blows

If you suffer a single attack or mishap that deals damage equal to at least one-half your current (not maximum) hit point total, this is known as a staggering blow. (This means that you become more vulnerable to staggering blows as your hit points dwindle; it also means that two characters may take blows of equal damage, with that blow being a staggering blow for one of the characters, while for the other character—with more hit points to his name—the same blow is merely a normal hit, of no special consequence.)

When you take a staggering blow, you must make a Fortitude save (DC 15). Success means that you’re staggered for one round. Failure means that you’re dazed for one round, and sustain a random injury.

Taking Damage While Using Movement Skills

Whenever you’re moving in a way that requires the use of a skill, such as using Athletics to climb or swim, or using Acrobatics to walk a tight-rope, taking damage is dangerous—you might fall, go under, or suffer some other mishap. See Table: Unusual Movement Modes, and the description of each movement skill, for details on what happens when you take damage while using that skill.

Taking Damage While Concentrating

If you’re doing something that requires your careful attention and focus, taking damage can distract you and ruin your efforts. Activities that require concentration include spellcasting, readying an action for an extended period of time, using certain magic devices, picking a lock or disarming a trap, and similar tasks. In most such cases, you may attempt a concentration check to maintain your focus on your task despite the distraction; see the descriptions of specific activities for details.

Other Effects of Taking Damage

Besides these, taking damage may have other effects in certain circumstances (e.g. taking damage while holding your breath?), which are described where applicable.

Effects of Hit Point Loss

Losing all of your hit points can knock you unconscious or even kill you (though the toughest of adventurers can remain conscious, and even keep fighting, with no HP left).

Losing All Your Hit Points

When your character’s hit points drop to 0 or below, you must make a DC 15 Fortitude save to remain conscious. Your current hit point total is applied as a modifier to the saving throw. (Note: This save supersedes the save you’d normally have to make upon taking a staggering blow; even though an attack that drops you to 0 or fewer hit points is also, by definition, a staggering blow, you need not make two saves.)

The saving throw must be repeated at the end of each subsequent round which ends with your hit points still at 0 or below.

Success on the saving throw means that you remain conscious; however, you’re staggered. You also fall prone, unless you beat the save DC by 5 points or more.

Failure means you’re unconscious and possibly dead. (See the next section, Being Knocked Out By Hit Point Loss, for what happens then.)

Performing Strenuous Actions: In any round when you take any strenuous action while having 0 or fewer hit points remaining, you take a −5 penalty on your Fortitude save to remain conscious. Regardless of whether you succeed or fail, you lose 1 hit point at the end of the round.

(Strenuous actions include most standard actions, any movement at more than half speed, many combat reactions, any kind of spellcasting, and any other action which the DM deems to be strenuous.)

Injury Due to Hit Point Loss: When you drop to 0 hit points or less, you sustain a random injury. (The effects of this injury may well knock you out or kill you, rendering moot the result of your saving throw to remain conscious.)

Being Knocked Out By Hit Point Loss

After falling unconscious due to dropping to 0 hit points or below, your character’s condition is not determined until an ally treats your wounds (via the Heal? skill, with a healing spell or a magic device, etc.). When this occurs, make a Fortitude save (DC 10), with the following modifiers.

Hit Points: Your hit point total applies as a modifier to your Fortitude save.

Treatment: +1 per level of the healing magic used in the treatment (if treated by spell or device), or +1 for every 5 points by which your ally’s Heal? check exceeds DC 15.

Timing: +2 if treated within 1 round of falling unconscious; −3 if treated immediately after the fight; −5 if treated up to 1 hour later; −8 if up to 1 day later; −10 if more than 1 day later.

Saving Throw Results: Success means that your character yet lives; if you were treated with a method that restores hit points (such as a cure spell), you gain the appropriate number of hit points (if this raises your hit points above 0, you also regain consciousness).

Failure means death. The treatment was too little or came too late, and fails to revive you. Only resurrection magic can restore a dead character to life. (See Death & Resurrection? for details.)

No Automatic Failure: Unlike most saving throws, rolling a natural 1 on the saving throw to determine your character’s condition is not an automatic failure.

Untreated Characters: If not treated within 24 hours of falling unconscious, the character must attempt the save anyway, with no bonus for treatment and at the full −10 penalty for timing.

Injuries

Loss of hit points is abstract; sometimes, however, your character may be injured in specific ways. This section describes the causes, and the effects, of such specific injuries.

Causes of Injury

A character may be injured in any of the following ways. Some circumstances that cause a character to be injured inflict a specific sort of injury, while in other cases, the character sustains a randomly determined injury. (See Effects of Injury for more on specific vs. random injuries.)

Staggering Blow: When you take a staggering blow, and fail your Fortitude save to avoid being dazed, you also sustain a random injury.

Total Hit Point Loss: When you take damage sufficient to reduce your hit points to 0 or below (see Losing All Your Hit Points), you also sustain a random injury.

Called Shots: A called shot, if it hits, inflicts an injury upon the targeted body part.

Environmental Hazards: If you take damage from a fall, you also sustain a random injury (see Falling Damage? for details). Certain other environmental hazards can also inflict injuries; see descriptions of each sort of hazard for details.

Traps and Devices: A trapped lock chops at the fingers of the unwary thief; a scything blade emerges from a door and slices at a would-be intruder’s throat; a sphere of annihilation lurks in the recesses of a dark chest, and the dungeon-delver who reaches within finds his whole arm gone. Such and other dangers await adventurers in dungeons, threatening to inflict specific injuries on their victims.

Other Causes: The list above is not exhaustive, and other circumstances may cause a character to sustain an injury (random or specific); such are described where applicable.

Effects of Injury

When your character sustains an injury, the DM consults Table: Injuries and determines the specific injury sustained, and its effects. (Though the table attempts to be comprehensive, the scope of possibilities is vast; so the details of an injury are subject to adjustment at the DM’s discretion, as appropriate to the injury’s cause, the situation, etc.)

Using the Injuries Table: The table may be used in one of three ways, depending on the circumstances which cause the injury to be sustained.

Specific Injury: If an adventurer reaches into a depression in a dungeon wall, only to have his hand sliced off by a hidden blade, this is a specific injury: a severed hand. Entry #55 (“Hand severed or damaged beyond recovery”) describes the consequences. Likewise, with any other specific injury, the DM simply finds the appropriate entry on the table.

Random Injury: When a character sustains a random injury, the DM rolls 1d10 and adds the damage done by the attack that caused the injury. The table entry indicated by the result specifies the injury sustained.

In cases where the rolled result would be nonsensical or inapplicable to the situation (such as “Punctured eardrum” rolled after taking damage from a fall), the DM should find the nearest more-suitable table entry (e.g. “Ankle twisted”).

Random Injury to a Specific Body Part: When a character sustains an unspecified injury to a specific body part (such as when being struck by a called shot), the DM rolls 1d10 and adds the damage done by the attack that caused the injury. The nearest location-appropriate table entry to that indicated by the rolled number specifies the injury sustained. (Example: A character takes 30 points of damage from a called shot to the leg. The DM rolls 1d10 and gets a 6. Entry #36—“Wrist broken”—is inappropriate, but entry #32—”Leg broken”—is suitable, so the DM declares this to be to injury sustained.)

Modifiers to the Random Injury Roll: The following modifiers apply to the random injury roll. (All modifiers are cumulative.)

Called Shot for Massive Damage: If a random injury (to a specific body part or otherwise) is caused by a called shot which deals at least half the target’s current hit point total, +10 is added to the random injury roll.

Dropping to 0 Hit Points: If the injury is caused by an attack that drops the target to 0 hit points or below, +10 is added to the roll.

Nonlethal Damage: If the injury is caused by an attack that deals nonlethal damage, −10 is subtracted from the roll.

Bigger or Smaller Creatures: When rolling a random injury to a creature larger or smaller than Medium size, double the bonus to the roll from damage taken for every size category smaller than Medium, and halve it for every size category larger than Medium.

Injuries Not Listed: Sometimes an injury will be inflicted that cannot be found on the table (such as when a non-human creature sustains an injury—e.g., a monkey injuring its tail). In such cases, the DM should find the most similar injury on the table (either by selecting or by rolling, as appropriate), and extrapolate from there.

Nonlethal Damage

Some attacks (such as a normal human’s unarmed strike—punch, kick, or head butt) may inflict nonlethal damage. Nonlethal damage is subtracted from a character’s hit points just like normal damage. However, nonlethal damage is less likely to inflict injury (see Modifiers to the Random Injury Roll, in the Effects of Injury section, for details) or to cause death.

Note: Even though it’s called “nonlethal” damage, it’s still quite possible (if less likely) to injure or even kill someone with attacks of this kind. To subdue an opponent while guaranteeing that no serious injury befalls him, use the grab combat maneuver, or grapple him.

Being Brought to 0 Hit Points by a Nonlethal Attack: A character brought to 0 hit points or less by an attack that deals nonlethal damage treats his hit point total as up to 10 points higher than it actually is (up to 0) for the purposes of the saving throw to avoid falling unconscious (see Losing All Your Hit Points), as well as the saving throw to avoid death (see Being Knocked Out By Hit Point Loss).

Unaided Recovery From Nonlethal Damage: If left untreated, a character knocked out by nonlethal damage may attempt the save to avoid death an hour after falling unconscious, with a corresponding −5 modifier for timing (see Being Knocked Out By Hit Point Loss for details).

Rousing a Knocked-Out Character: A character knocked out by nonlethal damage may be roused without treatment (by shaking him, for instance, or throwing water in his face); he then makes the save to determine his condition with a −2 modifier for treatment.

Dealing Nonlethal vs. Lethal Damage: Most attacks with weapons (swords, maces, etc.) deal lethal damage. You can use a melee weapon that deals lethal damage to deal nonlethal damage instead, but you take a −4 penalty on your attack roll because you have to use the flat of the blade, strike at nonvital areas, or check your swing.

Conversely, you can use a weapon that deals nonlethal damage, including an unarmed strike, to deal lethal damage instead, but you take a −4 penalty on your attack roll because you have to strike only in the most vulnerable areas to inflict lethal damage.

Healing and Recovery

After taking damage, you can recover hit points naturally, or be healed by magic (or by alchemy, etc.). In any case, you can’t regain hit points past your full normal hit point total.

Natural Healing: If you have a positive hit point total (that is, 1 hit point or more), then with a full night’s rest (8 hours of sleep or more), you recover hit points equal to one hit die per point of Constitution bonus (minimum 1), or one hit die per two character levels (minimum 1), whichever is less. (For example, a 4th-level warrior with a Constitution score of 17 would recover 2d10 hit points with a night’s rest.)

If you have 0 hit points or fewer, a night’s rest restores a number of hit points equal to your Constitution bonus (minimum 1).

With complete bed rest for an entire day and night, you heal twice as much as with only a night’s rest.

Any significant interruption (such as combat or the like) during your rest prevents you from healing that night (or that day).

Assisted Healing: The Heal? skill allows a character to treat wounds, help an ally recover from an injury, etc.

Magical Healing: Various devices and spells, such as a cleric’s cure light wounds spell or a potion of healing, can restore hit points.

Adverse Conditions

Besides physical injury, various adversities can afflict your character, the most common of which are described here. A character may be afflicted with multiple conditions at once, the effects of which stack with each other, except where specified (or where it wouldn’t make sense—an unconscious character suffers no additional penalty for being blind, for instance).

The conditions listed here are grouped into categories, such as fear, visual impairment, etc. Generally, only the most severe condition in each category applies, superseding any less severe conditions of the same kind.

Impaired Vision

Impairments to vision can be due to magic, damage to the eyes, or other reasons. The following are two very common conditions of impaired vision.

Dazzled: Unable to see well, due to overstimulation of the eyes (usually by bright light). Everything has one-quarter concealment.

Blinded: Can’t see at all. Everything has total concealment (with the attendant penalties to Armor Class; attack rolls; Search? checks; any other skills, such as Disable Device?, that involve interacting with objects or the environment; etc.). Other common-sense penalties apply: any task that requires sight (such as reading) fails automatically, etc.

Total darkness effectively blinds characters who can’t see in the dark.

At the DM’s option, a character who remains blinded for a long time may grow accustomed to the drawbacks of blindness, and may learn to overcome some of them.

Impaired Hearing

Impairments to hearing can be due to magic, damage to the ear, overstimulation of hearing by loud sounds, etc.

Deafened: A deafened character can’t hear. She takes a −4 penalty on initiative checks, automatically fails Listen? checks and has a 20% chance of spell failure when casting spells with verbal components (see Casting Spells for details on spell components). Other common-sense penalties apply: understanding speech is effectively impossible (except by reading lips), speaking is difficult (especially in an unfamiliar language), etc.

At the DM’s option, a character who remains deafened for a long time may grow accustomed to the drawbacks of deafness, and may learn to overcome some of them.

Fear

Fear may be induced by magic, by the intimidating presence and actions of (relatively) powerful creatures, etc. Fear is cumulative: for example, a shaken character who suffers a different effect that would also cause him to become shaken, becomes frightened instead.

A character shaken during an encounter typically recovers fully from his fear when the encounter ends. A character frightened or panicked during an encounter typically remains shaken after the encounter ends, for a full turn (10 minutes).

Shaken: The mildest state of fear. A shaken character takes a −2 penalty on attacks, saves, and checks of any sort (skill checks, ability checks, concentration checks, etc.).

Frightened: A more severe state of fear. A frightened character takes double the penalties of a shaken character (−4 to attacks, saves, and checks). If directly confronted (e.g., attacked) by the source of his fear, the character flees at once. A frightened character can use any special abilities he has (flight, teleportation, etc.) to flee. If he can’t flee, however (i.e., if he’s cornered or otherwise prevented from flight), he stands his ground and fights (the penalties remain, of course). Defeating the source of the character’s fear alleviates his condition to shaken, which lasts the rest of the encounter.

Panicked: The terminal state of fear. A panicked character takes all the penalties of a frightened character, and also drops whatever he’s holding and flees. He uses no special abilities (other than his natural movement modes) to flee. When the character has escaped the source of his fear, he stops fleeing and is merely frightened (but panics again if the source of his fear again presents itself). If confronted, a panicked character cowers; he does not defend himself. Defeating the source of the character’s fear alleviates his condition to shaken, which lasts the rest of the encounter.

Cowering: Not a fourth state of fear, but the condition of a panicked character confronted by the source of his fear. A cowering character is frozen in fear, takes no actions, and can’t use any Dexterity, dodge, or shield bonuses to AC or Reflex saves.

Inability to Act

This category includes those conditions that simply prevent a character from taking her full measure of actions in a combat round, whether due to injury, the influence of hostile magic, or other causes.

The staggered, dazed, and stunned conditions typically last for one round, with the character recovering in the subsequent round. Slow and paralysis may last much longer.

Staggered: A character may become staggered by sustaining a staggering blow, by being brought to 0 hit points or below (see Losing All Your Hit Points), or by other means. A staggered character may only take a standard or a move action per round (but not both; nor can she take full-round actions). (See Action Types for details.) The character may also make only one-half (rounded down) as many combat reactions as normal.

Dazed: A character may become dazed by sustaining a staggering blow (and failing her saving throw), or by other means. A dazed character takes no actions (including combat reactions), and can’t use any Dexterity, dodge, or shield bonuses to Armor Class and Reflex saves.

Stunned: A character may be stunned by a monk’s stunning attack, or by other means. Stun has the same effects as daze, with the additional effect that a stunned character drops whatever she’s holding.

Slowed: A character may be slowed by magic, such as the slow? spell. The effects are the same as being staggered.

Paralyzed: Paralysis may be induced by magic (e.g. the hold person? spell), by poison?, by the powers of certain monsters, etc. A paralyzed character is frozen in place and unable to move or act. The character’s Strength and Dexterity scores are effectively 0 (with attendant effects on AC, Reflex saves, etc.). The character can take purely mental actions (such as casting a Still, Silent spell with no material components). A winged creature (or one with otherwise natural means of flight) that’s in the air when paralysis occurs cannot flap its wings, and falls. A paralyzed swimmer can’t swim and may drown. For the purpose of other characters moving through its space, a paralyzed creature is treated as an inanimate obstacle.

Physiological Distress

Strong, foul odors, blows to the vitals or to the head, poison, disease, extreme pain, horrifying or unnatural sights or experiences, etc., may induce distress of this sort.

Sickened: A mild state of distress. A sickened character takes a −2 penalty on attacks, saves, and checks of any sort (skill checks, ability checks, concentration checks, etc.)

Nauseated: Severe distress. A nauseated character takes double the penalties of a sickened character (−4 to attacks, saves, and checks). A nauseated character is unable to attack, cast spells, concentrate on spells, or do anything else requiring attention. The character may only take a move action each round, and cannot make combat reactions.

Incapacitated: Rendered insensate (or nearly so) by extreme bodily distress. The character may be retching uncontrollably, wracked by spasms of pain, experiencing seizures, etc. An incapacitated character falls prone, and takes no actions (including combat reactions). He can’t use any Dexterity, dodge, or shield bonuses to AC or Reflex saves.

Fatigue

Physical or mental exertion, or simply lack of sleep, tires any living creature. States of fatigue are cumulative: if a fatigued character does something that normally causes fatigue, the character becomes exhausted instead, etc. (See Exertion and Rest, in the Adventuring chapter, for details.)

Fatigued: A fatigued character can’t run or charge, and takes a −2 penalty to attack rolls, Armor Class, saving throws, and any skill or ability checks that require attention (such as Listen? or Spot) or involve physical action (such as Athletics). A full night’s rest (8 hours, for creatures of the common races) removes fatigue, as do certain spells and items (such as an instant weekend potion).

Exhausted: An exhausted character moves at half speed, takes double the penalties of a fatigued character, and can only make one-half as many combat reactions as normal. After one hour of complete rest, an exhausted character is only fatigued. Certain spells and items (such as an instant vacation potion) can instantly remove exhaustion.

Enervated: A character may be so worn-out by overexertion that he can take no physical actions. A character typically falls unconscious when he reaches this state (such as when a character who is already exhausted does something which normally causes fatigue or exhaustion). After an hour of sleep, the character is only exhausted. If roused, a character enervated by fatigue may attempt a DC 15 Endurance? check to act as if exhausted; failing this check by 5 or more makes the character pass out.

Impeded Mobility

A character may be ensnared by a rope trap, a giant spider’s web, or the effects of an Evard’s black tentacles? spell; stuck in quicksand or by the contents of a tanglefoot bag; or bound or chained so tightly that he can’t move.

In many cases, the Escape Artist? skill allows a character to free himself. A Strength check may also let a character break his bonds. Physically destroying (with sword or spell) whatever’s holding the character often works as well.

Entangled: The character is ensnared. Being entangled impedes movement, but does not entirely prevent it unless the bonds are anchored to an immobile object or tethered by an opposing force. An entangled creature moves at half speed, cannot run or charge, and takes a −2 penalty on attack rolls, Armor Class, Reflex saves, all Dexterity-based skill and ability checks (except for Escape Artist?), and any other rolls that involve physical movement. An entangled character who attempts to cast a spell must make a concentration check (DC 15 + 2 × the spell’s level) or lose the spell.

Escaping from entanglement is usually a full-round action; see the descriptions of a particular effect, or consult your DM, for details.

Stuck: This is not a separate condition; it refers to an entangled character whose bonds are anchored to an immobile object (and who therefore can’t move), or one who is tethered by an opposing force (in which case movement may be possible by succeeding at an opposed Strength check).

Immobilized: The character is so thoroughly bound, chained, or otherwise constrained that he cannot make any movements. An immobilized character is helpless while his bonds hold, but may be able to attempt Strength checks or Escape Artist? checks to escape. The character’s condition is otherwise the same as being paralyzed.

Bleeding

Although any attack that deals hit point damage may be assumed to sometimes draw blood, such cuts, scrapes, and so forth are superficial, and the bleeding from them clots quickly enough to be negligible for game purposes. In some cases, however, a character may sustain deep lacerations or other serious wounds that continue to bleed. Bleeding wounds may result from certain sorts of injuries, from special attacks that specifically inflict bleed (such as the Bloody Assault feat), or from other causes.

Creatures that are immune to critical hits, have no discernible anatomy, etc., cannot sustain bleeding wounds.

Effects of Bleeding

Bleeding damages Constitution—that is, loss of blood causes a character to advance on the Constitution damage track?. For each bleeding wound sustained, a character incurs a certain chance each round to advance one step of Con damage.

Bleeding Wound Severity: A bleeding wound’s severity is given by a die: 1d2, 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d12, or 1d20. At the start of each round of combat, for every bleeding wound a character currently has, the character rolls that wound’s die; on a roll of 1, he advances one step of Con damage. (This means that higher die sizes represent less severe bleeding wounds; a character with a 1d2 bleeding wound has a 50% chance per round of advancing one step of Con damage, while a character with a 1d20 bleeding wound—which may represent a small cut, or a more serious laceration that has mostly clotted—has only a 5% chance per round of advancing one step of Con damage.)

Very Severe Bleeding Wounds: Some bleeding wounds are so severe that instead of a die, their severity is given by a whole number (1, 2, 3, etc.). A character with such a wound simply advances that many steps of Con damage each round, with no random roll. (Thus higher numbers mean greater severity.) Wounds this dire (which may result from e.g. getting one’s throat slit) must be treated immediately, lest the character bleed out in seconds.

Multiple Bleeding Wounds: Multiple bleeding wounds are cumulative; a character who has sustained multiple bleeding wounds rolls each wound’s die (if applicable) individually, and takes Constitution damage, if any, from each of them. (This means that an unlucky character who has sustained multiple bleeding wounds may quickly die of blood loss.)

How Bleeding Stops

A character who’s engaging in strenuous activity (such as attacking, casting spells, almost any other combat action that is done as a standard or full-round action, as well as any movement action that requires using movement skills—climbing, jumping, etc.) continues to bleed indefinitely (until he dies, or until his bleeding is treated magically); there is no chance at all that his bleeding will stop on its own.

A character who refrains from strenuous activity may, at the start of each round in which he has one or more bleeding wounds, make a Fortitude save (DC 20) for each bleeding wound. Success means that the wound becomes one step less severe. (If the wound’s severity is 2 or higher, subtract 1; if it’s 1, it now becomes 1d2; if the severity is given by a die, the die grows one step—1d2 becomes 1d4, 1d8 becomes 1d12, etc. A successful save for a bleeding wound of severity 1d20 causes that wound to stop bleeding entirely.) For every 5 points by which the character beats the DC, the wound becomes one additional step less severe. The effects of bleeding wounds in a combat round are applied after the character makes his Fortitude saves to reduce the wounds’ severity (if he’s able to do so).

A character who takes a movement action that doesn’t require using movement skills (a normal move, standing up from prone, etc.), but no other strenuous actions, may make saves to reduce the severity of his bleeding wounds, but takes a −4 penalty on those saves.

Out of combat, any bleeding wound of severity 1d20 (i.e., the lowest possible severity) is assumed to stop bleeding on its own, without inflicting any further Con damage, if the character takes a minute to rest. The same applies to bleeding wounds of severity 1d20 that a character has when a combat encounter finishes. (More severe bleeding wounds function as described above, even out of combat.)

Treating a Bleeding Wound

Using the Heal Skill: The Heal? skill can be used to treat bleeding wounds. A successful check grants the bleeding character a bonus on his save to reduce the severity of the bleeding wound (see the Heal? skill description for details). A character may only treat one wound per round (normally, the most severe bleeding wound should be treated first).

Magical Healing: TBD

Combat Modifiers

Sometimes you just have to go toe-to-toe in a fight, but you can usually gain some advantage by seeking a better position, either offensively or defensively. This section covers the rules for when you can line up a particularly good attack or are forced to make a disadvantageous one.

Favorable and Unfavorable Conditions

Depending on the situation, you may gain bonuses or take penalties on your attack rolls, your Armor Class, your saving throws, or other combat statistics. Generally, any situational modifier created by the attacker’s overall ability to make successful attacks in that round applies to the attack roll, while any situational modifier created by the relative positions of attacker and defender, the state of combat, or tactics, applies to the defender’s AC. Your DM judges what bonuses and penalties apply, using the rules in this section (including Table: Combat Modifiers) as guides.

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Combat