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Combat is cyclical; everybody acts in turn in a regular cycle of rounds.
Combat follows this sequence:
1. Each combatant starts out flat-footed. Once
a combatant acts, he or she is no longer flat-footed.
2. Determine which
characters are aware of their opponents at the start of the battle. If some but
not all of the combatants are aware of their opponents, a surprise round happens
before regular rounds of combat begin. The combatants who are aware of the
opponents can act in the surprise round, so they roll for initiative. In
initiative order (highest to lowest), combatants who started the battle aware of
their opponents each take one action (either a standard action or a move action)
during the surprise round. Combatants who were unaware do not get to act in the
surprise round. If no one or everyone starts the battle aware, there is no
3. Combatants who have not yet rolled initiative do so. All
combatants are now ready to begin their first regular round of combat.
Combatants act in initiative order (highest to lowest).
5. When everyone has
had a turn, the combatant with the highest initiative acts again, and steps 4
and 5 repeat until combat ends.
This section summarizes the statistics that determine
success in combat, and then details how to use
roll represents your attempt to strike your opponent on your turn in a round.
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.
Your attack bonus
with a melee weapon is:
Base attack bonus + Strength modifier + size
With a ranged weapon, your attack bonus is:
Base attack bonus +
Dexterity modifier + size modifier + range penalty
Table: Size Modifiers
When your attack succeeds, you deal damage. The type of
weapon used determines the amount of damage you deal. Effects that modify weapon
damage apply to unarmed strikes and the natural physical attack forms of
Damage reduces a target’s current hit points.
Damage: If penalties reduce the damage result to less than 1, a hit still
deals 1 point of damage.
Strength Bonus: When you hit with a melee or thrown
weapon, including a sling, add your Strength modifier to the damage result. A
Strength penalty, but not a bonus, applies on attacks made with a bow that is
not a composite bow.
Off-Hand Weapon: When you deal damage with a
weapon in your off hand, you add only 1/2 your Strength bonus.
Weapon Two-Handed: When you deal damage with a weapon that you are wielding
two-handed, you add 1-1/2 times your Strength bonus. However, you don’t
get this higher Strength bonus when using a light weapon with two
Multiplying Damage: Sometimes you multiply damage by some
factor, such as on a critical hit. 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
Exception: Extra damage dice over and above a weapon’s
normal damage are never multiplied.
Ability Damage: Certain creatures
and magical effects can cause temporary ability damage (a reduction to an
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. Your AC is equal to
the following: 10 + armor bonus + shield bonus + Dexterity modifier + size
Note that armor limits your Dexterity bonus, so if you’re
wearing armor, you might not be able to apply your whole Dexterity bonus to your
Sometimes you can’t use your Dexterity bonus (if you have one). If
you can’t react to a blow, you can’t use your Dexterity bonus to AC.
(If you don’t have a Dexterity bonus, nothing happens.)
Modifiers: Many other factors modify your AC.
Enhancement effects make your armor better.
Magical deflection effects ward off attacks and improve your
Natural Armor: Natural armor improves your AC.
Bonuses: Some other AC bonuses represent actively avoiding blows. These
bonuses are called dodge bonuses. Any situation that denies you your Dexterity
bonus also denies you dodge bonuses. (Wearing armor, however, does not limit
these bonuses the way it limits a Dexterity bonus to AC.) Unlike most sorts of
bonuses, dodge bonuses stack with each other.
Touch Attacks: Some
attacks disregard armor, including shields and natural armor. 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 bonus,
shield bonus, or natural armor bonus. All other modifiers, such as your size
modifier, Dexterity modifier, and deflection bonus (if any) apply
When your hit point total reaches 0, you’re
disabled. When it reaches –1, you’re dying. When it gets to
–10, you’re dead.
Your speed tells you how far you
can move in a round and still do something, such as attack or cast a spell. Your
speed depends mostly on your race and what armor you’re
Dwarves, gnomes, and halflings have a speed of 20 feet (4 squares),
or 15 feet (3 squares) when wearing medium or heavy armor (except for dwarves,
who move 20 feet in any armor).
Humans, elves, half-elves, and half-orcs have
a speed of 30 feet (6 squares), or 20 feet (4 squares) in medium or heavy
If you use two move actions in a round (sometimes called a
“double move” action), you can move up to double your speed. If you
spend the entire round to run all out, you can move up to quadruple your speed
(or triple if you are in heavy armor).
you are subject to an unusual or magical attack, you get a saving throw 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
Saving Throw Types:
The three different kinds of saving throws are Fortitude, Reflex, and
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.
saves test your ability to dodge area attacks. Apply your Dexterity modifier to
your Reflex saving throws.
Will: These saves reflect your resistance
to mental influence as well as many magical effects. Apply your Wisdom modifier
to your Will saving throws.
Saving Throw Difficulty Class: The DC for
a save is determined by the attack itself.
Automatic Failures and
Successes: A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on a saving throw is always a
failure (and may cause damage to exposed items; see Items Surviving after a
Saving Throw). A natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is always a
Initiative Checks: At
the start of a battle, each combatant makes an initiative check. An initiative
check is a Dexterity check. Each character applies his or her Dexterity modifier
to the roll. Characters act in order, counting down from highest result to
lowest. In every round that follows, the characters act in the same order
(unless a character takes an action that results in his or her initiative
changing; see Special Initiative Actions).
If two or more combatants have the
same initiative check result, the combatants who are tied act in order of total
initiative modifier (highest first). If there is still a tie, the tied
characters should roll again to determine which one of them goes before the
Flat-Footed: At the start of a battle, before you have had a
chance to act (specifically, before your first regular turn in the initiative
order), you are flat-footed. You can’t use your Dexterity bonus to AC (if
any) while flat-footed. Barbarians and rogues have the uncanny dodge
extraordinary ability, which allows them to avoid losing their Dexterity bonus
to AC due to being flat-footed.
A flat-footed character can’t make
attacks of opportunity.
Inaction: Even if you can’t take
actions, you retain your initiative score for the duration of the
When a combat starts, if you are not aware of your
opponents and they are aware of you, you’re surprised.
Sometimes all the combatants on a side are aware of their
opponents, sometimes none are, and sometimes only some of them are. Sometimes a
few combatants on each side are aware and the other combatants on each side are
Determining awareness may call for Listen checks, Spot checks, or
The Surprise Round: If some but not all of the
combatants are aware of their opponents, a surprise round happens before regular
rounds begin. Any combatants aware of the opponents can act in the surprise
round, so they roll for initiative. In initiative order (highest to lowest),
combatants who started the battle aware of their opponents each take a standard
action during the surprise round. You can also take free actions during the
surprise round. If no one or everyone is surprised, no surprise round
Unaware Combatants: Combatants who are unaware at the start of
battle don’t get to act in the surprise round. Unaware combatants are
flat-footed because they have not acted yet, so they lose any Dexterity bonus to
ATTACKS OF OPPORTUNITY
Sometimes a combatant in a melee lets her guard down. In this case,
combatants near her can take advantage of her lapse in defense to attack her for
free. These free attacks are called attacks of opportunity.
Squares: You threaten all squares into which you can make a melee attack,
even when it is not your action. Generally, that means everything in all squares
adjacent to your space (including diagonally). An enemy that takes certain
actions while in a threatened square provokes an attack of opportunity from you.
If you’re unarmed, you don’t normally threaten any squares and thus
can’t make attacks of opportunity.
Reach Weapons: Most creatures
of Medium or smaller size have a reach of only 5 feet. This means that they can
make melee attacks only against creatures up to 5 feet (1 square) away. However,
Small and Medium creatures wielding reach weapons threaten more squares than a
typical creature. In addition, most creatures larger than Medium have a natural
reach of 10 feet or more.
Provoking an Attack of Opportunity: Two
kinds of actions can provoke attacks of opportunity: moving out of a threatened
square and performing an action within a threatened square.
Moving out of a threatened square usually provokes an attack of opportunity
from the threatening opponent. There are two common methods of avoiding such an
attack—the 5-foot-step and the withdraw action (see
Performing a Distracting Act: Some actions, when performed in
a threatened square, provoke attacks of opportunity as you divert your attention
from the battle. Table: Actions in Combat notes many of the actions that provoke
attacks of opportunity.
Remember that even actions that normally provoke
attacks of opportunity may have exceptions to this rule.
Making an Attack
of Opportunity: An attack of opportunity is a single melee attack, and you
can only make one per round. You don’t have to make an attack of
opportunity if you don’t want to.
An experienced character gets
additional regular melee attacks (by using the full attack action), but at a
lower attack bonus. You make your attack of opportunity, however, at your normal
attack bonus—even if you’ve already attacked in the round.
attack of opportunity “interrupts” the normal flow of actions in the
round. If an attack of opportunity is provoked, immediately resolve the attack
of opportunity, then continue with the next character’s turn (or complete
the current turn, if the attack of opportunity was provoked in the midst of a
Combat Reflexes and Additional Attacks of
Opportunity: If you have the Combat Reflexes feat you can add your Dexterity
modifier to the number of attacks of opportunity you can make in a round. This
feat does not let you make more than one attack for a given opportunity, but if
the same opponent provokes two attacks of opportunity from you, you could make
two separate attacks of opportunity (since each one represents a different
opportunity). Moving out of more than one square threatened by the same opponent
in the same round doesn’t count as more than one opportunity for that
opponent. All these attacks are at your full normal attack
ACTIONS IN COMBAT
Each round represents 6 seconds in the game world. A round presents an
opportunity for each character involved in a combat situation to take an action.
Each round’s activity begins with the character with the highest
initiative result and then proceeds, in order, from there. Each round of a
combat uses the same initiative order. When a character’s turn comes up in
the initiative sequence, that character performs his entire round’s worth
of actions. (For exceptions, see Attacks of Opportunity and Special Initiative
For almost all purposes, there is no relevance to the end of a
round or the beginning of a round. A round can be a segment of game time
starting with the first character to act and ending with the last, but it
usually means a span of time from one round to the same initiative count in the
next round. Effects that last a certain number of rounds end just before the
same initiative count that they began on.
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 four types of actions: standard actions, move actions, full-round
actions, and free actions.
In a normal round, you can perform a standard
action and a move action, or you can perform a full-round action. You can also
perform one or more free actions. You can always take a move action in place of
a standard action.
In some situations (such as in a surprise round), you may
be limited to taking only a single move action or standard
Standard Action: A standard action allows you to do something,
most commonly make an attack or cast a spell. See Table: Actions in Combat for
other standard actions.
Move Action: A move action allows you to move
your speed or perform an action that takes a similar amount of time. See Table:
Actions in Combat.
You can take a move action in place of a standard action.
If you move no actual distance in a round (commonly because you have swapped
your move for one or more equivalent actions), you can take one 5-foot step
either before, during, or after the 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 5-foot step before, during, or after
the action. You can also perform free actions (see below).
actions do not allow you to take a 5-foot step.
Some full-round actions can
be taken as standard actions, but only in situations when you are limited to
performing only a standard action during your round. The descriptions of
specific actions, below, detail which actions allow this option.
Action: Free actions consume a very small amount of time and effort. You can
perform one or more free actions while taking another action normally. However,
there are reasonable limits on what you can really do for free.
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.
Activity: In some situations, 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 (though you can start or complete a
full-round action by using a standard action; see below).
Table: Actions in Combat
Attack of Opportunity1
Activate a magic item other than a potion or oil
Cast a spell (1 standard action casting time)
Concentrate to maintain an active spell
Dismiss a spell
Draw a hidden weapon (see Sleight of Hand skill)
Drink a potion or apply an oil
Escape a grapple
Light a torch with a tindertwig
Lower spell resistance
Make a dying friend stable (see Heal skill)
Read a scroll
Ready (triggers a standard action)
Sunder a weapon (attack)
Sunder an object (attack)
Turn or rebuke undead
Use extraordinary ability
Use skill that takes 1 action
Use spell-like ability
Use supernatural ability
Attack of Opportunity1
Control a frightened mount
Direct or redirect an active spell
Draw a weapon4
Load a hand crossbow or light crossbow
Open or close a door
Mount a horse or dismount
Move a heavy object
Pick up an item
Sheathe a weapon
Stand up from prone
Ready or loose a shield4
Retrieve a stored item
Attack of Opportunity1
Deliver coup de grace
Escape from a net
Light a torch
Load a heavy or repeating crossbow
Lock or unlock weapon in locked gauntlet
Prepare to throw splash weapon
Use skill that takes 1 round
Use touch spell on up to six friends
Attack of Opportunity1
Cast a quickened spell
Cease concentration on a spell
Drop an item
Drop to the floor
Prepare spell components to cast a spell6
Attack of Opportunity1
Action Type Varies
Trip an opponent7
1 Regardless of the action, if you move out of a threatened square, you
usually provoke an attack of opportunity. This column indicates whether the
action itself, not moving, provokes an attack of opportunity.
2 If you aid someone performing an action that would normally provoke an
attack of opportunity, then the act of aiding another provokes an attack of
opportunity as well.
3 If the object is being held, carried, or worn by a creature, yes. If not,
4 If you have a base attack bonus of +1 or higher, you can combine one of
these actions 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.
5 May be taken as a standard action if you are limited to taking only a
single action in a round.
6 Unless the component is an extremely large or awkward item.
7 These attack forms substitute for a melee attack, not an action. As melee
attacks, they can be used once in an attack or charge action, one or more times
in a full attack action, or even as an attack of opportunity.
8 The description of a feat defines its effect.
Making an attack is a standard action.
Melee Attacks: With a
normal melee weapon, you can strike any opponent within 5 feet. (Opponents
within 5 feet are considered adjacent to you.) Some melee weapons have reach, as
indicated in their descriptions. With a typical reach weapon, you can strike
opponents 10 feet away, but you can’t strike adjacent foes (those within 5
Unarmed Attacks: Striking for damage with punches, kicks, and
head butts is much like attacking with a melee weapon, except for the
Attacks of Opportunity: Attacking unarmed provokes an
attack of opportunity from the character you attack, provided she is armed. The
attack of opportunity comes before your attack. An unarmed attack does not
provoke attacks of opportunity from other foes nor does it provoke an attack of
opportunity from an unarmed foe.
An unarmed character can’t take
attacks of opportunity (but see “Armed” Unarmed Attacks,
“Armed” Unarmed Attacks: Sometimes a
character’s or creature’s unarmed attack counts as an armed attack.
A monk, a character with the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, a spellcaster
delivering a touch attack spell, and a creature with natural physical weapons
all count as being armed.
Note that being armed counts for both offense and
defense (the character can make attacks of opportunity)
Damage: An unarmed strike from a Medium character deals 1d3 points of damage
(plus your Strength modifier, as normal). A Small character’s unarmed
strike deals 1d2 points of damage, while a Large character’s unarmed
strike deals 1d4 points of damage. All damage from unarmed strikes is nonlethal
damage. Unarmed strikes count as light weapons (for purposes of two-weapon
attack penalties and so on).
Dealing Lethal Damage: You can specify
that your unarmed strike will deal lethal damage before you make your attack
roll, but you take a –4 penalty on your attack roll. If you have the
Improved Unarmed Strike feat, you can deal lethal damage with an unarmed strike
without taking a penalty on the attack roll.
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. The maximum range for a
thrown weapon is five range increments. For projectile weapons, it is ten range
increments. Some ranged weapons have shorter maximum ranges, as specified in
Attack Rolls: An attack roll represents your
attempts to strike your opponent.
Your attack roll is 1d20 + your attack
bonus with the weapon you’re using. If the result is at least as high as
the target’s AC, you hit and deal damage.
Automatic Misses and
Hits: A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on the 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.
Damage Rolls: If the attack roll
result equals or exceeds the target’s AC, the attack hits and you deal
damage. Roll the appropriate damage for your weapon. Damage is deducted from the
target’s current hit points.
Multiple Attacks: A character who
can make more than one attack per round must use the full attack action (see
Full-Round Actions, below) in order to get more than one attack.
or Throwing into a Melee: If you shoot or throw a ranged weapon at a target
engaged in melee with a friendly character, you take a –4 penalty on your
attack roll. Two characters are engaged in melee if they are enemies of each
other and either threatens the other. (An unconscious or otherwise immobilized
character is not considered engaged unless he is actually being attacked.)
your target (or the part of your target you’re aiming at, if it’s a
big target) is at least 10 feet away from the nearest friendly character, you
can avoid the –4 penalty, even if the creature you’re aiming at is
engaged in melee with a friendly character.
Precise Shot: If you have
the Precise Shot feat you don’t take this penalty.
Defensively as a Standard Action: You can choose to fight defensively when
attacking. If you do so, you take a –4 penalty on all attacks in a round
to gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC for the same round.
Critical Hits: When
you make an attack roll and get a natural 20 (the d20 shows 20), you hit
regardless of your target’s Armor Class, and you have scored a threat. The
hit might be a critical hit (or “crit”). To find out if it’s a
critical hit, you immediately make a critical roll—another attack roll
with all the same modifiers as the attack roll you just made. If the critical
roll also results in a hit against the target’s AC, your original hit is a
critical hit. (The critical roll just needs to hit to give you a crit. It
doesn’t need to come up 20 again.) If the critical roll is a miss, then
your hit is just a regular hit.
A critical hit means that you roll your
damage more than once, with all your usual bonuses, and add the rolls together.
Unless otherwise specified, the threat range for a critical hit on an attack
roll is 20, and the multiplier is x2.
Exception: Extra damage
over and above a weapon’s normal damage is not multiplied when you score a
Increased Threat Range: Sometimes your threat
range is greater than 20. That is, you can score a threat on a lower number. In
such cases, a roll of lower than 20 is not an automatic hit. Any attack roll
that doesn’t result in a hit is not a threat.
Multiplier: Some weapons deal better than double damage on a critical
Spells and Critical Hits: A spell that requires an attack roll
can score a critical hit. A spell attack that requires no attack roll
cannot score a critical hit.
Cast a Spell
Most spells require 1 standard action to cast. You can cast such a spell
either before or after you take a move action.
Note: You retain your
Dexterity bonus to AC while casting.
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. 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.
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 preparing
these materials 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 spell
Some spells have an experience point (XP) component and
entail an experience point cost to you. No spell can restore the lost XP. You
cannot spend so much XP that you lose a level, so you cannot cast the spell
unless you have enough XP to spare. However, you may, on gaining enough XP to
achieve a new level, immediately spend the XP on casting the spell rather than
keeping it to advance a level. The XP are expended when you cast the spell,
whether or not the casting succeeds.
Concentration: You must
concentrate to cast a spell. If you can’t concentrate you can’t cast
a spell. If you start casting a spell but something interferes with your
concentration you must make a Concentration check or lose the spell. The
check’s DC depends on what is threatening your concentration (see the
Concentration skill). If you fail, the spell fizzles with no effect. If you
prepare spells, it is lost from preparation. If you cast at will, it counts
against your daily limit of spells even though you did not cast it
Concentrating to Maintain a Spell: Some spells require
continued concentration to keep them going. Concentrating to maintain a spell is
a standard action that doesn’t provoke an attack of opportunity. 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
Casting Time: Most spells have a casting time of 1 standard
action. A spell cast in this manner immediately takes effect.
Opportunity: Generally, if you cast a spell, you provoke attacks of
opportunity from threatening enemies. If you take damage from an attack of
opportunity, you must make a Concentration check (DC 10 + points of damage taken
+ spell level) or lose the spell. Spells that require only a free action to cast
don’t provoke attacks of opportunity.
Casting on the Defensive:
Casting a spell while on the defensive does not provoke an attack of
opportunity. It does, however, require a Concentration check (DC 15 + spell
level) to pull off. Failure means that you lose the spell.
Touch Spells in
Combat: Many spells 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.
Touch Attacks: Touching
an opponent with a touch spell is considered to be an armed attack and therefore
does not provoke attacks of opportunity. However, the act of casting a spell
does provoke an attack of opportunity. Touch attacks come in two types: melee
touch attacks and ranged touch attacks. You can score critical hits with either
type of attack. Your opponent’s AC against a touch attack does not include
any armor bonus, shield bonus, or natural armor bonus. His size modifier,
Dexterity modifier, and deflection bonus (if any) all apply
Holding the Charge: If you don’t discharge the spell
in the round when you cast the spell, you can hold the discharge of the spell
(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. Alternatively, you may make a normal unarmed attack (or an
attack with a natural weapon) while holding a charge. In this case, you
aren’t considered armed and you provoke attacks of opportunity as normal
for the attack. (If your unarmed attack or natural weapon attack doesn’t
provoke attacks of opportunity, neither does this attack.) 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
Dismiss a Spell: Dismissing an active spell is a standard
action that doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity.
Activate Magic Item
Many magic items don’t need to be activated. However, certain magic
items need to be activated, especially potions, scrolls, wands, rods, and
staffs. Activating a magic item is a standard action (unless the item
description indicates otherwise).
Spell Completion Items: Activating a
spell completion item is the equivalent of casting a spell. It requires
concentration and provokes attacks of opportunity. You lose the spell if your
concentration is broken, and you can attempt to activate the item while on the
defensive, as with casting a spell.
Spell Trigger, Command Word, or
Use-Activated Items: Activating any of these kinds of items does not require
concentration and does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
Use Special Ability
Using a special ability is usually a standard action, but whether it is a
standard action, a full-round action, or not an action at all is defined by the
Spell-Like Abilities: Using a spell-like ability works like
casting a spell in that it requires concentration and provokes attacks of
opportunity. Spell-like abilities can be disrupted. If your concentration is
broken, the attempt to use the ability fails, but the attempt counts as if you
had used the ability. The casting time of a spell-like ability is 1 standard
action, unless the ability description notes otherwise.
Using a Spell-Like
Ability on the Defensive: You may attempt to use a spell-like ability on the
defensive, just as with casting a spell. If the Concentration check (DC 15 +
spell level) fails, you can’t use the ability, but the attempt counts as
if you had used the ability.
Supernatural Abilities: Using a
supernatural ability is usually a standard action (unless defined otherwise by
the ability’s description). Its use cannot be disrupted, does not require
concentration, and does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
Abilities: Using an extraordinary ability is usually not an action because
most extraordinary abilities automatically happen in a reactive fashion. Those
extraordinary abilities that are actions are usually standard actions that
cannot be disrupted, do not require concentration, and do not provoke attacks of
You can defend yourself as a standard action. You get a +4 dodge bonus to
your AC for 1 round. Your AC improves at the start of this action. You
can’t combine total defense with fighting defensively or with the benefit
of the Combat Expertise feat (since both of those require you to declare an
attack or full attack). You can’t make attacks of opportunity while using
Start/Complete Full-Round Action
The “start full-round action” standard action lets you start
undertaking a full-round action, which you can complete in the following round
by using another standard action. You can’t use this action to start or
complete a full attack, charge, run, or withdraw.
the exception of specific movement-related skills, most move actions don’t
require a check.
The simplest move action is moving your speed. If you take this kind of
move action during your turn, you can’t also take a 5-foot step.
nonstandard modes of movement are covered under this category, including
climbing (up to one-quarter of your speed) and swimming (up to one-quarter of
Accelerated Climbing: You can climb one-half your speed
as a move action by accepting a –5 penalty on your Climb
Crawling: You can crawl 5 feet as a move action. Crawling
incurs attacks of opportunity from any attackers who threaten you at any point
of your crawl.
Draw or Sheathe a Weapon
Drawing a weapon so that you can use it in combat, or putting it away so
that you have a free hand, requires a move action. This action also applies to
weapon-like objects carried in easy reach, such as wands. If your weapon or
weapon-like object is stored in a pack or otherwise out of easy reach, treat
this action as retrieving a stored item.
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
Drawing ammunition for use with a ranged weapon (such as arrows, bolts,
sling bullets, or shuriken) is a free action.
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
Dropping a carried (but not worn) shield is a free
Manipulate an Item
In most cases, moving or manipulating an item is a move action.
includes retrieving or putting away a stored item, picking up an item, moving a
heavy object, and opening a door. Examples of this kind of action, along with
whether they incur an attack of opportunity, are given in Table: Actions in
Direct or Redirect a Spell
Some spells 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 provoke attacks of opportunity or require concentration.
Standing up from a prone position requires a move action and provokes
attacks of opportunity.
Mount/Dismount a Steed
Mounting or dismounting from a steed requires a move action.
Mount or Dismount: You can mount or dismount as a free action with a DC 20
Ride check (your armor check penalty, if any, applies to this check). If you
fail the check, mounting or dismounting is a move action instead. (You
can’t attempt a fast mount or fast dismount unless you can perform the
mount or dismount as a move action in the current round.)
A full-round action requires an entire round to complete. Thus, it
can’t be coupled with a standard or a move action, though if it does not
involve moving any distance, you can take a 5-foot step.
If you get more than one attack per round because your base attack bonus is
high enough, because you fight with two weapons or a double weapon or for some
special reason you must use a full-round action to get your additional attacks.
You do not need to specify the targets of your attacks ahead of time. You can
see how the earlier attacks turn out before assigning the later ones.
only movement you can take during a full attack is a 5-foot step. You may take
the step before, after, or between your attacks.
If you get multiple attacks
because your base attack bonus is high enough, you must make the attacks in
order from highest bonus to lowest. If you are using two weapons, you can strike
with either weapon first. If you are using a double weapon, you can strike with
either part of the weapon first.
Deciding between an Attack or a Full
Attack: After your first attack, you can decide to take a move action
instead of making your remaining attacks, depending on how the first attack
turns out. If you’ve already taken a 5-foot step, you can’t use your
move action to move any distance, but you could still use a different kind of
Fighting Defensively as a Full-Round Action: You can
choose to fight defensively when taking a full attack action. If you do so, you
take a –4 penalty on all attacks in a round to gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC
for the same round.
Cleave: The extra attack granted by the Cleave
feat or Great Cleave feat can be taken whenever they apply. This is an exception
to the normal limit to the number of attacks you can take when not using a full
Cast a Spell
A spell that takes 1 round to cast is a full-round action. It comes into
effect just before the beginning of your turn in the round after you began
casting the spell. You then act normally after the spell is completed.
spell that takes 1 minute to cast comes into effect just before your turn 1
minute later (and for each of those 10 rounds, you are casting a spell as a
full-round action). These actions must be consecutive and uninterrupted, or the
spell automatically fails.
When you begin a spell that takes 1 round or
longer to cast, you must continue the invocations, gestures, and concentration
from one round to just before your turn in the next round (at least). If you
lose concentration after starting the spell and before it is complete, you lose
You only provoke attacks of opportunity when you begin casting a
spell, even though you might continue casting for at least one full round. While
casting a spell, you don’t threaten any squares around you.
is otherwise identical to the cast a spell action described under Standard
Casting a Metamagic Spell: Sorcerers and bards must take more
time to cast a metamagic spell (one enhanced by a metamagic feat) than a regular
spell. If a spell’s normal casting time is 1 standard action, casting a
metamagic version of the spell is a full-round action for a sorcerer or bard.
Note that this isn’t the same as a spell with a 1-round casting
time—the spell takes effect in the same round that you begin casting, and
you aren’t required to continue the invocations, gestures, and
concentration until your next turn. For spells with a longer casting time, it
takes an extra full-round action to cast the metamagic spell.
take more time to spontaneously cast a metamagic version of a cure or
inflict spell. Spontaneously casting a metamagic version of a
spell with a casting time of 1 standard action is a full-round action, and
spells with longer casting times take an extra full-round action to
Use Special Ability
Using a special ability is usually a standard action, but some may be
full-round actions, as defined by the ability.
Withdrawing from melee combat is a full-round action. When you withdraw,
you can move up to double your speed. The square you start out in is not
considered threatened by any opponent you can see, and therefore visible enemies
do not get attacks of opportunity against you when you move from that square.
(Invisible enemies still get attacks of opportunity against you, and you
can’t withdraw from combat if you’re blinded.) You can’t take
a 5-foot step during the same round in which you withdraw.
If, during the
process of withdrawing, you move out of a threatened square (other than the one
you started in), enemies get attacks of opportunity as normal.
You may not
withdraw using a form of movement for which you don’t have a listed speed.
Note that despite the name of this action, you don’t actually have to
leave combat entirely.
Restricted Withdraw: If you are limited to
taking only a standard action each round you can withdraw as a standard action.
In this case, you may move up to your speed (rather than up to double your
You can run as a full-round action. (If you do, you do not also get a
5-foot step.) When you run, you can move up to four times your speed in a
straight line (or three times your speed if you’re in heavy armor). You
lose any Dexterity bonus to AC unless you have the Run feat
You can run for
a number of rounds equal to your Constitution score, but after that you must
make a DC 10 Constitution 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 for
each check you have made. When you fail this check, you must stop running. A
character who has run to his limit must rest for 1 minute (10 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 if you
can’t see where you’re going.
A run represents a speed of about
12 miles per hour for an unencumbered human.
Move 5 Feet through Difficult Terrain
In some situations, your movement may be so hampered that you don’t
have sufficient speed even to move 5 feet (a single square). In such a case, you
may spend a full-round action to move 5 feet (1 square) in any direction, even
diagonally. Even though this looks like a 5-foot step, it’s not, and thus
it provokes attacks of opportunity normally.
don’t take any time at all, though there may be limits to the number of
free actions you can perform in a turn. Free actions rarely incur attacks of
opportunity. Some common free actions are described below.
Drop an Item
Dropping an item in your space or into an adjacent square is a free
Dropping to a prone position in your space is a free action.
In general, speaking is a free action that you can perform even when it
isn’t your turn. Speaking more than few sentences is generally beyond the
limit of a free action.
Cease Concentration on Spell
You can stop concentrating on an active spell as a free
Cast a Quickened Spell
You can cast a quickened spell (see the Quicken Spell feat) or any spell
whose casting time is designated as a free action as a free action. Only one
such spell can be cast in any round, and such spells don’t count toward
your normal limit of one spell per round. Casting a spell with a casting time of
a free action doesn’t incur an attack of opportunity.
Take 5-Foot Step
You can move 5 feet in any round when you don’t perform any other
kind of movement. Taking this 5-foot step never provokes an attack of
opportunity. You can’t take more than one 5-foot step in a round, and you
can’t take a 5-foot step in the same round when you move any
You can take a 5-foot step before, during, or after your other
actions in the round.
You can only take a 5-foot-step if your movement
isn’t hampered by difficult terrain or darkness. Any creature with a speed
of 5 feet or less can’t take a 5-foot step, since moving even 5 feet
requires a move action for such a slow creature.
You may not take a 5-foot
step using a form of movement for which you do not have a listed speed.
Certain feats let you take special actions in combat. Other feats do not
require actions themselves, but they give you a bonus when attempting something
you can already do. Some feats are not meant to be used within the framework of
combat. The individual feat descriptions tell you what you need to know about
Most skill uses are standard actions, but some might be move actions,
full-round actions, free actions, or something else entirely.
skill descriptions tell you what sorts of actions are required to perform
INJURY AND DEATH
Your hit points measure
how hard you are to kill. No matter how many hit points you lose, your character
isn’t hindered in any way until your hit points drop to 0 or
LOSS OF HIT POINTS
The most common way that your character gets
hurt is to take lethal damage and lose hit points
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.
Effects of Hit Point Damage: Damage doesn’t
slow you down until your current hit points reach 0 or lower. At 0 hit points,
At from –1 to –9 hit points, you’re
At –10 or lower, you’re dead.
Massive Damage: If
you ever sustain a single attack deals 50 points of damage or more and it
doesn’t kill you outright, you must make a DC 15 Fortitude save. If this
saving throw fails, you die regardless of your current hit points. If you take
50 points of damage or more from multiple attacks, no one of which dealt 50 or
more points of damage itself, the massive damage rule does not
DISABLED (0 HIT POINTS)
When your current hit points drop to
exactly 0, you’re disabled.
You can only take a single move or standard
action each turn (but not both, nor can you take full-round actions). You can
take move actions without further injuring yourself, but if you perform any
standard action (or any other strenuous action) you take 1 point of damage after
the completing the act. Unless your activity increased your hit points, you are
now at –1 hit points, and you’re dying.
Healing that raises your
hit points above 0 makes you fully functional again, just as if you’d
never been reduced to 0 or fewer hit points.
You can also become disabled
when recovering from dying. In this case, it’s a step toward recovery, and
you can have fewer than 0 hit points (see Stable Characters and Recovery,
DYING (–1 TO –9 HIT POINTS)
character’s current hit points drop to between –1 and –9
inclusive, he’s dying.
A dying character immediately falls unconscious
and can take no actions.
A dying character loses 1 hit point every round.
This continues until the character dies or becomes stable (see
DEAD (–10 HIT POINTS OR LOWER)
character’s current hit points drop to –10 or lower, or if he takes
massive damage (see above), he’s dead. A character can also die from
taking ability damage or suffering an ability drain that reduces his
Constitution to 0.
STABLE CHARACTERS AND RECOVERY
On the next turn
after a character is reduced to between –1 and –9 hit points and on
all subsequent turns, roll d% to see whether the dying character becomes stable.
He has a 10% chance of becoming stable. If he doesn’t, he loses 1 hit
point. (A character who’s unconscious or dying can’t use any special
action that changes the initiative count on which his action occurs.)
character’s hit points drop to –10 or lower, he’s dead.
can keep a dying character from losing any more hit points and make him stable
with a DC 15 Heal check.
If any sort of healing cures the dying character of
even 1 point of damage, he stops losing hit points and becomes
Healing that raises the dying character’s hit points to 0 makes
him conscious and disabled. Healing that raises his hit points to 1 or more
makes him fully functional again, just as if he’d never been reduced to 0
or lower. A spellcaster retains the spellcasting capability she had before
dropping below 0 hit points.
A stable character who has been tended by a
healer or who has been magically healed eventually regains consciousness and
recovers hit points naturally. If the character has no one to tend him, however,
his life is still in danger, and he may yet slip away.
Help: One hour after a tended, dying character becomes stable, roll d%. He
has a 10% chance of becoming conscious, at which point he is disabled (as if he
had 0 hit points). If he remains unconscious, he has the same chance to revive
and become disabled every hour. Even if unconscious, he recovers hit points
naturally. He is back to normal when his hit points rise to 1 or
Recovering without Help: A severely wounded character left
alone usually dies. He has a small chance, however, of recovering on his own.
A character who becomes stable on his own (by making the 10% roll while
dying) and who has no one to tend to him still loses hit points, just at a
slower rate. He has a 10% chance each hour of becoming conscious. Each time he
misses his hourly roll to become conscious, he loses 1 hit point. He also does
not recover hit points through natural healing.
Even once he becomes
conscious and is disabled, an unaided character still does not recover hit
points naturally. Instead, each day he has a 10% chance to start recovering hit
points naturally (starting with that day); otherwise, he loses 1 hit
Once an unaided character starts recovering hit points naturally, he
is no longer in danger of naturally losing hit points (even if his current hit
point total is negative).
After taking damage, you can recover
hit points through natural healing or through magical healing. In any case, you
can’t regain hit points past your full normal hit point
Natural Healing: With a full night’s rest (8 hours of
sleep or more), you recover 1 hit point per character level. Any significant
interruption during your rest prevents you from healing that night.
undergo complete bed rest for an entire day and night, you recover twice your
character level in hit points.
Magical Healing: Various abilities and
spells can restore hit points.
Healing Limits: You can never recover
more hit points than you lost. Magical healing won’t raise your current
hit points higher than your full normal hit point total.
Damage: Ability damage is temporary, just as hit point damage is. Ability
damage returns at the rate of 1 point per night of rest (8 hours) for each
affected ability score. Complete bed rest restores 2 points per day (24 hours)
for each affected ability score.
TEMPORARY HIT POINTS
give a character temporary hit points. When a character gains temporary hit
points, note his current hit point total. When the temporary hit points go away
the character’s hit points drop to his current hit point total. If the
character’s hit points are below his current hit point total at that time,
all the temporary hit points have already been lost and the character’s
hit point total does not drop further.
When temporary hit points are lost,
they cannot be restored as real hit points can be, even by
Increases in Constitution Score and Current Hit Points: An
increase in a character’s Constitution score, even a temporary one, can
give her more hit points (an effective hit point increase), but these are not
temporary hit points. They can be restored and they are not lost first as
temporary hit points are.
Damage: Certain attacks deal nonlethal damage. Other effects, such as heat
or being exhausted, also deal nonlethal damage. When you take nonlethal damage,
keep a running total of how much you’ve accumulated. Do not deduct the
nonlethal damage number from your current hit points. It is not
“real” damage. Instead, when your nonlethal damage equals your
current hit points, you’re staggered, and when it exceeds your current hit
points, you fall unconscious. It doesn’t matter whether the nonlethal
damage equals or exceeds your current hit points because the nonlethal damage
has gone up or because your current hit points have gone down.
Damage with a Weapon that Deals 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.
Lethal Damage with a Weapon that
Deals Nonlethal Damage: 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.
Staggered and Unconscious: When
your nonlethal damage equals your current hit points, you’re staggered.
You can only take a standard action or a move action in each round. You cease
being staggered when your current hit points once again exceed your nonlethal
When your nonlethal damage exceeds your current hit points, you fall
unconscious. While unconscious, you are helpless.
Spellcasters who fall
unconscious retain any spellcasting ability they had before going
Healing Nonlethal Damage: You heal nonlethal damage at
the rate of 1 hit point per hour per character level.
When a spell or a
magical power cures hit point damage, it also removes an equal amount of