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By Skip Williams
For a game that's all about deeds of valor and daring, D&D has a vast number of rules that govern just how one gets from place to place. All in all, this is a good thing because it allows characters endless options for accomplishing things and it empowers DMs to build challenges that literally require players to think on their feet.
Alas, anything that makes the game more detailed and flexible also makes the game more complicated and inevitably raises questions that the rulebooks don't answer (at least not directly). Just what can you do while you're moving? How do you handle movement when it requires a skill check? What's the difference between having a swimming speed and making a Swim check? Read on to find the answers these questions and more.
This article focuses on tactical movement -- that is movement characters use during encounters. In Part One, we'll consider some basic definitions and other fundamentals of movement.
The Language of Movement
Here are a few terms you'll encounter in this article.
5-foot step: A small adjustment a creature makes to its position on the battlefield. Taking a 5-foot step takes no appreciable time, but a creature cannot take a 5-foot step in a round when it also moves.
Diagonal: Movement from one square to another through their corners. When measuring distances for movement, count the first diagonal (and all odd-numbered diagonals moved during the turn) as 5 feet and the second diagonal (and all even-numbered diagonals moved during the turn) as 10 feet.
Difficult Terrain: Terrain that hampers movement.
Encumbrance: A measure of how much a character's gear slows her down. A creature's encumbrance also can impose a cap on the amount of Dexterity bonus (if any) a creature can apply to its Armor Class and can impose a penalty on certain checks.
Free Action: An action that takes no appreciable time at all. You can take as many free actions during your turn as your DM will allow, but you cannot take free actions during someone else's turn.
Hampered Movement: When conditions don't let you move as quickly as your speed would normally allow, your movement is hampered. When a creature enters a square where movement is hampered, it pays at least 10 feet of movement instead of the usual 5 feet. When moving diagonally into a square where movement is hampered, a creature pays at least 15 feet of movement.
Half Speed: Some conditions, such as blindness or entanglement, force a creature to move at half speed. A creature reduced to half speed always moves as though its movement is hampered. (Each square costs 10 feet of movement to enter, and each diagonal costs 15 feet.) Creatures reduced to half speed cannot charge, run, or take a 5-foot step.
Load: Load is a term for the total weight a creature carries. Load includes armor, weapons, gear, treasure, helpless comrades, and anything else the creature wears or carries.
Move: In the game's terms, a creature "moves" when it leaves one place and goes to another. During an encounter, a moving creature goes from one square on the battlefield to another.
Move Action: An action that (for game purposes) takes the same amount of time as moving your speed.
Normal Movement: This is not a standardized game term, but the rules (and this article) use it to indicate times when a creature uses a move action to move up to its speed -- as opposed to running, charging, or performing some other kind of special movement.
Obstacle: An object or barrier that hampers movement or blocks it completely. A wall, a pile of brush, or a fence is an obstacle.
Speed: A measure of how fast a creature can move across the battlefield or overland. In the D&D game, speeds are always given in number of feet, and they are always evenly divisible by 5 (because the basic unit of distance in the game is 5 feet).
The basics of movement are covered on pages 146-150 in the Player's Handbook. Here's an overview:
When you move across clear terrain, you "spend" 5 feet of movement to enter a square. If you're reduced to half speed or if poor visibility or difficult terrain hampers your movement, movement costs double.
Movement costs can double more than once. For example, if you're reduced to half speed and you try to enter a square with difficult terrain, the total movement cost is quadruple (20 feet of movement or 30 feet on the diagonal). This is an exception to the game's general rule for handling multipliers (see page 149 in the Player's Handbook).
An obstacle that doesn't block movement completely adds 10 feet to the cost of movement into its square. When such an obstacle is placed between two squares, you pay its movement cost when you cross the obstacle into the adjacent square -- treat the obstacle between squares as though it is in the square you're entering. Sometimes, it takes a skill check to cross an obstacle. For example, if you can't step over a wall, you'll need to make a Climb or a Jump check to cross it.
If you occupy more than one square, you pay the highest movement cost among all the squares you enter. So, if you're in two squares, and you would have to pay 10 to move from one square and pay 5 to move from another to where you want to go, you pay 10 since that's the highest movement cost possible.
Movement While Prone
When you're lying on the ground, you can move; however, you must crawl to do so. You crawl 5 feet as a move action that provokes an attack of opportunity.
A creature's encumbrance can be light, medium, or heavy. As noted earlier, a creature's armor or load determines encumbrance.
The effect on encumbrance from armor is simply a matter of reading the armor's entry on Table 7-6 in the Player's Handbook to find out whether it's light, medium, or heavy.
A creature with light encumbrance suffers no reduction in speed.
A creature with medium encumbrance suffers a reduction of roughly one third of its base speed. These reduced speeds are shown on Table 8-3 in the Player's Handbook and on page 20 of the Dungeon Master's Guide.
A creature with heavy encumbrance suffers a reduction of roughly one third of its base speed, just as with medium encumbrance.
In addition, most kinds of armor impose a cap on the Dexterity bonus the wearer can use for Armor Class but not for other purposes such as initiative, Dexterity checks (but see below), and Reflex saving throws.
To determine encumbrance from weight carried, total up everything the creature carries. The creature's armor and shield (if any) are part of its load.
Compare the load with the creature's Strength score on Table 9-1 in the Player's Handbook to determine encumbrance from weight carried. The creature's size and number of feet can affect the load it can carry, as noted on page 162 of the Player's Handbook.
Medium or heavy encumbrance from a creature's load imposes its own Dexterity cap on Armor Class bonus and check penalty. These work exactly like the Dexterity cap and check penalty from wearing armor.
A creature uses the worst encumbrance effect (slowest speed, lowest Dexterity cap on Armor Class, highest check penalty) for its armor or its load. The rules work this way because no matter how strong a creature is, wearing most kinds of armor reduces its mobility at least somewhat.
We looked at the basic rules of movement and looked at a few definitions. Let's take a look at move actions this time.
Movement and Move Actions
As we saw in Part One, you move whenever you go from one place on a battlefield to another. Usually, you move as a move action. Unfortunately, you sometimes use a move action and don't move at all, and sometimes you use a full-round action or a miscellaneous action to move. In Part Two, we'll look at moving and move actions.
It's important to remember that you don't always "move" when you take a move action. When a move action doesn't actually constitute movement, you can take a 5-foot step during a round when you perform one of these actions (provided you don't otherwise move during the same turn). Many of these actions provoke attacks of opportunity (all by themselves; move actions that actually involve movement can provoke attacks of opportunity if the creature using the action moves out of a threatened square. Here's a quick recap of move actions:
Move: A move is the basic act of moving your speed across the battlefield. You can't take a 5-foot step during the same round that you move. If you leave a threatened square while moving, you provoke attacks of opportunity, though there are numerous exceptions that we won't go into here.
Several skills either require you to move or are included in your movement (see Part 3).
Control a Frightened Mount: You use this action when you're in battle on a mount that is not trained for war. You make a Ride check to control the mount. The check is a move action for you, but it does not necessarily involve movement. If your mount does not move, then your action to control doesn't count as movement for you. Since you must devote your attention to the mount, this action provokes attacks of opportunity.
Direct or Redirect an Active Spell: Some spells, such as spiritual weapon, flaming sphere, and animate rope produce effects you can direct as a move action. This does not provoke attacks of opportunity and it does not count as movement for you. Note that some spells, such as detect magic and arcane eye, require concentration, not mere direction. Concentrating on a spell is a standard action, not a move action. Check the spell description carefully to find out which action (if any) the spell requires.
Draw a Weapon: Use this action to draw out a sheathed weapon or other item that your DM agrees is reasonably weapon-like and stored in a holster or other convenient place where you can grab it and pull it out quickly. This does not provoke attacks of opportunity and it does not count as movement for you. If you have a base attack bonus of +1 or more, you can draw a weapon as part of your movement. That is, you can use a move action to move up to your speed and also draw a weapon as part of that move action. If you have a base attack bonus of +1 or more and you don't move, you still have to use a move action to draw a weapon. The rule reflects the flow of time in the game and the relative ease of drawing a weapon if you have even a modicum of fighting ability. Note that this rule applies only to drawing weapons and not to move actions in general.
If you have the Two-Weapon fighting feat, you can draw two one-handed or light weapons as a move action, or as part of movement.
The Quick Draw feat allows you to draw a weapon as a free action (whether you also move or not); if you have the Two-Weapon Fighting feat, the Quick Draw feat allows you to draw two 1-handed or light weapons as a free action.
If you have an item (even a weapon) stored away in a backpack, you must use the retrieve a stored item action instead.
You can draw ammunition for a projectile weapon as a free action, provided you've got it stored in a quiver or some other convenient place.
Load a Hand or Light Crossbow: You use this action when you cock and load a hand or light crossbow (loading a new clip into a repeating crossbow is a full-round action). Loading doesn't count as movement, but it provokes attacks of opportunity.
Open or Close a Door: You use this for opening or closing just about any portal of approximately your size or smaller. Opening a garden gate, a desk drawer, or the door to your house is a move action for you. So is picking a lock. Portals bigger than you may require full-round actions or even several full-round actions.
Just opening or closing a door (or other closure) doesn't constitute movement, and the act doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity. The DM might decide, however, that opening a really big or stubborn door counts as moving a heavy object (see below).
Mount or Dismount a Steed: Use this action to climb aboard a mount or get off. The act of mounting of dismounting doesn't count as movement for you; however, you must enter your mount's space to mount or exit the mount's space to dismount. You can enter or exit the mount's space as a 5-foot step (if the situation allows a 5-foot step) or as part of your normal movement. For example if your speed is 30 and your mount is 30 feet away or less, you use one move action to reach the mount's space and a second move action to mount (see Part 3 for more on the Ride skill).
Move a Heavy Object: Use this action to drag something (a treasure chest, an unconscious ally, or a slain monster's carcass), push something (a loaded cart or a barn door), or manhandle something big and bulky into position (a statue or a banquet table). You and whatever you're moving travel across the battlefield, so moving a heavy object counts as movement. Since moving something heavy usually occupies your full attention, the very act of moving the object provokes attacks of opportunity. In addition, if you leave a threatened square while moving, you also provoke attacks of opportunity for doing that.
The rules don't give movement rates for moving heavy objects or for dragging things, but as a rule of thumb, there's no effect on your movement if what you're moving weighs less than your light load rating. You move as though encumbered if you move something that weighs more than your light load rating but no more than your maximum heavy load. If you use the dragging rule (see page 162 in the Player's Handbook) to move something that exceeds your maximum load, you move at half speed.
Pick Up an Item: This action generally involves stooping down and pick up something from the floor. Doing so doesn't count as movement, but it provokes attacks of opportunity. Grabbing something stored in a handy location (such as a tabletop or rack) might be a free action and might not provoke attacks of opportunity, depending on how generous your DM is feeling.
Sheathe a Weapon: Use this action whenever you have to put something away fairly carefully. Sheathing a weapon doesn't count as movement, but it takes some care and attention, so it provokes attacks of opportunity. Just stuffing something into your pocket or into a bag you have in your hand is a free action that doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity. In the latter case, you'll need a move action to locate and retrieve the stored item.
The Quick Draw feat does not allow you to sheathe a weapon as a free action.
Stand Up from Prone: Use this action to get up when you're lying on the ground. This does not count as movement, but you're pretty darn close to defenseless when regaining your feet, so standing up provokes attacks of opportunity. Getting to your feet when seated on the ground is just as difficult as getting up from a prone position and also requires a move action that provokes attacks of opportunity. If you're kneeling on the ground, getting up takes some time, but it doesn't make you vulnerable, so you use a move action that doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity. Getting up from a chair is a free action that doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity if the chair is fairly high; otherwise it's just like getting up from a prone position.
Ready or Loose a Shield: Use this action when you strap a shield to your arm (or grab a buckler) to claim its shield bonus to Armor Class. Likewise, you can loose a shield and sling it over your back. You lose the shield's bonus to Armor Class (the check penalty from the shield still applies though), but you have your hand free and the shield is hanging there, ready to use with another move action. Readying or loosing a shield takes time, but isn't too complicated, so it does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
Retrieve a Stored Item: Use this action to dig something out of your pack or grab something that is stored in some other fairly accessible but somewhat unhandy location, such as a purse, belt pouch, or cluttered tabletop. This doesn't count as movement, but it occupies enough of your attention to provoke attacks of opportunity.
A spell component pouch is fitted with all sorts of handy pockets and compartments, which your character is assumed to keep fairly neat and organized. Getting components from a spell component pouch is part of the casting time for the spell and doesn't require a separate action. If you're grappled, however, it takes a full-round action to draw out a spell component.
When Moving Isn't a Move Action
Several actions fit our definition of "movement" but are not move actions. Unless noted otherwise, you can't also take a 5-foot step during a turn when you use one of these actions. Here's a recap:
Withdraw: As a full-round action you can move up to double your speed; you can move in any direction you normally could move (including toward an enemy), and the first square you leave is not considered threatened. If you leave any additional threatened squares, however, you provoke attacks of opportunity normally. When withdrawing, you must use a mode of movement for which you have a speed rating (see next section). Withdrawing is a full-round action no matter how far you choose to move. You can't do anything else (except take free actions) during the turn when you withdraw.
Run: If your movement is not hampered and you're not reduced to half speed (see Part One), you can run as a full-round action. You move up to four times your speed in a straight line (or up to three times your speed if you're in heavy armor or carrying a heavy load).
If you use a grid to regulate movement in your games, don't take the requirement for running in a straight line too literally. It's often impossible to move from space to space on a grid and maintain a perfectly straight line. Draw or trace a straight line from any corner of the moving creature's starting space to any portion of the creature's intended ending space. So long as the creature sticks to spaces that the line passes though or touches, it is moving in a "straight" line for purposes of the run action.
Technically, creatures that lack Constitution scores can run forever (see page 312 in the Monster Manual), but many creatures cannot run at all -- check their descriptions to be sure.
Though the rules don't say so, there's no good reason why you cannot run as a standard action if you're limited to only a standard action during your turn. If you're capable of using a full-round action, you must use a full-round action to run.
Move 5 Feet through Difficult Terrain: As noted on page 144 in the Player's Handbook, a creature that is otherwise mobile might encounter a situation in which its movement is so hampered that it cannot move even one space. Such a creature can move 5 feet (one space) in any direction as a full-round action. Moving this way is not a 5-foot step. If a creature using this rule leaves a threatened square, it provokes attacks of opportunity.
It's worth repeating here that you cannot use this rule to move through impassible areas (such as solid walls), or move when you're immobilized.
Take a 5-Foot Step: You're moving when you take a 5-foot step. You can't take a 5-foot step during a round when you perform any other movement, and you cannot take a 5-foot step if your movement is hampered, if your movement is reduced to half speed, or if your current speed is 5 feet or less. As with the withdraw action, you must use a mode of movement for which you have a speed rating.
Bull Rush: As a standard action, you move up to your speed. To perform the bull rush you must move into your opponent's space at some point during your move. If you wish to push your opponent back more than 5 feet, you must have some movement left when you enter you opponent's space (see the bull rush description on page 154 of the Player's Handbook).
Charge: As a full-round action you can move up to twice your speed directly toward a foe and make a single melee attack when you reach the foe. You must move at least 10 feet to the closest square from which you can attack your opponent and you must move to that square by the shortest path. If that path takes you through an obstacle or terrain that hampers your movement (including friendly creatures), you cannot charge. Though you normally cannot charge into or through a space that contains another creature, you can charge as part of a bull rush action.
The procedure for charging is slightly different when you're using the Ride-By Attack feat (see Part 6).
Overrun: As with a bull rush, you move up to your speed as a standard action and you enter your opponent's space during your move. If you knock your opponent down with your overrun, you can keep moving through your opponent's space if you have any movement left (see the overrun description on page 157 of the Player's Handbook).
You cannot perform an overrun as part of a charge (see the Player's Handbook errata file).
Grapple: To maintain a hold you've established with a successful grapple check, you must enter your foe's space. Likewise, creatures with the improved grab special attack drag their victims into their spaces after establishing holds. Neither movement counts against a creature's movement for the turn. If you've already moved your speed or taken a 5-foot step, you still can move into a foe's space to maintain a hold and you still can be dragged into an attacker's space after it has grabbed you with improved grab.
Now that we've covered move actions, let's take a look at how speed and skills can affect or are affected by movement.
Speeds and Skills
A creature has a speed rating for each kind of movement it can use. Most creatures have a single speed rating for land speed. Other possible speed ratings include burrow, climb, swim, and fly. The Monster Manual Glossary includes a wealth of detail on speeds.
A creature with only a land speed can climb or swim by making an appropriate skill check, but cannot charge, run, withdraw or take a 5-foot step while doing so. That's the chief difference between climbing or swimming with a climb speed and using the Climb or Swim skill.
Climb and Swim aren't the only skills that involve movement. In Part 3, we'll compare and contrast speed ratings and the skills that help land bound creatures mimic them. We'll also examine skills that function as part of movement.
A creature with a climb speed must make a Climb check to climb any wall or slope with a DC of more than 0, but it always can choose to take 10 (see Checks without Rolls, page 65 in the Player's Handbook), even if rushed, distracted, or endangered. It also gets a +8 racial bonus on all Climb checks. A successful check allows it to move its climb speed up down, or across the wall or slope as a move action. If it chooses an accelerated climb (see Climb, page 69 in the Player's Handbook), it moves at double the listed climb speed (or its land speed, whichever is less) and makes a single Climb check at a -5 penalty.
A creature with a climb speed retains its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (if any) while climbing. Most creatures with climb speeds don't have hands, though many use some sort of appendage to climb. Those with appendages must have them free to climb. A creature can cling to a wall with one appendage while it casts a spell or takes some other action that requires only one appendage. A limbless creature, such as an ooze, never has to worry about having any appendages free -- it can just climb.
If the creature takes damage while climbing, it makes a Climb check against the DC of the slope or wall to avoid falling. (It can take 10 on the check.)
Using the Climb Skill: A creature using the Climb skill to climb without a climb speed can take 10 on the check only when not rushed or threatened. It loses its Dexterity bonus (if any) while climbing, and it cannot take a 5-foot step or withdraw while climbing. A creature uses the Climb skill as a move action, and climbing is movement. With a successful check, the climber moves at one quarter its land speed when climbing (or one half land speed if it makes an accelerated climb). On a failed check, the creature doesn't move at all (but still uses up a move action) if the check failed by 4 or less. The creature falls if the check fails by 5 or more. See the Climb skill description for other details.
All Climbers: Creatures cannot charge or run while climbing, even if they have Climb speeds.
A creature with a swim speed can move through water at its swim speed without making Swim checks. It has a +8 racial bonus on any Swim check it makes to perform some special action or avoid a hazard. The creature always can choose to take 10 on a Swim check, even if rushed, distracted, or endangered or when swimming in stormy water. The creature can use the run action while swimming, provided it swims in a straight line. It also can charge, withdraw, or take a 5-foot step. Unlike creatures using the Swim skill, a creature with a swim speed does not have to make a Swim check each hour to avoid nonlethal damage.
Using the Swim Skill: A creature that doesn't have a swim speed must make a Swim check to move through the water when its feet don't touch the bottom. A successful check allows the creature to move through the water at a quarter of its current land speed as a move action or at half its current land speed as a full-round action. If the check fails by 4 or less, the creature makes no progress through the water. If the check fails by 5 or more, the creature goes underwater (if the creature is underwater already, there's no extra effect for failing a Swim check by 5 or more).
Swimmers that don't have swim speeds must make an extra Swim check (DC 20) for each hour they spend swimming. If the check fails, the swimmer takes 1d6 points of nonlethal damage.
Creatures without swim speeds can charge (provided they can move at least 10 feet before attacking), but they cannot run, withdraw, or take a 5-foot step.
Although it's not terribly clear from the skill description, you can use the Balance skill two different ways.
First, you can make a Balance check to charge or run over a surface that is rough or uneven enough to trip you up, but not one that is so rugged as to make running or charging impossible. For example, you can make a Balance check (DC 10) to run or charge across an uneven flagstone floor or a hewn stone floor. You make one check. If you fail the check on an uneven flagstone floor, you can't move and your turn ends. If you fail the check on a hewn stone floor, you can still act, but you cannot run or charge this round.
Second, you can make a Balance check to move along a narrow or precarious surface, such as a ledge, beam, or tightrope. With a successful check, you can move at half your speed along the precarious surface as a move action. You can use a standard action to make a second move, but doing so requires a second Balance check. You can take a -5 penalty on your check and move at your full speed instead. You also can take -5 penalty on your check and charge across a precarious surface. If the distance you move in a charge is equal to or less than your speed, you make one Balance check. If the distance you charge is more than your speed (you can move up to twice your speed when charging), you must make two Balance checks.
A failure by 4 or less means you can't move for 1 round; you still use up a move action. A failure by 5 or more means you fall. If you're making two Balance checks and you succeed with the first one but fail the second, you stop moving and your turn ends (and you fall if you failed by 5 or more).
According to the Hide skill description, hiding isn't an action at all, except when you use the sniping option (see page 76 in the Player's Handbook), in which case hiding is a move action. For all practical purposes, however, you hide as a move action or as part of a move action. That is, if you're moving, you hide as part of your movement (something like drawing a weapon, see Part 2). If you don't move, it still takes you a move action to hide.
You take a -5 penalty on your Hide check if you move more than half your speed. In this case, you must track your speed by the action, not by the turn. If you move your speed as a move action, you take the penalty even if you don't move during the remainder of your turn. Likewise, speed is the amount of movement you expend, not the actual distance you move across the battlefield. If your movement is hampered, for example, and you move as far as you can possibly go as a move action (or as a full-round action), you take the -5 penalty.
Jumping is a part of movement. Simply add any distance you jump to any other movement you've spent during your turn (including the distance you've covered in the run-up to a running jump). The distance you cover in a jump is the horizontal distance for a long jump and the vertical distance in a high jump (but always at least 10 feet for a high jump).
Disregard the vertical portion of a long jump (one quarter the jump's horizontal distance). If you make a high jump and drop back to the ground, don't count the distance you've dropped.
Jumping Over an Obstacle: If you high jump over an obstacle, you spend whatever movement you need to enter the square on the other side, plus the movement cost for the high jump. If you don't have enough movement available, you can't make the jump, but you can use the minimum movement rule (see Part 2) to make the jump as a full-round action. Also see the section on jumping farther than your speed allows.
Hopping Up: You can use a Jump check to leap up on top of an obstacle that is no more than waist high (that is about half your height) with a DC 10 Jump check at a cost of 10 feet of movement. If the obstacle has enough space on top to let you stand on it, you wind up on top of obstacle, otherwise, you just hop over it.
Jumping Farther than Your Speed Allows: If you have a high Strength score or a lot of ranks in the Jump skill (or both) it's quite possible that you can get a Jump check result that carries you through more distance than your speed allows, especially if you move some distance before jumping. When that happens, you end your turn in the air. During your next turn, you must finish the jump before you do anything else. If your speed still won't allow you to finish the jump, just repeat the process until you complete the jump.
Moving silently isn't an action. You move silently as part of your movement. As with the Hide skill, you take a -5 penalty on your Move Silently check if you move more than half your speed (see the notes under the Hide skill).
Though your steed actually does the moving, much of what you do with the Ride skill counts as move action or as movement (or both) for you.
Since your mount takes you along with it when it moves, a move for your mount also counts as a move for you (you're not propelling yourself, but you still spend time moving). So, for example, if you and your mount move, neither you nor your mount can take a 5-foot step during the same turn.
In many cases, you can do something else while your mount does the moving, such as make ranged attacks, reload a crossbow, cast a spell, or any number of other things that normally would be actions for you. You can use the full attack action to make ranged attacks when your mount takes a move action, and there's no penalty for doing so if your mount does not make a double move. If your mount runs or makes a double move, you suffer a penalty on your ranged attacks, as noted on page 157 in the Player's Handbook (the Mounted Archery feat can reduce those penalties). If your mount moves as a full-round action (as it might if it uses the rule for minimum movement), your ranged attacks are penalized as though the mount took a double move. There's no penalty on your melee attacks for your mount's movement, but if you mount moves before you attack in a turn, you cannot us the full attack action (see page 157 in the Player's Handbook).
Here's an overview of tasks you perform with the Ride skill:
Guide with Knees:Although the skill description doesn't specifically say so, this is not an action at all. You make the check at the beginning of your turn. If you succeed, you don't have to use your hands to control your mount until the beginning of your next turn, when you have to repeat the check to continue guiding your mount with your knees.
Stay in Saddle: This usage does not take an action.
Fight with Warhorse: This usage is a free action.
Cover: This usage does not take an action.
Soft Fall: This usage does not take an action.
Leap: This usage does not take an action, but it is part of the mount's movement.
Spur Mount:This is a move action for you, which you take while your mount moves and carries you along.
Control Mount in Battle: This also is a move action for you, which you take while your mount moves and carries you along. If you fail to control a mount that is not trained for war during a battle, the rules say your turn is over. There is, however, no reason why you can't simply fall off your mount to keep it from galloping away with you. Deliberately falling off your mount is a free action for you. If you decide to fall off, you can make a Ride check to soften the fall (which doesn't take an action).
Fast Mount or Dismount: This is a free action for you and it does not count as movement for you.
Tumbling is part of movement, so a Tumble check is part of a move action. Any distance you spend tumbling counts against your movement for the turn. You tumble at half speed, as if each square you tumble through costs you 10 feet of movement (15 if you tumble on a diagonal). If you accept a -10 penalty on your check, you tumble at normal speed. You cannot tumble at all if your encumbrance (from armor or load) reduces your speed.
Tumbling to Hop Up: Since tumbling involves acrobatic maneuvers such as flips, rolls, and cartwheels, there's no good reason why you couldn't make a Tumble check to roll onto or over a waist-high obstacle. Normally, you'd make a Jump check (DC 10) to do that, but you can accomplish the same thing with a Tumble check (DC 15). You still expend 10 feet of movement to perform the hop and you land on your feet in front of the obstacle if you fail.
Tumbling While Crawling: Though the rules don't say so, there's no reason you can't can tumble 5 feet as a move action when prone. The check DC is 20.
In Part Three, we looked at climb speeds and swim speeds; however, the D&D game also includes burrow and fly speeds.
Flight and Other Speeds
In most cases, burrowing movement allows a creature to tunnel through fairly loose material such as dirt or snow. Some creatures, however, can burrow through stone or other solid materials. The kinds of material the creature can penetrate while burrowing is noted in its description. In most cases, a burrowing creature does not leave behind a tunnel that other creatures can use or that it can use for travel via another mode of movement.
Burrowing movement takes place in three dimensions. A burrowing creature can tunnel up, down, left, or right as easily as a human can change direction while walking on smooth ground.
A creature cannot charge or run while burrowing.
Basic flight consists of turning, level flight, climbing, diving, and (usually) maintaining a minimum forward speed. A flying creature's maneuverability rating determines how well it can perform these basic functions, as shown on Table 2-1 in the Dungeon Master's Guide. Because a flying creature's ability to change direction is limited, and because flight takes place in three dimensions, you must know a creature's maneuverability rating, forward speed, direction of travel, and altitude to handle flaying correctly.
Maneuverability ratings are described on page 312 in the Monster Manual. Table 2-1 in the Dungeon Master's Guide and the text that accompanies it defines what the various maneuverability ratings allow creatures to do in the air. Additional notes follow (using a harpy as an example):
Forward Speed: Forward speed is the number of squares a flying creature traverses during the course of its movement for the round. Some flight maneuvers (such as turning in place) use up flying movement but don't contribute to forward speed. Many flyers must maintain a minimum forward speed each round. If they fail to do so, they stall (see Minimum Forward Speed).
Direction of Travel: Though the D&D game doesn't require you to keep track of which direction creatures face, flying movement usually restricts their ability to turn and that does require you to keep track of facing. For purposes of flying movement, a creature always faces the same direction as its movement. When a creature ends its flying movement for the turn, place a mark or a marker on the grid so you know which direction in which it would travel. When it is time for the creature to move again, it resumes moving in that direction.
Altitude: This is simply how high above the ground a flying creature happens to be. If keeping track of flyers' altitudes relative to the ground proves inconvenient, choose some other reference point, but make sure that all creatures in an aerial encounter use the same reference point to measure altitude.
Because maps and battle grids usually are two-dimensional, you must write down each flying creature's altitude at the end of its movement. It's usually best to record altitude directly on the grid.
Minimum Forward Speed: If a flying creature fails to maintain its minimum forward speed, it must land at the end of its movement. If it is too high above the ground to land, it stalls.
A creature in a stall falls straight down, descending 150 feet in the first round of falling. If this distance brings it to the ground, it takes falling damage. If the fall doesn't bring the creature to the ground, it must spend its next turn recovering from the stall. It must succeed on a DC 20 Reflex save to recover. Otherwise it falls another 300 feet. If it hits the ground, it takes falling damage. Otherwise, it has another chance to recover on its next turn.
Keep track of minimum forward speed by the turn, not by the move. For example, a harpy has a fly speed of 80 and average maneuverability. The harpy has a minimum forward speed of 40 feet; a harpy that moves 20 feet ahead as a move action doesn't stall if it uses another move action the same turn to move another 20 feet ahead.
As noted earlier, only moving from square to square counts toward minimum forward speed. Movement spent turning in place doesn't count.
In some cases, a creature may spend part of its turn on the ground (or perhaps on a flying mount or flying device). If the creature uses a move or standard action on the ground, it need maintain only half its minimum forward speed once it takes to the air. If a flying creature moves along the ground and then takes to the air as part of the same move action, it must maintain all of its minimum forward speed to avoid stalling.
Hover: Hover is the ability to stay in one place while airborne. As shown in the Dungeon Master's Guide, creatures with perfect or good maneuverability always have this ability. Less maneuverable creatures also might gain this ability via the Hover feat from the Monster Manual.
A creature with perfect maneuverability can hover as a free action and remain airborne.
A creature with good maneuverability also can hover as free action. It can instead hover as a move action and, as part of that move action, can move at half speed in any direction it likes (including straight up, straight down, or backward). Before or after it moves, the hovering creature can turn to face any direction it likes. When it stops hovering, it can resume ordinary flight in any direction in which it could normally fly.
A creature with less than good maneuverability, such as a harpy, that gains the ability to hover from the Hover feat, must use a move action to switch from normal flight to hovering. It can then use another move action (if it has one available during the current turn), to move at half speed in any direction it likes (including straight up, straight down, or backward). Before or after it does this hovering movement, the creature can turn to face any direction it likes. When it stops hovering, the creature can resume ordinary flight in any direction in which it could normally fly.
If a creature begins its turn hovering, it can hover in place for the turn (no matter what its maneuverability) and take a full-round action. A hovering creature cannot make wing attacks, but it can attack with all other limbs and appendages it could use in a full attack. The creature can instead use a breath weapon or cast a spell instead of making physical attacks, if it could normally do so.
Move Backward: This is the ability to move backward without turning around.
Reverse: A creature with good maneuverability can use up 5 feet of its speed to start flying backward.
Turn: How much the creature can turn after covering the stated distance. For example, a harpy has average maneuverability, so it can turn left or right 45° for each 5 feet it moves forward. The creature moves into a square, then turns. To fly in a complete circle, a harpy would have to travel eight squares.
Turn in Place: A creature with good or average maneuverability can use some of its speed to turn in place. (This represents the creature slowing down and banking hard to make a tight turn.) The extra movement spent turning does not count toward minimum forward speed; a creature that turns too sharply at low speeds stalls.
A harpy has average maneuverability, so it can turn an extra 45° in one square by spending 5 feet of movement.
Maximum Turn: This is how much the creature can turn in any one space. No matter how much movement the creature spends on turning, it can't change direction more than this in a single square.
A harpy has average maneuverability, so it can turn a maximum of 90° in one square. To do so, the harpy moves into the square and turns 45°, then it spends 5 feet of movement and turns an extra 45° without moving forward. A harpy can fly in a complete circle by moving only four squares, but doing so still would cost the harpy 40 feet of movement (20 feet for the squares moved and 20 feet for the extra turning). If the harpy does so, it doesn't satisfy its minimum forward speed (40 feet), even though it has expended 40 feet of movement. The harpy must fly forward another 20 feet to avoid stalling. The harpy could to that by flying in another tight circle.
Up Angle: The up angle is the maximum angle at which the creature can climb through the air. A creature with an up angle of 60º must move ahead at least 5 feet for every 10 feet it climbs. A creature with an up angle of 45º must move ahead at least 5 feet for every 5 feet it climbs. A harpy has average maneuverability, so its up angle is 60º.
Up Speed: Up speed is how fast the creature can move while gaining at least 10 feet of altitude; this represents the energy the flyer loses when climbing. The creature cannot expend more movement than its up speed allows, even if that movement is not forward movement.
If the creature climbs and dives in the same turn, any bonus movement it gains from the dive is not limited by the creature's up speed.
For example, a harpy has average maneuverability, so its up speed is half, or 40 feet. Its minimum forward speed also is 40 feet, so it risks stalling if it expends extra movement to turn when climbing unless it can make a double move.
Down Angle: The down angle is the maximum angle at which the creature can dive through the air. A creature with a down angle of 45º must move ahead at least 5 feet for every 5 feet it climbs. A harpy has average maneuverability, so it can dive at any angle.
Down Speed: Any flying creature can fly down at twice its normal flying speed. An easy way to track diving movement is to allow it 5 feet of bonus movement for every 5 feet it descends, to a maximum of twice its normal flying speed. The creature can use the extra movement for any kind flying movement it normally could perform, except for hovering.
Downward movement in a stall or freefall does not increase a creature's speed. Instead, the creature falls straight down at a fixed rate.
Between Down and Up: An average, poor, or clumsy flier must fly level for a minimum distance after descending and before climbing (but it can turn). Any flier can begin descending after a climb without an intervening distance of level flight.
A harpy has average maneuverability, so after a dive it must fly level for at least 5 feet before gaining any altitude.
Sometimes, it can prove difficult to decide what a flying creature can do, especially within a dungeon's confines. In Part Five, we'll build on the flight basics we covered in Part Four.
More About Flight
Climbing and Diving in a Tight Space
Creatures that cannot fly straight up usually can ascend in a spiral by circling as they climb. Because most creatures that can't fly straight up also have minimum forward speeds of half their base flying speeds and can move at only half speed when climbing, its difficult for them to turn in place while climbing because doing so requires them expend extra movement that does not count as forward movement (though many creatures can do so by making a double move). A creature's up angle also determines how much altitude it can gain during a move action.
Likewise, creatures that cannot fly straight down can descend in a spiral. Because creatures that have a limited down angles cannot turn in place (see Table 2-1 in the Dungeon Master's Guide), they cannot make their descending spirals any tighter than their turning radius normally allows.
Because flying creatures descend at two to four times the speed they can ascend (most creatures ascend at half speed but descend at double speed), they lose altitude far more quickly than they can gain it.
Stalling and Freefalling
Stalling represents the failure of a flying creature's wings (or other motive agent) to keep the creature aloft. The rules are a little sketchy when it comes to what happened during a stall, so here are some unofficial suggestions: A stalling creature falls, but it wings provide considerable drag and tend to slow the creature's fall. As noted earlier, a creature falls 150 feet during the first round spent stalling, and it falls 300 feet each round thereafter. Wingless flyers that stall still have some residual lift and fall more slowly than non-flyers.
A flying creature that cannot maintain its minimum forward speed because it has been rendered unconscious, has become paralyzed, has become magically held, or becomes unable to move for some other reason stalls at the beginning of its first turn after the debilitating effect occurs.
A stalling creature can take no actions, except to recover from the stall. It loses its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (if any) while stalling. As noted earlier, recovering from a stall requires a Reflex save (DC 20).
A stalling creature falls more or less straight down, but it also tumbles and spins erratically. Melee or ranged attacks made against a stalling creature have a 20% miss chance.
A non-flyer (or flyer falling through the air) freefalls rather than stalls. A creature in freefall drops 500 feet the first round and 1,000 feet each round thereafter. While in freefall, a creature can attempt a single action each round. It must make a Dexterity or Strength check (creature's choice, DC 15) to avoid dropping any item it tries to use. Spell casting is possible, but doing so requires a Concentration check (DC 15 + spell level) and if the spell has a material component, the creature must first check to see if it drops the component.
Deliberately Freefalling: A flying creature can simply stop flying and allow itself to drop like a stone. Exiting a freefall requires a full-round action (during which the creature falls 500 or 1,000 feet). A creature with Perfect maneuverability exits a freefall automatically, less maneuverable creatures require a Reflex save (DC 20). If the check fails, the creature stalls (even if it does not have a minimum forward speed), though during its next turn it can attempt to recover from the stall after falling 300 feet.
A creature with average, poor, or clumsy maneuverability suffers 3d6 points of nonlethal damage when it exits a freefall (or when it stalls from a failed attempt to leave freefall) due to the stress on its body. A freefalling creature with a fly speed can automatically recover from a freefall if it receives a feather fall spell, but only after falling 60 feet; the creature suffers no damage from the recovery.
Fast Freefalls: A creature with a fly speed can propel itself downward as a move action, adding up to twice its flying speed to the distance it freefalls. A creature with Perfect maneuverability can make a fast freefall automatically, while less maneuverable creatures require a Reflex save (DC 15). If the save fails, the creature stalls. On a successful check the creature fast freefalls for a full round.
Catching: As a full-round action, a flyer can catch a freefalling creature or object, or a stalling creature, provided that the falling creature or object is at least one size category smaller than the creature attempting the catch.
Obstacles and Collisions
Because flying creatures cannot always change direction when they wish to, they must take great care to avoid blundering into obstacles or into other creatures.
Maneuvering Past Obstacles: To turn and avoid an obstacle at its own altitude, a flying creature must be able to turn in place. If it cannot turn in place, it needs at least 5 feet of space between it and the obstacle if it wishes to turn to avoid a collision (because in an aerial turn you move into the square ahead of you and then turn left or right 45° ). It cannot move diagonally past a corner in the air or on the ground, so any turn you make must carry you past an obstacle's corner before you can fly past it.
If turning to avoid an obstacle isn't possible, it may be possible to climb over or dive under the obstacle. A creature with maximum up or down angle of 45° needs at least 5 feet of clear space between it and an obstacle for every 5 feet it must climb or dive to get over or under the obstacle (you can't move past a corner on a diagonal, even when climbing or diving). A creature with a maximum up or down angle of 60° needs at least 5 feet of clear space between it and an obstacle for every 10 feet it must climb or dive to get over or under the obstacle.
Maneuvering Past Creatures: Flying past another creature works much like flying past an obstacle except that you can move on a diagonal to get past a creature. This makes it slightly easier to pass by without colliding.
Colliding with an Obstacle: Here's another place where the rules don't help much, so here are some more unofficial suggestions:
If you fly into an obstacle and you cannot land there, you must make a Reflex save (DC 15) to avoid damage. If you fail the save, you and the object you strike take damage as though an object of your weight fell a distance equal to half your flying speed before you hit. (If it isn't clear what your speed before the collision was, use your flying speed during your previous turn.) If the object you hit has a hardness of 6 or less, you take nonlethal damage (the object takes normal damage).
Your flying movement stops when you strike, forcing you to stall (even if you don't have a minimum forward speed) and fall straight down. If you're still conscious after the collision, you can make Climb check (DC = surface's DC + 20) to catch yourself and keep from falling. If the surface is sloped (see the Climb skill description), the Climb DC to catch yourself is lower (DC = slope's DC + 10).
Colliding with a Creature: Here's another place where the rules don't help much, so you can use these unofficial suggestions.
You can freely pass through your allies' spaces in the air just as you can on the ground. If you fly into a creature that is not your ally, you effectively attempt to overrun it. You can execute a bull rush against the creature instead, if you wish. An overrun or bull rush normally requires a standard action. If you accidentally enter an enemy's space you must make a Reflex save (DC 15); if you fail, you stall (even if you don't have a minimum forward speed). If you succeed, you can continue with your accidental bull rush or overrun, but you suffer a -4 penalty to all the opposed checks you make to resolve the bull rush or overrun.
As with an overrun attack, the creature can decide not to block your movement, though this might cause the creature to stall (see the section on overruns). If so, you simply move through its space (even if you decide to bull rush the creature). You cannot stop in another creature's square, however, and if your speed isn't sufficient to carry you through the other creature's space, you must attempt an overrun or bull rush.
If the creature is too small to overrun, you must try to bull rush it instead if you can't pass through its space.
If the creature is too big to overrun, you strike it just as if it were an obstacle, and you and the creature take nonlethal damage. Both you and the creature you strike make Reflex saves (DC 15) to avoid damage, but the creature you strike gets a +4 bonus for each size category it is bigger than you. You stall just as if you struck an obstacle. The creature you strike stalls if it fails its Reflex save.
If you are at least three size categories smaller than the creature whose space you are entering (or if you are Tiny, Diminutive, or Fine size) you can enter the creature's space without colliding, bull rushing, or overrunning, but entering the creature's space provokes an attack of opportunity. Likewise, if you are at least three size categories smaller than the creature whose space you are entering, you also can enter the creature's space without colliding, bull rushing, or overrunning, but entering the creature's space provokes an attack of opportunity.
Actions while Flying
Most actions work exactly the same way in the air as they do on the ground; exceptions are noted here.
A creature with a minimum forward speed usually cannot use full-round actions in the air unless those actions allow it to move forward at least at its minimum speed. For example, a harpy (average maneuverability) could charge or run while flying, but it could not make a full attack or cast a spell with a casting time longer than one action (but see the note on casting time).
Cast a Spell
Flying spell casters can cast their spells without too much difficulty; however, aerial spell casters often encounter some problems other spell casters do not.
Casting Time: Most spells require 1 standard action to cast. The creature can move and then cast the spell, or cast the spell and then move.
A creature with a minimum forward speed cannot cast a spell with a casting time of 1 round or more while airborne unless it is riding on a flying mount or flying device.
A creature with minimum forward speed can cast spells with a casting time of a full-round action (such as a sorcerer casting a spell modified with metamagic) by first using a move action to travel forward and maintain its minimum speed. The caster can then use a standard action to start the full-round spell. The next round, the creature can finish the spell by using another standard action, then use a move action to travel forward and maintain its minimum speed.
Concentration: Spell casters using natural flight or using a spells or magic devices that empower them to fly personally, such as a fly spell or winged boots, can cast spells while flying without Concentration checks (unless other conditions they encounter while aloft require them). For casters using mounts or magic devices that function like mounts, such as a carpet of flying or a broom of flying, must make a Concentration check (DC 10 + spell level) or lose the spell. A creature riding as a passenger on a mount or magic device also must make Concentration checks to cast spells. Particularly violent motion from the mount or device makes the Concentration check more difficult (see the Concentration skill description in the Player's Handbook).
A creature cannot drop prone while flying. If a flying creature lands, it can drop prone as a free action.
A creature using natural flying speed can use the run action. As with any other run action, the creature must move in a straight line. A flyer using the run action cannot gain more than 5 feet of altitude, but it can lose any amount of altitude, and it gains the normal bonus movement for the altitude lost (5 feet per 5 feet descended, a maximum of twice its normal flying speed.) For example, a harpy could use the run action to fly 320 feet in a straight line. While doing so, it could not gain more than 5 feet of altitude.
Take 5-Foot Step
A flying creature cannot use the 5-foot step rule unless it has perfect or good maneuverability (and thus no minimum forward speed).
Flying creatures can use the withdraw action if they prove maneuverable enough to do so without colliding with their opponents.
The rules for flanking apply in the air. It is possible, however, to flank a flying creature from the top and bottom.
Creatures in Aerial Combat
Aerial combat takes place in three dimensions, and each flying creature occupies a roughly cubical space and can reach above and below itself, as shown on the following table:
Flying Creature Size and Face
Space: In the air, a creature's space includes length, width, and height. Creatures more than 5 feet high occupy a vertical column of two or more spaces, one space for each 5 feet of height.
Natural Reach: Natural reach is how far the creature can reach when it fights. A creature flying on its own threatens the area within that distance from itself, including above and below. A creature riding a mount or flying device also threatens all the spaces around it, except those blocked by the mount or device.
Tall Creature: A tall creature is a biped or similar creature. Creatures in the D&D game are not designated as "tall" or "long"; however, you can determine this for yourself easily by noting its reach entry. For example, a Large creature with a reach entry of 10 feet is "tall" (unless it's using a reach weapon).
Long Creature: A long creature is a quadruped or similar creature. Creatures in the D&D game are not designated as "tall" or "long"; however, you can easily determine this for yourself by noting its reach entry. For example, a Large creature with a reach entry of 5 feet is "long."
Special Attacks in the Air
Flying creatures can try a variety of special tactics while in the air. In general, these work just like similar attacks made on the ground. Exceptions are listed below. The rules don't cover these situations in much detail, so most of this section much consists of unofficial suggestions.
An aerial bull rush requires the attacker to ram a foe, which can prove risky for both the attacker and the defender.
Initiating and Resolving an Aerial Bull Rush: You begin in the same way as bull rush on the ground.
Aerial Bull Rush Results: A creature that has been moved in an aerial bull rush must make a Reflex save (DC 20) immediately or stall (even if it does not have a minimum forward speed). If the attacker fails to move the defender during an aerial bull rush, it moves back 5 feet, as noted in the description of the bull rush action and must immediately make a Reflex save (DC 20) or stall (even if it does not have a minimum forward speed).
Accidental Aerial Bull Rush: As noted in the section on collisions, you suffer a -4 penalty on all opposed checks you make to resolve a collision with a foe.
Flying creatures can use the charge action. A flying charge must be in straight line and most cover at least 10 feet (2 squares). A flyer can charge while diving, but not while gaining more than 5 feet altitude (unless the flyer has perfect maneuverability and can climb without losing speed).
If a flyer makes a diving charge of at least 30 feet (6 squares) and also loses 10 feet of altitude or more, it can attack only with a claw or with a piercing or slashing weapon. These attacks, however, deal double damage.
Aerial grappling can prove hazardous to attacker and defender alike. Except where noted here, a grappling attack in the air works just like grappling on the ground.
Who Is Flying and Who Is Held: If you have a minimum forward speed or if you rely on wings or other appendages to stay aloft, you cannot fly if another creature has a hold on you (but see Just Hanging On, below). An attacker that establishes a hold against you must be able to carry your weight or you both fall. In the course of an aerial grapple, the combatant who must hold everyone's weight can change from turn to turn. The last creature to establish a hold must be able to keep everyone involved in the grapple aloft or everyone falls.
Grappling a Foe Two or More Sizes Smaller: If you establish a hold against an airborne creature, your foe stalls if it has a minimum forward speed. You can simply hold up the creature if it is two or more size categories smaller than you (provided that the foe's weight, plus the weight of any gear you carry, does not exceed your light load). Your flying movement remains unhindered while you hold your foe. Each round, you can perform a move action and also use a standard action to conduct the grapple against the foe.
Grappling a Foe Not Two or More Sizes Smaller: You can try to fly and hold a foe that is your size, one size category smaller, or one size category bigger than you. To do so, you must make a successful opposed grapple check against every foe involved in the grapple. The grapple check requires a standard action, but the movement is part of that standard action. The attacking flyer inflicts no grappling damage with a success. If the attacker fails, it cannot move and stalls even if it does not have a minimum forward speed, and it must release everyone in its grasp.
Dropping a Foe: If you release another flyer from your hold during your turn, it stalls if it has a minimum forward speed, otherwise, it resumes normal flight. A nonflying creature that you drop freefalls. Any creature you drop can try to hang on, but see Just Hanging On.
Escaping While Airborne: If you escape from a foe's grasp while airborne, you can fly away in normal flight if you have a flying speed. (You are assumed to escape at a moment that's convenient for you.)
Taking -20: An attacker with the improved grab ability can opt to conduct a grapple with only part of its body. Doing so imposes a -20 on the attacker's grapple checks, as noted in the Monster Manual. A flying grappler who takes the -20 penalty need not use a standard action to continue moving, but it can just fly along holding onto the foe. Even so, the held opponent counts as part of the load the attacker carries.
Because the attacker is not using an action to make a grapple check, it does not damage the creature it holds, establish a pin, or accomplish any other effect that requires a successful grapple check. The foe still can attempt a grapple check of its own during its own turn to escape.
Pin: While aloft you cannot pin a creature the same size as you or bigger than you.
Just Hanging On: Some combatants might not appreciate being grappled and dropped, especially if that means plummeting to earth afterward. If a dropped creature is at least two size categories smaller than the creature that dropped it, it can make a DC 20 climb check to avoid falling. If the Climb check succeeds, the dropped creature holds on somehow, and neither the creature that made the successful Climb check nor the creature to which it clings are considered grappled. The clinging creature, however, must hold on with at least one hand; it cannot use a shield, and loses its Dexterity bonus (if any) to Armor Class. If damaged while clinging, the creature must make a Climb check (DC 20) or fall.
A flying creature can plow past or over an opponent using an overrun attack.
Avoiding the Overrun: A flyer can avoid an aerial overrun just as a land bound creature can. If the creature has a minimum forward speed, it must make a Reflex save (DC 15) to avoid stalling after the sudden maneuver. If the defender decides to avoid, you can move through its space whether it stalls or not.
Blocking the Overrun: If the opponent decides to block, make opposed Strength checks or opposed Dexterity checks (each creature involved chooses which to use).Bonuses and penalties for size are the same as a normal overrun no matter which kinds of checks the opponent's use. In addition, each creature gets a bonus based on its maneuverability rating, as follows: perfect +12, good +8, average +4, poor +0, clumsy -4.
Stability bonuses do not apply in aerial overruns.
Overrun Results: An aerial overrun generally has the same results as a regular overrun, except that a creature knocked prone stalls instead (even if it doesn't have a minimum forward speed). If an overrunning attacker wins the opposed check, it can inflict unarmed strike damage on the defender instead of making the defender stall. A creature with natural weaponry uses the damage rating of one of its primary attacks as the unarmed strike damage.
Most creature using wings or other appendages to fly can be tripped. Incorporeal creatures with perfect maneuverability, and creatures that don't rely on their limbs to fly cannot be tripped when in flight.
Resolving the Trip Attempt: The attacker makes a Strength check. The defender can oppose the attempt with a Strength check or a Dexterity check. Each creature gets a bonus based on its maneuverability rating, as follows: perfect +12, good maneuverability +8, average +4, poor +0, clumsy -4.
Stability bonuses do not apply in aerial overruns.
Trip Results: A successful trip forces the defender to stall (even if the tripped creature doesn't have a minimum forward speed) rather than knocking the defender prone.
In Part Six, we'll examine a few remaining issues that we didn't cover previously.
A battlefield may contain some squares you cannot enter, such as solid walls (if you're corporeal). Sometimes it's possible to maneuver your way through an impassible square after all.
Corners: Corners, such as where two walls meet at a right angle, block movement. You cannot move diagonally past them, though you can trace line of effects for attacks past them. When you attack past a corner, you foe has cover. Most squares that contain foes are impassible to you, but you can move diagonally past them and your target doesn't get cover if you attack along that diagonal. This is because creatures don't completely fill all the space they occupy on the battlefield.
Big and Little Creatures: Fine, Diminutive, and Tiny creatures can freely enter squares that other creatures occupy, even foes (though entering a foe's space provokes an attack of opportunity from that foe). Likewise, a creature can enter another creature's space if it is three size categories smaller or three size categories bigger than the other creature.
Ending Your Movement: When you stop moving, you must be in a space that can hold you. Sometimes, it's possible to move through a space where you cannot stop. For example, you can move through an ally's space, but you can't stop there. If you ever accidentally end your move in a space where you cannot stop, you go back to the last space along your movement route that can hold you. Returning to that space doesn't count as part of your movement.
If you're small enough (or big enough) to freely enter another creature's space, you also can end your movement in that space.
A creature can squeeze through or into a space that is at least half as wide as its space. Movement while squeezing is hampered, and the squeezing creature suffers a -4 penalty on attack rolls and a -4 penalty to Armor Class.
Using the Escape Artist skill, a creature can squeeze into or through a space that's wide enough to admit its head (as a rule of thumb, that's a space a quarter as wide as the creature's face). The squeezing creature can't attack while using Escape Artist to squeeze through or into a narrow space. It takes a -4 penalty to AC, and it loses any Dexterity bonus to Armor Class.
A squeezing creature fills the whole space into which it has squeezed. Smaller creatures cannot pass through the squeezing creature's space. Fine, Diminutive, and Tiny creatures have no natural reach and must enter an opponent's space to attack, technically, that's impossible but here's an unofficial rule to cover the situation: Such creatures can attacker bigger creatures when they're squeezing. The smaller creature enters the squeezing creature's space just long enough to attack. To do so, the smaller creature must be able to fit into the squeezing creature's space without squeezing itself, and the smaller creature provokes an attack of opportunity when it enters the bigger creature's space (unless it cannot attack because it's using the Escape Artist skill). After the smaller creature's attack (or attacks if it uses the full attack action), it must return to the space it left to make the attack, as noted above.
Formerly Helpless Creatures
It's possible for any creature, friend or foe, to end its movement in a space that contains a helpless creature. Unfortunately, it's also possible for the helpless creature to resume functioning while another creature shares its space. Here are some unofficial suggestions for dealing with the situation.
The formerly helpless creature must remain prone in its space until its turn. If another creature still shares its space when the formerly helpless creature's turn comes, the formerly helpless creature must either exit the space, force the other creature out, or contest the space.
To exit the space, the formerly helpless creature must either crawl into an adjacent space that can hold it, or it must stand up and move to an adjacent space that can hold it. Crawling out of the space provokes attacks of opportunity from foes that threaten the space the creature leaves and from foes that threaten the space the creature crawls into (though the creature can tumble as noted in Part 3).
If the creature stands up, it provokes attacks of opportunity from foes that threaten the space where it stands up. It also must use either a move action or a 5-foot step to get into an adjacent space. If it uses a move action, it provokes attacks of opportunity from foes that threaten the space it left.
To force the other creature out of the shared space, the formerly helpless creature makes a bull rush attack against the creature sharing the space. This works just like a normal bull rush, except that if it fails the opposed check to resolve the bull rush, it remains, prone, in the shared space.
To contest the space, the formerly helpless creature can make a grapple attack on the creature that shares the space. If the formerly helpless creature fails to establish a hold, it remains, prone, in the shared space. If it establishes a hold, it can remain in the shared space and continue to grapple just as it would with any other grapple attempt. (Remember that to maintain a grappling hold an attacker must enter the foe's space.)
If the formerly helpless creature is small enough (or big enough) to end its movement in the shared space (see above), it can simply remain in the shared space. If it decides to stand up, it provokes attacks of opportunity as normal for standing up.
In Part Seven, we examine various conditions and spells that affect movement.
The following conditions affect speed and movement, either directly or indirectly. This section deals only with each condition's affect on movement; there may be other effects, as noted in the Glossary section of the Dungeon Master's Guide (pages 300-301).
Ability Damage or Ability Drain: Any creature with an ability score reduced to 0 is either dead (0 Constitution), unconscious, (0 Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma), or helpless (0 Strength). Any of these could cramp your style. In addition, loss of Strength reduces a creature's ability to carry a load, which can affect the creature's encumbrance (see Part One).
Blinded: You're reduced to half speed (see Part One) when you're blinded unless you've got some other ability that makes up for your lack of sight, such as the blind sense or blindsight ability.
You are effectively blinded whenever visibility is reduced to nothing for you, such as when you don't have darkvision and you're in total darkness.
Blown Away: If you're blown away, you're moving, but that movement doesn't count against your movement for the current turn (if you're blown away during your own turn) or against your movement on your next turn (if you're blown away during someone else's turn). If being blown away moves you out of a threatened square, you provoke attacks of opportunity from any foes that threaten the square.
If you're on the ground when you're blown away, you're knocked prone while you're being blown, and you finish your involuntary movement prone (see the notes on the prone condition).
Checked: When you're checked, you can't move in the direction of the force that's checking you. You can move at right angles to the force that's checking you, and you can move along with the force, but you don't get an increase in speed.
If you're flying, a wind affect that checks you blows you along. This is like being blown away, except that you're not prone.
Cowering: When you're cowering, you can't take any actions, including move actions, and you also cannot take a 5-foot step.
Dazed: As with cowering, you cannot take any actions, including move actions, and you also cannot take a 5-foot step.
Disabled: A disabled creature can take only a single move action or single standard action and moves at half speed (see Part One) if it moves. Any strenuous activity damages the creature. Taking a single move action (at half speed) doesn't cause injury, but a standard action does, and that includes any standard action that involves moving, such as charging or withdrawing.
Entangled: Some forms of entanglement prevent movement completely, and some merely hamper movement (see Part One). Check the entangling effect's description to determine if movement is possible at all. An effect can sometimes completely prevents movement and sometimes merely hamper movement; for example, you're entangled and cannot move at all if you fail your saving throw against an entangle spell. You can, however, rip free with a Strength check and move at half speed.
Exhausted: You move at half speed when you're exhausted.
Fatigued: You cannot run or charge when fatigued, but your movement isn't otherwise affected.
Frightened: When you're frightened, you must flee from the source of your fright as best you can. Your speed isn't affected for good or for ill, but you're obliged to move away as fast as you can. Though the rules don't specifically require it, you should always move along a path that takes you farther way from the source of your fright, never closer. (However, if you can see a clear path that briefly moves you closer to what frightened you before leading you away again, you can use that if no other path is available.)
Grappling: You can't move while grappling unless you first succeed with a grapple check and you're strong enough to drag your opponent (or opponents) along with you. Moving while grappling requires a standard action from you. If your grapple check succeeds, you can move at half speed as part of the standard action you used to move. Since you're spending a standard action to move while grappling, you can move only once.
The forgoing should not be confused with escaping from a grapple. If you break free from a grapple, you're no longer grappling. It takes a standard action to get loose, but, once you do, you can then use a move action move away (or do anything else you can do as a move action), with no impediment to your movement. Remember that your foe probably isn't grappling anymore, either, so if your foe is armed, you'll provoke an attack of opportunity from that foe as you move away.
Helpless: When you're helpless, you can't take any actions, including move actions, and you cannot take a 5-foot step.
Incorporeal: Incorporeal creatures usually can ignore most impediments to movement.
Knocked Down: If you're knocked down while on the ground, you fall prone (see the section on the prone condition). Flying creatures usually are blown back when knocked down, which is just like being blown away except that you are not knocked prone.
Nauseated: When you're nauseated, you can do nothing except take a single move action each turn. Your movement isn't otherwise hampered or restricted.
Panicked: A panicked creature's movement is affected in more or less the same way as a frightened creature's is, except that its path is random. The rules don't define random movement in this case. In practice, it's easiest to assume that a panicked creature moves away from the source of its fright along the most direct available route. When the creature encounters some obstacle, randomly determine which way it turns, but avoid having the creature move back toward the source of its fright if possible.
Paralyzed: Paralyzed creatures can take only purely mental actions. In most cases, that prevents the character from using most move, standard, or full-round actions. If the paralyzed creature has some form of movement that doesn't require it to move its body (such as a fly spell), it can use a move action to move, but it cannot take other sorts of move actions, such as drawing weapons.
Most spell-like abilities are purely mental. A supernatural ability that does not require the creature to move its body or expel something from its body might be available. Breath weapons aren't available to paralyzed creatures. Most energy draining attacks require the creature to touch a foe and are difficult, if not impossible, to use while paralyzed. Gaze attacks remain potent when a creature is paralyzed, but a paralyzed creature cannot actively use its gaze against specific foes (see the gaze attack description in the Monster Manual glossary).
Pinned: When you're pinned, you're held in one place and you cannot move from there. You also cannot take any move action, or any full-round or standard action except attempting to break the pin (see the section on grappling in Chapter 8 of the Player's Handbook).
Prone: When you're prone, you're lying on the ground. As noted in Part One, you can crawl 5 feet while prone as a move action, or you can use a move action to stand up (either of these provokes an attack of opportunity from foes that threaten you). You also can tumble 5 feet without provoking an attack of opportunity (see Part One).
Staggered: When you're staggered, you can take only a single move action or a single standard action each turn. Your movement isn't otherwise hampered or restricted.
Turned: For 10 rounds, turned creatures must move away by the best and fastest means available to them from whatever turned them. See the notes on the frightened condition for information on handling movement by turned creatures.
More than one hundred of the spells found in the Player's Handbook have some affect on movement, which is far too many to examine in detail here.
Spells such as levitate, fly, and air walk allow a creature to leave the ground and move through the air.
Spells such as fly and overland flight actually grant the subject a fly speed for a time, and creatures using the spells are subject to all the rules on flight discussed in Parts Three and Four. Other spells don't actually impart flying speeds, but they still allow movement through the air in some fashion.
The air walk spell doesn't allow true flight, but it does enable the subject to literally walk on air. An air walker's movement is hampered if the character walks up or down through the air. The air walker's movement isn't hampered if the air walker gains or loses only 5 feet of altitude.
Winds can move an air walker around. If a powerful wind strikes an air walker, treat the subject as a flying creature when applying effects from Table 3-24 in the Dungeon Master's Guide. Even when the subject is too big to suffer any ill effects from a wind, a wind of strong or greater power will shift the subject. At the end of the creature's turn, it moves 5 feet for every five miles per hour of wind speed, provided that the air walker doesn't have anything to brace against or hold onto. This movement can provoke attacks of opportunity. If the wind is powerful enough to check, knock down, or blow away the subject, the movement from those effects doesn't stack with this effect, but you still apply any damage or other consequences from the wind effect. For example if a Small creature is struck by a blast of air moving 55 miles an hour, it will move 55 feet at the end of its turn. A 55-mile-an-hour wind, however, also is sufficient to blow away a Small flyer if it fails a Fortitude save. If the save fails, the air walker is blown 1d4x10 feet. Assuming the die roll indicates 30 feet of movement, the example creature still moves only 55 feet, but also takes 3d4 points of nonlethal damage from the blown away effect.
The levitate spell allows you to mentally direct the subject (which can be yourself) to move up or down as much as 20 feet each round; this is something you can do while paralyzed.
Moving a subject up or down is a move action for you. The spell doesn't allow horizontal movement, but if the subject has some surface to push off, he or she can move along that surface at half speed. Although the spell description doesn't mention it, it is reasonable to have winds affect a levitating subject exactly as they affect an air walker. You can use these rules for other creatures that are floating through the air as well, such as creatures using feather fall effects, or creatures floating downward after a fly or air walk spell has ended.
Barrier spells create physical or magical barriers that block or impede movement, or that inflict some effect when something moves through them.
When a spell creates a tangible barrier, creatures must move around it, climb over it, or break through it. When it's possible to break through a barrier spell, the spell description gives the barrier's hardness and hit points, or the spell description describes some other way to break through (wall of thorns is an example of the latter kind). Most magically created barriers are too smooth to climb if they're vertical. A wall of thorns spell isn't too smooth to climb. You can assume it has a Climb DC of 20, and that anyone climbing it takes damage from it as though passing through it.
Some barrier spells, such as wall of fire and blade barrier deal damage to things that pass through them, but they do not otherwise block movement unless their descriptions say they do. Most such spells can be aimed so that they appear in the same location as a creature. If so, the creature takes damage as though it passed through the barrier. Usually a creature that has a barrier dropped right on it in this manner can attempt a Reflex save to avoid damage. If this save succeeds, the creature avoids the barrier and ends up on the side of its choice (this occurs at the time the barrier occurs and doesn't count against the creature's movement during its next turn).
The wall of ice spell is a barrier that you can smash through, but you also take damage when passing through it. If a wall of ice effect is aimed so that it appears in a creature's space, a successful Reflex save from the creature keeps the wall from forming.
Several spells bind up their subjects so as to interfere with movement or prevent it altogether. Most of these spells simply entangle their subjects; see the section on the entangled condition for details.
A rope that has received an animate rope spell can entangle a creature and hamper its movement, but it won't render the creature unable to take move actions. If you tie an animated rope to something, the rope can hold an entangled creature in place, keeping it from moving from the spot (or from moving farther than the rope's length allows, depending on where and how you tie the rope).
The entangle spell causes everyone in its area to become entangled (whether those creatures are in the area when the spell is cast or if they enter the area later). The spell holds creatures in place if they fail their saves against the spell. It takes a full-round action and a Strength check (DC 20) to get moving again once stuck in place. If you fail your Strength check, you use up a full-round action making the attempt. If you succeed, you can move once at half speed as part of the full-round action you used to get free. Even though you're mobile, you're still entangled while inside the spell's area.
The web spell has an entangling effect that is similar to the entangle spell, except that movement is even more restricted inside the spell's area. If you are not stuck in place inside the spell's area, it takes a full-round action to move at all, and you must make a Strength or Escape Artist check. You move 5 feet for each full 5 points by which the check result exceeds 10.
Some spells can reach out and grab you just as a creature can. These spells include Evard's black tentacles and several of the Bigby's hand spells. Such spells make grapple attacks as creatures of a size listed in the spell's description, except that they don't provoke attacks of opportunity when they grab creatures. A number of spells in this category entangle creatures they aren't grappling (Evard's black tentacles, for example); if this is the case, the spell's description will say so.
Spells that Impede or Hamper Movement
Many spells create conditions that slow down movement. Solid fog is one example. A cloud of solid fog is so thick and cloying that any creature moving through it is reduced to a speed of 5 feet. This is just like hampered movement (see Part One), except that the creature's speed is reduced to 5 feet. The creature cannot run, charge, or take a 5-foot step, but it usually can move twice during its turn, covering 5 feet each time. If a creature moving through solid fog encounters anything else that reduces its movement (such as difficult terrain), it is reduced to using a full-round action to move 5 feet (see Part Two).
Acid fog affects movement in the same manner as solid fog. Plant growth has a similar effect if the caster chooses the overgrowth option.
Other spells create less dramatic effects. The grease spell creates slippery conditions in which it is impossible to move without a Balance check (DC 10). Even with a successful check, movement is hampered. With a failed check, you can't move at all. Whether you try to move or not, however, you must make a Reflex save to avoid falling down. You attempt the save the moment you find yourself in the spell's area or at the beginning of your turn if you begin your turn in the area.
Sleet storm hampers movement just as a grease spell does, though there is no Reflex save required (it also blocks vision).
Several spells, such as haste and expeditious retreat, increase the subject's speed ratings. Apply all speed increases before adjusting the subject's speed for encumbrance.
The spider climb spell grants a climb speed of 20, and it also allows the recipient to climb walls and ceilings without making Climb checks at all. The recipient otherwise functions just like a creature with a Climb speed (see Part Three).
Spells that allow you to assume a new form, such as alter self, polymorph, and shape change, usually also give you whatever natural speed ratings your assumed form has. For example, if you polymorph into an eagle, you can fly as an eagle does (flying speed 80 feet with average maneuverability).
Spells that give the subject a gaseous form, such as gaseous form and wind walk, generally allow flight and the ability to pass through small openings or cracks. As a rule of thumb, a gaseous creature can pass through an opening as small as an inch square without difficulty. Smaller openings count as obstacles for gaseous creatures and passing through them costs 10 feet of movement. Creatures in gaseous form cannot enter water or other liquids.
These spells instantly transport the subject from one place to another. This movement takes no time (but the action used to trigger the effect usually is at least a standard action). This movement also does not count against your movement for the turn; if you've used a teleport spell, you have not "moved" for purposes of taking a 5-foot step. However, some teleportation spells, such as dimension door, leave you unable to act after you've them. When you use a dimension door spell, you cannot take a 5-foot step or take any kind of action.
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