Combat: Actions In Combat
The fundamental actions of moving, attacking, and casting spells cover most of what you want to do in a battle. They're all described here. Other, more specialized options are touched on in Miscellaneous Actions, and covered later in Special Initiative Actions and Special Attacks and Damage.
The Combat Round
Each round represents about 6 seconds in the game world. In the real world, a round is an opportunity for each character involved in a combat to rake an action. Anything a person could reasonably do in 6 seconds, your character can do in 1 round. The most common combat actions that can be performed in 1 round - attacking, casting a spell, moving, charging, and others - are described in detail on the following pages.
Each round begins with the character with the highest initiative result and then proceeds, in order, from there. Each round 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 Actions.)
For almost all purposes, there is no relevance to the end of a round or the beginning of a round. The term "round" works like the word "month." A month can mean either a calendar month or a span of time from a day in one month to the same day the next month. In the same way, 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 number (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. For instance, a monk acts at initiative count 15. The monk's stunning attack stuns a creature for 1 round. The stun lasts through initiative count 16 in the next round, not until the end of the current round. On initiative count 15 in the next round, the stun effect ends.
What type an action is essentially tells you how long the action takes to perform (within the framework of the 6-second combat round) and how movement is treated.
Standard Action: A standard action allows you to do something and move your speed during a combat round. You can move before or after performing the activity of the action. Doing this action takes the same time as casting a 1-action spell in terms of what else you can do in the round. For instance, you can move and dismiss a spell or move and use the Heal skill to help a dying friend. You can also perform as many free actions (see below) as your DM allows.
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) as your DM allows. Some full-round actions do not allow you to take a 5-foot step.
Move-Equivalent Action: Move-equivalent actions take the place of movement in a standard action or take the place of an entire partial action. Taking such an action counts as moving your speed. For instance, Tordek can use the attack action to move 15 feet and attack once, or to stand up from prone (a move-equivalent action) and attack once. He could also use the double move action to stand up from prone and move 15 feet. He could even use a double move action to stand up from prone and retrieve a stored item (both move-equivalent actions). If you move no actual distance in a round (commonly because you have swapped your move for one or more move-equivalent actions), you can take one 5-foot step either before, during, or after the action. For example, if Tordek is on the ground, he can stand up (a move-equivalent action), move 5 feet (his 5-foot step), and attack.
Free Action: Free actions consume a very small amount of time and effort, and over the span of the round, their impact is so minor that they are considered free. You can perform one or more free actions while taking another action normally. However, the DM puts reasonable limits on what you can really do for free. For instance, calling our to your friends for help is free. Reciting your clan's war history, however, takes several minutes.
Not an Action: Some activities are nor even considered free actions. They literally don't take any time at all to do and are considered an inherent part of doing something else. For instance, using the Use Magic Device skill to emulate different class features while trying to activate a device is nor an action, it is part of the activate magic item action.
Partial Action: Usually, you don't elect to take a partial action; the condition you are in or a decision you have made (usually the ready action) mandates its use. (You can elect to take a partial action as an extra action in some situations, such as when you're affected by a haste spell.) A partial action is like a standard action, except that you can't do as much. As a general rule, you can do as much with a partial action as you could with a standard action, minus a move. Thus, you can attack once as a partial action or move your speed, but you can't both move and attack unless you are performing a partial charge action. Typically, you may take a 5-foot step as part of a partial action. You take a partial action instead of a standard action for a variety of reasons, including during a surprise round; when you have readied a partial action; and when you are disabled, staggered, slowed, or otherwise hampered. See Partial Actions.
Swift Action: A swift action consumes a very small amount of time, but represents a larger expenditure of effort and energy than a free action. You can perform one swift action per turn without affecting your ability to perform other actions. In that regard, a swift action is like a free action. However, you can perform only a single swift action per turn, regardless of what other actions you take. You can take a swift action any time you would normally be allowed to take a free action. Swift actions usually involve magic or psionics, or the activation of magic items or psionic items; many characters (especially those who don't use magic or psionics) never have an opportunity to take a swift action.
Casting a quickened spell or manifesting a quickened power is a swift action. In addition, casting any spell or manifesting any power with a casting time or manifesting time of 1 swift action (such as earth hammer) is a swift action.
Casting a spell or manifesting a power with a casting or manifesting time of 1 swift action does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
Immediate Action: Much like a swift action, an immediate action consumes a very small amount of time, but represents a larger expenditure of effort and energy than a free action. However, unlike a swift action, an immediate action can be performed at any time - even if it's not your turn. Using an immediate action on your turn is the same as using a swift action, and counts as your swift action for that turn. You cannot use another immediate action or a swift action until after your next turn if you have used an immediate action when it is not currently your turn (effectively, using an immediate action before your turn is equivalent to using your swift action for the coming turn). You also cannot use an immediate action if you are currently flat-footed.
Attacks Of Opportunity
The melee rules assume that combatants are actively avoiding attacks. A player doesn't have to declare anything special for her character to be on the defensive. Even if a character's figure is just standing there on the tabletop like a piece of lead, you can be sure that if some orc with a battleaxe attacks the character, she is weaving, dodging, and even threatening the orc with a weapon to keep the orc a little worried for his own hide.
Sometimes, however, a combatant in a melee lets her guard down, and she is nor on the defensive as usual. In this case, combatants near her can take advantage of her lapse in defense to attack her for free. These attacks are called attacks of opportunity.
Threatened Area: You threaten the area into which you can make a melee attack, even when it is not your action. Generally, that's everything within 5 feet of you in any direction. An enemy that takes certain actions while in a threatened area provokes an attack of opportunity from you.
Provoking an Attack of Opportunity: If you move within or out of a threatened area, you usually provoke an attack of opportunity If all you do is move (nor run) during your turn, the space that you start our in is nor considered threatened, and therefore enemies do not get attacks of opportunity against you when you move from that space. If you move into another threatened space, enemies do get attacks of opportunity for your leaving the first threatened space. In addition, if your entire move for the round is 5 feet (a 5-foot step), enemies do not get attacks of opportunity for your moving.
Some actions themselves provoke attacks of opportunity, including casting a spell and attacking with a ranged weapon.
Fundamental Actions in Combat; Miscellaneous Actions; and Partial Actions note many of the actions that provoke attacks of opportunity
Making an Attack of Opportunity: An attack of opportunity is a single melee attack, and you can only make one per round. You do nor 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 this round.
Combat Reflexes and Additional Attacks of Opportunity: you have the Combat Reflexes feat, you can add you Dexterity modifier to the number of attacks of opportunity you can make between actions. (This feat does not, however, let you make more than one attack for a given opportunity) All these attacks are at your normal attack bonus. You do nor suffer reductions to your attack bonus for making multiple attacks of opportunity.
These are the most common, straightforward actions that a character or creature might take to attack. More specialized attack actions are mentioned in Miscellaneous Actions, and covered in Special Attacks and Damage.
The attack action is a standard action. You can move and then make a single attack, or attack and then move.
|Fundamental Actions In Combat|
|Action||Move||Attack of Opportunity|
|Full attack||5-ft. step||No|
|Cast a spell|
|Full-round spell||5-ft. step||Yes|
|Concentrate to maintain||Yes||No|
|Activate magic item||Yes||Maybe|
|Use special ability|
|Use spell-like ability||Usually**||Yes|
|Use supernatural ability||Usually**||No|
|Use extraordinary ability*-*-||Usually**||No|
|x2: You can move twice your normal speed.|
x4: You can move quadruple your normal speed.
*Regardless of the action, if you move within or out of a threatened area, you usually provoke an attack of opportunity. This column indicates whether the action itself, not moving, provokes an attack of opportunity.
**You can move unless the action is defined as a full-round action, in which case you normally get a 5-foot step.
*-*You can move up to twice your normal speed, but only before the attack, not after. You must move at least 10 feet, and the entire move must be in a straight line.
*-*-Most extraordinary abilities aren't actions. This applies to those that are.
Melee Attacks: With a normal melee weapon, you can strike any enemy within 5 feet. (Enemies within 5 feet are considered adjacent to you.) Some melee weapons have reach, as indicated in their descriptions in Weapons. You can strike opponents 10 feet away with a reach weapon, but you cannot strike adjacent foes (those within 5 feet).
Ranged Attacks: With a ranged weapon, you can shoot or throw at any target that is within the ranged weapon's maximum range and in line of sight. A target is in line of sight if no obstructions are between you and the target. 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 their descriptions.
Attack Rolls: An attack roll represents your attempts to strike your opponent, including feints and wild swings. It does nor represent a single swing of the sword, for example. Rather, it simply indicates whether, over perhaps several attempts, you managed to connect solidly.
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 (see Critical Hits).
Damage Rolls: If the attack roll result equals or exceeds the target's AC, the attack is successful, and you deal damage. Roll the appropriate damage for your weapon (see Weapons). Damage is deducted from the target's current hit points. If the opponent's hit points drop to 0 or less, he's in bad shape (see Injury and Death)
Critical Hits: When you make an attack roll and get a natural 20 (the d20 shows 20), you hit regardless of your target's AC, 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 attack roll you just made. If the critical toll also results in a hit roll-another attack toll with all the same modifiers as the 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 to get total damage. Unless otherwise specified, the threat range for a critical hit on an attack roll is 20, and the multiplier is x2. (See Increased Threat Range and Increased Critical Multiplier, below.)
Exception: Bonus damage represented as extra dice, such as from a sneak attack or a flaming sword, is not multiplied when you score a critical hit.
Increased Threat Range: Sometimes your threat range is greater than 20. That is, you can score a threat on a lower number. Longswords, for instance, give you a threat on a natural attack roll of 19 or 20. In such cases, a roll below 20 is not an automatic hit. Any attack roll that doesn't result in a hit is not a threat.
Increased Critical Multiplier: Some weapons, such as battleaxes and arrows, deal better than double damage with a critical bit. See Weapons and the "Critical" section of Weapon Qualities.
Spells and Critical Hits: A spell that requires an attack roll, such as shocking grasp or Melf's acid arrow, can score a critical hit. A spell attack that requires no attack roll, such as lightning bolt, cannot score a critical hit.
Multiple Attacks: A character with more than one attack per round must use the full attack action in order to get more than, one attack.
Shooting or Throwing into a Melee: If you shoot or throw a ranged weapon at a target that is engaged in melee with an ally, you suffer a -4 penalty on your attack roll because you have to aim carefully to avoid hitting your ally. Two characters are engaged in melee if they are enemies of each other and either threatens the other. (A held, unconscious, or otherwise immobilized character is not considered engaged unless he is actually being attacked.)
If 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 ally, you can avoid the -4 penalty, even if the creature you're aiming at is engaged in melee with an ally.
Precise Shot: If you have the Precise Shot feat, you don't suffer this penalty.
Fighting Defensively: You can choose to fight defensively when taking the 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.
Charging is a special standard action that allows you to move more than your speed and attack during the action. However, it carries tight restrictions on how you can move.
Movement during a Charge: You must move before your attack, not after. You must move at least 10 feet and may move up to double your speed. All movement must be in a straight line, with no backing up allowed. You must stop as soon as you are within striking range of your target. You can't run past him and attack from another direction.
Attacking: After moving, you may make a single melee attack. Since you can use the momentum of the charge in your favor, you get a +2 bonus on the attack roll. Since a charge is impossible without a bit of recklessness, you also suffer a -2 penalty to your AC for 1 round.
Even if you have extra attacks, such as from having a high enough base attack bonus or from using multiple weapons, you only get to make one attack during a charge.
Lances and Charge Attacks: A lance deals double damage if employed by a mounted character in a charge.
If you get more than one attack per action because your base attack bonus is high enough, because you fight with two weapons, because you're using a double weapon, or for some special reason (such as a feat or a magic item), you must use the full attack 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.
Full attack is a full-round action. Because of this, the 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 based on your base attack bonus, 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 Action: After your first attack, if you have not yet taken a 5-foot step, you can decide to move instead of making your remaining attacks. Essentially, you can decide whether to take the normal attack action or the full attack action depending on how the first attack turns out.
Fighting Defensively: You can choose to fight defensively when taking the 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.
Attacking with Two Weapons: If you wield a second weapon in your off hand, you can get one extra attack per round with that weapon. Fighting in this way is very hard, however, and you suffer a -6 penalty with your regular attack or attacks with your primary hand and a -10 penalty to the attack with your off hand. You can reduce these stiff penalties in three ways:
- If your off-hand weapon is light, the penalties are reduced by 2 each. A light weapon is one that's smaller than a weapon you could use in one hand. Its size category is smaller than yours. (An unarmed strike is always considered light.) A short sword is light to a human and a dagger is light to a gnome.
- The Two Weapon Fighting feat reduces primary hand penalty by 2 and the off-hand penalty by 6.
Two-Weapon Fighting Penalties summarizes the interaction of all these factors.
|Two-Weapon Fighting Penalties|
|Circumstances||Primary Hand||Off Hand|
|Off-hand weapon is light||-4||-8|
|Two-Weapon Fighting feat||-4||-4|
|Off-hand weapon is light and Two-Weapon Fighting feat||-2||-2|
Double Weapons: You can use a double weapon to make an extra attack as if you were fighting with two weapons. The penalties apply as if the off-hand weapon were light.
These are the most common, straight forward actions involving the use of magic. Less commonly used magic actions are touched on in the table below: Miscellaneous Actions, Turn and Rebuke Undead, and the descriptions of the Concentration skill and in Magic.
Cast a Spell
Casting a spell with a casting time of 1 action is a standard action. You can move and then cast the spell, or cast the spell and then move. Casting a spell with a casting time of 1 full round is a full-round action. You can take a 5-foot step before, during, or after casting such a spell, but cannot otherwise move. See Magic for details on casting spells, their effects, saving throws, and so on.
Note: You retain your Dexterity bonus to AC while casting.
Spell Components: To cast a spell with a verbal (V) component, you 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, grappled, or with both your hands full or occupied (swimming, clinging to a cliff, etc.).
To cast a spell with a material (M), focus (F), or divine focus (DF) component, you have to have the proper materials, as described by the spell. Unless these materials are elaborate, such as the 2-foot-by-4-foot mirror that a wizard needs to cast scrying, preparing these materials 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 component pouch.
Some powerful spells have an experience point (XP) component and entail an experience point cost to you. No spell, not even restoration, 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 cannot concentrate, such as because hundreds of malignant insects are biting off little pieces of your skin all over your body (see the summon swarm spell), you can't cast a spell. If you start casting a spell but something interferes with your concentration, such as an ogre taking the opportunity to hit you with its 40-pound club (successfully hitting you with his attack of opportunity), 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, and Concentration). If you fail, the spell fizzles with no effect. If you prepare spells (as a wizard, cleric, druid, paladin, or ranger does), it is lost from preparation. If you cast at will (as a sorcerer or bard does), it counts against your daily limit of spells even though you did not cast it successfully
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 ends.
Casting Time: Most spells have a casting time of 1 action. These spells you can cast as a standard action. A spell cast in this manner immediately takes effect.
A few spells have a casting time of 1 full round or even longer. A spell that takes 1 full round to cast is a full-round action, and 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. A 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).
When you begin a spell that takes a full 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 the spell.
Attacks of 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) or lose the spell.
Casting on the Defensive: You may attempt to cast a spell while on the defensive. This option means casting the spell while paying attention to threats and avoiding blows. In this case, you are no more vulnerable to attack than you would be if you were just standing there, so casting a spell while on the defensive does not provoke an attack of opportunity. It does, however, require a Concentration check (DC 10 + 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 at an attack.
Touch Attacks: Since you need only touch your enemy, you make a touch attack instead of a regular attack. Touching an opponent with a touch spell is considered to be an armed attack and therefore does not provoke attacks of opportunity when it is discharged on an armed opponent. The touch spell provides you with a credible threat that the defender is obliged to take into account just as if it were a weapon. However, the act of casting a spell does provoke an attack of opportunity, so you may want to cast the spell and then move to the target instead of vice versa. Touch attacks come in two types: melee touch attacks (for touches made with say, your hand) and ranged touch attacks (for touches made with magic rays, for example). 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 normally.
Holding the Charge: If you don't discharge the spell on the round 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.
Activate Magic Item
Many magic items don't need to be activated - magic weapons, magic armor, gauntlets of dexterity, and so forth. 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, such as a scroll, 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 a spell (see Casting on the Defensive).
Spell Trigger, Command Word, or Use-Activated Items: Activating a spell trigger, command word, or use-activated item does not require concentration and does not provoke attacks of opportunity. (See Using Magic Items for more information on magic items.
Use Special Ability
Using a special ability is usually an action, but whether it is a standard action, a full-round action, or nor an action at all is defined by the ability. See Special Abilities.
Spell-Like Abilities: Using a spell-like ability (such as a paladin's laying on of hands) 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 fail, but the attempt counts as if you had used the ability (for example, it counts against your daily limit if you have one). The casting time of a spell-like ability is 1 action, making its use a 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 a spell. If the Concentration check (DC is) fails, you can't use the ability, but the attempt counts as if you had used the ability (for example, it counts against your daily limit if you have one, or it uses up at least 1 point of increment of its daily complement, such as in laying on hands).
Supernatural Abilities: Using a supernatural ability (such as a cleric's turn undead or rebuke undead ability) is usually a standard action (unless defined otherwise by the ability description). Its use cannot be disrupted, does not require concentration, and does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
Extraordinary Abilities: Using an extraordinary ability (such as a barbarian's uncanny dodge 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 nor require concentration, and do not provoke attacks of opportunity. The descriptions of these abilities note any exceptions to these general rules.
Sometimes you just want to cover ground as quickly as possible or put as much distance as you can between yourself and an opponent. The actions covered here are actions during which you devote your efforts only to moving during a round. Less commonly used movement actions, including many move-equivalent actions, are covered in Miscellaneous Actions.
You can move up to double your speed as a special standard action. You do not get to move your speed in addition to this as in a normal standard action, however. Essentially, the double move action already counts the move of a standard action. It's a "move and a move," thus a double move.
As with any other move, if you move within or out of a threatened area, you provoke an attack of opportunity from the threatening enemy However, since all you do when you take a double move action is to move, the space where you begin your move is not considered threatened, and therefore enemies do not get attacks of opportunity for your moving from that space. If you move into another threatened space, enemies get attacks of opportunity for your leaving the first threatened space.
For example, an orc marauder is fighting Tordek and Lidda in a hallway. Tordek and Lidda are side by side. Using the double move action, the orc flees directly away from them. Since all the orc does is move during his turn, the space where he starts (about 5 feet across) is not threatened, so Tordek and Lidda don't get attacks of opportunity against him, If, on the other hand, the orc were between Tordek and Lidda, the space where the marauder started would not be threatened, but no matter which direction he moved, he would enter another threatened space, since both Tordek and Lidda threaten 5-foot areas around themselves. The marauder would have to move away from Tordek (and thus into a space still threatened by Lidda) or away from Lidda (and thus into a space still threatened by Tordek). Whichever character he did not move away from would get an attack of opportunity against the orc as he moved out of the threatened space that he entered. If he moved to either side, he would be moving into a space threatened by both opponents, so each would get an attack of opportunity against him.
A double move represents a hustle, which for an unencumbered human is about six miles per hour.
You can run as a full-round action. (You do not get a 5-foot step.) When you run, you can move up to four times your normal speed in a straight line (or three times your speed if you're in heavy armor). You lose any Dexterity bonus to AC since you can't avoid attacks.
You can run for a number of rounds equal to your Constitution score, but after that, you must succeed at a Constitution check (DC 10) 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, the character can move no faster than a normal move.
A run represents a speed of about twelve miles per hour for an unencumbered human.
Usually you don't take a partial action because you elect to, but rather because you are required to. (You can elect to take a partial action as an extra action in some situations, such as when you're affected by a haste spell.) Partial actions are like standard actions, except that you can't do as much with a partial action as you can with a standard action.
As a general rule, you can do as much with a partial action as you could with a standard action minus a move. Thus, you can attack once as a partial action or move your speed, but you can't both move and attack. If an action is normally a full-round action, sometimes you can still do it as a partial action, and sometimes to complete it you need to use the start full-round action action and complete the action in the following round with another partial action (see Start Full-Round Action). Typically, you may take a 5-foot step as part of a partial action.
Actions that take more than a round typically take twice as long to perform when you must take partial actions to accomplish them. Thus, a spell that normally takes 1 minute to cast would instead take 2 minutes.
When to Use Partial Actions: You take partial actions instead of standard actions for a variety of reasons, including:
- It is a surprise round instead of a regular round.
- You readied a partial action (see Ready).
- You are disabled, slowed, staggered, or otherwise hampered.
Start Full-Round Action: The start full-round action partial action lets you start undertaking a miscellaneous full-round action (such as those listed in Miscellaneous Actions), which you can complete on the following round (even with a partial action). For instance, if you are limited to partial actions, you can shoot a heavy crossbow every 3 rounds: 2 rounds to load it and 1 round to shoot it.
|Partial Action||Move||Attack of Opportunity*|
|Attack Partial Actions|
|Attack (melee)||5-ft. step||No|
|Attack (ranged)||5-ft. step||Yes|
|Attack (unarmed)||5-ft. step||Maybe|
|Partial charge||Yes (special)*-||No|
|Magic Partial Actions|
|Cast a spell*-*-||5-ft. step||Yes|
|Activate magic item||5-ft. step||Maybe|
|Use special ability*-*||5-ft. step||Maybe|
|Concentrate to maintain a spell||5-ft. step||No|
|Dismiss a spell||5-ft. step||No|
|Movement-Only Partial Actions|
|Miscellaneous Partial Actions**||5-ft. step||Maybe|
|Special Partial Action|
|Start full-round action||No||Maybe|
|*Regardless of the action, if you move within or out of a threatened area, you usually provoke an attack of opportunity. This column indicates whether the action itself (not the moving) provokes an attack of opportunity.|
You must move in a straight line before attacking and must move at least 10 feet.
*-*-Unless doing so is a full-round action, in which case you could start a full-round action and then finish it the next round with a cast a spell action. Spells that take longer than 1 full round to cast take twice as long to cast.
**Those actions on Miscellaneous Actions defined as standard or move-equivalent actions. Most allow a 5-foot step, though actions that are variant charge actions follow the move for partial charge.
Some actions don't fit neatly into the above categories. Some of these options are actions that take the place of or are variations on the actions described in Attack Actions, Magic Actions, and Movement-Only Actions. For actions not covered below, the DM lets you know how long such an action takes to perform and whether doing so provokes attacks of opportunity from threatening enemies. The variant and special attacks mentioned here are covered in Special Attacks and Damage.
You can simply defend yourself and move during a round as a standard action. You don't attack or perform any other activity other than moving your speed, but you get a +4 dodge bonus on your AC for 1 round. Your AC improves at the start of this action, so it helps you against any attacks of opportunity you suffer while moving.
Certain feats, such as Whirlwind Attack, let you take special actions in combat. Others are not actions themselves, but they give you a bonus when attempting something you can already do, such as Improved Disarm. Some feats, such as item creation feats, are not meant to be used within the framework of combat. See Feat Classes and Feat Search for more details.
|Action||Attack of Opportunity*|
|Cast a quickened spell or featherfall spell||No|
|Cease concentration on a spell||No|
|Prepare spell components to cast a spell**||No|
|Direct Bigby's clenched fist spell, rainbow pattern spell or shield spell||No|
|Attack with eyebite spell||No|
|Change form (shapechange)||No|
|Dismiss tree shape spell||No|
|Drop an item||No|
|Drop to the floor||No|
|Make Spellcraft check on counterspell attempt||No|
|Climb (one-quarter your speed)||No|
|Draw a weapon*-||No|
|Sheathe a weapon||Yes|
|Ready a shield*-||No|
|Loose a shield*-||No|
|Open a door||No|
|Pick up an item||Yes|
|Retrieve a stored item||Yes|
|Move a heavy object||Yes|
|Stand up from prone||No|
|Load a hand crossbow||Yes|
|Load a light crossbow||Yes|
|Control a frightened mount||Yes|
|Mount a horse or dismount||No|
|Direct the movement of a flaming sphere spell or the recipient of a levitate spell||No|
|Ready (triggers a partial action)||No|
|Concentrate to maintain or redirect a spell||No|
|Dismiss a spell||No|
|Bull rush (charge)||No|
|Bull rush (attack)||No|
|Change form (shapeshifter)||No|
|Use touch spell on self||No|
|Escape a grapple||No|
|Evoke sunbeam spell||No|
|Feint (see Bluff||No|
|Issue command to animated rope||No|
|Heal a dying friend||Yes|
|Light a torch with a tindertwig||Yes|
|Use a skill that takes 1 action||Usually|
|Rebuke undead (use special ability)||No|
|Turn undead (use special ability)||No|
|Strike a weapon (attack)||Yes|
|Strike an object (attack)||Maybe*-*|
|Climb (one-half your speed)||No|
|Use a skill that takes 1 round||Usually|
|Coup de grace||Yes|
|Light a torch||Yes|
|Change form (polymorph self)||Yes|
|Load a heavy crossbow||Yes|
|Load a repeating crossbow||Yes|
|Lock or unlock weapon in locked gauntlet||Yes|
|Prepare to throw oil||Yes|
|Throw a two-handed weapon with one hand||Yes|
|Transport (tree stride spell)||No|
|Use touch spell on up to six friends||Yes|
|Refocus (no move)||No|
|Escape from a net, entangle spell, Otiluke's freezing sphere, etc.||Yes|
|Action Type Varies|
|Trip an opponent*-*||No|
|*Regardless of the action, if you move within or out of a threatened area, you usually provoke an attack of opportunity. This column indicates whether the action itself (not the moving) provokes an attack of opportunity.
**Unless the component is an extremely large or awkward item (DM's call).
*-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.
*-*If the object is being held, carried, or worn by a creature, yes. If not, no.
*-*-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.
*-*-*The description of a feat defines its effect.(see Feat Search)
Speeding Up Combat
You can use a couple of tricks to make combat run faster.
Attack and Damage: Roll your attack die and damage die (or dice) at the same time. If you miss, you can ignore the damage, but if you hit, your friends don't have to wait for you to makes second roll for damage.
Multiple Attacks: Use dice of different colors so you can make your attack rolls all at once instead of one at a time. Designate which attack is which color before you roll.
Roll Ahead of Time: Once you know who you are attacking and how, make your attack rolls before it is your turn so you have the results ready when your turn comes around. (Get your DM's okay before you roll ahead of time. Some DMs like to watch the players' attack rolls.)
Dice as Counters: Use dice to keep track of how many rounds a short-duration magical effect has been active. Each round, turn the die to the next number until the effect ends.
Concealment Rolls: If you know what your chance to miss is because of your target's concealment, you can roll it along with your attack roll. If the concealment roll indicates a miss, just ignore the attack roll.
Prep initiative: Have your DM roll the characters' and creatures' initiative checks ahead of time and prepare the order of battle. That way when a battle starts you can skip the initiative checks and get right to the action.
Miniatures: Use miniatures to show the relative positions of the combatants, It's a lot faster to place a miniature where you want your character to be than to explain (and remember) where your character is relative to everyone else.