Combat: Movement, Position and Distance
Few characters in a fight are likely to stand still for long. Enemies appear and charge the party. The heroes reply, advancing to take on new foes after they down their first opponents. Wizards remain outside the fight, looking for the best place to use their magic. Rogues quietly skirt the fracas seeking a straggler or an unwary opponent to strike with a sneak attack. Finally, if the fight is lost, most characters find it to their advantage to remove themselves from the vicinity Movement is just as important as attack skill and armor in gaining the upper hand on the battlefield.
Dungeon & Dragons miniatures are on the 30mm scale - a miniature figure of a six-foot-tall human is approximately 30mm tall. A square on the battle grid is 1 inch across, representing a 5-by-5-foot area.
Where you can move, how long it takes you to get there, and whether you're vulnerable to attacks of opportunity while you're moving are key questions in combat.
How Far Can Your Character Move?
Your speed is determined by your race and your armor (see Tactical Speed). Your speed while unarmored is your base speed.
Encumbrance: A character encumbered by carrying a large amount of gear, treasure, or fallen comrades may move slower than normal (see Carrying Capacity).
Movement in Combat: Generally, you can move your speed in a round and still do something, such as swing an axe or cast a spell. If you spend the entire round running, you can move quadruple your speed. If you do something that requires a full round, such as attacking more than once, you can only take a 5-foot step.
Bonuses to Speed: A barbarian has a +10 foot bonus to his speed (unless he's wearing heavy armor). Experienced monks also have higher speed (unless they're wearing armor of any sort). In addition, many spells and magic items can affect a character's speed. Always apply any modifiers to a character's speed before adjusting the character's speed based on armor or encumbrance and remember that multiple bonuses of the same type to character's speed (such as enhancement bonuses) don't stack.
|Race||No Armor or Light Armor||Medium or Heavy Armor|
|Human, elf, half-elf half-orc||30 ft.||20 ft.|
|Dwarf, halfling, gnome||20 ft.||15 ft.|
Tactical Aerial Movement
The elf barbarian mounted on the giant eagle swoops over the group of mind flayers, launching arrows from his bow. One of the mind flayers wears winged boots and takes to the air to better confront the elf. Once movement becomes three-dimensional and involves turning in midair and maintaining a minimum velocity to stay aloft, it gets more complicated.
Most flying creatures have to slow down at least a little to make a turn, and many are limited to fairly wide turns and must maintain a minimum forward speed. Each flying creature has a maneuverability, as shown on Maneuverability Table.
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 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.
Hover: The ability to stay in one place while airborne.
Move Backward: The ability to move backward without turning around.
Reverse: A creature with good maneuverability uses up 5 feet of its speed to start flying backward.
Turn: How much the creature can turn after covering the stated distance.
Turn in Place: A creature with good or average maneuverability can use some of its speed to turn in place.
Maximum Turn: How much the creature can turn in any one space.
Up Angle: The angle at which the creature can climb.
Up Speed: How fast the creature can climb.
Down Angle: The angle at which the creature can descend.
Down Speed: A flying creature can fly down at twice its normal flying speed.
Between Down and Up: An average, poor, or clumsy flier must fly level for a minimum distance after descending and before climbing. Any flier can begin descending after a climb without an intervening distance of level flight.
|Maneuverability and Example Creature|
|Minimum forward speed||None||None||Half||Half||Half|
|Turn||Any||90°/5 ft.||45°/5 ft.||45°/5 ft.||45°/10 ft.|
|Turn in place||Any||+90/-5 ft.||+45/-5 ft.||No||No|
|Between down and up||0||0||5 ft.||10 ft.||20 ft.|
Diagonals: When measuring distance, the first diagonal counts as a square, the second counts as 2 squares, the third counts the fourth as 2, and so on. (If it helps, you can think of a diagonal as a distance of 1.5 squares.)
You can't move diagonally past a corner (even by taking a 5-foot step). You can move diagonally past a creature, even an opponent. can also move diagonally past other impassable obstacles, as pits.
Closest Creature: When it's important to determine the closest square or creature to a location, if two squares or creatures are equally close, randomly determine which one counts as closest by rolling a die.
Moving Trough a Square
Friend: You can move through a square occupied by a friendly character unless you are charging. When you move through a square occupied by a friendly character, that character provide does not you with cover.
Opponent: You can't move through a square occupied by an opponent, unless the opponent is helpless (dead, unconscious, paralyzed, bound, or the like). You can move through a square occupied by a helpless opponent without penalty (The DM may rule that some creatures, such as an enormous dragon, present an obstacle even when helpless. In such cases, each square you move through counts as 2 squares.)
Ending Your Movement: You can't end your movement in the same square as another creature unless it is helpless.
Overrun: During your movement, you can attempt to move through a square occupied by an opponent (see Overrun).
Tumbling: A trained character can attempt to tumble through square occupied by an opponent (see the Tumble skill).
Very Small Creature: A Fine, Diminutive, or Tiny creature can move into or through an occupied square. The creature provokes attacks of opportunity when doing so.
Square Occupied by Creature Three Sizes Larger or Smaller: Any creature can move through a square occupied by a creature three size categories larger than it is. A gnome (Small), for example, can run between the legs of a cloud giant (Huge).
A big creature can move through a square occupied by a creature three size categories smaller than it is. A cloud giant, for example, can step over a gnome.
Designated Exceptions: Some creatures break the above rules. For example, a gelatinous cube fills the squares it occupies to a height of 15 feet. A creature can't move through a square occupied by a cube, even with the Tumble skill or similar special abilities.
Terrain and Obstacles
The rules presented so far in this section assume that you're moving through an area clear of obstacles or difficult terrain. However, in dungeons and wilderness areas, that's often not the case.
Difficult Terrain: Difficult terrain, such as rubble, an uneven cave floor, thick undergrowth, and the like, hamper movement. Each square of difficult terrain counts as 2 squares of movement. (Each diagonal move into a difficult terrain square counts as 3 squares.) You cannot run or charge across difficult terrain.
If you occupy squares with different kinds of terrain, you can move only as fast as the most difficult terrain you occupy will allow. (This is often significant for creatures whose space fills more than one square, such as a giant.)
Flying and incorporeal creatures are not hampered by difficult terrain.
Obstacles: Like difficult terrain, obstacles can hamper movement. if an obstacle hampers movement but doesn't completely block it, such as a low wall or a deadfall of branches, obstructed square or obstacle between squares counts as 2 squares of movement. You must pay this cost to cross the barrier, in addition to the cost to move into the square on the other side. If you don't have sufficient movement to cross the barrier and move into the square on the other side, you can't cross the barrier, Some obstacles may also require a skill check to cross (such as Climb or Jump). On the other hand, some obstacles, such as floor-to-ceiling walls, block movement entirely. A character can't move through a blocking obstacle.
Flying and incorporeal creatures can avoid most obstacles though a floor-to-ceiling wall blocks a flying creature as well as a landbound creature.
Squeezing: In some cases, you may have to squeeze into or through an area that isn't as wide as the space you take up. (This is particularly true for creatures whose space fills more than one square, such as a giant.) You can squeeze through or into a space that is at least half as wide as your normal space. For instance an ogre whose space is 10 feet, or 2 squares, wide) can squeeze through or into a space at least 5 feet (1 square) wide. Each move into or through a narrow space counts as if it were 2 squares, and while squeezed in a narrow space you take a -4 penalty on attack rolls and a -4 penalty to AC.
When a Large creature (which normally takes up to four squares) squeezes into a space that's one square wide, the creature's miniature figure occupies two squares, centered on the line between the two squares. For a bigger creature, center the creature likewise in the area it squeezes into.
A creature can squeeze past an opponent while moving but it can't end its movement in an occupied square.
To squeeze through or into a space less than half your space width, you must use the Escape Artist skill. You can attack while using Escape Artist to squeeze through or into narrow space, you take a -4 penalty to AC, and you lose any Dexterity bonus to AC.
Special Movement Rules
These rules cover special movement situations.
Accidentally Ending Movement in an Illegal Space: Sometimes a character ends its movement while moving through a space where it's not allowed to stop. For example, you might incur an attack of opportunity from a monk while moving through friend's square and become stunned. When that happens, put your miniature in the last legal position you occupied, or the closest legal position, if there's a legal position that's closer.
Double Movement Cost: When your movement is hampered in some way, your movement usually costs double. For example, each square of movement through difficult terrain counts as 2 squares, and each diagonal move through such terrain counts as 3 squares (just as two diagonal moves normally do).
If movement cost is doubled twice, then each square counts as 4 squares (or as 6 squares if moving diagonally). If movement cost us doubled three times, then each square counts as 8 squares (12 if diagonal) and so on. This is an exception to the general rule that two doublings are equivalent to a tripling.
Minimum Movement: Despite penalties to movement, you can take a full-round action to move 5 feet (1 squared in any direction, even diagonally (This rule doesn't allow you to move through impassable terrain Otto move when all movement is prohibited, such as while paralyzed.) Such movement provokes attacks of opportunity as normal (despite the distance covered, this move isn't a 5-foot step).
Sometimes you just have to go toe-to-toe in a fight, but you can usually gain some advantage by seeking a better position, either offensively or defensively. This section covers the rules for when you can line up a particularly good attack or are forced to make a disadvantageous one.
Favorable And Unfavorable Conditions
Depending on the situation, you may gain bonuses or take penalties on your attack roll. Generally, any situational modifier created by the attacker's position or tactics applies to the attack roll, while any situational modifier created by the defender's position, state or tactics applies to the defender's AC. Your DM judges what bonuses and penalties apply, using Attack Roll Modifiers and Armor Class Modifiers as guides.
One of the best defenses available is cover. By taking cover behind a tree, a wall, the side of a wagon, or the battlements of a castle, you can protect yourself from attacks, especially ranged attacks, and also from being spotted.
To determine whether your target has cover from your ranged attack, choose a corner of your square. If any line from this corner to any corner of the target's square passes through a square or border that blocks line of effect or provides cover, or through a square occupied by a creature, the target has cover (+4 to AC).
|Attack Roll Modifiers|
|Attacker is . . .||Melee||Ranged|
|On higher ground||+1||+0|
|Shaken or frightened||-2||-2|
|Squeezing through a space||-4||-4|
|¹ An entangled character also takes a -4 penalty to Dexterity, which may affect his attack roll.|
² The defender loses any Dexterity bonus to AC. This bonus doesn't apply if the target is blinded.
³ Most ranged weapons can't be used while the attacker is prone, but you can use a crossbow or shuriken while prone at no penalty.
When making a melee attack against an adjacent target, your target has cover if any line from your square to the target's square goes through a wall (including a low wall). When making a melee attack against a target that isn't adjacent to you (such as with a reach weapon), use the rules for determining cover from ranged attacks.
Low Obstacles and Cover: A low obstacle (such as a wall no higher than half your height) provides cover, but only to creatures within 30 feet (6 squares) of it. The attacker can ignore the cover if he is closer to the obstacle than his target.
Cover and Attacks of Opportunity: You can't execute an attack of opportunity against an opponent with cover relative to you.
Cover and Reflex Saves: Cover grants you a +2 bonus on Reflex saves against attacks that originate or burst out from a point on the other side of the cover from you, such as a red dragon's breath weapon or a lightning bolt. Note that spread effects, such as a fireball, can extend around corners and thus negate this cover bonus.
Cover and Hide Checks: You can use cover to make a Hide check. Without cover, you usually need concealment to make a Hide check.
|Armor Class Modifiers|
|Defender is . . .||Melee||Ranged|
|Concealed or invisible||- See Concealment -|
|Flat-footed (such as surprised, balancing, climbing)||+0¹||+0¹|
|Grappling (but attacker is not)||+0¹||+0¹, 3|
|Helpless (such as paralyzed, sleeping, or bound)||-44||+04|
|Kneeling or sitting||-2||+2|
|Squeezing through a space||-4||-4|
|¹ The defender loses any Dexterity bonus to AC.|
² An entangled character takes a -4 penalty to Dexterity.
3Roll randomly to see which grappling combatant you strike. That defender loses any Dexterity bonus to AC. 4Treat the defender's Dexterity as 0 (-5 modifier). Rogues can sneak attack helpless or pinned defenders. See also Helpless Defenders.
Soft Cover: Creatures, even your enemies, can provide you with cover against ranged attacks, giving you a +4 bonus to AC. However, such soft cover provides no bonus on Reflex saves, nor does soft cover allow you to make a Hide check.
Big Creatures and Cover: Any creature with a space larger than 5 feet (1 square) determines cover against melee attacks slightly differently than smaller creatures do. Such a creature can choose any square that it occupies to determine if an opponent has cover against its melee attacks. Similarly, when making a melee attack against such a creature, you can pick any of the squares it occupies to determine if it has cover against you.
Total Cover: If you don't have line of effect to your target (for instance, if he is completely behind a high wall), he is considered to have total cover from you. You can't make an attack against a target that has total cover.
Varying Degrees of Cover: In some cases, cover may provide a greater bonus to AC and Reflex saves. For instance, a character peering around a corner or through an arrow slit has even better cover than a character standing behind a low wall or an obstacle. In such situations, the DM can double the normal cover bonuses to AC and Reflex saves (to +8 and +4, respectively). A creature with this improved cover effectively gains improved evasion against any attack to which the Reflex save bonus applies (see the improved evasion ability). Furthermore, improved cover provides a +10 bonus on Hide checks.
The DM may impose other penalties or restrictions to attacks depending on the details of the cover. For example, to strike effectively through a narrow opening, you need to use a long piercing weapon, such as an arrow or a spear. A battleaxe or a pick just isn't going to get through an arrow slit.
Besides cover, another way to avoid attacks is to make it hard for opponents to know where you are. Concealment encompasses all circumstances where nothing physically blocks a blow or shot but where something interferes with an attacker's accuracy. Concealment gives the subject of a successful attack a chance that the attacker missed because of the concealment.
Typically, concealment is provided by fog, smoke, a shadowy area, darkness, tall grass, foliage, or magical effects that make it difficult to pinpoint a target's location.
To determine whether your target has concealment from your ranged attack, choose a corner of your square. if any line from this corner to any corner of the target's square passes through a square or border that provides concealment, the target has concealment. When making a melee attack against an adjacent target, your target has concealment if his space is entirely within an effect that grants concealment (such as a cloud of smoke. When making a melee attack against a target that isn't adjacent to you (for instance, with a reach weapon), use the rules for determining concealment from ranged attacks.
In addition, some magical effects (such as the blur and displacement spells) provide concealment against all attacks, regardless of whether any intervening concealment exists.
Concealment Miss Chance: Concealment gives the subject of a successful attack a 20% chance that the attacker missed because of the concealment, if the attacker hits, the defender must make a miss chance percentile roll to avoid being struck. (To expedite play, make both rolls at the same time.) Multiple concealment conditions (such as a defender in a fog and under the effect of a blur spell) do not stack.
Concealment and Hide Checks: You can use concealment to make a Hide check. Without concealment, you usually need cover to make a Hide check.
Total Concealment: If you have line of effect to a target but not line of sight (for instance, if he is in total darkness or invisible or if you're blinded), he is considered to have total concealment from you. You can't attack an opponent that has total concealment though you can attack into a square that you think he occupies. A successful attack into a square occupied by an enemy with total concealment has a 50%, miss chance (instead of the normal 20% miss chance for an opponent with concealment).
You can't execute an attack of opportunity against an opponent with total concealment, even if you know what square or squares the opponent occupies.
Ignoring Concealment: Concealment isn't always effective. For instance, a shadowy area or darkness doesn't provide any concealment against an opponent with darkvision. Remember also that characters with low light vision can see clearly for a greater distance with the same light source than other characters. A torch, for example, lets an elf see clearly for 40 feet in all directions from the torch, while a human can see clearly for only 20 feet with the same light. (Fog, smoke, foliage, and other visual obstructions work normally against characters with darkvision or low-light vision.) Although invisibility provides total concealment, sighted opponents may still make Spot checks to notice the location of an invisible character. An invisible character gains a +20 bonus on Hide checks if moving, or a +40 bonus on Hide checks when not moving (even though opponents can't see you, they might be able to figure out where you are from other visual clues).
Varying Degrees of Concealment: As with cover, it's usually not worth differentiating between more degrees of concealment than described above. However, the DM may rule that certain situations provide more or less than typical concealment, and modify the miss chance accordingly For instance, a light fog might only provide a 10% miss chance, while near-total darkness could provide 40% miss chance (and a +10 circumstance bonus on Hide checks).
When making a melee attack, you get a +2 flanking bonus if your opponent is threatened by a character or creature friendly to you on the opponent's opposite border or opposite corner.
When in doubt about whether two friendly characters flank an opponent in the middle, trace an imaginary line between the two friendly characters' centers. If the line passes through opposite borders of the opponents space (including corners of those borders, then the opponent is flanked.
Exception: If a flanker takes up more than 1 square, it gets the flanking bonus if any square it occupies counts for flanking.
Only a creature or character that threatens the defender can help attacker get a flanking bonus. Creatures with a reach of 0 feet can't flank an opponent.
A helpless opponent is someone who is bound, sleeping, paralyzed, unconscious, or otherwise at your mercy.
Regular Attack: A helpless character takes a -4 penalty to AC against melee attacks, but no penalty to AC against ranged attacks. A helpless defender can't use any Dexterity bonus to AC. In fact, his Dexterity score is treated as if it were 0 and his Dexterity modifier to AC as if it were 5 (and a rogue can sneak attack him).
Coup de Grace: As a full-round action, you can use a melee weapon to deliver a coup de grace to a helpless opponent. You can also use a bow or crossbow, provided you are adjacent to the target. You automatically hit and score a critical hit. If the defender survives the damage, he must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + damage dealt) or die. A rogue also gets her extra sneak attack damage against a helpless opponent when delivering a coup de grace.
Delivering a coup de grace provokes attacks of opportunity from threatening opponents because it involves focused concentration and methodical action on the part of the attacker.
You can't deliver a coup de grace against a creature that is immune to critical hits, such as a golem. You can deliver a coup de grace against a creature with total concealment, but doing this requires two consecutive full-round actions (one to "find" the creature once you've determined what square it's in, and one to deliver the coup de grace).
A helpless foe - one who is bound, held, sleeping, paralyzed, unconscious, or otherwise at your mercy - is an easy target.
Regular Attack: A melee attack against a helpless character gets +4 circumstance bonus on the attack roll. A ranged attack gets no special bonus. A helpless defender (naturally) can't use any Dexterity bonus to AC. In fact, his Dexterity score is treated as if it were 0 and his Dexterity modifier to AC as if it were -5 (and a rogue can sneak attack him).