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Movement and Position

Whether across the battlefield, through crowded city streets, or along the corridors of a dangerous dungeon, your movement and position determine how you can interact with the world. Moving around in exploration and downtime modes is relatively fluid and free-form.

Movement in encounter mode, in contrast, is rigid and governed by a number of rules explained in Movement in Encounter Mode.

Movement Types

Creatures in Pathfinder have a variety of ways to move around, from dashing across the ground and soaring through the clouds to knifing through swift ocean currents, scaling sheer cliff sides, and even tunneling underfoot.

Speed

The Speed statistic—also called land Speed—that most player characters and monsters have indicates how far they can move across the ground. When you use the Stride action, you move a number of feet equal to your Speed. Numerous other abilities allow you to move, from Crawling to Leaping, and most of them are based on your Speed in some way. Whenever a rule mentions your Speed without specifying a type, it’s referring to your land Speed.

Other Movement Types

Some abilities give you different ways to move, such as through the air or underground. Each of these special movement types has its own Speed value. Many creatures have these Speeds naturally. The various types of movement are listed below. Since the Stride action can be used only with your normal Speed, moving using one of these movement types requires using a special action, and you can’t Step while using one of these movement types. Since Speed by itself refers to your land Speed, rules text concerning these special movement types specifies the movement types to which it applies.

Switching from one movement type to another requires ending your movement in the first type and using a new action in the second. For instance, if you Climbed 10 feet to the top of a cliff, you could then Stride forward 10 feet.

Burrow Speed

A burrow Speed lets you tunnel through the ground. You can use the Burrow action (see page 309) if you have a burrow Speed. Burrowing doesn’t normally leave behind a tunnel unless the ability specifically states that it does.

Climb Speed

A climb Speed allows you to climb up or down inclines and vertical surfaces. Instead of needing to roll Athletics checks to Climb, you automatically succeed and move up to your climb Speed instead of the listed distance.

You might still have to attempt Athletics checks to Climb in hazardous conditions, to Climb extremely difficult surfaces, or to cross horizontal planes such as ceilings. You can also choose to roll an Athletics check to Climb rather than accept an automatic success. Your climb Speed grants you a +4 circumstance bonus to Athletics checks to Climb.

You’re not flat-footed while climbing if you have a climb Speed.

Fly Speed

As long as you have a fly Speed, you can use the Fly and Arrest a Fall actions (see page 309). You can also attempt to Maneuver in Flight if you’re trained in the Acrobatics skill (see page 145).

Wind conditions can affect how you Fly. In general, moving against the wind counts as moving through difficult terrain (or greater difficult terrain if you’re also flying upward) and moving with the wind allows you to move 10 feet for every 5 feet of movement you spend (not cumulative with moving straight downward). For more information on spending movement, see Movement in Encounter Mode on page 311.

Upward and downward movement are relative to the gravity in your area; if you’re Flying in a place without gravity, moving up or down is no different from moving horizontally.

Swim Speed

With a swim Speed, you can propel yourself through the water with little impediment. Instead of rolling Athletics checks to Swim, you automatically succeed and move up to your swim Speed instead of the listed distance. You still treat moving up or down as difficult terrain.

You might still have to attempt checks in hazardous conditions or to cross turbulent water. You can also choose to roll an Athletics check to Swim rather than accept an automatic success. Your swim Speed grants you a +4 circumstance bonus to Athletics checks to Swim.

Having a swim Speed doesn’t necessarily mean you can breathe in water, so you might still have to hold your breath if you’re underwater (see page 315).

Falling

When you fall more than 5 feet, you take bludgeoning damage when you land equal to half the distance you fell.

Treat falls longer than 1,500 feet as though they were 1,500 feet (750 damage). If you take any damage from a fall, you’re knocked prone when you land.

You can Grab an Edge as a reaction using the Acrobatics skill (see page 144) to reduce the damage from some falls. In addition, if you fall into water, snow, or another relatively soft substance, you can treat the fall as though it were 20 feet shorter, or 30 feet shorter if you intentionally dove in. The effective reduction can’t be greater than the depth (so when falling into 10-foot-deep water, you treat the fall as 10 feet shorter).

Falling on a Creature

If you land on a creature, that creature must attempt a DC 15 Reflex save. On a success, it takes bludgeoning damage equal to one-quarter the falling damage you took, on a critical success it takes no damage, on a failure it takes bludgeoning damage equal to half the falling damage you took, and on a critical failure it takes the same amount of falling damage you took.

Falling Objects

A dropped object takes damage just like a falling creature.

If it lands on a creature, that creature can attempt a Reflex save using the same rules as a creature falling on a creature. Hazards and spells that involve falling objects, such as a rockslide, have their own rules about how they interact with creatures and the damage they deal.

Forced Movement

When an effect forces you to move or if you start falling, that movement is defined by the effect that moved you, not by your Speed. Because you’re not acting to move, this doesn’t trigger reactions that are triggered by movement.

Movement in Encounter Mode

Your movement during encounter mode depends on the actions and other abilities you use. Whether you Stride or Step, Swim or Climb, the maximum distance you can move is based on your Speed. Certain feats or magic items can grant you other movement types, allowing you to swiftly burrow, climb, fly, or swim (see page 310).

When the rules refer to a movement cost or spending movement, they are referring to how many feet of your Speed it costs to move from one point to another. Normally, movement costs 5 feet per square when you’re moving on a battle grid, or it costs the number of feet you move if you’re not using a grid. However, sometimes it’s harder to move a certain distance due to difficult terrain (see page 312) or other factors. In such a case, you might have to spend a different amount of movement to move from one place to another. For example, a form of movement might require you to spend 10 feet of movement to move 1 square, and moving through some types of terrain costs an extra 5 feet of movement per square.

Grid Movement

If an encounter involves combat, it’s often a good idea to track the movement and relative position of the participants using a Pathfinder Flip-Mat or some other form of grid to display the terrain, and miniatures to represent the combatants. When a character moves on a grid, every 1-inch square of the play area is 5 feet across in the game world. Hence, a creature moving in a straight line spends 5 feet of its movement for every square traveled.

Because moving through spaces on a diagonal covers more ground, count that movement differently. The first square of diagonal movement you make in a turn counts as 5 feet, but the second counts as 10 feet, and your count alternates between the two. For example, as you move across 4 squares diagonally, you would count 5 feet, then 10, then 5, and then 10, for a total of 30 feet. You need to track your total diagonal movement across all your movement during your turn, but you reset your count at the end of your turn.

Move Triggers

Some reactions and free actions are triggered by a creature using an action or ability with the move trait (also known as move actions and move abilities). The most common is Attack of Opportunity (see page 306), which allows a creature to Strike a moving foe. Actions or abilities with the move trait can trigger reactions or free actions throughout the course of the distance traveled (although no more than once for a given creature). Each time you exit a square (or move 5 feet, if you aren’t using a grid to track movement) that is within a creature’s reach, your movement triggers those reactions and free actions. If you use a move action or move ability but don’t move into another square (or you move less than 5 feet, if not using a grid), the trigger happens at the end of that action or ability instead.

Some exceptions, such as Step, don’t trigger reactions or free actions based on movement.

Moving Through a Creature’s Space

You can move through a willing creature’s space. If you want to move through an unwilling creature’s space, you have to either attempt an Athletics check to Shove it out of the way or Tumble Through that creature’s space using the Acrobatics skill. You can’t end your movement in a square occupied by another creature, though you can end a move action in its square provided you immediately use another move action to leave that square. If two creatures end up in the same square by accident, the GM determines which one is forced out of the square (or whether one falls prone).

Prone and Incapacitated Creatures

You can share a space with a prone creature if that creature is willing, unconscious, or dead, and is your size or smaller. The GM might allow you to climb atop the corpse or unconscious body of a larger creature in some situations. A prone creature can’t stand up while someone else occupies its space, but it can Crawl to a space where it’s able to stand, or it can attempt to Shove the other creature out of the way.

Creatures of Different Sizes

In most cases, you can move through the space of a creature at least three sizes (see page 313) larger than you.

This means a Medium creature can move through the space of a Gargantuan creature and a Small creature can move through the space of a Huge creature. Likewise, a bigger creature can move through the space of a creature three sizes smaller than itself or smaller. You still can’t end your movement in a space occupied by a significantly larger or smaller creature.

Tiny creatures are an exception. They can move through any creatures’ spaces and can even end their movement there.

Objects

Because objects aren’t as mobile as creatures are, they’re more likely to fill a space. This means you can’t always move through their spaces the same way you might move through a space occupied by a creature. You might be able to occupy the same square as a statue of your size, but not a wide column. The GM determines whether you can move into an object’s square normally, can squeeze into the space, or are unable to move into the square at all.

Terrain

Several types of terrain can complicate your movement by slowing you down, damaging you, or endangering you.

Difficult Terrain

Difficult terrain is any terrain that impedes your movement, ranging from particularly rough or unstable surfaces to thick ground cover and countless other impediments. Moving into a square of difficult terrain (or moving 5 feet into or within an area of difficult terrain, if you’re not using a grid) costs an extra 5 feet of movement. Moving into a square of greater difficult terrain instead costs 10 additional feet of movement. This additional cost is not increased when moving diagonally.

Movement you make while jumping ignores the terrain you’re jumping over. Some abilities (such as flight or being incorporeal) allow you to avoid the movement reduction from some types of difficult terrain. Certain other abilities let you ignore difficult terrain on foot; such an ability also allows you to move through greater difficult terrain at the same Speed cost as for difficult terrain, though these abilities don’t let you ignore greater difficult terrain unless the ability specifies otherwise.

You can’t Step into difficult terrain (see page 308).

Hazardous Terrain

Hazardous terrain damages you whenever you move through it. For instance, an acid pool, a pit of burning embers, and a spike-filled passageway are all examples of hazardous terrain. The amount and type of damage depends on the specific hazardous terrain.

Narrow Surfaces

A narrow surface is so precariously thin that you need to Balance (see Acrobatics on page 144) or risk falling.

Even on a success, you are flat-footed on a narrow surface. Each time you are hit by an attack or fail a save on a narrow surface, you need to Maintain Balance (see page 144) to avoid falling.

Uneven Ground

Uneven ground is an area unsteady enough that you need to Balance (see Acrobatics on page 144) or risk falling prone and possibly injuring yourself, depending on the specifics of the uneven ground. You are flat-footed on uneven ground. Each time you are hit by an attack or fail a save on uneven ground, you need to Maintain Balance (see page 144) to avoid falling prone.

Inclines

An incline is an area so steep that you need to Climb using the Athletics skill in order to progress upward. You’re flat-footed when Climbing an incline.

Size and Space

Creatures and objects come in various sizes that occupy different amounts of space. The sizes and the spaces they each take up on a grid are listed in Table 9–1: Sizes. This table also lists the typical reach for creatures of each size, split into values for tall creatures (such as most bipeds) and long creatures (like most quadrupeds). See page 297 for more information about reach.

The Space entry lists how many feet on a side a creature’s space is, so a Large creature fills a 10-foot-by-10-foot space (four squares on the grid). A Small or larger creature or object takes up at least 1 square on a grid, and creatures of these sizes can’t usually share spaces except in situations like a character riding a mount. Rules for moving through other creatures’ spaces appear on page 311.

Size Space Reach (Tall) Reach (Long)
Tiny less than 5 feet 0 feet 0 feet
Small 5 feet 5 feet 5 feet
Medium 5 feet 5 feet 5 feet
Large 10 feet 10 feet 5 feet
Huge 15 feet 15 feet 10 feet
Gargantuan 20 feet or more 20 feet 15 feet

Multiple Tiny creatures can occupy the same square.

At least four can fit in a single square, though the GM might determine that even more can fit. Tiny creatures can occupy a space occupied by a larger creature as well, and, if their reach is 0 feet, they must do so in order to attack.

Flanking

When you and an ally are on opposite sides of an enemy, you’re flanking that enemy. While the enemy is flanked, it is flat-footed (taking a –2 circumstance penalty to AC) to the creatures who are flanking it. To flank a foe, you and your ally must be on opposites sides or opposite corners of the creature. A line drawn between the center of your space to the center of your ally’s space must pass through either opposite sides or opposite corners of the enemy’s space.

Cover

When you are behind a wall or some other hard surface that could potentially block weapons and other effects, you are behind cover. If you are behind cover, you gain a +2 circumstance bonus to your AC as well as to your Reflex saving throws against area effects. You can increase this bonus to +4 by Taking Cover (see page 308). A creature with cover can attempt to use Stealth to conceal its presence with the Hide action (see page 158).

To determine whether a target has cover from an attack, the attacking creature or object draws a line from the center of its space to the center of the target’s space. If that line passes through any blocking terrain, the target has cover. The cover grants that creature a +2 circumstance bonus to AC against the attack.

When cover might benefit a creature attempting a Reflex saving throw against an area effect, draw the line from the effect’s point of origin to the center of the creature’s space. If the line passes though blocking terrain, the target has cover against the area effect.

The Game Master might determine that a creature does not have cover if the blocking terrain is not sufficiently large. For example, a Huge dragon probably wouldn’t receive any benefit from being behind a 1-foot-diameter pillar, since most of its body could be targeted easily.

Cover from Large Creatures

If a creature between you and a target is two or more sizes larger than both you and your target, that creature’s entire space is considered blocking terrain for the purpose of determining cover.

Screening

When you’re attempting a ranged attack, or a melee attack against a nonadjacent target, your target might be screened from you if another creature is between you. If you must attack or shoot through the space of a creature that’s one size smaller than you or larger, your target is screened from you and gains a +1 circumstance bonus to AC against your attack. Unlike cover and the concealed condition (see page 320), being screened doesn’t allow a creature to attempt to Hide.

To determine whether your target is screened from your attack, pick the corner of your space with the least obstructed line to your target and draw a line to the center of the target’s space. If you can’t reach the center of the creature’s space without passing through either blocking terrain or another creature that’s one size smaller than you or larger, the target is screened against that attack.