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Special Battles

Not every combat plays out with all parties standing on the ground. Some fights occur while the characters are atop mounts or when the PCs take to the sky or seas.

Mounted Combat

When you are mounted during an encounter, a mount you control acts on your initiative. You must use the Handle an Animal and the Command an Animal actions (see page 153) to get your mount to spend its actions. If you don’t, the animal wastes its actions. If you have the Ride general feat (see page 170), you can use the Command an Animal action without having to Handle an Animal first (or Command a Minion if the mount is a minion).

For example, if you are mounted on a horse and you make three attacks, your horse would remain stationary since you didn’t command it. If you instead spent your first action using the Handle an Animal action and succeeded, you could then use the Command an Animal action to get it to move its Speed. You could then spend your third action either to make an attack yourself or to command the horse to attack—but not both.

Mounted Attacks

You and your mount fight as a unit. Consequently, you share a multiple attack penalty. For example, if you Strike and then Command an Animal to Strike, your mount’s attack takes a –5 multiple attack penalty.

You act as if you were in any square of your mount’s space for the purpose of making your attacks. This means that, as a Medium creature, you can attack a creature on one side of your Large mount, then attack a creature on the opposite side of your mount with your next action. If you have reach, the distance of your reach depends partly on the size of your mount. On a Medium or smaller mount, use your normal reach. If you’re on a Large or Huge mount, you can attack any square adjacent to the mount if you have 5- or 10-foot reach, or any square within 10 feet of the mount (including diagonals) if you have 15-foot reach.

Mounted Defenses

When you’re mounted, attackers can target either you or your mount. Anything that targets multiple creatures (such as a spell with a burst area) affects both of you individually as long as you’re both in the area. Your mount is larger than you and you share its space, so you are screened (see page 314) against attacks targeting you when you’re mounted if the mount would be in the way. You count as being in an attacker’s reach or range if any square of your mount is within the attacker’s reach or range.

Because your movement is limited while you’re riding a mount, you take a –2 circumstance penalty to Reflex saves while mounted. Additionally, the only move action you can take is the Mount basic action to dismount.

Aerial Combat

Many monsters can fly, and PCs can use spells and items to gain the ability to fly. Flying creatures have to use the Fly action (see page 309) to move through the air. Making an especially tricky maneuver—such as trying to reverse course 180 degrees, fly through a narrow gap safely, or skim the surface of a body of water—might require using the Maneuver in Flight action of the Acrobatics skill, which is a trained only action (see page 145).

Creatures might fall from the sky, using the falling rules found on page 310. At the GM’s discretion, some ground-based actions might not work in the air. For instance, most flying creatures can’t Step.

Aquatic Combat

For battles underwater or while floating in water, the following rules modify how you fight:

  • You’re flat-footed unless you have a swim Speed.
  • You gain resistance 5 to acid and fire.
  • You take a –2 circumstance penalty to melee bludgeoning or slashing attacks that pass through water, because either you or your target is underwater.
  • Ranged attacks that deal bludgeoning or slashing damage automatically miss if the attacker or target is underwater, and piercing ranged attacks made by an underwater creature or against an underwater target have their range increments halved.
  • You can’t cast fire spells or use abilities with the fire trait underwater.
  • At the GM’s discretion, some ground-based actions might not work underwater or while floating in water.

Drowning and Suffocating

You can hold your breath for a number of actions equal to your Constitution score, or double your Constitution score if you use the Breathe Deep action (see page 309) before entering the airless environment. Each action that passes during your turn costs you 1 action worth of air, even if you do nothing with that action. Creatures that have fewer than 3 actions still lose a minimum of 3 actions’ worth of air each turn. Each time you take an attack or manipulate action, you lose 2 actions’ worth of air instead of 1. You also lose 2 actions’ worth of air each time you get hit by an attack. Verbal actions cost you all your remaining air.

When you run out of air, you fall unconscious and start suffocating. While suffocating, you can’t recover from being unconscious and you must attempt a DC 20 Fortitude save at the end of each of your turns. On a failure, you take 1d10 damage, and on a critical failure you die. On each check after the first, the DC increases by 5 and the damage by 1d10. These increases are cumulative.

Once your access to air is restored, you stop suffocating and are no longer unconscious (unless you took enough damage from suffocation to reach 0 Hit Points, in which case you return to 1 HP and are unconscious).