Home > Rules > Core Rulebook > Chapter 9: Playing The Game


At this point, you have a character and are ready to play Pathfinder! Or maybe you’re the GM and you are getting ready to run your first adventure. Either way, this chapter provides the full details for the rules outlined in Chapter 1: Introduction. This chapter begins by describing the general rules and conventions of how the game is played and then presents more in-depth explanations of the rules for each mode of play.

Before diving into how to play Pathfinder, it’s important to understand the game’s three modes of play, which determine the pace of your adventure and the specific rules you’ll use at a given time. Each mode provides a different pace and presents a different level of risk to your characters. The Game Master (GM) determines which mode works best for the story and controls the transition between them. You’ll likely talk about the modes less formally during your play session, simply transitioning between exploration and encounters during the adventure, before heading to a settlement to achieve something during downtime.

The most intricate of the modes is encounter mode. This is where most of the intense action takes place, and it’s most often used for combat or other high-stakes situations. The GM typically switches to encounter mode by calling on the players to “roll for initiative” to determine the order in which all the actors take their turns during the encounter. Time is then divided into a series of rounds, each lasting roughly 6 seconds in the game world. Each round, player characters, other creatures, and sometimes even hazards or events take their turn in initiative order. At the start of a participant’s turn, they gain the use of a number of actions (typically 3 in the case of PCs and other creatures) as well as a special action called a reaction. These actions, and what you do with them, are how you affect the world within an encounter. The full rules for playing in encounter mode start on page 468.

In exploration mode, time is more flexible and the play more free form. In this mode, minutes, hours, or even days in the game world pass quickly in the real world, as the characters travel cross country, explore uninhabited sections of a dungeon, or roleplay during a social gathering. Often, developments during exploration lead to encounters, and the GM will switch to that mode of play until the encounter ends, before returning to exploration mode. The rules for exploration start on page 479.

The third mode is downtime. During downtime, the characters are at little risk, and the passage of time is measured in days or longer. This is when you might forge a magic sword, research a new spell, or prepare for your next adventure. The rules for downtime are on page 481.

Before exploring the specific rules of each mode of play, you’ll want to understand a number of general rules of the game. To one degree or another, these rules are used in every mode of play.

Game Conventions
Pathfinder has many specific rules, but you’ll also want to keep these general guidelines in mind when playing.

The GM Has the Final Say

If you’re ever uncertain how to apply a rule, the GM decides. Of course, Pathfinder is a game, so when adjudicating the rules, the GM is encouraged to listen to everyone’s point of view and make a decision that is both fair and fun.

Specific Overrides General

A core principle of Pathfinder is that specific rules override general ones. If two rules conflict, the more specific one takes precedence. If there’s still ambiguity, the GM determines which rule to use. For example, the rules state that when attacking a concealed creature, you must attempt a DC 5 flat check to determine if you hit. Flat checks don’t benefit from modifiers, bonuses, or penalties, but an ability that’s specifically designed to overcome concealment might override and alter this. If a rule doesn’t specify otherwise, default to the general rules presented in this chapter. While some special rules may also state the normal rules to provide context, you should always default to the normal rules even if effects don’t specifically say to.


You may need to calculate a fraction of a value, like halving damage. Always round down unless otherwise specified. For example, if a spell deals 7 damage and a creature takes half damage from it, that creature takes 3 damage.


When more than one effect would multiply the same number, don’t multiply more than once. Instead, combine all the multipliers into a single multiplier, with each multiple after the first adding 1 less than its value. For instance, if one ability doubled the duration of one of your spells and another one doubled the duration of the same spell, you would triple the duration, not quadruple it.

Duplicate Effects

When you’re affected by the same thing multiple times, only one instance applies, using the higher level of the effects, or the newer effect if the two are the same level. For example, if you were using mage armor and then cast it again, you’d still benefit from only one casting of that spell. Casting a spell again on the same target might get you a better duration or effect if it were cast at a higher level the second time, but otherwise doing so gives you no advantage.

Ambiguous Rules

Sometimes a rule could be interpreted multiple ways. If one version is too good to be true, it probably is. If a rule seems to have wording with problematic repercussions or doesn’t work as intended, work with your group to find a good solution, rather than just playing with the rule as printed.


Pathfinder is a game where your choices determine the story’s direction. Throughout the game, the GM describes what’s happening in the world and then asks the players, “So what do you do?” Exactly what you choose to do, and how the GM responds to those choices, builds a unique story experience. Every game is different, because you’ll rarely, if ever, make the same decisions as another group of players. This is true for the GM as well—two GMs running the exact same adventure will put different emphasis and flourishes on the way they present each scenario and encounter.

Often, your choices have no immediate risk or consequences. If you’re traveling along a forest path and come across a fork in the trail, the GM will ask, “Which way do you go?” You might choose to take the right fork or the left. You could also choose to leave the trail, or just go back to town. Once your choice is made, the GM tells you what happens next. Down the line, that choice may impact what you encounter later in the game, but in many cases nothing dangerous happens immediately.

But sometimes what happens as a result of your choices is less than certain. In those cases, you’ll attempt a check.


When success isn’t certain—whether you’re swinging a sword at a foul beast, attempting to leap across a chasm, or straining to remember the name of the earl’s second cousin at a soiree—you’ll attempt a check. Pathfinder has many types of checks, from skill checks to attack rolls to saving throws, but they all follow these basic steps.

  1. Roll a d20 and identify the modifiers, bonuses, and penalties that apply.
  2. Calculate the result.
  3. Compare the result to the difficulty class (DC).
  4. Determine the degree of success and the effect.

Checks and difficulty classes (DC) both come in many forms. When you swing your sword at that foul beast, you’ll make an attack roll against its Armor Class, which is the DC to hit another creature. If you are leaping across that chasm, you’ll attempt an Athletics skill check with a DC based on the distance you are trying to jump. When calling to mind the name of the earl’s second cousin, you attempt a check to Recall Knowledge. You might use either the Society skill or a Lore skill you have that’s relevant to the task, and the DC depends on how common the knowledge of the cousin’s name might be, or how many drinks your character had when they were introduced to the cousin the night before.

No matter the details, for any check you must roll the d20 and achieve a result equal to or greater than the DC to succeed. Each of these steps is explained below.

Fortune and Misfortune

Fortune and misfortune effects can alter how you roll your dice. These abilities might allow you to reroll a failed roll, force you to reroll a successful roll, allow you to roll twice and use the higher result, or force you to roll twice and use the lower result.

You can never have more than one fortune and more than one misfortune effect come into play on a single roll. For instance, if an effect lets you roll twice and use the higher roll, you can’t then use Halfling Luck (a fortune effect) to reroll if you fail. If multiple fortune effects would apply, you have to pick which to use. If two misfortune effects apply, the GM decides which is worse and applies it.

If both a fortune effect and a misfortune effect would apply to the same roll, the two cancel each other out, and you roll normally.

Step 1: Roll d20 and Identify the Modifiers, Bonuses, and Penalties that Apply

Start by rolling your d20. You’ll then identify all the relevant modifiers, bonuses, and penalties that apply to the roll. A modifier can be either positive or negative, but a bonus is always positive, and a penalty is always negative. The sum of all the modifiers, bonuses, and penalties you apply to the d20 roll is called your total modifier for that statistic.

Nearly all checks allow you to add an ability modifier to the roll. An ability modifier represents your raw capabilities and is derived from an ability score, as described on page 20. Exactly which ability modifier you use is determined by what you’re trying to accomplish. Usually a sword swing applies your Strength modifier, whereas remembering the name of the earl’s cousin uses your Intelligence modifier.

When attempting a check that involves something you have some training in, you will also add your proficiency bonus. This bonus depends on your proficiency rank: untrained, trained, expert, master, or legendary. If you’re untrained, your bonus is +0—you must rely on raw talent and any bonuses from the situation. Otherwise, the bonus equals your character’s level plus a certain amount depending on your rank. If your proficiency rank is trained, this bonus is equal to your level + 2, and higher proficiency ranks further increase the amount you add to your level.

Proficiency Bonus
Proficiency Rank Proficiency Bonus
Untrained 0
Trained Your level + 2
Expert Your level + 4
Master Your level + 6
Legendary Your level + 8

There are three other types of bonus that frequently appear: circumstance bonuses, item bonuses, and status bonuses. If you have different types of bonus that would apply to the same roll, you’ll add them all. But if you have multiple bonuses of the same type, you can use only the highest bonus on a given roll—in other words, they don’t “stack.” For instance, if you have both a proficiency bonus and an item bonus, you add both to your d20 result, but if you have two item bonuses that could apply to the same check, you add only the higher of the two.

Circumstance bonuses typically involve the situation you find yourself in when attempting a check. For instance, using Raise a Shield with a buckler grants you a +1 circumstance bonus to AC. Being behind cover grants you a +2 circumstance bonus to AC. If you are both behind cover and Raising a Shield, you gain only the +2 circumstance bonus for cover, since they’re the same type and the bonus from cover is higher.

Item bonuses are granted by some item that you are wearing or using, either mundane or magical. For example, armor gives you an item bonus to AC, while expanded alchemist’s tools grant you an item bonus to Crafting checks when making alchemical items.

Status bonuses typically come from spells, other magical effects, or something applying a helpful, often temporary, condition to you. For instance, the 3rd-level heroism spell grants a +1 status bonus to attack rolls, Perception checks, saving throws, and skill checks. If you were under the effect of heroism and someone cast the bless spell, which also grants a +1 status bonus on attacks, your attack rolls would gain only a +1 status bonus, since both spells grant a +1 status bonus to those rolls, and you only take the highest status bonus.

Penalties work very much like bonuses. You can have circumstance penalties, status penalties, and sometimes even item penalties. Like bonuses of the same type, you take only the worst all of various penalties of a given type. However, you can apply both a bonus and a penalty of the same type on a single roll. For example, if you had a +1 status bonus from a heroism spell but a –2 status penalty from the sickened condition, you’d apply them both to your roll—so heroism still helps even though you’re feeling unwell.

Unlike bonuses, penalties can also be untyped, in which case they won’t be classified as “circumstance,” “item,” or “status.” Unlike other penalties, you always add all your untyped penalties together rather than simply taking the worst one. For instance, when you use attack actions, you incur a multiple attack penalty on each attack you make on your turn after the first attack, and when you attack a target that’s beyond your weapon’s normal range increment, you incur a range penalty on the attack. Because these are both untyped penalties, if you make multiple attacks at a faraway target, you’d apply both the multiple attack penalty and the range penalty to your roll.

Once you’ve identified all your various modifiers, bonuses, and penalties, you move on to the next step.

Step 2: Calculate the Result

This step is simple. Add up all the various modifiers, bonuses, and penalties you identified in Step 1—this is your total modifier. Next add that to the number that came up on your d20 roll. This total is your check result.

Step 3: Compare the Result to the DC

This step can be simple, or it can create suspense. Sometimes you’ll know the Difficulty Class (DC) of your check. In these cases, if your result is equal to or greater than the DC, you succeed! If your roll anything less than the DC, you fail.

Other times, you might not know the DC right away. Swimming across a river would require an Athletics check, but it doesn’t have a specified DC—so how will you know if you succeed or fail? You call out your result to the GM and they will let you know if it is a success, failure, or otherwise. While you might learn the exact DC through trial and error, DCs sometimes change, so asking the GM whether a check is successful is the best way to determine whether or not you have met or exceeded the DC.

Calculating DCs

Whenever you attempt a check, you compare your result against a DC. When someone or something else attempts a check against you, rather than both forces rolling against one another, the GM (or player, if the opponent is another PC) compares their result to a fixed DC based on your relevant statistic. Your DC for a given statistic is 10 + the total modifier for that statistic.

Step 4: Determine the Degree of Success

Many times, it’s important to determine not only if you succeed or fail, but also how spectacularly you succeed or fail. Exceptional results—either good or bad—can cause you to critically succeed at or critically fail a check.

You critically succeed at a check when a check’s result meets or exceeds the DC by 10 or more. If the check is an attack roll, this is sometimes called a critical hit. You can also critically fail a check. The rules for critical failure—sometimes called a fumble—are the same as those for a critical success, but in the other direction: if you fail a check by 10 or more, that’s a critical failure.

If you rolled a 20 on the die (a “natural 20”), your result is one degree of success better than it would be by numbers alone. If you roll a 1 on the d20 (a “natural 1”), your result is one degree worse. This means that a natural 20 usually results in a critical success and natural 1 usually results in a critical failure. However, if you were going up against a very high DC, you might get only a success with a natural 20, or even a failure if 20 plus your total modifier is 10 or more below the DC. Likewise, if your modifier for a statistic is so high that adding it to a 1 from your d20 roll exceeds the DC by 10 or more, you can succeed even if you roll a natural 1! If a feat, magic item, spell, or other effect does not list a critical success or critical failure, treat is as an ordinary success or failure instead.

Some other abilities can change the degree of success for rolls you get. When resolving the effect of an ability that changes your degree of success, always apply the adjustment from a natural 20 or natural 1 before anything else.


While most checks follow these basic rules, it’s useful to know about a few specific types of checks, how they’re used, and how they differ from one another.


When you use a Strike action or any other attack action, you attempt a check called an attack roll. Attack rolls take a variety of forms and are often highly variable based on the weapon you are using for the attack, but there are three main types: melee attack rolls, ranged attack rolls, and spell attack rolls. Spell attack rolls work a little bit differently, so they are explained separately on the next page.

Melee attack rolls use Strength as their ability modifier by default. If you’re using a weapon or attack with the finesse trait, then you can use your Dexterity modifier instead.

Melee attack roll result = d20 roll + Strength modifier (or optionally Dexterity modifier for a finesse weapon) + proficiency bonus + other bonuses + penalties
Ranged attack rolls use Dexterity as their ability modifier.

Ranged attack roll result = d20 roll + Dexterity modifier + proficiency bonus + other bonuses + penalties

When attacking with a weapon, whether melee or ranged, you add your proficiency bonus for the weapon you’re using. Your class determines your proficiency rank for various weapons. Sometimes, you’ll have different proficiency ranks for different weapons. For instance, at 5th level, a fighter gains the weapon mastery class feature, which grants master proficiency with the simple and martial weapons of one weapon group, expert proficiency with advanced weapons of that group and other simple and martial weapons, and trained proficiency in all other advanced weapons.

The bonuses you might apply to attack rolls can come from a variety of sources. Circumstance bonuses can come from the aid of an ally or a beneficial situation. Status bonuses are typically granted by spells and other magical aids. The item bonus to attack rolls comes from magic weapons—notably, a weapon’s potency rune.

Penalties to attack rolls come from situations and effects as well. Circumstance penalties come from risky tactics or detrimental circumstances, status penalties come from spells and magic working against you, and item penalties occur when you use a shoddy item (page 273). When making attack rolls, two main types of untyped penalties are likely to apply. The first is the multiple attack penalty, and the second is the range penalty. The first applies anytime you make more than one attack action during the course of your turn, and the other applies only with ranged or thrown weapons. Both are described below.

Striding and Striking

Two of the simplest and most common actions you’ll use in combat are Stride and Strike.

Stride is an action that has the move trait and that allows you to move a number of feet up to your Speed. You’ll often need to Stride multiple times to reach a foe who’s far away or to run from danger! Move actions can often trigger reactions or free actions. However, unlike other actions, a move action can trigger reactions not only when you first use the action, but also for every 5 feet you move during that action, as described on page 474. The Step action (page 471) lets you move without triggering reactions, but only 5 feet.

Strike is an action that has the attack trait and that allows you to attack with a weapon you’re wielding or an unarmed attack (such as a fist).

If you’re using a melee weapon or unarmed attack, your target must be within your reach; if you’re attacking with a ranged weapon, your target must be within range. Your reach is how far you can physically extend a part of your body to make an unarmed attack, or the farthest distance you can reach with a melee weapon. This is typically 5 feet, but special weapons and larger creatures have longer reaches. Your range is how far away you can attack with a ranged weapon or with some types of magical attacks. Different weapons and magical attacks have different maximum ranges, and ranged weapons get less effective as you exceed their range increments.

Striking multiple times in a turn has diminishing returns. The multiple attack penalty (detailed on page 446) applies to each attack after the first, whether those attacks are Strikes, special attacks like the Grapple action of the Athletics skill, or spell attack rolls.

Multiple Attack Penalty

The more attacks you make beyond your first in a single turn, the less accurate you become, represented by the multiple attack penalty. The second time you use an attack action during your turn, you take a –5 penalty to your attack roll. The third time you attack, and on any subsequent attacks, you take a –10 penalty to your attack roll. Every check that has the attack trait counts toward your multiple attack penalty, including Strikes, spell attack rolls, certain skill actions like Shove, and many others.

Some weapons and abilities reduce multiple attack penalties, such as agile weapons, which reduce these penalties to –4 on the second attack or –8 on further attacks.

Always calculate your multiple attack penalty for the weapon you’re using on that attack. For example, let’s say you’re wielding a longsword in one hand and a shortsword (which has the agile trait) in your other hand, and you are going to make three Strikes with these weapons during the course of your turn. The first Strike you make during your turn has no penalty, no matter what weapon you are using. The second Strike will take either a –5 penalty if you use the longsword or a –4 penalty if you use the shortsword. Just like the second attack, the penalty for your third attack is based on which weapon you’re using for that particular Strike. It would be a –10 penalty with the longsword and a –8 penalty with the shortsword, no matter what weapon you used for your previous Strikes.

The multiple attack penalty applies only during your turn, so you don’t have to keep track of it if you can perform an Attack of Opportunity or a similar reaction that lets you make a Strike on someone else’s turn.

Range Penalty

Ranged and thrown weapons each have a listed range increment, and attacks with them grow less accurate against targets farther away (range and range increments are covered in depth on page 279). As long as your target is at or within the listed range increment, also called the first range increment, you take no penalty to the attack roll. If you’re attacking beyond that range increment, you take a –2 penalty for each additional increment beyond the first. You can attempt to attack with a ranged weapon or thrown weapon up to six range increments away, but the farther away you are, the harder it is to hit your target.

For example, the range increment of a crossbow is 120 feet. If you are shooting at a target no farther away than that distance, you take no penalty due to range. If they’re beyond 120 feet but no more than 240 feet away, you take a –2 penalty due to range. If they’re beyond 240 feet but no more than 360 feet away, you take a –4 penalty due to range, and so on, until you reach the last range increment: beyond 600 feet but no more than 720 feet away, where you take a –10 penalty due to range.

Armor Class

Attack rolls are compared to a special difficulty class called an Armor Class (AC), which measures how hard it is for your foes to hit you with Strikes and other attack actions. Just like for any other check and DC, the result of an attack roll must meet or exceed your AC to be successful, which allows your foe to deal damage to you.

Armor Class is calculated using the following formula.

Armor Class = 10 + Dexterity modifier (up to your armor’s Dex Cap) + proficiency bonus + armor’s item bonus to AC + other bonuses + penalties

Use the proficiency bonus for the category (light, medium, or heavy) or the specific type of armor you’re wearing. If you’re not wearing armor, use your proficiency in unarmored defense.

Armor Class can benefit from bonuses with a variety of sources, much like attack rolls. Armor itself grants an item bonus, so other item bonuses usually won’t apply to your AC, but magic armor can increase the item bonus granted by your armor.

Penalties to AC come from situations and effects in much the same way bonuses do. Circumstance penalties come from unfavorable situations, and status penalties come from effects that impede your abilities or from broken armor. You take an item penalty when you wear shoddy armor.


If you cast spells, you might be able to make a spell attack roll. These rolls are usually made when a spell makes an attack against a creature’s AC.

The ability modifier for a spell attack roll depends on how you gained access to your spells. If your class grants you spellcasting, use your key ability modifier. Innate spells use your Charisma modifier unless the ability that granted them states otherwise. Focus spells and other sources of spells specify which ability modifier you use for spell attack rolls in the ability that granted them. If you have spells from multiple sources or traditions, you might use different ability modifiers for spell attack rolls for these different sources of spells. For example, a dwarf cleric with the Stonewalker ancestry feat would use her Charisma modifier when casting meld into stone from that feat, since it’s a divine innate spell, but she would use her Wisdom modifier when casting heal and other spells using her cleric divine spellcasting.

Determine the spell attack roll with the following formula.

Spell attack roll result = d20 roll + ability modifier used for spellcasting + proficiency bonus + other bonuses + penalties

If you have the ability to cast spells, you’ll have a proficiency rank for your spell attack rolls, so you’ll always add a proficiency bonus. Like your ability modifier, this proficiency rank may vary from one spell to another if you have spells from multiple sources. Spell attack rolls can benefit from circumstance bonuses and status bonuses, though item bonuses to spell attack rolls are rare. Penalties affect spell attack rolls just like any other attack roll—including your multiple attack penalty.

Many times, instead of requiring you to make a spell attack roll, the spells you cast will require those within the area or targeted by the spell to attempt a saving throw against your Spell DC to determine how the spell affects them.

Your spell DC is calculated using the following formula.

Spell DC = 10 + ability modifier used for spellcasting + proficiency bonus + other bonuses + penalties


Perception measures your ability to be aware of your environment. Every creature has Perception, which works with and is limited by a creature’s senses (described on page 464). Whenever you need to attempt a check based on your awareness, you’ll attempt a Perception check. Your Perception uses your Wisdom modifier, so you’ll use the following formula when attempting a Perception check.

Perception check result = d20 roll + Wisdom modifier + proficiency bonus + other bonuses + penalties

Nearly all creatures are at least trained in Perception, so you will almost always add a proficiency bonus to your Perception modifier. You might add a circumstance bonus for advantageous situations or environments, and typically get status bonuses from spells or other magical effects. Items can also grant you a bonus to Perception, typically in a certain situation. For instance, a fine spyglass grants a +1 item bonus to Perception when attempting to see something a long distance away. Circumstance penalties to Perception occur when an environment or situation (such as fog) hampers your senses, while status penalties typically come from conditions, spells, and magic effects that foil the senses. You’ll rarely encounter item penalties or untyped penalties for Perception.

Many abilities are compared to your Perception DC to determine whether they succeed. Your Perception DC is 10 + your total Perception modifier.

Perception for Initiative

Often, you’ll roll a Perception check to determine your order in initiative. When you do this, instead of comparing the result against a DC, everyone in the encounter will compare their results. The creature with the highest result acts first, the creature with the second-highest result goes second, and so on. Sometimes you may be called on to roll a skill check for initiative instead, but you’ll compare results just as if you had rolled Perception. The full rules for initiative are found in the rules for encounter mode on page 468.


There are three types of saving throws: Fortitude saves, Reflex saves, and Will saves. In all cases, saving throws measure your ability to shrug off harmful effects in the form of afflictions, damage, or conditions. You’ll always add a proficiency bonus to each save. Your class might give a different proficiency to each save, but you’ll be trained at minimum. Some circumstances and spells might give you circumstance or status bonuses to saves, and you might find resilient armor or other magic items that give an item bonus.

Fortitude saving throws allow you to reduce the effects of abilities and afflictions that can debilitate the body. They use your Constitution modifier and are calculated as shown in the formula below.

Fortitude save result = d20 roll + Constitution modifier + proficiency bonus + other bonuses + penalties

Reflex saving throws measure how well you can respond quickly to a situation and how gracefully you can avoid effects that have been thrown at you. They use your Dexterity modifier and are calculated as shown in the formula below.

Reflex save result = d20 roll + Dexterity modifier + proficiency bonus + other bonuses + penalties

Will saving throws measure how well you can resist attacks to your mind and spirit. They use your Wisdom modifier and are calculated as shown in the formula below.

Will save result = d20 roll + Wisdom modifier + proficiency bonus + other bonuses + penalties

Sometimes you’ll need to know your DC for a given saving throw. The DC for a saving throw is 10 + the total modifier for that saving throw.

Most of the time, when you attempt a saving throw, you don’t have to use your actions or your reaction. You don’t even need to be able to act to attempt saving throws. However, in some special cases you might have to take an action to attempt a save. For instance, you can try to recover from the sickened condition by spending an action to attempt a Fortitude save.

Basic Saving Throws

Sometimes you will be called on to attempt a basic saving throw. This type of saving throw works just like any other saving throw—the “basic” part refers to the effects. For a basic save, you’ll attempt the check and determine whether you critically succeed, succeed, fail, or critically fail like you would any other saving throw. Then one of the following outcomes applies based on your degree of success—no matter what caused the saving throw.

Critical Success You take no damage from the spell, hazard, or effect that caused you to attempt the save.
Success You take half the listed damage from the effect.
Failure You take the full damage listed from the effect.
Critical Failure You take double the listed damage from the effect.


Pathfinder has a variety of skills, from Athletics to Medicine to Occultism. Each grants you a set of related actions that rely on you rolling a skill check. Each skill has a key ability score, based on the scope of the skill in question. For instance, Athletics deals with feats of physical prowess, like swimming and jumping, so its key ability score is Strength. Medicine deals with the ability to diagnose and treat wounds and ailments, so its key ability score is Wisdom. The key ability score for each skill is listed in Chapter 4: Skills. No matter which skill you’re using, you calculate a check for it using the following formula.

Skill check result = d20 roll + modifier of the skill’s key ability score + proficiency bonus + other bonuses + penalties

You’re unlikely to be trained in every skill. When using a skill in which you’re untrained, your proficiency bonus is +0; otherwise, it equals your level plus 2 for trained, or higher once you become expert or better. The proficiency rank is specific to the skill you’re using. Aid from another character or some other beneficial situation may grant you a circumstance bonus. A status bonus might come from a helpful spell or magical effect. Sometimes tools related to the skill grant you an item bonus to your skill checks. Conversely, unfavorable situations might give you a circumstance penalty to your skill check, while harmful spells, magic, or conditions might also impose a status penalty. Using shoddy or makeshift tools might cause you to take an item penalty. Sometimes a skill action can be an attack, and in these cases, the skill check might take a multiple attack penalty, as described on page 446.

When an ability calls for you to use the DC for a specific skill, you can calculate it by adding 10 + your total modifier for that skill.


When creating your character and adventuring you’ll record the total modifier for various important checks on your character sheet. Since many bonuses and penalties are due to the immediate circumstances, spells, and other temporary magical effects, you typically won’t apply them to your notations.

Item bonuses and penalties are often more persistent, so you will often want to record them ahead of time. For instance, if you are using a weapon with a +1 weapon potency rune, you’ll want to add the +1 item bonus to your notation for your attack rolls with that weapon, since you will include that bonus every time you attack with that weapon. But if you have a fine spyglass, you wouldn’t add its item bonus to your Perception check notation, since you gain that bonus only if you are using sight—and the spyglass!—to see long distances.


Some categories of checks follow special rules. The most notable are flat checks and secret checks.


When the chance something will happen or fail to happen is based purely on chance, you’ll attempt a flat check. A flat check never includes any modifiers, bonuses, or penalties—you just roll a d20 and compare the result on the die to the DC. Only abilities that specifically apply to flat checks can change the checks’ DCs; most such effects affect only certain types of flat checks.

If more than one flat check would ever cause or prevent the same thing, just roll once and use the highest DC. In the rare circumstance that a flat check has a DC of 1 or lower, skip rolling; you automatically succeed. Conversely, if one ever has a DC of 21 or higher, you automatically fail.


Sometimes you as the player shouldn’t know the exact result and effect of a check. In these situations, the rules (or the GM) will call for a secret check. The secret trait appears on anything that uses secret checks. This type of check uses the same formulas you normally would use for that check, but is rolled by the GM, who doesn’t reveal the result. Instead, the GM simply describes the information or effects determined by the check’s result. If you don’t know a secret check is happening (for instance, if the GM rolls a secret Fortitude save against a poison that you failed to notice), you can’t use any fortune or misfortune abilities (see the sidebar on page 449) on that check, but if a fortune or misfortune effect would apply automatically, the GM applies it to the secret check. If you know that the GM is attempting a secret check—as often happens with Recall Knowledge or Seek—you can usually activate fortune or misfortune abilities for that check. Just tell the GM, and they’ll apply the ability to the check.

The GM can choose to make any check secret, even if it’s not usually rolled secretly. Conversely, the GM can let you roll any check yourself, even if that check would usually be secret. Some groups find it simpler to have players roll all secret checks and just try to avoid acting on any out-of-character knowledge, while others enjoy the mystery.


In the midst of combat, you attempt checks to determine if you can damage your foe with weapons, spells, or alchemical concoctions. On a successful check, you hit and deal damage. Damage decreases a creature’s Hit Points on a 1-to-1 basis (so a creature that takes 6 damage loses 6 Hit Points). The full rules can be found in the Hit Points, Healing, and Dying section.

Damage is sometimes given as a fixed amount, but more often than not you’ll make a damage roll to determine how much damage you deal. A damage roll typically uses a number and type of dice determined by the weapon or unarmed attack used or the spell cast, and it is often enhanced by various modifiers, bonuses, and penalties. Like checks, a damage roll—especially a melee weapon damage roll—is often modified by a number of modifiers, penalties, and bonuses. When making a damage roll, you take the following steps, explained in detail below.

  1. Roll the dice indicated by the weapon, unarmed attack, or spell, and apply the modifiers, bonuses, and penalties that apply to the result of the roll.
  2. Determine the damage type.
  3. Apply the target’s immunities, weaknesses, and resistances to the damage.
  4. If any damage remains, reduce the target’s Hit Points by that amount.

Step 1: Roll the Damage Dice and Apply Modifiers, Bonuses, and Penalties

Your weapon, unarmed attack, spell, or sometimes even a magic item determines what type of dice you roll for damage, and how many. For instance, if you’re using a normal longsword, you’ll roll 1d8. If you’re casting a 3rd-level fireball spell, you’ll roll 6d6. Sometimes, especially in the case of weapons, you’ll apply modifiers, bonuses, and penalties to the damage.

When you use melee weapons, unarmed attacks, and thrown ranged weapons, the most common modifier you’ll add to damage is your Strength ability modifier. Weapons with the propulsive trait sometimes add half your Strength modifier. You typically do not add an ability modifier to spell damage, damage from most ranged weapons, or damage from alchemical bombs and similar items.

As with checks, you might add circumstance, status, or item bonuses to your damage rolls, but if you have multiple bonuses of the same type, you add only the highest bonus of that type. Again like checks, you may also apply circumstance, status, item, and untyped penalties to the damage roll, and again you apply only the greatest penalty of a specific type but apply all untyped penalties together.

Use the formulas below.

Melee damage roll = damage die of weapon or unarmed attack + Strength modifier + bonuses + penalties

Ranged damage roll = damage die of weapon + Strength modifier for thrown weapons + bonuses + penalties

Spell (and similar effects) damage roll = damage die of the effect + bonuses + penalties

If the combined penalties on an attack would reduce the damage to 0 or below, you still deal 1 damage. Once your damage die is rolled, and you’ve applied any modifiers, bonuses, and penalties, move on to Step 2. Though sometimes there are special considerations, described below.

Increasing Damage

In some cases, you increase the number of dice you roll when making weapon damage rolls. Magic weapons etched with the striking rune can add one or more weapon damage dice to your damage roll. These extra dice are the same die size as the weapon’s damage die. At certain levels, most characters gain the ability to deal extra damage from the weapon specialization class feature.

Persistent Damage

Persistent damage is a condition that causes damage to recur beyond the original effect. Unlike with normal damage, when you are subject to persistent damage, you don’t take it right away. Instead, you take the specified damage at the end of your turns, after which you attempt a DC 15 flat check to see if you recover from the persistent damage. See the Conditions Appendix on pages 618–623 for the complete rules regarding the persistent damage condition.

Doubling and Halving Damage

Sometimes you’ll need to halve or double an amount of damage, such as when the outcome of your Strike is a critical hit, or when you succeed at a basic Reflex save against a spell. When this happens, you roll the damage normally, adding all the normal modifiers, bonuses, and penalties. Then you double or halve the amount as appropriate (rounding down if you halved it). The GM might allow you to roll the dice twice and double the modifiers, bonuses, and penalties instead of doubling the entire result, but this usually works best for single-target attacks or spells at low levels when you have a small number of damage dice to roll. Benefits you gain specifically from a critical hit, like the flaming weapon rune’s persistent fire damage or the extra damage die from the fatal weapon trait, aren’t doubled.

Step 2: Determine the Damage Type

Once you’ve calculated how much damage you deal, you’ll need to determine the damage type. There are many types of damage and sometimes certain types are applied in different ways. The smack of a club deals bludgeoning damage. The stab of a spear deals piercing damage. The staccato crack of a lightning bolt spell deals electricity damage. Sometimes you might apply precision damage, dealing more damage for hitting a creature in a vulnerable spot or when the target is somehow vulnerable. The damage types are described in the Damage Types sidebar.

Damage Types

Damage has a number of different types and categories, which are described below.

Physical Damage

Damage dealt by weapons, many physical hazards, and a handful of spells is collectively called physical damage. The main types of physical damage are bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing. Bludgeoning damage comes from weapons and hazards that deal blunt-force trauma, like a hit from a club or being dashed against rocks. Piercing damage is dealt from stabs and punctures, whether from a dragon’s fangs or the thrust of a spear. Slashing damage is delivered by a cut, be it the swing of the sword or the blow from a scythe blades trap.

Ghosts and other incorporeal creatures have a high resistance to physical attacks that aren’t magical (attacks that lack the magical trait). Furthermore, most incorporeal creatures have additional, though lower, resistance to magical physical damage (such as damage dealt from a mace with the magic trait) and most other damage types.

Energy Damage

Many spells and other magical effects deal energy damage. Energy damage is also dealt from effects in the world, such as the biting cold of a blizzard to a raging forest fire. The main types of energy damage are acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic. Acid damage can be delivered by gases, liquids, and certain solids that dissolve flesh, and sometimes by harder materials. Cold damage freezes material by way of contact with chilling gases and ice. Electricity damage comes from the discharge of powerful lightning and sparks. Fire damage burns through heat and combustion. Sonic damage assaults matter with high-frequency vibration and sound waves. Many times, you deal energy damage by casting magic spells, and doing so is often useful against creatures that have immunities or resistances to physical damage.

Two special types of energy damage specifically target the living and the undead. Positive energy often manifests as healing energy to living creatures but can create positive damage that withers undead bodies and disrupts and injures incorporeal undead. Negative energy often revivifies the unnatural, unliving power of undead, while manifesting as negative damage that gnaws at the living.

Powerful and pure magical energy can manifest itself as force damage. Few things can resist this type of damage—not even incorporeal creatures such as ghosts and wraiths.

Alignment Damage

Weapons and effects keyed to a particular alignment can deal chaotic, evil, good, or lawful damage. These damage types apply only to creatures that have the opposing alignment trait. Chaotic damage harms only lawful creatures, evil damage harms only good creatures, good damage harms only evil creatures, and lawful damage harms only chaotic creatures.

Mental Damage

Sometimes an effect can target the mind with enough psychic force to actually deal damage to the creature. When it does, it deals mental damage. Mindless creatures and those with only programmed or rudimentary intelligence are often immune to mental damage and effects.

Poison Damage

Venoms, toxins, and the like can deal poison damage, which affects creatures by way of contact, ingestion, inhalation, or injury. In addition to coming from monster attacks, alchemical items, and spells, poison damage is often caused by ongoing afflictions, which follow special rules described on page 457.

Bleed Damage

Another special type of physical damage is bleed damage. This is persistent damage that represents loss of blood. As such, it has no effect on nonliving creatures or living creatures that don’t need blood to live. Weaknesses and resistances to physical damage apply.

Precision Damage

Sometimes you are able to make the most of your attack through sheer precision. When you hit with an ability that grants you precision damage, you increase the attack’s listed damage, using the same damage type, rather than tracking a separate pool of damage. For example, a non-magical dagger Strike that deals 1d6 precision damage from a rogue’s sneak attack increases the piercing damage by 1d6.

Some creatures are immune to precision damage, regardless of the damage type; these are often amorphous creatures that lack vulnerable anatomy. A creature immune to precision damage would ignore the 1d6 precision damage in the example above, but it would still take the rest of the piercing damage from the Strike. Likewise, since precision damage is always the same type of damage as the attack it’s augmenting, a creature that is resistant to non-magical damage, like a ghost or other incorporeal creature, would resist not only the dagger’s damage but also the precision damage, even though it is not specifically resistant to precision damage.

Precious Materials

While not their own damage category, precious materials can modify damage to penetrate a creature’s resistances or take advantage of its weaknesses. For instance, silver weapons are particularly effective against lycanthropes and bypass the resistances to physical damage that most devils have.

Damage Types and Traits

When an attack deals a type of damage, the attack action gains that trait. For example, the Strikes and attack actions you use wielding a sword when its flaming rune is active gain the fire trait, since the rune gives the weapon the ability to deal fire damage.

Step 3: Apply the Target's Immunities, Weaknesses, and Resistances

Defenses against certain types of damage or effects are called immunities or resistances, while vulnerabilities are called weaknesses. Apply immunities first, then weaknesses, and resistances third. Immunity, weakness, or resistance to an alignment applies only to damage of that type, not to damage from an attacking creature of that alignment.


When you have immunity to a specific type of damage, you ignore all damage of that type. If you have immunity to a specific condition or type of effect, you can’t be affected by that condition or any effect of that type. If you have immunity to effects with a certain trait (such as death effects, poison, or disease) you are unaffected by any effect with that trait. Often, an effect can be both a trait and a damage type (this is especially true in the case of energy damage types). In these cases, the immunity applies to the entire effect, not just the damage. You can still be targeted by an ability with an effect you are immune to; you just don’t apply the effect. However, some complex effects might have parts that affect you even if you’re immune to one of the effect’s traits; for instance, a spell that deals both fire and acid damage can still deal acid damage to you even if you’re immune to fire.

Immunity to critical hits works a little differently. When a creature immune to critical hits is critically hit by a Strike or other attack that deals damage, it takes normal damage instead of double damage. This does not make it immune to any other critical success effects of other actions that have the attack trait (such as Grapple and Shove).

Another exception is immunity to nonlethal attacks. If you are immune to nonlethal attacks, you are immune to all damage from attacks with the nonlethal trait, no matter what other type the damage has. For instance, a stone golem has immunity to nonlethal attacks. This means that no matter how hard you hit it with your fist, you’re not going to damage it—unless your fists don’t have the nonlethal trait, such as if you’re a monk.

Temporary Immunity

Some effects grant you immunity to the same effect for a set amount of time. If an effect grants you temporary immunity, repeated applications of that effect don’t affect you for as long as the temporary immunity lasts. Unless the effect says it applies only to a certain creature’s ability, it doesn’t matter who created the effect. For example, the blindness spell says, “The target is temporarily immune to blindness for 1 minute.” If anyone casts blindness on that creature again before 1 minute passes, the spell has no effect.

Temporary immunity doesn’t prevent or end ongoing effects of the source of the temporary immunity. For instance, if an ability makes you frightened and you then gain temporary immunity to the ability, you don’t immediately lose the frightened condition due to the immunity you just gained—you simply don’t become frightened if you’re targeted by the ability again before the immunity ends.


If you have a weakness to a certain type of damage or damage from a certain source, that type of damage is extra effective against you. Whenever you would take that type of damage, increase the damage you take by the value of the weakness. For instance, if you are dealt 2d6 fire damage and have weakness 5 to fire, you take 2d6+5 fire damage.

If you have more than one weakness that would apply to the same instance of damage, use only the highest applicable weakness value. This usually happens only when a monster is weak to both a type of physical damage and the material a weapon is made of.


If you have resistance to a type of damage, each time you take that type of damage, you reduce the amount of damage you take by the listed amount (to a minimum of 0 damage). Resistance can specify combinations of damage types or other traits. For instance, you might encounter a monster that’s resistant to non-magical bludgeoning damage, meaning it would take less damage from bludgeoning attacks that weren’t magical, but would take normal damage from your +1 mace (since it’s magical) or a non-magical spear (since it deals piercing damage). A resistance also might have an exception. For example, resistance 10 to physical damage (except silver) would reduce any physical damage by 10 unless that damage was dealt by a silver weapon.

If you have more than one type of resistance that would apply to the same instance of damage, use only the highest applicable resistance value.

It’s possible to have resistance to all damage. When an effect deals damage of multiple types and you have resistance to all damage, apply the resistance to each type of damage separately. If an attack would deal 7 slashing damage and 4 fire damage, resistance 5 to all damage would reduce the slashing damage to 2 and negate the fire damage entirely.

Step 4: If Damage Remains, Reduce the Target's Hit Points

After applying the target’s immunities, resistances, and weaknesses to the damage, whatever damage is left reduces the target’s Hit Points on a 1-to-1 basis. More information about Hit Points can be found in the Hit Points, Healing, and Dying section.

Nonlethal Attacks

You can make a nonlethal attack in an effort to knock someone out instead of killing them (see Knocked Out and Dying). Weapons with the nonlethal trait (including fists) do this automatically. You take a –2 circumstance penalty to the attack roll when you make a nonlethal attack using a weapon that doesn’t have the nonlethal trait. You also take this penalty when making a lethal attack using a nonlethal weapon.


The results of various checks might apply conditions to you or, less often, an item. Conditions change your state of being in some way. You might be gripped with fear or made faster by a spell or magic item. One condition represents what happens when a creature successfully drains your blood or life essence, while others represent creatures’ attitudes toward you and how they interact with you.

Conditions are persistent; when you’re affected by a condition, its effects last until the stated duration ends, the condition is removed, or terms dictated in the condition cause it to end. The rules for conditions are summarized here: Conditions


Anything you do in the game has an effect. Many of these outcomes are easy to adjudicate during the game. If you tell the GM that you draw your sword, no check is needed, and the result is that your character is now holding a sword. Other times, the specific effect requires more detailed rules governing how your choice is resolved. Many spells, magic items, and feats create specific effects, and your character will be subject to effects caused by monsters, hazards, the environment, and other characters.

While a check might determine the overall impact or strength of an effect, a check is not always part of creating an effect. Casting a fly spell on yourself creates an effect that allows you to soar through the air, but casting the spell does not require a check. Conversely, using the Intimidate skill to Demoralize a foe does require a check, and your result on that check determines the effect’s outcome.

The following general rules are used to understand and apply effects.


Most effects are discrete, creating an instantaneous effect when you let the GM know what actions you are going to use. Firing a bow, moving to a new space, or taking something out of your pack all resolve instantly. Other effects instead last for a certain duration. Once the duration has elapsed, the effect ends. The rules generally use the following conventions for durations, though spells have some special durations detailed on pages 304–305.

For an effect that lasts a number of rounds, the remaining duration decreases by 1 at the start of each turn of the creature that created the effect. This is common for beneficial effects that target you or your allies. Detrimental effects often last “until the end of the target’s next turn” or “through” a number of their turns (such as “through the target’s next 3 turns”), which means that the effect’s duration decreases at the end of the creature’s turn, rather than the start.

Instead of lasting a fixed number of rounds, a duration might end only when certain conditions are met (or cease to be true). If so, the effects last until those conditions are met.


Actions and other abilities that generate an effect typically work within a specified range or a reach. Most spells and abilities list a range—the maximum distance from the creature or object creating the effect in which the effect can occur.

Ranged and thrown weapons have a range increment. Attacks with such weapons work normally up to that range. Attacks against targets beyond that range take a –2 penalty, which worsens by 2 for every additional multiple of that range, to a maximum of a –10 penalty after five additional range increments. Attacks beyond this range are not possible. For example, if you are using a shortbow, your attacks take no penalty against a target up to 60 feet away, a –2 penalty if a target is over 60 and up to 120 feet away, a –4 if a target is over 120 and up to 180 feet away, and so on, up to a maximum distance of 360 feet.

Reach is how far you can physically reach with your body or a weapon. Melee Strikes rely on reach. Your reach also creates an area around your space where other creatures could trigger your reactions. Your reach is typically 5 feet, but weapons with the reach trait can extend this. Larger creatures can have greater reach; for instance, an ogre has a 10-foot reach. Unlike with measuring most distances, 10-foot reach can reach 2 squares diagonally. Reach greater than 10 feet is measured normally; 20-foot reach can reach 3 squares diagonally, 25-foot reach can reach 4, and so on.


Some effects require you to choose specific targets. Targeting can be difficult or impossible if your chosen creature is undetected by you, if the creature doesn’t match restrictions on who you can target, or if some other ability prevents it from being targeted.

Some effects require a target to be willing. Only you can decide whether your PC is willing, and the GM decides whether an NPC is willing. Even if you or your character don’t know what the effect is, such as if your character is unconscious, you still decide if you’re willing.

Some effects target or require an ally, or otherwise refer to an ally. This must be someone on your side, often another PC, but it might be a bystander you are trying to protect. You are not your own ally. If it isn’t clear, the GM decides who counts as an ally or an enemy.


Some effects occupy an area of a specified shape and size. An area effect always has a point of origin and extends out from that point. There are four types of areas: emanations, bursts, cones, and lines. When you’re playing in encounter mode and using a grid, areas are measured in the same way as movement (page 463), but areas’ distances are never reduced or affected by difficult terrain (page 475) or lesser cover (page 476). You can use the diagrams below as common reference templates for areas, rather than measuring squares each time. Many area effects describe only the effects on creatures in the area. The GM determines any effects to the environment and unattended objects.



A burst effect issues forth in all directions from a single corner of a square within the range of the effect, spreading in all directions to a specified radius. For instance, when you cast fireball, it detonates at the corner of a square within 500 feet of you and creates a 20-foot burst, meaning it extends out 20 feet in every direction from the corner of the square you chose, affecting each creature whose space (or even one square of its space) is within the burst.


A cone shoots out from you in a quarter circle on the grid. When you aim a cone, the first square of that cone must share an edge with your space if you’re aiming orthogonally, or it must touch a corner of your space if you’re aiming diagonally. If you’re Large or larger, the first square can run along the edge of any square of your space. You can’t aim a cone so that it overlaps your space. The cone extends out for a number of feet, widening as it goes, as shown in the Areas diagram. For instance, when a green dragon uses its breath weapon, it breathes a cone of poisonous gas that originates at the edge of one square of its space and affects a quarter-circle area 30 feet on each edge.

If you make a cone originate from someone or something else, follow these same rules, with the first square of the cone using an edge or corner of that creature or object’s space instead of your own.


An emanation issues forth from each side of your space, extending out to a specified number of feet in all directions. For instance, the bless spell’s emanation radiates 5 or more feet outward from the caster. Because the sides of a target’s space are used as the starting point for the emanation, an emanation from a Large or larger creature affects a greater overall area than that of a Medium or smaller creature. An emanation effect includes the target of the emanation, but the creature creating the effect can exclude the target if desired.


A line shoots forth from you in a straight line in a direction of your choosing. The line affects each creature whose space it overlaps. Unless a line effect says otherwise, it is 5 feet wide. For example, the lightning bolt spell’s area is a 60-foot line that’s 5 feet wide.


When creating an effect, you usually need an unblocked path to the target of a spell, the origin point of an effect’s area, or the place where you create something with a spell or other ability. This is called a line of effect. You have line of effect unless a creature is entirely behind a solid physical barrier. Visibility doesn’t matter for line of effect, nor do portcullises and other barriers that aren’t totally solid. If you’re unsure whether a barrier is solid enough, usually a 1-foot-square gap is enough to maintain a line of effect, though the GM makes the final call.

In an area effect, creatures or targets must have line of effect to the point of origin to be affected. If there’s no line of effect between the origin of the area and the target, the effect doesn’t apply to that target. For example, if there’s a solid wall between the origin of a fireball and a creature that’s within the burst radius, the wall blocks the effect—that creature is unaffected by the fireball and doesn’t need to attempt a save against it. Likewise, any ongoing effects created by an ability with an area cease to affect anyone who moves outside of the line of effect.


Some effects require you to have line of sight to your target. As long as you can precisely sense the area (as described in Perception on page 464) and it is not blocked by a solid barrier (as described in Cover on pages 476–477), you have line of sight. An area of darkness prevents line of sight if you don’t have darkvision, but portcullises and other obstacles that aren’t totally solid do not. If you’re unsure whether a barrier is solid enough to block line of sight, usually a 1-foot-square gap is enough to maintain line of sight, though the GM makes the final call.


Diseases and poisons are types of afflictions, as are curses and radiation. An affliction can infect a creature for a long time, progressing through different and often increasingly debilitating stages. The level of an affliction is the level of the monster, hazard, or item causing the affliction or, in the case of a spell, is listed in the affliction entry for that spell.

Affliction Example

To see how a poison works, let’s look at the arsenic alchemical item. The item notes that you can’t reduce your sickened condition while affected by arsenic, and has the following text for how the affliction works.

Saving Throw DC 18 Fortitude; Onset 10 minutes; Maximum Duration 5 minutes; Stage 1 1d4 poison damage and sickened 1 (1 minute); Stage 2 1d6 poison damage and sickened 2 (1 minute); Stage 3 2d6 poison damage and sickened 3 (1 minute)

For example, if you drank a glass of wine laced with arsenic, you would attempt an initial Fortitude save against the listed DC of 18. If you fail, you advance to stage 1. Because of the onset time, nothing happens for 10 minutes, but once this time passes, you take 1d4 poison damage and become sickened 1. As noted, you’re unable to reduce the sickened condition you gain from arsenic. The interval of stage 1 is 1 minute (as shown in parentheses), so you attempt a new save after 1 minute passes. If you succeed, you reduce the stage by 1, recovering from the poison. If you fail again, the stage increases by 1 to stage 2, and you take 1d6 poison damage and become sickened 2.

If your initial save against the arsenic was a critical failure, you would advance directly to stage 2. After the 10-minute onset time, you would take 1d6 poison damage and become sickened 2. Succeeding at your second save would reduce the stage by 1 to stage 1, and you’d take only 1d4 poison damage. Failing the second save would increase by 1 again to stage 3.

If you reach stage 3 of the poison, either by failing while at stage 2 or critically failing while at stage 1, you’d take 2d6 poison damage and be sickened 3. If you failed or critically failed your saving throw while at stage 3, you would repeat the effects of stage 3.

Since the poison has a maximum duration of 5 minutes, you recover from it once the 5 minutes pass, no matter which stage you’re at.


Whether appearing in a spell, as an item, or within a creature’s stat block, afflictions appear in the following format.

Name and Traits

The affliction’s name is given first, followed by its traits in parentheses—including the trait for the type of affliction (curse, disease, poison, and so forth). If the affliction needs to have a level specified, it follows the parentheses, followed by any unusual details, such as restrictions on removing the conditions imposed by an affliction.

Saving Throw

When you’re first exposed to the affliction, you must attempt a saving throw against it. This first attempt to stave off the affliction is called the initial save. An affliction usually requires a Fortitude save, but the exact save and its DC are listed after the name and type of affliction. Spells that can poison you typically use the caster’s spell DC.

On a successful initial saving throw, you are unaffected by that exposure to the affliction. You do not need to attempt further saving throws against it unless you are exposed to the affliction again.

If you fail the initial saving throw, after the affliction’s onset period elapses (if applicable), you advance to stage 1 of the affliction and are subjected to the listed effect. On a critical failure, after its onset period (if applicable), you advance to stage 2 of the affliction and are subjected to that effect instead. The stages of an affliction are described below.


Some afflictions have onset times. For these afflictions, once you fail your initial save, you don’t gain the effects for the first stage of the affliction until the onset time has elapsed. If this entry is absent, you gain the effects for the first stage (or the second stage on a critical failure) immediately upon failing the initial saving throw.

Maximum Duration

If an affliction lasts only a limited amount of time, it lists a maximum duration. Once this duration passes, the affliction ends. Otherwise, the affliction lasts until you succeed at enough saves to recover, as described in Stages below.


An affliction typically has multiple stages, each of which lists an effect followed by an interval in parentheses. When you reach a given stage of an affliction, you are subjected to the effects listed for that stage.

At the end of a stage’s listed interval, you must attempt a new saving throw. On a success, you reduce the stage by 1; on a critical success, you reduce the stage by 2. You are then subjected to the effects of the new stage. If the affliction’s stage is ever reduced below stage 1, the affliction ends and you don’t need to attempt further saves unless you’re exposed to the affliction again.

On a failure, the stage increases by 1; on a critical failure, the stage increases by 2. You are then subjected to the effects listed for the new stage. If a failure or critical failure would increase the stage beyond the highest listed stage, the affliction instead repeats the effects of the highest stage.


An affliction might give you conditions with a longer or shorter duration than the affliction. For instance, if an affliction causes you to be drained but has a maximum duration of 5 minutes, you remain drained even after the affliction ends, as is normal for the drained condition. Or, you might succeed at the flat check to remove persistent damage you took from an ongoing affliction, but you would still need to attempt saves to remove the affliction itself, and failing one might give you new persistent damage.


Multiple exposures to the same curse or disease currently affecting you have no effect. For a poison, however, failing the initial saving throw against a new exposure increases the stage by 1 (or by 2 if you critically fail) without affecting the maximum duration. This is true even if you’re within the poison’s onset period, though it doesn’t change the onset length.


Afflictions with the virulent trait are harder to remove. You must succeed at two consecutive saves to reduce a virulent affliction’s stage by 1. A critical success reduces a virulent affliction’s stage by only 1 instead of by 2.


Some effects try to counteract spells, afflictions, conditions, or other effects. Counteract checks compare the power of two forces and determine which defeats the other. Successfully counteracting an effect ends it unless noted otherwise.

When attempting a counteract check, add the relevant skill modifier or other appropriate modifier to your check against the target’s DC. If you’re counteracting an affliction, the DC is in the affliction’s stat block. If it’s a spell, use the caster’s DC. The GM can also calculate a DC based on the target effect’s level. For spells, the counteract check modifier is your spellcasting ability modifier plus your spellcasting proficiency bonus, plus any bonuses and penalties that specifically apply to counteract checks. What you can counteract depends on the check result and the target’s level. If an effect is a spell, its level is the counteract level. Otherwise, halve its level and round up to determine its counteract level. If an effect’s level is unclear and it came from a creature, halve and round up the creature’s level.

Critical Success Counteract the target if its counteract level is no more than 3 levels higher than your effect’s counteract level.
Success Counteract the target if its counteract level is no more than 1 level higher than your effect’s counteract level.
Failure Counteract the target if its counteract level is lower than your effect’s counteract level.
Critical Failure You fail to counteract the target.


All creatures and objects have Hit Points (HP). Your maximum Hit Point value represents your health, wherewithal, and heroic drive when you are in good health and rested. Your maximum Hit Points include the Hit Points you gain at 1st level from your ancestry and class, those you gain at higher levels from your class, and any you gain from other sources (like the Toughness general feat). When you take damage, you reduce your current Hit Points by a number equal to the damage dealt.

Some spells, items, and other effects, as well as simply resting, can heal living or undead creatures. When you are healed, you regain Hit Points equal to the amount healed, up to your maximum Hit Points.


Creatures cannot be reduced to fewer than 0 Hit Points. When most creatures reach 0 Hit Points, they die and are removed from play unless the attack was nonlethal, in which case they are instead knocked out for a significant amount of time (usually 1 minute or more). When undead and construct creatures reach 0 Hit Points, they are destroyed.

Player characters, their companions, and other significant characters and creatures don’t automatically die when they reach 0 Hit Points. Instead, they are knocked out and are at risk of death. At the GM’s discretion, villains, powerful monsters, special NPCs, and enemies with special abilities that are likely to bring them back to the fight (like ferocity, regeneration, or healing magic) can use these rules as well.

As a player character, when you are reduced to 0 Hit Points, you’re knocked out with the following effects:


If you take damage while you already have the dying condition, increase your dying condition value by 1, or by 2 if the damage came from an attacker’s critical hit or your own critical failure. If you have the wounded condition, remember to add the value of your wounded condition to your dying value.


When you’re dying, at the start of each of your turns, you must attempt a flat check with a DC equal to 10 + your current dying value to see if you get better or worse. This is called a recovery check. The effects of this check are as follows.

Critical Success Your dying value is reduced by 2.
Success Your dying value is reduced by 1.
Failure Your dying value increases by 1.
Critical Failure Your dying value increases by 2.


To understand the rules for getting knocked out and how dying works in the game, you’ll need some more information on the conditions used in those rules. Presented below are the rules for the dying, unconscious, wounded, and doomed conditions.


You are bleeding out or otherwise at death’s door. While you have this condition, you are unconscious. Dying always includes a value. If this value ever reaches dying 4, you die. If you’re dying, you must attempt a recovery check at the start of your turn each round to determine whether you get better or worse.

If you lose the dying condition by succeeding at a recovery check and are still at 0 Hit Points, you remain unconscious, but you can wake up as described on page 460. You lose the dying condition automatically and wake up if you ever have 1 Hit Point or more. Anytime you lose the dying condition, you gain the wounded 1 condition, or increase your wounded value by 1 if you already have that condition.


You’re sleeping, or you’ve been knocked out. You can’t act. You take a –4 status penalty to AC, Perception, and Reflex saves, and you have the blinded and flat-footed conditions. When you gain this condition, you fall prone and drop items you are wielding or holding unless the effect states otherwise or the GM determines you’re in a position in which you wouldn’t.

If you’re unconscious because you’re dying, you can’t wake up as long as you have 0 Hit Points. If you’re restored to 1 Hit Point or more via healing, you lose the dying and unconscious conditions and can act normally on your next turn.

If you are unconscious and at 0 Hit Points, but not dying, you naturally return to 1 Hit Point and awaken after sufficient time passes. The GM determines how long you remain unconscious, from a minimum of 10 minutes to several hours. If you receive healing during this time, you lose the unconscious condition and can act normally on your next turn.

If you’re unconscious and have more than 1 Hit Point (typically because you are asleep or unconscious due to an effect), you wake up in one of the following ways. Each causes you to lose the unconscious condition.


You have been seriously injured during a fight. Anytime you lose the dying condition, you become wounded 1 if you didn’t already have the wounded condition. If you already have the wounded condition, your wounded condition value instead increases by 1. If you gain the dying condition while wounded, increase the dying condition’s value by your wounded value. The wounded condition ends if someone successfully restores Hit Points to you with Treat Wounds, or if you are restored to full Hit Points and rest for 10 minutes.


Your life is ebbing away, bringing you ever closer to death. Some powerful spells and evil creatures can inflict the doomed condition on you. Doomed always includes a value. The maximum dying value at which you die is reduced by your doomed value. For example, if you were doomed 1, you would die upon reaching dying 3 instead of dying 4. If your maximum dying value is ever reduced to 0, you instantly die. When you die, you’re no longer doomed.

Your doomed value decreases by 1 each time you get a full night’s rest.


After you die, you can’t act or be affected by spells that target creatures (unless they specifically target dead creatures), and for all other purposes you are an object. When you die, you are reduced to 0 Hit Points if you had a different amount, and you can’t be brought above 0 Hit Points as long as you remain dead. Some magic can bring creatures back to life, such as the resurrect ritual or the raise dead spell.


If you have at least 1 Hero Point (page 467), you can spend all of your remaining Hero Points at the start of your turn or when your dying value would increase. You lose the dying condition entirely and stabilize with 0 Hit Points. You don’t gain the wounded condition or increase its value from losing the dying condition in this way, but if you already had that condition, you don’t lose it or decrease its value.


Some spells and abilities can kill you immediately or bring you closer to death without needing to reduce you to 0 Hit Points first. These abilities have the death trait and usually involve negative energy, the antithesis of life. If you are reduced to 0 Hit Points by a death effect, you are slain instantly without needing to reach dying 4. If an effect states it kills you outright, you die without having to reach dying 4 and without being reduced to 0 Hit Points.


You die instantly if you ever take damage equal to or greater than double your maximum Hit Points in one blow.


Some spells or abilities give you temporary Hit Points. Track these separately from your current and maximum Hit Points; when you take damage, reduce your temporary Hit Points first. Most temporary Hit Points last for a limited duration. You can’t regain lost temporary Hit Points through healing, but you can gain more via other abilities. You can have temporary Hit Points from only one source at a time. If you gain temporary Hit Points when you already have some, choose whether to keep the amount you already have and their corresponding duration or to gain the new temporary Hit Points and their duration.


Items have Hit Points like creatures, but the rules for damaging them are different (page 272). An item has a Hardness statistic that reduces damage the item takes by that amount. The item then takes any damage left over. If an item is reduced to 0 HP, it’s destroyed. An item also has a Broken Threshold. If its HP are reduced to this amount or lower, it’s broken, meaning it can’t be used for its normal function and it doesn’t grant bonuses. Damaging an unattended item usually requires attacking it directly, and can be difficult due to that item’s Hardness and immunities. You usually can’t attack an attended object (one on a creature’s person).


Some abilities grant fast healing, and some creatures have regeneration. A creature with either ability regains the listed amount of Hit Points each round at the beginning of its turn. A creature with regeneration has additional benefits: its dying condition never increases beyond dying 3 as long as its regeneration is active. However, if it takes damage of a type listed in the regeneration entry, its regeneration deactivates until the end of its next turn, including against the triggering damage.


You affect the world around you primarily by using actions, which produce effects. Actions are most closely measured and restricted during the encounter mode of play, but even when it isn’t important for you to keep strict track of actions, they remain the way in which you interact with the game world. There are four types of actions: single actions, activities, reactions, and free actions.

Single actions can be completed in a very short time. They’re self-contained, and their effects are generated within the span of that single action. During an encounter, you get 3 actions at the beginning of your turn, which you can use as described on page 468.

Activities usually take longer and require using multiple actions, which must be spent in succession. Stride is a single action, but Sudden Charge is an activity in which you use both the Stride and Strike actions to generate its effect.

Reactions have triggers, which must be met for you to use the reaction. You can use a reaction anytime its trigger is met, whether it’s your turn or not. In an encounter, you get 1 reaction each round, which you can use as described on page 468. Outside of encounters, your use of reactions is more flexible and up to the GM. Reactions are usually triggered by other creatures or by events outside your control.

Free actions don’t cost you any of your actions per turn, nor do they cost your reaction. A free action with no trigger follows the same rules as a single action (except the action cost), and a free action with a trigger follows the same rules as a reaction (except the reaction cost).

In-Depth Action Rules

These rules clarify some of the specifics of using actions.

Simultaneous Actions

You can use only one single action, activity, or free action that doesn’t have a trigger at a time. You must complete one before beginning another. For example, the Sudden Charge activity states you must Stride twice and then Strike, so you couldn’t use an Interact action to open a door in the middle of the movement, nor could you perform part of the move, make your attack, and then finish the move.

Free actions with triggers and reactions work differently. You can use these whenever the trigger occurs, even if the trigger occurs in the middle of another action.

Subordinate Actions

An action might allow you to use a simpler action—usually one of the Basic Actions on page 469—in a different circumstance or with different effects. This subordinate action still has its normal traits and effects, but is modified in any ways listed in the larger action. For example, an activity that tells you to Stride up to half your Speed alters the normal distance you can move in a Stride. The Stride would still have the move trait, would still trigger reactions that occur based on movement, and so on. The subordinate action doesn’t gain any of the traits of the larger action unless specified. The action that allows you to use a subordinate action doesn’t require you to spend more actions or reactions to do so; that cost is already factored in.

Using an activity is not the same as using any of its subordinate actions. For example, the quickened condition you get from the haste spell lets you spend an extra action each turn to Stride or Strike, but you couldn’t use the extra action for an activity that includes a Stride or Strike. As another example, if you used an action that specified, “If the next action you use is a Strike,” an activity that includes a Strike wouldn’t count, because the next thing you are doing is starting an activity, not using the Strike basic action.


An activity typically involves using multiple actions to create an effect greater than you can produce with a single action, or combining multiple single actions to produce an effect that’s different from merely the sum of those actions. In some cases, usually when spellcasting, an activity can consist of only 1 action, 1 reaction, or even 1 free action.

An activity might cause you to use specific actions within it. You don’t have to spend additional actions to perform them—they’re already factored into the activity’s required actions. (See Subordinate Actions on page 462.)

You have to spend all the actions of an activity at once to gain its effects. In an encounter, this means you must complete it during your turn. If an activity gets interrupted or disrupted in an encounter (page 462), you lose all the actions you committed to it.

Exploration and Downtime Activities

Outside of encounters, activities can take minutes, hours, or even days. These activities usually have the exploration or downtime trait to indicate they’re meant to be used during these modes of play. You can often do other things off and on as you carry out these activities, provided they aren’t significant activities of their own. For instance, if you’re Repairing an item, you might move around to stretch your legs or have a brief discussion—but you couldn’t also Decipher Writing at the same time.

If an activity that occurs outside of an encounter is interrupted or disrupted, as described in Disrupting Actions below, you usually lose the time you put in, but no additional time beyond that.


You can use free actions that have triggers and reactions only in response to certain events. Each such reaction and free action lists the trigger that must happen for you to perform it. When its trigger is satisfied—and only when it is satisfied—you can use the reaction or free action, though you don’t have to use the action if you don’t want to.

There are only a few basic reactions and free actions that all characters can use. You’re more likely to gain actions with triggers from your class, feats, and magic items.

Limitation on Triggers

The triggers listed in the stat blocks of reactions and some free actions limit when you can use those actions. You can use only one action in response to a given trigger. For example, if you had a reaction and a free action that both had a trigger of “your turn begins,” you could use either of them at the start of your turn—but not both. If two triggers are similar, but not identical, the GM determines whether you can use one action in response to each or whether they’re effectively the same thing. Usually, this decision will be based on what’s happening in the narrative.

This limitation of one action per trigger is per creature; more than one creature can use a reaction or free action in response to a given trigger.


Sometimes you need to attempt something not already covered by defined actions in the game. When this happens, the rules tell you how many actions you need to spend, as well any traits your action might have. For example, a spell that lets you switch targets might say you can do so “by spending a single action, which has the concentrate trait.” Game masters can also use this approach when a character tries to do something that isn’t covered in the rules.


Conditions can change the number of actions you can use on your turn, or whether you can use actions at all. The slowed condition, for example, causes you to lose actions, while the quickened condition causes you to gain them. Conditions are detailed in the appendix on pages 618–623. Whenever you lose a number of actions—whether from these conditions or in any other way—you choose which to lose if there’s any difference between them. For instance, the haste spell makes you quickened, but it limits what you can use your extra action to do. If you lost an action while haste was active, you might want to lose the action from haste first, since it’s more limited than your normal actions.

Some effects are even more restrictive. Certain abilities, instead of or in addition to changing the number of actions you can use, say specifically that you can’t use reactions. The most restrictive form of reducing actions is when an effect states that you can’t act: this means you can’t use any actions, or even speak. When you can’t act, you don’t regain your actions and reaction on your turn.


Various abilities and conditions, such as an Attack of Opportunity, can disrupt an action. When an action is disrupted, you still use the actions or reactions you committed and you still expend any costs, but the action’s effects don’t occur. In the case of an activity, you usually lose all actions spent for the activity up through the end of that turn. For instance, if you began a Cast a Spell activity requiring 3 actions and the first action was disrupted, you lose all 3 actions that you committed to that activity.

The GM decides what effects a disruption causes beyond simply negating the effects that would have occurred from the disrupted action. For instance, a Leap disrupted midway wouldn’t transport you back to the start of your jump, and a disrupted item hand off might cause the item to fall to the ground instead of staying in the hand of the creature who was trying to give it away.


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, by contrast, is governed by rules explained in Movement in Encounters. The rules below apply regardless of which mode you’re playing in.


Creatures in Pathfinder soar through the clouds, scale sheer cliffs, and tunnel underfoot. Most creatures have a Speed, which is how fast they can move across the ground. 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. Even though Speeds aren’t checks, they can have item, circumstance, and status bonuses and penalties. These can’t reduce your Speeds below 5 feet unless stated otherwise.

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


Most characters and monsters have a speed statistic—also called land Speed—which indicates how quickly 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 also 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.

Burrow Speed

A burrow Speed lets you tunnel through the ground. You can use the Burrow action if you have a burrow Speed. Burrowing doesn’t normally leave behind a tunnel unless the ability specifically states that it does. Most creatures need to hold their breath when burrowing, and they may need tremorsense to navigate with any accuracy.

Climb Speed

A climb Speed allows you to move up or down inclines and vertical surfaces. Instead of needing to attempt 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 in hopes of getting a critical success. Your climb Speed grants you a +4 circumstance bonus to Athletics checks to Climb.

If you have a climb Speed, you’re not flat-footed while climbing.

Fly Speed

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

Wind conditions can affect how you use the Fly action. In general, moving against the wind uses the same rules 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 Encounters.

Upward and downward movement are both relative to the gravity in your area; if you’re in a place with zero 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 attempting Athletics checks to Swim, you automatically succeed and move up to your swim Speed instead of the listed distance. Moving up or down is still moving through difficult terrain.

You might still have to attempt checks to Swim 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 in hopes of getting a critical 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 to avoid drowning.


When you fall more than 5 feet, you take bludgeoning damage equal to half the distance you fell when you land. 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 land prone. You fall about 500 feet in the first round of falling and about 1,500 feet each round thereafter.

You can Grab an Edge as a reaction 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. Landing exactly on a creature after a long fall is almost impossible.

Critical Success The creature takes no damage.
Success The creature takes bludgeoning damage equal to one-quarter the falling damage you took.
Failure The creature takes bludgeoning damage equal to half the falling damage you took.
Critical Failure The creature takes the same amount of bludgeoning damage you took from the fall.

Falling Objects

A dropped object takes damage just like a falling creature. If the object lands on a creature, that creature can attempt a Reflex save using the same rules as for a creature falling on a creature. Hazards and spells that involve falling objects, such as a rock slide, have their own rules about how they interact with creatures and the damage they deal.


Your Perception measures your ability to notice things, search for what’s hidden, and tell whether something about a situation is suspicious. This statistic is frequently used for rolling initiative to determine who goes first in an encounter, and it’s also used for the Seek action.

The rules for rolling a Perception check are found on page 448. The rules below describe the effects of light and visibility on your specific senses to perceive the world, as well as the rules for sensing and locating creatures with Perception.


The amount of light in an area can affect how well you see things. There are three levels of light: bright light, dim light, and darkness. The rules in this book assume that all creatures are in bright light unless otherwise noted. A source of light lists the radius in which it sheds bright light, and it sheds dim light to double that radius.

Bright Light

In bright light, such as sunlight, creatures and objects can be observed clearly by anyone with average vision or better. Some types of creatures are dazzled or blinded by bright light.

Dim Light

Areas in shadow or lit by weak light sources are in dim light. Creatures and objects in dim light have the concealed condition, unless the seeker has darkvision or low-light vision (see Special Senses on page 465), or a precise sense other than vision.


A creature or object within darkness is hidden or undetected unless the seeker has darkvision or a precise sense other than vision (Special Senses are on page 465). A creature without darkvision or another means of perceiving in darkness has the blinded condition while in darkness, though it might be able to see illuminated areas beyond the darkness. If a creature can see into an illuminated area, it can observe creatures within that illuminated area normally. After being in darkness, sudden exposure to bright light might make you dazzled for a short time, as determined by the GM.


The ways a creature can use Perception depend on what senses it has. The primary concepts you need to know for understanding senses are precise senses, imprecise senses, and the three states of detection a target can be in: observed, hidden, or undetected. Vision, hearing, and scent are three prominent senses, but they don’t have the same degree of acuity.

Precise Senses

Average vision is a precise sense—a sense that can be used to perceive the world in nuanced detail. The only way to target a creature without having drawbacks is to use a precise sense. You can usually detect a creature automatically with a precise sense unless that creature is hiding or obscured by the environment, in which case you can use the Seek basic action to better detect the creature.

Imprecise Senses

Hearing is an imprecise sense—it cannot detect the full range of detail that a precise sense can. You can usually sense a creature automatically with an imprecise sense, but it has the hidden condition instead of the observed condition. It might be undetected by you if it’s using Stealth or is in an environment that distorts the sense, such as a noisy room in the case of hearing. In those cases, you have to use the Seek basic action to detect the creature. At best, an imprecise sense can be used to make an undetected creature (or one you didn’t even know was there) merely hidden—it can’t make the creature observed.

Vague Senses

A character also has many vague senses—ones that can alert you that something is there but aren’t useful for zeroing in on it to determine exactly what it is. The most useful of these for a typical character is the sense of smell. At best, a vague sense can be used to detect the presence of an unnoticed creature, making it undetected. Even then, the vague sense isn’t sufficient to make the creature hidden or observed.

When one creature might detect another, the GM almost always uses the most precise sense available.

Pathfinder’s rules assume that a given creature has vision as its only precise sense and hearing as its only imprecise sense. Some characters and creatures, however, have precise or imprecise senses that don’t match this assumption. For instance, a character with poor vision might treat that sense as imprecise, an animal with the scent ability can use its sense of smell as an imprecise sense, and a creature with echolocation or a similar ability can use hearing as a precise sense. Such senses are often given special names and appear as “echolocation (precise),” “scent (imprecise) 30 feet,” or the like.


While a human might have a difficult time making creatures out in dim light, an elf can see those creatures just fine. And though elves have no problem seeing on a moonlit night, their vision cannot penetrate complete darkness, whereas a dwarf’s can.

Special senses grant greater awareness that allows a creature with these senses to either ignore or reduce the effects of the undetected, hidden, or concealed conditions (described in Detecting Creatures below) when it comes to situations that foil average vision. The following are a few examples of common special senses.

Detecting with Other Senses

If a monster uses a sense other than vision, the GM can adapt the variables that keep its foes from being detected to equivalents that work with the monster’s senses. For example, a creature that has echolocation might use hearing as a primary sense. This could mean its quarry is concealed in a noisy chamber, hidden in a great enough din, or even invisible in the area of a silence spell.

Using Stealth with Other Senses

The Stealth skill is designed to use Hide for avoiding visual detection and Avoid Notice and Sneak to avoid being both seen and heard. For many special senses, a player can describe how they’re avoiding detection by that special sense and use the most applicable Stealth action. For instance, a creature stepping lightly to avoid being detected via tremorsense would be using Sneak.

In some cases, rolling a Dexterity-based Stealth skill check to Sneak doesn’t make the most sense. For example, when facing a creature that can detect heartbeats, a PC trying to avoid being detected might meditate to slow their heart rate, using Wisdom instead of Dexterity as the ability modifier for the Stealth check. When a creature that can detect you has multiple senses, such as if it could also hear or see, the PC would use the lowest applicable ability modifier for the check.

Darkvision and Greater Darkvision

A creature with darkvision or greater darkvision can see perfectly well in areas of darkness and dim light, though such vision is in black and white only. Some forms of magical darkness, such as a 4th-level darkness spell, block normal darkvision. A creature with greater darkvision, however, can see through even these forms of magical darkness.

Low-Light Vision

A creature with low-light vision can see in dim light as though it were bright light, so it ignores the concealed condition due to dim light.


Scent involves sensing creatures or objects by smell, and is usually a vague sense. The range is listed in the ability, and it functions only if the creature or object being detected emits an aroma (for instance, incorporeal creatures usually do not exude an aroma).

If a creature emits a heavy aroma or is upwind, the GM can double or even triple the range of scent abilities used to detect that creature, and the GM can reduce the range if a creature is downwind.


Tremorsense allows a creature to feel the vibrations through a solid surface caused by movement. It is usually an imprecise sense with a limited range (listed in the ability). Tremorsense functions only if the detecting creature is on the same surface as the subject, and only if the subject is moving along (or burrowing through) the surface.


There are three conditions that measure the degree to which you can sense a creature: observed, hidden, and undetected. However, the concealed and invisible conditions can partially mask a creature, and the unnoticed condition indicates you have no idea a creature is around. In addition to the descriptions here, you can find these conditions in the Conditions Appendix on pages 618–623.

With the exception of invisible, these conditions are relative to the viewer—it’s possible for a creature to be observed to you but hidden from your ally. When you’re trying to target a creature that’s hard to see or otherwise sense, various drawbacks apply. Most of these rules apply to objects you’re trying to detect as well as


Typically, the GM tracks how well creatures detect each other, since neither party has perfect information. For example, you might think a creature is in the last place you sensed it, but it was able to Sneak away. Or you might think a creature can’t see you in the dark, but it has darkvision.

You can attempt to avoid detection by using the Stealth skill to Avoid Notice, Hide, or Sneak, or by using Deception to Create a Diversion.


In most circumstances, you can sense creatures without difficulty and target them normally. Creatures in this state are observed. Observing requires a precise sense, which for most creatures means sight, but see the Detecting with Other Senses sidebar (page 465) for advice regarding creatures that don’t use sight as their primary sense. If you can’t observe the creature, it’s either hidden, undetected, or unnoticed, and you’ll need to factor in the targeting restrictions. Even if a creature is observed, it might still be concealed.


A creature that’s hidden is only barely perceptible. You know what space a hidden creature occupies, but little else. Perhaps the creature just moved behind cover and successfully used the Hide action. Your target might be in a deep fogbank or behind a waterfall, where you can see some movement but can’t determine an exact location. Maybe you’ve been blinded or the creature is under the effects of invisibility, but you used the Seek basic action to determine its general location based on hearing alone. Regardless of the specifics, you’re flat-footed to a hidden creature.

When targeting a hidden creature, before you roll to determine your effect, you must attempt a DC 11 flat check. If you fail, you don’t affect the creature, though the actions you used are still expended—as well as any spell slots, costs, and other resources. You remain flat-footed to the creature, whether you successfully target it or not.


If a creature is undetected, you don’t know what space it occupies, you’re flat-footed to it, and you can’t easily target it. Using the Seek basic action can help you find an undetected creature, usually making it hidden from you instead of undetected. If a creature is undetected, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re unaware of its presence—you might suspect an undetected creature is in the room with you, even though you’re unable to find its space. The unnoticed condition covers creatures you’re entirely unaware of.

Targeting an undetected creature is difficult. If you suspect there’s a creature around, you can pick a square and attempt an attack. This works like targeting a hidden creature, but the flat check and attack roll are both rolled in secret by the GM. The GM won’t tell you why you missed—whether it was due to failing the flat check, rolling an insufficient attack roll, or choosing the wrong square. The GM might allow you to try targeting an undetected creature with some spells or other abilities in a similar fashion. Undetected creatures are subject to area effects normally.

For instance, suppose an enemy elf wizard cast invisibility and then Sneaked away. You suspect that with the elf’s Speed of 30 feet, they probably moved 15 feet toward an open door. You move up and attack a space 15 feet from where the elf started and directly on the path to the door. The GM secretly rolls an attack roll and flat check, but they know that you were not quite correct—the elf was actually in the adjacent space! The GM tells you that you missed, so you decide to make your next attack on the adjacent space, just in case. This time, it’s the right space, and the GM’s secret attack roll and flat check both succeed, so you hit!


If you have no idea a creature is even present, that creature is unnoticed by you. A creature that is undetected might also be unnoticed. This condition usually matters for abilities that can be used only against targets totally unaware of your presence.


The concealed and invisible conditions reflect certain circumstances that can make a creature harder to see.


This condition protects a creature if it’s in mist, within dim light, or amid something else that obscures sight but does not provide a physical barrier to effects. An effect or type of terrain that describes an area of concealment makes all creatures within it concealed.

When you target a creature that’s concealed from you, you must attempt a DC 5 flat check before you roll to determine your effect. If you fail, you don’t affect the target. The concealed condition doesn’t change which of the main categories of detection apply to the creature. A creature in a light fog bank is still observed even though it’s concealed.


A creature with the invisible condition (by way of an invisibility spell or invisibility potion, for example) is automatically undetected to any creatures relying on sight as their only precise sense. Precise senses other than sight ignore the invisible condition.

You can use the Seek basic action to attempt to figure out an invisible creature’s location, making it instead only hidden from you. This lasts until the invisible creature successfully uses Sneak to become undetected again. If you’re already observing a creature when it becomes invisible, it starts out hidden, since you know where it was when it became invisible, though it can then Sneak to become undetected.

Other effects might make an invisible creature hidden or even observed but concealed. For instance, if you were tracking an invisible creature’s footprints through the snow, the footprints would make it hidden. Similarly, throwing a net over an invisible creature would make it observed but concealed for as long as the net is on the creature.


Your heroic deeds earn you Hero Points, which grant you good fortune or let you recover from the brink of death. Unlike most aspects of your character, which persist over the long term, Hero Points last for only a single session.

The GM is in charge of awarding Hero Points (guidelines for doing so can be found on page 507). Usually, each character gets 1 Hero Point at the start of a session and can gain more later by performing heroic deeds—something selfless, daring, or beyond normal expectations. You can have a maximum of 3 Hero Points at a time, and you lose any remaining Hero Points at the end of a session.

You can spend your Hero Points in one of two ways. Neither of these is an action, and you can spend Hero Points even if you aren’t able to act. You can spend a Hero Point on behalf of your familiar or animal companion.


Because spending Hero Points reflects heroic deeds or tasks that surpass normal expectations, if you spend a Hero Point, you should describe the deed or task your character accomplishes with it to the other players.

Your character’s deed might invoke a lesson learned in a past adventure, could be spurred by a determination to save someone else, or might depend on an item that ended up on their person due to a previous exploit. If you don’t want to describe the deed or don’t have any strong ideas about how to do so, ask the GM to come up with something for you. This can be a collaborative process, too. The GM might remind you of a long-forgotten event in the campaign, and all you have to do is fill in how that event comes to mind just at the right time, motivating you to push past your limits.

When every individual action counts, you enter the encounter mode of play. In this mode, time is divided into rounds, each of which is 6 seconds of time in the game world. Every round, each participant takes a turn in an established order. During your turn, you can use actions, and depending on the details of the encounter, you might have the opportunity to use reactions and free actions on your own turn and on others’ turns.


An encounter is played out in a series of rounds, during which the player characters, adversaries, and other participants in the encounter act in sequence. You roll initiative to determine this order at the start of the encounter and then play through rounds until a conclusion is reached and the encounter ends. The rules in this section assume a combat encounter—a battle—but the general structure can apply to any kind of encounter.

Tracking Initiative

The GM keeps track of the initiative order for an encounter. It’s usually okay for the players to know this order, since they’ll see who goes when and be aware of one another’s results. However, the GM might want to conceal the names of adversaries the PCs have yet to identify.

Once the encounter’s order is set, it’s usually not necessary to track the original initiative numbers. The GM can create a simple list, use a series of cards or other indicators, or use a Pathfinder Combat Pad, which has magnetic markers to allow for easily rearranging the order.

Changing the Initiative Order

Any method used to track the initiative order needs to be flexible because the order can change. A creature can use the Delay basic action to change its place in the order, in which case you can erase it from the list or pull its marker aside until it reenters the initiative order. When a creature gets knocked out, its initiative order also changes (see Knocked Out and Dying on page 459). Using the Ready basic action doesn’t change a creature’s place in the initiative order, though, because the designated action becomes a reaction.

Step 1: Roll Initiative

When the GM calls for it, you’ll roll initiative to determine your place in the initiative order, which is the sequence in which the encounter’s participants will take their turns. Rolling initiative marks the start of an encounter. More often than not, you’ll roll initiative when you enter a battle.

Typically, you’ll roll a Perception check to determine your initiative—the more aware you are of your surroundings, the more quickly you can respond. Sometimes, though, the GM might call on you to roll some other type of check. For instance, if you were Avoiding Notice during exploration (page 479), you’d roll a Stealth check. A social encounter could call for a Deception or Diplomacy check.

The GM rolls initiative for anyone other than the player characters in the encounter. If these include a number of identical creatures, the GM could roll once for the group as a whole and have them take their turns within the group in any order. However, this can make battles less predictable and more dangerous, so the GM might want to roll initiative for some or all creatures individually unless it’s too much of a burden.

Unlike a typical check, where the result is compared to a DC, the results of initiative rolls are ranked. This ranking sets the order in which the encounter’s participants act—the initiative order. The character with the highest result goes first. The second highest follows, and so on until whoever had the lowest result takes their turn last.

If your result is tied with a foe’s result, the adversary goes first. If your result is tied with another PC’s, you can decide between yourselves who goes first when you reach that place in the initiative order. After that, your places in the initiative order usually don’t change during the encounter.

Step 2: Play a Round

A round begins when the participant with the highest initiative roll result starts their turn, and it ends when the one with the lowest initiative ends their turn. The process of taking a turn is detailed below. Creatures might also act outside their turns with reactions and free actions.

Step 3: Begin the Next Round

Once everyone in the encounter has taken a turn, the round is over and the next one begins. Don’t roll initiative again; the new round proceeds in the same order as the previous one, repeating the cycle until the encounter ends.

Step 4: End the Encounter

When your foes are defeated, some sort of truce is reached, or some other event or circumstance ends the combat, the encounter is over. You and the other participants no longer follow the initiative order, and a more free-form style of play resumes, with the game typically moving into exploration mode. Sometimes at the end of an encounter, the GM will award Experience Points to the party or you’ll find treasure to divvy up.


When it’s your turn to act, you can use single actions , short activities ( and ), reactions (), and free actions () . When you’re finished, your turn ends and the character next in the initiative order begins their turn. Sometimes it’s important to note when during your turn something happens, so a turn is divided into three steps.

Step 1: Start Your Turn

Many things happen automatically at the start of your turn— it’s a common point for tracking the passage of time for effects that last multiple rounds. At the start of each of your turns, take these steps in any order you choose:

The last step of starting your turn is always the same.

Step 2: Act

You can use actions in any order you wish during your turn, but you have to complete one action or activity before beginning another; for example, you can’t use a single action in the middle of performing a 2-action activity. What actions you can use often depend on your class features, skills, feats, and items, but there are default actions anyone can use, described in Basic Actions below. Some effects might prevent you from acting. If you can’t act, you can’t use any actions, including reactions and free actions.

If you begin a 2-action or 3-action activity on your turn, you must be able to complete it on your turn. You can’t, for example, begin to High Jump using your final action on one turn and then complete it as your first action on your next turn.

Once you have spent all 3 of your actions, your turn ends (as described in Step 3) and the next creature’s turn begins. You can, however, use only some of your actions and end your turn early. As soon as your turn ends, you lose all your remaining actions, but not your reaction or your ability to use free actions.

Step 3: End Your Turn

Once you’ve done all the things you want to do with the actions you have available, you reach the end of your turn. Take the following steps in any order you choose. Play then proceeds to the next creature in the initiative order.


Basic actions represent common tasks like moving around, attacking, and helping others. As such, every creature can use basic actions except in some extreme circumstances, and many of those actions are used very frequently. Most notably, you’ll use Interact, Step, Stride, and Strike a great deal. Many feats and other actions call upon you to use one of these basic actions or modify them to produce different effects. For example, a more complex action might let you Stride up to double your Speed instead of just up to your Speed, and a large number of activities include a Strike.

Actions that are used less frequently but are still available to most creatures are presented in Specialty Basic Actions. These typically have requirements that not all characters are likely to meet, such as wielding a shield or having a burrow Speed. In addition to the actions in these two sections, the actions for spellcasting can be found on pages 302–305, and the actions for using magic items appear on pages 531–534.


Trigger An ally is about to use an action that requires a skill check or attack roll.
Requirements The ally is willing to accept your Aid, and you have prepared to help (see below).

You try to help your ally with a task. To use this reaction, you must first prepare to help, usually by using an action during your turn. You must explain to the GM exactly how you're trying to help, and they determine whether you can Aid your ally.

When you use your Aid reaction, attempt a skill check or attack roll of a type decided by the GM. The typical DC is 20, but the GM might adjust this DC for particularly hard or easy tasks. The GM can add any relevant traits to your preparatory action or to your Aid reaction depending on the situation, or even allow you to Aid checks other than skill checks and attack rolls.

Critical Success You grant your ally a +2 circumstance bonus to the triggering check. If you're a master with the check you attempted, the bonus is +3, and if you're legendary, it's +4.
Success You grant your ally a +1 circumstance bonus to the triggering check.
Critical Failure Your ally takes a +1 circumstance penalty to the triggering check.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 470



Requirements You are Prone and your Speed is at least 10 feet.

You move 5 feet by crawling and continue to stay Prone.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 470


Trigger Your turn begins.

You wait for the right moment to act. The rest of your turn doesn't happen yet. Instead, you're removed from the initiative order. You can return to the initiative order as a free action triggered by the end of any other creature's turn. This permanently changes your initiative to the new position. You can't use reactions until you return to the initiative order. If you Delay an entire round without returning to the initiative order, the actions from the Delayed turn are lost, your initiative doesn't change, and your next turn occurs at your original position in the initiative order.

When you Delay, any Persistent Damage or other negative effects that normally occur at the start or end of your turn occur immediately when you use the Delay action. Any beneficial effects that would end at any point during your turn also end. The GM might determine that other effects end when you Delay as well. Essentially, you can't Delay to avoid negative consequences that would happen on your turn or to extend beneficial effects that would end on your turn.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 470

Drop Prone


You fall Prone.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 470



You attempt to escape from being Grabbed, Immobilized, or Restrained. Choose one creature, object, spell effect, hazard, or other impediment imposing any of those conditions on you. Attempt a check using your unarmed attack modifier against the DC of the effect. This is typically the Athletics DC of a creature grabbing you, the Thievery DC of a creature who tied you up, the spell DC for a spell effect, or the listed Escape DC of an object, hazard, or other impediment. You can attempt an Acrobatics or Athletics check instead of using your attack modifier if you choose (but this action still has the attack trait).

Critical Success You get free and remove the Grabbed, Immobilized, and Restrained conditions imposed by your chosen target. You can then Stride up to 5 feet.
Success You get free and remove the Grabbed, Immobilized, and Restrained conditions imposed by your chosen target.
Critical Failure You don't get free, and you can't attempt to Escape again until your next turn.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 470



You use your hand or hands to manipulate an object or the terrain. You can Grab an unattended or stored object, open a door, or produce some similar effect. You might have to attempt a skill check to determine if your Interact action was successful.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 470



You take a careful, short jump. You can Leap up to 10 feet horizontally if your Speed is at least 15 feet, or up to 15 feet horizontally if your Speed is at least 30 feet. You land in the space where your Leap ends (meaning you can typically clear a 5-foot gap, or a 10-foot gap if your Speed is 30 feet or more).

If you Leap vertically, you can move up to 3 feet vertically and 5 feet horizontally onto an elevated surface.

Jumping a greater distance requires using the Athletics skill.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 470



You prepare to use an action that will occur outside your turn. Choose a single action or free action you can use, and designate a trigger. Your turn then ends. If the trigger you designated occurs before the start of your next turn, you can use the chosen action as a reaction (provided you still meet the requirements to use it). You can't Ready a free action that already has a trigger.

If you have a multiple attack penalty and your readied action is an attack action, your readied attack takes the multiple attack penalty you had at the time you used Ready. This is one of the few times the multiple attack penalty applies when it's not your turn.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 470



You Release something you're holding in your hand or hands. This might mean dropping an item, removing one hand from your weapon while continuing to hold it in another hand, releasing a rope suspending a chandelier, or Performing a similar action. Unlike most manipulate actions, Release does not trigger reactions that can be triggered by actions with the manipulate trait (such as Attack Of Opportunity).

If you want to prepare to Release something outside of your turn, use the Ready activity.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 470


Concentrate Secret

You scan an area for signs of creatures or objects. If you're looking for creatures, choose an area you're scanning. If precision is necessary, the GM can have you select a 30-foot cone or a 15-foot burst within line of sight. You might take a penalty if you choose an area that's far away.

If you're using Seek to search for objects (including secret doors and hazards), you search up to a 10-foot square adjacent to you. The GM might determine you need to Seek as an activity, taking more actions or even minutes or hours if you're searching a particularly cluttered area.

The GM attempts a single secret Perception check for you and compares the result to the Stealth DCs of any Undetected or Hidden creatures in the area or the DC to detect each object in the area (as determined by the GM or by someone Concealing the Object). A creature you detect might remain hidden, rather than becoming Observed, if you're using an imprecise sense or if an effect (such as invisibility) prevents the subject from being observed.

Critical Success If you were searching for creatures, any Undetected or Hidden creature you critically succeeded against becomes Observed by you. If you were searching for an object, you learn its location.
Success If you were searching for creatures, any Undetected creature you succeeded against becomes Hidden from you instead of undetected, and any hidden creature you succeeded against becomes Observed by you. If you were searching for an object, you learn its location or get a clue to its whereabouts, as determined by the GM.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 471

Sense Motive

Concentrate Secret

You try to tell whether a creature's behavior is abnormal. Choose one creature, and assess it for odd body language, signs of nervousness, and other indicators that it might be trying to deceive someone. The GM attempts a single secret Perception check for you and compares the result to the Deception DC of the creature, the DC of a spell affecting the creature's mental state, or another appropriate DC determined by the GM. You typically can't try to Sense the Motive of the same creature again until the situation changes significantly.

Critical Success You determine the creature's true intentions and get a solid idea of any mental magic affecting it.
Success You can tell whether the creature is behaving normally, but you don't know its exact intentions or what magic might be affecting it.
Failure You detect what a deceptive creature wants you to believe. If they're not being deceptive, you believe they're behaving normally.
Critical Failure You get a false sense of the creature's intentions.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 471



You stand up from Prone.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 471



Requirements Your Speed is at least 10 feet.

You carefully move 5 feet. Unlike most types of movement, Stepping doesn't trigger reactions, such as Attacks of Opportunity, that can be triggered by move actions or upon leaving or entering a square.

You can't Step into difficult terrain, and you can't Step using a Speed other than your land Speed.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 471



You move up to your Speed.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 471



You attack with a weapon you're wielding or with an unarmed attack, targeting one creature within your reach (for a melee attack) or within range (for a ranged attack). Roll the attack roll for the weapon or unarmed attack you are using, and compare the result to the target creature's AC to determine the effect. See Attack Rolls on page 446 and Damage on page 450 for details on calculating your attack and damage rolls.

Critical Success As success, but you deal double damage.
Success You deal damage according to the weapon or unarmed attack, including any modifiers, bonuses, and penalties you have to damage.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 471

Take Cover

Requirements You are benefiting from cover, are near a feature that allows you to Take Cover, or are Prone.

You press yourself against a wall or duck behind an obstacle to take better advantage of cover. If you would have standard cover, you instead gain greater cover, which provides a +4 circumstance bonus to AC; to Reflex saves against area effects; and to Stealth checks to Hide, Sneak, or otherwise avoid detection. Otherwise, you gain the benefits of standard cover (a +2 circumstance bonus instead). This lasts until you move from your current space, use an attack action, become Unconscious, or end this effect as a free action.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 471

As long as you can act, you can also speak. You don’t need to spend any type of action to speak, but because a round represents 6 seconds of time, you can usually speak at most a single sentence or so per round. Special uses of speech, such as attempting a Deception skill check to Lie, require spending actions and follow their own rules. All speech has the auditory trait. If you communicate in some way other than speech, other rules might apply. For instance, using sign language is visual instead of auditory.


These actions are useful under specific circumstances. Some require you to have a special movement type.

Arrest a Fall

Trigger You fall.
Requirements You have a fly Speed.

You attempt an Acrobatics check to slow your fall. The DC is typically 15, but it might be higher due to air turbulence or other circumstances.

Critical Success None
Success You fall gently, taking no damage from the fall.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 471

Avert Gaze

You avert your gaze from danger. You gain a +2 circumstance bonus to saves against visual abilities that require you to look at a creature or object, such as a medusa's Petrifying Gaze. Your gaze remains averted until the start of your next turn.


Requirements You have a burrow Speed.

You dig your way through dirt, sand, or a similar loose material at a rate up to your burrow Speed. You can't burrow through rock or other substances denser than dirt unless you have an ability that allows you to do so.



Requirements You have a fly Speed.

You move through the air up to your fly Speed. Moving upward (straight up or diagonally) uses the rules for moving through difficult terrain. You can move straight down 10 feet for every 5 feet of movement you spend. If you Fly to the ground, you don't take falling damage. You can use an action to Fly 0 feet to hover in place. If you're airborne at the end of your turn and didn't use a Fly action this round, you fall.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 472

Grab an Edge


Trigger You fall from or past an edge or handhold.
Requirements Your hands are not tied behind your back or otherwise Restrained

When you fall off or past an edge or other handhold, you can try to Grab it, potentially stopping your fall. You must succeed at a Reflex save, usually at the Climb DC. If you grab the edge or handhold, you can then Climb up using Athletics.

Critical Success You Grab the edge or handhold, whether or not you have a hand free, typically by using a suitable held item to catch yourself (catching a Battle Axe on a ledge, for example). You still take damage from the distance fallen so far, but you treat the fall as though it were 30 feet shorter.
Success If you have at least one hand free, you Grab the edge or handhold, stopping your fall. You still take damage from the distance fallen so far, but you treat the fall as though it were 20 feet shorter. If you have no hands free, you continue to fall as if you had failed the check.
Critical Failure You continue to fall, and if you've fallen 20 feet or more before you use this reaction, you take 10 bludgeoning damage from the impact for every 20 feet fallen.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 472



Requirements You are adjacent to a creature that is at least one size larger than you and is willing to be your mount.

You move onto the creature and ride it. If you're already mounted, you can instead use this action to dismount, moving off the mount into a space adjacent to it.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 472

Point Out

Auditory Manipulate Visual

Requirements A creature is Undetected by one or more of your allies but isn't undetected by you.

You indicate a creature that you can see to one or more allies, gesturing in a direction and describing the distance verbally. That creature is Hidden to your allies, rather than Undetected. This works only for allies who can see you and are in a position where they could potentially detect the target. If your allies can't hear or understand you, they must succeed at a Perception check against the creature's Stealth DC or they misunderstand and believe the target is in a different location.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 472

Raise a Shield

Requirements You are wielding a shield.

You position your shield to protect yourself. When you have Raised a Shield, you gain its listed circumstance bonus to AC. Your shield remains raised until the start of your next turn.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 472


Activities that take longer than a turn can’t normally be performed during an encounter. Spells with a casting time of 1 minute or more are a common example of this, as are several skill actions. When you commit to an activity during your turn in an encounter, you commit to spending all of the actions it requires. If the activity gets interrupted partway through, you lose all of the actions you would have spent on that activity. Activities are described in full on page 461.


Your reactions let you respond immediately to what’s happening around you. The GM determines whether you can use reactions before your first turn begins, depending on the situation in which the encounter happens.

Once your first turn begins, you gain your actions and reaction. You can use 1 reaction per round. You can use a reaction on anyone’s turn (including your own), but only when its trigger occurs. If you don’t use your reaction, you lose it at the start of your next turn, though you typically then gain a reaction at the start of that turn.

Some reactions are specifically meant to be used in combat and can change how the battle plays out drastically. One example of such a reaction is Attack of Opportunity, which fighters gain at 1st level.

Attack of Opportunity

Trigger A creature within your reach uses a manipulate action or a move action, makes a ranged attack, or leaves a square during a move action it's using.

You Lash Out at a foe that leaves an opening. Make a melee Strike against the triggering creature. If your attack is a critical hit and the trigger was a manipulate action, you disrupt that action. This Strike doesn't count toward your multiple attack penalty, and your multiple attack penalty doesn't apply to this Strike.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 142


Your movement during encounter mode depends on the actions and other abilities you use. Whether you Stride, 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 (page 463).

When the rules refer to a “movement cost” or “spending movement,” they are describing how many feet of your Speed you must use to move from one point to another. Normally, movement costs 5 feet per square when you’re moving on a 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 (page 475) 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 10 feet of movement to move 1 square, and moving through some types of terrain costs an extra 5 feet of movement per square.


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, Flip-Tiles, 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 map square traveled.

Because moving diagonally covers more ground, you 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 thereafter 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 track your total diagonal movement across all your movement during your turn, but reset your count at the end of your turn.


Creatures and objects of different sizes occupy different amounts of space. The sizes and the spaces they each take up on a grid are listed in Table 9–1: Size and Reach (page 474). Table 9–1 also lists the typical reach for creatures of each size, for both tall creatures (most bipeds) and long creatures (most quadrupeds). See page 455 for more 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 (4 squares on the grid). Sometimes part of a creature extends beyond its space, such as if a giant octopus is grabbing you with its tentacles. In that case, the GM will usually allow attacking the extended portion, even if you can’t reach the main creature. 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 below.

Table: Size and Reach
SizeSpaceReach (Tall)Reach (Long)
TinyLess than 5 feet0 feet0 feet
Small5 feet5 feet5 feet
Medium5 feet5 feet5 feet
Large10 feet10 feet5 feet
Huge15 feet15 feet10 feet
Gargantuan20 feet or more20 feet15 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.


Some reactions and free actions are triggered by a creature using an action with the move trait. The most notable example is Attack of Opportunity. Actions with the move trait can trigger reactions or free actions throughout the course of the distance traveled. Each time you exit a square (or move 5 feet if not using a grid) within a creature’s reach, your movement triggers those reactions and free actions (although no more than once per move action for a given reacting creature). If you use a move action but don’t move out of a square, the trigger instead happens at the end of that action or ability.

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


You can move through the space of a willing creature. If you want to move through an unwilling creature’s space, you can Tumble Through that creature’s space using Acrobatics. You can’t end your turn in a square occupied by another creature, though you can end a move action in its square provided that 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 if it 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 larger than you (Table 9-1). 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 creature.

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


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 like 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, whether special rules apply, or if you are unable to move into the square at all.


When an effect forces you to move, or if you start falling, the distance you move 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.

If forced movement would move you into a space you can’t occupy—because objects are in the way or because you lack the movement type needed to reach it, for example—you stop moving in the last space you can occupy. Usually the creature or effect forcing the movement chooses the path the victim takes. If you’re pushed or pulled, you can usually be moved through hazardous terrain, pushed off a ledge, or the like. Abilities that reposition you in some other way can’t put you in such dangerous places unless they specify otherwise. In all cases, the GM makes the final call if there’s doubt on where forced movement can move a creature.


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. You can’t Step into difficult terrain.

Movement you make while you are 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 normal movement cost as for difficult terrain, though it wouldn’t let you ignore greater difficult terrain unless the ability specifies otherwise.

Hazardous Terrain

Hazardous terrain damages you whenever you move through it. An acid pool and a pit of burning embers are both examples of hazardous terrain. The amount and type of damage depend on the specific hazardous terrain.

Narrow Surfaces

A narrow surface is so precariously thin that you need to Balance (see Acrobatics) 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 must succeed at a Reflex save (with the same DC as the Acrobatics check to Balance) or fall.

Uneven Ground

Uneven ground is an area unsteady enough that you need to Balance (see Acrobatics) 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 must succeed at a Reflex save (with the same DC as the Acrobatics check to Balance) or fall prone.


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.


When you and an ally are flanking a foe, it has a harder time defending against you. A creature is flat-footed (taking a –2 circumstance penalty to AC) to creatures that are flanking it.

To flank a foe, you and your ally must be on opposites sides or corners of the creature. A line drawn between the center of your space and the center of your ally’s space must pass through opposite sides or opposite corners of the foe’s space. Additionally, both you and the ally have to be able to act, must be wielding melee weapons or able to make an unarmed attack, can’t be under any effects that prevent you from attacking, and must have the enemy within reach. If you are wielding a reach weapon, you use your reach with that weapon for this purpose.


When you’re behind an obstacle that could block weapons, guard you against explosions, and make you harder to detect, you’re behind cover. Standard cover gives you a +2 circumstance bonus to AC, to Reflex saves against area effects, and to Stealth checks to Hide, Sneak, or otherwise avoid detection. You can increase this to greater cover using the Take Cover basic action, increasing the circumstance bonus to +4. If cover is especially light, typically when it’s provided by a creature, you have lesser cover, which grants a +1 circumstance bonus to AC. A creature with standard cover or greater cover can attempt to use Stealth to Hide, but lesser cover isn’t sufficient.

Cover is relative, so you might simultaneously have cover against one creature and not another. Cover applies only if your path to the target is partially blocked. If a creature is entirely behind a wall or the like, you don’t have line of effect and typically can’t target it at all.

Usually, the GM can quickly decide whether your target has cover. If you’re uncertain or need to be more precise, draw a line from the center of your space to the center of the target’s space. If that line passes through any terrain or object that would block the effect, the target has standard cover (or greater cover if the obstruction is extreme or the target has Taken Cover). If the line passes through a creature instead, the target has lesser cover. When measuring cover against an area effect, draw the line from the effect’s point of origin to the center of the creature’s space.

Cover and 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 space blocks the effect enough to provide standard cover instead of lesser cover. The GM might determine that a creature doesn’t gain cover from terrain that it’s significantly larger than. For example, a Huge dragon probably wouldn’t receive any benefit from being behind a 1-foot-wide pillar.

Special Circumstances

Your GM might allow you to overcome your target’s cover in some situations. If you’re right next to an arrow slit, you can shoot without penalty, but you have greater cover against someone shooting back at you from far away. Your GM might let you reduce or negate cover by leaning around a corner to shoot or the like. This usually takes an action to set up, and the GM might measure cover from an edge or corner of your space instead of your center.

Three-Dimensional Combat

In aerial and aquatic combat, you might need to track positioning in three dimensions. For flying creatures, you might use one of the following methods:

  • Find platforms to place flying creatures’ miniatures on.
  • Set a die next to a creature with the number indicating how many squares up in the air it is.
  • Make a stack of dice or tokens, 1 per 5 feet of elevation.
  • Write the elevation next to the monster on the grid.

In underwater combat, choose a plane to be the baseline, typically the waterline, the sea floor, or a stationary object you can measure from.

As with ground-based movement, moving diagonally up or down in 3-D space requires counting every other diagonal as 10 feet. Measure flanking in all directions— creatures above and below an enemy can flank it just as effectively as they can from opposite sides.


Sometimes fights occur while the characters are atop mounts or when the PCs take to the sky or seas.


You can ride some creatures into combat. As noted in the Mount specialty basic action (page 472), your mount needs to be at least one size larger than you and willing. Your mount acts on your initiative. You must use the Command an Animal action to get your mount to spend its actions. If you don’t, the animal wastes its actions. If you have the Ride general feat, you succeed automatically when you Command an Animal that’s your mount.

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 to Command an Animal and succeeded, you could get your mount to Stride. You could spend your next action to attack 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 have your mount Strike, your mount’s attack takes a –5 multiple attack penalty.

You occupy every square of your mount’s space for the purpose of making your attacks. If you were Medium and on a Large mount, you could attack a creature on one side of your mount, then attack on the opposite side with your next action. If you have a longer reach, the distance depends partly on the size of your mount. On a Medium or smaller mount, use your normal reach. 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 diagonally) if you have 15-foot reach.

Mounted Defenses

When you’re mounted, attackers can target either you or your mount. Anything that affects multiple creatures (such as an area) affects both of you as long as you’re both in the area. You are in an attacker’s reach or range if any square of your mount is within reach or range. Because your mount is larger than you and you share its space, you have lesser cover against attacks targeting you when you’re mounted if the mount would be in the way.

Because you can’t move your body as freely while you’re riding a mount, you take a –2 circumstance penalty to Reflex saves while mounted. Additionally, the only move action you can use is the Mount action to dismount.


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 to move through the air. Performing an especially tricky maneuver—such as trying to reverse course 180 degrees or fly through a narrow gap—might require using Acrobatics to Maneuver in Flight. Creatures might fall from the sky, using the falling rules. At the GM’s discretion, some ground-based actions might not work in the air. For instance, a flying creature couldn’t Leap.


Use these rules for battles in water or underwater:

Drowning and Suffocation

You can hold your breath for a number of rounds equal to 5 + your Constitution modifier. Reduce your remaining air by 1 round at the end of each of your turns, or by 2 if you attacked or cast any spells that turn. You also lose 1 round worth of air each time you are critically hit or critically fail a save against a damaging effect. If you speak (including casting spells with verbal components or activating items with command components) you lose all remaining air.

When you run out of air, you fall unconscious and start suffocating. You can’t recover from being unconscious and 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’re at 0 Hit Points).

While encounters use rounds for combat, exploration is more free form. The GM determines the flow of time, as you could be traveling by horseback across craggy highlands, negotiating with merchants, or delving in a dungeon in search of danger and treasure. Exploration lacks the immediate danger of encounter mode, but it offers its own challenges.

Much of exploration mode involves movement and roleplaying. You might be traveling from one town to another, chatting with a couple of merchants an outpost along the way, or maybe having a terse conversation with the watchful city guards at your destination. Instead of measuring your rate of movement in 5-foot squares every round, you measure it in feet or miles per minute, hour, or day, using your travel speed. Rather than deciding on each action every turn, you’ll engage in an exploration activity, and you’ll typically spend some time every day resting and making your daily preparations.


Depending on how the GM tracks movement, you move in feet or miles based on your character’s Speed with the relevant movement type. Typical rates are on the table below.

Table: Travel Speed
SpeedFeet per MinuteMiles per HourMiles per Day


You perform at your best when you take enough time to rest and prepare. Once every 24 hours, you can take a period of rest (typically 8 hours), after which you regain Hit Points equal to your Constitution modifier (minimum 1) times your level, and you might recover from or improve certain conditions (page 453). Sleeping in armor results in poor rest that leaves you fatigued. If you go more than 16 hours without resting, you become fatigued (you cannot recover from this until you rest at least 6 continuous hours).

After you rest, you make your daily preparations, which takes around 1 hour. You can prepare only if you’ve rested, and only once per day. Preparing includes the following:

The rates in Table 9–2 assume traveling over flat and clear terrain at a determined pace, but one that’s not exhausting. Moving through difficult terrain halves the listed movement rate. Greater difficult terrain reduces the distance traveled to one-third the listed amount. If the travel requires a skill check to accomplish, such as mountain climbing or swimming, the GM might call for a check once per hour using the result and the table above to determine your progress.


While you’re traveling and exploring, tell the GM what you’d generally like to do along the way. If you to do nothing more than make steady progress toward your goal, you move at the full travel speeds given in Table 9–2.

When you want to do something other than simply travel, you describe what you are attempting to do. It isn’t necessary to go into extreme detail, such as “Using my dagger, I nudge the door so I can check for devious traps.” Instead, “I’m searching the area for hazards” is sufficient. The GM finds the best exploration activity to match your description and describes the effects of that activity. Some exploration activities limit how fast you can travel and be effective.

Affix a Talisman

Exploration Manipulate

Requirements You must use a Repair kit.

You spend 10 minutes affixing a talisman to an item, placing the item on a stable surface and using the Repair kit with both hands. You can also use this activity to remove a talisman. If more than one talisman is affixed to an item, the talismans are suppressed; none of them can be activated.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 565

Avoid Notice


You attempt a Stealth check to Avoid Notice while traveling at half speed. If you have the Swift Sneak feat, you can move at full Speed rather than half, but you still can't use another exploration activity while you do so. If you have the Legendary Sneak feat, you can move at full Speed and use a second exploration activity. If you're Avoiding Notice at the start of an encounter, you usually roll a Stealth check instead of a Perception check both to determine your initiative and to see if the enemies notice you (based on their Perception DCs, as normal for Sneak, regardless of their initiative check results).

Source Core Rulebook pg. 479

Borrow an Arcane Spell

Concentrate Exploration

If you're an arcane spellcaster who prepares from a spellbook, you can attempt to prepare a spell from someone else's spellbook. The GM sets the DC for the check based on the spell's level and rarity; it's typically a bit easier than Learning The Spell

Critical Success None
Success You prepare the borrowed spell as part of your normal spell preparation.
Failure You fail to prepare the spell, but the spell slot remains available for you to prepare a different spell. You can't try to prepare this spell until the next time you prepare spells.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 241

Call Companion


You spend 1 minute calling for a different Animal Companion, switching your active companion for another of your animal companions.

Source Advanced Player's Guide pg. 160


Auditory Concentrate Emotion Exploration Linguistic Mental

With threats either veiled or overt, you attempt to bully a creature into doing what you want. You must spend at least 1 minute of conversation with a creature you can see and that can either see or sense you. At the end of the conversation, attempt an Intimidation check against the target's Will DC, modified by any circumstances the GM determines. The attitudes referenced in the effects below are summarized in the Changing Attitudes sidebar on page 246 and described in full in the Conditions Appendix, starting on page 618.

Critical Success The target gives you the information you seek or agrees to follow your directives so long as they aren't likely to harm the target in any way. The target continues to comply for an amount of time determined by the GM but not exceeding 1 day, at which point the target becomes Unfriendly (if they weren't already unfriendly or Hostile). However, the target is too scared of you to retaliate - at least in the short term.
Success As critical success, but once the target becomes Unfriendly, they might decide to act against you - for example, by reporting you to the authorities or assisting your enemies.
Failure The target doesn't do what you say, and if they were not already Unfriendly or Hostile, they become unfriendly.
Critical Failure The target refuses to comply, becomes Hostile if they weren't already, and can't be Coerced by you for at least 1 week.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 247

Cover Tracks

Concentrate Exploration Move

You cover your tracks, moving up to half your travel speed. You don't need to attempt a Survival check to cover your tracks, but anyone tracking you must succeed at a Survival check against your Survival DC if it is higher than the normal DC to Track.

In some cases, you might Cover Tracks in an encounter. In this case, Cover Tracks is a single action and doesn't have the exploration trait.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 252

Decipher Writing

Concentrate Exploration Secret

You attempt to decipher complicated writing or literature on an obscure topic. This usually takes 1 minute per page of text, but might take longer (typically an hour per page for decrypting ciphers or the like). The text must be in a language you can read, though the GM might allow you to attempt to decipher text written in an unfamiliar language using Society instead.

The DC is determined by the GM based on the state or complexity of the document. The GM might have you roll one check for a short text or a check for each section of a larger text.

Critical Success You understand the true meaning of the text.
Success You understand the true meaning of the text. If it was a coded document, you know the general meaning but might not have a word-for-word translation.
Failure You can't understand the text and take a -2 circumstance penalty to further checks to decipher it.
Critical Failure You believe you understand the text on that page, but you have in fact misconstrued its message.

Sample Decipher Writing Tasks

Trained entry-level philosophy treatise
Expert complex code, such as a cipher
Master spymaster's code or advanced research notes
Legendary esoteric planar text written in metaphor by an ancient celestial

Source Core Rulebook pg. 234



You move at half your travel speed with your shield raised. If combat breaks out, you gain the benefits of Raising A Shield action before your first turn begins.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 479

Detect Magic

Concentrate Exploration

You cast Detect Magic at regular intervals. You move at half your travel speed or slower. You have no chance of accidentally overlooking a Magic Aura at a travel speed up to 300 feet per minute, but must be traveling no more than 150 feet per minute to Detect Magic auras before the party moves into them.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 479

Follow the Expert

Auditory Concentrate Exploration Visual

Choose an ally attempting a recurring skill check while exploring, such as Climbing, or Performing a different exploration tactic that requires a skill check (like Avoiding Notice). The ally must be at least an expert in that skill and must be willing to provide assistance. While Following the Expert, you match their tactic or attempt similar skill checks. Thanks to your ally's assistance, you can add your level as a proficiency bonus to the associated skill check, even if you're untrained. Additionally, you gain a circumstance bonus to your skill check based on your ally's proficiency (+2 for expert, +3 for master, and +4 for legendary).

Source Core Rulebook pg. 479

Gather Information

Exploration Secret

You canvass local markets, taverns, and gathering places in an attempt to learn about a specific individual or topic. The GM determines the DC of the check and the amount of time it takes (typically 2 hours, but sometimes more), along with any benefit you might be able to gain by spending coin on bribes, drinks, or gifts.

Critical Success None
Success You collect information about the individual or topic. The GM determines the specifics.
Critical Failure You collect incorrect information about the individual or topic.

Sample Gather Information Tasks

Untrained talk of the town
Trained common rumor
Expert obscure rumor, poorly guarded secret
Master well-guarded or esoteric information
Legendary information known only to an incredibly select few, or only to extraordinary beings

Source Core Rulebook pg. 246


Exploration Move

You strain yourself to move at double your travel speed. You can Hustle only for a number of minutes equal to your Constitution modifier ? 10 (minimum 10 minutes). If you are in a group that is Hustling, use the lowest Constitution modifier among everyone to determine how fast the group can Hustle together.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 480

Identify Alchemy

Concentrate Exploration Secret

Requirements You have alchemist's tools.

You can identify the Nature of an alchemical item with 10 minutes of testing using alchemist's tools. If your attempt is interrupted in any way, you must start over.

Critical Success None
Success You identify the item and the means of activating it.
Failure You fail to identify the item but can try again.
Critical Failure You misidentify the item as another item of the GM's choice.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 245

Identify Magic

Concentrate Exploration Secret

Once you discover that an item, location, or ongoing effect is magical, you can spend 10 minutes to try to identify the particulars of its magic. If your attempt is interrupted, you must start over. The GM sets the DC for your check. Cursed or esoteric subjects usually have higher DCs or might even be impossible to identify using this activity alone. Heightening a spell doesn't increase the DC to identify it.

Critical Success You learn all the attributes of the magic, including its name (for an effect), what it does, any means of activating it (for an item or location), and whether it is cursed.
Success For an item or location, you get a sense of what it does and learn any means of activating it. For an ongoing effect (such as a spell with a duration), you learn the effect's name and what it does. You can't try again in hopes of getting a critical success.
Failure You fail to identify the magic and can't try again for 1 day.
Critical Failure You misidentify the magic as something else of the GM's choice.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 238


Concentrate Exploration Manipulate Secret

You create a disguise to pass yourself off as someone or something you are not. Assembling a convincing disguise takes 10 minutes and requires a disguise kit, but a simpler, quicker disguise might do the job if you're not trying to imitate a specific individual, at the GM's discretion.

In most cases, creatures have a chance to detect your Deception only if they use the Seek action to attempt Perception checks against your Deception DC. If you attempt to directly Interact with someone while disguised, the GM rolls a secret Deception check for you against that creature's Perception DC instead. If you're disguised as a specific individual, the GM might give creatures you interact with a circumstance bonus based on how well they know the person you're imitating, or the GM might roll a secret Deception check even if you aren't directly interacting with others.

Critical Success None
Success You trick the creature into thinking you're the person you're disguised as. You might have to attempt a new check if your behavior changes.
Failure The creature can tell you're not who you claim to be.
Critical Failure The creature can tell you're not who you claim to be, and it recognizes you if it would know you without a disguise.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 245


Concentrate Exploration

You seek out information about your surroundings while traveling at half speed. You use Recall Knowledge as a secret check to discover clues among the various things you can see and engage with as you journey along. You can use any skill that has a Recall Knowledge action while Investigating, but the GM determines whether the skill is relevant to the clues you could find.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 480

Learn a Spell

Concentrate Exploration

Requirements You have a spellcasting class feature, and the spell you want to learn is on your magical tradition's spell list.

You can gain access to a new spell of your tradition from someone who knows that spell or from magical writing like a spellbook or scroll. If you can cast spells of multiple traditions, you can Learn a Spell of any of those traditions, but you must use the corresponding skill to do so. For example, if you were a cleric with the bard multiclass archetype, you couldn’t use Religion to add an occult spell to your bardic spell repertoire.

To learn the spell, you must do the following:

  • Spend 1 hour per level of the spell, during which you must remain in conversation with a person who knows the spell or have the magical writing in your possession.
  • Have materials with the Price indicated in Table: Learning a Spell.
  • Attempt a skill check for the skill corresponding to your tradition (DC determined by the GM, often close to the DC on Table: Learning a Spell). Uncommon or rare spells have higher DCs; full guidelines for the GM appear on page 503.

If you have a spellbook, Learning a Spell lets you add the spell to your spellbook; if you prepare spells from a list, it’s added to your list; if you have a spell repertoire, you can select it when you add or swap spells.

Spell LevelPriceTypical DC
1st or cantrip2 gp15
2nd6 gp18
3rd16 gp20
4th36 gp23
5th70 gp26
6th140 gp28
7th300 gp31
8th650 gp34
9th1,500 gp36
10th7,000 gp41

Critical Success You expend half the materials and Learn The Spell.
Success You expend the materials and Learn The Spell.
Failure You fail to Learn The Spell but can try again after you gain a level. The materials aren't expended.
Critical Failure As failure, plus you expend half the materials.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 238

Make an Impression

Auditory Concentrate Exploration Linguistic Mental

With at least 1 minute of conversation, during which you engage in charismatic overtures, flattery, and other acts of goodwill, you seek to make a good impression on someone to make them temporarily agreeable. At the end of the conversation, attempt a Diplomacy check against the Will DC of one target, modified by any circumstances the GM sees fit. Good impressions (or bad impressions, on a critical failure) last for only the current social interaction unless the GM decides otherwise.

Critical Success The target's attitude toward you improves by two steps.
Success The target's attitude toward you improves by one step.
Critical Failure The target's attitude toward you decreases by one step.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 246

Pursue a Lead

Concentrate Exploration Investigator

Frequency once per 10 minutes

You spend 1 minute examining the details of one potential clue, designating the subject related to that clue as the target of your active investigation. This subject is typically a single creature, item, or small location (such as a room or corridor), but the GM might allow a different scope for your investigation. You don't need to know the identity, purpose, or Nature of the subject, but you do need to be aware of its existence. For instance, finding a footprint is enough to investigate the creature that left it, and seeing a hasty sketch of an item or location can be enough to start your investigation of that subject.

Whenever you attempt a Perception or skill check to investigate a designated subject, you gain a +1 circumstance bonus to the check. The exact checks this applies to depend on the actions you use to investigate and are determined by the GM, but checks to investigate are typically Perception checks or skill checks that use Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma.

You can maintain two active investigations at a time. If you Pursue another Lead after that, the subject must be different from any of your current investigations (or rather, they must be different as far as you know), and you give up on a current subject of your choice. Once you've given up pursuit of a subject, you can't Pursue that Lead again until after the next time you make your daily preparations.

Source Advanced Player's Guide pg. 56


Auditory Emotion Exploration Linguistic Mental Stamina

Requirements trained in Diplomacy, Intimidation, or Performance

You spend 1 minute encouraging your ally. Though this action typically has the auditory and linguistic traits, if you're using the Performance skill, the GM might adjust the traits for this action to match the traits for your type of performance.

Attempt a DC 15 skill check. The GM might adjust this DC based on the circumstances, such as attempting to Rally an ally who just suffered a humiliating defeat.

Critical Success The ally can spend 1 Resolve Point to regain all their Stamina Points.
Success You can continue encouraging your ally for a total of 10 minutes. If you do, they can spend 1 Resolve Point to regain all their Stamina Points.
Critical Failure The ally takes 1d8 mental damage, but this can reduce only Stamina Points, never Hit Points.

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 201


Concentrate Exploration

Requirements You have a focus pool, and you have spent at least 1 Focus Point since you last regained any Focus Points.

You spend 10 minutes Performing deeds to restore your magical connection. This restores 1 Focus Point to your focus pool. The deeds you need to perform are specified in the class or ability that gives you your focus spells. These deeds can usually overlap with other tasks that relate to the source of your focus spells. For instance, a cleric with focus spells from a good deity can usually Refocus while tending the wounds of their allies, and a wizard of the illusionist school might be able to Refocus while attempting to Identify Magic of the illusion school.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 300


Exploration Manipulate

Requirements You have a Repair kit.

You spend 10 minutes attempting to fix a damaged item, placing the item on a stable surface and using the Repair kit with both hands. The GM sets the DC, but it's usually about the same DC to Repair a given item as it is to Craft it in the first place. You can't Repair a destroyed item.

Critical Success You restore 10 Hit Points to the item, plus an additional 10 Hit Points per proficiency rank you have in Crafting (a total of 20 HP if you're trained, 30 HP if you're an expert, 40 HP if you're a master, or 50 HP if you're legendary).
Success You restore 5 Hit Points to the item, plus an additional 5 per proficiency rank you have in Crafting (for a total of 10 HP if you are trained, 15 HP if you're an expert, 20 HP if you're a master, or 25 HP if you're legendary).
Critical Failure You deal 2d6 damage to the item. Apply the item's Hardness to this damage.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 243

Repeat a Spell

Concentrate Exploration

You repeatedly cast the same spell while moving at half speed. Typically, this spell is a cantrip that you want to have in effect in the event a combat breaks out, and it must be one you can cast in 2 actions or fewer. In order to prevent fatigue due to repeated casting, you'll likely use this activity only when something out of the ordinary occurs.

You can instead use this activity to continue Sustaining a Spell or Activation with a sustained duration. Most such spells or item effects can be sustained for 10 minutes, though some specify they can be sustained for a different duration.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 480


Concentrate Exploration

You scout ahead and behind the group to watch danger, moving at half speed. At the start of the next encounter, every creature in your party gains a +1 circumstance bonus to their initiative rolls.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 480


Concentrate Exploration

You Seek meticulously for Hidden doors, Concealed hazards, and so on. You can usually make an educated guess as to which locations are best to check and move at half speed, but if you want to be thorough and guarantee you checked everything, you need to travel at a Speed of no more than 300 feet per minute, or 150 feet per minute to ensure you check everything before you walk into it. You can always move more slowly while Searching to cover the area more thoroughly, and the Expeditious Search feat increases these maximum Speeds. If you come across a secret door, item, or hazard while Searching, the GM will attempt a free secret check to Seek to see if you notice the hidden object or hazard. In locations with many objects to search, you have to stop and spend significantly longer to search thoroughly.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 480

Sense Direction

Exploration Secret

Using the stars, the position of the sun, traits of the geography or flora, or the behavior of fauna, you can stay oriented in the wild. Typically, you attempt a Survival check only once per day, but some environments or changes might necessitate rolling more often. The GM determines the DC and how long this activity takes (usually just a minute or so). More unusual locales or those you're unfamiliar with might require you to have a minimum proficiency rank to Sense Direction. Without a compass, you take a -2 item penalty to checks to Sense Direction.

Critical Success You get an excellent sense of where you are. If you are in an environment with cardinal directions, you know them exactly.
Success You gain enough orientation to avoid becoming hopelessly lost. If you are in an environment with cardinal directions, you have a sense of those directions.

Sample Sense Direction Tasks

Untrained determine a cardinal direction using the sun
Trained find an overgrown path in a forest
Expert navigate a hedge maze
Master navigate a byzantine labyrinth or relatively featureless desert
Legendary navigate an ever-changing dream realm

Source Core Rulebook pg. 252


Exploration Move

You contort yourself to Squeeze through a space so small you can barely fit through. This action is for exceptionally small spaces; many tight spaces are difficult terrain that you can move through more quickly and without a check.

Critical Success You Squeeze through the tight space in 1 minute per 10 feet of squeezing.
Success You Squeeze through in 1 minute per 5 feet.
Critical Failure You become stuck in the tight space. While you're stuck, you can spend 1 minute attempting another Acrobatics check at the same DC. Any result on that check other than a critical failure causes you to become unstuck.

Sample Squeeze Tasks

Trained space barely fitting your shoulders
Master space barely fitting your head

Source Core Rulebook pg. 241

Take a breather

Exploration Stamina

You rest for 10 minutes and recover your stamina. After you complete this activity, you regain all your Stamina Points.

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 200


Concentrate Exploration Move

You follow tracks, moving at up to half your travel speed. After a successful check to Track, you can continue following the tracks at half your Speed without attempting additional checks for up to 1 hour. In some cases, you might Track in an encounter. In this case, Track is a single action and doesn't have the exploration trait, but you might need to roll more often because you're in a tense situation. The GM determines how often you must attempt this check.

You attempt your Survival check when you start Tracking, once every hour you continue tracking, and any time something significant changes in the trail. The GM determines the DCs for such checks, depending on the freshness of the trail, the weather, and the type of ground.

Critical Success None
Success You find the trail or continue to follow the one you're already following.
Failure You lose the trail but can try again after a 1-hour delay.
Critical Failure You lose the trail and can't try again for 24 hours.

Sample Track Tasks

Untrained the path of a large army following a road
Trained relatively fresh tracks of a rampaging bear through the plains
Expert a nimble panther's tracks through a jungle, tracks after the rain
Master tracks after a winter snow, tracks of a mouse or smaller creature, tracks left on surfaces that can't hold prints like bare rock
Legendary old tracks through a windy desert's sands, tracks after a major blizzard or hurricane

Source Core Rulebook pg. 252

Treat Wounds

Exploration Healing Manipulate

Requirements You have healer's tools.

You spend 10 minutes treating one injured living creature (targeting yourself, if you so choose). The target is then temporarily immune to Treat Wounds actions for 1 hour, but this interval overlaps with the time you spent treating (so a patient can be treated once per hour, not once per 70 minutes).

The Medicine check DC is usually 15, though the GM might adjust it based on the circumstances, such as treating a patient outside in a storm, or treating magically cursed wounds. If you're an expert in Medicine, you can instead attempt a DC 20 check to increase the Hit Points regained by 10; if you're a master of Medicine, you can instead attempt a DC 30 check to increase the Hit Points regained by 30; and if you're legendary, you can instead attempt a DC 40 check to increase the Hit Points regained by 50. The damage dealt on a critical failure remains the same.

If you succeed at your check, you can continue treating the target to grant additional healing. If you treat them for a total of 1 hour, double the Hit Points they regain from Treat Wounds.

The result of your Medicine check determines how many Hit Points the target regains.

Critical Success The target regains 4d8 Hit Points, and its Wounded condition is removed.
Success The target regains 2d8 Hit Points, and its Wounded condition is removed.
Critical Failure The target takes 1d8 damage.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 249

Downtime mode is played day-by-day rather than minute-by-minute or scene-by-scene. Usually this mode of play occurs when you are in the safety of a settlement, maybe recovering from your adventures or studying an artifact you found.

Downtime gives you time to rest fully, engage in crafting or a professional endeavor, learn new spells, retrain feats, or just have fun. You can sell items acquired during your adventures, buy new goods, and perform other activities as determined by your feats, your skills, and the settlement where you are spending the downtime.


You can spend an entire day and night resting during downtime to recover Hit Points equal to your Constitution modifier (minimum 1) multiplied by twice your level.


Retraining offers a way to alter some of your character choices, which is helpful when you want to take your character in a new direction or change decisions that didn’t meet your expectations. You can retrain feats, skills, and some selectable class features. You can’t retrain your ancestry, heritage, background, class, or ability scores. You can’t perform other downtime activities while retraining.

Retraining usually requires you to spend time learning from a teacher, whether that entails physical training, studying at a library, or falling into shared magical trances. Your GM determines whether you can get proper training or whether something can be retrained at all. In some cases, you’ll have to pay your instructor.

Some abilities can be difficult or impossible to retrain (for instance, a sorcerer can retrain their bloodline only in extraordinary circumstances).

When retraining, you generally can’t make choices you couldn’t make when you selected the original option. For instance, you can’t exchange a 2nd-level skill feat for a 4th-level one, or for one that requires prerequisites you didn’t meet at the time you took the original feat. If you don’t remember whether you met the prerequisites at the time, ask your GM to make the call. If you cease to meet the prerequisites for an ability due to retraining, you can’t use that ability. You might need to retrain several abilities in sequence in order to get all the abilities you want.


You can spend a week of downtime retraining to swap out one of your feats. Remove the old feat and replace it with another of the same type. For example, you could swap a skill feat for another skill feat, but not for a wizard feat.


You can spend a week of downtime retraining to swap out one of your skill increases. Reduce your proficiency rank in the skill losing its increase by one step and increase your proficiency rank in another skill by one step. The new proficiency rank has to be equal to or lower than the proficiency rank you traded away. For instance, if your bard is a master in Performance and Stealth, and an expert in Occultism, you could reduce the character’s proficiency in Stealth to expert and become a master in Occultism, but you couldn’t reassign that skill increase to become legendary in Performance. Keep track of your level when you reassign skill increases; the level at which your skill proficiencies changed can influence your ability to retrain feats with skill prerequisites.

You can also spend a week to retrain an initial trained skill you gained during character creation.


You can change a class feature that required a choice, making a different choice instead. This lets you change a druid order or a wizard school, for example. The GM will tell you how long this takes—always at least a month.


Bribe Contact

Downtime Secret

Requirements You've successfully Gained a Contact (see below).

You offer a bribe to your contact to help the heist in some way. Attempt a hard or very hard Deception or Diplomacy check.

Critical Success None
Success The contact accepts the bribe and you gain 1 EP.
Failure You believe you successfully Bribed your Contact and gained 1 EP, but in fact the contact informs the opposition of the attempted bribery, adding 1 AP to the infiltration. The GM can reveal that this Edge Point grants no benefit at any point during the infiltration, as befits the story.
Critical Failure As failure, but adding 2 AP to the infiltration.

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 163


Downtime Manipulate

You can make an item from raw materials. You need the Alchemical Crafting skill feat to create alchemical items, the Magical Crafting skill feat to create magic items, and the Snare Crafting feat to create snares.

To craft an item, you must meet the following requirements:

  • The item is your level or lower. An item that doesn't list a level is level 0. If the item is 9th level or higher, you must be a master in Crafting, and if it's 16th or higher, you must be legendary.
  • You have the formula for the item; see Getting Formulas below for more information.
  • You have an appropriate set of tools and, in many cases, a workshop. For example, you need access to a smithy to forge a metal shield.
  • You must supply raw materials worth at least half the item's Price. You always expend at least that amount of raw materials when you craft successfully. If you're in a settlement, you can usually spend currency to get the amount of raw materials you need, except in the case of rarer precious materials.

You must spend 4 days at work, at which point you attempt a Crafting check. The GM determines the DC to craft the item based on its level, rarity, and other circumstances.
If your attempt to create the item is successful, you expend the raw materials you supplied. You can pay the remaining portion of the item's Price in materials to complete the item immediately, or you can spend additional downtime days working on it. For each additional day you spend, reduce the value of the materials you need to expend to complete the item. This amount is determined using Table 4'2: Income Earned (page 236), based on your proficiency rank in Crafting and using your own level instead of a task level. After any of these downtime days, you can complete the item by spending the remaining portion of its Price in materials. If the downtime days you spend are interrupted, you can return to finish the item later, continuing where you left off. An example of Crafting appears in the sidebar.

Critical Success Your attempt is successful. Each additional day spent Crafting reduces the materials needed to complete the item by an amount based on your level + 1 and your proficiency rank in Crafting.
Success Your attempt is successful. Each additional day spent Crafting reduces the materials needed to complete the item by an amount based on your level and your proficiency rank.
Failure You fail to complete the item. You can salvage the raw materials you supplied for their full value. If you want to try again, you must start over.
Critical Failure You fail to complete the item. You ruin 10% of the raw materials you supplied, but you can salvage the rest. If you want to try again, you must start over.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 244

Create Forgery

Downtime Secret

You create a forged document, usually over the course of a day or a week. You must have the proper writing material to create a forgery. When you Create a Forgery, the GM rolls a secret DC 20 Society check. If you succeed, the forgery is of good enough quality that passive observers can't notice the fake. Only those who carefully examine the document and attempt a Perception or Society check against your Society DC can do so.

If the document's handwriting doesn't need to be specific to a person, you need only to have seen a similar document before, and you gain up to a +4 circumstance bonus to your check, as well as to your DC (the GM determines the bonus). To forge a specific person's handwriting, you need a sample of that person's handwriting.

If your check result was below 20, the forgery has some obvious signs of being a fake, so the GM compares your result to each passive observer's Perception DC or Society DC, whichever is higher, using the success or failure results below. Once the GM rolls your check for a document, that same result is used against all passive observers' DCs no matter how many creatures passively observe that document.

An observer who was fooled on a passive glance can still choose to closely scrutinize the documents on the lookout for a forgery, using different techniques and analysis methods beyond the surface elements you successfully forged with your original check. In that case, the observer can attempt a Perception or Society check against your Society DC (if they succeed, they know your document is a forgery).

Critical Success None
Success The observer does not detect the forgery.
Failure The observer knows your document is a forgery.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 251

Earn Income


You use one of your skills to make money during downtime. The GM assigns a task level representing the most lucrative job available. You can search for lower-level tasks, with the GM determining whether you find any. Sometimes you can attempt to find better work than the initial offerings, though this takes time and requires using the Diplomacy skill to Gather Information, doing some research, or socializing.

When you take on a job, the GM secretly sets the DC of your skill check. After your first day of work, you roll to determine your earnings. You gain an amount of income based on your result, the task’s level, and your proficiency rank (as listed on Table 4–2: Income Earned).

You can continue working at the task on subsequent days without needing to roll again. For each day you spend after the first, you earn the same amount as the first day, up until the task’s completion. The GM determines how long you can work at the task. Most tasks last a week or two, though some can take months or even years.

Task LevelDCFailedTrainedExpertMasterLegendary
0141 cp5 cp5 cp5 cp5 cp
1152 cp2 sp2 sp2 sp2 sp
2164 cp3 sp3 sp3 sp3 sp
3188 cp5 sp5 sp5 sp5 sp
4191 sp7 sp8 sp8 sp8 sp
5202 sp9 sp1 gp1 gp1 gp
6223 sp1 gp, 5 sp2 gp2 gp2 gp
7234 sp2 gp2 gp, 5 sp2 gp, 5 sp2 gp, 5 sp
8245 sp2 gp, 5 sp3 gp3 gp3 gp
9266 sp3 gp4 gp4 gp4 gp
10277 sp4 gp5 gp6 gp6 gp
11288 sp5 gp6 gp8 gp8 gp
12309 sp6 gp8 gp10 gp10 gp
13311 gp7 gp10 gp15 gp15 gp
14321 gp, 5 sp8 gp15 gp20 gp20 gp
15342 gp10 gp20 gp28 gp28 gp
16352 gp, 5 sp13 gp25 gp36 gp40 gp
17363 gp15 gp30 gp45 gp55 gp
18384 gp20 gp45 gp70 gp90 gp
19396 gp30 gp60 gp100 gp130 gp
20408 gp40 gp75 gp150 gp200 gp
20 (critical success)50 gp90 gp175 gp300 gp

Critical Success You do outstanding work. Gain the amount of currency listed for the task level + 1 and your proficiency rank.
Success You do competent work. Gain the amount of currency listed for the task level and your proficiency rank.
Failure You do shoddy work and get paid the bare minimum for your time. Gain the amount of currency listed in the failure column for the task level. The GM will likely reduce how long you can continue at the task.
Critical Failure You earn nothing for your work and are fired immediately. You can't continue at the task. Your reputation suffers, potentially making it difficult for you to find rewarding jobs in that community in the future.

Sample Earn Income Tasks

These examples use Alcohol Lore to work in a bar or Legal Lore to perform legal work.
Trained bartend, do legal research
Expert curate drink selection, present minor court cases
Master run a large brewery, present important court cases
Legendary run an international brewing franchise, present a case in Hell's courts

Source Core Rulebook pg. 236

Forge Documents

Downtime Secret

You You prepare forgeries that might serve as convincing props. Attempt a hard or very hard Society check.prepare forgeries that might serve as convincing props. Attempt a hard or very hard Society check.

Critical Success None
Success You create convincing forgeries and gain 1 EP you can use only when presenting some form of paperwork.
Failure You create unconvincing documents. You gain 1 EP that (unknown to you) grants no benefit when used.
Critical Failure As a failure, but a PC who tries to use the Edge Point gets a critical failure, even if they use the Edge Point after rolling a failure.

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 163

Gain Contact


You try to make contact with an individual who can Aid you in the infiltration. Attempt a normal, hard, or very hard DC Diplomacy or Society check, or a check using a Lore skill appropriate to your prospective contact.

Critical Success None
Success You make contact and gain 1 EP.
Failure You fail to make contact.
Critical Failure You insult or spook the contact in some way. Future attempts take a -2 circumstance penalty. Special: Multiple critical failures might cause the contact to work against the PCs in some way, likely increasing the party's Awareness Points.

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 163


Downtime Secret

You seek out rumors about the infiltration's target. Attempt a normal, hard, or very hard Diplomacy check.

Critical Success You gain inside information about the location or group you're trying to infiltrate. This grants you a +2 circumstance bonus to future checks you attempt for preparation activities for this infiltration. If you share this information, those you share it with also gain this bonus.
Success You gain inside information about the place or group you're attempting to infiltrate that aids your planning.
Failure You learn nothing.
Critical Failure You hear a few mistaken rumors and take a -2 circumstance penalty to your next check for a preparation activity. Word spreads around that you're asking after that group or individual, increasing your Awareness Points by 1.

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 163

Scout Location

Downtime Secret

You spend time observing the place or group you wish to infiltrate. Attempt a normal, hard, or very hard DC Perception, Society or Stealth check.

Critical Success None
Success You make observations that provide 1 EP.
Failure You learn nothing particularly noteworthy.
Critical Failure You misjudge some aspect of what you Observed, gaining 1 EP that results in a critical failure instead of a success when used, even if a PC uses the Edge Point after rolling a failure.

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 163



You try to provide food and shelter for yourself, and possibly others as well, with a standard of living described on page 294. The GM determines the DC based on the Nature of the place where you're trying to Subsist. You might need a minimum proficiency rank to Subsist in particularly strange environments. Unlike most downtime activities, you can Subsist after 8 hours or less of exploration, but if you do, you take a -5 penalty.

Critical Success You either provide a subsistence living for yourself and one additional creature, or you improve your own food and shelter, granting yourself a comfortable living.
Success You find enough food and shelter with basic protection from the elements to provide you a subsistence living.
Failure You're exposed to the elements and don't get enough food, becoming Fatigued until you attain sufficient food and shelter.
Critical Failure You attract trouble, eat something you shouldn't, or otherwise worsen your situation. You take a -2 circumstance penalty to checks to Subsist for 1 week. You don't find any food at all; if you don't have any stored up, you're in danger of starving or Dying of thirst if you continue failing.

Sample Subsist Tasks

Untrained lush forest with calm weather or large city with plentiful resources
Trained typical hillside or village
Expert typical mountains or insular hamlet
Master typical desert or city under siege
Legendary barren wasteland or city of undead

Source Core Rulebook pg. 240

Treat Disease

Downtime Manipulate

Requirements You have healer's tools.

You spend at least 8 hours caring for a diseased creature. Attempt a Medicine check against the disease's DC. After you attempt to Treat a Disease for a creature, you can't try again until after that creature's next save against the disease.

Critical Success You grant the creature a +4 circumstance bonus to its next saving throw against the disease.
Success You grant the creature a +2 circumstance bonus to its next saving throw against the disease.
Critical Failure Your efforts cause the creature to take a -2 circumstance penalty to its next save against the disease.

Source Core Rulebook pg. 248

Work with your GM if there are other ways you want to spend downtime. You might need to pay for your cost of living (the prices for this can be found on page 294). You might acquire property, manage a business, become part of a guild or civic group, curry favor in a large city, take command of an army, take on an apprentice, start a family, or minister to a flock of the faithful.