Combat: Special Attacks

This section covers grappling, throwing splash weapons (such as acid or holy water), attacking objects (such as trying to hack apart a locked chest), turning or rebuking undead (for clerics and paladins), and an assortment of other special attacks.

Special Attacks
Special AttackBrief Description
Aid anotherGrant an ally a +2 bonus on attacks or AC
Bull rushPush an opponent back 5 feet or more
ChargeMove up to twice your speed and attack with +2 bonus
DisarmKnock a weapon from your opponent's hands
FeintNegate your opponent's Dex bonus to AC
GrappleWrestle with an opponent
OverrunPlow past or over an opponent as you move
SunderStrike an opponent's weapon or shield
Throw splash weaponThrow container of dangerous liquid at target
TripTrip an opponent
Turn (rebuke) undeadChannel positive (or negative) energy to turn away (or awe) undead
Two-weapon fightingFight with a weapon in each hand

Aid Another

In melee combat, you can help a friend attack or defend by distracting or interfering with an opponent. If you're in position to make a melee attack on an opponent that is engaging a friend in melee combat, you can attempt to aid your friend as a standard action. You make an attack roll against AC 10. if you succeed, your friend gains either a +2 bonus on his next attack roll against that opponent or a +2 bonus to AC against that opponents next attack (your choice), as long as that attack comes before the beginning of your next turn. Multiple characters can aid the same friend, and similar bonuses stack.

You can also use this standard action to help a friend in other ways, such as when he is affected by a by a hypnotism spell or a sleep spell, or to assist another character's skill check.

Bull Rush

You can make a bull rush as a standard action (an attack) or as part of a charge (see Charge). When you make a bull rush, you attempt to push an opponent straight back instead of damaging him. You can only bull rush an opponent who is one size category larger than you, the same size, or smaller.

Initiating a Bull Rush: First, you move into the defender's space. Doing this provokes an attack of opportunity from each opponent that threatens you, including the defender. (If you have the Improved Bull Rush feat, you don't provoke an attack of opportunity from the defender.) Any attack of opportunity made by anyone other than the defender against you during a bull rush has a 25% chance of accidentally targeting the defender instead, and any attack of opportunity by anyone other than you against fender likewise has a 25% chance of accidentally targeting (When someone makes an attack of opportunity, make the roll and then roll to see whether the attack went astray.)

Second, you and the defender make opposed Strength check. You each add a +4 bonus for each size category you are larger Medium or a -4 penalty for each size category you are smaller than Medium. You get a +2 bonus if you are charging. The defender gets a +4 bonus if he has more than two legs or is otherwise exceptionally stable (such as a dwarf).

Bull Rush Results: if you beat the defender's Strength check result, you push him back 5 feet. If you wish to move with the defender, you can push him back an additional 5 feet for each 5 points by which your check result is greater than the defender's check result. You can't, however, exceed your normal movement limit. (Note: The defender provokes attacks of opportunity if he is moved. So do you, if you move with him. The two of you do not provoke attacks of opportunity from each other, however.)

If you fail to beat the defender's Strength check result, you move 5 feet straight back to where you were before you moved into his space. if that space is occupied, you fall prone in that space,


Charging is a special full-round action that allows you to move up to twice your speed and attack during the action. However, it carries tight restrictions on how you can move.

Movement During a Charge: You must move before an attack, not after. You must move at least 10 feet (2 squares) and move up to double your speed directly toward the designated opponent. You must have a clear path toward the opponent, and nothing can hinder your movement (such as difficult terrain or obstacles.

Here's what it means to have a clear path. First, you must move to the closest space from which you can attack the opponent. (If this space is occupied or otherwise blocked, you cannot charge,) Second, if any line from your starting space to the ending space passes through a square that blocks movement (such as a wall), slows movement (such as difficult terrain), or contains a creature (even in ally), you can't charge. (Helpless creatures don't stop a charge.)

If you don't have line of sight to the opponent at the start of your turn, you can't charge that opponent.

You can't take a 5-foot step in the same round as a charge. If you are able to take only a standard action or a move action on your turn, you can still charge, but you are only allowed to move up to your speed (instead of up to double your speed). You can't use this option unless you are restricted to taking only a standard action or move action on your turn (such as during a surprise round).

Attacking on a Charge: After moving, you may make a single melee attack. Since you can use the momentum of the charge in your favor, you get a +2 bonus on the attack roll. Since a charge is a bit reckless, you also take a -2 penalty to your AC until the start of your next turn.

A charging character gets a +2 bonus on the Strength check made to bull rush or overrun an opponent (see Bull Rush).

Even if you have extra attacks, such as from having a high enough base attack bonus or from using multiple weapons, you only get to make one attack during a charge.

Lances and Charge Attacks: A lance deals double damage if employed by a mounted character in a charge.

Weapons Readied against a Charge: Spears, tridents, and certain other piercing weapons deal double damage when readied (set) and used against a charging character (see Weapons, and Ready (page 160 PH)).


As a melee attack, you may attempt to disarm your opponent. If you do so with a weapon, you knock the opponent's weapon out of his hands and to the ground. If you attempt the disarm while unarmed you end up with the weapon in your hand.

If you're attempting to disarm a melee weapon, follow the steps outlined here. If the item you are attempting to disarm isn't a melee weapon (for instance, a bow or a wand), the defender may still oppose you with an attack roll, but takes a penalty and can't attempt to disarm you in return if your attempt fails.

Step 1: Attack of Opportunity: You provoke an attack of opportunity from the target you are trying to disarm. (If you have the Improved Disarm feat, you don't incur an attack of opportunity for making a disarm attempt.) If the defender's attack of opportunity deals any damage, your disarm attempt fails.

Step 2: Opposed Rolls: You and the defender make opposed attack rolls with your respective weapons. The wielder of a two-handed weapon on a disarm attempt gets a +4 bonus on this roll, and the wielder of a light weapon takes a -4 penalty (An unarmed strike is considered a light weapon, so you always take a penalty when trying to disarm an opponent by using an unarmed strike.) If the combatants are of different sizes, the larger combatant gets a bonus on, the attack roll of +4 per difference in size category If the targeted item isn't a melee weapon, the defender takes a -4 penalty on the roll.

Step Three: Consequences. If you beat the defender, the defender is disarmed, if you attempted the disarm action unarmed, you now have the weapon. If you were armed, the defender's weapon is on the ground in the defender's square.

If you fail on the disarm attempt, the defender may immediately react and attempt to disarm you with the same sort of opposed melee attack roll. His attempt does not provoke an attack of opportunity from you. If he fails his disarm attempt, you do not subsequently get a free disarm attempt against him.

Note: A defender wearing spiked gauntlets (see Weapons) can't be disarmed. A defender using a weapon attached to a locked gauntlet gets a +10 bonus to resist being disarmed.

Grabbing Items

You can use a disarm action to snatch an item worn by the target, (such as a necklace or a pair of goggles). If you want to have the item in your hand, the disarm must be made as an unarmed attack. If the item is poorly secured or otherwise easy to snatch or cut away (such as a loose cloak or a brooch pinned to the front of a tunic), the attacker gets a +4 bonus. Unlike on a normal disarm attempt, failing the attempt doesn't allow the defender to attempt to disarm you. This otherwise functions identically to a disarm attempt, as noted above.

You can't snatch an item that is well secured, such as a ring or bracelet, unless you have pinned the wearer (see Grapple). Even then, the defender gains a +4 bonus on his roll to resist the attempt.


As a standard action, you can try to mislead an opponent in melee combat so that he can't dodge your next attack effectively To feint, make a Bluff check opposed by a Sense Motive check by your target. The target may add his base attack bonus to this Sense Motive check, if your Bluff check result exceeds your target's Sense Motive check result, the next melee attack you make against the target does nor allow him to use his Dexterity bonus to AC (if any). This attack must be made on or before your next turn.

Feinting in this way against a non-humanoid is difficult because it's harder to read a strange creature's body language; you take a -4 penalty Against a creature of animal intelligence (1 or 2), you take a -8 penalty. Against a non-intelligent creature, it's impossible.

Feinting in combat does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Feinting as a Move Action: With the Improved Feint feat, you can attempt a feint as a move action instead of as a standard action.


Grappling means wrestling and struggling hand-to-hand. it's tricky to perform, but sometimes you want to pin foes instead of killing them, and sometimes you have no choice in the matter. For monsters, grappling can mean trapping you in a toothy maw (the purple worm's favorite tactic) or holding you down so it can claw you to pieces (the dire lion's trick).

Grapple Checks

Repeatedly in a grapple, you need to make opposed grapple checks against an opponent. A grapple check is like a melee attack roll. Your attack bonus on a grapple check is:

Base attack bonus + Strength modifier + special size modifier

Special Size Modifier: The special size modifier for a grapple check is as follows: Colossal +16, Gargantuan +12, Huge +8, large +4, Medium +0, Small -4, Tiny -8, Diminutive -12, Fine -16. Use this number in place of the normal size modifier you use when making an attack roll.

Starting a Grapple

To start a grapple, you need to grab and hold your target. Starting a grapple requires a successful melee attack roll if you get multiple attacks, you can attempt to start a grapple multiple times (at successively lower base attack bonuses)

Step 1: Attack of Opportunity. You provoke an attack of opportunity from the target you are trying to grapple. if the attack of opportunity deals damage, the grapple attempt fails. (Certain monsters do not provoke attacks of opportunity when they attempt to grapple, nor do characters with the Improved Grapple feat.) If the attack of opportunity misses or fails to deal damage, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Grab. You make a melee touch attack to grab the target. If you fail to hit the target, the grapple attempt fails, if you succeed, proceed to Step 3.

Step 3: Hold. Make an opposed grapple check as a free action. If you succeed, you and your target are now grappling, and you deal damage to the target as if with an unarmed strike.

If you lose, you fail to start the grapple. You automatically lose an attempt to hold if the target is two or more size categories larger than you are.

In case of a tie, the combatant with the higher grapple check modifier wins. If this is a tie, roll again to break the tie.

Step 4: Maintain Grapple. To maintain the grapple for later rounds, you must move into the target's space. (This movement is free and doesn't count as part of your movement in the round.) Moving, as normal, provokes attacks of opportunity from threatening opponents, but not from your target.

If you can't move into your target's space, you can't maintain the grapple and must immediately let go of the target. To grapple again, you must begin at Step 1.

Grappling Consequences

While you're grappling, your ability to attack others and defend yourself is limited.

No Threatened Squares: You don't threaten any squares while grappling.

No Dexterity Bonus: You lose your Dexterity bonus to AC (if you have one) against opponents you aren't grappling. (You can still use it against opponents you are grappling.)

No Movement: You can't move normally while grappling. You may, however, make an opposed grapple check (see below) to move while grappling.

If You're Grappling

When you are grappling (regardless of who started the grapple), you can perform any of the following actions. Some of these actions take the place of an attack (rather than being a standard action or a move action). if your base attack bonus allows you multiple attacks, you can attempt one of these actions in place of each of your attacks, but at successively lower base attack bonuses.

Activate a Magic Item: You can activate a magic item, as long as the item doesn't require a spell completion trigger (such as a scroll does). You don't need to make a grapple check to activate the item.

Attack Your Opponent: You can make an attack with an unarmed strike, natural weapon, or light weapon against another, character you are grappling. You take a -4 penalty on such attacks. You can't attack with two weapons while grappling, even if both are light weapons.

Cast a Spell: You can attempt to cast a spell while grappling at even while pinned (see below), provided its casting time is no more than 1 standard action, it has no somatic component, and you have in hand any material components or focuses you might need. Any spell that requires precise and careful action, such as drawing a circle with powdered silver for protection from evil, is impossible to cast while grappling or being pinned, if the spell is one that you can cast while grappling, you must make a Concentration check (DC 20 + spell level) or lose the spell. You don't have to make a successful grapple check to cast the spell.

Damage Your Opponent: While grappling, you can deal damage to your opponent equivalent to an unarmed strike, Make an opposed grapple check in place of an attack, if you win, you deal nonlethal damage as normal for your unarmed strike (1d3, points for Medium attackers or 1d2 points for Small attackers, plus Strength modifiers). if you want to deal lethal damage, you take a -4 penalty on your grapple check.

Exception: Monks deal more damage on an unarmed strike than other characters, and the damage is lethal, However, they can. choose to deal their damage as nonlethal damage when grappling, without taking the usual -4 penalty for changing lethal damage to nonlethal damage (see Dealing Nonlethal Damage).

Draw a Light Weapon: You can draw a light weapon as a move action with a successful grapple check.

Escape from Grapple: You can escape a grapple by winning an opposed grapple check in place of making an attack. You can make an Escape Artist check in place of your grapple check if you desire, but this requires a standard action. If more than one opponent is grappling you, your grapple check result has to beat all their individual check results to escape. (Opponents don't have to try to hold you if they don't want to.) If you escape, you finish the action by moving into any space adjacent to your opponent(s).

Move: You can move half your speed (bringing all others engaged in the grapple with you) by winning an opposed grapple check. This requires a standard action, and you must beat all the other individual check results to move the grapple.

Note: You get a +4 bonus on your grapple check to move a pinned opponent, but only if no one else is involved in the grapple.

Retrieve a Spell Component: You can produce a spell component from your pouch while grappling by using a full-round action. Doing so does not require a successful grapple check.

Pin Your Opponent: You can hold your opponent immobile for 1 round by winning an opposed grapple check (made in place of an attack). Once you have an opponent pinned, you have a few options available to you (see below).

Break Another's Pin: if you are grappling an opponent who has another character pinned, you can make an opposed grapple check in place of an attack, if you win, you break the hold that the opponent has over the other character. The character is still grappling, but is no longer pinned.

Use Opponent's Weapon: if your opponent is holding a light weapon, you can use it to attack him. Make an opposed grapple check (in place of an attack). if you win, make an attack roll with the weapon with a -4 penalty (doing this doesn't require another action. You don't gain possession of the weapon by performing this action.

If You're Pinning an Opponent

Once you've pinned your opponent, he's at your mercy. However, you don't have quite the freedom of action that you did while grappling. You can attempt to damage your opponent with an opposed grapple check, you can attempt to use your opponent's weapon against him or you can attempt to move the grapple (all described above). At your option, you can prevent a pinned opponent from speaking. You can use a disarm action to remove or grab away a well-secured object worn by a pinned opponent, but he gets a +4 bonus on his roll to resist your attempt (see Disarm). You may voluntarily release a pinned character as a free action; if you do so, you are no longer considered to be grappling that character (and vice versa).

You can't draw or use a weapon (against the pinned character or any other character), escape another's grapple, retrieve a spell component, pin another character, or break another's pin while you are pinning an opponent.

Pinned by an Opponent

When an opponent has pinned you, you are held immobile (but not helpless) for 1 round. While you're pinned, you take a -4 penalty to your AC against opponents other than the one pinning you. At your opponent's option, you may also be unable to speak. On your turn, you can try to escape the pin by making an opposed grapple check in place of an attack. You can make an Escape Artist check in place at your grapple check if you want, but this requires a standard action. If you win, you escape the pin, but you're still grappling.

Joining a Grapple

If your target is already grappling someone else, you can use an attack to start a grapple, as above, except that the target doesn't get an attack of opportunity against you, and your grab automatically succeeds. You still have to make a successful opposed grapple check to become part of the grapple. If there are multiple opponents involved in the grapple, you pick one to make the opposed grapple check against.

Multiple Grapples

Several combatants can be in a single grapple. Up to four combatants can grapple a single opponent in a given round. Creatures that are one or more size categories smaller than you count for half, creatures that are one size category larger than you count double, and creatures two or more size categories larger count quadruple. When you are grappling with multiple opponents, you choose one opponent to make an opposed check against. The exception is an attempt to escape from the grapple; to successfully escape, your grapple check must beat the check results of each opponent.

Mounted Combat

Riding a mount into battle gives you several advantages (see the Ride skill, and the Mounted Combat feat.

Horses in Combat: Warhorses and warponies can serve readily as combat steeds. Light horses, ponies, and heavy horses, however, are frightened by combat, if you don't dismount, you must make a DC 20 Ride check each round as a move action to control such a horse, if you succeed, you can perform a standard action after the move action. If you fail, the move action becomes a full-round action and you can't do anything else until your next turn. Your mount acts on your initiative count as you direct it. You move at its speed, but the mount uses its action to move.

A horse (not a pony) is a Large creature (see Big and Little Creatures in Combat), and thus takes up a space 10 feet (2 squares) across. For simplicity, assume that you share your mount's space during combat.

Combat while Mounted: With a DC 5 Ride check, you can guide your mount with your knees so as to use both hands to attack or defend yourself. This is a free action. When you attack a creature smaller than your mount that is on foot, you get the +1 bonus on melee attacks for being on higher ground. If your mount moves more than 5 feet, you can only make a melee attack. Essentially, you have to wait until the mount gets to your enemy before attacking, so you can't make a full attack. Even at your mount's full speed, you don't take any penalty on melee attacks while mounted.

If your mount charges, you also take the AC penalty associated with a charge. if you make an attack at the end of the charge, you receive the bonus gained from the charge. When charging on horseback, you deal double damage with a lance (see Charge).

You can use ranged weapons while your mount is taking a durable move, but at a -4 penalty on the attack roll. You can use ranged weapons while your mount is running quadruple speed), at a -8 penalty. In either case, you make the attack roll when your mount has completed half its movement. You can make a full attack with a ranged weapon while your mount is moving. Likewise, you can take move actions normally, so that, for instance, you can load and fire a light crossbow in a round while your mount is moving.

Casting Spells while Mounted: You can cast a spell normally if your mount moves up to a normal move (its speed) either before or after you cast. If you have your mount move both before and after you cast a spell, then you're casting the spell while the mount is moving, and you have to make a Concentration check due to the vigorous motion (DC 10 + spell level) or lose the spell. If the mount is running (quadruple speed), you can cast a spell when your mount has moved up to twice its speed, but your Concentration check is more difficult due to the violent motion (DC 15 + spell level).

If Your Mount Falls in Battle: if your mount falls, you have to succeed on a DC 15 Ride check to make a soft fall and take no damage. if the check fails, you take 1d6 points of damage.

If You Are Dropped: If you are knocked unconscious, you have a 50% chance to stay in the saddle (or 75% if you're in a military saddle). Otherwise you fall and take 1d6 points of damage. Without you to guide it, your mount avoids combat.


You can attempt an overrun as a standard action taken during your move, (in general, you cannot take a standard action during a move; this is an exception.) With an overrun, you attempt to plow past or over your opponent (and move through his square) as you move. You can only overrun an opponent who is one size category larger than you, the same size, or smaller. You can make only one overrun attempt per round.

If you're attempting to overrun an opponent, follow these steps.

Step 1: Attack of Opportunity. Since you begin the overrun by moving into the defender's space, you provoke an attack of opportunity from the defender.

Step 2: Opponent Avoids? The defender has the option to simply avoid you. If he avoids you, he doesn't suffer any ill effect. (You can always move through a square occupied by someone who lets you by.) In either case, the overrun attempt doesn't count against your actions this round (except for any movement required to enter the opponent's square). If your opponent doesn't avoid you, move to Step 3.

Step 3: Opponent Blocks? if your opponent blocks you, make a Strength check opposed by the defender's Dexterity or Strength check (whichever ability score has the higher modifier). A combatant gets a +4 bonus on the check for every size category he is larger than Medium or a 4 penalty for every size category he is smaller than Medium. You gain a +2 bonus on your Strength check if you made the overrun as part of a charge. The defender gets a +4 bonus on his check if he has more than two legs or is otherwise more stable than a normal humanoid (such as a dwarf), if you win, you knock the defender prone. If you lose, the defender may immediately react and make a Strength check opposed by your Dexterity or Strength check (including the size modifiers noted above, but no other modifiers) to try to knock you prone.

Step 4: Consequences. if you succeed in knocking your opponent prone, you can continue your movement as normal. If you fail and are knocked prone in turn, you have to move 5 feet back the way you came and fall prone, ending your movement there, if you fail but are not knocked prone, you have to move 5 feet back the way you came, ending your movement there. If that square is occupied, you fall prone in that square.

Improved Overrun: If you have the Improved Overrun feat, your target may not choose to avoid you.

Mounted Overrun (Trample): If you attempt an overrun while mounted, your mount makes the Strength check to determine the success or failure of the overrun attack (and applies its size modifier, rather than yours). If you have the Trample feat and attempt an overrun while mounted, your target may not choose to avoid you, and if you knock your opponent prone with the overrun, your mount may make one hoof attack against your opponent.


You can use a melee attack with a slashing or bludgeoning weapon to strike a weapon or shield that your opponent is holding. if you're attempting to sunder a weapon or shield, follow the steps outlined here. (Attacking held objects other than weapons or shields is covered below.)

Common Armor, Weapon, and Shield Hardness and Hit Points
Weapon or ShieldExampleHardnessHP¹
Light bladeShort sword102
One-handed bladeLongsword105
Two-handed bladeGreatsword1010
Light metal-hafted weaponLight mace1010
One-handed metal-hafted weaponHeavy mace1020
Light hafted weaponHandaxe52
One-handed hafted weaponBattleaxe55
Two-handed hafted weaponGreataxe510
Projectile weaponCrossbow55
Armor-special²armor bonus x 5
Light wooden shield-57
Heavy wooden shield-515
Light steel shield-1010
Heavy steel shield-1020
Tower shield-520
¹ The hp value given is for Medium armor, weapons, and shields. Divide by 2 for each size category of the item smaller than Medium, or multiply it by 2 for each size category larger than Medium.
² Varies by material; Common Armor, Weapon, and Shield Hardness and Hit Points.

Step 1: Attack of Opportunity. You provoke an attack of opportunity from the target whose weapon or shield you are trying to sunder. (If you have the improved Sunder feat, you don't incur an attack of opportunity for making the attempt.)

Step 2: Opposed Rolls. You and the defender make opposed attack rolls with your respective weapons. The wielder of a two-handed weapon on a sunder attempt gets a +4 bonus on this roll, and the wielder of a light weapon takes a -4 penalty If the combatants are of different sizes, the larger combatant gets a bonus on the attack roll of +4 per difference in size category.

Step 3: Consequences, If you beat the defender, you have landed a good blow. Roll damage and deal it to the weapon or shield. See Common Armor, Weapon, and Shield Hardness and Hit Points to determine how much damage you must deal to destroy the weapon or shield.

If you fail the sunder attempt, you don't deal any damage.

Sundering a Carried or Worn Object: You don't use an opposed attack roll to damage a carried or worn object. Instead, just make an attack roll against the object's AC. A carried or worn object's AC is equal to 10 + its size modifier + the Dexterity modifier of the carrying or wearing character. Attacking a carried or worn object provokes an attack of opportunity just as attacking a held object does. To attempt to snatch away an item worn by a defender (such as a cloak or a pair of goggles) rather than damage it, see Disarm. You can't sunder armor worn by another character.

Throw Splash Weapon

A splash weapon is a ranged weapon that breaks on impact, splashing or scattering its contents over its target and nearby creatures or objects. Most splash weapons consist of liquids, such as acid or holy water, in breakable vials such as glass flasks. (See Special Substances and Items, for particulars about several different splash weapons.)

To attack with a splash weapon, make a ranged touch attack against the target. Thrown weapons require no weapon proficiency, so you don't take the -4 non-proficiency penalty. A hit deals direct hit damage to the target, and splash damage to all creatures within 5 feet of the target.

You can instead target a specific grid intersection. Treat this ranged attack against AC 5. However, if you target a grid intersection, creatures in all adjacent squares are dealt the splash damage and the direct hit damage is not dealt to any creature. (You can't target a grid intersection occupied by a creature, such as a Large or larger creature; in this case, you're aiming at the creature.)

if you miss the target (whether aiming at a creature or a grid intersection), roll 1d8. This determines the misdirection of the throw, with 1 being straight back at you and 2 through 8 counting clockwise around the grid intersection or target creature. Then, count a number of squares in the indicated direction equal to the range increment of the throw. So, if you miss on a throw out to two range increments and roll a 1 to determine the misdirection of the throw, the splash weapon lands on the intersection that is 2 squares away from the target in the direction toward you. See the accompanying diagram.

After you determine where the weapon landed, it deals splash damage to all creatures in adjacent squares.



You can try to trip an opponent as an unarmed melee attack. You, can only trip an opponent who is one size category larger than you, the same size, or smaller.

Making a Trip Attack: Make an unarmed melee touch attack against your target. This provokes an attack of opportunity from your target as normal for unarmed attacks.

If your attack succeeds, make a Strength check opposed by defender's Dexterity or Strength check (whichever ability has the higher modifier). A combatant gets a +4 bonus for every size category he is larger than Medium or a -4 penalty for every size category he is smaller than Medium. The defender gets a +4 bonus on his check if he has more than two legs or is otherwise more stable than a normal humanoid (such as a dwarf). If you win, you trip the defender. If you lose, the defender may immediately react and make a Strength check opposed by your Dexterity or Strength check to try to trip you.

Avoiding Attacks of Opportunity: If you have the Improved Trip feat, or if you are tripping with a weapon (see below), you don't provoke an attack of opportunity for making a trip attack.

Being Tripped (Prone): A tripped character is prone. Standing up is a move action.

Tripping a Mounted Opponent: You may make a trip attack against a mounted opponent. The defender may make a Ride check in place of his Dexterity or Strength check. If you succeed, you pull the rider from his mount.

Tripping with a Weapon: Some weapons, including the spiked chain, dire flail, heavy flail, light flail, guisarme, halberd, and whip, can be used to make trip attacks. In this case, you make melee touch attack with the weapon instead of an unarmed melee touch attack, and you don't provoke an attack of opportunity. If you are tripped during your own trip attempt, you can drop the weapon to avoid being tripped.

Turn Or Rebuke Undead

Good clerics and paladins and some neutral clerics can channel positive energy, which can halt, drive off (rout), or destroy undead. Evil clerics and some neutral clerics can channel negative energy, which can halt, awe (rebuke), control (command), or bolster undead. Regardless of the effect, the general term for the activity is "turning." When attempting to exercise their divine control over these creatures, characters make turning checks.

Turning Checks

Turning undead is a supernatural ability that a character can perform as a standard action, it does not provoke attacks of opportunity. You must present your holy symbol to turn undead. Turning is considered an attack.

Times per Day: You may attempt to turn undead a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier. You can increase this number by taking the Extra Turning feat.

Range: You turn the closest turnable undead first, and you can't turn undead that are more than 60 feet away or that have total cover relative to you. You don't need line of sight to a target, but you do need line of effect.

Turning Check: The first thing you do is roll a turning check to see how powerful an undead creature you can turn, This is a Charisma check (1d20 + your Charisma modifier). Turning Undead gives you the Hit Dice of the most powerful undead you can affect, relative to your level. On a given turning attempt, you can turn no undead creature whose Hit Dice exceed the result on this table.

Turning Damage: If your roll on Turning Undead is high enough to let you turn at least some of the undead within 60 feet, roll 2d6 + your cleric level + your Charisma modifier for turning damage. That's how many total Hit Dice of undead you can turn. If your Charisma score is average or low, it's possible (but unusual) to roll fewer Hit Dice of undead turned than indicated on Turning Undead. For instance, a 1st-level cleric with an average Charisma score could get a turning check result of 19 (cleric's level +3, at 4 HD), which is enough to turn a wight, but then roll only 3 on his turning damage roll - not enough to turn that wight after all.

You may skip over already turned undead that are still within range, so that you do not waste your turning capacity on them.

Effect and Duration of Turning: Turned undead flee from you by the best and fastest means available to them. They flee for 10 rounds (1 minute). If they cannot flee, they cower (giving any attack rolls against them a +2 bonus). If you approach within 10 feet of them, however, they overcome being turned and act normally. (You can stand within 10 feet without breaking the turning - you just can't approach them.) You can attack them with attacks (from at least 10 feet away), and others can attack any fashion, without breaking the turning effect.

Destroying Undead: If you have twice as many levels (or more) the undead have Hit Dice, you destroy any that you would normally turn.

Turning Undead
Turning Check
Most Powerful Undead
Affected (Maximum Hit Dice)
0 or lowerCleric's level -4
1-3Cleric's level -3
4-6Cleric's level -2
7-9Cleric's level -1
10-12Cleric's level
13-15Cleric's level + 1
16-18Cleric's level + 2
19-21Cleric's level + 3
22 or higherCleric's level + 4

How Turning Works

Jozan, the cleric, and his friends confront seven human zombies led by a wight. Calling on the power of Pelor, Jozan raises his sun disk and attempts to drive the undead away

First, he makes a turning check (1d20 + Cha modifier) to see what the most powerful undead creature is that he can turn in this action. His result is 9, so he can only turn undead that have fewer Hit Dice than he has levels. Jozan is 3rd level, so on this attempt, he can turn creatures with 2 Hit Dice (such as human zombies) or 1 Hit Die (such as human skeletons) but nothing with more than 2 Hit Dice (such as the wight, which has 4 HD). He does not have twice as many levels as either the zombies or wight, so he will not destroy any of them.

Next, he rolls his turning damage (2d6 + Jozan's level + Cha modifier) to see how many total Hit Dice of creatures he can turn. His result is 11, enough to turn the five closest zombies (accounting for 10 HD out of the maximum of 11). The remaining two zombies and the wight are unaffected.

On Jozan's next turn, he attempts to turn undead again. This time, his turning check result is 21 - enough to turn undead creatures of up to 6 HD (his level + 3). His turning damage roll is only 7, though, so he can only turn 7 Hit Dice worth of creatures. He turns the two nearest undead (the remaining 2 HD zombies), but the remaining 3 HD worth of turning isn't enough to turn the 4 HD wight.

Evil Clerics and Undead

Evil clerics channel negative energy to rebuke (awe) or command (control) undead rather than channeling positive energy to turn or destroy them. An evil cleric makes the equivalent of a training check. Undead that would be turned are rebuked instead, and those that would be destroyed are commanded.

Rebuked: A rebuked undead creature cowers as if in awe (attack rolls against the creature get a +2 bonus). The effect lasts 10 rounds.

Commanded: A commanded undead creature is under the mental control of the evil cleric. The cleric must take a standard action to give mental orders to a commanded undead. At any one time, the cleric may command any number of undead whose total Hit Dice do not exceed his level. He may voluntarily relinquish command on any commanded undead creature or creatures an order to command new ones.

Dispelling Turning: An evil cleric may channel negative energy to dispel a good cleric's turning effect. The evil cleric makes a turning check as if attempting to rebuke the undead. If the turning check result is equal to or greater than the training check result that the good cleric scored when turning the undead, then the undead are no longer turned. The evil cleric rolls turning damage of 2d6 cleric level + Charisma modifier to see how many Hit Dice worth of undead he can affect in this way (as if he were rebuking them).

Bolstering Undead: An evil cleric may also bolster undead, creatures against turning in advance. He makes a turning check as, if attempting to rebuke the undead, but the Hit Dice result on Turning Undead becomes the undead creatures' effective Hit Dice as far as turning is concerned (provided the result is higher than the creatures' actual Hit Dice). The bolstering lasts 10 rounds. An evil undead cleric can bolster himself in this manner.

Neutral Clerics and Undead

A cleric of neutral alignment can either turn undead but not rebuke them, or rebuke undead hut not turn them. See Turn or Rebuke Undead in the Player's Handbook, for more information.

Even if a cleric is neutral, channeling positive energy is a good act and channeling negative energy is evil.

Paladins and Undead

Beginning at 4th level, paladins can turn undead as if they were clerics of three levels lower than they actually are.

Turning Other Creatures

Some clerics have the ability to turn creatures other than undead. For example, a cleric with the Fire domain can turn or destroy water creatures (as if he were a good cleric turning undead) and rebuke or command fire creatures (as if he were an evil cleric rebuking undead). The turning check result is determined as normal.

Other Uses for Positive or Negative Energy

Positive or negative energy may have rises other than affecting undead. For example, a holy site might be guarded by a magic door that opens for any good cleric who can make a turning check high enough to affect a 3 HD undead and that shatters for an evil cleric who can make a similar check.

Two-Weapon Fighting

If you wield a second weapon in your off hand, you can get one extra attack per round with that weapon. Fighting in this way is very hard, however, and you suffer a -6 penalty with your regular attack or attacks with your primary hand and a -10 penalty to the attack with your off hand. You can reduce these penalties in two ways:

Two-Weapon Fighting Penalties table summarizes the interaction of all these factors.

Two-Weapon Fighting Penalties
CircumstancesPrimary HandOff Hand
Normal penalties-6-10
Off-hand weapon is light-4-8
Two-Weapon Fighting feat-4-4
Off-hand weapon is light and
Two-Weapon Fighting feat

Double Weapons: You can use a double weapon to make an extra attack with the off-hand end of the weapon as if you were fighting with two weapons. The penalties apply as if the off-hand end of the weapon were a light weapon.

Thrown Weapons: The same rules apply when you throw a weapon from each hand. Treat a dart or shuriken as a light weapon when used in this manner, and treat a bolas, javelin, net, or sling as a one-handed weapon.

Attack An Object

Sometimes you need to attack or break an object, such as when you want to smash a statue, strike a foe's weapon, or break open a door.

Size and AC of Objects
Size (Example)AC Modifier
Colossal (broad side of a barn)-8
Gigantic (narrow side of a barn)-4
Huge (wagon)-2
Large (big door)-1
Medium-size (barrel)+0
Small (chair)+1
Tiny (tome)+2
Diminutive (scroll)+4
Fine (potion in a vial+8

Objects are easier to hit than creatures because they usually don't move, but many are tough enough to shrug off some damage from each blow.

How Striking an Object Works: Lidda, a rogue, can't pick the lock on the big treasure chest that Mialee, the elf, just found behind a secret door, so Krusk, the barbarian, volunteers to open it "the half-orc way." He chops at it with his greataxe, dealing 10 points of damage. The chest, made of wood, has a hardness of 5, so, the chest only takes 5 points of damage. The wood is 1 inch thick, so it had 10 hit points. Now it has 5. Krusk has gouged the wood but not yet broken the chest open. On his second attack, he deals 4 points of damage. That's lower than the chest's hardness, so the chest takes no damage - a glancing blow. His third blow, however deals 12 points of damage (which means the chest takes 7), and the chest breaks open. Unbeknownst to the adventurers, however, the racket that Krusk just made has alerted a nearby ogre to their presence, and he's now shuffling down the corridor to investigate.

Object Armor Classes and Bonuses to Attack: Objects are harder or easier to hit depending on several factors:

Inanimate, Immobile Objects: Attacking an inanimate, immobile object not in use by a creature does not provoke an attack of opportunity. An inanimate, immobile object has an AC of to + its Dexterity modifier (-5 for no Dexterity) + its size modifier. Immobile, objects, such as a lantern hanging from the ceiling, are easy to hit. With a melee weapon, you get a +4 bonus on your attack roll, if you take a full-round action to line up a shot (as with the coup de grace against a helpless foe), you get an automatic hit with a melee weapon and a +5 attack bonus with a ranged weapon. (Objects, however, are immune to critical hits.)

Animated Objects: Animated objects count as creatures for AC purposes (see the Monster Manual).

Opponents' Weapons and Shields: Attacking these objects is covered in Strike a Weapon, below.

Held, Carried, or Worn Objects: Attacking a held, carried, or worn object provokes an attack of opportunity. Objects that are held, carried, or worn by a creature, such as an evil sorcerer's wand, are harder to hit. The object uses the creature's Dexterity modifier (not its own -5) and any magic deflection bonus to AC the creature may have. You don't get any special bonus for attacking the object. If it's in the creature's hand (or tentacle, or whatever), it gets a +5 AC bonus because the creature can move it quickly out of harm's way.

Damage to Objects: The amount of damage that an object can withstand depends on what it's made out of and how big it is. Weapon damage is rolled normally against objects.

Immunities: Inanimate objects are immune to critical hits. Objects are immune to nonlethal damage. Animated objects are immune to critical hits because they are constructs.

Ranged Weapon Damage: Objects take half damage from ranged weapons (except for siege engines and the like). Divide the damage by 2 before applying the object's hardness.

Energy Attacks: Objects take half damage from acid, fire, and lightning attacks. Divide the damage by 2 before applying the hardness. Cold attacks deal one-quarter damage to objects. Sonic attacks deal full damage to objects.

Ineffective Weapons: The DM may determine that certain weapons just can't deal damage effectively to certain objects. For example, you will have a hard time chopping down a door by shooting arrows at it or cutting a rope with a club.

Vulnerability to Certain Attacks: The DM may rule that certain attacks are especially successful against some objects. For example, it's easy to light a curtain on fire or rip up a scroll.

Hardness: Each object has hardness - a number that represents how well it resists damage. Whenever an object takes damage, subtract its hardness from the damage. Only damage in excess of its hardness is deducted from the object's hit points (see Substance Hardness and Hit Points; Object Hardness and Hit Points; and Common Weapon and Shield Hardness and Hit Points).

Hit Points: An object's hit point total depends on what it is made of and how big it is. When an object's hit points reach 0, it's ruined. Very large objects have separate hit point totals for different sections. For example, you can attack and ruin a wagon wheel without destroying the whole wagon.

Saving Throws: Nonmagical, unattended items never make saving throws. They are considered to have failed their saving throws, so they always are affected by (for instance) a disintegrate spell. An item attended by a character (being grasped, touched, or worn) receives a saving throw just as if the character herself were making the saving throw

Magic items always get saving throws. A magic item's Fortitude, Reflex, and Will save bonuses are equal to 2 + one-half its caster level. Attended magic items either make saving throws as their owner or use their own saving throws, whichever are better. (See individual items for caster levels.)

Strike a Weapon

You can use a melee attack with a slashing weapon to strike a weapon or shield that your opponent is holding. The attacking weapon must be no more than one size category smaller than the weapon attacked. (Treat a buckler as Small, a small shield as Medium-size, a large shield as Large, and a tower shield as Huge.) Doing so provokes an attack of opportunity from the opponent because you are diverting your attention from him to his armaments. Then you and the defender make opposed attack rolls. If you win, you have landed a good blow against the defender's weapon or shield. Roll damage and deal it to the weapon or shield (see Strike an Object, above).

Magic Weapons and Shields: The attacker cannot damage a magic weapon or shield that has an enhancement bonus unless his own weapon has at least as high an enhancement bonus as the weapon or shield struck. Each +1 of enhancement bonus also adds 1 to the weapon's or shield's hardness and hit points. If your shield has a +2 enhancement bonus, you add 2 to its hardness and to its hit points.

Breaking Items

When you try to break something with sudden force rather than by dealing regular damage, use a Strength check to see whether you succeed. The DC depends more on the construction of the item than on the material. For instance, an iron door with a weak lock can be forced open much more easily than it can be hacked down.

If an item has lost half or more of its hit points, the DC to break it drops by 2.

Substance Hardness And Hit Points
SubstanceHardnessHit Points
Paper0 2/inch of thickness
Rope0 2/inch of thickness
Glass1 1/inch of thickness
Ice0 3/inch of thickness
Wood510/inch of thickness
Stone815/inch of thickness
Iron1030/inch of thickness
Mithral1530/inch of thickness
Adamantite2040/inch of thickness
Common Weapon And Shield Hardness And Hit Points
Tiny bladeDagger101
Small bladeShort sword102.
Medium-size bladeLongsword105.
Large bladeGreatsword1010.
Small metal-hafted weaponLight mace1010
Medium-size metal-hafted weaponHeavy mace1025
Small hafted weaponHandaxe52
Medium-size hafted weaponBattleaxe55
Large hafted weaponGreataxe510
Huge clubOgre's club560
Small wooden shield-510
Large wooden shield-515
Small steel shield-1010
Large steel shield-1020
Tower shield-520
DCs To Break Or Burst Items
Strength Check to:DCStrength Check to:DC
Break down simple door13 Bend iron bars24
Break down good door18 Break down barred door25
Break down strong door23 Burst chain bonds26
Burst rope bonds23 Break down iron door28
Object Hardness And Hit Points
ObjectHardnessHit PointsBreak DC
Rope (1 inch diam.)0223
Simple wooden door51013
Small chest5117
Good wooden door51518
Treasure chest51523
Strong wooden door52023 -
Masonry wall (1 ft. thick)89035
Hewn stone (3 ft. thick)854050
Masterwork manacles101028
Iron door (2 in. thick)106028

Sneak Attacks

The general rule for the sneak attack ability states that a rogue gets bonus sneak attack damage "any time the rogue's target would be denied his Dexterity bonus to AC (whether he actually has a Dexterity bonus or not, or when the rogue flanks the target." Below are some specific conditions that would give you that extra damage.

Keep in mind that if your foe is immune to sneak attacks by virtue of creature type or some other condition, all your machinations are for naught. Even if one of the above conditions applies, you still don't get the extra sneak attack damage. Many of these conditions still grant the attacker other benefits, however.

Garrote Attacks

A garrote is more difficult to use than most weapons because the attack must be carefully set up to have a reasonable chance of success. A garrote attack uses the grappling rules, with a few additions.

Attack of Opportunity: You provoke an attack of opportunity from the target you are trying to garrote. If the attack of opportunity deals you damage, your garrote attack fails.

Getting the Garrote into Place: To attack with a garrote, you first need to loop the weapon over your opponent's head and work it into place around his or her neck. To accomplish this you must be able to reach the target's head. This means you cannot garrote an opponent two or more size categories larger than yourself unless that opponent is sitting or lying down, or you are attacking from overhead.

If you can reach the target's head, you must make a successful melee touch attack to grab him or her. Unlike a normal melee touch attack, this does not allow you to ignore all your opponents armor. If your foe's neck is protected, You might not be able to place the garrote properly. To determine the opponent's Armor Class against a garrote attack, use his or her size modifier, plus any of the following special armor modifiers that apply.

Armor TypeTarget's AC modifier against Garrote Attack
Natural armorProvides normal protection (equal to the bonus of the natural armor)
Full plateProvides a +4 armor bonus
Leather collarProvides a +4 bonus
GorgetProvides a +10 bonus

If you fail to hit with your melee touch attack, your garrote attack fails. If you are entitled to multiple attacks in a round, you can attempt to place the garrote multiple times at successively lower base attack bonuses.

Strangle: Make a grapple check (see Grapple). If you succeed, you have started to strangle your opponent. You immediately deal 1d6 or 1d8 points of damage, depending on the type of garrote. Your Strength modifier applies to this damage, and if that modifier is a bonus, you get one and one-half times that bonus because you're using both hands for the attack.

If you fail the grapple check, you don't start strangling or deal damage. Your opponent slips free of the garrote and is no longer considered grappled. You do not automatically lose the grapple check if your opponent is two or more size categories larger than you are, as you would with a normal grapple check. Your opponent is considered grappled if you succeed.

Move In: Unless you used a locking garrote to make your attack, you must move into the target's space in order to maintain the strangle. Moving, as normal, provokes attacks of opportunity from threatening enemies, but not from your target.

Maintaining a Garrote Attack: Once you have a cord garrote or a wire garrote in place, have won the grapple check, and have moved into your opponents space, you can continue to deal garrote damage with successful grapple checks as often as you are entitled to attempt them. If you have multiple attacks, you can attempt multiple grapple checks each round to deal damage. Each time you succeed with a grapple check, you deal garrote damage, modified as above by your Strength modifier. The garrote remains in place until you release your opponent or until he or she escapes by breaking your hold (see Grapple).

Unless you used a locking garrote to make your attack, you and your opponent are considered grappled while you maintain a garrote attack. You cannot attempt to pin your opponent during your garrote attack, nor can you attack with another weapon.

While You're Being Garroted: Being garroted is just like being grappled, except that you stiffer normal damage. You can attempt to escape the garrote by making a successful grapple check on your turn. If you're allowed multiple attacks, you can attempt to escape multiple times. You can also attack with a light weapon. Spellcasting is difficult, since no verbal (V) or somatic (5) component is possible. You may cast spells requiring only material components or focuses only if you have them in hand. If the spell is one you can cast while being strangled, you must still make a Concentration check (DC 20 + spell level) to avoid losing it.

Cutting a garrote from your own throat is possible using the Attack an Object action, but it's difficult. Since a garrote is a Small weapon, it has an Armor Class of 11; however, since it's buried in your neck, it gets a +10 cover bonus to Armor Class, for a total Armor Class of 21. In addition, you incur a -4 circumstance penalty on your attack because you have to avoid damaging your own neck in the process. You cannot use the disarm action against an attacker who has a garrote wrapped around your neck.

Strategy: The garrote is a good weapon for one-on-one surprise attacks, when there's a good chance of taking the target unaware. Hence, this weapon is a favorite among assassins, spies, and sneak thieves. It makes a poor melee weapon against multiple opponents, since its wielder is vulnerable to attacks from the target's friends while holding the garrote in position and waiting for the victim to die. Locking garrotes, while rare, are good for causing major distractions since friends of the victim typically break off pursuit of the attacker to save their companion from the garrote.

Injury and Death

Your hit points measure how hard you are to kill. While exotic monsters have a number of special ways to hurt, harm, or kill you, usually you just take damage and lose hit points. The damage from each successful attack and each fight accumulates, dropping your hit point total to 0 or below. Then you're in trouble. Luckily you also have a number of ways to regain hit points. If you have a few days to rest, you can recover lost hit points on your own, and divine magic includes a number of spells for restoring lost hit points.

Loss Of Hit Points

The most common way that your character gets hurt is to take damage and lose hit points, whether from an orc's battleaxe, a wizard's lightning bolt, or a fall into molten lava. You record your character's hit point total on your character sheet. As your character takes damage, you subtract that damage from your hit points, leaving you with your current hit points. Current hit points go down when you take damage and go back up when you recover.

What Hit Points Represent: Hit points mean two things in the game world: the ability to take physical punishment and keep going, and the ability to turn a serious blow into a less serious one. A 10th-level fighter who has taken 50 points of damage is not as badly hurt as a 10th-level wizard who has taken that much damage. Indeed, unless the wizard has a high Constitution score, she's probably dead or dying, while the fighter is battered but otherwise doing fine. Why the difference? Partly because the fighter is better at rolling with the punches, protecting vital areas, and dodging just enough that a blow that would be fatal only wounds him. Partly because he's tough as nails. He can take damage that would drop a horse and still swing his sword with deadly effect. For some characters, hit points may represent divine favor or inner power. When a paladin survives a fireball, you will be hard pressed to convince bystanders that she doesn't have the favor of some higher power.

A 10th-level fighter who has taken 50 points of damage may be about as physically hurt as a 10th-level wizard who has taken 30 points of damage, the 1st-level fighter who has taken 5 points of damage, or the 1st-level wizard who has taken 3. Details at this level, however, don't affect how the dice roll. When picturing a scene, just remember that 50 points of damage means different things to different people.

Damaging Helpless Defenders: Even if you have lots of hit points, however, a dagger through the eye is a dagger through the eye. When a character can't avoid damage or deflect blows somehow, when he's really helpless, he's in trouble.

Effects of Hit Point Damage: Damage gives you scars, bangs up your armor, and gets blood on your surcoat, but it doesn't slow you down until your current hit points reach 0 or lower.

At 0 hit points, you're disabled.

At from -1 to -9 hit points, you're dying.

At -10 or lower, you're dead.

Massive Damage: If you ever sustain damage so massive that a single attack deals 50 points of damage or more and it doesn't kill you outright, you must make a Fortitude save (DC 15). If this saving throw fails, you die regardless of your current hit points. This amount of damage represents a single trauma so major that it has a chance to kill even the toughest creature. If, however, you take 50 points of damage from multiple attacks, none of which dealt 50 or more points itself, the massive damage rule does not apply.

Disabled (0 Hit Points)

When your current hit points drop to exactly 0, you're disabled. You're not unconscious, but you're close to it. You can only take a partial action each round, and if you perform any strenuous activity you rake 1 point of damage after the completing the act. Strenuous activities include running, attacking, casting a spell, or using any ability that requires physical exertion or mental concentration. Unless your activity increased your hit points, you are now at -1 hit points, and you're dying.

Healing that raises you above 0 makes you fully functional again, just as if you'd never been reduced to 0 or less. A spellcaster retains the spellcasting capability she had before dropping to 0 hit points.

You can also become disabled when recovering from dying. In this case, it's a step up along the road to recovery, and you can have fewer than 0 hit points (see Stable Characters and Recovery).

Dying (-1 To -9 Hit Points)

When your character's current hit points drop to between -1 and -9 inclusive, he's dying.

He immediately falls unconscious and can take no actions.

At the end of each round (starting with the round in which the character dropped below 0), roll d% to see whether he stabilizes. He has a 10% chance to become stable. If he doesn't, he loses 1 hit point.

If the character's hit points drop to -10 (or lower), he's dead.

You can keep a dying character from losing any more hit points and make him stable with a successful Heal check (DC 15).

If any sort of healing cures the dying character of even 1 point of damage, he stops losing hit points and becomes stable.

Healing that raises the dying character's hit points to 0 makes him conscious and disabled. Healing that raises his hit points to 1 or more makes him fully functional again, just as if he'd never been reduced to 0 or less. A spellcaster retains the spellcasting capability she had before dropping below 0 hit points.

Dead (-10 Hit Points Or Lower)

When your character's current hit points drop to -10 or lower, or if he takes massive damage (see above), he's dead. A character can also die from taking ability damage or suffering an ability drain that reduces his Constitution to 0. When a character dies, his soul immediately departs. Getting it back into the body is a major hassle (see Bringing Back the Dead).

Stable Characters And Recovery

A stable character who has been tended by a healer or who has been magically healed eventually regains consciousness and recovers hit points naturally. If the character has no one to tend him, however, his life is still in danger, and he may yet slip away.

Recovering with Help: An hour after a tended, dying character becomes stable, roll d%. He has a 10% chance of becoming conscious, at which point he is disabled (as if he had 0 hit points), if he remains unconscious, he has the same chance to revive and become disabled every hour. Even if unconscious, he recovers hit points naturally. He is back to normal when his hit points rise to 1 or higher.

Recovering without Help: A severely wounded character left alone usually dies. He has a small chance, however, of recovering on his own. Even if he seems as though he's pulling through, he can still finally succumb to his wounds hours or days after originally taking damage.

A character who stabilizes on his own (by making the 10% roll while dying) and who has no one to tend for him still loses hit points, just at a slower rate. He has a 10% chance each hour of becoming conscious. Each time he misses his hourly roll to become conscious, he loses 1 hit point. He also does not recover hit points through natural healing.

Even once he becomes conscious and is disabled, an unaided character still does not recover hit points naturally Instead, each day he has a 10% chance to start recovering hit points naturally (starting with that day); otherwise, he loses 1 hit point.

Once an unaided character starts recovering hit points naturally he is no longer in danger of losing hit points (even if his current hit point total is negative).


After taking damage, you can recover hit points through natural healing (over the course of days) or through magical healing (nearly instantly). In any case, you can't regain hit points past your hit point total.

Natural Healing: You recover 1 hit point per character level per day of rest. For example, a 5th-level fighter recovers 5 hit points per day of rest. You may engage in light, non-strenuous travel or activity, but any combat or spellcasting prevents you from healing that day. If you undergo complete bed rest (doing nothing for an entire day), you recover one and one half times your character level in hit points. A 5th-level fighter recovers 7 hit points per day of bed rest.

Higher-level characters recover lost hit points faster than lower-level characters because they're tougher, and also because a given number of lost hit points represents a lighter wound for a higher-level character. A 5th-level fighter who has lost 10 hit points isn't seriously wounded, but a 1st-level fighter who has taken 10 points of damage is.

Magical Healing: Various abilities and spells, such as a cleric's core spells or a paladin's lay on hands ability can give you back hit points. Each use of the spell or ability restores a different amount of hit points.

Healing Limits: You can never get back more hit points than you lost. Magical healing won't raise your current hit points higher than your hit point total.

Healing Ability Damage: Temporary ability damage returns at the rate of 1 point per day of rest (light activity, no combat or spellcasting). Complete bed rest restores 2 points per day.

Temporary Hit Points

Certain effects, such as the aid spell, give a character temporary hit points. When a character gains temporary hit points, note his current hit points. When the temporary hit points go away, such as at the end of the aid spell, the character's hit points drop to that score. If the character's hit points are already below that score at that time, all the temporary hit points have already been lost and the character's hit point score does not drop.

When temporary hit points are lost, they cannot be restored as real hit points can be, even by magic.

For example, Jozan casts aid on Tordek. Tordek (now a 3rd-level fighter) normally has 30 hit points, but he's wounded and only has 26. Jozan rolls 1d8 for aid's temporary hit points and gets a 6. Tordek's current hit points rise (temporarily) to 32. A little while later, Tordek takes 3 points of damage from an arrow shot, leaving him with 29 hit points. When the aid spell ends, his current bit points drop back down to 26.

Increases in Constitution Score and Current Hit Points: Note that an increase in a character's Constitution score, even a temporary one, can give him more hit points (an effective hit point increase), but these are not temporary hit points. They can be restored, such as with cure light wounds, and they are not lost first as temporary hit points are. For example, Krusk (now a 3rd-level barbarian) gains +4 to his Constitution score and +6 hit points when he rages, raising his hit points from 31 to 37. If Krusk rakes damage dropping him to 32 hit points, Jozan can cure those lost points and get him back to 37. If Krusk is so wounded at the end of his rage that he only has 5 hit points left, then when he loses his 6 extra hit points he drops to 1 hit points and starts dying.


Sometimes you get roughed up or weakened, such as by getting clocked in a fistfight or tired out by a forced march. This sort of trauma won't kill you, but it can knock you out or make you faint.

If you take sufficient nonlethal damage, you fall unconscious, but you don't die. Nonlethal damage goes away much faster lethal damage does.

Dealing Nonlethal Damage: Certain attacks deal nonlethal damage, such as a normal human's unarmed strike (a punch, kick or head butt). Other effects, such as heat or being exhausted, also deal nonlethal damage. When you take nonlethal damage, keep a running total of how much you've accumulated. Do not deduct the nonlethal damage number from your current hit points. It is not "real" damage. Instead, when your nonlethal damage equals your current hit points, you're staggered, and when it exceeds your current hit points, you fall unconscious. It doesn't matter whether the nonlethal damage equals or exceeds your current hit points because the nonlethal damage has gone up or because your current hit points have gone down.

Nonlethal Damage with a Weapon that Deals Lethal Damage: You can use a melee weapon that deals lethal damage to deal nonlethal damage instead, but you take a -4 penalty on your attack roll because you have to use the flat of the blade, strike at non-vital areas or check your swing.

Lethal Damage with a Weapon that Deals Nonlethal Damage: You can use a weapon that deals nonlethal damage, including an unarmed strike, to deal lethal damage instead, but you take a -4 penalty on your attack roll because you have to strike only in the most vulnerable areas to inflict lethal damage.

Staggered and Unconscious: When your nonlethal damage equals your current hit points, you're staggered. You're so roughed up that you can only take a standard action or a move action in each round. You cease being staggered when your current hit points once again exceed your nonlethal damage.

When your nonlethal damage exceeds your current hit points you fall unconscious. While unconscious, you are helpless.

Spellcasters who fall unconscious retain any spellcasting abilities they had before going unconscious.

Healing Nonlethal Damage: You heal nonlethal damage at the rate of 1 hit point per hour per character level. For example, a 7th-level wizard heals 7 points of nonlethal damage each hour until all the nonlethal damage is gone.

When a spell or a magical power cures hit point damage, it also removes an equal amount of nonlethal damage.

Underwater Combat

Land-based creatures can have considerable difficulty when fighting in water. Water affects a creature's Armor Class, attack rolls, damage, and movement. In some cases a creatures opponents may get a bonus on attacks. The effects are summarized in the accompanying table. They apply whenever a character is swimming, walking in chest-deep water, or walking along the bottom.

Combat Adjustments Underwater
 -- Attack/Damage -- 
ConditionSlashing or BludgeoningTailMovementOff Balance?4
Freedom of movementnormal/normalnormal/normalnormalNo
Has a swim speed-2/halfnormalnormalNo
Successful Swim check-2/half1-2/halfquarter or half2No
Firm footing3-2/half-2/halfhalfNo
None of the above-2/half-2/halfnormalYes
1 A creature without a freedom of movement effect or a swim speed makes grapple checks underwater at a -2 penalty, but deals damage normally when grappling.
2 A successful Swim check lets a creature move one-quarter its speed as a move action or one-half its speed as a full-round action.
3 Creatures have firm footing when walking along the bottom, braced against a ship's hull, or the like. A creature can only walk along the bottom if it wears or carries enough gear to weigh itself down - at least 16 pounds for Medium creatures, twice that for each size category larger than Medium, and half that for each size category smaller than Medium.
4 Creatures flailing about in the water (usually because they failed their Swim checks) have a hard time fighting effectively. An off-balance creature loses its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class, and opponents gain a +2 bonus on attacks against it.

Ranged Attacks Underwater: Thrown weapons are ineffective underwater, even when launched from land. Attacks with other ranged weapons take a -2 penalty on attack rolls for every 5 feet of water they pass through, in addition to the normal penalties for range.

Attacks from Land: Characters swimming, floating, or treading water on the surface, or wading in water at least chest deep, have improved cover (+8 bonus to AC, +4 bonus on Reflex saves) from opponents on land. Land-bound opponents who have freedom of movement effects ignore this cover when making melee attacks against targets in the water. A completely submerged creature has total cover against opponents on land unless those opponents have freedom of movement effects. Magical effects are unaffected except for those that require attack rolls which are treated like any other effects) and fire effects.

Fire: Nonmagical fire (including alchemist's fire) does not burn underwater. Spells or spell-like effects with the fire descriptor are ineffective underwater unless the caster makes a Spellcraft check DC 20 + spell level). If the check succeeds, the spell creates a bubble of steam instead of its usual fiery effect, but otherwise the spell works as described. A supernatural fire effect is ineffective underwater unless its description states otherwise.

The surface of a body of water blocks line of effect for any fire spell. If the caster has made a Spellcraft check to make the fire spell usable underwater, the surface still blocks the spell's line of effect. For example, a fireball cast underwater cannot be targeted at creatures above the surface.

Big and Little Creatures in Combat

Creatures smaller than Small or larger than Medium have special rules relating to position. These rules concern the creatures 'faces,' or sides, and their reach.

The Creature Sizes table summarizes the characteristics of each of the nine size categories. The Max. Height and Max. Weight columns are guidelines, not firm limits; for instance, almost all medium creatures weigh between 60 and 500 pounds, but exceptions can exist. The figures in the Space and Natural Reach columns are explained below.

Space: Space is the width of the square a creature needs to fight without penalties (see Squeezing Through, below). This width determines how many creatures can fight side by side in a 10-foot-wide corridor, and how many opponents can attack a creature at the same time. A creature's space does not have a front, back, left, or right side, because combatants are constantly moving and turning in battle. Unless a creature is immobile, it effectively doesn't have a front or a left side - at least not one you can locate on the tabletop.

Natural Reach: Natural reach is how far a creature can reach when it fights. The creature threatens the area within that distance from itself. Remember that when measuring diagonally, every second square counts as 2 squares. The exception is a creature with 10-foot reach. It threatens targets up to 2 squares away, including a 2-square distance diagonally away from its square. (This is an exception to the rule that 2 squares of diagonal distance is measured as 15 feet.)

As a general rule, consider creatures to be as tall as their space, meaning that a creature can reach up a distance equal to its space plus its reach.

Big Creatures

Large or larger creatures with reach weapons can strike out to double their natural reach but can't use their weapons at their natural reach or less.

A creature may move through an occupied square if it is three categories or more larger than the occupant.

Creature Sizes
SizeMax Height1Max. Weight2SpaceNatural Reach
Fine6 in. or less1/8 lb. or less1/2 ft.0 ft.0 ft.
Diminutive1 ft.1 lb.1 ft.0 ft.0 ft.
Tiny2 ft.8 lb.2-1/2 ft.0 ft.0 ft.
Small4 ft.60 lb.5 ft.5 ft.5 ft.
Medium8 ft.500 lb.5 ft.5 ft.5 ft.
Large16 ft.4,000 lb.10 ft.10 ft.5 ft.
Huge32 ft.32,000 lb.15 ft.15 ft.10 ft.
Gargantuan64 ft.250,000 lb.20 ft.20 ft.15 ft.
Colossal64 ft.
or more
250,000 lb.
or more
30 ft.
or more
30 ft.
or more
20 ft.
or more

¹ Biped's height, quadruped's body length (nose to base of tail)

2 Assumes that the creature is roughly as dense as a regular animal. A creature made of stone will weigh considerably more. A gaseous creature will weigh much less.

Very Small Creatures

Tiny, Diminutive, and Fine creatures have no natural reach. They must enter an opponent's square (and thus be subject to an attack of opportunity) in order to attack that opponent in melee unless they are armed with weapons that give them at least 5 feet of reach.

Because Tiny, Diminutive, and Fine creatures have no natural reach, they do not normally get attacks of opportunity. Specific creatures may be exceptions, and some may carry reach weapons that do threaten adjacent squares.

Mixing It Up

Two creatures less than two size categories apart cannot occupy the same spaces in combat except under special circumstances (for example, when grappling, riding a mount, or if one is unconscious or dead).

Creatures two size categories apart can occupy the same space without special circumstances. Half the normal number of creatures can occupy the space as usual (fractions are not allowed).

Creatures may occupy the same square if they are three or more size categories different. For instance, a human could occupy one of the squares also occupied by a purple worm.

Example: A human (Medium) fights a cloud giant (Huge). The human occupies a single space. The cloud giant occupies roughly nine spaces. If the human tried to occupy one of the giant's spaces, up to half as many humans as normal could fit, since the creatures are two size categories apart. Since that only amounts to one-half, of a human, the human cannot occupy one of the giant's spaces without grappling.

Example: A halfling (Small) fights the same cloud giant. The halfling, like the human, occupies a single space. If the halfling, tries to occupy one of the giant's cubes, the normal number of, halflings (one) could fit, since the creatures are three size categories apart.

If a creature is in at least one of the spaces occupied by a larger creature when that creature moves out of that space without taking a 5-foot adjustment or a withdraw action, then the smaller creature gets attacks of opportunity against the departing creature.

Since a creature can attack into its own space (unless armed with a reach weapon), a smaller creature in one of the spaces occupied by another creature cannot take a withdrawal action.

Any time more than one allied creature occupies an opponent's space (either in the same square on the grid or in separate squares), the allied creatures provide each other with the benefit of flanking. If a creature occupies part of an opponent's space, it provides flanking to all allied creatures outside the opponent's space.

Example: A colony of stirges (Tiny) attacks a human (Medium). Up to four Tiny creatures can occupy the same space. They are two size categories apart from a human, so up to two Tiny stirges can occupy the same space as the human, and they provide each other with flanking against the human.

Example: A squad of halflings (Small) attacks a bulette (Huge). The bulette takes up a space three squares across. Since the halflings are three or more size categories apart from the bulette, they can enter the space the bulette occupies. Each halfling can only occupy one space, but the bulette occupies nine squares, so up to nine halflings can occupy the same space as the bulette. The halflings provide each other with flanking.

Squeezing Through

A creature can squeeze through a space as narrow as one-half its space. While doing so, it moves at half its normal speed. It takes a -4 penalty on attack rolls and a -4 penalty to AC. While a creature is squeezing through a narrow space, it's not possible for other smaller creatures to also occupy that space.

A creature can move through a space with a ceiling as low as half its height with the same penalties (in spaces both narrow and low, double the penalties). It can move through a space with a ceiling as low as one-quarter its height, but it must do so by going prone and crawling. The normal penalties and restrictions for being prone apply.

Standing in Tight Quarters

A creature may find itself standing atop a rocky pinnacle, fighting, from the back of a wagon, or taking advantage of the cover provided by a hole in the ground. In such cases, the creature's space decreases to match the space available on the ground, but its attacks are unaffected because its upper body isn't constrained. It can use its weapons and natural reach without penalties.

Special Initiative Actions

Here are ways to change when you act during combat by altering your place in the initiative orders.


By choosing to delay, you take no action and then act normally on whatever initiative count you decide to act. When you delay, you voluntarily reduce your own initiative result for the rest of the combat. When your new, lower initiative count comes up later in the same round, you can act normally. You can specify this new initiative result or just wait until some time later in the to act then, thus fixing your new initiative count at that point.

Delaying is useful if you need to see what your friends or opponents are going to do before deciding what to do yourself. The price you pay is lost initiative. You never get back the time you spend waiting to see what's going to happen. You can't, however interrupt anyone else's action (as you can with a readied action).

Initiative Consequences of Delaying: Your initiative result becomes the count on which you took the delayed action. If you come to your next action and have not yet performed you don't get to take a delayed action (though you can delay again). If you take a delayed action in the next round, before your turn comes up, your initiative count rises to that new point in the order of battle, and you do not get your regular action that round.


The ready action lets you prepare to take an action later, after your turn is over but before your next one has begun. Readying is standard action. It does not provoke an attack of opportunity (though the action that you ready might do so).

Readying an Action: You can ready a standard action, a move action, or a free action. To do so, specify the action you will take and the conditions under which you will take it. For example, you might specify that you will shoot an arrow at anyone through a nearby doorway. Then, any time before your next action, you may take the readied action in response to that condition. The action occurs just before the action that triggers it. If the triggered action is part of another character's activities, you interrupt the other character. Assuming he is still capable of doing so, he continues his actions once you complete your readied action.

Your initiative result changes. For the rest of the encounter your initiative result is the count on which you took the action, and you act immediately ahead of the character whose action triggered your readied action.

You can take a 5-foot step as part of your readied action, but only if you don't otherwise move any distance during the round. For instance, if you move up to an open door and then ready an action to swing your sword at whatever comes near, you can't take a 5-foot step along the readied action (since you've already moved in this round).

Initiative Consequences of Readying: Your initiative result becomes the count on which you took the readied action. If you come to your next action and have not yet performed your action, you don't get to take the readied action (though you can ready the same action again). If you take your readied action in the next round, before your regular turn comes up, your initiative count rises to that new point in the order of battle, and you do not get your regular action that round.

Distracting Spellcasters: You can ready an attack again caster with the trigger "if she starts casting a spell." If you damage the spellcaster, she may lose the spell she was trying to cast (as determined by her Concentration check result).

Readying to Counterspell: You may ready a counterspell a spellcaster (often with the trigger "if she starts casting a spell"). In this case, when the spellcaster starts a spell, you get a chance identify it with a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + spell level). If you do and you can cast that same spell (are able to cast it and have it prepared if you prepare spells), you can cast the spell as a counterspell and automatically ruin the other spellcaster's spell. Counterspelling works even if one spell is divine and the other arcane.

A spellcaster can use dispel magic to counterspell another spellcaster, but it doesn't always work.

Readying a Weapon against a Charge: You can ready piercing weapons, setting them to receive charges (see Weapons). A readied weapon of this type deals damage if you score a hit with it against a charging character.

Bonuses From Magic

Many magic items offer a bonus on attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, Armor Class, ability scores, or skill checks. Most items that add to saving throws, attack rolls, damage rolls, or AC are restricted to a maximum bonus of +5. (Bracers of armor are an exception.) Most items that add to ability scores are restricted to a maximum bonus of +6, and the bonus usually comes in multiples of 2; (+2, +4, or +6). Skill check bonuses do not have a maximum.

Bonuses of different types always stack. So a +1 cloak of resistance (adds a resistance bonus to saving throws) works with a paladin's general +2 bonus to saving throws. Identical types of bonuses do not stack, so a +3 longsword (+3 enhancement bonus for a +3 to attack, +3 to damage) would not be affected by a magic weapon spell that grants a weapon a +1 enhancement bonus attack and damage.

Different named bonus types all stack, but usually a named bonus does not stack with another bonus of the same name (except for enhancement bonuses to armor and shields, enhancement bonuses to ranged weapons and their ammunition, dodge bonuses, synergy bonuses, and some circumstance bonuses).

Armor: This is the same type of bonus that mundane armor gives a character. A spell that gives an armor bonus typically creates an invisible, tangible field of force around the affected character.

Circumstance: A bonus or penalty based on situational factors, which may apply either to a check or the DC for that check. Circumstance modifiers stack with each other, unless they arise from essentially the same circumstance. Example: robe of blending.

Competence: When a character has a competence bonus, he actually gets better at what he's doing, such as with the spell guidance.

Deflection: A deflection bonus increases a character's AC by making attacks veer off, such as with the spell shield of faith.

Dodge: An enhancement of a character's ability to get out of the way quickly. Dodge bonuses do stack with other dodge bonuses. However, spells and magic items never grant dodge bonuses. Only feats and special abilities can do that.

Enhancement: An enhancement bonus represents an increase in the strength or effectiveness of a character's armor or weapon, as with the spells magic vestment and magic weapon, or a general bonus to an ability score, such as with the spell cat's grace.

Enlargement: When a character gets bigger, his Strength increases (as might his Constitution). That's an enlargement bonus. Example: enlarge.

Haste: A haste bonus improves a character's AC because he is moving faster, as in the spell haste.

Inherent: An inherent bonus is a bonus to an ability score that results from powerful magic, such as a wish. A character is limited to a total inherent bonus of +5 to any ability score.

Insight: An insight bonus makes a character better at what he's doing because he has an almost precognitive knowledge of factors pertinent to the activity, as with the spell true strike.

Luck: A luck bonus is a general bonus that represents good fortune, such as from the spell divine favor.

Morale: A morale bonus represents the effects of greater hope, courage, and determination, such as from the bless spell.

Natural Armor: A natural armor bonus is the type of bonus that many monsters get because of their tough or scaly hides. A natural armor bonus bestowed by a spell (such as barkskin) indicates that the subject's skin has become tougher.

Profane: A profane bonus represents the power of evil, such as granted by the spell desecrate.

Resistance: A resistance bonus is a general bonus against magic or harm.

Sacred: The opposite of a profane bonus, a sacred bonus relates to the power of good, such as granted by the spell consecrate.

Synergy: A bonus resulting from an unusually beneficial interaction between two related skills. Synergy bonuses are not granted by magic items.

Combat Variant Options

Variant: Instant Kill

When you or a player rolls a natural 20 on an attack roll, a critical roll is made to see if a critical hit is scored. If that critical roll is also a 20, that's considered a threat for an instant kill. Now a third roll, an instant kill roll, is made. If that roll scores a hit on the target in question (just like a normal critical roll after a threat), the target is instantly slain. Creatures immune to critical hits are also immune to instant kills.

The instant kill variant only applies to natural 20s, regardless of the threat range for a combatant or weapon. (Otherwise weapons, feats, and magical powers that improve threat ranges would be much more powerful than they are intended to be.)

The instant kill variant makes a game more lethal and combat more random. In any contest, an increase in randomness improves the odds for the underdog. Since the PCs win most fights, a rule that makes combat more random hurts the PCs more than it hurts their enemies.

Variant: Softer Critical Hits

Instead of making critical hits more lethal, you can make them less lethal. Do so by reducing each weapon's threat range one step. Weapons with a threat range of 20 and a x2 multiplier deal no critical hits at all.

Standard Threat RangeSofter Threat RangeStandard MultiplierSofter Multiplier

This variant makes feats and magical powers that improve threat ranges less valuable, it slightly decreases the value of a monster's immunity to critical hits, and it reduces randomness in combat.

Variant: Critical Misses (Fumbles)

If you want to model the chance that in combat a character could fumble his weapon, then when a player rolls a 1 on his attack roll, have him make a DC 10 Dexterity check. If he fails, his character fumbles. You need to decide what it means to fumble, but in general, that character should probably lose a turn of activity as he regains his balance, picks up a dropped weapon, clears his head, steadies himself, or whatever. Fumbles are not appropriate to all games. They can add excitement or interest to combat, but they can also detract from the fun. They certainly add more randomness to combat. Add this variant rule only after careful consideration.