Combat: Actions In Combat
The fundamental actions of moving, attacking, and casting spells cover most of what you want to do in a battle. They're all described here. Other, more specialized options are touched on in Miscellaneous Actions, and in Special Initiative Actions and Special Attacks and Damage.
The Combat Round
Each round represents 6 seconds in the game world. At the table, a round presents an opportunity for each character involved in a combat situation to take an action. Anything a person could reasonably do in 6 seconds, your character can do in 1 round.
Each round's activity begins with the character with the highest initiative result and then proceeds, in order, from there. Each round of a combat uses the same initiative order. When a character's turn comes up in the initiative sequence, that character performs his entire round's worth of actions. (For exceptions, see Attacks of Opportunity and Special Initiative Actions.)
For almost all purposes, there is no relevance to the end of a round or the beginning of a round. The term "round" works like the word "month." A month can mean either a calendar month or a span of time from a day in one month to the same day the next month. In the same way, a round can be a segment of game time starting with the first character to act and ending with the last, but it usually means a span of time from one round to the same initiative count in the next round. Effects that last a certain number of rounds end just before the same initiative count that they began on.
For example, a monk acts on initiative count 15. The monk's stunning attack stuns a creature for 1 round. The stun lasts through initiative count 16 in the next round, not until the end of the current round. On initiative count 15 in the next round, the stun effect has ended and the previously stunned creature can act.
An action's type essentially tells you how long the action takes perform (within the framework of the 6-second combat round) and how movement is treated. There are four types of actions: standard actions, move actions, full-round actions, and free actions.
In a normal round, you can perform a standard action and a move action, or you can perform a full-round action. You can perform as many free actions (see below) as your DM allows. You can always take a move action in place of a standard action.
In some situations (such as in a surprise round), you may limited to taking only a single move action or standard action.
Standard Action: A standard action allows you to do something. The most common type of standard action is an attack - a single melee or ranged attack. Other common standard actions include casting a spell, concentrating to maintain an active spell, activating a magic item, and using a special ability. See Actions in Combat Table for other standard actions.
Move Action: A move action allows you to move your speed or perform an action that takes a similar amount of time. You can move your speed, climb one-quarter of your speed, draw or stow a weapon or other item, stand up, pick up an object, or perform some equivalent action (see Actions in Combat Table).
You can take a move action in place of a standard action. For instance, rather than moving your speed and attacking, you can stand up and move your speed (two move actions), put away a weapon and climb one-quarter of your speed (two move actions), or pick up an item and stow it in your backpack (two move actions).
If you move no actual distance in a round (commonly because you have swapped your move for one or more equivalent actions, such as standing up), you can take one 5-foot step either before, during, or after the action. For example, if Tordek is on the ground, he can stand up (a move action), move 5 feet (a 5-foot step), and then attack.
Full-Round Action: A full-round action consumes all your effort during a round. The only movement you can take during a full-round action is a 5-foot step before, during, or after the action. You can also perform free actions (see below) as your DM allows. The most common type of full-round action is a full attack, which allows to make multiple melee or ranged attacks in a single round.
Some full-round actions do not allow you to take a 5-foot step.
Some full-round actions can be taken as standard actions, but only in situations when you are limited to performing only a standard action during your round (such as in a surprise round). The descriptions of specific actions, below, detail which actions allow this option.
Free Action: Free actions consume a very small amount of time and effort, and over the span of the round, their impact is so minor that they are considered free. You can perform one or more free actions while taking another action normally. However, the DM puts reasonable limits on what you can really do for free. For instance, calling out to your friends for help, dropping an object, and using to concentrate on a spell are all free actions.
Not an Action: Some activities are so minor that they are not even considered free actions. They literally don't take any time at all to do and are considered an inherent part of doing something else. For instance, using the Use Magic Device while trying to activate a device is not an action, it is part of the standard action to activate a magic item.
Restricted Activity: In some situations (such as when you're slowed or during a surprise round), you may be unable to take a full round's worth of actions. In such cases, you are restricted to taking only a single standard action or a single move action (plus free actions as normal). You can't take a full-round action (though you can start or complete a full-round action by using a standard action; see below).
|Actions in Combat|
|Standard Action||Attack of Opportunity1|
|Activate a magic item other than a potion or oil||No|
|Cast a spell (1 standard action casting time)||Yes|
|Concentrate to maintain an active spell||No|
|Dismiss a spell||No|
|Draw a hidden weapon (see Sleight of Hand)||No|
|Drink a potion or apply an oil||Yes|
|Escape a grapple||No|
|Light a torch with a tindertwig (see Tindertwig||Yes|
|Lower spell resistance||No|
|Make a dying friend stable (see Heal)||Yes|
|Read a scroll||Yes|
|Ready (triggers a standard action)||No|
|Sunder a weapon (attack)||Yes|
|Sunder an object (attack)||Maybe3|
|Turn or rebuke undead||No|
|Use extraordinary ability||No|
|Use skill that takes 1 action||Usually|
|Use spell-like ability||Yes|
|Use supernatural ability||No|
|Move Action||Attack of Opportunity1|
|Control a frightened mount||Yes|
|Direct or redirect an active spell||No|
|Draw a weapon4||No|
|Load a hand crossbow or light crossbow||Yes|
|Open or close a door||No|
|Mount a horse or dismount||No|
|Move a heavy object||Yes|
|Pick up item||Yes|
|Sheathe a weapon||Yes|
|Stand up from prone||Yes|
|Ready or loose a shield4||No|
|Retrieve a stored item||Yes|
|Full-Round Action||Attack of Opportunity1|
|Deliver coup de grace (see coup de grace)||Yes|
|Escape from a net (see Net||Yes|
|Light a torch||Yes|
|Load a heavy or repeating crossbow||Yes|
|Lock or unlock weapon in locked gauntlet||Yes|
|Prepare to throw splash weapon||Yes|
|Use skill that takes 1 round||Usually|
|Use touch spell on up to six friends||Yes|
|Free Action||Attack of Opportunity1|
|Cast a quickened spell (see Quicken Spell)||No|
|Cease concentration on a spell||No|
|Drop an item||No|
|Drop to the floor||No|
|Prepare spell components to cast a spell6||No|
|No Action||Attack of Opportunity1|
|Action Type Varies|
|Trip an opponent7||No|
1Regardless of the action, if you move out of a threatened square, you usually provoke an attack of opportunity. This column indicates whether the action itself, not moving, provokes an attack of opportunity.
2If you aid someone performing an action that would normally provoke an attack of opportunity, then the act of aiding another provokes an attack of opportunity as well.
3If the object is being held, carried, or worn by a creature, yes. If not, no.
4If you have a base attack bonus of +1 or higher, you can combine one of these actions with a regular move. If you have the Two-Weapon Fighting feat, you can draw two light or one-handed weapons in the time it would normally take you to draw one.
5May be taken as a standard action if you are limited to taking only a single action in a round.
6Unless the component is an extremely large or awkward item (DM's call).
7These attack forms substitute for a melee attack, not an action. As melee attacks, they can be used once in an attack or charge action, one or more times in a full attack action, or even as an attack of opportunity.
8The description of a feat defines its effect.
Most standard actions involve making an attack, casting a spell, or activating an item. These are the most common, straightforward actions that a character might take in a combat round. More specialzed actions are covered in Special Attacks and Damage.
Making an attack is a standard action.
Melee Attacks: With a normal melee weapon, you can strike any opponent within 5 feet. (Opponents within 5 feet are considered adjacent to you.) Some melee weapons have reach, as indicated in their descriptions (see Weapons. With a typical reach weapon, you can strike opponents 10 feet away, but you cannot strike adjacent foes (those within 5 feet).
Unarmed Attacks: Striking for damage with punches, kicks, and head butts is much like attacking with a melee weapon, except the following:
Attacks of Opportunity: Attacking unarmed provokes an attack of opportunity from the character you attack, provided she is armed. The attack of opportunity comes before your attack. An unarmed attack does not provoke attacks of opportunity from other foes, as shooting a bow does, nor does it provoke an attack of opportunity an unarmed foe. You provoke the attack of opportunity because you have to bring your body close to your opponent. An unarmed character can't take attacks of opportunity (but see "Armed" Unarmed Attacks, below).
"Armed" Unarmed Attacks: Sometimes a character's or creature's unarmed attack counts as an armed attack. A monk, a character the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, a spellcaster delivering a touch attack spell, and a creature with claws, fangs, and similar natural physical weapons all count as being armed. Note that being armed counts for both offense and defense. Not only does a monk not provoke an attack of opportunity when attacking an armed foe, but you provoke an attack of opportunity from a monk if you make an unarmed attack against her.
Unarmed Strike Damage: An unarmed strike from a Medium character deals 1d3 points of damage (plus your Strength modifier, as normal). A Small character's unarmed strike deals 1d2 points of damage, while a Large character's unarmed strike deals 1d4 points of damage. All damage from unarmed strikes is nonlethal damage. Unarmed strikes count as light weapons (for purposes of two-weapon attack penalties and so on).
Dealing Lethal Damage: You can specify that your unarmed strike will deal lethal damage before you make your attack roll, but you take a -4 penalty on your attack roll because you have to strike a particularly vulnerable spot to deal lethal damage. If you have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, you can deal lethal damage with an unarmed strike without taking a penalty on the attack roll.
Ranged Attacks: With a ranged weapon, you can shoot or throw at any target that is within the weapon's maximum range and in line of sight. The maximum range for a thrown weapon is five range increments. For projectile weapons, it is ten range increments. Some ranged weapons have shorter maximum ranges, as specified in their descriptions.
Attack Rolls: An attack roll represents your attempts to strike your opponent. It does not represent a single swing of the sword, for example. Rather, it indicates whether, over several attempts in the round, you managed to connect solidly.
Your attack roll is 1d20 + your attack bonus with the weapon you're using. If the result is at least as high as the target's AC, you hit and deal damage.
Automatic Misses and Hits: A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on the attack roll is always a miss. A natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is always a hit. A natural 20 is also a threat — a possible critical hit (see the Critical Hits sidebar).
Damage Rolls: If the attack roll result equals or exceeds the target's AC, the attack hits and you deal damage. Roll the appropriate damage for your weapon (see Weapons). Damage is deducted from the target's current hit points. If the opponent's hit points drop to 0 or lower, he's in bad shape (see Injury and Death).
Multiple Attacks: A character who can make more than one attack per round must use the full attack action (see Full-Round Actions) in order to get more than one attack.
Shooting or Throwing into a Melee: If you shoot or throw a ranged weapon at a target engaged in melee with a friendly char¬acter, you take a -4 penalty on your attack roll because you have to aim carefully to avoid hitting your friend. Two characters are engaged in melee if they are enemies of each other and either threatens the other. (An unconscious or otherwise immobilized character is not considered engaged unless he is actually being attacked.)
If your target (or the part of your target you're aiming at, if it's a big target) is at least 10 feet away from the nearest friendly character, you can avoid the -4 penalty, even if the creature you're aiming at is engaged in melee with a friendly character.
Precise Shot: If you have the Precise Shot, you don't take this penalty.
Fighting Defensively as a Standard Action: You can choose to fight defensively when attacking. If you do so, you take a -4 penalty on all attacks in a round to gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC for the same round. This bonus stacks with the AC bonus granted by the Combat Expertise feat.
When you make an attack roll and get a natural 20 (the d20 shows 20), you hit regardless of your target's Armor Class, and you have scored a threat. The hit might be a critical hit (or "crit"). To find out if it's a critical hit, you immediately make a critical roll — another attack roll with all the same modifiers as the attack roll you just made. If the critical roll also results in a hit against the target's AC, your original hit is a critical hit. (The critical roll just needs to hit to give you a crit. It doesn't need to come up 20 again.) If the critical roll is a miss, then your hit is just a regular hit.
A critical hit means that you roll your damage more than once, with all your usual bonuses, and add the rolls together. Unless otherwise specified, the threat range for a critical hit on an attack roll is 20, and the multiplier is x2.
Exception: Extra damage over and above a weapon's normal damage, such as that dealt by a sneak attack or the special ability of a flaming sword, is not multiplied when you score a critical hit.
Increased Threat Range: Sometimes your threat range is greater than 20. That is, you can score a threat on a lower number. Lomg swords, for instance, give you a threat on a natural attack roll of 19-20. In such cases, a roll of lower than 19 or 20 is not an automatic hit attack roll that doesn't result in a hit is not a threat.
Spells and Critical Hits: A spell that requires an attack roll, such shocking grasp or Melf's acid arrow, can score a critical hit. A spell attack that requires no attack roll, such as lightning bolt, cannot score a critical hit.
Cast a Spell
Most spells require 1 standard action to cast. You can cast such a spell either before or after you take a move action. See Magic for details on casting spells, their effects, and so on.
Note: You retain your Dexterity bonus to AC while casting.
Spell Components: To cast a spell with a verbal (V) component, your character must speak in a firm voice. If you're gagged or in the area of a silence spell, you can't cast such a spell. A spellcaster who has been deafened has a 20% chance to spoil any spell he tries to cast if that spell has a verbal component.
To cast a spell with a somatic (S) component, you must gesture freely with at least one hand. You can't cast a spell of this type while bound, grappling, or with both your hands full or occupied (swimming, clinging to a cliff, or the like).
To cast a spell with a material (M), focus (F), or divine focus (DF) component, you have to have the proper materials, as described by the spell. Unless these materials are elaborate, such as the 2-foot-by-4-foot mirror that a wizard needs to cast scrying, preparing these materials is a free action. For material components and focuses whose costs are not listed, you can assume that you have them if you have your spell component pouch.
Some spells have an experience point (XP) component entail an experience point cost to you. No spell, not even restoration, can restore the lost XP. You cannot spend so much XP that you lose a level, so you cannot cast the spell unless you have enough XP to spare. However, you may, on gaining enough XP to achieve a new level, immediately spend the XP on casting the spell rather than keeping it to advance a level. The XP are expended when you cast the spell, whether or not the casting succeeds.
Concentration: You must concentrate to cast a spell. If you can't concentrate (because you are on the deck of a storm-tossed-ship, for instance), you can't cast a spell. If you start casting a spell but something interferes with your concentration, such as another taking the opportunity to hit you with its club (successfully hitting you with his attack of opportunity), you must make a Concentration check or lose the spell. The check's DC depends what is threatening your concentration (see Concentration skill, and Concentration). If you fail, the spell fizzles with no effect. If you prepare spells (as a wizard, cleric, druid, paladin, or ranger does), it is lost from preparation. If you cast at will (as a sorcerer or bard does), it counts against you daily limit of spells even though you did not cast it successfully.
Concentrating to Maintain a Spell: Some spells require continued concentration to keep them going. Concentrating to maintain a spell is a standard action that doesn't provoke an attack opportunity. Anything that could break your concentration when casting a spell can keep you from concentrating to maintaining spell. If your concentration breaks, the spell ends.
Casting Time: Most spells have a casting time of 1 standard action. A spell cast in this manner immediately takes effect.
Attacks of Opportunity: Generally, if you cast a spell, you provoke attacks of opportunity from threatening enemies. If you take damage from an attack of opportunity, you must make a Concentration check (DC 10 + points of damage taken + spell level) or lose the spell. Spells that require only a free action to cast (such as feather fall or any quickened spell) don't provoke attacks of opportunity.
Casting on the Defensive: You may attempt to cast a spell while paying attention to threats and avoiding blows. In this case you are no more vulnerable to attack than you would be if you were just standing there, so casting a spell while on the defensive does not provoke an attack of opportunity. It does, however require a Concentration check (DC 15 + spell level) to pull off. Failure means that you lose the spell.
Touch Spells in Combat: Many spells have a range of touch, to use these spells, you cast the spell and then touch the subject, either in the same round or any time later. In the same round that you cast the spell, you may also touch (or attempt to touch) the target, may take your move before casting the spell, after touching target, or between casting the spell and touching the target. You can automatically touch one friend or use the spell on yourself, but to touch an opponent, you must succeed on an attack roll.
Touch Attacks: Since you need only touch your enemy, you make a touch attack instead of a regular attack. Touching an opponent with a touch spell is considered to be an armed attack and therefore does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The touch spell provides you with a credible threat that the defender is obliged to take into account just as if it were a weapon. However, the act of casting a spell does provoke an attack of opportunity, so you may want to cast the spell and then move to the target instead of vice versa. Touch attacks come in two types: melee touch attacks (for touches made with, say, your hand) and ranged touch attacks (for touches made with magic rays, for example). You can score critical hits with either type of attack. Your opponent's AC against a touch attack does not include any armor bonus, shield bonus, or natural armor bonus. His size modifier, Dexterity modifier, and deflection bonus (if any) all apply normally.
Holding the Charge: If you don't discharge the spell in the round when you cast the spell, you can hold the discharge of the spell (hold the charge) indefinitely. You can continue to make touch attacks round after round. You can touch one friend as a standard action or up to six friends as a full-round action. If you 1 touch anything or anyone while holding a charge, even unintentionally, the spell discharges. If you cast another spell, the touch spell dissipates. Alternatively, you may make a normal unarmed attack (or an attack with a natural weapon) while holding a charge. In this case, you aren't considered armed and you provoke attacks of opportunity as normal for the attack. (If your unarmed attack or natural weapon attack doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity, neither does this attack.) If the attack hits, you deal normal damage for your unarmed attack or natural weapon and the spell discharges. If the attack misses, you are still holding the charge.
Dismiss a Spell: Dismissing an active spell (such as alter self) is a standard action that doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity.
Activate Magic Item
Many magic items don't need to be activated — magic weapons, magic armor, gauntlets of Dexterity, and so forth. However, certain magic items need to be activated, especially potions, scrolls, wands, rods, and staffs. Activating a magic item is a standard action (unless the item description indicates otherwise).
Spell Completion Items: Activating a spell completion item, such as a scroll, is the equivalent of casting a spell. It requires concentration and provokes attacks of opportunity. You lose the spell if your concentration is broken, and you can attempt to activate the item while on the defensive, as with casting a spell (see Casting on the Defensive).
Spell Trigger, Command Word, or Use-Activated Items: Activating any of these kinds of items does not require concentration and does not provoke attacks of opportunity. (See Using Magic Items for more information on magic items.)
Use Special Ability
Using a special ability is usually a standard action, but whether it is a standard action, a full-round action, or not an action at all is defined by the ability (see Special Abilities).
Spell-Like Abilities: Using a spell-like ability (such as a paladin calling her special mount) works like casting a spell in that it requires concentration and provokes attacks of opportunity. Spelllike abilities can be disrupted. If your concentration is broken, the attempt to use the ability fails, but the attempt counts as if you had used the ability (for example, it counts against your daily limit if you have one). The casting time of a spell-like ability is 1 standard action, unless the ability description notes otherwise.
Using a Spell-Like Ability on the Defensive: You may attempt to use a spell-like ability on the defensive, just as with casting a spell. If the Concentration check (DC 15 + spell level) fails, you can't use the ability, but the attempt counts as if you had used the ability.
Supernatural Abilities: Using a supernatural ability (such as a cleric's turn or rebuke undead ability) is usually a standard action (unless defined otherwise by the ability's description). Its use cannot be disrupted, does not require concentration, and does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
Extraordinary Abilities: Using an extraordinary ability (such as a barbarian's uncanny dodge ability) is usually not an action because most extraordinary abilities automatically happen in a reactive fashion. Those extraordinary abilities that are actions are usually standard actions that cannot be disrupted, do not require concentration, and do not provoke attacks of opportunity.
You can defend yourself as a standard action. You get a +4 dodge bonus to your AC for 1 round. Your AC improves at the start of this action, so it helps you against any attacks of opportunity you incur during the round. You can't combine total defense with fighting defensively or with the benefit of the Combat Expertise feat (since both of those require you to declare an attack or full attack). You can't make attacks of opportunity while using total defense.
Start/Complete Full-Round Action
The "start full-round action" standard action lets you start undertaking a full-round action, which you can complete in the following round by using another standard action. For instance, if you are limited to taking only a standard action each turn, you can shoot a heavy crossbow every 3 rounds, needing 2 rounds to load it (a full-round action) and 1 round to shoot it. Also, if you want to cast a spell whose casting time is 1 full round, you start the casting in one round and complete it in the following round, for example. You can't use this action to start or complete full attack, charge, run, or withdraw.
With the exception of specific movement-related skills, most move actions don't require a check.
The simplest move action is moving your speed. If you take this kind of move action during your turn, you can't also take a 5-foot step.
Many nonstandard modes of movement are covered under this category, including climbing (up to one-quarter of your speed) and swimming (up to one-quarter of your speed).
Accelerated Climbing: You can climb one-half your speed as a move action by accepting a -5 penalty on your Climb check.
Crawling: You can crawl 5 feet as a move action. Crawling incurs attacks of opportunity from any attackers who threaten you at any point of your crawl.
Draw or Sheathe a Weapon
Drawing a weapon so that you can use it in combat, or putting it away so that you have a free hand, requires a move action. This action also applies to weaponlike objects carried in easy reach, such as wands. If your weapon or weaponlike object is stored in a pack or otherwise out of easy reach, treat this action as retrieving a stored item.
If you have a base attack bonus of +1 or higher, you may draw a weapon as a free action combined with a regular move. If you have the Two-Weapon Fighting feat, you can draw two light or one-handed weapons in the time it would normally take you draw one.
Drawing ammunition for use with a ranged weapon (such as arrows, bolts, sling bullets, or shuriken) is a free action.
Ready or Loose a Shield
Strapping a shield to your arm to gain its shield bonus to your AC, or unstrapping and dropping a shield so you can use your shield hand for another purpose, requires a move action. If have a base attack bonus of +1 or higher, you can ready or loose shield as a free action combined with a regular move. Dropping a carried (but not worn) shield is a free action.
Manipulate an Item
In most cases, moving or manipulating an item is a move action, includes retrieving or putting away a stored item, picking up an item, moving a heavy object, and opening a door. Examples of this kind of action, along with whether they incur an attack of opportunity, are given in Actions in Combat Table.
Direct or Redirect a Spell
Some spells, such as flaming sphere and spiritual weapon, allow you to redirect the effect to new targets or areas after you cast the spell. Redirecting a spell requires a move action and does not provoke acks of opportunity or require concentration (see Cast a Spell).
Standing up from a prone position requires a move action and provokes attacks of opportunity.
Mount/Dismount a Steed
Mounting or dismounting from a steed requires a move action.
Fast Mount or Dismount: You can mount or dismount as a free action with a DC 20 Ride check (your armor check penalty, if any, applies to this check). If you fail the check, mounting or dismounting is a move action instead. (You can't attempt a fast mount or dismount unless you can perform the mount or dismount as amove action in the current round.)
A full-round action requires an entire round to complete. Thus, it cannot be coupled with a standard or a move action, though if it does not involve moving any distance, you can take a 5-foot step.
If you get more than one attack per round because your base attack bonus is high enough, because you fight with two weapons or a double weapon (see Two-Weapon Fighting), or for some special reason (such as a feat or a magic item), you must use a full-round action to get your additional attacks. You do not need to specify the targets of your attacks ahead of time. You can see how the earlier attacks turn out before assigning the later ones.
The only movement you can take during a full attack is a 5-foot step. You may take the step before, after, or between your attacks.
If you get multiple attacks because your base attack bonus is high enough, you must make the attacks in order from highest bonus to lowest. If you are using two weapons, you can strike with either weapon first. If you are using a double weapon, you can strike either part of the weapon first.
Deciding between an Attack or a Full Attack: After your attack, you can decide to take a move action instead of making remaining attacks, depending on how the first attack turns out. If you've already taken a 5-foot step, you can't use your move action to move any distance, but you could still use a different kind of move action.
Fighting Defensively as a Full-Round Action: You can choose to fight defensively when taking a full attack action. If you do so ,you take a -4 penalty on all attacks in a round to gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC for the same round.
Cleave: The extra attack granted by the Cleave feat or Great Cleave feat can be taken whenever they apply. This exception to the normal limit to the number of attacks you can take when not using a full attack action.
Cast a Spell
A spell that takes 1 round to cast is a full-round action. It comes into effect just before the beginning of your turn in the round after you began casting the spell. You then act normally after the. spell is completed.
A spell that takes 1 minute to cast comes into effect just before your turn 1 minute later (and for each of those 10 rounds, you are casting a spell as a full-round action). These actions must be consecutive and uninterrupted, or the spell automatically fails.
When you begin a spell that takes 1 round or longer to cast, you must continue the invocations, gestures, and concentration from one round to just before your turn in the next round (at least). If you lose concentration after starting the spell and before it is complete, you lose the spell.
You only provoke attacks of opportunity when you begin casting a spell, even though you might continue casting for at least one full round. While casting a spell, you don't threaten any squares around you.
This action is otherwise identical to the Cast a Spell action.
Casting a Metamagic Spell: Sorcerers and bards must take more time to cast a metamagic spell (one enhanced by a metamagic feat) than a regular spell. If a spell's normal casting time is 1 standard action, casting a metamagic version of the spell is a full-round action for a sorcerer or bard. Note that this isn't the same as a spell with a 1-round casting time — the spell takes effect in the same round that you begin casting, and you aren't required to continue the invocations, gestures, and concentration until your next turn. For spells with a longer casting time, it takes an extra full-round action to cast the metamagic spell.
Clerics must take more time to spontaneously cast a metamagic version of a cure or inflict spell. For instance, an 11th-level cleric, can swap out a prepared 6th-level spell to cast an empowered cure critical wounds. Spontaneously casting a metamagic version of a spell with a casting time of 1 standard action is a full-round action, and spells with longer casting times take an extra full-round action to cast.
Use Special Ability
Withdrawing from melee combat is a full-round action. When you withdraw, you can move up to double your speed. The square you start out in is not considered threatened by any opponent you can see, and therefore visible enemies do not get attacks of opportunity against you when you move from that square. (Invisible enemies still get attacks of opportunity against you, and you can't withdraw from combat if you're blinded.) You can't take a 5-foot step during the same round in which you withdraw.
If, during the process of withdrawing, you move out of a threatened square (other than the one you started in), enemies get attacks of opportunity as normal.
You may not withdraw using a form of movement for which you don't have a listed speed. For example, a monstrous spider has a listed climb speed, so it can withdraw by climbing away. Your character doesn't normally have a listed climb speed (unless you're under the effect of a spider climb spell, for example), so you can't use climbing to withdraw from combat.
Note that despite the name of this action, you don't actually have to leave combat entirely. For instance, you could use a withdraw action to move away from one enemy and toward another.
Restricted Withdraw: If you are limited to taking only a standard action each round (for instance, if you have been slowed or during a surprise round), you can withdraw as a standard action. In this case, you may move up to your speed (rather than up to double your speed).
You can run as a full-round action. (If you do, you do not also get a 5-foot step.) When you run, you can move up to four times your speed in a straight line (or three times your speed if you're in heavy armor). You lose any Dexterity bonus to AC since you can't avoid attacks, unless you have the Run feat, which allows you to keep your Dexterity bonus to AC when running.
You can run for a number of rounds equal to your Constitution score, but after that you must make a DC 10 Constitution check to continue running. You must check again each round in which you continue to run, and the DC of this check increases by 1 for each check you have made. When you fail this check, you must stop running. A character who has run to his limit must rest for 1 minute (10 rounds) before running again. During a rest period, a character can move no faster than a normal move action.
You can't run across difficult terrain (see Terrain), or if you can't see where you're going.
A run represents a speed of about 12 miles per hour for an unencumbered human.
Move 5 Feet through Difficult Terrain
In some situations, your movement may be so hampered that you don't have sufficient speed even to move 5 feet (a single square). In such a case, you may spend a full-round action to move 5 feet (1 square) in any direction, even diagonally. Even though this looks like a 5-foot step, it's not, and thus it provokes attacks of opportunity normally. (You can't take advantage of this rule to move through impassable terrain or to move when all movement is prohibited to you, such as while paralyzed.)
Free actions don't take any time at all, though your DM may limit the number of free actions you can perform in a turn. Free actions rarely incur attacks of opportunity. Some common free actions are described below.
Drop an Item
Dropping an item in your space or into an adjacent square is a free action.
Dropping to a prone position in your space is a free action.
In general, speaking is a free action that you can perform even when it isn't your turn. Some DMs may rule that a characted only speak on his turn, or that a character can't speak flat-footed (and thus can't warn allies of a surprise threat until he has a chance to act). Speaking more than few sentences is generally beyond the limit of a free action; to communicate more information than that, your DM may require that you take a move action or even a full-round action.
Cease Concentration on Spell
You can stop concentrating on an active spell (such as detect evil) as a free action.
Cast a Quickened Spell
You can cast a quickened spell (see the Quicken Spell feat) or any spell whose casting time is designated as a free action (such as the feather fall spell) as a free action. Only one such can be cast in any round, and such spells don't count toward normal limit of one spell per round. Casting a spell with a casting time of a free action doesn't incur an attack of opportunity.
Some actions don't fit neatly into the above categories. Some of these options are actions that take the place of or are variations on the actions described under Standard Actions, Move Actions, and Full-Round Actions. For actions not covered below, the DM lets you know how long such an action takes to perform and when doing so provokes attacks of opportunity from threatening enemies. The variant and special attacks mentioned here are covered under Combat: Special Attacks.
Take 5-Foot Step
You can move 5 feet in any round when you don't perform any other kind of movement. Taking this 5-foot step never provokes an attack of opportunity. You can't take more than one 5-foot step in a round, and you can't take a 5-foot step in the same round when you move any distance.
You can take a 5-foot step before, during, or after your other actions in the round. For example, you could draw a weapon(a move action), take a 5-foot step, and then attack (a standard action), or you could cast fireball (a standard action), take a 5-foot step through an open door, then close the door (a move action).
You can only take a 5-foot-step if your movement isn't hampered by difficult terrain (see Terrain) or darkness. Any creature with a speed of 5 feet or less can't take a 5-foot since moving even 5 feet requires a move action for slow creature.
You may not take a 5-foot step using a form of movement for which you do not have a listed speed. For example, if you do not have a climb speed listed, you can't use climbing to make a step. Similarly, you can't take a 5-foot step when swimming unless you have a listed swim speed.
Certain feats, such as Whirlwind Attack, let you take special actions in combat. Other feats do not require actions themselves, but they give you a bonus when attempting something you can already do, such as Improved Disarm. Some feats, such as item creation, are not meant to be used within the framework of combat. The individual feat descriptions will tell you what you need to know about them.
Most skill uses are standard actions, but some might be move actions, full-round actions, free actions, or something else entirely. The individual skill descriptions will tell you what sorts of actions are required to perform skills.
Speeding Up Combat
You can use a few tricks to make combat run faster.
Attack and Damage: Roll your attack die and damage die (or dice) at the same time. If you miss, you can ignore the damage, but if you hit, your friends don't have to wait for you to make a second roll for damage.
Multiple Attacks: Use dice of different colors so you can make your attack rolls all at once instead of one at a time. Designate which attack is which color before you roll.
Dice as Counters: Use dice to keep track of how many rounds a short-duration magical effect has been active. Each round, turn the the die to the next number until the effect ends.
Concealment Rolls: If you know what your chance to miss is because of your target's concealment, you can roll it along with your attack roll. If the concealment roll indicates a miss, just ignore the attack roll.